Queensway, The Real Fear (Self-Released, 2019)

I first saw Queensway live when they toured with Vein, Harms Way, and Ringworm a couple of years back and was immediately blown away by their performance. The crowd was a solid mix of older people and younger kids from all different types of backgrounds, and Queensway managed to impress them all. The crowd ate up their energetic stage presence and Queensway held their own on the stacked line up.

On the car ride home we listened to their first EP, Swift Minds of the Darkside, and all agreed this was a talented band that made us want to fight each other and re watch The Wire.

Baltimore has been a hotbed in the hardcore world for awhile now with bands such as Turnstile, Trapped Under Ice, Mindset, and of course Queensway coming out of the city plagued by drugs and corrupt bureaucrats (I’ve never been, but The Wire definitely didn’t paint it as a place for a dream vacation).

Queensway recently released The Real Fear EP, a continuation of their heavy, ominous, sound that I have grown to love. Their dark, moody, almost groovy style of hardcore makes you uneasy but excited.

Photo: Joe Calixto

The Real Fear is short and sweet with five songs and a run time of 14 minutes and wastes no time in sucking you into a decrepit state of mind that makes you confront your deepest fears. Before the record even begins you are confronted with a fantastic, unsettling album cover reminiscent of that creepy Claymation show from the '80s about Satan.

The familiar heavy and guttural vocals are accompanied by faster, almost rapped verses that provide a good change of pace. Almost every track on this EP resets itself with haunting guitar tones that are immediately overtaken by aggressive riffs and deep vocals to pull you out of the hole and back into the fight. 

The EP opens with the title track and 30 seconds of haunting distorted voices repeating one phrase, The Real Fear. The feeling of dread hits immediately and is woven throughout the very few lulls in the EP, especially at the beginning of each track. The lyrical content also feeds directly into the established mood.

Regardless of personal beliefs, dying is a fear in the back of every person’s mind at some point in their lives, and the first track on the EP addresses this: 

“What’s it like knowing when you die the light you see is all made up in your mind. There’s nothing waiting on the other side, all hope you had slowly starts to die." 

This is not a comforting thought, which is exactly why this EP is called The Real Fear.

Photo: Sam Jameson

The lyrical theme of death and what comes after rolls over into the second track, “Fantasy”: 

“Martyrdom in a kingdom of lies… The dark comedy of life doesn’t care if you’ve done what’s right.” 

These themes are consistent throughout the album and ultimately culminate into a sort of acceptance of fate on the final track, "Tomorrow Will Be Mine":

“Fate bends to me and tomorrow will be mine.”

Beneath the heavy, energetic music on this EP is a discussion of life and death, the fear of what comes after, and living with that thought always on your mind. For a 14-minute EP, Queensway does a fantastic job of sending you into an existential crisis.

The Real Fear is one of my favorite releases of 2019 and a fantastic addition to Queensway’s catalog of music. I cannot wait to see these songs performed live, and I have no doubt the crowds will be intense, brutal, and fun.

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