Snuffed, Coping Human Waste (Another City Records, 2022)

Have you ever thought about how much good hardcore you miss out on because you aren’t plugged in to certain local or regional phenomena?

For example, take Coping Human Waste, the debut full-length from Chicago band Snuffed, which was released this year on a small label—Another City Records.

I only checked it out because Guitarist Aaron Schmitt posted it in a Facebook group I frequent and used the term “Posi Numbers” in his description. I almost certainly would not have heard it otherwise. 

My head spins thinking about all the other really solid hardcore waiting to be discovered by people who will never be exposed to it. I guess how you describe your band matters after all.

The full description I got from Aaron was “ffo: Warthog, The Flex and Slant, with a bit of Posi Numbers era finish, but that’s debatable.”

The “Posi Numbers finish” is certainly debatable. Moments like the bass break transition on “Emotionally Infested” do call to mind early '00s meat and potatoes, but that particular part would also fit right in on a Flex song.

Coping Human Waste is mostly born from modern ideas, so it makes sense Snuffed name check modern bands. The record is a tapestry of what’s floating around in 2022’s hardcore scene, with an inclination towards “fast punk beat into side-to-side” type shit.

The palm muted dirges and (very) occasional blasts interspersed with the punk riffs have a post-Trash Talk chaotic fastcore sound to them. I also hear a heaviness that I would hazard to guess, without knowing Snuffed’s priors, could be coming from the metal-tinged post-TUI world. The heavier influences poke through in the build ups and transitions. The mosh riffs on “If You Resent” and “Pesticide” finish off as side-to-side barn burners, but in a live setting you would almost certainly catch someone’s fist to your face during the crunchy, feedback-laden moments before the riffs get going.

Then there’s “Flock," a slow jam designed to get the whole room moving back and forth, before ending on the type of breakdown that would compel a 19-year-old to donkey kick you in your sternum. To me this captures a scene in transition—a phenomenon I’m certainly a part of, where mainline hardcore kids are falling in love with '80s punk—or at least with bands who love '80s punk.

There are a lot of bands jumping into these waters nowadays. Coping Human Waste stands out from the pack for two reasons.

First, the production, especially on the guitars, is different. This is where I hear the Slant comparison. The tones are clearer and less soaked in effects than most modern punk hardcore. Throw in the harder elements I was talking about earlier and you get something way crunchier, sharper and more aggro.

Second, the side-to-side parts on this are mean as hell. Every song seems like it’s constructed to beat your ass with a catchy, bouncy mosh riff. This approach peaks on the aforementioned “Flock”, which is the longest track on the record but arguably the most straightforward in its construction.

Snuffed said “you like mosh riffs? Here’s three really good ones. Now dance!” The songs are long for this style, with most clearing the two-minute mark. The de facto advice bands face these days is “make your songs shorter” but I wouldn’t tell that to Snuffed. I dunno if the songs always warrant the length, but I also don’t wanna hear every band stick to the same formula. Sometimes the longer songs work, sometimes they don’t.

Photo: Angel Tumalan

I love how Snuffed extend “Emotionally Infested” by bringing back one of the fast riffs after the mosh. “Pesticide” takes a meandering course but pays off when you finally reach the finish line. In the same breath, “Grievances” would make more sense as two separate songs divided along the bass break. I also think “Coping Human Waste Pt. 2” has too many ideas and devolves into riff salad. Still, in a world where every fast punk song is is 1:47 long, its nice to hear a band go out on a limb. 

I don’t think this record exactly hits what it’s aiming for in terms of influences. Too much palm muting, not enough straightforward speed. But as a banner in my third-grade class once said: “shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

I personally think this record is pushing into the upper echelons of what this particular movement has to offer. I’m glad it managed to find me.

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