Denver’s Convulse Records is quickly becoming a generational record label, dropping a dizzying amount of year end contenders quicker than we can greedily gobble them.
The scratchy and agitated skull emblazoned on the back of their releases is as much a stamp of approval as you’re likely to get these days. Clearly not content with periodically dazzling listeners, they recently dropped another must have slab o’ wax.
Instead of listening to me prattle at length about why Convulse rules, let’s get it.
The debut 7-inch EP from Portland’s Televised, Human Condition, is a masterclass in hardcore thrift, lovingly cramming eight tracks onto 45 rpm’s as intended. The band, as it were, is composed solely of Aidan Stutzman of Lymph Nodes and various other PDX ragers. The most thrilling note, for me, is the name behind the mixing board.
Mastered by the legendary Geza X, whose rap sheet includes Germs Lexicon Devil, a spate of other early punk and hardcore classics, and the mega early ‘oughts radio smash “Bitch," inexplicably linking Televised to the Grammy nom Meredith Brooks. If you’re guessing that degree of separation is where the comparisons stop, you’re spot on.
Kicking off with “Projection," we’re instantly knee deep in thudding and primitive hardcore pounding. The bass tone is a mess of glorious fuzz and Stutzman sounds utterly possessed.
Think John Brannon married to more muscled modern heavies like Freedom or The Fight. Much like the best of first wave, this is ostensibly sped up punk with an anvil-heavy chip on its shoulder. Bellicose and vicious, it’s wild to think this was all pulled off by someone who’s primarily a drummer.
Speaking of the kit, “Violent Hardcore” is a goddamn speed trial of blasting drums. Clocking in at less than 30 seconds, it’s all over before you can reorient yourself. Elsewhere, the one minute rager “No Solution” pulls off the same trick, typifying the Televised mission statement: get in, wreck shit, and flee the scene before the listener knows what just decked ‘em.
A veritable epic by their sterling standard of brevity, “Funded” rides in on a riff that pulls from pages of the Poison Idea book, even finding time to tack on a flurrying solo. The drums are impossibly busy and set the table for a horrifying peal of a scream. When it’s unleashed as we approach the track’s end, we’re ushered out on a galloping beat that feels as if we’re being trampled under hoof.
“Waiting Around to Die” boasts a thrilling build around the minute mark that double times the pace. Of note all over this thing is the guitar tone which, when employed here, has me imagining a long lost hardcore band decimating the Midwest on a Necros tour.
“Choke” and its follow up, “Sanity,” launch in on a blazing pace, appropriately feeling like you’ve had the wind knocked from your lungs. Televised plays well with instant impact, deftly switching from stomping and ferocious to a blur of speedy hardcore. They still somehow manage to shoehorn some of the year’s best melodies, albeit amidst a pugilistic barrage.
“Strife” has clearly never heard the adage “…out like a lamb.” Clearly one of the strongest tracks of the harrowing bunch, it’s not so much a fade-out as it is a knockout blow.
Straight up, this is for fans of hardcore punk. Be it early USHC like Negative FX and Negative Approach or the legions of future legends peddling this style with a punk panache, welcome Televised to the fold. We’ve got a ripper, my friends.