I was lucky enough to cop Lethal Means’ Constant Fear by way of Virginia Beach’s Not for the Weak Records. That particular 7 inch, released in the waning moments of 2017, marked not only the label’s entree into the world of wax, it also holds its vice grip on my turntable.
True to their namesake, Not for the Weak Records has been consistently punishing the faint of heart, and their latest entree into the world of sonic obliteration is no exception.
Fittingly enough, the band’s latest ante up into the best hardcore of 2020 conversation comes in the form of the label’s inaugural long player. Zero Sum Game finds the band doubling down on their furious D-beat hardcore fury by way of a perfectly taut 8 songs.
Song of the Day “Burning Inside” is but one of the blistering and noise-laden rippers on the LP. This late album ripper starts waist deep in a monstrous squall of feedback and thumping attack of deafening drums. Lethal Means have returned with force, purpose, and fire.
Showing up is, of course, a bit of the oft-referenced Anti Cimex but they’ve elevated the proceedings a bit.
Much like the way in which Destruct looks to Discharge for a roadmap, Lethal Means uses the aforementioned Scandinavian Jawbreakers as but a touchstone for their sound.
As well as it plays in the D-beat/crust world, they’ve always managed to imbue their sound with traditional early '80s USHC as well. The rhythm section is sneakily amazing and is captured expertly by Jordan Greenouch and Will Killingsworth, whom respectively recorded/mixed and mastered the album.
With far more than the reductionist but foundational drum beat in their arsenal, there are sneaky melodies beneath the wailing maelstrom of guitar, however filthy and aggro. At its marrow, “Burning Inside” has the strong yet rotting bones of hardcore punk’s more violent leanings. It’s at once blown-out, fuzzed up, and still warm.
Lethal Means wisely sidesteps the echoey vocals trend, as well, instead doubling down on their raw-throated, two register mania. The band sound absolutely enthralled with the impending apocalypse.
Having long stood beside labelmates and personal favorites Bato, Street Weapon, Fried E/M, Lethal Means adds a treble-touting flare that puts them squarely with modern heavies like Bootlicker, Blood Pressure, and Larma. This is essential. Lethal Means? By all means, snag it by any means necessary.
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