Discourage should be no strangers to confidence. Having first caught wind of the Oakland hardcore band in these very pages, they’ve already dropped a slew of essential releases. The band dropped a S/T 2018 EP and a subsequent grip of dope splits that saw them sharing waxen real estate with Time and Pressure, FAIM, and Lift.
The Oaktown unit’s 2020 EP, Forlorn Hope, was their true coronation, at last matching their firebrand take on fast hardcore with a punchier recording. Most notably, they eschewed well-worn hardcore sloganeering for a righteous and highly informed fury at the then peak of ongoing unrest.
Discourage's brand-new debut album, Disaster Fatigue, is the sort level up that boldly leaps over their already considerable catalog, insomuch that we’re left to simply marvel at their calcified sound and hyper literate lyrical attack. The release is again being handled courtesy of the Northeastern purveyors of heavy over at Massachusetts-based label Patient Zero Records. On to the music, y’all. Let’s get it.
Before the music proper gets underway, we’re given a cribbed word of warning from Kurt Russel’s defining moment as R.J. MacReady in 1982's The Thing. Fittingly bleak and ominous, it’s a fitting sample that plays right into my hands as a fan of the body horror masterpiece.
Once the iconic entrée fades into feedback of the building music, we’re knee deep into the title track and opener. It’s a superlative show of everything we’ve come to expect from the band… the always killer bass tone is up front in lock step with relentless drumming, assuring the rhythm section again gets their own flowers.
Discourage revel in a sort of modern take on early ‘oughts hardcore that’d have them sitting comfortably on a Bridge Nine showcase with Carry On and American Nightmare. For now, however, modern analogs might be Berthold City and Detroit’s True Love.
The final act employs a two-step part that’s guaranteed to slice a horseshoe pit down the middle.
Follow up “Asterisk” does its damnedest to ensure them a place in the Hall of Fame, albeit with the unfair athletic advantage of McGwire level muscle. Baseball metaphors not withstanding, Discourage is as tightly wound and impeccably written as this shit gets… anywhere. They seem content to fly the flag for a streamlined pure format that calls to mind their friends in the aforementioned champions of the gateway city sound Time and Pressure and RVA legends Down to Nothing. They even manage moments of hyper and frenzied rage that has me scrambling for my Outbreak LPs.
Elsewhere, they’ve come equipped with some new tricks. Peep the street punk stomp of “Disrepair” which tips to Boston legends The Trouble and their booted battalion of followers. “Tread” finds the band marrying speed trial ripper of fast/faster that devolves into a halftime crusher of venomous barbs lobbed at all comers. Finding a vocalist that nails the appropriate mix of forward thinking, acrimonious, and absolutely savage is no easy feat.
Yet, Discourage pulls it off with aplomb across the entire long player.
“Echo Chamber” boasts an interesting variation on rock and roll informed hardcore that feels equal parts Suicide File and Hope Con. The low slung bass and impossibly busy drums lay an impressive template, and they match each other with increasingly inventive fills. “Ministry of Truth” also revels in the band’s growing bag of tricks, as the rager devolves into a painstakingly tense slow down that ratchets up the intensity tenfold. The bilious crescendo is an incredible payoff on an already rewarding listen. They’ve clearly spent time learning to build drama and tension in tight spaces.
Another highlight in an album full of them is the closer. “Dead In My Tracks” is a veritable epic by their standard of cutthroat brevity. Taking its time with a discordant and eerie bit of table setting, it soon blasts into familiar but no less effective territory. There’s a moment just shy of two minute mark when the lyric “what I’d give to see you one more time…” explodes with all the drama of Bane’s “Calling Hours.”
It's moments of pained catharsis like this that has me tentatively scrawling my AOTY list before we’ve even hit the halfway mark on 2022.
If the Doomsday clock is indeed incrementally inching towards global collapse, Discourage is living on their own time. Unfettered by shared international malaise and doom scrolling, Discourage are any but. They sound enlivened and reborn on the ashes. Disaster Fatigue is a monster. I’ll leave you with words far better than my own… a quote from our hero MacReady.
“If it takes us over, then it has no more enemies, nobody left to kill it.”
Here’s to our enemies. Here’s to their cause of death.
Order your copy of Disaster Fatigue from Patient Zero Records.
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