Features

Lead Dream: Santa Cruz Hardcore Band Ups the Violence on ‘Mortal Vices’ (EP PREMIERE)

Photo: Josh Vega

If blunt force, zero fluff hardcore is what you seek, look no further than Santa Cruz’s Lead Dream. Just shy of a year since the release of their debut EP A Bullet Offers Release, this Californian quartet ups the violence to irresponsible levels with Mortal Vices, debuting here today.

At 5 songs, Mortal Vices is a beast of mid-tempo, all teeth hardcore, with opening track “Weight of Regret” creeping and crawling its way across its three minute length. The song’s crowning moment hits with a tribal-beat laden mosh that swells into an all-too-satisfying teeth-breaker of a breakdown. “Kharma’s Debt” balances an uptick in tempo with knuckle-dragging heft before hunkering down on all fours once again for “Bittersweet.”

The third track breaks from its opening haunts of unsettling melody into pure mosh territory, gyrating from two-step to throwdown to moody bass-fueled build-up into an air-knocking chug assault of a finale. “Identity Theft” is a grimy affair, a hardcore jam drenched in venomous intent that surges from the jump, before throwing itself face first into an oncoming train freighted with breakdowns and malcontent.

Lead Dream hit their stride on ending “Divine Game,” which is impressive considering how well-paced Mortal Vices is to this point. Segueing anthemic violence into atmospheric contemplation, “Divine Game” is a moment of final respite on a relentless EP, wherein Lead Dream stretches their creative legs in melancholic, surprisingly delicate exercises.

Mortal Vices is about the things in life that surround me and have a lot of times put me through a lot of pain. Drugs, violence, lies, poverty, and all the things that have had a really big impact on me and a lot of times taken people from me,” explains vocalist Malachi Greene on the EP’s meaning.

“A lot of people have faked struggle to gain some kind of credibility, and others are performative activists that pretend to stand for something just for likes on social media, and it’s become one big vice for them.

Photo: Elias Jay 

“My sister has been missing for years because of drugs, and she's my best friend and every day I think about how it might be the day I get the call she’s dead. A lot of really wealthy people have just used stories, and styles from the working class to cosplay and pretend they know pain while myself and friends struggle to pay rent, and to stay afloat and meanwhile some rich kid goes around pretending to have our story,” Greene continues.

“Fuck all that. That’s what this record is about, it’s a message to the fake internet warriors, the cosplay gangsters, and the people trying to capitalize on our pain. I’m not going to just sit there and not say something and I’ll actually do something about it. Everyone has vices and sometimes those vices hurt the ones you love or just hurt people in general.”

Mortal Vices is available digitally today, with tapes being available in the near future from Criminalized.

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