Medicinal x Kirkby Kiss: New York and New Jersey Hardcore Bands Team Up on New EP

Medicinal (Photo: Ray Mock)

New Jersey’s Kirkby Kiss and New York’s Medicinal are ready to offer up their split 7” release on Council Records and Jean Scene. Both bands bring their distinct iterations of hardcore, making for a wonderfully industrious and original release.

After thinking about doing a split, Medicinal thought about Kirkby Kiss immediately. “I initially heard Kirkby Kiss when they put out their first record on Council, It’s Gonna Cost You, and I was thoroughly impressed with the record, along with the videos I had seen of them playing. Vinny was into them as well and when we were talking about doing a split release with someone, they came up in the conversation.

Vin had built a friendship with those guys on social media and we were really big fans of what they were doing so we reached out to see if they would be down for doing a split and playing some shows together. They were all in immediately and we became homies overnight,” offers Medicinal vocalist Matt Messina. The relationship came together quickly, and so too did the split itself.

Kirkby Kiss (Photo: @aquestionlikeaknife)

The split features three songs from Medicinal and two from Kirkby Kiss. For Kirky Kiss, the songs represent a logical progression of the band’s eclectic sound. “We have five members in the band who are all influenced by different genres, so we don’t stay in one lane when it comes to writing. That being said, this is a great 1-2 punch for us. We’re experimenting more here with clean, quiet parts and sound bites,” says Kirkby Kiss guitarist Shep.

The wide-ranging sonic spectrum shines through on one of the split’s best songs, “Butterfly Knife Effect.” The music is driving and melodic while the screaming vocals level up the aggression in song. The harmonic guitars balanced against the vocals make for great complements, and draw out distinct '90s hardcore vibes without coming off as derivative. The song’s interlude-ish bridge allows for all instruments to breath before coming back to the driving guitar and screaming vocals. And the lyrical content is both abrasive and thoughtful.

“’Butterfly Knife Effect’ expresses the struggles we face daily just to get by. It's a battle hymn acknowledging how even though government and the powers-that-be have set the stage to keep their metaphorical foot on our throats… we will never stop fighting,” offers vocalist Natale Amato. The song closes with the screaming “You’ll never get the best of us,” which should have Amato bringing out the big sing-along vibes live.

As for Medicinal, this split is also an opportunity for them to show how their sound has grown. Medicinal seems to strike a bit of balance in both writing and sound with these songs. Messina says, “With the newer songs, it’s been a combination of pre-engineered and organic. Feels like we are honing our craft together as a battery. The LP consists of 14 songs totaling just under 15 minutes. I feel like there was a relentless sense of urgency when we were putting the LP together.

With the songs for the split, there was a much more relaxed sense of creativity when we were building and constructing those tracks. If nothing else, the songs on the split represent the evolution of the band and our sound in the short time we’re doing this thing. It seems the songs on the LP were more frantic and abrasive, where the songs on the split are just as abrasive but way more calculated, paralyzing, and precise.”

Kirkby Kiss (Photo: Meg Amato)

For me, “Handball Courts” is Medicinal’s most powerful song on the split. The guitarwork traverses the line between tightly woven fast riffage and more ambient melodic vibes. All the while, Messina’s vocals pace the song’s movement by offering up screaming emotive cadences.

As Messina tells it, the lyrics “express aspects of hopelessness and separation. Knowing whatever is coming is terrible, and it’s definitely coming. Knowing everything will end. Remaining with the sadness, with the knowledge of what was.” That sort of introspection is captured in the vocal sound itself too, not just from the lyrics. The drumming in the latter half of the song is really well-written too and brings the song to an abrupt but strong closure.

Medicinal (Photo courtesy of the band)

Frankly, all of the songs on this split are really well-written. Not too surprising from bands whose members have been into the hardcore underground for some time now. But what’s also great about the split is that these bands don’t really sound much like anything else going on right now.

That’s refreshing. And it’s certainly a good enough reason for you to listen to these songs, and to pre-order the split!


The Medicinal x Kirkby Kiss split EP is available from Council Records.

Tagged: kirkby kiss, medicinal