Denver’s Implied Risk are a renaissance man’s hardcore band. They combine the elements typical to hardcore — speed, angst, and heaviness — with a thoughtfulness and maturity that are far less typical to the genre. Their 4-song demo, released only a few weeks ago, offers the listener just that combination.
Implied Risk are a diverse set of musicians, to be sure. They come from different ends of the underground, and they vary pretty significantly in age. “So we all come from really different places when it comes to music, and hardcore just kind of happens to be where we all meet in the middle. It’s really a very diverse musical frame of reference to work with. We knew from the get-go that we wanted to be a hardcore band that drew a lot of influence from punk but also give it that kind of melodic hardcore feel.
"It’s been fun because our guitar player Alex is way younger than the rest of us and we'll throw out stuff like, ‘oh like that Blacklisted riff from that one song’ and he'll be like, ‘who's Blacklisted?’ So we're getting to introduce him to a lot of bands he's never heard of and watching him absorb those as influences,” says Mark, the band’s vocalist.
That sort of amalgamation of influences is evident in the demo’s opening track, “Pariah.” The song opens with a bursting guitar riff laid over equally fast drumming, seguing into a Revelation Records-inspired verse and sing-along chorus. From there the song shifts into a melodic but aggressive breakdown. And it all clocks in at just over a minute. “Pariah” is the perfect opener for the demo because it sets the overall tone, and is one of the best songs on the recording.
Lyrically, Implied Risk seems to tread on darker ground. Where the music is a clever mixture of melodic punk and hardcore, Mark’s lyrical content spawns from much heavier themes. Songs like “Racing to a Red Light” and “Man’s Best Friend” deal in far more existential terms than the music may at first reveal. For Mark, that’s just the way of things: “For me the references I made in the lyrics about religion kind of go along with that theme of solitude and loneliness. With religion, Christianity, or whatever, you have this kind of imaginary safety net, right? Like this idea that God’s going to bail me out or angels are watching over me, that there's some unseen thing or force that might save your ass from whatever it is that you got yourself into.
"There is also that idea that there's an evil opposition, or devil that's actively trying to fuck up your life or get you to make bad decisions. The idea of the devil or an evil force gives people this scapegoat. Someone else to blame for their misfortunes or wrong doings.”
Mark’s thoughts here are woven throughout the demo and even the band’s artwork. And while these ideas certainly aren’t new to hardcore, Implied Risk seem to capture them in a different way.
This is best revealed in the demo’s strongest song, “Man’s Best Friend.” The unsettlingly eerie opening leads the listener into a song that is catchy but darkly ominous. The song’s popping verse moves into a downbeat and choppy breakdown that serves to complement Mark’s lyrics really well. And while the song is clearly within the realm of Implied Risk’s melodic hardcore sound, it does resonate with a gloomy tone. It’s there that the lyrics bring together that intellectual maturity. “When you come to the realization that there is no god, no devil, that there are no angels or demons, that safety net disappears. You have no one but yourself to blame and basically you're on your own. That can either be very freeing or it can also be fucking terrifying.
"For me, personally, I guess, I see religion and spirituality as the same in that there's this belief in some kind of otherness. Again that unseen force. In my mind it’s on me to save me, it’s on me to make the ‘right’ choices and that I can’t control what happens to me. I can only control how I react to it,” reflects Mark.
For all of their introspection and seeming melancholy, the band hopes these are the very things that bring people together. As Mark says, “For me it was always comforting to know through people’s music and lyrics that they felt the same things as I did, so that's what I’m trying to put back out there. Let people know we all feel alone and there's nothing really wrong with that. It just something that happens.” Implied Risk is about acknowledging life’s difficulties, not hiding from them. Their music and their lyrics present that really well for a band with only a four-song demo to their credit.
Frankly, Mark and guitarist Steve have been mainstays in the Denver hardcore scene for some time now. They’ve been pillars of steadfast support for so many touring bands who’ve come through Denver. For them to form Implied Risk with some younger members of their community, and to offer up what amounts to a surprisingly impressive demo release is both refreshing and affirming. Implied Risk has much to offer in both sound and ethos, and the demo is very much worth a listen.
Check out the Implied Risk demo here.