War Babies: New York Hardcore Duo's 4: Engineering Our Own Demise Is a Beast

War Babies, and their noisy and speedy hardcore, are back with a sick cassette release on Trip Machine Labs. The New York-based band, born from the creative angst of Mike De Lorenzo (C.R., Serpico, Milhouse) and Darren Nanos (Negative Charge, Effective Relief), is more an outlet for sonic energy than it is group of musicians in the traditional sense. In fact, it’s only the two of them and, since they haven’t played live yet (although perhaps this year?), all instrumentation is covered by just them.

As Mike D. tells it, “musically, we’re carrying the torch of the hardcore bands we love that came before us by putting our own twist on it.” That “twist” finds the two, every so often, bringing songs to life over in Nanos’s Locker Room, and these latest tracks rip with serious intensity.

The new LP, 4: Engineering Our Own Demise, is eleven songs in total. And from the opening song, “Hateful Snake,” the music rocks with a tension that balances baritone vocal heaviness with high-paced noisy hardcore punk music. The guttural vocals bring the heavy forward while the guitars and drumming keep the pace frantic and kinetic.

For me, “Incompetent Arrogance” is the best showcase of this balance. The song opens with great speed slowing down into a rung-out breakdown, and then heading right back to the quick pace that opened the song. Nanos’s vocals are bulldoggish without being derivative and give the song a bounce that I found unexpected and welcome. And all of this bursting in a song that’s barely a minute in length.

“Cycle of Neglect” is another standout on the LP. The song is one of the longest on the record and has a grooviness in the guitars that brings the track closer to traditional hardcore sounds. The lyrical content is socially-conscious and seems to tell the story of the ever-present houselessness problem. Also, Tom Sheehan from Indecision does guest vocals on the song, and it’s great. His high-pitched scream is a great contrast to what Nanos does vocally, and Sheehan has quite a bit of space on the song. We’re not talking one line and done here. All of this builds “Cycle of Neglect” into one of the record’s best tracks.

Beyond the music, 4: Engineering Our Own Demise is a bit of an ode to the world around us. The artwork and LP title are nods to what War Babies see as a very real turning point in our society. “We’re nearly on the doorstep of living in the world where Skynet is almost a real thing. Terminator 2, one of my all-time favorites, left a deep mark onto my being as a young kid…The God complex people seem to have without considering the real-world applications, either to the future of the work force, policing, facial recognition, or plain weaponry, and combat. It’s all very strange and moving faster than we can keep up with,” reflects Nanos.

That sort of trepidation and paranoia about the future is found all over the record’s music too. War Babies are addressing a dystopia that seems to sit just beneath the surface, and songs like “Accept the Lie,” “Body for Christ,” and “Goo for Brains” bring that well into focus.

4: Engineering Our Own Demise is about expression and the freedom to think for oneself. It’s a thumping hardcore punk record, and it rocks with energy and urgency and angst.

Pre-orders for the cassette version of 4: Engineering Our Own Demise started today over at Trip Machine Laboratories. Snag a copy.


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