Ball of Light, 2 Song EP (Rad Girlfriend Records, 2020)

On the strength of their 2019 debut full-length, Flux, I’ve been eyeing Cincinnati’s combustible Ball of Light in anticipation of big things.

Dropped earlier this month, their new 2 Song EP is exactly that. Boasting but two tracks of unhinged and erratic hardcore punk, lets hope this is but an appetizer for a follow up. 

“Under Red Skies” starts already awash in their trademark undercurrent of noise, gripping the listener with a pummeler of an opening riff. They manage to marry the blistering assault of late period Hope Conspiracy and their ilk to something far more discordant.

They capture the “floor is caving in” assault of Cavity and Heroin, but I also hear a number of criminally underrated bands in their unique sound. There are hints of Glass and Ashes, Strikeforce Diablo, and Trapdoor Fucking Exit; all under appreciated No Idea Records acts. 

One of their best tricks is a deft ability to incorporate post hardcore’s nuance and layered approach. Guesting on the track is Gared O’Donnell of Planes Mistaken for Stars, who adds bewitching and anguished vocals to an already powerful backdrop. His guitar tone is also unmistakable, winding its way dramatically throughout the chaos. The band expertly plays around him, evoking both frailty and an impossible power.

When at last they reprise the opening riff, it’s doubly intense and energetic. There’s a churning energy, a balance of malice and grit that makes it feel as though you’re careening violently towards the song’s end.

Though sonically very much their own proposition, Planes Mistaken for Stars is a great touchstone, as Queen City’s Ball of Light seems to approach their songs with the same apocalyptic abandon and need for catharsis. 

Photo courtesy of Ball of Light

The B-side sports “Burden," a more mid-paced and sprawling mood piece of noise-laden sludge. It’s far more off-kilter and sways chaotically, invoking bits of Coalesce and latter day Converge. They inject it with the grime of Amphetamine Reptile’s roster. Even as the band weaves another grizzled tapestry, there are moments of buried melody that bely a band able to pull off myriad sounds. 

As intense as Cincy’s Ball of Light may be, it still goes down easier than Skyline Chili. Eat it up, y’all. 

The aforementioned Gared O’Donnell was recently hit with an intense diagnosis and could use our help. If you’re able to, please consider donating to his GoFundMe. 

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