Convulse Records continue to rewrite the playbook, putting out one essential slab of wax after another.
Alongside recent releases from Dazy, Miltarie Gun, MSPAINT, Raw Breed, and Public Opinion, the Denver-based label has vaulted into god-tier country.
Their latest sonic gift to us all will do nothing if not cement that shit. The Brooklyn hardcore duo Compassion has arrived with Pacing Animal, and this is note perfect fan service for the fast freaks.
Fans of Sex Prisoner, Regional Justice Center, Mind Eraser, No Comment, etc. should take note. There’s clearly a reason they were slotted to decimate stages alongside the lauded Hatred Surge on their recent reunion show victory laps.
At first blush, you’d be forgiven for mistaking this duo for a five piece wrecking crew. They somehow conjure an impossibly thick sound, band roster be damned. The unholy racket they peddle prioritizes a “fuzz to the front” vibe and an aesthetic that pairs well with a blown out sound. Much like the half dozen ragers on their 2019 demo, their latest seven-song set is a level-up in every way.
Opener “Vile Glow” checks in at just North of a minute. By their standard, it’s a veritable epic. Jokes aside, it’s a smash and grab of fast and punishing hardcore. Replete with all the requisite blastbeat fury of powerviolence and the blown out aesthetic of punk-leaning DIY hardcore, Spenser Granese (S.W.A.T.) and Calder Kollmorgen clearly have ingested whole the discographies of both Iron Lung and To Live a Lie Records.
Follow up “Brute” finds the band at their most hardcore leaning. They build this one around a killer drum run and a lurching back and forth that vacillates wildly between a blazing pace and more intimidating mid-paced sludge. It’s here that the album’s moniker feels most apt, conjuring the image of a caged, mistreated, and restless big cat.
Elsewhere, they unleash the tigress on my personal highlight “Open Cage," which adds a dose of d-beat and crust to their already formidable aural assault. Compassion isn't limited to four on the floor insanity, either. Just peep that fleeting guitar riff on the song’s final moments. Tossed off like it’s nothing, it’s the sort of thing lesser bands would craft an entire song out of.
Beneath the dense and noisy maelstrom are some expertly played songs, all given that trademark Will Killingsworth master treatment. Paired with an expert mix courtesy of Artifact NYC’s Sasha Stroud, it’s treble-heavy the way it’s meant to be, without sacrificing their inherently vicious bent.
Penultimate track “Corridor” and title track closer “Pacing Animal” are essentially tours through the band’s myriad talents, laying waste to what’s left of the listener. The former flies recklessly through fast, faster, and fastest before slamming head first in a menacing breakdown and glorious filthy bass tone. The latter captures the band at their absolute peak. Right after dropping what’s arguably their dopest riff, Compassion land on the meanest sounding moment I’ve heard on a record all year.
The halfway point devolves into an intimidating half-time chug that feels monumental when juxtaposed between blinding speedier passages. Tacking on a killer rhythmic run on the toms, the end arrives just in time to spare us anymore, ummm, compassion.
Get this. Now. Play it loud.
- Convulse Records (Vinyl)