Constrict, No Eden (Flatspot Records, 2020)

LA hardcore band Constrict is set to drop a 6-song EP via the inimitable Flatspot Records. On the back of their 2017 demo, Blood Is Sweeter from My Enemies, Constrict is set to asphyxiate listeners with their pummeling take on negative, metallic hardcore.

Featuring folks on loan from a variety of heavyweights like Vamachara, God’s Hate, Forced Order, and Disgrace, whose True Enemy is a personal favorite; their DNA is clearly on display here. They’re a decidedly current proposition that should immediately appeal to loyalists of the Closed Casket Activities/Unbeaten Records sound. These meanies peddle ugly, gloomy, and punishing metallic hardcore.  

Admittedly inspired by Kickback, Arkangel, and Death Threat, I also detect bits of Merauder, All Out War, and Clevo hardcore in their sound. Whether or not their namesake’s origin is cribbed from the Gomorrah’s Season Ends highlight, there’s more than a healthy dose of Earth Crisis, as well. Regardless, Constrict is set to carve their name into granite alongside their forebears.

Among the various things that set the group apart is the lyrical inspiration, which checks boxes similar to the Holy Terror movement as well as the death-obsessed heathens that haunted the '90s, like Deicide and Malevolent Creation. Flaunting equal parts sacrilege as they do nihilism, Constrict is brazenly dishing out spiteful hymns for the budding pessimist. Anything so willfully god-baiting is well up my alley, so onward to the songs...

More likely to squeeze the life out of you than a Brody King chokehold, is the aforementioned lead single and title track. “No Eden” callously carves a path through metallic hardcore with an added dose of Rust Belt nihilism oft-heard in Midwestern hardcore. Look no further than the death charging lyric “succumb to annihilation...” for a scholarly summary of their uplifting message.

There’s a sharpened edge to the guitars that’ll have you checking for incisions, as Brad Boatright’s signature Audiosiege sound finds them slashing through the mix in a violent way. The band incorporates fleeting moments during which they isolate individual instruments. Most notably, the bass and drums are both given the floor, flexing while allowing our, uhhhh, constricted airways a moment to breathe before being choked out again. 

“Deceiver” is an early contender for riff of the year. Look no further than just prior to the :30 mark for a devastatingly heavy guitar run. Beneath it all, however, are deceptively inventive layers lurking deep in the mix. They conjur a swirling maelstrom of extremity, topped with a fearsome low end. They manage moments of D-beat stampeding and sudden bass drops that owe a debt to Aborted.

Photo: Josh Vega

Pointing to moments of blinding talent, the song’s end features a brief but ripping solo cribbed from Florida’s grizzled death metal heyday. Later, “Scourge” again typifies their ability to inject sneaky metal leads into the proceedings, walloping at any pace, be it a breakdown or hard-charging gallop. Much like they’re collectively wont to do in their day jobs, they batter best behind thick walls of guitar. 

Though I’d rather not, “Bleed for Me” suffers no fools. It takes a menacing turn into primitive death metal, stomping its way until a vocal trade off. It’s moments like this that keep the EP squarely in the hardcore camp, as it ultimately feels like a midsong mic grab from Human Furnace. The whole song drips with venom, this time bolstered by Melnick-style squeals. 

Constrict maintain the highwater mark-setting on subsequent track “Bliss of Power.” Absolutely flying out of the gate, it rides a mean streak until its spiteful conclusion. With a blazing head of steam, they manage to beckon the apocalypse that is the song’s back half. It literally feels like the floor is caving in beneath you. Intensely heavy and bowel-disturbing, the overly simplistic and screamed “yeah!” somehow still feels like the most poignant utterance of the album. As resigned to hopelessness, the bleak canvas of the EP still sounds like they’re having so much fucking fun.

Though closer “Mantra” has nothing to do with the Shelter song and it’s otherwise posi- worldview, the Cappo penned first line of “Earth can be a lonely place…” is still strangely fitting. Constrict’s heel turn is that they flip the idea of a mantra itself, instead turning in a loathsome missive.

As expected, they remain unresolved about everything save what they deem the true nature of humanity… violently self-serving and blissfully unbothered by salvation. I’m scared to imagine the mantra these Hardcore heathens might summon, but it’d unlikely be life affirming.

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