FATAL, 6 Songs (Bunker Punks Discs & Tapes/Fight For Your Mind Records, 2022)

FATAL is but the latest reason that North Carolina can lay claim to being home to one of the nation’s most vibrant DIY scenes.

6 Songs originally saw daylight last year courtesy of the fine folks at Bunker Punks Discs & Tapes. After getting the cassette treatment, the lethal half dozen songs caught some overseas attention.

I thought it prudent to revisit one of the most essential hardcore punk EP’s of recent memory, as there’s at last 7-inch wax to share. With European distribution being handled by the fiercely independent and long-running anarcho mainstay Fight For Your Mind Records, the international scene would be wise to take notice. 

Like many of the best bands in the modern era, FATAL was forced in the fruitful flames of 2020’s quarantine. Now a fully realized proposition stitched together including members from heavy hitters Scarecrow and Government Warning. Also worth noting is that FATAL boasts Kevin Mertens, the original vocalist of legends Out Cold. 

Admittedly pulling inspiration from early Midwest hardcore, 6 Songs plays like a brutal forced entry. Best not to stray too far away from the turntable, cuz you’ll be gleefully flipping this record every three minutes or so. The entire thing clocks in just shy of six minutes, but it’s a relentlessly playable EP.

From the opening salvo of the bass scuzz that starts lead track “Ghost of the Self” to the wildly inventive guitar flourishes on highwater mark “Character Assassination,” it’s a relentless and livewire collection.

Calling to mind Necros and John Brannon as much as it does the sterling discography of Beach Impediment Records, the mission statement is simple: all go, no slow.

Though sonically not altogether similar, they manage to marry straightforward manic '80s hardcore with a touch of D-beat a la Loose Nukes, Reckoning Force, or personal faves Lethal Means. 

I adamantly refuse to write a review that takes longer to read than the runtime, so I’ll limit myself to the most boiled down of points to make. We’re what, 40ish years into this whole hardcore thing?  Bands like FATAL play with an enthralling and addictive energy that manages to sidestep revivalism or genre exercise. Instead, the band plays a particular strain of viciously direct punk, meticulously trimmed of fat until it’s a short, sharp shock of minute long ragers built atop timeless riffs, as if custom built to bully me into obsession.

Any band with such an eye-popping collective resume is bound to raise your expectations. Spoiler alert, this collection is unfuckwithable. 

FATALITY has never felt so alive. 

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