First Day Out, Don't Be Surprised (2022)

Since we last checked in with ATL’s First Day Out, they’ve been steady decimating stages alongside some of hardcore’s heavyweights.

Central to one of the country’s most spirited hardcore scenes, their latest is a must listen. Keeping the release in-house, the band’s latest EP, Don’t Be Surprised, is a level up in every way.

Still built around the sort of muscled, no-qualifier hardcore their sound is forged around, this sounds absolutely massive. Despite their titular warning, I’m still shocked by their coronating moment. 

In perhaps the hardest charging love letter I’ve ever heard, “Charge It to the Game” celebrates the transformative power of this little thing we call hardcore. Ostensibly an ode to each other, the band sounds equal parts celebratory and enraged.

After a fleeting and ominous squeal, it settles into steamrolling ardcore that bristles with excitement. The drumming here is superb, flirting with blastbeats and endlessly inventive fills. They expertly pair burly call and response gang vocals to a crushing breakdown. Fittingly for July, all I’ll say is This Is Hardcore. 

I’m a mark for a sick bass tone and, fuck, the following track“Stuck In My Ways” nails it. It soon devolves into a manic and sneery punk led track that calls to mind Restraining Order and all the forebears we have to thank for their update on tightly wound USHC. The vocal inflection elevates this one, doubling down on their firebrand and lively sound.

Elsewhere, “Own Two Feet” rides a mid-pace, casually tossing off an exemplary two-step and an exhilarating stop on a dime flare that’s exploded since we last heard from them. The midpoint instrumental passage here seems custom built for a pile on.

It’s easy to imagine countless hands grabbing for the mic. I’m getting some Rotting Out vibes here and, as we careen violently to the song’s end, “You’re not a fucking peer to me…” hits like a fucking anvil to the chest. The song bleeds seamlessly into the closer, incidentally the EP’s title track and lead single. 

Photo: Sofia Diaz

“Don’t Be Surprised” tips their hand, pointing at an even more stacked bag of tricks than we thought. There’s a noisy and discordant guitar workout near the song’s end that flashes yet another of their myriad talents. The playing on this EP rules and the kick drum here is likely to knock the wind outta the listener. 

Atlanta is hotter than usual these days. We have First Day Out to thank for it. Get on this band immediately. You’re welcome. 

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Tagged: first day out