Hate Still Burns, Underworld (Mosh Money Records, 2023)

There’s a strange amount of nostalgia for the the early '00s that I’m both uncomfortable with yet intrigued by.

I don’t romanticize the cheesy musical and fashion trends (tripp pants, nu metal covers, Ozzfest) of the era because they represent a time where big labels scrambled to commodify the underground scene.

The last thing we need as we see an increase in hardcore Taco Bell commercials and GoFundMe’s for mosh injuries. That being said I do kind of long for a return to kids with piercings, tattoos and dyed hair being considered the “bad kids” rather than everybody’s favorite e-girl and boy.

What does all that have to do with this EP review? It’s because this is music for the real bad kids.

Hate Still Burns is a metallic hardcore band from Cape Cod, Massachusetts (spare me the “what’s so hardcore about Cape Cod?” jokes) who since debuting as Armageddon 2001 when they were in high school have shown everyone they know good hardcore and can make it even better than their contemporaries. Playing slow yet mosh-inducing hardcore blasts that rarely ever clocked over the 1-minute mark, perfect for the drastically decreasing attention spans of our youth. They soon dissolved the name Armageddon and became Hate Still Burns.

Releasing their debut demo last year, Hate Still Burns displayed a calculated yet frenetic style reminiscent to the Helmet-infused hardcore of the '90s, influenced particularly by local favorites Sam Black Church and Tree. Characterized as “[liking] to play reeeaaallll ssssllloooowww” they continued their stop-and-go riffs from their previous incarnation with anthemic tracks “Down to Earth,” “Killer,” and “Weakness” showing off their ability to ignite a crowd with unique rhythms and attention grabbing vocals.

Underworld bookends the bands growth period and sees them fully coming into their sound and style. Each player sounds tight and focused and every track explodes out of your speakers and they do this without compromising their identity established previously. It’s clear they’ve worked tirelessly on this one as each member gets his moment to shine from the drum and bass fueled breakdown on “Rotten,” Anders’ machine gun drumming on “Dusk Till Dawn,” Joe’s agile leads complimenting Austin’s thick and destructive rhythms and Mitch’s desired massive choruses.

This EP might surprise listeners of their first demo as the energy is booted up to the moon.

Starting off strong with the track “Rotten” which kicks off 10x faster than any of their previous tracks. From the speedy drumming, whirlwind guitar work and Mitch’s frenetic vocals it’s a complete reinvention of their sound, throwing in some manic metalcore influences akin to early Cave In. It carries the track until you’re reminded of the bands “fuck you" approach to songwriting with the drum and bass fueled breakdown that comes after a brief yet deafening pause. It’s a moment that makes people stop and wonder “What the fuck is going on” but it quickly turns to violence in the pit as their surprise turns to a massive boost of energy.

“Living Dead” continues this energy and also shows off Joe’s chops on the guitar. The riffs on the chorus in particular greatly elevate Mitch’s vocals, as though they piggyback off one another. Building toward another cataclysmic breakdown in the later half Hate Still Burns shows just how much they’ve perfected their songwriting.
“Dusk Till Dawn” is a more groove-laden track as they return to the stop and go guitar riffs, a la Helmet, in the opening and Joe also throws in what I like to call “WAH WAH’S” into the mix. It slows the pace down a bit but you can already picture some deadly side to sides listening to the grooves. As stated before, Anders’ drumming on this one stands out the most as he switches between controlled breaks and machine gun fills.

Underworld feels like the band has finally stepped confidently into their shoes, they had a great introduction but the record feels like they grew 20 feet taller than they were before. This might be the first time where they’ve actually transferred the energy of their live sets onto a recording and the chaos and youthful energy remains. 
I wouldn't dare to call this a reinvention because they never needed to reinvent themselves, they just tightened the bolts a bit.

Their outlook certainly remains unchanged as seen in the lyrics on “Afflicted” which hammers in their nihilism with the repeated lyrics “Negative mental attitude. You should hate yourself. Negative mental attitude, go fuck yourself.”

Photo: Kristi Xhelili

Many bands show signs of improvement with each release but Hate Still Burns seems to take the dangerous route and skip a few rungs on the ladder, blowing every band out of the water in the process. Underworld is out now through the band's own Mosh Money Records and Hate Still Burns just hit the West Coast with Broken Vow. They’ll also be playing a record release show with Adrienne, Hard Target, and Jackal at the Middle East in Cambridge, Massachusetts on January 21st.

Catch them at a show and grab a CD so you can tell everyone in 20 years how you saw them when they were young and people were getting carried out in stretchers by the end of the first song. All the young kids will think you’re so cool for that, I promise. Also, if you do catch them at a show make sure to see what crazy shit Anders will be climbing on top of outside the venue and post it to the internet.

We’ll all thank you later.

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