Lesser Minds, Futile (Protagonist Music, 2022)

Lesser Minds form bigger thoughts.

The misleadingly named Garden State hardcore crüe, a deceptively brainy bunch, recently dropped their debut EP, Futile, courtesy of Protagonist Music. With a discography well worth a deep dive, the long running independent label boasts a wildly expansive and exceedingly diverse roster. The latest from these Sussex county bruisers is no exception. 

First profiled in these very pages, the group features the industrious Brian Burdzy, of the esteemed Sex and Glue Zine and a glut of rad podcasts. Having already dropped a grip of killer digital singles, their return is a taut and vicious five song cycle.

Pulling from the admittedly influential Ceremony, Deadguy, and the world beaters in Peace Test, there’s a ton more at play here. As is often the case with such far flung swaths of inspiration, the best I can do is call it hardcore. To wit, essential hardcore. 

“Vatican Damage” springs to life after a discordant and eerie open and, as promised, certainly leans on stomping Tim Singer-isms. It plays more like a set opener and a foundational part of their sound than a fully fledged song. Allowing the listener to buckle up, it’s a not so thinly veiled letter bomb addressed to the church, which will forever get me to join the congregation. 

Follow up “…Crush” picks up the pace considerably. Employing the tried and true trick of savagely announcing the song name, it’s an enthralling mix of blazing fast hardcore and a riff that calls to mind RATM’s early classic, “Bullet in the Head.” For a song just north of two minutes, there’s a world of various sounds all seamlessly stitched together under the banner of hardcore. 

Elsewhere, “All Pain all the Time” and “High Praise” dazzle in myriad ways. The former is a straight up speed trial… a sub-minute rager that suggests you “Get the fuck outta my way” atop a bludgeoning backdrop of D-beat-infused battering.

The latter is a noisier and sludgy mid-paced assault that introduces Lesser Minds’ killer call and response talents. The song’s back end relies heavily on backing vocals and pulls off its mangled melodies with aplomb. 

Closing track “Blunt Force Drama” is aptly named, to be sure. The band’s innate ability to create dramatic sweeps is on full display, as the building tension is at least released around the :40 mark with a scuzzy low end. The bass sound is killer across the whole collection but it’s isolated opportunity here is note perfect. The blunt force, as it were, is composed of the frenzied back end that sprints toward its squealing and manic finale. Shit rips. 

This is one of the year’s finest hardcore EPs. You’re welcome. 

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