Reviews

Reserving Dirtnaps, Another Disaster (WAR Records, 2020)

Grind City just hits harder. From Clenched Fist’s bruising Welcome to Memphis to the sickened plot of His Hero Is Gone’s scorched earth policy, Nashville’s western neighbor has long peddled world-ending heaviness.

The latest from Reserving Dirtnaps is no different. Another Disaster, their forthcoming EP, is brutalizing enough to have you pricing caskets and picking out burial plots. Set to drop tomorrow via WAR Records, this is that Memphis shit.

Most definitely students of the game, this Tennessee unit has absorbed decades of hardcore and sit well alongside current heavies Three Knee Deep, Detain, and Unreal City. It should also be noted that their cover art game is fire.

Enlisting artist Linas Garsys, known to hardcore aficionados as the creator of the American Nightmare “angel," Reserving Dirtnaps brought the whole package this go ‘round. Bluff City, y’all. Let’s get into it. 

From the jump, it’s absolutely bludgeoning. “Sleepless” sounds like the band is on the verge of implosion, if not exploding altogether. Captured live in-studio courtesy of Alan Burcham (A.B. Recordings), there’s an organic savagery not born of overdubs or endless takes. It lends their brand of heavy hardcore an element of barely contained chaos and a relentless metallic churning.

The band keeps it fresh, as outta nowhere that lockstep groove segues into a dope cymbal ride, finding the street-level two step of Madball as much as it does one-time tourmates Purgatory. Guitars randomly squeal as if they’re suffocating and clamoring for air and, as is to be expected, they’re most wicked as the song mercifully meets its end. The raw power of their low end is menacing and their half-time allows for their trademark to shine… a brutal breakdown. 

Their death metal chops gnash their teeth at the open of “Under Siege.” Riding a riff worthy of All Out War’s endorsement, they sound excruciating when slowing the pace.

The cymbals feel like the lashing of whips and, when the speed returns packed around a killer riff, it sounds like Merauder’s catalog being pillaged by a D-beat band. There’s a harrowing set of gang vocals tacked onto this one, the call and response feels like pugilistic venture that’s likely to end with someone toe-tagged. Thrilling shit. 

As a Baltimore native, my ear has been trained to go ape for Queensway. “Blood on the Walls” uses a Patric Gardner guest spot to note perfect effect. This one starts with fearsome and bellicose backing vocals that intimidate from the starting gate, and the weight of multiple vocalists is impressive.

Musically speaking, they again sound like a band intent on sending the listener to the mausoleum, mixing their hardcore with just the right dose of frenzied metal influence.

The last minute of this song is so punishing and nihilistic that we’re almost lucky to be spared live shows for the moment. When we do, in fact, return to the live setting, look for Reserving Dirtnaps to shut shit down all over again. 

Photo: Matt Wood

Closer “The Floods” is a fitting listen, as we’re under a flash flood warning in Maryland as I type these very words. The EP’s final track is burly enough to break levees, fusing Cold as Life caveman pummeling to Clevo legends Ringworm’s metallic leanings. They lay down an absolutely filthy bass line and, when matched by such a manic and nervous rhythmic pacing, it’s impressively big sounding. Again, they exhilarate with seamless and fluid transitions.

Ultimately, it's uncomplicated by design. There’s always been a great economy to what they do and they show a great deal of restraint. There’s an absolutely wicked serpentine guitar lead in this one that they wisely bury low in the mix, choosing Holy Terror over shred. Still, though, there are moments here that point at bigger things. This is still very much a heavy hardcore proposition, but the the guitars are almost always in motion.

The mastering on this grizzly quartet of bangers was handled by none other than Audiosiege’s Brad Boatright. Reserving Dirtnaps have leveled up in every way and chief among their assets is the recording. 

This EP blots out to sun and does its best to damn near choke out the world. They damn near succeed. This is top shelf heavy hardcore. Get on it. 

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