Tragedy, Fury (Self-Released, 2018)

It’s crazy to think that Tragedy has existed for nearly 20 years now—at times it feels like yesterday that I received a cassette of the rough mixes of the first album with explicit instructions not to copy it for anyone… though I played it for everyone. I remember pushing play and just being blown away with how powerful, heavy yet tuneful that album was. It was like all the ideas hinted at on His Hero Is Gone’s Monuments to Thieves had finally been allowed to fully manifest. Bombs of rage tempered with melody… the songs started to actually breathe a bit more—the early youthful primal rage becoming more focused and purposeful. 

No longer content to just align Eyehategod-style sludge with skull-crushing hammers of Crossed Out speed they mixed in the tension present in early Killing Joke and the taut straining melody of New Model Army.

This became even more present on their second LP Vengeance—the sense of straining at the leash, the unrelenting anger that comes with age and maturity distilled into 12 anthems against the frustration of broken dream shattered on the floor but still with the hope that vengeance would be ours to have. The bastards would be thrown to the dogs and in the end we all win… then they lost me.

Tragedy at Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA, 2014. (Photo: Michael D. Thorn)

It is not that Nerve Damage or Darker Days Ahead are bad albums its more they are lacking compared to the initial onslaught. Most bands would kill to have released a record of comparable quality to either but there is a lack of urgency and ferocity that is present in those first two LPs (and the two EPs). Searing speed and hooks became replaced with, at times, more a mechanical, metallic approach. It was as though the influence of Japanese bands like Judgement, Bastard, Mustang, or Death Side took a backseat to Bolt Thrower or Antisect. Not terrible but for me, not as interesting.

And so, six years later, out of virtually nowhere, they drop Fury—just in time for a quick trip to Europe and in this, we find a return to form. Six tracks of vicious, unrelenting hardcore punk that calls to mind the earlier more primal era of this Portland juggernaut.

Gone is any hint of plodding dirge and in its place a steamroller attack of ripping hardcore layered with melodic guitar leads and snarling vocals.

Listening to this it almost feels like the missing album between their eponymous first record and Vengeance—like this is the record that their Can We Call This Life? and To the Dogs  EPs hinted at. Layered passionate hardcore that pushes the bar forward as to what is possible—paying homage to that which came before by using those influences to create something new.

Tragedy at Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA, 2014. (Photo: Michael D. Thorn)

This is a welcome return to form that lays waste to the pretenders to their throne. Not bad for a bunch of old dudes.

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