Song of the Day

Chained Bliss, “Human Again,” from Stained Red Promo (2019)

Today’s Song of the Day arrives courtesy of Chained Bliss. Proof perfect that Thomas Gray’s famous ode to ignorance is little more than an excuse to justify apathy, the old chap clearly had never been chained and sure as shit hadn’t heard this.

Released in late October via the Philly-based record and tape label Where’s the Pleasure (dope Poison Girls reference?), their cassette, Stained Red Promo, is a masterclass in melodic punk traditionalism. Leaning heavily into the “leave ‘em wanting more” philosophy, the painful brevity of the ten minutes herein is utter perfection. Tapes will be dropping soon by the aforementioned punk purveyors, who’re clearly committed to (punk)rocking the cradle of Liberty City. Both the band and the fledgling label are atop my year’s favorite discoveries. 

Though I’d wax glowingly if you grab bag any of the four tracks, it’s opener “Human Again” that’s deserving of the bevy of eyes n’ ears. After fleeting moments of tape manipulation, the track bleeds into a perfect riff that manages to make decades-worn chords sound completely new and invigorating.

In much the same way The Observers and their later incarnation Red Dons seemed to reinvent the backwards glance, Chained Bliss split the difference between both the Deranged and Grave Mistake Records rosters and the endlessly fruitful period right before USHC relegated first wave punk to the dustbin.

Though not a particularly virulent strain, they eschew the bubblegum aesthetic of pop-punk in favor of something far murkier and East Coast birthed. There are nods to The Wipers in both the murky punch of the sonics as well as the doomtown angst of the vibe that hangs gauzily over the proceedings. In little over 120 seconds, the band shoehorns multiple decades into their sound, much like the similarly minded punks in Dark Thoughts and No Problem.

I hear touches of the earworm sensibility that gifted us the Radioactivity/Marked Men family tree and even the hardcore flourishes of No Hope fo the Kids or Gorilla Angreb. Chained Bliss isn’t miles away from the lightspeed pummel of Beach Impediment artists, either, as they blur the line between punk and hardcore to an indistinguishable degree. In my opinion, that’s the way it was intended to be. 

With a cover that looks pilfered straight from the Stiff Records handbook, Chained Bliss are clearly well read historians of the genre’s countless corners. They’ve mined deeply enough that they’ve hit pay dirt. “Human Again” is said gold. Augmented by taut rhythms and desperately shouted vocals that live on the right side of screams, the promo is over altogether too soon. If this is any indication, expect big things from Chained Bliss down the road. 

Tagged: chained bliss

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