Song of the Day

OTAGE, “Héros,” from EP 2020 (2020)

Photo found on OTAGE's Facebook page

The surreality of daily existence is, for now, a given. Should we find comfort in similar things, apocalyptic hardcore punk from the Northeast of France should bolster your defense from boredom. Courtesy of the Gargoyles at Gargouille Association, a Troyes-based label/promoter/distro, comes EP 2020 from OTAGE, a ripping hardcore band from Cambrai.

Remixed and remastered with new vocals, this is the aptly dubbed “pissed off version” of their 2019 EP of the same name. OTAGE’s  latest marks the label’s third release and, if the five songs herein are any indication, there’s another Northeast to keep an eye on. 

Self-tagged as "fastcore," I find the genre identifier a bit reductionist. We’ve gone so far afield with our descriptors that the aforementioned tag has different connotations than if I were to simply call it what it is… fast hardcore. Neither looking to break the land speed record nor bashing out power violence, this is straight up raging and nasty hardcore. Now with both my hand wringing and hair-splitting out of the way, let’s hit the music.  

Meet your song of the day, folks.. “Héros” is an absolute ripper that rides a classic hardcore punk riff like a runaway train:

Sounding even a bit, dare I say, fun; OTAGE is seemingly as well-versed in first-wave punk as they are the Havoc Records discography. Eventually, it crashes into speedier terrain that mines UK82 nihilism and just an acrid dash of crust. As the song reaches its breaking point, they throw in a mid-paced breakdown in which it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear Keith Morris’ sardonic sneer.

Sonically, they keep things blown out and treble-heavy, sounding as if the last few decades of hardcore never even happened. Backward glancing though it may be, they still manage a bit of the speed and aggression that informs bands that might find a Stateside home on To Live a Lie Records and their ilk. 

Lyrically, Google Translate sent me down a wormhole of accuracy and fact-checking. I’m reluctant to bore you with the details, but it involves “dense shadows” and “ogres dance before the orgy” so it’s clearly rad. Ultimately, the line “everything is toxic in my brain” is all you need to know. Self-loathing, snotty, and brash; Otage do hardcore classicism with the best of them. 

Photo found on OTAGE's Facebook page

Ever desperate as I am to unearth foreign hardcore and punk treasures from the endless digital Record Store that is Bandcamp, Otage is that 7” you bought on a whim. Traditional black and white presentation, replete with indecipherable titles and an unidentified punk in restraints, this the sort of record that looks and sounds like it could have come out any time in the last 37 odd years or so. Yet, I’m really fucking glad it came out this year.

If ever there was a time to support bands, it’s nigh on necessary now. Should you have the means and want some traditional hardcore with capital “P” punk, this should do the trick for your next one-person, pseudo bedroom show. 

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