Label: Hotfoot Records
Bandcamp stream: Link
I’m reaching the point in my life where society probably thinks I should have “grown out” of hardcore. Whilst many of my friends spent their wages on more “grown-up” things, one of the things that gets me through each day at work is thinking that more money means more records. Still, there’s times when responsibilities get me pretty worn down, and I need something to make me feel like a teenager again (in a positive sense) Listening to Nightlife, the latest release from Michigan’s Tall Tales, has given me a much-needed injection of youth and energy on a dreary day. They offer up 22 minutes of modern, heavy hardcore with some metal-influenced (but not metalcore) guitars, full of such energy that it’s hard not to get swept along for the ride.
Right from the moment the record begins, it’s clear that you’re in for a pretty intense listen. Even if the band begin things with a relatively mid-tempo introduction, there’s no mistaking what the tone of the guitars, drums and bass implies, and when Bryan’s vicious, raw vocals kick in for “Paradise”, it should all be very clear. This isn’t your commercially-friendly, made for mass consumption strain of hardcore; this is underground music with just the right balance of listenability and dirt under the fingernails, with a very negative approach to the lyrics. “There is no paradise” proclaims the opening track, whilst “Unfortunate Son” claims “You let me down/Every single time.” It’s to the band’s credit that it all sounds very sincere and heart-felt, and I can’t help but wonder how crushing these songs must be live. Just check out “Soothsayer”, arguably the highlight of the album; heavy as hell, but also memorable and just tuneful enough. The way that it leads in to the super-catchy “Midnight Blues” is also worthy of note, demonstrating that there’s more to this band than just aggression.
Unfortunately, the punishing nature of the listen – a positive for large parts – does mean that Nightlife begins to run out of energy towards the end. Make no mistake, this is an exhausting listen despite its short length, and whilst the different, slower approach taken by the opening of closer “Deadman’s Hill” helps recharge batteries, there’s the feeling that the record would perhaps have benefited from such a shift coming earlier.
Even so, this is a relatively minor complaint, and if listened to in the right mindset probably isn’t even an issue at all. Nightlife is a record full of uncompromising, punishing, superbly heavy hardcore. It’s hardly original, but it doesn’t need to be. It needs to be honest and heavy, and that’s exactly what Tall Tales are. But better than that, there’s moments where they tap in to that core of energy at the heart of hardcore that takes me back to when I first discovered the genre and how thrilling it can be, and the importance of that is hard to put in to words.