Let’s make one thing clear: Spill Your Guts are absolutely awesome. Their blend of melodic hardcore and black metal (which is a very different thing from blackened hardcore) is high tempo, full of energy, and absolutely contagious. Listening to Full Blast, their latest EP, it’s almost impossible not to be swept along with its speed and enthusiasm, and the restless feel throughout makes it an utter, well, blast to listen to. Plus, there’s not many bands doing what these guys are, combining black metal with melodic hardcore in a way that means there’s no risk of mistaking them for a bunch of kvlt basement dwellers or whatever. This is hardcore first and foremost, and it’s excellent.
In a lot of ways, to critically assess Full Blast is to do it an injustice. After all, it succeeds in so many of the areas that hardcore lives or dies by; the energy is contagious; the music is fast and intense; and there’s a sense of sincerity and self-awareness that helps raise the band above much of the competition. It’s an adrenaline rush from start to finish, the kind of record that prompts solo mosh-pits in your living room, and is practically impossible to argue against.
But, take a step back, and appreciation from Full Blast grows even further. The songs don’t just rely on speed and melody to get by, as so much Youth Crew influenced hardcore does; there’s strong song-writing here too, that makes good use of the dual-guitar set-up to add little touches and movements to the music. Taken just as a hardcore album, it would already be great, but when the band add in some black metal and grindcore influences – such as early on with the tremolo-picked leads and blasts during opener “Beasts”, or towards the furious end of “Blind Path” – it really shows just how great Spill Your Guts are, and that they’re doing something different with an old template. And when they do make use of tried and tested hardcore techniques – gang vocals, pick-scrapes, breakdowns – they’re done with such passion and urgency that it makes the music sound all the more urgent and vital.
Both black metal and hardcore can take themselves too seriously though, and third track “SH21” shows that Spill Your Guts are nicely self-aware, unafraid to make fun of themselves lyrically even if the music is as excellent as ever. The short guitar solos and leads throughout also add to a sense of fun and enjoyment throughout, making it very clear that Spill Your Guts are a band who really enjoy what they’re doing, and what you to enjoy it, too. And really, you’d have to be an utter misanthrope (or total genre-purist) not to. My only regret is that, as these guys are based out in Shanghai, my chances of seeing them live are pretty much zero, as if the music is this enjoyable and life-affirming on record, I can’t help but imagine how great it must be live. As it is though, Full Blast is an absolute treat, and a reminder of just how great hardcore can be, and is one of the best hardcore records I’ve heard this year.
Full Blast is available to stream and download via Bandcamp.