Ask random people on the street what ‘punk’ is, and you’ll likely get a wide variety of answers. Is it the music? The fashion? The ideology? Is it merely a sub-culture? An attitude? A way of life? Well, truthfully, it’s all these things and more. However, in reaching for a consensus on punk as a purely musical expression, most would agree that punk rock is loud, pissed-off, and motivated by a rebellious streak.
It’s this succinct-yet-complicated brief that Overcoming the Cycle of Sun Collapse, the debut EP from guitarist and vocalist Caio Brentar, works within. Sitting somewhat tangentially aligned to Brentar’s axe duties in Brooklyn post-hardcore outfit Died, his solo, five-track release explores the headier and more introspective zone that sits above punk rock’s trademark piss and vinegar zeal.
Opener “Frantic” kicks off with a hellish visual metaphor: “Watch the continents split in half.” Against this dystopic image of disaster, Brentar weaves angular riffs and a spoken-word delivery around studio drummer Kiyoshi’s propulsive rhythms. The track’s central tension is the prospect of aging on a dying planet, a reference to the EP’s title and the futility of existence with a finite end, ultimately contrasted by an upbeat chorus: “Can’t tell the kids they’ll reach my age/ Frantic, frantic, save the planet/ Lie for profit, feed us data/ Frantic, frantic, save the planet.”
“Brazilian Fire Song” hits a mid-tempo, emotional register, as Brentar uses fire as a primordial signifier for creation, destruction, death, and rebirth. Ramping up towards the end, pounding drums and double kick barrages land as explosive punctuation. “Vacations” thrusts scraping guitar and power chords against Brentar’s powerful vocals, while closer “Unscrew” is a postpunk send-off complimented by whispered vocals, striking hi-hat, and soaring leads.
EP standout “The Sun” hits a grunge fever pitch interspersed with audio samples detailing the scientific reality of solar evolution, the Sun’s eventual red-giant phase, and the extinction of all life on Earth. After an instrumental reprise, the track picks back up with a melodic undercurrent and swelling vocals, sounding like a spiritual successor to Nirvana’s “Very Ape.”
For his part, outside of his artistic exploits with Fire Man and Died, Brentar is a curious figure. With an eccentric persona manifested through his YouTube channel, Punk Revolution Now!, Brentar appears to be part vlogger, part music critic, and part troll. Video highlights of which include: “MILEY CYRUS FANS ATTACKED ME (Plastic Hearts),” “Is Music Subjective or Objective?”; “Anthony Fantano Destroyed My Self-Esteem,” and the feature-length “Top 100 Greatest Albums of All Time.”
While he retains a small-yet-supportive online fanbase by crafting criticisms with a heavy dose of eclectic levity, Brentar’s approach to Fire Man, Overcoming the Cycle of Sun Collapse, and the legacy of punk rock remains thoughtful and engaging.
Pre-order and stream Overcoming the Cycle of Sun Collapse here.