You knew the backlash was coming. Hardcore has blown up under the microscope of little old writers like me, who typically reserve their attention for bands that look as glum and bearded as an adjunct English professor. Plenty of punks stood by while their underground heroes got pushed on stage at major festivals and the Grammys, but now, after one too many Taco Bell commercials, some scenesters have *ahem* seen enough.
Filth Is Eternal will likely attract the same side-eyed scrutiny that’s been thrown at Gel and Scowl. They’re signed to the same quasi-independent label as indie folk cash cows The Lumineers, which might explain why several eye-popping names are credited on their new album. Find Out wasn’t just recorded at Dave Grohl’s studio. It’s produced by a guy who’s cashed checks from Blues Traveler. Lead single “Crawl Space” is so filled to the brim with fizzy distortion that it practically gushes with crossover potential.
But hardcore is all about using whatever resources are at your disposal. For the past year and change, Filth Is Eternal have grinded up and down the West Coast’s DIY circuit, though, really, the band’s core have been riding hard for their hometown of Seattle since before Macklemore discovered thrift stores. Lisa Di Angelo and Brian McLelland started playing together as members of He Whose Ox Is Gored (good band name). Sometime around 2018, the two took a break from forging prog-induced metal, albeit, only so they could shift gears to a more traditionally confrontational style of hardcore punk.
That’s exactly what they cranked out, too. In fact, their first album might’ve hit that mark a little too hard, to the point where they had to undergo a name change. I guess not every promoter is comfortable with putting Fucked and Bound on a tour poster.
Don’t get it twisted, though. Filth Is Eternal might’ve cleaned up their image, but Find Out doesn’t smooth away their jagged edges. This album sounds huge and abrasive, like it was custom rigged to blow fedoras off unsuspecting influencers at Coachella. Paul Fig pads the production with an arena-sized punch that he’s delivered to hard rock radio heavyweights like Corey Taylor, without scrubbing the grunge that’s caked into this band’s fingerprint. “Roll Critical” comes greased in enough tubular reverb to land on an old-school Tony Hawk soundtrack.
If anything, Filth Is Eternal have only grown leaner and meaner. Find Out rips through 14 songs in roughly the amount of time it takes a balding gatekeeper to shave their head. Even when the album finally does slow down during its closing number, “Loveless” surges with the stinking, destructive force of a sewage spill. Rah Davis tours with Cattle Decapitation, but it’s still jarring just how much his bass piledrives the low end of “Pressure Me” deep into the red. I don’t know where this band found Emily Salisbury, but my god does she barrel “Into the Curve.” The way she chews through crusty D-beats and mechanized double bass kicks makes me think of what would happen if a garbage disposal could run on Monster Energy.
Hardcore works as an outlet for raw physicality. A church basement or VFW hall gives people of all-ages space to kick back and let loose against the surrounding chaos of the outside world while screaming their bloody heads off. Occasionally, Di Angelo will pitch into a venomous shriek that’s not a far cry from one of those little dinosaurs that ate Newman in Jurassic Park, though their default is more of a sandpapery bark. “I’m gonna break! This thing apart,” they yell, hurling themselves against “The Gate” with the foam-at-the-mouth frustration of an attack dock.
But this music also has the potential to channel individual frustrations into a single involuntary movement. “I’m not alone in this lonely place,” Di Angelo flat-out sings with an aching tenderness that rises above the eerie pangs of dissonance on “Signal Decay.” Find Out alludes to their own struggles with addiction and mental health, but Filth Is Eternal always circle back to the hardcore community as an escape from those self-destructive thought patterns. They want you to feel their spirit, peppering the lyrics with hyped-up encouragements (“Don’t lose sway!” “Catch your breath”, “Feel it?” “Let’s go!”). They’re here to pressure us into making a whole world out of this one thing.
Look, I get it if you’re skeptical. I also wouldn’t enjoy watching the music I love get repackages as a commercial for something that, in all honestly, is only going to give me diarrhea. I was there when James Murphy tried to sell us hipsters a new pair of Nikes. But there’s a reason why elder statesmen like Botch and City of Caterpillar endorse Filth Is Eternal. This is a band that donates merch cuts to causes like the Transgender Law Center. They just want to give hardcore to more people, too. “All in motion, no distance between us,” Di Angelo shouts in sheer ecstasy toward the end of “Last Exit,” amid a breakdown so filthy that crowds are bound to break into a full-blown skank. If that doesn’t make you want to jump in the pit, maybe it’s time to get off.
Find Out is out now on MNRK Heavy.
Follow Filth Is Eternal here.