Listen to Negative Blast
Sometimes an album comes along that’s exactly the sound you’re looking for at that time. For me, Negative Blast’s debut Echo Planet does just that. Formed by members of Lewd Acts, Hour of the Wolf, and Hot Snakes (to name a few), this San Diego based band plays blistering, angry hardcore punk that also incorporates some elements from garage rock. When it comes to this style of music, anger and sheer intensity can get you in the door, but it’s the quality of the songwriting that will keep listeners coming back. Negative Blast achieves this through a surprising amount of variety and short and to the point material, making for a strong showing from beginning to end.
Echo Planet isn’t seeking to radically change or reinvent what it means to be hardcore punk, but they get down to the essence of what has made these styles timeless for decades. Opener “Boy Blues” explodes out of the gate with riffs that have a noticeable rock ‘n roll swagger to them but are wrapped in hardcore punk’s fury and harsher edges. It’s the type of track that has you immediately tapping your foot along to the drumbeat, and then wanting to mosh around the room when the tempo picks up a few minutes later on “Trauma Bond”. Negative Blast does a great job of cramming variety and memorable riffs into an album that’s just barely longer than fifteen minutes, as each song establishes an identify of its own and doesn’t linger before moving onto the next idea. Whether the band is going for material that sounds very Black Flag influenced, pulling in a bit more D-beat, or hitting some rock ‘n roll swagger that has slight hints of The Stooges, there’s plenty here that will keep listeners coming back for more. My personal favorites include the aforementioned “Boy Blues”, the bludgeoning “Bad Trip”, and the slightly mellower and melodic “The King of Vancouver”, but you really can’t go wrong with any of the eight songs.
One of the elements of Negative Blast’s music that immediately grabbed me was Rain’s vocal work, which comes through with just as much intensity and grit as the rest of the band (and sometimes even goes above it). It’s drenched with rage and feels like he’s screaming right in your face for much of the album, coming through with the same type of fury as groups like Obliterations. But there are points throughout where Rain gives listeners a slight respite, as “Boy Blues” has some softer singing that switches things up and there are a few other points where his raspy scream subsides ever so slightly. It’s a small detail, but it keeps the moments of rage as intense as possible and makes the vocal performance one of the more scorching I’ve heard in this genre in recent memory.
There are so many quality hardcore punk bands out there, but admittedly some of them fall too closely to the template of one decade or influential artist from times past. Negative Blast feels old and new at the same time, capturing the raw energy and grit of the formative years with some of the elements added later in the decades that followed, and they have the songwriting chops to keep things intense and interesting the whole way through. It’s crazy to think that this is only their third release as a band following two demos over the past few years, and if this is the level they’re starting at I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future. Echo Planet is available from Quiet Panic.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg