Monday, February 14, 2011
SQRM - Rodeo (2010)
Country: United States
Record Label: Youth Attack!
Pretentious as it is, stating that SQRM may just be the band to herald the next generation of hardcore music is made all the easier, even after just one listen of group's sophomore effort entitled Rodeo; adorned by the glassy-eyed gaze of a clown who by looks of it is about to trade in his big, red nose for a noose (perhaps a subtle jab towards hardcore's fun-loving spirit), the album's cover is simple yet jarring, the perfect visual to represent the schizophrenic madness held inside. Self-loathing, outwardly loathing, SQRM may not be trying to change the world. but their well-spoken dissatisfaction with well, everything, is not only compelling but dangerously addictive, a bad habit that will leave you on a Rodeo binge daily
While their cover may sneakily be attacking the scene they were spawned from, that is where all subtleties on Rodeo end, with both the lyrics and music of SQRM aiming for nowhere but the jugular. Utilizing a suitably filthy production, SQRM's minimalistic version of hardcore is the perfect means of conveyance of their rampant hatred of all. Fittingly, one of the best examples of the Western Massachusetts deranged style would be the album's title track, where SQRM's vocalist (who like the rest of the band has made his identity annoyingly difficult to discover) with his raw howl rolls off visceral verse after verse, almost psychotically delivering the devastatingly straight-shooting lines;
"Your fucking scene, your fucking face, your fucking looks, you're a fucking disgrace! Call me a freak! Don't like my cloths, don't like my hair! I'm a fucking freak, spit on me, just sit and fucking stare!"
Enlightened lyric writing skills? Definitely not, but coupled with the seething fervor of his delivery juxtaposed against the band's slow and droning tempo, his scornful words somehow manage to transcend genius. Not only is the album lyrically abusive with songs like " I Can't Find My Knife" recalling the story of an obviously troubled individual (maybe the clown!?!) who (luckily!) can't find his knife, or the excellently titled "Cut My Strings", a pessimistic message about everlasting stagnancy, but musically Rodeo reciprocates the same intensity in a fashion just as captivating. "You Still Can't Live" depicts SQRM's energetic side, where the band mashes more traditional hardcore elements with their own perverse take on the genre, crafting stop-and-go guitar lines that as ugly as they are surprisingly memorable.
As a "hardcore" band part of makes SQRM so damn good is just how original and different their hardcore really is; rarely adopting the genre's usual breakneck pace ("I Can't Find My Knife", "You Still Can't Live" and closing song "Waste" are really songs that approach hardcore's standard speed), SQRM's down-tempo assault is what truly separates the boys from the men. "Upsidedown Cross" (bet you couldn't guess, a song about bashing Christianity and their lord and savior Jesus Christ!) showcases the group's thinly distorted guitar tone play slow, anger infused dirges of sloppy power-chord passages, accented a steady, simple drumbeat, a perfect accompaniment to the rest of the music. SQRM's drummer doesn't flaunt his skills often, but on tracks like the aforementioned "Waste", the faster paced tempo allows for him to shine, performing powerviolence-like blasts and thunderous drum-rolls with an astute sense of timing.
Whether SQRM's intentions were to ever change/improve the time-tested hardcore formula or not, the notion (probably originally started by fans anyway) has become something of a reoccurring themes within reviews and assessments for the band even since their first album, with Rodeo inspiring even more confidence in all those who support them. Deservedly gaining new fans by the truckload, SQRM you may mega-loathe us, but we can't get enough of you.