Detroit hardcore thrash metal band S.N.A.F.U. recently released the first single from their forthcoming album, Present Day Plague. On its own, “Unchained” is a crazy mix of hardcore brutality and metal technicality, and it is a great representation of what to expect from the nineteen-song, forty minute long album. S.N.A.F.U., standing for Situation Normal All Fucked Up, uses abrasiveness, anger, and an array of influences to create tracks that keep you on your feet and put you in touch with the darker side of modern day humanity.
S.N.A.F.U. shows a serious obsession with mashing up genres that cause sonic destruction. The album changes up frequently, often jumping from sections of scorching hardcore punk into chugging metal riffs and some skillful solos. While the album never stays in one place for too long, each track contains a unified sense of desperate fury that is cause by modern day political and societal conditions. As if song titles like “Subhuman Scum” and “Millions of Useless Eaters” didn’t tip you off to the band’s feeling about humanity, I’d venture to say they’re a little disappointed and pissed off about they way things are going.
With so much musical variety and such a serious message, Present Day Plague is an album that gets your attention by being disorienting and overbearing. The music matches their outrage with violent riffs and hoarse gang vocal chants, often making the album feel like the soundtrack to a protest turned savage. Tracks like “Her Dark Past” slide from a brutal, fast opening into a more metal-sounding track full of more complicated guitar shredding and some of those riot-inducing chants. “Body of Suffering” moves at a breakneck speed with swift shouts and growls, while the guitars serve up an escalating clash of styles. The quickly moving track slows down into a massive void, and the band exclaims “I can’t help but think I am a body of suffering / I feel the pain of everything.”
Some tracks are more straightforward, “Digital Prison” stays in the metal realm for the most part, and “Dead Before Dawn” is largely influenced by hardcore punk. However, most of the album will shock you with their genre merging. “Death Trip” notably pulls you under with a devastating mix of hardcore and grindcore, and “Prison Warders” brings in elements of sludge metal alongside their typically speeding sound. Album-closer, “Hand That Feeds” rides numerous dynamic riffs and feedback throughout, and ends by honing in on the idea that humans are more harmful than we like to think, “we are the sword inside the world!.”
S.N.A.F.U.’s trademark lies with being as chaotic as possible and pushing the genre boundaries of aggressive music together until they reach their breaking point. Their songs are oppressive and ruthless, which can make the album a demanding and exhausting listen. But overall, Present Day Plague is a compelling listen due to their genuinely severe message, and ability to cram numerous genre influences into songs that rarely pass the three minute mark.
Below, stream their first full-length album and watch the music video for “Death March Rat Race.” Present Day Plague will be released on August 7th. Following the album’s release, S.N.A.F.U. will be going on a tour which will bring them to Philly on August 20th.
Image courtesy of the artist.