Local hardcore punk band Grower recently released a fast and devastating album entitled Hazel. The record clocks in at 27 minutes long with 16 songs , and it is full of abrasive instrumentals and furious shouts that result in songs that resonates as deeply personal and fed-up.
Hazel lyrically dives into personal and political issues in a chaotic and forthright manner, while the music moves between moments of breakneck speeds, noise-riddled grooves, and sludgy breakdowns. The band’s sound is crushing and disastrous, and they swiftly change between styles of assault within songs. “Expendable” starts out as a full-fledged sprint with a fast beat, but with an shout of “one, two!” the band moves into a slowly burning conclusion. Vocalist Joe Hoban leads the band’s onslaught with powerful words and a monstrous voice that should instill fear in those who usually reap it, “I don’t want any part of this. If violence is defendable and everyone’s expendable, then make me the first one to go.”
The whole record is full of these monumental sounds and messages, and the band’s highest success comes when their songs are most focused. Tracks like “Joseph Marino” are more linear, and keep your attention in their grasp for its entirety. Over a heavy, trudging riff, Hoban starts the song screaming, “Take your fucking idols and set them ablaze. Tell your fucking god that you’ve got hell to raise,” while later on he begs for justice, “Take all the nails of words you’ve said and stick them in your fucking eyes.” On the preceding track, “Osage,” Hoban hints at the kind of circumstances that need some kind of intervention, “Do you look your children’s eyes and tell them you protect and serve? Do they believe you? I fucking hope not.” Their songs bleed with an anger and intensity that comes from being totally disgusted with human behavior, and Hoban’s lyrics help hone in on exactly what the cause for that disgust is.
Hazel is best listened to all the way through, but the biggest standouts are “Trav’s Song,” and “My Throne.” The first contains some of Grower’s most interesting musical moments alongside further revelations about state of their anger, “I fell for a fairytale. I fell for the American Dream.” The riffs slow down halfway through, and Hoban shouts “Take the roof from my head. Take the clothes from my back. Take my will to survive. Take my will to react. Take the rest from my eyes. Take the strength from my bones. Take what’s left of my mind. Leave me broke and alone.” On the album-closer, “My Throne,” Grower delves into mental struggles along with some of their most intriguing songwriting, especially in terms of riffs. The music is steadfast and quickly moves from one section to the next, and Hoban delivers some of his most raspy takes as he deals with internal struggle, “I sit on a throne locked in the only empty room in my head, swinging bottles at the voices that are wishing me dead. I’m keeping count of all the useless fucking words that I’ve said, because they’re the ones that won’t let me out.”
Hazel succeeds in being a hardcore album with serious meaning, and their instrumental skill matches those feelings with huge, brutal walls of noise. In a nutshell, Grower has a compelling hardcore sound that plays out in songs jam-packed with fervor and intense emotion. The amount of personal anguish and disgust portrayed on Hazel makes it an amazing outlet for when you are equally fed-up with what you see in the world and what you’re experiencing in your head.
Below, stream/download Hazel via bandcamp and watch some live performances Grower did at WKDU. Grower will be playing in Philly on October 3rd (info), but keep an eye out on their facebook for a physical release and more upcoming shows.
Photo by Jay Breslin.