Talking about mess without sounding like mess
You don’t need a long time to send a strong message. That’s something punks learned a while back, and it’s something that hardcore punk band Hesitation Wounds have been keeping up with. It makes sense, considering the band’s aural ancestry—Touche Amore’s Jeremy Bolm fronts this ambitious outfit as well, with Hope Conspiracy’s Neeraj Kane, Stephen LaCour of Trap Them and new drummer Thomas Cantwell (of Gouge Away) in tow. Plus, the signature touch of Kurt Ballou is ever-present. With this pedigree of people and punk’s general straight-to-the-point nature in mind, Hesitation Wound’s sophomore album Chicanery is everything that it needs to be and more, all in under 12 minutes.
That’s part of the aforementioned conciseness that punk possesses. While so much of heavier music operates on expansive conceptual feats, Chicanery is poignantly deliberate, especially lyrically… at least, when you can understand the lyrics. “At Our Best When We’re Sleeping” fits into the album’s thought process, calling to a better side of consciousness involving slumber. “Anything to get a break from this sound” Bolm yells, shunning days spent “in disbelief” with the current standing of things. “Paragons of Virtue” starts off heavy-hitting—Bolm declaring “We’re open-minded but short-sighted/ we expect what we want” with a fervent bite at society.
But it’s not just the words that work with purpose—Chicanery works just as much in instrumental punches as it does lines with as much a socially stinging accuracy as the album’s title itself. It’s relatably lo-fi—heavy in reverb and done in more of a DIY recording style, giving it the same feel as any of our civilian home attempts at expression would with a slightly more pristine finish. Yet, it’s alignment with the overwhelming command of power violence and quickly paced outputs makes it prototypical for standards of rebellion, considering its drive for sociopolitical rightness (not righteousness, mind you). The solos aren’t trying to sell you on a sound, but more of communicating displeasure. And, though the drums keep the tempo at a height, it seems more as a means of quick-expression than it does trying to fit into any sort of categorical bounds.
So, even if the records just shy of 12-minute runtime, Hesitation Wounds use that deficit of time to the fullest. What results is a record that’s passionate not necessarily just for music’s sake, but one that’s passionate for humanities sake. It’s an album of activism in its own right, and with everything that’s going on around us, it didn’t even have to try that hard to be so.