01. Harsh Reality 02. Hand to Mouth 03. How to Get Ahead 04. White Leech 05. No Sympathy (For the Police) 06. Flaming Sword 07. Performative Justice 08. Sunken Place 09. Ode to Aphrodite
Everyone should remember the first time that music made them want to smash their own bedroom up. If heavy, angry, ugly music has any purpose whatsoever, it is to get the blood pumping and the spirit soaring, even if the means of achieving that singular rush is to fully embrace the dark and horrible aspects of humanity. Put more simply, bands like STRESS POSITIONS are few and far between, but when they appear, usually from nowhere, their potential impact is vast. "Harsh Reality" is the kind of white-knuckle, ultra-livid hardcore punk skull-kicking that comes along once in a glue moon, dishes out a beating of Biblical proportions and then departs, leaving listeners brutalized but glowing with satisfaction. Palpably left-field and averse to cliché, this Chicagoan crew also display a sly, artful edge, albeit right at the end of this frustratingly brief explosion of brittle brilliance. "Ode to Aphrodite" is a slow, menacing finale, with shades of SONIC YOUTH's outer limits cacophony and walls of howling feedback that lead to a chaotic, deranged denouement.
Prior to all of that adventurousness and left-field noise, "Harsh Reality" is an unrelenting tornado of psycho-speed punk brutality. The title track begins with a swing, before ripping away at an absurd pace, with vocalist Stephanie Brooks scraping paint from the walls while somehow managing to retain her eyeballs. It barely last 130 seconds, and it is as viscerally thrilling as anything else released this year.
STRESS POSITIONS understand the value of a remorseless savaging. "Hand to Mouth" is berserk, wonky hardcore with mischievous tendencies; "How to Get Ahead" is mad, flailing D-beat crustiness with no brakes; "White Leech" is the fastest, nastiest rock 'n' roll shit-fight since the early days of ZEKE, but with the intrinsic madness of MELT BANANA thrown in for extra crazy points; "No Sympathy (For the Police)" is a punishing, mid-tempo hardcore stomp with East Bay Ray trimmings; "Flaming Sword" is just fucking nuts, like snorting coke on a rollercoaster. After the micro-assault of "Performative Justice", "Sunken Place" reaffirms this band's mesmerizing ferocity, as the most absurdly vicious punk uproar collides with lurching, angular riffs that sound like a post-head-trauma FUGAZI. The comparative restraint of "Ode to Aphrodite" almost comes as a relief. Above all, STRESS POSITIONS are magnificently intense.
It bears repeating: this is a ridiculously exciting record. It barely lasts 18 minutes, but every one of them is an electrifying incitement to smash everything and screw the consequences. STRESS POSITIONS fucking rule. The end.
BLABBERMOUTH.NET uses the Facebook Comments plugin to let people comment on content on the site using their Facebook account. The comments reside on Facebook servers and are not stored on BLABBERMOUTH.NET. To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).