Line-up changes are often the death of good bands. It’s a notion that must have spelled a bad omen for Galway hardcore mainstays Only Fumes & Corpses, who’ve had more than their fair share of personnel shifts in recent times.
Nearly two years after their debut album Who Really Cares, What Really Lasts – a record that spoke of great things, but lacked a little something to these ears – Momme and the gang are back in 2012 with a new guitarist and bassist in tow (Andrew and Denis respectively) and two new digital EP releases: the 11-minute, 13-track Selfish Act I (already available on iTunes) and the 17-minute single-track Selfish Act II to come in May.
Hang on, what was that? Thirteen tracks in 11 minutes? That’s nothing if not a statement of intent from a band with a new fire raging in their hearts. You can almost feel the sweat flying from their brows, see limbs flailing against drums and strings. There’s no pretending here.
The distorted strains of opener ‘Selfish Act‘ are little indication of the ferocity to come. ‘Blinded‘ comes screaming from the speakers with a 30-second blast of metallic shredding, and it still has time for a breakdown before the blistering ‘Lost Generation‘, all grindcore intensity up front. It’s a harsher, rawer sound for them: the guitars are noisier, the drumming punches harder, and Momme’s vocals have a much greater vigour and immediacy.
The band let their D-beat influence shine through on ‘Downers‘, ‘Towers Fall‘ and ‘Won’t Come Back‘. ‘Full Circle‘ gives a little more room to breathe, channeling that peculiar spirit of late ’90s Hydra Head hardcore, while ‘From The Start‘ and ‘Smile Forever‘ keep up a galloping mid-tempo rhythm that nods to their older (dare I say weaker?) Victory Records influences.
And then comes the final twofer. Clearly unafraid to play around with expectations of what a hardcore band should be or do, ‘The Lush Part 1‘ slows things down with a crushingly heavy, almost doom metal intro before the blistering blastbeat finale, while ‘The Lush Part 2‘ revisits their past dub experiments. A taste of what’s to come in Selfish Act II, perhaps?
All in all, Only Fumes & Corpses have really captured their essence here – for the first time, in my view – and there’s nothing selfish about that.
Selfish Act I is out now on Lockjaw Records (vinyl release b/w Selfish Act II to come in June).