Integrity and Ringworm may be the first names that come to mind when people think of Cleveland’s landmark contributions to the inventive fusion of hardcore punk and metal, but those names don’t exhaust the town’s hotbed of vicious talent. Witness the new EP Humanity Pandemic by Punching Moses. For this listener, it’s been a revelation.
The opening instrumental track “Intro-Venous” may get your mind thinking in a certain direction. Slow, morbid, and heavy, with dismal guitar harmonies and a squalling, bluesy guitar solo, it might lead you to think you’re in for a really good dose of stoner doom — and then the double-bass kicks in and the riffs start to jab in a flurry. Even then, you don’t realize until looking back at the song after finishing the EP that you’ve just been teetering on the edge of an inferno. The rest of the songs hit you from behind and shove you all the way into the flames.
Every song in this too short collection is a surprise in its own way, because none of them follow a completely straight line in terms of style or rhythm. Yet the integration of the changes is so natural and the songs are so well-written and well-performed that they all seem like they were meant to be, before they ever came to be.
“In the Gutter” brawls like a gutter punk spewing vocal acid, but will open your eyes with the guitar instrumentals lying within it. The title track (my personal favorite) is more metal than punk, with chords that alternately blaze, writhe, and punch — a soundtrack to flying down the highway on a smoking chopper. “Arguing With the Doctor” leans more on the punk side of the band’s multifaceted sonic spectrum but spices up the venomous experience with lively bass notes and rippling guitars. And then “Self Control” loses control, with segments of racing thrash paired with slower, catchy grooves; the song also includes a kind of guitar call-and-response that’s fascinating, and that proves to be a bridge to a superheated explosion of instrumental and vocal fury that will leave your hair smoking.
Humanity Pandemic is energizing, heavy, and ferocious, with so many twists and turns that your head is left spinning at the end. My first thought, after I was able to have a thought, was to start it all over again. Check it out for yourselves, because we’re streaming the whole thing below.
Humanity Pandemic features cover art by Ringworm’s Human Furnace, and it will be released on November 20 by Seeing Red Records. You can order it here: