(Andy Synn offers his thoughts on the new album from Racetraitor, which was released last week)
As I may have mentioned before, my original introduction into the “alternative” music scene came via Punk and Hardcore, with the latter in particular playing a fundamental and formative role in my early musical development.
And while my tastes eventually expanded and evolved, Hardcore has always retained a special place in my heart, with last year in particular doing a lot to renew my faith in the genre with its bumper crop of artists and albums representing the wide variety – from the melodic to the metallic, the punkiest to the proggiest – and resurgent vitality of the modern scene.
Unfortunately, by and large, 2023 hasn’t been anywhere near as good, with too many of the biggest and most hyped-up releases, in my opinion at least, making a lot of noise without really saying anything.
But that’s not an accusation that could ever be levelled at Racetraitor, and their new album is no exception.
Of course, having a righteous message doesn’t mean anywhere near as much if you don’t have the music to back it up (I’m sure we can all think of at least a few bands who talk-the-talk better than they walk-the-walk), but thankfully Creation and the Timeless Order of Things wastes no time in letting you know that Racetraitor‘s music continues to be as powerful as it is polemical.
Take expectation-upending opener “Eid”, for example, which combines uncompromising Hardcore heaviness and Grind-encrusted intensity with traditional Middle-Eastern instrumentation (courtesy of Persian composer Fared Shafinury) while also confronting the cruel reality of failed revolutions, both past and present.
Or perhaps you’d prefer the blast-fuelled belligerence of “Chamelecón” or the blistering, cello-infused bleakness of “Pastoral Monolith” (featuring a scorching guest-spot from Refused‘s Dennis Lyxzén) – with the former offering a grisly glimpse at the seemingly inescapable cycle of violence afflicting so many town and villages across Central America, while the latter digs into the ongoing and insidious influence of British colonialism in Africa – which together showcase the even more extreme, borderline “blackened”, side of the band?
And if you’re looking for something that pushes the boundaries a little more, why not give the Doom / Crust amalgam of “Black Creek / Red River” or the minute-long Death Metal meets Hardcore mash-up (guest-starring Stan Stan Liszewski of Terminal Nation) that is “Subordinate Terror” a listen (and then, for good measure, try the moody, Post-Metal-ish strains of “Cape Rerenga” – which showcases a very different side of the band while also exploring the concepts of restorative justice and decolonisation in Maori communities – on for size too).
As important as the group’s lyrical and social stances are to their identity, however – and there’s no question that the band’s own experiences as political activists and community organisers plays a vital role in informing who they are and what they stand for – it’s perfectly possible to just enjoy Creation… purely for its massive riffs (“Cave of the Patriarchs”) and face-melting ferocity (“Santa Apolonia”), and I doubt that Racetraitor themselves would begrudge you that.
Still, it feels like, in doing so, you’d be missing out on a big part of what makes this album so great, as it’s the combination of the band’s unapologetic indignation and idealism – not just protesting the way of the world but actively pushing for a better one – and their refusal to play it safe or dumb things down (as epitomised by the closing call for unity that is “Pangaea Proxima”, which melds together influences from Crust Punk and Classical, Black Metal and Doom, into something which defies easy categorisation) which reinforces Racetraitor as one of the most vital, and reliably visceral, voices in Hardcore.