What is hardcore music? At age soon-to-be-29, I think I’m finding out. I had pictured it involving a lot of visors, “junt-junts,” and guitar players squatting angrily while playing their riffs. But as it turns out – I think – it’s much more punk than I’d imagined. Judging from some random shows at the Heirloom, it also can involve skinny jeans and a guy wrapping his microphone cable around his neck.
To be fair, I don’t know what kind of jeans Empty Vessels wears or if their singer likes to strangle himself. And that’s not really the point anyway. All I know of Empty Vessels is the CD in my car, Waves of Waves. On my way to my very non-hardcore job as a middle school English teacher, I like to play Waves of Waves at an enjoyable yet non-hardcore volume.
My favorite track is the catchy opener “Viking Song.” That one and “Everything’s About Michael Cera” betray a hint of surfiness – who is Michael Cera, by the way? Am I supposed to know that? “Salem” is another good track, sounding almost metal at the end. And “Saucer County” is a definite headbanger – I can’t understand too many of the words, but I think it’s about getting abducted by aliens! The New London band’s arrangements are sparse – but what they leave out in complicated riffs, they make up for in their delivery of this vague, gnashing-of-teeth feeling. It’s enough to make a teacher pull out of the school parking lot just a little faster than she should.
One question I have is how Empty Vessels and Heavy Breath (the last band I reviewed) can both be “hardcore” but sound so different. I guess it’s a broad genre. The bands’ music had some of the same features, but Empty Vessels was heavier on the punk aspect, making it more accessible for a random metal fan/boring adult. But regardless, there’s something visceral and irreverent about this kind of music that appeals to me. If I had heard either Heavy Breath or Empty Vessels’ version nine or ten years ago, I might have ended up like the young people dancing in a circle below:
The verdict? Waves of Waves is straightforward, angry fun. If you get a chance to see Empty Vessels, you should go out, drink a few beers, and dance around in the circle – even if you are almost twenty-nine and a teacher.
- 3/24 at Firehouse 13 in Providence, RI with DYS and The FU’s
- 3/29 at C Note in Hull, MA with Energy
- 4/13 at Cherry Street Station in Wallingford, CT with Yuppicide, The FU’s, Powerblessings, Neighborhood Shit, and Led to the Grave
- 4/27 at Tuxedo Junction in Danbury with The Misfits, Sheer Terror, 100 Demons, Subzero, Incendiary, Rude Awakening, and Make Amends – Cancer Benefit for Trista Vaughn, tix available here.