“Just when I thought I was out, they drag me back in…”
I published half a dozen end-of-year lists at Six Noises in the last week, and that usually signals that my work here is well and truly done for the year. But then New Zealand-based noise punks Life is Hate went and uploaded their brand new self-titled EP to YouTube, and now I’ve been dragged right back into the fray, because I have to talk about it.
Truthfully, I’m pretty stoked to be writing about Life is Hate at any time. The band’s first demo (Demo, July 2016) featured highly on my list of favourite New Zealand punk releases this year. But it has to be said that four-song release certainly isn’t for everyone. Demo, July 2016 was recorded on four mics at Life is Hate’s fifth band practice and, unsurprisingly, it’s a bleeding-raw release.
Some folks just don’t like acid-drenched audio, or craggy and coarse punk, and that’s fair enough –– there’s no denying that Life is Hate’s demo was harsh on the hearing. But I happen to love punk rock that sears your ear canals, and then scorches your auditory nerves, and as strident as Life is Hate’s first demo was, it also clearly highlighted three crucial points about the band.
First, Life is Hate’s debut demo signalled that the band’s members have genuine punk rock fire in their bellies. I mean, Demo, July 2016 is a raging release. No question. Second, that demo also showed that Life is Hate have an innate understanding that visceral enthusiasm is often far more compelling than any sonic precision. Hence their desire to capture their raw, live energy on the demo. And third, that demo revealed that Life is Hate have all the talent to deliver a killer follow-up. All that’s needed is a few production tweaks to bring the full weight of their sound to bear.
And that’s exactly what Life is Hate have done on their new self-titled EP. Streaming in full on YouTube right now, and also due for release on cassette very soon, it features eight high-speed, corrosive tracks. (Four being re-recorded songs from their demo, and four being brand-new tracks.) Production wise, the new EP is thicker in texture and burlier in tone than the demo. But Life is Hate are still fixed on the notion that red-raw music is righteous –– and it fucking is, my friend. So their music remains jagged-edged and caustic, and their songs are still driven by distorted riffs and concussive percussion.
If fact, if the blown-out, vitriolic works of bands like Infernöh, Krömosom or Kriegshög appeal, then Life is Hate’s whirlwind tracks will likely tick the boxes for you too. The band kick off their new EP with some snarling dialogue taken from the early 80s gut-punch TV play Made in Britain.
“You can lock me in here, but you can’t take away the hate inside my head, I can still hate you in my head. Don’t like that, do you?”
Then the tracks “Life is Fucking Hate”, “Parasite” and “Gallows” roar into life, bringing a noxious mix of raw, crusty hardcore. The kind of bruising and belligerent stripped-back noise that legends like Discharge, Anti Cimex, and all their wonderfully ill-bred kin hammered home, back in the day.
Life is Hate tip their hat to their influences as well, delivering a turbocharged cover of Discharge’s “State Violence, State Control” on their new EP. Elsewhere, tracks like “Absurd Reality” and “Total Hate” are feedback-fuelled infernos that tear along, with barked vocals and seething guitars ensuring things remain as berserk as they are antagonistic.
The EP’s final two tracks, “Executions” and “Pressure”, shove more ultra-hostile punk rock down your throat, with equally unhinged exhilaration. In total, the EP delivers 12 minutes of murderous punk that’s easily as feral as great 2016 releases from kängpunk krashers like Fragment, Polis-Äckel, Pollen, Piss, Vägra, Systemik Viølence, and Glorious.
Ultimately, Life is Hate’s new EP is first-rate, enmity-fuelled hardcore. It conjures societal rack and ruin as it mixes the poverty of life with an utter dearth of hope. No question, Life is Hate are boiling with nihilistic rage on their new EP, and the only good news to be found is that the band make feelings like misery, disgust and indignation sound pretty fucking great.
Obviously, that’s all part of the catharsis that Life is Hate provide. They help purge our fury via even more furious music. I don’t want to bring any rays of sunshine into Life is Hate’s world, as such, because it’s a gloriously grim picture they paint. But, word is, there are further recordings in the works. And I have to admit, that does make me very happy.
Listen to Life is Hate’s new EP below, and keep an eye out for that tape release on the band’s Bandcamp page.