Happy New Year, comrades in arms – and, of course, all you other adorable deplorables too. Welcome to Six Noises 2018, where grotesque and unorthodox underground music will be embraced with open arms all over again. As always, Six Noises’ focus will be on the most feral and head-splitting music first and foremost, and that’s pretty much the perfect description of Material Hardship, which is the sophomore release from New Zealand powerviolence trio Stress Ghetto.
Stress Ghetto first appeared on Six Noises’ pages last year, when the rungas Wellington-based band’s seven-song self-titled debut was released by NZ punk label Razored Raw. Material Hardship also features seven raw tracks, only this time around the 7" (and digital) free-for-all is being co-released by Wellington labels Always Never Fun and Limbless Music.
On Material Hardship, Stress Ghetto continue to shove filthy powerviolence down your throat at breakneck speed. Although, the band also angle-grind their way into more blown-out hardcore territory on occasion. Songs like “Masturbating to the Decimated Corpses of Our Enemies”, “Maximum Hoodrat”, and “Integrity Longsleeve” mix a wry sense of humour 'n' horror with redlining instrumentation and berserker vocals. And, as it was on Stress Ghetto’s equally coarse debut, everything here is a total blast, both metaphorically and sonically.
Really, Material Hardship isn’t made for much deeper analysis than that. I mean, you could obviously take a stab at unpacking Stress Ghetto’s unhinged approach or expand on their role as an ultra-harsh band in a niche DIY music community. You could also discuss the toxic physicality, psychological impact, or the sociocultural substance of Material Hardship. And you could certainly examine the influence of caustic forebears aplenty on Stress Ghetto's sound. But then, you could also go fuck yourself.
I’m guessing, when Stress Ghetto recorded a barbed-wire 25-second burst of noise like “Absence of Mohawks”, they weren’t imagining an over-the-hill blogger like me would endeavour to decipher the song’s subtextual content amongst its strident thematics. Nope. Fuck that. Material Hardship is simply an instinctual explosion of lo-fi musical mayhem, and it's a brutal kick to the cranium too. Fans of punk rock pandemonium should dig in, forthwith.