Despite living in and loving my home country of Canada, I know surprisingly little about it. Before today I didn't really know anything about the Maritimes, other than whatever the P.E.I. Encyclopedia taught me. Today, I learned that there's a hardcore band based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia called Barlow. Well, it's official. 100% of the Nova Scotia hardcore bands I know rule.
Vol. 1 is a release that's rooted heavily in old school punk and Converge-style hardcore above all else. Out of all the bands that seem to draw Converge as a big influence, Barlow are one of the few that both do this frantic style of hardcore justice, and make it their own to boot. These dudes aren't just another rip off band trying to cash in on Converge's winning formula.
Songs chug along with pounding primal aggression, with each member of the band decimating your ears every step of the way. Guitarist Aaron Burke slams out a tidal wave of punishing riffs, ebbing and flowing between hook laden licks like the main riff to "Purging Purity" and real fret-burners like the ones in the opening track "Empty Justice". Vocalist Dexter Outhit is a beast behind the mic, bellowing out absolutely soul crushing growls across the entire EP. Outhit's vocals have so much fucking energy on tape that it boggles my mind just thinking how powerful they'd be in a live setting. In fact, the entire band is able to translate their raw energy perfectly on Vol. 1, and I honestly feel like these guys would put on one hell of a show.
Bomb-Ass Track: Empty Justice
Vol. 1 is a beast of a release made for any fans of hardcore or punk. Things get Convergey, which is always a good thing in my books, but Barlow really pull through with their own brand of high energy, feel bad hardcore that most other bands wish they'd be able to do.
Alright! Time for Vol. 2! If there's anything right off the bat that I can say, is that it's much heavier than Vol. 1. The songs on Vol. 2 are much faster and way more pissed off. Things still seem to have a big Converge influence, with a lot of the songs reminding me of the heaviest songs off of All We Love We Leave Behind.
The guitar bits here are more straightforward, but Burke still has some mind bending riffage to offer us. I have to give lots of credit to bassist Tri Le, who has nailed in the nastiest and most nauseating bass tone I've heard in a long time. Le's bass thumps and booms, dominating the low end of this aural assault and is partly the reason as to why Vol. 2 is so god damn heavy. Drummer James Deyoung beats the living shit out of his kit, pushing everything forward at that so-frantic-it's-just-about-to-fall-apart pace. If Barlow had a hateometer (patent pending), it'd be in the red, all the way through Vol. 2. Outhit's vocals are as filthy and bloodcurdling as ever, and when everything comes together, it's just fucking awesome.
If there's anything I have to complain about, it's the length of Vol.2. It's 5 tracks (including an intro) over 9 minutes. I honestly can't complain, because Barlow seems to stick to the age old saying of "it's about quality, not quantity", and by god, is this some quality shit.
Bomb-Ass Track: Severed Ties
I feel like a junkie, holding on to Vol. 2 with dear life, just squirming around and waiting to get my next fix of Barlow. Vol. 2 is the soundtrack to you dragon-kicking a baby into a pit of fire.
You can check out Barlow on Facebook here, and download both Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 from their bandcamp page here. If you live anywhere near the Halifax area, check these dudes out, pronto! I can only hope they come touring around Guelph sometime in the future.
That's all for now, folks! Canada rules.