ALEX REVIEWS MUSIC (ARM): PRESSURE CRACKS – THIS IS CALLED SURVIVAL | 2020-01-12

Those of you who are regulars at this particular Interweb’s establishment—and I’m assuming that’s none of you reading right now—should not be stoked to gargantuan surprise when confronted to witness the non-vulgar display of near-adoring infatuation for Inglewood, CA-native singer/songwriter Jason Aalon Butler on the part of this outlet’s editorial line. Said requited love has been widely fed and documented over the years and spread under the sun, as evidently exhibited by this, this, and this coverage piece (among other ones). Thusly, the writing was quite literally pretty much on the wall, when one of Mr Butler’s more obscure and understated musical side-projects—SoCal hardcore punk outfit Pressure Cracks—saw fit to drop their sophomore EP This Is Called Survival to little fanfare on 10th January, following up their cold-blooded and uncompromising inaugural self-titled statement from last year (don’t judge the book by its cover—there’s an Easter egg in there). A relatively newly assembled bona fide hardcore punk quintet, composed of a group of old OGs from the breeding 90s Cali scene, the band’s line-up is completed by guitarists Dan Bieranowski and Kevin Fifield, bassist Ryan Doria, and Bill Galvin on drums.

Right out of the fieriest gate, this 4-track, twelve minutes and change thunderous sonic tempest leaves no stone unturned. Not one to shy away from uncomfortable and insurrectionary socio-political sermons, Jason doesn’t waste one second and mightily doubles down on his activist line with the foreboding inaugural cut “Like Father Like None“, following in on the relentlessly sowed fruitful seeds of his socially-conscious credo in past and present projects, such as letlive.FEVER 333, as well as his community-based artists collective 333 Wreckords Crew. The EP’s opener kicks off with a meaty and manic distorted wall of sound, enveloping a handful spoken word lines menacingly outed by Jason, spanning a few harrowing metrics surrounding systemic institutionalised incarceration in the USA and its doctored inherent downward spirals as they pertain to recidivist citizens. Soon enough, this gets taken over by the catapulting of the lead singer’s vocal cords into emptying out every inch of oxygen in his chest as he slaughters the following ominous lines: “I’d rather hurt myself  / I’d rather burn in hell I’d rather bid this world farewell / Before I die up in a cell / If I’m my father’s son must I pay for what he’s done? / A statistical rerun; I knew this day would come“.

This Is Called Survival’s curtain opener carries on as unforgiving as they come for its whole running time, eloquently sound-bedding anecdotal denunciations of prison-system racism all the while an incendiary machinery of shredding brutality cradles another moment highlighting a few soundbite-d analytics reinforcing the injustices decried. It is towards the last sung stanza that Jason superbly ties it all back together, virtually stretching out thematic implications of generational carriage from pillar to post when it comes to tampering such a forlorn system, by resorting to salvation through one’s offspring. No time to recover from “Like Father Like None”‘s pitiless earth-shattering is offered to any unsuspecting listener, as the project’s lead single “Ready for You” begins to whirl-wind its brutal spine-chilling energy in spades. Re-activating some of the same self-questioning existentialism as a person of color having to funnel their life in a similar rotten and prejudiced societal texture by way of assonant merciless guitar work—assisted by stone cold drumming from Bill Galvin—the track proudly stands as this body of work’s poisonous cardinal centrepiece, best illustrated by the outro’s hauntingly chilling vocal strides, annihilating the verse “I want / All I want is you / I need / All I need is you / I got / All I got is you / I’m not / I’m not ready for you“.

Manufactured and distributed by newly minted Southern California DYI label War Against Records, this collection of ragers bites forward with the blast beats-filled punk thunderstorm of “Shhh“, a song that makes one feel like jumping head-first into a tight, rusty, and propelled meat grinder only to come out empowered and better-equipped—albeit bleeding out to death—the other way. This is perhaps best exemplified by one of the track’s pinnacle verses: “Cuz we are more than the sum of your fucking parts“. There is so much in the way of sheer sound density and texture on this thing that its come-and-go explosive sound-wave momentum has one longing for so much more every single time its two and a half-playback time suddenly wears out. Privy to the self-sustaining urge of those born and raised in disaffected and underprivileged social milieus subjugated by a survival of the fittest mentality from cradle to grave, Mr Butler is trialled by fire on the mic as he makes sure to publicise his resentment and discontent as loud and manically as he can in the face of the societal powers that be—from the police apparatus to the wider government: “After the fall is when we learned to stand up / We took our shot when the gun was jammed up / Another martyr, another me / Another problem that they covered up nice and neat“.

Before one knows it, the EP’s closer “Big T Youth” rushes through and picks up the beating to death of one’s earlobes right where the merciless “Shhh” left off. By throwing yet another cascading sonic tantrum in the shape of discordant angular gained guitars and hammering sets of percussions, this song slaps cold as hell, quite literally. Case in point, the lead singer’s eerie and threatening closing verse, heightened by a blazing shouting choir screaming out its final iterations: “Heaven is suitable / But hell on earth is beautiful“. Unsurprisingly, the solace and rejoice that comes with the acceptance of one’s place on this mean old planet—however painful and distressed it might have to be endured—triumphs by a landslide across the underground violence of all four cuts on this thing. Not one moment is wasted, nor is any superfluous, for these compositions are packed up with lyrical substance, animalistic delivery, and emotional urgency. Southern Californian meat and potatoes hardcore punk can proudly add another string to its enduring bow. This time it’s done thanks to a formation in which usual insatiable do-it-all mastermind Jason Aalon Butler relinquishes control by his own admission and allows for the quintet’s instrumental/rhythm section to architect the nuts and bolts of this sound of discontent, while he simply resorts to what he’s actually best at: fanning its flames by shrieking truths at the top of his lungs.

I’d like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this and I hope to feel your interest again next time.

AV

PRESSURE CRACKS

“THIS IS CALLED SURVIVAL”

2020, War Against Records

https://www.pressurecracks.com

PressureCracks_Survival

ALEX REVIEWS MUSIC (ARM): FEVER 333 IN CONCERT AT BLONDIES | 2019-01-18

We haven’t done these live show reviews in a very long while on these premises and it’s probably no coincidence that this new found motivation saw fit to strike again by way of former letlive. chief instigator Mr Jason Aalon Butler. These days Jason is perusing away from his home Los Angeles neighbourhood of Inglewood as he preaches, educates, and evangelises the masses by spreading political and socially conscious predicaments through the music and teachings of his new hip-hop/rock outfit Fever 333. It probably comes with no big surprise to any one reader that said alternative group has found its way onto the editorial gatekeeping of this very web property several times before. But let us now take a quick step back as we attempt to retrace the unfolding of subsequent happenings that brought yours truly to the epic and lush live show discerned hereby, as it is indeed no conventional chain of events. So, a bunch of months back I stumbled upon a pretty low-profile and innocuous tweet by UK alternative rock-fuelled publication Kerrang!, asking fans of the band to share their favourite Fever 333 tune explaining why they chose that particular song via an email to the newsroom. Whoever sent through their entry was then eligible to win exclusive tickets to a special and secret event with the band held in London, UK, on Wednesday 28th November last year. And here comes the first plot twist: after submitting my personal essay, it turned out I had miraculously won a pair out of about fifty of said tickets, revealing that my favourite Fever 333 song to date was “Soul’d Me Out” off their debut EP Made an America, going as far as shamelessly self-quoting the ARM review that dropped earlier last year as supporting evidence for my liking, stating:

“[O]ne can’t say enough good things about this cut, from the outstanding and groovy drumming work, to the fast and violently distorted guitars, passing through arguably Jason’s best vocal performance in years and a counter-intuitive yet perfectly adhering plain-landing chorus exclaiming simple but upfront lyrics, via a vocal line no too dissimilar from a lullaby melody (“Sell me out down the shallow river / Could I hate you more? / Could I hate you more?“), just moments before collapsing and disappearing into a scratching scream chanting the song’s central topic, perfectly mocked and intertwined with the expansive meaning of its title: “Sold me out, sold me out / You sold me out to the highest bidder / Sold me out, sold me out / You sold me out to the highest bidder“.”

Alongside the announcement of my victorious submission quest came various instructions that spilled the beans as to what the secret event was actually going to be, namely an extremely exclusive and intimate live performance by the band at North East London’s dive bar Blondies, an impromptu – and truly goddamn tiny small – venue that I only later found out regularly doubles as hosting space for Kerrang!’s Live in the K! Pit video series. The feature puts on regular underground live shows with no stage for about 50 fans, goes on to record them, and converts them into audiovisual transmissions syndicated online. Needless to say, excitement peaked at unprecedented heights, and unsurprisingly the actual live performance by the Los Angeles supergroup turned out to be nothing short of amazing. At this stage it might also be worth stressing out how this very show got squeezed in-between a very dense and relentless tour gig schedule that Fever 333 was under at the time, specifically supporting British metalcore giants Bring Me The Horizon across the UK and Europe. Wednesday 28th November, the night of the London secret show, was in fact their last “free day” before wrapping up the month-long touring leg with two enormous and bombastic final shows at the British capital’s Alexandra Palace venue (one of which – the Friday 30th one – I subsequently planned to attend as well, and so I did). Thus, on the last free evening of their extenuating tour schedule, the three Fever 333 minstrels decided to gift a very small portion of lucky fans one of the most electrifying and insane shows, further devoting part of the audience donation money collected at the door to charity, a regular praiseworthy tradition the group has been maintaining almost ever since its inception in 2017 alongside the creation of the Walking In My Shoes Foundation.

As soon as I got to the Hackney venue with my +1 and realised how infinitely minuscule the place actually was, I started to fundamentally wonder how on earth a punk rock show could have taken place in such a tiny room. Mind you, just to open up a quick parenthesis, as far as lead crowd instigator Jason Butler is concerned, a punk rock show is not simply some kind of slightly faster and more energetic version of your standard run-of-the-mill rock concert. No, ladies and gentlemen, live shows involving Jason are proper mental apeshit cathartic experiences taking up the form of intense collective electric explosions. You are all just one quick YouTube search away from witnessing his live show wilderness in all its glory. Consume responsibly though. So back to our regularly scheduled programme; as me and +1 enter the tiny dive bar, we notice how Blondies was already fully saturated and crowded from left to right, wall to wall, top to bottom. Admittedly, we were among the very last ones to make it to the secret location before their strict 8pm show start, which coincided with the venue’s door lockdown with no late admission allowed anymore. So that y’all esteemed readers can picture this, believe it or not, the entrance portion of the bar-turned-club was where stickman Aric Improta’s drum kit and a few free-floating mic stands were set up, making it the de facto impromptu same-floor-level “stage”, forcing the band to symbolically climb onto it from the main front door of the club, which made for a curiously unusual show entry to say the least (considering that the band had to hop onto the dive bar via the outside street).

An all-black canvas hooded Jason Butler was first to enter the ridiculously crowded and already steamy room, as a selection of scattered politically-oriented soundbites played in the background, followed shortly thereafter by technical drumming extraordinaire Aric Improta and electric guitars shredder and part-time model Stephen Harrison, moments before turning into the first abrasive drum patterns of new single “Burn It”, which anticipates the group’s first studio album outing Strength In Numb333rs, out worldwide today (happy release day, fellas). All hell broke loose after about 30 seconds into the song as Jason’s raw and biting scream welcomed Stephen’s big and crunchy distorted riff, potently guided by Aric’s stomping drums throughout the whole duration. As soon as the intro track finished, Jason immediately jumped into the raw and fiery primal scream of genesis heavy hardcore number “We’re Coming In”, FEVER 333’s first track ever to be written and unveiled to the world two years ago, shouting the now iconic call to arms: “So let me tell you about / Where all my people from / Where all my people from / We hear them sirens come and then the people run“. After the insane energy of their mission statement anthem, the band turned to their flagship song and debut EP title track “Made an America”, a topical and poignant cut for which the group got nominated for Best Rock Performance at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards just one week after this very show. Now, let that sink in just for a quick second. Insurgent, reactionary, and socially-conscious punk/hip-hop outfit FEVER 333 nominated for the preppiest, most corporate, self-indulgent award show ceremony in the space. How’s that for an irony. The times they are a-changin’.

A middle show section in which Jason found himself navigating every corner of the crowd’s meanders saw the inclusion of the brilliant ‘for the people’ equality hymn “One of Us”, a spectacular wandering beat box and drum solo fight between Jason and drummer Aric, as well as the potent and angry standalone single “Trigger”, explicitly denouncing the widespread virus of gun possessions and related violence in the USA. The singer and crowd instigator also took away some time to pledge a sincere and heartfelt tribute to all the women and girls in the room (Blondies is run by three sisters, Ed.) before launching into what is arguably FEVER 333’s biggest song to date, Walking In My Shoes. The short but extremely intense and captivating set got capped off by the wild, visceral, and abrasive Hunting Season off their debut EP, which gave everyone one last deserved yet barely exhausting chance to lose their collective minds whilst Jason and Stephen mixed up into a sweaty and squashed crowd all the way to the bar counter. The public display of musical insanity and individual freedom finally got to a plateau state, ears still ringing louder than ever and mics still hanging from ceiling pipes.

It probably comes with no surprise to any of you that the good people over at Kerrang! did indeed film and edit the whole performance with great love and curation. In fact, the final video version of the half-hour set just literally came out today in concurrence with FEVER 333’s album debut, and is now uploaded on the publication’s official YouTube channel. It is with great admiration, humbleness, and satisfaction that I report said broadcasting transmission to you all esteemed readers just below in form of a digital streamable video feed, embedded for your unbiased and unlimited viewing pleasure. So what else is there to say about a truly unique, mystical, and intimate experience so wonderfully captured in audiovisual form? Virtually nothing, hence why I choose to leave you with a tiny little piece of anecdote that might not be as easily retrievable on the Interweb (or perhaps it is by now, admittedly some months have past since I heard it). During their final Friday night opening slot for BMTH, Jason revealed how FEVER 333 had to drop the “THE” from their official band name for legal reasons, presumably on account of some form of name trademark infringement notice recently put forward against them by a third party. Fun fact: Jason elucidated the crowd on their recent legal dispute whilst tearing down their gigantic white stage backdrop banner flashing what at this point was the outdated (and illegal) THE FEVER 333 emblem, successfully tearing it down from hanging up above Aric before wrapping it all up into one indistinguishable piece of enormous candid cloth that got eventually donated to a resonating and salivating front-row audience. Arguably, there is no better symbolic rite of passage analogy for such an urgent and important punk rock outfit entering their next successful artistic phase, accompanied by a new name, a flattering Grammy nomination, a new fierce studio album, and all of the same old revolutionary aggression fuelled by social justice.

FEVER 333 played:

Burn It

We’re Coming In

Made an America

One of Us

Beatbox & Drum Solo

Trigger

Walking in My Shoes

Hunting Season

I’d like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this and I hope to feel your interest again next time.

B3 FR33. Letting them know, there is a fever coming…

AV

fever-333-strength-in-numb333rs

ALEX REVIEWS MUSIC (ARM): ALBUMS OF THE YEAR 2018 | 2018-12-20

AAL_2012 A.A.L. (AGAINST ALL LOGIC) – 2012-2017 (OTHER PEOPLE)

Buy it here.

 

August-Greene-Album-Cover-Full AUGUST GREENE – AUGUST GREENE (AUGUST GREENE LLC)

Buy it here. Read the ARM review here.

 

TheFever333_MAA THE FEVER 333 – MADE AN AMERICA (ROADRUNNER RECORDS)

Buy it here. Read the ARM review here.

 

pusha-t-daytona-artwork PUSHA T – DAYTONA (G.O.O.D. MUSIC)

Buy it here.

 

KIDS SEE GHOSTS KIDS SEE GHOSTS – KIDS SEE GHOSTS (G.O.O.D. MUSIC)

Buy it here. Read the ARM review here.

 

TA13OO_FINAL_ALBUM_COVER DENZEL CURRY – TA13OO (LOMA VISTA)

Buy it here. Read the ARM review here.

 

Paul-McCartney-Egypt-Station-Album-Cover-web-optimised-820 PAUL MCCARTNEY – EGYPT STATION (CAPITOL RECORDS)

Buy it here. Read the ARM review here.

 

BH_Iridescence BROCKHAMPTON – IRIDESCENCE (RCA RECORDS)

Buy it here. Read the ARM review here.

 

181112-jid-dicaprio-2-album-cover JID – DI CAPRIO 2 (DREAMVILLE RECORDS)

Buy it here. Read the ARM review here.

 

 EARL SWEATSHIRT – SOME RAP SONGS (TAN CRESSIDA)

Buy it here. Read the ARM review here.

I’d like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this and I hope to feel your interest again next time. And happy holidays this time around.

AV