Hardcore is a genre, like metal, that instantly brings to mind certain tropes. Kung fu “dancing”, the emphasis on breakdowns, the fucking “X” tattoos that you’ll regret getting when your sleeve rolls up when you’re buying a six pack a few years later, etc. These stereotypes aren’t helped by fests like United Blood where you can get free time at local gyms with your ticket but the same can be said about metal. And like the idiot who thinks all metalheads live to scream “Slayer!” in a crowded setting or sing about killing their mother, it’d be wrong.
One such corner of hardcore worth a second look is the grouping of bands within the circle of Holy Terror. Holy Terror is a gathering of dark and negative artists, with the most notable being Integrity and (the infamous) Gehenna. Bands whom carry a twisted and bleaker aesthetic and atmosphere than the frat bro with the Hatebreed wife-beater making vapid, pit-based music. And the links between the Holy Terror bands and the more extreme side of metal is strong, from Mike Apocalypse (Gehenna)’s decade long incursion into primal black metal with Sangraal to Integrity releasing their forthcoming record through Relapse. And that brings us to the two bands on display here today: Broken Cross and Vegas, two of the more mysterious and, for lack of a better word, different , bands within the Holy Terror circle whom are collaborating on a split EP for Broken Cross’ Nikalas Holms Apocalyptic Visions label.
When you think of punk from Sweden you probably think of epic d-beat like Martyrdod or the Kang punk sounds of the 80’s and later. Broken Cross is the furthest thing from either of these. With an abrasive sound closer in spirit to Bone Awl than Anti Cimex; Broken Cross have released a select amount of harsh metallic punk over the last few years. When asked about the genesis of the split Holm told me “T and I have discussed doing this split for a few years now. We are fans of each other’s music. It’s an interesting collaboration since VV and BC share a lot of similar influences (G.I.S.M., Integrity etc) but also have distinct and different sounds. I think both VV and BC are also somewhat “mysterious” and we have a similar approach to DIY recording, art, packaging etc.”
On the other side comes Vegas, a prolific and difficult project to nail down. One recording could be incredibly primal and abusive hardcore; the next could be mesmerizing neo-folk, or even harsh noise. For nearly two decades Vegas has confused and cultivated a dedicated following with releases across various formats, some of which are frustratingly difficult to acquire unless you’re at the right place at the right moment but entirely worth the hunt. “Ah, the last book in the New Testament. Imminent apocalypse, second coming, grand proclamations and endless source for pop culture’s diluted use of apocalyptic meanings to infuse some sort of deeper meaning into artistic expressions. Metaphors certainly are powerful and heralding the end of the world is a tale of human curiosity, endlessly open to interpretation depending on your chosen depiction of “the end”. As a species, we tend to be quite a morbid bunch sitting in the backseat of a Freudian vehicle with Thanatos as the designated driver, innit?” T, the mastermind behind Vegas muses when asked about the inspiration behind joining together for this split.
He continues: “One of the first impressions of Finnish culture when Vegas played Helsinki on the eleventh of September in 2017 a.d. was carpet beating: One would wake up to the thumps of the industrious citizens of Suomi energetically beating their tapestry, the beautiful sounds of which were only punctuated by the hoarse organ of a wise old Fin demanding for a pub to open at 7am, claiming that “the night was still young”. Inspired by the bold declaration of the Finnish elder, Vegas dedicated their set to the celebration of the youth of the eternal night. Niklas form Broken Cross attended the soirée and the idea of a split release was discussed. It seemed like a good idea at the time to extend the celebrations with a physical release.”
2017 will be an excellent year for negative hardcore, with new full lengths from the aforementioned Integrity and (the infamous) Gehenna. This split between two outsider artists makes for an effect early salvo in the year of Holy Terror, an assault that will leave damage for time to come.
Stream it below and order your copy right here.