As regular readers may have noticed, I’ve been reviewing a lot less hardcore over the past year. The reason is fairly simple: so much of it released these days is, frankly, boring. That’s a terrible thing for hardcore to be; in fact, there’s probably no worse insult that can be given to any form of punk rock. By contrast, Razoreater are not boring. Right from the days of their Necropolitan demo, the Peterborough five-piece have been producing hardcore of such intensity and viciousness that it is as far away from boring as is possible. Vacuum Of Nihil is a twelve-minute blast of all that is good in hardcore, with added elements of blackened crust and grind ensuring it is never less that utterly rabid and violent; a total whirlwind that is sure to get the blood pumping.
On the face of it, Vacuum Of Nihil might not seem to be the kind of record that lends itself to deep analysis – and that’s fair enough. There’s nothing wrong in letting the vinyl spin when you need a quick blast of energy and rage – the kind that takes no prisoners and doesn’t care who it upsets. But there’s more to it than just anger and fast speeds. The way the band move from ferocious grinding, hardcore riffs in to blackened-crust style leads is deceptively technical. Likewise, there’s more to the rhythm section than just laying down the tempo and charging ahead, with the drums in particular possessing plenty of character in the same way that Ben Koller adds something extra to Converge, throwing in quick cymbal movements and drum fills without sacrificing any raw power. The vocals, meanwhile, are exactly as you’d expect and hope – urgent, raw, and making their intentions clear even if the lyrics aren’t.
It’s not easy picking highlights out on a record so short and intense – it’s the overall experience that matters more than the individual moments. Even so, second track “I, Dreadnought” stands out for me in the way it packs countless ideas and turns into an 87 second run-time, which flows superbly in to the slower, more brooding opening riff of “Bloodeagled” – a track that shows that Razoreater don’t have to rely on speed to be powerful and violent. Bonus points, also, for the harsh noise ending on closer “FIlth Scheming, Shrill Screaming”, which is probably the best way to see out a record like this.
As short as it is, there’s a hell of a lot going on in the five tracks of Vacuum Of Nihil. It’s the sort of furious hardcore record that does its job on a solitary spin, but has enough depth and talent on display to demand repeated listens, without any of the initial thrill wearing off. Fans of vicious, dirty, riff-laden hardcore (think Nails et al.) will want to get on this if they haven’t already. Razoreater fucking kill it.