Subtlety isn’t exactly de rigueur in the darker, heavier regions of music; neither is it a necessary commodity, depending on what you’re going for. On Trespasser’s new five-song EP Suffer Alone, Suffer Together, even a certain quantum of it would’ve only added a sense of pretension to the dark, sludgy hardcore the Australian band (boasting members of Départe, NO HAVEN and Speech Patterns among its ranks) knocked together for their first release since their demo in 2013. Easy points of comparison for their bleak, crushing sound are Trap Them, Cult Leader and Old Man Gloom; over the course of this EP’s 17-minute runtime, Trespasser bash your head in (figuratively speaking) just as capably and with just as much gusto as those bands.
“Unravelled” begins with droning guitars ominously approaching the listener, like a predator slowly encircling its meek, wounded prey. A hardcore drum beat adds some weight and momentum to the initial riffing, before the track finally breaks loose over a minute in. Given that the EP is, as I said before, only 17 minutes in length, a brooding 1:12 minute intro is pretty bold. Over the buzzsaw tones of the guitar and bass, vocalist Mat Jack spits his vitriolic vocals at the audience as if they all collectively owed him hella cash. The ensuing “Withered Hands” delivers the threatened beating with a thrashy riff and heavy d-beat drumming. It’s obvious that Trespasser have a ‘take no prisoners’ approach to their music, and so even the short moments of reprieve only add to the brutality of Suffer Alone, Suffer Together’s overall image.
Keeping in suit with the opening track, “Dragged Down” drones into existence and then erupts into a violent sludge-fest. Switching between thundering double-bass and barren beats in support of the guitars, drummer Alex Johnson proves to be a valuable asset to the band throughout this song. Ending on a desolate melody underpinned by the now-familiar drones, it segues directly into “Narrows”, a menacing mid-tempo groove monster. Ending off the EP is “Slow Decay”, the longest track on it by over a minute. Its opening moments are surprisingly soft; a dark, rumbling ambiance unfurls slowly like the calm before the proverbial storm. Jack’s vocals seem even more intimidating in that musical context, which, when combined with the sparse short outbursts of the heaviness we’ve come to know from the earlier tracks, makes this song a perfect curve-ball finale.
It’s a good thing Trespasser have kept this EP at the concise runtime it has. The shared aesthetics between the individual tracks, and the sometimes quite similar song-structures, wouldn’t have made for a longer record of the same quality as Suffer Alone, Suffer Together. As it stands, though, the 17 minutes of sludgy hardcore it provides are very solid, and the replay value is high enough to warrant at least a few successive spins (I’m on my fourth consecutive listen myself writing this paragraph). If these five guys can hone their sharp sense of composition in this particular style some more, and maybe add a few new facets to it by the time they come up with their first full-length effort, I’m sure they’ll win the heart of many a metalhead with their raw, unhinged sludge heaviness.
Notable Tracks: “Unravelled”; “Withered Hands”; “Slow Decay”
FFO: early Amenra, Cult Leader, Trap Them