RAW BLOW - SLOW CHOKE EP

 

I’ve said it before, but the Boston underground music scene is in the midst of an incredible movement.  There are thriving punk, hardcore, and emo scenes that are championing seminal music.  Visit O’Brien’s or the Democracy Center on any given night and there will be an overwhelming sense of community and appreciation for arts and culture.

 

With any scene, there are “game-changers” who seem to be onto something.  Forming from some of Boston’s most well-respected bands in the past few years (Luau, Furnace, Now Denial), Raw Blow is the first band I’ve heard in a long time that capture elements from hardcore, punk, grunge, and post-hardcore to develop a powerful, refreshing sound.  They present their mature and complex songwriting for the first time with their debut EP, “Slow Choke” (out in October on Social Cancer) – an unashamedly inspiring effort.

 

“Slow Choke” is a 9 minute powerhouse that fills a void in my library that I have been missing for a long time.  The band can be characterized by their well-placed and commanding guitar leads reminiscent of 90’s and early 2000’s hardcore and punk acts, dynamic vocals, crushing drums, and layered writing that offers natural transitions and impressive bridges.

 

The EP listens well and follows an arc from start to finish.  If the title doesn’t give away the overtones of the EP, it is dark and aggressive with introspective lyrics that address themes of numbness, monotony, and desolation.  There is a delicate balance of consonance and dissonance that is best exemplified by dual vocal/guitarists Darryl and Adam throughout the EP and reinforced by the rhythm section.

 

The EP opens with the title track, “Slow Choke,” a dark and droning song reminiscent of nineties post-hardcore acts such as Failure.  You get a first taste of the diversity of songwriting and vocal styles via the opener.

 

The center of the EP transitions into “Buzzards” and “Most Days,” upping the ante and tempo from the gradually paced title track.  These works are more obviously post-hardcore influenced with cutting guitar lines and reflective subject matter.  The back and forth of both guitar and vocals develops an appealing melodic and discordant balance.

 

The EP gets much heavier than it started with “All Kinds of Garbage” – unarguably the heaviest selection of the EP.  My favorite moment of the entire nine minutes is at the end of “All Kinds of Garbage,” where guitar/vocalist Darryl Pohas aggressively yells “Dragging my feet through the night.”  I forgot to explicitly say that these guys are all very good at what they do.  It gets really hectic, but stays airtight with explicit drums and jarring guitar/bass hits.

 

“All Kinds of Garbage” transitions into a grunge hardcore influenced opening in “Don’t Try,” which returns to the dark and well-structured style of the opening track to close out the EP in a logical and full circle manner.

“Slow Choke” is a compelling first effort from Raw Blow.  They are undeniably appealing in both talent and attitude.  You can tell that these guys put everything they had into writing these songs and it pays off.  The guitar and bass parts and leads are beautifully arranged, drums are spot on, and the vocals are extremely dynamic.  This EP sounds really good, too.  The band went into the studio with Ryan Stack and captured an organic sound.

 

If you haven’t seen them live, be sure to check them out.  These guys are at the top of their game and put on a huge performance.

 

- Alex Bourne