[Souther Lord; 2020]

To call LA hardcore punks Entry’s brilliantly violent and cathartic record Detriment a full-length debut would be something of a misnomer. At a little over 14 minutes, their tactic is to sucker punch the listener into bewildered and stunned reverence with the tempo and sheer sonic onslaught that unfolds across the nine tracks that make up the album.

The band consist of larynx-shredding vocalist Sara G, bassist Sean Sakomoto, drummer Chris Dwyer, and Clayton Stevens of post-hardcore heavyweights Touché Amoré on guitar. Together they create no nonsense, no thrills, face-numbing punk noise, and, although it’s short, Detriment packs such force that you submit to its will long before it’s done with you.

Entry have no desire to hang around, nor do they have any aspirations in shifting any genre boundaries forward. Detriment feels like a love letter to the hardcore punk scene, with clear influences from bands like Converge, Minor Threat and Discharge at its essence. Although the echoes of others are evident, the album manages to come off as an aural homage rather than as merely recycled and derivative. There is nothing overtly fresh here, yet there remains a comfort in familiarity that Detriment has in abundance.  

“Intro” kicks things off in a sludgy haze of distorted bass and thumping drums. It’s an imposing instrumental stomp of intent, a bracing signal for the storm to come. It’s the soundtrack to the invading amoralism currently choking the political and ‘democratic’ processes in many parts of the world. It’s the pause before the ruptured spleen invective of righteous anger that Entry serve up as an escape from wretched banality, and it feels like the trumpeting call to arms for the righteous. Stepping aside from the overly poetic, “Intro” is 90 seconds long and serves as a prologue to the emotional core of the record as a whole – it’s a scene setter, the establishing shots to the dystopian now.

Sara G’s vocals come into the fray on “Your Best Interest”, but so guttural and seared with urgency are they that it’s nigh on impossible to work out any of the words. The intention of the message is clear, though: anger, vitriol and passion are the primary, and primal, motivators. Sara G comes from the same school of hardcore hollering as Botch’s Dave Verellen with a pinch of doom styling à la Stevie Floyd from the wonderful yet all too often overlooked Dark Castle. G’s vocals elevate the band’s sound beyond a by-the-numbers punk palette, and she often sounds weary, almost beaten – but always resilient. There is a sense of personal fury in her voice and it’s powerful and infectious.

Song titles “Selective Empathy”, “Not Your Decision” and “Vulnerable” highlight the hard-to-distinguish lyrics’ focus on the disdain that often comes with power, whether from individuals or political elites. “Control” skips halfway into grind territory, but with less brutally clinical production than bands like Wormrot or Magrudergrind have favoured on their more recent releases, with the distortion on Stevens’ guitar creating a maelstrom rather than a precise focus.  

Entry rail against injustice, inequality and the sociopathic tendencies in others that have somehow become mainstays in public life. Do you remember in the early days of lockdown when all the good people thought we could come out of all this and shape a better world for ourselves? The shock of the circumstance made people dream of the microcosms of care that were evident in small community hubs being translated into wider life, and few wished for a return to life as it was in The Before Times. Well, there is still hope, but we need to be unified, collective and strong to battle the will of the elites.

Detriment is hardly the album to bring people together, but it makes you aware that your sense of alienation and despair in others is neither unique nor unjustified. And herein lies the beauty of hardcore – its visceral nature leaves you emboldened, not battered. It’s a musical energy unlike many other genres, with its potent impetus to celebrate a common cause.

The album, even in its short run time, covers an array of sub-genres. Album closer “Demons” stands apart from the other tracks on Detriment by being full-on doom sludge, with G’s vocals tipping over into black metal delivery from time to time. It’s a great end to the album as a whole, and serves as a form of bookend to “Intro”, which hinted at many of the tropes to come. For some, this generic hybridity may be problematic, and Detriment does feel like a tour through the highlights of aspects of extreme metal – whatever that term actually means.

Detriment is another great album from Greg Anderson’s Southen Lord label, who continue to support a range of underground metal on their roster. It’s a high-octane, vitriol-fuelled rush of a record that’s remorseless, breathless yet still filled with hope.  

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