It’s not hyperbole, nor an overstatement when suggesting Toronto’s Fucked Up are certainly one of the most ambitious, experimental, bold and vital hardcore punk bands of the last 20 years. Formed in 2001, with their debut record, Hidden World, released back in 2006. Over the course of five full-lengths, and a myriad of singles and EPs the band, Damian Abraham (vocals), Mike Haliechuk (guitar/vocals), Josh Zucker (guitar), Sandy Miranda (bass), and Jonah Falco (drums/vocals), have consistently pushed the envelope.
Incorporating elements of noise, rock, doom, indie, synth, and anything and everything else that quips their sonic curiosity into their vision of what hardcore can be, consistently challenging their audience, all the while keeping their hardcore roots, into their overall aesthetic. Most notably Abraham, as no matter what sounds Fucked Up are experimenting with, maintains his hardcore punk delivery throughout.
Oberon,a four-song EP, continues Fucked Up’s experimentation, this time opting for a heavy, riffy, almost-sludge metal affair. Citing influences likeNoothgrush, Crossed Out, and Man is the Bastard, as a sonic template, the band set forth with a crushing statement that would be surprising from 99% of the hardcore bands performing and recording today, but for Fucked Up it’s just another example of their sonic progression.
Fucked Up showcase a heavier, sludgy side to their sound…
Oberon, the title track, is a slow-moving, riff-fest that finds Abraham bellowing and waxing on the king of fairies from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream,essentially a track that no other hardcore band other than Fucked Up would make, but, of course, it totally works, and features a cool breakdown that features a violin(?!). Strix meanwhile has a killer rolling riff, that also has a harrowing, unsettling vibe to it. Falco’sdrums pummel along, all the while the band incorporate a multitude of sounds and affects into the mix, adding to the aforementioned vibe.
Mashhit meanwhile pulls out some bouncing synth into mix with the sludgy riffage and Abraham’sbellowing. This song is as heavy as anything Fucked Up have done, Haliechuk and Zucker’s riffs and tone are heavy, menacing and crunchy, and Miranda’s low-end adds to the heft Falco‘sdrums display. Closer The Aquarium is a cover, apparently by Saint-Saens, a French pianist/composer from the mid to late 19th Century. I didn’t track down the original, opting instead to enjoy this instrumental, edgy, slow-burn soundscape, thinking it wouldn’t sound out of place in some indie, psychological horror flick.
My preparation for this review allowed me to revisit the Fucked Up records in my music collection, Hidden World, The Chemistry Of Common Life, and David Commes To Life, for reference, to see the bands evolution form those albums to Oberon. Of course, there’s no running theme stylistically in Fucked Up’s evolution and experimentation, but nonetheless, I’ll always look for any excuse to revisit those records. Oberon is a cool release from an important band, as Fucked Up showcase a heavier, sludgy side to their sound, all the while continuing to challenge their audiences’ expectations of what a hardcore band can sound like.
Scribed by: Martin Williams