Review: Sweat/Negative Blast – Split EP

Sweat formed circa 2019 and its membership consists of Tuna on vocals, Justin on guitars/vocals and Anthony on drums, all of whom have featured in bands such as Dogteeth, Graf Orlock, Dangers and Ghostlimb. Prior to this split EP, the band had put out their Self-Titled debut EP in 2020, the Gotta Give It Up full-length at the start of 2022 and a ripping cover of the Thin Lizzy classic Killer On The Loose late last year. I have to come clean and admit that I have been listening to them fairly regularly of late, so hence why I was so eager to cover this EP, a four-track release which also boasts two tracks from Negative Blast.

Sweat/Negative Blast – Split EP – Artwork
Sweat/Negative Blast – Split EP – Artwork

Things kick off with Sweat‘s Regulations that more than aptly demonstrates their approach to hardcore what with its nods to ‘70s hard rock, Riot Grrrl and late-period Rollins Band (the Mother Superior line-up). Like the aforementioned Rollins Band, the sound is muscular and while I’m hesitant to draw comparisons to The Bobby Lees as they don’t appear to have much in common with that band’s brattier New York garage-punk, there are parallels to be drawn in terms of ethos and spirit. A fantastic opener.

Closing, on the musical front, recalls the post-hardcore of ‘80s bands such as Government Issue and Dag Nasty but imbued with a Motörhead spirit. The more introspective sounds of the former combined with the rock ‘n’ roll take no prisoners attitude of the latter may seem an odd combination on paper but in reality its absolutely fantastic. Sweat‘s two tracks are worthy additions to their small but impressive catalogue and if they aren’t already making the same waves in the hardcore scene as Turnstile and Scowl, there really isn’t any justice in the world.

San Diego’s Negative Blast are a band I’d been aware of due to Shaman colleague Marty Williams’ excellent review of their full-length debut Echo Planet, however, I had hitherto not properly invested any serious time into their output aside from the odd cursory listen. The band’s biggest selling point is undoubtedly the addition of drummer Mario Rubalcaba (Earthless/Hot Snakes/OFF!) but they also happen to have other talented members with vocalist Raineir Pesebre, bassist Pat Callaway and guitarist Alex Jacobelli (all of whom span the bands Lewd Acts, Hour of the Wolf and [CON•TACT]).

A collection of exceptionally performed hardcore that combines aggression, melody and intelligence in equal measure…

Original Spirit is face melting post Damaged Black Flag recalling tracks such as Drinking And Driving from In My Head, check out, in particular, Jacobelli‘s glorious Greg Ginn style soloing for further proof. There are also shades of bands such as Bl’ast and any number of SST bands for that matter (SWA, Würm, Painted Willie, etc); this isn’t the type of hyperactive blink and you’ll miss it traditional hardcore, this is grinding, sludgy, torturous, hateful post-hardcore nastiness that will leave you sick to your stomach and howling at the moon. Marvellous.

Psychic Trash concludes not only Negative Blast‘s side but also the EP as a whole. Interestingly, despite its overt rage, there is a dark, psychedelic almost creepy feeling about the track, elements of which may have you thinking the twisted surf-punk of Agent Orange, the offbeat post-punk/punk-blues of The Gun Club or even the abrasive noise-rock of Pissed Jeans, all of these should have you salivating in anticipation in any case.

I’ve been enjoying a lot of Vitriol Records output recently and this was no exception. A collection of exceptionally performed hardcore that combines aggression, melody and intelligence in equal measure which does both bands justice.

Label: Vitriol Records
Sweat: Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram
Negative Blast: Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills