John Cantwell / staff writer
Throughout the independent music community of Pittsburgh, music group Shin Guard has been known as a screamo staple that provides some of the most creative, chaotic and visceral sounds that the heavy music community has to offer. Now, under the guise of Hazing Over, the band has reemerged with a new lineup and deathcore sound that is sure to crush your skull in half.
The band released their new four-song EP Pestilence on February 19, and although the album is only 10 minutes in length, the group has showcased that they are even more of a force to be reckoned with – they’re here to reign hell.
The guitars are tuned lower, Jake Yencik has stepped down from bass duties and is now the full- time vocalist and the sound is raw.
The opening and title track, “Pestilence,” subtly opens with feverish string bend until it builds up to a blistering drop that is sure to make moshers pleased once shows return. The riffs on this track are so technically creative, yet are reminiscent of early 2000s hardcore such as Converge and Botch, and even modern bands like Code Orange and Vein.
Yencik’s vocals have improved immensely since Shin Guard (and his solo project Blood Menace), showcasing a variety of gutturals, false chords and mids that will garnish approval from hardcore metal fans.
Not only the vocals, but the overall instrumentals are infinitely more intriguing and hard-hitting, which is conveyed on the second track “Sty.” With blistering drum compositions by Ryan Yester, the song immediately conjures a sense of discombobulation, which is then emphasized by the mathy cacophony, and the anti-cop narrative that engulfs the track into an anti-authority anthem.
“Jock” was the first single they released under the name Hazing Over, and it is still one of the highlights on the EP. Nostalgic and ambient synthesizers kick off the track, almost giving the listener a sense of comfort and bliss until it quickly becomes distorted with Yencik’s high-pitched shrieks. The versatility that Yencik displays with his vocals in this track is astounding, especially with the explosive, mosh-inducing breakdown at the climax of the track.
The final and closing song of the EP is “Ungodly,” and it is by far the most melodic, yet complex creation on the record. Beginning with an upbeat musical composition which will be sure to get crowd-goers jumping at performances, the song quickly ventures into the sporadic and chaotic traits that were sprinkled throughout the rest of the EP.
The almost “breakcore” type synths reappear before they eventually fade into another pummeling breakdown, followed by the nihilistic and apathetic lyrics which display a disregard for conformity and everyday life. The overall vibe and tone of the track makes it even more enjoyable to put on when you are just having a bad day and need to release some pent-up aggression.
Within Pestilence, Hazing Over has showcased that this is only the beginning, and they are ready to take over. Although the days of Shin Guard are now long gone, the group’s new sound is sure to leave a mark on the hardcore/deathcore scene, taking inspiration from a multitude of similar bands, yet spinning their own creative twist on the genre that keeps their sound exciting, fresh and face-melting.