Slaves BC – we mean nothing. EP (self-released, 26 October 2012)
Somehow this article turned out way longer than I originally intended, and the majority of it is way off-topic.
If you’re a big fan of my rambly writing style, feel free to keep reading.
But if you’re just interested in reading about some quality crust/hardcore/metal with a sprinkling of death/stoner/doom elements… you won’t hurt my feelings if you skip ahead to the next line of asterisks (where it says “Moving right along…”).
And if you really hate reading and just want to get to the music, you can skip all the way to the last set of asterisks, just above the Bandcamp player at the bottom.
So I don’t know if you heard about this, because it didn’t get that much attention in the news or social media recently, but the other day there was an election held here in America.
In case you weren’t paying attention, the president was running for re-election, and quite a few seats in both houses of congress were up for grabs. And as it turned out, whichever political party was already in charge of those governmental positions basically stayed in charge of them. There may have been a few swaps here and there, but overall not a whole lot changed.
Naturally, the folks who wanted the party with more control to retain that power were delighted, and the others were disappointed, and there was a widespread reaction of surprise at just how evenly divided the votes were in some cases.
However, one thing that was made clear by the final results: America was not interested in electing the candidates who kept insisting that raping women is “God’s Will” — as that entire contingency ended up losing their respective contests.
Personally, I applaud this outcome, as (in my opinion) it seems to represent a triumph — for a majority of the voters living in each of those states or congressional districts, anyhow — of morality, human decency, and modern scientifically-based medical knowledge over ignorance.
Nevertheless, this is America, and of course we are all granted equal freedoms under our constitutional amendments — and many people are now worried that there is no outlet for the ultra-religious nut-jobs to voice their opinion publicly. (Okay, to the best of my knowledge no one is actually worried about that, just bear with me here…)
So that brings us to today’s discussion of the Pittsburgh-based hardcore band Slaves BC.
Now that I’ve written all that, it kind of seems like a weird transition into sharing this new EP (released almost two weeks ago) with you. Because now it sounds like I’m implying this band consists of ultra-religious nut-jobs. And to be honest, I don’t know that for a fact.
Actually, I’ve never known them to state their position on the issues of rape (legitimate or otherwise) or “God’s Will” — or any other controversial issues. Although recently on Facebook they did declare themselves to be staunchly pro-beard.
I guess it’s a bit of a stretch to jump to any conclusions based on the small amount of evidence that has surfaced: for one thing, the band’s name itself — given their western Pennsylvanian origin, I seriously doubt the “BC” stands for British Columbia. Furthermore, most of the song titles from their 2011 demo This World Shall Pass Away appear to be biblical in origin; specifically, many seem to allude to references from the book of Revelation, or pertaining to the battle of Armageddon and the Final Judgement. Even more specifically, the song title “The 144,000” tends to associate the material with the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ interpretation of Revelation.
But all of that notwithstanding, it would be ludicrous to automatically stereotype members of a particular group or class of people simply based on the characteristics of its extremely radical fringe members, wouldn’t it? Just like the protest groups who look at all metalheads a certain way, simply based on the actions of a select few. For example.
So anyway, I guess my point would be that all signs point toward a Christian-leaning hardcore/metal band here, which some people would interpret as justification to ignore them or write them off — but I’ll caution you against making any hasty judgements. You don’t know what you might be missing out on!
Furthermore, while the artwork of this new release also has religious imagery on it (well, there’s a cross), the titles here seem to have a far more cynical attitude behind them — as does the cover art itself. Apparently representing a poor, hungry child being offered the cross (perhaps as a metaphor for missionaries bringing religion to other cultures) rather than food or clothing, or anything that would fulfill his immediate physical needs.
In this case, and without further contextual clues, I am guessing it is being left up to the listener whether or not to buy into such a cynical view of religion and its actual worth to people — and, by extension, whether or not “we mean nothing” is an accurate assessment.
Moving right along…
Anyone who has heard the band’s demo would know these guys specialize in a brand of hardcore that hangs in the balance between crust/punk and death metal influences, while also throwing interesting twists and stoner/doom-flavored breaks from time to time.
(If you haven’t checked it out yet, This World Shall Pass Away can be downloaded for FREE right here.)
The new material on we mean nothing. stays in a similar vein, stylistically, but the recording and/or mastering techniques have improved by leaps and bounds over last year’s offering: everything seems much clearer, and with a much greater perceived loudness (which also enhances the overall clarity, in addition to giving a wider frequency response, and just a generally “heavier” vibe).
While these improvements have made the band sound better as a whole, and have allowed the nuances of both the songwriting and the performance shine through, there are a couple specific areas I’d like to call attention to — namely, the drums and vocals.
The drum parts seem to have especially benefitted from the improved recording quality and/or mixing/mastering, as each hit rings clearly here — especially the snare, which has that satisfyingly sharp crack! that’s sometimes characteristic of the crust/grind drum sound, but whatever mic technique was used really seems to capture the sound ringing across the drumhead as it’s struck. In a more general sense, the drums sound better played and more precise — although once again, this could be an artifact of the improved clarity of sound. Either way, to my ears, a good quality drum sound provides a solid foundation for the band to sound better as a whole.
And the vocals — here (just as on the band’s earlier material), they generally come across as a harsh, somewhat raspy, hardcore-style shout. But whereas in the earlier demo they kind of sounded all distorted and overloaded (not sure if that was an issue with mixing or something, or a conscious choice), on this new material once again the sound itself is cleaner (not to be confused with “clean singing” in any way) and cuts through the mix nicely.
So to summarize, here’s a band that showed a glimpse of promise on their demo, with some unpolished stones that could be turned into gems (and after all, isn’t that really the point of recording a demo?) — who are now displaying signs of realizing that potential. Not only do the recordings themselves sound good, but the writing and arranging also seems to be growing together nicely.
And I’m almost positive they are not in favor of women being legitimately raped.
You can hear the new EP using this Bandcamp widget, or download it if you’d like to toss a few bucks in the band’s direction — any money raised here will be applied toward recording the band’s debut full-length album sometime in the near future.
…or if you prefer your music in a physical format, Slaves BC also have CDs available now — you can get in touch with them via the collection of links at the end of this post, or if you’re in the Pittsburgh area, you can catch them appearing with Lost Empires and Seas We Fear to Sail at the Mr. Roboto Project on the 12th of November, or opening for Nachtmystium at the Ironworks on the 20th of November.