The Difference Between Hell and Home
23 July 2013
by Tomas Doyle
Hardcore as a community, in 2013, sucks. In its pseudo-overground form it has become a scene characterised by bullshit misogyny, knuckle-dragging idiocy, poser-ish aggro and the sort of popularity cult that would put most college sororities to shame. An elitist club for those who are supposed to hate elitism. A merch stall with a music genre attached. A sham. Sonically too, large swathes of the “hardcore establishment” seem content to cannibalise their own musical tropes, reducing everything to the most digestible, banal building blocks.
Yet, in amongst the dumb, bigcartel-core turds, there are glimmers of hope to be found. Counterparts are nothing less than a shining beacon. Their third album The Difference Between Hell and Home ought to firmly plant their flag in the ground as a thinking man’s modern hardcore band with the guts, heart, and fucking balls to remind everyone of what this kind of stuff ought to mean.
From the impassioned refrains of opening track ‘Lost’, there’s the unshakeable sense that Counterparts fight and fury is not only real but totally unmediated by any desire to catch the end of a dying trend. It’s down the line, pacey, frenetic hardcore that’s produced well enough to give it an expansive and hefty feel, but not clipped of its furious passion by glossy studio nonsense. There’s a technicality here too that is more Shai Hulud than Comeback Kid, but most importantly there are songs courtesy of the throat of vocalist Brendan Murphy. His skill is to not only ride the mayhem his four buddies are producing behind him, but frequently to turn it into anthemic brilliance.
You could probably pick out six or seven tracks that qualify as ‘outstanding’ here, but the cut and thrust of ‘Ghost’ will slice even the most casual hardcore fan from head to toe. ‘Witness’ is a euphoric slab of no-fucks-given punk that will have you yelling along and chucking your fist in the air with frightening ease. If ‘Compass’ doesn’t put a chill up your spine and make you want to two-step your cat through a window, then it might be worth checking that you don’t have rigor mortis – the pulsating closing passage in particular is a sublime mid-album highlight.
Watch the video to ‘Witness’ by Counterparts:
The Difference Between Hell and Home is a stunningly complete hardcore album which should be treasured by anyone with half a brain in their heads. When Murphy roars “I AM WHAT I AM. AND I AM AN OUTCAST” on ‘Outlier’, it feels like a genuine signifier that this isn’t a record for the established moshcore boys club, but for absolutely anyone who likes their music drenched in sweat, passion and intent. I’m not saying it’s the best record of this sort I’ve heard this year – but it’s in the top one.
Sounds Like: Comeback Kid, Hundredth
Standout Tracks: Outlier, Compass, Witness