New York hardcore is, of course, a thing of almost Miltonian terrible beauty; And when it’s done right – you know the names, surely – there’s little in the world better able to get the pleasure receptors twitching.
When it’s done badly, it’s often a tiresome, braggadocio-saturated sausagefest, with bands all too often misreading the aggression inherent in the music’s anger as a carte-blanche invitation to act like steroid-crazed dickheads. Luckily New Yorkers Agony Kings get this idea, and take a nuanced approach to their all-out sonic war.
That’s not to say the cat has been neutered; there’s plenty of moshpit action available on their self-titled album, and more than enough guttural throat-flaying to last the lifetimes of several lesser exponents of this particular art. In fact at times the aggression is a bit too much, as songs flow into one another in the middle of the album in a bit of an amorphous boot n’braces assault on the senses – a bit of light and shade here might have worked wonders, the quiet bits giving the loud a bit more impact overall.
Still, the spoken word intro at the start of Futureburn is probably worth the price of admission on its own, and a lively reading of S.O.D.’s Kill Yourself is also well worth your perusal. Agony Kings might not be the finished article yet, but certainly if you like your thrash and hardcore on the grindier, Lilkeresque side of life you’ll find some nuggets of interest here.