You know how the story goes. After releasing their blistering debut EP ‘Curse Words’ in 2020, Fangs Out planned to hit the road and cause some mayhem – but with a global pandemic-sized spanner in the works, plans changed. Frustrated, locked-down and fed up, the band retreated to the studio, pouring their frustrations into a brand-new collection of songs. ‘Pretty Bleak’ is the result; four tracks of neck-snapping hardcore riffery that more than make up for the difficult circumstances in which they were made. With their first release Fangs Out made a good impression – now they want to be your new favourite hardcore band.

You don’t have to look far to spot the band’s inspirations, and the resulting sound is like a street brawl between Comeback Kid, Every Time I Die, and Knocked Loose. Elements of each band fly thick and fast, creating a take-no-prisoners mixture of groove and riffs that, despite being hard-hitting, is catchy and easy to love. You could say the band are treading well-established territory, but it’s rare to hear all a band’s moving parts interacting so tightly together, making for an unexpectedly thrilling listen.

‘Glum’ blasts out of the gates in the most powerful way possible, a back-and-forth mixture of riffing that angrily saws through your earlobes and leaves a strong impression. The follow-up ‘Old Lows’ is simply designed to be played live and its weighty riff will absolutely start some huge mosh pits. With its robust take on the band’s core formula it’s not hard to see why ‘Dragged Up’ was chosen as a single; the huge guitar assault arrives at a breakneck speed, it’s catchy as hell, and bites deeper than a bag full of razor blades.  During the song’s outro the angst finally boils over into a frenetic scream and a barrage of riffs that practically sells the EP on its own.

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By comparison, if the band’s previous EP was a Mustang GT, then ‘Pretty Bleak’ is more like a gas-guzzling tractor. With less sheen, it’s blatantly more powerful and brazenly shows off its raw edges. By building on what came before, it’s a bolder statement, and you can hear the four-piece’s increasing experience shining through. This means the songs feel convincingly natural and stamped with the band’s personality, not least because frustration and animosity seethe from every barbed hook. The production underscores this by managing to capture the angular rawness that absolutely fits with the band’s harsh racket, without ever sounding rough. It’s really quite something, especially as the howling vocal style channels enough emotion to strip paint, and in careless hands could easily have missed the mark. To be clear, it doesn’t, and the songs contain enough angst, rage, and goddamn catchiness to have you punching the air in time.

After three tracks showcasing the band’s signature sound, ‘Oh Well, No Loss’ brings the EP to a close. A slower, bigger song, it explores different territory while retaining the same soul-shredding power. It’s the most important song here and leaves a lasting impression, proving the band are capable of doing more than hard riffing and hinting at what the future will hold.

 

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With their love of riffs, passionate songwriting, and an ear for an angry hook, Fangs Out are a band to be excited about. Showcasing growing confidence across four blistering songs, ‘Pretty Bleak’ is a rabid riff-fest and a statement of intent. Don’t be left behind.

IAN KENWORTHY

 

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