A wise woman once said, “the world’s a mess, it’s in my kiss.” It’s true– the sensual world is capricious and cruel and is going to still be around, fucking people over, long after you’re gone. What to do? Give up? Cry? Pray? Good luck. There’s no future and the past, to be quite honest, wasn’t anything to write home about. Yet here we still are, getting shoved into every locker available while the world flexes its stupid muscles and laughs. What could you possibly play on your Walkman as you wipe the snot from your face and wait for daylight? Head Wound City is here for you, shrugging away your tears, telling you that it’s not going to be OK… But it’ll be over soon.
Formed in 2005, Head Wound City is made up of members of The Locust, The Blood Brothers and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. All come from diverse backgrounds, steeped in metal (thrash and grind in particular), goth, and every permutation of hardcore and punk imaginable. HWC are loathe to get into direct musical comparisons, knowing that any band used as a frame of reference here will be written on their tombstones (not by you– you’re great– by the other writers). Yes, the shadow of The Birthday Party looms, as if Nick Cave was raised on powerviolence and a Classics Illustrated version of the Old Testament. Or maybe it’s the sound of powerviolence conceived brats who were listening to Mutiny in Heaven when they should have been reading their scriptures. If Head Wound City don’t exactly worship a god or wraith they at least suspect that we’re going to get—or are already getting—what we deserve. Point is: either God is dead or seriously pissy, and Head Wound City was raised by inattentive bats, and it shows/works.
“I started to wonder if humans are inherently violent or if violence is the inevitable result of the systems of power we put in place.” That’s Jordan Blilie on the title of the new album, A New Wave of Violence, taken from the Raymond Pettibon zine and one that well-represents the band’s dominant theology and place within a musical history. Written over a week’s time in January 2015 and produced by Ross Robinson (Sepultura, Slipknot, At the Drive-In), their stated goal was, “More depth, less irony. Eliminate irony altogether. Grow up and get rid of it.” Head Wound City is forever wildly serious and absurd, always with an eye towards the world aflame and the fire of love, perpetually hacking away at the cancer while laugh/crying on the operating table, and trying to make sense of this awful, awful whole. It’s not a hopeful album, exactly, and Head Wound City is not a hopeful band. Losing—as the tradition of rock music/life in general demands—is a given. But the band and their work are a full-blooded rejection of prayer, giving up, and any other version of dying on one’s knees. They’re at least committed to giving the world some trouble before they go.
- Zachary Lipez