New Zealand: the neighboring land of book tie-in movies, killer sheep, Nek minute, Lorde, and the always unintentionally funny Haka. It’s also the homeland of hardcore heroes, Antagonist A.D. This is a band who are going to obliterate your world with their new album, Haunt Me As I Roam, and fuck me if it’s not the angriest sounding album that I’ve heard in a long time.
The group’s last outing, the brilliant Nothing From No One, was by far the bands best work. It was dark and evil in its tone, immensely aggressive and confronting, raw and vehement in its delivery, and just one of the best hardcore albums of recent years. Plus the well-used samples from Mary Harron’s film-adaptation of American Psycho perfectly fitted the album’s tone and sound. But it wasn’t a revolution for hardcore music; it was more of a revitalizing album for the genre. See, while the album didn’t do anything new, it just did everything superbly well, and that’s exactly what Haunt Me As I Roam does too. That’s also probably why I love it so damn much.
Cold is a short, crushing, snowballing introduction to what could very well be the best hardcore album of 2015. The thunderous, finely tuned drumming coupled with Sam Crocker’s viscous, throaty screams make an extremely menacing combination and when those dirty, heavy riffs back it all up, it’s a sight to behold (or listen, you get the point). This track leads fluently into the fast and aggressive ‘Coffin Keeper,’ a track that is just Antagonist A.D. through and through. From then onwards it’s heavy breakdowns, seriously intense screams, typical metallic guitars riffs that do a fine job, thick grooves, and a cleaner mix than usual make this album a really familiar listen, but it has master-class execution. And that’s what you really want. Some other notable mentions go to the bat-shit insane Ugly Days, the incredibly bitter Old Love, and the epic album closer that is lead single, For Anyone Who Hurts.
Like the cast of recent Christopher Nolan films, there is an all-star cast, all of whom make solid guest appearances throughout the album on their respective tracks. I love when there’s a whose-who list of guest appearances on albums. It worked well on the last couple Stray From The Path albums, it worked well on the most recent Stick To Your Guns release and it works wonders here too.
First up is Ahren Stringer, who lends his always surprisingly brutal screams to the title track. When his part comes in just remember that he’s the clean singer for The Amity Affliction…yeah. Andrew Neufeld of Canada’s Comeback Kid kicks off Wanderlust and comes back every now and then to help push the chorus from merely great into the realm of epic. JJ Peters from Aussie boys Deez Nuts brings his street-vibe to Dogs Blood and he turns it into a banging Deez Nuts song instantly. Finally, Sam Carter uses his signature voice to take the lead on Downer and it never once feels out of place. It’s these songs that stand out the most on the album, and for good reason – they kick more ass than John Reese on a bender. On top of all of that, Converge’s Jacob Bannon designed the artwork, as well as Troy Brady (ex-The Amity Affliction) and Aaron Brooks (ex-The Ghost Inside) helping out mixer Will Putney behind the scenes to mix and master the album. It also shows that these sheep-loving boys can call on their buds at anytime to help back them up. And here, it has really paid off for them.
So once again Antagonist A.D. have invited a bloodthirsty, mosh-heavy and hateful sense of chaos into our lives. Maybe it speaks volumes about my character more than anything else but I for one welcome it with open arms as it doesn’t get much better than this for hardcore music. Though you have been warned; listening to this album may cause you to hate everyone around you. Have fun.