Osk – We Will Never Change (2014) — 10″ EP REVIEW

OSK_WWNC_7892 copySo there’s a lot of good grindcore out already this year and much promised as well. I’ve already got some favorites, and I’m sure most people have already decided to check out of this specific arena for 2014 having begun digesting GridLink’s uncanny grind. I would implore you to hold on that impulse because there’s shit like this popping up all the time.

Osk’s We Will Never Change. It’s twelve minutes, it’s no fucking around, it’s metallic and dirty with enormous staying power. Visceral, punk-as-fuck, DIY fastcore poetry front to back. I’m very pleased to see a new release from Osk and such a damn strong one once again.

Next thing you know Mass Grave and Shooting Spree will being dropping things… oh wait…

OSK_WWNC_7906 copyOsk are Vancouver grinders you should know about. They’re one of my favorites from this province and it’s not hard to see why once you put the needle down on this. This 10″ out on Give Praise Records titled We Will Never Change is brain frying fastcore which has been cultivated in the grime of Vancouver’s underground venues since releasing their compilation through To Live A Lie.

It’s worth noting here as in my prior articles that multiple members of this three piece are very active in not just this band but other slaying punk groups: Cooked And Eaten, Mass Grave, Mudlark, and even Bridgeburner and Ahna on some live occasions. All are more than worthy of attention from grind fans.

We Will Never Change blazes though all seventeen songs with only a few pauses to indulge in  Mudlark grind-meets-sludge dirges. I have zero qualms about what they’ve recorded on this  in terms of the blended punk material which I’ll get to, in fact it’s stronger than ever. Inventive riffing and bass, blasting drums, all of this never dropping in intensity. It’s a glaring example of west coast Canada’s vibrant scene

OSK_WWNC_7908 copyA glance into the stained corners of urban modernity through the lyrics is also a good part of what make this record, through the dual vocals of Dave and Braden. The art all over it evokes the idea of injury, decay, frustration and gnawing creep of systemic collapse.

Subjects ground to their essence include moral lethargy and apathy, antiintellectualism, group-think, and ignorance, etc. As well as more localized but relatable troubles of the DIY touring band life, raising money, booking shows,border crossing and the politics/irrational policies involved — all of which often intersects with aspects of what the other songs focus on.

As I’ve seen them a few times now some of these are familiar, and a few I caught when they played with Iron Lung last year. On vinyl it is a fine representation of the live expressions that break concrete. You can check it out below.

In that first video you’ll hear the starting cut of grind on this record, the title track rips open this record in less than thirty seconds, slamming and mincing to a crushing dual vocal attack right at the end.

The song itself deals with a general theme of the record and past content, stemming from decaying modernity. It’s clear and coldly stated: the title has everything to do with wage slavery and the existence it leads to.

“Somniphobia” is one I’ve never heard, a quick one on the fear of sleep. It shaves a second of the last track with a tense battery in the intro and gets faster from there. The end blasts but not before the hammer on slow down. “Left Behind” brings a ton for stops for the bass two rattle skulls alongside the roars in even less time.

Even with this loaded track list to me the back-to-back onslaught of “Die Away From Me” and “No Fucking Shame” might be the height of the record.

“Die Away From Me” is about cutting ties. It rocks frantically back and forth in a tense rhythm after a pummeling start, and winds tighter in this until that space of the crunchy bass to announce a tremendous riff that begins pulling tighter to the end.

OSK_WWNC_7895 copy“No Fucking Shame” I’ve seen them play a few times (see above video two minutes in) castigating the ‘ignorance is bliss’ mentality. It’s a good example of Osk’s grip on how to expand the punk and grind that lay in the past. Climbing riff in the front, real bright for a few moments and then the groovy hardcore mosh begins with the lyrics. Smooth as fuck. The end is one thing Iove about Osk, they bring out little unraveling riffs that feel a little eerie amongst the aggression.

How someone couldn’t get pumped on this is beyond me.

Then there’s “Burning Human” which is another they play live (see above) and another that features a passage much like the one above. I’d put it right along with the prior awesome songs but really it just keeps getting more wicked. The initial shred amps things up only to bring in that trailing, mysterious groove over the laid back drums. Lyrically blunt: a burning pit of bodies.

“Rotted” goes a bit slower at points and it’s tasty, fulminating alcoholism and cyclical rage that destroys the mind. Osk again flay excellent, whirling riffs that bounce technically without coming off as technical.

Both this track and “Cross Canada” that follows show this well, the latter tricks you into thinking it’s going to be a straight punk sway but this is broken immediately by the abrupt change in rhythm and open seconds for percussion. It’s pretty busy and a refresher in a subtle way.

“Cut And Paste” (lack of identity) ends the first side and with a bit of sludge-groove in the bands step for the first three quarters (bringing back a bit of Mudlark’s vibe). No way to turn this one up louder. It’s addicting, and they drop it for a shining return to the lively punk rhythms for a moment. This is another steamroller of a track.

OSK_WWNC_7909 copyStarting up the second side an acronym greets us. This is one of the more curious lyrically. It would seem to be from a pro-animal stand point: “Monkey Through a Catflap” is about a monkey that braves a fire to save children, all for bananas. Material wise “M.T.A.C.” bounces aggressively for the first half with a little anxiety (poor monkey), and the last 15 seconds the shredding is turned up.

This oddball is followed by “Scientific Fraud” which is a bit grittier with a lot of twang between it’s fury. It’s as complex as the issue at hand

Indeed lyrically this one’s nice because it’s genuinely critical. I do see a lot of pro-secular arguments in the underground scene (which I’m absolutely for) stemming not just from a natural inclination towards reason and the empirical process, but also from a (correct) reaction to the recent climate of anti-intellectualism, socioeconomic regression,and  unsustainable attitudes and behavior.

However this does distract from a very important discussion of independence and transparency in scientific, scholarly research. Sometimes the right wing conspiracy crowd enjoys embellishing this but that shouldn’t distract from the principle legitimacy. Anyway in the short span of the track in makes this important point without being as boring as me and with sharpened grind to carry it.

Get those who are detached from reality off of the planet. “Cull The Herd” again blends that early punk vibe into the first three quarters and the last moment is screeched to a halt for a one-off sick groove. Shredding is one way to say it. Then “Borders” (one of the longer tracks) adds a little weirdness in one of it’s main passages: unexpected shifts in direction on all fronts and it pays off. Oh and any band who’s crossed territories when  touring will know what’s up here.

Next one deals in the issue of immediate gratification and over-stimulation in modernity. “Serenity” is one I’ve heard performed multiple times in the past and it’s another direct gut punch with a trudging lead up. A really memorable piece, especially the bursting yells in the beginning it lines up so well with the underlying rhythm. Check out some footage of it from Fastcore Fest last year.

On to a few final songs I haven’t heard “Q: $15 A: $5” again deals with the trails of raising cash for doing what you love for people who support you. It follows and has a similar aura that “Borders” had, at least once you get to the wobbly slides that divide it from a much simpler hardcore fit afterwards.

“Keep It Short” is all about just that lyrically: brevity in grind and message as it kills thirty-five seconds, folding in on itself fast. The last song is “Concrete”, I’ve seen them toss it down a bunch live and it’s in the same footage as the earlier video. A strong finish.

Recommended. We Will Never Change is a fucking blast guys. Go grab this 10″ from Give Praise Records. I’m sure other distros will probably have a copy of it by now like Hygiene Records and To Live A Lie. If you’re in Canada the wonderful Scream & Writhe has some. Big surprise that these guys came with a new and biting record this year.

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