Ten Stages Of A Make Up
The James Cleaver Quintet
The hard-touring, hard-playing, own nose-breaking James Cleaver Quintet (who are actually a quartet) might be keeping up the old school punk tradition of the cool stage name, but their explosive, experimental hardcore sounds anything but dated.
‘Ten Stages Of Make Up’, released by On Dry Land (the all-encompassing DIY operation of Sam and Kirk, member and manager of Blakfish respectively), combine some of the most ferocious moments in the current wave of British hardcore with some its catchiest moments. Even on the most feedback-ridden sections there’s something catchy to hang on to for those put off by the velocity and volume.
‘Throne To The Lions’ grinds shredded and shattered funk riffs into rapifire, tangled hardcore but almost pristine vocal harmonies break through the melee. ‘The Shame’ is The JCQ’s poppiest song here, with about four choruses, but they still swap the ‘quiet’ half of the tried and tested quiet/loud dynamic for ‘more loud’.
It’s not easy listening by any stretch, though. ‘I Do, You Do, We Do Voodoo’ is a groovy missing link between lo-fi garage rock and grindcore, and while the clattering ‘Pinks And Blues’ can be traced back to Gallows and the like, the garage oddness and the sauciness is ramped up. The straight-up ‘TNT’ has fewer oddities than previous tracks, but ‘Coming Of Age ’ more than makes up for it. Electronic samples bubble up into sinister space rock, which then morphs into a blast of dark hardcore, augmented with fiery black metal growls and fuzzy music hall fadeout. If the songs here are the first six stages of a make up, we should definitely look forward to other four.