Louisiana hardcore crew, Capra, piqued the attention of the underground with their 2021 debut, In Transmission. A riotous piece of punk-infused energy with knuckle-dragging riffs and metal-plated grooves, it achieved considerable acclaim but not enough to make the A&R team at Metal Blade do handstands against the wall. Like Comeback Kid, Capra find themselves on a prestigious record label with some off the biggest names in metal, but where do they fit in? It’s a bit like trying to convince Sepultura fans in 1996 to buy the latest Merauder record. Capra should satisfy many in the heavy music scene if you give them a chance.
The resurgence of metallic hardcore bands from the school-of-hard-knocks camp is a welcome alternative to the angst-ridden pop of metalcore, and Capra make it obvious that they belong in the former category. They don’t transition to clean chorus melodies; the drum pedals do not sound like sowing machines; and the guitars do not belch under the low-end dominance of eight strings. Opener, ‘CHSF’, is the type of menacing power chord barrage of guitars and upbeat drums that made the American hardcore scene such a place of vitality in the 1990s. Vocalist, Crow Lotus, primes her gullet in the froth of a fighting spirit known only to those that survived the streets. Her voice is high-pitched but raw in its screaming intensity and just as muscular as the instruments behind her. The aggressive d-beats subordinate the guitars to their supremacy here and in follow-up, ‘Tied Up’, where pentatonic fills contrast with dissonant fretboard shapes under the might of the cracked throat operations.
Seldom does the Capra singer pause for breath. Even the predatory breakdown in ‘Silana’, does not throw her off stride. This song gives us the first sign of a metallic overlay, but it’s the steam of early Helmet mixed with the pioneering grooves of Vision of Disorder. You could put a rapper on the mic with these beats and make it sound like Stuck Mojo, but Capra have more in common with Belgian hardcore bruisers, Nasty. Give ‘Trauma Bond’ a spin and ask yourself this – would you rather listen to a modern death metal record or a hardcore band with fire in their bellies? You might even detect the spirit of Handsome in the dissonant chord formations and anxious outbursts into the microphone. “I fall apart every morning I wake up,” shouts Lotus in a tuneful rage on track eight (see ‘Transplant’).
The band might look back to the late 1990s for their inspiration and aesthetic, but they immerse themselves in the 1980s on the neo-thrash metal of ‘Kingslayer’. Woe betide anyone that steps in front of the threatening drum beat of the intro before the speakers pan to a rush of high-velocity Anthrax rhythms. It’s one of the few times Lotus receives an envelopment of gang vocals as she navigates through the shoulder-drops like a young Jamey Jasta. The message in ‘Human Commodity’ is a defiant one: “In the face of defeat / No choice but to press on or be crushed.” Here, Lotus fights with all her strength like a giant prawn about to be tossed into a frying pan. It sounds even better under the hammer of a chunky groove metal riff.
Errors might be short on surprises, but you don’t ask for a metallic hardcore record to astound you with originality. This is music from the gut with a focus on cleansing the mind of the forces that will drag you down. Only on closing track, ‘Nora (Last Call)’, do the members of Capra hint at a horizon beyond their neighbourhood, with a foray into atonal noise rock and light piano sprinkles to support the thrust of the belting vocals. Is this an avenue to explore on their next record? Maybe it is, but their current trajectory of thickening their sound with metallic riffing serves them well here and should continue to do so in the future.
Release Date: 06/10/2023
Record Label: Metal Blade
Standout tracks: Silana, Kingslayer, Transplant
Suggested Further Listening: Comeback Kid – Heavy Steps (2022), Vision of Disorder – Imprint (1998), Outright – Keep You Warm (2022)