Guilt Trip – Severance


Guilt Trip are the underdog that will not be defeated. Manchester’s finest hardcore unit are the definition of the Adidas tagline, “Grind now, glory later.” Metal fans should be just as excited: each Guilt Trip record since their 2016 debut seems to go heavier on the metal side, with Severance continuing this evolution away from Madball towards Machine Head. A European tour with Malevolence and Sylosis in November will present them with the opportunity to beat their audience into submission with a devastating arsenal of riffage. Their time is now.

The key to Guilt Trip is their shared sense of belief. This translates into thirty-two minutes of defiant metallic hardcore that makes mincemeat of those that doubted them. Jay Valentine’s roar of “come on!” to introduce the body-slamming groove of ‘Surrounded by Pain’ is one of the many times you’ll feel seven feet tall listening to this music. Yet underneath the tumult of audio carnage is a song with subtle complexities. Drums thunder and crash in a frenzy of activity; riffs floor you like a collapsing dam; testosterone remonstrations shake you by the collar bone. The superb breakdown at 02:10 is like Employed to Serve in a mash-up with Terror. ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ follows before you can recover your posture. Here, the shadow of the guillotine leaves you in fear as each successive beatdown riff cuts closer to the flesh than the last one. Imagine Knocked Loose transported back to the era of Burn My Eyes. Guitarist, Jak Maden, teases the natural harmonic vibrations from his guitar strings like Robb Flynn preparing for a celebrity death match with Phil Anselmo.

The alternating tempos in ‘Sweet Dreams’ let you decide if you want the thrill of thrash metal or the rough justice of hardcore. There’s something for everyone here, but Guilt Trip are intelligent enough to know that charity brings the possibility of parasitic behaviour. They give you the goods and expect you to reward them with your fiercest devotion to the cause. Are you in or out? You’ll need no invitation to stomp through a crowd of enemies when the forceful guitar and towering snare hits of ‘Tearing Your Life Away’ get into gear. Guilt Trip provide the adrenaline to bounce on your toes in the intro to ‘Broken Wings’ before they give you the gun to settle the knife fight. It gives new meaning to the term Madchester. This is the madness of a rage that will not be contained.

And yet for every injection of invincibility is a determination to look beyond the red mist. The guest appearance of Mike Duce from defunct Watford hardcore crew, Lower than Atlantis, is as surprising as the triumph of his Life of Agony-esque vocal harmony in the chorus to ‘Sanctified’. Listen how Maden teases the moody chord-picking sequences throughout this record, especially on the transitional mood piece, ‘Reaching Paradise’. The title-track does the same but explodes under the weight of the effervescent guitar distortion towards the end. Valentine hits all the right notes in ‘Dusk’ when exploring the more tuneful side to his voice. It’s one hell of a risk to end the album on a power ballad, but it works. Clearly, Guilt Trip can see a role for themselves as mature songwriters as well as hardcore soldiers.

Severance is the reminder you need that you have agency; you are in control; you can silence your critics by sheer force of will. “I will not be broken again,” is the message of their collaboration with Malevolence in ‘The Gates’. The youth of today are angry, and so they should be. But Guilt Trip understand that you need to make peace with yourself before you can take on the wider world.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 22/09/2023

Record Label: MLVLTD

Standout tracks: Surrounded by Pain, Eyes Wide Shut, The Gates

Suggested Further Listening: Bailer – Disposable Youth (2021), Negative Frame – Mercy Killing EP (2023), Nasty – Heartbreak Criminals (2023)