Nequient – Darker Than Death or Night


Chicago crust-grind quartet, Nequient, are as intimidating as the streets of their crime-ridden city. These boys live among the pollution and pork barrel politics of a great metropolis where wealth inequality and homicide rates are higher than the price of vegan cuisine in the city’s trendy West Loop neighbourhood. Or so it looks from the perspective of this reviewer, who lives in England and assumes – with no justification – that Chicago is the American equivalent of Liverpool. Either way, Nequient are the gnarliest band your imagination can conjure when you hear their chaotic noise and try to make sense of their violent hardcore assault.

The division and hatred poisoning the political debate in the United States looks murderous compared to the aging social democracies and stagnant economies of Europe. The message of album opener, ‘First Casualty’, is clear: “Rejection of reality/ Embrace of this banality/ Succumb to mob mentality/ Await the last decree.” Drummer, Chris Avgerin, is the person Nequient rely on to ram home the point about a compliant society losing its conscience in an age of fake news and big tech dominance. Listen to the violent delight of his snare work as vocalist, Jason Kolkey, delivers a one-take stomach ulcer of vituperative rage. This is hardcore with the filthiest and nastiest guitar tone conceivable.

You know by track four that Nequient are more likely to stumble across a melody rather than produce one through deliberation. Music theory and technical chops means nothing to guitarist, Patrick Conahan – this is hardcore, for God’s sake! There’s no time to speculate about tunings and scales when Kolkey holds the mic and has you in his sights with the morbid prophecy of ‘Worshippers of the Apocalypse’. “Boot poised on a skull/ Rifle aimed in the air/ Mundane cares melt away/ In mortal urgency.” The splattered brains of a fresh Russian conscript in Ukraine are cleaner than the messy guitar chords and grimy amp tones on display here. There’s no musical formula. Sometimes, they take Extreme Noise Terror and Driller Killer and infuse their sound with a unique blend of major chords and blast beats. ‘Minotaur’ and ‘Eradicate the Malignancy’ are examples of this approach. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the latter is the band’s stance on cancel culture. In their view, you must exterminate the right-wing bigots rather than aim for their removal from social media platforms.

You’d be forgiven for thinking Nequient are political extremists, but they harbour a dark sense of humour underneath the barricades. Lead single, ‘Death Bridge’, is straight from the rehearsal room and describes the fear of being a band on the road with the distant possibility of dying in an automobile accident. (They even mention Cliff Burton in the lyrics!) ‘Bootlicker’ moves closer to a Bad Brains assault and slams on the brakes for a detour through Obituary towards the end. The misanthropic environmentalism of ‘City Killer’ teaches you one thing about the band’s musical attitude – you can’t polish their DIY sound without destroying their charm.

Nequient are unusual in having a drummer that belongs in a grindcore band and a guitarist who has fantasies of being in a noise-rock version of Minor Threat. The music is not always coherent, but the message is succinct and unambiguous. You must fight populism with intolerance.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 18/03/2022

Record Label: Nefarious Industries

Standout tracks: First Casualty, Minotaur, City Killer

Suggested Further Listening: Extreme Noise Terror – A Holocaust in Your Head (1989), Septic Tank – Rotting Civilisation (2018), Driller Killer – Total Fucking Hate (1995)