Non Residents live in Brooklyn but all four members have their origins in Chile. They don’t waste time pledging allegiance to a flag or constitution that misunderstands them, nor do they expect the land of opportunity to offer them more than full-time work in a coffee shop or a chance at night school if they’re lucky. And why bother settling down into a salaried life in the hope you can find ‘the one’ to spend the rest of your time with when you can play crossover thrash and live the thrill of a hand-to-mouth existence? These boys will not be tamed by the shallow benefits of a consumer society or be fooled by the social Darwinian rat race the American ruling class disguise as a meritocracy.
You wonder if Non Residents play crossover thrash because it’s the only language that will express their no-nonsense outlook on life. The snare drums are dustier than the mastering on U2’s War LP, and the idea of guitar overdubs probably never occurred to them in the studio. Vocalist, Amarú Fenoutt, might have heard of a pop shield and reverb, but he forgot to insist on them during the recording session. This is the empty-stomach thrash metal of four men that need to be on the stage to earn their supper. Their signature anthem, ‘We Are Non Residents’, is like The Dead Kennedys enhanced by an Exodus makeover and the production of early Bad Brains. “We are a crew, a community/ This is not about nationality/ We are friends, a worldwide family,” sings Amarú Fenoutt with a snarl more suited to hardcore punk than metal. It’s possible the band’s record collection ends at 1992 if the blues rock riffs are an indication of the bridge leading up to the chorus.
Non Residents know their thrash, but it’s the crossover sound of New York rather than the technical prowess of the Bay Area. ‘Not For Me’ mixes Slayer’s rapid delivery of vocals and fast alternate-picking with the violent confrontation of Cro-Mags, although no aggressive band in 2021 would use pentatonic blues scales for their rhythmic attack. The naivety is charming. ‘This is America’ is pure hardcore punk like Agnostic Front. It’s not about the music, it’s about attitude and integrity. Their equipment sounds like a salvage job from the local pawnbrokers.
Ten of these honest crossover treats would warrant a respectful appraisal from Scream Blast Repeat, but the band decide that track six is the time to turn up the musicianship and the levels of experimentation. And this is where things become interesting. ‘Resiliense’ turns Against Police Brutality from a decent album into a good one. Listen to the technical prowess of the mid-range guitar passage and marvel how they reset to a mystical clean tone for the opening verse. This could be Cynic in their prime. Er, what the fuck? The anti-neo liberal stance of ‘Freedom’ looks to Helmet for its guitar navigation and Rage Against the Machine for its bass groove. It may be just shy of five minutes, but the structure is far too advanced for a hardcore band. They even throw in a guitar solo for good measure while you’re digesting the vitriol of their lyrical attack on the IMF, WTO, Pentagon and World Bank.
The last thing you expect to hear at the end is a Japanese bamboo flute as a segue to the violent beauty of ‘Brutal Cueca’. You can feel the elbows and fists flying past your nose in the pit when they unleash their hardcore fury. Yet they calm things to a halt in the mid-section with a strange ceremony of vertiginous tom drums and spindly bass rotations that could be presided over by an African witch doctor of the wildest colonial imagination. The way they resurrect the frothing guitars back into a final blast of NYC hardcore punk deserves your attention. This is anything but one-dimensional dogma disguised as music.
Non Residents are raw and unpolished and unwilling to accept the status quo. Against Police Brutality is a commendable record that has more than enough adrenaline and excitement to paper over the sporadic cracks.
Release Date: 08/10/2021
Record Label: Self Released
Standout tracks: Resiliense, Freedom, Brutal Ceuca
Suggested Further Listening: Suicidal Tendencies – Suicidal Tendencies (1983), Moratory – The Old Tower Burns (2021), Utilitarian – Stay Angry EP (2020)