The Fucking Machines, Asile, DOXX, and Wire Cuffs at House of TARG

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On March 24th, packed with punks, was Ottawa’s very own House of TARG. Legends made a comeback alongside some of the finest hardcore punk bands in the community. The sets warmed everyone up on the brisk spring night and made a good end to the day.

Merciless, absolutely brutal, and loud enough to tear the floor up with nothing but the roaring of the guitars are Ottawa locals, Wire Cuffs. So weighted that it pulled us in, the sound beat through our chest. Particularly prominent basslines, punch-packing power chords, and vocals that rip through the stuffy basement air.

The raged vocals tied into the aggression of each song, creating an unclean and raw energy. A release of energy so unconstrained that when unleashed, it got everybody moving erratically, the lyrics seem to not only draw screams from the band but that crowd as well. Quite literally ripped from the throat, as opposed to the diaphragm, the vocals were unfiltered and pulled from within. They’re what you’d imagine the shredding of vocals chords sounds like, but in a way that encompasses frustrations and angst.

The guitar and bass were steady but rather abrasive. Both complimented one another, equally heard. They were the source of the steady flow of rage. They held a sharp and cold edge to them that resonated with bitterness the closer you listen. They chugged on, almost playing a game of cat and mouse with each other, dissonant and seemingly off key from time to time. Overwhelming, the two instruments fill you with emotion and allowed you to release them due to the tempos they set. Earsplitting and turbulent, the guitars shocked us with the sheer power of their anger and strength of emotion they convey. The riffs were structured and quickly executed, like second nature to the guitarists. They stood out on their own and pull your ear in.

The drumming was cold and thrashing, with heavy use of the ride and crash cymbals. Booming and rattling away, with a partially open high hat it acted as the metronome but far more emotionally driven. The drummer went all out and didn’t hold back. Crashing mercilessly into each part of the drum kit, there wasn’t a sense of playing carefully despite the precise timing. The drummer got into this as the crowd got lost in his performance, fueled by raw power, irritation coming across in each beat. This comes across prominently in Alien Vampire Invasion.

With a new ferocity and new tunes, DOXX took to the stage next. Opening with a new song, as opposed to Human Waste CEO, the band sunk their rage into the crowd and got their fists pumping and bodies moving in time with the rhythms set. They were boisterous, enraged, and provocative, the band only gets better with each release—and heavier.

The guitar riffs Brit played appeared to be layered, the effect of being split into two parts prominent through their newer songs. The guitar appeared to have it’s own voice more so than before and tore through the crowd with its roar. Merging high and low notes to create a new dynamic, the guitar chuggedwith weighted chords to radiate an abysmal provocation of anger within the crowd. Sharp and expeditious, Brit didn’t hold back, putting tremendous energy into each song that rips from her guitar.

Jeff’s bass playing shook the floor with its sheer power. Prominent but leveled out with the guitar, it seemed to not back the guitar but in fact, drew more attention to itself and Brit’s playing due to the contrast in tone and octaves. The bass roared, and due to the slight distortion and delay, there was a fuzz to it. It backed the beat but has a mind of its own, split away and adding a depth to the songs.

Kieran’s drumming was hard and fast. Thrashing and crashing he got the crowd into it—high energy and booming, the snare became a prominent aspect of each song, later joined by the cold and vehement cymbals. Besides the bass, the drumming shook the core with its sheer power. It set the merciless tempo and conveys the emotions through each abrasive beat.

Sofia’s vocals not only get better with each performance, but manage to convey more emotion each time. The delivery is relentless and in your face, only mellowing out to be able to emphasize the growls that rip themselves from her throat. Sofia’s vigor is wild and the screams that she built up are warm yet venomous. They ranged from higher screams to ones drawn from deep within, the control behind each of them was unfathomable.

After Doxx, Asile took the stage. Ottawa locals took a twist on the night, spitting out lyrics in French instead of more commonly used English. Asile dominated and put forth a ferocious energy that encouraged some headbanging and fistpumping. It was pure hardcore punk that incorporates guitar solos and riffs that remain brief and punchy.

The vocals hardly needed to be strained, the screams were unified in nature and remind me of D. O. A, they drive the spirit of the songs forward. Even if incomprehensible to those who don’t speak French, the delivery was so raw and driven with passion that it still catches peoples attention and gets them riled up and ready to mosh. It’s not so much about the lyrics themselves, but rather the delivery.

The guitar was wildly overdriven and generated such strength in intensity that it became nearly impossible not to listen for all the little technicalities—at least for me. From the few pick scrapes, to tremolo picking, and of course the precise hammer-ons and pull-offs, the guitarist knew no bounds. The riffs in C’est Qu’on Nous Dis, in particular, stood out as cold and paint the warm backbeat blue. Like a magnet, the solo work pulls you in due to the contrast it sets to the pieces.

The bass is by far one of the most prominent features. It’s deep and literally shook the floor, rattling in your rib cage as a result. It held a steady flow of feedback while pounding into our ears. It’s the backbone, the steady support that bursts through obnoxiously. It’s the crackling fire—angry, warm, and comforting. It glowed and radiated a distinguished and eloquent fury.

The drumming was fervent and rolled in with such severity that it nearly blew our eardrums out the second it began. It was the cause of the overwhelming hot-cold thrashing beats. Mauling with a sheer force of power was a great contrast between the warm sound of the toms and the chaotic and frosty cymbals. Each beat came in quick succession of the previous one, they ended up rolling into one another. It radiated a sheer unstoppable force that is difficult to match. The drummer showed no mercy to the drum kit, seemingly releasing every emotion into it. With the cold that comes with the cymbals, there was the bit of harsh yellow that peaks through as the crashing resonates.

The headliner of the night was Ottawa’s very own The Fucking Machines. A decade-long wait for a new release has come to an end. With rumbling screams, heavy-handed power chords, and shallow but resonant drumming, they wrapped up the night. They brought forth the spirit of D. O. A. and Reagan Youth all at once. The quick pace and progressions really drew from old school punk from the 80’s and 90’s.

The vocals were unconventional and not quite what one would expect, but they complimented and created an opposition to the deeper and heavier guitar and bass playing. The mesh between the two vocalists added dimension to what was being screamed and accentuated the lyrics for a more forceful delivery. While the screaming wasn’t the deep and booming screams you associate with hardcore of today, it added a refreshing flavour to the mix, holding more traditional and spoken screams as opposed to ones linked melodically.

The guitar was ferocious and incorporated the rushed progressions that resemble ones of punk bands from the 80’s. It was played with heart and passion, no holding back. The pick slides are essential to this band and they add to the songs and performance so that it doesn’t remain as constant. The guitar wailed and groaned, overdriven and furious.

The bass rumbled below the guitar and became increasingly prominent underneath solo work. It held a fat sound that was distorted by the rest of the soundscape, however, it still pushed through boldly. Muddy but tight, it supported the guitars and burst through the sheer strength and volume the drums hold. Be mindful—it’s heavy and absolutely booming, and may be concealed, but could burst your eardrums over all else.

The drums had a washy and full feeling to them. They were booming and warm, enveloping each song in the beat. The fills came in spurts, incorporated without using the typical structure, they added emphasis before screams or before the guitar flows back into it’s odd. The drumming sounded shallow, but the booms of the drumstick hitting the drum itself was so forceful that it resonates through House of TARG.

All in all, the bands are ones to look out for. Their delivery is immovable and so forceful that you feel the emotions conveyed from them to you. With new releases from them, and comebacks, it would be a shame to not keep your eye out for their shows. I guarantee that whether you’re sober or had one too many drinks, you’ll enjoy them if hardcore punk is up your alley.

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