by Chris Prod
It became a trite thing to say after the election of Donald Trump that it might be a good thing for culture, in particular music. After all, some of the most inspired punk music of the last 50 years came under Ronald Reagan’s America. This trend hasn’t really come to pass, but I think C.H.E.W.’s Feeding Frenzy is the kind of scathing critique of neoliberalism that people had in mind.
One of my favorite things about the album is the cover art, which depicts a familiar conspiracy theory – the idea that a group of lizard people are plotting to rule America and have already infiltrated most levers of power. Except, is this even a conspiracy theory anymore? The elite in this country are already as ghoulish and evil as can be. They might as well be cold-blooded reptiles.
Lines like “Taking all my worth, taking all my time. All this work, and all I’ve earned is the illusion that I’m satisfied” from “It’s A Living” help lay bare the horrors of living under late capitalism. Songs like “Patience” and “Feeding Frenzy” further explore commodification of everyone, the only people benefitting from these transactions the ‘reptilian’.
Accompanying all this fury, is some of the most inventive hardcore I’ve heard over the past few years. In a genre that all too easily retreats back into familiar tropes, Feeding Frenzy feels like it’s barely being contained, brimming with creativity and aggression.
Early highlight “Repeat Offenders” begins with the drums trampling along accompanied by feedback before truly announcing itself on the back of a crushing riff, ratcheting up the tension with ominous notes before deciding to take off the gloves and move full swing into a pummeling groove.
These tempo changes and the overall cohesion of the band exemplify the thoughtfulness present here. Everything feels like it has a purpose – every slow dirge cathartically leading to full hardcore release (‘Pt. 1’ and ‘Pt.2’), every pounding drum and driving bass line propping up each rhythm (‘Open Secret’), every move up the fretboard enhancing the frenetic nature of each song (‘Open Secret’, ‘Positive Affirmations’).
We’ve all been waiting over two years for the first full-length LP from C.H.E.W. and they couldn’t have delivered any better.