Direct Effect – Sunburn

Direct Effect combine all the best aspects of old school and new school hardcore punk. Do you like it wild and loose, with songs that sound like the only thing holding them together is the intense fury of the band as they smash the living daylights out of their instruments? You got it. How about bands who know how to play, can structure their music and are really fucking fast? Direct Effect do that too.

Black Flag were always known in the gritty Venice Beach dives of the 80s hardcore scene as the one band who were really musicians – they practised every day and they worked hard. But their sound was still full of chaos and felt almost out of control. That’s the same feeling you get when ‘Permanent Vacation’ crashes into existence through a wall of dischord.

Comparing Direct Effect to one of the most influential bands of all time might seem wholly redundant. But while the godfathers of heavy punk have had many mimics over the years, few have really captured the danger, the creativity and the essence of their music in the same way as these guys.

But they are not a bunch of old dudes trying to relive a bygone era. The three-piece, who hail from both Orlando and hardcore heartland Philadelphia, are young and have their heads very much in the present. Their sound has all the bite and hooks of modern punk rock and never seems even slightly dated.

Take ‘Unknown Disorder’, where the vocals come at you like a battering ram, relentless and constant. Direct Effect wouldn’t leave teenagers of today scratching their heads wondering, “What does all this all have to do with Set Your Goals?” In fact they’d be more likely to go nuts and then go home and smash their Set Your Goals records to pieces, wondering why they’d been lied to all this time!

‘Solar Flare’ is just seriously angry. These guys are pissed off and reflect a generation that is wondering what happened to their future and what is happening to the future of music (very much as things were when hardcore was spawned in the first place). It’s as heavy and furious as anything out there, and as the vocalist blurts out an angry groan of sheer frustration midway through you know it’s all very much for real.

‘Modern Rock’ is the fastest track on the album with the drummer whipping the skins at a dizzying speed, but they also showcase their influences outside of punk with the lead guitar drifting into a sprawling, spinning tornado of bending grunge strings that Cobain himself would have been happy with.

Direct Effect are the kind of band who can make a scene who’ve started to think that hardcore just consists of pop-punk with the odd growl and gang vocal realise just why people went so crazy for the genre the first time round. They’re as raw as they come yet bursting with talent, and ‘Sunburn’ is a corker of an album.

– Alex Phelan

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