We’re only two months into 2015 but it’s shaping up to another beezer year for UKHC with big records from Repentance, True Vision and the Day Of Rights demos already and now Digress throwing the 7th Day into the mix. For those not on the skinhead tip, 90’s hardcore appears to be the dish of choice amongst the London straight edge. And whilst I often view these expeditions into 90‘s authenticity with one eyebrow raised, I can’t fault their enthusiasm and attention to detail one bit. Whilst brother bands Guidance, Repentance and Renounced may have drawn clear influence from the New Age, Good Life and Eulogy back catalogues respectively…Digress have chosen to rummage through the bag of tricks belonging to Floridia’s Strongarm .
I don’t front so I should preface this by stating that I tried listening to Strongarm’s Advent album when it came out. As was common at the time, pen friends would often tape new releases for one another because we were all simply to broke to keep up with everything. Foster (who would later inspire fear with Slavearc) had dubbed a copy of Strongarm for me with Cultures Born Of You on the other side. I didn’t think much to Culture, (and beyond Memento Mori I still don’t), and once I discovered that Strongarm were full on God heads I binned the tape off (despite quite liking it). Convictions maaaan. Anyhow beyond a passing musical similarity, Digress has very little to do with my reactionary and scornful teenage protestations….
Opening track Ascetic Ideal leads in with one of those melancholy acoustic intro’s that was popular amongst bands like Morning Again before cascading into a barrage of riffs and throaty desperate vocals. Musically there’s a lot more experimentation evident here than with the members other projects. Some complex riffs and textures coupled with smart understanding of dynamics create a heaviness that is less reliant on palm muting chug and more on tension and dischord. Reminiscent of early Shai Hulud perhaps? Vocalist Pat Hassan even drops in some of those super sincere spoken word passages. Hard to do them without involuntarily adopting an American accent!
Rock Of Sisyphus has a bit more mosh to it with shades of One King Down creeping in here and there with some really nice use of melody in the final third. Last song Avernment weighs in with that hefty mid pace crunch that would have had the Jannesport backpack brigade swinging at the knees and grabbing their curved brims to show how much they were FEELING it, the beat picks up and switches dynamics mid song for a furious thirty seconds but then it’s back to head nodding territory before closing out with a haunting solo. Lyrically Digress are far more introspective beast than their peers, looking inward at the inherent structural damage in the blueprint of humanity rather than lashing outwards. The lyrics are smart and I am reminded of the philosophical approach taken by the ancient vegan straight edge band Sevin on their Heavens Deception 7’. Within a genre that has a tedious propensity for macho bravado, Digress’s whole schtick exudes intelligence, frustration and a resigned melancholy that comes as a real breath of fresh air. Have a listen to the demo HERE