A New Host of Torment (Calendar of Death Records)

Local boys Fracas slash through punk with the intense concentration of a pit bull mauling an unsuspecting intruder. The band combines frontman Joe Franke's low, bellowing (kinda garbled) vocals with scream-and-response backing and guitars that leave jagged sonic bruises on their marks. On A New Host of Torment, Franke barks his commands to the hardcore army, and his targets range from liars ("Criminal") to fighters ("Open Your Hell"), but Franke makes the most punishing blows personal. In Black-Flag-pulverizes-the-Misfits pangs of aggression, Franke beats himself up for being crazy and plagued one moment, and screams that he feels alive the next. In many ways, Fracas comes off like a faster, terminally haunted version of the Dead Kennedys, and here the band plays tribute to these roots by slamming through the Kennedys' classic "Too Drunk to Fuck" with real blue-balled frustration. As Franke struggles through these hostile multiple personalities, Fracas shoots out dark melodies that grow from an equally violent place. Just as the name implies, there are no clean hooks, poppy choruses, or bouncing beats on A New Host of Torment -- just pure, explosive punk delivered straight by one of the Bay Area's finest.


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