With a self-titled EP that refines and simplifies their stylishly expansive hardcore, for Life’s Question are Flatspot Records the answer?

Release date: April 19, 2024 | Flatspot Records | Bandcamp | Instagram | Twitter

Over the years many a hardcore label has taken its spot as the ‘in’ label of the scene that either wants to capitalise on the latest boom or finds itself with a roster of bands whose attitude and sound has put them at the forefront of a new boom. At the moment, this label seems to be Flatspot and Life’s Question have almost by chance become a ceremonial passing of the torch moving from Triple B Records, long leaders of the hardcore scenes hype. Flatspot find themselves in an interesting place with bands like Scowl and Speed being seen as a way by brands to gain some authenticity and an edge of cool (with Taco Bell and Nike, the respective brands) which raises interesting opportunities and problems for the genre. With new ears to hardcore and Flatspot, what are Life’s Question bringing along?

Their debut on Triple B in 2022 is one of the more ambitious but still distinctly hardcore albums of recent years in terms of bringing in sounds and influences. World Full Of… doesn’t venture away from the core genre like Turnstile but there is classic rock, 70s metal, and grunge brought in throughout while expanding to longer song lengths and fairly out-there structures. On the whole, this self-titled EP is a straighter forward affair. Lead single “When I Meet God” is comparable to “For You” from their LP, expansive with hardcore riffs but grooves and a lot of clear alternative rock influence. On this new single we hear a more obviously clean chorus courtesy of guitarist Abby Rhine.

“When I Meet God” is a fairly solid linchpin as to cement the sound of the EP. No one can level that they’re not hardcore any more, as some have about their label mates Scowl’s Psychic Dance Routine and its lead single “Opening Night”, but I do wonder if a slight simplification of their sound has diluted a bit of their attack. The other single “Brass Coffin” is another highly catchy one, but one that has a lot of life to it, somewhat reminiscent of the SoCal punk boom in the 90s. That bouncing bass line has personality with the barking hardcore vocals on top a bit of a contrast to a more upbeat song. This melodic intent is something we see more from even the harder-edged rising hardcore bands such as Drain’s cover of Descendents.

Outside of the singles there’s a lot more of what Life’s Question can offer. “Light Me Up” as an opener has a riff taken right from their pure hardcore days right off the bat with a technical section of guitar tapping leading into a duelling classic metal guitar melody as an intro. The vocals meld Josh Haynes’ hardcore bark with a reverb soaked Alice In Chains style chorus, it’s the most similar to the LP and it’s what I was waiting to hear. “When I Hear My Mama Pray” has a similar blend of grunge and alternative rock with technical metallic touches with a few driving hardcore sections smattered throughout. There are some great riffs sprinkled here and there, a couple do get lost in favour of cleaner and more melodic sections which take over more run time here than previously.

“10 Years” is a more traditional hardcore blast, eschewing the metallic and classic rock for straightforward hardcore. The middle breakdown in the funk tradition has a fast and drilling bass line which really gets to the heart of cool. The proper hardcore hit has a wailing tremolo over a slower, heavier riff. Closer “Something Out There” is truthfully a song I can take or leave. The cleaner vocals take over for much of the song as we’re thrust back into slower alternative rock. I wonder if it was a 5 song EP with a 15 minute run time and this was embedded in a longer album it would make a little more sense.

Life’s Question feels like a dry run for the band to have carried on exploring what they were doing on their LP, but overseen by a new label. Flatspot really feel like they’re onto something with growing hype, getting in brands, and looking at a commercial side to a lot of younger hardcore bands. On this EP there’s more of what’s come before, somewhat a refinement, somewhat a simplification and in the right hands Life’s Question could go anywhere and with their recent track record Flatspot must be the place.



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