Physique Again cassette

PHYSIQUE has been one my favourite US bands of the past five years, a statement that is not to be taken lightly since the belly of the beast has produced a lot of quality crust, noisy hardcore, and D-beat music in that time. Before PHYSIQUE, the word “physique,” in its English form, inexplicably evoked images of David Beckham’s underwear ad campaigns, so I am extremely grateful that it has now been replaced with visions of crust pants and Flying Vs. Olympia is not a town that one would traditionally associate with being mercilessly assailed by Japanese-style distorted atrocious hardcore madness, but this makes PHYSIQUE even better. Again is the band’s first real LP and it is relatively long for a dis-noise crasher oeuvre, no less than thirty minutes (as a comparison The Evolution of Combat was a twelve-minute affair), so clearly it is an ambitious undertaking. I have always liked how the band’s sound evolved through time, as the progression from Punk Life is Shit to Again is striking. On this new one, PHYSIQUE keeps working in the liminal space between the crasher hardcore crust school and the most brutal käng tsunamis. D-CLONE Frenching FRAMTID at a conference about the Tokyo Crusties EP and followed by a workshop about how to write your band’s name with the classic DOOM font. Basically. The sound on this album is devastating and almost scary: the drums sound insane, an impressive demonstration of the manic crasher style with its distinct rolls and transitions, the guitar’s distortion is al dente, the bass sounds like there is an earthquake next door, and the vocals have never sounded so desperate, agonizing, and almost unnaturally angry. They sound like a zombified bear singing along to SHITLICKERS on a night bus. PHYSIQUE shines on this, but it is the sheer relentlessness of the songwriting that is incredible, with only two delicious, DISCHARGE-loving, mid-paced scorchers to let the listener breathe and throw a few cool dance moves. Again is an articulated work behind its frightening ferocity, and the last song “Again (Reprise)” is a seven-minute-long galloping D-beat song that goes on again and again, precisely in the style that traditionally goes on again and again, just like war and misery go on again and again. The song never seems to stop even when it should, which is a pretty accurate metaphor for the world we live in. The tape is released on Iron Lung, but there will be a vinyl version soon enough. What a brutal experience.

Physique The Rhythm of Brutality 10″

If you aren’t already familiar with this band from their LP or 12″, they play raw, blown-out hardcore in the style of Japanese bands like FRAMTID or KRIEGSHÖG, who were in turn playing a more distorted version of the hardcore style of Swedish bands like CRUDITY and ANTI-CIMEX. Here you will revel in a thick and distorted guitar sound, but thankfully not overly distorted where the riffs are buried in a wall of feedback. The bass has a raw, chunky clunk and the drums are hammered like obstinate nails. The coarse vocals have the just the right amount of reverb on them to sound like they are being shouted at you from the bottom of a well but not from another dimension. In total, the compositions, production, and overall vibe of this release are outstanding. It doesn’t fall into any of the traps or excesses of the genre but remains finely balanced between total raw noise and something more musical. Powerful and invigorating, the intensity of the music contrasts somewhat with the lyrics’ bleak outlook. There is an underlying current of despair and misery in the lyrics while expressing the yearning to break free and rebel. As with many bands of this genre, I find the music really gets the blood pumping and forms a direct mental and emotional link to a desire to break free and run wild. But the lyrics about depression and despair keep bringing us back to what we are rebelling against rather than the freedom we are striving for. I was out of town when these guys played Minneapolis and really regret not seeing them live.

Physique The Evolution of Combat LP

Holy shit! Olympia’s PHYSIQUE does it again, this time in a style more strongly influenced by DISCLOSE than before. Unlike their demo or their first LP, Punk Life Is Shit, every track feels more streamlined, including their eponymous track, which was previously featured on their demo. There’s no escape from the raw cacophony, almost no lulls at all during the entire album. The songs themselves are deceptively simple, but upon further listening reveal tons of small changes and variations throughout. It’s this attention to songwriting (and not just their status as an all-AMAB trans band) that separates them from the herd of fuckers that worship Kawakami. The lyrics are great, and live up to the title by describing the various ways that warfare, discrimination, and police brutality (among others) are changing in order to remain an ever-present threat to daily life. A dark, yet essential record.