Punk rockers rejoice; Vancouver’s AntEater has got you covered. Released in late November 2017, Smashed Antholes is a complete tour-de-force and, quite possibly, the record you didn’t know you needed to hear this winter.
Drawing on melodic-hardcore influences like Comeback Kid and Belvedere, AntEater seamlessly combines double-time punk grooves with esoteric guitar motifs that would feel at home on the debut Alexisonfire album. Their sound is mature and stylized but never loses the angst and power that defines their genre’s territory.
The opening track “Hippy Dick” kicks into a frenzied pace, complete with great instrumental performances and massive gang vocals. In true punk form, this intro tune lasts a mere 44 seconds and prepares the listener for the impending carnage that follows.
“Macaroni Pony” features a catchy little guitar hook before launching into more familiar power chords and a blistering chorus, reminiscent of Leftover Crack’s “One Dead Cop.” These harmonized guitar riffs are littered throughout Smashed Antholes and really serve to define the sound of this record.
Guitarists Nik Tanaka and Carey Hoffman are top-notch players and, as writers, their sense of musical identity is crystal clear. The rhythm section is rounded out by Grant Nickel on bass and Darnell Krebs on drums, and the band waxes with the confidence of well-seasoned punk rock veterans.
There’s really nothing to complain about on this effort. The songs are thoughtfully penned and showcase all that AntEater has to offer. “Don’t Fuck Up” continues to plow ahead relentlessly and features one hell of a guitar solo for anyone seeking some instrumental virtuosity.
The strongest track on the record, “Too Soon,” burns with the intensity of a knife fight; swaying intelligently between straight-ahead punk and metal-esque breakdown-heaviness. If AntEater’s live show is half as good as this recording, expect the dance floor to be soaked in blood by the end of this tune.
The whole release is a ‘listen-through’ experience and never falters in its aggression or pace. Sonically, the mixes are a little rough around the edges, but in a way that only adds to the musical vision. Smashed Antholes is congruent throughout and provides a fresh take on a genre that can sometimes feel a bit sterile. These guys have produced a stellar debut release and this record should be on everyone’s radar.
A shining example of the West Coast hardcore scene, AntEater proves that great Canadian punk bands are alive and kicking.
Written by Mickey Ellsworth
*edited by Danielle Kenedy