Better Days, the second full-length record from Belgium’s Missiles of October is a straightforward and retro-sounding record. There’s little variety among its ten tracks, but the album has one song that hints at sonic exploration while maintaining their historical punk roots.
The album’s second track, “No brain no headache,” features verses that, while rooted in punk, are hugely influenced by one of the genre’s weirdest experimenters Minutemen. The bouncy rhythm and comparatively light guitar riffs sound more like jazz and funk than anything else. However, the song eventually toes the line of the rest of the record and descends into minimalist Black Flag-esque chaos. “Satisfaction In Nothing” follows the Black Flag thread while adding melodic flourishes inspired by Sonic Youth, a band that while technically not hardcore, have been vocal throughout their career about the genre’s effect on their sound and ethos.
The record occasionally slows down and steps out of hardcore and into other forms of extreme music. “Every Day” has a slow pace and groovy riffs commonly associated with stoner metal. At over seven minutes in length, it’s easily the album’s longest track but given the extra space to breathe, it’s also the most dynamic. Almost two minutes near the end it tricks the listener with what sounds like a noisy outro before settling back into a bouncy groove. This would have made it a smart closer to the album but, unfortunately, its placement makes listening to the rest of the record feel like more of an effort than necessary.
Thankfully, “Loser” is a high energy song with brighter guitar riffs that lighten the mood slightly and rejuvenate the listener. The lyrics play a role in this lighter mood as well. While they start off dark and self-effacing, the feeling eventually becomes more positive as one of the vocalists, a role played by both guitar player Mathias Salas and bass player Lionel Beyet, screams “I am not a loser now.” “Chainsaw” continues to pick up the pace with some incredibly tight drumming and some of the album’s most dynamic guitar riffs. “Problems”, the song that follows, is extremely stereotypical hardcore. “Blah-blah-blah” has a similar problem but the spoken vocals add a little bit of variety.
“Two Feet in Sludge”’s title foreshadows the song’s muddy production and slow pace. Despite its tight groove, that seems to effortlessly slow down and speed up throughout the track, something about its abrupt ending feels sloppy and incomplete, a vibe that plagues Better Days as a whole.
While competently paying homage to genres like hardcore and metal’s slow, dense subgenres, Better Days fails to bring anything new to either source of inspiration. Add to these facts vocals with little variation and the album becomes a bit of a struggle to get through. Heavy music enthusiasts will no doubt find lots to love here, especially the guitar riffs, which apparently I can’t say enough good things about, but it doesn’t hold up well to multiple listens or in-depth scrutiny. My advice: play this thing loud, and when you’re alone, so no one has to suffer through the inevitable headbanging and otherwise wild behaviour this beast of a record will bring out of you.
Written by Brian Charles Clarke
*edited by Danielle Kenedy