Temple Guard - Spear of the Revenant (Eco-Defence)

I love it when that earnest verve common in goofy hardcore bands shows its winning, Seth-Cohen smile in different generic contexts. It has been a stunning year for punkier outfits, but many of the successes (Wormrot notwithstanding) have stuck to well-trodden -core hybrids: Morrow brought a vicious dose of blackened crust, like a more emo take on Wormwitch or Wolf King, and Knoll charged in with some fist-pumping grindcore, blending Full of Hell’s oppressive atmos with Pupil Slicer’s scalpel-sharp performances. This more modest EP/LP thingy, Spear of the Revenant, arrived at my doorstep via the feed of the now-defunct UK hardcore label, Carry The Weight. Various commentators speculated that some vocal performances came from former roster members, and I have seen since-deleted posts that say the band has former members of xRepentancex.

Fuzzy history aside, I love how Temple Guard lace the unabashedly trying-really-hard energy of 90s and 00s straight-edge into no-nonsense, almost dumb-sounding death-metal grooves. A trusted metalhead listened and told me that it reminded him of Bolt Thrower, which despite being quite high praise, is usually a compliment reserved for cavepit meat-and-potatoes DM. Somehow, Temple Guard wear the comparison well, but not in a way that compromises a tag like "vegancore" on Bandcamp. It's good-guy metalcore, absolutely rife with politically conscious sound bites, but still serving up crowd-pleasing breakdowns on a berserker's bloody axe. A short, fun summer banger.