BAND: Fuse (Singapore)
RELEASE: This Segregation Will End (2020)
LABEL: Quality Control HQ
REVIEWER: Arthur Urquiola
FIND MORE INFO HERE: https://www.facebook.com/fusehc
PICK UP THE RECORD HERE: https://qualitycontrolhq.bandcamp.com/album/this-segregation-will-end
For about four decades in cities across the globe, young people have been inspired to come together to form Hardcore Punk bands. There are a multitude of reasons why this is an often explored route when bringing friends – and friends of friends – together to play music; the rawness and simplicity of the genre’s best examples aren’t out of reach for those picking up instruments for the first time. By that same token, seasoned musicians may very well find something in the exuberance, emotional directness and blindingly fast speeds oft associated with Hardcore identified in few other kinds of music. It’s quite likely there are one or a few such bands in your town, playing venues of all sizes to amped-up crowds reciprocating the passion of the performance by going off hard. Perhaps most crucially, fast, crude and gutsy Punk Rock can be the perfect backdrop for expressing all sorts of pent-up grievances – whether they stem from disaffected youth navigating a coming of age, or a need to vent against the flawed political systems in place. All are themes which spark something in people from any and every background.
This kind of righteous and inspiring fury was already present in Fuse’s first three-song offering released in 2017, the same year they formed. It wasn’t Singapore’s first example of a crushing, predominantly female Hardcore group, with bands like Radigals and Obstacle Upsurge also adding some diversity to what is still traditionally a male-dominated sect of Punk Rock. While they’re not the first, we hope Fuse is not the last as they are a crucial example of women from an underground Punk Rock community in Asia very capably producing some absolutely feral noise that rages with the best Hardcore Punk anywhere, all while maintaining an honesty and distinct character connecting them to the scene and community where they’re from.
Fuse’s promo release from back in 2017
A menacing mid-tempo stomp punctuated with guttural growls kicks off the introductory track of the five-piece’s latest – ‘This Segregation Will End’. It’s a huge sound that bursts forth from headphones and speakers, thanks in part to a new lineup as well as mixing by Tom Howard and mastering by Will Killingsworth, who has been credited on an impressive onslaught of underground releases both as a musician with groups like ORCHiD, Ampere, Failures and Ritual Mess and as a producer for releases from Dagger and the last Limp Wrist record. Here, as is characteristic of Killingworth’s past productions, you get the same gut-punch expected from experiencing Fuse live and sonic clarity without the sense that any of the grinding guitar tones have been sanded down at all. The record doesn’t sound out of place in the catalog boasted by Fuse’s new home of Quality Control HQ – the Punk Rock powerhouse based in the UK.
‘Off The Leash’ transitions seamlessly from the intro while changing up the pace. the track starts with its own rolling and dizzying build-up showcasing the band’s tightness before Dahliah Kamal’s vocals come in. It’s a good indication of what to expect going forward. While the intensity doesn’t let up, there are plenty of rhythmic and dynamic shifts packed into the tune which blitzes by at a scratch over 1:30.
‘Poison’ and ‘Deceit’ were both featured on Fuse’s first release. They shine here with the new production and some added mileage from live performances. Both are examples of raging Punk Rock tracks that straight-up ROCK before taking a left-turn into doom-laden and discordant lurches.
‘Greed’ features a rousing gang-chant of “greed, inequality” and is another example of the songs which make up this latest collection each having their own individual feel. This goes into the record’s shortest track ‘Vexed’, which introduces blastbeats into the mix reminiscent of early F-Minus, complete with throat-shredded vocals. The music is apropos of the lyrics: “I’m so sick of this shit/I’m so done with this shit/frustrated with this shit…”
The blasts begin ‘Deadlock’, arming it with the immediacy of a perfect first single to tease the record. Again it shifts tempo, this time to a mosh-friendly two-step, then a driving, Venom-esque groove. It’s one of many rallying cries, offering a way out of a bleak future “If we all understand/if we all give a damn/if we all make a change…”
‘Crowned Head’ is the only track on the record which breaches the two-minute mark (barely) with the nine songs across ‘This Segregation Will End’ inflicted in under 15 minutes. Despite the concision, this isn’t a record which charges forward at a singular-speed. Fuse’s “punked-up” take on Hardcore is heavy and dynamic without straying into modern Metalcore territory. Despite some serious chops, the band doesn’t simply bounce between one section and the next. They rear back, re-calibrate and slam into each subsequent movement with maximum impact the way Black Flag would at their most dialed in to stand out among the increasing proliferation of thrash happening in American Hardcore during their later years.
At the time of this review being written, people all over the world are living in uncertain times. Live events have been cancelled at all levels and for many forced indoors, music is an even more important link to culture and the outside world in general. In this instance, there are perhaps worse ways to spend 15 minutes than with ‘This Segregation Will End’ – a record rigged with the rawness of the first DC Hardcore 7″s, the primal, propulsive drive of British and European Crust Punk, the street-smart grooves of early NYHC and the blown-out emotion of Japanese Burning Spirit Hardcore – all while proudly flying the flag for Singapore’s diverse underground music scene and setting a high standard for what it’s Hardcore community has to offer.
Starting tomorrow – Friday April 17 – Pre-Orders for the amazing vinyl and T-shirt will be going up! Make sure to hit up this link: https://qualitycontrolhq.bandcamp.com/album/this-segregation-will-end-2