Gouge Away - Burnt Sugar (Deathwish Inc.) 2018
After Dies and Swallow B/W Sweet, Gouge Away has signed with Deathwish Inc. and recorded their new album Burnt Sugar, released on September 28. The band from Florida stays true to the hardcore punk sound of its previous work, but these eleven tracks reach a fresh level of attention to detail, showing the depth of their musical maturity. The album, mixed and mastered by Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Oathbreaker) and produced by Jeremy Bolm (Touche Amore), dives into personal and political subject matter without getting the bends on its way back to the surface.
Gouge Away stormed their way into existence in 2013, playing outspoken hardcore that has mutated into an angular blend of sass and spite. Their songs opt for enraged critiques of social ills, pummeling through all time and space in their wake. Taking cues from bands such as Unwound, The Jesus Lizard, and Fugazi, Gouge Away reveal their uncompromising need to express themselves authentically. While the Fort Lauderdale band’s album Dies, one of my favorite harcore albums from 2016, was already a display of force and brilliance to be reckoned with, Burnt Sugar is definitive proof that it is still possible to experiment on the hardcore punk sound without sounding repetitive. Despite the genre, the album is deftly, almost surgically, executed. Robust drum tracks solidly undergird the structures of the songs, where acid guitars mingle with Cristina Michelle’s tense, gravelly vocals. The eleven tracks fly true, like so many frenzied bullets aimed at our awareness of topics such as mental health, isolation and what must change in our society. What truly struck me in this album was the lyrics. The expressiveness of the vocals and Michelle’s courage to put herself out there in the first person make Burnt Sugar an honest, eminently effective album.
During their brief career, Gouge Away has succeeded in the Herculean task of reviving 80s and 90s hardcore punk, making it youthful, fresh and – always – profoundly pissed off.