Reviewed By Simon Crawley
Published 05 September, 2018
Hardcore certainly has, in my opinion, a lot more room for the warped and avant-garde. Originality and a good ol’ fashioned pair of balls are also qualities all too often lacking with hardcore acts. California's Gulch is a five-piece force of menace I for one am keen to keep close tabs on following this, its debut 7” EP Burning Desire to Draw Last Breath.
The candid flamboyance of the artwork is likely to set the hounds sniffing up the wrong tree, as there is a darkness at play here that flirts with heavy tones of death metal. You have thus been warned of forming any preconceptions and duly advised to simply press play and turn up the volume.
The five tracks here (there are six in total but track one is a short intro) make for interesting listening and a good overview of what Gulch come armed with. When considering hardcore releases these days I tend to always go back to the likes of a Converge as their level of song-writing and execution sits on another level, all the while maintaining great intensity and aggression. Gulch, for me, don't quite display the same kind of complexity, but I do think they come to the table with an original sound and plenty of promise.
As “Flesh Pursuit” kicks in, you are immediately confronted by a very catchy tempo and a taste of the sleek guitar duo of Christian Castillo and Cole Kakimoto. There are riffs galore, tempo changes, and plenty of breakdowns. In certain moments, the hardcore sound ventures into nu-metal ala-Slipknot territory, but the constant death metal dirge and Elliot Morrow’s vocals bring this around.
The full-on mix of styles that Gulch demonstrates on this EP does make it interesting to speculate what direction any subsequent releases will take or whether they will continue with this succinct blend of death metal-enriched, crusty hardcore. Just listen to the likes of “R.S.A.” and tell me you don't want a lot more of that. And the other track with an acronym as a title, “E.P.T.S.”, and its catchy Trap Them vibe - another superb moment on the release.
I have spun this EP numerous times now and it may very well continue. I really look forward to what comes next from Gulch.