In School - Praxis of Hate [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

In School

Praxis of Hate [7-inch] (2014)

Kill Test

Hardcore's been sliced and diced into so many subgenres, it's sometimes hard to remember that at its root, it's a sped up, stripped down form of punk rock that prioritizes in–your–face intensity over indulgence. It shows up, smashes you in the face and splits before you know quite what hit you. On their debut EP, Praxis of Hate, New York's In School does just that, delivering six punishing blows and heading out the door before you can get your hands up.

The 7–inch's first track, "Conquest" is an in immediate sign of what you're in for, with a quick–hitting guitar intro that swiftly gives way to Bidi Choudhury's authoritative growl before a breakdown that feels familiar and yet never passe. The rest of side one continues that trend, delivering hardcore punk that's resolutely old school and yet rarely, if ever, feels tired or derivative.

As enjoyable as the first side is, flipping the record over is where In School really starts to stand out. The opening track, "Apocryphal Scum," injects just a smidge of melody into the proceedings, with a chorus in which Choudhury's voice is filled with contempt as she snarls "Apocryphal scum, I know what you did!" Yumi Lee's guitar work on the track is simple and direct, as if to avoid distracting from the words, since unlike too many bands today, In School very much has something to say.

The next track, "Maggot Rot," begins with the kind of short bass solo that lets everyone on the floor take a quick breath before launching themselves back into action as the drums kick in. As with the rest of the tracks, there's a palpable anger that comes across, but it's focused and intelligent – In School aren't just angry for anger's sake, they're picking their targets and zeroing in on them.

The 7–inch closes with the title track, in which Lee's guitar and Choudhury's vocals team up with the rest of the band for one final burst of energy before it's all over. The drums crash, the bass rumbles and Choudhury's shouts of "Praxis of hate, praxis of hate" ring out before it all comes to a halt and everyone figuratively collapses to the floor.

As a whole, Praxis of Hate comes off as a not–so–friendly reminder of what hardcore punk should be. It doesn't defy the genre's conventions, but it does help to re–establish what those conventions are, and that's not such a bad thing.