Western Addiction - Tremulous (Cover Artwork)

Western Addiction

Tremulous (2017)

Fat wreck chords

 It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a decade since Western Addiction put out their last full length, Cognicide, which was one of the most refreshing and memorable hardcore records to come out during that period. Since their reunion in 2013, they’ve released a couple of killer EPs, but they’ve just now come out with Cognicide’s full length follow up, Tremulous.

Tremulous seamlessly picks up right where Cognicide left off, keeping their distinct melodic hardcore sound while not relying on it as some sort of nostalgic pandering. Every track here is expertly crafted and I can’t point to a single moment that comes off as filler. This is partially due to the extraordinary bass work which is fairly consistent across its 32 minute runtime. The basslines here add so much extra flavor to the album, that I repeatedly catch myself focusing the bulk of my attention on Chicken.

The dynamism in this album’s base layer allows for vocalist, Jason Hall, to approach each song with the same relentless aggression, without it ever growing stale. This effect is also achieved by periodically breaking into a slightly cleaner delivery style such as on the refrain of “Taedium”. This was the second single to be released from Tremulous and it’s definitely enhanced with the context of the record. I’ve come to the conclusion that “Taedium” really encapsulates everything I love about this project in just three minutes and fourteen seconds: from the seamless transition from a haunting guitar lick into the meat of the song, to the brute aggression and energy in the vocal performance, to the aforementioned bass work, to the satisfying release to its climactic ending.

“Honeycreeper” is a deeper cut here that has grown on me to the point where it's one of my favorite cuts off the record. The first half of the track is just made for moshing with its pummeling energy from both the vocals and instrumental. Then, just before the two minute mark, “Honeycreeper” seamlessly transitions into a soft, smooth passage, resulting in a delayed tremolo before kicking back into full gear and releasing into the opening riff for “Righteous Lightning”: another track that has become a highlight for me on this tracklist. That said, “Righteous Lightning” does start off on a bit of a bad foot with the first couple of notes being somewhat repetitive of the into to “Taedium”, but once the other instruments kick in, this track hits hard and continues to do so until the final refrain of its opening lick. This track, like many others here, also contains a few short passages that seem to borrow from ramonescore to fill in small gaps.

Tremulous goes out strong with its final single, “Your Life Is Precious”: a chilling ode to the life of the late David Jones. I like this as a closer, but I feel like it would have been more effective if the band hadn't released it as a single beforehand. Nonetheless, it’s a nice gem to close out the record and a showcase of Western Addiction’s knack for building intensity at its finest.

Tremulous is a project that delivers on everything I could have hoped from this band. Every track here is soaked in anguish and aggression, without sacrificing writing. In fact, these are some of the most well written hardcore tracks I’ve heard since Pears’ Go To Prison. I could go into a great bit of depth with most of these songs, but there’s just too many great moments spread throughout this project to do each one justice; I highly recommend just checking it out for yourself. Don’t be surprised if Tremulous shows up on quite a few 2017 year end lists.