Action News - Failed State [EP] (Cover Artwork)

Action News

Failed State [EP] (2021)


On an upcoming flyer for a show with Action News on the bill, the description read “Aaron Heard is in it so you know it’s good.” That’s not wrong. If you’re a fan of the Philadelphia hardcore scene, you’ve likely ran into one or more of Heard’s bands - Jesus Piece, Nothing, Hell To Play, etc. Like all of those aforementioned bands, Action News offers up nothing short of a must hear addition to the local heavy music scene. Their debut tape Failed State is a pissed off slab of east coast hardcore, metallic riffs, and an inclination for blast beats.

Opening with the incredibly niche intro to a local Philadelphia tv station (see the name of the band), Failed State kicks off in earnest with Patrick Troxwell’s, another local scene head formerly of Creepoid and currently Lovelorn, throaty vocals welcoming the listener to some two-step carnage. Troxwell sounds like a rabid animal screeching and bellowing his way out of a cage he’s found himself caught in through no fault of his own. Action News open Failed State with the adage if it bleeds, it leads. “Eternal Optimist” and “Bad Peace” are both sub-minute face rippers.

Drummer Jeff Barlow is responsible for Failed State sounding like it could go off the rails any second. He not only drums, he recorded the songs drawing out the captured animal in a cage energy that brings a darker dimension to Action News’ hardcore orientation. But it’s his drums that teeter the band to the edge of control. The blast beats in the middle of “Dennis Wilson” and “God don’t see under the El” give Action News its metallic energy as much as the buzzsaw guitars. It expands Action News’ spectrum of sound into heavier areas.

Continuing on in order, “Cut Deep” and “Concrete Soul” show the band briefly incorporating additional wreckage into their sound. “Cut Deep” is another sub-minute rager that just gets angrier through its run time. The chaotic intro of “Concrete Soul” quickly gives way to towering gang vocals complimenting the heavy energy of the breakdown. Both songs show off brief thrash leads more fully explored on “Failed State;” Action News' best effort at writing a punk rock song. By the end, a raspy bass line that rattles into industrial sounds closes out the song with what I’m sure will end in a dog pile for the microphone when played live.

The roster alone begs you to check out Failed State, but Action News in its whole is worth the repeated listens. An updated take on a more traditional hardcore sound from some of the best of Philadelphia.