No Trigger / Wasteland - Split (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

No Trigger / Wasteland

Split (2004)


No Trigger is the best melodic hardcore/punk rock band you're not listening to.

Unless of course you took my advice in a certain past news post, you're probably unfamiliar with the ridiculous development this band has gone through, morphing in about a year from "a decent Strike Anywhere ripoff with some potential" to "the best unsigned hardcore punk band this side of the Mississippi." The three songs they contribute here to their split with Wasteland are in a word, breathtaking. No Trigger has developed an identity all their own while upping the ante on intelligence, catchiness, and aggressiveness.

"What We Became" is a fantastic opener, asking in their own words why gay marriage isn't a widely-established right, replete with screamed backups, a jumping bass line, dueling guitars and range-exploring vocals mixing up things even more. The blistering intensity of "North American" starts with accentuated shouts stating "NOT AMERICAN, BARELY NORTH AMERICAN!," hitting you for a straight minute and a half until your muscles are sore to the touch, even coming packaged complete with a floorpunching breakdown that should have a good number of your camo short-clad friends two-stepping across the length of the floor at your local VFW hall. The trilogy goes out with a bang of "Big-" proportions: "Earthtones," a near four-minute declaration that quietly slaps environmental apathy in the face, with the sincere chorus of "another step for man and I'm sick of getting stepped on," showcasing the basically perfect vocals of Tom Rheault: hardcore passion mixed with a punk-pop sensibility, who closes out the song forcibly shouting "Am I the only touched by the setting sun?" I'll give you a nickel if you can find a better way to spend nine minutes than with this trio of songs.

Now that I've regurgitated every slight bit of the near-maximum enjoyability I consistently get out of their side of the split onto paper (or web page documentation, whatever), I should probably mention the other side. Wasteland is scathing hardcore that isn't half-bad. The band essentially plays early 80s-influenced hardcore, with constant, sneering screams from what reminds me of a more reckless version of Wes from Give Up The Ghost, going balls-out against grainy but textured guitars, rough to the touch and dark and moody to the unseeing eye. I can't imagine this band playing live (or recording, for that matter) in well-lit areas, as nothing more than sparsely-lucent, rotting basements fit their sound. The lyrics mix dramatic "emo" metaphors and utterly all-hope-lost decrees, nicely subtle in their politicized efforts like the lines "blessed be this parody, in the guise of self repression, spitting mindless quarrels, and advertising passions. All this fucking talk about the proud and the brave, I see groups of frightened pawns who've grown placid and naive." Quality.

This split is worth your precious attention. While Wasteland is a worthy competitor, No Trigger are slowly leaving a wake of positive destruction in their path, and they still don't even have an official release in their discography yet (read: non CD-R). Most definitely worth checking out.

No Trigger - What We Became
No Trigger - North American
No Trigger - Earthtones

Wasteland - The Long Kiss Goodnight
Wasteland - Define Irony