Choke Up - Choke Up [cassette] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Choke Up

Choke Up [cassette] (2010)

Brisco's Face Tapes

Choke Up comes from Boston but the type of fast, slightly spastic emotional hardcore they're doing sounds like it came out of the last 10 years or so of European revival. That's because they're not really conforming to any sort of standard you'd think "traditional" screamo should sound like, but in applying their own thoughts they've got a wholly fresh take on it while still carrying that same sort of badge and aesthetic.

I suppose Comadre is a good reference point to make. But even then, Choke Up's songs are a little longer--noticeably so for the style they do, as this five-song self-titled cassette EP clocks in at just over 15 minutes. They absolutely drench their songs in this curious melody without robbing the compositions of their contrasting volition and improvisational vibes. There's some singing in "Look Up," but it's not any sort of overreaching sing-song thing--their frontman is charismatically shaky and tense in a Circle Takes the Square sort of way. And there are some brash, upbeat gang "whoa-oh"s in this one too, but they just work.

Mid-EP song "Writing" adds some more melodic spoken-word type singing amid its otherwise frantic rhythm before hitting quicker speeds and tumbling to a flailing yet controlled finish. "River" chaotically pumps and reels away on a series of riffs while cutting away these raspy moments of desperation that hint at some Rites of Spring influence. The drums in the first minute of closer "We All Know" sound like they're systematically falling down the stairs, Slinky-like, before cascading guitars ripple in furiously and some wonderfully executed, stomping stop-starts help build a cathartic momentum.

Acts in this vein can often get away with predictability because they're so sharp and focused. But Choke Up seem pretty proficient and never once predictable. You never quite know where they're going to take a song and, combined with a certain sincerity and rawness inherent in these songs, it's what makes this such a strong effort.

Choke Up EP