A revival of 90s hardcore punk slithers from the tongues of Bitter Branches. Hailing from Philadelphia, this five-piece portrays the powers of Tim Singer (Deadguy, Kiss It Goodbye, No Escape), Jeff Tirabassi (Walleye), Matt Ryan (Calvary), Kevin Sommerville (Lighten Up!), and Brian Kantorek (Go! for the Throat, The Curse) in their recent release, This May Hurt A Bit (released April 10th, 2020). Bitter Branches is a brand new project featuring Singer on vocals, Tirabassi on drums, Ryan and Sommerville on guitar and Kantorek on bass.
In their premiere record of This May Hurt A Bit, Bitter Branches swoops in swinging with a blazing and energetic explosion of instrumentals. Accompanied by toxic and serpentine grooves, their political and philosophical lyricism sets the tone for this resurrection of quintessential hardcore punk in their debut album.
Coming and going with a bite, the venomous harmonics infest the air with chaos and catastrophe, harping on the conundrums we now face, looking as the world we once knew withers into disarray. The frustration, mirroring a portrait of many, builds as the toxic riffs release us into a frenzy of confusion and contemptment. Similar to the desire to see the world rid of disease, and as humanity bleakly attempts to perservere with blind optimism and makeshift salves, the title of the track suggests a narrative of action to clear us of that confusion, but to no avail. Oil of Snakes implies an aversion to prescribed salvations; As a snake oil salesman offers a cure-all to any disease, the same could be said of systemic action, readily struggling to soothe the masses of their illness, their poverty, or their will to revolt. Be it through medicine, through media or through militia, a world nation suffers to quell the uncertainty of man, and capitalizes on it. A symbolic journey through the growing pain and frustration of the futile attempts to rebuke our most corrupt industries.
Bad Cold takes an introspective turn and focuses the overlying frustration felt throughout This May Hurt A Bit more towards the agonies of the monsters and diseases that haunt from within. Be they through the burdens of life at home, filial relationships or the havocs that ones internal saboteur may wreak, the slamming back and forth heaving us through the hallways of our psyches are present in the repetitive and constant building pressure up until the release of the torturous confines of the walls around us. This coffee table smashing rhythm coaxes the beasts to a threatening and disastrous melancholy, then laments in the aftermath of its episodes. The harmony echoes til the very end as a reminder of the futility of our breakdowns.
In assessing the damages of ones owns actions, the next track in This May Hurt A Bit touches on the tensions and fury tied with the dissonance of understanding another. Introducing an ominous underlying groove, Her Disease takes the reflections of frustration and self preservation with the tearing compulsion to love in a melodic plea for compromise. The growing confusion settles in the dust of the chaos of realization. An introspective narrative turns towards another to beg for a solution to a universal sense of unworthiness. A reminder of the bliss and comfort of love despite the deals made and the damages done to one another is present in the returning melody which glows heavily in its realization. It speaks to the integrity of a relationship, to resolve itself by the end despite the discord that begins and pervades throughout its progression.
But that may always prove as futile as the cures of the snake oil salesman, Broiler presents the dangers of the realizations made in the previous track, with the insecurities that lie dormant in the track beforehand. The destructive concoction of the compromises made in love with the malfunctions within each psyche synthesize into an ominous overflow of emotion. A beckoning for understanding, and a begging for solidarity. But, In the realization of the impassable walls and the growing pressures of insecurity, the immeasurable distance between the hearts ignites an explosive breakdown, and collapses. The melodic harmonies reminiscent of the love felt in Her Disease eventually melt into a heavy blaze of screams and a revenge of the frustrations that have been everpresent in This May Hurt A Bit. Leaving the relationship burnt, damaged and disfigured.
This May Hurt A Bit closes with a revisiting of the frustration of the general state surrounding the factors that caused the external, internal, familiar and consequential failures to overflow in Party Mode. As a response to the discord, this track appears to have established a brief clarity and comfort in the inevitability and helplessness being experienced. A clear and concise direction and melody reflects on these revelations, contemplates their ramifications and responds with nothing truer than a chaotic anarchy that captures the essence of Bitter Branches roots and momentum for the future. A reprise back to the chaos experienced in its opening track, the album closes with a demonstration of the hardcore punk bloodline being brought back in this project; heavy riffs, chaotic drums, extended, repetitive shouts of liberated nihil and scorching grooves.
As a package, Bitter Branches holds promise to take their experience from the hardcore punk scene and reapply it to a modern situation, to encompass an overall frustration that lies dormant in the political and interpersonal nature of people whose lives are affected by disease, systemic practices, and poverty. It takes a contemporary climate of chaos and uncertainty and responds to it in a human and realistic fashion. Bearing much promise to the inspiration of such projects and the necessity for musical action which speaks to all of our experiences.