Boundaries - Hartford County Misery
“so begins the Reign of Pain”
Boundaries is known for their heavy hitting beatdown that leaves you wanting to smash your grandmother in the face with a tire iron, but nothing quite surprised me as much as that line to the intro track "Reign of Pain." It was almost like vocalist Matt McDougal was setting the scene for a hardcore folktale. Greeted first by a precise, violent coordination between Zadak Brooks and Cory Emond’s guitars, the amazing backfill from Kevin Stevens and Brandon Breedlove on drums and bass, you then hear a dragged out screech of “HARTFORD COUNTY MISERY.” This leads into what Boundaries has always done best: slowed down breakdown riffs that make you want to slam anything in your path and punch your wall about 8000 times. “Reign of Pain” shows that Boundaries is branching out to newer sounds while still holding onto their original sound. Boundaries, without a doubt, are back to make the Connecticut hardcore scene theirs once again.
“Dog Teeth” provides some of the best riff/vocal coordination I’ve ever heard, from Matt’s barks during the breakdown to all of Kevin’s blast beats. The riffs are so beautiful they almost seem misplaced in a hardcore song until Matt slips in with his aggressive tone, confirming that this is a true Boundaries track. If you thought they weren't going to break it down like Knocked Loose at some point, this will be the track that proves you wrong. Strap yourself in because it’s an aggressive and gruesome ride from here out.
“No Safe Spaces”
“Felicia” live is probably what it sounded like fighting in the trenches during World War I, people dying left and right, blood everywhere, or maybe that’s just how I pictured it. This easily takes the cake as Boundaries heaviest track of all time. From the intro chugs to the lyrics to the closing blast beats, this song really should’ve been named “No Safe Spaces. It almost guarantees three or more people to run inside the bar area of the venue during this song to save themselves from the inevitable crowdkill. It’s really hard to decide what part of this track is the best: Matt’s lyrical content, his array of vocal techniques, or the four or five breakdowns? When I heard “Why the fuck do you get to feel safe?” I was tempted to both punch a hole in my wall and cower under a blanket.
“TWO STEP BOY”
“No Other Way” is the best song I think these boys have ever made. It's a clean, fluid, and polished song with the most diverse vocal patterns on the album, and the two-step riff after Matt shouts “Kick It!” is the best part next to the guitar solo. I never thought I would hear the day that Boundaries brought in guitar solos but it happened and it’s nothing short of perfect. It shows how much these dudes have grown. They can pretty much pull of anything, so much so that I’m patiently waiting for Kevin to play weddings and Matt to start his rap career.
“The False Prophet”
“Seizin’ the Demon” is the track I was most excited for from Hartford County Misery after seeing it on a teaser from the end of Boundaries run with TraumaxQueen. You can easily tell it’s one of the most personal tracks on the record, and it’s cool to see Zadak grab the mic at parts as well. I can see this being a great track live and see the audience's energy as well as the band’s, which is always exceptional. Lines like “I got myself here, I can get myself out” are what stuck with me through the teaser and are sticking with me now. I fully expect to see it printed on merch designs at some point in the future. Cory also provides another insanely beautiful solo on “Seizin’ the Demon,” proving that he is a force to be reckoned with on this EP.
“Sour Patch Kids”
The public got hands on with “Sour Mouth” last year right before Boundaries shot the video at Point Beach if you were fast enough on snagging it from bandcamp before it was taken down once the shoot was over, if not you had to wait till around November. With that being said, it’s a perfect example of destructive and forceful instrumentals combined with emotionally aggressive vocals that mix to make a song that is the closest you can get to beautiful out of the hardcore scene, from the over the top crushing breakdowns to the intro two step, the song has shown very little amount of wear from me over the past year or so. It’s one of those songs that the crowd gets very into as well at live shows making it kinda what I considered Boundaries theme track for a while besides “Worm Den” or “Death Sentence” off Defector. It’s cool to see that they didn’t just drop this track off the EP and consider it just a one-off track but to include it and consider it one of the Hartford County Misery tracks as it pretty much snaps into its place on this record without the slightest hesitation.
“Die! Die! Die!”
“HCM” is all that sounds like, a perfect outro track that has very melodic death metal tones throughout the progression of the track. Boundaries wanted to make sure they started the record on a high note and just continue to keep that momentum going all the way to the end, which makes you almost feel like you need to stick the album on repeat at least a few more times to fully gather the entirety of the emotional depth that Matt packed into the lyrics and vocal work and the blood sweat and tears Kevin, Cory, Zadak and Brandon packed into the instrumental work for the record. Hartford County Misery is exactly as it sounds from the title, insane, violent, brutal and emotional. Keep your eyes out for these dudes over the next year, this is just the start of something new, this is the year Boundaries rises to the top and takes the throne with ease amongst its other top-tier local brothers such as Values.
- The Metal Lifestyle Team