WORDS : TOM COLES

Taut, compressed and tightly-coiled, aggressive hardcore makes for an excellent soundtrack to quarantine. Throughout the world, young bands are honing their craft whilst locked away, their spirits undaunted, creating earnest, violent music that provides the catharsis we all so desperately need.

Dutch outfit Hawser is one such group, taking the physical, bludgeoning power of hardcore and playing up the emotionally-charged elements, both draining and rewarding, exposing their raw hearts. This is a particularly vital quality they have which – especially at the moment – elevates them above their peers.

You get older and you start to see that maybe things are a little more layered than you suppose they are. The people you’ve had negative experiences with probably aren’t actively out to get you, things just happened… What can I say? Forgiveness is a virtue

This, states vocalist Stijn Willem van’t Land, is a theme that’s especially prevalent on their latest record, All is Forgiven. “I think in general, emotionally, the record is less black and white than the ones before,” he muses. “Thing is, you get older and you start to see that maybe things are a little more layered than you suppose they are. The people you’ve had negative experiences with probably aren’t actively out to get you, things just happened… What can I say? Forgiveness is a virtue.”

This spirit of empowerment reaches out to attitudes in hardcore that have long been an unpleasant undercurrent; emotional seclusion and unwillingness to grow and develop stand at odds with Hawser’s message. “I sometimes seriously doubt what people’s motivation is to associate themselves with this scene”, outlines Stijn. “There seem to be quite a lot of proper insecure people smacking some tattoos on their arms and pretending to be hard as nails, deciding for other people how they should dress and what bands they should like. I really don’t see the point in any of that, especially in this scene. I’ve always appreciated the hardcore scene because of it’s inclusiveness but acting hard and policing the scene like some people try to do really takes away from that inclusiveness and it’s just sad.”

There are clearly a few more influences, textures and directions than on their previous work; not all of it is dark and destructive, but there is clearly a more eclectic creative drive on display

It is this willingness to break outside of their confines that make the record a success; they present a darker experimental sound on their most recent outing, their most diverse yet. “I think most people will agree that we’ve strayed quite a bit from the typical hardcore sound a couple times on this record,” he notes, detailing the steps they’ve taken towards their latest direction. There are clearly a few more influences, textures and directions than on their previous work; not all of it is dark and destructive, but there is clearly a more eclectic creative drive on display. “I think, with writing new stuff, the spectrum will be more broad. On one hand we’re writing really savage riffs, on the other hand we’re looking to write a little softer stuff.”

One of the ways that emotional balance is clearly illustrated is by the use of guest musicians, presenting a sense of brotherhood on the record. Aside from his own work, Stijn is keen to point out the links between guests and the bonds they’ve nurtured and developed with people on the road. “We did a Euro tour with Grove Street Families back in June last year, which was so much fun,” he remembers. “You obviously get to meet quite a bunch of bands over the years but with GSF we really bonded […] we struggled with the part for a bit and Ben just decided to one take the part that he’s on now and do a ridiculous mosh call and it turned out sick. We were actually scared the record was gonna drop in 2021 due to corona. Would’ve been hilarious to have a 2020 mosh call on a record that didn’t come out that year…”

This is a timely reminder of how much more things could have been affected. With life for bands changing with every day, the future is never clear, especially considering how changeable touring life can be generally. As we wrap up, Stijn carefully picks over the future. “Considering there’s not going to be a lot of shows, I’d say we’re just gonna try to squeeze out a new record. Probably an EP,” he concludes, keen to outline that their drive hasn’t changed. “That being said, I really hope shows are up next for us. Because fuck, I miss playing.”

All is Forgiven out September 28th on Isolation Records.

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