Up until last year, Head Wound City was more myth than band. The spastic hardcore supergroup—comprising The Locust's Justin Pearson and Gabe Serbian, Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Nick Zinner and Blood Brothers' Jordan Blilie and Cody Votolato—released one ten-minute EP in the '00s, played one live show, and then went their separate ways without looking back. Or so it would have seemed, but the group reunited in 2014 for the sake of a small festival appearance.
That one reunion show ended up turning into more shows, then a tour with Savages, and now their first official full-length, A New Wave of Violence. At 24 minutes long, the album isn't massive by any means, but at more than twice the length of their inaugural EP, it feels satisfyingly substantial. It's a proper album with highs, lows, freakouts, dirges and all manner of song in between, at least as much as there can be for a band whose primary mode of operation is all-pistons-firing hardcore fury.
A New Wave of Violence sounds essentially exactly like what you'd probably expect from a band featuring members of The Locust, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Blood Brothers. Which is to say it's loud, relentless and likely to leave a nasty welt, but not at the expense of a good melody or hook. Most songs are about two minutes long, not so short that they dissolve almost as quickly as they arrive (save for the 55-second powerviolence of "I Wanna Be Your Original Sin") but potent in a digestible package. "Old Age Takes Too Long" and "Born to Burn" provide a one-two punch right off the bat that introduces this set of weirdo beatdowns nicely.
When Head Wound City slow it down and ease into a groove, they reveal themselves to be adept at more than just sheer brutality. "I Cast A Shadow for You" provides a sinister doom groove, while "Avalanche of Heaven" is a mosh-pit-worthy sludge churn. As loud and abrasive as A New Wave of Violence is, however, it's a lot of fun to listen to. These five punk rock vets know what they're doing, and what they're doing is a deafening, uncompromising blast.