A record whose bite is considerably worse than its bark. It’s condensed, fierce, and charged with as much socially pointed savagery as any hardcore I’ve heard of late. AJAX are a hardcore band from New York consisting of members from fellow hxc locals CREEM, Warthog, Nuclear Spring, and Nomos. It’s tough to really place them: a little less sludgy than Hoax and more demanding than Cult Ritual. I’d actually put them somewhere closer to Infest, SSD, and Negative Approach, all of whom offered rasping tirades against social inequity and about personal cynicism, pessimism, and aggression. These themes were often distilled into fast and loud songs that maximized the amount of “taboo” material a given 7″ EP could hold. Of course that economic limitation doesn’t apply as much in the digital age, but the aesthetic of cramming fully formed hardcore (and especially protest) songs together still forces the listener to engage and focus more readily than they might otherwise.
DRAG DOWN by Ajax offers a bitter dose of an increasingly apparent trend in retro-hardcore known as “USHC” on the East Coast. Brutal vox, frantic power chords, vigilant drumming, and a tape recorder—it’s a no-bullshit D.I.Y. simplicity that will never grow old. Ajax’s original pressing of the EP was released last year and promptly sold out (though fear not, the EP is still for sale at the site below), presumably to the same die-hard NYHC kids who followed CREEM from basement to warehouse. It contains five tracks played in eight minutes, with a “long” and Reatard-ed intro to the title song. “Gunman” pushes their gruff sound toward Motörhead-flavored thrash, while “Escape” and “Chain Gang” keep the record generally planted in traditional hardcore—a feat that earned them the award for Best Punk Band of New York 2014 by The Village Voice.
You can pick up the record at Katorga Records or listen to it at the label’s bandcamp.