HOOF GLOVE – Hoof Glove EP

What would happen if members of various Leeds-based hardcore and noise-rock bands came together in one unrelenting outfit? Something not far short of a musical armageddon would likely be the result. Featuring members of arty noise rock band Cattle and powerviolence/hardcore outfit Ona Snop and sludgers Groak, Hoof Glove are on hand with some aggressive sounds that listeners will either love or hate; sounds which – like Cattle – could possibly clear a room if an audience is less than receptive.

Shifting the focus from the intensive grinding of Cattle and towards more of an art punk sound, ‘Incandescent Drupes’ is instantly impressive. It’s main riff draws influence from straight hardcore punk, a sound which suits vocalist Laura Tyndal very well; a sound which, in turn, isn’t so far removed from the brilliant Natterers. Given the band’s artier roots, though, this is no straight punk affair. The main, spiky riff is occasionally derailed by rhythmic complexities – driven almost entirely by drummer Steve Myles – while some of the other pogo-worthy chops are tousled by the presence of electronic bleeps. The coming together of at least three alternative genres results in something that’s both quirky and stylish, but never too much at the expense of those listeners who’d just enjoy the tight punk elements. ‘Omni Bub’ keeps up the pace, filling the front end of two and a half minutes with a relentless speedpunk/hardcore hybrid. The sound is so claustrophobic it’s near impossible to pick out any lyrics, but Tyndal’s voice works well if viewed as an instrument in its own right, never being anything less than an a ball of fury. Eventually, everything changes on a whim and heavy, grinding riffs play out in a jerky and artful manner, accentuating elements of fuzz rock in a progressive face off between bass and drums. If you’re familiar with Super Luxury or Cattle – two very important bands in the Hoof Glove family tree – this track will certainly be a favourite.

With less of a focus on the bass, ‘The Granulated Sea’ is a brilliant number that fuses a classic transatlantic hardcore sound with the more pointed influence from Jesus Lizard. The riffs are sometimes a little more distinctive but, true to form, Hoof Glove eschew any want for an easier ride by stoking up the atonal electronica and burying the vocal ever deeper inside their world of fuzz. It’s one of those times where you’ll realise the band occasionally seem to be trying to outplay each other in the noise stakes, never really caring whether anyone likes the results…but, that said, if you can get a handle on their heavily distorted sounds, this track acts as a sharp indicator that hardcore doesn’t necessarily have to be stuck in a rut. Featuring a repetitive riff that’s somewhere between early Melvins and Natterers, ‘Give Me Back My Pet’ is the EP’s stand-out track. The guitars and bass collide in a near circular groove which alone would make this track a winner, but the way that’s occasionally derailed into a wall of noise but still leaves room for a throat wrenching vocal really highlights how intricate Hoof Glove’s selection of arty noises really are.

Shifting away from punk and straying into math rock, the instrumental parts of ‘Marsupalia’ occasionally sound like Marmozets’ ‘Vibetech’ played in an empty room by SuperLuxury – although perhaps more in the rhythmic intent than overall sound – with more complex time signatures giving drummer Steve his best workout, filling spaces with busy hi-hats. It’s another unforgiving track as far as the vocal goes, though, with Laura screaming herself hoarse, struggling to be heard above the multi-layered musical set-up. Fans of fuzz bass will instantly love the sounds here, as will those who value wilfully arty and angular noise. In some ways, though, this number feels like it’s designed to pave the way for the arrival of the slower and slightly heavier ‘Fungalicious’, which introduces spoken word passages sounding really ominous against a heavy bass. The slightly slower pace shows off more of the band’s musical skills without losing too much of the in-your-face anger, while it’s sledgehammer approach to a constantly shifting riff maintains a much stronger link with the mighty Cattle. With the electronic sounds whipped into a frenzy and Laura’s voice providing all manner of yelps, this is the ultimate in uncompromising noise rock and the perfect way to finish.

Okay, so don’t expect songs, as such: this EP is best approached as a selection of frightening and sturdy riffs made all the more intense by extraneous noise making. It’s essential listening for anyone remotely familiar with some of the band’s related outfits and it might even find a cult following among those bonkers listeners who feel The Jesus Lizard and Cows are lightweight, over-commercialised fops. There’s a fine line between scary and cool and Hoof Glove are more than happy to push and pull you across it repeatedly for the duration. If you’re prepared for that, this debut EP is one hell of a ride.

April 2018