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I was once told in a History of Rock n’ Roll community college class that the only musical difference between punk and metal was instrumental skill. Their emphasis on minor keys, aggressive and overdriven instrumentation were common elements through and through.

That assertion is certainly an over-generalization of the two genres, but the most important idea still holds true: there’s plenty of aural bounty for metalheads to plunder from punk. Guitarist Dan Randall of Excessive Cruelty is a perfect example: he can boast battle scars from shows with the underrated Bay Area hardcore band Strung Up, as well as ten years spent with Creepsylvanian thrashers Ghoul. Excessive Cruelty’s self-titled release sounds like a punk rock homecoming - Randall’s years in Ghoul have sharpened his axe attack, and his years as a small business owner have put his mental fortitude through the wringer. In 2017 Randall and his cohorts (two of whom are fellow veterans from Strung Up) have plenty to feel hateful about, and now they have the chops to exploit it for musical gain.

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On “Wound Too Tight,” vocalist Klint Meuser rails against the classic problem that musicians face: their ideas are bouncing about, the energy is overflowing and they want to make noise. Loud noise. Randall and bassist Justen McMurtry ride big power chords for much of “Wound Too Tight” until the crossover pit-starter rears its head right at the one-minute mark. Randall’s riffing tightens to a choke here, and you can feel the tension that Meuser is expressing through his shouts. That makes the subsequent buildup and explosion feel all the more satisfying, with Meuser’s closing lines conjuring Greg Graffin-like wordiness. It’s technically proficient, smartly-written, razor-sharp punk. Not too shabby for a sound that shouldn’t exist according to a college professor.

Excessive Cruelty will be released on April 7th via Sorry State Records. You can stream “Wound Too Tight” below.

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