Last year’s Nails record was as blunt as they come. It’s rare that a band can generate enough hype — and then live up to it — that they can brazenly assert their superiority without being a laughingstock. But the trio did just that, leaving an open challenge to would-be peers in the title track of You Will Never be One of Us. When Moral Void heard the refrain, they thumbed their noses at the speakers. “Fuck you, Todd Jones,” they said, “yes we will.”
With two EPs and a split with Young and in the Way under their belts, I found it odd that I hadn’t come across the Chicago trio’s music before. But here it is, a full–length album, Deprive, which bites at the heels of more established acts and will hopefully pitch the band headlong into the city’s grimy basement scene, so long devoid of its old stalwarts, Weekend Nachos. Deprive follows a formula not wholly unlike any of the aforementioned artists. It’s heavy, pissed off, and aggressive at a fundamental level; a mix of powerviolence, crust, and black metal that absolutely sears the eardrums. This is that thing called “blackened hardcore.”
If you’ve ever referred to a riff as “hard,” this album will be right up your alley. “Harvest” and “Callous” spend the first four minutes of the album educating the listener as to what “hard” means: crusty, distorted, and pugilistic. “Prey” leans heavily on the crust riff rhythm while churning in some extra darkness, drawing up a crackling mound of dirt and ash. The band is no less convincing when they stray into sludge; “Shadow” evokes Trap Them at their ragged best, losing no intensity to its muted tempo and admitting a bit of rhythmic relief into an album that’s pretty content to dish crust left and right.
In the end, that’s my greatest complaint about Deprive; it’s really crusty, which means that the same rhythm is on display for about half of the runtime. If you write the tabs out in morse code, crust songs are just a string of Rs. When Moral Void go for different rhythms, it really works for them, like in the beginning of closer “Martyr,” a song that starts and ends with a great riff but loses personality to its d-beat midsection. That being said, if you’re a more of a d-beat aficionado than I, you’ll get a lot of mileage out of this album and its obvious but effective melding of crust rhythm and blackened leads.
Moral Void are by no means innovative; what’s on display here isn’t done to death, but neither is it very distinct from the output of powerviolence titans and countless smaller groups that I’m simply not scene-saturated enough to know about. This by no means discounts Deprive‘s value. We all need music like this sometimes – both as a therapeutic expression of turmoil and a satisfying dive into d-beat kineticism. This music is made to be played sweaty and live, or at the very least belligerent and loud. After all, if you don’t piss off your neighbors from time to time, can you really be said to be living?