The latest release from Chicago punk trio Meat Wave may just be up there with the best rock records I’ve heard this year so far. Circumstances in 2020 may have affected the production of Volcano Park, forcing the band to release it as an EP instead, yet this is an offering that delivers what it sets out to do and delivers it outstandingly well. A blistering rock record full of urgency, paranoia and unease which mirrors the end-of-times state of the world we are living in.
Opening track “Tugboat” fires off with a menacing rumble of drums and razor-sharp riffs piercing at the mix. Vocalist Chris Sutter describes this song as the impetus for the album, one that speaks about the plight of the marginalised and the abuse of freedom in the country. Volcano Park is on full eruption from the start and it never holds back — with each sonic element contributing to the core emotions and themes of the record.
“For Sale” continues with a harsh bombardment of rhythms, it’s as if you’re caught in a storm as the thundering march of the drums gets closer. The band’s dark, post-hardcore sounds leads in this song about selling our freedoms to those in power. “Yell at the Moon” tones down the volume, yet the intensity is covered by the guitar riffs and the chunky breakdowns that can make you sweat in your seat like you’re in the middle of a mosh pit.
Fourth track “Truth Died” slows down the tempo with a tongue-in-cheek pop-rock swagger, but there’s a lingering feeling that something deadly is bubbling from within. These moments of darkness lash out during the subtle refrains, illustrating the skill in which Meat Wave navigates the emotions of their songs so well. “Nursing” is a unique entry to this EP, one that’s full of guitars clamoring like industrial debris raining down on a ruined city’s inhabitants. Sutter repeats the hook from “Tugboat” like a psychedelic mantra with a prog/doom rock twist.
The EP ends with “Fire Dreams”, another banger with unrelenting rhythmic dissonance. Each bar pulses with growing tension, it’s like you’re stuck in a fever dream and the temperature is rising. With panicked imagery like “Tip toe in the dark” and “Burning forever”, this is a song that captures the feeling of waking up in a cold sweat.
There’s not a single moment in Volcano Park that I didn’t enjoy. It’s a great rock EP that captures the unease and injustice for our times. Meat Wave are masters at what they do, and they deserve your attention.