The first 23 seconds of Sacramento hardcore quartet Trash Talk‘s Awake EP, featuring steady drums, are the calm before a storm – even complete with a siren. More accurately, though, those 23 seconds are the three years of mounting social tension since the housing bubble burst leading to Occupy Wall Street; both Occupy and Awake are responses to undeniable systemic failure and feelings of hopelessness caused by instance upon instance of injustice. Showcasing the spectrum of possible reactions, Trash Talk spend their nine minutes of hell-raising completely contradicting the nonviolence mantra of Occupy, exploding with murderous rage and ultimately creating their strongest work to date.
With a song clocking in under a minute, but no idea left unfinished and no note or drum strike wasted, Awake is a masterful lesson in economy; “Blind Evolution” is Awake‘s longest, clocking in at only 2:16. The technical tightness of their previous releases is honed to a precision previously unthinkable when the music is packing such a brutal punch. Lyrically, Awake’s primal wails perfectly match the discontent of their words. With lines such as “Your revolution’s already lost” (“Blind Evolution”), “I’m on the edge of an apocalypse” (“Burn Alive”), and “I used to think I was important/I used to think I had worth” (“Gimme Death”), frontman Lee Spielman is less than subtle in his message.
While not exactly uplifting, Awake gives a voice to those on the lowest of society’s rungs. Spielman quips, “Face down in the gutter, I’ve got my ear to the street.” It’s this emotional accessibility in this time of unrest, alongside the impeccable technical performance, that makes Awake surprisingly refreshing, as Trash Talk fearlessly yells all of the depressing things most people fear to admit.
Essential Tracks: “Awake”, “Burn Alive”