pulses. Pushes the Post-Hardcore Genre Forward with Dynamic New EP


Review by Nick Manduley

March 4, 2021

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Photo: @janesunphoto (Instagram)

Virgina-based post-hardcore outfit Pulses (stylized as pulses.) independently released their newest EP Speak Less on February 26th. Another entry into the band’s unique and eclectic discography, Speak Less is the sibling release to their acclaimed sophomore LP Speak It Into Existence, which dropped last April. Much like its companion record, Speak Less is a rambunctious and refreshing take on post-hardcore that will surely resonate with a plethora of the genre’s fans.

At first glance, one might mistake Speak Less as an LP due to the album’s twelve tracks. Don’t be fooled; every song on the EP is under two minutes, with the whole release clocking in at roughly 18 minutes. However, that doesn’t make Speak Less any less of the dynamic, high-octane musical journey that it is.

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After the dreary guitar composition of the inro track “Absence of Evidence,” the release dives straight into “Bold New Taste,” the first single released in support of Speak Less. “Bold New Taste” is a tooth-chipping hardcore track that’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the aggressive riffage that’s present throughout the EP. The dissonant and intricate tune “We’re Gonna Play, Steve” keeps this momentum going at a healthy pace, but as soon as the opening fight-riff of “Meet Me in Temecula” comes on, you’ll be downright furious you’re not currently in a mosh pit. Speak Less is undoubtedly a unique release as a whole, but tracks like “Temecula” are indisputable proof that pulses isn’t a band that can be pigeonholed into a single genre or sound. pulses is pulses; Speak Less is confirmation that they are unapologetically themselves.

Speak Less nears its halfway point with “No Good Can Come From This, But It Can’t Get Any Worse,” the second single released from the EP. Like the two sides of a coin, “No Good Can Come” flips between heavy, screamed sections and melodic chord-heavy sections that are as atmospheric as they are dissonant.

Photo: @samijstrong (Instagram)

The sporadic shredding of the brief tune “If Life’s a Gift, I Hope You Kept the Receipt” fades to silence before the bopping riffage of “Miss Me” kicks in, which serves as an excellent example of pulses’ dynamic ability. The soft vocal melody over the layered guitars brings an immaculate vibe that serves as a wonderful segue into the acoustic track “I Meant It,” which features guest vocals from Tyler Adlam and some cello action from With Sails Ahead bassist Jaime Martinez.

As a Treat” shines a pop-tinged spotlight on the band’s post-hardcore stylings, with soaring vocal melodies over chugging guitars and bopping mid-tempo drumming. Of course, this vibe is short lived (well, not that short lived; at nearly two and a half minutes, it’s one of the longer tracks on Speak Less) as the furious track “II.” kicks into high-gear with somber lead guitars and piercing screams.

Speak Less descends towards its ending with “General Grievance,” a pummelling hardcore track that gives way to clean-toned riffage over a gut-wrenching spoken word section. The final track, “Evidence of Absence” is without a doubt the longest on the EP, clocking in at three and a half minutes. “Evidence” revisits the atmospheric tones and clean riffs heard at other points of the release, and settles them over a slow groove; the track builds gently before bursting into a cacophony of screams and heavy-handed guitar riffage.

Vocalists and guitarists Caleb Taylor and Matt Burridge gave stellar performances across the board; the chemistry of their guitar playing and vocal performances gives Speak Less that explosive, punch-you-in-the-face sound that many love about late-2000s post-hardcore, while their individual and unique influences allow them to bring something new to the table. Against the backbone of dynamite drummer Kevin Taylor (who also demonstrates his own vocal prowess on a handful of tracks) and the air-tight, funkalicious playing of bassist David Crane, it’s clear that pulses is not only breathing life into the post-hardcore genre, but they’re pushing it forward.

Speak Less and its full-length counterpart Speak It Into Existence are currently available on all major streaming services. See Pulses’ bandcamp page for merch and Speak Less vinyl pre-orders.

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Photo: @janesunphoto (Instagram)

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Nick Manduley is an aspiring music journalist and musician from Bradley Beach, NJ. He is currently an intern at Relix Magazine where he helps produce and curate online content. Since 2016, he has provided guitars and vocals for the local punk band Drive, Kid. Drive, Kid released an EP and a full-length album in 2018, and are currently recording their sophomore LP.


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