So Stressed, “Apple Hill”

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The second single from Sacramento’s So Stressed, “Apple Hill”, is as relentlessly fervent and emotionally vicious as their band name, yet as brilliantly toned and lyrically honest as the imagistic track name would suggest. From the first second, drums pulsate firmly in pleasingly standard kick-kick-snare form, chaotically wandering off in pounding irregularities, demanding immediate attention. Intensely fuzzed guitars tear like chainsaws through the rhythm’s focus, the chord progressions skimming convention—not necessarily appeasing expectations with how long they’re held for in sequence, but making complete sense with their ungodly tone. Together, drums and guitar pound on the gate of the heart, an unruly mob clutching torches and pitchforks, forcing their entry into the bloodstream.

Morgan Fox’s vocal brutalism acts as the riot leader: it howls from atop a burning cop car, hovering over the tumult in thunderous, echoed reverb. Despite the unruly nature of the track, the clarity of guitar tones, the crispness of the drum hits, and the rawness of Fox’s rage adds a cleanliness and earnestness to the mix—a shining light amongst swirling darkness. Passion only intensifies as the song progresses, climaxing in the brief single guitar riff interlude which crashes furiously into the song’s close.

The Unlawful Trade of Greco-Roman Art, the first release from the Meredith Graves-run label Honor Press, is due out May 26.