Arguably less useful than “post-punk” is “post-hardcore.” In its most common usage nowadays, the tag indicates Revolution Summer revivalism with tempered histrionics, which is well enough. But as a critical construct it’s employed to insist that Fucked Up’s worst records are the best, lend an air of undeserved authority to Ceremony record reviewers who don’t appreciate Rohnert Park, or else delegitimize hardcore wholesale in publications that don’t cover hardcore.
All of which is a digressive and quarrelsome way to introduce Total Abuse, an Austin band inspired by the dour, lumpen hostility of hardcore more so than the style’s very particular, formal constraints. “Scabs,” closing dirge from the group’s third full-length, Excluded, due soon via Deranged Records, moves glacially but with tectonic might. Arranging monosyllabic shouts and thunderous fills in an oblique, protracted song structure, “Scabs” evokes Condominium, another act that might warrant a “post-hardcore” descriptor if the phrase wasn’t so problematic.
You can stream “Scabs” below, and read Reggie McCafferty’s feature interview, Addiction and Alienation with Rusty Kelley of Total Abuse, here.