If the name of Moral Mazes doesn’t mean anything to you at this point, I’m going to drop a couple of names to make you sit up and take note. This project is a long-time collaboration between J. Robbins (Jawbox), Jeff Dean (Airstream Futures) and Darren Zentek (Kerosene 454). We are talking of a meeting of minds of the Chicago and DC punk scenes. Both cities/ scenes have always been hotbeds of creativity and pushing boundaries as far as Hardcore music is concerned. True to form, Moral Mazes aren’t just here to rehash and repackage something tried and tested. Their recipe is for the three musicians to work together, before inviting a guest vocalist to add the finishing touches.
Their last output was released on Bridge Nine way back in 2014, with Jonah Matranga from Far/ Onelinedrawing handling vocal duties. If Jonah was something of a big deal, then Michael Feerick (Amusement Parks On Fire) – who provides the singing on here – has some big boots to fill. There is no need for trepidation, as there is no way the calibre of the musicians involved would provide anything less than the perfect soundtrack.
The two songs on here are nice slow burners. Very much in a “close your-eyes and let the music wash over you” mood. Reverb-drenched guitars and drums, and a gnarly distorted bassline offer the foundations for Michael’s dreamy vocal lines. Depending on the scene you may have grown up in – if you loved all things rooted in American Hardcore and well beyond, then you might be reminded of the likes of Kill Holiday or Godspeed whereas if you were a floppy-fringed fanatic then names like Ride and Swervedriver could be points of reference. For my ears this style is timeless and will never go out of fashion. And if that all seems a little indulgent, that’s because it is; and it’s an absolute feast for your ears. Tom Chapman