The Red Alert
The Red Alert


Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

(Sub Pop)

Record Review by Angel M. Baker


Mogwai, Glasgow’s almost entirely instrumental math rock metal band (whose name started out as a place card that was set in stone purely by habit), break their three-year hiatus with Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will.  It’s not only the best-named record of ever, but it is one of the best samples of how hardcore math rock can be all at once calculating, precise, and easy on the ears.  (No ear-bleeding here.)


Mogwai’s seventh full length takes cues from Thrill Jockey favorites, Tortoise’s Millions Never Living Will Never Die and Trans Am’s Surrender to the Night, a time when the 90s got defiantly tired of grunge and boy bands and got all serious about being post (insert genre here).  HWNDBYW is like a reminder to early Mogwai listeners of their rebel roots – this record doesn’t have to have choruses; the songs on this record don’t need a hook – all that matters is putting out some seriously grown up (stoner) math rock.


But this record is stoner rock with a focus.  It’s Mogwai matured.  HWNDBYW has all the passion of Earthless’ 21-minute “Lost in the Cold Sun” and all the sex appeal of Hot Snakes’ Suicide Invoice.  With its slow and steady pace, Mogwai’s latest release is more Clydesdale than racehorse, wielding the same unrelenting drive as any Rick Froberg project.


The record opener “White Noise” detours from the more metal focused record and butters us up for the remainder of HWNDBYW.  This writer has, several times, harped on albums for lacking a story but HWNDBYW doesn’t.  It builds.  It slows.  It changes pace.  “White Noise,” a notable highlight, is the perfect starting gun with its Ivy League library feel and its patience.


“How To Be A Werewolf” (Mogwai’s foray into the educational arts) vies strongly for top billing, with its dusty midnight-in-the-desert feel and its wait-for-it intro.  There is no wasted space here.  Every nanosecond of the eighth track is filled up with cool.  This is Mogwai with an ear for the hardcore and a feel for the aesthetic, though really this could be said for the entirety of HWNDBYW.  


Though there are no disposable cuts, “Mexican Grand Prix” and “You’re Lionel Richie” battle for the title belt for this writer.  Both are so dirty.  Both are so smooth and effortlessly and irreverently bad-ass.  “Mexican Grand Prix,” the speediest number, throws in some breathy whisper vocals to the race-car track that show these Scots can sing, which doesn’t, for a second, throw off the direction of the song or the record.  The closer, “You’re Lionel Richie” really sets the bar high for hardcore.  The dense, eight plus minute track has its own gravitational pull with its slow, recurring riff (don’t call it a hook) and rounds out the story of this record with force.


Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will is instrumental metal for grown-ups.



Mogwai - "San Pedro"


More by this writer:

Y La Bamba - Live - Dec. 15, 2010

Les Savy Fav - Root for Ruin

Local Natives - Live - Sept. 17, 2010

Jesus Makes The Shotgun Sound - Interview