Listening to Brute Err/ata — a tense ten-track release of raging and vitriolic punk out now from Terminal Bliss — feels like stage diving in a packed bar. It’s unmistakably tense, yet totally exhilarating — and gone in a flash, although the immersive album leaves a strong imprint in its wake.
Guiding Themes for Terminal Bliss
Brute Err/ata clocks in at barely more than ten minutes, but there’s so much life in the songs that the music might as well stretch for multiple times that span. The group includes Mike and Chris Taylor of (among other projects) classic hardcore punk stalwarts Pg. 99, Ryan Parrish of the death metal group Mammoth Grinder (and a lot more), and Adam Juresko of — yet again among other projects — the also classic hardcore punk group City of Caterpillar.
The music feels fueled by raw passion, and while occasionally remarkably excruciating — Terminal Bliss work harsh noise into their sound atop the fiery punk — these ten songs are also electrifying, like a sudden jolt to the chest. The energy underlying these intricate yet free-wheeling songs is so physically forceful that their exciting intrigue seems clear.
“I do think that there’s a little bit of a thread through that particular set of songs, if only because we recorded, or we wrote those songs in a pretty short amount of time,” Mike Taylor, who handles guitars for Terminal Bliss, explains. “Like we had started the band in mid-January [of 2020] and were recording the songs on that album by the end of February. We literally had like five weeks or five and a half to six weeks before we recorded those songs. They were very inspired because it was the first 10 minutes of music this band spit out. It’s almost like we were chomping at the bit to get those tunes out of us. And so I think for that reason they have this fanatical feel to ‘em. Like we’d just been festering and just waiting to explode in those songs. They just sort of represent — ‘I need to make that racket.'”
Taylor also cites the harsh noise elements as a sort of unifying thread for Brute Err/ata.
“Sometimes it doesn’t even come off as 10 songs — instead it comes off as 10 minutes of like a fit,” Taylor pointedly adds. “We love it. Listening back to it, I’m still really stoked about it… It’s something that just needed to get out of our system. And I think because of that, you could tell; I think it comes across.”
The Pieces of Brute Err/ata
At times, Brute Err/ata feels like the soundtrack for some sort of total existential collapse — but it always feels unified by its front-and-center scorching urgency.
“All of us having grown up dissecting things like DIY punk and anything from powerviolence, metal, grindcore and 80s hardcore, Japanese punk, and all that — I think we want it to be dirty,” Taylor observes. “We want it to be mean and kind of sound like it’s got a chip on a shoulder, you know?.. And tones — real nasty, growly-like guitars where when there’s a pause, you just hear screeching and stuff and feedback — like that’s something we’re all into.”
The musicians responsible for Terminal Bliss definitely incorporate these inspirations into their sound. Besides that sometimes just about suffocating fog of harsh noise, the guitars, bass, and drums themselves seem crushing yet coated in a kind of sonic filth, with ample heavy feedback. The music, in a way, is grueling — it’s like the sonic equivalent of crawling through some actively crumbling cityscape as abandoned buildings get blown apart on repeat in the background. The tapestry proves grandiose and richly dramatic — but it’s also staggeringly weighty.
Taylor cites artistic connections between the folks involved in Terminal Bliss as another foundation piece.
“I think the biggest thing for me is that I have a particular style of stuff I’ve written, and I’ve never necessarily been in a straightforward punk band per se, even though I’ve kind of always wanted to,” the guitarist shares. “I’ve always been in some experimental kind of hardcore punk, and maybe metal or just different facets of stuff. But, I think a big thing for me too is that every time I’m playing with new people, they kind of bring a whole new thing. So I’d never actually played in a band with Adam or Ryan before — I’d jammed with Ryan once; years ago. Ryan and I tried to do a band with Jason, who also plays in Suppression. This had to have been like 12 or more years ago, which never came about. So we always had been orbiting each other musically, and were like: I love your band, I love your band — but we just never played together.”
Eventually, Mike, Ryan, and the others were finally able to connect. “So, there’s a lot of different things going on in that album that I wouldn’t be doing naturally if it wasn’t for the other guys,” Taylor adds. “But I like that because for me, I’ve always said: Even though it’s a challenge, I always learn more and am able to become a better musician when I play with different people. Both Adam and Ryan are killer at what they do, and they have very clear vision. And they’re very much songwriters and contributing members to the overall sound. If you take any one person out of this four-person band, It’s gonna sound different because that particular record sounds the way it does because of those particular four guys.”
For instance, Juresko helped develop the new album’s “noisy” side, Taylor explains.
“And already the newer material we’re working on, I could tell you it’s just a lot. It’s a little more different — we still want it at volume 11 and in-your-face and gas-on-the-pedal the whole time, but I think it’s developing,” Taylor explains. “We literally wrote those songs [on Brute Err/ata] in like five weeks, so we sort of developed a little more of a sound that’s a little more noisy — if you can imagine that. It’s a little more noisy in the mix. Now that we’ve taken a step back and looked at what we’ve done together, we’re like, okay: Let’s add the noise while we’re doing it… We wanna do some more stuff with samples and just write parts specific for a noise freak-out or something like that. We’re all into just really random weird shit… But at the end of the day, we want it to be punk as the foundation — just a punk band.”
The galloping riffs that rush through Brute Err/ata aren’t the only callbacks to classic punk in the Terminal Bliss presentation. In a message accompanying the new record, the group — in all caps — proclaims that all “RACISTS, GENDER POLICE & MISOGYNISTS” should “FUCK OFF… FOREVER.”
“I think it’s important to us to set the record straight from the get-go that there are certain things that we stand for, which is why we included a couple choice statements about what the band is about,” Taylor explains. “Being into punk rock and outsiders or something ourselves we’ve all kind of dealt with just different challenges — and just feeling actually even as you get older a little more socially conscious and everything, you kind of realize: We are four white males, and we have it rather easy, as far as that’s concerned.”
Thus, Terminal Bliss want to help “make sure that there’s a voice for other folks,” Taylor shares, explaining that some of his perspective on these sorts of concerns stems from his experience in dealing with misinterpretations of Pg. 99.
“We think it’s important to make sure you make the record straight when heading into music. Over the years. I’ll say with my personal experience with Pg. 99, you’ll see a bunch of jock people having their liberties with what Pg. 99 is all about and stuff, and I’m like, uh nope, Pg. 99 is not about that… It’s one of those things where if you make this statement loud and clear in the beginning, you don’t have to vet it as you’re going along, you don’t have to explain yourselves down the line or just get yourself into the situation — you can go ahead and weed out and get the bad apples out of the way.”
Taylor also hopes for a more constructive impact from being outspoken about the beliefs that Terminal Bliss members share.
“That’s why, I think, we have in our records: Fuck all gender police and such things like that because… Black and brown folks and queer folks and trans folks — we want those people to feel comfortable,” he shares.
Terminal Bliss got together in the wake of reunion shows that Pg. 99 did with fellow hardcore punk torchbearers Majority Rule, where the bands raised money for social causes.
“Those tours inspired me and they were great,” Taylor says. “And they were very fulfilling. I was like: Okay, this is inspired. It’s like the momentum I needed to be like: Okay, I need to find some dudes and play. And then it was serendipitous that these guys were about to do something, and then all four of us kind of converged together to do it.”
The guitarist shares that at one of the shows where Pg. 99 performed during a much earlier run, Nazis showed up.
“I can remember Nazis showing up at our shows and feeling really weird about them buying our records,” he explains. “And they’re really into your band. I’m like: What the fuck is this? But, you know, you’re just like — you’d rather not. And it’s just a bizarre thing when something like that happens. You’re like: Oh, you’re not getting it; this is not what we’re about. So I mean, I can remember that at one point being an issue at a particular show. We showed up and that situation is there, and you just have to figure it out.”
In connection to Pg. 99’s more recent resurgence, Taylor says that those behind the project — like with Terminal Bliss — sought to be proactive in addressing potential concerns. An original title for one of Pg. 99’s songs was “Your Face is a Rape Scene,” but Taylor explains that the group was “young and dumb” at the time of writing it and have long since come to realize that the title was not right.
“I think we were trying to make a really stretched, really long point and saying like: Oh, well, you know — this person, they make me feel like the ugliest thing you can think of, and it’s art and stuff. And I’m just like, nah,” Taylor pointedly explains. “So back before our last tour, we changed that title on everything we could, like all the records. So all the represses don’t have that title. We just changed the title, and it’s changing on the streaming. I mean, we had to redo artwork and stuff, but it was important to us — like, this is embarrassing because I think people were like: ‘These guys don’t care what you pussies think, you know? They’ll say it like it is. You know, everybody’s so sensitive.’ I’m like: No, we actually do care.”
“We don’t want… these idiots being like: Yeah, they don’t care about you, because, yeah, yeah, we do,” Taylor elaborates. “It’s important to all four of us to make it clear and have some venom about it, too. So other people maybe feel uncomfortable — like, let them feel uncomfortable for a change.”
Featured Image via Chris Boarts Larson