Like a bat out of hell, Antagonist A.D flew forth with great ferocity, going straight for the jugular with their new EP Through Fire, the first in an anthology of inter-connected releases the band plan on dropping throughout the near future.
Since kicking in the doors of the scene back in 2006 with their rough-and-tumble debut These Cities Our Graves, the New Zealand based hardcore troupe have been a staple of integrity within the scene, taking aim at social and political issues and firing everything they’ve got. Through Fire irradiates the same energy, and leads the charge in a volley of releases from the band that will make you listen, and think, while you throw down.
“We wanted to give the songs some more life as well”, says vocalist Sam Crocker of their ambitious scheme to prime multiple EP drops, over the stock standard 12-odd track album. “We toyed with the idea of just releasing the CD”.
“I feel like the way that everyone digests things, it’s way more fun for us as well to split it up. We got these little 7-inchers; they all interrelate. There’s quotes on each that all interrelate, and once we release the third one, we’re going to release the CD itself, and the track listing’s going to change and the quotes go and interrelate into a different way throughout the whole album, too. It just adds more depth to our world”.
The new batch of material was brought to life in Salem, Massachusetts with Kurt Ballou (Converge), and Zack Weeks behind the sound desk at GodCity Studios; prior to this, the band spent an extended period of time prepping physically and mentally for the touring demands to come.
“We feel a little bit unstoppable…”
Now, Antagonist A.D are ready and willing to commandeer 2020, but the plan of attack, as Sam explains, is simply to stay the course: “There’s no rush. That’s the immediate plan”
“We feel a little bit unstoppable. We just want to keep enjoying the light while we have it. There’s honestly nothing like it. I feel so appreciative being aware of that while I’m on stage these days. I always was, but it’s a different understanding now, and it’s something else”.
The longevity of Antagonist A.D can’t be overlooked. Many of their peers who soundtracked the alternative scene in the mid to late 2000’s, think Her Nightmare or Carpathian, have since added their bones to the pile. Sure, any band can “hang-on” but Antag are thriving, something Sam feels comes down to their confident and consistent messaging. “Having a message has really helped our longevity. It’s not even a gimmick or anything, it’s just who we are”.
“It’s what we want to do. On our side of things, if we ever stopped wanting to sing about anything…If I was ever struggling to write or to have a reason to get up on stage, we wouldn’t be a band anymore”.
“A lot of us are attracted to the hardcore scene because we’re outcasts, and a little bit lost in the world; we’re angry”
“The other day I was having a discussion when we played at Stay Gold with someone who was taking offence to our T-shirt which says ‘Make Racists Afraid Again’. And I was really enjoying the conversation with him, trying to debate as to why that shirt is a good shirt. “
For the uninitiated, the idea that the guttural, crushing wall of noise that is hardcore being an effective means to have large-scale discussions about issues like racism, gender equality and animal rights might be puzzling. But Antagonist A.D understand this unlikely union with piercing, and personal, clarity. “Hardcore is people’s catharsis. It’s a kind of therapy. It’s their way to escape from the world”.
“I’ve been into bands like Earth Crisis and Propagandhi that came out and they were like, ‘this is how we see the world. You can go and look up this information here. Here’s literally a list of things you can check out’. A lot of us are attracted to the hardcore scene because we’re outcasts, and a little bit lost in the world, we’re angry, and it’s okay to talk about these issues on stage”.
“The music empowers you. You listen to it, you get tingles sometimes, and it takes you to a different place. It lets you smash on any of the problems that are going on. It’s that passionate music coupled with outcast society, coupled with the fact that it’s not frowned upon to be proud of your beliefs”.
“I hope it helps you get you through some shit, and I hope it helps you be validated in the way you’re seeing the world“.
We’re well aware that Through Fire embodies this ethos, and it’s a safe assumption that the follow-up EPs will too. Indeed, Antagonist A.D aren’t hiding the fact that they’re addressing heavy topics with their heavy sound. So, what messages does Sam want fans to take away from their new material? “I just want people to identify with it”, he explains.
“I hope it helps you get you through some shit, and I hope it helps you be validated in the way you’re seeing the world. When I was a younger, I was listening to bands like Archangel, and they were singing about veganism, and I was so inspired to stay vegan and to reaffirmed my beliefs. I hope we can kind of pass on that same flame”.
“And if not…if people don’t share this voice as well, I just hope that musically and maybe something from the passion; something from the sincerity that we put through, can be caught by some that listen to it and just inspired in any other way to just make them have a good time…
…Get them through some hard times and just keep them on whatever path they’re meant to be on”.
Through Fire is available Friday, 17th January via Greyscale Records.