Chicago chaos curators Nequient have officially unleashed their debut full-length album, Wolves at the Door, today via Nefarious Industries and Sassbologna Records. This experimental hardcore album melds elements of metalcore, grindcore, sludge, and practically every extreme music subgenre one can think of into a blistering and volatile amalgam. Fans of Graf Orlock, Converge and getting torn apart will not want to skip this one.
In celebration of its release, vocalist Jason Kolkey was kind enough to stop by and dissect the new record track-by-track. Check out what he had to say and stream the record after the break.
We liked the idea of starting off the album with a bunch of horrible noise and then ripping into a catchy metallic hardcore song. This track is probably where you can most clearly hear our debt to bands like Converge through the prominently placed hooks and breakdowns. “Scorcher” has gone over very well live since we started working it into our sets. Lyrically, it’s in the long tradition of hardcore songs calling out people for their self-destructive behaviors. I was trying to capture the mindset of someone committing an act that their conscious mind knows will irreparably damage relationships they value.
Here’s where we start digging into slightly more esoteric territory with the riffs and rhythms. Of course, it all whips by so fast, you might barely notice some of the more impressive things that Patrick, Chris, and Keenan are doing. The title and words are inspired by my concern about how corporate interests have increasingly commodified the exchange of ideas and information online. Recent developments in regard to net neutrality certainly suggest these problems are only going to get worse in the immediate future.
3. Cult of Ignorance
I think you can hear the breadth of Nequient’s influences on this track, all condensed into a fairly straightforward structure. Our roots in D-beat and crust are definitely there, but so are touches of death and black metal and a touch of sludge. The backing vocals come from me, our producer Pete Grossmann, and our founding guitar player Adam, who was in the studio to contribute to the next song on the album. My lyrical targets on this one are self-explanatory: I borrowed the title from a famous essay by the science fiction Isaac Asimov, using his critique of anti-intellectualism in American political discourse as a jumping off point to go after the know-nothingism that stands behind Trumpism, Brexit, and other nationalistic movements proliferating today.
4. Screaming Across the Sky
This song is the oldest one on the album, and the last Nequient song that was largely composed by Adam. His crusty riffing style definitely comes through in the earlier part of the song. However, we invited him to the studio to lay down a track on the sludgy later section, which added a lot of texture and eerie atmosphere. It was great to include this transitional moment that recalls the band’s earlier days now that we’re finally putting out a full-length album. The words focus on the cycle of violence in the Middle East, reflecting on how Western intervention has affected the course of events in Iraq and Libya. I stole the title from the first line of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, implying the long history and the fetishization of weaponry that’s gone into making the current status of the military-industrial complex possible.
5. Mammon and Moloch
There aren’t a lot of left turns on this track, but it hits hard, bringing our death metal and hardcore influences to bear. The title refers to a couple of supposed pagan deities from Biblical tradition, Mammon being representative of greed and Moloch a bloodthirsty advocate for child sacrifice. I felt that these figures could nicely stand for the state of politics in the U.S., where we see people in power routinely putting their reelection campaigns and corporate profits ahead of kids’ well-being – whether that comes in the form of blithely accepting mass shootings in schools, ignoring the water crisis in Flint, or opposing programs to expand access to quality healthcare.
6. Cat’s Cradle
“Cat’s Cradle” covers a lot of ground in just under five minutes, with a bit of thrashing, blasting, and groove along the way. The riffs are off-kilter without losing much in the way of visceral aggression. Years ago, Patrick and I were in a band that planned a Kurt Vonnegut-themed concept album, but it never came to fruition. Still, I always liked the idea of appropriating the title and some of the apocalyptic imagery from the novel Cat’s Cradle. I tried to update the criticisms and fears Vonnegut had for a world that had been irrevocably scarred by weapons of mass destruction to confront the crises we’re dealing with today.
7. On the Day of Execution
We’ve often dabbled in slower sections, but this is the first track Nequient has recorded that I think could be legitimately called a doom song. The tempo picks up for a bit early on, but we aimed to have just enough dynamics to make those heavy riffs hit extra-hard. The title is the first line from David Bowie’s Blackstar. A lot of artists I admired have died over the past couple years, most notably Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Lemmy, Prince, and Chris Cornell. This song reflects on how we think about these iconic figures after their passing and what drives someone as widely revered as Cornell to self-destruct. There are a lot of references to songs and albums I like in the lyrics, some of them subtle, others not so much.
Of course, after the doom song, we have to pick up the pace a little bit. We originally wrote this song for a benefit compilation we put together shortly after the 2016 election called Fight Liar With Fire. It was a meant to be a thrashy, cathartic way to start the record and snarl at the gaggle of kleptocrats who swept into office along with Trump. As it turned out, we liked the song enough to re-record it for the proper album, and the title of the record ended up coming from a line in the second verse. I particularly like the interplay between the guitar and bass in the bridge section.
9. Blast Beats and Cocaine
I love black metal and am easily the biggest fan of that style in this band. But it can be hard to countenance many of the personalities involved in that scene, especially when they actually do harm to other people or provide a gateway for disaffected kids to start embracing dangerous and stupid political views. On this song, you can hear our appreciation for the creative side of black metal and mockery for individuals who buy a little too heavily into their own image.
10. Coins for the Ferryman
This is my favorite song on the album. It brings back some more of those black metal elements but also strong currents of old-school death metal and even a touch of post-rock. I feel like it’s the most powerful statement of how far we feel we can stretch out while still maintaining a recognizable core style that ties the album together. The lyrics center on the death of a friend and collaborator with whom I had a bit of a falling out at one point. They explore the ways we try to force some sense of order onto some of the chaotic things that happen in the world, especially when we’re hit by a surprising loss.
11. The Devil’s Party
As a big Metallica fan, I’ve always loved the structure of Puppets and Justice, including the way the follow up a melodic piece with a barnburner of a closing track. That was why I felt “The Devil’s Party” had to go last on the album. It’s a super-fast, fun song featuring a Pantera-inspired section that I thought was both absurd and awesome when Patrick first played it for us. I took the title from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Blake’s theology is far too involved to get into here, but suffice to say that in this work, he presents Hell as a source of energy and creativity that should be embraced so that human progress is not stultified by the reason and restraint of Heaven. This song celebrates the fight against cynicism and apathy, especially when the world around us makes it feel pointless.
Purchase Wolves at the Door here.