Formed in 2008, Heerenveen-based band SWIM OR DROWN conjures pure metallic hardcore adrenaline. The Dutch quintet has brought absolute hell for 14 years with the same lineup. “We are so fucking proud of this, and we hope that we can add another 14 years,” states the vocalist Jan. They have already released a couple of EPs in all these years and played many shows with the likes of Poison Idea, Biohazard, Merauder, Sinister, and Stillbirth.

Now that we’ve placed ourselves in time and understand this band’s magnitude, we can go through their latest EP, “Torment.” A name that somehow speaks for itself inducing you into a predetermined state of mind. It’s a strategy the boys tried so their music doesn’t catch you off guard. Just kidding; it’s probably an inner state the lads wanted to express through their music and nothing more.

Soooo, let’s take the EP in smaller steps but with the highest curiosity and overflowing enthusiasm. “Torment” shows that SWIM OR DROWN is still feverish after all these years and ready to stir things up. Even Jan de Groot declares that “‘Torment’ is full of rage; the EP expels our frustrations. The title track is the most important song of the release as it talks about my battle with the demons that still haunt me today. And, of course, we have a song to show our dislike for the religion.” Sure, while the songs are short and simplistic, they are full of abrasive, high-energy elements and propulsive momentums.

‘SorD4’ is the first track off this 6-track EP and boasts a parade of power-hungry instrumentals and fierceful vocals. The song starts with a heavy yet friendly rhythm in the classic hardcore style. The crazy riffs ring throughout add a bit of rage to a wicked track, while the vocals come forcefully, emitting unmatched energy. ‘Never Be Like You’ makes you jump into the first moshpit you see. Well, you can’t help but notice a lot of frustration here, and if it doesn’t exist in you involuntarily, this song somehow manages to start it up. Great vibe if you’re in the right mood.

The third track, ‘Short Fuse,’ is an incredibly impactful and aggressive yet tastefully heavy piece. I like the way the voice works, I’d say somewhere between screamo and metal, at the intersection of bands like Funeral Diner and Saetia with Slayer. Considering my musical preferences, I would say this is my favorite song from “Torment.” It is the most tormenting. (no pun intended)

With ‘Blind Leading The Blind,’ the same notes are kept, but a bit of musicality is added taking you vaguely to the American high school punk. The title track, ‘Torment,’ is about the frontman’s battle with the recurring inner demon. A fact that can be felt almost tactilely in what is proposed sonically. It is the most personal and surprisingly metal song so far, and it almost makes you feel bad that the material reaches its end. You feel it like a cut in your skin, eyes, and chest of frustrations accumulated over the years.

In the end, although we are talking about a short record, it somehow remains, even if only as a scratch, but one that turns into a scar you carry with you all your life.

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Band photo: (c) Carin Vrind