In a certain sense, Trash Talk’s music simply is. The Sacramento, CA hardcore punk outfit’s shows are known for their excessively violent mosh pits, their pitch-black lyrics and their ability to make videos that outdo the beyond odious High 5 Collective in terms of sophisticated, retrograde-ideology (their cut of “Awake” actually make’s H5C’s interpretation of “Blind Evolution” feel humane. Cuddly, even.), as well as their ability to crank out catchy melodies underneath all of the squalor. Unlike Cerebral Ballzy—perhaps the only other hardcore outfit with the ability to cross over to the mainstream—Trash Talk aren’t cheeky or remotely interested in your approval. Where Cerebral Ballzy’s trick was to co-opt the sonic aesthetics of hardcore while abandoning its lyrical conventions in favor of, as CB frontman Honor Titus puts it, “Songs about pizza,” Trash Talk discovered popularity by going in the opposite direction, to make music that’s louder, more brutal, giving less of a fuck. There’s some wisdom to that strategy: put yourself out there as the talented extreme, and somebody’s bound to pay attention (for further reference, please consult Future, Odd).
Trash Talk songs are, essentially, about The Void. By all lyrical accounts, Trash Talk frontman Lee Spielman is not a happy person. He’s not a political singer, because that would require him to have an opinion on something when he cares about nothing. He doesn’t sing about his feelings or love, because he has no feelings, and singing about that stuff would require him to be able to sustain a relationship with another human being, which is just not going to be happen. And, judging by, “Gimme drugs/Gimme booze/Gimme dazed and confused/Or gimme death” on “Gimme Shelter,” the dude sure as hell ain’t Straight Edge, either. Overall, Spielman’s vocals are concerned with baser matters, such as survival, power and his lack thereof, and destruction. It’s dark stuff, only exacerbated by his urgent, screaming delivery. How this dude’s going to have a pair of vocal cords when he’s thirty, I have no idea, but then again, the lyrics of “Burn Alive” suggest he’s not gunning to hit thirty.
The band backing him up is almost terrifyingly proficient, adept at churning out riff after riff that, at half the speed, would be on some Izzy Stradlin shit in terms of immediate hummability. Instead, they tend to glom over into one hummable mass. If there’s a standout on this five-song, nine-minute EP, it’s “Gimme Shelter,” which manages to display a sense of familiarity with the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” while also spitting in its face. With a runtime of 2:15, “Slander” qualifies as the ballad on this one. “Your revolution already lost,” Spielman spits at me. But Lee, don’t you know about Occupy Wall Street?
Earlier this year, Trash Talk headlined a tour where OFF!, fronted by certified punk legend Keith Morris, opened for them. While this arrangement might have been partially logistical (at the time OFF! had about fifteen minutes of music to their name, whereas Trash Talk has at least an hour they can cull from), there might be a wink of truth to that ordering: Trash Talk may very well be the future of punk. If so, the future’s looking pretty bleak. Catchy, but bleak.