One of the best melodic hardcore bands out there delivers an album of ready-made anthems
If you know, you know. In ever-increasing circles, word has been travelling fast about Militarie Gun. There’s an in-built awe, something in the eyes, a look that transpires when you ask someone, “Have you heard Militarie Gun?” and they most definitely have.
The hype started in different places. For many, it was via Ian Shelton’s previous band, Regional Justice Center. For others, it was their collaboration with one-man power pop machine Dazy on the appropriately named single ‘Pressure Cooker’, which answers the question “What would a Fugazi and Eels collaboration sound like?”.
Heavy as a Sisyphean boulder and hookier than a pirate convention, ‘Pressure Cooker’ ended up on a Taco Bell ad in the US. Bad for your stomach, great for your ears. Not many hardcore bands get that kind of exposure these days.
Like so many things this decade, the project began during the pandemic. Off the road for the first time in over 10 years, Shelton wrote and recorded the first Militarie Gun releases on his own, playing every instrument himself. Once things began to reopen, he sought out bandmates and kindred spirits, crossing paths with the likes of Drug Church, MSPaint, Supercrush and Dazy.
Life Under The Gun isn’t the band’s first full-length, but it’s the first they’ve recorded as such. Holed up at the Foo Fighters’ 606 studio with hardcore super-producer Taylor Young (Drain, MSPaint, Self Defense Family), Militarie Gun are given the focus, cohesion and resources they need to bring their A-game. Which they do for 27 perfect minutes that span indie rock, post-hardcore, power pop and more.
“I don’t care what you do / Just do it faster,” Shelton bellows on opener ‘Do It Faster’. But Militarie Gun do the opposite. The first three songs zip past in a flurry of enormous hooks and some tunes still hit like a truck dropped from an airplane, but overall this is a more careful, considered version of the band. Still, even when the tempos drop a little or the band pulls back, Shelton’s roar remains full-throated, throwing out guttural grunts between lines like he’s amped up to the max and on the verge of blowing up.
These are Militarie Gun’s catchiest songs yet, even counting ‘Pressure Cooker’. Just try listening to ‘Very High’ or ‘Never F*cked Up Once’ and getting them out of your head. Nick Cogan and William Acuña’s guitar work mixes up the assault, holding back the assault to give the hooks space to breathe. Militarie Gun aren’t the first heavy band to focus more on melody, but they do it on a level with the greats.
Paired with Shelton’s probing, personal lyrics, it all becomes endlessly anthemic. The focuses of Shelton’s rage and frustration are deeply relatable, whether it’s combating depression with substance abuse on ‘Very High’ or just a desperate need for something anything to happen on ‘Do It Faster’.
Life Under The Gun is a document of struggles that are all too commonplace. What makes these songs so special isn’t just the hooks, it’s the energy, the invigorating power of volume, the unstoppable force of conviction. This is a special band. Believe the hype.