We’ll Go Machete are labelled as a post-hardcore band. The problem with the term post-hardcore is that by the end of the 90's it (the term itself) became greedy, and started engulfing all sorts of bands that should have been left alone, safe and sound, within the confines of some other category. Either that, or journalists just got lazy (yeah, as if that’s possible). We’ll Go Machete, however, are actual post-hardcore – the way it sounded in the mid-90s, and the way very few modern day post-hardcore bands sound.
‘Strong Drunk Hands’ is the debut album from the Texan quartet, and it consists of 10 tracks of the aforementioned kind of post-hardcore. To clarify, this is punk-infused post-rock – aggressive enough to be punk rock, but too melodic to be considered straight hardcore. The guitars wrap layers of experimental spiking and noodling around raw and erratic punk riffs. The drums are solidly mid-paced. The bass is heavy and fuzzy. If We’ll Go Machete have an air of nostalgia about them, that’s because they unashamedly do, intentionally bearing likeness to their inspirations – they sound like they long to belong in the 90s, alongside Quicksand, Fugazi, Jawbox, Jesus Lizard etc.
There’s no point in tiptoeing around the obvious reference point (as I have done thus far) – We’ll Go Machete sound like At The Drive-In. That’s chiefly because Paul Warner has the same kind of vocal delivery as Cedric Bixler – that unnerving, impassioned yelp that’s not quite singing, but not quite screaming. Their song structures and guitars don’t sporadically fly off the handle with quite the same brilliance as At The Drive-In, and some of the melodies lack impact, but with a little chisel work We’ll Go Machete may actually be able to fit those At The Drive-In shaped holes in our hearts.
Highlights include the opening couplet of ‘Miser’ and ‘DM Barringer,’ the short and sharp ‘Hayward,’ and the brooding closer ’40 Feet.’ There are, however, two nit-pickety gripes I have with ‘Strong Drunk Hands.’ The minor one is that there is little in the way of variation on the record – so it’s a good thing the album is short, because by the end a degree of regretful repetition emerges. The other is that the record is lacking a real power to it, and that, I think, is down to the production. Don’t get me wrong, it’s adequate, but the guitars don’t squeal sufficiently, and the drums sound a little thin. But we must remember that this is the band’s debut, and with that in mind, those little gripes fade to irrelevance. We’ll Go Machete have reminded me that it’s not always a bad thing to sound nostalgic.
DM Barringer by gomachete