It’s Monday and Mondays suck, so let’s grind it out with Model Prisoner’s Piss Universe.
I don’t do enough hardcore on this column. One could also argue I just don’t do this column enough. Point taken; criticism accepted. So, let’s turn our attention to some good ol’ hardcore/punk. ‘Cause if it weren’t for hardcore, we would not have a lot of these great subgenres of metal.
Philadelphia, PA’s Model Prisoner have not been around long as far as I can tell. Nevertheless, they are here now and bringing the fight. The two-piece mix in some elements of hip-hop and a sharp metallic hardcore sound. It might give one the impression of the hip-hop breaks in Magrudergrind works but minus the grindcore. Members Jay Lanky and Keats have been in other acts such as Nowhere Roads, Swarm of Arrows, and Label the Traitor.
Their debut video “Piss Universe” is aptly cynical, critical, and seething. A track about the depths of vanity, lies and corruption. A hole that seemingly has no end and is unfortunately embraced and revered by many. The video is society collapsing before our eyes and the cruelty of nature. Protests, animal attacks, accidents, police brutality—it is disaster after disaster. And it is lyrically relevant to everyday life. It should also be noted that the video version removes the hip-hop that opens and closes the track.
A quote from Jay Lanky:
"The basic idea behind the song is about our society being a hot mess like a fucked up beauty pageant where fake images and lies prevail, corruption rules, and it’s all just a game about money."
A quote from Keats:
"Jay had the intro beat and the break ideas initially – both just exploded! I made the riff to go over them, then we dropped in the D-beat part next, and the rest just came together. It's a slapping blast hammer both musically and lyrically."
Following this, are three more tracks: “Broken Promiseland”, “Elite Deleted”, and “Life on the Bottom.” Though Piss Universe might seem like an incredibly serious record, there are comedic elements to it. According to Keats, "There is also an element of tongue in cheek to some parts at times as well. It's not all seriousness; some of it is deep, and some are literally jokes."
“Broken Promiseland” kicks forward, slowing things down for a bit and keeping it heavy. Though the track does pick up steam and thrust forward. The momentum is kept, the hardcore/punk vibe remains but Model Prisoner has no qualms about throwing some metal into the mix. The track breaks down and gets moshier and moshier the further it goes, ending on a heavy note.
“Elite Deleted” opens like its flirting with 2000s metalcore before moving into straight metallic hardcore. Holding it here for a bit the band eventually switches things back to an 80s vibe and then comes right back around to that metallic sound. It comes close to sounding like beatdown at times and this is the kind of track that would have fists swinging in a pit.
Ending on “Life On The Bottom” takes a more somber, though still biting jab at the listener’s ears. Opening with dialogue from “A Soldier’s Story” by WC & The Maad Circle. This is also where some of the hip-hop influenced mentioned earlier shines. Despite being a more downtrodden track, it incorporates and ends on a hip-hop beat.
Model Prisoner has a good thing going with this four-track EP. It is short but it whets the appetite for more. I will not be surprised if the band embraces hip-hop a little more on future releases, but if they do not, they still have an aptly angry sound that they can expand on. According to Lanky, "[T]his debut EP is just the tip of the iceberg, and we’re mad hype on what’s in store for the future!!"
One more from Keats:
"The Piss Universe EP is basically the gateway of that vision – the first step where we hit the ground running. Musically we wanted it to hit hard and also have grooves and dynamics. It's bombastic with melodies, and sometimes erratic with time changes, but not overly technical. Jay drives it home with his lyrics and mighty vocals. To me the title Piss Universe means pissed at the universe, pissed on by the universe, pissing on the universe, piss the universe off haha."
A quote from producer Wyatt Oberholzer:
"Working with Model Prisoner was a really inspiring process for me. They pull from a deep knowledge and appreciation of different styles, and eras of hardcore and metal to create an explosive sound that is uniquely their own. Every nuanced guitar riff, every lyric and vocal hook, every drum fill; all incredibly deliberate and impactful. The more the record took shape, I understood that these guys had a really clear vision for what they were making, and it was really exciting to watch it unfold in front of me.”
Those that come here for grindcore will find plenty to enjoy. There are plenty of blasts and faster sections that verge on grindcore. And if you already like hardcore, add one more band to your rotation. Get grinding on this!