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Flatspot Records

Speed "Only One Mode" LP (Devil Dog Exclusive)

Speed "Only One Mode" LP (Devil Dog Exclusive)

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LP - Pink Marble ltd 800 (Devil Dog Exclusive)

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  9. I MEAN IT

To catch everyone up: Australian hardcore band SPEED is putting their foot down on the world. For hardcore kids from Sydney, which is where SPEED’s from and what they represent, this is a first. Everyone in the band has been going to shows for years—”real moshers,” always up front, dancing. (The full lineup: Aaron Siow and brother Jem on bass and vocals, respectively, Josh Clayton and Dennis Vichidvongsa on guitars, Kane Vardon on drums.) During a lull period in their home scene—“there were no new bands going on”—the guys stepped up and tapped in. SPEED decided to start out hard and traditional—a high-level aesthetic decision that, every five years, an all-time hardcore band does. A reset. For their first year, the group referred to itself on flyers and in interviews, as two words—SPEED HARDCORE—to make things extra simple. This is what they’re about: Hardcore, played hard, played fast, “for us, by us”—explicit, immediate, definitive—hinting at all the crucial bands that have come before them. 

Their new debut full length, ONLY ONE MODE, exemplifies their growth and distillation. It’s a concept album in one sense: a manual that explains, directly, SPEED’s beliefs, the five guys’ personalities, what they bring to the table, what’s special about their scene. Topics are sharp: “Real Life Love,” about the loyalty and realness they’ve learnt from hardcore, shows how SPEED connected through showing up; a depth of expression and emotion set against very punishing music. “The First Test” is full of dynamics—held notes, a tasteful flute break—and speaks on finding oneself as a marginalized individual—in Siow’s case, as an Asian-born Australian: striking out alone and growing in a beautiful and ugly world. “Kill Cap” displays real vulnerability—heartache, regret, spiritual themes, an homage to the friends and family lost to suicide. Lyrics on ONLY ONE MODE embrace perspectives, pore over big ideas and small detailed moments. About the tunes on the record: Harder than the single—more breakdowns, and longer ones; it’s heavy ‘90s metallic hardcore, in conversation with Hatebreed, Merauder, Biohazard. There are more groove parts; vocals are tough and emotive, there are none of the longer melodic parts that hardcore bands occasionally give in to when they rise to a popular level; all artistic decisions that are new for hardcore bands from Australia. 

About that popularity: It’s new for a hardcore band to be big, unprecedented for one from Australia. Big in two ways—for hardcore kids from Sydney, playing good shows worldwide, proudly representing their scene. And second, for any band from the scene playing hard music, crossing over hard into the larger world. It’s quick work to find SPEED doing both: headlining shows in England, New York, Japan, globally, turning in blazing sets at Sound & Fury and This Is Hardcore, among other massive heavy music festivals. Seven-figure viewed videos—their set at S&F, short films for their songs—and tunes headlining video game soundtracks. Famous folks wearing their jerseys, people new to the scene showing up to more gigs. SPEED know that because of these global crossover moments, they might be some people’s first hardcore band; the idea is that they’ll get introduced not only to SPEED, but also to the scene and the people behind it. Find SPEED, and you’ll find Sydney hardcore; find a band making hard music, find more energy back home. 

Which is what’s happening. ONLY ONE MODE, like their previous records, is being released on Last Ride and Flatspot Records, their homes from the start. The album was produced by Elliott Gallart, Siow’s oldest high school friend; Jack Rudder, a longtime partner and collaborator, has directed all of SPEED’s music videos. The cover photo was taken by James Hartley, the prolific Australian hardcore photographer from the 2000s, when SPEED first started, as young hardcore kids, going to shows. 

SPEED aren’t 180ing but are going deeper into hardcore, into Sydney; now the world has caught up. This is a hardcore band from Australia who surpassed what they thought they might do at the start, and has since doubled down, ONLY ONE MODE, as fast and as hard as possible. SPEED are doing what they do for the love of their friends, family and the culture of Australian hardcore. They’re under the global spotlight for now, bright enough that their whole scene’s right there with them.

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