For a genre so insistent in its supposed anti-establishmentarianism, both in its lyrical conventions and in its aesthetic, and with such revolutionary potential, it sure is hard to be a woman/person of colour/anyone who isn’t a default man in hardcore punk. However, this does make it all the more thrilling to discover a band like Kohti Tuhoa, a super-hardcore punk band from Helsinki whose vocalist Helena screams manically throughout their debut Rutiinin Orja (Finnish for 'slaves to routine').
From opener ‘Massakuolema’, the energy of Rutiinin Orja is utterly, wonderfully hectic. The d-beat drumming, batshit guitars, and Helena’s arhythmic yelling come together to create a glorious frenzy that feels like it should be totally inaccessible and yet somehow feels strangely catchy. The riffs have genuine melodies as well as being pleasingly nuts, with just a couple tracks favouring a sense of togetherness in their heaviness as opposed to being all over the place. These - ‘Rajoitan itseäni’ and ‘Pääomaa’ - seem to come at just the right moments to give the album as a whole a sense of togetherness, and they’re well-placed in terms of their accessibility too, just before the messy punk of the first few tracks gets overwhelming.
For the most part though, Rutiinin Orja is a hectic, chaotic, mess. Helena simply yells their arhythmic, fairly standard hardcore-borderline-metal lyrics with deliberately too many syllables over the noise. Her voice suits the musical style perfectly, silencing anyone daring to cling to any prejudices that women can’t be hardcore punk singers. Not only can they, but they absolutely should. With a lot of heavy music, the point seems to be for the sound to be as 'dark' as possible, and while sometimes that really works, a lot of the time the interest can just be a bit lost. On Rutiinin Orja, by contrast, Helena’s vocals add a sense of colour. With this sense of colour and the amount of variation between songs that feels just right, the effect of the music’s 'heaviness' is maintained throughout . Too much dark can lose its effectiveness when there’s no light to contrast it with, and Kohti Tuhoa have got that balance spot on.
The result then is a collection of heavy yet catchy, cathartic yet melodic songs, most of which come under two minutes. The album feels like a sequence of brief outbursts of rage that sort of aggressively come up to your face without hitting it, as hitting you in the face would be far too simple. Instead, Rutiinin Orja flails aggressively in your personal space, refusing to fade into the background.
8Nina Keen's Score