As children, when we lost a toy, we were taught to ‘retrace our steps’. To go back over the very recent past to find what we had lost. And Natterers are retracing hardcore punk’s steps to recover what has been lost in recent years.

Toxic Care is six songs long. Only one of them over the two minute mark and even then by only a single second. Vocalist Emma is in possession of a furious deep-throated roar to put other 21st century hardcore bands, with their whiny screeching, to shame. Even the cartoon caricatures that crowd Toxic Care’s cover are reminiscent of Raymond Pettibon’s artwork for the mighty Black Flag.

Rollins-era Black Flag appear to be the guiding influence on the Natterers’ sound. From the rattling bass to the Ginn inspired lead guitar lines and on to Emma’s aforementioned roar. The Sabbath-influenced sludge-punk of My War is resurrected alongside the frenetic pacing that hardcore has become synonymous with.

It’s this return to hardcore punk’s origins and the refusal to succumb to the genre’s supposed ‘progressions’ of the subsequent decades that make Toxic Care so reassuring. In a century where post-hardcore has mutated from Slint’s original terrifying thrill into a screeching wreck, and the underwhelming splicing of hardcore and metal into metalcore blares through pre-teen headphones the world over, Natterers are the arse-kicking the genre needs.


Matter Over Mind justifies the My War comparison with its movie-monster destruction of the skyscrapers hardcore-lite has built for its owners. Numb takes a word that’s been used and abused by countless bands over the course of the 21st century and fearlessly reclaims it as not just a theme, but the song’s title. The rattling bass intro of We Are Their Cattle comes complete with menacing, slithering feedback before Emma’s raging roar makes its final performance of the record. Toxic Care is a surging reminder of what hardcore punk was.

But it’s still a regression.

The power of the new cannot be underestimated. Natterers have not only made a damn fine hardcore punk record, they have made a record that remains true to the genre’s original principles. But it’s not anything new.

While hardcore has gone through an evolution, it has also gone through a dilution. Natterers have recovered the raw passion of the real deal, but not added a new dimension to it.

But this reclaiming of hardcore’s power is certainly a step in the right direction. Natterers are armed with original material sharp and mean as razor wire, and in Emma they have a vocalist worthy of not just Rollins comparisons, but – if they discover a new twist on their well-worn brand of aggression – the hardcore howlers of the future may one day be compared to her.

Toxic Care is a clear-cut signpost towards the future of hardcore punk. But in order to soldier on, sometimes you have to retrace your steps.

by James Fleming

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