“Negative Reaction,” the second track from the self-titled, self-released debut of local hardcore-metal punishers the Ox King
, works on a couple levels. One, the opening salvo—descending in fury like a boulder tumbling down a cliff—sounds like the second coming of the riffdom laid down by early-aughts stalwarts such as Botch and Coalesce. Two, the band defies hardcore’s ham-fisted stereotypes in a couple ways: David Klingenberg’s vocals combine the usual spitting-and-screaming style with slurring 80s punk attitude, and in the breakdowns the sludgy grooves are offset by crescendos of postrock-like guitar that hover in the background. It’s progressive without getting soft and pissing away the best thrash-heavy circle-pit opportunities. The band stands by that ambitious approach for the rest of the album too (most of the songs run nearly five minutes), and I can’t imagine anybody seeing that as a bad thing. —Kevin Warwick Jar’d Loose, Proselyte, and Moral Void open.