Silent condemn racism and violence with gothic postpunk on Modern Hate | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Silent condemn racism and violence with gothic postpunk on Modern Hate 

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Becky DiGiglio

There are probably a dozen memes circulating right now that chart punk subgenres and the philosophical leanings they supposedly embody, and without even finding one, I’m confident saying that goth rock and postpunk would get tagged as the nihilists of the bunch. But that stereotype downplays the social and political histories of these gloomy genres. From early on they’ve been more inclusive of women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ folks than punk and hardcore, which have tended to be more heteronormative and white male dominated. However, a much smaller contingent of fans have misconstrued attempts by iconic bands such as Joy Division and Siouxsie & the Banshees to subvert fascist imagery as an endorsement of those toxic ideas (for proof that far-right rhetoric in postpunk is still a thing, consult any recent Morrissey interview or the #gothsfortrump hashtag that briefly trended on socials). Baja California gothic punks Silent are staunchly in the antiracist camp, and with their new second album, Modern Hate, the four-piece respond to the prejudice and white supremacy poisoning the world, as well as to the mass shootings that have plagued the United States. Silent originally intended to put out the record in 2018, but after a brief hiatus and a lineup change, they went back into the studio to rework some of the tracks with new drummer Rocio Chavez. They then set a new release date for 2020, and you can guess what happened to that plan. But like a slingshot pulled back as far as possible before it’s fired, Modern Hate packs a greater wallop today than it might’ve if it had come out on schedule. From the first notes of opener “End,” front man Jung Sing commands full attention with surging melodic wails set against a plodding bass line. In addition to Silent’s explorations of haunting postpunk, searing punk, and dark romanticism, throughout Modern Hate they experiment with noisy effects, cinematic ambience, and the occasional surfy flourish. “Hands on the Wall” starts with nearly a minute of sublime haze before building into a spacious groove, while “Erased” incorporates industrial sounds that feel plucked from a horror movie (or from a deep-space alien communication). Modern Hate is equally transfixing and danceable, and it feels like it’s over in a blink despite being ten tracks long. When Silent break into the ferocious finale of closer “No Heaven,” you may find yourself reaching for the “play” button to start the album again—I’ve done so practically every time I’ve listened.   v

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