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Fucked Up - Epics in Minutes / Demo 7" Music Album Reviews

Fucked Up - Epics in Minutes / Demo 7" Music Album Reviews
Reissues of early recordings reveal a blistering, primordial version of Fucked Up, steeped in the tight-knit Toronto punk scene they called home.

There are two ways to listen to Epics in Minutes, Fucked Up’s newly reissued compilation of early recordings. You can approach it as a codex that hides the keys to the prog-punk maximalism the Toronto band would ultimately embrace on albums like 2008’s The Chemistry of Common Life and 2011’s David Comes to Life, or you can hear it as a no-frills collection of hardcore ass-beaters. That each method feels equally valid is a testament to what a killer band Fucked Up were from the moment they started playing together—even before they figured out exactly what kind of band they wanted to be.

The Epics in Minutes tracklisting draws on five recording sessions from 2002 and 2003, and this reissue bundles it with a 7" of ultra-raw material from an even earlier demo tape. The primordial version of Fucked Up that appears on these tracks is steeped in the tight-knit Toronto punk scene they called home. They shared members with hard-hitting, elemental hardcore bands like No Warning and Career Suicide, and the songs they were writing at the time fit comfortably alongside those of their peers. This Fucked Up is blistering and direct, without any superfluous flourishes adorning the pummeling drums, driving bass, tightly wound guitar, and Damian Abraham’s throat-shredding vocals. Within a few years, the counterintuitive pleasure of hearing Abraham’s jagged yawp clash with the band’s bright melodies would become a calling card for Fucked Up. Here, his singing just makes sense.

The song that best highlights the power of early Fucked Up is the ACAB anthem “Police,” still a pit-opening live staple nearly two decades after its release. It’s built around an onomatopoeic siren of a guitar riff, a subversive nod to the cops excoriated in its lyrics. Abraham recounts the litany of indignities he’s faced at the hands of the Toronto P.S.: “Sleeping on the bench, they punch me in the chest/Trying to get some sleep, they throw me in the Jeep.” It’s a righteously angry song, but it isn’t dour in execution. There’s a nervy energy to the band’s playing that makes all that piss-and-vinegar fury sound like a total blast. By the time the closing refrain hits (“I can’t stand the police in this fucking city”), everyone without a badge is screaming along.

“Police” is formally straightforward, but the way Mike Haliechuk and Josh Zucker’s guitar parts interlock and play off Sandy Miranda’s sturdy bass lines hints at the deeper, richer melodic vein the band would unearth on later releases. An even stronger hint comes in the form of “Baiting the Public,” which would appear in expanded form on the band’s first proper LP, 2006’s Hidden World. On Epics in Minutes, it’s a brawny diptych of infectiously catchy, sub-three minute hardcore songs, with perniciously sunny melodies underpinning its relentless forward momentum. In retrospect, it’s obvious that the band who put these songs on a 500-run 7" was destined for something grander.

You have to squint a lot harder to find the seeds of Fucked Up’s final form in the Demo 7". Its confrontationally lo-fi production obliterates any hidden melodic nuance, but it’s unmistakably still Fucked Up. Even more so than Epics in Minutes, it sounds like something you’d be impressed by halfway through an eight-band matinee, jotting a note in your phone to look it up afterward. That’s just as precious as the music that more readily suggests Fucked Up’s evolution. Before they were Polaris Prize winners and critical darlings, they were part of a scene, one band among many pouring their hearts into hardcore and hoping somebody would listen.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

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Fucked Up - Epics in Minutes / Demo 7" Music Album Reviews Fucked Up - Epics in Minutes / Demo 7" Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Monday, January 31, 2022 Rating: 5

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