Sound — 8
Frank Turner had first come into the music scene with the hardcore band, Million Dead, back in 2001, which ended up becoming the pride and joy for UK hardcore fans (most likely because hardcore bands were sparse on the right side of the Atlantic Ocean). Though he wasn't the initial spark of the band's formation (guitarist Cameron Dean and bassist Julia Ruzicka would take that credit), being the face and voice of the band made Turner the center of attention, for better or for worse. Million Dead would end up having a short-lived career due to everyone hating one another (the most ubiquitous reason for band breakups in the history of music), where they would release two albums before breaking up for good in 2005. Since then, Turner has stuck in the music scene, but took a very different direction as a solo artist, opting to make acoustic folk punk music - and while his solo work would be much more fruitful than Million Dead, the majority of hardcore enthusiasts that knew Turner back in his hardcore days were unenthused by Turner's new musical direction and longing for some new hardcore music from Turner. Those hardcore fans that have been holding their breath, however, had gotten an exciting breath of hope when Turner announced that he was starting a new hardcore band, Möngöl Hörde, in 2012, with the original drummer of Million Dead, Ben Dawson, and guitarist Matt Nasir, who had played in Turner's backing band. Even though the original announcement accumulated dust while Turner went on to release his latest solo album, "Tape Deck Heart," the band would make a surprise resurfacing earlier this May, debuting some new music and releasing their debut self-titled album shortly after.
For those that were waiting eagerly for Turner's return to his hardcore roots, "Möngöl Hörde" will not only trigger a nostalgia of Million Dead's high-octane debut album, "A Song to Ruin," but Möngöl Hörde's debut easily surpasses the intensity that Million Dead ever channeled. Right out of the gate, "Make Way" kicks things off with a metalcore song, jam-packed with massive guitar riffs and double-bass pedaling - though it does try to throw listeners off by opening with a jazzy intro. From then on, the album brings a constant vigor throughout the album - with plenty of muted-and-melodic guitar riffs that never fall into shallow djent-style riffs that plague plenty of hardcore compositions today, drums that know when to crank up the energy to 10 and when to ease back, and Turner delivering superlative fury into the microphone.
Songs like "Casual Threats From Weekend Hardmen," "WinkyFace: The Mark of a Moron," "Your Problem" and "Hey Judas" provide some great, whole-hog hardcore ferocity to the album: with "WinkyFace: The Mark of a Moron" bringing a 1-minute onslaught of balls-to-the-wall sound, "Your Problem" being completely untamed with rapid-shifting measurements and touting some great blastbeat drumming and frenzied tremolo picking guitar lines, "Casual Threats From Weekend Hardmen" supplying the most proper mosh-pit anthem of the summer, and "Hey Judas" offering one of the most juiciest, distorted guitar riffs on the album. Aside from the short piano interlude of "The Yurt Locker," songs like "Staff to Refund Center," "Weak Handshake," "How the Communists Ruined Christmas" and "Blistering Blue Barnacles" provide some shifts into lower gears, where they ebb and flow between verses of easy drumming and softer - usually muted - guitar riffs and heavy, meaty riffs at the choruses. This also provides Turner the opportunity to show his vocal skills: not only has he become a better singer and more zealous screamer, but his ability to alternate between the two in the same song is impressive.
Lyrics — 9
The way Turner approaches the lyrics in his return to the hardcore scene is not only entertaining, but it breathes some well-needed uniqueness into the sea of hardcore lyrics. For half of the album, Turner's lyrics paint stories with irreverence and brutality, such as in "Tapeworm Uprising," which details Hollywood being overcome by a celebrity's tapeworm; "Stillborn Unicorn," which talks about a unicorn that miraculously came to life after dying before birth, and swearing revenge on everything; "How the Communists Ruined Christmas," which is a take on your typical Christmas storyline and politicized to ridiculous proportions; and "Hey Judas," which is a nod to The Beatles' song "Hey Jude," talking about Paul McCartney and John Lennon traveling through time. On the other side of things, Turner's lyrics manifest anger akin to something you'd find in more conventional displays of hardcore lyrics, but the difference is that Turner aims his dry, sarcastic wit and laser-precise detail at the youth of today and the hardcore scene itself. With his mockery of the tough-talking, chest-beating barflies in "Casual Threats From Weekend Hardmen" or his mockery of those that aren't tough-as-nails hardcore fans in "Weak Handshake," or his scathing criticism on teens in "Your Problem" and the frivolous topic of emoticons in "WinkyFace: The Mark of a Moron," Turner makes the inherent aggression found in hardcore lyrics hilarious and refreshing.
Overall Impression — 9
Whether or not Turner was paying attention to how hardcore music has been progressing (or regressing, however you'd like to describe it), his decision to return to it and his new offering to it is easily worth appreciating. With Möngöl Hörde and their debut album, Turner makes the right decision to make hardcore music again and not try recreating Million Dead - had that been the goal of Möngöl Hörde, there's a good chance the result of their debut album would have come out somewhat lackluster. But not only is "Möngöl Hörde" a display of Turner's new hardcore endeavor, it's a display of hardcore music that matches the intensity of its peers without adhering to the oversaturated style found in much of the hardcore music today. While this could indeed be a one-and-done outlet for Turner's craving for composing hardcore music, "Möngöl Hörde" stands high above the rest of the hardcore releases of today (and in the past few years, frankly) and warrants utmost praise.