Cuffs – To Hell and Back
Release Date: February 10, 202
Format: Album | Vinyl/Digital
Duration: 42:03 | 12 tracks
Genre: Modern Punk / Crossover / Hardcore / Noise
Origin: Bristol, England
When Paths Meet
It was in the year 2019 when four young people from the United Kingdom decided to unite and form a band. Therefore, the individual stories of Lewis Harwood (drums), Matthew Cook (guitar), Will ‚Ballbag‘ Grant (bass) and Brodie Morgans (vocals) formed a common line which goes under the name Cuffs. Coming from Gloucester, Devon and Wales, the quartet was formed in Southwest England’s Bristol.
Cuffs soon began to gain a reputation for their chaotic and savage live performances, and they quickly had numerous releases on bandcamp. Besides the „Factory Sessions“ Live EP and the 7“ Single „You Make Me Sick„, four more digital singles were released before Cuffs‚ debut album „To Hell and Back“ got published. The last ex ante single ‚Cash Cow‘ was featured on Mango Monday Mixtape #052 by the way.
Powered by Angst and Social Frustration
The music by Cuffs is an expressionist medium that takes on the contemporary situation in two ways. Firstly, Lewis, Matthew, Will and Brodie reproduce whatever negative they experience. Like a band of sponges they absorb the mental health issues, antipathy, isolation, or darkness that is all around us. And whenever the sponge tissue is saturated, it gets squeezed out. The energy of all the negativity that bursts out during this process is then used as raw material for new Cuffs songs.
And here, the second take on life on Earth these days comes into power. The sheer force that emerges from Cuffs‚ music is truly destructive and violent. But it is exactly the kind of deconstructionist energy that is needed to tear apart encrusted structures of patriarchy. A better future can only be built on the ruins of this dystopia.
Step Aside for the New Generation of Punk
With contents such as polarisation of society, mental health, global crises, or the omnipresent darkness that stretches from people’s minds across the world and back, one may come to the conclusion that „To Hell and Back“ is a Punk, Hardcore or Post Punk album – and that is pretty much the case. But this is not the kind of Punk or Post Punk sound that we have gotten used to over the last fifty years.
Cuffs are serious about deconstructing and reconstrucing – dead serious. And since the subcultural spheres reveal similar issues with toxicity like the mainstream culture they want to oppose, an internal revolution is necessary, too. On „To Hell and Back“, you will find no trace of the eternally repetetive wheel of unpleasant Cock Punk.
The Sound of Struggle
„To Hell and Back“ begins with a sludgy and atmospheric intro. Brodie tunes the audience in to the savage and raw sonic journey that is about to begin now. What appears to be a count in to a Bane-like Hardcore banger leads into a short sonic void instead. After this feint, the title track convinces with heavy riffing on a mid-tempo beat that find their climax in a violent coda. Cuffs pick up speed quickly as the sonic hail of wrecking balls ‚King’s Horses‘ invites the listeners to a regicidal moshpit.
Breaking up the Structures of Conformity
Not a bit less angry but driven by different motifs (both musically and lyrically), ‚To the Bone‘ has the potential to become an anthem for everyone who is fed up with politics these days but still loves intelligent rhythms. As the last of the harsh breakdowns fades, a rather linear Hardcore track is up next. But between the grim verses and the catchy chorus, a psychedelic bridge makes for strong swells. In the ending especially, ‚Witch Nails‘ has a strong Grunge vibe.
Shaking off all Anger
‚Bittersweet‘ can be seen as a little intermission that pleases the hearing before the next blows kick in. And Cuffs are kicking like crazy. The song ‚Scandals and Vandals‘ is defined by an impressive structure and a sound that reminds of a mix Otep and Rage against the Machine. ‚Scandals and Vandals‘ may be the highlight of this great album, but nevertheless there is much more greatness to come. The following track ‚OCD‘ again is one of the more linear songs although there are numerous sparkling details that spice it up. If you are looking for anger relief, ‚You Make Me Sick‘ might be your go-to track as it contains a thunderstorm of a chorus that emerges between melodic but raw verses.
Unfortunately, ‚Watch Me Die‘ seems a little misplaced which is predominantly due to the harmonies that do not want to fit the overall theme of the album. But within a fraction of a second, Cuffs are back to their strength and provide another sonic wrecking ball with ‚Cash Cow‘. The final track ‚Selfish Desires‘ drops into a puddle of LoFi Indie Pop until the song quickly turns into a bursting volcano of Grunge.
To Hell and Back
This album is the outcry that we need, and it is the loud call for creating our present and future by overcoming the ghosts of the past. Cuffs present a loud, chaotic, yet organized and necessary noise that is here to strengthen us for the fight against the darkness ahead of us. Brutality and empathy, destruction and creativity are only two of many dichotomies that form the sheer power of „To Hell and Back“.
All pictures by courtesy of Cuffs. The cover artwork was created by Flowers & Bones, the cover photo was taken by Ben Hunt.
„To Hell and Back“ was recorded by Matthew Cook. The song ‚You Make Me Sick‘ was recorded by Julio Maas-Plamer (Rollercoaster Music). The album was mixed by Matthew Cook and mastered by Julio Maas-Plamer.