Life Below’s Grim Reality is Quite Perfect

Long after the “glory days” of Durban Hardcore, Life Below have put out one of the best hardcore releases to come out of Durban. Russell Grant breaks down Grim Reality for ya.



Life Below, Durban’s last remaining Hardcore band, have released an EP an entire 10 years too late. Upping the ante on another iconic Durban Hardcore band, Go! Go! Bronco, who managed to not release anything worth listening to until their very last show some 5 years after they formed, Life Below have Stayed True to this timeless Durban tradition, even opting to start playing shows years after anyone in Durban would conceivably give a fuck.


But here we are, in 2017, listening to 1 minute long songs about hate and pain and loss and more hate, from an EP whose cover might be mistaken for the poster for a new Alien movie, and you know what? I’m fucking happy about it.


While they may not offer anything drastically new or groundbreaking (can anything in the Hardcore world ever be new?), they do give us a well crafted, musically mature, nugget of noisey brutality that every band in 2007 would have killed to sound like. Mitch Harper, AKA That Kid Who Always Stole The Mic At Shows, finally has his own mic, and it’s heartwarming to see him mature so quickly into a formidable frontman; taking control of the stage (and the pit, and even sometimes the bartop). Brendan Meintjies’ drumming gives Life Below that face melting quality that comes standard with all great Hardcore releases these days, while James Strachan and Steve Illbury provide a pleasing balance of beat down-style riffage and vast ethereal textures.


Life Below put me in mind of Pulling Teeth (only shorter) and even sometimes Deafheaven (again, shorter), while never straying from that No Warning style of aggression.


The EP is full of memorable moments, like the 40-second mark in “Dust” which opens up like a can of maniacal worms high on bath salts, to the opening speed fest of “Idle Hands”.


Life Below have created something which, although somewhat belated, is, tbh, quite perfect.


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