Album Review | Intercourse | Bum Wine

Sunday morning, face down on the floor. Crusted vomit connects your cheek to the carpet. Your skull is pounding like a broken batterhead, your ears ringing with high-pitched squeals of feedback and static. Your stomach lurches but you hold it down somehow.

You peel your carcass off the floor to find your fingers still wrapped around something, the cause of your current circumstances. Your eyelids pop open to peer at the label. But this is no beer or vodka, not Everclear or MD 20/20—no, this is Bum Wine, the new EP by Intercourse, and goddamn did it do you dirty last night.

Intercourse are known for heavy riffs and boisterous beats, and there is certainly no shortage of either on Bum Wine. But this time, they’re here to FUCK. YOUR. SHIT. UP. The bass brawls with the guitar in a heap of gain and feedback, crushing the ears under deafening, punchy palm mutes and dissonant screeches. Blast beats burst like machine gun fire between syncopated hits, the drums driving the band through a minefield of time signature changes and dynamic shifts. And crowdsurfing on this bulldozer of noise are vocals so belligerent and bombastic, the bouncers are already dragging them towards the door to toss them on the sidewalk.

The music on Bum Wine sounds like a wino on a bender, but the true darkness lies in the writing. The lyrics progress like a long night at the bar: the casually-drunk joviality of the line “There’s sober people in Africa…Drink it man” in the title track quickly devolves into some terrible self-awareness in “With an Asshole like an Ashtray:” “If it wasn’t for alcohol I wouldn’t have any luck at all.” Before record’s end, the speaker is facing full-blown annihilation with a nihilistic grimace: “Until then you’ll find me where the bitter bums go to bullshit themselves to death.” Bum Wine paints a picture of a descent into self-destruction through substance and cynicism, a swan dive into the void because there’s no comfort to be found anywhere else.

Outsider hardcore has always been an apt description for Intercourse, but never before has hardcore been pushed so far out of bounds. The guitars are hot and hectic, screaming with feedback and shrieking open notes between chord changes that are near impossible to track. The vocals can be called “music” by virtue of being part of a song, but there’s nothing musical about them—no discernible rhythm, no chorus or verse structure, no repeated phrases or hooks.

If it sounds frightening, that’s because it damn well is. But that’s the beauty of their design Gordy.

What do you know about the gutter?

Intercourse blatantly ignores anything familiar or comforting on Bum Wine, leaning wholly into chaos and abrasive textures, and that’s what makes this record stand so tall. From the opening salvo of literal pouring puke to the oppressively violent chugs in “Sundowning,” not a single second of this EP is boring or contrived. Their forays into the farthest reaches of sound, mixing grind and hardcore and thrash and harsh noise into a cocktail of nightmares, somehow make for one of the most cohesive and original records I’ve ever had the pleasure to consume, even if it puts me under the table by the end of the night. 

Bum Wine is a record with zero chill; it tumbles into your comfort zone, literally vomits on you, and proceeds to tear your entire life apart until it collapses in well-deserved death throes. Intercourse aren’t just pushing boundaries on their new EP; they’re gutting the very idea of music in the backyard and roasting its corpse over a burning metal drum. This record fucks me up so hard, but I honestly can’t stop sipping on it, and no matter what hangover follows, I know without doubt I’m gonna be smashed on Bum Wine for years to come. 

My Top Track: “Sundowning”

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Bum Wine is out via Constant Disappointment Records and Eye Tape Records; stream the EP on Spotify or Bandcamp, and keep an eye out for physical copies. For all things Intercourse, including news and upcoming shows, follow them on Facebook and Instagram @intercoursenoise.

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