Pledge - Haunted Visions

10 Jul 2021 - Thorsten

Hardcore | Raging Planet Records | Release date: 28 May 2021

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War On Women would be proud of this new Portuguese Hardcore outfit – because they play good, modern punk with a touch for little details and breaks – and also because of the awesome vocals by front-woman Sofia Magalhães

In order to describe Sofia’s vocals I would like to throw to names into the ring: Caro Tanghe (Oathbreaker) and Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill) because her vocals can be very dark, screamy and nearly black-metallic but on the other side she also delivers very good clean vocals. And with the help of some good production and mixing her vocals are some kind of focal point without being the center of attention. It is never the only interesting thing and center-stage because the production by Chris Paccou is balancing vocals and music nicely.

And the music is really good, too. Do not expect a New-School (like Snapcase) or The Wave (Touché Amoré) kind of Hardcore, their sound is more going into a direction like At The Drive-In without the experimental moments. It seems somewhat Indie-rock influenced in the sense of a cut-up-style, they are able to intersect their songs with nice little stops and breaks so that we never get a one-dimensional high-speed-trip down the old-school-hardcore lane, but more of a round-trip with stops at many interesting buildings. It becomes very clear throughout the album that the band has played a lot before the pandemic hit because they are really tight, without being too perfectionist. Some parts of the album are rough and raw and that was also intended that way. One hint: Don’t be fooled by the instrumental, experimental intro which reminds some people of the electronic parts by Refused, that is more or less the only occurrence on Haunted Visions.

Of course, one cannot talk about a Hardcore band without talking about their message and that is an interesting one: it is the ever-present, and unfortunately never-solved, conflict between the single person and modern society. The way the latter cuts the human and leaves huge holes “in” it (compare these lyrics from ”Sudden Urge”: There´s a hole in me / A hole the size of the world / That I can´t fill / Always bleeds when I talk / Never heals / But you can´t see it / There´s a hole in me”) or the inability to explain to other people what is going on inside of oneself (as in ”Wrong Planet Syndrome”: “I wish I could explain / But I´m too deep within / Searching the streets / With empty eyes I feel so numb / Lost all the time / Striving to find / The reason why”). The human and post-modern society which leads to the feeling of being estranged with the world around one. So, the message is less political and more personal – that could also be seen on the cover with the woman wearing the VR-glasses. Who is she? She is not identifiable? Because of not committing to real society but hiding in virtual reality? Maybe the glasses are the reason for the Haunted Visions or her escape from them?

Questions and questions – you can find your own answers for them by listening to Pledge from Portugal and their new record Haunted Visions!