Easy Weapons, Self-released  ★★★½

Public Acid opens Easy Weapons with a burst of aggression. Seven seconds of squealing feedback gives way to another twelve of a torturously slow sludge riff before the song finally launches into its hardcore blitzkrieg. And in that first half-minute, the band makes clear its intent to subvert expectations at every turn.

Hardcore is confrontational by nature, but it also can be fairly limited in its approach. This is particularly true of the sub-strain of hardcore known as “D-beat,” which frames its songs on a particularly powerful drumbeat popularized by the British band Discharge. While Public Acid shares many of the characteristics of D-beat hardcore, such as the heavily distorted guitars and that driving, insistent drumbeat, the band has found a way to mine volatile dynamics from the codified structure.

Take, for instance, “Why Not,” (which can’t help but feel like a nihilistic response to Discharge’s seminal 1981 rallying call, Why?). In the hands of Public Acid, the steady drum pattern gives the song its foundation, but the guitars unleash a hail of distortion and feedback, complemented by gruff vocals buried in reverb, that feels less like crisp riffs than a gale of debris. With the rhythm section keeping the band grounded, the guitars summon chaos, filling space with shrill squalls and churning blunt riffs into seismic events.

Similarly to the album-opening title track, “Incapacitate” begins with stinging, staccato guitar bursts that evoke an emergency broadcast alert before the song launches into its maelstrom of cyclonic riffing, blurred vocals and flashes of feedback. This mastery of dynamic is rare for a new band, but the core members of Public Acid have spent years cutting their teeth in a slew of area bands, including Holder’s Scar, Wriggle, Bad Eric, and Menthol, and seem to have arrived here with something thrilling.

Like the dearly departed Raleigh icons Double Negative, Public Acid have found a way to punch new contours into the relatively narrow mold of hardcore punk. Their deft balance of reckless guitar noise and insistent rhythm makes a sturdy foundation for one of the stronger hardcore releases to emerge from the perennially fertile North Carolina scene in some time.

And with its ten tracks wrapping up in less than fifteen minutes, Public Acid know well how to get to the point and get out of the way, leaving only a trail of aural destruction in their wake.