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This Is Hardcore: No Warning – Ill Blood

Gallows guitarist Lags picks his essential hardcore and punk releases – every Thursday on TeamRock.

Hardcore punk was once belligerent. In the genre’s infancy, bands couldn’t play their instruments and vocalists barely sang a note in tune, but none of that mattered when the room was bursting with like minded beings. All of sudden the social outcasts found a creative channel for their day-to-day hardships; a moment in your life where your frustrations evaporate into nothingness.

As the years passed, technique took precedence and punk’s savage nature eventually became tamed. When the new millennium rolled around, the hardcore scene was populated by a mixture of metalheads and politically-charged activists. The aggression was still there, but now it was attached to a cause or judged by how heavy the band were. Over in Canada, No Warning were embracing the modern hardcore sound but fusing it with the rebellious attitude that originally ignited the American punk scene. In 2002, the Toronto four-piece delivered Ill Blood, an album that encapsulated the primal aggression that was once so fervent within the scene. 

Ill Blood is as violent as any New York hardcore release, but the underlying menace manifests itself through the band’s dynamic songwriting and the recording’s clean production. The chugging guitars that open Behind these Walls build into an adrenalin-fuelled assault, seamlessly switching from breakneck beats to sludgy breakdowns. Without even realising it your fists are clenched tight and you’re poised for attack. It’s ugly and negative but undeniably therapeutic. 

From the heavy riffs that begin the album to the wall of feedback that closes it, Ill Blood is an uncompromising display of fired-up punk served without a moment’s respite. Singer Ben Cook’s venomous tongue leads the charge in his own masterclass of confrontational rhetoric, “It’s how I live, never forget, never forgive”. He’s both thuggish and poetic. 

The follow up to Ill Blood saw No Warning abandon their combative hardcore style in favour of a more palatable radio-friendly sound. With high hopes of breaking into a much wider market, the band shared stages with mainstream acts like Linkin Park and Sum 41. After losing the faith of the hardcore fraternity and hitting a brick wall, No Warning called it quits in 2005. Ben Cook went on to join Canadian art punks Fucked Up, while Jordan Posner took on guitar duties for Californian group Terror. 

Ill Blood is as enthralling today as it was 13 years ago and stands out as a true modern punk classic. In 2013, the band reformed for a handful of rare appearances on the hardcore festival circuit. Live, the songs of Ill Blood still send bodies flailing around the pit like nothing else. No one is safe and that’s just the way I like it. 

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