It’s probably a pretty safe bet that most legitimate, die-hard music fans have at least one pet peeve in common with their peers. For some, it’s most definitely the use of genre types or the multitude of throw-away labels that can be slapped on a band’s sound for an easy way out. Meanwhile, the action of branding one’s own band “black metal”, “thrash” or whatever, when that band is clearly undeserving of the name, may just be grounds for a relentless ass-kicking in some underground and/or DIY circles. I can think of numerous times I’ve been at a show and heard at least one person express a sentiment of disgust toward at least one of the opening bands. A great example of this type of situation is any given live performance by the almighty Slayer. If you’re opening for those guys, may your death be swift and painless! Anyway, that brings me to one of my biggest irritations when it comes to the music I love. I absolutely despise when a band lists a few bands as muses behind their sound, only to turn around and blatantly copy their so-called sources of inspiration…instead of building on that spark and forging their own art. Quite thankfully, I am pleased to NOT be talking about one of those bands at the moment.

On their facebook profile, the San Francisco collective known as At Our Heels list hardcore/punk outfits like American Nightmare (a.k.a. Give Up The Ghost) and The Hope Conspiracy as the inspiration behind the birth of the band. With those rousing springboards, At Our Heels fuses the insanity of punk-infused hardcore (and at times a bit of thrash) with subject matter reminiscent of the harsh darkness of black metal.

On their debut full-length recording, Misanthropy and Godlessness (Creator-Destructor Records), At Our Heels is comprised of two members: Alex Pulisci (vocals, guitar, bass) and Ben Murray (drums), while the live line-up includes three more members and a dual-guitar assault. Songs like “Through Their Teeth”, “The Old Gloomies” and “Sink With Me” overflow with sentiments of death, hopelessness and despair, as well as touching on the unforgiving inhumanity of organized religion. All of this is encased nicely in a raging, sludgy (see “Graves“), nearly half-an-hour package of well-produced, no-bones-about-it hardcore…not meant for the trend-sucking, “sikk and br00tal” mall kids.

Simultaneously catchy and darkly poignant, Misanthropy and Godlessness doesn’t waste any time in getting the point across. The songs are pretty standard in length (when it comes to hardcore, anyway) and there’s no filler to be found. In a time when originality seems hard to come by in their genre, At Our Heels have shown they most definitely have a few tricks up their blood-stained sleeves!