Album Reviews

Tension Span: The Future Died Yesterday

The Oakland punks ask all the right questions on their debut LP.

Like a striking piece of art work, as soon as a band name like Tension Span meets the eye, you just know it can’t be anything other than good.  

The Oakland three-piece are Matt Parrillo (Dystopia, Kicker), Noah Landis (Christ on Parade, Neurosis) and Geoff Evans (Asunder): together they bring us their debut long-player, The Future Died Yesterday.

The bleak maelstrom whipped up by the trio is about as morose as the album title suggests. Inspired by the negative conditions they grew up in throughout the Bay Area punk scene, Tension Span’s acerbic missives (written by Landis and delivered by Parrillo) expose the kind of truths that form the band’s DNA.

While there are plenty of acts dotted around the world parting with the same kind of messages, with Parrillo’s spit and snarl delivery emerging from dystopian soundscapes, Tension Span transcend anything you would see at, say, the annual Rebellion festival.

This isn’t a record etched in cheap slogans that many of the current crop of punk bands glean from trending Twitter hashtags. Tension Span evoke a reality born through the grit of DIY-ethos, and on The Future Died Yesterday they showcase the kind of authenticity that illuminates their subjects more than anyone in this space.  

And while the sludge punk opening interlude of Prologue doesn’t tell us the true story of The Future Died Yesterday (if anything, it’s Tension Span lulling us into a false sense of security), the following number, Cracked Society, certainly makes up for it.

Overt both in message and sound, the guardrail-scraping Cracked Society sees Tension Span deliver their memorandum unapologetically (“Perversion is distraction/ Can’t get no satisfaction“).

Tension Span - The Future Died Yesterday

The Crate Song is the kind that will undoubtedly be at the top of highlights reel. Here, Tension Span weld together Motörhead bass weight with ’80s hardcore reverence, and the results are excellent.

Meanwhile, Flamets sees the band operating more freely within their realm – a floating post-punk blur that would stand alongside Wire’s better work over the years.

We are then hit with a lethal dose of reality with Ventilator and Human Scrap Yard. Both songs extracting all the horror and wrongdoing within our society. Ventilator in particular sees Parrillo turning up the pressure cooker (“Bring in the tear gas / For the agitator / Defying murderous lies /fascist dictators”). This isn’t some airy-fairy outfit basing their framework merely on ideals. This is anarchist punk from people emerging from the rubble through hard times lived.

Crime of Passing: Crime of Passing

And while Covered in His Blood features the same sound bites as Lingua Ignota’s The Solitary Brethren of Ephrata, Tension Span find different kernels of truth through the absurdity, calling out the ills of fake news and the toxicity of social media.

Then there’s Problem People. Exploding with the sci-fi post-punk din reminiscent of Aussie agitators Total Control, Tension Span underline the issues Chat Pile also enlightened us with during Why. Social decay and the chasm between rich and poor.

And it continues on Didn’t See it Coming, evoking the kind of anarchist spirit that is the most important thread in Tension Span patchwork, embodying the whole reason they are, indeed, a band.

The Future Died Yesterday brims with all the right questions. Sadly, as is the case most of the time, there are no defiant answers. This is why bands like Tension Span are essential. As mass culture continues to turn a blind eye to the burning issues, bands like this will be dogged in their pursuit to keep questioning, using hope, not as a weapon, but as a beacon in a bid to progress and emerge from the pits of dread so many around the world needlessly continue to sink in.

The Future Died Yesterday is out Friday via Neurot Recordings. Purchase from Bandcamp.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

2 replies on “Tension Span: The Future Died Yesterday”

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