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Gouge Away Gets Deeper Into Introspection on "Dallas"

Best known for their biting, grunge-filled brand of hardcore, Florida band Gouge Away has returned with “Dallas,” the third single from their first new record in over five years, Deep Sage

As someone who has always been interested in the culture of hardcore and has begun to introduce myself into the “accessible” bands of the genre over the past several years, Gouge Away has become one of my favorite recent discoveries. The band has mastered the balance of pairing commanding screams from Christina Michelle with loud, fuzzy guitars and introspective lyricism. Gouge Away dismantles the conventions of the male-dominated genre with sounds that lead more on the side of indie rock than the norm, but they still possess a compelling level of heaviness and are a clear inspiration to the more recent crop of ‘gazey hardcore-leaning upstarts. 

On “Dallas,” Christina Michelle opts to utilize her softer, clean vocals as seen intermittently in their discography thus far while still being paired with a loud and dark instrumental groove. Though the band has become known for its vocalist’s all-enveloping screams, “Dallas” does an equally solid job capturing the intensity of the lyrics of deep longing and yearning to restore relationships and feel connected to herself once again. Written at a time described as a “rock bottom” by the vocalist, the track comes from a place of desperation to escape the feeling of being disconnected from someone she hurt. The gentle vocals, initially quite drowned out by an overflow of grungy guitars, eventually start to take center stage and build into a climatic release as she recognizes “I can’t stop feeling absent.” Her feeling of mental disconnect from herself and her actions gets hammered home with the repetition of the word “absent” at the emotional climax of the track. Taking a bold swing for a band of their ilk with a six minute track, Gouge Away has delivered yet another gut-punch with “Dallas” and proves that there’s a great deal of power in vulnerability.

In a similar vein to many of the current quote-unquote popular hardcore-adjacent bands, Gouge Away has grown remarkably as songwriters in the past five years and seem to be embracing melody with their latest output. Yet, it doesn’t feel like this band is chasing trends by any means. So far, Deep Sage documents a lot of emotional turmoil that the band underwent, due to their hiatus during the pandemic, and some of those vulnerable lyrics and internal feelings seem much better suited for a longer sung format than a short, sweet track bridled with aggression. I recently interviewed the front person of another band in the scene who, when asked about their first departure from screamed hardcore, said the content of the lyrics were just too vulnerable to be yelled and deciding to utilize their singing voice added another layer to the track. It seems like Christina Michelle might carry this same philosophy in songwriting and creating a balance between her differing vocal styles makes the band even more unpredictably interesting.

The offerings from Deep Sage thus far have all landed across the band’s sonic spectrum; besides “Dallas,” the first single “Idealized” was slightly more downtempo and atmospheric until its ending climax and “Stuck in A Dream” was the band’s return to their pulsing, angsty hardcore roots. Everything presented thus far possesses a sense of urgency, both ruthless and reflective, and the diversity of the three singles make for an exciting mixed bag of expectations approaching the release of Deep Sage on March 15.


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