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Quest for Fire’s Scorching Hardcore

Jun. 9, 2010
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As I have noted in this column time and time again, Milwaukee is quickly becoming a center for quality hardcore bands. Groups like Get Rad, Protestant and Party by the Slice are all pushing the genre to the limit, highlighting that hardcore can still sound fresh after all these years. Add to this the fact that the city has a number of venues—like the Borg Ward, Frank’s Power Plant and newcomer Bay View Brew Haus—unafraid of booking such groups and it’s easy to see why Milwaukee is fertile ground for the growing of such vital acts.

After hearing a number of the songs that Quest for Fire recently recorded with ber-producer Shane Hochstetler at his Howl Street Recordings, I would have to put the group at the top of the list of these excellent Milwaukee-based bands. Like many of their brethren in the city, Quest for Fire draws liberally from the history of Midwestern hardcore punk: Songs such as “Life Sucks JWGFU” and “Billion Strong Swarm” wouldn’t sound out of place on a mixtape with the likes of The Necros, The Fix, and Die Kreuzen. But there is also a Greg Ginn-inspired feel to the guitar leads on such tracks, a comparison that the band would undoubtedly welcome. After all, on their MySpace page Quest for Fire colorfully describes their sound as “Black Flag smoking salvia,” a psychoactive plant that often induces dissociative effects.

All of these influences come together masterfully on “Finding Dead Bodies on Accident.” On this track you can hear the needle moving into the red as all players push themselves to the limit. The feedback squeals present here are not added for effect or decoration—they are what you get when the guitar is pushed to its breaking point (a similar feel is present in the start-and-stop pummeling of “Star Child”). Thankfully, such songs never fully come undone, as the band knows when to pull back and move into a breath-catching breakdown.

Despite the pure power of Quest for Fire’s effective thrash, I am most intrigued by the band’s “Hive Queen” and “cthulhu,” two songs that clock in at over three minutes. In hardcore punk time three minutes can seem like an eternity, yet here it doesn’t seem long enough; in fact, I wanted to hear more. On “Hive Queen,” a mid-tempo rocker, the band sounds as if it is drawing from such Man’s Ruin acts as Fu Manchu and Nebula. A wah-wah pedal is employed to great effect as the band settles into a searing groove. A similar aesthetic is present on “cthulhu.” Yet on this track the band marries this more rock-and-roll vibe with their love of fast-and-loud punk. Such a marriage comes across as a strange yet compelling blend, one that I hope the band continues to explore.

Quest for Fire plays a release show for their self-titled LP on Wednesday, June 23, at the Borg Ward Collective with Genesis Climber, Jeff the Brotherhood and Dear Astronaut.


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