Hazing Over Break Down Their New Grindcore EP “Pestilence” Track by Track

The band formerly known as Shin Guard explain their shift in sound on the project’s four songs.

It seems to be a not uncommon situation with rappers that they start their careers in their teens, and by their late twenties they’ve fully regretted the name they chose—which at that point, unless you’re Diddy, it’s too late to shed—or the immature sound of their early recordings. For Pittsburgh screamo ensemble Shin Guard, the situation was a little different: “It’s like the halfway point between a new band and not a new band,” songwriter Owen Traynor told Brooklyn Vegan when they’d announced their new name, Hazing Over, after a pretty major lineup change.

Though it was more than just the lineup that changed. Their debut four-song EP under the moniker swaps the shrieking post-hardcore of their prior releases for growling powerviolence and experimental metalcore, opening up tons of new directions for the group to explore on future releases. “I think it’s really funny that some people think we’ve permanently cemented ourselves as a metalcore band—why the fuck would we do that?” shares vocalist Jake Yencik. “We started this band at age fifteen and we’re all in our twenties now. We’re obviously going to continue to evolve.”

With the EP out today, Traynor and Yencik walked us through all four of Pestilence’s tracks to give us a better idea of the band’s headspace when the EP came together. Brace yourself for a listen below, and read on for what the pair had to say.

1. “Pestilence”

Jake: I didn’t write lyrics on this release, and this is one song that I never tried hard to analyze the lyrics—but the line “My world is a pestilence, shallow benevolence poisons the air” always stood out to me. To me, this song is about recognizing bullshit when it’s presented and wishing people would speak their minds, no hiding behind a veil of fake positivity. If you’re going to do something positive and kind, do it out of genuine care for other people, not to try and prove that you’re a good person.

Owen: The lyrics are about accepting the anger and frustration you may feel about yourself or your surroundings, for denying yourself an emotional release can obstruct your happiness.

2. “Sty”

Jake: This is about the horrors of police brutality in the U.S. and the frustration of seeing officers constantly get away with all of the terrible things they do.

3. “Jock”

Jake: I think this one was important for us to release as the lead single considering the change in sound, it knocks elitist attitudes and advocates for following your own creative ideas. I think it’s important to remember peoples’ judgement of art should be irrelevant to the artist creating it.

Owen: We wanted to make a song that was sonically polarizing and bring out some death and grind influence. We made so many revisions to the song, but we opted for something straightforward and fun. The only thing that remained the same from the start was the goofy synth intro.

4. “Ungodly”

Jake: I think this song will please all the “Hazing Over sucks, I miss Shin Guard” people, or anyone that thinks we’ve completely stopped writing melodic shit—because we absolutely haven’t. I wrote the original instrumental for this almost two years ago now, so there are still obvious traces of the old Shin Guard sound, but Owen had to add some new parts to fit with the EP. The two of us have been collaborating a lot more with writing songs ever since.  

Owen: Our influences are very different, but when we work together, we can create something extremely special. When I wrote these lyrics, I felt so great to the point of extreme exaggeration.  Bringing the feeling into words and taking it to an extreme can bring you into new territory for yourself and your art.

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