FEATURING Paul J. Herzog (ex-Total Fucking Distortion) on bass and vocals, drummer Josh Cohen of hardcore band Cop Problem, and Jeffrey V. Daniels on guitar, Philadelphia’s Die Choking brought plenty of experience to the table when they formed.
That heavy pedigree allowed the band to create a sound that touches on metal, grindcore, powerviolence, and thrash, with crust tendencies and punk nods. Now considered one of the best shows you’ll catch on the circuit, the band hits Savannah for the first time this Sunday.
The members of Die Choking united with the common goal of cranking out exhilaratingly fast material that obliterates everything in its path. In their few years as a band, they’ve kept it concise, releasing two EPs, simply dubbed I and II, in January and September 2014 respectively, on The Compound Records.
In 2015, the band pushed past the short-form with the creation of a full LP, III, recorded with Will Yip (Lauryn Hill, Circa Survive, Title Fight) at Studio 4.
If it seemed impossible for Die Choking to increase their tempos, the band proved the impossible, throwing listeners in headfirst with opener “Millirem.” Annihilating drums sound off as if tracked in the center of a battlefield while Herzog plunges in with barbed wails and bellows. As the heart rate kicks in and the band readies for the final sprint, those higher, piercing, acerbic cries delve into wicked, doomy growls (fitting, given the band’s name is said to be a wishful fate for animal abuser/Eagles quarterback Michael Vick).
Once the initial impact has shaken out, III’s songs crack open to reveal impressive complexities, from unusual time signatures to jarring guitar leads (“Death’s Waveform”). At the end of that track, the band pauses for breath as doomsday drums reverberate ominously.
Among the blistering riffs and explosive dynamics, Herzog has crafted an entire narrative reinterpretation of Plato’s allegory of the cave. With each of the album’s eleven tracks clocking in under a minutes and forty seconds, Herzog sets a “politicized metaphysical cycle”: origin, liberation, corruption, falter, violent degradation, decay, rebirth.
Herzog’s career as an ICU nurse mixed with a love of Regan-era punk is evident in his writing approach. Taking nihilistic comfort in the image of an infinite graveyard, III overcomes ignorance with an assuredness that we’re all to be met with the same fate—as it’s always been.
Recommended: give track eight, “Dead Figurehead,” a spin while you sort through your election cycle newsfeed. The image III paints is a warning, a reminder of the past, bathed in blood and swarmed in flies. It couldn’t be more timely. After watching the evening news, Die Choking’s grinding chaos feels like a welcome, hammering salve on the brain and ears.
The Foundery Coffee Pub plays host to the show after some DIY venue changes. The neighborhood café has hosted a weekly open mic and various bands throughout its time, but Die Choking will perhaps be the heaviest show to hit the establishment yet.
Locals Negative Graves (ex-Rebel Scum) and Basaran, a new band featuring members of Without, You Once Were, The Anxiety Junkies, and Vatican, open the show.