Hailing from Stourbridge in the West Midlands, Unhinged are a relentless hardcore punk band bursting with energy and ideas. Consisting of bearded frontman-showman Mike Hodges, Dan Hipkiss (guitar), Ben Armstrong (bass) and Dave Kitely (drums), the band have only been together since last summer but have already made a big mark on the Black Country’s resurgent rock scene with their memorable riffs, wild gigs and small but loyal fan-base.
In their promo biography, the band provides the following definition of their name: “unsettled, disordered, or distraught.” They are at once all of these things and yet none – yes, their style is frantic, raucous and choppy, and their gigs have a decidedly disorderly feel (Hodges frequently descends upon the mayhem of the crowd), but they are an incredibly tight and well-organised four-piece with a well-honed sound. In terms of influences, bassist Ben informed me that they listen to and draw upon old favourites such as Madball, The Offspring and Rage Against the Machine in addition to newer hardcore punk bands like Turnstile. Unhinged are part of a wider, budding scene in the Black Country, with Ben singling out and recommending (math-ish) rockers The Shogun’s Decapitator as excellent local counterparts [see: www.facebook.com/theshogunsdecapitator].
The group have an impressive DIY ethos; Ben designs the shirts and posters himself and does a lot of the marketing too. There is a real division of labour as well, and, as Ben says, there is a hell of a lot of work done on everyone’s part – “we’ve really put a lot of effort into this band from the beginning, each of us dedicated to whatever it is we’ve got to do.”
Unhinged brought out their first EP, Nostalgia, in October of last year. Recorded in Stourbridge’s Temple of Boom studio and produced by Luke Bowers, Nostalgia is a short, sharp introduction to the band’s brand of visceral hardcore. The opening title track is a rush of angst and aggression, while ‘Above the Water’ is more melodious but equally as angry, with pounding drums and heavy guitars. The grungy third track, ‘Homesick’, sounds like Bleach-era Nirvana, while ‘Snakes’ chops and changes, closing the EP with Hodges exclaiming “Hunt them down/Kill them slow/Bleed them out.” They are pleasant lads, by the way!
The group have, remarkably, only played seven gigs to date. Their most recent, on the 18th of March, was for the release of their second EP – it was a typically lively affair, replete with walls of death and plenty of back and forth between Mike and the audience. The EP itself, titled Keep It Moving, sees the band both build on what they are good at and confidently expand their style. When Ben previewed Keep It Moving for me, he said that it is “a stronger EP,” and one with “a way more diverse sound.” He told me that he is especially pleased with new song ‘Reaper’, which “brings together a lot of different musical elements – it’s slow and fast, the chorus is hooky and the bridge gets people jumping.”
Do keep an eye out for these promising Midland movers. And if they come to a venue near you, go go GO – you’ll have a great deal of fun.
Listen to more Unhinged at https://unhingeduk.bandcamp.com/