Oh man, is it ever good to have Bodyfather back. The lacerating riffs. The turn-on-a-dime dynamics. The balled-up fists fury. For a time last year it was all on the verge of disappearing forever when drummer and founding member Alan Hamilton decided to quit playing music. The remaining members — guitarist/vocalist Marc Hitchcock, bassist Zac Hobbs, and guitarist Nathan Streeper – wanted to push forward, but after considerable time searching they weren’t able to find a suitable replacement. Increasingly the trio found themselves bracing for the end.

But here we are, just a few short months later. New drummer. New life. New EP on the way. Heavy Rest was recorded at Echo Mountain in Asheville, NC when Hamilton was still in the band and my first impression is that it will maintain the same go-for-broke intensity that made their self-titled debut and split with MTN ISL such mandatory listening. There’s no telling what surprises lay in store for us on the record, but judging from lead single “White Beams” there will be plenty of acerbic tension, hardcore-meets-math rock acrobatics, and Frobergian yelps to whip us all into a frenzy.

From the opening bell, it’s a feverish onslaught of body blows, bruising jabs, and swift uppercuts. When the band breaks out of the manic intro and throw themselves into the pure venom of the opening riff, it’s one of those exhilarating moments when you realize just how fucking great these guys are and why it’s so critical to have them back. Nobody in Atlanta does angular, propulsive hardcore like they do. When Hitchcock finally starts in with his menacing, distressed screaming it’s like pouring gasoline on an electrical fire; it’s no longer about containing the spark, but about watching everything go up in flames and reveling in the damage.

From there the song mutates into something more sparse and stripped-back as the band’s naked aggression dissipates into a dull smolder. It’s a rare moment of noiseless clarity for the group, but the longer it lasts the more you can sense Bodyfather setting you up for the knockout blow. When they finally strike it’s more cathartic than it is vicious and the song’s abrupt ending is more about letting up on the punishment than running out of steam. So you better catch your breath while you can because Bodyfather will be back soon to finish what they started. Listen below.

Heavy Rest is out February 16.

Bodyfather will celebrate the release of Heavy Rest on Saturday, February 27 at 529. Supporting them will be MTN ISL, Paralyzer, and DiCaprio. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $5.

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