Turnstile Diverts From Traditional Hardcore Punk With “Time & Space”

Album Cover for Turnstile's newest release, Time and Space.

Album Cover for Turnstile's newest release, Time and Space.

Album Cover for Turnstile's newest release, Time and Space.

By Aleksandar Stosovic, Staff Writer

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Hardcore has crushed the expectations of punk rock since the late 1970’s- but with Turnstile’s Feb. 23 sophomore release, the genre has proved its capability to explore beyond its strict, unwritten guidelines.

More than any other genre of music, hardcore’s purists run the culture. They’re well-intentioned guardians of the craft who have criticized bands out of existence for not adhering to stylistic traditions, hence the forty year difficulty to draw the boundaries for musical experimentation within the scene.

Amidst the newly budding era of hardcore punk music comes Turnstile, a multiracial five-piece band from Baltimore, Maryland. After signing to Roadrunner Records, the group expanded beyond the gates of typical hardcore and as a result, gained a considerable following in the metal community.

It was their latest project, however, that has pushed them farther than they’ve ever dared to go.

The 25-minute record is a rollercoaster of explosive riffs, amusingly melodic choruses, and elevator music interludes that push the boundaries of hardcore punk while remaining loyal to qualities most fans consider vital.

Flowing fast tempo verses are met with predictable but crisp breakdowns that the quintet has mastered on earlier EP’s such as 2013’s “Step 2 Rhythm”. Songs like “Big Smile” make their influences clear, as the fast-paced vocal delivery and chaotic percussion are obvious descendants of time-honored East coast hardcore bands like Minor Threat and Bad Brains.

“Come Back For More/H.O.Y.” is the track most loyal to Hardcore Punk on Time & Space- it anchors the band’s place within the scene. Songs like these don’t feel natural on this experimental record though, they feel like a forced reminder to fans that they haven’t skidded too far from their roots.

The single “Moon” exemplifies what they intended with this album. Incredibly melodic, catchy pop vocals are recorded over an instrumental reminiscent of early 2000’s radio rock. Echoed background singing lifts the tracks mood and adds an upbeat vibe previously unseen from this band. This is the most pop sounding track on the album and most suitable for the wider audience Turnstile is trying to reach. The psychedelic aesthetic of the music video shows that the band is trying to do develop a sound more inventive than typical mosh pit hardcore music.

“Can’t Get Away” is the most diverse track on the album as it demonstrates the band’s effort to go in a new direction. This song is the greatest example of what Turnstile attempted to do with Time & Space- it’s a distinct blend of shouted vocals, slamming guitar riffs, and exotic solos that are unique to the band. Reverb and modulation effects are met with distortion in the introduction which is something punk purists have little tolerance for. If every track balanced intensity and experimentation like this one did, the band’s creative intentions would be much clearer.

That is what Turnstile struggled with on this release. They seemed hesitant to do things too differently from what fans are used to. Halfway through the album, I felt as if they were running out of ideas by urgently trying to incorporate melodies and harmonies into their sound which was always known for its rhythmic grooves and heavy breakdowns.

Time & Space is an intriguing record because it poses countless questions regarding the future of hardcore punk- will other bands follow their lead? Will this set the precedent for the upcoming generation of punk’s most brutal sub-genre? Will Turnstile’s experimentation branch off into a distinct genre of dance hardcore? The answers are anticipated by fans worldwide.

It’s definitely not as striking as 2015’s “Nonstop Feeling”, and some fans already feel the disparity between their earlier EP’s and the sound they currently possess. Like Deftones, Turnstile may have started as a gritty, heavy band with the potential to develop into a more melodically experimental one.

Time & Space is a breath of fresh air. Flavors of disco and pop may be different from what hardcore punk fans are used to, but it’s a commendable effort to do something unfamiliar within a scene that values playing by the rules. It carries a creative weight recognizable by any conventional fan of punk music and appreciated by those who enjoy an innovative edge in what they’re listening to.

Turnstile is currently on tour and will be playing a show at Bottom Lounge, Chicago on April 11th.

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