Since forming a little over a year ago, the Salem-based melodic punk and hardcore quartet has emerged onto the scene at a breakneck pace, quickly earning a reputation around New England on the strength of a well-received initial batch of early songs, a relentless arsenal of riffs, and a ferocious live show that helped earn the crown at the 2023 Rock And Roll Rumble, the esteemed “World Series of Boston Rock,” as well as instant nominations in the punk categories of this year’s Boston and New England Music Awards.
ONE FALL releases its debut EP Spine First!, and it serves as a proper introduction to the Witch City band. Recorded, engineered, and mixed by Kyle Paradis at New Alliance Audio in Somerville, Spine First! is a blistering five-song effort, complete with a closing Bruce Springsteen cover, that blurs ONE FALL’s genre lines even further, capturing the performance speed, snarling intensity, and sweaty playfulness that has instantly put this group – composed of Phill Hunt (guitar), Darren Lourie (bass), Helen McWilliams (vocals and guitar), and Caleb Wheeler (drums and percussion) – on the musical map in their hometown and beyond.
“We’re really excited to have a handful more songs out in the world,” ONE FALL says. “The first EP that we put out was three songs that we recorded in the basement – and we were psyched with how it came out – but we never expected the whirlwind of a year we would have after releasing just those three songs. So it’s awesome that we’ll have some more tracks out there; hopefully folks will find some tracks on this EP that resonate with them and we’ll get to see some more people singing along with our songs at shows – that’s the best feeling in the world.”
Spine First!, fitting for a band that seemingly arrived out of nowhere, wastes no time getting to the beating heart of ONE FALL’s musical vision. Opening track “Rage/Quit” explodes with maximum riffage right off the jump before unfolding its enraptured melody, providing a bit of heartfelt catharsis for the band as it blitzes across three unforgiving minutes. “Surrounder” veers into more metal territory before its street punk attitude pulls it back to ONE FALL’s sonic core, while the dynamic “Raleigh” harkens a sweet dose of ‘80s-inflicted arena rock ambition stirred with skate punk energy. The pummeling “Back to the Wall” showcases ONE FALL’s more aggressive and confrontational side, and an inspired cover of The Boss’ “Born To Run,” a nod to McWilliams’ New Jersey roots, closes the record out with a breathless bang.
And under all the hooks, riffage, and high-voltage energy, McWilliams comes correct with lyrics that match the intensity, surveying the shit show of a society around her and knowing when to keep friends within a tight circle.
Spine First! is a declaration, a very loud and spirited one, that has quickly swelled to become a source of pride. The accolades may come and go, the victories in band competitions may or may not happen again, and the response to the EP is impossible to predict. But Spine First! showcases a new band making the record they want to make, for their friends, family, and themselves, and on their own terms. And they simply cannot wait to show the fucker off.