Flesh and Sky, a new three-song EP by Swiss hardcore band, Sxokondo, opens with a guitar chord that pulls irritably between an octave and dissonance, rises to a heavy, sleepwalking, eyes-closed riff, then abruptly breaks into a chin-up, chest-out push.
Sxokondo, pronounced “shock-hondo,” is from the Esperanto word for “shockwave.” Although Sxokondo is not an especially fast-playing band, a shockwave is a fair description of the music, given its changes in pressure, temperature, and density. But the band did not overthink these pieced-together songs.
The thrashing-while-drowning vocal roars throughout the opener, “Flesh and Sky Part I”—my favorite on this EP. Later, the song hits a groove and rides that groove for two controlled minutes before rediscovering the pushing, hardcore gallop.
The second song, "The Last Circle," starts with a mid-tempo riff elevated by the finely synced guitars. This song is rambunctious but loses focus at around two minutes when it segues into noise rock. But Sxokondo is good at disrupting rhythms and falling back into a groove, as happens here.
Sxokondo has been around since 2012. The band's previous effort, a 2014 split EP with Oregon Trail, carried Sxokondo to stages with bands like Napalm Death, Life as War, Promethee, Euclidean, and Ken Mode. Flesh and Sky features more noisy, unsettled hardcore songs that are recommended if you like Botch, Breach, and early Converge.
Song three, "Flesh and Sky Part II," introduces a clean guitar riff that sets the tension and signals the coming of a big blast of unearthed doom-riffing. Although this song feels at times stubbornly repetitive, there are enough interesting musical choices in the music to keep you listening. "Flesh and Sky Part II" is a bit autonomic.
As I listened, I thought of the idea of Esperanto, a language contrived for high-minded ideals, a system that required design. Flesh and Sky is not that; it is less coherent. Then I looked at the cover art, which depicts two men in an empty, naturally lit room. The first man sits and looks at something out of frame. The second man stands and aims a rifle at the back of the seated man's head—which is only inches away. So what is the scope for? I won’t overthink it.