OBLITERATIONS Brand-new middle-aged punk.
Alice Baxley

POISON EVERYTHING, the debut album from LA hardcore band Obliterations, is not for everyone. Even folks who appreciate the band's charred thrash might recoil at the howls and growls of frontman Sam James Velde.

But Poison Everything seems to be one of 2014's "it" albums, the little slab of savagery that could. Velde doesn't pay much mind to who's talking about the band, though when Rolling Stone asked to chat a few weeks ago, that did get his attention.

"I thought [that] was pretty weird," he says. "When that kind of stuff happens, I'm just kinda like, 'Oh yeah, you wanna talk to me about my punk band I started in my 40s? Okay. Sure.'"

Publications like Rolling Stone and fans of heavy music are interested because Poison Everything is a killer combination of relentless, irrepressible punk fury and melody, devastatingly powerful and undeniably catchy. And with 13 tracks stuffed into 29 minutes, Poison Everything is frighteningly, ferociously efficient.

Obliterations started out not as a band, but a few jam sessions among friends. Velde, also of Night Horse, got together with Stephen McBean (Black Mountain, Pink Mountaintops), Austin Barber (Saviours), and a drummer (who has since been replaced by Flo Schanze), and bashed out some "'70s hard rock-ish kind of stuff," Velde says. They did it again a few weeks later, with McBean offering up punkier riffs, floating the idea of a 7-inch and a house show. A friend recorded the next jam and Velde put vocals over the tracks while the other guys were on tour.

"I emailed [the songs] to the guys and they were like, 'Oh shit. This is cool,'" he says.

Soon enough, labels were interested in Obliterations and people wanted shows. The band that was never really going to be a band was suddenly in demand, thanks to a visceral mix of beauty and brutality.

"We didn't sit down and write songs like, 'Hey, we're the punk Beatles,' but I like to try to write songs that'll stick in your head without being, like, a pop band," Velde says. "We all have a really deep love for punk and hardcore and metal, but we're just as big a fans as Big Star or Billie Holiday or Marvin Gaye or whatever. I'm sure a lot of that, it's in there."