There’s a darkness to the millennial point of view that, to the uninitiated, comes across as offputting and unsettling. Heart Attack Man is no stranger to this — their 2017 debut, The Manson Family, shone through the depths of the morbidity and disdain are so heavily associated with this generation. The tracks often reeked of the detachment and lethargy that comes from the constant reinforcement of our failures. It doesn’t take much for this disdain to blossom into a full-blown fit of rage, but people are so quick to demonize and dismiss these expressions. Even still, with the release of their powerful sophomore album, Fake Blood, Heart Attack Man has issued a blanket refusal to dance around the subject — even if that means they have to step into the role of anti-hero.
Take a second to think about what the word anti-hero brings to mind for you. I can tell you that, personally, this phrase elicits imagery of blood and destruction — a willingness to do whatever is needed to ensure the end goal is met (see: Dexter or The Punisher). It’s the idea that the ends justify the means, which is an ideology that makes perfect sense in the context of Fake Blood. With this record, the Cleveland-based quartet thrives on the unbridled energy of chaos and catharsis in a way that shows true mastery of the millennial gaze. There’s a jarring red-wave of cynicism and malice that floods the senses from the first few seconds of the album’s title track and opener that lingers well into the closing notes of the subdued, but no less angry, “The Choking Game.”
To say the album is a lyrical bloodbath would be an understatement. Often, it feels like we’ve found a way into vocalist Eric Egan’s own personal hellscape. It’s like we’ve found a window that provides a peek into the darkest recesses of his brain — the places where every nightmarish and maniacal thought relentlessly bounce around. Chalk it up to a sense of morbid curiosity, but even at the album’s most graphic moments (“Out For Blood” and “Cut My Losses”), I find myself wanting more. It’s these tracks in particular that will test the waters for fans new and old, but it’s not all bloodbaths and hellfire. There’s a pure moment of punk bliss that comes from the one-two punch of “Asking For It” and “Sugar Coated” that almost always makes me feel goddamn invincible.
The former is this unforgiving pop song that is essentially the mission statement for all of Fake Blood. The chorus promises that Egan is no longer the meek, passive person that he was in his youth. He’s ready to reclaim his place in the world, and that’s made abundantly clear with the track’s impossibly catchy hook, “I’m not that dude you knew back in high school/Broad daylight, dead of night/I will fight you.” The latter is just full, powerful catharsis from start to finish. It’s hard not to just feel unstoppable when you’ve got blistering guitars, pounding drums, and vocals that make you want to growl along as Eric sings: “Some friends turn to strangers/some turn to targets/You want it sugar coated but this feels more cathartic/What do you want me to say?/I cannot help it that I feel so heartless.”
Fake Blood is a violent, albeit triumphant, tour of catharsis that proves Heart Attack Man is the unsung hero of millennial rock music. No, this record is not for everyone. It’s a dark and twisted journey that will leave some feeling uncomfortable and upset, but that’s the way of the antihero.
Fake Blood is out now on You Did This Records/Triple Crown Records.