Rust Belt Report Card: A Look at Leaking Head's Debut Demo Tape

Rusted Belt Report Card is a column highlighting new metal, noise and punk bands you should be paying attention to. This week, Chris Quitaldi looks at the debut demo tape from the rising Rochester-based hardcore punk quintet Leaking Head.

Cover art by Pompino Prints

If you've been paying attention to the Rochester underground punk scene for more than five minutes then you're surely familiar with this gang of weirdos. Leaking Head's origins go all the way back to 2011. Some of you may remember a chaotic set at the Pussy Barrel (an old house venue for those not in the know), or a certain skate park incident. Leaking Head's current line up is made up of bass guitarist Tyler Hammer, who's also the proprietor of Faith in Failure Productions, the abominable and loveable drummer Troach and the cutest boy in Rochester punk, frontman Cougar. New auditions to the lineup include guitarist Chainsaw and OG Rochester punk luminary and guitarist Jake Razor. Leaking Head's members have played in numerous other Rochester bands including: Hallucination Realized, Bad Taste, Death Camp, American Terrorist, Panty Raid and the Temptators.

First, let's get something straight. Leaking Head are not your friends. This is mean and ugly music for mean and ugly people. Have you ever puked in Punk Alley after a night of drinking assisted by the friendly employees of Kabul Mart? This demo is for you. Leaking Head presents us with four original tracks of loud-fast hardcore punk along with two covers, including Reagan Youth’s "Jesus Was a Communist" and the Stooges "TV Eye." The solid and thunderous rhythm section forms the necessary foundation needed to support Leaking Head’s dual guitar assault.

The eponymous opener delivers breakneck riffage that are placed against a savage, brutal backdrop. The song’s final chorus: "I don’t wanna end up broken / I think I'd rather end up dead / And if you think you're gonna end up breaking me / You'll end up with a leaking head," is a declaration of violence towards oneself and anyone that gets in the way. This is a promise, not an empty threat. On "Persecution Complex," the boys flex their muscles with a ferocious mix of d-beat that's a stompy hardcore blast and reminiscent of the speed and aggression of Poison Idea and Negative Approach. The third track "Hate Stalks," opens with a dense and crushing mosh riff that descends into a frenetic and frantic romp of fierce thrash. Cougar drags a city in pain as he screams, "Hate stalks the streets of this city / We ain't havin' fun anymore / Things ain't so pretty." The lyrics here are not only critical of the often ignored hate that lurks the streets of Rochester, but of the self-important, and more often than not self-congratulatory attitudes prevalent in so-called scene "personalities." The last original track on the demo, "Big Fish Empty Pond," opens with a filthy, ominous bassline that's soon met with a pounding drum beat and a feedback-ladden pick scrape, launching into an absolute hardcore fury. Here we have Coug, once again taking aim at those whose ego could be brought down a couple of notches—"Deluded in your palace / Your psyche cracks a sneer / A throne built for pretenders / Your conquest cavalier."

Hopefully I don’t need to explain to anyone who the Stooges or Reagan Youth are. If you need a punk history lesson, then I suggest a quick internet search or trip to Needle Drop Records, should sort you out. Both of these covers are fun, interesting takes on classic punk tracks. I’m not usually a fan of covers unless it's during a live set, but these ones perfectly fit with the original tracks here.

Leaking Head’s return from Rochester punk obscurity is a refreshing breath of air in a scene that has long grown stagnant. Having grown up with these guys, I’ve had the opportunity to watch them grow as musicians, and I strongly believe that Leaking Head’s debut demo shows promise of great things to come. Don’t forget, Leaking Head will break your legs.

Stream Leaking Head's debut demo below.