Much as I love metallic hardcore, the recipe is hard to perfect. It’s like some supposedly workaday but ultimately finnicky dish that, approached casually and without a certain degree of finesse, results in bland disappointment.

Take the 90s work of Integrity, for example. What they plied was deceptively simple, but at the same time proved nigh-on impossible to replicate – as evidenced by the untold hundreds of would-be Clevo-ites who lay rotting and forgotten at the base of the band’s cursed altar.  

I’m not sure what the specific ‘X factor’ is, but it has something to do with physical heft, and also a sense of genuinely malign intent that informs the best releases by bands like Kickback, Arkangel and Disembodied, thus setting them apart from so many dweebs in sportswear laboriously reheating Slayer riffs. 

Existence, thankfully, nail these numinous qualities and have produced something keen and deadly with their debut LP. It’s tough as hell, catchily put together and boils over with genuinely deadly riffs. That intent is there as well: it feels like they’re wielding their music like a fucking scimitar and mercilessly swinging it throatward with all their combined might. 

‘Go To Heaven’ serves as a sort of distillation of 35 years’ worth of metal-influenced hardcore. From opener ‘Frozen Spirit’ on the Slayer influence is undeniable, but it also makes stops at New York (Killing Time; Confusion), Cleveland (Integrity; Ringworm) and Texas (Power Trip; Iron Age) in its quest to set the world on fire.  

There’s breadth, depth and canny songwriting as well as pummelling aggression, and the whole thing hangs together as a painful, gruelling experience rather than just a slung-together collection of riffs and mosh parts. It is, in short, very good indeed, and also a great companion piece to the Blow Your Brains Out LP, which was released around the same time.