I was one of the lucky few, I got to see Tragedy on their home turf. For some, this will mean nothing. There’s so many nooks and crannies in the punk scene that we can’t possibly know it all. But for others—die-hards of crust and hardcore—the chance to see Tragedy is everything.
This is a band, that when they were first introduced to me were jokingly referred to as “the punkest band.” They exist on a different level from other similar groups, they are the progenitors of their melodic, D-beat infused style—with each member branching off into dozens of equally worthy bands. But besides the music (which is the reason we are here—but please, stay with me), the cult of Tragedy is also built around the group’s admirable, nearly monastic silence, ironic as it is for hardcore. Tragedy is the Fugazi of heavy punk; they self-release their albums, they rarely engage in interviews, and they don’t promote their music. Tragedy is mysterious, therefore: Tragedy is cool.
So, a chance to see this iconic band for a second time was something special. But you can imagine the beats my heart skipped when I saw a new album on their merch table. Stark black and white, vaguely apocalyptic looking and titled Fury—I had cash on the table in seconds.
Fury is their latest EP, and as any fan would expect, it wasn’t expected and it doesn’t disappoint. It contains six tracks and lasts about seventeen minutes, and to my ears is a hunkering down on the band’s more hardcore roots, while stepping away from the doomier aspects of Darker Days Ahead. The title is an apt one. While there are some prototypical Tragedy melodies (like the brooding bass on opener “Leviathan”), this is pure, unbridled rage. When the dirge like melody recedes and the thrashing begins, the first words of the album bark like a wild animal: “Keel, keel over!” “Leviathan” is classic Tragedy—as bleak and ruthless as ever.
“Enter the Void” opens with a great riff, and has some of the best fretwork on the album. Trilling guitars create tension; melodic solos make for heaviness that goes beyond mere down-tuning. Part of Tragedy’s appeal isn’t just sonic heaviness, it’s the fundamentals of their minor key dynamics working in tandem with their lyrical nihilism. It’s in the title-track where I wondered if Fury (and specifically, “Fury”) was written in response to the last presidential election. The album’s rage is palpable, but wisely, it doesn’t age itself with specificity. Still, the words of “Fury” carry the howl of an outsider watching a wreck they can’t prevent: “A look out the window, yields only darkness. A sick world going insane.”
“A Life Entombed” is a rousing response to the same predicament. It’s a call-to-action—a violent, furious rager that feels like a beatdown. It promises an uprising, “while they’re obese and delighted”—a message of grotesque hope for the outsiders looking in. The EP ends with a simple piano outro that carries the weight of a question mark. With these six songs of pure fury, it begs the question: will we do anything with the rage we’ve accumulated?
With or without Fury, Tragedy would have a perfect catalog. But more than ever, we need voices like theirs—to process the world around us, to engage our nightmares in a fair fight. Tragedy does this and more, without marketing, promotion, or theatricality. They are a punk band, and they trade in our scene’s greatest tenet: confrontation. And just like the Ramones—they let their art speak for them. In Portland, sweaty from the pit; my hat caked in beer-mud—Tragedy finished their set to applause and laughter. It was a rare sight. A chant started from the crowd, “one more song,” over and over. And I had to smile, because when the band leaves, the band leaves. Tragedy—whether on vinyl, or in person—does what they need to do, then vanishes. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.