New Jersey hardcore upstarts, GEL, have released their highly anticipated debut full-length, Only Constant. Out today via Convulse Records, the album is a blast of ferocious hardcore that proves exactly why GEL have become one of the most exciting new bands in the genre.
Only Constant (which has already garnered attention from the likes of NPR, Pitchfork, Stereogum, The FADER, NME, Revolver Magazine, BrooklynVegan, Kerrang, SPIN, and many more) delivers on the promise that GEL showed on their early work, capturing the unhinged energy of their live shows and channeling it into 16 minutes of pummeling-yet-catchy hardcore that’s sure to please any fan of aggressive music. And the group’s seemingly non-stop touring schedule is showing no signs of slowing down, with a lengthy new run of shows supporting Drain and Drug Church just announced this week. See full itinerary beloand some of the band’s recent live videos below.
Since forming in 2019, GEL have quickly been turning heads with both their uncompromisingly vicious sound and their particularly welcoming attitude towards newer listeners entering the world of hardcore. “I just like for us to be a vehicle for chaos and community to unfold,” explains vocalist Sami Kaiser. “I love when you can see it resonating for people at the shows and it can be a reason for people to feel comfortable expressing themselves in their own way.” The members of GEL—Kaiser (they/them), guitarists Anthony Webster (he/him) and Maddi Nave (they/them), bassist Bobko (he/him), and drummer Zach Miller (he/him)—make it a point to try and create their ideal version of an accessible pathway to underground music.
The music on Only Constant pushes the aggression factor even further, but Kaiser’s lyrics are deeply self-reflective, walking a line between rage and optimism. “I’ve learned a lot about myself and how to address negative feelings,” they say. “The album is about trying to let go of those self-destructive tendencies and embrace change.” GEL fosters this mentality through their music, these are high intensity songs but they’re full of the kind of vulnerability it takes to unabashedly be yourself. The riffs might compel you to jump off a stage, but you’ll know someone is going to catch you.
4/21 – TV Eye – Ridgewood, NY (Record Release Show) %
4/22 – St. Vitus – Brooklyn, NY (Record Release Show) +
4/29 Atlantic City, NJ @ Anchor Rock Club *
4/30 Providence, RI @ The Met *
5/6 Melbourne, FL @ Punk In The Park
6/1 St Louis, MO @ Duck Room at Blueberry Hall >
6/2 Chicago, IL @ Metro >
6/4 Detroit, MI @ Tied Down Fest
6/5 Toronto, ON The Opera House
6/6 Montreal, QC @ Club Soda >
6/7 Boston, MA @ The Middle East >
6/8 Brooklyn, NY @ Monarch >
6/9 Philadelphia, PA @ FU Church >
6/10 Baltimore, MD @ Soundstage >
6/12 Columbia, SC @ New Brookland Tavern >
6/13 Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade >
6/14 Tampa, FL @ The Brass Mug >
6/16 Houston, TX @ Secret Group >
6/17 Dallas, TX @The Factory >
6/18 Austin, TX @ Oblivion Access Fest
8/3-6 Happy Valley, OR @ Pickathon
11/25 Eindhoven, NL @ Revolution Calling
* w/ Gorilla Biscuits
% w/ End It, Faze, Exhibition, Phantom
+ w/ Peace Test, Taking Meds, Dogbreath
> w/ Drain, Drug Church
In just a few short years, GEL have grown to become one of the most promising bands coming out of the world of aggressive music.
The New Jersey-based five-piece make ultra-visceral hardcore that contains a healthy dose of flat-out punk in its DNA, and their debut full-length, Only Constant, only further pushes the dial into the red. So how did this uncompromisingly vicious band gain such a fervent grassroots following? The secret is: everyone’s invited.
“I just like for us to be a vehicle for chaos and community to unfold,” explains vocalist Sami Kaiser. “I love when you can see it resonating for people at the shows and it can be a reason for people to feel comfortable expressing themselves in their own way.” That’s the mentality GEL fosters through their music: these are high intensity songs that might compel you to jump off a stage, but you’ll know someone is going to catch you.
The members of GEL—Kaiser (they/them), guitarists Anthony Webster (he/him) and Maddi Nave (they/them), bassist Bobko (he/him), and drummer Zach Miller (he/him)—came up together in the NJ punk and hardcore scene, and make it a point to try and create their ideal version of a welcoming pathway to underground music. And it’s been working. Since forming in 2019, the band’s steady output of singles and EPs, along with their ambitious touring schedule, has been earning them a loyal following, especially amongst younger listeners who are experiencing the subculture of hardcore for the first time. “People forget that they were once that kid,” says Webster. “I love that these kids just want to come to shows and jump around.” Kaiser adds, “At that age, you’re growing, you’re figuring out what you like, you’re more expressive–and I would never want to stop that in any way. Our roots are just playing DIY shows in basements with super mixed bills that don’t make any sense but it’s still so fun and crazy–that’s the energy that we’re about.”
Only Constant perfectly captures GEL’s ability to be accessible without sacrificing their unrelenting sound. Recorded by Miller along with Trish Quigley at Landmine Studios in Ewing, NJ, the 10 songs fly by in just sixteen minutes of perfect hardcore that manages to be catchy and crushing in equal measure. Webster and Nave supply riff after riff over top of Miller’s pummeling drums and Bobko’s distorted bass, while Kaiser’s distinctive roar ties it all together. Lyrically, the vocalist strikes a balance between frustration and optimism, radiating rage but also a captivating, human sense of vulnerability and self-reflection. “A lot of this record is about trying to live more of a happy and healthy life,” Kaiser explains. “I’ve been in recovery for alcoholism for the past couple years and really taking it seriously. I’ve learned a lot about myself and how to address negative feelings, and the album is about trying to let go of those self-destructive tendencies and embrace change.”
Opening track “Honed Blade” lays out these themes over razor sharp riffs and Miller’s agile drumming, serving as the perfect introduction to GEL’s chaotically appealing world. Kaiser’s howl demands the listener’s attention as they lament the struggle to stay in the moment, somehow sounding unhinged and completely confident all at once. For Kaiser, the music is more than just a release, it’s a path out of their comfort zones and towards a more self-actualized life. “When I was younger I would kind of shut down in unfamiliar situations, I would get paralyzed. But getting into punk and then playing in bands and performing really helped me grow from that. It’s challenging, but in a good way.” And throughout Only Constant, GEL sound more than ready to meet any challenge: tracks like “Fortified” and “Out of Mind” interrogate the kind of internalized negativity that can eat away at your mindset, while “Worn Down” encourages the redirection of that same frustration.
Only Constant is a well-oiled hardcore machine, but GEL’s ability to weave in musical curveballs and unexpected details illustrate the nuanced songwriting chops within all the combustible energy. Album standout “Attainable” utilizes a nearly danceable beat during one of the record’s catchiest moments, while Kaiser fittingly sings about feeling self-assured and in control of their own destiny. And midway through the album, GEL drops “Calling Card,” a dreamy interlude that utilizes voicemails from fans–culled from hundreds of submissions–describing their lives, their frustrations, their enthusiasm for hardcore, and more. It’s a moment of respite from the guitar attack, but also a very tangible representation of the connection GEL already have with their listeners, as well as the impact their open arms approach to hardcore has already made.
Only Constant ends with “Composure,” a towering conclusion with a three-minute runtime that counts as an epic by GEL standards. Kaiser’s voice cuts through the wall of guitars as they consider existential sliding doors and the opportunities that can pass you by if you’re not prepared to take control of your own life. “I really wanted to end the record with a hopeful song,” they explain. “It’s about abandoning self-sabotage and realizing there’s small actions you can take to better your situation.” Maybe even something as simple as going to a show, hearing the loud guitars, and jumping around could be the start of something bigger.