Contention by Chelsea Gryn
Contention by Chelsea Gryn
New Music

On urban alienation and apocalyptic hardcore: an interview with Florida Straight Edge band CONTENTION

4 mins read

Tampa’s own CONTENTION have recently unleashed their debut full-length, “Artillery From Heaven,” (dropped on May 3rd via DAZE) and it’s a hard-hitting reflection of the band’s unyielding straight edge ethos and their apocalyptic vision. Today, we dive deep into the details of this strong candidate to one of the best straight edge and metallized hardcore drops this year, through a special interview with vocalist Cosmo. Check it out below.

Formed in 2019, CONTENTION didn’t waste time making their mark with a three-song promo, and they’ve only honed their craft since. The evolution from their 2021 EP “Laying Waste to the Kingdom of Oblivion” to 2022’s “Summer Offensive” shows a band refining its aggressive sound. “Artillery From Heaven,” recorded with John Howard at War House Studio in Gainesville, FL, is a great proof of their dedication and intense work ethic.

Songs like “In The Land Of Nod” and “Lobotomite Bliss” showcase their ability to blend hardcore brutality with intricate guitar work, inspired by acts like FOUNDATION and ARKANGEL.

Thematically, the album paints a grim picture of a world teetering on the brink of collapse, driven by survival and a rejection of modern decay.

Now, let’s dive into our interview with Cosmo, where we discuss the making of “Artillery From Heaven,” the band’s journey, and their vision for the future.

Contention band

With single “Ousted From Eden” addressing themes of urban sprawl and a longing for nature, it sounds like you’re exploring some deeply personal terrain. Has creating this album influenced how you relate to your surroundings now?

That song was influenced by all the fucked up parts of America that I’ve seen, including the way my hometown has changed in recent years. I spent my formative years on a small farm, so this song is specifically about the initial reaction I had when I witnessed a big city for the first time.

I’m also trying to escape the city chaos at 40, seeking more nature. Have you found peace in your current living situation, or are you still searching?

I’m very fortunate to live on a very small tree farm in my hometown (south Florida) these days. A couple of the adjacent houses were abandoned after Hurricane Ian so it’s fairly secluded. The farm was mostly destroyed after the flood so I’ve been slowly getting things back to 100%. I do have a huge crop of sunflowers and cowpeas that just came in. I love working the land and I prefer distance from people, so I have zero complaints.

It’s been over two years since “Laying Waste to the Kingdom of Oblivion”. How do you feel the band’s sound and thematic focus have evolved in ‘Artillery From Heaven’?

I think AFH is the natural progression from the Laying Waste. Everything we did on that EP, I think we did better on AFH. We know what we like and we built on that sound without going too far astray. I really wanted a thematically cohesive LP and I think we were able to pull that off by drawing on the apocalyptic themes of older songs like State of Nature and Jihad.

Contention band

The lyrics throughout ‘Artillery From Heaven’ are intensely visual and metaphorical. Is there a particular song or line that stands out to you as emblematic of the album’s message?

“Nuclear Peace” is the last song on the record and is a kind of lyrical conclusion to the whole project. “Jihad II” was the original title because I wanted the track to be a sequel to the last song off of the Laying Waste EP. Like Jihad, it’s an amalgamation of our major themes—total war, revenge, survival, and straight edge. It’s deliberately excessive and disproportionate. It’s just a pure unadulterated fuck you/“va a fanculo.”

The last part of the song is essentially a thesis statement for Contention as a whole.


The cover art featuring artillery and an explosion feels intense. Can you share the inspiration behind this choice and how it connects with the themes of ‘Artillery From Heaven’?

The photo on the cover is a 50’s test of the M65 atomic cannon “atomic Annie” which was capable of launching nuclear artillery but was fortunately never used in hot warfare. I’ve always found the photo visually striking and also terrifying.

The horrors of nuclear war have been a fascination of mine since a very, very early age and I spent a lot of my elementary and middle school days reading up on the subject. I made the cover a long time ago as an inspirational placeholder for the LP but we ended up deciding on it as the final cover (Our friend Trey York helped with the finished product and designed the layout.)

The title “Artillery From Heaven” is taken from an unfinished novel called “Desertion/Long Stretches of Dark” that I worked on when I was 17-20. I’ll probably never revisit the novel but I’m glad I got to recycle that line because it just feels so fucking cool and ominous.


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Looking back at your last interview, you mentioned a deep connection to the H8000 scene but not a direct influence. As your sound has developed, do you see any new influences that have crept in, whether intentionally or not?

As a non-riff-contributing member, I don’t want to speak for anyone too much, but Italian bands like From The Dying Sky and Reprisal continue to be a major influence. Also The Swarm, Arkangel, Indecision. According to Bayly, some 90’s Florida Death Metal influence crept in there on this release.

For me personally, Foundation, Earth Crisis, Kickback, The Swarm and Self Defense Family are huge influences.

I’d be remiss not to mention that I pulled from/ripped off Yeats, Godspeed, Charles Manson, The Handsome Family, Malcolm X, Camus, Cormac McCarthy, Vonnegut and Dostoevsky pretty blatantly on the record.

With the hardcore scene being as dynamic as it is, which emerging bands from your local scene do you think we should keep an eye on?

Off the top to my head: Resentment, Six Paths, Dogmatic, Deadset. Anything that Armageddon Records puts out.


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What future plans are on the horizon for Contention? Are there any specific goals or projects you’re particularly excited about?

Longer tours are difficult for us because of jobs, family and other life shit. That being said, we want to play the new stuff as much as possible. We’ve had some really sick offers in the last couple weeks and I’m very grateful for that.

I’m hoping we can get to new cities and new new countries in 2024 and 2025.

Karol Kamiński

DIY rock music enthusiast and web-zine publisher from Warsaw, Poland. Supporting DIY ethics, local artists and promoting hardcore punk, rock, post rock and alternative music of all kinds via IDIOTEQ online channels.
Contact via [email protected]

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