New Music

ROGUE LIMB’s ‘Actus Reus’: a deep dive into chaotic debut from hardcore / metalcore duo

11 mins read

When the lights dim and silence sweeps over, a few chords can often depict a thousand emotions. Rogue Limb, a compelling 2-piece vocal metalcore/hardcore act, has masterfully crafted such chords in their debut album, ‘Actus Reus‘, released on 12th October.

For those with an ear for Converge, Every Time I Die, and ’68, this album is a tantalizing exploration into the raw edges of metalcore, with tons of edhy melodies embedded into its spine.

First catching the audience’s attention with their debut single ‘Sirenhead’, which earned them the title of Bandcamp of the day by New Noise Magazine (USA), the duo has since then continued to carve a niche for themselves.

But what’s the story behind each track? Check out the band’s special track-by-track breakdown below.


Greg: Thew asked me about doing a 2-piece band, and I was down but we didn’t really know what style to do as a 2-piece other than grindcore, which isn’t really my writing style. So I sent an instrumental demo of this track over to him that I’d had for a few years. He was into it and it’s pretty much, as Thew perfectly described, our “statement of intent”. My early background before metal was from bands like Bad Religion and Minor Threat so there’s the hardcore punk style there in the early verses that blends more into what I’m about now which is stuff like Converge and Every Time I Die. This was also the first song Thew showed me lyrics for which kinda set up our shared vocal style.

Thew: Hoarder really is where Rogue Limb was born. The moment Greg sent me the demo for this one, I knew we were gonna be just fine. It’s a great example of what I love about his writing style – it has this wild thrashy energy, it keeps you on your toes the whole way, and its super aggressive start made it the perfect way to begin the album. This was the first song I wrote lyrics for after lockdown and it’s loaded with frustration and disgust at the goblin-mode lifestyle I think a lot of us had fallen into – trapped at home, drunk all day, barely self-caring, and introspecting to the point of self-loathing. This song was a great catharsis after months of that squalor.

Shatter Them

Greg: Like Hoarder, a version of this was written before the band’s inception but it needed reworking. On the original version, I tried making a drastic change to the style in the mid-section but was never sure it’d work. So in the end I kept it simple enough and instead took the opening notes from the intro, changed how they’re used, and those mostly same notes played slower just transformed the mid-section with a fresh groove that Thew nailed on drums. That was kinda my songwriting eureka moment; to figure out how to best reuse what’s already in the song, and by doing that a song kinda largely writes itself in my mind. That way of recycling riffs happens elsewhere here, most notably the faster frantic parts that are in 3 very different sections and all with their own individual arrangement.

Thew: If Hoarder is the self-loathing song, Shatter Them is the next step: a celebration of the self, a call to embrace your flaws and give yourself a break. I wanted us both to have a strong vocal presence in the verses, and the recent nu-metal revival gave me the confidence to invoke hip-hop inspired acts like Public Enemy and Biohazard by experimenting with call-and-response vocals. I don’t know if we went a bit overboard, but it still makes my heart swell when the chorus hits! Plus it’s amazing fun to play – I love that “I emerge” moment with the off-beat china and the twin kick. I want to see some fists flying for this one.


Greg: I use an EHX Nano POG pedal to get the layered notes in this chorus. Literally the first time I tried writing a melody with the pedal, this chorus was the first thing I noodled. Just came right out. It has a cool Royal Blood vibe that Thew turned into a great sing-a-long. That guitar sound really helped me to grasp what our musical identity is for me, and I revisited the other songs afterwards to selectively apply the effect elsewhere. Gives us some dynamic which really is occasionally needed without a bass guitar, and it’s not often used in hardcore or metalcore. It’s fitting because this was the last song written for the album. There’s quite a bit going on, and other than the chorus no section is repeated in exactly the same way. But the on-off beat rhythm of the guitars, most obvious in the first verse, is everywhere in the song other than the chorus and outro and really ties everything together.

Thew: I call this song the Dillinger Sandwich – a pretty accessible radio banger with a scaled-down mathcore screamer in the middle. This is definitely our catchiest song, with its big chorus and hard rock swagger, but being over 5 minutes long with about 25 different riffs, it’s also potentially a pretty challenging first listen. Lyrically, it’s about the need to briefly escape from the demands of life, put the clashing personalities of others on ice, re-centre yourself in a faraway bar, and just for a day, reconnect with the person you are underneath the masks you have to wear to get by. It’s a spa day for your brain, with panic chords.

The Wound

Greg: Probably my favourite song of ours to play live. It’s loads of fun to play and brings something a little cheeky to hardcore. There’s classic dissonant punk, a 2-step section, an Angel Of Death like drum solo, a crushing slow end section which is just ridiculous and I love it. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster. Thew wanted to end the song with a slow version of the chorus riff, then do it again even slower, so I decided to add what sounds like extra bass lines each time to really make it as disgusting and dirty as possible. There’s also a note in the middle of the song which is from me downtuning the highest guitar string; Thew wailed with laughter when he saw me demonstrate that so it had to stay. I love that polarity of the frantic aggressiveness of this mixed with quirky tongue-in-cheek moments.

Thew: The Wound is probably my favourite song on the drums. It’s a smorgasbord of fun hardcore stuff: d-beat, blastbeats, switching time signatures, solos, and loads of twin kick. I think we both love playing this one just to show off our chops as musicians! The slow-down at the end is almost comical – I wanted to bring in that deathcore cliche of bringing the riff back but slower, but do it to a parodic degree, so the song proper is only about two minutes but we keep it going for four. We ARE those pricks. There’s not much of a message to this one if I’m honest. I wrote it while flying home from Los Angeles, which I’d found to be a pretty depressing locale built on hubris and self-obsession, and from the plane window I saw miles upon miles of stunning mountains and desert carved into hideous chunks by man-made roads, scratched in like scars upon the landscape. I was pretty grouchy and sleep-deprived and I just thought, “you know what’s wrong with the world? Us. We are the wound.” It’s a pretty basic “we live in a society” notion, but to my exhausted and cranky brain it seemed pretty deep, and I reckon it makes a pretty good hardcore song.


Greg: I’m not totally sure where this came from but it’s just a pretty fun song. Big punk vibes with thrashy riffing similar to The Wildhearts and goes more into something I imagine Higher Power might throw down, that sort of feel-good hardcore. Thew said he feels the song should probably be about fucking, so I got the ball rolling lyrically on that and we both got involved finishing the lyrics. Which is just as well because the chorus is such a silly catchy singalong that I’d have never come up with. Thew has a great way of knowing when we have enough to work with and to not overdo things, not just with the lyrics but with the music too. That definitely helped keep me grounded on this one when we arranged the song.

Thew: Yeah, I dunno, this one seemed to spring into life almost by itself! It was a tricky one to finish, but I loved it right away. It’s more of a rock’n’roll vibe than we usually hit, with that pop song sensibility and upbeat big dick energy that make it a big hit to a room full of drunk moshers on a Friday night. It’s the horny Ace Of Spades. I can’t hear this song and not get a boner. I mean smile.


Greg: When we first got together we covered 2 songs, just to get back into practice. One of them was ‘Lights Out’ by Entombed and this was really my stab at writing a song similar to that and merging it with some southern rock elements that I wanted to incorporate. It worked out quite different but I’m glad it did. I didn’t want us to just have a single sound, but we were figuring out who we were and this is a world apart to the earlier songs written. So with the mid-section, instead of having lead guitar parts or something, it has just a little bit of a hardcore feel to it, a few panic chords thrown in and almost leading to a breakdown like you’d expect from a metalcore band, before it kicks back into a chorus. That was really my way of saying this is different to our other tracks, but we know what we’re about and we’re putting our signature on another genre. We have a lot of influences and don’t want to just be a single genre band, adding that musical signature bridges our musical identity and gives us the freedom to explore what we like in a way that feels natural.

Thew: Greg and I have been playing in bands for years and I’d kinda got accustomed to learning his complicated-ass riff-soup songs over the course of months rather than days, so this one – being pretty slow and all in 4/4 – was a nice change of pace for me! Doomscroller packs a rock solid groove that hits like a freight train and makes me gurn every time. I wrote this one about the constant ordeal of getting swamped by horrifying news from around the world all day long, and the urge – the cowardly, privileged urge – to ignore it all and just get tanked. As someone who tries to be socially conscious, this is a shameful, lazy, ignorant attitude to take toward global events, but you have to disconnect sometimes or you’ll never get anything done, and that conflict resulted in a reluctant party song about raising a glass as the bombs drop. Also I put a fucking “hey-hey-hey“ in it.

Light Pillar

Greg: This was the first song actually written when we were a band, after sending ‘Hoarder’ over to Thew. We’d both seen Napalm Death recently, I’d learned a song by them afterwards, and we weren’t sure what style of music to play. I figured we just need some songs, anything that’s not shit, just to get gigs, we can write better stuff later. So I just cranked this out. Weirdly it’s the last song we finished because we figured other songs out and I was trying to be too clever with the end of this track by forcing both rhythm and lead guitars together as a single guitarist. It’s different now, much simpler and much better. It goes from the classic Napalm Death blasting and D-beat to a slower groove that’s got a bit of a Gojira feel to it with a few panic chords thrown in. Absolutely crushing way to end the song.

Thew: Yeah, you can really hear the Napalm in this one! Light Pillar was a total boomerang – we started jamming on it very early, kinda forgot about it, and didn’t end up finishing it until all eight other songs were wrapped. I think we brought it back because I stumbled upon some lyrics I’d started and I thought “shit, we’ve got three quarters of a song here”, so we got to work and it wound up being one of our most brutal tracks. I’m really pumped with how it turned out! The song is about the last few days I spent with my dad in the hospice before he died – the visuals that stuck with me, the sense of impending doom, and the way life changed afterwards. The line “this is not a place of honour” was inspired by warning signs placed at nuclear waste dumping areas, as a reminder to myself that dwelling on the worst moments in your life doesn’t lead anywhere good. So I wrote a brilliant song about it that we play every single week. Nice going, dickhead.


Greg: Our songs were getting pretty varied in style so this was my stab at writing a song like Every Time I Die’s heavier side, which was a big part of what I was going for in the band originally. Very much wearing my influences on my sleeve. It’s also the one song I really wanted to write the lyrics for, and is very personal to me. I went through a shitty abusive and manipulative relationship which took a long time to get over. It’s about those long-term effects, particularly that while someone is physically gone, part of their personality traits stay with you and if you’re not careful it’s easy to repeat that shitty behaviour onto others. You just want to forget and move on, evict that mental reproduction of that person from your mind. I have moved on now, and having gone through that, the positive message is that while I might be tempted to act in negative ways myself, these experiences remind me exactly of the damage it can do, and exactly why I shouldn’t recreate that. That empathy and insistence that I won’t continue that cycle helps me to treat people in the best way I know how to.

Thew: Oh man, this is a nasty one. Greg took the lead with this one, so my role here is just to play it hard and sing it with my whole chest. It’s definitely a journey – there’s so much variety in this song that I can scarcely believe it’s only three minutes long. I love the way it starts with those shrieking siren chords and Greg yelling in your face, straight into that thundering Sepultura drum intro, mad polyrhythms, giant groove riffs and the little death metal breaks. We actually had a weird time picking a spot for it on the album – I think of Squatter as probably the best example of what this band really sounds like, so it’s weird that it’s this late on, but I think it holds strong.

An Echo

Greg: We were 5 songs in and so far I’d written all the music. Then Thew excitedly sent me a simple guitar idea. I wanted to make something of his starting point, be a good team player and all that, but honestly for ages I had no idea how to make it work. We both thought it could be a big song closer, and before we added a final section it was. It took me a while to figure out what to write around the riff without simply plonking it on the end of a song. It all came together when I figured out how to take the most recognisable part and put those notes in a chorus, but used in a different way. So the first half of this big riff is there in the chorus but played as higher, sometimes secondary notes. It’s subtle, and I think that almost subconscious harmonic recollection, along with a second motif that builds beforehand and then as the final closer, really just makes this a huge post-metal track that really builds to a climax thanks to Thew’s huge riff. The song’s bigger than I thought we’d ever be capable of as a 2-piece. And Thew’s vocals in the final section along with how the music builds still give me shivers months after recording the album.

Thew: This is by far the most personal song for me. We’d seen a bunch of post-metal bands recently, all lengthy riffs and big build-ups, and I really wanted us to have one long, sprawling song that crescendoed into a huge climactic earworm riff that people could take home with them, so I sent Greg a sloppy voice note where I basically sang a riff at him and was like, “figure it out”. I soon found myself in need of an outlet to process a traumatic event that had taken place in the meantime, and this song was it – it’s an exploration of own shortcomings and a reaction to life-changing trauma, which I think is why the song moves people in the way I’m told it does. We all have those events in life that change us as people and force us to rebuild in a way that accommodates the absence of what used to be. Also that riff fuckin rips.

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