If punk rock is all about distilling anger and desperation and joy into a cathartic package, the subgenres that have followed it have attempted the same goal, with different end results. Hardcore broke things down even simpler and louder, while post-hardcore tried to add back in some complexity while keeping the feeling. More recently on the spectrum, screamo appeared, sounding pretty much like its name: Dissonant guitars, screamy vocals, jagged stops and starts.
The trouble with pushing music to the limits of abrasiveness is knowing when to draw back. It can be hard to pin down the difference between the excellently rageful and the stuff that's just obnoxious noise. Like what Justice Potter Stewart said about pornography, I can't define it, but I know it when I come across it. Iowa City band Ice Hockey plays some songs on the EP The Way It Is Now that sound like screaming for screaming's sake. Others—particularly the final track, "Solar Myths and Autumn"—show a little more thoughtful songcraft, pleasingly chunky breakdowns and mournful melodic interludes. The Way It Is Now isn't something to put on while kicking back in the sun, but it might suit a gray day when you need to let out some pent-up crankiness.
Ice Hockey plays the ZACC, along with The Whoopass Girls, Pancakes and Confidence Man, on Thu., Jan. 23, at 8 PM. $5. All ages, no alcohol.