Stress Positions rise from the ashes of C.H.E.W. with one of the year’s best hardcore EPs

Chicago four-piece C.H.E.W. played D-beat hardcore with the intensity of a house fire. It has to be tough to maintain that level of energy, focus, and combustibility, and when C.H.E.W. called it quits in 2021, I was thankful we’d gotten to enjoy them for as long as six years. Earlier this year I noticed that three-fourths of C.H.E.W.—bassist Russell Harrison, drummer Jonathan Giralt, and guitarist Benyamin Rudolph—had formed a new band called Stress Positions with vocalist Stephanie Brooks. In May, the band self-released their debut EP, Walang Hiya, and local punk label Open Palms Tapes issued it on cassette in July. Stress Positions barrel through most of these songs at such blistering speeds that they almost become airborne, leaving scorch marks on the ground. Giralt’s dense, thundering drumming ignites the band’s riffs and gives them their core character—they’re relentless and frantic, though they can jump from pulverizing to swinging like flicking a light switch. Stress Positions are as loud as you’d expect—Rudolph’s seesawing guitars alone can fill a room—but Brooks’s voice is somehow even louder, so that her sharp holler punctures the avalanche of noise like a giant spike. On the slow-churning “Unholy Intent,” her scream shoots into its hoarse extremes, embodying the vitriolic power that Stress Positions unlock together.

Stress Positions Ganser headline. Thu 12/8, 9 PM, Sleeping Village, 3734 W. Belmont, $18, $15 in advance, 21+

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