Artist: Burning Kross
Title: Burning Kross
Release: LP / Digital
Label: Loner Cult, Autoreverse Records
Hailing from the Belgian city of Ghent, Burning Kross is an upstart hardcore punk band whose members have previously made their mark in diverse groups such as Spineless, Permanent Debt, Cheap Drugs, and Black Haven. Their single-sided LP, released in May 2023 on Loner Cult and Autoreverse Records, delivers an unapologetically fierce, raucously produced and fast-paced hardcore experience.
The six tracks on the record, including “Die,” “Hunted Down,” and “Chainbeat,” previously featured on the band’s 2022 demo tape, along with the three new tracks on this release, carry a raw intensity that pulls no punches. The production of the record amplifies their power, with no-holds-barred vocal approach and a blast of ‘80s hardcore intensity, presenting a barrage of frantic riffs and crashing cymbals blasting through the speakers in a raw and instinctive way. Some d-beat elements are also present and well delivered, but the record does not have the right dis-feel to be pigeonholed as such. What sets Burning Kross apart, however, is their lyrical approach that, rather than venting personal and abstract frustrations about the state of the world today, tells the story of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921.
After World War I, the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, became known across the country for its thriving African-American community in the Greenwood District. Historians even referred to the black business district and surrounding residential area as the “Black Wall Street”. On the night of May 31 and early morning of June 1, 1921, however, Greenwood was looted and burned by racially motivated white rioters, some of whom had been appointed deputies and armed by city officials. The white mobs attacked black residents and destroyed homes and businesses in the Greenwood District. Governor Robertson declared martial law and the National Guard arrived in Tulsa. In the aftermath of the race riot, hundreds of black residents were killed, more than 1,250 homes were burned to the ground, and years of black success were wiped out.
Jim Crow, white supremacy and hatred towards the prosperity of black people in the city all played a role in the immense destruction and massacre of 1921, and while Burning Kross’ homeland also has a horrific history of colonialism and racial atrocities, as in the Congo Free State thanks to King Leopold II, the Belgian band plays a brand of US-inspired hardcore with lyrics in English that speak well to the world about a historic event in the United States that resonates with a resurgence of white supremacist terrorism today.
The rough production and violent sound fit well with the important historical references in the lyrics—the cover depicts a KKK member with a burning cross rammed into his torso. The single-sided LP also features a silkscreen design on the unrecorded B-side and a riso-printed A5 booklet. In sum, Burning Kross’ self-titled record is a resounding call to stand up against racism and injustice, channeled through an unrelenting hardcore sound that harkens back to the heyday of European and American hardcore punk.