Record of the Week: PROTESTANT In Thy Name LP

September 9th, 2014 by


Hoooly shit! I’ve always loved me some PROTESTANT, but this new record is something else entirely, departing from their well-honed dark hardcore attack to embrace the hateful, raw filth of black metal. Cory’s unmistakable vocals (and the occasional massive breakdown) provide a link to the band’s previous discography, and the throat-ripping fury of metalpunk is definitely there, but they’ve rebuilt their sound from the ground up with some deliciously lo-fi production. The whole thing is overflowing with jaw-dropping riffs, played with the passion and precision of a band a decade into their existence. Easily one of the top black metal/crust crossovers I’ve heard—and believe me, I’ve heard far too many in the last several years. I would have to say that this is also PROTESTANT’s best, most consistent full-length to date. Trends come and go, but In Thy Name is the real deal. An instant classic.
(Halo of Flies)

—Will Blomquist

Record of the Week: TERCER MUNDO Ser Nosotros Mismos LP

September 2nd, 2014 by

(photo courtesy of Perro Maldito)

In the years since their instantly classic and universally lauded first EP, the punks behind TERCER MUNDO have relocated from Monterrey (epicenter of the Mexican drug wars) to Mexico City (a place with plenty of its own problems—and also the subject of this month’s scene report). Their 12″ isn’t quite as in-your-face as that record (which famously featured a photo of a naked, legless female corpse, shot in the chest and captioned with the phrase “Mexico 2012—60,000 human beings dead. Now go party and score some cocaine.”) but it doesn’t have to be. They got your attention. This is more subtle, but no less incendiary. I can’t help but think of Presionados, the 1989 LP by XENOFOBIA, who also hailed from Mexico City. The cover of that record featured los cerdos facing an angry mob, fists in the air; the back of this one has a lone man pelting a rock at a wall of faceless cops. In 30 years, how little has changed—in fact, it seems like things have only gotten worse. “Espero llegar al día / Que acabe esta pesadilla.” TERCER MUNDO take elements of classic Mexican hardcore and make them their own—they pick up the pace, put blistering guitar leads and solos on top. Bile drips off the vocals, provided by Dave Rata (of RATAS DEL VATICANO), who seems to be the primary songwriter here, also playing bass and guitar on these recordings. A contender for record of the year, it comes in a hand-screened sleeve, with a risograph printed insert with lyrics in both Spanish and English. Pick this one up while you can. (Cintas Pepe)

Record of the Week: QLOAQA LETAL Nunca, Siempre LP

August 26th, 2014 by


Recorded in 1983 in Valladolid, Spain, mastered 30 years later right here in California, and released shortly after by the Mallorca-based Metadona Records, this legendary punk tape has finally been properly dignified in the vinyl format. Like their contemporaries in Spain, you can tell their sound resulted from simultaneously digesting both first wave punk and proto-hardcore, recalling a bit of CICATRIZ and KANGRENA, but also the gloomy side of PARALISIS PERMANENTE. However, while exuding darkness, QLOAQA LETAL is not campy, just genuinely creepy and candidly cynical abouttheir social reality: “Life spits on me, luck deceives me, glory avoids me, death grabs me.” While becoming a classic of the Punk Ibérico repository, they definitely developed their own sound here and it’s amazing! The bass pulsing percussively over a crudely fuzzy guitar tone, Rouky’s warm and gritty vocals, as well as the intriguing electronic sound of the manual drum kit are all elements that make this stand out in their time period. Furthermore, they often infused their live shows with elements of theatrical plays. The package includes an insert with lyrics and photo clippings from the period showing their wonderful freak aesthetic, and prompting me to shudderthinking about what it must have been like walking around conservative Valladolid in the early ’80s looking like that. Possibly attributable to LA BANDA TRAPERA DEL RIO, the word cloaca (sewer) and its associated imagery became a Spanish punk signifier, which one could interpret as a message reminding the new pseudo-democratic regime obsessed with cleaning its own image that the shit still has to go somewhere. Awesome record and a cool artifact. (Metadona Records)

—Lena Tahmassian

MRR is putting together an especial Punk Ibérico issue to come out in January 2015. If you have anything to contribute, please send it to mrr {at} maximumrocknroll(.)com. Thanx, punx!

“Too smart for their own sake”:

August 22nd, 2014 by


By George Lastman

How smart is too smart? How funny is too funny? For Actual Water, the answers to these questions are not mutually exclusive. To them, being Toronto’s resident “musically inclined intellectuals” (their words, not mine) goes hand in hand with being jokers of the scene. It seems natural to Actual Water that their lyrics, hefty in theme and resplendent in undergrad-informed verbosity, ride simple, guitar-driven tracks that simply rock. Still, there remains a sort of roundabout danger and uniqueness to the boys, as they prefer to do things like conduct interviews in very un-rock situations, e.g., in a public library.

Anthony Nemet, 24, enters the room in a brown blazer and well-fitting jeans. Sitting gracefully in the largest chair in the building, he crosses his legs and squints at a copy of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay. A 19th century text exploring phenomena as wide-ranging as economic bubbles and alchemy, the text is both sensational and academic at once, almost as useful as it is thrilling and accessible. Watching the lead singer and Rickenbacker-swinger of one of Toronto’s most inscrutable rock bands read such a heavy tome could be disorienting, but Nemet is quick to clear up any questions about what he’s into what he’s into.

“This is a key text when trying to understand the psychosis people feel when confronted by rock ‘n’ roll,” Anthony says, looking down his nose at me. “Let’s be honest, what is a rock show if not an expression of mass hysteria?” He pauses, laughs, and looks over at Gary Pooni, 24, his friend and partner in songcraft. Clutching a copy of Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, Pooni concurs with a nod, a smile and shrug of the shoulders, his body language suggesting that Nemet go on. The room goes silent as the two return to their books.


It’s not easy to interview Actual Water. They often go off on tangents, talk over each other and speak in big words that rarely, if ever, make much sense. Pooni seems especially eager to confound anyone within earshot with his verbal dexterity. As drummer, percussionist and lyricist of the group, Pooni clearly wishes to loom large among other “intelligent drummers who write songs” like Neil Peart and Traffic’s Jim Capaldi. Speaking in measured sentences punctuated by rapid-fire invective as well as frequent use of alliteration and free-associative metaphor, Pooni speaks as if he is constantly trying to remind you of how smart he is. Rather than reading as a symptom of insecurity, it seems to be more of a giant joke that is always on the verge of going over my head. Still, when he needs to make a point, he does so with brevity.

“Look, the point is to make a record that makes you think and doesn’t stink.” He says as he leans forward, looking me dead in the eye and taking on a conspiratorial air. “All these other bands, most of them anyway, all they’re interested in is having a good time, shooting the shit and leaving the heavy intellectual work to the next guy. The next guy, of course, is a chimp who doesn’t want to do anything but play asinine riffs through a Big Muff.” His face goes grim for a moment before a smile cracks and he glances over at Nemet who also can’t help but laugh. Right as I feel like I’m starting to get the joke, however, Pooni flips the script. “I mince garlic,” he says, “not words. I hate to say it, but rock bands nowadays are just getting dumber”.

At times, Actual Water’s façade breaks down and you see them for what they are: two kids from Toronto who love making controversial statements about the politics of rock almost as much as they love the music itself. Their songs, acting as an outlet for this aggression against bands (no specific names mentioned) that they deride as being “chimps, chumps, chicken and not fit to chauffer an Actual Water roadie to Coachella”, often read as rock ‘n’ roll think pieces, both in form and content. They’re also fond of using terms like “entry-level” to place groups in a hierarchical structure that places Actual Water at the top, as if they have been appointed (or anointed) CEOs of modern guitar music. The end result of this barrage of invective is that the band appears holier-than-thou and narcissistic. Still, when you see them crack up, you begin to wonder if they actually believe any of what they’re saying.

Name-calling and bullshit politics aside, the group’s latest album, Call 4 Fun, is exactly what its name implies. “It’s a fun record. It’s like the best alcohol rock party you’ve ever been to at Foucault’s mansion,” says Nemet as he leans back, closing his book and placing a gold bookmark between its worn pages. “The idea of ‘calling for fun’ is putting the onus on both the listener and the band. You better know what numbers to dial.” Indeed, the title track is a thrilling stab at joyous guitar pop that isn’t far removed from early 2000s garage rock. Later in the record, on the beautifully dark dirge of “Waldo Jackson,” a reference is made to the titular character “falling out of his tree onto a stack of old NMEs”. When asked to connect the dots, Pooni and Nemet smile. Relishing the opportunity to talk about two of his favourite things at once, Pooni explains that Waldo Jackson is a “tired, whiney old indie guy who lives in the ‘90s and can’t get it up long enough to stop thinking about guitar tones and start having a good time.” Fair play.

There they are: rock politics. They creep up once again, as they often do with Actual Water, but almost always with humour. True to their status as jokers who love a good conceptual gag, the difficult inside jokes keep coming. They accumulate in front of me, piled high like paperwork in a language I don’t understand and can’t make any sense of. As it becomes more and more difficult to tell when they’re taking me for a ride, their music becomes more and more revealing. Still, when they really need to make a point, they make sure you know they’re serious. Actual Water’s mission is inject excitement into rock by any means necessary, even if that means doing decidedly un-rock things, like reading Gladwell in a library on a weekend. They want nothing more than to bring a pulse back to a genre that’s been lagging since Julian Casablancas started singing falsetto.

Of course, when I make this Strokes reference to the group, they go serious. Nemet insists that his falsetto is “the most beautiful sound you’ll ever hear.” Pooni adds that listeners “cannot yet afford to hear him sing in his nightingale register.” I try to read their body language to see if they’re joking and feel as if I’m floating aimlessly in the middle of a Chomsky text without an intellectual paddle. They’ve done it to me again, and they’ll do it to you as soon as you play Call 4 Fun. I’ve gotten used to it, and I don’t regret it. Neither will you, trust me.

Record of the Week: CONTORTURE/AHNA split EP

August 19th, 2014 by


Handle with care, this is fuggin’ deadly. Göteborg’s CONTORTURE goes straight for the jugular with their raging feminist käng, expertly toeing the raw/melodic line that has come to define Swedish crust in the last decade. Lyrics revisit familiar themes of autonomy, rape culture, and watching those around you age out of punk, but with a personalistic approach, and the lead vocals remind me of Kate from SCHIFOSI in all the best ways. On the flip, leading Canadian powerviolence freex AHNA lays out two more doses of their noisey blackened filth, sounding yet again like they’ve managed to record in one of the lesser pits of hell. This is actually a lot less blast-centric than their older material, with crusty rhythms offsetting the murky metalloid gloom, and the opening sludge of “Living in Fear” channels the headbanging glory of BOLT THROWER to perfection. Already a serious contender for my favorite split of 2014, this is nothing short of mandatory for all you metalpunx.
(Active Rebellion / Into the Abyss / Neanderthal Stench / What Is Making Us Sick)

—Will Blomquist