Reviews

Jason Ryan

Affect Fucked Reality cassette

Well, you got that right, AFFECT. I first played this tape well into the evening, after a few park sodas, and said to myself “maybe I’ll listen to this again over the weekend, and it won’t sound so much like DISCLOSE.” AFFECT are a Swedish band, and if you love DISCLOSE and GLORIOUS?, this is a perfect addition to your Dis-collection. Dis is absolut raw chaos punk noize for reality fucker. And the best part: it’s done by two people, yet sounding like a catastrophic cacophony of several more. The percussion is a bit heavier than is standard, as is the galloping stomper track—my favorite—“Bleeding.” The words are lengthy and well-paced, nicely understated, throughout the tracks, and my only complaint is that I’d love to have some printed lyrics. The tan-on-black cover art is also excellent. AFFECT goes from “eh” to “hmm, well, OK!” with each subsequent listen.

Anti-Cimex En Product Från Dagens Skitsamhälle CD

This demo recording from 1982 is Anarkist Attack-era ANTI CIMEX, and it sounds great. It was originally sent out to zines and friends and hasn’t been available on CD before now. I have some of these demo recordings on the Demos 81-85 comp, but not all of them. Harsh, warbling and heavy, Nils delivers broken vocals with adolescent intensity, before Tomas took over with a gruffer, more matured sound. This features a DISCHARGE cover and a few impromptu instrumentals, and several rarer tracks such as “Eibon” that are only on demos. This is a powerful and raw ANTI-CIMEX disc, like a table saw that delivers.

Crow 1988.2.28 Antiknock Live CD

This recording of CROW is crude, and captures the fury of punk that CROW was live. Some of my favorite CROW songs stand out on this anxious recording: “I’m Looking Out Over,” “Give Up All Hope,” my personal favorite “Bloody Earth,” and so on. The raw anguish and passion is captured in the racket, as CROW does not wait up for anything between songs. “The Day of Annihilation” into “Bloody Earth” into “Storms of Despair” into “Is Fiction,” right around the middle, just brings me to a moment of how relentless this show must have been to witness in person. A blast-through of a fire set that sounds like 25 people are in the band melting everyone’s face off.

Deviated Instinct Nailed CD

A hammering, high-production level EP on CD with classic hardcore metal riffs, breakdowns, and sinister vocals, the latter from Mid who coincidentally provided a ton of great punk art for NAPALM DEATH and EXTREME NOISE TERROR. Double-kick-pedal-driven death crust riffs, escapist vibes, cyber-industrial landscape effects—this reissue of DEVIATED INSTINCT Nailed longs for a lazy summer day under the trees with a gang of your best squatter buds. In a world where such things are no longer recommended! “OOH!” Just going to have to thrash on my roof. Tangent aside, if you’re not that familiar with DEVIATED INSTINCT, Nailed is the perfect example of terminal filth stenchcore. It’s killer. “Slow Death Suck” is a must hear death crust track. For fans of SKAVEN, BURNING WITCH, 13… this was a pioneer release when death metal punk was making its way into the NYHC sound as well. “UGH!”

Horror Vacui Living for Nothing LP

HORROR VACUI of Italy are very well-rehearsed and the vocals are beautiful and deep. It pushes hard on the retro CHAMELEONS sound, but not so much that HORROR VACUI don’t bring their own unique efforts to the ennui table. Much of the vibe brought by ROSETTA STONE mixed with the morose tones of SISTERS OF MERCY, the electrified angst of CLAN OF XYMOX, and with the bass drive of NEW MODEL ARMY. Some of the vocal intonations recall PSYCHEDELIC FURS. The combination of melodramatic deathrock and post-punk irreverence is choice. Production is vibrating and clear, then some moments are dreamy like the most depressing JOY DIVISION songs. Amazing cover art that reminds me of somber medieval Renaissance printing meets the graphic novel Persepolis. A very solid offing for the darkroom brooding punker set.

LMI Excess Subconscious LP

LMI, or LAZY MIDDLE-CLASS INTELLECTUALS (from the BAD RELIGION lyric), play spiraling spats of obtuse post-hardcore. There is a constant discord between the three members that through repetition slowly overwhelms. I really want the bass to be brought up a few levels, like molasses coating this jagged pill. Most vocals are screamed monotone with minimal guttural death metal vocals sprinkled in. This occurs mostly on “Ghost Teeth” where the low-end growl takes the mic. The drums are along for the ride and carry this unique presentation through like a cosmic tour guide. LMI is sort of SWING KIDS, HOT SNAKES, CAVE IN. The playing style is so tense, I prefer the tracks that loosen up and groove a bit, such as on “Concrete Illusions” and “Tomorrow Midnight,” because LMI still lays it on harsh. I’m not going to soothsay land this review down on any runway, because LMI didn’t do that for me. Sort of leave it hanging and awkward, but in a bewildered and good way. These LAZY MIDDLE-CLASS INTELLECTUALS might just be way above my head.

Death Gasp Stranglehold EP

From the industrial wasteland of Pittsburgh cinders forth a rusty, warped sound of bastardly punk. Vocals are delivered like early DOOM, with a bellow-filled lung of oration. The entire production is burning filth and fills my earholes with grit and noise. Drums have a hard kick and tumble over all the crunchy delights. In some parts INTEGRITY hardcore rolls through, in others, ’90s European crust. Very much digging the surprising riff changes and driving fire of rhythm inside this EP. Side A does not wait up and excites with mid-tempo churning HC punk. Side 2 opens with a classic crust eulogy called “Poisoned Well” that quickly picks up into a D-beating wallop. Lastly, the title track, again with classic squat-style crust that erupts shortly after with galloping verse and throbbing bridges. Four great tracks in total from this three-piece that each have their own merit and personality (the songs, not the members, though they are very gelled on this recording). Come to think of it, this EP fucking rules. Hard and dark as fuck. I only wish I was reading some lyrics because I get the impression they are profound. Totally recommended while you circle-pace around your home this summer wondering WTF is going on. *Sharply inhales*

Might Might CD

This unassuming CD, stark black with chalk-like lettering, MIGHT lead you to believe this band was going to sound subtle. The wispy spoken word intro, “Introduce Yourself,” MIGHT even creep you out a bit. Femme witching vocals slither in and you MIGHT even be a bit scared. I used to love the morose steaming feminist carnival-like recordings of SOW (partner of PIG) back in the ’90s. And this reminds me of the laissez-faire of SOW a little bit. A tribal and metal DIAMOND GALAS of sorts with the more CHELSEA WOLFE acoustic eeriness. There is also a CONCRETE BLONDE kind of twang to it. I’m in all sorts of places with this, Southern stoner doom (thinking BRUME, TOTEM/JEX THOTH), black metal, gothic neo-folk. MIGHT is unassuming and escapist. For only two folks from Hanover, Germany, they’ve put together a very interesting project that MIGHT just deserve a few more instrumental layers to crawl into.

Nightmare Fuel Vaccination for the Social Plague Demos – Part One

For the ’90s death metal and crust scene, and beyond really, a full-length had to have a classic intro. EXTREME NOISE TERROR, DISRUPT, HIATUS, MISERY, ENTOMBED, TERRORIZER… something to give you a taste of what you’d be fucking with. How often can that be said about a demo? Well, in the case of NIGHTMARE FUEL, you are getting just that. Punctuated STATE OF FEAR-style hardcore crust, with prolific death metal virtuosity. An exceptionally balanced smash-face fast-forward HAIL OF RAGE pummeling, to the thunderous aspects of DYSTOPIA with monstrous vocals. Far be it from me to turn down a new crust demo, but rarely do they exude such inspired changes, fills and detailed production. This is fucking leveling for a demo! I do not have the technical knowhow to describe the hi-fi tune of the guitars compared to the tight lo-fi of the snare, but that is all there. All is wrought with dense grooves and classic ’90s cinematic sampling. I love that! NIGHTMARE FUEL has created a prison of desperation, gloom and anxiety communicated via an apocalyptic galloping crustcore attack. A carnival of riff madness à la CENTINEX to the thrashing anthemic conversation of SHITLIST, NIGHTMARE FUEL nods to several generations of death metal, hardcore punk and crust in its most self-realized era. Underneath all that, poignant lyrics concerning depression, unraveled trust, unraveling truths, society’s fucks, the planet’s chaotically spiraling demise. A not-to-be-missed demo. And I know the foredooming LP will crush. This grim gang of the PNW will surely rule live if anything ever lives again.

Vlack Mental Diaspora 12″

VLACK plays upbeat chords with exhausted, morose, downbeat vocals. Clashing discordant guitar riff peaks surprise and bend through predictable rhythms. Harrowing vocals such as from the CULT, the END (Boston) and the bass tones clang under lost guitar reverberation. VLACK is from Spain, however songs are sung and howled in English. Parts blackened steaming cauldron and HOT WATER MUSIC optimism, flowing like ghosts over a haunting goth melancholy tempo. This is generally unsettling. It is delivered with basic indie rock post-hardcore compositions, but the dismal glimmers of death rock and doom tempo make it ultimately depressing. These are sad and sinister sonnets from only two musicians. VLACK sounds in mourning and showcase that they are completely fine with that. Six tracks of gasping poetic mathematical neo death rock with hardcore indignation coursing its veins. “Abandon to the Fire,” an instrumental, might be my favorite, acting as a nice intermission from the anguish. I assure you, this is not as depressing on the surface as I make it sound, but the almost hidden pain is what I find most impressive about the recording.

City of Industry Conspire Conspire Conspire LP

Gasping, anguished and anthemic indie rock hardcore from Seattle. The rock-steady pace is exciting and optimistic, contrasted by the dooming tone of the bass. Guitars play longer than usual bridges that create a more unique landscape of reflection between the chorus moments and attacking vocal verse. Lyrics are confident, romantic in the renaissance sense, and poetic, almost delivered with hip hop flow and NYHC aggression. Parts ACRID grinding doom, FOURHUNDREDYEARS creativity, CAVE IN post-hardcore vibes in all their forms. CITY OF INDUSTRY opens up the flood so you may walk right in and collapses with tidal wave form. Production is pummeling. Toward the end I’m feeling some elements of MORAL SUCKLING and FUCKED UP. To be totally transparent, this is not the style of hardcore or punk I generally go for, but I am thoroughly impressed with the pace of all songs, the meter and the passion in this release. The cover art is romantic again, and well designed from a graphics standpoint. A tapestry of florals, harkening back to my renaissance comment. This may be renaissance-core.

Illya Microcosmos LP

Spaced-out psychedelic hardcore from Japan that edits at all the right points. Think PAINTBOX, KRUW meets ABIGAIL, JUDGMENT and some undertones of American West Coast ’80s skate punk, strangely enough. This is an artistic endeavor that I’m having a hard time classifying. Screeching vocals are sung wildly, weaving through entirely guitar-soloed tracks. ILLYA sounds like freedom in its most subversive form, unified within its own community of acceptance; epic without being too grandiose. With all of the dread and helplessness in the world today, Microcosmos revives the spirit of fervent fire. With songs like “Open The Window,” “Burning Heart Burn The World,” “Pebbles,” “Blind Dancer” and “Go Forward Into The…” Microcosmos is a good idea for you if you love Japanese hardcore, taking a deep breath, laughing maniacally in the face of evil, and are trying your damnedest these days to love life.

Infekcja Singles 1997 LP

Ghastly screaming vocals combined with a guttural crust racket, bring a lashing of squat-punk fury from Poland. This is a combination of the band’s self-titled EP, Symbioza EP, and their tracks on the split with SO WAR. Dual vocals remind of some Japanese influences around that time, as well as European crust from SEDITION, SCATHA, FLEAS & LICE while sharing some of the optimistic chords of POST REGIMENT and the irreverence of DEZERTER. INFEKCJA plays it close to the vest—with some stressful blast beats, post-punk breakdowns, rotting metallic ride-out riffs. Throughout the play there are totally chaotic moments and artistically deliberate avant-garde moments. This is by no means generic crust-core forgotten from the ’90s. And if I just have not heard enough memorable hardcore punk from Poland to make further comparisons that is clearly my problem. It just gets better and better as it plays through. Glad to be introduced.

Skeleton / Svaveldioxid split EP

Oh, wow! I was very excited to be assigned this split as a fan of both bands, the genre in general, and holy fuck! SVAVELDIOXID rages forth with a railgun D-beat attack, the most grisly and monstrous vocal effect I’ve heard from the band yet, sizzling bass fills and scorching guitars. Seriously, this is one of the more ferocious raw käng recordings I’ve heard in a while, and I listen to a lot of them, but I keep coming back to this to hear the subtle levels that make it stand out. Compared to previous records, this side from Sweden’s contemporary hardcore kings sound more MOB 47/DISCARD in pace at first, then exceedingly drops tune and tone finishing up in the DISPENSE/BOMBANFALL zones…this is 100% bombarding “Vevarsle”! Love! SKELETON lowers the miserable vibes even further with echoing Dis-gruntled death-beat. This is burning more from the gut than the fists, if that makes sense. Thinking MARERIDT, INFERNÖH, BRAINCELL. Four tracks of gruesome paroxysm from Canada. Always with the most imaginative crusty-life existence drawings, Robin Wiberg (SVAVELDIOXID drums) graces the cover with his gnarly pen. In short, get this—both sides rule.

Headsplitters Headsplitters LP

Mad, clean blasts of highly aggressive D-beat hardcore fury from NYC. Vocal cords strained and lost, and the hopeless abandon in its essence sounds metaphorically lost as well. The drums piledrive through with tumbling, slightly sloppy fills, and I mean that in a good way. Solo piano moments break up the assault of furious hardcore. Some metallic crust riffs from HEADSPITTER on this one contrast with their earlier, more Scandi-style recordings, and classic hardcore riffs with optimist attitude are abound, counteracting the bleak tone of everything else. All the songs hit all the marks between two and three minutes, keeping the adrenaline pedal pinned. “At What Cost?” is my favorite track, with lots of variety. Sixteen tracks of quintessential jaded, brooding NYC hardcore from this powerful three-piece.

Membrane Life Sum EP

Piercing my eardrums apart, MEMBRANE out of Oakland drives a stake through my head with a death march of echoing, sizzling noisecore. Imagine the SCREAMERS, GAI, RUDIMENTARY PENI and the SEXUAL all teamed up in a prison yard, needing to escape. With a sonic arsenal and pipes like this, they easily would. This is wild, dream-like hardcore, mixing it up in a bowl of raw noise punk, seasoned with unique cosmic shredding zest. There is something really alien about this, while being familiar. It’s not hostile, but it definitely wants out, and I am not gonna be the one standing in its way. I feel full, and I’m hungry for more. Life Sum is destined to sell out; good luck getting your hands on a copy.

Parötid / Zudas Krust Split EP

ZUDAS KRUST’s filth-kicking things off with the wrath and gnashing vocals of, well FILTHKICK, ABADDON, and lots of European crust of the early to mid ’90s. This is grotesque, noisy, and blistering muffled D-beat sung in the meter of classic crust hardcore of that era. No-fucks-given aggression, in three passionate tracks. Think ENYZME and FRAMTID contemporarily, with bestial wild force. PARÖTID plays more in the rhythm of DISASTER, with very buoyant loose disruptive bass. Lots of echoing reverb and strange speed changes, sort of weird, but totally intentional and impressive, where one might expect straightforward D-beat the entire way. I really like the way these two play off each other. They are distinctly different, in tone, polish, and speed, but compliment each other. “Humanism” is catchy as fuck! Getting lost in this one. Both bands are recommended, as is the split as a whole.

Concrete Sox Sewerside CD reissue

Fuzzy crossover metal punk from Nottingham. Short mad burst of thrash punk fury while at its core is A-political stenchcore riding the wave of the late ’80s thrash explosion. That’s the real standout here: the Anarcho-punk stench is unrivaled through snotty coarse vocals, fanatically harsh D-beat/thrash drumming, and melodic breakdown with dirgey subterranean riffs carrying them through. Like the grooves of S.O.D. with the importance of C.O.C. Messy and punk technical thrash with Scandi-style ten-second guitar solos. This is actually a really fun listen. It’s aggressive, has bizarre samples, the lyrics are smart, the metal is up your arse and the punk is in your face. I first heard CONCRETE SOX on the Endless Struggle 1-in-12 comp and they sounded like DOOM meets OI POLLOI. Every time I got into a “new” CONCRETE SOX recording, it’s something new to experience. Anywhere from SORE THROAT to SUICIDAL to GANG GREEN. Sometimes that can seem confusing. But in their case somehow it is exciting. Keep it salty, keep it strange.

Black Uniforms Splatter Punx on Acid CD reissue

OMG, I almost typed “Splatter Punks”… This is thrashing, metal-soloed Swedish D-beat by the ultimate Splatter PUNX! On Acid, apparently, because there are plenty of bizarrely psychedelic moments, Motör-charged punk’n’roll, leather-reeking athemic riffs, and obscured samples—BLACK UNIFORMS always play with a grandiose Swedish vocal power, recalling parts CONFLICT in conviction and lyrical content, parts KAFKA PROSESS, parts SODOM. Get this CD and Faces of Death if your heart beats punk vitriol but your breath smells like greasy metal!

Chaos UK Stunned to Silence CD reissue

Indeed, this is a stunning racket of CHAOS UK classic ripper punk. The first fifteen tracks are a grisly, minimally tracked echoing rehearsal take, slightly edited between songs in all its crudity. Super washed-out with pulverizing drums and brash vokills from Mower.  Portishead, England must have had their windows insulated that night. Classic raw ’80s hardcore with vocals, drums, bass, guitar—all arguing together and sounding like absolute cohesive chaos! Some of the more mid-tempo songs are awesomely punctuated for the production quality. The second fourteen tracks are a live gig at Rokumeikan Club in Tokyo. Much heavier production, scrapping guitars, grumbling drums, this half is even more distorted. For punx, by the punks, CHAOS UGHH! This is an expensive cassette, so here’s your chance to get it much easier.

Klonns Vulgar CD

Holy shit. This is my shit—hyper-distorted pummeling D-beat noise. I know, I know… but seriously KLONNS is like the heaviness of COFFINS, the gnarly ferocity of D-CLONE, the driving beat of SYMPTOM and the embittered sincerely of FRAMTID. Fly your brain into the blacked clouds with this brief demonstration of gargantuan hardcore noise and gut-churning death-beat punk. I’ve been so fucking frustrated with this COVID-19 pandemic and our living situations… this was the guttural brain-cooking death punk attack I needed. Desperately. The last track is an ABRAHAM CROSS cover. Killer! Recommended for simple-minded D-beat Tokyo crasher crust romantics. NWOJHC!

Blinded Humanity Mind Control EP

Chucky and extremely aggressive gore-core from Australia. The intense speed reminds me of BASTARD filled out with the crustier rage of COP ON FIRE. Six tracks of inferno-core reminiscent of DEATH TOLL 80K with vocal hopelessness and a maniacal regurgitation/choking reflex on every track, which tranforms this EP even further into a bitter pill to swallow.

Genogeist Genogeist LP

Hailing from PDX, GENOGEIST plays tidal waves of crushing static hardcore crust. Two levels of vocals are presented: a choking guttural dense layer, and a clearer digital affected top layer sort of reminding me of ACCION MUTANTE. Songs end and begin seamlessly sutured together. The compositions are at their root punk, branching out with cyber-botanical metal briars. That is to say they bang, hard, but are smothered in distortion. The guitars slice out with AGE accents. The drumming is exceptional, constantly holding a steady mid-tempo crust beat, then all of a sudden cascade and explore into a ruthless fit.  This album moves fast with its attack, but covers all areas of expert songwriting and never seems repetitive. Engaging riffs, punctuated vocal moments, D-beat piledriving, ghoulish momentary death metal solos. GENOGEIST haunts shit up from beginning to end. An epitome of crust’s origins while offering contemporary fresh individuality. Favorite track: “Systemic Shroud.”

Hellbastard Hate Militia CD

The crustiest raw war metal punk. Loose triplet drumming, doom droning disgusting riffs. Headbangers all the way through. Octaves upon octaves of crust basics that sharpened its axe on the blackened stone of Northern England crust madness. Passionate ecological political lyrics spat over anarcho-metal with a goth-like undercurrent and thrash moments. Rather unique combination at a time when bands with a similar aesthetic were much more stripped down to a CRASS/AOA/ICONS OF FILTH style. The thanks list alone says it all: “To all the animals on earth, all the insects on earth, all the mammals and trees, birds, rivers and seas. Forests, lakes, ponds and woodlands—everything else can fuck off.” HELLBASTARD fucking yes. Full-color booklet of photos and lyrics. This is a nice appetizer, stay tuned for a HELLBASTARD 2020 album, as announced on these liner notes.

Influénzia Kønflik cassette EP

Scorching Malaysian hardcore blisters through five tracks of manically guitar soloed splatter-drummed, echoing distortion with Finnish influence and contemporary depth. Initially the presentation sounds like it’s going to be especially fast, but is surprisingly mid-tempoed with layers upon layers of distortion, harsh noise and grit, and “Ughs!” added at all the right moments. Some longer, lo-fi riff exploration reminds of blackened metal. Constantly ascending riffs pull you higher and higher over the gallows branch. Until it ultimately cuts you off wanting more. I’m reviewing a cassette called Kønflik, from Black Konflik, Malaysia. This rodent of audio media oozes with frustration and organic solidarity. Favorite track: “Isolasi II” into “Kriminal” into “Tragedi.” But they all sort of blend together one after the other. The entire play feels like a story in chapters. An unassuming introduction that grows on you by the end. Well done.

Scavengers Circle Beyond Repair CD

Changed motor-kang from Sweden. Dual vocals grate through the play with anguish and a sort of jovial punk attitude. After NASUM, BASTARD PRIEST was the most impressive Swedish two-piece I had heard exhume from a Swedish death metal scene. SCANVENGERS CIRCLE is ready to join the feast. These songs seem from that experience while being heavily influenced by the punk scene as well. Reminded of the GURKA/MALIGNANT TUMOUR split, in the way the songs seem like a reply to each other. Favorite track: “Endless Winter.” Second: “We Summoned a Demon.” This one is parts DISRUPT, parts MASTER. Great stuff.

Fuck It… I Quit! The War Ritual LP

Vicious mad blasts of retro-crust hardcore fueled with defiance and rage. Recalling the sounds of REACT, CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, LOGICAL NONSENSE, AUS-ROTTEN, BOILING MAN, focused on themes of veganism, animal liberation, and a strict stance against the capitalist corporate masculine hypocritical system. Several shared furious vocal duties nail-gun through each track, which clock in under a couple minutes each on average, a brief harsh slap of reality like DROPDEAD. A few songs explore into the three- or four-minute range, thinking of ANTISCHISM, PROVOKED, ZERO HOUR but for the most part, on this 22-track LP laced with several unsettling interludes, the band delivers their message concisely. FUCK IT… I QUIT! is the sound and constitution of the inherent punk culture fight and the uncensored non-metaphoric, straight-to-the-point voice we need again.

Snake Tongue No Escape – No Excuse EP

SNAKE TONGUE sounds much like they are named. The vocals are raspy and hissing, the music is lo-fi and powerful, and the guitars slither under aggressively punctuated percussion. The songwriting is nothing extremely avant-garde, but classic hardcore with moments of doom, mathcore, and thrash. It is as unexpected as a snake tongue, in fact. Four tracks of inspired rage.

Disowned / Kinetic Discord Scavengers LP

DISOWNED plays spattering raw hardcore with the organic tarnish of crust. Rhythmic, engaging riffs snare the neck while brutal, ghastly vocals fill out the spaces, like abysmal death metal laced within anthemic hardcore grooves. The production packs a fucking wallop. So tight. KINETIC DISCORD plays cleaner thrash with a skate punk attitude, harmonizing and bright song progressions. Songs remind me of I-SPY, AGENT ORANGE, and the ADOLESCENTS. Their song “Politicon” is such a ripper. More like POISON IDEA. The split is a surprising contrast, which works.

Zygote 89-91 CD

Wow, this is much cooler than I had expected! It is no mystery that ZYGOTE is composed of members of AMEBIX as well as the SMARTPILS. When I first heard A Wind of Knives in the late ’90s (after getting into AMEBIX), I found it much more post-punk, to the tune of KILLING JOKE and even parts early JANE’S ADDICTION. The first half of this CD is much like that jangling industrial post-punk expression. Decent production with muffled gloom and hypnotism. The second half is a live set whose quality is as clear and on the same level as the demo. The low grinding vibe of AMEBIX is much more prevalent here on this raw offering of a more minimal post-punk project versus their single full-length album.

Absolut 2019 Demonstration EP

Double kicking, mad-blasting metal-charged käng punk from Toronto. ABSOLUT have melded their sound from an ASOCIAL or SVART PARAD delivery to more of a GISM, BOMBRAID, HAWKWIND experience. And this EP rips raw and flourishes with wild technicality. More breakdowns, more crude hissing metallic tones, less of what you’d expect from this originally hyper-echoed D-beat band.

Autarch The Light Escaping LP

Dark, gloomy transcendent crust with galloping beats and minimal vocals spate fourth with pithy apprehension. I appreciate the concentrated pace of the lyrics here, accented with harsh screeching backing vocals set back in the mix. The basic formula is epic neo-crust, but AUTARCH stand out with hypnotic fluidity. The songs are like a lucid fairy tale. This is no generic sketch. Acoustic moments and bow string instrumentation contrast powerful blasts with a soothing nature. Like warm storm waves on cold sharp rocks. AUTARCH deliver a heavy LP that is hardcore punk, and will probably be filed under metal based on the celestial aesthetics and song titles alone. The album doesn’t demand attention, but they have mine.

Dekonstrukt Dekonstrukt 10″

What if TANGERINE DREAM played crust songs? DECONSTRUKT have concocted oceanic and hypnotic, anthemic bangers that hastily move into the chorus. Each track ends with harsh conviction. Abruptly composed attacks with long landscapes of melodic bridges threading through the more intense moments. Minimal strained and screaming vocals over thin reverberated guitars harken to both ’80s post-punk and ’90s blackened crust.

Geiger Counter Nuclear EP

I am so happy to be assigned this vicious EP, that I’ve been spinning personally a lot late last year. What can I say about this dank crust release? This is up there with the stench-dragging psychedelic brutality of HORRENDOUS 3D, EXTREME NOISE TERROR, DISRUPT, the more upbeat aspects of MISERY, with riffs advanced as DESPITE. GIEGER COUNTER truly embrace the origins of late ’80s/early ’90s crust when it may have even been called “grindcore.” HIATUS, DOOM, and DETESTATION come to mind—the Nuclear EP resonates with sonic destruction, yet with slightly more metal virtuosity than all these said examples. Crust fans: do not fear this word “metal.” Tasty, tasty, bits of shrapnel, right here.

Jack Acid Gutless / Lo-Hi 12″

“Turn down for what?!” JACK ACID play GREEN JELLÖ-style SLAYER-ish rap that reminds me of SLIPKNOT or BILLIE EILISH. I do not know much about either, but if you’re into AGATHOCLES, BAD RELIGION, and you think you might be coming “down with the sickness,” this two-track psychedelic slab of disconformity is for you.

Krake Streitkultur LP

Aus Deutschland, KRAKE play sorely-produced raw hardcore punk nodding to ’90s-era breakdowns and sinister maelstrom interludes of metallic radiance. Short blasts and enigmatic, vicious riffs and scathing vocals seethe through in German. Tracks like “Fries Scheiße” pack a fucking wallop. I really like how pulled-in KRAKE keep their songs. A few hooks on guitar, a break, an even more dismal break, some fade out, then over. KRAKE are not fucking around. Songs max out at three minutes, but seem to have all the elements of a solid hardcore song, with some ballad moments and even more battle moments.

Negativ Projections LP

NEGATIV of Oslo plays metallic punk along the lines of POSSESSED and SEPTIC DEATH meets the SCREAMERS or RUDIMENTARY PENI. This extremely catchy LP is part BLAZING EYE redeye punk and dark riffing, and part double-kicking TOXIC HOLOCAUST metal. Pit-churning maniacal anthems from start to finish—this would have probably made my top ten if I had heard it when it was released in April. Densely and clearly produced. You will drool and squeal, bobbing your cavernous cranium along to this slab of lunacy. NEGATIV sounds finitely death punk and infinitely grim thrash simultaneously, all while powering through with unique bizarre measure. Can I go see them with ZYANOSE, PARANOID, SEX DWARF in early 2020!? Damn, fire gig!

Existence Into the Furnace EP

EXISTENCE of Stockholm fuse melodically charged, metallic Scandi-death metal riffing with an overt NYHC style. Imagine if AMORPHIS or KATATONIA had mixed it up with 25 TA LIFE, CRO-MAGS, and MERAUDER. The riffs are intoxicating, and the grunting and barking vocals are totally menacing. There has been a resurgence of deathcore as of late, and I’m kind of drawn to it again. Thinking of the MOMENT OF TRUTH/KRUELTY split… EXISTENCE here joins those rank beats, while retaining unique thrashing compositions that blend harmonizing ethereal death metal and Neanderthal pit-core. Themes include the struggles of fascism in Sweden and abroad, and also delve into cathartic perspectives on realizing one’s mistakes. Heavy on many levels, and a sonic rager.

The Restarts Uprising LP

The RESTARTS are at it again with gurgling, snotty, two-fingers-in-the-air London punk. Kieran hisses forth with an insane inferno in his throat. This record is as catchy as anything the band has done—I loved the System Error-era songs when I saw them in NYC a few times. But also, under its streetwise romping-stomping, there is sharp blade of political vitriol. The record starts with a quote from Greta Thunberg on panic versus hope. In all its pop punk nature and bright ska riffing, they return with a blistering, diminutive, punchy, outspoken brain beater. For fans of INFA-RIOT, CONFLICT, COCKNEY REJECTS, and even the RESTARTS! Favorite tracks: the snarling and powerful “Out and Proud,” and the glimmering macabre “The Fork.”

Osmantikos Survival LP

Crusty hardcore from Malaysia, with furious vocals and clean production. Survival features a dozen grandiose compositions that bring to mind TRAGEDY, the HOLY MOUNTAIN, and COP ON FIRE, as tracks ooze toward a more stenchcore sound. Anthemic passages from dual vocals; all-in-all a full sound from this three piece. Side B opens with some surprisingly upbeat riffs amidst slow gloomy hardcore, similar to GUILLOTINE TERROR or MOONSCAPE. A moody intro-as-intermission midway through the LP, then some more Motörcharged rhythms. With several styles of extreme punk going on, OSMANTIKOS have a lot to offer.

New Skeletal Faces Celestial Disease LP

Just missing Halloween, NEW SKELETAL FACES play gothic post-punk crust, with dissonant sub-aquatic bass lines and discordant contemporary blackened metal riffing. Vocals are grim, sometimes screeching and other times howling, like SHADOW PROJECT meets ZERO HOUR. Songs sound like ROSETTA STONE channeling SATYRICON. Themes are ghoulish cemetery strolling metaphors about the dying planet and a perverse overestimated society. This three-piece make dire cacophonies calling to (or rather, from) the grave. The last songs on each side are my favorite, with IRON MAIDEN, EMPEROR, DEVIATED INSTINCT and CHRISTIAN DEATH flavors peppering them. Recommended for fiends of the dark crafts and infernal tones.

Grey Walls Honest Self-Deception EP

Gloomy, trudging hardcore from Germany with vocal akin to DYSTOPIA and DISRUPT. Proto-hardcore riffs summon a couple horseman of the apocalypse with an appreciation for MORSER and RORSHACH. Low-tuned strings buzz underneath abysmal tracks that end sporadically. Side two is an aquatic carnival of SWING KIDS-type punk, reminding me of the gothic side of INSTINCT OF SURVIVAL which is quickly torn apart by power-crust screams of torment. An avant-garde artistic approach to an easily categorized, abrasive, misanthropic corner of hardcore. I can’t ignore the intrigue. The skeletal artwork is beautiful: black-and-white pencil-and-wash drawings similar to KÄTHE KOLLWITZ, with handwritten lyrics in German and English. You’re not giving me a lot a space here, but I appreciate you, GREY WALLS.

Meatwound Culero LP

Metal hardcore fusion with entrancing passages. Life-gripping and grimacing; MEATWOUND plays pulverizing hardcore channeling MIND ERASER, HIS HERO IS GONE, INTEGRITY, COLD SWEAT, HOLY MOUNTAIN even DEAD MEADOW and PALLBEARER at times. This music is simultaneously downtrodden and chaotically aggressive, including spaceship-contacting cathedral-spelunking synth moments. This is very impressive proto-psych power thrash with occult undertones in a burning, spirited pulse with nature. Make no mistake, there are plenty of churning breakdowns within these sonic labyrinths. Thick green vinyl, an extensive booklet with illustrations for each song, a huge poster of the nine-eyed Baphometic/goat cover art by Vincent Locke, stickers, and other eldritch goodies. Total madness, calling itself MEATWOUND. Get this and zone the fuck out in their cosmic cacophony. This is some next level shit that I feel lucky to hear.

Future Terror Plague EP

Atrocious, galloping, guttural D-beat from Virginia that hisses with WARCOLLAPSE-type angst and echoing screams. A sheer blast of classic ’90s Scandi-style punk that sounds like a sonic battlefield. Totally brutal, buoyantly produced, thick and dirgy, and bound together with samples that take me back to the ’90s filth-core onslaught. Wild paces of that classic SARCASM, Phonophobia, ASPECT OF WAR sound, with time-signature changeups that leave a lump in your throat. So fucking ripping. This is an addicting release.

Protestera Kampen Går Vidare CD

The thrilling, epic, and chilling debut LP from Götenborg’s PROTESTERA is now available on CD. Bitter, metallic, and melancholic late ’90s/early ’00s crust, with harsh riffs, and drums that are fierce and tight: weaving D-beat with circle pit-ready mosh breakdowns. Spoken passages, dual vocals with static-filled hardcore breaks and vicious oration, and menacing, rhythmic gang vocals all put forth intense conviction. If you’re into CONTRAVENE, SCUMBRIGADE, POST-REGIMENT, OI POLLOI, FLEAS AND LICE, or ANTIPRODUCT, this is for you. The 30-page booklet oozes with photos, a history lesson, and squat scene nostalgia. We need more bands like this again. Such a level of solidarity and passion in a time of exhausting hopelessness. Digitally remastered to the highest standard since its original release on Skuld release in 2000. This will not disappoint.

Bonefire Fade and Decay LP

Third LP from these Minneapolis thrashing metal-punk veterans’ project—BONEFIRE features members of MISERY, SOCIAL SCHISM (UK) and TROUBLEMAKER (CA). Snarling anthemic hardcore with a no-fucks-given attitude. Lots of catchy breakdowns, a tight double kick pedal that won’t let up, and bass grooves that add a lot of ingenuity to pretty standard albeit furiously charged compositions. The guitars are fuzzy, the vocals are gargled, the riffs are dirty. Everything sounds filthy and punk as fuck, but the morose bridges are taken with pause, and the recording was handled with a lot of care. Oh geez, and this is an Enormous Door mastering job, who up the ante again. So good. Fade and Decay is easy to get into, and features signature sounds from said members’ bands, while putting forth a unique, shadowy, and saturated new offering. I’m reminded of KILLING JOKE, INSIDE OUT, HIGH ON FIRE, VARUKERS and CHAOS UK, all at the same time. I mean…

Malcría El Reino De Lo Falso LP

MALCRÍA of Mexico City plays rhythmic, punctuated macabre punk with the demented tones of RUDIMENTARY PENI meeting the urgency and chokehold of SIEGE. The bass bombards forth, while the guitars sizzle under smashing drums with feral unexpected thunderous attacks. Songs are short and tight, filled with raw power and unbridled energy boiling simultaneously as a lidded cauldron ready to erupt. Very tense, very real. The Spanish vocals are screamed and megaphoned across the spiraling, flaying hardcore tracks. As the play progresses, shadows of FORÇA MACABRA, CONFUSE, PART 1, SEPTIC DEATH, and RAJOITUS rear their ugly heads. MALCRÍA has concocted a fresh stab of distorted, demented, threatening hardcore. Cool your head with this all summer, and into the fall crispness. Songs as crispy as dead leaves on fire.

Game No One Wins LP

London jangling punks GAME play scathing, hexing, barking hardcore in the style of MUSHROOM ATTACK, the COMES, the STALIN, CHARGE, NEGLECT, and NO STATIK, orated with Polish and English command. Vocals are punctuated with pounding harsh rhythm, while the songwriting varies from anthemic circle pit hardcore to thrashing ’80s punk metal. This LP is powerfully energetic, with surprising changes yet flowing evenly from start to finish. Encapsulating, hasty, bewitching and in complete control. Its production is perfectly clear, as well as engineered to accentuate what makes GAME on top, making it an immediately engaging listen. Bizarrely kvlt art by Nicky Rat.

1919 Futurecide CD

The latest full-length from Bradford post-punk legends 1919 slinks forth with catchy melodic abrasion. Harmonies as mesmerizing as the CHURCH; serpentine cradle-shaking akin to BAUHAUS; contemporary angst reminding of the ESTRANGED, MOIRA SCAR, and SEX GANG CHILDREN; the twitching ennui of MIDNIGHT OIL; and even the pop spin cycle à la CULTURE ABUSE, with a slack standard of SUEDE. 1919 have composed at times an optimistic, albeit still-life and morose effort that’s smoother than their tribal ’80s death rock sound, exploring a goth-gazing that is absolutely worth checking out. Introduce yourself as if they were the newest sensation in this darkwave movement, as if they weren’t around 35 years ago already nailing that fresh pine coffin.

Discript 未知 cassette

It is an honor to review this exhumation of a 1993 project by BEYOND DESCRIPTION’s alter ego. DISCRIPT play pulverizing, heavy D-beat fury with muffled riffs, china hits, cybernetic effects, putting forth themes of dissatisfaction with society and its inherent rudeness, all sung in Japanese with vapid flavor and viscous flow. Reminds me of the VARUKERS channeling CORRUPTED. Or an old obscure Swedish HC favorite VISIONS. What an intense combo—and DISCRIPT is killing it after 25 years of grimacing slumber. Sonic terror level red. If this were any louder I’d be knocking shit off the speakers. Five tracks of sheer awesome grunting bestial Japanese crust that have left all metal-grind preceding reputations in the dust.

Tragedy Fury LP

There was a time around the turn of the millennium that I was simultaneously obsessed with WORLD BURNS TO DEATH’s The Sucking of the Missle Cock and TRAGEDY’s Vengeance. You could not fuck with the raw aggression of either, and they both sincerely, mercilessly charged a wave of Bush Jr.-denouncing US hardcore punk. Though I’ve never been opposed to changing up an approach in musical style, if you have lost track of TRAGEDY on their last two LPs, I highly recommend you visit Fury: a threatening, intense return to form, with the poignant lyrical content they have impressed with previously. Fury hits hard, if not harder and more calloused, with unhinged emotion than the philosophic, metaphoric content of Vengeance. Dare I say the flavor is more ’80s Japanese HC in vocals and leads, and more Scandi-core in rhythm and percussion? Fury is technically an EP that feels like a full-story LP. If WARCRY emulates the dawning battle strife, TRAGEDY is the madness, a blinding flash at dusk and the more-recent NIGHTFELL the smoldering grave…but I totally digress on PDX killer bands. Fury is dark, harrowing, fast as wildfire, and an unexpected phoenix woke as fuck.

War Bison Acre LP

Powerhouse hardcore bursts with a disjointed NYHC flavor, thrash metal churning, and posi-core changes, with an undercurrent of old school circle pit mosh. The solos are flashy fire over a steady punk drum attack. There are vibes of BUDGIE, YOUTH OF TODAY, EXODUS, and BASTARD, but WAR BISON play feel-good party crossover metal with a punk sensibility and experienced musical arrangements. The delivery is expected and familiar in an inviting way. Gang vocals galore bring me back to Lower East Side hardcore matinees or metal shows in any old random American warehouse. Acre is a classic post-hardcore metal album. I once saw a friend in a WAR BISON scarf, and damn the thing looked cozy and varsity, but I noticed the lettering was that of AMEBIX lettering, so I knew I’d be in for a bit of a treat that was all over the place. I love the full-color medieval jacket art too.

Sago Flood Island LP

Anguished and furious hardcore punk from Toronto, with an overt anarcho-punk delivery. Breakdowns are everywhere, whether in the early ’00s screaming proto-grind or the dual-vocal ’90s euro-crust. There are some very ripping death metal riffs on here, with waves of pop punk, melodic hardcore, and D-beat. Songs clock in at about two minutes each, which is perfect, leaving me ready for more.

V/A Peace, Unity, Noise And Having Fun: Tekken Tribute & Remixes LP

So this compilation LP is apparently a tribute to the French fastcore band TEKKEN. I regret to announce I was not familiar with TEKKEN the band, but it looks as though they were around in the late ’90s and early ’00s, and with some video research, I have realized that they were pretty good! If you like to blast off with CHARLES BRONSON, SPAZZ, DAMNABLE EXCITE ZOMBIES, AGATHOCLES, or even FANTOMAS, or any bands that were forming when fastcore was really breaking into its stride, I have this recommendation for you! There’s also some really bizarre MIDI carnival music, which I must admit I am entertained by, if not perplexed.

Mutant Scum Mutant Scum LP

Ambient tribal drums start this LP off, before breaking into galloping, hard rock rhythms that channel HIGH ON FIRE, DAMAD, early COC, and Connecticut crust-core slayers REACT, with a fine combination of southern blues guitar and death metal. The vocals are grimacing, strained, and well in key. A mid-paced guttural banger that, from aesthetics, I expected to be way more goregrind thrash. This LP has catchy diminutive chords, straightforward punk-tinged heavy metal, and excellent dense production. I’m quite impressed. Songs about wizards, sewers, creatively metaphoric environmental messages, and our subsequent mutations from its demise. Cool ’80s toxic horror cover art—this version of the vinyl is green, but like opaque Ninja Turtle green, a vinyl color I had yet to see.

Cloud Rat / The World Is a Vampire Split LP

A beautifully played piano starts out the CLOUD RAT side, coupled with delicate, warm, and haunting vocals. This seamlessly tumbles into ruthless, crust-stenched, abysmal riffs, with high and tight drums. This dark, dense, churning, hexing grind and crust reminds me of the terrifying sounds of EBOLA, the fury of INITIAL STATE, the metallic bewitching nature of CETASCEAN, and the chaotic maelstrom that came with SKARP. CLOUD RAT is all things steady punk D-beat, blasting grind, and blackened metal sorcery. THE WORLD IS A VAMPIRE calms the nerves with pulverizing, heavy drudge metal. The vocals spew forth like a cindering furnace, and the chords are subtly disharmonic, creating an off-kilter, unsettling hypnotic rhythm. Calculated but surprising effects pierce through the thick tones. Parts indie rock, parts cacophonous doom punk—I’m really digging this side too! The last track is a brilliant cover of TEARS FOR FEARS’ “Mad World.” Yes! This split is definitely recommended for the dismal, strange, and curious.

Bombanfall Åsiktsfrihet CD

It is remarkably bittersweet to be writing my final reviews for the print edition of MRR, but what a distinct honor it was to receive this reissue of one of the greatest Swedish hardcore EPs ever…that was followed up by nothing. As far as I’m concerned, this is pretty much the epitome of Scandinavian hardcore that captures both a melodic legendary folklore sound, and despairingly raw punk fueled with grandiose, godless hammering. Unless you want to spend $150 on one of mine, you absolutely must pick this up. It’s pretty much a flawless, organically played, sincerely furious, monstrously echoing, pulpit-orated, masterpiece of extreme/DIY music history, which inspired so many future compositions. I know that’s a lot of praise to print. Well, here’s my chance.

Black Uniforms Faces of Death CD

Splattering metal punk from the Scandinavian hive of hardcore: Malmö, Sweden. BLACK UNIFORMS play motörcharged D-beat raw punk for all the moonlight rambling crashers. You get G-ZET, INEPSY, NAILBITER, and DIS-BONES style bammers, and heck, it even sounds like AMEBIX at times. This CD has both the original 1989 version of Faces of Death and the 2001 remastering. You know you want it!

Vaaska Inocentes Condenados EP

Austin, Texas’ VAASKA play six ripping tracks of high-pitched, ’80s Finnish inspired hardcore, echoing brutal flavor and a buzzing guitar tone that is stinging, with confident lyrics in Spanish spat forth with furious power. Crushing hardcore along the lines of MELLAKKA, RAJOITUS, and LAMA. I can’t say anything bad about the release, and yet I struggle to find a particularly stand out thing about it. It clobbers with D-beat fire, and the tones are freakishly coarse static hissing. That’s the big takeaway. My hearing loss.

Sheenjek Volume 1 EP

Hypnotic, shoegazing psyche-influenced bar rock with a grunge twang that I kind of love. The vocals are great, and definitely have a punk howling that has matured like fine mead. All the good parts of FUCKED UP, the Twin Peaks soundtrack, and the MERMEN. A solid, timeless, rock release. A short and sweet EP, like this review.

D.N.A. Retrospective CD

Retrospective comprises all of this guttural Swedish D-beat band’s output. They have the vibe of early ANTI-CIMEX and the heaviness of SVART PARAD or BOMBANFALL, with funks-not-dead baselines that come to the forefront, and some slower-knuckle dragging ghostly rhythms as well. Think ATTACK SS, late-era RUDIMENTARY PENI, or even RADIO BIRDMAN, with macabre twists, turns, and gothic mangel. They cover “Green Onions,” for crying out loud. And the hardcore parts are raging. Not-as-talked-about ‘80s Swedish skit punkers, but certainly recommended.

Dissekerad Domenatten EP

Supergroup of sorts featuring members of BRAINBOMBS, AVSKUM, TOTALITÄR, and a buncha other Swede greats. Unfortunately this lil EP is nowhere near as exciting as any of those bands, but it’s not a total waste. The riffs hold this back—I coulda sworn I’ve heard them on a couple of dozen records before this one! The redeeming grace is Poffen’s incredible voice, still snarling and snapping with the same desperation and fury he had decades ago. Despite that, this record is still pretty forgettable.

Butcher Return to Nothingness LP

BUTCHER’s second LP is harrowing chaos on overdrive. Jack Butcher snarls forth with a clear yet grizzly delivery, at times bringing Rob “The Baron” Miller of AMEBIX, or intense black metal straining to mind, while still retaining hardcore razor cuts. The guitar intros are metallic and extremely accomplished, and at times melancholic post-punk vibes are mixed with discordant blackened chamber metal. Everything is much faster than you even need or expected. “Beyond the Triple World” is my favorite track, with well-placed mid-tempo bludgeoning. The lyrics are formulated into mystical analogies and spiritual perditions, which resist the power of evil, though embrace its existence, expressed through words that are wholeheartedly nihilistic and minimal, while at once fluid and existentially vast. “Beware The Gnawing Nothingness” is especially poignant and depressing. Featuring members of FORWARD, WORLD BURNS TO DEATH, ASSHOLEPARADE, and LIFECHAIN, and with calamitous cover art by the uncompromising Tomohiro Matsuda. And just like that, it ends like a cleaver to the skull. Darker, denser, and even deeper than the
debut. Get this.

Organa Organa LP

German anti-oppression powerviolence and grindcore that sounds like the industrial soundtrack to Brazil meets HIS HERO IS GONE, COMBATWOUNDEDVETERAN and the most downtrodden riffs from the CURE. Neo-crust breakdowns, blistering grindcore attacks, and open intermittent D-beat sections that are so brief you can’t ignore their ingenuity. Gnarly charred vocals spew out lyrics in both German and English. Lyrical themes decry the ugly existence of fascism, racism, nationalism, sexism, and homophobia. ORGANA, lay down six brutal tracks through shattering noise and fury. Production is super heavy—well done. This is a one-sided LP with a circle of barbed wire etched on the other.