Reviews

Jeff Bale

V/A Back From the Grave, Vol. 6 LP

More two-chord rants about unresponsive gurls. I keep waiting for the quality in this series to decline so that I won’t have to bore everyone by reiterating how great these reissues are. But I guess I’ll have to wait longer, for this volume has mind-numbing ’60s punk gems by the SHAMES, SAVOYS, BARRACUDAS, etc. One of the few series which can honestly be described as “all killer, no friller.”

Karnival Season Won’t Get Heard EP

Great psych cover, but the music is more of that quasi-folky LA-style ’60s pop than the trashy punk or the mindbending sound. “Camp 9-0-9” is faster, rawer, and by far the best song on this EP. Personally, I’ll take the STOMACH MOUTHS or MORLOCKS any day.

Eighth Route Army Nihilist Olympics LP

A schizophrenic album with a melodic “then” punk side that includes material from their previous 7” releases, and a semi-commercial “now” side with recent post-punky material. I much prefer the former, though there’s not a total separation. This is a decent record with some good lyrics, but only “No Leaders” is really irresistible.

Bleached Black Wrist Slashing Romance 12″

This Connecticut band sometimes sounds like one of those tedious UK post-punk outfits, then they turn around and produce rockin’ 60s-tinged guitar-heavy numbers. The best of the latter is probably “Prey for Me,” but the lack of slickness on the production makes this debut pretty enjoyable in an early MISSION OF BURMA-type way.

V/A Ataque Sonoro LP

This hot Brazilian HC comp features ten bands and a variety of styles from supercharged thrash (RATOS DE PORÑO, LOBOTOMIA) to Oi (VÍRUS 27, GAROTOS PODRES—dig that harp!—and AUSCHWITZ) to folkish punk, classical punk, and even skate punk. The trebly Brazilian production adds to the appeal, and most of the lyrics are concerned with political issues like oppression, nuclear war, and corruption. Cool gatefold cover.

Snix Coeur de Lion 12″

More French skunk from SNIX. The guitars could profitably be rawer, but the tunes are generally good (especially “Madou”) and the overall effect is quite appealing. The big question here is one of values: SNIX may not be supporters of M. LePen, but some of the song titles and dedications don’t reflect much that is positive. Who knows?

The Independents Save Yourself 12″

This Saskatchewan group produces a boisterous pop sound and are at their best when the guitars and tempos are really cranked up. There is a definite ’60s influence on some songs, but most of their material has a more contemporary feel. Although good overall, “Why Should I Care” and “Gloria” are disposable.

The S.L.A. Evil Empire LP

A really intense album, both musically and thematically. The SLA have growling vocals à la FARTZ, and a very raw instrumental attack; the songs range from careening thrashers to more complex but less hard-hitting cuts. The lyrics are unabashedly radical, whether dealing with wage slavery, national chauvinism, or media sensationalism, but the choice of the band name leaves something to be desired since there is some evidence suggesting that the real Symbionese Liberation Army were police provocateurs rather than genuine and very stupid militants.

Asta Kask Med Is I Magen 12″

Yet another outstanding release from this Swedish band. With their tight musicianship, super instrumental hooks, rough lead vocals, and up-tempo sing-along choruses, they remind me of classic punk outfits from the late ’70s like STIFF LITTLE FINGERS. ASTA KASK wouldn’t know how to write a bad song, so don’t ignore this 12”.

V/A 99th Floor flexi EP

A hot neo-’60s flexi that accompanies issue #7 of 99th Floor fanzine. Side A is a total ’60s punk killer with songs by the BROOD and the BOYS FROM NOWHERE (who cover the Jeff Conolly tune of the same name). The flip is definitely not up to that standard, but the TELL-TALE HEARTS’ number is vastly better than their previous vinyl offerings; the PODZ’ live cut is raunchy but poorly recorded.

The Reactions Tomorrow’s Time Today / Blue Beyond 7″

From the opening jangle of “Tomorrow’s…” guitars, it’s clear that this trio has been influenced by the BYRDS. Both songs here have sad, melodic vocals and real cool double-tracked psychedelic guitar, and I like them a lot. These guys might get wimpy in a 24-track studio, but the garage production on this 45 provides an appealingly rough edge.

Noise for the Needy First Cuts 12″

A nifty garage pop record that reveals more than a little imagination and excellent lyrics. Most of it is subdued and perhaps even subtle—check out the irresistible riff/bass run in “Just a Game”—but a song like “What Was the Point” shows that they can rock out more if the urge strikes them. “An End” is pretty disposable, yet this band has something.

The Livers Spy Hunt EP

This LIVERS release is a varied affair. It’s got a ’60s-influenced garage pop number with a fuzz guitar break (“Spy Hunt”), two garage thrashers, and a garage punker (“Punk Jet”) that sound like they are recorded live, and a “progressive” number with synth (“Face Kicked In”). I could do without the latter, but the rest is pretty cool.

Christ on Parade Sounds of Nature LP

Ripping thrash from one of the Bay Area’s best contemporary HC outfits. Neither the musical structures nor the themes are particularly unique, but the execution is way above the current US norm. The guitar sound is really piercing, the tempo is supercharged, some cuts have killer choruses (like “Drop Out” and “No Truth”) or guitar breaks (like “Landlord”), and the overall effect is ultra intense. Features European-style Pus production.

Funeral Oration Communion LP

The second tasty release from Holland’s FUNERAL ORATION. This one features guitarist extraordinaire Tos N., who adds some distinctive frills and textures to the band’s already shredding sound. Most of the material here combines HÜSKER DÜ-style instrumental density and vocals with the traditionally powerful Dutch thrash approach, and the results are stunning. Add to that a couple of plaintive ’60s-tinged cuts (like “Dayfall”), and you’ve got an LP that will be on your turntable a lot.

Speed Queens I Wish I Had a Big Cock Just Like Iggy Pop EP

Hot garage punk record from the Bay Area. Rumor had it that these guys were glam-rock revivalists, but glam rock never sounded this raunchy. The SPEED QUEENS offer a slower lament to the platform geeks of yore (“All the Young Dudes Are Dead”), a fast punker (“I Wish I Had a Big Cock Like Iggy Pop”), and a blasting two-guitar mld-tempo number à la HEARTBREAKERS (“Underground Music Queen”). With ridiculous and humorous themes like these, they should open for GG ALLIN or, for that matter, serve as his back-up band.

Descendents I Don’t Want to Grow Up LP

A superb second LP from the DESCENDENTS. The first thing that hits you is its schizophrenic character—side one presents more of their catchy garage punk with satirical and scatological themes (some of which are overtly sexist), whereas side two highlights a newer sound that combines irresistible pop or countrified melodies, heavy punk guitars, and sensitive, reflective lyrics. I actually prefer the latter (especially “Silly Girl” and “Good Good Things”), which seem to result from Bill Stevenson’s (ex-BLACK FLAG) influence.

V/A Nå Eller Aldri EP

This is a superior hardcore release from Norway. It includes both relatively well-known bands (SISTE DAGERS HELVETE and AKUTT INNLEGGELSE) and more obscure outfits (KAFKA PROSESS, ANGOR WAT, LANDSSVIK and PSYKISK TERROR), but the musical standard is almost uniformly high. PSYKISK TERROR’s cut is particularly outstanding; it sounds a lot like TERVEET KÄDET’s better material.

Krunch Mys & Kel LP

The second release from this Swedish group really clears the sinuses. On the “Blapopsida,” they produce more of the killer thrash that characterized their debut, although their head-numbing instrumental attack, gravelly vocals, and short, piercing guitar solos are occasionally undermined by too much chaos or too little tunefulness. The “Bopsida” combines this approach with lengthier and more innovative musical sections; a crunching wall of noise and hilarious lyrics make “Free Fuck” sound like BELFAGORE meets the MEATMEN.

Billy Bragg Life’s a Riot / Between the Wars LP

Again, Mr. BRAGG returns with more of his biting social commentaries set to punky folkish music. Whether the themes are overtly political (like the cover of “What Side Are You On”) or more personal (like “Richard”), the lyrics will delight, and unless you demand the full sound of a traditional band, you’ll probably find the music stimulating, too.

Stevie Stiletto and the Switchblades It’s a Bogus Life EP

Another great Florida garage punk band. I don’t know if this breed of trashiness and psychosis is a by-product of the heat and humidity down there, but for some reason that state produces a lot of entertaining outfits with semi-retarded lyrics. These guys sound more than a little like the ANGRY SAMOANS, which is the highest sort of compliment.

The New Breed 1001 Suburban Nights EP

One of the East Coast’s new wave of neo-mod groups. I personally like raucous mod blasting with a flailing guitar, but these are precisely the qualities that NEW BREED lacks. They spend too much time on melodies and harmonic vocals, and ignore the all-important crunching sound. Aspiring mods should spend less time listening to the late JAM and more time listening to the early WHO and the debut singles by the JOLT, PURPLE HEARTS, and CHORDS.

Capitol Punishment When “Putsch” Comes to Shove 12″

More intense thrash from CAPITOL PUNISHMENT. They’ve been a unit for a long time, and it shows in the ultra-tight instrumental attack displayed here. The vocals are exceptionally gruff, lyrics are well-taken, and there are even glimpses of quasi-psychedelic elements (in “Elephant Man’) and Euro-thrash (the guitar riff in “Broken Home”). Check it out.

Bad Trip So Unkind EP

Lately, more bands have been adopting the nasty ’60s punk style (as opposed to the wimpy psych pop or folk approaches), and BAD TRIP are among them. Here the quality is a bit uneven, ranging as it does from a way hot original (“Never Had It Better”) to a fairly lame version of the REMAINS’ “Don’t Look Back,” but they definitely have potential.

V/A Chaos in Europe LP

Despite a well-drawn but obnoxious macho cover with blatant evocations of violence, the third Chaos Production compilation proves to be another very strong release. This one has bands from all over Europe on if, thereby extending its range and variety. Herein one can find the standard French-style skunk (KOMINTERN SECT, REICH ORGASM, L’ENFANTS SAUVAGES, and Spain’s DECIBELIOS), catchy pop punk (AL KAPOTT, DREI ORLOK, Spain’s TNT, Holland’s NV LE ANDEREN, and a killer cut from Sweden’s ASTA KASK) pure Oi (BRUTAL COMBAT and Italy’s NABAT), and all sorts of punk (the KAMBRONES, Germany’s F.F.F. and NEUROTIC ARSEHOLES, and Sweden’s SLAM). Highly recommended.

S.A.S. Suave and Sophisticated? EP

Yeeouwh! This is an absolutely amazing British thrash band. SPEAK AGAINST SOCIETY manages to generate an incredible wall of guitar power and attains a level of intensity rarely heard these days from that “sceptered isle.” No doubt they’ll be panned in the British music weeklies, the surest sign of greatness. “We Don’t Need It” makes your hair stand up!

Happy Toons / Dead Fink Rest in Pieces split EP

Two defunct Chicago-area bands share the honors on this split EP. DEAD FINK produces raw but hook-filled punkers of which “Home in a Grave” is particularly outstanding; HAPPY TOONS alternate between a careening thrash assault and some weird metal-tinged structures, but they’re crude enough to get away with it. A surprisingly strong release from two relatively unknown outfits.

Roach Egg Invasion Huevos Roacheros: Live From Woody’s Back Door Tavern LP

This live album from Kansas’ ROACH EGGS is just what one might expect from a garage band out of the Midwest with a goofy name like that. It’s absurdly basic and sort of inept in the “punk rock” sense of the term, and the lyrics are either stupid or funny depending on one’s taste. The big problem here is the absence of guitar distortion and a powerful recording, but then Woody’s Back Door Tavern probably doesn’t have a world-class sound system.

Schweinepest Wir Wollen Leben EP

Hot German thrash with instrumental punch and gravelly vocals à la INFERNO. Also, the songs have good hooks and incorporate elements off other styles, e.g. a reggaefied break in the title track and a rockabilly-tinged lead in “Bruno.” The results are excellent.

Lost Generation Victim LP

A chunky punk instrumental attack characterizes the latest LOST GENERATION LP. Despite some overly rockish parts, Victim’s solid mid-tempo sound, multi-dimensional songs, strong hooks, sung (rather than screamed) vocals, and sometimes thoughtful lyrics make it the best release by this band since their awesome debut EP.

Michiro Endo The End 12″

The singer from the STALIN’s new solo release is a diverse effort. While it certainly won’t appeal to the “hardcore or die” crowd, it may—or may not—be of interest to those with more catholic tastes. Featured are a “new wavey” remix of an earlier ENDO song (“School’s End”), an atmospheric post-punker (“Water Sister”), and two punkish cuts, the best of which is “The Stalin.”

Minor Threat Salad Days EP

For some reason, listening to this record makes me feel like shit (though it has little or nothing to do with the music itself). It’s just that it reminds me of the not-so-old days when one could feel genuinely enthusiastic and positive about the hardcore scene. Ironically, Ian seems to be dealing with this very issue in the great title cut, which is as bittersweet as it is reflective. The flip songs seem pretty lackluster by comparison, but then screaming at a wall apparently isn’t going to bring the motherfucker down after all.

The Mess It’s All Wyrd! EP

An anomalous debut, in that it mixes ’70s garage punk rhythms, quasi-psychedelic ’60s-style leads, and ROTTEN-esque vocals. At first, the effect is unsettling, but their originality and punch become more impressive with each listening.

Brunfuss Brunfuss LP

It’s ironic that BRUNFUSS caricatured blacks on their album cover, because they themselves are a stereotypical ’80s New Jersey bar band. Aside from an occasional punk (“B.A.D.”) or “humor” song (“Brunfuss”), this record is filled with basic garage rock and metal leads, not to mention seemingly inane lyrics. I think it’s meant to be funny, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Kansanturvamusiikkikomissio 666 LP

One of the least mono-dimensional Finnish releases of late. KANSANTURVAMUSIIKKIKOMISSIO plays everything from gravelly punk à la MAHO NEITSYT (“Pääni” and “Työlaisen Aurinko”) to post-punk (“Valaistu Risti”) to full-tilt thrash (“Kalinka” and “666”) to a host of annoying discordant numbers that don’t have any hooks (like “Meksiko”). The latter material unfortunately predominates, and the album is uneven, but there’s some fine stuff herein.

RPA Shoot the Pope / Bonecrusher 7″

A new Seattle outfit with Brad, an original member of the LEWD. Both songs here are fast punkers with a distorted guitar and some of the meanest vocals I’ve heard since those of Blaine from the FARTZ. An added bonus is this classic line from the A-side: “Shoot the Pope, shoot the Pope, just another Polish joke.” Pick it up today.

Detonators Yer Child’s War / Emergency 7″

Personally, I think these two songs (culled from their upcoming album) have much more impact than the bulk of those on their debut 12”. The production is still murky, but here it accentuates a wall-of-sound style of thrash that almost sounds European. Both cuts also have memorable choruses and good lyrics, so I’m anxiously awaiting the long-player.

Asbestos Rockpyle Industrial Religion EP

Another diverse effort from this odd group. All of the tracks—whether garage punk, Oi, or experimental—are extremely primitive and, even better, full of scathing lyrical barbs directed against the likes of John Lydon and macho idiots. Check out this sadly appropriate couplet from “Skinhead Glory”: “Give me a reason to pick a fight / Let me prove that I ain’t bright.” Original through and through.

Vorkriegsjugend Vorkriegsjugend LP

After releasing one of 1984’s top ten hardcore releases, it’d be difficult for any band to match the same exalted standard on an entire album’s worth of material, and VORKRIEGSJUGEND don’t quite manage it. But they do reappear with the same killer combination of blistering thrashers (like ‘‘Schöne neue Welt” and “Die Bombe”) and slower bone-crunchers (like “Die letzte Schlacht”), many of which showcase their distinctive sing-along choruses. Not all of the songs are as great as those mentioned above, and the muddy recording amputates their twin-guitar attack, but this LP is still excellent.

Billy Bragg Brewing Up With Billy Bragg LP

The punkest record I’ve heard in a while, and it’s not even “punk rock.” Englishman BILLY BRAGG is heir apparent of the great PATRICK FITZGERALD (of “Safety Pin Stuck in My Heart” fame) in that he too mixes biting social and political commentaries with a heartfelt solo guitar-vocal performance. The edge and spontaneous communication characteristic of his live show are inevitably diminished on vinyl, but the integrity shines through. Folk punk at its best.

Satans Cheerleaders Bark Twice for Freedom cassette

Thrash that makes up in intensity and super-psychotic vocals what it lacks in melodies or hooks. The lyrics are strong if a bit obtuse, “Fondly, War” has a sharp ’60s-ish structure, and the CHEERLEADERS’ overall mania is enough to carry them through some peculiarly discordant parts.

Reagan Youth Youth Anthems for the New Order 12″

The long-awaited REAGAN YOUTH record is finally out, and it’s well worth the wait. They’ve produced an ultra-primitive, trashy attack with an amazingly raw guitar sound that reminds me of Florida’s F. Add to that a social consciousness willing to confront both reaction and apathy, and it’s impossible to fail. Their anthemic theme song “Reagan Youth” brilliantly captures the mindless idolatry of today’s young Republicans, and the other tracks are almost equally appealing. A must.

V/A Cleanse the Bacteria LP

Pus and I often have minor musical differences, so I was hoping for the opportunity to take a friendly swipe at the old headbanger’s international thrash-oriented compilation. But I’m having a hard time because it’s a fucking good record. Some of the groups here are among my favorites (like 7 SECONDS and MOB 47) and the selections are usually up the best of each band’s standard, so I’ll just have to bite my tongue and get into these vicious slabs of cranium-crunching mayhem, etc. Kudos to GENOCIDE EXPRESS, SIEGE, and even HOLY DOLLS.

Olho Seco Isto É Olho Seco EP

A new EP’s worth of chunky thrash from one of Brazil’s premier hardcore outfits. There’s one studio side featuring both their excellent “theme” song, with its distinctive guitar riff, and another piledriver; the flip contains three less-appealing, roughly recorded live cuts. But since the studio material is killer stuff that satisfies all expectations, you should look for this one.

Mellakka El… EP

I haven’t been real thrilled by most of the recent Finnish hardcore releases, since they’ve tended to be sloppy and/or overly generic. And even though MELLAKKA don’t offer too much that’s new in the thrash sweepstakes, they do it well. Tight and well-recorded for a D.I.Y. project.

Asexuals Be What You Want LP

The fact that I viciously slagged the ASEXUALS for their lyrics to “Contra Rebels” in a recent review helps to disguise that I’ve always really liked their music, both on the EP and in the offending song. And now that I’ve learned that I’ve unjustifiably criticized them for said lyrics, which were apparently meant satirically, I have no qualms about admitting that this is an impressive album combining ’77 punk structures, fast tempos, and strong choruses. I apologize for the mistaken interpretation, but the lesson to be learned from it is that poorly composed satire can easily be misconstrued as dead seriousness.

Hüsker Dü New Day Rising LP

What more can be said about these guys—even traditional rock critics like them. That shouldn’t be held against them, though, because they have more brilliant ideas up their sleeves than 50 normal bands, and they can play rings around the competition. Here, they come up with yet another platter full of classics that combine innovative structures, every exciting species of guitar noise, loads of intensity, and diversity of mood. Ace all the way, and “The Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill” is amazing.

V/A Finnish Spunk / Hard Beat LP

A compilation of Finnish hardcore on Germany’s Rock-O-Rama label. The music is generally strong (though some is overly generic), but there is a problem raised by this album—the appearance of so many tracks that have already been released on earlier Finnish (or even German) records. Although it’s great to witness the “internationalization” of the punk scene on vinyl, I wish that the organizers of these projects would try harder to get only unreleased cuts or songs on records that are out-of-print or otherwise impossible to get ahold of. Here, the ratio of easily-available material is close to 50%, and that’s too much.

Rolands Gosskör Genom Barriären EP

This is a great melodic punk record that’s almost up to the awesome standard established by fellow Swedes ASTA KASK. Loud guitars, huge hooks, and catchy background vocals combine to make these songs stick in your craw, particularly the pair on side A. Highly recommended.

Böhse Onkelz Der Nette Mann LP

This may appear to be a typical troglodyte Oi album, but it’s both more and less. On the plus side are the now-traditional gravelly vocals, an uncharacteristically rich guitar sound, and some surprisingly accomplished songwriting; on the debit side are overly long, metallic guitar solos (as in the title song), some bad reggae-influenced numbers, and a penchant for writing somewhat retarded lyrics (e.g., “Dr. Marten’s Beat” and “Fussball & Gewalt”). Entertaining.

The Gravedigger V All Black and Hairy LP

Another hot new neo-’60s release. This now-defunct outfit was from San Diego, and they knew how to mix original and cover songs to achieve the right mid-’60s feel. The high points here are an amazingly snot-nosed vocalist with sneering ’60s inflections, some strong original songwriting, an appropriately tinny “mono” production, and an above-average choice of tunes to cover. Although the fuzz guitar could be louder, these guys have obviously been inspired by primo stuff.

The Fuzztones Leave Your Mind at Home 12″ EP

One thing that bugs me about a lot of today’s neo-’60s bands is that they’re so concerned about projecting the “correct” image and musical format that they actually do a disservice to the creative spirit of the mid-’60s, and the FUZZTONES sort of epitomize that tendency. I know it’s unfair to single them out, because they do produce appealingly raunchy blasts with belligerent singing, fuzz guitars, and cheesy organ swells, but they are among the most calculated of the bunch. Still, this batch of cover songs rocks out, so who cares?

Down Syndrome Other Ways EP

Whoaa! A mighty impressive debut EP by this Edmonton punk outfit. The mid- to fast-tempo material here far surpasses their earlier cuts on the Innerspace compilation. With its skads of guitar power, strong tunes, tasteful lead parts, and intelligent lyrics, I can’t think of any reason not to scarf this fucker up.

Devestation Drag You Down EP

This is a marvelous and thoroughly uncharacteristic British garage punk record. It’s not really good in any technical or musical sense, and that’s precisely why I like it. DEVASTATION create a fearsome ruckus with ultra-distorted, medium-speed drones punctuated at various points by primitive, out-of-tune leads. Not for musicians….which is fine by me.

V/A Back From the Grave, Vol. 4 LP

More primitive ’60s punk from pimply faced pubescents who couldn’t attract a “gurl” if their lives depended on it. And it’s a damn good thing, too, or they wouldn’t have been mad enough to produce these raunchy misogynistic rants. Almost everything here is primo stuff, maaaan, but I especially dig the CYCLONES, RED BEARD & THE PIRATES, the HALLMARKS, and the AZTEX. Can’t wait for future volumes.

White Flag Third Strike LP

Whatever one might think of WHITE FLAG’s attitudes—and I think they’re about as infantile as they come—it can’t be denied that they’ve managed to put out another fine album. Like the first, this one combines lots of power, imagination, and humor (some of which is purely unintentional). Musically, there’s some fast stuff, some slower stuff, some metal, and some weird shit. The kind of record you can close your mind and happily march off a cliff to.

The Twisted Sheez Wycked / The Thing 7″

The TWISTED have a raw ’60s sound with psychotic vocals, a trebly, organ-based orientation, and twangy psychedelicized guitar work. “Sheez Wycked” is more demented; the flip is a spooky instrumental with human screams. Midnight does it again.

Stisism Introducing… Stisism EP

Yet another new band on the Mutha label. STISISM have a chunky, mid-tempo punk attack with a PISTOL-ian feel. The vocals have pronounced ’77 inflections, the sound is raw and garagy, and there’s more than enough belligerence to go around. Highly recommended.

The Incubators Face to Face / The Whole World 7″

A new Chicago-area post-punk group. “Face to Face” has evocative, quasi-acoustic guitars and a magnificent break at the end; the flip is somewhat harder, and features a good, stirring chorus. Not bad at all.

X Mother / Halfway ‘Round the World 7″

This X is from Australia, and may have actually preceded the well-known LA group. On this new release, “Mother” is an overlong, unnecessary version of John Lennon’s old song, but the flip is a driving number with some super-penetrating bass runs, a loud guitar, and lots of overall power. It’s a killer track that alone makes this 45 worth picking up.

V/A Primitive Air-Raid LP

An excellent cross-section of Montreal-area bands, most of which haven’t released any vinyl before. From the thrash of DIRECT ACTION and NO POLICY to the chunky pop-punk of the NILS to AMERICAN DEVICES’ weird, rockin’ stuff to fast punk by GENETIC CONTROL, the ABSURDS, and FAIR WARNING to the garage punk of PORCELAIN FOREHEAD to MORBID FIRE’s experimental garage thrash, this album provides listening enjoyment. The only musical letdowns are art- damaged numbers by ≠ and IAGO NEON. The ASEXUALS, on the other hand, provide the lyrical low-point with their imbecilic pro-contra chant; their line “political morons without a fucking clue” must be autobiographical, since they apparently know nothing about Nicaragua, American foreign policy, or the circle-A which they employ in their moniker.

V/A Goot From the Boot LP

Here we have a new Italian compilation distinguished by its diversity and general quality. The “green side” features a few experimental punk bands (GREY SHADOW, NOISENOISENOISE, and MIND) that illuminate some paths that can be taken out of the generic morass “hardcore” often finds itself in; they adopt unusual structures without losing bite and guitar power (except maybe MIND). The “orange side” features somewhat more conventional punk and thrash groups (CANI, JUGGERNAUT, and PUTRID FEVER), and one rhythmic synth duo (FUNNY FASHION).

Wulpse Varkens Tot Ergernis van Velen EP

The debut EP from this Belgian band proves to be a fairly innovative thrash-oriented release. Rather than conforming to expectations, DE WULPSE VARKENS occasionally confound with an odd fusion of modern hardcore elements. It’s hard to describe exactly how they’re different, but it has something to do with their combination of intensity and sudden musical shifts. Worthwhile.

No Pigs Broken Promises EP

More political thrash from Holland (except for the slower “Shoplifting”). NO PIGS don’t really break down any stylistic barriers, but their trebly buzzsaw guitars and flailing, high-pitched drumming provide plenty of brain battering. Some of the lyrics here are particularly incisive, so grab this if thrash still moves you.

Corpse Grinders I Eat Babies / I’m Goin’ Crazy 7″

An Australian psychobilly group that shouldn’t be confused with the old DOLLS offshoots whose album was recently—and posthumously—released. These guys have a piercing instrumental attack and wild vocals, but the song structures are a little too derivative to really get today’s kids stompin’ on each others’ blue suede shoes. It’s still rockin’, though, so go for it if you like to howl.

Genetic Control First Impressions EP

On their debut release, Canada’s GENETIC CONTROL displays a pretty rippin’ thrash attack. It’s not exactly original, but the trebly production and frenetic tempo evoke mucho head-shaking and foot-tapping; a couple of good choruses (especially in “Love Rat”) and a crunching metallic break in “Urban Cowboy” serve to provide some diversity. Decent lyrics, too.

Club of Rome Jesus Wouldn’t Like It / Germany 7″

Australian post-punk. CLUB OF ROME has that heavy, rhythmic approach with a deep bass, a loud, biting guitar, and fairly aggressive vocals. “Germany” is the more engaging of the two cuts.

The Acid Drops Surfin’ Prostitute Beat EP

Listening to this, one gets the impression that Australia’s ACID DROPS are trying to fuse psychedelic and CRAMPSish influences, but the results are not generally satisfying. “Rattle My Zulu” lacks the raunchiness to make for effective psychobilly, and their cover of ’60s classic “Outta Sight, Outta Mind” isn’t up to the trashy standard set by the OUTTA PLACE’s recent rendition; only the punky title track, with its snarling female vocals, really connects.

The Sears If Only… 12″

If only this wasn’t November 6th (the day before this issue goes to press and, coincidentally, election day in the US), maybe I’d find this British “peace punk” outfit inspiring. But it is, and as I watch Reagan taking 49 states on TV, I can’t help but wonder why the SEARS or anyone else even bothers to try to increase awareness. Unfortunately for all of us, the world doesn’t operate on the basis of morality or, indeed, rationality. Oh yeah, their music is alternately haunting and powerful, so try and ignore my pessimism.

The 3-D Invisibles Put on Your Glasses EP

This clever Michigan outfit is obviously obsessed with grade-B horror and sci-fi films. While I share their enthusiasm for such things, I think their music is a bit too campy and cute to transmit that genre’s combination of awe, humor, and fear into the aural dimension. The basic garage pop/punk/rock songs here could benefit greatly from a more distorted guitar sound. Comes with DIY 3-D glasses.

Cyanamid Stop the World EP

This is an unusual release in that it mixes short garage thrashers like “I Hate Pigeons” and “Older People” with lengthy, droning tracks containing feedbacking guitars, noise effects, agonized vocals, etc. (the title cut and “This Is Hell”). CYANAMID may be too primitive and tuneless for some people, including me, but they are different. Give ‘em a listen.

The Cunts Apocalyptic Breakfast / Turn of Night 7″

This may be the CUNTS’ best effort yet. Like YARD TRAUMA, they manage to produce an organ-based ’60s punk sound that’s simultaneously evocative and tough. Both sides here are strong, but “Apocalyptic Breakfast” is particularly impressive.

Accelerators Public Enemy No. 1 EP

A snappy new punk pop EP with a whiff of the ’60s (especially in “I’ve Seen Her Somewhere Before”). The ACCELERATORS have RAMONES-y vocals, blasting guitars, bouncy singalong melodies, and that relatively rare ability to write terrific tunes. My favorite release of the month.

V/A Highs in the Mid-Sixties, Vol. 11 LP

Awright, baby, this is part one of the Texas entry into the Highs series, and I think it’s the standout so far. It’s even better than the much rarer and highly-touted Flashbacks volumes. LARRY & THE BLUE NOTES do an incredible blast, as do the BUCCANEERS, KIT & THE OUTLAWS, the BY-FIVES, and NOBODY’S CHILDREN. (Note; CHAZ & THE CLASSICS’ amazing psychedelic punker is the third song on side two). Total gold.

V/A Highs in the Mid-Sixties, Vol. 10 LP

Volume 10 of the Highs series covers Wisconsin. There’s too many bluesy rhythms, pumping saxes, and DYLAN rip-offs for my tastes, but heavy fuzz guitars from the likes of the SHAG and the WANDERER’S REST, and unbelievable rave-up at the end of the MOSSMEN’s cut, and some sharp British Invasion-style singing by JACK & THE BEANSTALKS are definitely worth hearing.

V/A Nardcore LP

Yet another Mystic compilation album! And again, it’s a hotly produced disc featuring material that ranges from the inspiring (RKL) to the uninspired, though most is good. This one features relative oldsters like ILL REPUTE, AGGRESSION, DR. KNOW, and STALAG 13, as well as newcomers such as SCARED STRAIGHT, RAT PACK, HABEAS CORPUS, FALSE CONFESSIONS, and AFU. There’s somewhat more punk (vis-à-vis thrash and speed metal) on Nardcore, but the most noteworthy developments are the apparent strength of the “straight edge” philosophy in the Oxnard area and the reappearance of the sublimely inane ROTTERS. Good show, Doug!

Youth Brigade / 7 Seconds split flexi

A bonus in issue #4 of England’s Black/White fanzine. Both songs (“Sink with California” and “Colourblind”) are already released, so the flexi itself should only interest collectors, but it’s good that someone took enough initiative to expose these two great US bands to a rather insulated British audience.

Ring of Fire Common Enemy 12″

Here’s a potentially hot release almost ruined by lackluster production. The vocals are psycho, the songs have interesting, off-kilter structures and some catchy sing-along parts, and the clean FEEDERZ-style fretwork is unusually imaginative, but the wimpoid guitar sound here severely detracts from RING OF FIRE’s overall impact. It’s too bad, because these guys also have a lot to say (as in “Read a Book,” the title cut, and “Sex Song”). Their future looks bright, though.

The Replacements I Will Dare 12″

The title track is a shuffling, bouncy pop ditty with a strong hook that could be a commercial hit if it was marketed properly. The flip contains a guitar-heavy version of T. REX’s “20th Century Boy” and a live, countrified adaptation of “Hey, Good Lookin’,” neither of which really add to the originals.

100 Flowers Drawing Fire 12″

This new 100 FLOWERS release combines their usual rhythmic post-punk stylistic devices with a somewhat rawer production. They’ve always used guitars in an awkward, interesting way, but here there’s more overall rumble and punch that I would have anticipated. Pretty good.

Mission for Christ Pennies from Hell / (Dub) 7″

Abrasive, droning noise with a heavy bass and some disorienting guitar frills. The A-side highlights the less-than-joyous vocals, whereas the flip, true to its name, focuses attention on the dissonant, repetitive instrumentals. MISSION FOR CHRIST sure knows how to make people feel alienated, but I don’t know if that’s a good thing.

Last Rights Chunks / So Ends Our Night 7″

LAST RIGHTS, who are already defunct, showcase a chunky, mid-tempo punk attack on this 45. The guitar sound is dense and heavy, the tunes are eminently suitable for singing along, and their controversial singer Choke (ex-NEGATIVE FX) has a mean voice. It’s hard to determine what the songs are about, but they nonetheless improve with each listen.

E-13 No Mercy for Swine EP

Garage thrash from the Pacific Northwest. The production quality is very primitive, which adds oomph to E-13’s raunchy attack. There’s nothing radically new here, but their adolescent snottiness, goofy guitar parts (in “Eddie” and “Humor Demons”), and trashy sense of humor remind me of early JFA, and that’s good. Unappetizing cover, too.

The Cheepskates Run Better Run LP

Although people I know found this album disappointing, I really like it. The CHEEPSKATES may have that poppier, organ-based sound that some of us ’60s punk fanatics don’t approve of, but they’ve retained a loud guitar assault and the ability to build up to a wall of sound when necessary. They also happen to write great tunes that stick in your head, so I don’t see any problem at all here. Recommended.

Blatant Dissent Paint Scenarios cassette

Chunky ’77-style punk from Northern Illinois. The speed is medium and the song structures are appealingly basic, but BLATANT DISSENT’s disarming live humor doesn’t really survive the transition to tape and their sporadically exciting guitar parts are unfortunately muffled by the bass-heavy recording here. More excitement needs to be generated next time.

Undertakers Danger in my Mind / True to Me 7″

A foot-tapping pop-punk release from Australia that reminds me of the halcyon days of British hard pop (1979-’80). I’m a sucker for good melodies backed by loud guitars, and “Danger in My Mind” fits that bill well. The production could be rawer, and the B-side is almost post-punky, but this still deserves a listen.

Sune Studs Och Grönlandsrockarna Vår Dagliga Död EP

On their second EP, Sweden’s S.S.G. reveal a startling schizophrenia. The A-side contains two irresistible tuneful numbers with sing-along choruses and a variety of crude yet fetching guitar segments, whereas the flipside contains a pair of hookless, dull songs. I guess it’s just one of nature’s many mysteries.

The Membranes Spike Milligan’s Tape Recorder / All Skin and Bone 7″

The MEMBRANES hold a stylistic position somewhere near the likes of the METEORS and the INCA BABIES, but they rely less upon a recognizable rockabilly format and more on a raucous post-punk sensibility. Otherwise, one can compare their trashy, guitar-heavy approach with psychotic vocals. “Spike Milligan…” is up-tempo; the flip is a longer, droning number.

The Idiots Der S⁰⁴ Und Der BVB EP

The IDIOTS are a primitive, alcohol-swigging bunch from Germany. They stumble between Oi-influenced sing-alongs (like the title cut) and sloppy, enjoyable thrashers (like “Edeka”), all the while preserving a sense of humor and fuzzy guitar backing. For fans of DTJ and DER DURSTIGE MANN.

V/A The Middle of America Compilation LP

This regional compilation put out by WNUR radio’s Fast ’n’ Loud crew showcases most of the more active, hardworking Chicago-area bands, including NAKED RAYGUN, SAVAGE BELIEFS, NADSAT REBEL, OUT OF ORDER, A.O.F., R.O.T.A., BIG BLACK, and the EFFIGIES. All varieties of punk are represented, and the recording is generally powerful, making this a welcome addition to anyone’s record collection. NAKED RAYGUN particularly excels, but I like almost every band here.

Musical Suicide Little Fish in the Big Sea LP

Now, this is my kind of record. It’s a rockin’ garage punk release with seriocomic lyrics. Nasty vocals, raunchy fuzz guitars, and basic 4/4 beats power MUSICAL SUICIDE’s goofy punk and thrash blasts. Intelligent, satirical songs like “Guns and Ammo” and “Power Trip” are classic Midwest funnypunk numbers. A+!

N.O.T.A. Toy Soldiers EP

This second N.O.T.A. EP follows hard on the heels of Moscow. Four of these five songs display the band’s trademarks—tight thrash power, choice choruses, and politicized themes. The title track is a slower, melodic number in the S.L.F. mold that shows an expansion of their musical horizons, without stylistic regression. A fine release that would have had more impact if it were released earlier.

F You Are an EP 12″

Musically, this is a great garage punk release. It’s got extremely raw singing, a biting guitar assault, and that appealingly boisterous, devil-may-care quality. It’s also funnier than hell, though I prefer not to contemplate the significance of the bizarre graffiti on the sleeve, inserts, and disc labels.

Happy Ending Have a Nice Day! LP

A generally unlistenable pop-rock album. The lyrical sentiments are admirable, but only fans of cleanly produced, commercially oriented “modern” music will be able to sit through it all. The exceptions are a trio of nifty psych blasts (“World of Hate,” “Microwave,” and “High Noon 75”). A booklet and free single are included.

Kor-Phu Kor-Phu LP

An eclectic garagy effort by a lesser-known band. KOR-PHU has a style that’s hard to pin down and classify—it blends elements of punk, psychedelia, hard rock, pop, and experimentation into one stew, and the results are mixed. The main problem is that there are a plethora of structural and tempo shifts within each song, which make it somewhat difficult for addicts of the straight-ahead (like me) to assimilate. Different but vaguely unsatisfying.

Pop-O-Pies Joe’s Second Record 12″

More humorous sense and nonsense from Joe Pop-O-Pie. This time he does another version of the DEAD’s “Truckin’,” explains the real story of the POP-O-PIES, and embarks upon a series of rap, punk, thrash, and noise satires, all of which are well-produced. A definite cult item that should be in the Rhino label.

Not For Sale A Few Dollars More EP

NOT FOR SALE is sort of a garage pop outfit with punky sentiments. They have political lyrics and a certain aggressiveness, but the clean guitar sound and bouncy songs lessen their overall impact. Still, I found myself humming along and tapping my feet, especially to “Too Late to Worry.”

Thee Katatonix Divine Mission LP

This is one of those super-cool punkadelic records that’ll probably never get the acclaim it deserves. Like YO, THEE KATATONIX manage to combine some of the best elements from the ’60s to the ’80s—punky guitars, snarling FLESHTONES-like singing, some semi-psychedelic melodies, and haunting background vocals—in a highly original, unselfconscious way. That’s what differentiates them from the legions of more derivative outfits. Refreshingly good.

Maniacs / Tin Can Army split LP

A new German release with a different band on each side. The MANIACS have a thrash attack that mixes British and American elements; TIN CAN ARMY has a somewhat raunchier and more intense thrash sound with diverting lead parts inserted at just the proper moments. Both groups utilize political perspectives, and have a couple of slower sing-along numbers. Good.

Paranoia Shattered Glass LP

I was anticipating basic Britpunk, but instead this is a reasonably hard-edged release combining pop and post-punk song structures. PARANOIA’s crisp instrumentation is of a high order, and their haunting compositions grow on you with repeated listenings. One can discern some obvious SIOUXSIE influences herein, though a number of the songs are more driving (like “1984,” “Graveyards of Hell,” and “My World”). Good, if somewhat spotty.

Code of Honor Beware the Savage Jaw LP

Some people can’t stand this record, but I think it’s quite good. Jonithin’s voice is still pretty snotty, Mike’s guitar playing is better than ever, and the rest of the band doesn’t miss a beat. Even more importantly, the songwriting is more accomplished, and there are all kinds of textures that one normally doesn’t find on a “punk” album. Although a couple of turkeys here make me wonder about their next release, this one’s expansive.

Black Flag Slip It In LP

After My War, I was expecting the worst, but this new BLACK FLAG album is much better. Many of these songs have more streamlined drive and less self-indulgent pathos. Greg’s metallic guitar playing is generally too discordant and frenetic to fall into the heavy metal junkyard, and Henry seems to have brought his most annoying pretensions under control (except on “Rat’s Eyes”). Although nothing here approaches classics like “Nervous Breakdown” and “Jealous Again,” songs like “Wound Up,” the title cut, and “The Bars” are new reminders of BLACK FLAG’s power.

No More Wars The Coming 7″

From Chicago comes this promising young band. On their debut 45, they do two raw, atmospheric post-punk numbers with a basic guitar-bass-drum backing. The lyrics are alternately existential (“Echoes”) and political (“Nuclear Fear”), and the singer is female. Atypical.

Electronaze Waiting for… EP

Phew! All three songs here are fast, blistering punkers with piercing, one might even say shimmering, guitar playing. ELECTRONAZE is frankly incredible, though it’s not easy to indicate their quality verbally. A fantastic wall of sound.

GBH Do What You Do 12″

Normally, I find GBH’s brand of metal-punk tedious, but this time around they sound pretty damn good, mainly due to the incredible production here. The title song and “Children of Dust” are both real stormers, and the dub mix of the former is particularly stimulating.

Trotz Allem Spezial EP

Winsome, lightweight pop in the tradition of the AU PAIRS, the MO-DETTES, the RAINCOATS, DIE MÖGEL, the WANDAS, etc. The occasionally reggae-fied bass is their heaviest instrument, and it nicely counterpoints the lilting female vocals, but nothing here is really meaty enough to sink your teeth into.

Siste Dagers Helvete The Hell LP

The first Norwegian band to appear on Rock-O-Rama’s “International” album series. They produce a brace of clean thrashers and an occasional slower, almost post-punky number (like “I Don’t Feel Anything”). There’s nothing radically different here, just a good amalgam of the tried and true. We’d have definitely wanted “1984” on our compilation if we’d known about SISTE DAGERS HELVETE earlier.

Rattus Rattus LP

A new US album featuring material from several of RATTUS’ Finnish releases. The hot sound quality here emphasizes the band’s power and instrumental virtuosity, so anyone who found it difficult to obtain the original records should scarf this up immediately! (I’d swear that some of these versions are different than the originals, but I could be wrong.)

Kyber Rifles 100 Problems EP

This is a ska band from Fresno with some ex-MANIAX and THINK TANK members. Although I love heavy dub-style reggae, I’ve always felt that ska is to reggae what pop is to punk, so I’m not too wild about the lightweight sound and bouncy rhythms contained herein. The one exception is “Generation Gap,” a decent JAM-inspired mod number with fine lyrics.

Sorry Imaginary Friend LP

An unusual release. Sorry are able to merge thrash power, distinctive song structures, and high-quality musicianship to produce some material comparable to that of certain other bands who are pushing back the frontiers of punk. Many of their songs are too jazzy or disjointed for my taste, but others hit home with ringing guitars and poppier sensibilities (like the MEKONS’ “Where Were You”). Listen before buying unless you have broad musical interests.

Michiro Endo 仰げば尊し 7″

The singer for the STALIN appears here on his first solo vinyl effort. The A-side is a fine driving mid-tempo punker, whereas the flip is a slower, more unusual number with spoken vocals. Both cuts have crisp production.

The Johnnies Who Killed Johnny? EP

Whoa! This is a terrific medium-speed punk release from New Zealand. The guitars are really dense, there are good sing-along parts, and the lyrics are very radical (particularly in “Govt. Don’t Care”). One of the better old-style punk records I’ve heard.

Klaxon The Kids Today EP

KLAXON breaks with the Italian thrash and Oi traditions by adopting a poppy punk sound. Songs like “Prisoners” have a ’78-’79 punk approach with their medium speed and hummable backing vocals. Decidedly different in this day and age, but really refreshing.

Masturbation 死顔 flexi 7″

On this two-track flexi, MASTURBATION does one slow, steady punk number and one basic thrasher. Once again, the Japanese display some considerable power, but these guys aren’t as original as some of their compatriots.

Mottek Hypnose LP

MOTTEK are one of the new generation of high-quality German hardcore outfits. They combine full guitar power, an extremely tight instrumental backing, and good songwriting. Whether thrashing or punking out, MOTTEK manage to come up with memorable hooks, and the crisp production on this album only accentuates these qualities. Very good indeed.

No Class Rien à Faire EP

Despite their thrasher on the Chaos en France 2 compilation, NO CLASS concentrates on fast skunk on their solo debut (except for the slower “Jah”). However, their sound isn’t quite as chunky as it could profitably be at this point. Pretty good.

Oberkampf PLC LP

I’m sure that OBERKAMPF feels that this new album represents “progress” in relation to their earlier sleazy punk style, but the addition of overly slick production, echoey BAUHAUS-type vocals, sound effects, and unoriginal post-punk rhythms only leaves me cold. Aside from an occasional glimpse of their former straightforward power (in songs like “Au present,” “Johnny sois mauvais,” and the classic “Tout ce fric”), this record is a step backwards into pretention. Sigh.

Outrageous Outrageous LP

Not a thrash album, but a good old-fashioned punk LP. Holland’s OUTRAGEOUS displays a fast, heavy, two-guitar punk attack with strong hooks on most of this record, but they also play occasional poppish ditties (like “Beziers”), rockabilly thangs (“British Bikes”), or thrashers (“Say Cheese”) to mix up the stew and keep things interesting. I found myself happily singing along with many of these tunes, which is as good a recommendation as most.

Raw Power You Are the Victim LP

Aaargh! RAW POWER’s debut album clearly demonstrates that they’re among the world’s best hardcore bands. It also shows that they are more versatile than one might have been led to expect—along with ripping thashers with paint-stripping vocals in the tradition of “Fuck Authority” (like “Repression”), there are some slower, more controlled cuts (such as “Hate”). Although the production here is too muddy to bring out their full power—you’ll have to see them live to witness that—their merciless lyrical and aural assault should not be missed.

Schund Schund EP

Austria’s SCHUND launches into a mid-tempo garage attack on their debut EP, combining a totally raw guitar sound, a female singer, and a tuneless, amateurish approach. The crude production also adds something, and “Aufstand” has special appeal.

Siniestro Total No Somos de Montforte / Luna Sobre Marin 7″

Lightweight pop-punk from Spain. SINIESTRO TOTAL appears to be trying to mine a funnypunk vein, but “No Somos de Montforte” lacks sufficient power and panache. “Luna Sobre Marin” is a straightforward cover of the DK’s “Moon Over Marin,” sung in Spanish and lacking accreditation on the label.

Sovjet War It Became a Problem / Guns for Fun 7″

SOVJET WAR is a Belgian band with political lyrics and a sound incorporating punky vocals, fuzz guitar, synth, and post-punk rhythms. They remind me somewhat of the early EX or ABWÄRTS, and I’d recommend them unreservedly to fans of those groups.

Star Club Live Hot & Cool LP

A live recording of a trashy ’77-style Japanese punk band. The tempo is generally fast to medium, the guitarist sprouts some tasty licks in the HEARTBREAKERS vein, and the themes are mainly satirical and silly. Some of these songs (like “Middle Class Freaks”) are superior examples of an increasingly rare punk style, and are thus bound to have a certain nostalgic appeal, but Tokyo won’t be reduced to rubble by STAR CLUB.

TNT Manifesto Guernika LP

This debut album from Spain’s TNT is a mixed success. It contains a brace of melodic mid-tempo punkers with bouncy appeal, but there are also a couple of catchy pop ditties (like “Deberías tener cuidado”), silly commercial numbers (“Radio crimen Charleston”), post-punk things (“La noche…”), and even synth muzak (“El jardin extranjero”). “Habitácion 101,” “Sin futuro,” and “Nadsat” are the most appealing of the previously unreleased cuts.

The Vermines Sometimes EP

The VERMINES are a French group that performs more than one contemporary style. “Sometimes” is an English-sounding guitar-oriented post-punk song with a steady beat and a bittersweet chorus; the two cuts on the B-side are fast punkers with sing-along parts and an exuberant, satirical feel.

V/A Raptus: Negazione & Superamento LP

The second Raptus compilation is superior to the first edition. The production is better, and it contains material by REIG, the WRONG BOYS, STIGMATHE, the CRAPPING DOGS, RAW POWER, the ACID COCKS, and CANI. Once again, RAW POWER dominates the record—check out their awesome “Army”—but REIG and CANI can also burn, and the CRAPPING DOGS have a couple of sing-along Oi-type chants. Blue vinyl.

V/A Mutti’s Muntere Melodei LP

A new German compilation out independently by the former singer in SICK PLEASURE (now in PORNO PATROL), and it’s one of the BRD’s best so far. It shifts from high-powered thrash (the REST and PORNO PATROL) to good standard punk (TOXOPLASMA and T.B.C.) and back again. The big surprises here are the increased speed of BETON COMBO (though they still write catchy numbers), and the REST’s blistering roars. Look for this.

V/A Chaos en France, Vol. 2 LP

The second installment of this French skunk-oriented series is infinitely better than the first. For one thing, the production is generally more powerful; for another, there is more musical diversity. Along with the many “skunk” (a fusion of skin and punk styles) outfits, one can find thrash (MOPO MOGO, NO CLASS, and NANA BONNARD), CLASH-inspired ’77 punk (the BRIGADES), rock ’n’ roll-punk fusions (LES COLLABOS), pop-punk (the RATS), and Oi (SK NIX). Recommended.

Gas The Day After flexi EP

The GAS is another brutal Japanese metal-thrash ensemble, and they blast right along without hesitation. There’s a lot of instrumental power here, not to mention irrepressible choruses, but the production is too heavy on the mid-range to highlight the guitars and vocals.

G-Zet 99 Sheeps 12″

Like GISM, G-ZET straddles the line between metal punk and speed metal, but definitely tend more toward the metal side. Moreover, their guitars aren’t as piercing and their vocals aren’t as demented, making this a less impressive effort all around. Headbangers should go for it; others won’t be as enthused.

Eskorbuto / R.I.P. Zona Especial Norte split 12″

ESKORBUTO and R.I.P. share this slab of vinyl. The former has a chunky, mid-tempo punk assault with sing-along vocals and some nifty, unpredictable guitar portions. R.I.P. has a heavy semi-thrash style and equally catchy join-in choruses; they’ve included a better mix of the song that appeared on our 1984 compilation (“Anti-Militar”) along with their other three cuts. Recommended.

Dead Cops Kill the Cops flexi EP

A Japanese band that seems to be heavily influenced by MDC in terms of both moniker and lyrical concerns, though they’re far more superficial if not fatuous. Their sound, however, is a dense metallic buzz underlying raspy, zombie-like vocals (especially on the title song). I think the singer is American.

Cobra Break Out EP

In contradistinction to most new Japanese bands, COBRA is sticking to their punk origins rather than speeding up. This record showcases a basic mid-tempo guitar-heavy assault with melodies and backing choruses. “Oi Tonight” is particularly engaging.

Akutt Innleggelse Echos From the Asylum EP

A raw, mid-tempo three-track EP from Norway. On their first vinyl release, AKUTT INNLEGGELSE displays a primitive, amateurish punk attack. It kind of slouches along without noteworthy choruses, but the lyrics are good and the guitar lead in “Superstjerne” is awkward enough to be really cool.

The X-Men Do the Ghost / Talk 7″

This could be the 45 of the month. “Do the Ghost” is an amazingly great punky-pop song with a driving tempo, loud guitar riffing, animated singing, and classy join-in backing vocals; “Talk” is a bit less frantic and basic, but still rockin’ and fun. More, please.

Riot Squad No Potential Threat LP

This new RIOT SQUAD release may display more of their standard Britpunk attack, but the amazingly powerful production lifts it head and shoulders above the norm. The guitars roar, the drums beat on your head, and their ringing choruses pick you up and drag you right along. Surprisingly strong.

The 4-Skins From Chaos to 1984 LP

This live 4-SKINS album has far more excitement than any of their studio releases, perhaps because the band is feeding off audience participation. The production is remarkably good for a live recording, bringing out the dense guitars and vocal growls fully. Although some of the banter and lyrics are predictably imbecilic, you might want to give it a listen.

V/A Nuke Your Dink EP

This spirited sampler of Nevada bands features both the scene veterans (7 SECONDS, Urban Assault) and the relative newcomers (the REMAINS, SUBTERFUGE, the EXPELLED, JACK SHIT, NO DEAL, and the YOBS, who have an incredible singer). There’s some fine punk by SUBTERFUGE and the REMAINS, and some churning thrash from JACK SHIT, but most of the rest of the groups suffer from that perennial Skeeno problem—lousy production.

V/A It Came from Slimey Valley LP

Yet another cleanly produced compilation from Mystic/Ghetto Way and, like Copulation, it contains a well-balanced mixture of thrash, punk, metal, and their permutations. I especially like DR. KNOW’s “Boys Life,” CRANK SHAFT’s cuts, and RIGOR MORTIS’s metallish “In the Trenches,” but overall it provides a good introduction to current developments in the Southland. Marc Rude’s grotesque cover art provides an additional bonus.

V/A Metal Moo Cow LP

Now what the hell’s goin’ on here? Well, it’s an electric sampler containing a bunch of psychotic Texans doing all sorts of weird shit. The FEARLESS IRANIANS FROM HELL, NAPALM, FEAST OF FOOLS, and TOEJAM perform demented experimental thrash, then you’ve got some incredibly inane hard rock (HEATHER LEATHER), schizoid psychedelia (SCRATCH ACID and the TECHNICOLOR YAWNS), “country thrash” (the HICKOIDS), metallic sleaze (the JEFFERSONS), doodling (MEAT JOY), and powerhouse thrash (the OFFENDERS). This must be what the BUTTHOLE SURFERS listen to all day.

V/A Half Skull EP

A sampler with four SoCal bands, all of who have that crisp, melodic semi-thrash style. M.I.A. and DECRY are particularly excellent musically, and M.I.A. definitely make the most acute lyrical observations, but there’s nothing to be ashamed of on here.

Yard Trauma Some People 12″

Lately, there have been a whole string of neo-’60s releases that have successfully captured the genuine punky spirit of the times, and this new YARD TRAUMA EP is among them. Although they’ve adopted that acetate organ-based approach rather than a fuzzed-out guitar assault, they have enough raw power and snottiness to compensate. “I Got a Girl” and “Over and Over” are modern teen classics, so get down with these swingin’ cats.

Salem 66 Seven Steps Down 12″

Lightweight semi-psychedelic pop. SALEM 66, who appeared on the Conflict sampler, manage to produce some delicate, tasty tracks with folky guitar strumming. It can be downright pretty at times, but they’d need a lot more guitar firepower and punch to really move me.

Misfits Die Die My Darling 12″

The title cut here exemplifies the earlier MISFITS style, with its distinctive combination of melodies, roaring metallic guitars, and clear singing, whereas “We Bite” and the live version of “Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight?” reflect their newer, thrashier attack. Together, they constitute an undeniably impressive slab of vinyl for ghoulies and ghosties and beasties that go bump in the night to party with.

Lethal Gospel Penetrating Tales 12″

A weird debut that ranges from abrasive, punkoid blasts (like “Terminal Art” and “Action Speaks”) to the worst excesses of atmospheric pretension in the later ZAPPA vein (“Now What Have I Done?”). Most of their material falls into a less than satisfying middle ground that combines elements of UK post-punk, horror rock, and soft San Francisco psychedelia. They need more focus.

The Honeymoon Killers The Honeymoon Killers LP

Another New York noise outfit in the same ballpark with SONIC YOUTH, LIVE SKULL, and HOSE. The guitars put out a fearsome wall of metallic buzzing, while intense vocals spout off above the din. Personally, I like this band more than both their peers and their mentors (FLIPPER). Headache city.

Happy World Cold River EP

Garage punk from Colorado. The drummer seems to be incredibly young (judging from the cover pic) and the guitar lead in the title number is so lame it’s cool, but the songs have entertaining lyrics and plenty of primitive drive and spunk. For fans of unprofessionalism (like me).

The Girls Sally Go Round the Roses / (Instrumental Version) 7″

Cutesy-pie pop version of the old JAYNETTS’ classic. The GIRLS are an all-female band who do pretty straightforward vocal and semi-instrumental adaptations. It’s not really bad, just unnecessary.

Gay Cowboys In Bondage Owen Marshmallow Strikes Again EP

A classic US garage band with seriocomic themes dealing with adolescent life. The GAY COWBOYS have that irresistible mixture of precocious wit, raunched-out guitars, and demented vocals that I find irresistible. The primitive production and wacked-out guitar leads provide additional bonuses, and how can you ignore songs like “Big Fat Baloney Sandwich”?

Decry Falling LP

This is an excellent debut album that mixes and matches the best of the SoCal punk tradition. DECRY has that powerful, cleanly produced two-guitar attack and a knack for writing catchy melodies. Careful listeners will soon discern the musical influences of great bands like the ADOLESCENTS, THE CIRCLE JERKS, and M.I.A., and certain songs remind one of BLACK FLAG (“My Bloody Dream”) or the TOXIC REASONS (“Asylum”), but these guys are not mere borrowers.

Civil Defense Gun Control 12″

What we have here is a bunch of medium-speed punk tunes with a melodic orientation. Songs like “Gun Control” and “Capital Punishment” (which has simplistic “law and order” lyrics) are straightforward numbers with good, strong hooks, but certain other songs are less memorable and lacking in energy. An uneven debut, but CIVIL DEFENSE has potential.

Active Ingredients Service With a Smile EP

I half-expected this to be another uneventful American thrash record, but this EP contains some weirder material with unusual vocal inflections and some spastic structural shifts. “Service with a Smile” is particularly distinctive musically—dig the screaming guitar—whereas “Take from the Poor, Give to the Rich” provides some food for thought.

V/A Hyvinkää EP

A self-produced EP with material by four young Finnish garage punk outfits (PURKAUS, SOTAKULTTUURI, TERRORI, and PAINAJAINEN). The raw production further highlights the DIY raunchiness of the bands, all of which play more-or-less tuneless mid-tempo punk rather than thrash. PURKAUS is the best of a fairly inept bunch.

V/A Life is a Joke LP

Not one of the New Underground series, but a new international compilation on Germany’s Weird System label. It contains two cuts each by RAZZIA, FANG, TERVEET KÄDET, RIOT SQUAD (South Africa), SAVAGE CIRCLE (Italy), SHIT SA (Spain), the INOCENTES, HYSTERIA (UK), and CIVIL DISSIDENT (Australia). The latter offers the most pleasant surprise—they’re a brutal thrash outfit—but the whole record smokes.

V/A Mutopia cassette

A generally excellent sampler of Northern Virigina hardcore, metal, experimental, and ’60-inspired groups. It’s a well-recorded, non-profit project that contains band handouts by #1 PRIORITY, PUDWAK, MALEFICE, the STEEL KNICKERS, DEATH PIGGY, CONCENTRIC, MICHAEL, CAMP DAVID, YOM, and 007. Most of the material on side one is powerful and catchy, and PUDWAK’s “Boxhead” is a total classic with schizoid vocals.

V/A This Is the Central Coast, Dammit LP

A decent regional compilation from the California coast between SF and LA, very near the geologically unstable area where PG&E stupidly built its Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. The album includes various categories of contemporary music, from catchy teenage thrash (LOS CREMATORS, DEATH OF GLORY, and the CORRUPTORS) to garage punk (GROUP SEX, X-TORTION) to neo-psychedelia (PYRAMOD, MOOD ROOM) to ’77 punk (the USERS) to Finnish-style thrash (ASSAULT) to garagy mixtures of thrash and punk (the WIMPY DICKS and PEDESTRIAN ABUSE). The overall feeling is appealingly unprofessional, and the idea of giving new groups exposure is worthy of support.

V/A Back From the Grave, Vol. 3 LP

Among the many ’60s reissue series, Back from the Grave has been the best because of its focus on the snarling teenage punk emanating from suburban garages all across America between 1965 and 1967. And fortunately, Volume 3 maintains this tradition of basement quality by presenting more of the most heartfelt adolescent rants about problems with gurls, gurls, and more gurls, accompanied by two-chord fuzz guitars, squealing organs, and ham-fisted drum beats. The obscure pearls by KEN & THE 4TH DIMENSION, SIR WINSTON & COMMONS, and MURPHY & THE MOB are just as cool as they can be.

St. John’s Alliance Mark My Word / No One Sees 7″

The press kit that came with this 45 touted the band as the “heartbeat of young America today” and the most exciting record to pass through my hands… blah, blah, which almost made me throw it in the trash compactor. But then I decided to listen to it, and found two ’60s-oriented folkish pop songs with occasional BEATLE-ish vocal inflections and a trebly BYRDS-ian guitar. A decent record, but nothing extraordinary.

Sic Kidz I Could Go to Hell For You 12″

The SIC KIDZ are a Philadelphia-area band who’ve been around for awhile and, despite deaths and other obstacles, have finally managed to attract the attention of an English specialty label, perhaps with the help of the CRAMPS. Their sound is indeed heavily influenced by the latter, though it expands from a narrow psychobilly base into the ’60s for inspiration. So if you like nasty, ringing guitars and echoey singing, give this a listen.

Stranglehold Cause I’m Gonna 12″

Strong, crisply produced modern hardcore is showcased on STRANGLEHOLD’s debut release. Their overall approach—including sung, ’60s-inflected vocals, irrepressible tunes, tight instrumentation, and boisterous but controlled delivery—reminds me a bit of the great ZERO BOYS, which can’t be a bad thing. “’Cause I’m Gonna” is an epic blast with an anthemic chorus.

Tower of Swine Pig of Anarchy cassette

Fine garage punk from the SF Bay Area. The guitars are raunchy, the singer is a smart-aleck, and the themes are often satirical. Songs like “Fellatio Sucks, It’s for Dicks” are real knee-slappers, whereas others (like “Senior Citizen”) are more sensitive and relevant.

The Enemy Last But Not Least / Images 7″

The ENEMY have never managed to generate much excitement, and this new 45 doesn’t break with tradition. “Last But Not Least” is a fairly boring rock-oriented number with a dull lead and mannered vocals; the live flip isn’t much better, though it has a more piercing guitar tone.

The Sid Presley Experience Hup Two Three Four / Public Enemy Number One 7″

A ’60s-style guitar band from Britain. Both songs here have rocking beats, heavy guitars, and irresistible riffs. “Public Enemy Number One” is an instrumental, whereas the flip has tough-sounding vocals. SID & Co. have some musical guts.

R.A.S. 84 LP

An excellent album that mixes that irresistible French skunk—melodic mid-tempo numbers with soccer choruses—with a few contemporary thrashers that also have sing-along vocals (like “LVF”). The production is very powerful, and the lyrics reflect both a healthy cynicism about promises made by established political parties (including those on the left) and an obvious hostility to neo-nazi groups. Recommended.

Contrazione / Franti split LP

This is an album shared by two Italian bands. CONTRAZIONE are a raw outfit with a punky instrumental attack, straightforward rocking beats (including a couple of thrashers), an occasional post-punk frill (like the inclusion of a sax in “Nausea”), and incredible male/female vocal interaction. FRANTI cover a variety of musical bases, from punk (“1984”) to SIOUXSIE-like post-punk (“Questa e l’ora”) to sparse, arty numbers (“Io nella notte”).

Räkä Helka Virsijä cassette

RÄKÄ is a young band from eastern Finland. They have an exceptionally primitive approach, with almost every song consisting of a single simple and repetitive riff overlaid by nasty vocals. Rude and pile-driving.

Bastards Siberian Hardcore LP

More basic metallic thrash from Finland’s BASTARDS. They’ve slowed down a bit and added more metal-tinged guitar parts on this flatly produced album (which is only available on a German pressing at this time), but some melodies and stronger hooks would really help a lot.

Nussivat Nunnat Nunnia Lepakon WC:SSÄ cassette

A three-song demo by yet another new Finnish group. These guys play raw-sounding punk and thrash with raspy Oi-ish vocals, but certain songs (especially “Liukuhihnan Orjat”) reveal a budding imagination more advanced than their current musical abilities.

Nurse Nurse II EP

NURSE is a unique Japanese ensemble with a female singer and an eclectic, guitar-heavy approach to punk music. On this EP, they produce poppy punk with a rockin’ beat (B-2); post-punk (A-2); slow, hook-laden punk (B-1); and two thrashers, one (A-1) with screeching “nyah nyah” vocals, the other (B-3) with a pummeling beat and shit-hot guitar breaks. Marvelous.

Red Tide Kelp and Salal EP

After all the trouble we had getting a decent-sounding remix version of “Incubator Slide” for our 1984 album, I half-expected the production on RED TIDE’s EP to be terrible. But they’ve ended up with a chunky drive and a lot of edge on the guitars so, despite the occasionally weird vocal sound, this record turned out pretty damn well. The guitar parts are really cool, and “Santa Mari Marushi” is hotter than hell.

Razor Blades Plastic Messiah EP

Another chaotic thrash-oriented release with good lyrics from the RAZOR BLADES. They’ve improved quite a bit over the last few years. Some of their songs now have strong hooks (especially “68”), and they’ve branched out into more diverse structures without sacrificing their crude guitar power or nasty vocals. “Precipice” totally shreds.

Rattus Uskonto on Vaara 12″

RATTUS has evolved a lot since the release of their early self-produced EPs, and have improved very dramatically since the appearance of their WC Räjähtää LP. Their new vocalist Annikki is much hotter, their instrumental attack is tighter and even more intense, and, best of all, most of their newer songs have terrific hooks in the choruses. This baby is awesome!

Huvudtvätt / Kurt I Kuvös Vårt Fria Land split LP

A fine release that’s shared by two Swedish bands. By now, everyone should know how great HUVUDTVÄTT (the HEADCLEANERS) are—the only question is whether the rough production here complements their gruff, careening thrash, and I can assure you that it does. KURT I KUVÖS are new to me, and they do punk and thrash with some peculiar vocal melodies that may represent an attempt to bring Swedish folk music into the ’80s.

Mob 47 Kärnvapen Attack EP

The Swedish equivalent of GANG GREEN! MOB 47 plays rip-roaring ultra-fast thrash with incredible tightness, thereby differentiating themselves from the legions of hardcore bands that disintegrate at 1000 mph speeds. Every song is like a flesh-gouging bullet (except the slow “Animal Liberation”) making this EP one of the year’s best.

Normahl Ein Volk Steht Hinter Uns 12″

Although DIE NORMAHL sometimes plays considerably faster these days (as in “Morganstunde”), they’ve retained their sense of irony, their bouncy punk sound, and their ability to write the occasional slower, catchy tune (like “Liebeskonsum”). Nothing here is extraordinary, but this 12” makes for enjoyable listening.

Panik Les Troubadours du Chaos 12″

Midnight had this French release listed as “thrash” in their catalog, but in fact PANIK falls into the mid-tempo skunk category. Although they have blasting guitars, an excellent singer, and some driving songs, they have a more experimental bent and concentrate less on the “cast of thousand” background vocals than other skunk outfits. There’s even a reverse mystery track at the end of side A for psychedelia’s sake.

The Rok Tots Situation Kid / Suicide Weekend 7″

Mix ’60s-laced pop-rock melodies with contemporary punk production values, and you’ll get an idea of how cool “Situation Kid” is. The B-side is an even better straightforward garage punk number with some blasting guitar parts. An appealing debut.

Legion of Parasites Undesirable Guests 12″

A ripping new English thrash release (except for one slower sing-along called “Savages”) with hot production, flailing guitars, and accelerated tempos. The vocals are in the more traditional Britpunk vein and the stuttering drumming occasionally doesn’t mesh, but it’s a bloody good record anyway. The “No!” choruses make “Eroded Freedom” a mini-classic.

Massacre Guys Behind the 8-Ball EP

I was anticipating a jazzier sound from these Utahans, but this strangely produced EP contains fast thrash with periodic, unexpected stops and starts and fluid instrumentation. The lyrics are political but not simplistic, and some of these songs have a distinctive, hard-to-define quality.

Offenders I Hate Myself / Bad Times 7″

More high-powered thrash from the OFFENDERS. This time, they’ve managed to capture an incredible guitar sound, one that reminds me of HÜSKER DÜ’s. “I Hate Myself” just careens right along, whereas “Bad Times” has a slow, lengthy, half-spoken intro. Ace.

The Primevals Where Are You / This Kind of Love 7″

If this 45 is representative, the PRIMEVALS are Scotland’s answer to the early FLESHTONES. Both of these tracks have that upbeat ’60s sound, with fake tough vocals, rockin’ beats, semi-fuzz guitar parts (in “This Kind of Love”), or catchy “hey” background vocals (in “Where Are You”). A great little debut.

Plan 9 Dealing With the Dead 12″

While PLAN 9 are much better than the bulk of today’s lightweight ’60s revival groups, they don’t touch certain other outfits in terms of snotty vocals (the OUTTA PLACE, the CHESTERFIELD KINGS) or raw guitar power (the NOMADS). I find the latter inexplicable, since they have five guitars! In any case, they write some strong songs and have an atmospheric organ, but everything is just too professional sounding to evoke real teenage angst.

The Apostles The Curse of the Creature & The Giving of Love Costs Nothing EPs

Right, here we go. The APOSTLES have released two new self-produced EPs, one with highly intelligent rants (The Curse of the Creature), the other with both sensible and very misguided rants (The Giving of Love Costs Nothing). But since we’ve given them space elsewhere in this issue to air their sometimes inconsistent views, I’ll concentrate on the music here. They have a droning, mid-tempo punkish attack with primitive two-chord guitar and half-spoken, half-sung vocals. sort of like SIX MINUTE WAR’s old garagy, semi-experimental style. Some of the more basic numbers click (such as “Our Mother the Earth…”); others meander about too much and don’t do much for me.

Mission The Last Detail 12″

A haunting, evocative ’60s-influenced band with loud, quasi-psychedelic guitars and vocals occasionally reminiscent of the ONLY ONES’ Peter Perrett. Most of their songs are hard-edged and atmospheric—like the distinctive version of “Steppin’ Stone”—but MISSION sometimes “rock out” too much (as in “What Goes Around” and “The Girl Next Door”). Worth listening to.

The Square Peg Echoes of War EP

A rock-oriented punk record by ex-EXPLOITED guitarist Big John’s new band. The title song is a slow but catchy little ditty with some tasteful guitar playing and anti-war lyrics; the flip contains one good semi-pop number (“Bad Connection”) and one awful pub rock song (“No Explanation”).

Gism Detestation 12″

Churning metal-punk, or perhaps even speed-metal, depending on where you draw the distinction. GISM are undoubtedly a heavy metal band who’ve been heavily influenced by hardcore, but the music is so intense and the vocals so ominous that even I’m in a state of shock. These guys make VENOM sound like the KNACK, especially on side one.

Hoodoo Gurus Stoneage Romeos LP

There are a couple of pop clunkers on here, but most of the GURUS’ songs are fairly powerful in a style combining T. REX and SAINTS influences. Like many Oz bands, they’ve adopted that earlier ’70s punkoid guitar sound, but lay it over somewhat poppier song structures. At least one person we know thinks that the GURUS are God!

Kalashnikov Læderhalse EP

A new Danish outfit that specializes in tasty mid-tempo punk with an interesting post-punky flavor. The overall sound is heavy, the lyrics are political, and there are some cool rhythmic shifts and guitar frills. “Laederhalse” has especially catchy vocal arrangements, whereas “Schlüter’s Kabinet” is a thrashed-out blast.

Karnage Total Terminus EP

With a name like KARNAGE, I expected this band to play full-tilt thrash, but such did not prove to be the case. In fact, they produce aggressive post-punk with loud, punky guitars, steady, slow rhythms, politicized lyrics, and some interesting keyboard effects. Improves with increased familiarity.

Disorder Under the Scalple Blade LP

“Make Homebrew, Not War” serves as the motto of the second pummeling DISORDER 12”. And they must live by it, judging from the production here, which is too weird and primitive to have been created while sober. That’s not a criticism, but a statement of fact, as fuzzy guitars scream out from toilet bowls, drums are hollow and loud as shit, and trebly bass licks rumble around, all complementing DISORDER’s absurd brand of thrashing noise perfectly. Drunk and disorderly.

Discharge The More I See / Protest and Survive 7″

Yecch! “The More I See” of DISCHARGE, the more nauseous I become. That song is unbelievably pathetic—both the music and the vocals have a full-out metal sound. The B-side, taken from one of their earlier 12”s, demonstrates just how much they’ve declined over the years. A complete waste of vinyl.

Disrupters Bomb Heaven EP

Fairly mundane mid-tempo punk characterizes this new DISRUPTERS release, except for one spoken piece (“Make a Baby”). The bass tends to carry the melodies, and there’s a particularly gruesome, thought-provoking back cover, but there’s little else to comment on here.

Rat Patrol The Last Offensive / Rat Rap 7″

This looks like a typical punk record, but it’s not. What it is is a fusion of political punk sentiments and black musical influences. “The Last Offensive” is a clever ditty with a reggae-ish beat, a steady build-up, and some interesting guitar work; the flip is a rather lame rap number. RAT PATROL is now known as WESTWAY, perhaps for commercial acceptability.

Brutal Verschimmelt Brutal Verschimmelt LP

BRUTAL VERSCHIMMELT’s debut album reveals them to be a garagy band that specializes in playing fast punk (as in “6 Millionen”), but they’re also capable of playing thrash (“Hey Mann…”) and slower, driving numbers (“Kenein”). Most of the songs are catchy, the lyrics are both political and satirical, and the ultra-raw, trebly production accentuates all of their strong points and, in the process, makes them stand out. Look for this one.

Chaotic Dischord Don’t Throw It All Away 12″

I’ve changed my mind about the value of this band about ten times, so I’ve decided to give up trying to figure them out and just let myself enjoy their powerful and funny music. This 12” may well be their best release yet. Side 1 has some terrific ’77 punk parodies and some famous guest punks (KNOX, CAPTAIN SEN*I*LE), whereas the flip has more of their roaring, satirical thrashers. Great fun.

Alien Sex Fiend R.I.P. / New Christian Musick 7″

Despite my obsessive fondness for horror films, I’ve never been overly impressed with the pretentious, image-conscious crap called “horror rock” or “death rock.” But this recent ALIEN SEX FIEND release is terrific, with its pounding drum rhythms, abrasive metallic sound, and raw vocals. Both of these songs have enough drive and punky power to disinter some moldy bodies.

Miracle Workers Hung Up EP

This is the first solo effort by one of the outstanding bands on The Rebel Kind and Battle of the Garages Vol. 2 samplers. Again, they come up with some fuzzed-out jams with belligerent vocals and psychedelic effects. I only wish they’d do more originals and less covers (here, songs by the SONICS and the 13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS).

The Left It’s the World 12″

The best band on Bona Fide’s Train to Disaster album returns with their own 12” release. “You’re So” was a distorted ’60s punk blast, but here they merge elements from ’70s and ’80s punk in an extremely effective way. The production is crude enough to highlight their garage tendencies, and the songs are both powerful and original. A sure winner.

The Not What’s the Reason 12″

The NOT produce six more examples of their JAM-oriented material on their debut vinyl. In some cases, that approach doesn’t work too well (as in the overly rockish “In Trouble” and the slow “World War”), but elsewhere their clean guitars, bouncy rhythms, and Wellerish vocals combine in an engaging way. If they’d only absorb some influences from the JOLT—a ’78 “mod” group with more explosive energy and guitar power than the JAM—they’d really turn some heads.

The Zany Guys Party Hits vol. II EP

A very clever Phoenix band that mixes a couple of garagy thrash tunes (“Little Tuff Kid” and “Mr. Ackers”) with a slower boppin’ thang (“Paperboy Blue”) and an absolutely hilarious country-punk satire (“Hardcore”). The latter is one of the year’s outstanding funnypunk creations, and the whole EP will tickle your funnybone. Order it today.

Neon Christ Parental Suppression EP

Snotty teenage thrash with a creative spark. Some of the guitar intros are real unusual (as in “Parental Suppression” and “It’s Mine”), the vocalist has a great youthful sneer, and the overall feeling is exuberant and innocent. “After” is a particularly unique and atmospheric post-holocaust number that captures NEON CHRIST’s hard-to-define flare.

The Windbreakers Any Monkey With a Typewriter 12″

This 12” from Mississippi’s WINDBREAKERS is vastly better than their debut 7” EP, mainly due to the presence of somewhat zippier material and louder guitars. They’re still attempting to mine the folky ’60s pop vein, and have managed to jettison the more tedious rock influences that marred their earlier effort. Pretty good, especially “Ya Gotta Go Away.”

Toejam Toejam cassette

TOEJAM lets loose a metal-punk blast with lots of noise and echoey, gruff, sometimes distorted vocals. A lot of the tracks here are too metalish for me (including guitar solos, etc.), but there is power to spare.

Toothpaste Palestine 12″

Raw, brilliant pop in the early EMBARRASSMENT’s ballpark. TOOTHPASTE’s music shifts between fuzzy, guitar-oriented blasts (like “Amerikan Beauties” and “Skinheads Are O.K.”) and unpredictable but generally engaging amalgams of funk, punk, pop, and post-punk. The lyrics are often both exceptionally clever and politically motivated (note “Palestine” and the live unlisted track, “R.M.N. Is Better Than Sex”).

Special Forces World Domination LP

A basic thrash album by a newer Berkeley band. It features a very tight instrumental attack, some catchy multi-voice choruses, anti-establishment lyrics, and standard gruff singing. The main problem here is a general lack of musical variation, something which will no doubt be overcome with time. Fun with beer.

The Pandoras I’m Here, I’m Gone EP

A super hot ’60s-style punk release by a hitherto unknown female band. The fuzzy, distorted guitars and crude organ are emphasized in shrieking rave-ups like “I’m Here, I’m Gone,” and even their “mellow” folk-rock cut (“It’s About Time”) has that raunchy teenage snot-nosed quality that separates the punks from the calculated poseurs. Plus, they do a damn good cover of the DIRTY WURDS’ “Why”—no mean feat.

Painted Willie Ragged Army EP

A goofy garage punk effort from some ex-members of SIN 34. The tempos are medium-speed, the guitars are crude, the themes are seriocomic, and the vocals are rough and semi-psychotic. Entertaining, but not outstanding.

The Outta Place We’re Outta Place 12″

Yeah! New York’s “cave teens” return with another raw ’60s punk attack. What makes them stand out isn’t the material per se—most of it consists of cover versions of old chestnuts—but their growling, screaming, trebly sound. And, they’ve got enough snottiness to carry this primitive stuff off in the ’80s, unlike so many of today’s “revival” bands. “Things Are Different Now” and their “theme song” are killers.

Flag of Democracy Love Songs EP

An incredibly intense thrash blast from F.O.D. The guitar buzz is piercing, the overall instrumental attack is ultra-tight, and the Biafraesque vocals are exceptionally demented. Along with DRI, GANG GREEN, WHITE CROSS, and a few others, these guys leave the rest of America’s current thrash bands spinning their wheels in deep ruts.

Effigies For Ever Grounded LP

On this album, the EFFIGIES continue to develop musically, though not everyone will view this development positively. The material here is pretty diverse. Most of it has a post-punky feel and emphasizes Earl’s metallic guitar playing; only a few songs are in the traditional EFFIGIES vein (“Patternless,” “Rather See None,” etc.). I personally prefer these latter, but the other cuts have grown on me with repeated listens.

East Bay Ray Trouble in Town / Poison Heart 7″

The first solo effort from DEAD KENNEDYS guitarist EAST BAY RAY, and it’s a good ’un. “Trouble in Town” would make a good theme song for a spaghetti Western, with its plucky Spanish-flavored guitar, siren-like backing vocals, and plaintive singing; “Poison Heart” is a bittersweet, atmospheric number with some semi-psych guitar. Tuneful and original.

Droogs Change Is Gonna Come / Waitin’ for My Man 7″

This new DROOGS 45 features a classic ’60s-inspired original with belligerent singing, loud guitars, and boss background vocals in the choruses. The B-side has a suitably raunched-out live version of the old VELVET UNDERGROUND chestnut. “Change Is Gonna Come” is truly wonderful.

Death Piggy Love War EP

An unusual release, both musically and lyrically, DEATH PIGGY’s sound is discordant and diverse, and ranges from relatively straightforward funnypunk with weird vocals (like “Fat Man” and “No Prob Dude”) to off-the-wall raps (“Eat the People”) to brief acapella chants (“G.O.D. Spells God”) to permutations of the above (“Mangoes and Goats” and “Splatter Flicks”). Not at all typical.

The Corsairs Today 12″

I can see Greg Shaw having multiple orgasms over this one! The CORSAIRS play soft, ’60s-inspired pop with some decent melodies and harmonies, but the wimpoid overall sound and obtrusive piano severely detract from their potential appeal. Someone should crank up their guitar amp and trash the keyboards.

V/A Wir Schlagen das Imperium cassette

Ach, mein Gott! This is a surprisingly good-sounding collection of 47 (!) German punk bands, compiled by Flocky from Sputnick fanzine. His purpose is both to provide a more thorough picture of the punk underground in the BRD and to undermine the credibility and commercial success of larger labels like Rock-O-Rama and ARP. I’m not sure if he can manage the latter, since this is a limited distribution tape sold at cost, but efforts to put pressure on the more established indies from below are surely worthwhile. Plus, you get to hear some great, little-known groups here. Go for it.

V/A Lopun Alku cassette

A good quality collection of Finnish bands with an adequate sound quality. Some groups are very well known (RATTUS, the BASTARDS, and TAMPERE SS), others are not as familiar (MARIONETTI, HIC SYSTEEMI, PROTESTI, FUCKING FINLAND), and one is completely new to us (the quasi-pschedelic KAHLITTU VAPAUS). Most produce high-powered thrash (especially the BASTARDS), but my favorites are HIC SYSTEEMI, who have ultra-gruff vocals and a flair for writing join-in choruses.

V/A Lärmattacke cassette

A nifty international compilation put out by Germany’s Anti-System fanzine. The sound quality is uneven, but it contains 40 songs by 20 punk bands from all over the world, including Germany (CERESIT 81, M.A.F., the SCAPEGOATS, ZÜNDELLÄNDER, DISASTER, KOMA), Finland (FUCKING FINLAND, TAMPERE SS, KUOLEMA), Sweden (the BRISTLES, ANTI-CIMEX), Italy (P.S.A., EU’S ARSE, the WRETCHED), Yugoslavia (U.B.R., STRES-D.A., and ODPADKI CIVILIZACIJE), South Africa (POWER AGE), Denmark (the RAZOR BLADES), and Poland (REJESTRACJA). Anti-System‘s purpose is to facilitate communication, not to make profits, so send away today.

V/A Collection Privée EP

A rewarding French sampler with eight underground bands. The styles represented here are diverse—straight punk (LES ELECTRODES, DIVISION LECLERC, FUCK WAVE), ’60s punk (LES CORONADOS), garage punk (STAKANOV SS), thrash (MEMORIAL VOICE), garage thrash (LES STILLERS), and abrasive synth-punk à la the great METAL URBAIN (DISKOLOKAUST). The latter is my fave.

Feederz Ever Feel Like Killing Your Boss? LP

An audio version of the Situationist philosophy, whose message is “subversion can be fun.” And indeed it can, as this album demonstrates. Musically, it’s very diverse, combining fast semi-thrashers with undistorted guitars (like “Imitation of Life” and “Subscription”) with a variety of theatrical pieces (like the schizoid “Gut Rage” and the creepy “1984”), all marked by Frank Discussion’s sneering vocals and sarcastic humor. Undeniably entertaining and provocative, arguably brilliant and revelatory. A classic.

The Epileptics Albino Cockroach cassette

It was hard to get past the overlong heavy metal intro, but the rest of this tape contains teenage garage thrash with exaggerated, high-pitched vocals and funny lyrics. The EPILEPTICS are obviously having a lot of fun here, even if they are a little on the retardo side, so people with wacko senses of humor will probably like them—except maybe Frank Discussion, who gets slagged off.

The Autistics Saved by Technology 12″

“Ruined by Technology” is more like it. This record provides the best argument since the 100 FLOWERS album that garage punk outfits should dissolve rather than trying to “progress.” Here, the AUTISTICS seem to be aiming for the trendy rock ’n’ rolly dance audience with that addition of slicker production and a hokey sax. It’s a shame that they decided to discard the rawness instead of the idiocy (manifested here by “Asian Drivers”), although I do like “Mirror.”

GG Allin & the Scumfucs Eat My Fuc 12″

Like it or not, GG represents the authentic spirit of “rock ’n’ roll.” After half a dozen 7”ers and an album, you’d expect him to mellow out, but he’s more primitive and disgusting than ever. I mean, the production on this garage release is almost as distorted as GG’s values! With a homemade drawing of an ejaculating member on the cover and reflective song titles like “Fuckin’ the Dog,” “Clit Licker,” “Drink, Fight, and Fuck,” and “Cock on the Loose,” this would make a perfect gift for Sunday School teachers all across America.

Exploded Painetta Pallossa cassette

A defunct band from the small town of Korpilahti in central Finland. The EXPLODED have a raunchy mid-tempo instrumental attack and gravelly Oi-style vocals (like those of Maho Neitsyt). This primitive but unremarkable tape is already sold out.

Nagy Feró És A Bikini Hova Lett LP

Unbelievable. How often have you heard shades of CRASS, DRI, RITCHIE BLACKMORE, traditional Chinese music, Hungarian folk dancing, violin solos, and abrasive electronic noises all on one record, let alone one song? A challenging breath of fresh air. I wonder what else is going on in Hungary? Is a new cult brewing?

The Oppressed Oi Oi Music! LP

The slow- to medium-speed Oi anthems on the OPPRESSED debut album lack any sort of lyric originality, but stand-out tracks like “Gun-Law,” “Don’t Look Back,” and the hilarious “Skinhead Girl” add a certain dimension of personality to this release. Nonetheless, it could use a dose of energy and inspiration.

The Unexpected Big Fat Ugly Bitch EP

Amateurish thrash and punk straight from a garage somewhere in the “garden” state. These teens have spunk and a good, albeit dumb, sense of humor, but don’t expect any musical miracles. “Hay Ho Ha” is the most intense cut; “Disgusting” is the most ludicrous.

Sacred Order Saturation Bombing cassette

Despite the controversy over SACRED ORDER’s supposed homophobic, sexist attitudes, the music on their new demo tape is an invigorating mixture of garage raunch, brain-damaged metal guitar parts, psychotic vocals, and funnypunk themes (as exhibited in songs like “Funky Mr. Penis” and “3 Testes”). I think SACRED ORDER sound like a gas, and it’s hard to imagine how anyone could take them too seriously.

NRG Kulturel Forwaltning / Sort 7″

NRG is an immensely powerful mid-tempo punk band from Denmark. “Kulturel Forwaltning” is a chunky blast with an ultra-dense sound and memorable vocal parts that I love; the flip is slower but equally bass-heavy, and it has some nifty melodic guitar breaks scattered here and there. Terrific.

Some Weird Sin Sky’s the Limit 12″

Here’s one for diehard fans of the SAINTS and RADIO BIRDMAN. This new Canadian group has the same heavy yet tasty double-guitar sound, half-sneering/half-sung ’60s punk vocals, and high-quality songwriting as their Australian mentors. Aside from a couple of slow numbers (“Walls Are Falling In” and “Action”), these gutsy blasts are pretty damn irresistible.

Unter Den Linden Utom Våra Liv LP

Huh? Anyone expecting an album full of incredible thrashers like “Fat Boys” and “Little Boys” will be in for a shock after hearing this. Aside from the ripping “Arabenrein,” this LP reflects a synthesis of their earlier post-punk style and their recent hardcore influence, in that it weds loud, punky guitars to melodic mid-tempo post-punk compositions with sporadic and (mercifully) restrained sax accompaniment. Even so, I like it.

Upset Noise / Warfare? Vi Odio split EP

Another crudely produced Italian indie release with intelligent political themes. UPSET NOISE has a raw thrash attack that’s tighter and catchier than that country’s norm, and hence remind me of a bit of the great INDIGESTI. WARFARE? has a slightly slower English-influenced sound, except for one experimental number (“Anarchia I”). A good blend.

Vorkriegsjugend Heute Spass, Morgen Tod 2xEP

Another extraordinary German hardcore band. VORKRIEGSJUGEND (who shouldn’t be mistaken for noise merchants VORKRIEGSPHASE) offer a potent mixture of tight, powerful thrashers with ultra-catchy choruses (like “Ratten” and “Haute Spass, Morgen Tod”) and slower, anguished sing-alongs (“Vaterland” and “Bombe”). If groups like this keep arising, Germany will become the new center of high-quality European punk in no time.

The Boikottz Punk wird Leben EP

A not-too-exciting German EP in the mid-tempo punk tradition. The title song is boisterous and catchy, despite its well-worn sentiments, but the two cuts on the B-side lack distinguishing thematic or musical features (except for the cool bridges in “No Rights”). OK.

Blut+Eisen Fleisch Rollt / WSWUF 7″

This vinyl offering from a new German band contains one fast punk song with a nervous, screechy guitar ending (“Fleisch Rollt”), and one hot little thrasher with a sudden chorus and more sharp guitar parts. Good.

Warrior Kids Adolescent / Forces de l’Ordre 7″

In France, even the skin bands seem to have a skunk sound rather than the pure “Oi” approach, with its sandpaper vocals, and the WARRIOR KIDS are no exception. On this 45, there are two catchy mid-tempo numbers—”Adolescent” has a much better chorus, but the flip has a more innovative guitar intro that reminds me of CRISIS.

Ratos De Porão Crucificados Pelo Sistema LP

An intense album chock full of Brazilian hardcore. Most of RATOS DE PORÃO’s songs are adrenalin thrashers in the Finnish style, though some are ultra-fast (like “Caos” and “Que Vergonha”), and some have blistering leads (like “Sistema de Protesto” and the title cut), and others are slower ditties with more melodies or sing-along qualities (like “Não me Importo” and “Asas da Vingansa”). The bass-heavy production tends to muffle the piercing guitar tone, but raging blitzes like “Poluicão Atomica” and “Periferia” will shake your cranium.

Clockwork Soldiers Wet Dreams EP

The title song is a hilarious trashing of the EVERLY BROTHERS’ classic “All I Have To Do Is Dream,” with altered X-rated lyrics. The flip contains one slow, tuneless Oi cut (“In the Name of Science”) and a much better speedier number (“Suicide”). The production is absurdly muddy, and the B-side label has the wrong song order.

Interterror Adios Lili Marlene / Felices Dias en Auschwitz 7″

I was under the impression that INTERTERROR were a thrash band, but their well-recorded vinyl debut features two chunky classical punk cuts. “Lili Marlene” is a bouncy, sarcastic punked-out version of the old song sung by homesick German soldiers; the flip is a faster, more driving number with bitter anti-repression lyrics and a terrific join-in chorus. Highly enjoyable music with serious themes.

Indirekt Nieuws Voor Doven En Slechthorenden EP

A newer Dutch hardcore band. Their thrashers are distinguished by strong instrumentals, hook-filled choruses with alternating female/male vocals, gutsy female lead singing (like Julie from SIN 34), and progressive political themes; they also do slower punkers (“Hart…” and “Candlelight”) of which only the former has teeth. Though not as frenetic as I expected after Tim’s remarks about the INDIREKT material on the Bijna 2000 Jaar Geleden compilation (in MRR #12), this EP has a couple of mini-classics (like “Shell Helpt”).

Die Kapelle Nulpunkt EP

Solid Danish post-punk. Good bass and drum interaction and quality guitar work are in full display on DIE KAPELLE’s debut EP, and the songs are also pretty good (especially “The Kingdom of Despair”). MARCH VIOLETS fans should appreciate this, but punks might be put off by the overlong tracks and underemphasized guitar sound.

Self Abuse (I Didn’t Want To Be A) Soldier EP

Despite SELF ABUSE’s good intentions, this is a boring example of current Britpunk. The songs have an awkward feel, the laid-back production disguises the existence of two guitars, and the overall effect is not very exciting. Maybe next time.

Vertical Hold Angel Dust EP

VERTICAL HOLD is essentially a moody post-punk band with undistorted guitars, as the two songs on this EP’s B-side demonstrate. But “Angel Dust” is the really worthwhile cut here, with its loping tempo, punkier structure, boss background vocals, and clever bass/drum-oriented bridge.

Animal Farm Model Soldier / John Julie 7″

For some reason, ANIMAL FARM sounds like a punkish band from the ’79 era (e.g. the SHAPES). They have a certain quirky melodic quality, a clever wit, and a cleaner guitar sound than one normally finds today. “Model Soldier” is a sarcastic look at enlistees; the flip seems to be a continuation of the Jilted John/Julie story. Neat-o.

The Barracudas Endeavor to Persevere LP

If you’re familiar with the FLAMIN’ GROOVIES’ Shake Some Action album, you’ll have a general idea what this third Barracudas long-player sounds like. They even look like the GROOVIES! Personally, I think a lot of the material here is pedestrian—it certainly doesn’t even begin to approach their best—but if you like that melodic, jangly-guitar folk-rockish genre, some of it might click.

Broken Bones Crucifix EP

Every song on BROKEN BONES’ second 7” is a pile-driving metallic thrash cut with good vocal and instrumental hooks. In retrospect, it’s clear that Bones played a major role in DISCHARGE’s early greatness, and if he can control his tendency to do too much guitar wanking, his new band should overwhelm the current incarnation of DISCHARGE.

Guana Batz The Cave / Werewolf Blues 7″

This 45 is a vast improvement over their rather lame debut. The main difference is that there’s much more musical muscle behind their psychobilly this time around. “The Cave” is a hot guitar-picking number with screams; the other is a more traditional, less interesting track.

Erazerhead Summertime Now / Tonight 7″

More RAMONES-y punk-pop from ERAZERHEAD. “Summertime Now” is a fast, danceable paean to summer with tasty guitar backing; the flip is a much weaker pop ballad with a dull sax. A 50/50 proposition.

The Scientists We Had Love / Clear Spot 7″

This 45 from Australia’s SCIENTISTS is a fine new example of their distinctive fusion of influences from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. “We Had Love” is a mini-classic with sneering CRAMPS-ish vocals, a pulsating rhythm, and a wall of feedbacking guitars in the true ’60s tradition; the less-impressive B-side has a garagy post-punk structure and some nifty slide guitar.

Die Toten Hosen Schöne Bescherung EP

A remarkably enjoyable X-mas 7” from DIE TOTENHOSEN. The title cut has a silly spoken intro before breaking into their well-known brand of melodic funnypunk; “Willi’s Weisse Weihnacht” is slower and not particularly impressive. But “Knecht Rubrect’s Fahrt” is the really outstanding track here, with its clean, heavy instrumentation, indefatigable sing-along choruses, and hilarious theme.

Targets Schneller, Lauter, Härter EP

An exceptionally fine example of contemporary German hardcore, combining full-tilt thrash power with TOTENHOSEN-size vocal hooks, catchy instrumental arrangements, and some “on target” political themes (especially in “Geld regiert die Welt”). “Massenhysterie” is a choice cut that’ll have you singing along and waving your arms all over the place. The TARGETS contain former members of SLIME.

Instigators Blood is on Your Hands EP

A strong Britpunk release. Most of the songs are in the standard fast- to medium-tempo range, the lyrics are good, and the vocals are rather high-pitched, but it’s the quality guitar arrangements, some well-placed sound effects, and a clever bridge or two that make this EP stand out from the pack. “All Creatures…” is an exceptional track.

Instant Agony Nicely Does It / We Don’t Need You 7″

A good new 45 from INSTANT AGONY. “Nicely Does It” has a bouncy medium-paced beat, a boss guitar riff, and ironic lyrics; the flip lacks the latter, but adds a better chorus. Both cuts definitely grow on you.

V/A I’d Rather Be in Philadelphia LP

The non-hardcore equivalent of Get Off My Back. Not surprisingly, it ranges from the excellent (MOTHER MAY I’s moody psychedelic pop, PRETTY POISON’s haunting dance-oriented pop) to the decent (light ’60s-style pop by the IMPOSSIBLE YEARS, BOOK OF LOVE, and the RED BUCKETS, as well as BUNNYDRUM’s eerie post-punk) to the awful (SENSORY FIX’s annoying meanderings and the STICKMEN’s jazz-damage). The mixing and editing is courtesy of former LOS MICROWAVE David Javelosa.

V/A The Sound of Hollywood: Copulation LP

A tremendous compilation of songs about the police, mainly consisting of Southern California bands that ought to know (except for the ostriches in WHITE FLAG). There are tracks from lesser-recorded groups like DR. KNOW, S.V.D.B., AMERICA’S HARDCORE, the GRIM, and NEW REGIME, as well as veterans like BLACK FLAG, G.I., and SADO-NATION.

V/A Bands That Could Be God LP

Paradoxically, most alternative compilations are either too monodimensional or too multidimensional to hold the listener’s interest, but this Massachusetts collection put out by Conflict fanzine’s Gerard Cosloy avoids that common pitfall by presenting diverse yet forceful bands. What we have here is basically an engaging mixture of thrash bands with special intensity and/or quirkiness (MOVING TARGETS, the OUTPATIENTS, DEEP WOUND, SORRY) and highly structured neo-psych groups (BUSTED STATUES, the FLIES, SALEM 66, BEANBAG), although they really shouldn’t be classified rigidly. CHRISTMAS is too weird for me, but some of these bands are indeed Godlike. A worthwhile investment.

The Skeptix Return to Hell EP

Another well-recorded SKEPTIX release. They’ve contributed two more killer thrash numbers, one with some interesting drum parts (“War Drum”), the other with a metallic guitar solo (the title track). The EP is rounded out by a slower cut called “Another Day.”

The Five Act of Contrition EP

The FIVE have some interesting ideas in the post-punk vein. On this new EP, they produce one lengthy, rhythmic track with rather annoying repetitive vocals (“How Many Times”), an offbeat cover version of MELANIE’s “Angel of the Morning,” and a cool psychedelic punkoid number with a faster tempo that holds the most promise (“Death Chord”). Worth a listen.

M.I.A. Murder in a Foreign Place LP

When I first heard this, I was a bit disappointed, but after only a couple more listens, those distinctive MIA characteristics clearly emerged—a tight, powerful instrumental attack, hooks galore, flashes of hot guitar work (especially on “Used to Know Me”), plaintive, evocative lead singing, intelligent themes, and some haunting background vocals (in “Modern Way” and “Boredom Is the Reason”). So you’d be a jerk not to go out and buy it, you know?

White Pigs Victims EP

The WHITE PIGS are a young Connecticut band. Although their themes are somewhat predictable and their music is in the straight-ahead thrash category, the production on this EP is appealingly rough and many of the songs have both highly memorable vocal parts and WHITE CROSS-like intensity (especially “Dropout,” “Screamer,” “Early Grave,” and “Kill Kop”). That’s a recommendation.

Violent Apathy Here Today… EP

This debut EP from Kalamazoo’s VIOLENT APATHY is much slower and more metal-influenced than their cut on the Process of Elimination EP, but it has the same piercing guitar sound. Several of the songs here are too close to heavy metal for my taste, but “Bought and Sold” and “Scathed” have more screechy punk appeal. For BLACK FLAG rather than MINOR THREAT devotees.

Crash Course Wanna Be Like You EP

The finest example of late-’70s-style punk rock I’ve heard since LAS VULPESS’s 45. All of the songs here are unusually fast and rousing (except the slower fist-shaker, “Break Down the Walls”), with anthemic choruses and some shredding guitar leads. An epic Swiss EP.

The Lurkers The Final Vinyl 12″

As a long-standing LURKERS fan, I can only wonder why Clay decided to release mediocre material that only serves to tarnish the memory of a once-great ’77 punk band. Side one contains two unexciting post-punkish numbers (one being a lame cover of WILSON PICKETT’s “Midnight Hour”); side two features a commercial synth-pop thang (“By the Heart”), a hot already released punky blast (“Frankenstein Again”), and a decent slower punk-pop cut. Sad.

Tex and the Horseheads Tex and the Horseheads LP

Yet another example of one of this year’s new trends—cowpunk. In the tradition of GUN CLUB, BLOOD ON THE SADDLE, and the new MEAT PUPPETS, TEX & THE HORSEHEADS are taking countrified structures and attempting to infuse them with punk energy, and again the results are mixed. Songs like “Oh Mother” and “Short Train” are engaging amalgams with a driving beat, a bittersweet mood, loud but tasty folk guitars, and Texacala’s husky vocals, but their attempts at more traditional blues (JIMMY REED’s “Big Boss man”) and country (“Guitar Obsession”) fall flat.

Codigo Neurotico Totus Tous EP

A pleasant mixture of fast- to medium-speed punk and one thrasher (“Pega a tu Mama”) can be found on CODIGO NEUROTICO’s first release. Nothing here is mind-blowing, but some songs have catchy choruses (like the title cut and “Quema Tanques”) and the guitars really growl at loud volume.

Undead The Killing of Reality LP

Medium-speed Britpunk is not my favorite musical subgenre, but this particular album really hits a responsive chord. The UNDEAD manage to hypnotize and enchant here with measured drum-heavy build-ups, double guitar power, and superior songwriting. Although almost all of these songs have a similar tempo, certain compositions (like the haunting “Listen to the Wallbeat” and the energized “Terrorist TV”) stand out as mini-masterpieces. Unexpectedly good.

Lumpen Proles She Wasn’t Home / Positive Thinking 7″

An unexpectedly good 45 by an upstate New York group. “She Wasn’t Home” is a tasty pop number with reasonably loud guitars and a strong ’60s-style chorus; the B-side is a moody, quasi-psychedelic cut with “heavy” lyrics, maaan. I like both, but the LUMPEN PROLES certainly won’t appeal to those who only like hardcore.

Lyres On Fyre LP

Although the superb re-recorded versions of “Don’t Give It Up Now” and “Help You Ann” alone almost make this album worth buying, a series of horrible cover versions (including “I Confess” and two KINKS kompositions—”Live Me Till the Sun Shines” and “Tired of Walking”) and uninspired originals conspire to undermine its overall value. Boston’s LYRES are potentially a great ’60s-style punk band, but except for a triad of gems (“I’m Tellin’ You, Girl,” “The Way I Feel About You,” and “Not Like the Other One”), they don’t live up to that potential here.

The Plague Catch the Plague LP

A great example of the true spirit of DIY punk, the likes of which haven’t been heard in many a year. The music here is primitive, stripped-down punk rock à la ’77-’78, recorded at the singer/guitarist’s house in two days with vocals sounding like they’re coming out of the closet and no remixes. On the plain cover, the same fellow describes the course of his socio-political self-realization, which ultimately led to the making of Catch the Plague, and the results are ten times more honest and relevant than 90% of the stuff produced by various modern “hardcore” cliques. “This Is the Punk” says it all.

Major Conflict How Do Ya Feel EP

A New York band that doesn’t do thrash? Yes—this three-song release features metalish punk with poppy vocals and lots of guitar work. The best track is “Out Group,” which provides commentary on the local scene, and there’s also a good instrumental. Give them points for trying to be different.

My 3 Sons Starving Artist / In the Beginning 7″

MY 3 SONS is a young experimental band from New Jersey. “Starving Artist” is a droning metallic cut à la FLIPPER, and it’s quite good if you like that sort of thing; the flip is an overlong mood piece with chimes and stream-of-consciousness lyrics that I find unlistenable. Not really my cup of tea.

Live Skull Mr. Evil 12″

A loud, abrasive post-punk group with pretentious lyrics and a unique, metal-edged guitar sound similar to—but not as extreme as—that of BIG BLACK. Most of LIVE SKULL’s songs are measured, droning thangs (except for the faster “Boil”), but it’s the distortion and controlled feedback emanating from the two guitars that really lift them above the pack.

Ill Repute What Happens Next LP

Aaargh! ILL REPUTE may not extend the thematic or musical limits of modern thrash very far, but this album is so fucking ferocious that it doesn’t matter. The band wails, the guitar screams, the vocals are really snotty and impassioned, and the production has an edge that further accentuates all of these advantages. A wicked release that’ll motivate you to try stage diving off of your kitchen table.

Honor Role It Bled Like a Stuck Pig EP

A new thrash outfit distinguished by a clean, undistorted guitar tone, unusually youthful vocals, and some clever bridges. The overall sound is too thin to generate a spastic head-banging response, but some of the tracks have exuberant choruses (like “New Hope” and “I’m a Nerd”). Give it a listen.

Gang Green Sold Out EP

If you don’t like this amazing slab of vinyl, don’t even pretend that you ever liked thrash punk. GANG GREEN’s assault is unbelievably tight and intense, and Mr. Doherty’s guitar work flails away mercilessly. “Terrorize” is particularly awesome, so nerds should steer clear.

Fiends We’ve Come for Your Beer LP

A very impressive potpourri of “redneck” rock, garage metal à la STOOGES, punk, and parody makes this FIENDS debut a must-have. Instead of parroting the form of various genres of rock ’n’ roll, these guys manage to transmit its cocky, devil-may-care spirit. The guitars are loud and punky, and the decadent humor that shines forth on jams like “Riot in the Men’s Room,” “Battle Axe,” and “Rock All Night” simultaneously promotes and pokes fun at adolescent “drink-fight-fuck” fantasies. If you don’t think they’re a laugh a minute, you must be one of the zombies on the cover.

Fang Where the Wild Things Are LP

There are two kinds of bands in this world—those that appreciate any help which others offer, and those that whine and complain when others don’t give them the attention they think they deserve. Unfortunately, FANG falls within the latter category, and it’s a mighty test of my fairness to say anything good about the spoiled, self-centered babies. Even so, their album contains the same humorous mixture of fast semi-thrashers (like “Road Kills”) and slower, droning numbers (like “Suck and Fuck”), so if you liked Landshark, you’ll go for this as well.

Dr. Know Plug-In Jesus LP

Mystic describes these guys as a “hardcore speed-metal death band,” and I can’t improve upon that summation much. DR. KNOW plays fast thrash and semi-thrash with heavy metal guitar leads and depressing, horror-inspired lyrics. They’re tight as a drum and undeniably powerful, though some of the aforementioned metal parts are excruciating. In the L.A. STAINS tradition, but quite a bit better.

Bum Kon Drunken Sex Sucks EP

Raw thrash emanates from Colorado’s BUM KON. They have a frenetic instrumental attack and intense vocals, but the generally poor production doesn’t always highlight their potential—note, e.g., the variation between the muddy title song and “The Draft,” which has a much hotter sound.

Broken Talent Blood Slut EP

Ultra-primitive garage punk form the wilds of South Florida. Although the production is excessively raw and trebly, I find BROKEN TALENT’s combination of raunchy guitars and screechy singing rather appealing. “My God Can Beat Up Your God” is a classic satire about religious chauvinism, but what the hell is the title track about?

V/A Welcome to 1984 LP

Our second compilation showcases 23 bands from 17 countries, spanning the east, west, north, and south of this pathetic globe we inhabit. We can’t be too objective, but we think that most of the selections here are great, though three or four are only so-so. In any case, it provides a good introduction to worldwide punk and hardcore for those who are unable to purchase overseas releases. For those that are, there’s also plenty of unreleased stuff.

V/A Underground Hits 2 LP

The second lavishly illustrated volume of Underground Hits again features a mixture of German and American bands, but this time around, the production isn’t as good and the two punk groups representing Germany (CANALTERROR and SPUX) aren’t quite as impressive. Still, it contains material from some excellent US outfits (the ANGRY SAMOANS, YOUTH BRIGADE, the MEATMEN, HÜSKER DÜ, the FU’s, GOVERNMENT ISSUE, and ADRENALIN OD), and represents another positive effort to unify the international scene. AOD’s unreleased tracks are hot.

V/A Vägra för Helvete LP

A Swedish compilation album featuring a variety of punk styles performed by new and not-so-new groups. The bulk of the record consists of basic ’77-style punk bands (SABOTAGE 81, the LIVIN’ SACRIFICE, ADRENALIN, ROLAND’S GOSSKÖR, HJARNDÖD, ASTA KASK, and DNA), the best of which are SABOTAGE 81, who produces some catchier-than-average tunes, and ASTA KASK, who have a driving, upbeat sound. ANTI-CIMEX, SUNE STUDS OCH GRÖNLANDSROCKARNA, and NYX NEGATIV present a more contemporary thrash attack, but the generally muddy production detracts from this collection’s overall power (as it did on the Really Fast sampler).

V/A Ingenting for Norge LP

An underground Norwegian compilation with four groups. ALLAHRM are a boring rock-oriented band with some traditional rock ’n’ roll elements (in “Vegspringar”); TEROR boasts a basic Britpunkish attack with a bit of edge and a loud bass; NORRRSKE BUDEIER have a female singer and a mid-tempo punk sound (except on the thrashed-out “Å Være”); and FADER WAR are full-tilt thrashers with an ultra-fuzzy guitar buzz and somewhat off-kilter drumming. Uneven as a whole, but it has some notable high points.

Dezerter Ku Przyszłości EP

After hearing the fairly traditional ’77ish title track from this EP by a Polish punk band, I thought it might be more of a curio than a record I listened to a lot. But the other three songs turned out to be tight contemporary-sounding thrashers with memorable vocal parts, instrumental hooks, and one picky lead (in “Wojna glupców”). DEZERTER easily holds their own against the better Western bands, so I strongly recommend looking for their releases.

Think Tank Think Tank cassette

A bunch of cool Fresno cats associated with the MANIAX, Blitz, and Stop Skate Harassment have put out this innovative little tape. THINK TANK combines unique post-punk arrangements, very thoughtful lyrics, and all-out thrash blasts in an effective, distinctive way. They even do a raunchy cover of the CLASH’s “1977.” Highly recommended.

Spark Plugz Spiders in My Pockets / No Problem 7″

This cool platter is kind of hard to describe. “Spiders” is a warpo trashed-out number with psychobilly vocals and a sporadic slide guitar; the flip is more of a traditional rock ballad that doesn’t quite click. Different.

Trotskids Je Sens Mauvais 12″

The TROTSKIDS play quite a bit faster than most of the new French skunk bands. They have the same heavy sound and irresistible soccer chants, but the accelerated tempo adds a lot more punch and appeal, at least for me. Great stuff that I strongly recommend.

Shanghai Dog Clanging Bell 12″

A new Vancouver outfit with former members of the SUBHUMANS. “Bawl and Change” and “The Closet” are terrific guitar-heavy pop blasts that’ll motivate you to bop; the other songs are clever rockish numbers that can be compared to English band SPHERICAL OBJECTS. Not bad at all.

Reich Orgasm Future Pour Tous 12″

Still more skunk from France. The thing that differentiates REICH ORGASM from the pack is some extremely tasteful guitar frills inserted at just the right moments, but they don’t sacrifice any hummability in the process. I find this EP very enjoyable, but I’m beginning to wonder if this particular style is peculiar to French punk bands as a whole, or only to those on the Chaos Production label.

Rappio Harha / Kaupungin Kaunein 7″

RAPPIO’s 45 showcases the kind of punk that used to be common in Finland around 1978-’79, with its medium pace, poppy melodies, sung vocals, and hummable choruses. The twin-guitar attack and CLASH-style background singing make the B-side the superior song. An atypical ’84 release.

Moderat Likvidation Nitad EP

This Swedish band is confusing. Their earlier Oi-influenced tape contained what might have been blatant stupidity. With song titles like “Anti-Fag” and KKK” and chants of “skinhead… sieg heil,” it was impossible to tell where they stood. But on this new EP, there’s a change, both musically and lyrically. Now, they combine sloppy thrash in the ABSURD vein and ponderous drones with anti-war themes, but the results remain mixed.

Krunch Hello Bob EP

More great stuff from Sweden. The magnificent title song has a roaring wall of guitars and a staggered join-in chorus; the other three cuts are almost up to that exceptional standard. A mandatory purchase for fans of thrash.

Komintern Sect Les Seigneurs de la Guerre LP

Another French band with that English “skunk” sound. By that, I refer to the draping of soccer-style sing-alongs over a loud mid-tempo punk instrumental base. The title track and “Barcelone 1936” are the best of the songs in that style; “Les Vauriens” is the sole fast cut, but it too has a chanting chorus. Good.

Kambrones Dédié à La P4 Army EP

LES KAMBRONES, named after the first French public figure known to have uttered the term “merde” (“shit”), have a chunky mid-tempo sound and the type of tuneful hooks that seem to be a characteristic of many French punk groups. But they’re more consistently fetching than the bulk of their peers, and all three of these songs will be running through your head after only a couple of listens.

Inferno Tod & Wahnsinn LP

Like VORKRIEGSPHASE, INFERNO rips out intense blasts of thrash enveloped in a wall of guitars, but they lack their compatriots’ tightness. In particular, the out-of-sync drumming often seems to hold back the rest of the band’s momentum. Still, the guitarist wails, and this nasty-sounding record has more than enough ass-kickers to warrant your attention.

Frites Modern Veel, Vet, Goor en Duur LP

This is a magnificent album, one of the best thus far in 1984. First of all, the extraordinarily powerful sound whacks you across the face, then you realize how superb the band is and how well-crafted the songs are. Most are in the hook-filled fast- to medium-paced vein (like “Als je Haar…” and “1000 Aspirines”), but there are also a couple of adrenalin American-style thrashers (the satirical “U.S.A.” and “Bedankt”) and some slower, older-style numbers (like “Een Droevig Verhaal”). The potential hinted at on FRITES MODERN’s earlier 6 Met tape has been fully realized here.

Les Cadavres Le Temps Passe, Le Souvenir Reste EP

More well produced mid-tempo punk from LES CADAVRES. Most of the songs here have that chunky skunk feel, but the standout track is “Mort à l’avance”, with its accelerated tempo and singalong choruses. Powerful, but not quite as catchy as KIDNAP.

Bluttat Nkululeko EP

Another great release from BLUTTAT. It’s got a roaring wall of guitars, intense male/female double vocals, full-throttle thrash momentum, and perceptive political lyrics dealing with topics like South African apartheid policies. Don’t listen to this if you’re the overly sensitive type, because it rips at loud volume.

Bill of Rights No Rights, No Chance EP

A good debut effort by a new Vancouver band. Not surprisingly (coming from D.O.A. land), they have a chunky, older-style punk attack and an extremely basic approach. “Decide” is an especially fine number with a chorus that sticks; the other cuts are less memorable.

V/A Wet Dreams LP

A new collection of UK bands performing a variety of styles, including basic Britpunk (RIOT SQUAD, CHRISTIANITY BC, the X-CRETAS, DEAD MAN’S SHADOW, the CLOCKWORK SOLDIERS, and EXTERNAL MENACE), Oi (BREAKOUT), “classical” punk (RESISTANCE 77), and tense experimental punk (PARANOIA). RIOT SQUAD, the CLOCKWORK SOLDIERS, and the X-CRETAS each do one thrashed-out number, and RESISTANCE 77 have the most retarded lyrics. Although Wet Dreams represents a positive effort to give new bands more exposure, it doesn’t always satisfy from a musical standpoint.

V/A Son of Oi LP

The fifth in the series of “Oi” compilations. Like the others, it contains a mixture of punk bands (COCK SPARRER, the ANGELIC UPSTARTS, PROLE, PARANOID PICTURES, and the NEWTOWN NEUROTICS), Oi groups (the BUSINESS, CLOCKWORK DESTRUCTION, the 4-SKINS, MANIAC YOUTH, and the VICIOUS RUMOURS), ranting political poets (PHIL SEXTON, TERRY MCCANN, MICK TURPIN, and the great GARRY JOHNSON, not to mention a cameo by ATTILA), funnypunk outfits (the GONADS, the ALASKA COWBOYS, the “L.O.L.S. Choir”), and assorted oddities. A lot of the music is appealing, so give this a listen.

The Vibrators Flying Home / Flash Flash Flash 7″

Two choice new jams from the VIBES. “Flying Home” is a haunting cut with sharp drum rolls, bittersweet vocals, and quasi-psychedelic guitars; the B-side is one of their irresistible rocking blasts with brilliant guitar riffing. Too cool to contemplate.

One Way System Visions of Angels EP

The new ONE WAY SYSTEM has excursions into three different but related musical sub-genres—”Children of the Night” is an undistinguished slow- to mid-tempo punker rooted in a heavy metal chord progression; “Down” is a faster, catchier ditty in the old ONE WAY SYSTEM tradition; and “Shine Again” is a grinding post-punk cut with a heavy guitar. Diverse but unexceptional.

Last Rites Fascism Means War EP

A very likable new release from Scotland’s LAST RITES. The guitars are primitive, the production is raw, the lyrics are spot-on, and there are some irresistible sing-along segments on the A-side. “No Right to Take” is particularly seductive.

Verbal Abuse Just an American Band LP

VERBAL ABUSE specializes in creating tight, powerful thrash and metal-punk. The band is originally from Texas, and has the same intense, ultra-frenetic approach as M.D.C. and D.R.I. What distinguished them from those groups is the presence of ex-SICK PLEASURE vocalist Nicki Sicki, who expresses hostility and nihilism rather than political concerns in his lyrics. A hot-sounding release with a hilarious “mystery” track on side 1.

Cult Maniax American Dream / Black Mass 7″

This CULT MANIAX 45 is hard to get ahold of, and it reflects the musical transition they underwent between their fantastic “Blitz” 7” and their album. “American Dream” is a mid-tempo punker with their usual high-pitched singing and some post-punky frills; the overly long flip is more measured and psychedelicized.

The Accursed Going Down / I Didn’t Mean It 7″

Only one thing differentiates the Accursed from their many Britpunk contemporaries—they lack the well-produced sound that characterizes so many releases from England. Instead, they have a dense, raunchy guitar roar that adds oomph to fairly predictable material. “Going Down” is decent.

V/A From the Valley Within EP

This particular valley is the Silicon, home of GRIM REALITY, RIBZY, the FACTION, and MISTAKEN IDENTITY. All four bands contribute a pair of songs each, none of which are losers, and some of which are great (especially RIBZY’s). The FACTION deserves a lot of credit for putting out this EP, and the cover is great.

Yo Good Tidings LP

The best punkadelic albums I’ve heard in years. YO, a Bay Area band with some ex-members of B-TEAM, mix an abrasive punked-out guitar attack, meaningful TIM BUCKLEY-style vocals, innovative musical structures, obtuse lyrics, strong melodies, and occasional flashes of brilliant psychedelic guitar work to produce a cult masterpiece. Play this record next to those of the over-hyped neo-psych groups from LA, and watch them fade away along with the pink elephants you saw before the acid wore off.

The Worst Expect the Worst 12″

The second EP from New Jersey’s WORST follows in the footsteps of their nifty debut. They still combine catchy, heartfelt vocal parts with a loud and fast instrumental backing that’s alternately straightforward and interrupted by unpredictable structural changes. Some of the compositions work better than others, but this release is well worth the price.

Violent Children Split Scene EP

The newest entry into the nutmeg state’s hardcore sweepstakes presents a basic thrash attack with several metal-influenced solos and that by-now-traditional stop/start structure. Nothing here will surprise the listener, and both the drums and vocals occasionally sound out-of-sync, but a lot of these cuts are hotter than hell, especially those on the B-side.

The Velvet Monkeys Future LP

This album is a little on the frustrating side. The VELVET MONKEYS seem to shift effortlessly from the sublime to the awful—classy ’60s-influenced psychedelic pop tunes (like “Everything Is Right,” the VELVET MONKEYS “theme” song, and “Any Day Now”) stand side by side with self-indulgent trifles (like “You’re Not There” and “Bad/Dirty Blood”). Their sound revolves primarily around a cool quasi-psych guitar and an ethereal organ, but it may not appeal to everyone.

Tar Babies Face the Music 12″

A harsh debut from Wisconsin’s TAR BABIES. They offer mutated thrash (like “Be Humble” and “New Poor”), slower metallic growls (“Punch”), and disjointed experimental punk (“Triplets”), all with DIE KREUZENish singing and a super-distorted guitar. Intense and occasionally annoying.

Second Wind Security 12″

Like MARGINAL MAN, SECOND WIND start with the basic D.C. thrash-oriented attack and play a lot of tricks with it. In this case, that means slowing down the tempo, and adding clever bridges, an occasional tasty guitar part, and particularly fine drumming. Although the singer has definite Ian MacKaye inflections, this is a distinctive release.

Ruin He-Ho LP

RUIN present a strange, unclassifiable amalgam of psychedelia, acoustic doodling, heavy metal, punk, and thrash, usually all within the same song! The lyrics are alternately oblique, humanistic, or cosmic. These guys are clearly experimenting and searching for a unique approach, which is admirable, but I don’t always find it enjoyable, mainly because of the frequent predominance of ponderous metal elements. I really like “Dionysian” and “Where Fortune,” though, as well as the chorus in “Rule Worshipper.”

Public Disturbance S&M EP

P. DISTURBANCE’s second release has a primitive sound and a weird trebly mix that emphasizes the vocals. At first, the songs seem sort of cluttered and disjointed, but after a couple of listens, they begin to coagulate in your cranium (except for the spastic “Do the Guilty”). The title track is the hottest from a musical standpoint.

Plasticland Euphoric Trapdoor Shoes / Rat-Tail Comb 7″

The new PLASTICLAND 45 contains more of their vintage psychedelic noises. Fortunately, they have the heavier fuzzed-out ’67-’68 sound rather than the syrupy unstructured approach that took hold in late ’69 and early ’70s. Both songs are textured and loud.

McRad Dominant Force LP

The A-side of this well-produced album features a brace of tight, fairly basic thrashers, only a couple of which really stand out. But the flip has a way cool reggaefied jam (“No Guns”) which reminds me vaguely of older attempts to produce crossover material by groups like the RUTS, the MEMBERS, and the (LEYTON) BUZZARDS, as well as a far less successful dub track (“Forget Those Years”). The lyrics are more serious than I expected from a band with such a clever funnypunk moniker.

Marginal Man Identity 12″

A marvelous new release from Dischord. MARGINAL MAN combines a potpourri of influences to produce a heady musical stew. There’s a fine D.C.-type thrasher with distinctive guitar parts (“Pandora’s Box”), a haunting pop number (“Friend”), two grinding “pain” songs that I find tedious (“Torn Apart” and “Fallen Pieces”), and a bunch of superb fast and tuneful punkers that have a ZERO BOYS feel, especially in the ’60s vocal inflections. Yeah!

Manifest Destiny Soilent Warehouse 12″

This new SoCal group offers an EP full of garden-variety thrash (except for the death-rockish “In the Dark”). The main problems here are a serious lack of musical imagination and tinny production; the main advantages are a shrill guitar and sound lyrics. Overly typical.

Heart Attack Subliminal Seduction 12″

A much poppier effort from HEART ATTACK. This EP is filled with all sorts of hooks and singalong choruses, but it retains their hard-edged punky guitar assault and serious lyrical approach. Here, they take on topics like sexism (“Man’s World”) and the genocidal wars against the American Indians (“Wheels Over Indian Trails”) with a great deal of intelligence. Recommended.

The Edge Death to A.O.R. EP

The EDGE is a Midwestern garage punk band with some poppy vocal hooks. The production is primitive, the rhythm guitars are suitably grungy, and the overall effect is amateurish (in the positive sense). Humorous and spirited.

Circle Seven Suburban Hope 12″

CIRCLE SEVEN has sort of a measured mid-tempo post-punk approach. They have a basic guitar-bass-drum lineup, some seductive drum-heavy rhythms, distanced singing, and good lyrics, but the music is a bit too much under control for my taste (except maybe on “Look What You’ve Got”). If they got wilder, more heads would turn.

The Boat People Capitalist / John Dillinger 7″

The BOAT PEOPLE are an amateurish garage punk band from the wilds of Nebraska. Given that rednecky environment, they deserve a lot of respect for having the guts to be punks, especially with radicalized lyrics. Unfortunately, the music here needs a lot more guitar power and vocal intensity, although the drumming, which approximates Indian tom-toms, adds a unique touch.

Big Black Bulldozer 12″

Even though one member of this band erroneously believes that his personal taste represents some sort of universal standard of quality, it can’t be denied that the new BIG BLACK EP is vastly better than their debut, which was itself very good. Here (except for “Jump the Climb”), they drape the same rhythmic, quasi-metallic tone over a much heavier musical skeleton with real drums and a loud guitar, and the effects are quite stunning.

Asbestos Rockpyle Bombs from Belfast / Police State 7″

Now, this is weird. The punked-out guitarist on the cover doesn’t exactly prepare one for the music—a unique amalgam with drum machine, synth, psychedelic guitar, and alternately sung and treated vocals. “Bombs” is almost folky, but the uptempo flip has mucho abrasive power and plenty of appeal.

American Dream Identity Crisis 12″

This Pennsylvania band has a nice raunchy sound and excellent lyrics, but I find their extended heavy metal guitar leads all but intolerable. Heavy metal damage permeates the entire EP to such a degree that only metal maniacs could fully appreciate it. It’s too bad, though, because I think there are some good ideas lurking beneath the guitar wanking.

Mission for Christ Two Jews, a Black, a Woman, and a Cripple cassette

This is a great band in the abrasive experimental punk vein. Loud guitars, heavy drumming, and interesting rhythms bring groups like NO TREND to mind, but these guys are definitely original. Aware lyrics and a couple of fast blasts add further fireworks, so send away for this today.

Breakouts No More 12″

This should have been reviewed two issues ago, but we bungled somehow. Sorry. In any case, the new BREAKOUTS line-up, with its incredible double-guitar power, is far superior to all their earlier incarnations. The material here includes hook-filled mini-classics (like the title track and “Trouble”), chunky thrashers (like “Join Me Don’t Join Me”), and even a loud quasi-experimental number (“B.D.A.”). Many of the arrangements are terrific, the production is unusually strong, the lyrics are timely, and the overall effect is uplifting and engaging.

Fatal Vision Zeitgeist cassette

FATAL VISION performs decent basic thrash, but writing lyrics is their real strong point—the themes of alienation and manipulation are handled with far more sensitivity and sophistication than one normally finds. The music could benefit from further development, though “The Grass and Sheep Saga” is an outstanding track.

Hollands Glorie Harde Feiten LP

An old-style punk release from Holland with a chunky guitar and a garagey feel. “Zwart geld” has the slowest tempo of the bunch, “Hollandse signaal” sounds almost exactly like Texas band AK-47’s “The Badge Means You Suck,” and “Wie speelt…” is a relatively fast, driving number with some powerful double-guitar work. Good, but not exactly “glorious.”

KGB Treblinka / Luftwaffe 7″

Strong mid-tempo punk can be found on this single by Spain’s KGB. “Treblinka” is a straightforward blast with a distinctive bass line and a great guitar break punctuated by screams; “Luftwaffe” alternates between slow portions and accelerated parts with a catchy pop-punk chorus. Good stuff.

The Zero Point Ha!! EP

A 7” shared by two Danish bands with the same personnel. ZERO POINT performs one melodic hardcore tune and one guitar-oriented stop/start number with a synth accompaniment and bright lyrics. HA! have a somewhat slower punk attack and raspy vocals like Jake from STIFF LITTLE FINGERS, though “Working Class Zero” is a speedier blast with an epic chorus. There’s some quality material here.

Electric Deads Mind Bomb EP

Another hot EP from Denmark’s ELECTRIC DEADS. Their earlier speedballs have given way to even faster blasts, but without sacrificing their most unique characteristics—a screaming fuzzed-out guitar, and highly-distinctive female vocal styling. I’m so impressed that the redone version of “Fish in a Pool” will appear on MRR’s forthcoming “1984” compilation.

Target of Demand Man’s Ruin 12″

This new Long Beach hardcore group seems to have been influenced quite a bit by DRI The comparison shouldn’t be exaggerated, however, because TARGET OF DEMAND adds characteristic SoCal hooks to their intense thrash attack, and the results are startlingly good. Of the songs, “The Poor Rich” takes a potshot at wealthy Malibu residents endangered by mudslides, and “Judgement” and “Plastic Bullets” are particularly savage and to the point thematically. Quintessential American ’80s thrash.

V/A It Came From Inner Space LP

This new Canadian compilation is very much like the English samplers that proliferated wildly in the ’78 epoch, in that it features a bunch of pop bands and one or two token punk groups. Of the latter, SNFU produces two powerful mid-tempo gems with crunching guitars and sing-along choruses (including the classic “Real Men Don’t Watch Quincy”), while DOWN SYNDROME offers a couple of raunchy garage punkers. Of the pop bands, the STANDARDS and the THIEVES stand out above the wimpy pack by virtue of a heavier guitar sound and an unobtrusive ’60s tinge. The overall effect is rather refreshing in our current era of musical segregation.

Sector Four Disc-Lexia EP

SECTOR FOUR exhibits a garagey mid-tempo approach on their debut EP. They’ve got a chunky guitar sound and the kind of goofy humor that seems to be common in Florida. “Jump on You” and “Time” are irresistably catchy numbers with cool choruses; “Heartbreak Hotel” is an absurd punked-out trashing of an old ELVIS song; the rest are nondescript.

Tesco Vee Dutch Hercules 12″

Well, the newest TESCO VEE affair is predictably centered around “offensive” themes, including satires dealing with lesbians (“Lesbian Death Dirge”), television, evangelists (“God’s Bullies”), heavy metal goons (“Wine, Wenches, and Wheels”), new wave dance trendies (SLY’s “Dance to the Music”), and the rap phenomenon (“Crapper’s Delight”). The latter three cuts feature music related to their respective themes, whereas the first two have more of a garagey Meatmen approach. Entertaining as all get out!

Guana Batz You’re So Fine EP

Somewhat tame psychobilly, sort of a poor man’s METEORS. Actually, it’s on the same label, which caters to offbeat ’50s- and ’60s-sounding psych bands. The GUANA BATZ do play some twangy surf guitar, though.

Rights of the Accused Mean People Suck cassette

A year-old tape by Chicago’s coolest young thrashers, which was originally supposed to be released as a 7” on Version Sound. Except for the funky title song, the cuts are fast, frenetic, and a bit rough around the edges, but that’s no problem unless you’re overly concerned about professionalism. I’m not, so I wish someone would press this humorous trash. Yeah!

Arcata Boys Choir Drug Free Youth cassette

Musical absurdity from some wild Northern Californians. Record some characters who are trying for that NEOS sound in their living room, and you’ll have the basic idea. Completely incoherent garage thrash, more experimental than listenable, though some of the lyrics are worth hearing.

City X Dansende Drenge EP

Another diverse effort by CITY-X. Their new EP contains a pair of awkward post-punk numbers (the title song and “Gnister”) and a couple of punkier jams. Even the latter are much more unusual than the standard punk offering, so those with broad taste may find favor with this Danish outfit.

Lost Cherrees A Man’s Duty… A Woman’s Place EP

This band is obviously well-meaning, and I share their fundamental values, but their music doesn’t always grab me. To be honest, the entire CRASS-inspired quasi-experimental approach to punk is starting to seem more and more pretentious and self-indulgent, especially in the hands of their many imitators. Both parts of “Sexism’s Sick” have enough drive to hold my interest, though.

V/A Noise From the Garage cassette

A compendium of old and new Monterey-area bands. Different styles of punk are represented here, but raw thrash and garagey metal punk predominate. The recording quality is generally poor, making this more of a historical document than a listening pleasure, which is perhaps to be expected. The groups include FALSE ALARM, (another) C.I.A., PUBLIC PROBLEM, DON’T NO, E.O.T.W., (another) KENT STATE, (another) DEPRESSION, and the ever-lovable BIOHAZARD.

Eric Hysteric Fool Around / I Wanna Be a Kid Forever 7″

More garage grunge from Mr. HYSTERIC. A couple of noisy, almost poppy songs appear here, the best of which is “Wanna Be a Kid” with its cool background vocals, fuzzy guitar, up-tempo approach, and lyrics that I can totally identify with. For SHAGGS and old TV PERSONALITIES fans.

Negativ Glitter Hair Cream / Terrorist 7″

’77-style punk from Switzerland. The A-side has a satirical anti-macho approach and a nice chorus, but the flip, with its loping bass line, primitive guitar lead, tightness, and irresistible sing-along character, is by far the better song. Good fun.

Kansan Uutiset Beautiful Dreams LP

Finnish thrash in the RIISTETYT tradition. More specifically, KANSAN UUTISET produce the sort of incoherent thrash with poorly synchronized vocals that characterized the first RIISTETYT EP, which I found too tuneless and similar-sounding. There are some noteworthy blasts here (like “Army Cannot Make the Man” and “Economic Appraisal”), and the less compressed B-side has a better sound quality, but on the whole this album is overly derivative.

Kidnap Il Faudra Bien Qu’un Jour Tout Change EP

The first solo release from this great French band is somewhat uneven in quality. The title song is almost as tremendous as “No S.S.” from the Apocalypse compilation, and “Sympa les gros bras” approximates that extraordinary high standard for medium-tempo “skunk,” but the other two cuts are less memorable. Still, it’s another fine release from Chaos Productions.

Larsen ¡No! 12″

A raw garage punk record, and the first funnypunk release I’ve heard from Spain. Larsen boast a distorted, trebly guitar sound, a heavy rhythm section, a distinctive vocalist with a sarcastic “nyah, nyah” style, and real basic song structures. The abrasive “Vomitas Sangre” and the up-tempo “Nacido de la Pota de un Punk” strike the most responsive chords.

Kangrena Terrorismo Sonoro EP

KANGRENA have a raw, primitive approach that goes over reasonably well on faster cuts like “Agonia” and “Fum, Fum, Fum,” but only annoys on the slower, tuneless numbers. The spirit is wiling, but the flesh needs to age a bit.

Malinheads Probegepogt Aus Spandau EP

A lot of German thrash bands have a tuneless quality that makes it hard to distinguish individual songs, but the MALINHEADS have more of a catchy, well-produced attack, like many new Swedish groups. Highly recommended for that, and the noteworthy bass playing.

Maho Neitsyt Tehdaskaupungin Lapset EP

The second EP from MAHO NEITSYT comes on strong with gruff sandpaper vocals and an ultra-dense instrumental attack. It’s loud, noisy, and much more Oi-influenced than their debut, and I love every minute of it.

Otto’s Chemical Lounge Fire EP

The new OTTO’S 7” substitutes a much harder, almost punky attack for their earlier art-damaged approach. Here, the guitars are psychedelicized and a lot louder, and the song structures are basic and consistent enough to allow the listener to adjust to them. In sum, an interesting experimental punk release with some psych and funk qualities, not to mention a charged HENDRIX cover.

YDI A Place in the Sun EP

YDI continues to display a real intense thrash attack on their first solo release. Stylistically, they don’t break any new ground, but they’ve got a shitload of raw power and supercharged energy. Some of the songs are straightforward and manic (like the great “Friends”), some have an alternating slow/fast structure (like “Out for Blood”), and a couple are slower (like “Another Day”). Pretty impressive.

Pandemonium Who the Fuck Are You? EP

More careening thrash from Holland’s PANDEMONIUM. All three songs on this EP are manic as hell, although “No Reaction” has a slow/fast structure. The only problem here lies in the production—it’s a lot more trebly and echoey than their cuts on the Als Je Haar Maar Goed Zit 2 compilation, which makes them sound a little tinny. Recommended anyway.

Negative Approach Tied Down LP

This NEGATIVE APPROACH album has a slicker and much more powerful sound than their debut EP, but their music still has that blend of rousing thrash and Oi choruses which makes you want to sing along. The gruff vocals are distinctive, the lyrics are unexpectedly decent, and many of the songs are strong (including thrashers like “Live Your Life” and the title cut, and tension-builders such as the re-recorded version of “Nothing”). Although there are also a couple of losers (like the heavy metallish “Evacuate”), this is a very good record overall.

Sluggo Contradiction EP

A nifty new thrash band from the Midwest. Their most noticeable characteristic is a vocal style that sounds alternately like the CIRCLE JERKS (“Figure It Out”), 7 SECONDS (“Erase the Thought”), or MINOR THREAT (“Too Bad”). The music is sloppy but exuberant, the production is suitably primitive, and the themes sometimes make you stop and reflect (especially in the title cut and “Up and Over”). Recommended.

Spike in Vain Disease Is Relative LP

These guys have an angular, experimental sound with hardcore feeling. The vocals are nasty and they’ve got a few faster straightforward tunes (like “Dear Departed”), but in general they rely on too many time changes and awkward structural shifts for my gut-level taste. I listened to it at 3:00 AM, so don’t take my word for it. Find out for yourself.

Toxic Reasons Kill By Remote Control LP

Live, the TOXICS seem intent on following DOA into a rock-oriented rut, but this album is filled with sharp songs that lock in firmly on your memory. Most of them are mid- to fast-tempo punkers rather than thrashed-out blurs, and the production fully accentuates the power and subtlety of the band’s instrumentation. Unreservedly recommended for its relevant lyrical concerns and some outstanding cuts (like the 7 SECONDS-style “Powercrazed” and the melodic “Stuck in a Rut”).

Destrucktions Vox Populi LP

Like APPENDIX, the DESTRUCKTIONS combine diverse influences and come up with a varied and distinctive hardcore sound. From full-tilt thrash with hooks (like “A Tale of the End of the World”) to fast melodic punk (like “Suicide”) to tense metallic build-ups (like “What Does It Matter?”) to memorable amalgams of all of the above (like “Do Something”), this album kicks ass. Highly recommended for imaginative arrangements and great drumming.

Depression Money Chain EP

DEPRESSION’s virgin vinyl reveals a shift from the metallic thrash of their demo cassette to a slower, more grinding metal attack. The tempos are mostly slow and steady, the guitar leads are prominent, the lyrics are excellent, and the overall sound is very English. “World Leaders” is the fastest, most appealing cut.

Destructors TV Eye EP

Yechh! I’ve already been put off by the many recent releases of recycled DESTRUCTORS material. But I can’t abide this new line-up (minus old singer Neil), which has regressed to the point of playing thoroughly boring rock. If this is their bid for commercial success, they deserve to fall flat on their shortsighted faces. Garbage.

Crowbar Hippie Punks / White Riot 7″

CROWBAR is an amazingly dumb new Oi band. “Hippie Punks” is a reactionary diatribe against punks who are sensible enough to oppose militarism and jingoism, and the CLASH over undoubtedly takes on a right-wing coloration in this imbecilic context. So pathetic that it’s downright laughable.

DRI Violent Pacification EP

By now, everyone should know that DRI is one of the fastest, tightest, and most powerful thrash bands in history, and their new EP is a total killer. The title cut is a bit slow for them in parts, but the rest are faster than the speed of sound. If these guys aren’t intense enough for you, try pulling your teeth out with a pair of pliers. Awesome.

Skeletal Family She Cries Alone / The Wind Blows 7″

Despite the all-too-obvious SIOUXSIE influences, SKELETAL FAMILY has managed to produce something of value here, mainly because of their tasty, haunting guitar work and snappy drum attack. The B-side is more intriguing, with its occasional shrieks, and if this band can hold onto their musical muscle, they could develop into an exceptional combo.

Riot Squad No Solution / Government Scheme 7″

This new RIOT SQUAD record is in the predictable Britpunk tradition, but the damn thing sounds real good anyway. “No Solution” hits the mark due to its simple but classy chorus, while the flip relies more on speed. Both are improved drastically by a loud-as-fuck drum mix.

Screaming Dead Paint It Black / Warriors 7″

A slightly disappointing follow-up to their great recent 12”. The A-side is a passable but unnecessary cover of the old STONES classic; the choice flip has fantastic back-up vocals that remind me of the early SKIDS. The band’s guitar work is also as brilliant as ever, so axe aficionados should seek out this 45.

The March Violets Snake Dance / Slow Drip Lizard 7″

A superior post-punk—or is it “positive punk”—record from England’s MARCH VIOLETS. They’ve got an innovative guitar style, and a knack for writing rhythmic, up-tempo songs with interesting structures. “Snake Dance” is an exceptional tune not equaled by the flip.

Crass You’re Already Dead EP

Although nobody could respect CRASS’ political efforts more, I no longer have any desire to listen to their annoying music. It’s not that I object to bands experimenting in principle, but in practice I like to hear fast, raw stuff with a primal beat, and CRASS rarely provide it these days. Despite some intense moments and an out-of-character guitar solo (!), this EP doesn’t quite click.

Cock Sparrer Shock Troops LP

After hearing the first three cuts on Side A, with their punchy mid-tempo attack, melodic high-powered guitars, and uplifting choruses, I was on the verge of raving about the survival of COCK SPARRER in top form. But despite the greatness of those songs (one of which—”Where Are They Now”—is a blistering critique of the punks of ’77), and one interesting track with a pronounced KINKS-ish feel (“Out on an Island”), the rest of the album slides into more pedestrian rock ’n’ rolly material.

The Burnt The M.P. EP

Primitive mid-to-fast-paced punk with a garage aesthetic and some fetching guitar parts can be found on this debut. The production is uneven at best, and the music is occasionally sloppy, but the BURNT display enough enthusiasm to make up for these shortcomings. “Industrial Accident” is a minor classic, due in part to an amazingly cool chorus.

V/A Apocalypse LP

An excellent well-produced sampler of new French hardcore bands. Although REICH ORGASM and KOMITERN SECT contribute some irresistible chunky mid-tempo punk, and the weaker NO PUB offers a splendid little ditty called “Viol-ence,” KIDNAP steals the spotlight with some amazing bone-crunching stuff. Their “No SS” is one of the most brilliant, dynamic songs of 1983, with its dense fuzz guitars, tense build-up, and haunting background vocals; their other tracks are also killers, and the politicized lyrics go straight to the heart of the matter. Much better than Chaos Productions’ earlier Chaos en France compilation, so order it and support a valuable independent label.

V/A Highs in the Mid-Sixties, Vols. 1-3 LPs

Three amazing albums that chronicle the exciting musical history of the L.A. youth underground. Volume 1 (1965) presents the raw ’60s punk sound that once blew my young mind, and includes such items as the blasting Colony classic, “All I Want,” and the neanderthal sneer of the AVENGERS’ “Be a Cave Man”; Volume 2 (1966) features some overt anti-police teen protests by TERRY RANDALL and the “PEOPLE OF SUNSET STRIP” that’ll strike a familiar chord among contemporary punks; Volume 3 (1967) offers a mixture of trippy “flower power” cuts and nasty psychedelic punkers like the HUMAN EXPRESSION’s “Every Night.” And dig KIM FOWLEY’s philosophizing on “The Canyon People.” This stuff transcends nostalgia and serves as a timely reminder that cultural rebellion didn’t originate in 1977. Highly recommended.

Die Wut Armutsstaat EP

A fairly average Oi release from Germany. Most of the songs are in the medium-tempo vein and the guitar could be a lot grungier, but the speedy “Skins” and “Freiheit” are catchy little blasts with ambiguous lyrics that make it worth a listen.

Youth Youth Youth Sin 12″

Canada’s YYY play real fast punk rather than thrash. The tempos are driving, the guitars are plenty loud, the singing exhibits a lot of emotion, and the lyrics are very thoughtful. I like every song individually, but then played back-to-back, they tend to run together a bit due to the unusually consistent tempos and vocal inflections. It’s a high-powered debut, though.

V/A Keine Experimente! LP

A potpourri of modern punk styles can be found on this fine new compilation, from thrash (the UPRIGHT CITIZENS) to older-style punk (the BUTTOCKS, SS ULTRABRUTAL) to rousing funnypunk (DEUTSCHE TRINKERJUGEND) to Oi (DAILY TERROR). Many of the best bands—BOSKOPS, RAZZIA, ZSD—play more than one type of punk, but it’s their thrashers that really stand out. An illuminating introduction to some old and new German hardcore outfits.

V/A Paris Mix LP

As the title indicates, this compilation contains a mixture of Paris bands. Stylistically, it ranges from loud, tasty post-punk (GUERNICA, ZONA, and PEGGY LUXBEURK) to funny Oi with mutated rockabilly beats (the SWINGO PORKIES) to strong fuzzed-out mid-tempo punk (PROP SACK) to pretentious new wave (ICE). All in all, a “mixed” blessing.

SS Ultrabrutal Monstren, Mumien, Mutationen LP

With a name like SS ULTRABRUTAL, I at least expected an ultra-hardcore sound, but it was not to be found anywhere here. They should change their name to SS ULTRAWIMPY, because most of this is boring ’77ish stuff with flat guitar tone and few hooks. There are a couple of strong songs (like “1236Y-Atom”), but not enough to make this album worthwhile.

SS Kids Humans Punks EP

The most thrashed-out French group I’ve heard. Songs like “Chemical War” and “Why Not” have a drum-heavy rhythmic emphasis, while others (especially “Disorder”) really rip. The music is pretty hot; too bad about the stupid shock value band name.

Razzia Tag ohne Schatten LP

RAZZIA were one of the better German hardcore bands on the Underground Hits vol. 1 collection, and their first solo album continues in the same basic direction. They produce medium-speed punk, fast punk, a bit of thrash, and one weird rhythmic tune (“Barriere/Karriere”). Overall it’s a solid release, and some songs really stick in your head (like “Kriegzustand” and “Nacht im Ghetto”).

Peggio Punx La Citta è Quieta… EP

The second EP from Italy’s PEGGIO PUNX features frenetic, disjointed thrash. It has an exceptionally loud snare drum track (à la DESTRUCTORS), intense paint-stripping singing like that of TERVEET KÄDET’s Läjä, a relatively clean guitar tone, and a stuttering rhythm reminiscent of the MEAT PUPPETS. A weird record that could use a louder guitar track.

Oberkampf Couleurs sur Paris 12″

OBERKAMPF have an archaic punk sound with traces of the NEW YORK DOLLS (the title song), the DEAD BOYS (“Maximum”), and PLASTIC BERTRAND (“Poupee de cire” and “Tout ce fric”). The latter song is an especially appealing pop-punk number, but nothing here is likely to cause much of a stir.

The Nikoteens Aloah-Oehh LP

Boy, what a turnabout! The NIKOTEENS used to have a slow Oi/punk approach, and now they’re out there thrashing with the best of them. The guitar tone here is extremely trebly and piercing, and the general sound quality is hot, so their stronger material (like “Frieden”, “Cowboy Song”, and “Geisterfahrer”) really blasts off the turntable into your gut. This album proves that musical changes can lead to major improvements.

Memorial Voice Stakanof est Mort EP

An unusual release. The music on it ranges from rhythmic bass-heavy post-punk overlaid by a scratchy guitar (“Dance” and “TTA c’est finis”) to short bursts of raw semi-thrash (“Tes Bombes” and “New Rose”) to airy classical pieces (“Memorial Stakanov”). Adventuresome but rather awkward.

La Souris Déglinguée La Souris Déglinguée LP

A mediocre band that mixes mod, punk, pop, reggae, and traditional rock ’n’ roll elements. The overall effect isn’t very exciting, though there are a couple of driving, melodic songs that click (like “Coeur de Bouddha” and “Salue les copains”). This record might have made a splash in ’78 or ’79, but nowadays it just doesn’t hold up.

Gogol Premier Et La Horde Hencor’ Pir 12″

LA HORDE have gained a lot of notoriety in France by peddling ’77-style punk shock value; one of the songs here (“Adolph mon amour”) was reputedly banned on French radio for its exaggerated Nazi imagery. Nevertheless, this superficially offensive record seems pretty harmless by today’s standards. The music includes catchy “classical” punk (“Ce n’est pas un probleme,” “Adolph mon amour,” and “Mesdames…”), tongue-in-cheek post-punk (“Les punks africains”), goofy political raps (“Campaigne Presidentielle”), and a satirical disco tune. Entertaining.

Fixed Up Take a Look at Me EP

A guitar-oriented R’n’B band with a real basic approach, in the tradition of LITTLE BOB STORY and the SEAN TYLA BAND. This old-fashioned type of music requires a raunchy, almost “live” sound to really hit the mark in this day and age, and FIXED-UP don’t always achieve it here. “I Can’t Sleep” and “Miss T” are cool, though.

Les Electrodes No Flag EP

On occasion, we’ve carelessly labelled contemporary varieties of mid-tempo punk as ’77 punk styles, but France’s LES ELECTRODES exemplify the real ’77 sound, with their melodic guitars and well harmonized background vocals. The driving “Black Flag (No Flag)” is the best of this bunch, although the slower “Reflexion in a Cold Eye” has a nice acoustic guitar and tends to grow on you.

DOA Bloodied but Unbowed LP

This is probably the last DOA release I’m going to like, so I decided to review it as a gesture of friendship and respect for a band that’s made some great music and raised a lot of people’s consciousnesses throughout the years. Bloodied But Unbowed is a retrospective greatest hits album featuring re-mixed versions of material culled from most of their earlier (now out of print) 7” records and LPs, so it serves a very valuable purpose. And a lot of classic stuff is on here—from “The Prisoner” to “World War III”—so it would be positively stupid not to pick it up if you never got the originals. If you can find Hardcore 81—their finest hour—grab it; otherwise, this is essential.

Cani Guai a Voi! EP

A new Italian band that reminds me a lot musically of a rawer EXPLOITED. I mean that in the positive sense, because CANI have a growling singer, double-tracked guitar power, and the kind of singalong tunes you can have fun joining in with. The lyrics concern important issues, as is common with Italian groups.

The Brigades Bombs ’n’ Blood ’n’ Capital 12″

The BRIGADES seem to be one of the few politically concerned bands in France, and songs like “(There Are) No Communists in the Kremlin” and “State-Controlled Paranoia” show considerable awareness. But the music, which is mired in the mid-period CLASH tradition, doesn’t do the lyrics justice. Aside from some shimmering guitar work and an occasional strong song (like the aforementioned “…Paranoia” and “Saturday Night Murder”), this EP is pretty uninspiring.

Arroganta Agitatorer Arrogans EP

Another hot new Swedish release. I must confess that I think Sweden has a higher proportion of killer thrash bands than any other country these days, and ARROGANTA AGITATORER are among them. Along with the standard adrenaline instrumental attack, they produce some damn good hummable tunes and choruses. Send away today.

Appendix Huora EP

Some of the well-known Finnish thrash bands are running out of ideas and getting more and more generic, but APPENDIX are not one of them. This tremendous EP maintains the diversity and panache of their fine album. “Huora” is a tense medium-speed track, and both songs on the B-side are terrific thrashers with hooks and/or sing-along choruses. Don’t overlook this.

Vice Squad Black Sheep / New Blood 7″

Beki Bondage may adopt any pose in her efforts to become a rock star, but there’s no denying that the new VICE SQUAD single is an excellent one. In fact, it’s their best release since their first two EPs. “Black Sheep” is a melodic mid-tempo number that’s right up Jack Rabid’s alley; the flip is a more rhythmic cut with haunting Gregorian-style background chants.

The Oppressed Victims / Work Together 7″

The newest release by these English Oi-sters stands head and shoulders above their debut EP. The lyrics have made a 360° turn from a focus on violence to calls for interracial unity, and the music is much improved as well. “Victims” is a strong fast Oi number, but the slower flipside, with its staggered anthemic chorus, is tops here.

The Exploited Let’s Start a War Said Maggie One Day LP

Despite the confusion caused by their apparent change of attitude, and the hostility justifiably aroused by their rip-off of Pushead’s artwork for the cover, the EXPLOITED crank out some gruff, blistering thrash on side 1 of their new album. The other side is a lot weaker, but EXPLOITED fans will surely find this a worthwhile release.

V/A Train to Disaster LP

This neo-psych compilation is more out in left field than the Rebel Kind collection, but what it gains in weirdness it loses in raw power. There are some ’60s punkish sides (the LEFT—who are great—YARD TRAUMA, and BILLY SYNTH); some bluesy sides (SPLIT, the DOOTZ); a poppy side (the SLICKEE BOYS); and the predominant way-out psychedelic sides (the MAD VIOLETS, BEN WAH, BEATNIK FLY, the VELVET MONKEYS, and the LAST POETS). Despite its lighter overall punch, this album has its moments.

Vatican Commandos Just a Frisbee EP

Another poorly-recorded VATICAN COMMANDOS EP, but that’s where the similarities with their debut release end. Whereas the first consisted entirely of good basic thrash, this new record showcases a much slower, garage-oriented punk style (excepting “Let Down Again”). I like it, but the muddy sound again detracts from this group’s overall impact.

United Mutation Fugitive Family EP

A truly amazing record. UNITED MUTATION have combined the speed and intensity of basic thrash with some highly distinctive structural changes, a couple of nasty guitar leads, and the scariest vocals I’ve heard in a long time. Today’s trendy horror rockers will crap their pants and go into convulsions when they hear the singer’s raspy growl, which bears a striking resemblance to that of the demon in The Exorcist.

10,000 Hurts Punishment EP

Goofy old-style punk with a pronounced garage flavor. “Punishment” has a heavy guitar attack, silly male/female backing vocals, and some metal-damaged leads; “In Crisis” is a short, fast cut with screams and a fuzzier guitar tone. A fun debut from a new SoCal band.

Savage Beliefs The Moral Efficiency of Savage Beliefs EP

Speedy garage grunge from Chicago on ARTICLES OF FAITH’s new label. Although SAVAGE BELIEFS’ material is real primitive, both production-wise and structurally, I have a certain weakness of that type of thing. The lyrics make some clever social observations, and both “Pink Shirt” and “Big Big Sky” have special appeal. Listen before you buy.

Mourning Noise Dawn of the Dead EP

I’m not sure why, but I didn’t think I’d like this. So imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a unique amalgam with semi-thrash tempos, sung vocals in the NY style (like the MISFITS and the UNDEAD), horror imagery, synthesized sound effects, and a real fuzzed-out guitar backing. A sharp EP that breaks the mold by effectively mixing and matching styles.

World War XXIV Azaria / Y Bother 7″

Fast ’77 punk with some pronounced ’60s influences in the chord changes and vocals. “Azaria” is a song about a mom whose kid was supposedly eaten by a dingo, and has some raw leads and high-pitched screams; “Y Bother” is a song in a similar vein with anti-political lyrics that may or may not be satirical.

Skunks Scratch ‘n’ Sniff EP

This Aussie EP is sort of a mixed bag. The SKUNKS do a sleazy modified version of “Silent Night” entitled “Violent Night,” a fast punk blast with sarcastic lyrics (“Dance with the Führer), a dynamic mid-tempo punker (“Mad Song”), and a totally mundane ’77-type number (“Persian Radio”). It’s hard to make an overall judgement when faced with such unevenness.

The Lime Spiders 25th Hour 2×7″

Four songs which are definitely inspired by ’60s punk, specifically by Montreal’s HAUNTED, whose “1-2-5” gets covered here. The LIME SPIDERS play loud chord-oriented punk with tough vocals and fuzzy guitars. “25th Hour” is a killer song with the same guitar riff as the LIPSTICK KILLERS’ classic “Hindu Gods of Love.”

Progression Cult New Blood EP

A real primitive-sounding EP from one of Australia’s few politically oriented bands. Musically, PROGRESSION CULT has that plodding, medium-tempo Britpunk approach, with occasional sing-alongs and a certain degree of sloppiness. The songs on the B-side have more punch, and the lyrics are quite good, but they need to cohere more to sound contemporary.

Minuteman Voodoo Slaves / I Wanna Be Your Minuteman 7″

Two fantastic warpo psychobilly-tinged ’60s-ish thangs. The A-side has an irresistible rhythm punctuated by a tambourine, along with twangy guitars, dynamisim, tension, and some amazing screams; “I Wanna Be Your Minuteman” is reminiscent of some of the more hoppin’ cuts on the first GUN CLUB album. This 45 really grows on you—I already love it.

The Celibate Rifles Sideroxylon LP

The CELIBATE RIFLES present plenty of innovative garage rock on their debut album. Like many other Australian bands, they’ve been heavily influenced by the likes of RADIO BIRDMAN and, to a lesser extent, the SAINTS. Most of these songs fall into that raunchy guitar-oriented pattern and feature snotty ’60s vocals. But there are also a couple of lame oddball tracks like the semi-jazzy “Where Do I Go” and the rockish “Back on the Corner.” One other positive aspect of Sideroxylon is the politically aware lyrics; one negative aspect is the under-produced guitars.

V/A Korn Live – Ab Geht Er LP

This new German compilation album features six punk bands. Although the live recording is far better than the norm in audio-verite efforts, this isn’t a particularly satisfying release. Most of the groups perform ’77 punk with little imagination or originality. BLITZKRIEG and LE CRASH stand out as being the most powerful, but all the bands except KALTWETTERFRONT have their moments (KLISCHEE’s “Dalli, Dalli,” the ARISTOCRATS’ “Bullen…”, WUTSTOCK’s “Hardcore”). OK.

Varaus Tuomittu Elämään EP

The A-side on VARAUS’ second EP represents a shift from all-out thrash to raw, fast punk, whereas the B-side continues their earlier thrash approach. Although the recording here is more garagey than most newer Finnish releases, and the songs aren’t as manic as we’ve come to expect from that extraordinary country, this record has an endearing primitive quality.

TNT 1984 (Euroshima) / Cucarachas 7″

A Spanish band that shouldn’t be mistaken for an identically named Swiss group. “1984” is a mid-tempo punkish cut distinguished by sound effects and a strong post-punk bass and drum attack; the flip is a more basic ’77-style number with a good melodic chorus which I quite like.

Sötlimpa Löften EP

Chunky Swedish thrash. SÖTLIMPA have an attack that’s distinguished by a solid punchiness rather than shrill freneticism. “Öi” and Miljöproblem” have nice anthemic choruses that stick with you; “3:e världskrig” is good straight punk.

Sexy Bollocks What’s in a Name? EP

Belgian records aren’t very numerous or easy to get ahold of, but here’s one for you. The SEXY BOLLOCKS mainly perform medium tempo punkers with a certain rawness, but “(Oi) Stay in Hurt” is a chaotic, adrenaline thrasher. You’ve heard it all before, so why does it still sound good?

Reig Disarm / Violent Charge 7″

A new thrash band from Italy. The song structures are appealing (though somewhat basic), and the anti-war lyrics are well-taken, but thin guitar production really takes away from REIG’s power. That problem can be easily remedied next time.

Rabies Buzzing Sound / You Could See Her Tits 7″

RABIES are an exceedingly primitive Dutch punk band with a ’77-ish style, a tinny snare drum sound, and older-type vocal inflections. I like the music a lot, but the themes are pretty silly. For “classical” punk fans.

O.X. Pow Esperando En La Calle EP

O.X. POW are a very powerful “classical” punk band. The guitars are really loud, the songs are dynamic and filled with creative frills, and the vocals are simultaneously anguished and belligerent. A great record in the mid-tempo punk style. Definitely go for this one.

Not Moving Movin’ Over EP

The second EP from NOT MOVING has a less experimental and more pronounced ’60s quality. It’s mainly the twangy guitar that gives it that effect, but the melodies, chord progressions, and some of the vocal emphases add to it. “Behind Your Pale Face” is the most rockin’ cut, “Double Mind” the most psychedelic. Evocative.

Espasmodicos Recomendado Para Molestar A Su Vecino EP

Boy, these Spanish bands are really sticking to the ’77 sound, but the ESPASMÓDICOS add some new twists. The title cut has an annoying sax break, and “Ni eficiencia, ni progreso” has an awkward, disjointed feel. The best cut is definitely the speedy “Están deseando que te pongas a temblar.” OK, but not destined to become the talk of the town.

Declino Rivolta e Negazione EP

DECLINO present an EP’s worth of powerful thrash with sound political lyrics. The guitar could have been recorded louder, but the songs have flair and the band is exceptionally tight. In sum, the best Italian hardcore outfit since INDIGESTI.

Absurd Blodig Stad EP

This is the kind of chaotic, sloppy thrash that’s appealing in short bursts, but hard to take for extended periods. Although this EP has raw guitars and emotional vocals, the rhythm section sometimes falters and leaves only a grinding mishmash. The ABSURD need to tighten up a bit.