Reviews

Matt Badenhop

Davová Psychóza Emancipácia CD

This is the legendary Slovakian punk band’s sixth album as far as I can tell. 1991’s Antropofóbia is still one of my favorites from the region, and they seem to have retained much of that sound and spirit to this day. Except now it’s more melodic, or…emo? Only sometimes—they strike a reasonable balance between shredding and bringing things down to a more sensitive tone. The lyrics translations (on the very tiny lyrics sheet) reveal a really distinct poetic quality I often find in melodic Eastern Euro bands I like. I don’t think I can sell this to today’s hip punks, but if you like European essentials like JUGGLING JUGULARS, POST REGIMENT, or even LA FRACTION, then you should pay at least some attention to this band. Punks from the region certainly already know to pick this up.

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Papagájův Hlasatel
  • Issue MRR #441 • February 2020

Leper Frail Life 12″

This Umeå group has arrived unannounced with a nine-track hardcore punk rip fest. While LEPER is more vocally burly and more adventurous with composition, they leave a TALK IS POISON-like impact on me. Most tracks remain around or under the minute-and-a-half mark, save for a couple like “ICBM” and “P&D” that take a little extra time to establish a mid-paced hook among what are otherwise mostly fast songs. Sung in English, with plenty of air-punching “oofs” and “aaaaghs,” plus top-notch gritty hardcore production and typewriter/high-contrast photo-style layout. Any longer and they’d be overstaying their welcome, but this is just the right dose. Surely they’ll be doing the Euro-fest circuit immediately.

偏執症者 (Paranoid) Complete Paranoid Discography 2012-2017 2xCD

A fuckload (i.e. 50) of tracks on two CDs, housed in a nice digipak with an info booklet. I’m a little confused about the whole thing, with what sounds like English lyrics but with song titles in Japanese by a Swedish band. I’m guessing it’s an aesthetic choice, but I might just be a poser who doesn’t know shit about fuck. As a discerning fan of some noisy D-beat or Mangel or whatever, I still gave most of it up to collect late ’70s/early ’80s punk 45s! There’s only so much storage space in an affordable Bay Area flat, you know? And that was before PARANOID really came on the scene, so I own zero of their records, which makes me the perfect review candidate. I did not listen from start to finish because I don’t have enough alcohol and painkillers on hand, but skipping around randomly reveals that PARANOID is a capable noisy D-beat band with very effective imagery, and the occasionally referential nod to DISCLOSE or DEATH SIDE or any number of other noisy or Japanese things. My highlights are the MISFITS cover and STREBERS cover that isn’t on here (“2 Skott”), cuz it proves we have influences in common besides bands that start with D. So yeah I’m a bastard, but if you are a completist or need all fifty PARANOID songs ever in one package, then your prayers are answered. Jokes aside, Black Konflik = top quality.

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Black Konflik
  • Issue MRR #441 • February 2020

Scarecrow Revenge EP

Swedish D-beat-inspired hardcore from Raleigh, NC? Yes, but SCARECROW carves out a niche of their own. The admirable TOTALITÄR-textured guitar/bass tone is achieved, and there’s a comparable intensity, but I’ll end that comparison there. The rhythmic punctuation and scathing rapid-fire vocal style elevate this EP to top-tier status. Lyrics avow all the damage we’ve inherited and what it looks like to cope with grim realities like children stolen from their loved ones and caged by the state, mental health struggles, the carelessly trashed planet, and the never-ending occupations fueled by American exceptionalism. Goddamn, shit is so fucked, but the rich language used here comes off more authentic and relatable (and frankly more inspirational) than typical “fuck society” tyrades. Long live the eight-song 45 RPM punk 7”. Definitely recommended.

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Bunker Punks
  • Issue MRR #441 • February 2020

TSOL Ghost Train / Never Go Home 7″

Oof, let’s get this over with. I’m not here to declare that bands shouldn’t be allowed to continue releasing music nearly 40 years after inception, and I’m aware that many loyal fans (presumably over the age of 50) are allowed to remain loyal no matter what. Alas, as a rabid fan of everything T.S.O.L. through 1982 (even Beneath the Shadows), and even JOYKILLER (’90s Epitaph project featuring Jack and Ron), I’m unable to get on board with this 45. I admit I’m momentarily charmed by the vocal melodies on the choruses as they’re very signature Jack Grisham, but these songs remind me of the ones I’d skip on the JOYKILLER albums. The loose rock feel does nothing for me and the sleeve art does not befit TRUE SOUNDS OF LIBERTY. I can’t imagine most contemporary fans of punk music finding this the least bit relevant.

Kohti Tuhoa Ihmisen Kasvot LP

There are a few things you can do to distinguish your band from the sea of hardcore punk releases coming out these days: hooks, strong vocals or instrumentation, production, or delivery. Everything about this LP is so fucking awesome and exudes the spirit of intense classic Finnish hardcore to an uncalculabe degree. Varied pace of attack and degrees of burn make it impossible to choose standout tracks. Flailing drum fills, pick slides, short guitar licks and sweet vocal cues are distributed proficiently for maximum excitement. It’s just all deep cuts, edited tightly together to be taken in all at once. A record for all punk and hardcore fans to live and die for!

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label La Vida Es Un Mus
  • Issue MRR #441 • February 2020

Antheads Think Fast EP

I’m repeatedly impressed with Supreme Echo’s ability to keep releasing lost gems of early Canadian punk. I mean, these eight tracks recorded in 1980 are previously unreleased, and members were in ACTIVE DOG and went on to form/join MODERNETTES and POINTED STICKS. It’s simple and urgent garagey punk sung with swagger, with huge guitar licks like an amphetamine-fueled, sped up and stripped down MC5 or FLAMIN GROOVIES. All of the songs sound like they could be covers but as far as I could tell, none are. Includes the obligatory multi-page insert with band story and photos putting things into context, and it’s all well worth your time.

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Supreme Echo
  • Issue MRR #441 • February 2020

Carlos Dunga Oltre Quella Linea LP

Metallic thrash from Italy for fans of guitars (me) and bandana moshing (not me). I appreciate the masterful balance of full on speed-picking thrash and tasteful epic guitar flourishes. Sometimes you only get one or the other. Oltre Quella Linea sounds rooted in early ’80s hardcore, the modern production being the thing convincing me that this isn’t some long lost ’80s hardcore band-gone-crossover the second half of the decade. Think UPSET NOISE, EMILS, or NEGAZIONE with bonus MAIDEN-esque leads. I’m not currently seeking out bands like this but enjoyed it nonetheless, and can certainly recommend it to active headbangers and thrash-heads.

Dayglo Abortions Wake Up, It’s Time to Die EP

I couldn’t help buying Feed Us A Fetus as a teenager, which perhaps still has my favorite cover art on a punk record to this day. DAYGLO ABORTIONS has to be one of the most gloriously obnoxious—both in sound and aesthetic—bands from the annals of Canadian punk. Considering that the only material that really stuck with me are the first two 12″s, this unreleased session from 1982 is like a godsend. Cruder versions of classics like “Bedtime Story,” “Proud to Be a Canadian,” “Ronald McRaygun,” and the debut of previously too-shocking “I Am Whiter Than Hitler” (“but I ain’t no fucking nazi!”). And, fuck me, it’s already sold out! Do I have any fans out there that wanna help me out? Anyhow, as you may expect, Supreme Echo packed this thing in a stellar package with nice things to read and look at, like an amazing interview with their psycho vocalist.

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Supreme Echo
  • Issue MRR #440 • January 2020

Dennis The Enthusiast LP

Well, the most obvious first thing to mention is an apt emulation of the gremlin vocal stylings of Darby Crash. This guy does well to add the necessary unsavory element to an otherwise palatable, catchy punk sound. (GI) really may be the best reference point, even though a lot more punk music has come out since 1979. I for one value releases that can stand on their own more than well-studied bands successfully sounding like the classics, but this LP shockingly achieves both. Should I deny or approve?! I am a snobby MRR reviewer after all…but can my ego get in the way of heaping endless praise and recommendations onto the entirety of these eleven tracks? Not today! Limited to 300 copies so better hurry.

Heterofobia Queremos Ver el Mundo Arder LP

You should already know that these Mexican punx got the best band name and you can see the amazing album art, so why not just get it now? The guitar tone on this record is next-level deranged-ness, like someone is twisting the tuning pegs up and down to the beat. A ghastly, atonal blast enveloping a vicious, aggressive punk style. We shall not be brainwashed to think that every band with chorus-y and reverb-y instruments is “goth.” This is darker than goth, angrier than hardcore. Viscerally, authentically unsettling but pogo-worthy at the same time. I knew the LA UVI song was a cover without even recognizing it from memory, and they execute it with style. I take it as a confirmation of their evident classic punk roots underneath the pleasurable nightmare they’ve created. Recommended for true freak punks and those who lack inhibition.

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Drunken Sailor
  • Issue MRR #440 • January 2020

Fatal State Estado Fatal LP

Combustable political hardcore from Portland. This eight song debut twists between mid-tempo metallic hardcore churn and full-tilt hardcore blasting, throwing back to that ’90s style where there’s less of a set template or direct influence, yet enough musical chops to incorporate different approaches and feel to the songs. Energetically raging, the overall impact might pitch towards a less NAUSEA-bent DESTESTATION mixed with the searing rampage of HEALTH HAZARD. Vocals trade off between scathing lead female vocals and brute male back-ups, with pointed lyrics in English and Spanish about gun violence, landlord evictions, immigrant rights, an apolitical punk scene, and more, while blistering leads and solos drop to punctuate the impact. Explosive both musically and in urgent, current message, backed by a collage of recent protest sign slogans on the back of the lyric sheet, and a tempered line drawing cover of a goddess staring downward at discarded ICE helmets. Killer!!!

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Fatal State Records / Old City
  • Issue MRR #440 • January 2020

Besmirchers Hate Your Life LP

These guys don’t even need my help trashing their record. The campiest kind of self-loathing and abuse on display, lyricly and aesthetically. The singer’s face is doused in blood in every photo I can find. Multiple creepy young-girl-in-panties images and song titles like “Inhalant Assailant,” “Dirty Panty Tourniquet,” “Needles in My Feet” and “Pocket Pussy.” The band name is awkward and the tunes aren’t memorable at all. It’s just so dumb and bad in every way.

Golpe De Gracia Cementerio Interior EP

Seems to be a skins ’n’ punks affair, but the snotty lead vocal carries it more toward the punk side, which works better for me. The two definitive Oi! clues are the gang choruses and a couple skinhead guys pictured on the lyric sheet. Overall, more scrappy vibes than tough. Not much else to report about this Madrid band outside of a few likeable guitar and vocal hooks. Could just have easily emerged out of L.A. from Silenzio Statico or Verdugo Discos.

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Punk Machine / Torture Chamber / Tough Ain't Enough
  • Issue MRR #439 • December 2019

Juggling Jugulars Insurrection CD

Thirteen more aggressively melodic punk songs from a band that’s been at it for thirty years now. A solid, clearly-produced sound with a nice guitar melody here, strong backup vocal there. Direct calls to action against borders, cops, capitalist control, and even old washed up posers! Their dedication to anti-fascist DIY punk cannot be understated. I missed the last couple of releases, so I’m taking this as a friendly reminder that Finland’s JUGGLING JUGULARS remain a reliable inspiration.

Kizza Ping Först River Man Allt LP

Despite the unpromising band name, Linköping’s KIZZA PING recorded some notable punk music during the first couple years of the ’80s. This LP compiles “Männen” and “Lär I Tid” from their lone 45, along with seven more vocal-driven punk tracks with keyboards that add up to a worthwhile album. New Wave influences pushed KIZZA PING into doing something more complex sounding than your basic stripped-down teenage punk, and thankfully there’s still a jagged edge to the production, so let’s call it post-punk! While this label frankly suits them best, I still feel like “post-punk” has become too much of a generic signifier to flop onto KIZZA PING without acknowledging their consistently great songs. I’ll describe it as a cool cross-section between HAGAR THE WOMB and country-mates LIVIN SACRIFICE. I once ate halfway decent pizza in Gothenburg, but I’m not convinced that there can be any true Kings of Pizza that far north of Italy. That being said, this is a great document of old Swedish punk, and I’ve added it to my wantlist.

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Fördämning Arkiv
  • Issue MRR #439 • December 2019

Soga Demo LP

A trio of “all-star” punks from Mexico City make a seriously satisfying racket. SOGA (“rope” en ingles) shines through short punk-as-fuck guitar solos and rage-inducing rhythmic clatter. Each member contributes to the singing, shouting, and screaming—separately and in unison—solidifying a powerful collaborative outrage. “Fiambre” is my pick for most fucked and ferocious, while “Vil Migala” gets honorable mention for being a sped up and not-crass UFO Dictator. If you’ve been endeared by the likes of CREMALLERAS, TERCER MUNDO, or RIÑA it would be a huge mistake to skip this one. I’m generally skeptical of demos being put to vinyl, but this one was a no-brainer.

Hotet Ny Dag Nya Jävligheter EP

About a decade ago, a little group from Umeå called MASSHYSTERI charmed punks worldwide with their infectious, jangly earworm punk, which became a distinct style destined to be copycatted for years to come. HOTET seems to be shamelessly riding that train, right down to the garage-y production and expertly harmonized vocal craft. It’s the most accurate homage I’ve heard, and the songwriting is top notch, but to be honest I think I’m still taken care of with the two albums MASSHYSTERI left us. However, I know that there’s at least a small part of all of us that needs a band like HOTET to carry the torch, to remind us of this style that all punks unilaterally have a soft spot for, so it’s my job to assure you that there isn’t a single flaw throughout these four tracks.

Kina Nessuno Schema Nella Mia Vita LP

It’s a beautiful thing to get a note from a band member fondly recalling the submission of their demo tape to Tim Yo back in ’84, and then to receive an LP reissue thirty-five years later, and it’s still great! In my experience, KINA hasn’t quite enjoyed the bootleg t-shirt success like their contemporaries WRETCHED or NEGAZIONE, but whenever I revisit this self-recorded debut (or the Irreale Realtà LP), it’s evident that they were an equal force in the pantheon of classic ’80s Italian (or even general European) hardcore. This session is KINA at their most primitive, which unlike WRETCHED is slightly more…musical? Their tendency to break the hardcore template reminds me other interesting-while-still-ripping bands like CONTRAZIONE or STINKY RATS. This is a worthwhile reissue in a time when many, arguably, are not.

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Blu Bus / Spittle
  • Issue MRR #438 • November 2019

Larma LP

If I fell asleep listening to TOTALITÄR (specifically Sin Egen Motståndare, not that that would even happen) and some prankster slipped this 12” on and woke me up, I might not even notice. Okay, that’s not true; I would, but it’s that authentic sounding. Maybe you’ll argue that makes this inauthentic, and maybe you’re not wrong, but achieving such a high level of TOTALITÄR-ness is quite the accomplishment in my book. I spot two SKITKIDS and one INFERNÖH guy, so that explains a lot. It’s like rabid Poffen-esque vocal phrasing, hypnotizing riffs, and urgent D-beating are all just built into the circuitry of these guys’ brains. Furthermore, they know how to augment the template just enough to distinguish themselves from other soundalikes. Eleven perfect and delightfully excitable tracks.

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Beach Impediment
  • Issue MRR #438 • November 2019

Subhumans Crisis Point LP

One of the few bands from my teenage years that I can still listen to and rely on to affirm and validate my punk forever-ness. I was a little concerned not seeing the Bluurg logo on the rear of the sleeve, but Dick’s distinct handwriting is instantly comforting. So here we have SUBHUMANS’ second studio album since ’87, the last one being ’07s Internal Riot. Much like that one, Crisis Point proves that the band is still relevant in style, intention, and message. I can’t even think of another band that has lasted this long and never sucked or strayed. They certainly have not lost any urgency or creativity with age, nor has Dick lost his wordsmithery or wit. “See the diamond it’s forever disconnected / From the horrors of child labour, so intensive / Mining undermining our perception of expensive / Shiny lies to pacify the apprehensive.” Who wouldn’t want this guy as their poetry professor? They’re still on track with anti-capitalist, anti-xenophobic, and environmentalist calls to action, while not forgetting modern technology’s role in all the apathy and injustices. Never pretentious or preachy, always intelligent and critical. I almost failed to mention the giant SUBHUMANS stencil included in the package. Is anyone actually gonna use this thing? Maybe someone can rearrange the letters into a more pertinent slogan to paint our cities. All I can come up with right now is “Ass Bum.”

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Pirates Press
  • Issue MRR #438 • November 2019

Fuerza Bruta All Cops Are Bassheads EP

Wellllll…it’s two dance remixes and a live track by a Chicago punk band. I really liked their last EP of aggressive Oi!-tinged punk, and I don’t hate this, but you know, I‘m not gonna pretend it isn’t novelty. The remixes sort of awaken the pedestrian ’80s New Wave pop appreciation lurking somewhere inside of me. The live recording of “Asocial” is rough and raw but listenable. Kind of dumb, but way better than most of the bad punk records we review.

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Foreign Legion
  • Issue MRR #438 • November 2019

Snuff There’s a Lot of It About CD

You probably don’t expect me to be a SNUFF fan, though I’m a very selective one. I haven’t actually checked in on them since ​Tweet Tweet My Lovely​ back in 1998. I hear a lot of those very distinct SNUFF sounds here. Plenty of pop, some organ-driven ballads, and even still a hint of their hardcore influences on a couple tracks. It’s like tradition. Does anyone else think of Duncan Edmonds as the Phil Collins of punk? Just think about it… I don’t predict that this album is gonna produce new SNUFF fans among MRR’s readership, and I also don’t find any of the tracks jumping out as instant classics, but it’s consistent and enjoyable.

V/A Warsaw’s Burning Volume 2 EP

In celebration of Refuse Records’ 150th release, they’ve compiled another nice-looking eight-band compilation of current Warsaw hardcore bands. The majority of the material is throttling and precise hardcore, namely from HEATSEEKER, NEGATIVE VIBES, JAD, and GOVERNMENT FLU. MORUS has a slightly more classic Euro crust vibe, BRAINEÄTER brings some powerviolence, and the GLAMOUR and CAST IN IRON (doing a DEZERTER cover) tracks come off more aggressive punk, minus the ’core. The 7″ is packaged in a beautiful booklet with attractive cover art, a nice reflection from Robert Refuse, and each band gets a page. High quality all around, and congrats to Refuse for prolific endurance throughout the years!

Ex-Cess Osiguranje Životne Večnosti LP

In many cases context is everything, and frankly the circumstances around this project fascinate me more than the music. Belgrade’s EX-CESS was reaching their artistic peak right about the time Yugoslavia was shattered by war. This album was recorded in 1991, but soon after three of the four members left the country while the recording was released on cassette by Ill In the Head Records. Despite Serbian culture being banned in Croatia, the release was distributed there and successfully sold hundreds of copies in the underground music scene. Musically it’s a metallic punk style that doesn’t hold up too well, mainly due to the thin and chuggy guitars. I’d like to think the lyrical content expands the context but my Serbo-Croatian is non-existent. It’s clear that this session is important and a testament to the magic and endurance of international punk, and I hope that this quality reissue will make it into the hands of those who are interested in that.

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Ill in the Head
  • Issue MRR #437 • October 2019

Minima Minima LP

For those always anticipating more great Barcelona acts: welcome MINIMA, featuring the singer from BARCELONA, Guillem from DESTINO FINAL/UNA BESTIA INCONTROLLABLE, and folks from UK’s NO and Malmö’s SNOR. Credentials aside, MINIMA’s basic two-riff approach to punk, accentuated by a teeth/fist-clenching vocal scowl, should appeal to any discerning punk. Throughout thirteen tracks there’s somehow so much variety in the way of hooks in the songwriting, despite such a basic approach. It’s all in the execution. Some crazy combination of urgency, rage and coolness. Recommended pickup for fans of unpretentious, non-flashy punk and hardcore, and record covers featuring crotches.

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Static Shock
  • Issue MRR #437 • October 2019

Glue Traps Future Shocks EP

This Baltimore outfit ensures that twelve-song 45rpm 7” EPs are not a thing of the past! Short, frantic snotty punk songs edited tightly together for maximum money’s worth. Self-deprecating and anti-authoritarian themes alternate, succinctly written, no solos, no breakdowns, no effects—refreshing, isn’t it? Minus 69.420 points for including Joe Biden in the thanks list and noting Mystic Records for “eternal inspiration,” but still up enough points to make it a winner.

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label To Live A Lie
  • Issue MRR #436 • September 2019

Чеtыrе Таракаnа Duty Free Songs LP

ЧЕTЫRЕ ТАРАКАNА (FOUR COCKROACHES) were youngsters from Moscow as far as I can determine, and these tracks have been released on cassette and CD numerous times since 1995. Eleven varied tracks show varied western late ’70s punk influences. Each track has me thinking long and hard about whether it’s a cover of a classic punk song or just a brazen adolescent tribute. “Freedom,” “Home Sweet Home” and “Acid Song” have whimsical piano parts, but most songs are snotty RAMONES/SEX PISTOLS hybrids, which of course sound sick in Russian with a tinny distorted guitar sound.

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Издательство Сияние
  • Issue MRR #436 • September 2019

Rashōmon 病原菌X (Pathogen X) 12"

I certainly love guitar leads and frenzied hardcore, so DC’s RASHŌMON speaks my language. Those of us asking for more since their slick demo tape a couple years back have gotten as good of an answer as we could’ve hoped for. Dual riffs are blissful and radiant, sometimes swerving toward discordant and reminding me of ARTICLES OF FAITH. But this could just as easily been plucked from the Bloodsucker roster, as there is a definitive Japanese hardcore influence, made most obviously apparent by the Japanese vocalist. The warm, dry production highlights the glorious guitar and vocals, but the serious drum mastery deserves to not go unnoticed. Innovative drum fills and transitions are easter eggs scattered all throughout these six tracks. I’m sorry, but I just don’t care about the novel etching on the flipside of the disc, but I can simply ignore that in this case because the record is so damn great!

Idiota Civilizzato Civiltà Idiota EP

The vocalist seems to be channeling INDIGESTI on this latest offering, and I’m therefore charmed. IDIOTA CIVILIZZATO is a Berlin-based band featuring punx from Spain, Australia, and Italy—the Italian vocalist does well to catch the ear of any discenring ’80s Italian hardcore fan. After a demo, EP, and LP, they impressively keep the quality high and awesomely idiotic! Four more excellent tunes for thrashing, accompanied by consistently amateurish cover drawing.

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Static Shock / Black Hole
  • Issue MRR #435 • August 2019

Yleiset Syyt Sininen Hekuma EP

Did you know that despite the increase in both the price of everything and in digital listening, that the 7″ EP is the perfect hardcore punk format? Sometimes I wonder if it’s still true, and then a record like this comes along and reaffirms everything I think I know and live for in a punk record. Six simple and frantic blows in perfect succession, leaning on a tight and confrontational delivery, lacking absolutely nothing. The first track is a nice lesson in drum fills. Limited to 200 copies, so hurry!

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Open Up and Bleed
  • Issue MRR #435 • August 2019

Cement Shoes Too LP

Fresh, rocking hardcore tunes from Richmond, VA. Right off the leash they remind my Bay-Area-bubble-living ass how fuckheaded life in the South must be with “Unite the Right in Hell,” which actually sounds akin to Damaged-era BLACK FLAG. “Big men all die / Pig men all die / Alt-right all die / I’ll take your head / I’ll take yo’ hat!” Staccato caveman vocal delivery blurts over varied tempos, boosting the character of what could otherwise be a really good but pedestrian punk record. Bizzare but musical punk with a punchy, thick production and enough hardcore sensibilities to appeal to a wider audience. Totally into it.

The Idiots Schweineköter CD

Metallic, cheesy rock with embarrassing lyrics by “scene veterans” with a long list of boring and irrelevant punk credentials dating back to 1978. “Hey you bastard listen to me / I fuck your face / I shut your mouth / I fuck your brain / Your time is up” So bad!

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Idiots Records / Soul Food
  • Issue MRR #435 • August 2019

Condor Singles 2017-2018 LP

You probably know that this is a RIXE (and ex-YOUTH AVOIDERS) member’s solo project—and it’s pretty apparent on the surface—but this has more of a melodic punk sound than Oi! The dude writes amazing songs that I can imagine pretty much anyone liking, regardless of preference. I must point out that aside from his penchant for writing a hook, the reason we’re all enamored by this is the perfectly balanced production. Raw, gritty, and clear, with a dreamy kick-and-snare thud that you feel as much as you hear. “Chacun Pour Soi” is basically an amped-up FLOCK OF SEAGULLS song and is highly addictive, “Condor” shows hardcore roots, and “Vengeance” is a spot-on cover of a deep cut on the 1984 The Second compilation (I used to put this song on a lot of mix tapes, so this is quite validating to hear). I imagine this record is doing fine without my praise, but for whatever it’s worth, you all should get it. This 12″ compiles two short tapes that are likely very limited.

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Beach Impediment
  • Issue MRR #434 • July 2019

El Banda Wiatr Sieje Nas LP

Twelve years after their first LP, this highly regarded Polish outfit gives their third album. I imagine much of the magic and poetry is lost in translation, but from what I can tell, the major theme here is a very elaborate and nuanced fuck you to the patriarchy (often addressing fat shaming/body policing). Standard song structures are pretty much completely thrown out, and the arrangement of short and long songs force a pushing and pulling feeling across the album. They really like to drag a riff out to create tension or drama; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s a vocal-forward mix, an intentional choice to put the message in the forefront, but that’s not to detract from the abundance and variety of melody coming from the rest of the band. The beginning of the record was a bit of a slog for me to get through: a minute and a half intro that sounds like an actual NOFX gallop into a three minute drumless monologue-style part…pretty emo basically. I do believe though that it’s my own problem for not knowing Polish, and not the band’s problem. The record is full of melody and a viciousness that is unrivaled by most melodic hardcore records I’ve heard—see for example “Wściekłyszpaler,” which was on their previous EP, and has a cool and recommended music video about the huge anti anti-abortion protest in 2016.

Guff Demo 2018 Cassette

GUFF aren’t “traditional Norwegian hardcore” per se, though I’m hearing some ANGOR WAT influence in the guitar. What’s not to enjoy about the pure and honest scrappiness, scratchy riffs, and drum gallop? They sound fresh and unpretentious, dishing out relatable hardcore punk that’s not rehashed. Yes, please please send me more releases from fresh new Norwegian punk and hardcore bands!

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Voice From Inside
  • Issue MRR #433 • June 2019

Die Angst Verschimmelte Blumenwiesen CD

If band names like EA80 or FLIEHENDE STÜRME mean anything to you, you can safely file DIE ANGST in the same category: a very specific style of somber, dramatic German punk music that’s mainly distinguishable by a low-moaning vocal style, deep from the diaphragm, with every line held out for optimal dramatization. Like if Ian Curtis fronted a discordant German rock band. The vocal style is often a deal-breaker for some folks, but I like it. Four solid laments here, for the fifteenth year of their miserable existence, plus short intro / outro tracks. For fans of the aforementioned bands, or all things comparable to KILLING JOKE.

The Outcasts Tell Me the Whole Story 2xLP

This appears to be the first complete and definitive singles / EPs collection from this Belfast group. The ’78–’79 material is classic jagged-edged adolescent punk with a dash of that mandatory pop that’s evident in basically every Irish punk band from the ’70s. Sort of akin to more distinguished and catchy ’70s punk like THE ADVERTS, but far more juvenile. I hadn’t previously ventured into the ’80-’85 material, and turns out they predictably become more refined, with prominent new wave tendencies, but the tunes remain enjoyable, or at least listenable. Song themes don’t stray far from love, adolescent misogyny, street life, or inspiration from whatever the songwriter was reading at the time. “I wrote this song about a girl I was dating. She told me one day she was now a Christian, so this line came to me: ‘you’re a disease babe / your faith’s a disease I don’t wanna catch.’” Each song gets a little blurb or anecdote from the main songwriter Martin Cowan, laid out across a gatefold sleeve with the original sleeve art of each single and EP. The whole thing sounds great, and appears to be about as faithful of a collection as anyone could hope for.

Dirty Junk On Yr Knees Cassette

Loose, lurching rhythms and often tuneless and sarcastic vocal tone both result in a jarring listen. I’m getting an overall very ’90s grunge, noisy alt-rock feel from this Minneapolis duo. All five cuts are ugly, tense, and grating music that I cannot say I find appealing. Aside from an occasional vocal hook, I find most of this to be indistinguishable from one moment to the next.

Mercenárias Baú 83-87 LP

More material unearthed from the Brazilian masters of post-punk, courtesy of the splendid Nada Nada Discos. Twenty great quality demo and live tracks, and often even cooler, rawer versions of previously released ones. The live tracks from “Hardcore Rock Night” on side B especially demonstrate the sheer power and genius these women were capable of. Angular beats, massive hooks, enchanting melodies, confrontational harshness—they really could do it all. And the dreamy photo booklet layout reveals just how larger-than-life this band was. Mandatory for both fans and newcomers.

Inkwizycja Stare Fotografie LP

Here’s a reissue (first time on vinyl) of this long-running Polish band’s second album from 2002. Stylistically, it’s loose with discordant jamming elements countering some of the melodies, mostly slow to mid-paced, and a gruff vocal delivery. While I acknowledge the historical significance of the band in the Polish punk scene, this album doesn’t do much to keep my attention. Much of it just sounds like alt-rock.

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Nikt Nic Nie Wie
  • Issue MRR #432 • May 2019

Fuerza Bruta Somos el Mal EP

A thing I don’t do often: sit down and listen to a modern (or old) Oi! record. The Lord of the Rings-like orchestral instrumental is an appropriate introduction, as there’s an epic dual-guitar approach to all three tracks. Without relying on cheesy Oi! tendencies, FUERZA BRUTA is just pure honest and tough punk sung in Spanish, with huge gang vocals and good hooks. I even perceive a hardcore influence in production and delivery. Good-lookin’ old school styled glue pocket sleeve, too. Get it and get trampled.

Don Gatto Sawdown CD

Ummm…tough guy hardcore mixed with mall punk? Or maybe this is just mall punk now. Heavy guitars and drums with brutal-dude vocals. It’s shocking how it sounds so metallic and tough one moment, and super poppy the next. They must really be trying to make it, with eighteen sponsor logos on the rear cover. Four tracks from this Hungarian band.

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Edge / Hammerworld
  • Issue MRR #432 • May 2019

Diät Positive Disintegration LP

Four years following the excellent Positive Energy, we are presented with the dense Positive Disintegration. The overall tone here is sullen and tragic, distinctly marked by a subdued, deadpan vocal style and repetitious rotating rhythms. Build-until-release style songwriting, pulsating and throbbing drum sounds, but they’re still a “rock band.” Simple guitar hooks act as choruses, and the vocals appear almost as a support to the strong rhythm section, but it’s important to note the relevant lyrical themes. Relatable, biting criticism and satire of our social circles, ourselves, and the society that we wish we weren’t inherently a part of. Predictably, my favorite is the most uptempo “Foreign Policy,” which has an unmistakable CHAMELEONS vibe, and appears to be a critique of the way their fellow Germans approach Palestinian struggle (cue applause). It’s hard not to think of TOTAL CONTROL, though DIÄT feels a bit more focused (just to be clear, I’m not choosing either one). This album doesn’t smack you in the face like the last, but if you show up, it might sneak up behind and drag you into a dark pit of hellish reality.

V/A Live at Raul’s LP

Despite being a Texan and a Texas punk enthusiast, I never heard Live at Raul’s. I always assumed it was more important to be equipped with the BIG BOYS / DICKS Recorded Live at Raul’s LP (it is). Raul’s was a club in Austin that accidentally became a hub for new wave / punk in the late ’70s through the early ’80s, and these tracks were crisply captured via mobile studio. Five local bands, two tracks each, many of which were unreleased at the time. The EXPLOSIVES, TERMINAL MIND, and the SKUNKS tracks are all edgy rock, the latter two being the punkest. STANDING WAVES are more new wave, while the NEXT is the most confrontational and best, as I expected. With the exception of the NEXT tracks, it all errs on the side of pop rock. This reissue is limited to 500 copies, and has a reproduction of the flyer for the gig, and some decent live band shots. Live records are polarizing but I am happy to report that it’s easy to forget this is live until the applause at the end of the tracks. Essential? No, unless you’re a completist.

Radical Fun Time There Is Only One Race The Human Race EP

I’m not ashamed to admit that I, in fact, did more or less have a fun time on my first encounter with this environmentalist / human-rights-themed band. Through the art and message, they emit a “punx as hippies living in the woods” vibe, which is sort of corroborated by their bio on the internet. Song titles like “What Is the Correct Way to Live? What Is the Best Way of Life?,” “Chemtrails—Aluminum Barium Dust A Synthetic DNA In a Toxic Aerial Spray,” and “What Is the Current Administration Covering Up?” all read like potentially quasi-wingnut headlines from various lefty or conspiracy theorist publications. Their sound is demented and fuzzy and cacophonous and so screamy (in a good way). Go back in time and put ’em on a bill with FLEAS AND LICE, CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, and CHOKING VICTIM, and RADICAL FUN TIME would surely be the spectacle of the night.

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Dilapidated / Fields Without Fences / Radical Fun
  • Issue MRR #431 • April 2019

Private School Lost in Action 2x7"

Deluxe-as-fuck reissue of a crucial Canadian punk slice. This four- song EP was originally released in ’79 in a hard-to-file large envelope sleeve, and is now available in standard but expansive packaging, including an extra track, a booklet and two-song bonus flexi. The best tracks are still “Money Guns & Power” and the Bloodstains-comped, proto-hardcore “Fuck You,” but the rest of the songs are great too, sax and all! Supreme Echo rules!

Heavy Metal Too Oz 4 I.T. EP

After three LPs of rambunctious and oddball punk jingles, this Berliner/Australian combo gets the lightweight, red-stamped Total Punk sleeve treatment, and it suits them well. “Underground Agent,” “Overtime,” and “Schweinebastard” sound like a nine-year-old having a temper tantrum in the middle of older brother’s band practice. “Gasmask Factory II” uses electronic drums for a truly groove-worthy experience. While I’ve enjoyed their previous shitty-good music, I think this smaller dose works better. Those already acquainted with HEAVY METAL will not likely change their opinion either way.

Scheisse Minnelli Waking Up on Mistake Street CD

Fairly prolific German skate punk that at their best recalls later RKL (whom Destiny also released back in the late ’80s), though the production clearly dates this to the modern era. Not quite as show-offy musically as RKL, but there are lots of licks (from all instruments), and, like, the cover art is by Dan Sites who did literally all of the RKL artwork. The lyrics are junior high in quality, but not problematic or anything—just kinda goofy and about skating and shit, and occasionally surface-level political. I have a soft spot for stuff like this (and LOVE RKL) but I would probably enjoy them more live.

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Bernies / Destiny
  • Issue MRR #430 • March 2019

Ruin By Design From Ashes to Empowerment CD

DC punk with a definite RITES OF SPRING feeling, albeit more hardcore and with more gang vocals. The title appropriately encomases the vibe lyrically and musically. Lots of exclamations in the lyric sheet, emphasized in all caps. If the songs were longer, the vocals might be too grating, but they keep things on point just enough. I find their sound to be honest, and their lyrics relevant (albeit a little cheesy), which is more than I can say for many current bands I’m introduced to.

Dead Morticians Burial At Sea CD

From Milwaukee, WI, the unfortunately-named DEAD MORTICIANS
deliver some kind of nautical-horror themed metal. It’s good for a laugh and some air guitar, and they’re obviously having a blast, so good for them. Best song title: “Inconsequential Cataclysm.”

Combatant Witness to Destruction LP

It’s not everyday you hear a DISCHARGE-influenced band from the northeasternmost state. Aside from the DIS-structures and phrasing, COMBATANT’s tough barraging sound and burly vocals had me reminiscing about getting the first CAUSTIC CHRIST EP in the mail, or maybe a little bit of DEATHREAT? I like the urgency and the impact, but there are really no deep cuts. The lyric sheet is hard as balls to read, but they seem to address typical atrocities like war, drug addiction, war, dehumanization, and war. Same nine tracks on 45 on both sides.

Closet Christ You’re In My World Now EP

Raw and demented thrash by some chap named Brendan. Six short, rapid spurts of venomous hardcore with a home-recording charm, and all the sounds just right. The occasional guitar line is whammy-bar’d, twisted at the end, and wrung out like mutant piss-soaked drawers. Think Oslo’s NEGATIV, but faster and more reckless. Only thing that would make this better is if it was twice as long, since there’s definitely room on the wax.

Arrotzak Lurzoru Hotzetik LP

A beautiful and dreary sounding punk trio from San Sebastián. It’s the rhythmic insistence of the ESTRANGED and grand choruses of LA URSS rolled into one. There’s no shortage of contemporary “dark punk,” and while my tendency is to move on, hearing bands like ARROTZAK keeps my dismissal in check. They write really great songs with depth but that move quickly…you know, like a punk band, not a punk band trying to sound like a goth band. Lyrics are in Spanish and Basque and translated into English, and while full of despair they convey self-reflection and ultimately hope, rather than defeat or other superficial “dark” themes. It’s a really fine release, and I can sense the passion poured into it. I shared a stage with them last spring in Zarautz and they were both a great live band and genuinely friendly and welcoming guys—true punx.

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Cementerio / DMDF / No Thanks
  • Issue MRR #430 • March 2019