Reviews

Paolo Bon Tempo

Spike Pit Animal of Disrespect LP

Some of the most rudimentary, intellectually debased hardcore I’ve heard in a minute. The playing is tight with some metal-influenced riffing, little solos, not overly technical drumming and shouted vocals with a less nasally Doc Dart quality. It all comes together to make some fantastically simplistic hardcore punk. It makes me imagine SPECIAL FORCES or if RAW POWER had been a tiny bit more technical with their riffs. The song titles and lyrics have a real MENTAL ABUSE aura (“Lust” = “Come on Baby”) with songs like “Work Sucks,” “Fruits and Veggies Suck,” “Kill Bums,” “Diaper Rash/Diarrhea,” and “Beat Meat.” Yes, the themes of being chronically horny and desperately needing to kill vulnerable populations of people may be absurd, gross and hard to defend (the singer’s in high school and this is all so obviously tongue-in-cheek anyway so why feel bad?) but the song “White Devil” does provide a consolation prize for anyone who wants to feel politically and socially conscious. SPIKE PIT is exactly what I want to hear when every band is so serious; when playing fests or being popular is more important than the actual quality, excitement and expression from punk bands; when every hyped record is based on punk resumes and OK’d by international lads and cool guys. The record is probably so cheap because they didn’t have to shell out hundreds of dollars for a flavor of the month punk artist to do the cover. SPIKE PIT is a return to basics and I bought the record the second I heard the lyrics “Yeah, I beat my meat.”

Android Chapter 001

The vocal patterns remind me of HANK WOOD (with some obvious nods to WHITE PIGS), the changes of pace remind me of HOAX, and the lack of interesting riffs backed with a major outpouring of adoration from people on the internet remind me of GAG. There are six songs here but it’s actually four if you don’t count intros and interludes, although the interlude could’ve actually been the best track here if they had kept jamming it. The art’s pretty cool and if you missed out on punk in 2013 you may think the music is as well.

World Peace Towards a New Supreme Understanding EP

Ten tracks of drums and bass powerviolence/grind with a median average song length of 30.4 seconds. The lack of guitar leaves the sound a bit thin even with such burly bass and drums. The power comes from non-stop speed, slow parts that don’t drag on and fairly technical playing. It gives the aura of powerviolence for macho hardcore heads and makes me imagine one third of XIBALBA covering something off of Trapped Inside by LACK OF INTEREST.

Belly Jelly What It Is EP

Someone has idolized CONEHEADS and now we have another bedroom punk project about cell phones and whatever else. I wish I had a joke to tell about this band but all I can say is that “BELLY JELLY” just seems to be the butt of the joke about modern punk. If squiggly chipmunk DEVO t-shirt computer simulation punk is your thing, then gorge yourself. I appreciate the Bay State representation with the NERVOUS EATERS cover and the pace change on “Big Questions” is good but god damn this all sounds like Mark Winter scratching his pubes.

Cran Samedi Minuit EP

CRAN is a French band that, at best, is trying to do some sort of melodic, more thoughtful Oi but end up sounding like a confused up-tempo goth band with shouted vocals. The artwork is bland, two of the three songs drag on forever and I don’t think the drummer plays a single fill. In CRAN’s defense I’m not cosplaying as some wanna-be skinhead who could somehow conceive this as good. Giving it multiple listens for the sake of a fair review was one of the more arduous parts of my day.

Leather Lickers Spit EP

If you were in Melbourne, Australia and dug a hole all the way to the center of the earth and went straight on through to the other side, you’d end up in Cleveland, Ohio, which is in America. I have a degree in geography, you can trust me on shit like this. If the 9 SHOCKS TERROR compilation CD from Havoc Records is being played relentlessly in your car/van cause you’re too poor or stupid to buy anything else, if your reaction to someone pouring a beer on your head in any given situation is to punch them in the mouth, or if you still actually enjoy hardcore punk then LEATHER LICKERS may appeal to you. I honestly wish they played faster more often but beggars can’t be choosers.

Street Weapon Quick to Die EP

Multiple eras of ’80s New York street music are represented with nods to the ABUSED, A.F., and CAUSE FOR ALARM as well as breakdowns reminiscent of ALTERCATION and MADBALL. Aping the early NY sound isn’t exactly new or surprising but STREET WEAPON actually gains intrigue by doing a decent job of balancing the early and late ’80s styles without being tied down to anything. Ultimately the name is corny, the artwork’s forgettable and they provide another straight edge song about abandoning people with addiction issues but they’re also kids in high school so chalk it up to them being impressionable, possibly excitable boys. Buy it for a teenage punk in your life.

Taste the Floor Scam EP

The art reminds me of the Facts And Views 7” by UPRIGHT CITIZENS, while the music makes me imagine this is probably what RAW POWER’s most current albums may sound like. This is thrash with a skatecore vibe. Quick guitar leads, plenty of palm muting and almost non-stop blast beats which make it feel like it should’ve been out on Party Time or 625 Thrashcore records. The vocalist has a Roger Miret quality to him and all true intensity is lost in the double kick drum and super clean production.

Litovsk I’ll Never Forget You / Dit Will Ik Nooit Vergeten 7″

I scoured MRR’s list of reviewable records and stumbled across this band I had never heard, and decided to review it based on the cover art: some youth soccer game with a kid going-one-on-one with the goalkeeper. “I’ll Never Forget You” has a tough rumble, making you think you’re dealing with some Oi!-type attack, and then the guitars come through with those big melodic strums. It all comes together like a quicker, leaner track off of Second Empire Justice. The B-side is more focused on getting goths to dance, with a drum machine and synth pushing the tune. Maybe I should break edge and do ecstasy or whatever club drug to really understand how the cover art relates to the music? I originally thought this was going to have a real running-down-the-back-streets vibe (I’m fine without it), but they use the soundbite of a football crowd much more subtlety than Cut the Crap-era CLASH. You’re gonna need this shit for your darkwave Instagram Live DJ set.

Subliminal Excess 2020 cassette

Listening to the first few tracks, I get the idea that if someone had never heard the RIVAL MOB demo but got handed this tape, they could maaaaybe think that this was it. It’s punk for devout capital-H hardcore kids. Mosh part, fast part (the catchiness and allure of such riffs haven’t made themselves known to me), then another fast part. SUBLIMINAL EXCESS, or “SEx” for short, don’t sound like they’re at their tightest, especially on “Psychotic Break,” and the final track “Burning Feeling” meanders for a minute with a noisy dirge, but then gets into a mid-tempo assault that would feel very modern if it wasn’t for the whispered INTEGRITY-like vocals that crescendo into Jerry A.-type growling. Nothing I write really matters since the tape already sold out, but then again only 100 were made. Is that a lot now? Does that make it a collector’s item? Is the market fixed? Regardless of those answers, it’s assured that demo-core is back.

Fried E.M. Modern World LP

It’s cool how unpretentious this record is. The band’s got no pedals or gimmicks to hide behind and no fake street politics or ideology to promote aside from a seething distaste for society and life. The vacant mindset is represented by the bare jacket art resulting in an extremely snotty record but the music isn’t as barebones as it may seem as FRIED E.M. operate in an interesting fits-and-stops manner. Some songs are rumbling blasts while others are more janky stop-go mutations with groaning bass, Ginn-esque guitar squeals and pummeling drums. It’s like they’ve scraped the grime and desperation from BLACK FLAG’s Damaged and thrown it onto a cleaner modern interpretation of MAD SOCIETY, the CIRCLE JERKS, the OVERKILL 7”and other random L.A. punk bands. The A-side kinda lacks but the B really takes off. If you were into SCHOOL JERKS ten years ago, you can feel young again with this.

Haircut Sensation EP

When that two-step part comes back in with the ringing guitars on “Les Va a Tocar” I figured anyone with a spine would give HAIRCUT a nod of approval if they weren’t already moshing. The drums on “Seeking” hit like “High Places” by ZERO BOYS, and that’s tops baby. After the A-side I was like “yeah, this is fine” but the B has me wanting to hear it again. A good hardcore punk record.

The Annihilated 6 Song cassette

Maybe I’m completely making this up but I recall reading or being told that OUT COLD had written a good chunk of their stuff without ever hearing NEGATIVE APPROACH and refuted the idea that they ripped them off. Again, I could be mixing things up but ANNIHILATED sounds as if OUT COLD had indeed heard NEGATIVE APPROACH and were blatant in nodding to their inspiration. I’ve returned to this cassette much more than I expected to. True roots American hardcore played by fuckin Brits who, if they keep this up, will be flagrantly stealing our culture and heritage.

Ohyda Koszmar 12″

OHYDA’s songwriting is more experimental than most D-beat bands. The rumbling bass, heavily reverbed vocals, guitars shrouded in distortion, pace changes and a thick drum sound switching between D-beat and plodding, KILLING TIME-like primitivism strays far from the typical DISCHARGE worship. The blown out sound rings in my head like Finnish classics but the style is undoubtedly Polish with a driving attack that’s not afraid to sway into varying directions. The album includes two covers, one by an old Polish band called ABADDON and the other by PESD but if you hadn’t read the liner notes you wouldn’t have guessed these tracks weren’t originals, as both songs complement OHYDA’s style. Overall it’s a cool album that pushes things into an interesting direction and showcases the quality and ingenuity that these Polish bands retain.

Alien Nosejob HC45 EP

The first hardcore record I’ve heard in a long time that instantaneously made my eyes bulge. I’ve been brushing off every ALIEN NOSEJOB release as some quantity not quality shlock but this exactly the bright, rigorous, exciting hardcore I love. The vocals sound like Mike D. on the Aglio E Olio EP and the spastic, eye-twitching BAD BRAINS-style hardcore found on that ’90s BEASTIE BOYS release certainly lends some influence here. Reminiscent of bands like SOCIAL CIRCKLE, BIG ZIT and LAFFING GAS but it definitely sets itself apart.

Jackal Jackal EP

On first listen, I disregarded this as just another AGNOSTIC FRONT/NEGATIVE APPROACH/CRUCIFIX rip-off but it’s got a lot more going on. They definitely have some nods to the aforementioned groups but JACKAL cohesively twists and turns to layer their songs with changes of pace that AF and NA didn’t have the patience to attempt. D. Boon said there should be a band on every block, and I say every city should have a band that sounds like AGNOSTIC FRONT. At this point JACKAL may blow the rest out of the water. Four songs in under five minutes. It’s been ten years since URBAN BLIGHT released More Reality. It’s time to check back into hardcore reality.

Sleeper and Snake Junction & High LP

I pulled the trigger and bought this after only hearing “Sugar and Gold” which was enough to convince me it was worth it. This is a beautiful album that touches on some country, folk, lo-fi and experimental properties all written and performed by Al of TOTAL CONTROL, UV RACE and every other Australian band, plus Amy of CONSTANT MONGREL, TERRY and others. I’m definitely not worldly enough to be able to tell you about the various influences but it just feels very well balanced and has tracks that put me at ease. It seems like they used every instrument at their disposal from guitars to horns to synths and electronic drums. They’ve got those SQUEEZE-like high and low vocals going on and overall it feels complimentary to old Flying Nun stuff. It doesn’t come across too kitschy and strikes a balance between simple melodic tunes and more experimental sounds. “Flagged” is probably my favorite here.

Brain Tourniquet Shot Dead EP

Both “Fate” and “It Takes Three…” nail INFEST’s sludgy, almost prog rock style to a T. The riff on “Shot Dead” and bits of “Paranoia” remind me of NO TOLERANCE, the little breaks in “Not Alive” are very INFEST-like, and the breakdown in “Animal Instinct” has a looseness that isn’t unflattering but seems uncommon for this genre. “No Solution” comes across as if the lyrics don’t fully fit, like the song could’ve used more work and was maybe rushed. I thought I’d be bored with it but the first four tracks on side A had me coming back for repeated listens. It’s fucking powerviolence, OK?

The Cowboy Wi-Fi on the Prairie 12″

The simplicity of it all makes this hard to describe. Elements of HOMOSTUPIDS are apparent but this sounds even less blown out than the previous COWBOY release. Wi-Fi reminds me a lot of Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts in that it’s so simple and so catchy but there’s just little janky things that make it sort of odd, unconventional and seemingly unattractive. Imagine one those trippy SST Records “members of” groups but instead it’s What Makes a Man Start Fires-era MINUTEMEN combining with Metal Circus-era HÜSKER DÜ. That’s a bad description but you’ve got nothing but time now so you should just listen to it. Art by John Morton as well. An all-around great release.

Mustang Mind Wandering LP

Not as crushing as I’d hoped it to be. With six tracks it’s definitely got variety but it’s about two-thirds Burning Spirits-styled metallic rocking and about one-third hardcore. The hardcore tracks follow DISCHARGE-like song progressions while the songwriting is still fairly creative. The sound quality is dirty enough to feel true menace and power, which thankfully is not lost in too slick of a production. It’s pretty entertaining and warrants multiple listens but I’d imagine the live show is more enthralling.

Nabat Potere Nelle Strade LP reissue

NABAT is true Bolognese. Their music is thick and meaty while still glistening into a uniformed consistency. It’s hearty and warm and like most other things it’s been bastardized and ruined by Americans. If you’re not familiar with NABAT they’ve got a hefty Oi sound all their own with a mix of speedy UK82-inspired tunes and uniformed mid-tempo stuff, big woah-oh choruses and very gruff vocals. This isn’t a full reissue of all the band’s material, just their studio recordings, as some compilation songs, along with “Kill Police” and “Nichilist Nabat” which appeared on the split tape with RIP OFF, are missing. The roughness of the recordings becomes glaringly obvious moving from the smoothness of the Laida Bologna 7” to the RIP OFF split tape recordings. Puke N Vomit tried but this reissue comes across like Sunday Sauce (half-assed and lackadaisical but ultimately pleasing to the many who buy a new pair of boots instead of performing upkeep on their flagship store Docs Martens). It’s not the highest quality but if you want to hear NABAT then this will cover you.

Cyanamid This Is Hell: A NJ Hardcore Anthology LP

New Jersey is a pretty interesting place. Listening to CYANAMID, you’d think it was literally just a gigantic six-lane highway allowing you to look at perpetually closed strip malls, Superfund sites and trash-filled streets. These kids sounded like they would’ve been throwing bricks and hatchets at Springsteen’s ’69 Chevy with the 396 as it raced by. Lines are to be drawn north to the GROINOIDS and SIEGE, south to TEDDY AND THE FRAT GIRLS and west to Crucifucks, Scratch Acid and Flipper CRUCIFUCKS, SCRATCH ACID and FLIPPER. I can’t imagine PSYCHO SIN could’ve existed without this band. Absolutely fucked up anti-hardcore. The accompanying booklet is pretty baller as well. The problem is that flipping this from A to B feels like you’re hearing the same shit and that doesn’t even take the bonus CD with live material from three different shows with similar set lists into account. An amazing collection that is not for the weak of heart.

Dum Dum Boys Let There Be Noise LP reissue

Let There Be Noise is a hard-to-find album of cut and bloody backstreet rock’n’roll from a sleepy town in Australia in ’81. The STOOGES, IGGY and British imports infected the minds of youth. I can see it now; sheep farmers rolling around in smashed beer bottles, cigarettes hanging from their lips, spitting as a new hobby, etc. “True Friend” comes off just like “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and I get heavily reminded of the stupid simplicity of COCKNEY REJECTS and SLAUGHTER AND THE DOGS throughout. In the Red does a handsome job with some retrospective writing and improved art. All trendy assholes with DJ nights should buy it and play it so all those violent skinheads on a rampage can bop around and have some fun.

Sweet Tooth Sugar Rush 2009 EP

This is from the era when everyone discovered powerviolence and completely lost their shit. Sugar Rush is very much of the time but it blows a lot of stuff out of the water with intensity and great musicianship. The focus is power through speed and the obliteration of everything. SWEET TOOTH’s speed was powerviolence-y but avoided the tough-guy attitude and when they slowed down it just allowed for hard-hitting mosh parts. It’s just an Adderall laser focus on destruction and pure fucking stupidity. I wish I got to experience it live. Also includes a hilarious retrospective booklet.

AI Backing to the Battle 12″

1997 demo recording released onto a one-sided 12”. The sound of hissing tape may have been engineered out, but this maintains that poorly-mixed quality of a hastily made demo. It sounds pretty raw, which is fine considering this is extremely abrasive hardcore. AI is about as straightforward as Japanese HC comes. The furious pace is really what’s on show, much akin to the singer’s previous band BANDIT, although the sound is reminiscent of Discrete Records bands like GAIZI or HUMAN DESPAIR. It’s only four tracks, which makes me question why it didn’t just get released as a 7” or why no one dug up some live material to throw on the B-side. It’s got some of the better Sugi art in the last few years, considering every fuckin’ band with money to throw around started using his stuff, and it contains a booklet with old photos, flyers, and recent shows. Only 200 copies pressed on black, 100 on blue.

Heavy Discipline Demo 2019 EP

This demo pressed to vinyl contains five songs in six minutes. It’s straightforward Boston-style hardcore without being as precise as BOSTON STRANGLER or SHIPWRECKED’s The Last Pagans, but it feels like a close relative. The riffs are nods to the FU’s (“Stuck,” “Empty Worship”) and DYS (“You’re Good,” “Moment Won’t Come”), and although the drumming doesn’t have the absolutely spastic cymbal hits of the aforementioned bands, the drumfills still lend a lot to the sound and intensity. The first track has a mosh part that strikes me like STEP FORWARD, and the breakdown on “You’re Good” feels of the same ilk as BOSTON STRANGLER. Makes sense, as both bands pulled from the same deck of influences, but this feels less polished compared to the Primitive and Fire LPs. I’ll bet you could find Primitive for the same price as this 7” now.

Peter Laughner Peter Laughner 5xLP box set

I knew PETER LAUGHNER from his guitar solo on “Final Solution” by PERE UBU, and bits I’ve read over the years on the Ubu Projex website. I read that Richard Hell book where he talked about LAUGHNER being a tryhard New York wannabe who could write a good song but was a loser because he took his own life, and for that, Hell spat on his grave. If anything, that made me want to listen to LAUGHNER more, and you’d be rewarded by doing so. His work was the next logical move on the timeline from BOB DYLAN to LOU REED / VELVET UNDERGROUND to TELEVISION. I sure as hell can’t write like LAUGHNER, and I’m not sure what he’d say about this rekindling of care surrounding his music and story, but in my immodest admiration, I gotta say: this is really fucking good. This boxset is incredible, considering that it delved so deeply into so many lost tapes, bootlegs, and unreleased recordings, and was able to produce a great sounding array of music spanning only a few years, but which possesses innumerable, unlikely and refreshing influences and ideas. I’ve never been a believer when people say “this artist transformed this song and made it their own,” but there’s an insane live version of “Heroin” here that LAUGHNER made all the more insane with his improvised guitar that made me lose my mind. This five-LP box set fetches a pretty penny, but seeing as copies of LAUGHNER’s self-titled and Take the Guitar Player for a Ride have asking prices a little under what this goes for, you may want to just pull the trigger here, considering you’re getting a larger quantity of music. The booklet containing photos and samples of his writing is fantastic as well. It’s simple but beautifully packaged. A curious coincidence on quality; both the PSYCHOS (reviewed below) and LAUGHNER cover “Summertime Blues” on their posthumous releases. Badass.

Articles of Faith Wait EP reissue

One of the best and at the time most inventive USHC 7”s gets the reissue it deserves, had Alternative Tentacles not already compiled all of AOF’s material onto Complete Volumes 1 & 2 in 2002. Is this a necessary move? I’m leaning towards yes. The ferocity of “I’ve Got Mine” and “Buy This War” can’t be understated and probably warrant the reissue in order to teach new-age bootleg shirt kids, egg punks, and chopped and screwed enthusiasts what hardcore is supposed to sound like. The album art comes across simple, almost completely inept until you open the meticulously made insert containing the lyrics to “Wait.” Bondi may have said some of the worst no-no words in the American Hardcore doc but he’s got some of the most brilliant lyrics of the era on show here.

Big Cheese Don’t Forget to Tell the World LP

Previously released material from a band who I chose not to listen to cause I thought the name was too stupid. A-side is their smoothly recorded 7” and the B is their demo plus an extra track, all in the vein of RAW DEAL, the ICEMEN, BREAKDOWN and OUTBURST. This is hefty moshing hardcore with screeching lead guitar and is in my opinion the Parmesan of demo-core. There are some memorable choruses like “Pass the Buck” but overall the vocals come through in the quickened verses allowing you to give it 100% in the pit when CHEESE gets thick ’n’ heavy. The inventive riffing and patterns on “Glass in Your Foot” and “Aggravated Mopery” make me feel this is some of the best hardcore I’ve heard in years.

Psychos One Voice LP

Maybe you know the PSYCHOS from their song “Before” on the Big City’s One Big Crowd comp. Maybe you’ve seen old photos of NY street kids rocking PSYCHOS T-shirts with the illustrated colossal man who is either a) caught inside, b) attempting to smash, or c) struggling to uphold the name “PSYCHOS.” Maybe the Back With a Vengeance CD by post-PSYCHOS group TRIP 6 is your most coveted disc. Maybe I’m assuming too much about you, but even if you’re completely unfamiliar with the band, I guarantee you elation upon hearing these primitive hard-as-hell blasts of simplified rock’n’roll, which formed the basis of what we know to be NYHC. The music is raw, simplistic, hard, and extremely catchy. The breakdowns of “Blind Justice” and “Rejected Youth” are the basis of NYHC to come, while you could perpetually skank to the duration of “One Voice.” It’s not as rapid fire as classics like AGNOSTIC FRONT, ANTIDOTE, and CAUSE FOR ALARM, or inventive and odd as the MOB, URBAN WASTE and FATHEAD SUBURBIA, but like some of these aforementioned groups, the PSYCHOS have a definitive style all their own. As expected, the insert booklet and layout of the record is another top quality Radio Raheem production. This stands as a fantastic representation of NYHC at the time: unfashionable, raw, and eclectic. Praise be.