Reviews

Viktor Vargyai

Barcelona Residuos del Ultrasonido EP

Might be my emergency exit from burning out—anyway—I consider hardcore as a form of art. Even if it defines itself as noise not music, still it is a sonic expression of emotions and thoughts. A reaction to complex processes thundering in each of us. Hardcore is best when unadjusted, each layer of the music freely and indivisually explodes from the players but when added together becoming a bit more than several syncronised performances. Historically the cacophony of hardcore was written on the account of untrained musicians, who employed enthusiasm instead of education, although we must not forget how confusing the world is even when you seem to be able to function in its array of bullshit. It is much more hostile when you are young and reckless to start a punk band, where these kids were matching their songs to their experiences. Art could help to conserve these feelings reflecting on terror of surreal reality. BARCELONA had an artsy edge from the beginning, especially with their cover art, but with Residuos del Ultrasonido the suspicion shifted to hard facts: while they are a pure primitive force of destructive and radical hardcore, they are not only attacking year end top ten lists but the borders of hardcore. It is strange how internationally appreciated they are, yet almost no one is ripping off their sound. While it is not an insoluble formula, it is a continuation of beloved pioneers of radical hardcore and it carries the signature soundmarks of BARCELONA. The bass is a loud pulp, punching the space of the music with its extension despite with its power; the drums remind us to the visceral driver in mankind to beat the shit out of bang-able objects to create rhythms that match with our inner tempo; the vocals are towering over the music, setting a direction with raspy, ferocious screams which later go as far as imitating dog barks; finally the guitars are tying many knots with the strings when not blasting head-deforming riffs. It is a short 7”, but packed with so many layers it instantly becomes a classic. There is some discussion over the cover art, which even if improvised at last minute or meticulously planned, works as a great, funny fuck you. I love how it recalls the infamous What The… cover. It also reflects on that art is not necessary some academic, always high-brow happening, but it could be dumb and funny, yet meaningful; it could be anything. Probably a lot of people would be distracted by the cover if this would be BARCELONA’s debut EP, but if this was only the beginning it would be a fair price to pay. Amazing record.

مراة بركان (Mara’a Borkan) War / Revenge cassette

Two new tracks to follow up their previous tape, proving its quality was not novelty, more so MARA’A BORKAN is capable to write tense hardcore tracks even in a more organized headspace. Since these tracks are not restless, although angry and energetic, but it’s not a hot-headed mess. They have grown to be confident and deliberate. In exchange they introduce almost kraut-rockish repetitive hooks that pair well with the bouncy riffs and the still foreign melody of the vocals. They are great at keeping beats exciting, playing with emphasis and mixing hardcore with a bit of Arabic rhythms. While it is not at all challenging to enjoy them, the band expands the horizon of hardcore. The guitar sound has been refined, the sharp distortion is gone, in its place is a coiled, spooky patchwork of awesome riffs. They were great as a demo band, presenting fundamental angst, translating their environment to radical hardcore and they are great as a matured band too, who has nothing to prove. Instead, us listeners have to demonstrate that we appreciate unique bands from strange places. Tunis is a frequented resort for Europeans, one that is many miles away from the reality that explodes from MARA’A BORKAN’s music. I trust them and enjoy their tapes better than I would appreciate to be a dumb white tourist.

Alambre de Púas Venganza cassette

Second demo tape of ALAMBRE DE PÚAS from Chile. Standard quality of their current scene, with sonic similarities: they play beat-driven, simplified hardcore punk, using frantic vocals and restrained tension. The buzzing repetition recalls a distant noise of a rolling chainsaw. In some of their moments they reminded me of the BOBBY SOXX 7”, with the evil mid-tempo mania, and MASTURBATION from Japan with the unsophisticated yet melodic approach. This tape feels like a puzzle piece for the recent Chilean scene. Alltogether they testify that genuine hardcore is played all around the globe at the same level and intensity. Many creators have been acknowledged as part of a movement instead of honored independently. Time will tell if ALAMBRE DE PÚAS remain over the surface, but listening to their demo makes me appreciate their scene the same as I do the band, and via I appreciate how colorful the subculture is. Maybe I will not remember one single riff soon, but while playing the tape I think punk is fucking sick and sometimes this is enough.

Maldición Enjaulados EP reissue

This review should focus on the quality difference of the actual media, since Enjaulados has been released on tape and lathe cut 7” forms in 2017 already, followed up now by Rock SVB’s take with a vinyl version from 2019. If this is your first encounter with MALDICIÓN, or you look for mirroring your own opinion: They are from Santiago de Chile, proving again what a fertile ground South America is for contemprorary hardcore. In their elements MALDICIÓN does not reinvent the wheel. The vocals are echoed to devilish scary, the music is subordinated to create a primitive beat at the edge of pogo punk and dumbed down black metal, something that has been familiar in international hardcore. When I hear such, the test is whether its repetition can hypnotize me into focusing only on the power and movement of the music, perceived by my body, instead of thinking on the actual notes. Based on that, it is not weird this record has been released three times already. It has the kick that lets me believe the familiar sounds belong to MALDICIÓN, instead of solely being lifted gimmicks helping the band to trick its audience. The straight-ahead, vicious power is coated in perfect rawness that still has some distorted edge, but nothing is overdone. It’s a safe pick to spin this record, if you do not like it, still it will not hurt, if you are in the mood for primitive pumping hardcore they are also great addition to the spectrum of current sounds.

Side Action Saykopatik Hula cassette

The Gauguin-esque cover is great—it suggests a rare creativity that is playful, fun, violent and cool. Then the music starts, soon all the noisy cacophony falls on the bass and I find myself at the imaginary scene of the cover. It’s hardcore, fast and simple, right when it got to be, although loud, distorted and rudimental enough that it sounds fresh. As if SIDE ACTION uses the tools of their environment instead of replicating its relics. The dynamics between vocals and music feels as if the former were on a higher RPM than the rest of the band. Together it’s brilliant noise, the atmosphere of the record is buzzing, while their chaos is controlled. Sometimes things are just so simple yet meaningful—and joyful they target our feelings instead of our intellect. Those gathered thoughts are personal and feel silly to share it with the public. So it will become a strange secret which in a way shared between you and the band. When outsiders feel to be connected to strangers due to a band, something special has been created.

Enfermo Protesting Suicide Revolution demo cassette

The tape starts with a strange prologue that might be from a movie, than immediately turns into blow-out raging hardcore, instantly erasing all previous guesses of the intro. The recording is over-driven noisey (that sort of “let’s get something really quick, since we should record, doesn’t matter if this is the lo-fiest equipment” distorted) which pairs well with how ENFERMO is super urgent, bile-splitting frustrated. This atmosphere suggests that this demo had to be made no matter what. They remind me a bit of ORDEN MUNDIAL, but with less USHC influences, as ENFERMO does not include groovy bridge parts, instead they are busy with constantly fucking shit up. Their song “Inocencia Perdida Por Malas Experiencias” has a looong howl that is ridiculous, both funny and brave, the self-confident approach of the songwriting later repeatedly demonstrated. It’s a great demo and I wish to hear more from the band. The Chilean scene is on fire!

Vile Spirit Scorched Earth LP

Scorched Earth is VILE SPIRIT’s debut LP led up by a demo. I knew and enjoyed the tape, due to its similarities to UNITED MUTATION. The LP, too, contains weird, even horror-esque excipients, haunted sore-throat vocals on music so detailed it becomes an unifying entity, that behaves in various tempers throughout the record. The edge of capital hardcore is deadened by shifting the hardness of the performers on the circumstanstances they perform against/about. Which makes the music tortured, but backs up the dense sound while avoiding any ridicule. The music is heavy because life is tough, instead of the members acting jock-ish. While the vocals are laid in mid-tempo, the instruments do not slack on their layers: The drums wonder into restrained blast-beat territories; the bass is distorted into a pulp filling up all empty spaces, binding the sound as glue; the guitars avoid both metal riffage and simplified three-chord hardcore notes; rather they function as a tidal wave, both loose and large. VILE SPIRIT is playful with pace, even if the artwork suggests some kind of still-in-the-basement, emphasis-on-core ’90s metallic hardcore. Scorched Earth is not an endless loop of chugga chugga, rather they imperceptibly mix with speed, blending different moods on a scale of hyper and almost zero tempo and remain confident no matter how shaky or swampy their ground is. Lately I have lost track of UK hardcore bands, no longer know whether this is still the new or now the neo wave of British bands, but due to the different references and execution, VILE SPIRIT differs the listening experiences I recall from their peers. If you tend to feel as the creature on their cover, you just as likely to enjoy the record. It’s a solid one.

Negativ Epicrisis

Epicrisis is a good punk record. It’s nasty, savage, noisey, short and intense. Contains insanity, angst and power. They operate with back-and-forth dragged riffs and tupa-tupa rhythms that never really turn into chaos, but flicks with intensity. Their sound is perfect for a guessing game regarding their influences, as it is rather a conclusion of a well-curated personal collection than exact references lifted into their songs. Somehow they remind me of DAWN OF HUMANS from recent times, but without the visceral art edge. Yet they fall for the same uniforming trap so many contemporary records do. While it is done by all the right people, talent shines through it, and yes it is a great piece of work, but it tells more about the current state of international hardcore punk than their own enviorment. The lyrics are about personal fears, a society that is constantly surveilled, but who cares anyway, because they are here to consume, live in cells called as homes and exist to work what serves their slave-holders. Then we have the music which is while being great—it truly is—does it dare to be not perfect? It screams fuck you, but does it mean that as well? It is unfair to pour on NEGATIV a problem of an era. My direct message is: Epicrisis would be way better if it sounded different from a great amount of current records. To be fair, I like this record because, at a deeper layer, among the psycho tension, it sneaks in creepy melodies as if Rikk Agnew and Nick Blinko were trying to write a ballad. NEGATIV has a natural impetus, being constantly present in each of their songs. The tempo sounds as it could be faster which creates expectations for the chaos to burst out, while it never happens and chaos is created in the listener. Well placed, sudden changes in pace and riffs create uncertainty that lends excitement to the music. The vocals confused, bile splattering, phlegmatic style mixes perfectly with the sharp, dystopian-vibe of the music. Most likely if you do not listen to this record for hours straight, you will just think: it is ugly and destructive; how sick punk records are.

Rigorous Institution Despotism / Survival 7″

By the third EP of RIGOROUS INSTITUTION, it should be obvious that they dig moody, black mass-vibe crust like AMEBIX. Within a short timespan and discography they mastered the creation and control of their atmosphere, just as a magician seducing its audience. As far as my interest reaches they are original with choosing a rare reference in today’s music. How are they more than a present interpretation of something from decades ago? RIGOROUS INSTITUTION not only layers their music but each layer functions different from the other. The keyboards could back up moody dream-pop songs, even if they are frightening; the guitars run between BLACK SABBATH-ish clean riffing and total, unidentifiable cacophony. As the layers live their own separate lives that add up well, the music’s main goal transforms to create an atmosphere than to entertain as a catalyst for body movement. Which feature can alienate those who are not looking for a big act. I still want to hear more.

Sial Tari Pemusnah Kuasa LP

This is the forth release from Singapore’s SIAL, remaining consistent, it picks up where Binasa—their previous 7”—ended. The same consistency solidified the sound of SIAL that is both their own and now is familiar to the listeners, though portioned on short records, it never gets boring. It tastefully combines rolling dynamics, occasional D-beat pump, echoed yet frantic vocals, guitars distorted enough to footnote noise, but held back as well to actually hear the sense of riffs, which balance between easy to interpret, direct attacks and more tense parts to bounce the whole room. This is a formula in modern hardcore, but SIAL took the effort to tailor it custom. The second half of the record takes careful turns to psychedelia; some songs are even chant-like, which is refreshing since it is constructed in an interesting way. All along we discuss here raging hardcore, still SIAL seems to be highly self-concious, what might control the chaos of their music, although they never sound artificial, but their inner angst is matched with certain relics of hardcore/punk and the creatively mixed substance is poured into a frame. Beyond the sonic facts, SIAL is able to make their music more than a case study of hardcore, as the record spins, their power takes over the atmosphere, which is tense enough to grab my focus on their energy. The record has an unnatural power, therefore what is best in SIAL, is what their record summons, not what is actually recorded. Could a band ask for more?

Garrapata Demo

MRR continues to accept interviews, so please, someone, go out and ask GARRAPATA about the recording session of this demo, because it makes zero sense. The music is the lowest lo-fi noise-core à la KUOLEMA and PSYCHO SIN. The drums are as recognizable as listening through thick walls to how your neighbor destroys his flat. The tape sounds so dumb, if a group of people’s first introduction to music was SIEGE and without any skills or experience of playing on instruments they were set free to express themselves. It is best demonstrated with how detached the flow of their music. The fragmented, stop-and-go structure lets the instruments breathe, just as the vocalist does, making them sound as separated attempts to notify angry existence. Hard to process that someone reached out to this aesthetic in current times, yet it avoids being gimmicky. Real primitive music for the lovers of barbarian art.

مراة بركان (Mara’a Borkan) Demo cassette

MARA’A BORKAN (“Volcano Woman”) is from Tunisia, with female members. Fortunately, this review does not have to emphasize the political relevance of the previous sentence, since A) I am fucking dumb regarding world politics, and B) MARA’A BORKAN’s music is just as interesting as probably their background story is. The sort of low-key, rudimentary metal punk, paired with determined, loud, yet trying to be melodic singing is just as a weird mix as it was to hear G.I.S.M. for the first time. The stripped-down, raw radicalism of the music reminds me of FIRMEZA 10 and how they interpreted the core idea of D-beat; here MARA’A BORKAN, no idea what to try to reference, but it’s loud, visceral and entertaining. The vocals tend to employ melody bends, familiar from ’00s bro-core, that here, out of context, are one of the most memorable vocals I have recently heard. The band builds their sound from a few elements, still they are able to make it dense, the rawness of the minimalism resounds in each song. The glue between the instruments is the devotion that shines through the demo. MARA’A BORKAN comes from an uneasy place to play punk and to be a woman that is translated to their music. Reintroducing the power of this subculture.  

Sirkka Kuluttava Kone cassette

I love Finnish hardcore, but I would assign the exploriation of the legendary scene on labels who help archiving and sharing those wonderful demos, recorded by teens decades ago. When I saw SIKKA is from New York and seem to refer on the classic sound my instant reaction was: here is another band with the annual renaissance fair for Finnish hardcore. Even if that was their master plan, fortunately it failed—and as experienced, in punk failures lead to great things. SIRKAA employees nonsense speed, short-tempered guitar parts mixed with occasional no wave-ish confusion, a mountain-high wall of feedback but they do it in a loose way and the extra space offers room for originality. Therefore they experiment a bit. They remind me of a less crazy CUNTROACHES or nosier PYHÄKOULU, if we have to name a classic. The primitivity is the difference, which lacks here, as SIRKKA has control over the notes they play, furthermore they are thoughtful with the noise they generate—therefore it differs, while does refer on predecessors, yet they don’t copy the exact aesthetics, but translate how they might hear these bands, which is the best approach to form your own sound. This demo is a real surprise.

Axe Rash Axe Rash LP

There are records I listen to having only one of the instruments within my scope. I listen to JERRY’S KIDS for the drums and I can envision myself revisiting AXE RASH’s record mostly for the vocals. The almost gorey-ugliness of the vocalist is as surprising as it was to hear UNITED MUTATION for the first time. Wish the music was just as exciting and while it is good it never escapes to be anything else. As if they cannot fail, they do not fail, therefore there is no danger on this record. It is powerful hardcore punk, occasional crazy parts, every specific parts has their traffic sign placed in advance as we approach them. Those who say that whatever MRR berates is worth listening to should go and check out AXE RASH; if you are going for the quantity of daily good bands, go listen to them, you might find something that clicks with you. For me they are too compliant. But I will be first in line if their singer starts a DIE KREUZEN-inspired band, her vocals are sick!

Cankro / Vidro Split LP

Oh, a split made for VIDRO’s Brazilian tour, originally released on tape and now put out by Byllepest on vinyl. This explains a lot, while both bands are among the better up-and-coming groups, VIDRO dominates the record. Already appreciated their previous full-length, now they are even better, playing fucked-up, mid-tempo hardcore somewhere between modern, riff-based groups and SSD/DYS stomping parts, while if you fell for daydreaming seconds, you can find yourself humming “Now I wanna be your dog” to their music, too. Their singer has a great, super pissed off voice; it pairs well with the guitars that dare to experiment beyond a few chords’ chunky riffs. While their side is as effective on moving my body as if someone shook me by my shoulders, I do not feel hypnotized into fist-pumping, but I nod my head owning total consciousness over my limbs. VIDRO deserves it. Luckily for CANKRO, the Byllepest version equaled out the production differences, thus the quality upgrade definitely elevated CANKRO’s side. Feels bizarre to use the word “promising” in a culture that glorifies immature groups, and their badly played rehearsal session demos, still I feel CANKRO is set for something more fucked up and crazy than what they present here. It’s already uptempo hardcore that recalls some of their countries predecessors, but I’m not reconciled with their rock-ish solos. It’s the worst I can tell about them, not as if I wish to, but again they flash a lot of potential to future killer records, already within these four songs. Kudos for Byllepest Distro for putting this tape on the coolest format.

Tuono Ho Scelto La Morte LP

TUONO is not only a band from Italy who plays hardcore but Italian hardcore. Reminiscing less chaotic, rather melodic, spooky-in-guitar sounded bands: BEDBOYS, CHELSEA HOTEL, STINKY RATS, STIGMATHE, KINA; merging urgency, post-punk-ish otherworldly echos and pogo-style repetitive, simplified beats; all captured through a modern sound. The atmosphere of the record is both desperate and frustrated. One song contains a dub-ish part, probably as a nod to the past—since nowadays it’s pretty accepted to maneuver a parallel career as a dub DJ if you dig the genre, although you are in a punk band. As everything is in place on this record, TUONO’s focus dominates their songs. Which makes Ho Scelto La Morte cautious, and this approach sucks out all air for surprises. That is not always a bad thing as TUONO’s debut full-length is a solid job, but as a subjective listener I cannot find what to hold on to.

Muro / Orden Mundial Sonia de la Negación split LP

Splits are strange records. This one goes even beyond, as it is to honor the memory of ORDEN MUNDIAL’s bass player, who passed away, but also helped out and recorded with MURO during one of their EU tours. The greatest splits are more than just two groups’ recordings. Their contrast either evokes debates between those who are obsessed with always picking sides, or are an exhibition game of an outstanding pair. Sonida de la Negación is closer to the second because even though the two bands differ sound-wise, they rather overlap and complete than contradict each other. It’s hard to write about MURO when most of my information channels propagate them as the best band in today’s hardcore. Therefore I have to work around these proclamations, because I care about their music instead of their perception. They operate with an unimpeachable energy that mixes urgency of Latin American hardcore heritage and Burning Spirits epic anthemism. The later feature holds back my devotion towards them because it offers too much for my taste, and makes me realize how they are able to repeatedly build truly great records from generic elements. Still, they keep progressing, since what was good on Ataque Hardcore Punk has become great here. The drums carry most of their music; it is a solid base for the exceptional energy of the band that is luckily translate-able to records, too. I am glad they introduce parts where guitars break away from extended, strummed-out riffs to more abstract territories. There is no They Live situation regarding MURO—what the whole world loves is actually real. ORDEN MUNDIAL was always my dark horse from the wave of Spanish hardcore marked by UNA BESTIA INCONTROLABLE and BARCELONA. I liked how they reminded me of a fucked up, glue-huffed-to-pass-out version of the most confusing parts of primitive USHC such as SSD. Just take the second song from their side, a crazy mid-tempo stomper, drowned into distortion and echo, an almost no-wave-dancy mind-melter. Lead up by a headkicker opening track, so dense it entangles into itself. The mid-tempo pace continues within another number, that reminisces both exploring, desperate on drugs and dizzy by recently acquired new musical abilities, at the doorstep of later-era hardcore, which also feels as cut out and looped to a full track version of tension-builder bridge part. Still ORDEN MUNDIAL annexes all their influences that expand their sound. Yes, it will be up there with WRETCHED / INDIGESTI, COWARD / GASMASK or—fuck it—FAITH / VOID.

Oblaka Insight 7″ flexi

OBLAKA is from Yakoutsk, which is proclaimed to be the coldest city in the world. When I listen to a band coming from such an uncommon land I am most interested in how it is to live in such a place, and I look for the bands to tell me via their music, instead of wanting the music to be elevated by its location. OBLAKA sounds isolated, damaged, weird; all attributives based on the liberating hopelessness, which is: they can do whatever they want at the end of the world. They remind me of less experimental TORPUR from current times and occasionally a less-evil SEXDROME. Sound-wise it’s loose, rock and roll-ish primitive punk/ignorant black metal with a lot more punk, and drops of metal in the vocals and rudimentary tempo. The mania and beat also recalls KURO and the SEXUAL, especially the flow of the record. During research I have found their 2017 tape that contained a VILE GASH cover. When a band does such a thing, it means they are out of reach from some main world, so they have to recreate it for themselves. OBLAKA not only did that, but due to their energy, they have escaped from their shell and now the world knows about them. It is a good story because their music is great. 

Sudor Causa General 12″

It surprised me SUDOR still exists and records. Causa General is hard to pin to a specific sub-style that generously offers its relics to successors, it is balancing on the edge between fast punk and low-key hardcore. The exceptional thing about the record is how it has nothing to prove—it’s not trying to be anything—and within this rail-lacking zone, they have to stand on their own. While the autonomy drips from every chord, and likely there is a huge archive as an inspiration, I am seeking for something to hold onto. Nothing is under or over-portioned and while it could be mediocre, the record avoids that trap, too. SUDOR sounds dry, which peaks in a scratching rawness, closer to a sandpaper than a chainsaw; a simplified but energetic straightforward momentum pushes all songs; among the polished riffs they tastefully place tiny bits of solos; the beat speeds but never blasts; their sober-angst eschews any goofiness, chaos, collapsing sounds, tension overdrives. The formless aesthetic of the record floats unmarked, within territories where we are spoiled with distinctions and culture related references. How draft-like they sound, the idea of other bands could fill the frames of SUDOR songs, although the act would feel forced. It is not a drawback to be untag-able. It’s more fun for me too to be challenged to figure out what the fuck to write about the record, while I do enjoy hearing it. Judging on the loudness and prominent role of the vocals I bet lyrical messages are relevant. This is suggested by the pamphlet-looking lyrics sheet and the postcard-like cardboard piece that illustrates church and military people waving together. While obviously I am sweating over this review, as a listening experience it truly is unique and might offer a lot more food for thought then anything that is precisely tailored to my taste.

The Tits Great Punk Tits LP

Rare moment in contemporary living when a band that formed in 2016 and has around eight different releases is unavailable on the internet, so people like me have to wait until the post-demo section of their discography gets released on a compilation. It is also tricky how you think of a country’s sound in a historical perspective, and how it is represented by current bands. I spent a great part of the previous years listening to loud flexis coming from Japan and I have not always succeeded when I tried to find present bands with sonic similarities. TITS was promised to sound like a modern version of pre-Stupid Life-era CONFUSE. It puts their predecessors into context as well, because when noise-core is made in a studio that’s output is not limited to cacophony, it takes away the chaotic randomness and all its magical mystery of the music. I like the loudest, noisiest groups because their glory is based on the chilling risk of failure, and while for normal people it is terrible shit, for me it is a great cultural achievement. TITS’ music is not adventurous, although it is good, since them and us are mutual fans of the same thing. That thing is reduced to a certain sound, an era, instead of an approach or method of expressions, therefore all enthusiasm is curbed; adventures turn to rituals. Despite it being decent, and for today rare music, it exists within well established grounds. To detail those grounds: some tracks have both guitars on full blast, linked to a chain gang of pedals; other numbers let dumb melodies sneak in, carried by a less distorted bass, that is a great nod to the best/most ignorant contrasting sound; very traditional. The cartoonish evil voice of the singer pairs perfectly with the ridiculously exaggerated noizzze. You really cannot go wrong with TITS if you dig this type of hardcore, and being an extensive collection of different records it is divertingly amusing how the course of track-packs mutate. The band is overshadowed by their forerunners, but instead TITS being a paraphrase, they turn the spotlight on their subjects of worship.

Zodiak TKY 2020 7″ flexi

Japanese band with a singer from America, not in the vein of JUNK SCHIZO, rather distortion equalized to maximum noise-core, with echoed-howling vocals and trash-can drumming. When a bunch of people from solid former bands play in a style that is so distorted, it basically could camouflage all individual handprints laid on the music, which circumstance can easily create an effortless chapter in the codex of random bands who sound OK. Maybe ZODIAK does not reinvent the wheel, but they are able to be more than just convincing. Treat it as an exaggeration but they sound as DISARRAY or ZOUO on a faster speed with CONFUSE guitars. ZODIAK is able to push themselves through all the covering accessories and be more interesting even over a timespan of flexi 7”. I would listen to more.

Arseholes PHL 2019 EP flexi

American band consisting members of POLLEN, MAUSER, etc. with a demo tape beside this flexi, sounding like Raped Ass-era ANTI-CIMEX. It could be an educational example of how to play that sort of destructing and non-stop chased hardcore. Normally I find the idea of ANTI-CIMEX riffs cheesy but I do love it when played by its inventor and ARSEHOLES is able to pull out this Excalibur and swing it with confidence. Like scientists or instinctive craftsmen, they apply the rules of thumb for playing such simplified music, that are: it has to be tight, loud and super noisy. The main feature of this record is that it sounds as a huge collapsing building and everything crackles and clatters in a large space. They sacrifice solos at the altar of lo-fi, shit-sound that is always a nice gesture because it keeps treasure hunt for later replays and I am rather interested in the unique production sound than how well could random people play their guitar. By the mixing they have created enough space for the horrific sound that is rumbled all around, so riffs have more room to fall on your brain. Even if everything is familiar here, it’s a short flexi that solely has killer tracks, and due to the format of music the sound will significantly disintegrate by each play, making the record harsher and harsher.  

Attack SS Mask of Those EP

Oh, wow. Wall-of-noise, energy-rush, noise not music, spiked hardcore. An advanced seminar of sound production, due to its on-full spotlight. ATTACK SS is not always fast on this record but even then the loudness, the blasted-echo cave drums, the grooves shaking the room of the record from wall to wall are making the whole 7” so dense it is overloading my senses and places me into the middle of their own chaos. Although ATTACK SS’s chaos is not confusing, it solely operates with huge objects to test my impulse control that tends to surrender. All four songs are bit different enough to make the EP an adventure while a 45 with this production level would be easy to get away with, though they put enough creative energy to the writing as much as only the final number contains an LP-full of ideas. They prove their capabilities in different fields, whether it be a machine-gun-like tempo race in the opening track or a groovy, heavy-crusher mid-tempo number. This is a beast and they are able to control it, with a precision demonstrated by the stop and go parts of the aforementioned closing track. ATTACK SS is up there on the same shelf as FRAMTID, GLOOM, D-CLONE. Buy this and wish for a full-length. 

Glaükoma 4 Track 7″ flexi

Vol. II of Symphony of Destruction’s Flexickers series. GLAÜKOMA is from Belarus, an exotic place when it comes to playing raw hardcore punk. Listening to this record does not differ that much from the experience of attending a basement gig of a foreign band visiting from afar, with the main intention to consume a couple of this and that, then the band starts to play and by the second song all your preconception transforms into enthusiasm, so you leave with their tape and a great memory. The best feature of GLAÜKOMA is how sloppy they are, because these songs could not be better if played tighter, the air in between each one makes the band great and uncommon. It is a visceral attribute, whether luck or talent, it just works. The uncertainty why this is good, the constant chances of failure keep the flexi interesting. To not leave you in the dark, GLAÜKOMA plays threatening, raw but desperate hardcore, coated with the Eastern-European metaphysical sorrow. This is a short flexi with an OK band from an interesting place, I guess if you buy it, you will support Symphony of Destruction’s great mission to release more bands from lesser known places.

Hondartzako Hondakinak Bruiarta 12″

Terrible album cover—sorry, I bet a lot of efforts were invested into it, but even if I do appreciate some forms of landscape art this is still off-putting. I knew HONDARTZAKO HONDAKINAK already, enjoyed their previous 7” and i was glad for crazy hardcore coming out from France. It might be a concept to place alienating elements as first and second impressions because the pointless and gawky intro, with an artificial-theme attempt just aggravated my confusion. Suffer it through, it all worth it because this chute slides you into a pool of sonic madness that recalls Dutch hardcore bands who mixed melody and neckbreak speed fluently well, such as JEZUS AND THE GOSPELFUCKERS, the BLOEDBAD/JETSET split or early FUNERAL ORATION. On this record speed becomes an effect, at its best shape the pace reaches a level when it sounds duplicated and inexact, which generates beautiful disturbance. Then they slow down but unlike in their intro, they can maintain the tension built previously by speed, and the swirling gravity of their songs capture all your attention. When they stomp with the beat, the guitar still wanders off to tangle riff fragments and create entertaining randomness. By melody, imagine even harsher tunes than the fastest HÜSKER DÜ tracks, something close to early OUTPATIENTS. HONDARTZAKO HONDAKINAK is a unique band with a broad spectrum of musical ideas and great skills to incorporate them to create something new, instead of a mix of multiple, and navigate their music around all genre rules. All checked out for a great record.

Permission Organized People Suffer LP

I think more of PERMISSION than I listen to. While they are one of the most reliable current bands in case of ripping hardcore, they also project outsider energy, not mysterious or edgy but very different from their contemporaries. Their music is pure hardcore; this purity carries a lonesome determination that puts PERMISSION’s music into a frame—one that could contain their cover art, too—that separates them from whatever goes on in today’s punk. I already liked NO, their previous bands, and just as the incredibly heightened speed of their music, neither did my attraction ever stop. I dig their consistent aesthetics, it does not feel alienating due to their art-lean, although makes me think that hardcore could connect to other sources than to its own historical self-references. Thus, whenever I hear PERMISSION, they sound as the fastest band alive. Which they are not, but they let me forget about the world outside their music, and while their speed could refer to HERSEY, RIPCORD or NEOS, PERMISSION does more than rebuild their idea from known elements. They practice discipline with never slowing down for mid-tempo stomps or bridges; no, they exist on a hyper-level and whatever idea they have, it must be solved within their self-created physics. While this discipline avoids a cheap show-off of some meticulous precision, even if the songs feel thought-through they are able to disintegrate even when performed in a recording area, which is the biggest achievement when someone is this fast and mostly plays linear riffs, instead of free-form guitar juggling. Each song connects and slips into each other, therefore the whole record makes up one chaotic organization, as their record covers are different caught moments from another single alien world. If the Bruegel-crowd had a soundtrack it would be PERMISSION. Buy their whole discography!  

Carnivorous Bells The Upturned Stone LP

Kudos for the self-invented label Cave Prog. Although CARNIVOROUS BELLS is not a BUTTHOLE SURFERS cover band but a new group of known names from CULT RITUAL/SALVATION circles. Bands who peaked a decade ago and the bits and pieces of hardcore-foreign influnces are testifying that in the past few years these guys might went further in their playlists than MECHT MENSCH and UNITED MUTATION. There is a lot of guitar playing that is experimental and moody enough to evoke some meaner Flying Nun bands while the rhythm section is swinging between jazz and Amphetamine Reptile/Touch & Go noise-rock broken beats. Poured down with hardcore tension while kept in a less distorted, raw-by-loudness enviorment. Occasionally they forget to remain within a song and rather start to jam, and it’s interesting how the influences are laid parallel, never really emulsifying with each other but somehow all adding up to an interesting clamor of adventurous hardcore. Should I go back and check the late-era of SST or October File? I get that CARNIVOROUS BELLS likes hardcore the idea as much as they do enjoy strange sounds from different scenes and they are very confident and successful to blend these alien worlds together. It creates an interesting album. Is it for everyone? Hell no, that would be like recommending Antonioni to a devoted fan of the Die Hard series, and if you do not get what the fuck I am talking about then just leave this record alone. 

Conducta Errátika Represión demo

This release is among the very few best new music. I stopped being optimistic about wonderful-demo bands but dealing with the present, this tape is the essence of great radikal hardcore. It is falling apart between the battle of enthusiasm and pace, therefore it’s as urgent as it grabs and drags you; anger-based total chaotic music from Chile that recalls manics like WRETCHED and ANTI-DOGMATIKSS or the bands and their collective sonic mind fuck of La Ciudad Podrida Vol. I comp or ephemeral group VIXENS. CONDUCTA ERRÁTIKA is unique because they recall and not replay the aforementioned names. Either they understand or relive equivalent frustrating conditions that they are able to translate to music in a similar approach but indistinguishable style. Therefore their music becomes free of the burden of the history of hardcore since it does not have to fit into any templates. The music is raw and careless, raging in each track, its purpose is to create noise that here equals reprisal. The quality of the recording coats each number well, and tells about the circumstances of the band. Everything here integrates into one swirling thunder that aimlessly rumbles. This tape embodies CONDUCTA ERRÁTIKA via all possible features. This is the noise of their lives and I am happy they share it with us. Highly recommended.

Crudez Jungle Jeopardy EP

CRUDEZ looks and plays punk like you imagine the enemies of Robo Cop would prefer. Nasty, Riot City Records soundmark sonic jet guitars, as a pipe of fuzz, laid on a solid but simplified beat. Although the combination between the music and vocals reminds me a lot of classic Swiss bands: the KICK, GLUEAMS sort of distant emotions as the singer exists in her own world, far from the language she sings on, far from the dirty, jiggly guitar sound an inbred mix of MANISCH DEPRESIV and CHAOTIC DISCHORD. It blends great with the additional variety of pogo melody and street blitzkrieg-vibes. The songs do not differ from each other, therefore nine of them in a row is a bit stifling although each song could be 7” material. Let them be your daily dose of international punk!

Out Cold Living Is Killing Me LP

OUT COLD was labeled underrated throughout their whole career—it made them enter the category of your favorite band’s favorite band. Although right now I cannot really name particular bands they have influenced. How Living Is Killing Me sounds has become unique in today’s hardcore as it is raw in a different sense than what the meaning of raw has transformed into. OUT COLD reaches for the purest, unfiltered form, just turning on and up the amp and adding a little distortion, not making it thin, sharp, clean; behind which probably is a thought that this is going to be enough to sound harsh and hard. It’s a brave and wild idea even if a significant part of this LP was recorded at least ten years ago, before Mark Sheehan, their vocalist/guitar player, tragically passed away. How trends circle, this record feels alien today, as if it travelled through time. Although it does not make it ridiculous or even clumsily nostalgic but a lonely beast, something OUT COLD was called in their whole career. It reminds me of those classic USHC bands that are gateway drugs to this culture, but unlike being influenced by predecessors OUT COLD has worked themselves into this established sound that now feels as their own. The tempos are divided between straight-ahead fast and mid-tempo with tension which tracks wander away to rock-ish territories. As an achievement it is wonderful this record has been released. It is the final chapter of OUT COLD but isn’t it silly to always expect that at the end something amazing will happen? It adds to their story but as in life there are peaks and lows and mostly that sedating middles, still it worth to make it through and release everything we can because what is the worst that can happen? Even if you fail at least you fucking tried.

Spraut Det Smutsiga Livet EP

Wish I could judge a record by its first 30 seconds. Then I would be head over heels with SPRAUT since the chaotic, psychedelic start is so good, it would be great to have a record as its extension. I had to collect myself from the shocking moment when they turned it into D-beat and never really came back to experimental-core. Few minutes later I was no longer disappointed—despite the classic gestures of the genre are all here, SPARUT dug backwards to DISCHARGE’s rare moments when their beat turned into rock and roll and you rather care about moving your limbs than ventilating over the Falklands war. Which does not make SPARUT a rock and roll band but the width of their sound is not as expanded as most bands at their playground and this introduces a great contrast between the frightening/threatening atmosphere and the bouncy rhythm of the music. The focused vocals are unique, as it rises over the music and rages on the edge of hysteria. As a matured version of the singer of HUL. Another great thing is the vibration, the way the whole music moves along the record. Overall a solid EP that draws a lot from early European hardcore but self-concious enough to cherry pick the finest parts of it as a modern interpretation.  

Unarm The Voice from Forced Silence EP

UNARM is not a newcomer to the crasher game, this release is the 7” version of a promo tape made for their Scandinavian tour in 2018. Took several listens to cut through the usual gimmicks of the style—the wall-of-noise sound, a pace so fast its density makes the rhythm billow, how overwhelming the whole production is. Which are great features when you would like to listen to modern crasher crust/D-beat/high energy hardcore played in boots, but without much else these easily do blur many bands into one featureless bunch. Then what is special in UNARM? They do not drench their whole sound in the noise-not-music aesthetics; instead they occasionally introduce a good amount of melody and their pedals are not only here to blur the guitar sound but to elevate it. I love how the bass sounds in the third song when it switches from being this huge physical thing that, along with the drums, rolls over everything to a groovy psych element. The chaos of the last song is great, almost makes the whole record a warm up for that. If you pay enough attention, there are pieces of a puzzle scattered all over the record that make it a bit more than a great exercise of an already solid artifact. I would like it to be more radical but fuck me, UNARM does whatever they want, and if you are up for exploring entertaining tricks within a sonic warfare, this record can be your field of experiment.

V/A Diamond Distance & Liquid Fury: Sonny Vincent Primitive 1969-76 LP

Sometimes when punx who exclusively listen to punk rock accidentally encounter music from somewhere else and it does not suck, in their confusion the review and redistribution of the modified definition of punk rock starts to tame their minds. This explains when some tried to convince the world that a certain type of fast, electronic music is the new punk, or free jazz is punk. Occasionally it gets real chaotic and hardcore is called folk music. Side note: right now it’s 2020 and even if you have the words punk and hardcore tattooed on your body it is fine to own parts of the Acutel series or microdose yourself at some contemporary classical music event and tell your fellow radical rockers: you had a great Tuesday evening at this gallery where the performance took place. You basically can do whatever the fuck you want and within this freedom I state: this record is not punk at all. Which does not mean it is bad, because it is decent music that my dad would appreciate, too—but don’t worry, he does not possess a leather vest, nor wears a man bun, instead he was jamming me MC5 and ART ENSEMBLE OF CHICAGO when I was around eight years old. This record sends me into that period when playing rock and roll was a radical act, tap water contained LSD, hippies started cults and robbed banks, and wars were either proxy or cold. Although it is a compilation of bands (FURY, DISTANCE, LIQUID DIAMONDS, TESTORS) which all had SONNY VINCENT, the proper curation made the record consistent yet varied enough not to ever become boring. Sound-wise the tracks are on the edge of psychedelic rock but no real chaotic mumbo-jumbo, rather large, extended solos. Everything is sweaty-face-in-trance-desperation tight, mostly mid tempo and big riffs accompany male sorrow. The atmosphere of the record is dirty, tired, coming down from a trip and looking either for epiphany while staring into the rising sun or for scavenging for an early breakfast before fainting onto a dirty mattress. It is closer to ROKY ERICKSON than to STOOGES, definitely not glam at all and also distant from the proto-punk art rock of the VELVET UNDERGROUND. In case you are done with the one-finger solos used on two-thirds of your hardcore songs, here is a whole catalog to lift ideas from, or in case you like to consume weed and get lost in classic sounding but still rocking albums or to be a rock dad with obscure knowledge, this can be your pick. It’s a fun listen.

Gess Suffer Damage LP

I was afraid I would fail trying to tell the history of GESS, but the insert helps me out. They formed in ’83 when they were 15 years old and this record—which is their demo tape—came out a year later. Not until ’86 did members from CONFUSE and SIEG HEIL join. If you are into this sort of history, go get General Speech and More Noize zines and get educated and laugh on my ignorance. Anyway, this release is the first vinyl edition of the demo tape of the band that is pure noise-core madness. Guitars are distorted into one annoying line of noise, and within this chaotic thread of buzz I found all the beauty of the world; the bass is interpretable and dynamic compared to some of their successors where it is just dumb (but great) poking. The beat is constantly pumping although the endless noise, introducing a sort of monotony that prevents you from catching a heart attack. Makes me wonder if it is the beat that is monotonous or the guitar, though I focus on the guitar; the whole band is all over the place and it feels as if it is spinning around in a museum. Synthesizing what’s going on here would result in rudimental punk songs performed with enthusiasm, but the point is that you should synthesize my ass! GESS is great because 15-year-old kids in Japan thought that they would make the noisiest music that sounds as my grandma would imagine hell—the singer does sound like a possessed person—and how they heard DISCHARGE and possibly DISORDER in their head. What’s even better is that decades later whole record labels, festivals, genres, lives are spent on hailing this radically pioneer approach that sadly has become a strict establishment that is rarely renewed despite the liberating idea of the brave approach of creating a unique sound. Beside the Suffer Damage tape on side A, there is a live recording on side B and props to then-current technology that both recording sound the same. A CD is also included with two gigs from the Violent Party Gigs series, but I have no idea where to put that in. The vinyl plays great both on 33 1⁄3 and 45 rpm. The review is based on both paces.

Salón Dadá Ensayo 1986 EP

Rehearsal recording from a Peruvian band, playing post-punk that is delinquent, fragile in the best possible meaning. Four songs balancing on the sharp edge of melancholy and beauty, reminisces me of depressed Sunday afternoons that I spent in the piss-like yellow light of the setting sun in rotting post-Soviet buildings. It is that sort of post-punk where the band takes punk towards its establishment; the music starts to wobble and everything gets interesting. SALÓN DADÁ’s energy is between the sharp leads of their exploring guitar and the low-key singing that, due to the recording quality, feels sometime as whispers. The sound is dragged through and it’s hard to decide whether to dance to it or start chain smoking. I wish the sound quality was better, while I appreciate that music makes me wish, so I can relate to their struggle—listening to songs that should have been made into a proper recording so they could be played at dance nights for misfits, and now it only lives in my imagination, therefore it feels personal. I wonder if a rehearsal tape of a Peruvian punk band recorded in ’86 is praised in 2020 then what is not possible? Go start a band!

Wardogs It’s Time to Fight! LP

I love Italian hardcore and I have never heard of WARDOGS although this is not a review of how big a poser I am. Rather a praise to F.O.A.D. who restored this demo tape from ’83 and added a live recording too, as a tip. No idea how this band could get lost because they play top quality Italian hardcore just as urgent and weltering around as WRETCHED or early RAPPRESAGLIA, although WARDOGS include strange but great intros for some of their songs that remind me of lo-fi, damaged Our Band Could Be Your Life post-hardcore room recordings. The live recording is even crazier, super fast and recalls Finnish hyper-speed bands like SORTO, sparkled with one-finger solos, then they go into a rage that runs between DEEP WOUND/early SEBADOH that is followed by SIEGE-esque proto-grind and their Grim Reaper madness. The band just does not stop and even when the songs seem to be over they keep making nonsense noise. Even if I haven’t heard of WARDOGS before, I love them now. 

X2000 Pensionär EP

X2000 awakes heavy BETONG HYSTERIA vibes on their first 7″, blending spooky and headstrong chorus-drenched riffs with determined minimalist punk beats. It’s either how the record or the band sounds, but the repressed energy and craziness under a sealed surface reminds me of RUDIMENTARY PENI. X2000 guitars are not minimalist repetition but wired through the whole music as a snake traps its prey, almost Paganicons-ish, yet X2000 is a hardcore band that channels a lot of anarcho-punk sounds and sinking world feelings into their sound. Their singer has a great desperate voice, one that sounds like he filters the world through some of the previously mentioned band’s booklets. The world is rotting and X2000 documents it genuinely. The band is from Göteborg singing in Spanish. What else do you want to know? Consume it you idiot!

Appäratus Absürd 19 LP

Worship mode on full blast, disguised as a Scandinavian ripper. APPÄRATUS hails from Malaysia although the music is homage heavy enough that it could be from anywhere. If anything, this is the central challenge of getting into this record; everything is in its place—mastered to crawl out of the speakers, riffs at a wall breaker pace, mercilessly pounding beats, great production and excellent delivery—yet it is only occasionally more than a plastic definition of raw D-beat mangel. I can see them being hyped to play these songs live, and there is no doubt that they are mad angry at the world (and I highly appreciate the “fuck it, we like this” attitude behind putting two cover songs, D.T.A.L. and D.N.A., on the LP) but I miss the madness. Without madness it’s just exercise. Danger makes punk great but here the only danger is whether they are able to perform what is supposed to be D-beat. Yes, they can play it, but greatness is not supposed to happen, it just does and then carelessly creates something new. In case you are not looking for a reinvention of the genre but rather a new addition to the roster of reliables, then Absürd 19 is a safe pick.

Bayonet Taste of Piss 1982-1983 LP

Everyone and their mom in Finland at the beginning of the ’80s were in a hardcore band that played the best music. BAYONET is another good example of how obscurity does not always equal mediocracy. On the contrary, they should have been mentioned among KAAOS, SORTO, KANSAN UUTISET, BASTARDS, etc., yet their demo was stuffed in someone’s drawer. Now the Italian label FOAD—who are making crazy reissues—are serving justice to BAYONET, collecting and dusting off their demos, rehearsal tapes, and live recordings. All of it raw stuff within the timespan of a year, documenting young folks forming hardcore with their ideas and going dumb savage on their instruments, using them as channels for their angst to explode. There is no filter between them and their music, it is the way it is because that was inside them. The freedom is bursting from the songs: uncontrolled, unadjusted, unaligned zig-zag riffs, one-finger solos, mindless drum beats, and the ceaseless uptempo of the whole band guarantees a loony bin vibe where the crazier a sonic idea is the better. Hardcore is international and BAYONET is a great addition to its history.

Mars Mars Archives Volume 3: N.N. End LP

Collection of live recordings of the No York epitome. It’s live in a barely-produced way, not making favors for the listeners who have to get into both MARS and this recording quality. MARS was the type of No Wave band that focused a lot on guitars. It feels in general as though we were teleported into the body of a guitar—that is how loud it is. Instinctively primitive or thought-out compositions, I cannot tell, but it is as experimental as art, which makes people feel uncomfortable. So heads can be scratched to what the fuck is happening here, but all you need to focus on whether you enjoy it or not. It’s super noisy, chaotic, destructive, sometimes violent, sometimes dreamy guitar music. It’s dense but not fast, as repetitive as meditation while never getting boring. Songs sound like someone just recorded how rusty iron bars were drawn around on a rustic surface while some disturbed person was yelling in the back. Or a car was beaten with baseball bats while people had intercourse in it. But it is a record; therefore you can enjoy all these surreal soundscapes from the safety of your home, or be brave and take it out to anywhere with your portable listening device. The idea is that you are just as free as MARS, who here are collecting some of the extremes of being human and playing it through who knows what. You can study art and have some highbrow opinion of what they do, but really if you like noise and you think life is crazy, then take a try with this record.

TST Gimme Gimme the Shock Treatment 2xLP

Double LP compilation of TST’s early records between ’81-’83, excluding All Through The Night and its stadium hair metal vibe. A lot of songs, but what is more challenging is to wander away from listening to them. Somehow the whole collection carries this natural flow to it, while the songs vary between STOOGES-wanting-to-play-hardcore and the whole palate of KBD melodies, heaviness, nastiness and pace demonstrated in a first class style. I prefer the songs that are held back by some sort of a Sunday afternoon hungover melancholy, when you are slow enough to realize the cold war is still on, you are an outsider, and it just passes but never ends. When they go hardcore they avoid becoming ridiculous, although this is not the spiked mangel you might expect from a Swedish band. Beside being TST’s early discography, this collection presents how punk had transformed within a short timespan, and how that time was packed with influences that easily penetrated a band’s sound. Even in the swirl of changes, TST could keep an individual sound—yet my advice for listening to this collection would be to take breaks, and search for your favorite era and sound because in its whole it starts to feel like a kid flaunting that they did all their homework.

Vole Dej Bůh Pěstí LP

This album is a strange beast. It’s loud, unstoppable and integrates savage moments from out-for-blood, no-mercy hardcore à la the Youth Attack roster; evil noise rock without the high-brow irony; blast-beat chaos from those hand-drawn, creature-covered basement tape death metal bands; feverish psychedelia; and mixes all together as it becomes this weird pulp what’s only purpose is to fuck you up, while it avoids being an embarrassing mess where you only hear the influences and not the unique vision of a band. Dej Bůh Pěstí is self-confident terror that reveals the ugliness of human minds. It’s great with how much ease the band drops their different ideas throughout the songs, whether it be tempo changes, spoken word-ish ramblings, squeezing all life out from the guitars. Crawl out from your pathetic comfort zone and check out VOLE from Prague!

Aktitud 69 Zonas Marginadas LP

AKTITUD 69 is actually MASSACRE 68 from Mexico, and these songs, despite being released in 2019, were recorded not long after the band’s great ¡No Estamos Conformes! LP (probably in 1991). Why does the cover have an AKTITUD 69 label stamped over probably a MASSACRE 68 logo, why did it take this long for the songs to resurface, why the name change? These questions should be answered by investigative journalism and not by dumb record reviews. MASSACRE 68 was in line with the tupa-tupa cave beat, occasionally chaotic-fast/ocassionally groovy-three-chords hardcore that was not afraid to torture some of the high strings with solos. Topping it with their singer who has the voice of a maniac leader, spitting his furious rants. For context, their contemporaries were XENOFOBIA, SEDICION, M.E.L.I., ATOXXXICO, and SOLUCION MORTAL. Since this is all lost and found, there is no question that they rip. It’s fast, intense, frightening hardcore that flirts with tension building, epic atmosphere, and other unusual parts that vary from sheer brain hammering. They both can, and enjoy, performing this record. But song after song, something is lacking. The sound of an album is the invisible instrument of the band. Shit-fi quality supports a great hardcore record—Zonas Marginadas sounds large, as it has the ambition to meet the virtual standards that no one actually ever sets, but when it’s pursued in a manipulated environment, it always traps the music. Although here, the urgency is able to sneak fractions of songs out from the engineering dungeon. This is the interesting conflict of the album, as it struggles to sound self-confident in a foreign role, but the best parts are when the music is about to fall out from the band’s hand, because they forget about themselves. It is still enjoyable, but the length of the songs, the distance between the band and how their record sounds, and some of the writing solutions degrade it to background hardcore. Those who hate the lo-fi noises of early recordings should get this because AKTITUD 69 is a great band who has an OK record for you.

Impulso Costante Ossessione EP

Second 7″ from Trento’s IMPULSO falls on the listener as an unstoppable bomb that has your name written on it. Sounds clean as most of the modern hardcore records but it also makes the writing ability of the band transparent. Most of the linear riffs are balanced with interesting switches on the rhythm formula; even the mid-tempo songs are full-speed-ahead-paced but held back on a chain that is about to break. There is a great use of the two guitars and a bouncy groove roams between each part. As if I were standing under a waterfall—this is how packed the devastating flood of these songs hits. The only thing I cannot do is to throw around classic Italian hardcore bands as comparison points. Unlike other current acts who exist from the predecessor’s influences, IMPULSO rather understood what made that scene great and they brought back the idea to be inventive and fuck all rules.

Malaria! Compiled 2.0 LP

MALARIA! was a German experimental/weird proto-electronic band, and Complied 2.0 collects their singles from 1981-84 and their debut LP Emotions. For those who do not consider MALARIA! essential: they play minimal beat/rigid vocal, heavy-restricted-power-therefore-tension-overdosed music that today would fit rather the vibe of Wire rather than MRR. Each song has a limited amount of tools by which to fill the sound space, and most of the time, there are just one or two additional elements to the music other than the beat and vocals: be it mutant synth, loud piano, sharp guitars, or tortured saxophone. Yet the songs are masterfully crafted and sound much more, exemplifying the idea that you can do whatever you want with whatever you have. MALARIA! was able to reach it, and they still sounded pretty radical. This music will not cheer you up, but this is not gloomy post-punk, it is possessed proto-techno that focuses on people and everyday life within industrialized loud cities and robotic behaviours. It’s several great records packed as one that also emancipates you from scam artists who would swear they are selling you the original copies in near-mint condition, and then you would have to investigate what the hell those weird stains on the cover are. Get this!

Rakta Falha Comum LP

RAKTA  seems to be constantly all around the world, dropping new records, changing members along the road while not only maintaining but upgrading their sound. All the events around them did not exhaust but enforced their sound. For proof here is Falha Comum, another LP from one of the hardest working bands in the business. They create an otherworldly environment with multiple layers of spaced-out sounds based on the collision of bass and drums that are primal instruments and electronics that supply the unclassified noise ornaments. Rhythm-centric music covered with alien noises both feels as a ritual and the epiphany itself, thus a whole process that moves you through stations. It travels via a childlike state where due to unfamiliar surroundings and confusing circumstances everything is frightening and enchanting at the same time, but time seems slower due to the eventful ceremony. It works as well as the songs after a point evolve to scenes that blend in to an experience. The spooky, surreal, beautiful atmosphere is almost touchable and through its pigeon holes leaks the haunted, echoed-out howling which reminds us that the environment has been created through people. The density of the record is loading a lot on the listener, yet when it’s over, silence sounds harsh.

Sniper Culture Combat Rock EP

Judging by the cover, what would you think? Well, Oi!-influenced hardcore is cognitive dissonance. I get the fetishized ultra-violent skinhead vibe, male gazing a male fantasy but Oi!, after all, is pub rock and power pop about working the worst shift and fighting, and it’s hard rock with your neighbor yelling at its tough sound. These bomber jacket and combat-obsessed bands are more influenced by Romper Stomper than BLITZ. If I were blindfolded and not aware of the title of the record nor the weightlifting dude on the cover, i’d say the following: SNIPER CULTURE sounds like a contemporary hardcore band who were too lazy/troubled to bring their own gear to the show, so they borrowed everything from a CHAOS UK/DISORDER-worshipping band, left all the settings unadjusted, and just started to play their simplified, but arrestingly groovy hardcore. Reminds me of URBAN WASTE who, without context, are more a noise band than New York Hardcore. Repeated listens help dig through the layers of noise. The tempo changes smoothly between lose-your-shit-fast and push-the-whole-room-mid-tempo. Then it all ends with a cover of “Bloodstains.” This is good, and if this is only the beginning, then it is even better.