Reviews

MRR #12 • March 1984

A.W.O.L. demo cassette

A fairly original 15-song demo with some good musicianship, fairly non-standard structures, and really gruff vocals. Most of the tempos are medium to medium-fast.

Akutt Innleggelse Søppel cassette

This young Norwegian band originally intended to put out an EP, but they weren’t completely satisfied with it. Here, they sound fine to me. The vocals and guitar kick, and the rhythm ain’t bad either. AKUTT INNLEGGELSE will soon become one of the many startlingly hot Scandinavian groups, in my opinion.

The Ex / Alerta The Red Dance Package split 12″

Two Dutch bands join efforts on this four-song maxi-EP. ALERTA’s earlier material was extremely dissonant, but here they join the ranks of the SEX GANG CHILDREN/X-MAL DEUTSCHLAND school of new Euro-hits. On the other hand, the EX is now more aggressive than they’ve been in a while, even though they’ve always produced interesting post-punk. “Crap Rap” is a fast, thickly layered chant that sounds as if CRASS merged with the FALL, and I think it’s really great. An interesting and worthwhile offering.

American Social Holocaust New Alliances cassette

This is a well-produced demo by a group who were once called FUTURE RUIN. It’s no instant classic, but there are certain twists here that make for enjoyable listening. They’ve got potential, and the tape is well worth the “price” (S.A.S.E.).

Arcata Boys Choir Drug Free Youth cassette

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

Bad Posture C/S 12″

The eight tracks on this release showcase BAD POSTURE’s hysterical brand of aggressive funnypunk to its best advantage. The title song and “Time for Smack” are good examples of this band’s abrasive, mid- to fast-tempo hardcore assault, and while I admire their on-target lyric sense, the song structures could use more catchiness and originality as a rule. Nonetheless, there are some nice, gravelly vocals on this entertaining disc, so give it a listen.

Blight The Dream Was Dead EP

The long-awaited release by an inactive band featuring Steve Miller—ex-FIX guitarist—and dear ol’ Tesco (MEATMEN), getting down and dirty in a slow, noisy, art-damaged, and—dare I suggest—FLIPPERish drone with the purity of true nihilists. I find it a little refreshing in a musical sense, and a fine way to start my day if I don’t want to get out of bed.

Borscht Primitive Borscht cassette

Nine songs in a melodic thrash mold that’s more reminiscent of certain SoCal bands like the ADOLESCENTS than the East Coast approach. Musically, it’s really tight and fairly zesty, and the lyrics are also generally coherent (though there are occasional examples of retardo stuff, both intentional and unintentional).

Box of Fish Erosion / Sex Cat Killer 7″

On this Australian post-punk release, a noisy fuzz guitar overlays heavy bass and drum rhythms, thereby setting an ominous tone. While it may be a bit repetitious, there are definitely some original ideas here.

Breakouts No More 12″

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

Broken Bones Decapitated EP

This scion from the DISCHARGE family tree performs highly metallic, fast-tempo hardcore with considerable abandon, and provides some moments of blistering intensity. Aside from the tasty bass guitar licks on “Problem,” however, the three songs on this EP owe a great deal more to strong production than distinctive songwriting. BROKEN BONES fail to innovate with this release.

City X Dansende Drenge EP

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

Cock Sparrer Shock Troops LP

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

Condemned to Death D-Day EP

I like C2D because they epitomize the late SF “vat” soul. Here, they offer six ripping semi-thrash numbers that are real spirited. The songs are good and rousing, but they constantly remind me of other bands. Still, it’s hard not to like them.

Confederate Surrender or Just Fight LP

Some classic SoCal sounds are captured on CONFEDERATE’s debut album. With its melodic guitars and songs, multi-tracked vocals, and fine production (courtesy of ex-ADOLESCENT Rikk Agnew), the listener is treated to a non-innovative but enjoyable release, not unlike the VANDALS’ debut.

Crass You’re Already Dead EP

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

Crowbar Hippie Punks / White Riot 7″

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

Decry Symptoms of Hate EP

A proficient debut EP from this LA band. The lyrics are thoughtful, the production is good, and the delivery is fast, but they tend to reduce the songs to a formula by throwing in similar breaks and changes of tempo that confuse me. Although they show potential, it needs to be developed. Not bad.

Depression Money Chain EP

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

Destrucktions Vox Populi LP

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

Destructors TV Eye EP

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

Dicks Peace? EP

Here are three ditties that rouse all the “protest and survive” sentiments you might need. “No Fuckin’ War” is a slow, grueling masterpiece that’s simple but powerful, and will have you singing along before the end. The other songs are short, quickly delivered minor chord headbangers in the best of the new DICKS style. I especially like “I Hope You Get Drafted,” an unrelenting anti-stupidity song directed at “apolitical” punks, which I’d like to see being sung in the streets, busses, and homes all over the world. Somebody finally had the guts to come right out and say it.

DOA General Strike / That’s Life 7″

A new release that exemplifies DOA’s movement toward traditional rock music (at least on record). The A-side is an appeal to people to stand up for their rights and join in a general strike, reflecting the mood in British Columbia in November of ’83. It’s set to music that “sounds like FOREIGNER,” according to a famous friend of ours. The B-side is that awful SINATRA song. Enough said.

Don’t Know No Is All He Knows cassette

This is a pretty good thrash debut. While DON’T NO don’t break any new ground, they do have snap. The drumming and bass playing are hot, the vocals have back-ups, and the lyrics are pretty sharp, with a definite straight edge bent to them.

DRI Violent Pacification EP

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

Electric Deads Mind Bomb EP

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

End Result Eeeeee cassette

Some of the most intense yet catchy thrash to come out of Australia thus far. This well-produced tape bodes very well for the scene “down under,” even if it does have a heavily produced English accent.

Enola Gay 317 Nitter cassette

A 12-song studio demo that’s well-produced. It’s got that chunky drumming that I don’t go for too much, but the guitar sound and vocals are real good, and it’s real powerful overall. The main problem with ENOLA GAY is that they rely a bit too much on the basic repetitive thrash structure. More variation would help.

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

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

Fatal Vision Zeitgeist cassette

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

Final Conflict In the Family EP

This four-track effort presents thrash of screaming intensity and instrumental punch, addressing themes of teenage angst and rebellion. FINAL CONFLICT is particularly adept at compositions with dramatic yet subtle changes of pace, like the title song and the clever steamroller, “Self-Defeated.” Heartfelt, riveting, and therefore highly recommended.

Genocide Association Sonik Lobotomy cassette

An amazing 105-track demo that sharply hauls forth wild typhoon madness in incredible bounds. This would be a gigantic English thrash express, but with very close listenings, I noticed that some of the music wasn’t even theirs! A lot of your faves are here—B.G.K., TERVEET KÄDET, CRUDE S.S., GANG GREEN, and more—overdubbed with GENOCIDE ASSOCIATION’s exhilarating lyrics and vocal tracks. It sounds great, but I don’t think this is fair to the bands that made the music, do you?

Guana Batz You’re So Fine EP

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

Hated Principles The Curse of Prince Hated EP

HATED PRINCIPLES’ song structures may not be as provocative as they really should on this five-song debut EP, but their lyric sentiments and engaging sense of humor add spunk to this effort. “Burn Those Churches” has a satiric outrage worth of GG ALLIN, as well as a welcome thrashy power, while the other compositions mine equally nasty concerns with less musical aplomb.

Hollands Glorie Harde Feiten LP

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

Hollywood Autopsy Hollywood Autopsy LP

PiL meets the SHAGGS, CRAMPS, and BUTTHOLE SURFERS on a bad ’60s acid trip, stumble over FLIPPER’s corpse, and rise (barely) above the basement. Enter the ghost of the 13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS, and you have it. These guys prove that SKY SAXON is dead!

Hunting Lodge Night from Night / Untitled 7″

The rhythmic, discordant compositions on this single plumb the same nether-regions of industrial music as SPK, but with more insistent repetitiveness. Both tracks here follow in the same path as the band’s Will LP, and while there are no revelations, the music is solid and often quite hypnotic.

Jerk Ward Inside My Mind cassette

This very young punk band—mostly 14-year olds—thrash and growl their way out of the garage. There are a whole slew of songs here, pretty roughly produced, and they have their say on a whole range of subjects. The guitar work shows promise, and there are some truly crazed items thrown in.

Kangrena Terrorismo Sonoro EP

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

Kansan Uutiset Beautiful Dreams LP

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

KGB Treblinka / Luftwaffe 7″

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

Kidnap Il Faudra Bien Qu’un Jour Tout Change EP

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

Larsen ¡No! 12″

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

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

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

Maho Neitsyt Tehdaskaupungin Lapset EP

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

Malinheads Probegepogt Aus Spandau EP

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

Mau Maus Live at the Marples LP

Here’s a budget-priced live album with at least sixteen tracks and a whole booklet with every fact you’d ever want to know about the MAU MAUS. The quality is definitely live, which they apologize for on the sleeve, but it’s got the energy that every live recording should have. This band is one of the first English bands to be inspired by US thrash, and they’re still good, though at this point somewhat ordinary. Regardless, if you like powerful punk, this is a good deal.

Mental Crisis Rules of Conduct cassette

A gut-punching guitar yields a sonic storming of galloping action. Young, unyielding aggression pumps out some fast mayhem that crosses into dreary slow tempos, then pushes back in full maniac fashion. Reminiscent of early 7 SECONDS, this Missouri outfit needs to grow with the sound they are establishing. The enthusiasm and punch is strong, and there’s a dizzying barrage of splashing melodies, but the unoriginal drumming needs its own style. MENTAL CRISIS could be a potential menace.

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

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

Mr. Epp and the Calculations Live as All Get Out cassette

A 26-song live collection that’s real nifty. Whether FLIPPER-ish noise stuff or MEATMEN-like garage semi-thrash, it’s all powerful, intelligent, and biting. The sound quality varies from track to track, but for lovers of feedback, it’s perfect. Recommended.

Murphy’s Law Bong Blast cassette

Some real silliness from this New York outfit. Musically, it consists of thrash, punk, metal, and reggae all thrown together in a humorous way. Lyrically, I wouldn’t want to think that these guys are serious, because the ideas are even more goofy than the musical arrangements.

Negativ Glitter Hair Cream / Terrorist 7″

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

Negative Approach Tied Down LP

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

Negative Element Gone Fishing cassette

Forty-five—count ‘em—forty-five songs are on this tape, probably this Chicago band’s entire repertoire. Unfortunately, you can’t really hear too much because of the sound quality, mostly live and garage tracks that are almost buried beneath the rumble. You can barely hear some cool shit going on, but this one’s more of an artifact.

Nukkateateri Toinen Näytös / Vastusta nyt Kieltäydy 12″

This release marks a big change of direction for Finland’s NUKKETEATERI. They’ve moved from fast, hook-filled punk to irritating post-punk with a scratchy guitar, a fluid bass, a spry tempo, and an exceptionally annoying trumpet! I can’t figure out which song is which, but I like this band a lot better before.

Nyx Negativ Nyx Negativ cassette

Rapid-fire spears of crunching velocity and severing vocals of raucous scurry carry this Swedish band into blasting raids of accelerating eruptions. Forged in raw, harsh power and torpedoing speed, NYX NEGATIV continue the growing headlong attack of Swedish thrash intensity. Buzzsaw guitar slices hack out chaotic rhythms that rip the flesh in bloody convulsions. Full steam ahead!

Otto’s Chemical Lounge Fire EP

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

Outerwear Outerwear Limits cassette

OUTERWEAR mainly presents slower, metallish thrash with lyrics that strain to cover the irrelevant. It looks as if these stimulus-starved Ohioans did too much LSD. Over the course of 24 songs, they scream and slither their way into the sicker corners of your heart. Outta sight.

Pandemonium Who the Fuck Are You? EP

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

Plain Wrap Time to Change cassette

PLAIN WRAP plays tight, trebly, frantic thrash and punk with melodies. They remind me a little of the DK’s, both musically and in the narratives, which sometimes are more like tales. An excellent beginning, so look out for them.

Poison Girls Seven Year Scratch 2xLP

This two-album set rates as good value for those who enjoy the socially conscious and unusual pop stylings of the POISON GIRLS. Album 1 combines unreleased and classic P.G. material, some of it out of print for years, while the other disc contains live tracks from a number of vintage concerts. As a retrospective, Seven Year Scratch shows the POISON GIRLS’ original music-making off superbly, and I’m sure that fans of both punk and pop will find much of value in this document.

Primer Grey Evil Eyes cassette

An eight-cut demo from still another young thrash outfit. It’s a bit generic and sloppy, as it seems to be a live recording, but remember that they’re from Bakersfield (home of MERLE HAGGARD), which is enough reason to support these lads. Actually, there are some sparks of originality—”Hey You” has a certain FEEDERZ feel—so give them time.

Private Outrage Life and Production cassette

A budding original approach from this new band (see Northern California scene report for more info). They combine certain aspects of the early Germs sound with garage and post-punk qualities, and have interesting lyrics. It should be fun to watch them grow.

Protest Vinyl Overload EP

Skunking punk that chants, howls, and whines. In “Oppressed,” a haunting bass line echoes in the foreground as a whipping guitar cry plucks distorted noise in an early GANG OF FOUR-meets-Oi fashion, a very sharp arrangement with chomping drum spatters. It’s been a while since PROTEST have had a vinyl release, and with these singalongs and foot stompers, they come out sounding like a very mature SHAM 69 or COCKNEY REJECTS. An enjoyable dose of difference.

Pukes Macho cassette

With a name like that, it’s gotta be “punk rock,” right? Right! It’s like a flashback to ’78 or something, which can be both fun and a bit tedious. The PUKES have an American style of early punk—slow, garagey, and sometimes silly. The cool part lies in being able to hear the snarly lyrics that jump all over jocks, patriots, and parents in a sarcastic manner.

Raped Teenagers War Child cassette

A strong politically minded band from Sweden in the vein of DISCHARGE, including the metal-laced flailing. Quick, turbulent charges of headlong crudeness, dished up with unclean vocal crassness. The recording of this tape is poor, which dampens a lot of the fire, but the effort is still overwhelming in abrasive force. Powerful and creative.

Red Alert There’s a Guitar Burning 12″

This six-track EP by a veteran skunk outfit fails to generate much in the way of interesting songwriting or forcefulness. While “The Revolution Will Come” rates moderately well for some tasty riffing and snippets of melody, the rest of the compositions here seem rather generic, and the lyrics are especially unchallenging. All in all, tiresome.

Rights of the Accused Mean People Suck cassette

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

Riot Squad No Solution / Government Scheme 7″

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

Screaming Dead Paint It Black / Warriors 7″

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

Sector Four Disc-Lexia EP

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

Septic Death Need So Much Attention 12″

Heh, heh. After Pushead’s wisecracks at the beginning of his column, I can’t wait to review his band’s record. Unfortunately, it’s good. Oh, well. Actually, it’s ferocious. It combines the manic attack of the Boston bands with the recklessness of the best Finnish and Swedish thrash groups. Being a perfectionist, the Pus has worked long and hard on his debut, with excellent results. It should serve as a lesson for many young bands—wait until you’ve got it together before going public. This shreds.

Sick Things The Legendary Sick Things EP

An enigma. The band is English, and all we know is that this EP was recorded in ’77 and has just now been released. It’s not half-bad either, sort of a cross between the early AVENGERS and X-RAY SPEX, with its catchy tunes and a female vocalist.

Skeletal Family She Cries Alone / The Wind Blows 7″

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

Sluggo Contradiction EP

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

Soldier Dolls What Do They Know? EP

Three songs whose high points are often dissonant, fuzzy guitar leads. The rest is nothing new, just fairly fast-paced punk with good production. Like I said, the guitar work is the SOLDIER DOLLS’ strength, and hopefully they’ll accentuate it even more in future releases.

Sonic Youth Kill Yr Idols 12″

We fucked up by not reviewing their recent US release, so here’s one of the European debut of this New York combo. They’re sort of a refreshing throwback to the “No Wave” era in NYC, especially in the singing and guitar parts, but they’ve infused it with certain English- or German-style post-punk constructions. It all adds up to “art with an edge.” Lyle H’s fave.

Spike in Vain Disease Is Relative LP

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

SPK Auto-Da-Fé LP

This retrospective album by the current leaders of the industrial noise set features some remarkable material. Side one contains tracks from SPK’s out-of-print Australian singles, including classic cuts like “Kontakt” and “Mekano,” while the flip features studio material previously heard on their Live at the Crypt tape. Auto-Da-Fe has obvious moments of unevenness and even tedium, but the best compositions here possess astonishing rawness and power.

Stigmathe Suoni Puri Dalla Liberta EP

This Italian punk outfit plays pre-eminently catchy mid-to-fast tempo stuff, and seems to have an exceptionally fine sense of orchestration. Production is a problem, though—the drums and vocals are up front in the mix, guitars in the back, which detracts from the level of power this record could have had. Nonetheless, the songwriting is excellent, particularly on the gripping “Corri e sopravivi.” A promising release.

Target of Demand Man’s Ruin 12″

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

Tesco Vee Dutch Hercules 12″

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

The Burnt The M.P. EP

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

The Dickies Stukas Over Disneyland 12″

The DICKIES’ first vinyl in almost four years ranks up there near their previous funnypunk triumphs. Most of the eight songs here veer toward amphetamine pop, with irresistible layered choruses to boot, but the highlights include the poppish “Rosemary,” “She’s a Hunchback,” and an incredibly fast cover of LED ZEP’s “Communication Breakdown.” Buoyant and entertaining as hell!

The Faith Subject to Change 12″

What can I say? Wherever MINOR THREAT left off, FAITH might be able to step in. Even though I worry that they might be too much of a sound-alike, they’re cool. They play fast songs, slower songs, and songs with shifting tempos, to which they add interesting studio bits, a lot of spirit and energy, and sincere discussions about the day-to-day aspects of their lives. Could become a classic.

The Knuckleheads Destroy Discipline cassette

The KNUCKLEHEADS offer mostly mid-tempo thrash with metal influences. Again, there’s nothing new here—it’s well done but predictable, including the themes. But again, given where they come from, it’s probably not at all predictable and generic.

The March Violets Snake Dance / Slow Drip Lizard 7″

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

The Insane / The Skeptix split 7″

A good double-billed 7”. The INSANE offer a mid-tempo number with a wall of guitars and a great singalong chorus; the SKEPTIX’ cut alternates between slow-building parts and thrash. Worthy material and hot production make this a winner.

The Varukers Led to the Slaughter EP

Flailing guitars, a tight rhythm section, and choruses that stick in your head combine to make this new VARUKERS EP a stellar release. Every song hits you over the head, so snap this sucker up.

The Zero Point Ha!! EP

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

Toreros After Ole Porom Pom Pero 12″

A seven-song treat from Spain. Most of it is medium to fast HC, but not your run-of-the-bull thrash. It’s got unique twists, insistent drumming and bass playing, fuzzy rhythm guitar leads, and vocals that remind me of Fabio from OLHO SECO—gruff but clear. Simple, yet appealingly distinct.

Toxic Reasons Kill By Remote Control LP

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

Ultimo Resorte Una Causa Sin Fondo 12″

Tight, speedy charges of Spanish thrash from ULTIMO RESORTE. Crying female vocals in the vein of RUBELLA BALLET or DIRT, but with their own passionate touch, combined with overall compositions of rapid high-hat/snare slashes and fiery guitar licks, make this a power-packed barrage of dispatched happiness. If there were a hardcore Sesame Street, I have the feeling that this band would do the theme song. Unquestionably a fun possession.

Uproar Nothing Can Stop You EP

The third 7” from UPROAR isn’t bad, it just goes in one ear and out the other. It has great production, good lyrics, and I really like the song “Your Empire,” but it sounds like a million other English punk records.

Utopian Peace Movement A Year in the Making cassette

A “greatest hits” tape from a band previously known as CRIB DEATH. I think this is what Jeff could call “garage punk,” since it’s obviously a product of Midwestern winter shellshock and deprivation. They have a slower, ominous sound.

V/A Medium Raw cassette

An excellent long-player’s worth of British Columbia’s current crop of bands. The NEOS appear with some previously released material, but the rest (AUTOMATIC SHOCK, CHRONIC SUBMISSION, JERK WARD, LSD, HOUSE OF COMMONS, RED TIDE, the INFAMOUS SCIENTISTS, SS TOP, DA JEEP, and the cool DAYGLO ABORTIONS) all chip in with new material, most of which is fine. Very little filler.

V/A Flowers From the Dustbin LP

This limited-edition album from Sydney, Australia features seven bands (POSITIVE HATRED, VELLOCETTE, the KELPIES, QUEEN ANNE’S REVENGE, BOX OF FISH, WHAT?, and WORLD WAR XXIV) that push forth a certain energy, but swirls with that so-labeled ’77 sound. Raw and still humming with harmonies and chaotic knockabouts. WORLD WAR XXIV produces the standout tracks, with their raunchy vocals laced with heart-pumping aggression, spun into sing-along “skunk” chanters. For the connoisseur and collector!

V/A Reality Parade cassette

This provocative tape contains material from a variety of political English punk bands. Although the sound quality varies (sometimes drastically) from cut to cut, the material by the XPOZEZ, the INFECTED, and SCREAM & THE FITS provide enough moments of interest to present an effective cross-section of British underground music.

V/A It Came From Inner Space LP

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

V/A Noise From the Garage cassette

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

V/A Eat Me cassette

This compilation highlights some southern California bands (WHITE FLAG, KILLROY, and the WALLFLOWERS), and includes others from Tijuana, Mexico (SOLUCIÓN MORTAL), Seattle (DERANGED DICTION), and the Midwest (NO RESPONSE, CORRUPTED SERVICE). Most of this stuff gnaws your speakers apart, so eat this one up before it eats you.

V/A Last White Christmas vols. 1-2

Two more high-quality cassettes from BCT that further their effort to give more exposure to international bands. These were recorded in Pisa, Italy, just prior to 1984. Tape #1 is a C90 with nine bands. Most of them thrash away in a frantic rage, with those classic demented Italian wails, but one band (the USELESS BOYS) are in a ’60s garage mold. Other groups include BRONTOSAURI, RAW POWER, the WAR DOGS, JUGGERNAUT, STATO DI POLIZIA, PUTRID FEVER, the DEMENTS, and AUSCHLAG. Tape #2, a C60, highlights the CHEETAH CHROME MOTHERFUCKERS, I REFUSE IT, and TRAUMATIC. A must for the international collector.

V/A Chaotische Ostern cassette

A titanic spirit oozes from the reels of this live, exerting collection of raging friction and grinding fury. It features bands from Austria and West Germany, and was recorded in Vienna at an anarchist house during a three-day punk fest. Untamed ferocity devastates frantic spurts of driving disorder, which continually unleash a sonic flail attack. Frenzied, quick, and intense, this thrash compilation digs down with invasions of lightning squashers. Great stuff by INFERNO, KGB, the NIKOTEENS, K-70, and more from Germany, plus EXTREM, DER BRUSTKREBS, and DEAD NITTELS from Austria.

V/A Bijna 2000 Jaar Geleden cassette

This compilation features six young Dutch punk and thrash bands (ANTIDOTE, BLITZKRIEG, GEPØPEL, KNAKKERBROT, INDIREKT, and the HAEMORRHOIDS) and one new wavey outfit (the NOUS). There are varying degrees of competency, sound quality—mostly live—and excitement here, which sometimes makes for an annoying experience, but INDIREKT positively shred!

V/A Hell Comes to Your House Part II

A worthy successor to Volume 1. Eight groups contribute a total of fourteen diverse tracks on this compilation, ranging in style from straight-ahead rockers to power-pop and even Country & Western. While this album is a mite inconsistent from cut to cut, standout tracks by the JONESES, the MINUTEMEN, and the SCREAMIN’ SIRENS might make this eclectic, engaging record worth owning for some. I found its party mood delightful.

V/A Birth Defect cassette

An excellent compilation tape that takes a hot cut or so from many bands we’ve reviewed separately in MRR. Included are the OUTPATIENTS, N.O.T.A., PSYCHO, ZERO DEFEX, C.O.C., the LEPERS, NO LABELS, N.J.F., MOX NIX, the NILS, S.U.M., VIOLATION, RIGHT GUARD, EAT THE RICH, the MONEY DOGS, YOUTH KORPS, and the ACCELERATORS.

V/A Something to Believe In LP

YOUTH BRIGADE pays some homage to their native land by including many excellent Canadian bands (the NILS, YYY, the UNWANTED, SNFU, PERSONALITY CRISIS, the YOUNG LIONS, ZEROPTION, the STRETCH MARKS, and DOA) on this collection, as well as some LA newcomers (RIGOR MORTIS, the TOURISTS) and veterans like the BIG BOYS, 7 SECONDS, KRAUT, CH3, and themselves. A good sampling.

Verbal Assault Church Hypocracy cassette

Nine somewhat sloppy thrash songs with a pretty decent recording quality, but the intelligent political lyrics, which go far beyond the superficial, are the highlights of this tape. Among the subjects discussed are women (“We Love Girls”) and Poland (“Poland Crisis”).

Wanda’s The Ideal LP

This all-girl sextet from Holland combines an abrasive, post-punky quality with lyrics that address primarily personal concerns from a woman’s viewpoint. “Second Part” is a brisk, spirited rocker, but the rest of this album accommodates offbeat guitar figures that sacrifice a great deal of accessibility. Novel, though uninvolving.

White Noise Vengeance cassette

Tight, hard-edged punk (and some thrash). WHITE NOISE has that full-sounding rock ’n’ roll attack à la DOA or CH3, to which they add extremely gruff lead vocals and strong drumming. Don’t overlook these guys.

YDI A Place in the Sun EP

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

You Suck You Suck Chant / Get the Fuck Off the Stage 7″

A bogus honky disco band whose sole claim to fame is that they are hated. That explains Mykel Board’s interest, although after listening I can understand why no one liked them. For novelty collectors.