Reviews

MRR #13 • April/May 1984

45 Grave Sleep in Safety LP

At their best, 45 GRAVE excel at creating distinctive amalgams of pop and horror rock, but their debut album seems altogether limp and lacking in power. Sadly, Dinah Cancer’s vocal renditions are rather lackluster, and the best tracks here (“Evil” and “45 Grave”) have been released in far better versions on previous records. The annoying intrusion of synthesizers only serves to hammer one more nail into the coffin of this disappointing LP. Too bad.

Al Perry Saguaro Beach cassette

A surf-folk-rockabilly-new wave-punk mixture that mostly comes off well. It’s not exactly my cup of tea, but it is lively and energetic.

American Dream Identity Crisis 12″

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

Annie Anxiety Soul Possession LP

On the charitable side, one could call this “adventurous industrial experimentation.” On the not-so-charitable side, it might be termed “eclectic self-indulgent crap,” similar to the terminal stages of ’70s “progressive” rock. Take your pick.

Asbestos Rockpyle Bombs from Belfast / Police State 7″

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

Asta Kask En Tyst Minut EP

Buzzsaw guitar echoes throughout this Swedish ensemble’s second EP. Tight rhythms of punky-paced aggression, not thrash, to move and sing with. Fast, with youthful energy and a spunky sound, like an exhilarating tune you’ve heard before but can’t place. Seven songs of marvelling headlong titillation.

Basta Non Posso Sopportare Questa Sporca Situazione EP

BASTA have captured a rich, bassy instrumental sound on this debut EP, which features some solid mid-tempo Oi anthems. Of the compositions here, “Nessum pudore” and the tasty “Caos” exploit the raw guitar assault and gravelly Italian vocals to good result. Recommended.

Battalion of Saints Second Coming EP

These energetic San Diegans have always had a very powerful instrumental sound. And even if their metal-punk attack isn’t exactly my can of Coke, the title song here is so intense that it blows me away. That alone makes it recommendable.

Bedlam Bedlam LP

A totally fucking excellent release on A.O.D.’s label. BEDLAM display lots of energy and excitement here, with buzzsaw guitars blazing the way, and gruff vocals to boot. The lyrics are both serious and hilarious. Buy their records!

Big Black Bulldozer 12″

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

Bill of Rights No Rights, No Chance EP

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

Black Flag My War LP

BLACK FLAG have worked long and hard to break ground for punk, and weathered a lot of legal harassment in the process, so it’s impossible to casually dismiss them for putting out a bad record. But that temptation certainly exists with the release of this album. To me, it sounds like BLACK FLAG doing an imitation of IRON MAIDEN imitating BLACK FLAG on a bad day. The shorter songs are rarely exciting, and the three tracks on the B-side are sheer torture. I know depression and pain are hallmarks of BLACK FLAG’s delivery, but boredom too?

Bluttat Nkululeko EP

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

Bowling for Larva Chain Saw cassette

Self-described “funny punk,” but it’s got more of a creepy-crawl feel to it. This slow, punchy, lurching rhythmic music, with the vocals mixed way clear, sounds like it should be from Texas or Louisiana. Maybe it’s the proximity of that hot Mexican sun.

Cólera 1.9.9.2. cassette

A very “noisy” tape, as production facilities in the Third World appear to suffer as much as the people. CÓLERA are a very bass-heavy band with lots of buzzing guitar and clear vocals—even I can understand some of the Portuguese. Most tracks here are in the mid- to fast-paced punk style, and they have strong political lyrics.

Chapter 23 Lights Out cassette

A three-song tape that’s got those raspy, ragged Minnesota vocals, backed by some fairly standard but competent thrash. Good for a start.

Child Hoods Corrupted Kids cassette

A rough garage-quality tape of basic melodic thrash with fairly intelligent lyrics. Given time and decent production, these guys will be good.

Circle Seven Suburban Hope 12″

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

Civil Dissident Fourth Rate American Thrash

Impregnated by an orgy of thrash from across the world, Australia shoves forth one of its first high-speed rocketing barrages in the form of CIVIL DISSIDENT. Wild, uncontrolled quickness charges into a screaming fracas of blaring guitars and brawling drum snacks, stinging sharply with missiling vocals and catapulting this nitro-packed projectile head-on to chaotic dilapidation. This rates up there with the current crop of torpedoing intensity that fills this brain’s excitement.

Cult Maniax American Dream / Black Mass 7″

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

Cyanamid I Love New Jersey cassette

These guys alternate viciously between FLIPPERish “pet rock” and all-out thrash—usually in the same song—to produce some fine noise. A good first demo.

Dead End Where Do We Go From Here? cassette

Some very original-sounding noises can be found here, with clean, snappy production to boot. It’s punk all right, but with so many quirky musical interjections that it seems surprisingly new. Great musicianship, with no loss of edge, musically or lyrically. Highly recommended.

Dezerter Ku Przyszłości EP

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

Dogmatics Gimme the Shakes / 20 Flight Rock 7″

The A-side is kind of a teen rock-pop number in the old Boston tradition, with its jumpin’ rhythms, R&B beat, punchy guitar, and insipid lyrics; the flipside is a very uneventful cover of the EDDIE COCHRAN classic.

E.A.T.E.R. Doomsday Troops EP

Not to be confused with the ’77 U.K. punk band EATER, this Swedish group (ERNST AND THE EDSHOLM REBELS) floor down on the acceleration and rapidly hit fast, lightning doses of 1000-m.p.h. thrash mayhem. An outrageous display of burning speed and mind-boggling turbulence, combined with chaotic chops of lyrical expression. Don’t be fooled by the hilarious intro to the title cut—this EP hauls its load fast and furious in the new Swedish tradition.

Incharge / E.A.T.E.R. Chaos split cassette

INCHARGE come forth with a powerful strength of bitter thrash mixed with an early raw punk sound. The songs are crude and hard-hitting, but lack a certain posture to keep them standing straight. The music is high-speed and the vocals are slow, which makes it all the more confusing. On the other hand, E.A.T.E.R. continues their banzai assault with songs in their own language (unlike their EP). Two of Sweden’s up-and-coming bands.

Electric Kool-Aid Living in Peoria cassette

With a name like that, you know it’s got to be silly. Actually, it’s the Stepe brothers (ex-NEGATIVE ELEMENT) and company “Doin’ the Jerry Lewis” and other topical subjects in their basement. Thrash that’ll drive the cows crazy.

Fahrenheit 451 Fahrenheit 451 flexi

Hmmm! Garage/folk rock/industrial music. Well, if it’s not that, what is it? You can find out for a mere 60¢.

Fallout Butchery 10″

At first, this new long-player from FALLOUT all seemed to have that familiar anarcho-Britpunk style, but after more listenings, the variations and intensity come through. They have a PiL sound on “Know Your Enemy” and “Apartheid,” an IGGY POP riff on “Trojan Horse,” and lots of early CRASS garage influence. Well thought-out and executed.

Flipper Blowin’ Chunks cassette

Here they are again, this time with an LP’s worth of live material that sounds just like their studio stuff. A lot of their classic tracks are on here, sounding as good and raw and raucous as ever.

Flux of Pink Indians The Fucking Cunts Treat Us Like Pricks 2xLP

On this bizarre and surprising double album, FLUX alternates between strangely mixed, highly inflammatory hardcore attacks and bursts of industrial noise. Most of the material here is rather unpleasant listening, though the vitriolic lyrics and some of the studio effects are remarkably compelling. I’m not sure whether I like it or not, but it’s certainly challenging.

Fottutissima Pellicceria Elsa Fottutissima Pellicceria Elsa cassette

The sound quality isn’t the greatest, but the music more than compensates for that. F.P.E. are hard to describe—they’re thrashy, jazzy, damaged, crazed, and real intense. If the MEAT PUPPETS met MDC in a Chilean secret police torture chamber, the result might sound like this.

Frites Modern Veel, Vet, Goor en Duur LP

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

Gary Kail A Soundtrack for Nightmares cassette

The other side of Gary (from ANTI and MOOD OF DEFIANCE) emerges in this classical experimental “music.” Actually, only one “piece” approaches music, as the rest consists mainly of tape loops, extended notes, and noise. So drop that ol’ LSD, have that thorazine near at hand, and venture out into the stratosphere.

George Katz The George Katz Tape cassette

Basically, this is a one-man production with aspects of modern punk and lost of art-damage on top. It’s also a studio tracks tape that employs over-tracking and echoes in a way reminiscent of PRE FIX, especially in the rhythms and guitar noises.

Graven Image Kicked Out of the Scene EP

GRAVEN IMAGE’s thrash doesn’t always hang together, but when it does gel, they have a MINOR THREATish sound. Lyrically, the topics are interesting and, at times, more than a little confused. For example on “Nails and Thorns” they warn punks not to reject Jesus because one might need “Him” someday, and that being an atheist means paving the way for Communism. Huh?

Heart Attack Subliminal Seduction 12″

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

Hot Spit Dancers Lack of Image cassette

Some pretty melodic punk and thrash with gruff vocals and tight musicianship emerges from this tape. It proves that more than tomatoes can grow out of the dust of California’s Central Valley.

Iconoclast After the Massacre cassette

Seven well-produced, tight, and blazing fast songs appear on ICONOCLAST’s debut release. The lyrics put them decisively in the anti-war/“peace punk” camp, and as far as I’m concerned, there can’t be too many bands like this. Get it.

Icons of Filth Onward Christian Soldiers LP

While the ICONS aren’t as consistently dynamic as some of their peers, their debut album shows that, at their peak, they can thrash with the best of them. Incisive lyrics, mostly emphasizing the need for individual responsibility and autonomy, work particularly well on steamrollers like “Power for Power” and “Sod the Children,” and the cover art is equally impressive. Intelligent and politically astute, if a trifle inconsistent musically.

Inca Babies Grunt Cadillac Hotel / No Sacred Sound 7″

Both sides contain metallic-edged rhythmic punches à la BIRTHDAY PARTY. The vocals evoke that band too, but it really doesn’t diminish the value and strength of these songs, as there are other influences here (the CRAMPS?) that make for fine listening.

Inferno Tod & Wahnsinn LP

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

Kambrones Dédié à La P4 Army EP

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

King Kurt Ooh Wallah Wallah LP

Dave Edmunds got his hands on these guys and upped the ante plenty. From the rough weirdness of their debut EP, they’ve gravitated to a smooth big-time wall of sound. That’s both bad and good. The weirdness has been sacrificed, but their current variety of modern R&B/rockabilly is very powerful.

Komintern Sect Les Seigneurs de la Guerre LP

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

Krunch Hello Bob EP

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

Last Rites Fascism Means War EP

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

Les Cadavres Le Temps Passe, Le Souvenir Reste EP

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

Ligotage Crime and Passion 12″

Beki Bondage, formerly of VICE SQUAD, has a decent outing with this new EP. “Crime and Passion” is a confounding yet effective mixture of pop, metal, and ’77-style punk, but still nowhere as good as early (or even recent) VICE SQUAD. The two songs on the flip unfortunately swerve toward genericness with that same combination of influences. Merely adequate.

Maniacs Attack cassette

OK-sounding mid-tempo skunk from Germany, with an occasional speedy song. The MANIACS’ strong suit is a constant buzzsaw guitar that breaks loose with some exciting licks on a few numbers (like “Nazischweine”).

Manifest Destiny Soilent Warehouse 12″

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

Marginal Man Identity 12″

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

McRad Dominant Force LP

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

Meat Puppets II LP

How strange! You’d expect this album to mirror the manic ultra-thrash which characterized their debut efforts, but it’s almost exclusively Country & Western. It’s pretty good, too. The rock’n’rolly charms of “Split Myself in Two” are contrasted with gentle, melodic numbers like “Climbing” and the swingin’ “Magic Toy Missing.” Is there a C&W revival going on that I don’t know about?

Membranes Andropov cassette

A three-song job that’s got the vocals clear and way up front, backed up by tight, cleanly produced thrash and punk. The intelligent lyrics are obviously being stressed here.

Minutemen The Politics of Time LP

Although dodgy sound quality mars some of the tracks on the MINUTEMEN’s latest opus, this retrospective album offers a variety of unreleased studio and live compositions (including gems like “I Shook Hands” and “Base King”). Not all of the songs here exploit this band’s unique punk-funk stylings, but their fans will find interesting moments among these twenty-seven tracks.

Moderat Likvidation Nitad EP

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

Moral Crux What Can I Do? cassette

For a garage effort, this tape sounds pretty good. It’s a neat mixture of thrash, older powerchord punk, and rock’n’roll à la HEARTBREAKERS.

Moral Disgust I Love College cassette

In about a year, these guys could put out a killer record. They’ve got their thrash licks down, but need to develop their distinctiveness a bit. Also, the lyrics, which seem highly satirical, are pretty ambiguous. On a few songs, though—like “Power Games”—you can see how intense they might become.

Mydolls Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick 12″

It’s been a long time since this Houston outfit has released anything, and they’ve come a long way in the interval, as this is undoubtedly their best material to date. Side one is hard, and side two is soft, but both contain haunting post-punk. Although MYDOLLS aren’t outspoken feminists, they have a scathing demeanor—musically, vocally, and lyrically. “Christmas Day” is a great track, and “Please No, Mary” is poetically grand.

Nabat Laida Bologna EP

NABAT’s second EP contains a bevy of aggressive Oi onslaughts with those delightful soccer choruses you can almost sing along with. The amazingly raw guitar sound and distinctive material found on their debut 7” is somewhat lacking this time around, but I still enjoyed this record, especially the catchy “Potere nelle strade.”

Naked Raygun Flammable Solid EP

Another winner from NAKED RAYGUN. The three compositions on this EP mine poppier song structures, but don’t sacrifice a whit of abrasiveness when the situation calls for it. “Surf Combat”, with its inventive changes of pace, rates as the most notable song here, but the aggressive energy of “Gear” is also quite appealing. A highly original release.

Napalm Beach Rock & Roll Hell cassette

Most of the material here is in a slow-to-medium-tempo post-punk vein, with the accent on eerie vocal and guitar tones. It’s a bit too polished for my taste, except for the occasional faster tracks that remind me of early PERE UBU.

Naz Nomad and the Nightmares Give Daddy the Knife Cindy LP

Whoever these guys are—and they are reputed to be members of the DAMNED in disguise—they’ve captured the 1966 punk feel amazingly well, right down to the classic psychedelic “soundtrack” album concept. The numerous covers here are true to the originals (by groups like the ELECTRIC PRUNES, the HUMAN BEINZ, PAUL REVERE & THE RAIDERS, the LITTER, and the SEEDS), but generally not quite as good. It might prod you to pick up the real things, though.

Nick Toczek Britanarchist cassette

This guy’s material sounds sort of like the FALL. Most of the tape consists of literate ranting poetry, but three of the tracks also have tough instrumentation and funky rhythms. Interesting listening that’s probably best appreciated by native Brits.

Nighters Drop Down Dead EP

The NIGHTERS are one of the first Italian outfits to capture that irresistable ’77 punk style, and translate it into convincing ’80s hardcore. “Live It Anyway” boasts powerful guitar riffing and a hummable melody, but “Nightrise/Take a Look” is the winner here, with its especially energetic guitar work. Very stylish and entertaining.

Nip Drivers Destroy Whitey 12″

Despite some rather questionable lyric overtones, there’s no question that this 9-track EP by the NIP DRIVERS presents extremely catchy, high-velocity bursts of punk rock. “Dog and a Cow” and their theme song are especially strong thrash-style tunes, so if you like accessible hardcore with dumb/funny lyrics, you’ll find this release delightful.

One Way System Visions of Angels EP

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

Painted Willie Ragged Army cassette

I can’t help but think that this is what Rod Stewart would have sounded like had he gone thrash. I’m referring specifically here to Will’s high, cracking vocal delivery. He combines with Phil and Dave from SIN 34 to produce some quirky, unusual modern thrash.

Plasticland Euphoric Trapdoor Shoes / Rat-Tail Comb 7″

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

Power of the Spoken Word The Perils of Being Sane in Insane Places… cassette

Buzzsaw guitars and garage punk are combined with some Midwestern alienation in this Cornhusker combo. The songs herk and jerk all over the place, as do the inner-directed lyrics.

Public Disturbance S&M EP

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

Rappio Harha / Kaupungin Kaunein 7″

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

Rattus Finnish Hardcore cassette

This tape contains a lot of stuff off previous Finnish releases, plus other songs sung in English. Some of the cuts are in the funnypunk vein, but most have a truly killer thrash attack. These guys will be in the US soon, so find out why you’ll want to go see them. The incredible song translations are alone worth the price.

Raw Power Studio + Live cassette

This new release on BCT contains the stuff from their Italian tape plus tons of live tracks. Together, they show why this band is awesome. Watch for their upcoming tour of the US.

Rebels and Infidels Corporate Picnic LP

REBELS AND INFIDELS provide some sharp, almost nihilistic satire to complement their mixed-tempo compositions, but it’s the thrashers that really stand out here. The pile-driving “Last Rites” and “American Citizen” (as well as their theme song) offer both excitement and food for thought, and the off-beat production emphasizes this band’s raw, “live” qualities. Solid and creditable.

Red Scare Then There Were None LP

This varied effort from L.A.’s RED SCARE is reminiscent of U.X.A.’s early style, but with a considerably more metallic approach that I found somewhat annoying. Nevertheless, “Last Request” and the chilling, mid-tempo title track qualify as standouts here, in spite of the fact that many of the other songs don’t seem remarkably catchy. Fair.

Reich Orgasm Future Pour Tous 12″

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

Asocial / RTS split cassette

Two new Swedish bands share this tape. R.T.S. don’t move me too much, but the ASOCIAL side has cool vocals and a lot more zip (though the drumming lags a bit, a problem with many young thrash bands).

Ruin He-Ho LP

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

S.H.Draumur Listir Með Orma cassette

Garage-quality recordings don’t really add much charm to post-punk bands, but this guitar-bass-drum trio still manages to carry their particular form of expression across. They fare best on the “rockier” numbers, which remind me of BLURT without a sax; the slow, “painful” songs are less appealing.

Scapegoats Pogo Lebt! cassette

A German band that should not be confused with the Santa Cruz version that appeared on our Not So Quiet compilation. They have a total thrash attack with hot vocals, decent guitar work, and energy, but the drumming seems to be draggy or off a bit.

Second Wind Security 12″

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

Shanghai Dog Clanging Bell 12″

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

Spark Plugz Spiders in My Pockets / No Problem 7″

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

Sub Kids Kids of Glory / Suburban War 7″

A not-too-exciting release. It’s fairly standard older-style punk, delivered rather listlessly. The only thing I know about this band is that they are from France.

Subhumans From the Cradle to the Grave LP

The A-side is totally great, full of that powerful, cleanly produced, uplifting, and distinctive SUBHUMANS sound. The B-side revolves around the theme of the album’s title, and runs through many musical styles from lyrical point to lyrical point. As with most such ambitious ideas, some of it works and some doesn’t, but the higher moments remind me of nothing so much as ATV or CRASS. I can’t wait to see them live!

Tar Babies Face the Music 12″

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

Depo-Provera / Temperamental Psychotics split cassette

The DEPO-PROVERA side features some very catchy tunes, both slow and thrashed-out. They’re powerful, melodic, and intelligent, and worth the $1 price all by themselves. The TEMPERAMENTAL PSYCHOTICS, on the other hand, play slower, leaden punk that doesn’t do much for me.

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

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

The Boat People Capitalist / John Dillinger 7″

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

The Bristles Ban the Punkshops cassette

Mix some skunky melodies with abrasive Swedish thrash and you end up with the BRISTLES, who continue to produce high-powered potential mind bombs. Their latest tape release is a step up from their debut EP, all the way around. Storming out the maniac mayhem with blitzing guitar distortion and lots of boisterous activity, whether chanting or slowing down the speedy pace, this fires a full round of quaking thrash. “Don’t Care About Me” is a quick laugh riot.

The Cramps I Ain’t Nuthin’ But A Gorehound / Weekend on Mars 7″

The A-side is pretty tame, so let me rave about the flip for a minute. It’s classic psychobilly with lots of echo and oomph—the CRAMPS at their best.

The Dead Milkmen Death Rides a Pale Cow cassette

Classic garage punk of varying goofy styles and descriptions. The music is simple, straightforward early-style punk, and the lyrics cover a whole range of teen topics. Fun.

The Edge Death to A.O.R. EP

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

The Fantastic Dee-Jays The Fantastic Dee-Jays LP

Another highly collectible item rescued from obscurity by Eva. Pittsburgh’s FANTASTIC DEE-JAYS (later SWAMP RATS) responded to the British Invasion with some wonderful fuzzy garage punkers like “Get Away Girl.” Their album has some other great ravers, but there are a few too many Beat ballads to win over non-believers in ’60s punk. Nevertheless, the slower tracks sound like GERRY & THE PACEMAKERS produced by Darby Crash, so one is still able to enjoy most of them.

The Flamin’ Groovies Bucketful of Brains LP

Back in the late ’60s and early ’70s, the GROOVIES were in my Top Five list of hard-edged rock ’n’ roll bands. Though not as generally acknowledged as the VELVET UNDERGROUND, CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL, the MC5, or the STOOGES, their underground appeal led to an international cult following that still exists today, despite the many permutations they’ve since undergone. Here, they’ve been captured in their heyday in a live (and not so hot) recording, doing originals and covers. There are a few incredible moments, so if you love real rock ’n’ roll, give it a listen.

The Leather Nun Primemover / FFA 7″

I’m not too hot on the B-side, but the A-side is killer. It’s got a real heavy guitar that wrenches its way across the slow, tortuous course of the song, spitting feedback every which way. Added to that are IGGY/BOWIE-type vocals, and production that mesmerizes and pulverizes your senses. This Swedish band has been around for years, and this is their first American release.

The Mess Caught in the Middle cassette

“MESS” indeed! It’s supposed to have twelve songs on it, but my copy of this tape only had four and one half, with incredibly long gaps between songs. What there was of it sounded good, although the lyrics seem pretty confusing.

The Squirt In the Name of God cassette

Even though this tape was recorded before they had a drummer—his tracks were overdubbed—it shows potential. SQUIRT produces some of the best Swiss thrash I’ve heard. It’s not quite up to the Alpine levels attained by other European bands, but it’s definitely worth a yodel or two.

The Velvet Monkeys Future LP

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

The Vibrators Flying Home / Flash Flash Flash 7″

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

The Worst Expect the Worst 12″

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

Think Tank Think Tank cassette

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

Trotskids Je Sens Mauvais 12″

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

TSOL Change Today LP

The revamped line-up of T.S.O.L. makes its debut on this highly-produced album. I was prepared to dislike this after seeing the rock-star atmosphere they projected live, but there’s a lot on here that’s likable. On about half of the songs, they pack a good punch and the new singer’s annoying Jim Morrison delivery is minimized, but others are less worthwhile. Although it’s better than expected, give me their first 12” any day.

Unicef Kakimassaa EP

Scraping tonsil bites of harsh vocal growlings overpower the raw early punk flavor that this new Finnish ensemble grind out. Not the “stereotyped” Finnish assault of chaotic thrash, but something musically more in the line of PERSONALITY CRISIS or SKREWDRIVER, building a vulgar progression of power thrusted into snarling hacks. UNICEF contains former members of LAMA, but this band is very different. A gargling release.

V/A Cottage Cheese from the Lips of Death LP

First advertised here about a year ago, this Texas hardcore compilation has taken a long time to see the light of day. Was it worth it? Fuck yes—with tracks from REALLY RED, the OFFENDERS, D.R.I., MY DOLLS, the BIG BOYS, MARCHING PLAGUE, the BUTTHOLE SURFERS, BANG GANG, the DICKS, STICKMEN WITH RAYGUNS, the HUGH BEAUMONT EXPERIENCE, and others, it’s got lots of power and variety.

V/A Empty Skulls cassette

You’re probably already familiar with most of the sixteen bands collected here (including the OUTPATIENTS, N.O.T.A., NO LABELS, C.I.A., IMPACT UNIT, C.O.C., SEPTIC DEATH, R.O.T.A., and STALAG 13, among others. Each of them has donated two to four tracks which together add up to one fine tape.

V/A From the Valley Within EP

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

V/A Highs in the Mid-Sixties, Vols. 4-7 LPs

Volumes 4 and 5 are essential to any garage punk fanatic, as they give a good representation of regional scenes in the ’60s. #4 deals with Chicago and brings together a nice blend of pop/folk rock/R&B punk groups. Especially cool are the LITTLE BOY BLUES’ “The Great Train Robbery,” the REASONS WHY’s “All I Really Need Is Love,” BUZZSAW’s “Live in the Springtime,” and GROUP INC.’s “Like a Woman.” Volume 5 concerns itself with Michigan, and again the results are wild. Particularly hot are the BOSSMEN’s “I’m Ready,” the UNDERDOGS’ “Surprise, Surprise,” the LEGENDS’ “I’ll Come Again,” and, most of all, a super-rare radio ad by the RATIONALS. Volumes 6 and 7 just came out, with #6 dealing again with Michigan, and #7 covering the Pacific Northwest.

V/A This Is Phoenix, Not the Circle Jerks LP

An OK compilation of Phoenix rock and hardcore bands that features one side of studio and another of live tracks. MIGHTY SPHINCTER has a twisted psycho-punk style that I found quite interesting, but several of the songs by CONFLICT and SOILENT GREENE (especially the latter’s “Pledge”) provide most of the energy and excitement. An uneven, interesting release.

V/A Corporate Thrash cassette

Another fine compilation with both English and American bands represented. POISON IDEA really rips out some incredible stuff, as do LEGION OF PARASITES, the most intense UK thrashers yet. Other tracks are by the INFECTED, CRIMINAL JUSTICE, the WARDS, XOSET UK, the OBSCENE FEMALES, and STAGNANT ERA.

V/A Eject It cassette

Another fine compilation contains fourteen bands of varying degrees of competency doing 22 songs of varying degrees of sound quality. You’ll find FLUX, POLITICAL ASYLUM, the BLOOD ROBOTS, LEGION OF PARASITES, IMPACT, and the ABDUCTORS, among others, most of which are mid-tempo punk bands. The best track is “The Race Is On” by CRIMINAL JUSTICE.

V/A Son of Oi LP

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

V/A Trash on Delivery LP

The A-side contains bands that all, more or less, owe their chops to the NEW YORK DOLLS/HEARTBREAKERS school of rock ’n’ roll (except the BARRACUDAS). There are groups like the BAD DETECTIVES (a DOLLS song) and the BABYSITTERS (HEARTBREAKERS?), and songs like GENOCIDE’s “Private Hell,” which can be compared to the DOLLS’ “Private World.” The B-side slips into more mundane rock, and isn’t at all memorable save for the reemergence of former SWELL MAP NIKKI SUDDEN.

V/A Wet Dreams LP

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

V/A Who? What? Why? When? Where? LP

This compilation of anarchist and “human rights” punk bands from the UK is a strong, varied, and provocative selection, one that should be of major interest to hardcore aficionados. It’s somewhat uneven, as are most samplers, but the brilliant track by CONFLICT stands out, and is almost matched by those of some surprising new groups.

V/A We Gots No Station cassette

This tape represents DC’s funky/arty/noise/psychedelic garage groups. The bands include HATE FROM IGNORANCE, BLOODY MANNEQUIN ORCHESTRA, CHALK CIRCLE, GREY MATTER, BLUE CROSS, the PSYCHODELIC TRASHCAN, etc. There’s a little something for almost everyone here.

V/A Ahhh… Italian Punk!! cassette

There are tracks here by nine excellent Italian bands, including CHELSEA HOTEL, SHOCKIN’ TV, TIRATURA LIMITATA, EU’S ARSE, NABAT, DARK RIDE, PEGGIO PUNKS, CCM, and ROUGH. Hey, pasta punx rule!

V/A Belse Bop cassette

Three lesser-known Finnish bands share this tape. I’m tempted to say they are less well-known for good reasons, but I’ve been spoiled by the likes of TERVEET KÄDET. These bands—NUSSIVAT NUNNAT, LAPSILTA KIELLETTY, and KAUNEUS & TERVEYS—seem to be newly formed, as the predominant sound here is garagey. There are moments of experimentation amidst the punk and thrash mash, and given the price ($1 and I.R.C.), it’s a bargain.

V/A 430 Años cassette

This tape features nine Sao Paulo-area bands—PSYKOZE, ULSTER, OLHO SECO, RATOS DE PORÃO, 365, HINO MORTAL, ETC, SP CAOS, and RUIDOS ABSURDOS—who do some proverbial ass-kicking. These recordings were done live and, unfortunately, the sound quality isn’t really very good (lots of vocals, but little clarity of instrumentation). As a result, it’s mostly the excitement and emotion that’s conveyed here.

V/A Ingenting for Norge LP

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

V/A Vägra för Helvete LP

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

V/A Kass 2 cassette

Eight Swedish bands appear on this compilation. Most of them play thrash, but some traditional punk and industrial-type outfits are also included. MOB 47, the BRISTLES, and P-NISSARNA come off particularly well here.

V/A Underground Hits 2 LP

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

V/A Welcome to 1984 LP

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

Vanalles and Nogwatt Discobinken EP

Holland’s VANALLES & NOGWATT have sort of an English skunk sound. The chunky drumming keeps the mid-tempo songs from really springing out at you, and adds restraint to a guitar that seems to want to fly.

Verbal Abuse Just an American Band LP

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

Violent Children Split Scene EP

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

Wardogs The State of Things cassette

This young Italian band presents highly dissonant, disjointed, and unmelodic thrash that is very well produced. The guitar seems totally weird, as it is so clean and smooth in contrast to the rest of the music, not to mention most punk guitar sounds.

Yo Good Tidings LP

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

Zyklon B Independence and Anarchy / No Escape 7″

An older-style punk band from Canada, complete with wonderful fuzzed-out guitars and lyrics you can actually hear. I didn’t like it as much at first, but now I think both sides are good. Hey, they even have guitar solos!

The Past / Zynthslakt 7 Låtars split EP

Two bands appear here. Rambunctious political punk rushes from the grooves of the PAST. Foot-stomping melodies, shot forth through whining distorted guitar and shrill vocal yells, are pumped in short doses of up-tempo bursts. ZYNTHSLAKT shares a similar quality, dealing more with a harmonious sound than a breakneck attack. Lots of variety, but still holding your attention.