Reviews

MRR #30 • November 1985

A.C.T.H. L’Italia Se Desta cassette

At their best, ACTH show a real ability for crunching mid-tempo punk with nifty vocal choruses and guitar riffing. Another up-and-coming Italian band which deserves their chance at vinyl. Good stuff. (Does ACTH stand for “andrenocorticotropic hormone”?)

A.P.P.L.E. Rather Dull? cassette

“Progressive” punk that maintains a hard musical bite, yet combines with an almost folky female vocal (not unlike Pauline Murray in her PENETRATION days). Great words (comes with lyric book) and an intelligent outlook are as refreshing as the music itself. From the makers of Counter Culture zine.

Beefeater Plays for Lovers LP

A band made up of musicians who know their instruments and how to make them create a new sound. Influences include funk, blues, and thrash. The vocals are rough, emotional, and from the heart! By far the most experimental band coming from Dischord, but it’s an album that definitely grows on you. Recommended.

Bill of Rights Surf, Skate, Ski, and Skank cassette

This reminds me of early raw, mid-tempo punk mixed with traditional garage rock ’n’ roll. The second side does offer a faster speed with most of the songs, but still…well, it’s been done before. The band does rip on the surf tunes, which makes this tape more exciting. Overall, not too bad.

Black Flag In My Head LP

I’ve tended to like their post-Damaged records a lot more than some people I know; here, instead of long, drawn-out solos, the songs are shorter and more concise, and therefore pack more punch. The cassette version contains three extra tracks.

Bloodsport Class Struggle 12″

Interesting. Solid pop-punk music-making distinguishes this enjoyable three-track EP. The title track is quite an engaging ditty, though I was caught by the vocal harmonies and lyric satire of “Heroin,” and a hard guitar sound bolsters the power of all the tracks. Recommended.

Chaos UK Stunned to Silence cassette

CHAOS U.K. represented here with a pretty tight rehearsal, featuring the current line-up doing all the faves and some new aaaarrghabilly classics. This a collection of great stuff for all you out there who eat up those cassette-only jobs. Don’t miss this scourging delight.

Christ on Parade Sounds of Nature LP

Ripping thrash from one of the Bay Area’s best contemporary HC outfits. Neither the musical structures nor the themes are particularly unique, but the execution is way above the current US norm. The guitar sound is really piercing, the tempo is supercharged, some cuts have killer choruses (like “Drop Out” and “No Truth”) or guitar breaks (like “Landlord”), and the overall effect is ultra intense. Features European-style Pus production.

Christian Death The Decomposition of Violets: Live in Hollywood cassette

This live concert, recorded in Hollywood, represents a fusion of late JOY DIVISION and Ummagumma-period PINK FLOYD. Atmospheric, slightly psychedelic, and well-recorded, this performance hits and misses with its post-punk sensibility; selected songs, however, are pretty decent for the genre.

Chumbawamba Revolution 7″

Hard to tell what’s what on both sides, but it doesn’t really matter as this bugger is excellent. Besides a very stimulating eight-page booklet/cover, the music is riveting as well, making good the band’s stated desire to not just entertain but inspire. Get it.

Cockney Rejects Unheard Rejects LP

Recorded back when men were men and the COCKNEY REJECTS were the heirs apparent to the PISTOLS sound, I was hoping for a real knockout. While most of the tracks here are decent, they are largely studio doodlings, outtakes, jamming, etc., and rarely approach the awesome power and impact of C.R.’s first two LPs. For collectors.

Crippled Pilgrims Under Water LP

These guys only border on post-punk as they tend to write mellow yet intense pop ballads. At their finest moments, they remind me of the VELVET UNDERGROUND or MAGAZINE. They have more interesting melodies, lyrics, and intentions than their current UK counterparts, and deserve attention (but maybe not here).

Dead Kennedys Frankenchrist LP

A classic KENNEDYS’ cover opens up to reveal a very controversial artwork poster and a record that will surprise many. Lyrically, it’s Biafra’s satire, biting as ever, and aimed at jocks, MTV, work, and the sick absurdities of bourgeois life. Most of the tunes are mid-tempo punk this time, with a couple of thrashers interspersed. But there’s a more “psychedelic” feel to many of the songs with Ray’s often-twangy guitar very cleanly produced. There’s even one (gasp!) experimental number, and also shocking, Jello actually sings (as opposed to yells) on several tracks.

Death Sentence Not a Pretty Sight 12″

This is the Canadian band not the Aussie one, and their debut contains what I’ll call the “Western Canadian” punk sound with the DOA rock ’n’ roll influence. When I heard ‘em live last year, they were straight ahead thrash, but their debut contains eight songs that rip along with a combination of melodic thrash, DOA, and even a sort of DEAD BOYS influence at times. Like fellow Canadians the ASEXUALS, lots of good hooks and choruses, and good lyrics, too.

Deformed Blind Faith EP

Grinding, spooky stuff with a heavy drum beat that is haunting in its abrasive persuasion. Combines the flavors of AMEBIX and 1919, for which you get a dark, thrusting sound. Eerie, sinister, the DEFORMED raise three cryptic melodies from the depths, using many effects to full advantage. A creepy delight and a band to take notice of.

Dinosaur Dinosaur LP

Revisionist rock for people looking for a “hip” way to mellow down from punk. You know, those folks who find the newer HÜSKER pop sound really stretching their limits of noise tolerance. Hmmm, I guess I don’t like it too much.

Einstürzende Neubauten Halber Mensch LP

Another “noise band” that has managed to get better technically without sacrificing anxiety or power. Has the original mix of “Yu-Gung” that was released on an EP this year, and there’s even an angelic (or demonic?) choir style on the vocals that gives a neat haunting quality to their sound.

Get Smart World Without End / Back into the Future 7″

More great raspy garage rock from this criminally underrated Chicago trio. Two live tracks recorded at CBGB’s in NY; file under Midwestern garage like the EMBARRASSMENT and early PERE UBU.

Ground Zero Pink LP

A strange, endearing record. They’ve got a heavy-rock garage sound, but the vocals have a cracked, psychotic bent. Musically on par with SOUL ASYLUM, the REPLACEMENTS, MEAT PUPPETS, and GREEN ON RED. I give up; you try to figure them out.

Hüsker Dü Flip Your Wig LP

This is a great record. Although the songs are some of the best they have ever written, there is a certain flatness to the production that seems to have been mixed for a three-inch speaker in an AM radio. Vocals are way up front while the raw guitar and drum sound we’re used to are shoved back. Could be a case of experimentation or maybe a sign of things to come.

Heresy Never Healed cassette

Formerly PLASMID, this band drives to sheer quickness of distortion and abrasive thrash. The combination of DISORDER meets WHITE CROSS is how this band sounds, and at that level, your eyes will pop out since this rips. This will be the next cult band. Forget DRI. Here’s HERESY. ’Nuff said.

I, Braineater Artist Poet Thief LP

A great new LP by an interesting (and now proving without a doubt) diverse band. Clean, catchy rhythms and distinctive melodies that lean toward the post-punk end of things. But they incorporate gothic, folk, psychedelic, and especially the punk element. Side one is full of great melodies, and side two rocks out. Recommended.

Killdozer Snakeboy LP

While this album has all the nervous energy of their Intellectuals Are the Shoeshine Boys LP, they’ve now progressed to a nice healthy psychotic rasp that mixes the best parts of the BUTTHOLES and the BIRTHDAY PARTY. Not to be confused with KILLDOZER 85.

Live Skull Bringing Home the Bait LP

Eee-yowww! This I like…a lot. Comparisons with SONIC YOUTH are going to be made, because LIVE SKULL keeps charging with full-speed intensity. I can’t see these guys ever closing their eyes and just drooling.

Lunatix Murder on a Plate cassette

Speedcore maniacs from LA strike hard with a unique sound that mixes metallic cranks with full-blown aggression that will meet both grounds and still destroy. Really powerful lyric content that leans toward the vegetarian/political beliefs. Watch for this band as they are sure to grow insane.

Mechanized Death Mechanized Death cassette

A 21-song tape that displays this band’s tight medium-to-fast-paced hardcore sound well. There are some metal influences, but not in really blatant ways, with the accent on power. Lots of well-executed stop-and-go action, excellent vocals, and heavy bass and drums make this worth checking out.

Mellakka Itsenaisyyspaiva EP

MELLAKKA’s second EP continues where the first left off, storming with fast Finnish beats in the traditional set by LAMA and KAAOS. This is high-caliber stuff and has that continual punch that keeps your ears attached to it. The beat is titanic and the guitar roars, vox effects work well also. Rate it a 9+.

Metal Urbain L’Age d’Or 2xLP

This collection of the prototypical French punk band is not to be missed. Their sound (raw guitar and vocals combined with a rhythm machine) set the standard for “the French sound,” evident still in many punk and hardcore bands. Contains LP and 45 material, as well as their later incarnation as METAL BOYS.

Mission of Burma The Horrible Truth About Burma LP

BURMA’s sound meant a lot to me when they were around; swirling waves of guitar, nervous psycho vocals, and muscular bass and rhythm attacks. This live release lives up to the quality of previous recordings; all unreleased tracks, and if you think they might have been wimpy, check out their covers of the STOOGES’ “1970” and PERE UBU’s “Heart of Darkness.”

NRG Suicide Song EP

Catchy harmonized vocals accompanied by a very clean, crisp, polished sound make up this three-song EP. “Corporate Toy” is the farthest from being background music; the other two songs almost lose it by the lack of power that they fail to offer. One out of three—not too bad.

O.T.H. Couer et Cuir cassette

Hardcore that’s based on R’n’B, extrapolated through ’60s punk, early ’70s rockin’ blues filtered through HEARTBREAKERS into the ’80s. In other words, imagine a totally punked out version of CHOCOLATE WATCHBAND’s “Let’s Talk About Girls” in French and you’ve got the idea.

Overkill Triumph of the Will LP

This is like the WÜRM record, or one of those records on SST after the band has broken up. Too bad, because OVERKILL managed to blend equal parts of harsh metal and snarling punk. The vocals have a cool rasp sound that may give MOTÖRHEAD a run for their money.

Partibrejkers Partibrejkers LP

Out of left field (literally), this Yugoslav band has done a great job of resurrecting the best aspects of ’76-type punk. It’s a hard-rockin’, R’n’B-based punk style, reminiscent of JOHNNY MOPED or some early NY punk and proto-punk bands. Despite those roots though, PARTIBREJKERS manage not to be derivative, and almost every track has some spark of originality.

Phaidia In the Dark LP

Sensational dwellings into the mystical realm of haunting rhythms. Strong similarities to CHRISTIAN DEATH, PHAIDIA mist forth a long LP’s worth of magical, creeping, abrasive, and deadly harmonies that capture the spirit. Good instrumentation and frenzied vocals. If you can get this, it’s a bloody feast.

Poison Doku flexi EP

Two slower thrashy noise songs with slurring vocals that at times can be more annoying than enjoyable. The third song, musicwise, is a 180º change from the previous ones. It resorts more to a pop sound, but again the slurring vocals come spewing out. Nothing really special here.

Psycho 6 Song EP

Many personnel changes since their debut 12”, making this aggregation a little less popish and a bit more powerful. Without resorting to metal, this new disc should appeal to both punks and metallers. Lyrics: Desperate Anger Dept.

Rattus Will Evil Win cassette

RATTUS just isn’t the band I see going metal; their guitar structure is too HC to say the least. Even though there are plays at attempting a metal crossover, this is RATTUS and they still deliver strong hardcore riffs. Just ’cause a band does a few metallic leads doesn’t mean it’s metal. Some really decent RATTUS material of new form is here.

Sacrilege Behind the Realms of Madness LP

Will the headbangers like this? Musically, it’s that old thrash/metal half the time, and slower-paced metal at others. Lyrically, it’s not “satanic” at all, and instead covers political topics in a manner more complex than, say, DISCHARGE. I guess the main problem for the metalheads will be the female singer (best part of the record). Can they handle it?

Spastic Rats Rodentia EP

Where has this band been hiding? Definitely a well-kept secret, at least until now. This Maryland-based four-piece has unleashed six unruly, loud, pounding thrash tunes. The power is at an extreme and is the main factor in making this EP addicting. Watch out for these guys.

The Birthday Party A Collection… LP

The BIRTHDAY PARTY have left their mark on much music played today, and this comp collects some fine odds and ends, like “Release the Bats” and “Junkyard,” along with harder-to-find tracks like the unreleased “The Plague” or the alternate version of “Friendcatcher.” A treat for the true fan, or a good introduction.

The Fall This Nation’s Saving Grace LP

Mark E. Smith has always opted for making ugly, twisted music during the career of the FALL, so I expect him to be sacking just about everyone in the band after this record. They continue with hypnotic drone songs with sly pop melodies, with lyrical lashings against middle-class mores and attitudes.

The Front Man, You Gotta Move LP

Could be the West Coast’s answer to the PROLETARIAT, what with their older punk sound (not driving post-punk as with the PROL’s) and their non-clichéd political lyrics. The FRONT’s highly catchy powerhouse pop-punk makes them immediately memorable, but I suspect there’s staying power as well.

The Huns Gene Vincent’s 115th Dream LP

A very appealing release from a Midwest band on the English Hit label. They’re rockin’ ’60s psych meets ’70s punk with a little rockabilly thrown in and a DYLAN cover. At best, they have elements of both RADIO BIRDMAN and the NOMADS. Not as great as the above, but close.

The Lead It’s Thru You EP

Well, this was bound to happen sooner or later and boy, does it give me the creeps. Christian punk rock. Musically, it’s a mix of ’78 AVENGERS and a little SADO-NATION, but the lyrics are chock full of condemnation for not following the scriptures, anti-abortion, and questioning just who runs the liberals. Scares the shit out of me.

The Livers Spy Hunt EP

This LIVERS release is a varied affair. It’s got a ’60s-influenced garage pop number with a fuzz guitar break (“Spy Hunt”), two garage thrashers, and a garage punker (“Punk Jet”) that sound like they are recorded live, and a “progressive” number with synth (“Face Kicked In”). I could do without the latter, but the rest is pretty cool.

The Meteors Bad Moon Rising / Rhythm of the Bell 7″

A pretty uneventful outing for these normally exciting guys. Their cover of CREEDENCE’s classic is no improvement at all on the original, while the flip seems pretty uninspired as well. C’mon guys, get psycho!

The Not Kids Survive 12″

Mid-tempo pop combined with a rockin’ garage sound gives this record a very unique melodic style. The band’s curiosity to experiment with different musical influences can be heard throughout all six songs. A lot of diversity and talent result in a very catchy record. Great job.

The Psycho Daisies Pushin’ Up Daisies 12″

Named after a great YARDBIRDS song, this band is nothing at all in that rave-up vein, but rather sounds like tons of early ’70s blues rock bands. Laid back and uninspiring, this is in no way “alternative” or exciting. Not happening.

The Remains The Remains 2xLP

One of the greatest US ’60s bands gets reissued yet again (third time?). The first album contains all the tracks from their awesome ’66 LP, as well as all the 45 tracks from their heyday. The second disc contains mostly studio outtakes, only one of which (“I’m a Man”) really matches their pinnacles. Definitely worth snagging, for great R’n’B-based powerhouse rock ’n’ roll à la early STONES, KINKS, BEATLES.

The Sins Message From the Underground cassette

This band had a great pop/punk EP out a few years ago, and while this new tape still contains their gritty approach, the material is a bit slower (wasn’t too fast to begin with) and a bit more “heavy” (not metal, though; more like mid-period SAINTS). Decent.

Toxic Attitude Stupid Teenage Music EP

Haven’t heard a record quite this primitivo-garage in quite a while. I mean, they guys are barely out of the basement, let alone the garage. But the lyrics are not stupid, and as with some few records of this genre, they come across with charm in their ineptitude, making this a very enjoyable seven-song thrash/trash disc.

Stalag 17 / Toxic Waste From Belfast With Blood / The Truth Will Be Heard split LP

A split-LP by two great Irish bands. STALAG 17 puts forth two harsh, loud songs very much in the CONFLICT vein. Speed plus the changeover between male and female vocals makes the three songs by TOXIC WASTE interesting, too. Both bands have serious, hard-hitting lyrics which center on political unrest in Northern Ireland. Recommended.

Toy Dolls James Bond (Lives Down Our Street) / Olga…I Cannot! 7″

Again this English trio puts forth their great sense of humor and their ability to produce some incredible music. With this effort, we get two songs that just don’t want to leave the turntable. The A-side is a happy upbeat tune in the ever-so-familiar TOY DOLLS style, while the flipside is a bit slower and drags on at times, yet still comes off entertaining. The record will definitely put a smile on your face.

U-Men Stop Spinning LP

The best of post-punk without wimping out. In fact, this new one rips. You can hear BIRTHDAY PARTY, CRAMPS, and country blues influences, but the material stands on its own. Reminds me of NAKED RAYGUN and SCRATCH ACID in terms of classic post-punk originality and guts.

Ugly Americans Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed LP

This one took me by quick surprise. A vast improvement over their previous vinyl. The band has discovered a new crossover between musical styles and seem to be taking it in the right direction, with not as much of a metal influence as I expected. There’s more of a chaotic, awkward, complicated power pounding sound. The lyrics are creative and slightly twisted, but only add to the record’s sound. Hard to classify, but I like it!

Urgent Fury Urgent Fury cassette

“If there’s no discussion there’s no growth” is the byword here, and the lyrics and accompanying text/graphics certainly live up to the challenge. Musically, it’s surprisingly melodic (as in great pop punk thrash), considering the anger of the words. Very well done and should be sought out.

V/A Clockwork Orange County LP

They snuck this stuff out from behind the Orange Curtain, the stronghold of ultra-fanatical right-wingers here in the US. And yes, even in this suburban hell, an underground exists (and an extensive one at that). The likes of D.I., DOGGY STYLE, JUST BECAUSE, EXOBIOTA, CONVICTED, BLIND HATRED, LOVE CANAL, and tons more (only notable exclusion is UNIFORM CHOICE) turn in one song each in many varied punk styles. Good comp with high sound quality.

V/A Innocent Victims cassette

From Texas comes this compilation which features bands from across the country, with the exception of Italy’s RAW POWER. The majority of the material is in the thrash vein and comes from previously released demos or vinyl. Some standouts include MORAL DISGUST, AGNOSTIC FRONT, CHRONIC DISORDER, VERBAL ASSAULT, and ILL REPUTE.

V/A When Men Were Men… and Sheep Were Scared LP

Besides an outrageously funny and lewd cover, this comp delivers two tracks each by eight SoCal bands, most who hail from the Long Beach area; RHINO 39, VANDALS, RED BERET, CREWD, FALLEN IDOLS, SECRET HATE, NIP DRIVERS, and TARGET OF DEMAND turn in surprisingly unraucous tracks, mostly in the mid-tempo HC vein. Decent, but not mind-blowing.

V/A Anglican Scrape Attic flexi EP

It’s excellent, yes, with LA speed-metalists HIRAX who scream it out and through your throat; Japanese guitar aces EXECUTE deliver an excruciating blow; LIP CREAM always awesome; and from the UK, mindblowing speedcore stuff from CONCRETE SOX and SACRILEGE. Every person wants this ’cause it’s made by two people who are in the scene, Dig and Kalv. Thanks guys, until next time.

V/A Ljubljana cassette

Containing some powerful and well-recorded tracks from EPIDEMIJA, TOZIBABE, U.B.R., ODPADKI CIVILIZACIJE, and III KATEGORIJA, most of whom shred in the early Finnish tradition. Highly recommended.

V/A There’s More Than Male Voice Choirs in Wales cassette

This comp features 12 Welsh bands that represent a great sampling of talent from the area. Most of the songs are medium-paced, and the stand-outs include SLAUGHTERED TRADITION, NO CHOICE, and SOLDIER DOLLS. All in all, worth looking into. Booklet included.

V/A Vilag Lazadoi Harcra Fel EP

Hungary is well-represented by this four-track compilation EP, which contains some intriguing punk and hardcore material; especially powerful is ETA, whose track sounds amazingly like AGENT ORANGE’s “Bloodstains.” (This is on Primitiv Cozak, a division of France’s New Wave label dedicated to presenting Eastern European releases. More power to them for the initiative.) Some fine stuff on this one.

V/A Welthits Aus Hamburg cassette

This all-Hamburg comp (past and present bands) is accompanied by a 20-page booklet, and contains all sorts of punk and hardcore styles. The bands are largely unknown to me though some familiar monikers popped up (CHANNEL RATS, HH-MILCH, BOIKOTTZ, KOMA KOMBO, TORPEDO MOSKAU). Enjoyable historical retrospective.

V/A Who’ll Survive cassette

This latest comp from Hollenqual contains hot tracks from the likes of VICIOUS CIRCLE, HALF LIFE, NEGAZIONE, BLUTTAT, HEIMAT, CRUDE SS, GEPØPEL, DETONATORS, NIKOTEENS, DOWN SYNDROME, and more. Good sound quality, though there are several tracks that were submitted by bands off their vinyl releases. All in all, a powerful collection, including the tracks from unknowns like GROFTROSEN.

Vicious Circle The Price of Progress LP

Owing more to UK thrash than the US variety, this band rocks with the best of their ilk (DISCHARGE-spawned), coming forth with a whole host of powerful hardcore tunes. Includes a hot cover of TERVEET KÄDET’s “Outo Maa.” Excellent.