Reviews

MRR #444 • May 2020

Aargh Fuck Kill Ruled by the Insane LP

Better start cooking up that Knox gelatin, because this band out of Germany is throwing down some straight-up UK82 hardcore that will have you pissing cider all over your plaid bondage pants after passing out from too much glue. Some of the songs sound like DISCHARGE, some sound like VARUKERS, and others sound just like GBH. Does it break new ground? No, but they’ve got some pretty good riffs, and avoid the cheesiness that this sound can sometimes imply. If you’re one that likes to stick to the classics, check this out.

Abaddon Jarocin ’84 LP

With authoritarianism and fascism surging across the globe, we probably have more to learn from the Soviet Bloc-era punk bands now than at any point since the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Captured live at the one state-sponsored rock festival of the year in the Polish People’s Republic, this recording captures the band in their nascent stage, nearly a year before their first cassette release and two before their definitive Wet Za Wet LP (many songs from that album appear here, including standouts like “Apartheid” and “Kukly”). The elements that made them great are all on clear display here: the charismatic vocals, the martial rhythms, the heady and diverse songwriting that careens from reggae/ska to fluid blues-rock solos to driving hardcore. As the recording is sourced from a nearly 40-year-old tape there is a bit of occasional warble and some very minor dropouts but given those circumstances the mastering job is really impressive and on the whole it sounds fucking great. As there’s no crowd noise at all, this could easily be passed off as a live in studio session, a plus for those who would usually avoid live recordings. All the text is presented in Polish, but the beautiful gatefold features tons of photos from the festival and even the typed lyrics that had to be submitted to the censors in order for the band to be able to perform (a chilling glimpse of a potential future to be?). Warsaw Pact are doing amazing work, this and all the label’s other reissues are well worth your time and support.

Abwärts Amok Koma LP reissue

Reissue of the 1980 debut LP from ABWÄRTS, the influential West German post-punk group whose original lineup splintered not long after this album when half of the members defected for EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN. Much like early WIRE, ABWÄRTS relied on an urgent efficiency built around acute-angled guitar, buttoned-up rhythms, and tense/terse vocals—in particular, “Karo 1/4 08/15 Hoch 2” is 30 seconds of econo-punk agitation so close to the primary source that it might as well be a German-translated Pink Flag outtake. There’s enough detours that set Amok Koma apart from mere WIRE flattery, though, from the clattering, deconstructed “Monday on My Mind” (after the EASYBEATS’ ’60s smash “Friday on My Mind”), to the female vocals and mechanical stutter of “Bel Ami” that lean closer to ABWÄRTS’ Neue Deutsch Welle contemporaries like CARAMBOLAGE, to the group’s twin experiments with buzzing synth and processed violin squall in the more decidedly art-punk “Unfall.” This record is considered an ’80s Deutsch underground classic for a reason, and this is the first time that there’s been a pressing of it available outside Germany, so if you’re not already in the know, there’s one less barrier in your way now. (Weird side-note: for the reissue, the iconic original cover art was replaced by a completely different take as done by, uhh, Robert Pollard of GUIDED BY VOICES?)

The Apostles / Anathema Fight Back split 12″

This lovingly assembled release is as much a record reissue as it is a work of brilliant punk scholarship. The LP comes with a joint issue of two of the best music fanzines of the last decade (Negative Insight and Defiant Pose), featuring copious documentation and writing on the lost and unreleased anarcho punk releases of the 1980s. This split 12”, featuring London’s the APOSTLES and New Malden’s ANATHEMA, is among the most famous of those lost, unrecorded, or unreleased records. Originally slated to be released on Fight Back, a sublabel of CONFLICT frontman Colin Jerwood’s Mortarhate, this record stalled out at the test press stage. This left ANATHEMA without any vinyl releases over the course of their short lifetime and robbed the world of some great material by classic punk weirdos the APOSTLES. For those who love the anger, urgency, and underrated melodicism of 1980s UK anarcho punk as much as I do (that is, who love it enough to want more than just CRASS and CONFLICT records), this 12” is a really welcome addition to the collection. Not only is the music cool (particularly the APOSTLES material), but the zine really is quite lovely and informative. Recommended!

Android Chapter 001

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

Axe Rash Axe Rash LP

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

Basic Dicks Dick Tape

There’s a lot to uncover here, and all of it good. Rock-solid drums and a forceful bass maintain the necessary foundation so the other three can unleash. The guitar downstrokes are like a machine, with single-note melodies and a lead that takes up most of “Slap,” and are likely the sonic focus of the release for the casual listener. For the front of the band, I don’t know whether to concentrate on the power of the dual femme vocals or the visceral wit of the content, but they are part and parcel—fury sometimes hits the hardest when it’s demeaning and tongue in cheek, and this is where BASIC DICKS excel. The attack is smart and spot on, assailing the male narrative as it relates to (or defines) assault, objectification, and the narrative itself.

Belly Jelly What It Is EP

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

Benny and the Roids Predictions EP

I am soooo stoked I get to review this. My favorite tape of 2015, and maybe one of my favorites of all time, gets committed to vinyl so it doesn’t get all warbly and warped in your crappy boombox. Originally released on the unequaled Silenzio Statico label, this is now given the deluxe treatment by the supreme folk at Discos MMM. I was lucky enough to see this band tear it up in the backyard of the Poor Kid’s Mansion in Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles back then, and the singer cried and crooned the whole time, wearing a twelve-pack box over his head. Touching and memorable for sure. This release, to me, cries out classic late ’70s/ early ’80s LA punk: the EYES, PLUGZ, ALLEY CATS, and BAGS are all represented in spirit. There’s also a big helping of ’79 UK working class shout and melody thrown in, like SHAM or CHELSEA, even though I kinda hate CHELSEA. I guess super street and super LA is what I’m trying to say here, and if “Passive Aggressive” doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, you’re too fucking hard, man, and should chill. Buy this now! And someone please send me a decent burrito. I’m dying.

Bent Out of Shape Demo 2020 CD

First release from this streetpunk outfit hailing from the Netherlands, and with any luck it will be their last. Workmanlike riffs twinned with anaemic attempts at barked vocals, laced with a series of increasingly cringe-inducing film quotes; so far so modern streetpunk. Vague and indirect small “p” political lyrics railing against authority and lying politicians, not to mention the prerequisite football tune, and it’s nothing we haven’t heard one thousand times before. One to miss.

Black Uniforms Splatter Punx on Acid CD reissue

OMG, I almost typed “Splatter Punks”… This is thrashing, metal-soloed Swedish D-beat by the ultimate Splatter PUNX! On Acid, apparently, because there are plenty of bizarrely psychedelic moments, Motör-charged punk’n’roll, leather-reeking athemic riffs, and obscured samples—BLACK UNIFORMS always play with a grandiose Swedish vocal power, recalling parts CONFLICT in conviction and lyrical content, parts KAFKA PROSESS, parts SODOM. Get this CD and Faces of Death if your heart beats punk vitriol but your breath smells like greasy metal!

C.H.E.W. In Due Time EP

You’re flung backwards down some stairs into another room, sprung into the middle of a pit. You come to, thinking maybe four bands are playing at once but it’s all C.H.E.W, there’s just an extra frequency in there that pops up like an intrusive thought, real wacko sound only the baddest saliva animals can creepy crawl to. Doris’s nasal recriminations give way to a full sputtering throat and suddenly there are duelling riffs in five dimensions. A fastidiously choreographed meltdown executed with a similar deranged flair to IMPALERS, but way more petulant. Fuck!!! There’s an extra sub woof-woof-woof of vicious stomp. A song named for a disease you can only get from eating cat shit. Hot feedback. Is that a mosh part played backwards? You can’t feel your head. C.H.E.W have taken the hardcore palette and gone full Abstract Expressionist with it. There’s echoes of that GELD LP from last year, which makes sense because thinking about it Iron Lung put that out too. Exactly the type of factoid some punisher will whisper in your ear as you’re squeezing out the juice from these insane fractal solos. Maybe I am the punisher. Now my sweat is in your eyes and you forgot to shield your kidneys from the mass of feet and elbows and now things feel leaky but hey, that’s why you have two. Emboldened, you rip one out as an offering.

Chaos UK Stunned to Silence CD reissue

Indeed, this is a stunning racket of CHAOS UK classic ripper punk. The first fifteen tracks are a grisly, minimally tracked echoing rehearsal take, slightly edited between songs in all its crudity. Super washed-out with pulverizing drums and brash vokills from Mower.  Portishead, England must have had their windows insulated that night. Classic raw ’80s hardcore with vocals, drums, bass, guitar—all arguing together and sounding like absolute cohesive chaos! Some of the more mid-tempo songs are awesomely punctuated for the production quality. The second fourteen tracks are a live gig at Rokumeikan Club in Tokyo. Much heavier production, scrapping guitars, grumbling drums, this half is even more distorted. For punx, by the punks, CHAOS UGHH! This is an expensive cassette, so here’s your chance to get it much easier.

Chubby and the Gang Speed Kills LP

The impressive cover from this London band’s debut full-length album has already totally caught my attention. Sound like exactly everything I have heard all my life—it is energizing, fun, aggressive with a few breaks for melodies and melancholy, like COCK SPARRER. As if SLADE had met MOTÖRHEAD in a perfect space-time.

Cock Pliers Sex Traffic Rush Hour LP

Blasting grind insanity that asks more questions than it answers. The keyboards are understated, but give this Minneapolis outfit an occasional mainstream black metal sound that is a sharp contrast to the abrasive atonal machine-gun blast attack that dominates most of the tracks. Like PG.99 and SOCKEYE combining forces to cover KVIST…a truly weird collection of instrument/alists (eight of them…? Maybe?)…or maybe a one-person bedroom project. Songs include “Meat Fukkr,” Man Bun in the Oven” and “Circle of Sodomy,” which should get you headed in the right direction. I made it to the last track, “Dick Chisel,” and I’m still trying to figure out what I’m listening to…which is absolutely a compliment.

Cold Meat Hot and Flustered LP

Perth’s COLD MEAT were practically perfect from their first utterance, the Sweet Treats tape released nigh on five years back. I say “practically” to acknowledge that their atonal KBD clang, personal-political feminist lyrics and ever-changing pseudonyms stuck fast to a template established by GOOD THROB a few years prior. Hot and Flustered, COLD MEAT’s debut album, eclipses that minor issue majorly—this sounds like no individual entity so much as the latest raging entry in a half-century continuum of fucked-off snarky DIY punk. There are hooks on here visible from space, highlighted by a spot-on production, and lyrical earworms in waiting. Ashley Ack, as she goes by this time, is imperious here, one of punk’s current vocal powerhouses for sure, and at certain points (the closing section of “Women’s Work,” notably) seems to channel the spirit of Vi Subversa, the POISON GIRLS absolutely being part of that continuum I mentioned. A blazing band that keeps getting even better.

Concrete Sox Sewerside CD reissue

Fuzzy crossover metal punk from Nottingham. Short mad burst of thrash punk fury while at its core is A-political stenchcore riding the wave of the late ’80s thrash explosion. That’s the real standout here: the Anarcho-punk stench is unrivaled through snotty coarse vocals, fanatically harsh D-beat/thrash drumming, and melodic breakdown with dirgey subterranean riffs carrying them through. Like the grooves of S.O.D. with the importance of C.O.C. Messy and punk technical thrash with Scandi-style ten-second guitar solos. This is actually a really fun listen. It’s aggressive, has bizarre samples, the lyrics are smart, the metal is up your arse and the punk is in your face. I first heard CONCRETE SOX on the Endless Struggle 1-in-12 comp and they sounded like DOOM meets OI POLLOI. Every time I got into a “new” CONCRETE SOX recording, it’s something new to experience. Anywhere from SORE THROAT to SUICIDAL to GANG GREEN. Sometimes that can seem confusing. But in their case somehow it is exciting. Keep it salty, keep it strange.

Cran Samedi Minuit EP

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

Crush Crusher I Wish Punk Was Dead cassette

A much delayed review for this 2019 piece of Bible Belt brilliance. Oklahoma City’s CRUSH CRUSHER sounds like a product of their environment, the result of their collective pasts. Frustrated and manic hardcore punk played with the conniving mystery that comes from needing to find alternate ways home sneaking through alleys, and the ferocity that is learned when you get caught. The songs (and delivery) are chaotic, with distant vocals as if shouted from a different room—the result is a primitive but massive sound that “bigger” bands struggle to replicate. Twelve tracks, clocking in around thirteen minutes with an indescribably weird CRASS cover as a closer. Recommended.

Cyclone Furies Cyclone Furies CD

My lads—twin boys, currently aged seven—have consistently, good pre-teen rebels that they are, asserted to their dad that they hate punk rock. This all changed last week while listening to the DAMNED’s Machine Gun Etiquette. Thus it came to pass that we were off somewhere and I was playing CYCLONE FURIES’ CD in the car…and the self-same music critics asked if this was punk, too. I assured them it was, and they repeated that they (still) like punk rock. This quintet isn’t quite up there with the majesty of that era of the DAMNED, but they definitely lean heavily on the early RAMONES, in terms of song structures, chord sequences, et al. And despite the addition of keyboards (hey, so did the DAMNED!), they carry it off well enough.

Dakiniz Raging Shouts CD

Spastic angular noise rock from France. Borderline ’90s emo with a bit of DRIVE LIKE JEHU and JON SPENCER in the mix. I couldn’t get into this. It’s so loosely arranged and drawn out I kept getting lost in the songs. Oh well.

Dasterds Cherophobia CD

First full-length from this Michigan quartet. They describe themselves as a power pop/pop-punk band. Which I guess is kind of fair enough. They also claim that they have emotionally-driven lyrics about stuff like conservative relatives and toxic masculinity, but my aged eyes can’t actually read the tiny font that the lyrics are printed on. Though I’m happy to take them at their word. Musically, I reckon they’re like a cross between later-period DAG NASTY and classic-era HOT WATER MUSIC. They possess fantastic chiming twin guitars that old fuckers like me would claim is very reminiscent of the last SKIDS album (i.e. the one before Stuart Adamson went on to form BIG COUNTRY—as in those kind of chiming guitars), though a lesser hack would just assert that there are lots of IRON MAIDEN-ish twin guitar solos…which’d be fairly accurate, too. Which is a long way of saying this record fucking rocks.

Dead Cells I LP

With their brooding and dark sound on the aggressive end of the melodic punk spectrum, it’s actually surprising to me that this band isn’t from Portland. DEAD CELLS are from Vancouver, BC, which, it turns out, actually gets even more rainfall than the capital of brooding, melodic punk. Drenched in chorus effects, with desperate, panicky vocals and melodramatic drum compositions, this record delivers a sound likely to appeal to fans of angsty Northwestern punk like the OBSERVERS and the WIPERS. This record stands apart from the pack with a strong leaning toward classic death rock and a subtle surf vibe that peeks through intermittently. The vocals forgo cool guy slickness, instead veering toward Roz Williams territory—a welcome break from the norm. Definitely an aesthetic that is relevant in the current historical moment and not to be missed for fans of punk that runs on melodic, bittersweet, joyous despair.

Degollada Demo

DEGOLLADA is a new band from Buenos Aires with members of VENENO and FORRA, and just released their demo through Corona Rx, a label created during the quarantine. With a primitive and very effective punk sound, their influences are from German punk bands like DEUTSCHER ABSCHAUM. DEGOLLADA brings drumbeats and cymbals that sound like broken glass and a hypnotic and catchy guitar sound that blends perfectly with the vocals. Just four songs that are passed around as if they were just one. Anxious waiting for more material, hopefully soon!

Disable …Slamming in the Depths of Hell EP

Damn—a solid decade of disbeat noise from Atlanta’s DISABLE? I welcome it just like I welcome these six bursts of manic distortion into my life. It would be easy to keep cranking out amped-up, mindless D-beat distortion (and I wouldn’t mind), but DISABLE pays attention to the little things: the bit of weird chaotic melody before the stop in the title track, the start/stop that opens “False Flag,” turning “Death’s Head” into slow-motion robotic repetition instead of making it the mandatory mid-tempo stomp that every D-beat record seems to have. The closer, “Whistling Death,” is interrupted by noise, but it sounds like it was actually interrupted instead of some calculated electronics-not-music exercise to prove they aren’t just a run of the mill D-beat band. All of this is to say that DISABLE are, in fact, another D-beat band, but that they’ve used their ten years (and counting) in the game to create something different (and dare I say “interesting”) within the confines of the genre. Killer slab.

Disavow Disavow LP

Total collision of preconceptions and aesthetics here, and the dust is still settling. Sweden’s DISAVOW are nothing if not impactful, which is to say that I bolted up straight as soon as the intro was over—the demand was instant and undeniable. Modern straightedge hardcore, with roots that reach for MODERN LIFE IS WAR instead of the first (or secod, or third?) waves of ’core, and with a serious fire lit under their ass, and DISAVOW sound real, which is what makes them feel special. I think the term “post-hardcore” probably applies here as well, but this is just an altogether massive slab: intense, honest, emotional, powerful music that needs to be listened to from start to finish, and repeatedly.

Discharge Noise Not Music 3xLP box set

F.O.A.D. has a reputation for doing great retrospective releases with lavish packaging and lots of unreleased material. They pulled out all the stops for this most important of bands: three LPs, a bonus 7”, a hardbound book (in the size and shape of an LP, to fit in the box) and a poster. The first live LP features a shockingly good audience recording of a 1980 London gig. This was previously bootlegged as the First Ever London Show LP but this version sounds cleaner and captures the band’s early fire and energy. I really enjoyed this recording as it’s all the early 7” material, played with great verve and gusto. You can tell these guys are young and fired up with a new sound and message. A rare documentation of music history in the making. The second LP is a soundboard recording from Detroit from 1982. I don’t think this recording has surfaced before, except perhaps among tape traders. The third live LP is a soundboard recording from the 100 Club from 1983 and features more of the Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing-era material. It captures the band’s progression into a more metallic realm, but still comes across as pure hardcore, just with the added high-pitched scream or lead here and there. The highlight of this release, though, is the book. There are lots of flyers, photos and press clippings, many never before seen. Rich “Militia” Walker does an entertaining job of retelling how much DISCHARGE was reviled by the music press while at the same time inspiring a diehard following of devoted fans. He is pretty fair and balanced, is in a good position to measure the band’s worldwide impact on music, and I think he was a good choice to handle this important task. The DISCHARGE story related here ends abruptly in 1983 with Price of Silence. Notably omitted is the second US tour with BATTALION OF SAINTS; however, some flyers from those gigs are featured and one of the live LPs is from this era. Not told is the story of DISCHARGE’s later years and the third US tour, perhaps for the better. Absent from the proceedings is Cal, so we don’t get his voice on the early days or the band’s message. But this doesn’t detract too much from the overall package—and what a package it is. We may take a moment to contrast the lavish nature of a triple-LP box set and hardbound book to the raw and urgent 7” singles of the early days. I do enjoy F.O.A.D.’s deluxe reissues and the care that goes into them. At times it seems far from the roots of hardcore, but as diehard fan, I appreciate the attention to quality and detail. Is this release essential? No. Is it a rare treat for diehard DISCHARGE fans? Yes. If it’s in your budget and you love DISCHARGE, it’s certainly worth picking up for the book and graphics alone, even if you don’t care for live albums.

Duck & Cover Two Shots EP

This is good, though I wouldn’t say great, garage rock’n’roll. Oddly, it’s the relative talent of the musicians that keeps it from making that hurdle from good to great. They’re possibly too talented for their own good, which leads to some extracurricular solo performances that just have never done it for me. If you take a good rock band and throw in some extra guitar licks and/or drum solos and you’ve almost got metal. Track number two is a sort of rock ballad that strikes me as a nod to their Northeast roots. It’s the third and final track, “Unlucky 17,” that is the highlight for me. More stripped down and straightforward, it’s also extremely catchy and melodic.

E.A.T.E.R. A Momentary Relapse For No Reason CD

There’s some serious latitude given here, since ERNST AND THE EDSHOLM REBELS were responsible for a couple of crucial ’80s Scandinavian slabs, but this disc is utterly forgettable. The guitar leads are interesting, and are mostly enough to hold my interest, but the majority of this is artificially overproduced slog that actually sounds like a record made by some dudes who recorded a killer EP in 1984 (fun fact: they did), and then developed a taste for commercial stoner rock as adults. I like a couple of the modern releases, most notably 2013’s Abort the System EP, but this one just doesn’t do it, and that’s before I even get to the twelve-plus minute “Dirty Waters” that closes the CD.

Enemy Distrust cassette

Ooh baby, this is tough. Heavy hardcore riffs and tough-as-nails breakdowns. ENEMY doesn’t come off particularly like tough guys, though. Do I feel that way because of the polite hand-written note which accompanied the cassette? Perhaps it’s because of the band name and song titles written in pink paint marker directly onto the cassette shell in lieu of any sort of artwork? Either way, I dig the effort. I can’t find any info about the band, but I hope to because this is hard enough to get us aging punkers out of mosh retirement.

F.U.P. Noise and Chaos LP

It is incredible just how many absolutely fucking fantastic bands existed on the periphery of the Japanese hardcore scene, and it is equally delightful that so many labels and archivists are taking the time to reveal these bands to the world and preserve their works and legacy.  F.U.P. were a fixture in the Sapporo scene whose entire discography appeared on demo and compilation tapes save two tracks on an MCR local compilation flexi (those are invaluable resources when it comes to finding “lost” and overlooked Japanese bands). Their sound is unusual for the late ’80s/early ’90s when they were active, very primitive and dark with a DISCHARGE-derived backbone and aggressive growled vocals à la Masami or Cherry.  Perhaps inevitably some of the recordings are a tad limp and can only be perked up so much by remastering, but plenty of these tracks hit hard as fuck and it’s plenty novel to hear a Japanese band that straddles the line between crust and aggressive hardcore at a time when ACID, MACROFARGE and NIGHTMARE were all active. The packaging is fairly bare-bones (would have loved to see the sleeves and inserts of all the demos and such) but that’s a minor complaint when the record is such a blazer.

Fellini A Melhor Coisa Que Eu Fiz (84-90) LP

A collection of alternate versions and previously unreleased tracks recorded between 1984 and 1990 by cult Brazilian post-punks FELLINI, who formed out of São Paulo’s thriving underground scene in the mid-’80s. The group’s initial influences skewed toward greyscale UK post-punk in an early Factory Records fashion, with spindly guitar work, bass-driven melodies, sparse drum machine, and somewhat oblique vocals tracing similar lines as the ones drawn by the DURUTTI COLUMN, early NEW ORDER, and even JOSEF K, without really sounding overtly like any of them (see some of the earlier tracks on the LP, like “É Chato” or “Premonição”). And just as nearly all of the most interesting early post-punk bands ultimately needed to push back against what quickly became a too-rigid genre orthodoxy if they stayed together for any extended amount of time, with the ’80s giving way to the ’90s, echoes of Brazilian samba and Tropicália started surfacing in the still-stark FELLINI sound, with the incorporation of acoustic guitars, breezy vocals, and jazzy rhythms in songs like “O Destino” and “Por Toda Parte” that owed more to OS MUTANTES than, say, JOY DIVISION. That progression is made apparent in the way that A Melhor Coisa Que Eu Fiz is sequenced, but it’s also such a gradual and natural evolution that all of the tracks could have just as easily been the product of one recording session, rather than pulled from half a decade’s worth of material. This is a really solid and lovingly assembled anthology for a group that hasn’t gotten a ton of recognition in more Euro/US-centric narratives of second-wave post-punk in the 1980s, and well worth investigating if you’re unfamiliar with FELLINI and at all interested in dismantling that particular canon.

Fist Fight on Ecstacy The Next Batch EP

Drug-fueled SoCal metallic punk. The majority of the songs are fast, but they are most interesting when they slow down (“Being the Elite”). Vocals are just slightly off time some of the time, which gives them a realistic feel. Like a weird doll facsimile of a thing that you thought you liked until you saw the fake version. Maybe you work with some squares who know about commercial punk, like, just enough to know the difference between radio “punk” and BLACK FLAG and stuff. Well, this is what they think you’re into when you tell them you’re a punk.

Foc La Fera Ferotge LP

This first album from an intriguing band direct from Barcelona, featuring frenetic drums, a noise guitar with small melodies and the intensity and unevenness of spoken Catalan vocals. This band sounds like a manifesto, an urgent and necessary call. As if CONFLICT heard noise in 2020.

Fractured Fractured Demo

FRACTURED is a new band from Montreal featuring ex-members of quite a few bands whose records are already in your collection. Their stated objective is to play “UK82 like BROKEN BONES, but at a faster pace” and that’s a good place to start. But they are far from a clone of BROKEN BONES or any UK82 band, really. In fact, that scene might have provided inspiration, but the guitar tone and overall production have a sound that is far from retro. The song structures do owe much to pre-crossover BROKEN BONES, but I feel like there is also some influence in structure and pacing from POISON IDEA and “Burning Spirits” Japanese hardcore. The guitar tone is more crisp and dry than something like BROKEN BONES—in fact, it reminds me a lot of the sound of EXIT ORDER, or maybe some of those mid-’80s Norwegian bands. All of this is to say that despite being inspired by BROKEN BONES and having some wicked Bones-inspired guitar leads, this band has a pretty fresh and original sound which draws on the rich history of the hardcore genre.

Fragment Serial Mass Destruction EP

Maddening raw D-beat out of Nova Scotia that leans toward the ANTI CIMEX side of things. They take the Raped Ass sound, cut the guitar leads, and add blast beats, vocal echo, and even a breakdown into the mix. None of that, however, takes away from the crashing chaos that drives this record full speed ahead towards a sheer cliff with the brakes on fire. If you’re ready to take that ride, then give this a whirl.

Fragment Serial Mass Destruction EP

I recall giving this band’s 2017 12″ a fairly lukewarm review, an action that won’t be repeated today. Been hearing quite a few mediocre to bad “crasher crust” records lately—this is definitely not one of those! The noize is there, alongside the de rigeur vocal reverb and B&W DISCHARGE/DISCLOSE graphic design scheme but the songwriting elevates this record well past its contemporaries. These five tracks fly by at 45 RPM, with impressive use of dynamics and tempo changes, memorable riffs and choruses that stick with you long after the needle has left the vinyl. The shuffling stench-core derived breakdown that closes the EP is just fantastic. This is a keeper!

Fried E.M. Modern World LP

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

Garrapata Demo

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

Haircut Sensation EP

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

Hakan Tempuras Never Come / Mr. DNA 7″

This is right up my alley. Two songs, including a DEVO cover, each clocking in at under two minutes? Yes! If it’s good, I can put it on again. If I don’t like, I got away with not too much commitment. Up-tempo and catchy, super head-bouncy melodic, straightforward coming right at you, this is the complete package. These guys are all about business. Each song starts, they whip you into a frenzy, and before you can finish, the song is over, leaving you wanting for me. Nice work. They’re from Italy, if you pay attention to stuff like that.

Hank Wood and the Hammerheads Use Me EP

Get the impression that my take on HANK WOOD AND THE HAMMERHEADS’ discography to date—improving on each release and peaking with their self-titled third LP from 2018—is widely considered uncool, verboten, wrong even. A great pity if so, as this is the stance that allows the easiest enjoyment of Use Me, a four-song EP which carries on down that testifyin’ soul-punk road and adds a little extra spit and polish as it goes. Opening track “Look at You” is one of those textbook Hank Wood vocal shakedowns, where he dresses down some unidentified foe into the dirt but does it with a peculiar affection. “Strangers” is tearjerker doo-wop it’s permissible to stagedive to, “Tomorrow” the chant of the eternal bozo optimist (“Tomorrow’s gonna turn my love around!”) with some unlikely post-punky reverb, and the closing title track pushes some equally unlikely ’90s alt buttons via sugary female backing vox.

Headsplitters Headsplitters LP

Mad, clean blasts of highly aggressive D-beat hardcore fury from NYC. Vocal cords strained and lost, and the hopeless abandon in its essence sounds metaphorically lost as well. The drums piledrive through with tumbling, slightly sloppy fills, and I mean that in a good way. Solo piano moments break up the assault of furious hardcore. Some metallic crust riffs from HEADSPITTER on this one contrast with their earlier, more Scandi-style recordings, and classic hardcore riffs with optimist attitude are abound, counteracting the bleak tone of everything else. All the songs hit all the marks between two and three minutes, keeping the adrenaline pedal pinned. “At What Cost?” is my favorite track, with lots of variety. Sixteen tracks of quintessential jaded, brooding NYC hardcore from this powerful three-piece.

Holehog Radiation Blues cassette

Nothing less than exactly what you expect from just one quick look at the cover, Sacramento’s HOLEHOG offers up nine bursts of street punk with studs ’n’ snarls. UK (like GBH) collides with US (like DEATHREAT) with zero bullshit and riffs for days and the only thing sharper than the sonic delivery is the honest intensity in the vocals. Members of SSYNDROM, MONSTER SQUAD and others for those keeping track, but HOLEHOG are making a pedigree all their own.

Internal Rot Grieving Birth LP

It’s noteworthy that a record label run by two members of a grindcore band so rarely releases the stuff, but it’s not hugely surprising. Grind (like most genres) attracts the type of people obsessed with it to the exclusion of anything else, and to the inclusion of some pretty generic crud; IRON LUNG’s Jensen and Jon are clearly not that type, so when they help a grindcore record into the world, expectations are of elite tier material. INTERNAL ROT, from Melbourne, matches that expectation. The trio’s past offerings hardly slouched, but Grieving Birth ascends a level again with relentless precision blasts, hideously thick downtuning and vocals that might veer a little far into the “slam death” style for some tastes (suits me fine, personally). Needless to say, you’ll need to take the lyrics on trust, but they’re excellent: gruesome apocalyptica and grouchy scene politics in psychedelically strange syntax, not unlike some of Chris Dodge’s musings in SPAZZ. This album might be considered a standard-bearer for grindcore in years to come.

Kaleidoscope After the Futures… LP

This one dropped last year and justifiably popped onto more than a few folks’ 2019 “best of” lists. New York’s KALEIDOSCOPE has taken the screws to modern hardcore, not so much reinterpreting or combining elements from various crucial points in the historical procession of fads and subgenres, but reinventing them altogether. What if Pick Your King had been born of the Crass Records scene, for example? After The Futures… is nothing if not a complete album as opposed to a collection of tracks. “Feeling Machine” closes the first side with a perfect dose of driving desperation. It’s the kind of track that is supposed to end a side—after listening to Shiva (guitar/vox) spit fire for two minutes and then drop into an “Indecision Time” caliber micro-lead, you fucking need the break that flipping the wax mandates. They are more than capable of dropping a killer hardcore record, but there are only shades of that on this full-length, enough to make sure that you know that they know, but KALEIDOSCOPE are bigger than that. Experimentation and freedom; existence within the construct while altering the expectations of same. You’re gonna hear people talk about jazz, about psychedelic free-form nonsense when they talk about this record…but make no mistake: this one is Punk. With any luck, this one is The New Punk that will spawn a new generation of imitators who also get tired of doing what they are supposed to do, just like KALEIDOSCOPE did.

Kathabuta Discography 1989-1997 3xCD

As the world seemingly races to unearth and re-release every scrap from the now vast history of Japanese hardcore, there’s a reason why this job is often best left to their local scene who knew the bands and were part of their evolution and history. This expansive and detailed collection of Hiroshima’s KATHABUTA features 20 songs from 1989-1991 on the first disc from the band’s best known releases: a whiplash-inducing speedy eight-track double flexi from 1990 and their crushing metallic tracks from 1991’s Starving Dog Eats Master compilation. Rounded out with demo and comp tape appearances, this first disc is full of classic call-and-response chorus-barked Japanese hardcore, which echoes (but doesn’t quite mimic) Hiroshima’s best known ’80s export GUDON. There’s a bit more dramatic staging, progressive metallic riffage and slathering vocal bark, batting strongly and with enough distinctive flair that deep-dive fans of Japanese hardcore should seek this one out immediately!  The second and third discs pick up with the band a few years and a couple member changes later, with largely studio demo and pre-recordings for unreleased projects from 1994 through 1997. While maintaining the same bold energy, spirit and savage vocals, the musical impetus shifts to crushing progressive hard rock, lumbering grunge and layers of psychedelic guitar, with even with a few songs that head in a funky RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS direction. It’s as deep of a change as DIE KREUZEN ventured after the first album, with the same underlining strong musicianship and moody threads, but outside a couple boiling riff monsters, not consistently relying on and growing beyond the standard structure of “hardcore” for impact… In Japan, community and friendship can be as large of a part of hardcore as music, fashion and lyrics, and ending the trappings of hardcore doesn’t necessarily exclude inclusion as part of that community when the spirit still remains. Hardcore might even have a broader meaning or inclusive idea itself than other countries, the same way late-’80s SST was rooted in punk, but not stuck with a strict definition of what that had to be artistically. This band’s interesting evolution might be skipped over for just the thrash tracks if released outside of Japan and might miss a more avant audience who would dig its later grungy SACCHARINE TRUST-meets-Japanese-hardcore freaky weirdness. These eighteen tracks showcase potential that might have never fully realized with instrumental (or unfinished) songs and some that hit a few sour notes; they are still definitely fun to chew on, especially since distance from when they were recorded gives them a unique fresh impact. A thick booklet exhaustively documents the band’s history with tons of flyers, liner notes, photos, ticket stubs and a timeline. Cool release!

Klonns Vulgar CD

Holy shit. This is my shit—hyper-distorted pummeling D-beat noise. I know, I know… but seriously KLONNS is like the heaviness of COFFINS, the gnarly ferocity of D-CLONE, the driving beat of SYMPTOM and the embittered sincerely of FRAMTID. Fly your brain into the blacked clouds with this brief demonstration of gargantuan hardcore noise and gut-churning death-beat punk. I’ve been so fucking frustrated with this COVID-19 pandemic and our living situations… this was the guttural brain-cooking death punk attack I needed. Desperately. The last track is an ABRAHAM CROSS cover. Killer! Recommended for simple-minded D-beat Tokyo crasher crust romantics. NWOJHC!

Kriegshög Paint It Black / White Out 7″

Latest release by Tokyo’s hardcore veterans, with almost fifteen years under their belt. As with their previous release, their sound has changed a bit from the raging Mangel thrash-esque “Magma Beat Hell” approach. Perhaps due to the lineup change, the approach has shifted from blown-out noisy hardcore to mid-paced hardcore with a cleaner guitar tone, reminesent of DISCHARGE’s non D-beat mid-tempo songs such as “Decontrol” or “State Violence State Control” more than something you will hear from the kangpunk approach like “Victims of a Bomb Raid” or “Nitad.” Still, seeing that they’re a raging hardcore band based out of Tokyo, it’s hard to say they’ve toned down a bit; the sound has matured in its unique manner. It’s not overtly noisy or intense sounding like their earlier releases, but focused more on subtle intensity that is quietly building up. Perhaps it’s their long career or maybe it’s the cultural influences that it has, seems like it’s an output of aggression that is rather unique to an environment like Tokyo. The B-side still carries on with their no-bullshit, raging hardcore punk.

Leather Lickers Spit EP

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

Lifelock 2018 EP

2018 EP is a vinyl version of their tape released on Brain Solvent Propaganda. Just by looking at their logo, it’s obvious that LIFELOCK from Singapore pays homage to late ’80s/early ’90s UKHC DISCHARGE worshippers DISASTER. Simply said, LIFELOCK does sound like DISASTER meets DISCLOSE. For the majority of the punks out there, it usually just starts and ends with “Oh, it sounds like DISCHARGE.” DISASTER indeed was an early-era DISCHARGE worshipping punk band (so was DISCLOSE). Yes, the beat, distortion, chords, song structure, and lyrics are all more or less the same as that one band we keep hearing about, but the specific atmosphere is executed quite well. LIFELOCK gets that very specific intense weight in the air that DISASTER had, but DISCLOSE or even DISCHARGE lacked. LIFELOCK continues to deliver their fear and anxiety driven anthem of the apocalypse. The final song is a DISASTER cover.

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

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

Lost Puppy Forever Year of the Dog 7″

San Francisco wife/husband duo, featuring Boom of BOOM & THE LEGION OF DOOM and the IDIOTS, and Scarlet from the MEAT SLUTS. Four songs of catchy, lo-fi, trashy punk rock. Simple rhythms emphasized by Scarlet’s screeching powerful vocals. As the band says: “lots of bark, sweat and treats on this EP,” indeed.

Lost System Left Behind LP

Doom and gloom rain-soaked goth punk here, drowned in atmospheric synth and chorus-inflected bass. Blank, disaffected vocals intone over a downward spiral death-disco of chopped and sped-up CURE riffs, the concoction owing much to contemporaries like DIAT or TOTAL CONTROL. “You Won’t Find Me Now” builds into a chaotic maelstrom of psychotic drums and sax blurts that for some reason reminds me of the first ICEAGE album, more in the claustrophobic feelings generated than actual sound. The album closes with the nine-minute long epic title track, which rather than take the group into new sonic dimensions, simply takes the ideas of the previous seven songs and spaces them out, murdering one riff and repeating to infinity. A bleak but not unenjoyable listen for these dark times. 

Low Card De La Muerte El Paris Savage Video Violence CD

Nagoya’s LOW CARD DE LA MUERTE have been raging outside of the North American consciousness for years now, but hopefully this monstrous full-length will put an end to that and place them firmly on our radar. It’s hard to describe how much energy there is crammed into this little piece of encoded plastic, but the songs explode off of the disc and never (ever) let up. Their blazing hardcore has elements of early ’00s thrash, delivered with an ear toward their Japanese forebears and tongue firmly planted in cheek. Songs like “Massgomi Operations” leave you breathless after a sub-30 strafing and “VxAxCx” shows their mastery over weirdness, making the sheer bizarre insanity of the construction sound like it belongs. Fifteen tracks (in fourteen minutes) followed by a ten-song rehearsal recording that could easily stand as its own separate (and equally killer) release. The rehearsal takes are raw, even faster, more straightforward and pack just as much energy, which gives the entire full-length a feel like you’re listening to a band splitting a set with…themselves. I am seriously blown away. 2018’s El Paris Radio Massacre Sessions disc was great, but this is one of the best releases I have heard all year.

Low Rats The Corner / Weird Tales of the Falling Down 7″

LOW RATS have a proto-punk meets ’90s garage rock style. Rockabilly-ish guitars with boogie-woogie piano playing topped by a crooning singer. “The Corner” is IGGY meets NEW YORK DOLLS, while “Weird Tales of the Falling Down” moves into the early CBGB’s meets Goner Records scene. The music is well-played with a bit of grit, and the vocals are drawling and whiny in interesting ways. Both songs are pretty catchy, too. Available in a super limited, handcut run of 25 copies. Probably too late.

Lvger Fvll Villain LP

Have you ever wondered what it’d sound like if HIGH ON FIRE’s Matt Pike decided to stop dicking about and get into full MOTÖRHEAD worship instead? Me neither, and as it turns out it’s a question that probably should remain unanswered; in the ether. LVGER’s debut full-length only clocks in at six songs but feels about six years; with several tracks pushing an agonising four minutes in length, the sheer lack of urgency or any self-control really begins to drag at stages. While the riffs are undoubtedly robust, there’s more than a little of the bootcut jean about this record and it’s hard to ignore. Not for me.

Mad Rollers I Need Your Love / Did You See 7″

Inspired by bands like the BRIEFS and the EXPLODING HEARTS, these guys pump out a couple of power pop numbers that will take a total of a little less than six minutes of your time. While I wouldn’t necessarily put them in the same league as either of the aforementioned bands, I would say that this record is super solid and it will end up spending a little bit of time on my turntable. They’re from Italy, if you pay attention to stuff like that.

Malos Tiempos Bastardos ¿No Lo Ves? ¡Muerto Estás! CD

Traditional anti-authoritarian, Basque radical punk. A thick, sturdy rhythm section and huge throaty vocal delivery bring to mind R.I.P. That may seem too obvious of a comparison but the spirit and delivery are uncanny, though they tend to stay more on the melodic side. Song titles like “Soy Anarkysta,” “Anti-Fascista” and “Revolucion” are no surprise to listeners of punk from the region. I’m not writing MALOS TIEMPOS BASTARDOS off as a mere tribute band. Their sound is familiar in a feel-good sense, inspiring one to dream of downing a couple kalimotxos and dancing the night away at a Basque squat.

Man-Eaters Gentle Ballads for the Simple Soul LP

MAN-EATERS emerged from the corpse of TARANTÜLA who emerged from the corpse of CÜLO and if you know the lore of those bands you’ll be primed for Gentle Ballads for the Simple Soul being a sinewy salvo of chemically-altered rocking hardcore punk. You’ll get that, to a point, but you may be unprepared for how vast and preening the riffs are on this thing. A clear-as-daylight love of ’70s arena rock and proto-metal is baked into each of these ten songs: some of the solos could have been ripped from a NAZARETH record, or something equally archaic and pointedly pre-hardcore. The movie sample intros are like something you’d hear on an ELECTRIC WIZARD joint, and “Man-Eaters” (who among us doesn’t love a self-titled song?) tips things into FU MANCHU levels of gum-chewing dudeliness, but tempos here are generally amphetamine-fast. Danny Babirusa—formerly of BLEEDING GUMS, and the only non-ex-TARANTÜLA member—is the perfect vocalist for this sound, one which plenty of bands from POISON IDEA to TURBONEGRO to ANNIHILATION TIME have offered up before, but if anyone’s doing it as well as MAN-EATERS right now they’ve evaded my ears.

Man-Eaters Carbona Guerilla demo cassette

Hard to call this a mere demo since it’s already been given the pro-tape treatment by Pissed Off! in Malaysia, but here’s the latest from the TARANTÜLA/CÜLO family tree (technically the “latest” would be the Gentle Ballads… LP on Feel It, but I’m referring to the band itself). These kids have now doused themselves completely with rock’n’roll fluid, and perhaps this band is the match. Comparisons to ANNIHILATION TIME are inevitable, though our Windy City friends lean more heavily on a straight-ahead, four-on-the-floor lifestyle led by a relentlessly reverbed lead guitar. Punk disappearing in the rearview mirror, drugs and volume abound…this is primo gutter rock.

Manic Ride Taking You Down With Me EP

Sick hardcore with metallic touches outta Sweden that blends several notable influences including the ACCUSED, AGNOSTIC FRONT and countrymen DS-13 into an agreeably violent whole. Cool mosh parts and divebombs abound with unusually insightful lyrics shouted over it all, occasionally backed up by righteous gang choruses. It’s not a revelation by any means but it’s a great debut from a band that’s probably killing it live (or would be under normal circumstances anyway).

Meatbot Life at Fort Reno CD EP

Being a bespectacled, skinny (well, I used to be skinny!) dude that has been known to wear DOA shirts, the picture of these chaps (presumably live at Fort Reno—which is a national park near DC, so far as I can tell) with the singer/guitarist appropriately resplendent with eyewear and apparel elevated them up a notch…call it the herd mentality, if you will. Anyways, there are only three songs, patently performed live (I guess one does short sets at Fort Reno national park). [Ed. note: Fort Reno is a city park in DC across from Wilson High School. They have been hosting free shows (punk and otherwise) for over fifty years.] They remind me very much of early CIRCLE JERKS. Shortish, snotty blasts of fairly melodic punk.

Mechanical Canine Good Photography CD

From Philadelphia, this band has a ’90s college rock feel. A mix of VIOLENT FEMMES, ARCHERS OF LOAF, and CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH. For the most part on the noisy side but there is jangly pop at times as well. There’s some decent stuff on this, and although it’s not a punk rock rager, I can see the guitar indie rock crowd liking this.

Membrane Life Sum EP

Piercing my eardrums apart, MEMBRANE out of Oakland drives a stake through my head with a death march of echoing, sizzling noisecore. Imagine the SCREAMERS, GAI, RUDIMENTARY PENI and the SEXUAL all teamed up in a prison yard, needing to escape. With a sonic arsenal and pipes like this, they easily would. This is wild, dream-like hardcore, mixing it up in a bowl of raw noise punk, seasoned with unique cosmic shredding zest. There is something really alien about this, while being familiar. It’s not hostile, but it definitely wants out, and I am not gonna be the one standing in its way. I feel full, and I’m hungry for more. Life Sum is destined to sell out; good luck getting your hands on a copy.

Methmatics Methmatics LP

This band appears to consist of mostly aged punkers with probable knowledge of the Ohio classics they emulate, as well they should, since they hail from Columbus, home of the NEW BOMB TURKS. The PAGANS and RUBBER CITY REBELS, as well as non-Ohioans like the LAZY COWGIRLS can be felt here, but in a lukewarm Burger Beer sort of way. Totally competent, but never quite moving one from a shoulder dance from a barstool. Pittsburghers often hate on their neighbor state, but I’m pure Californian and this just doesn’t rock me out of the lazy Midwest coma it induces. Better luck next time.

Moron’s Morons Looking for Danger LP

This wonderful Polish band releases their first full-length of wild, ferocious and simply amazing chaotic rock’n’roll. It is impossible not to think of ANGRY SAMOANS as a reference but it also reminded me a bit of ANNIHILATION TIME. Advice? Listen loudly!

Mynustheckat Hear My Deer CD

According to the back of the CD, all songs on this effort are written, recorded and performed by Jim Morrissey (presumably no relation to the eccentric vegan). Not only that but they were recorded between 2006 and 2008. What you do get is an eclectic mix of songs that are definitely steeped in late-’70s UK punk. The SWELL MAPS come to mind, as does early WIRE and the VIBRATORS. It’s actually rather good, and if those bands mean anything to you, then well worth tracking this one down.

Nape Neck Nape Neck cassette

NAPE NECK is a trio from Leeds playing post-punk that’s simultaneously tangled and taut, danceable and destructed, all while resisting any attempts to be easily situated as the latest addition to a specific geographic and genre-based continuum that stretches back to GANG OF FOUR and DELTA 5. There’s definitely some echoes of Andy Gill’s razor-edged guitar scratch in the mix, but if anything, NAPE NECK’s knotted rhythms and the intersecting/overlapping vocal shouts from all three band members bring to mind the mid ’90s neo-No Wave revival led by bands like MELTDOWN and SCISSOR GIRLS (or in the early ’00s, ERASE ERRATA), who drew inspiration from the spiky tension of first wave UK post-punk but translated it through the more wild and free tendencies of DNA-descended downtown art-noise. “No Platforming” and “Paperweight” are all clipped Morse code rhythms and sharply punctuated lyrical declarations, while the delirious, snaking guitar and dueling vocals in “Job Club” push against steady bass throb and stark, calculated beats as NAPE NECK effortlessly walk the tightrope between chaos and calm. An absolutely savage debut, and probably the most exciting new band I’ve heard in at least a few years.

Negativ Epicrisis

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

Night Slaves Three and a Half LP

I admire a band whose sound perplexes me on the first listen. I’ve heard a lot of records in my life so it’s not usually the case. This LP has a slick sound while managing to be lo-fi. There is a SQUEEZE-meets-NINE INCH NAILS vibe which makes me chuckle. It’s an interesting combination. A poppy piano style with high, monotonous vocals and harmonies backed with a drum machine, electronics and a repetitive chorus. It’s pretentious while also being laid back. Then the last song “Bag” does a 180 and goes for an upbeat, dance-y, almost commercial sound. Touché.

No Class Don’t You Worry About Us! EP

About as subtle as a cricket bat to the bollocks, Footscray’s finest are back with a four-pack of beer-soaked bootboy bangers, hairy-arsed rock’n’roll and glam stompers. Opener “1981” comes across as a snottier ROSE TATTOO, swiftly followed by “Don’t You Worry About Us,” a defiant arms-’round-the-shoulder anthem reminiscent of an antipodean FACES with its knees up piano accompaniment. With “Knuckle Dragger” we have a revved up ’77 rocker channeling the sneer of COCKNEY REJECTS albeit at twice the speed, leading into “Every Now And Then” which is total “Runnin’ Riot”-era COCK SPARRER rip-off territory and there’s no higher compliment. Fans of “having a laugh with your mates” will not be disappointed.

On the Might of Princes Where You Are and Where You Want to Be LP

Monumental in some circles, 2001’s Where You Are And Where You Want To Be has been reissued with a few alternate takes and one previously unreleased track. On the one hand, I think this music is exactly why Tim Yo drew the line at STILL LIFE years ago—an emotionally and inwardly-driven band whose songwriting lent as much to melodic/indie/pop sensibilities as anything found lurking under any “punk” umbrella. On the other hand…who’s to say how big that umbrella should be (cue endless debate in 3, 2, 1…)? Not trying to peel away the importance (or quality) of the release, however. ON THE MIGHT OF PRINCES made ’90s screamo their own, “their own” enough that it holds up and sounds fresh and relevant twenty years later. The melody dominates, and songs flow between anguish and romance and harmless metallic riggage so smoothly that the entire record could almost be one opus (to be sure, this is the case for many devotees). The bonus material falls into the “fans only” category: the alternate versions are essentially just less-produced demo takes, and the unreleased cut “Hell or High Water” is good, but pales when compared to the rest of the record. Suffice to say, that this is not a release for me, but I openly acknowledge the importance, the impact, the intensity, and the void left by the loss of frontman Jason Rosenthal in 2013.

Muro / Orden Mundial Sonia de la Negación split LP

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

P22 Human Snake 12″

P22, a Los Angeles mountain lion who traversed two busy freeways to stalk the hills of Griffith Park, is an apt namesake for this band, whose debut 12” begins with Jackie Beckey’s viola climbing to a nauseating crescendo, which one can only imagine parallels the feeling of running across the 101. P22 borrows heavily from the artier side of peace punk—they previously released a tape with a CHUMBAWAMBA cover—but their lyrics, while poetic, elide droll sloganeering or didacticism. While they occasionally play at a more straightforward punk pace, the music is often sparse, driven by propulsive, inventive drumming. Imagine if the ROSA YEMEN 12” was sent in as a demo for a Bullshit Detector comp or if SACCHARINE TRUST got the EX to do their artwork. A fully-formed achievement, honestly maybe a masterpiece? 

Payday Second to None LP

PAYDAY from London is named after the CONFRONT 7”, and nothing about them is really surprising, but it doesn’t need to be. An expertly executed mix of CONFRONT, RINGWORM, and INTEGRITY, they’ve got divebombs galore, vocals alternately growly and guttural, and plenty of riffs. “Dead on Your Feet” is my favorite track, but they’re all good, and though I wish this record was a track or two shorter, it’s a great slice of Cleveland hardcore worship sure to get all the lads moshing.

Pässilauma Jakomäkeen! CD

I’m guessing this quartet are Scandinavian, given the umlauts in both their name and the name of this record. And in what I take to be the thanks list, and many other “ä”s that are dotted about the text! What you do get, however is a lengthy (the opening and closing tracks each clock in at over eight minutes) driving, prog-rock-tinged punk. It reminds me a lot of late-’80s German bands (perhaps ’cos they both sung in their native tongue) RAZZIA and EA80, though HAWKWIND would be another good musical reference. Given that I like the output of all three aforementioned combos, I mean this entirely as a compliment.

Pears Pears CD

Third LP from this New Orleans band. Well-produced hardcore that has its pop-punk moments, if you consider the harder DESCENDENTS stuff pop-punk. The rest is on the melodic hardcore side à la KID DYNAMITE and STRIKE ANYWHERE. Solid full-length with some interesting twists along the way. A good live band, too.

Pink Guitars We Are Made of the Sun cassette

Ripping fast hardcore punk from Buffalo, NY. I know that PINK GUITARS originally began as a solo project, and being from Buffalo myself I saw an early line-up of his live band play once. I’m not sure if this cassette is still just the one guy or if it’s now a full band, as there are no credits found within, but whatever the case I hope the responsible party(s) keep doing whatever they did here because this tape is awesome! Five songs of blistering, ’80s inspired hardcore punk. “Always Searching” seriously kills! The riffs are tight and catchy, the drums are fast, the one guitar solo is unexpected and well played. The vocals sound a little monotone at times, but that’s also what makes it sound a little bit like UNIFORM CHOICE, so chalk that one up wherever it fits for you. The program is repeated on the B-side of the tape, but it is played backwards. I kept listening waiting for the hidden messages in PINK GUITARS songs to become clear to me, but nothing ever presented itself. What’s surprising about this is that some of the riffs are actually pretty damn cool when played backwards, too. Well, I’ll be damned. Along with all the releases on the dude from PINK GUITARS’ tape label, only 25 copies of this tape exist, so scope it online as it’s likely sold out.

Pogowolves Flaming Soul / On the Mirror 7″

Within the first five seconds of “Flaming Soul” I’m scanning the back of the sleeve expecting an HG Fact or Blood Sucker logo. This top-tier Japanese hardcore influenced-shit is from Malaysia, features serious Chelsea (more PAINTBOX than DEATH SIDE) riffing and one epic romp after another. Can’t recommend it enough for fans of the aforementioned, CRUDE, LIBERATE, JABARA and the like. “On the Mirror” pivots to a swingy and bluesy take on the style. I’m not losing my mind over it but it’s catchy, and one must appreciate the chutzpah of such a composition. POGOWOLVES have definitely won my attention and “Flaming Soul” is certain to become a regular spin in this household. Looking forward to more!

Powerplant A Spine / Evidence EP

Demento synth noise from the creepy depths of a dank basement. The first song has an art-prog vibe, PUNISHMENT OF LUXURY meets DEVO with a BRYAN FERRY on ’ludes drawl. The remaining tracks are more direct in their delivery: post-punk but skewed and warped like a carnival mirror. The closing track, “Hurtwood,” sounds like the MISFITS channeling MAGAZINE—now that’s magic, folks!

Protruders No More / It’s Not Easy 7″

The latest offering from these modern Montréalers with a serious affinity for the warped underground sounds that emanated from the mid-to-late ’70s post-industrial decay of the American Midwest—think ELECTRIC EELS, PERE UBU, MIRRORS, pretty much the entire musical output of the state of Ohio from that era. The tightly-wound “No More” actually sets its sights a little further west and several decades into the future with a frenetic, paranoid energy more in line with CCTV and the whole Northwest Indiana basement panic-core scene circa 2014-2016, as the rapid-fire, shouted chorus in a textbook snotty punk lyrical tradition (“I don’t wanna hear you / I don’t see you / I don’t wanna talk to you”) gives way to a skronky, sax-spiked breakdown for about half of the song’s entire two-minute run-time before snapping back into whiplash mode to cross the finish line. Following that, the mid-’60s ROLLING STONES nugget “It’s Not Easy” gets reimagined with a purely PROTRUDERS blown-out proto-punk swagger, all leather jacket and cigarette smoke sleaze as if Jagger and company had started out as a CBGB house band. Two killer cuts on a one-sided 7”, makes up in quality what its format lacks in practicality.

Psycho Sin You Axed For It EP reissue

OK, what on earth can I say about this record? I will start with the basics: PSYCHO SIN was (and now again is) a hardcore-slash-thrash-slash-noise-slash-undefinable-weirdness band from New Jersey who, from 1985-1990, self-released a couple of records and a huge slew of cassette tapes. You Axed For It is their lone 7” EP from their original era before they reformed in the mid-2010s, and is either a masterpiece of raw DIY punk experimentation or an unlistenable mess of nonsense ranting, depending on your view. In mine, it is maybe both at the same time? I mean this as a compliment?! Of course, I should probably make it clear that I love this record—back when I used to write columns for Maximum, I titled my column after this wild, irreverent, and vicious EP. Each track is a raw assault of anger and frustration, some as raw thrash songs and others taking more experimental forms. The “song” “Everything’s Fucked Up” may well be the most straightforwardly perfect denunciation of governments and the nation-state ever recorded. I admit this record won’t be for everybody, but if you haven’t heard PSYCHO SIN you owe it to yourself to find out if you’re one of us.

Rigorous Institution Despotism / Survival 7″

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

Sadie & the Wives Unique? EP

This….this is where I want it to go. You’ve got the modern fury—the weird kind. The stomps that lurch into unintentional D-beats and the vocals that are so treated they sound like a Sun Studio reverb room in a horror flick. But there’s also Los Angeles 1979 nihilism and effort crammed in here—and I mean “effort” like they are determined to head full-fukkn-speed straight into that wall of nihilism that is absolutely going to destroy them. Bands like this don’t typically last for more than a couple of singles, and I suggest getting on this train before it implodes. Listening to SADIE & THE WIVES sounds like you’re in on a secret, like you’re hearing something special, something dangerous. They’ve taken hardcore and made it sound like it was alive.

Sam Egan and the Perineal Excoriations Junior Police Academy Fundraiser LP

The assignment gods are punishing me for being late with my reviews I suppose, because I can’t even tell what I’m listening to. Wildly addictive pop sensibilities, wildly nonsensical synth freakouts, drug-addled construction, capture and (especially) presentation—equal parts JONA LEWIE and AN ALBATROSS? Does that even make sense? Add DJ LEBOWITZ and a shitpile of meth, maybe. Of course they’re from Binghamton, New York…where else can this exist? Chickasha, Oklahoma? Yeah…a couple of tracks sound kinda like DEBRIS cast-offs, so I just went there. You do me, I do you. Also, apparently this LP is “three-sided,” so throw that on the weird pile and get fukkd up.

Fleshies / Shellshag split EP

FLESHIES and SHELLSHAG have both been at it since the late ’90s, and both prove it’s possible for bands to keep moving forward, trying out new sounds, and continually recalibrating the things they know they do best, rather than resting on their punk laurels. Bands come and go, and there is value in the constant flux of a subculture built on ripping it up and starting again. But sometimes bands stick together and end up with not only the longest tour journal on the planet, but a cumulative consciousness of all the stuff that worked: all the sonic and social experiments that went right. So it’s not too surprising that they’d put together a record that is comfortingly familiar yet also weird and courageously original. The first track enfolds FLESHIES’ new downtempo, heart-wrenching, rock’n’roll anthem inside a cozy wrapping of what sounds like the influence of SHELLSHAG’s signature fuzzed-out dreamscape. The second track, also featured on FLESHIES’ most recent full-length, Introducing the Fleshies, changes gears with a brief but intense blast of unstoppable, furious punk mayhem. SHELLSHAG’s first track offers up a new take on their sound: way more dark and driving, but still incorporating distortion-laden team vocals and infectious melodies. The second track descends into an intense unraveling and re-tangling of all the brainwaves. If SHELLSHAG were a rock, this track would be all the cool, mucky, squirmy stuff living underneath it, and we are the excited five-year-old who can’t resist picking it up.

Sial Tari Pemusnah Kuasa LP

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

Sirkka Kuluttava Kone cassette

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

Sky Tigers Eulorgy LP

This Massachusetts band loves ’80s thrash, or more closely, early 2000s retro ’80s thrash. They are as tight as Mitt Romney’s butthole, and take their cues from D.R.I., MUNICIPAL WASTE and later MOTÖRHEAD. Like a less punk SPEEDWOLF, this lacks the grit and grime I so strongly crave with this sort of party. The singer has a constant one-tone scream, and almost nü-metal style that berates and makes this reviewer want to call for the check. Still, songs like “Truth Decay” and “Nobody Puts Baby in a Dumpster” are fantastical shredwork, so give it a spin and see what you decide. I need more coffee.

Body Farm / Slut Bombs split EP

There’s no shit going on here but the realest fucking shit. Insanely fast, high-energy hardcore punk that starts full speed out of the gate with BODY FARM’s “Mass” and seriously does not let up—if anything they get more intense when they slow down for the middle of their their side. The kind of slab that leaves you trying to catch your breath, and I’m struggling to inhale the rest of this band’s output all at once. On the flip, SLUT BOMB are great—very ’90s DIY political HC vibe, all over the map with femme/male trade-off vocals and wild wanks that crash recklessly into raging blasts. No genres for either band—no sonic constructs, either.

Spit Kink Yes to Everything EP

SPIT KINK sounds like a new wave kid’s first attempt at singing PRINCE songs. There are simple electronic beats backing breathy vocals. At first it seems all wrong, but then about half way in I am starting to enjoy it. It’s just weird enough while also being peppy and dancey.  Best track title: “Ted Talkin’.” Best track “Yes to Everything.” 100 copies lathe cut 7”. Don’t snooze.

Street Weapon Quick to Die EP

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

Strul Punkrock Deluxe EP

Third 7″ from these Swedish ragers. If you are already a fan, this band is consistently high quality; if you aren’t a fan already, this is as good a place as any to start and you will want to track down the rest of their stuff after they win you over. STRUL plays high-velocity hard-rocking Swedish punk. It’s raw and fast with a snotty punk attitude. Unlike most Swedish bands, I don’t think these guys play in, or are ex-members of any other outfits. The vocals are shouted and distorted hardcore style. The pace is fast, and the leads are wicked. When they are playing fast it’s almost like the hardcore of INFERNÖH, NITAD, HERÄTYS or SKITKIDS but a bit more rock’n’roll on the riffs and solos and more punk rock in the attitude and song structure. When they play slow, they are getting more into hard rock/hardcore territory like a more punk version of something like R’N’R or ANNIHILATION TIME. Thick hard rock riffs and scorching leads, but all with a seething punk sneer as opposed to a party vibe. I would add other influences probably include TOTALITÄR, ZEKE, Peacelovepunklife-era UNCURBED, MENACE and mid-period SSD, all in moderate doses. So far, all of STRUL’s releases have featured artwork of a cartoon punk rat or rat band engaged in various anti-social activities, and this one continues the trend with a cartoon of a rat band playing on the hills overlooking a desert city. I still think the Föredrar Ju Fest EP is their best work, but really all of it is great.

Subliminal Excess 2020 cassette

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

Taste the Floor Scam EP

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

The Chisel Deconstructive Surgery EP

Here we, Here we, Here we fucking go; the CHISEL boys are here to kick your head in and neck your pint while doing so. Lightning fast, convulsing with an anger that only growing up in Blackpool can give you, this blistering EP stomps from track to track with a palpable sense of malice and righteous fury. Class warfare, the sad decline of the seaside town and the great British tradition of a pint and a fight are all covered, and backed with thunderous drums, hefty bass and riotous guitars. One of the best of the year so far.

The Cowboys Room of Clons LP

I don’t think I was familiar with this Bloomington band before I put their new record on, despite it being their fifth album or something. I must have listened to it five or six times since; I’m stuck at home with thousands of records and every song on the internet but I find myself coming back to this one over and over, and I discover something new each time. Ostensibly a garage punk act, this ambitious effort by the COWBOYS sees them traverse many songwriting styles, from the terse, staccato science-fiction post-punk of “Wise Guy Algorithm” to the pop-glam BOWIE worship of “Devil Book.” It’s unlikely there’s another record reviewed in these digital pages that spreads itself across so many genres. Part DEVO, part SPARKS; part ENO, part SOFT BOYS: Clever, but not too clever; art pop for the now generation.

The Globs The Weird and Wonderful World of The Globs LP

Whoa, what a mess of noise! And I mean that in the most positive way. There is a lot going on here, and I’m way into it. Helmed by Mike of the BANANAS, he is joined by two other vocalists, and the male and female vocals mix with each other so well. One is gruff and loud, the others pitchy and shrill, both so warmly melodic. OK, now that we covered that part, let’s get to the music. Uhhhh, this is going to be way more of a challenge. They say they were attempting to make a punk version of the E STREET BAND and By George, I think they’ve done it. We’ve got keys, sax, tambourine(?), fast drums, rad riffs, and thundering bass lines. I mean, where the hell are the maracas and egg shakers? I have to say, I’m disappointed that they didn’t go fully to the nines on this one. Just kidding, this band is bananas! Do you need some cheering up lately? I fucking bet you do. Put on the GLOBS and forget the world for as many times as you loop the record.

The Prissteens The Hound LP

The PRISSTEENS were a poppy, mostly female NYC garage rock band that got swept up and subsequently overlooked in the ’90s major label signing frenzy. They released one album Scandal, Controversy and Romance in 1998. Most of the songs on this album were meant for their second album which was never completed. Also included here are some tracks that were released as 7”s. With the hindsight of twenty-plus years, it is hard to believe the band didn’t have more of an impact. It was just bad luck. Their sound is a tougher version of the ’60s girl group aesthetic. Catchy songs with rocking guitars and harmonizing vocals. The cutesy, PG-13 rated version of the UNDERTONES’ “Teenage Kicks”, called “Teenage Dicks” (B-side of a 1998 single) is OK for one listen, but I think I’ll skip that one during future plays. Otherwise, this is a really fun garage rock record. Girlsville has also put out two collections of the PRISSTEENS’ unreleased material that are worth checking out, too.

The Shivvers The Shivvers LP

Break out the Rickenbackers and skinny ties, Milwaukee’s favorite cult power pop quintet is back on wax. This LP of vintage recordings was first released a little over five years ago, but with the apparent demise of the Sing Sing label had fallen out of print. Rerun Records’ welcome reissue is remastered and a good deal if you’re not looking to blow $50+ on Discogs. For the uninitiated, the SHIVVERS orbited the Midwestern scene circa 1980, releasing a classic single before disappearing into relative obscurity for the next few decades. Fortunately, the band recorded an album’s worth of studio material back in the day. Their sharp, ’60s-pop-influenced tunes were heavy on the hooks, and while production values are undeniably slick, the SHIVVERS shrug off the new-wave limpness of your typical KNACK/CARS wannabes by virtue of their sheer enthusiasm. There’s no filler to be found. Recommended for fans of the NERVES, early GO-GO’S, etc. I dare you to listen to “Please Stand By” once and not have it echoing in your head for the rest of the week…

The Templars 1118-1312 LP

Grab yer Beauséant and yer cuirass, it’s only the bleedin’ TEMPLARS! The Lords of the Sword, for it is they, are back in reissue form. Pressing one of their finest cuts to 12”, half a dozen gruff skinhead rock’n’rollers from the mean streets of Long Island. At this stage, if you’re not on board with the TEMPLARS, this reissue is unlikely to change your mind, but who needs you anyway then, mate? “Skins & Punks” is an obvious highlight, as are some of the more tuneful numbers toward the end of Side B, but nothing sticks around too long as to become boring (anything more than twelve tracks is prog, lads). One for completists sure, but if you haven’t already heard this, you’d be well-advised to part with some hard-earned cash for it.

The Uncivil Society Spectral Semiotic Sound CD

Extremely fucking confusing full score one-person production that “strives to recreate Phil Spector’s wall of sound” while acknowledging in the accompanying zine that Spector himself was a complete prick. Oh…and somehow the artist (“GORILLA X”) approaches the project through the lens of MINUTEMEN’s Double Nickels On The Dime. Spoken lyrics as astral poetry makes the release sound simultaneously advanced and amateurish…but mostly confusing. It’s a psychedelic space journey version of all of the above, with extensive notes, lyrics and images to help guide you.

The Vibrators Hunting for You LP

This is a “first time on vinyl” release of this 1994 full-length. Don’t expect Pure Mania or V2 here. Hunting for You is tuneful rock and alternative which was par for the course in the ’90s, I suppose. This is well done with good production from these UK punk originals; it’s just a little light on punk.

Traitre Discographie LP+EP

Lille’s TRAITRE, on face value, seems to plough a well-trodden furrow in the field of Oi!: a heady mix of rough ‘n’ ready NABAT-style riffs and gang vocal “woah-ohs” in the vein of their compatriots, the venerable WARRIOR KIDS and REICH ORGASM. There is, however, a certain melancholy that beats at the heart of this record, and almost touches upon Second Empire Justice-era BLITZ territory at points. Ennui and anger pulse throughout this record. Existential Oi! for the thinking skinhead; even boot boys get the blues. Well worth a spin.

Trial By Noise Complete Starter Kit! LP

Ignoring the skate rock and punk tags on their bandcamp page, I can’t tell if this sounds like SYSTEM OF A DOWN or a Mike Watt band recording, and that’s being generous. This is pretty slick and sounds prog to me with lots of vocal harmonies. This is well done for the vague genre, but I’m just not digging this sound in 2020.

Tuono Ho Scelto La Morte LP

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

Use No Hooks The Job LP

A long overdue archival collection of studio and live tracks from Australia’s preeminent late-’70s/early-’80s mutant disco ensemble USE NO HOOKS, whose significance in the OZ DIY scene belied the fact that they never released any proper recordings until The Job appeared a few months ago. The seven songs on the LP all date back to 1983, when the band was in its most expansive nine-member incarnation (including two keyboard players and a four-person male/female vocal section), playing acutely rhythm-focused, funk and disco-influenced post-punk that roughly positioned them as the Antipodean answer to LIZZY MERCIER DESCLOUX’s solo efforts, the Y Records crew in the UK, or the post-No Wave minimal dance vibe of New York groups like ESG or the DANCE/CHANDRA. In particular, go-go music from Washington, D.C. was an admitted huge influence on USE NO HOOKS, and it’s obvious in the drawn-out grooves here—all percolating synth, scrabbling funk guitar, repetitive and stripped-down rhythms, and vocals delivered as chanted, call-and-response slogans. “Do the Job” and “The Hook” have a hypnotic, slow-burning bounce straight out of some imaginary Danceteria after-party that happened in Melbourne instead of on the Lower East Side, but the real knockout is the insistent, kinetically-charged “Circumstances Beyond Our Control,” which could easily go head-to-head with MAXIMUM JOY’s legendary “Stretch” as a definitive punky disco anthem. To round things out, the LP also includes a digital bonus of half a dozen live and demo recordings from 1979-1982 that cover the multiple stylistic evolutions (and line-up shifts) that the band underwent during its first several years, from experimental and improvised instrumentals to raw, UK DIY-style art-punk. Such a cool historical rescue of subterranean sounds that would have otherwise been completely lost to time!

Ut In Gut’s House 2xLP

While UT formed as part of the somewhat amorphous late ’70s New York art and music scene that was eventually pegged as No Wave, they’ve always been an outlier within the context of common narratives and conceptions of that (anti-)movement—a downtown Manhattan trio who were most active after they had relocated to London, and who started out in 1978 (the year of No New York) but didn’t release their definitive albums until the second half of the ’80s, years after many of their No Wave peers had gravitated to other avenues like free jazz or modern classical. But the guiding principles of No Wave were those of rejection and opposition, which were duly reflected in UT’s dismantling of some of the most basic tropes of being a modern “rock band,” with a songwriting process rooted in collective improvisation, and members Nina Canal, Sally Young, and Jacqui Ham all rotating between instruments and microphone duty from track to track. The off-kilter vocals, wiry, detuned guitar scrape, and skittering drums of the group’s 1987 LP In Gut’s House imagined the possibilities of a union between the MARS/DNA-oriented Downtown 81 school and early Rough Trade-backed UK femme-punk practitioners, resulting in a bleak, art-damaged sprawl not far removed from that of their Blast First then-labelmates SONIC YOUTH. There’s plenty of friction and atonality in the more abstracted, noisy tracks like “Hotel” and “Landscape,” but In Gut’s House just as often gives way to more subdued explorations like “Shut Fog,” which mixes scratchy violin and sparse, tom-heavy drumming to a haunting RAINCOATS-ish effect. A little too late for No Wave’s heyday and a little too early to follow SONIC YOUTH down the path toward alternative nation superstardom, UT were essentially undeserving victims of time with this record, but it’s a true late ’80s post-punk classic now conveniently reissued for 2020 consumption.

UV-TV Happy LP

Fantastic record. Their songs are super high-energy, catchy, and dancey. Like just the right mix of power pop and straight-up rock’n’roll, with a touch of “someone’s older sibling was into goth shit in the ’80s.” That’s a very technical genre that I just made up. The vocals have some reverb or something on them that make them feel distant and echoey. But they lay on top of the sonic melodies really nicely. There’s just something, like…ethereal about the way the singer sounds. I feel like without these powerful and slightly eerie vocals, the music is strong enough to stand on its own, but together they’re a force. They compare themselves to WHITE LUNG, and I think that’s very apt. The songs are artsy and have carried elements of influence through many decades. A little bit of ’80s smokey dance/goth vibes, side helping of unaffected ’90s indie rock attitude, and a topping of pop synth from the aughts. I think they’ve created a really cool soundscape here, and I’m stoked to hear it.

مراة بركان (Mara’a Borkan) Demo cassette

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

V/A My Head Is Like A Radio Set: A Girlsville Compilation cassette

This is essentially a sampler cassette featuring a number of artists who have releases on Girlsville Records, based in Portland, OR. As per the label “…all new, novel, unreleased & unearthed tunes from our favorite bands.”. Stylistically the tape ranges from bubblegum-pop to garage rock to synth-pop—it’s all over the map but the bands all work together really well. This is super cool and fun as a way to expose oneself to a ton of new bands all at once and see what a label is all about. I love when labels do this kinda thing. The tape features a ton of bands: the MARDI KINGS, the PRISSTEENS, FREAK GENES, GERM HOUSE, SEABLITE, the DARLING BUDS, UK GOLD, COLLATE, DIE GROUP, UV-TV, BECKY & THE POLITICIANS, SPLIT FRICTION, COACHWHIPS, THEE THEE’S, and OUIJA BOYS. If any of these bands are on your radar, or you just feel like scoping out a bunch of new bands, give this tape a shot.

V/A Mutations from the Motor City LP

As the title says, this comp is a collection of bands from Detroit, MI. The record starts off with “Limelight” from TIMMY’S ORGANISM. It is a short, thrashy track from this wildly entertaining band. It sets the bar high for the rest of the LP, which is filled with manic, angry, silly, loose and harsh bands. They are WEREWOLF JONES, DEVIOUS ONES, the STRAINS, PRIMITIV PARTS, BUBAK, UDI, LOWCOCKS, ERODERS, THROWAWAY and more. If these songs are representative of what’s happening in Detroit, things are about to explode. Watch out.

V/A Oi! L’Album Volume 2 LP

Libertoi, égalioi, fraternitoi! Nearly ten years after the first installment, Nantes-based label Une Vie Pour Rien has put out a second course of delicious Oi morsels from the francophone world. Absolutely zero fucking about here, as the first track from parisian stalwarts BROMURE is straight in with the saxophone, because is it really French Oi without it? Stand-out tunes from ULTRA RAZZIA, BOGAN, COUPE-GORGE, follow and if you like your riffs hard as nails, your vocals gruff and your saxophone inexplicably present then this is the comp for you. Marchons! Marchons!

Varsovia Recursos Inhumanos LP

Originally released in 2014 on CD, this record from Lima, Peru’s VARSOVIA struck a nerve with synth punk fans, prompting its reissue this year for the first time on vinyl. Expertly-programmed synth compositions compliment beats that blend rugged industrial samples with tidy post-punk arrangements. The vocals cover a wide range, too, sometimes dramatic and haunting, other times yelling or concise and reserved. Some of the tracks land solidly in the truly experimental realm not unlike MEN’S RECOVERY PROJECT, while others offer a dancefloor-ready coldwave sound. Overall, this is a lot more slick than most records reviewed here (one of the tracks was featured on HBO’s Spanish-language comedy series, Los Espookys), but definitely a landmark in the synth-punk skyline; worth checking out!

Veneno Justicia Argentina

Justicia Argentina is the second release from this almost-new band from Buenos Aires and brings a brutal and evil sound, not often seen in the scene on this side of the globe. Just like DEGOLLADA, they also released their record during this quarantine here, by the label  Corona Rx. Imagine GBH but with a devilish voice and a delay pedal in eight songs, very well recorded in ten minutes. Compact and demolishing. We must keep an eye on VENENO and their next steps.

Veto What’s Going On LP

VETO hails from Dunkerque, France, and are five years deep into a largely tasteful execution of the thee Rockin’ Fast Hardcore template, which this LP continues. This wouldn’t have been out of place on the No Way Records roster, as overall it’s strong on fills and low on space, save for a few stop-start moments and a curveball couple of moments of quasi-emo yelling which I could have taken or left. You know what you’re getting when a band names a song “Play Fast and Aggressive.” You’ll know if you can handle the occasional peppering of throaty gang vocals or sung vocals or not; all in all sounds like a sweaty good time live if a little on the earnest side.

Cankro / Vidro Split LP

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

Vile Reality Detached cassette

Sooner or later, someone was gonna hit “Vile” and “Reality” when throwing darts at the wall to choose their hardcore band’s name, and I’m glad it was these San Diegans, because this tape is fierce as hell and sounds like a band called VILE REALITY should. Six speedy cuts that generally come in around the 90s-second mark (“Immobilized,” which concludes the tape, is slightly longer) and bundle chuggy mosh parts, air-punching rocker moments and reverb-y, slyly psychedelic touches, topped off by the gruff-not-tough vox of Aaron McQueen. Deserves a vinyl release, although I appreciate the age of just pointing at things and saying “deserves a vinyl release” is not our current one.

Violent Christians No Speed No Punk cassette

Once again, we reach into the “hardcore band name imagery” lucky dip bucket and pull out VIOLENT CHRISTIANS, an Austin ensemble whose debut tape comes via the frequently good Roachleg. You could probably convince someone that No Speed No Punk is an authentic unearthed artefact from some Midwestern scene circa 1984, assuming that wasn’t their specialist subject to start with. “Body Bag” exhibits relatively melodic tendencies to kick us off, but thereafter it’s the kind of ramalama blowout where the vocalist nearly-but-not-quite falls over his lyrics, guitar solos enter and leave within a few seconds and at the end of “Up Your Arse” (these MFs said “arse”), a DIE KREUZEN-like shredder, someone asks, “Are we done?” Hopefully not!

Walter Daniels and the Hungry Hearts Out at Dusk / Where’s the Pain Point 7″

Two tracks of dirty, bluesy garage rock punctuated with DANIELS’s distorted, drawled vocals and punchy harmonica playing. The HUNGRY HEARTS are Texacala Jones, Marco Butcher (JAM MESSENGERS), Cypress Grove (played with Jeffrey Lee Pierce and Lydia Lunch) and Luis Tissot (JESUS AND THE GROUPIES). It’s a messy, raucous affair that sounds as if it was recorded in the early morning hours before the sun rose. It would have been fun to attend this party.

Whip Don’t Call Me EP

This is strong, belligerent and highly enjoyable. WHIP are four humans from Winnipeg and their single sounds like a contemporary basement might, replete with displeased vocals and scraped-against-concrete guitar. Sounds like the platonic ideal of the band you’d never heard of but played with on your tour and their singer spat in some dickhead’s face mid-set and now everyone’s wearing their shirt. This record eschews anything longer than two minutes in a manner leaving you uncertain as to whether that’s because long songs are a patriarchal construct or just plain they are boring. Porque no los dos? WHIP is cool.

Cell Rot / World Peace split EP

Here’s a quick little ripper from two bands out of California that hits like a brick to the forehead. CELL ROT lays down some beefy mid-tempo, crust-ridden hardcore. There’s plenty of oozing sludge breakdowns and blasted-out fury thrown in to keep it interesting, but it’s a steady ride to bleak oblivion throughout. WORLD PEACE delivers some bare bones, bass-and-drum powerviolence that is all low and all go! I’m talking about that four-songs-in-three-minutes type of shit. Like if early GODSTOMPER were more into NO COMMENT than NAPALM DEATH. Don’t pass this up!

World Peace Towards a New Supreme Understanding EP

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

Yambag Posthumous Pounce! LP

This is this shit that my jaded-ass reviewer ears are looking for: relentless fastcore. Guitars are clean and super fukkd up sounding, drums have a HELLNATION-meets-teenage-blastbeat awkwardness (and they are kinda recorded like shit in the most endearing way), and just 25% of the tracks top the 60 second mark. Put me in a space machine and send me back to 2001, but with all of the anger I feel in a 2020 reality, and boom I’m ready for some fucking YAMBAG. Choice track: “(O)Possum,” but there are seriously no clunkers to be found here. Thank you!

Parötid / Zudas Krust Split EP

ZUDAS KRUST’s filth-kicking things off with the wrath and gnashing vocals of, well FILTHKICK, ABADDON, and lots of European crust of the early to mid ’90s. This is grotesque, noisy, and blistering muffled D-beat sung in the meter of classic crust hardcore of that era. No-fucks-given aggression, in three passionate tracks. Think ENYZME and FRAMTID contemporarily, with bestial wild force. PARÖTID plays more in the rhythm of DISASTER, with very buoyant loose disruptive bass. Lots of echoing reverb and strange speed changes, sort of weird, but totally intentional and impressive, where one might expect straightforward D-beat the entire way. I really like the way these two play off each other. They are distinctly different, in tone, polish, and speed, but compliment each other. “Humanism” is catchy as fuck! Getting lost in this one. Both bands are recommended, as is the split as a whole.