Here And Now

Carlos Dunga / Eat You Alive Carlos Dunga vs. Eat You Alive split EP

Absolute ripper in the form of an Italian fastcore split. CARLOS DUNGA inserts weird chuggas, unnecessary but awesome solos (and they open with a straight classic rock guitar solo intro that had me scratching my head before the ’core started) but basically deliver face-melting fastcore of the highest order. EAT YOU ALIVE are more metallic and “pro,” they look more to MUNICIPAL WASTE than to ___, but ultimately both bands just want to rage. And so they both rage. Also, I think this came out a number of years ago…

Lifes Treading Water LP

Serious contender for my favorite hardcore record of the year over here. Milwaukee duo LIFES have been plugging away with EPs and splits for several years now, and they apparently had been waiting for this one until it was perfect. It is. Sonic destruction of the highest order, with discordant slows and blasts that are nothing short of punishment. Layers of bass tracks are at constant war with dual vocals and drums that struggle to maintain one beat long enough to get you hooked…so instead you just stay anxious. The doses of early ’00s influence come from the chaotic melodies in tracks like “A Four Year Old Contemplates Death,” while the shameless speed and power (and the crushing slows as in “Bitter Cold”) of LIFES that will likely get them lumped in with bands they sound nothing like…well, that’s when they truly sound like no one else. Brutally honest and unforgiving and often uncomfortable lyrically, the voice is delivered with arguably more fury here than the music, which is presented with a fucking massive recording, and any space left in the sound is perfectly filled with sound or samples à la MOTHERCOUNTRY MOTHERFUCKERS. A completely excellent and very intentional release that I cannot recommend enough. The title track, “Treading Water,” is on repeat all damn day.

Ona Snop Geezer LP

Tight and taut, delivered at neck-breaking speed, and detonated with a great recording that front and centers the drums without expense to the rest of the music. Leeds’ ONA SNOP’s debut LP follows several split EPs with a blistering eighteen tracks of chaotically controlled thrash. A blender on pulse of INTENSE DEGREE-styled quick spurts of rabid hardcore, SPAZZ-esque vocal trade offs, stop-start with brute grind style pummeling, and quick rockin’ to weird passages bending on sharp turns before hammering back within seconds into more unrelenting throttle. Songs are short, sharp, but shock with their complexity, played expertly to navigate their quick and oddball turns. Maybe it’s a lack of cross-cultural literacy, maybe it’s a lack of cross-generational literacy, but the LP cover has a cartoonish full-color collage of pastel drawings of celebrities’ heads: Amy Winehouse, Mr. T, Geezer Butler, Sporty Spice…and then a lot of people who I have no fucking clue who they are or why they are important. Dr. Who? Someone from EAST ENDERS? The guy at their local pub? Rudy Guiliani? No clue, no reference. Maybe that inanity is the point, and since PLUTOCRACY and later SPAZZ (or, I guess even before, with SNFU or the STUPIDS), it’s not out of line to have the artwork and lyrics be weird cultural mash-ups and pop culture piss-takes, but this eyesore makes me actually miss the days when the artwork and vision for this kind of music was just raw black ’n’ white brutality of decapitated heads and bifurcated dicks. Sgt. Pepper’s influence aside, that onus for more brute visuals might be out of place for a band that sings stream-of-consciousness musings about BLACK SABBATH disintegrating into zombies, their love of mustard, watching football, hating CDs, and other kookiness. Luckily, the music here is so completely raging that it rises above any visual and lyrical misgivings, and this thick platter is a refreshing blast of fastcore mayhem. Speed freaks take note.