Might was well start by addressing the biggest news of the year: my five year old son Montgomery wants it to be known in no uncertain terms that the BUZZCOCKS are his favorite band and that “What Do I Get” is the best song ever written. So now y’all know. 

In terms of that other thing that’s happening I have no interest in eulogizing or autopsying the print edition of Maximum Rocknroll or its legacy, so I won’t. It’s been a right privilege to have worked with the print edition of MRR for the last decade-plus and it’ll be a right goddamn privilege to work with MRR from here on out, newsprint be damned. Hell, I bet moving online will double my readership. That’s right, as many as ten people might be reading this column on a monthly basis in the future! 

The good news is that we’ve got an all- time great lineup of records to go out on. I predicted that the TITS LP would be top ten of the year worthy and holy shit the band sure didn’t let me down. The 悦楽患者 LP is absolutely ferocious, a snarling, swaggering assault that drinks deeply from the font of Indignation-era CONFUSE. There are some brief guitar solos and some moments of near blast-beating on the part of the drummer but for the most part this is for all its heaviness an intensely punk record. It’s difficult to even articulate just how completely on point this band is, from their immaculate sound to the songwriting to the aesthetic…incredible. To take so much inspiration from such a specific scene/handful of bands and to still produce fresh-sounding and interesting material is an incredible feat of artistry. In a hundred years noisecore weirdoes will have put this record right into the pantheon alongside The Very Best of Hero and Nuclear Addicts. Another triumph in a long string of recent hits for Pogo 77. 

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Japan or possibly on another planet and/or dimension, STAGNATION seem to have completely fuckin’ lost it. The brand new !!! EP on Hardcore Survives is yet another evolution of the STAGNATION sound, with a strongly improvisational feel, driven by frantic drumming and effects distorted spoke-sung vocals. The bass playing is as brilliant as ever, a clean and mostly straightforward counterbalance to the shrieking and squalling guitar noise. At some points, various hand- held percussion instruments lurk in the background of the recording (did I hear a triangle at one point?), at others the spacey effects and languorous pace recall live HAWKWIND at their most tripped-out. An entire LP of this kind of stuff would be absolutely wonderful, it’s strange, aggressive, disorienting and completely fascinating. STAGNATION are a very special band, we’re lucky to have them around. Please note that there isn’t a single word on the packaging of this record except for the faintest hint of the band’s name in the graffiti-inspired cover art, look for the weirdest looking collage cover in your best-stocked record store’s “S” section and you might just find it. 

Speaking of packaging, the new MALIMPLIKI record is just goddamn adorable! A laughing troll graces the cover, flanked by a smiling flower and a cute frog and the included poster/insert features a zoo’s worth of cheerful cartoon animals. I assume they’re all so happy because one of Japan’s most ferocious underground bands finally have a record that’ll be relatively easy to get a hold of! This is completely crushing, adding a bit of a MOB 47 speed to their previous TOTALITÄR influenced sound. Five tracks in total, three high-speed crushers, one more mid-tempo grinder, closing with the whistle- driven rocker “Minimuma Kultura Vivo” all sung in Esperanto, the international language of peace. I very much hope that this new record is well-distributed by Hardcore Survives and is able to get into the hands of punx around the world because MALIMPLIKI are a fucking great band, picking up the gauntlet laid down by previous all-female Japanese extreme bands like DEFUSE, CRUSADE, and the GAIA and running with it. 

Thanks to excellent distribution by Doomed to Extinction Records, there is already a fair amount of excitement around the new DEFORMED EXISTENCE Hate With Patriotism demo cassette. As well there should be because it’s a fucking ripper. The aesthetic and style are very much of a piece with ’90s crust punk, from AUS ROTTEN and REACT to Swedish crust ala early DISFEAR and DRILLER KILLER with a few nods to Japanese crust gods ACID and the almighty DOOM as well. The sound is huge for a three piece (though the guitar is a bit buried in the mix) with clear barked vocals and super hard-hitting drumming. It’s such a breath of fresh air to hear good, classic-sounding crust with explicitly political lyrics and a genuine approach. This band is good now and I can see them approaching greatness as they carry on. 

Let’s close out with a very important reissue. It seems impossible from a Western punk perspective that a 1997 punk release could be considered revolutionary or pioneering but that’s exactly what the BOLLOCKS Revolution cassette was to the Malaysian punk scene. Its influence is clearly laid out in the excellent insert to Glord Records’LPreissueoftheoriginalcassette, featuring remembrances of the original record’s influence from a ton of local punx and aninterviewaboutthehistorysurrounding the recording, release and distribution of Revolution with bassist Adik. The record itself is fuckin’ fantastic, careening from melodic streetpunk to metallic hardcore, all retaining the rough-and-ready recording and replay sound of the original cassette. This is 100% freedom music, mostly focused on building up the punk scene and tearing down the institutions that oppress the people. There’s even one song, sung in Malay that decries the (then) war in Bosnia and declares solidarity with the innocent victims of that conflict. The Southeast Asian punk scene is finally getting some long overdue attention in the West with some crucial reissues of classic records by Filipino bands, I hope that Glord Records and others will be able to do the same for classic Malay punk as well. It bears mentioning that besides the fantastic insert, the rest of this record’s packaging is great as well, with a heavy-duty gatefold reproducing the original art and lyrics (with new annotations!) and a 180-gram LP on clear with black splatters. This pressing is limited to 300 copies, I implore you to track one down ASAP!