Reviews

Jason Ryan

Kārtël / Ódio Social split EP

I have yet to grab my reviewer copy of this, but lucky for me I happened upon it at Black Water Records in Portland and picked it up. I had been hearing solid reviews of this from older punks and younger punks and all the mad D-beat heads, and it certainly does not Dis-appoint. KĀRTËL of NYC, comprised of members from Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico, plays pounding hardcore with militant force and fluid vocals. This is tough as nails and rhythmically flowing. Female lead vocals in Spanish rip through with the meter and pitch of KOHTI TUHOA, AFTER THE BOMBS, and SACRILEGE. This is one of the best voices of the year. Attitude and sheer power à la FORÇA MACABRA, oration as inferno like RIÑA. The writing is relentless and KĀRTËL plays it seamlessly. ÓDIO SOCIAL, native to Brazil, complements Side A in Portuguese with buoyant, loose bass and similarly tight speed-demon percussion. Dual vocals ranging from hardcore to more guttural crust to anthemic käng-stomp singing. This EP is essential Latinx hardcore and one of my favorite Vex releases. All those debating the sides of the NERVOUS SS/RAT CAGE split LP, give yourself a break, and check this out. A split EP of the year.

Rotting Hammer Clinging to Life cassette

The self-described D-beat poseur mower ROTTING HAMMER plays frothing-at-the-bit, sinister raw punk conjuring a ’90 squat scene filthcore-style, thinking POPULATION ZERO, VIRULENT STRAIN, DEATH MOLD…maybe even the more recent DEVIL MASTER. The drums are blistering D-beat with classic riffs riding with rapturing insolence. Vocals recall the more scathing, scratchy style of death metal. This is perfect plague pestilent death music, where we are at today. Nothing lives under the fall of the ROTTING HAMMER! A truly nihilistic sound with furious pace and aggression. I swear, if I had it in me this week, this review could be fraught with comparisons. Solid foreboding punk.

Sycophant Innate Control cassette

Arizona thrash punkers SYCOPHANT play like a very smooth hypnotic alien attack. Reminds of DISCHARGE meets later DRI and SACRED REICH. Repetitive, impassioned lyrics are spat forth with haste and then pulled back with hesitation, which creates for an interesting dynamic! Like SYCOPHANT knows about some seriously evil scientific conspiracy and is not sure if we can handle the information. I’m really digging these super metaled-out DISCHARGE rhythms drenched in ’80s thrash effect and groove. This is very tight, and I love the weird science retro- technologic-overkill cover art. For weirdos, freaks, and fans of D-beat and thrash. Shit, the more this goes on, I’m pulled in the direction of ANTI CIMEX, INEPSY, Repo Man, and Night of the Comet…relentless punk, bizarre and rips hard!

Hazard Profile Slime EP

Snotty hardcore from the UK that immediately reminded me of CHAOS UK and the more contemporary PI$$ER, and as it turns out they share members with both, as well as FUK, the WANKYS, and a slew of others. HAZARD PROFILE plays jangly, wanking blasts, kind of like a looser HARD TO SWALLOW meets SUICIDAL SUPERMARKET TROLLEYS with the maniacal energy of PLEASANT VALLEY CHILDREN. The attitude and grimacing is over the top, and this is a great pint-drinking, loud night kind of EP. Five tracks of boot-stomping, slightly crossover slam punk with blasts and palpable negativity. My favorite track being “Rubble & Bones” (“Nothing fucking matters / Nothing fucking matters / We”ll soon be…”), which starts out with a moment of THIN LIZZY-like intro soloing and immediately dominates into a nihilistic beating. HAZARD PROFILE is ugly, cold, and prickly on the ears; I imagine a live set to be significantly more embittered.

Just Ice Sleep EP

JUST ICE plays extremely tight rhythmic grooving hardcore from outer space and Quebec, somewhere between LIFE OF AGONY in harmony, MÖRKHIMMEL in heavy darkness, NECRO (the rapper) and INTEGRITY in vocal grit, and VISION OF DISORDER in hooks and fury. But the cool thing about JUST ICE is that they make it sound so easy. It is very well-produced and grabs you on every track. Backing vocals meld everything together with the winded yet bellowing and strained lead vocals. Breakdowns galore run through, but it never gets boring, with lots of tempo changing and hardcore riffage. Listening to JUST ICE is kind of like watching a gnarly fearless street skater who is just nailing everything. Looks like this is limited to only 100 copies (for the second press!) and at the time of writing this, only fourteen remain. From 2019, and I hope this review moves a few, because it’s damned good grooving hardcore with a shit-ton of heart and a frigid hard stance.

False Confession Resurrectionists LP

Hailing from Oxnard, California, FALSE CONFESSION brings a VARUKERS-speed punk attack with the clarity of FINAL CONFLICT and the ease of CHEM-TRAILS from Connecticut. This album may sound traditional, but in that way it sounds timeless. You could tell me this was an obscure classic from the ’80s and I’d believe you. Picking up ICONOCLAST, DR. KNOW, and CRUCIFIX power as well, maybe a bit on the melodic side of VOIVOD. FALSE CONFESSION plays fast and clearly from the roots of hardcore punk and Dis-bands. Vocals are sung and repetitive, but I mean that in a poetic way. Over all of the aggression, the message is sincere and stylishly delivered. Songs are also quite long and complexly composed for this style, which can easily be offered as a verse-chorus-verse stale slab. Thrash breakdowns here and there, minimal obtuse discordant riffs and solos, various themes about the shared planet and the personal psyche all create something a bit different that at first notice sounds expected. Fuck…upon further inspection, I now realize this band was a pioneering band of the Nardcore movement in the ’80s. I am sorry, I’m from the ’80s/’90s East Coast scene and was not aware. Now FALSE CONFESSION is actually starting to sound familiar. It happens, m’kay! I’m such a fucking idiot, I’m submitting this. Making punk an honest threat again. Good new album, guys! I especially like this plodding metallic track “Mortal Coil.” I’m here to tell you this band should not be forgotten! Like the other HERESY or something…apparently, they were good…ugh. I should be fired.

Choke It’s Hard to Talk Shit With No Fucking Teeth cassette

This is insane, clobbering, grinding hardcore chock full of samples and breakdowns. Crucially intimidating HXC from Oakland killing it on the blasts and mic. Recalling MERAUDER, KRUELTY, NEGLECT, DMIZE, OUT OF LINE, and INFEST…slam your head to this whirlwind of thrash and anthemic powerviolence. The rage really comes forth in “Blue Lives Don’t Mean Shit” (true) and “Talk Shit, Get Hit.” They even got Greta Thunberg’s infamous maddening distraught public statement on here, and covers of APARTMENT 213 and MADBALL! I don’t always go in for this style of hardcore, but holy shit, is this great. Rhythms are harsh as hell, surprising change-ups, inspired lyrics, and the message is clear. Various vocalists guest-spot on this tape. “You Suffer and React” (the song by the band) style jams on here with the five-second “You Failed, Now Die.” Yes, super fucking clear; like I said. And some slower beatdowns like “Why Should I Fear Death When I’m Already Dead Inside?” Valid. CHOKE sounds like a truly dedicated family member of hardcore. CHOKE will get a hold of your neck and mind. This is a fantastic tape for the assertion of contemporary punk grind and hardcore music.

Disable / Löckheed split EP

Who wants blistering D-beat kängpunk for disfukker? DISABLE kicks things off with grueling, distorted, mid-tempo hardcore punk. A classic style with slightly reverberated vocals à la GLORIOUS?, DISCLOSE, et al. Pace quickens and riffs thicken by the second track, a snare-pummeling composition called “Enola.” The bass here is a ghost-ridden chopper cycle of fire and mayhem. An awesome three tracks from DISABLE, who switch it up subtly and keep you mesmerized in raw, chainsawing fury for six solid and distortion pedal-immersed minutes. LÖCKHEED follows suit with a slightly more Vevarsle/Scandi-beat style, with the feeling of DISCARD, WARCOLLAPSE, or DISFEAR. Vocals are harsher, solos are higher and more dive-bombing. This heavy madness is the perfect compliment to Side A. I want to describe track two on their side as well, as things really climax with “Pill Mill.” Both sides share a parabolic structure but bring a unique offering of this classic style. The last track “Black Wings of War” takes the register even eerier, ending the entire EP with unsettling ominous death-beat. Mastered with the finely-tuned ear-slaughtering of Jack Control at Enormous Door. Strongly recommended for this gross world/your life.

Sarushibai The Melancholy of the Social Outcasts LP

With optimistic fire, SARUSHIBAI plays catchy hardcore like if you mixed TOY DOLLS with the COMES, DEAD KENNEDYS, the STALIN, KURO, and SHOWCASE SHOWDOWN. Everything seems to have a sing-along style to it while being wildly fast. The song titles have me terribly intrigued: “Forest of Lies,” “Full of Lies,” “Bottomless Swamp Side,” “Distorted Landscape,” “Is It Dawn Yet?” This LP is incredibly fun to listen to but seems dripping with intelligence and purpose. Like if SPARKS or T. REX was a punk band, you might get something like SARUSHIBAI. Sometimes sounding like the SAINTS, sometimes sounding like STEELY DAN, SARUSHIBAI always sounds like themselves. Super cool and trippy new direction in hardcore, for you, from Japan.

Dregs Built to Rot EP

Back in the ’90s there was a NYC squat band called the DREGS, a reference to the bottom of a beer. This here is ferocious sXe hardcore from Vienna reminding me in vocals of EXCREMENT OF WAR, in downtrodden darkness the NYC DREGS, in sheer power NO STATIK. These vocals are something so raw and ugly and furious. The breakdowns cannot be fucked with. The circle mosh moments are intense. The EP in summation is a brutal powerhouse of sXe HC rage. This is almost more intimidating than SLANT, of recent listening, and if it were a full-length it might very well be. Get this if you think you’re pissed-off. You’ll see you’re not as pissed-off as DREGS.

Life Once Flourished Here / Roäc split LP

ROÄC plays loose, grizzly crust reminiscent of MISERY, DEVIATED INSTINCT meets HIS HERO IS GONE, themes of desolation, despair, and a stark realization of darker days ahead. The pace remains gloomy and macabre almost throughout their side, harkening the ’90s finest metallic crust on the more composed and tight, less chaotic side; WINTER, the metric delivery of GODFLESH, the double bass pedal of BOLT THROWER…. but hotdamn, when they gallop off at a DEATH STRIKE pace, ROÄC rips. There’s a lot to offer on this side from the twelve-string acoustic guitar and tambourine to the pulverizing, more EFFIGY/AXEWIELD riff-driven tracks. You’re getting a lot for half of a split. LIFE ONCE FLOURISHED HERE delivers one track, “Land That God Forgot,” a sonic landscape of JACK ROSE-esque primitive guitar on the side of ALARIC or ATRIARCH. A melancholy and harmonic slightly prog or Krautrock escape under socio-political spoken word. Feeling a message and mood of AXIOM and BLACK KRONSTADT here as well, as the intro grows into a discordant hardcore attack. I think this is an important split LP for the eco-conscious free-spirit cruster—an ally to love and peace. Neither side disappoints.

Frustrerad The Truth in Lies EP

Motor-charged D-beat from Belgium. Vocals remind me of the less melodic aspects of TURBONEGRO, maybe better to compare to NAILBITER, and the tunes overall of CHARGER, at times Scandinavian Jawbreaker-era ANTI CIMEX with the production of the ANTIMASTER/GIVE UP ALL HOPE split. What FRUSTRERAD do, they do a bit loose and predictably, but they do it well. The EP, which clocks in at just under ten minutes, happens fast, as FRUSTRERAD plays classic kängpunk from start to finish. I feel like I had to play it twice to really appreciate the subtle earnest flow of FRUSTRERAD. Their demo tape seemed to have a little more in the kick pedal but this is a solid vinyl debut, that from here I think can only gain heaviness and a shift into top gear.

Rotstrotter Rotstrotter LP

Monstrous non-stop D-beat with some motor-charged vibes. For fans of HELLKRUSHER, DISASTER, POLICE BASTARD, WARCOLLAPSE, and DISTRAUGHT. Vocals remind me of DEVOID OF FAITH, the music is as fast as DISGUST, E.N.T, and DISFEAR. ROTSTROTTER isn’t rewriting the book here, but their speed is definitely up there with the most insane of them. The transitions are smooth and the riffs melt together in excellent D-beat harmony. Some solos almost sound like computer gibberish and that’s fucking cool and different. ROTSTROTTER debuts with a powerful LP that grasps you right away. It’s simple, but it is real kängpunk turnt up a few notches in its truest form. You can tell the members of this band are no freshmen to this sound. 100% D-beat hardcore from Denver today that reeks forth like Europe thirty-something years ago.

Emboscada Demo 2020 cassette

Gruesome vocals from Argentina reminiscent of BLAZING EYE, SODOM, ELECTROCUTIONER; things of a gruesome metallic punk nature. I love that the first song is “No!” and the last song is “Nada.” Otherwise, I’m picking up “my head” and “your house;” songs seething in melodic aggression. The construct feels derived from ’80s Latin American hardcore in its diminutive distortion, with some aspects of ’80s US hardcore in the more anthemic upbeats. This contrast, plus the vocals (some femme vocals), the production, and the various tones, all create a unique demo. Long enough to be interesting, short enough to be wanting more.

Bain de Sang Sacrificed for a Load of Filth and Lies LP

This LP opens up with pulverizing, blackened, downturned rippage reminiscent of UNRUH meets AT THE GATES, MISERY INDEX, INSISION, and SKITSYSTEM. BAIN DE SANG of Paris plays intensely tight grindcore with galloping precision while locking up crust-inspired riffs and brutal black metal grimness. At times slightly screeching, BAIN DE SANG always seems to pull back into the realm of hardcore at just the right moment. Powerful rhythms undercut the complete onslaught of technical modern grind. Bestial dark deathcore breakdowns punctuate where necessary, and thrash momentum opens up the cover of “Warsaw”—previous to this track, my favorite homage was done by SWING KIDS. This one brings such smoldering, depressive merit to covering songs. Self-described powerviolence; I wouldn’t go there at all, personally. This is from a warmer place, for lack of a better word. Damn fine French grindcore album.

G.A.Z.E. Sielun Tuli demo cassette

Self-described “Super Dimension Hard Core!!!!” bringing a brightly packaged cassette in yellow with many psychedelic aspects to it. This may be a reference to the MANBIKI CHOCOLATE compilation, from the look and sound of it? The sound—this is like PAINTBOX and TURBONEGRO meets GISM and ZOUO, with Oi!/Scandi-folk anthemic cheering and fully demonic verse vocals like BEHERIT, IMPALED NAZARENE, and MARERIDT. Psychotic metal punk!!! Ungodly and totally scorching!!! I’m scared to submit a review of this diabolical treat! One thing is for sure, it just melted my face off. If you’re looking  for something totally insane, non-stop confounding, and well, I am 100% fucking convinced—“Super Dimension Hard Core!!!!” Get this!

Colonial Wound Colonial Wound 12″

COLONIAL WOUND plays spacey, atmospheric post-hardcore that is as discordant and intimidating as it is smothering and embracing. Vocals are monstrous, but at moments subtly spoken, dream-like, and the lyrics are poetically miserable. This is a tight three-piece who play blackened ethereal hardcore with a dooming metallic tinge. Florida, in my opinion, is known for its ruthless grindcore and death metal. COLONIAL WOUND offers something new and more personal-sounding without being over-dramatic or emotional about it. This is polished, but certain instrumentations are gritty. Reminds me of the punk qualities of early CORROSION OF CONFORMITY, the dark warmth of ROSENKOPF, and the overall style of ISIS, all mixed together. Cream white vinyl as a picture disc on one side—a chain link fencing making an eye. A debut that is quite good.

Dropdead Dropdead 1993 LP reissue

Holy unruliness. DROPDEAD sounds more ferocious than ever on this remastered reissue of their 1993 self-titled release. Bob Otis’s vocals are ripping through the speakers, the bass is a gruesome gritty meld of bounce and rhythm. The drums are absolutely pulverizing and the cymbals glimmer. I had a cassette of this around 1996 and I used to blast it driving around New Haven, around the first time I saw DROPDEAD at The Tune Inn, and their sincerity and raw power completely floored me. No mercy for my ears, only for all animals. It brings back very fond memories hearing this again. Compared only at the time to locals BOILING MAN, I found DROPDEAD so overwhelmingly passionate when I first heard them. Messages you could not ignore or not admit were real. If “Unjustified Murder” into “The Circle Complete” to “Clone” doesn’t move you to live responsibly, and you claim to exist in a scene that cares, I don’t know what will. Thirty-four tracks of ruthless, grinding hardcore assault. If you never had this, this is the version you need right now, for a time right now. Remastered by Brad Boatright, this is a total pummel-fest that has never sounded so full and heavy while retaining the unmistakable DROPDEAD savagery and intensity, if that is even possible.

Herjaza Herjaza CD

Blasting proto-hardcore with some grind elements such as MIND ERASER but not as dark. More in the vein of LUDDITE CLONE or EIGHTEEN VISIONS. A cyclone of rage and fury. Vocals break out with desperation that could border on screamo, but rein and rasp back in just at the tipping point. In fact, that comparison dissipates track after track, creating an interesting crescendo of bitter hatred glazed with anguish. Compositions range from spaced-out psych-core to discordant metalcore breakdowns. Audiosiege, once again, brings a sizzling production to the forefront while accentuating the heavy hitting. Themes are angry for sure, but there is an irreverence in these songs from New York, that I as a native I can relate to. “Not If I See You First,” “Yeah, I Cuff My Jeans,” “Turd Eye Blind,” and “Sean Goes To Glee Concerts” being the most curious to me. There is a riff on “Ghost of Former Gods” that reminds me of MINISTRY’s “Scarecrow,” and I’m grooving on it. There are some really welcoming melodic vocal harmonies on the exit track too, which I am glad was not over-exhausted throughout. HERJAZA plays confounding powerviolence hardcore, with radiance and bizarre disturbing cover art by Alex Eckman-Lawn to boot.

Deformation Deformation LP

DEFORMATION plays on fire, with machine gun ripper drum fills and the slight swagger of HUMAN WASTE. This is straightforward echoing D-beat with the effects of some recent Finnish hardcore outfits and the stern delivery of later AVSKUM, and there are also some mid-tempo moments that recall metallic ’80s hardcore. DEFORMATION is from Denmark and this three-piece is tearing it down like when I first heard GLORIOUS? It clobbers, it annihilates, it changes up, this could be from any time between ’85 and today. Furthermore, this cover art is amazing. A skull barfing bombs and within the recess of its head is the ever-fuming industrial engine of pollution and greed. The three members of DEFORMATION play tight as DISCLOSE with the vibe of UNCURBED at twice the speed. 300% D-beat metal punk up the world zoo. I went from concluding early this was just okay to realizing it absolutely smolders.

Sidetracked Dweller cassette

Okay, the longest song on here is thirty-five seconds. The shortest is five. Yeah, it’s powerviolence/fastcore, with an emphasis on the power. A lot of vocal effects went into this. Vocals sound shouted out over the loudspeaker at Caldor or the drive-thru through an ugly sweater. Drums do the same roll over and over, though blisteringly fast, and then blast off a lot, too. I’m not sure what the story is here but I feel like I’m being drilled by an officer and forced drugs at the same time. It is extremely repetitive for a five-minute PV release and fucking clean. I want more slop and more mess. I want more grind, more surprises. It is heavily edited. Or maybe it’s not at all? I don’t have a moment to tell. I’m kind of nervous about this. If that makes you comfortable, go get it. You will. Understand.

Warsh EP II cassette

Always love a good church bell gong-like intro, and on a demo? Even better. WARSH plays echoing, lo-fi riffed hardcore with urgency and chaotic warmth. The tempo is reminiscent of DR. KNOW and the delivery reminds me of LIFE CHAIN. Songs lacerate shut around the one-and-a-half to two-minute mark and it seems a bit anxious and hasty, but maybe that works. I wonder what WARSH would come up with if they added a bit more to each song. Breakdowns are momentary, intros as well, but there is something unhinged about it. This self-described “potato punk” band from Prince Edward Island, if I was to guess, is not baked, but I look forward to hearing more toppings.

Reality Complex Failure demo cassette

Bitter and vicious vocals abound on this raw, distorted hardcore demo from Denver. REALITY COMPLEX plays with heaps of bash-attack breakdowns and mid-tempo cruelty. Part VIOLENT SOCIETY, part CRO-MAGS, and toward the end, the barf-tastic disgust of DARKSIDE NYC. The blast attack is fast and fueled with aggression. I do not have lyrics handy, but REALITY COMPLEX seems to me not very concerned with self-care or your friendship. This seems like the kind of reality checking Colorado needs more of, or the entire US for that matter. Four original tracks, one VOORHEES cover—this is how you do a solid demo for sure. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but up the clarity of production a bit next go around, and REALITY COMPLEX will be breaking down walls.

Conquest for Death A Maelstrom of Resentment and Remorse LP

Full transparency, I was not that familiar with CONQUEST FOR DEATH’s music, but except by name and band connection proper enough for, and prior to, reviewing this. Those lack of credentials alone had me feeling a bit nervous and a bit queasy, to be honest. Sick from hardcore? And maybe that’s the point and best way to go into this. I also like to use maelstrom a lot in reviews, so I immediately connected with a band I felt I should already know much better. I had only seen a few of the bands associated with CONQUEST FOR DEATH: WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?, ARTIMUS PYLE, FUCKFACE, and NO STATIK often when I moved out West, and I bet had they made it over East (and they probably did), holy crap, I must have missed out! Anyway, this beautifully designed LP, their return recording since 2013, kicks off with what I can only describe as if SHOCKING BLUE or BABE RUTH played hardcore and FINAL CONFLICT ripped forth with gruesome guttural crust vocals. The timbre of BRUTAL TRUTH rears back and forth throughout, as does the lost rasp of BLACK FLAG. That being said—an excellent combination on the mic. Weird and wild thrash moments are fused within à la VOIVOD with the all-go abomination of REPULSION, adding grit. The lyrics are deep, existential, somewhat scientific at times(!) and real. “Philosophy, rock climbing, liquor, and weed!” Real words, which I loved, but in all seriousness, the songs cover a lot of topics, through storytelling and reflection. Now let’s talk about this artwork. This gorgeous cover by Alex Nino, a glossy black ink and grey wash warrior, rides a battle elephant, covered in bladed armor, which was used several times throughout history, but my nerdy imagination immediately went to Return of the King. An enormous full-color poster is also included; another elephant battler, on what seems like the body of Mazinger Z, by Glenno Smith. Add a vinyl sticker, and a gatefold panoramic photo (AND a second poster of this gatefold photo is included!) of the band captured in frozen energy, surrounded by a sea of their closest conquesters, a sight sorely missed this day and age. Overall the packaging is top-notch, and the tunes are an adventure in, yes, resentment and remorse, anger and injustice, but they also have a party feel and are kind of a psychedelic journey, and return trip if you will, into modern hardcore while retaining the styles of the past. To sum up, do I have any other CONQUEST FOR DEATH records, no. Am I thrilled to have this magnificent love-FOR DEATH effort, will I put the sticker on my BMX? Fuck yeah, I am. Fucking awesome! 

Desolat Songs of Love in the Age of Anarchy 12” picture disc

With a mammoth sound, DESOLAT of Vienna plays plodding, clear, and heavenly sludge metal. The sound here is more riff metal than dooming, droning earthquakes. There is a catchy flavor to the chords, such as MELVINS, and comfortingly dismal such as ASUNDER and NIGHTFELL. Some aspects of this record are ice-cold embittered vocals that have a harmonizing crust feel to them, others are warm, dense, and heavy breakdowns. The pace here is everything from dragging epic passages, to blackened riffing, to D-beat measures for a brief moment. I’m honestly not feeling the love songs from DESOLAT, but definitely the passion. “The Bureaucrat,” about midway through, is my favorite track, which goes all over the place as far as extreme music goes. There is a tidal of misery and optimism that moves from pastel clouds to the dark sea with their horizon of proto-metal and Scandinavian/European death metal. DESOLAT defines said Age of Anarchy without chaos, which I believe is the point of anarchy. So I’m feeling the unity here, presented with a palette mixture of BLACK SABBATH magic and SOILENT GREEN abrasion.

Excrement of War Cathode Ray Coma LP reissue

This was definitely an exciting 1994 reissue to be assigned. It starts off with a ripping, bombarding soloed instrumental, as most crust bands did in the ’90s. Fueled-up punk, raw and powerful, E.N.T./HELLCRUSHER-style intro, right into “Exist Enslaved” (which I believe I’ve heard covered several times before being introduced to this record). So if you like DOOM or STATE OF FEAR with a bit more range between vocalists, this reissue is for a lucky you. Mags has one of the most ferocious, vitriolic, raspiest vocal tones ever. Ripping. The EXCREMENT OF WAR split with DEFORMED CONSCIENCE might be my favorite of their material—this was earlier and looser—but to that point, it’s raw crust and punk as fuck. The UK/US match-up complements each other so well on the split, so if you can get a hand on this, or either for that matter, you will not be disappointed. Essential ’90s European crushing, ripping, hardcore crust. “Encased in their military cocoon; the outside appearances [are just] blips on [a] screen. Enemy tank. Enemy child. Enemy plane. Enemy tree…”

If It Kills You Infinite Hum LP

When I was in high school I loved QUICKSAND’s Slip. I heard one word from this band, and I was immediately transported to that time. As we proceed, IF IT KILLS YOU plays with even more feel-good melancholy, adding pitches of FUGAZI bark, CAVE IN bite, and HOT ROD CIRCUIT companionship. Some of the more descending chords of A MINOR FOREST come through as well, with the post-hardcore nodes of that first WEEZER album. That’s a bit much, but it must be there for a reason, not trying to edit—let’s just say HOT WATER MUSIC, that flows much more casually, with emotional messages and irreverent compositions. IF IT KILLS YOU is not trying to kill you, but they’re not trying to save you, either. You’ll figure it out, as you concentrate on them more and more each song. IF IT KILLS YOU comes to us from Bakersfield. And I feel like it could go either way living in Bakersfield. Stay safe, stay strong, IF IT KILLS YOU. Into it.

Exploatör Avgrundens Brant LP

I’m going to say a few things, outing my lameness, before I even get started on the listening. One, I have heard of this band, and I am familiar with their insane punk pedigree of band members (INSTITUTION, SLUTET, WARCOLLAPSE, KRIGSHOT, TOTALITÄR, NO SECURITY—yes, I’m still going—ÄÄRITILA, DISFEAR, MEANWHILE…etc.!), but I regret to say I don’t know that I’ve heard them yet since their 2017 debut. Sad face. Two, the umlaut and aforementioned resume lets me know I’ll probably be into this. So let’s see. Okay, I absolutely love the raspy vocals that gasp out to the very last breath. This is quite heavy metal-charged Scandi Dis-beat hardcore. There is a unique level of vibration to the classic riffs. That is to say, the traditional Swedish hardcore chords are almost sung from the guitars. Outstanding. Like literally, the guitars are a standout, fucking awesome. This must be Kenko, who I met at a wedding in NY once, and his unassuming kind poise brings total fire through his instrument. Simultaneously catchy and abrasive, this is certainly recommended. Some parts double-time D-beat käng (à la MOB 47), other moments knuckle-dragging stomping breaks, but never for too long. I was just listening to INSTITUTION yesterday and I believe they share the vocalist. Or perhaps the TOTALITÄR vocalist, actually. I could check but let’s leave it at that, the old-fashioned way. Just like EXPLOATÖR plays hardcore punk. I am not sure who’s doing what here, but I am sure I love this.

Scab Eater Ultra Vires LP

SCAB EATER of Australia plays diminutive slam-pit hardcore that sounds like a more lo-fi garage-core version of MIND ERASER with the punk ugliness of SADIST, HOAX, and GAG. You know the drill. SCAB EATER, however, has a subtle, more dark tone to them such as DEATH CHURCH. Ultra Vires switches up the tempo several times while remaining a straightforward steam engine of hardcore. Songs clock in at under two minutes yet seem to be filled with deep composition. By the fourth track “It Gets Worse,” I am totally hooked and it gets better from there. Followed by “Flag Bearer” with grabbing double kick pedal, gritty, filthy bass, and a locomotive furnace for a mouthpiece. You will get into this immediately and wish you’d worn a helmet. A.C.A.B. S.C.A.B! EATER. FTW.

Cartridge / Wet Specimens Dawn of the Ice Age split EP

I already have a soft spot for this split, as my first hardcore band in the mid-’90s was called CARTRIDGE. But let’s get to work. Well, CARTRIDGE of Boston is far superior to what we were. This is clobbering GLORIOUS?-style hardcore with some echo added to the vocals, but played with the sheer intensity of BLOODKROW BUTCHER. Non-stop bombing blast such as HUMANT BLOD—there is literally a “bomb fall” effect sample added that is punctuated with a blast on a break. And there are hardly any breaks here. Shit, this side fucking rules! WET SPECIMENS torrentially rain in on the higher register with equally fast hardcore, though they add some twangier post-punk riffs and spaced out solos and surprising late ’80s thrash metal riffs. But really just as subtle accents. This is much catchier, to the intensity of Side A. Great split, now I want to find one. Jeez, you got the name, and this was totally impressive. Send a damn copy next time.

Wretched of the Earth Collapse // Rebirth LP

Contrasting this optimistic album title, I naively venture to the recording: epic, despairing neo-crust from Portland. To that point, I’m feeling the renaissance of FROM ASHES RISE and TRAGEDY here. The true personality is emulated between various vocals. I’m picking up like three vocalists, but this is perhaps being expressed by two. But even more remarkably, in several languages: English, Spanish, Arabic, African? Indigenous or Polynesian? I’m sorry, I’m not sure the origins of some of these songs and lyrics, but the variety of dialects here is inspiring. Certain spaces of this remind me of REACT and SCUMBRIGADE with, again, that multiple vocal energy. Within the barrage of hardcore crust pummeling, WRETCHED OF THE EARTH have riveted down some ominous melancholy passages as well. After all, this album gets better as it escalates and plateaus and fades out. I bet this band would rule live, if we ever get there again.

M:40 Arvsynd LP

I do not know if the band name M:40 is in reference to a weapon or what, but M:40 of Sweden is weaponized with dooming folksy acoustic landscapes that remind me of ACURSED, GUTS PIE EARSHOT, and some tinges of blackened metal. My favorite thing about Arvsynd is the way all the musical levels are blended together. There is not much breathing room here, but it is not overwhelmingly aggressive either. It’s like a dense Scandinavian fog of heavy turmoil. This is the kind of hardcore that can usually get exhausting to me, but M:40 breaks it up with casual D-beat such as UNCURBED, sinister metal riffs such as NIHILIST, and fuzzed-out duo vocals. Favorite track: “Viskningar I Mörkret.” Melodic crustcore with finesse.

Zyanose Total End of Existence LP

What can I say to start, I love ZYANOSE and what a perfect title for a record. I was fortunate to see them in SF, Oakland, and Brooklyn, and they decimated each time. I’ve actually been listening to the Crossing EP a lot lately too, so this assignment comes at an opportune gloomy early-year time, when I need ZYANOSE again. Total End of Existence comes to us from December 2019 but I regrettably have not picked up a release since their Putrid Sick Society LP. This is thirteen tracks of rhythmic, frothing, grotesque, beautiful, furious stenchcore. As a comparison to previous ZYANOSE releases, it is more contained and stylized, dare I say catchy. ZYANOSE to me has always played with an optimistic blend of losing one’s mind, a search for oneself without a care in the world, and complete sonic turmoil. Tracks are short, stabbing, jolting, and unique to one another. Rhythms change up, all hell breaks loose, until you are scooped up again by some brilliant sections and earthly-transcending talons of artistic freedom. My favorite track is the longest, “Silence II,” which is anything but, followed by an amalgamation of ideas that all stir in the soup of crushing noise. Pretty much every track is as a hook flies by your nose and just slices you on the bridge without fully tugging out a nostril. Totally crasher-crust I want to understand, fully immerse into, but is far beyond my comprehension and constantly leaves me behind. I mean, there is a song literally called “Gggggg.” Toward the end, in “I.N.R.D.D.,” ZYANOSE takes on their final form. Totally destroying and lovely oceans of grinding amps in my ears. Total freedom. Seriously, the last four tracks might be the greatest achievement on here. This album feels like a transformation from beginning to end. ZYANOSE is that good and remains so on this latest album.

Besthöven / Disjawn split EP

Playing with peak Scandi D-beat dynamic here, and reminding almost of the latest PARANOID LP or later AVSKUM, BESTHÖVEN still retains that FINAL BOMBS jangling, metallic, riff-ripping classic Finnish ’82 style, but with authentic Brazilian attitude. It feels a bit strange saying that, but there is a fire to these few tracks in a classic D-beat formula that brings a warmth to the style. Don’t get me wrong, there is steel-charged grit to Fofäo Discrust’s music as well, but his vocals are fuego/fogo. The DISJAWN recording is far more havoc-ridden, smashing across both crash cymbals, D-beating to death from Philly. I mention that because there is an East Coast hardcore tone of voice here in the meter of the lyrics and the irreverent chords, compared to the earnest presentation on Side A. Both sides stylistically complement one another while bringing a similar message from each hemisphere: Fuck war. Fuck the military. Where is [this] (either) country? Where is a peaceful life?

Moment of Fear Covid Sessions 2020 EP

MOMENT OF FEAR does not let up on the assault for a minute. Three tracks of scorching, exhaust-fuming hardcore lacking any form of dazzle camouflage. Side A offers an in-your-face blast of aggression and frustration, with the vocals from Bartek (REACTOR, RELIGIOUS WAR) reminding me so much of those on the obscure MORAL SUCKLING LP. Strained, tense and harsh. Side B formulates a more post-punk somber sound, echoing a depression further in the distance, but equally to Side A: torn through by pissed off punk rockers. MOMENT OF FEAR is craggily, rough, scraping hardcore from what feels like a cold PNW ocean, although they are from Long Beach. Covid Sessions 2020 storms in and drags you out to extinction.

Tortür Never Ending Grief LP

Scaly, scaling, escapist råpunk D-beat noise from LA. Deliberate face-ripping riffs that flail through the play with no mercy. TORTÜR plays the standard D-beat formula, but the energy is many ticks above normal. Vocals are grimaced and the chords are buoyant. Drums pulverize—sticks tumbling with classic DISCLOSE openers and breaks, at a rate a notch faster than everything else, and it works—as TORTÜR ebbs and stabs in unison. The way a band like this should sound; slightly organic but still nailing it like the nightmare machine they are illustrating. Some surprising rhythmic change-ups, in the way I fell jawless skull-over-boots for WORLD BURNS TO DEATH some 20-odd years ago, in “Who Will Survive The Human Collapse?” which adds shock treatment to the overall seizure of this album. Basically, a blistering new chaotic D-beat album that excels with production fervor and speed. Might be on my top ten had I not already sent it in. Recalling TOTAL WAR, DESPAIR, ASPECTS OF WAR. Art by Robin Wilberg of SVAVELDIOXID (previously DISFEAR). TORTÜR, a three piece of LA, are a gift (GASATTACK), and I definitely recommend trying to find this raw physical slab, it goes for $666 on their Bandcamp, and was released this past September 11th, yikes.

Joukkohauta Valloita Ja Tuhoa EP

Side A is a scorching non-stop frenzy of breathless vocals and swarm-like guitar with the morphine-drop speed of DESTRUKTIONS. Drums barrage through similar to VIIMEINEN KOLONNA with the overall density of RAJOITUS. However, JOUKKOHAUTA is one of the even heavier Finnish hardcore bands I’ve heard, mixing in slight echo in the production similar to contemporaries KOHTI TUHOA. Writhing between charges under hissing and seething vocal madness. Side B lets up on the intense speed for a moment but continues to wash over everything with aural turmoil. I’m just gonna say it, the Finnish language as presented through punk always sounds fucking nasty to me! This play is extremely intense on all levels. Course, menacing vocals, tight-fisted punching riffs, subtly dark changes played on the higher side—a register that is hard to hit, sounding bleak without folding the hardcore down-tuned into crust. Bound to be a classic Finnish release, and one of the best of the year. This EP rules!

Disfear Soul Scars LP reissue

This is a mammoth reissue from Havoc Records. This is the A Brutal Sight of War era line-up of DISFEAR abominating a ruthless Scan-D-beat echoing riff onslaught. DISFEAR hits the tempo spot-on with a repetitive hexing of hardcore bestial anti-warpunk. The drums cut the air like the propellers of a war chopper, the guitar buzzes like a blowtorch, the bass crushes all in its path. Soul Scars is harsh attack from beginning to end. I think you know what to expect; but DISFEAR always hits the target and decimates it by the time the LP is through. Like DISCLOSE pound like a torrential rain, DISFEAR thunders and explodes. Even the mid-tempo tracks are as fast as many imitators play entire sets. DISFEAR has the timing and simplicity for the style that is perfect. The vocals are a charred furnace. Being a band since the late ’80s, there are many dimensions to their classic style. Even their name is straight to the point! They remain kings in the D-beat arena. I saw them once at CBs in 2006 with Tompa on vocals, and hearing this reissue takes me back to that pulverizing set. Defenders of the D-beat until the end! Definitely worth your attention.

偏執症者 (Paranoid) Out Raising Hell Outtakes LP

This is a mini-LP of outtakes from PARANOID’s latest full-length Out Raising Hell. Regrettably, I have not picked up that album yet, but this is very appetizing, recording/production-wise. Diminutive chords (thinking VISIONS also from Sweden) and death metal infernal riffing conjure VENOM, REPULSION, and POSSESSED, also reminding me of contemporaries BASTARD PRIEST and ELEGY. I first got into PARANOID when I reviewed their Cover of the Month cassette some years ago, and was completely stoked on their choices, raging from death metal and classic metal, to crust and mangel D-beat hardcore. PARANOID’s execution plays confidently within the thrash metal/D-beat spectrum, and they make it sound easy. All the gruesome hardcore punk disdain with giblets of old school death metal. This latest LP is clearly headbänger-for-känger.

Prism Wrong Side demo cassette

Feeling as stuck as we do in 2020, and we won’t be forever, I really had to let go of the abrasive hardcore punk rails with this tape, and allow myself to be transported in time. PRISM is heavy and bright, post-shoegazing late-grunge-era rock in a world embracing a self-fog, pre-terror, feel-good energy, but still lost and sad. They play from the heart of punk with the glassy stare of DINOSAUR JR, the CHEATAHS, UNWOUND, and some of the more diminutive tones of SONIC YOUTH. The vocals howl beautifully with a variety of melancholy harmonies and optimistic androgyny. The dial on guitar and bass are down-tuned and the drums tumble like GUIDED BY VOICES meets SEBADOH and the WIPERS.  In the mid-’90s, I would pick up a CD based solely on the cover art—take for example STARFLYER 59 in its silver ominous sheen that ended up delivering an obscure, gloomy indie rock gift. Well, PRISM is doing the same—their logo rules, and the cyan case and red cassette would have sold me, too. The more I listen to this tape, the more I become addicted to its vibrance. Four tracks of lo-fi, noise-pop no wave joy.

Korrosive Hiroshima flexi

Sizzling hardcore from Oakland densely churning with Finnish inflection. Vocals trill and cinder over gloomy mid-tempo tribal percussion. Guitar wanes and dives like a bomb raid alarm, with bass pulling the message through with poetic meter. A lengthy piano outro reminds of ANTI-SECT’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Get this limited edition flexi, a single track called “Anti,” which encapsulates the mood of the year quite provocatively, however stating all due respect to the victims of Hiroshima—an incomparable devastation, this year marking its 75th anniversary. What have we learned?

Rash Hivemind LP

Echoing chamber-cold crusty hardcore with mammoth sound from windy, good olde Chicago. I haven’t heard such pile-driving fire-fast changes that border on pit-core and thrashing crust since RITUAL CONTROL. That band ruled, and so does this. Venomous vocals, slightly cyberpunk-effected guitar and drum tones, hypnotic artistic passages that suddenly pull you down into a blender breakdown. Bass elbows in for some peaks and valleys, showcasing a reverberating lid on all this chaos. This album is thoroughly impressive. The songs are easily embraced thrash hardcore, such as early CORROSION OF CONFORMITY with the abominable precision of MIND ERASER or COLD SWEAT. The cover art is disturbing and awesome, like low-res DISCLOSE skull, GISM confrontational, awesome. Really digging RASH. All-in-all an absolute face-grind of embittered, ruptured punk.

Execütors / Male Patterns split EP

Grinding, harsh, gangly garage hardcore from EXECÜTORS. Soloing, maniacal-laughing streetwalking punk like GANG GREEN meets a NAILBITER hardcore attack. Anthemic at the heart with an irreverent attitude. Two tracks of no-fucks-given arcade-era hardcore. MALE PATTERNS play at a lower register, such as BUTCHER, with a MOTÖR-charged tempo that quickly roughens up the songs like some serious uppers. Drums triplet with accomplishment where it’s not even necessary, adding some interesting licks. Vocals are spat in kick-time with even more resentment and destruction than Side A. Together, this split offers all-go bitterness that sounds different, but flows together like the foulest brothers on the block. EXECÜTORS, MALE PATTERNS, what awfulness happened to you guys? Intimidated to even ask about it.

Pi$$er Crushed Down to Paste LP

I’m certainly intrigued when the first track is called “Jazz Wasps.” Holy shit, I haven’t heard anything with horns in a while. And to hear it working in a punk record is wild and surprising. This is like if the poetic rhythm of INSTIGATORS played as hard as SPITE UK or POLICE BASTARD but with saxophones! The bold venture alone is worth acknowledgement, but damn, I’m really moved by this. Fire solos, steady D-beat with slightly snotty, slightly robotic vocals. Chaos ensues! Some tracks are as fast and outrageous as GAUZE, others as heavy and classically-driven as DOOM. As a saxophone player in my youth, I kind of always wanted to trill over hardcore punk or even ambient black metal, and I find PI$$ER hugely inspiring. The horns are complementary to both guitar and bass—not to be ignored, but in no way steer the intention away from punk. This seriously fucking works! And I’m going nowhere near the “S-word.” More like JOHN ZORN playing DISCHARGE, SORE THROAT, or PLEASANT VALLEY CHILDREN. War-siren, dismal alto octave dissidence as fuck. Lyrics about living and learning and gaining those experiences. “Life = Art / Art = Life!,” as it says in the liner notes. Agreed. I’m not going to get into the amazing band connections this group has, that is not the point. This is totally new. A rad project you’ve done here, PI$$ER.

V/A …So This Is Progress? 002 7″ flexi

This flexi mini-comp is included in a 16-page zine of disposable camera photos taken between 2001-2007 in California featuring 38 bands! So let’s get right to it; KIRITIERRA remind me of a more metallic NEGAZIONE; SACRIFYX recall CRUDE SS and FINAL CONFLICT; JEFFREY DONGER brought me back to LACK OF INTEREST and PLUTOCRACY. KRATOM seemed very OP IVY at first, then laid down a more BLACK FLAG sound. NERVOUS AGGRESSION plays like CAPITALIST CASUALTIES with the A-political voice of AXIOM. Pretty damn good and the photo zine is no slacker either. Photos of AFTER THE BOMBS, DYSTOPIA, MUNICIPAL WASTE, MELT BANANA, ANNIHILATION TIME, INSECT WARFARE and many others. A nice like celebration piece in a year where we can hardly see each other’s faces.

Brünner Deathmarch 20:20 EP

Damn, this is rocksteady fire! Metered, rhythmic, dense, dank hardcore from the Czech Republic!  I am really digging the knuckle-dragging heavy production. It’s like a smooth mix of raging D-beat à la DISPENSE and raging metallic hardcore à la FORÇA MACABRA. The bass is pulling a fierce barge of weight under all this. The accentuation of these lyrics are on point. Like, a jackhammer point. This band is cutting it up. It’s not a long EP, but it’s full of tight riffs, gut-knotted death-grunts, and blasting beats mixed with circling D-beats. The BRÜNNER TODESMARSCH, or death march, was the expulsion of Germans from surrounding provinces during late/post WWII. Resulting in the obvious; disease, malnutrition, death. I need to read these lyrics, because this sounds like the difference between 2020 inspired crust/hardcore and 2020 sincere crust/hardcore. 20:20 is definitely recommended.

Moderat Likvidation Kuknacke CD reissue

I mean, hey hey! Here is a collection of melodic ultra-fast hardcore from young Swedish legends MODERAT LIKVIDATION. This is a no-brainer must-have for noisefucker. Whenever I hear “Hiroshima” or “Enola Gay” my brain and heart melts. MODERAT LIKVIDATION packs the classic ’80s rough fuzz and fury into every track. And might be the ’80s band with the most pairs of glasses on. Fun fact! As a longtime spectacles-wearer, I appreciate how hard they rocked in cable knit sweaters, bleach-splat denim, leather and glasses. What do we want, excessive LIKVIDATION? NO! The CD quality sounds great, and my CD player isn’t even that great. Get this for a road trip or something—LIKVID your life a little! *pushes glasses up onto noise*

Rigorous Institution Survival / Despotism 7″

As I write this, Portland, OR and the entire Pacific Northwest is suffering a siege of wildfires and noxious smoke pollution. In suit, RIGOROUS INSTITUTION plays their signature brand of highland war-wandering metal punk for the scorched earth doom parade. Awkward choking vocals and bizarre echoing dark-castle-like synth moments ooze through the tracks. A dirging medieval Battery Humans-era AMEB-oid, VOIVOD-ing, STONE THE CROWZ-eque cloak of brutal esoteric toxic existential gloom crust with non-light vibes of later DARKTHRONE. I picked up their The Coming of the Terror EP last year and was very stoked to receive this for review. Way into this band, a voice in my frustrated corroded 2020 mind.

Affect Fucked Reality cassette

Well, you got that right, AFFECT. I first played this tape well into the evening, after a few park sodas, and said to myself “maybe I’ll listen to this again over the weekend, and it won’t sound so much like DISCLOSE.” AFFECT are a Swedish band, and if you love DISCLOSE and GLORIOUS?, this is a perfect addition to your Dis-collection. Dis is absolut raw chaos punk noize for reality fucker. And the best part: it’s done by two people, yet sounding like a catastrophic cacophony of several more. The percussion is a bit heavier than is standard, as is the galloping stomper track—my favorite—“Bleeding.” The words are lengthy and well-paced, nicely understated, throughout the tracks, and my only complaint is that I’d love to have some printed lyrics. The tan-on-black cover art is also excellent. AFFECT goes from “eh” to “hmm, well, OK!” with each subsequent listen.

Anti-Cimex En Product Från Dagens Skitsamhälle CD

This demo recording from 1982 is Anarkist Attack-era ANTI CIMEX, and it sounds great. It was originally sent out to zines and friends and hasn’t been available on CD before now. I have some of these demo recordings on the Demos 81-85 comp, but not all of them. Harsh, warbling and heavy, Nils delivers broken vocals with adolescent intensity, before Tomas took over with a gruffer, more matured sound. This features a DISCHARGE cover and a few impromptu instrumentals, and several rarer tracks such as “Eibon” that are only on demos. This is a powerful and raw ANTI-CIMEX disc, like a table saw that delivers.

Crow 1988.2.28 Antiknock Live CD

This recording of CROW is crude, and captures the fury of punk that CROW was live. Some of my favorite CROW songs stand out on this anxious recording: “I’m Looking Out Over,” “Give Up All Hope,” my personal favorite “Bloody Earth,” and so on. The raw anguish and passion is captured in the racket, as CROW does not wait up for anything between songs. “The Day of Annihilation” into “Bloody Earth” into “Storms of Despair” into “Is Fiction,” right around the middle, just brings me to a moment of how relentless this show must have been to witness in person. A blast-through of a fire set that sounds like 25 people are in the band melting everyone’s face off.

Deviated Instinct Nailed CD

A hammering, high-production level EP on CD with classic hardcore metal riffs, breakdowns, and sinister vocals, the latter from Mid who coincidentally provided a ton of great punk art for NAPALM DEATH and EXTREME NOISE TERROR. Double-kick-pedal-driven death crust riffs, escapist vibes, cyber-industrial landscape effects—this reissue of DEVIATED INSTINCT Nailed longs for a lazy summer day under the trees with a gang of your best squatter buds. In a world where such things are no longer recommended! “OOH!” Just going to have to thrash on my roof. Tangent aside, if you’re not that familiar with DEVIATED INSTINCT, Nailed is the perfect example of terminal filth stenchcore. It’s killer. “Slow Death Suck” is a must hear death crust track. For fans of SKAVEN, BURNING WITCH, 13… this was a pioneer release when death metal punk was making its way into the NYHC sound as well. “UGH!”

Horror Vacui Living for Nothing LP

HORROR VACUI of Italy are very well-rehearsed and the vocals are beautiful and deep. It pushes hard on the retro CHAMELEONS sound, but not so much that HORROR VACUI don’t bring their own unique efforts to the ennui table. Much of the vibe brought by ROSETTA STONE mixed with the morose tones of SISTERS OF MERCY, the electrified angst of CLAN OF XYMOX, and with the bass drive of NEW MODEL ARMY. Some of the vocal intonations recall PSYCHEDELIC FURS. The combination of melodramatic deathrock and post-punk irreverence is choice. Production is vibrating and clear, then some moments are dreamy like the most depressing JOY DIVISION songs. Amazing cover art that reminds me of somber medieval Renaissance printing meets the graphic novel Persepolis. A very solid offing for the darkroom brooding punker set.

LMI Excess Subconscious LP

LMI, or LAZY MIDDLE-CLASS INTELLECTUALS (from the BAD RELIGION lyric), play spiraling spats of obtuse post-hardcore. There is a constant discord between the three members that through repetition slowly overwhelms. I really want the bass to be brought up a few levels, like molasses coating this jagged pill. Most vocals are screamed monotone with minimal guttural death metal vocals sprinkled in. This occurs mostly on “Ghost Teeth” where the low-end growl takes the mic. The drums are along for the ride and carry this unique presentation through like a cosmic tour guide. LMI is sort of SWING KIDS, HOT SNAKES, CAVE IN. The playing style is so tense, I prefer the tracks that loosen up and groove a bit, such as on “Concrete Illusions” and “Tomorrow Midnight,” because LMI still lays it on harsh. I’m not going to soothsay land this review down on any runway, because LMI didn’t do that for me. Sort of leave it hanging and awkward, but in a bewildered and good way. These LAZY MIDDLE-CLASS INTELLECTUALS might just be way above my head.

Death Gasp Stranglehold EP

From the industrial wasteland of Pittsburgh cinders forth a rusty, warped sound of bastardly punk. Vocals are delivered like early DOOM, with a bellow-filled lung of oration. The entire production is burning filth and fills my earholes with grit and noise. Drums have a hard kick and tumble over all the crunchy delights. In some parts INTEGRITY hardcore rolls through, in others, ’90s European crust. Very much digging the surprising riff changes and driving fire of rhythm inside this EP. Side A does not wait up and excites with mid-tempo churning HC punk. Side 2 opens with a classic crust eulogy called “Poisoned Well” that quickly picks up into a D-beating wallop. Lastly, the title track, again with classic squat-style crust that erupts shortly after with galloping verse and throbbing bridges. Four great tracks in total from this three-piece that each have their own merit and personality (the songs, not the members, though they are very gelled on this recording). Come to think of it, this EP fucking rules. Hard and dark as fuck. I only wish I was reading some lyrics because I get the impression they are profound. Totally recommended while you circle-pace around your home this summer wondering WTF is going on. *Sharply inhales*

Might Might CD

This unassuming CD, stark black with chalk-like lettering, MIGHT lead you to believe this band was going to sound subtle. The wispy spoken word intro, “Introduce Yourself,” MIGHT even creep you out a bit. Femme witching vocals slither in and you MIGHT even be a bit scared. I used to love the morose steaming feminist carnival-like recordings of SOW (partner of PIG) back in the ’90s. And this reminds me of the laissez-faire of SOW a little bit. A tribal and metal DIAMANDA GALÁS of sorts with the more CHELSEA WOLFE acoustic eeriness. There is also a CONCRETE BLONDE kind of twang to it. I’m in all sorts of places with this, Southern stoner doom (thinking BRUME, TOTEM/JEX THOTH), black metal, gothic neo-folk. MIGHT is unassuming and escapist. For only two folks from Hanover, Germany, they’ve put together a very interesting project that MIGHT just deserve a few more instrumental layers to crawl into.

Nightmare Fuel Vaccination for the Social Plague Demos – Part One

For the ’90s death metal and crust scene, and beyond really, a full-length had to have a classic intro. EXTREME NOISE TERROR, DISRUPT, HIATUS, MISERY, ENTOMBED, TERRORIZER… something to give you a taste of what you’d be fucking with. How often can that be said about a demo? Well, in the case of NIGHTMARE FUEL, you are getting just that. Punctuated STATE OF FEAR-style hardcore crust, with prolific death metal virtuosity. An exceptionally balanced smash-face fast-forward HAIL OF RAGE pummeling, to the thunderous aspects of DYSTOPIA with monstrous vocals. Far be it from me to turn down a new crust demo, but rarely do they exude such inspired changes, fills and detailed production. This is fucking leveling for a demo! I do not have the technical knowhow to describe the hi-fi tune of the guitars compared to the tight lo-fi of the snare, but that is all there. All is wrought with dense grooves and classic ’90s cinematic sampling. I love that! NIGHTMARE FUEL has created a prison of desperation, gloom and anxiety communicated via an apocalyptic galloping crustcore attack. A carnival of riff madness à la CENTINEX to the thrashing anthemic conversation of SHITLIST, NIGHTMARE FUEL nods to several generations of death metal, hardcore punk and crust in its most self-realized era. Underneath all that, poignant lyrics concerning depression, unraveled trust, unraveling truths, society’s fucks, the planet’s chaotically spiraling demise. A not-to-be-missed demo. And I know the foredooming LP will crush. This grim gang of the PNW will surely rule live if anything ever lives again.

Vlack Mental Diaspora 12″

VLACK plays upbeat chords with exhausted, morose, downbeat vocals. Clashing discordant guitar riff peaks surprise and bend through predictable rhythms. Harrowing vocals such as from the CULT, the END (Boston) and the bass tones clang under lost guitar reverberation. VLACK is from Spain, however songs are sung and howled in English. Parts blackened steaming cauldron and HOT WATER MUSIC optimism, flowing like ghosts over a haunting goth melancholy tempo. This is generally unsettling. It is delivered with basic indie rock post-hardcore compositions, but the dismal glimmers of death rock and doom tempo make it ultimately depressing. These are sad and sinister sonnets from only two musicians. VLACK sounds in mourning and showcase that they are completely fine with that. Six tracks of gasping poetic mathematical neo death rock with hardcore indignation coursing its veins. “Abandon to the Fire,” an instrumental, might be my favorite, acting as a nice intermission from the anguish. I assure you, this is not as depressing on the surface as I make it sound, but the almost hidden pain is what I find most impressive about the recording.

City of Industry Conspire Conspire Conspire LP

Gasping, anguished and anthemic indie rock hardcore from Seattle. The rock-steady pace is exciting and optimistic, contrasted by the dooming tone of the bass. Guitars play longer than usual bridges that create a more unique landscape of reflection between the chorus moments and attacking vocal verse. Lyrics are confident, romantic in the renaissance sense, and poetic, almost delivered with hip hop flow and NYHC aggression. Parts ACRID grinding doom, FOURHUNDREDYEARS creativity, CAVE IN post-hardcore vibes in all their forms. CITY OF INDUSTRY opens up the flood so you may walk right in and collapses with tidal wave form. Production is pummeling. Toward the end I’m feeling some elements of MORAL SUCKLING and FUCKED UP. To be totally transparent, this is not the style of hardcore or punk I generally go for, but I am thoroughly impressed with the pace of all songs, the meter and the passion in this release. The cover art is romantic again, and well designed from a graphics standpoint. A tapestry of florals, harkening back to my renaissance comment. This may be renaissance-core.

Illya Microcosmos LP

Spaced-out psychedelic hardcore from Japan that edits at all the right points. Think PAINTBOX, KRUW meets ABIGAIL, JUDGMENT and some undertones of American West Coast ’80s skate punk, strangely enough. This is an artistic endeavor that I’m having a hard time classifying. Screeching vocals are sung wildly, weaving through entirely guitar-soloed tracks. ILLYA sounds like freedom in its most subversive form, unified within its own community of acceptance; epic without being too grandiose. With all of the dread and helplessness in the world today, Microcosmos revives the spirit of fervent fire. With songs like “Open The Window,” “Burning Heart Burn The World,” “Pebbles,” “Blind Dancer” and “Go Forward Into The…” Microcosmos is a good idea for you if you love Japanese hardcore, taking a deep breath, laughing maniacally in the face of evil, and are trying your damnedest these days to love life.

Infekcja Singles 1997 LP

Ghastly screaming vocals combined with a guttural crust racket, bring a lashing of squat-punk fury from Poland. This is a combination of the band’s self-titled EP, Symbioza EP, and their tracks on the split with SO WAR. Dual vocals remind of some Japanese influences around that time, as well as European crust from SEDITION, SCATHA, FLEAS & LICE while sharing some of the optimistic chords of POST REGIMENT and the irreverence of DEZERTER. INFEKCJA plays it close to the vest—with some stressful blast beats, post-punk breakdowns, rotting metallic ride-out riffs. Throughout the play there are totally chaotic moments and artistically deliberate avant-garde moments. This is by no means generic crust-core forgotten from the ’90s. And if I just have not heard enough memorable hardcore punk from Poland to make further comparisons that is clearly my problem. It just gets better and better as it plays through. Glad to be introduced.

Skeleton / Svaveldioxid split EP

Oh, wow! I was very excited to be assigned this split as a fan of both bands, the genre in general, and holy fuck! SVAVELDIOXID rages forth with a railgun D-beat attack, the most grisly and monstrous vocal effect I’ve heard from the band yet, sizzling bass fills and scorching guitars. Seriously, this is one of the more ferocious raw käng recordings I’ve heard in a while, and I listen to a lot of them, but I keep coming back to this to hear the subtle levels that make it stand out. Compared to previous records, this side from Sweden’s contemporary hardcore kings sound more MOB 47/DISCARD in pace at first, then exceedingly drops tune and tone finishing up in the DISPENSE/BOMBANFALL zones…this is 100% bombarding “Vevarsle”! Love! SKELETON lowers the miserable vibes even further with echoing Dis-gruntled death-beat. This is burning more from the gut than the fists, if that makes sense. Thinking MARERIDT, INFERNÖH, BRAINCELL. Four tracks of gruesome paroxysm from Canada. Always with the most imaginative crusty-life existence drawings, Robin Wiberg (SVAVELDIOXID drums) graces the cover with his gnarly pen. In short, get this—both sides rule.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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!

Blinded Humanity Mind Control EP

Chucky and extremely aggressive gore-core from Australia. The intense speed reminds me of BASTARD filled out with the crustier rage of COP ON FIRE. Six tracks of inferno-core reminiscent of DEATH TOLL 80K with vocal hopelessness and a maniacal regurgitation/choking reflex on every track, which tranforms this EP even further into a bitter pill to swallow.

Genogeist Genogeist LP

Hailing from PDX, GENOGEIST plays tidal waves of crushing static hardcore crust. Two levels of vocals are presented: a choking guttural dense layer, and a clearer digital affected top layer sort of reminding me of ACCION MUTANTE. Songs end and begin seamlessly sutured together. The compositions are at their root punk, branching out with cyber-botanical metal briars. That is to say they bang, hard, but are smothered in distortion. The guitars slice out with AGE accents. The drumming is exceptional, constantly holding a steady mid-tempo crust beat, then all of a sudden cascade and explore into a ruthless fit.  This album moves fast with its attack, but covers all areas of expert songwriting and never seems repetitive. Engaging riffs, punctuated vocal moments, D-beat piledriving, ghoulish momentary death metal solos. GENOGEIST haunts shit up from beginning to end. An epitome of crust’s origins while offering contemporary fresh individuality. Favorite track: “Systemic Shroud.”

Hellbastard Hate Militia CD

The crustiest raw war metal punk. Loose triplet drumming, doom droning disgusting riffs. Headbangers all the way through. Octaves upon octaves of crust basics that sharpened its axe on the blackened stone of Northern England crust madness. Passionate ecological political lyrics spat over anarcho-metal with a goth-like undercurrent and thrash moments. Rather unique combination at a time when bands with a similar aesthetic were much more stripped down to a CRASS/AOA/ICONS OF FILTH style. The thanks list alone says it all: “To all the animals on earth, all the insects on earth, all the mammals and trees, birds, rivers and seas. Forests, lakes, ponds and woodlands—everything else can fuck off.” HELLBASTARD fucking yes. Full-color booklet of photos and lyrics. This is a nice appetizer, stay tuned for a HELLBASTARD 2020 album, as announced on these liner notes.

Influénzia Kønflik cassette EP

Scorching Malaysian hardcore blisters through five tracks of manically guitar soloed splatter-drummed, echoing distortion with Finnish influence and contemporary depth. Initially the presentation sounds like it’s going to be especially fast, but is surprisingly mid-tempoed with layers upon layers of distortion, harsh noise and grit, and “Ughs!” added at all the right moments. Some longer, lo-fi riff exploration reminds of blackened metal. Constantly ascending riffs pull you higher and higher over the gallows branch. Until it ultimately cuts you off wanting more. I’m reviewing a cassette called Kønflik, from Black Konflik, Malaysia. This rodent of audio media oozes with frustration and organic solidarity. Favorite track: “Isolasi II” into “Kriminal” into “Tragedi.” But they all sort of blend together one after the other. The entire play feels like a story in chapters. An unassuming introduction that grows on you by the end. Well done.

Scavengers Circle Beyond Repair CD

Changed motor-kang from Sweden. Dual vocals grate through the play with anguish and a sort of jovial punk attitude. After NASUM, BASTARD PRIEST was the most impressive Swedish two-piece I had heard exhume from a Swedish death metal scene. SCANVENGERS CIRCLE is ready to join the feast. These songs seem from that experience while being heavily influenced by the punk scene as well. Reminded of the GURKA/MALIGNANT TUMOUR split, in the way the songs seem like a reply to each other. Favorite track: “Endless Winter.” Second: “We Summoned a Demon.” This one is parts DISRUPT, parts MASTER. Great stuff.

Fuck It… I Quit! The War Ritual LP

Vicious mad blasts of retro-crust hardcore fueled with defiance and rage. Recalling the sounds of REACT, CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, LOGICAL NONSENSE, AUS-ROTTEN, BOILING MAN, focused on themes of veganism, animal liberation, and a strict stance against the capitalist corporate masculine hypocritical system. Several shared furious vocal duties nail-gun through each track, which clock in under a couple minutes each on average, a brief harsh slap of reality like DROPDEAD. A few songs explore into the three- or four-minute range, thinking of ANTISCHISM, PROVOKED, ZERO HOUR but for the most part, on this 22-track LP laced with several unsettling interludes, the band delivers their message concisely. FUCK IT… I QUIT! is the sound and constitution of the inherent punk culture fight and the uncensored non-metaphoric, straight-to-the-point voice we need again.

Snake Tongue No Escape – No Excuse EP

SNAKE TONGUE sounds much like they are named. The vocals are raspy and hissing, the music is lo-fi and powerful, and the guitars slither under aggressively punctuated percussion. The songwriting is nothing extremely avant-garde, but classic hardcore with moments of doom, mathcore, and thrash. It is as unexpected as a snake tongue, in fact. Four tracks of inspired rage.

Disowned / Kinetic Discord Scavengers LP

DISOWNED plays spattering raw hardcore with the organic tarnish of crust. Rhythmic, engaging riffs snare the neck while brutal, ghastly vocals fill out the spaces, like abysmal death metal laced within anthemic hardcore grooves. The production packs a fucking wallop. So tight. KINETIC DISCORD plays cleaner thrash with a skate punk attitude, harmonizing and bright song progressions. Songs remind me of I-SPY, AGENT ORANGE, and the ADOLESCENTS. Their song “Politicon” is such a ripper. More like POISON IDEA. The split is a surprising contrast, which works.

Zygote 89-91 CD

Wow, this is much cooler than I had expected! It is no mystery that ZYGOTE is composed of members of AMEBIX as well as the SMARTPILS. When I first heard A Wind of Knives in the late ’90s (after getting into AMEBIX), I found it much more post-punk, to the tune of KILLING JOKE and even parts early JANE’S ADDICTION. The first half of this CD is much like that jangling industrial post-punk expression. Decent production with muffled gloom and hypnotism. The second half is a live set whose quality is as clear and on the same level as the demo. The low grinding vibe of AMEBIX is much more prevalent here on this raw offering of a more minimal post-punk project versus their single full-length album.

Absolut 2019 Demonstration EP

Double kicking, mad-blasting metal-charged käng punk from Toronto. ABSOLUT have melded their sound from an ASOCIAL or SVART PARAD delivery to more of a GISM, BOMBRAID, HAWKWIND experience. And this EP rips raw and flourishes with wild technicality. More breakdowns, more crude hissing metallic tones, less of what you’d expect from this originally hyper-echoed D-beat band.

Autarch The Light Escaping LP

Dark, gloomy transcendent crust with galloping beats and minimal vocals spate fourth with pithy apprehension. I appreciate the concentrated pace of the lyrics here, accented with harsh screeching backing vocals set back in the mix. The basic formula is epic neo-crust, but AUTARCH stand out with hypnotic fluidity. The songs are like a lucid fairy tale. This is no generic sketch. Acoustic moments and bow string instrumentation contrast powerful blasts with a soothing nature. Like warm storm waves on cold sharp rocks. AUTARCH deliver a heavy LP that is hardcore punk, and will probably be filed under metal based on the celestial aesthetics and song titles alone. The album doesn’t demand attention, but they have mine.

Dekonstrukt Dekonstrukt 10″

What if TANGERINE DREAM played crust songs? DECONSTRUKT have concocted oceanic and hypnotic, anthemic bangers that hastily move into the chorus. Each track ends with harsh conviction. Abruptly composed attacks with long landscapes of melodic bridges threading through the more intense moments. Minimal strained and screaming vocals over thin reverberated guitars harken to both ’80s post-punk and ’90s blackened crust.

Geiger Counter Nuclear EP

I am so happy to be assigned this vicious EP, that I’ve been spinning personally a lot late last year. What can I say about this dank crust release? This is up there with the stench-dragging psychedelic brutality of HORRENDOUS 3D, EXTREME NOISE TERROR, DISRUPT, the more upbeat aspects of MISERY, with riffs advanced as DESPITE. GIEGER COUNTER truly embrace the origins of late ’80s/early ’90s crust when it may have even been called “grindcore.” HIATUS, DOOM, and DETESTATION come to mind—the Nuclear EP resonates with sonic destruction, yet with slightly more metal virtuosity than all these said examples. Crust fans: do not fear this word “metal.” Tasty, tasty, bits of shrapnel, right here.

Jack Acid Gutless / Lo-Hi 12″

“Turn down for what?!” JACK ACID play GREEN JELLÖ-style SLAYER-ish rap that reminds me of SLIPKNOT or BILLIE EILISH. I do not know much about either, but if you’re into AGATHOCLES, BAD RELIGION, and you think you might be coming “down with the sickness,” this two-track psychedelic slab of disconformity is for you.

Krake Streitkultur LP

Aus Deutschland, KRAKE play sorely-produced raw hardcore punk nodding to ’90s-era breakdowns and sinister maelstrom interludes of metallic radiance. Short blasts and enigmatic, vicious riffs and scathing vocals seethe through in German. Tracks like “Fries Scheiße” pack a fucking wallop. I really like how pulled-in KRAKE keep their songs. A few hooks on guitar, a break, an even more dismal break, some fade out, then over. KRAKE are not fucking around. Songs max out at three minutes, but seem to have all the elements of a solid hardcore song, with some ballad moments and even more battle moments.

Negativ Projections LP

NEGATIV of Oslo plays metallic punk along the lines of POSSESSED and SEPTIC DEATH meets the SCREAMERS or RUDIMENTARY PENI. This extremely catchy LP is part BLAZING EYE redeye punk and dark riffing, and part double-kicking TOXIC HOLOCAUST metal. Pit-churning maniacal anthems from start to finish—this would have probably made my top ten if I had heard it when it was released in April. Densely and clearly produced. You will drool and squeal, bobbing your cavernous cranium along to this slab of lunacy. NEGATIV sounds finitely death punk and infinitely grim thrash simultaneously, all while powering through with unique bizarre measure. Can I go see them with ZYANOSE, PARANOID, SEX DWARF in early 2020!? Damn, fire gig!

Existence Into the Furnace EP

EXISTENCE of Stockholm fuse melodically charged, metallic Scandi-death metal riffing with an overt NYHC style. Imagine if AMORPHIS or KATATONIA had mixed it up with 25 TA LIFE, CRO-MAGS, and MERAUDER. The riffs are intoxicating, and the grunting and barking vocals are totally menacing. There has been a resurgence of deathcore as of late, and I’m kind of drawn to it again. Thinking of the MOMENT OF TRUTH/KRUELTY split… EXISTENCE here joins those rank beats, while retaining unique thrashing compositions that blend harmonizing ethereal death metal and Neanderthal pit-core. Themes include the struggles of fascism in Sweden and abroad, and also delve into cathartic perspectives on realizing one’s mistakes. Heavy on many levels, and a sonic rager.

The Restarts Uprising LP

The RESTARTS are at it again with gurgling, snotty, two-fingers-in-the-air London punk. Kieran hisses forth with an insane inferno in his throat. This record is as catchy as anything the band has done—I loved the System Error-era songs when I saw them in NYC a few times. But also, under its streetwise romping-stomping, there is sharp blade of political vitriol. The record starts with a quote from Greta Thunberg on panic versus hope. In all its pop punk nature and bright ska riffing, they return with a blistering, diminutive, punchy, outspoken brain beater. For fans of INFA-RIOT, CONFLICT, COCKNEY REJECTS, and even the RESTARTS! Favorite tracks: the snarling and powerful “Out and Proud,” and the glimmering macabre “The Fork.”

Osmantikos Survival LP

Crusty hardcore from Malaysia, with furious vocals and clean production. Survival features a dozen grandiose compositions that bring to mind TRAGEDY, the HOLY MOUNTAIN, and COP ON FIRE, as tracks ooze toward a more stenchcore sound. Anthemic passages from dual vocals; all-in-all a full sound from this three piece. Side B opens with some surprisingly upbeat riffs amidst slow gloomy hardcore, similar to GUILLOTINE TERROR or MOONSCAPE. A moody intro-as-intermission midway through the LP, then some more Motörcharged rhythms. With several styles of extreme punk going on, OSMANTIKOS have a lot to offer.

New Skeletal Faces Celestial Disease LP

Just missing Halloween, NEW SKELETAL FACES play gothic post-punk crust, with dissonant sub-aquatic bass lines and discordant contemporary blackened metal riffing. Vocals are grim, sometimes screeching and other times howling, like SHADOW PROJECT meets ZERO HOUR. Songs sound like ROSETTA STONE channeling SATYRICON. Themes are ghoulish cemetery strolling metaphors about the dying planet and a perverse overestimated society. This three-piece make dire cacophonies calling to (or rather, from) the grave. The last songs on each side are my favorite, with IRON MAIDEN, EMPEROR, DEVIATED INSTINCT and CHRISTIAN DEATH flavors peppering them. Recommended for fiends of the dark crafts and infernal tones.

Grey Walls Honest Self-Deception EP

Gloomy, trudging hardcore from Germany with vocal akin to DYSTOPIA and DISRUPT. Proto-hardcore riffs summon a couple horseman of the apocalypse with an appreciation for MORSER and RORSHACH. Low-tuned strings buzz underneath abysmal tracks that end sporadically. Side two is an aquatic carnival of SWING KIDS-type punk, reminding me of the gothic side of INSTINCT OF SURVIVAL which is quickly torn apart by power-crust screams of torment. An avant-garde artistic approach to an easily categorized, abrasive, misanthropic corner of hardcore. I can’t ignore the intrigue. The skeletal artwork is beautiful: black-and-white pencil-and-wash drawings similar to KÄTHE KOLLWITZ, with handwritten lyrics in German and English. You’re not giving me a lot a space here, but I appreciate you, GREY WALLS.

Meatwound Culero LP

Metal hardcore fusion with entrancing passages. Life-gripping and grimacing; MEATWOUND plays pulverizing hardcore channeling MIND ERASER, HIS HERO IS GONE, INTEGRITY, COLD SWEAT, HOLY MOUNTAIN even DEAD MEADOW and PALLBEARER at times. This music is simultaneously downtrodden and chaotically aggressive, including spaceship-contacting cathedral-spelunking synth moments. This is very impressive proto-psych power thrash with occult undertones in a burning, spirited pulse with nature. Make no mistake, there are plenty of churning breakdowns within these sonic labyrinths. Thick green vinyl, an extensive booklet with illustrations for each song, a huge poster of the nine-eyed Baphometic/goat cover art by Vincent Locke, stickers, and other eldritch goodies. Total madness, calling itself MEATWOUND. Get this and zone the fuck out in their cosmic cacophony. This is some next level shit that I feel lucky to hear.

Future Terror Plague EP

Atrocious, galloping, guttural D-beat from Virginia that hisses with WARCOLLAPSE-type angst and echoing screams. A sheer blast of classic ’90s Scandi-style punk that sounds like a sonic battlefield. Totally brutal, buoyantly produced, thick and dirgy, and bound together with samples that take me back to the ’90s filth-core onslaught. Wild paces of that classic SARCASM, Phonophobia, ASPECT OF WAR sound, with time-signature changeups that leave a lump in your throat. So fucking ripping. This is an addicting release.

Protestera Kampen Går Vidare CD

The thrilling, epic, and chilling debut LP from Götenborg’s PROTESTERA is now available on CD. Bitter, metallic, and melancholic late ’90s/early ’00s crust, with harsh riffs, and drums that are fierce and tight: weaving D-beat with circle pit-ready mosh breakdowns. Spoken passages, dual vocals with static-filled hardcore breaks and vicious oration, and menacing, rhythmic gang vocals all put forth intense conviction. If you’re into CONTRAVENE, SCUMBRIGADE, POST-REGIMENT, OI POLLOI, FLEAS AND LICE, or ANTIPRODUCT, this is for you. The 30-page booklet oozes with photos, a history lesson, and squat scene nostalgia. We need more bands like this again. Such a level of solidarity and passion in a time of exhausting hopelessness. Digitally remastered to the highest standard since its original release on Skuld release in 2000. This will not disappoint.

Bonefire Fade and Decay LP

Third LP from these Minneapolis thrashing metal-punk veterans’ project—BONEFIRE features members of MISERY, SOCIAL SCHISM (UK) and TROUBLEMAKER (CA). Snarling anthemic hardcore with a no-fucks-given attitude. Lots of catchy breakdowns, a tight double kick pedal that won’t let up, and bass grooves that add a lot of ingenuity to pretty standard albeit furiously charged compositions. The guitars are fuzzy, the vocals are gargled, the riffs are dirty. Everything sounds filthy and punk as fuck, but the morose bridges are taken with pause, and the recording was handled with a lot of care. Oh geez, and this is an Enormous Door mastering job, who up the ante again. So good. Fade and Decay is easy to get into, and features signature sounds from said members’ bands, while putting forth a unique, shadowy, and saturated new offering. I’m reminded of KILLING JOKE, INSIDE OUT, HIGH ON FIRE, VARUKERS and CHAOS UK, all at the same time. I mean…

Malcría El Reino De Lo Falso LP

MALCRÍA of Mexico City plays rhythmic, punctuated macabre punk with the demented tones of RUDIMENTARY PENI meeting the urgency and chokehold of SIEGE. The bass bombards forth, while the guitars sizzle under smashing drums with feral unexpected thunderous attacks. Songs are short and tight, filled with raw power and unbridled energy boiling simultaneously as a lidded cauldron ready to erupt. Very tense, very real. The Spanish vocals are screamed and megaphoned across the spiraling, flaying hardcore tracks. As the play progresses, shadows of FORÇA MACABRA, CONFUSE, PART 1, SEPTIC DEATH, and RAJOITUS rear their ugly heads. MALCRÍA has concocted a fresh stab of distorted, demented, threatening hardcore. Cool your head with this all summer, and into the fall crispness. Songs as crispy as dead leaves on fire.

Game No One Wins LP

London jangling punks GAME play scathing, hexing, barking hardcore in the style of MUSHROOM ATTACK, the COMES, the STALIN, CHARGE, NEGLECT, and NO STATIK, orated with Polish and English command. Vocals are punctuated with pounding harsh rhythm, while the songwriting varies from anthemic circle pit hardcore to thrashing ’80s punk metal. This LP is powerfully energetic, with surprising changes yet flowing evenly from start to finish. Encapsulating, hasty, bewitching and in complete control. Its production is perfectly clear, as well as engineered to accentuate what makes GAME on top, making it an immediately engaging listen. Bizarrely kvlt art by Nicky Rat.

1919 Futurecide CD

The latest full-length from Bradford post-punk legends 1919 slinks forth with catchy melodic abrasion. Harmonies as mesmerizing as the CHURCH; serpentine cradle-shaking akin to BAUHAUS; contemporary angst reminding of the ESTRANGED, MOIRA SCAR, and SEX GANG CHILDREN; the twitching ennui of MIDNIGHT OIL; and even the pop spin cycle à la CULTURE ABUSE, with a slack standard of SUEDE. 1919 have composed at times an optimistic, albeit still-life and morose effort that’s smoother than their tribal ’80s death rock sound, exploring a goth-gazing that is absolutely worth checking out. Introduce yourself as if they were the newest sensation in this darkwave movement, as if they weren’t around 35 years ago already nailing that fresh pine coffin.

Discript 未知 cassette

It is an honor to review this exhumation of a 1993 project by BEYOND DESCRIPTION’s alter ego. DISCRIPT play pulverizing, heavy D-beat fury with muffled riffs, china hits, cybernetic effects, putting forth themes of dissatisfaction with society and its inherent rudeness, all sung in Japanese with vapid flavor and viscous flow. Reminds me of the VARUKERS channeling CORRUPTED. Or an old obscure Swedish HC favorite VISIONS. What an intense combo—and DISCRIPT is killing it after 25 years of grimacing slumber. Sonic terror level red. If this were any louder I’d be knocking shit off the speakers. Five tracks of sheer awesome grunting bestial Japanese crust that have left all metal-grind preceding reputations in the dust.

Tragedy Fury LP

There was a time around the turn of the millennium that I was simultaneously obsessed with WORLD BURNS TO DEATH’s The Sucking of the Missle Cock and TRAGEDY’s Vengeance. You could not fuck with the raw aggression of either, and they both sincerely, mercilessly charged a wave of Bush Jr.-denouncing US hardcore punk. Though I’ve never been opposed to changing up an approach in musical style, if you have lost track of TRAGEDY on their last two LPs, I highly recommend you visit Fury: a threatening, intense return to form, with the poignant lyrical content they have impressed with previously. Fury hits hard, if not harder and more calloused, with unhinged emotion than the philosophic, metaphoric content of Vengeance. Dare I say the flavor is more ’80s Japanese HC in vocals and leads, and more Scandi-core in rhythm and percussion? Fury is technically an EP that feels like a full-story LP. If WARCRY emulates the dawning battle strife, TRAGEDY is the madness, a blinding flash at dusk and the more-recent NIGHTFELL the smoldering grave…but I totally digress on PDX killer bands. Fury is dark, harrowing, fast as wildfire, and an unexpected phoenix woke as fuck.

War Bison Acre LP

Powerhouse hardcore bursts with a disjointed NYHC flavor, thrash metal churning, and posi-core changes, with an undercurrent of old school circle pit mosh. The solos are flashy fire over a steady punk drum attack. There are vibes of BUDGIE, YOUTH OF TODAY, EXODUS, and BASTARD, but WAR BISON play feel-good party crossover metal with a punk sensibility and experienced musical arrangements. The delivery is expected and familiar in an inviting way. Gang vocals galore bring me back to Lower East Side hardcore matinees or metal shows in any old random American warehouse. Acre is a classic post-hardcore metal album. I once saw a friend in a WAR BISON scarf, and damn the thing looked cozy and varsity, but I noticed the lettering was that of AMEBIX lettering, so I knew I’d be in for a bit of a treat that was all over the place. I love the full-color medieval jacket art too.

Sago Flood Island LP

Anguished and furious hardcore punk from Toronto, with an overt anarcho-punk delivery. Breakdowns are everywhere, whether in the early ’00s screaming proto-grind or the dual-vocal ’90s euro-crust. There are some very ripping death metal riffs on here, with waves of pop punk, melodic hardcore, and D-beat. Songs clock in at about two minutes each, which is perfect, leaving me ready for more.

V/A Peace, Unity, Noise And Having Fun: Tekken Tribute & Remixes LP

So this compilation LP is apparently a tribute to the French fastcore band TEKKEN. I regret to announce I was not familiar with TEKKEN the band, but it looks as though they were around in the late ’90s and early ’00s, and with some video research, I have realized that they were pretty good! If you like to blast off with CHARLES BRONSON, SPAZZ, DAMNABLE EXCITE ZOMBIES, AGATHOCLES, or even FANTOMAS, or any bands that were forming when fastcore was really breaking into its stride, I have this recommendation for you! There’s also some really bizarre MIDI carnival music, which I must admit I am entertained by, if not perplexed.

Mutant Scum Mutant Scum LP

Ambient tribal drums start this LP off, before breaking into galloping, hard rock rhythms that channel HIGH ON FIRE, DAMAD, early COC, and Connecticut crust-core slayers REACT, with a fine combination of southern blues guitar and death metal. The vocals are grimacing, strained, and well in key. A mid-paced guttural banger that, from aesthetics, I expected to be way more goregrind thrash. This LP has catchy diminutive chords, straightforward punk-tinged heavy metal, and excellent dense production. I’m quite impressed. Songs about wizards, sewers, creatively metaphoric environmental messages, and our subsequent mutations from its demise. Cool ’80s toxic horror cover art—this version of the vinyl is green, but like opaque Ninja Turtle green, a vinyl color I had yet to see.

Cloud Rat / The World Is a Vampire Split LP

A beautifully played piano starts out the CLOUD RAT side, coupled with delicate, warm, and haunting vocals. This seamlessly tumbles into ruthless, crust-stenched, abysmal riffs, with high and tight drums. This dark, dense, churning, hexing grind and crust reminds me of the terrifying sounds of EBOLA, the fury of INITIAL STATE, the metallic bewitching nature of CETASCEAN, and the chaotic maelstrom that came with SKARP. CLOUD RAT is all things steady punk D-beat, blasting grind, and blackened metal sorcery. THE WORLD IS A VAMPIRE calms the nerves with pulverizing, heavy drudge metal. The vocals spew forth like a cindering furnace, and the chords are subtly disharmonic, creating an off-kilter, unsettling hypnotic rhythm. Calculated but surprising effects pierce through the thick tones. Parts indie rock, parts cacophonous doom punk—I’m really digging this side too! The last track is a brilliant cover of TEARS FOR FEARS’ “Mad World.” Yes! This split is definitely recommended for the dismal, strange, and curious.

Bombanfall Åsiktsfrihet CD

It is remarkably bittersweet to be writing my final reviews for the print edition of MRR, but what a distinct honor it was to receive this reissue of one of the greatest Swedish hardcore EPs ever…that was followed up by nothing. As far as I’m concerned, this is pretty much the epitome of Scandinavian hardcore that captures both a melodic legendary folklore sound, and despairingly raw punk fueled with grandiose, godless hammering. Unless you want to spend $150 on one of mine, you absolutely must pick this up. It’s pretty much a flawless, organically played, sincerely furious, monstrously echoing, pulpit-orated, masterpiece of extreme/DIY music history, which inspired so many future compositions. I know that’s a lot of praise to print. Well, here’s my chance.

Black Uniforms Faces of Death CD

Splattering metal punk from the Scandinavian hive of hardcore: Malmö, Sweden. BLACK UNIFORMS play motörcharged D-beat raw punk for all the moonlight rambling crashers. You get G-ZET, INEPSY, NAILBITER, and DIS-BONES style bammers, and heck, it even sounds like AMEBIX at times. This CD has both the original 1989 version of Faces of Death and the 2001 remastering. You know you want it!

Vaaska Inocentes Condenados EP

Austin, Texas’ VAASKA play six ripping tracks of high-pitched, ’80s Finnish inspired hardcore, echoing brutal flavor and a buzzing guitar tone that is stinging, with confident lyrics in Spanish spat forth with furious power. Crushing hardcore along the lines of MELLAKKA, RAJOITUS, and LAMA. I can’t say anything bad about the release, and yet I struggle to find a particularly stand out thing about it. It clobbers with D-beat fire, and the tones are freakishly coarse static hissing. That’s the big takeaway. My hearing loss.

Sheenjek Volume 1 EP

Hypnotic, shoegazing psyche-influenced bar rock with a grunge twang that I kind of love. The vocals are great, and definitely have a punk howling that has matured like fine mead. All the good parts of FUCKED UP, the Twin Peaks soundtrack, and the MERMEN. A solid, timeless, rock release. A short and sweet EP, like this review.

D.N.A. Retrospective CD

Retrospective comprises all of this guttural Swedish D-beat band’s output. They have the vibe of early ANTI-CIMEX and the heaviness of SVART PARAD or BOMBANFALL, with funks-not-dead baselines that come to the forefront, and some slower-knuckle dragging ghostly rhythms as well. Think ATTACK SS, late-era RUDIMENTARY PENI, or even RADIO BIRDMAN, with macabre twists, turns, and gothic mangel. They cover “Green Onions,” for crying out loud. And the hardcore parts are raging. Not-as-talked-about ‘80s Swedish skit punkers, but certainly recommended.

Dissekerad Domenatten EP

Supergroup of sorts featuring members of BRAINBOMBS, AVSKUM, TOTALITÄR, and a buncha other Swede greats. Unfortunately this lil EP is nowhere near as exciting as any of those bands, but it’s not a total waste. The riffs hold this back—I coulda sworn I’ve heard them on a couple of dozen records before this one! The redeeming grace is Poffen’s incredible voice, still snarling and snapping with the same desperation and fury he had decades ago. Despite that, this record is still pretty forgettable.

Butcher Return to Nothingness LP

BUTCHER’s second LP is harrowing chaos on overdrive. Jack Butcher snarls forth with a clear yet grizzly delivery, at times bringing Rob “The Baron” Miller of AMEBIX, or intense black metal straining to mind, while still retaining hardcore razor cuts. The guitar intros are metallic and extremely accomplished, and at times melancholic post-punk vibes are mixed with discordant blackened chamber metal. Everything is much faster than you even need or expected. “Beyond the Triple World” is my favorite track, with well-placed mid-tempo bludgeoning. The lyrics are formulated into mystical analogies and spiritual perditions, which resist the power of evil, though embrace its existence, expressed through words that are wholeheartedly nihilistic and minimal, while at once fluid and existentially vast. “Beware The Gnawing Nothingness” is especially poignant and depressing. Featuring members of FORWARD, WORLD BURNS TO DEATH, ASSHOLEPARADE, and LIFECHAIN, and with calamitous cover art by the uncompromising Tomohiro Matsuda. And just like that, it ends like a cleaver to the skull. Darker, denser, and even deeper than the
debut. Get this.

Organa Organa LP

German anti-oppression powerviolence and grindcore that sounds like the industrial soundtrack to Brazil meets HIS HERO IS GONE, COMBATWOUNDEDVETERAN and the most downtrodden riffs from the CURE. Neo-crust breakdowns, blistering grindcore attacks, and open intermittent D-beat sections that are so brief you can’t ignore their ingenuity. Gnarly charred vocals spew out lyrics in both German and English. Lyrical themes decry the ugly existence of fascism, racism, nationalism, sexism, and homophobia. ORGANA, lay down six brutal tracks through shattering noise and fury. Production is super heavy—well done. This is a one-sided LP with a circle of barbed wire etched on the other.