Reviews

Miguel Franco

Miami Death 2 Erfahrung Macht Krank EP

Six songs in eight minutes of pulverizing noise. We are looking at a relatively new project with people from bands from the Leipzig punk scene in Germany like CHEVIN, ROBERT PAULSON, CHOIR BOYS, and RANT. This is the band’s second EP, after a rather brutal debut in 2019.  A sound that oscillates between hardcore razor edge with powerviolence leanings and Europe’s most violent punishing grindcore. Kudos for “Döner mit nur Fleisch,” the track that closes the EP, a complete treatise of noise, aggression, and use of libidinal energy with the deliberate purpose of destroying eardrums. Excellent.

Colapso 2021 cassette

COLAPSO is a punk band from the city of Buenos Aires. They recorded these songs last year during the quarantine, now released as a cassette by Brazil’s Yeah You! Records. I really dig their sound, like early SWELL MAPS playing the repertoire of Dangerhouse Records. We are talking about five great songs with monumental riffs, like that wink to the Angelinos X in “La Estética del Berretismo.” In general there is a lot of rage and forceful reflection on what we have lived through since last year, which I think is what we most need at critical moments where many opportunists seek to profit from the desperation of the people. My favorite track is “Certeza Ajena,” with that poetic spoken intro. 

HHH Intelectual Punks EP reissue

Great gem rescued by the essential Discos Enfermos—a 1986 EP by HHH, a band from Girona, Spain. Their debut EP in fact, after having recorded a demo, Sin Identidad, in 1985.  Here we have nine vicious, ultra-fast songs, very much in the vein of early D.R.I., where they scream against nuclear energy, industry, war, the city of Barcelona and the then-upcoming ’92 Olympics, and the punk scene itself. Real sonic beatings. A classic of Spanish hardcore.

Koma Internment Failure LP

Take a breath before facing the brutal decadence of modern life. Prepare yourself to receive a blast of pestilence and moral rot. You still go forward and face it head on, because it’s the only thing you can do, right? You are alive. You resist. That’s how it feels to listen to these twelve tracks from the debut album of KOMA, a band from London/Leeds. This is noisy hardcore, the kind that can generate tinnitus, very much in the vein of Swedish hardcore and the more static-filled Japanese styles. The effect is brutal, claustrophobic, and frenetic, an assault on the senses without pause. Absolutely desperate, like these times.

Esses Bloodletting for the Lonely CD

I really enjoyed the sophomore album of this Bay Area band with members of ALTAR DE FEY, BLACK ICE, the PHANTOM LIMBS, RED VOICE CHOIR, and the HOLY KISS. Their sound is immersive, mysterious, and when it’s needed, pummeling and violent. These are dark and gloomy goth rock practitioners, ready to take you to the bottomless pit of your soul. It’s an intense listen, with the striking and grab-you-by-the-throat vocals of Miss Kel, who uses her voice to explore some deep metaphysical ruminations. The opening song “The Source” is my favorite, with a circular and beautiful guitar riff and really creative build-up of the song as bass, drums, and voice work together in gaining intensity through the track. Great album that grows with every listen. 

Hounds of War Rabid March EP

Three-song EP from this band composed by Claire Vastola on vocals and Max Parker on all other instruments, who you might recognize from their work in bands like PROCESS, SUBVERSIVE RITE, or VERMIN. This is hardcore in the vein of the great UK82 bands; fast, big riffs galore, metallic tone, and metal guitar solos. A great EP full of combative fury, vibrant and too short for my taste, but hey, that’s life.

Toxic Waste Belfast LP reissue

Sealed Records is responsible for this vital reissue of Belfast, the 1987 posthumous album of the Northern Irish anarcho-punk band TOXIC WASTE. Formed in 1982 after a CRASS gig (so it goes), they immediately made the DIY ethic their own and began playing in a scene that included bands like STALAG 17. You have to think about the harsh context in which they created their noise, the Troubles, and all the political violence that the area experienced. Generating spaces of creative freedom and denunciation was of utmost importance and TOXIC WASTE did it under terrible conditions. They recorded some demos and participated in some splits and compilations with bands like ASYLUM, the latter released by the Warzone Collective, which also included a screenprinting studio, a practice space for bands, and a vegetarian cafe. After touring their homeland and Europe a couple of times, the band split up in 1986. Let’s go to the music. Side A contains tracks from their early recordings produced between 1985 and 1986 while Side B contains tracks from a later session between the band’s Roy Wallace and members of DIRT. The sound is furious and urgent, with a vital energy that magnifies the power of the internal dynamics of the songs, where there is enough room to pay attention to the band’s politicized lyrics, to sing along with them (the male/female vocals are incredible), and to degenerate into a good mosh pit when needed. I recommend above all the pair of songs that close the album, “Belfast/Plastic Bullets” and “We Will Be Free,” brutal and beautiful.

Variolación Frenética cassette

I have reviewed several pandemic projects in the last few months, coming from different parts of the world, and they all share something: a feeling of brutal urgency to connect and shout out the current state of the world. And what’s more, they’re all great. VARIOLACIÓN does not escape this new paradigm. This is a four-piece hardcore band from Portland, Oregon, with components from other bands like PROHIBITED, TOTAL WAR, DEAD HUNT, and FALSE RITUAL. I love the nods to the past like that “Pretty Vacant” riff that opens the brutal “Sombra de Humo” or the repeated chorus of “Obsesión Mortal” reminiscent of OLHO SECO. Sonically, this is political hardcore that paints scenarios of everyday terror (misogyny, animal cruelty, war, etc.) through raw and primitive noise, very much in the vein of Mexican bands like M.E.L.I. and SS-20. “Massacre de Inocentes” has an ear-splitting guitar solo that is just fantastic. “Castillo Negro” has a pretty amazing First Wave of Black Metal riff vibe to it. To sum up, seven great songs from a band that hopefully won’t remain just a quarantine project.

V/A La Masacre Continua cassette

The great tradition of solidarity through punk compilations is one of the most profoundly beautiful, selfless, and powerful actions this type of music is capable of. Not only do they constitute forceful allegations in songs about, almost always, the repeated use of violence in social conflicts, they also map routes of musical scenes, establish lists of ethical companions in this twisted planet, and generate snapshots of crucial moments of youth culture. La Masacre Continua (“The Massacre Continues” in English) follows this line. It’s a fabulous compilation of 21 bands, mostly from the vital Colombian scene, but also from France, Spain, and the United States, united by language, all singing in Spanish, and by the urgent need to denounce the terrible state violence unleashed against social movements in Colombia this year, which has caused dozens of deaths. The selection of bands is impeccable, and just as a sample we’ll mention titans such as MURO, SYSTEMA, PRIMER RÉGIMEN, PORVENIR OSCURO, and LUMPEN. As for the sound palette, we have street punk, noisy hardcore, DIY lo-fi greatness, D-beat fury, Japanese-style madness, cavernous violent screams, powerviolence, and much, much more. Buying the cassette or downloading the album means supporting Colombia’s worthy fight against the state. You can also make a donation if you like. Either way, it is important that the message is heard. From Colombia to the world.

Das Das Leben in Bildschirmen cassette

Roughly translated as “Life in Screens,” this cassette is the Berlin’s synth duo’s second album, released earlier in the year. What a wonderful piece of plastic. DAS DAS creates a world where simple, screeching synth lines amalgamate to create little punk gems that you can sing along to (if you know German) and/or dance to, whether on a dark, cavernous club night or in your bedroom on a Saturday night. Their sound is clearly ’80s-oriented; we could mention bands like FUTURISK or KAS PRODUCT, although by the noisy use of the guitar and the playfulness of their melodies, they remind me more of the Spanish AVIADOR DRO. Great bands to be in the company of, in my opinion. Big mention to “Invisible Man,” a brutal and sexy song, like a kind of seductive psychobilly EBM. Eight excellent songs that exploit the libidinal energy of dance as a political tool of emancipation.

Disposición Negativa Disposición Negativa cassette

DISPOSICIÓN NEGATIVA is a grindcore band from Perú. This cassette is 21 short blasts of fury, including a cover of AGATHOCLES and another one of DISRUPT. Being grindcore, you know what to expect and the band delivers it: sick blastbeats, incessant and heavy riffing, and low-pitched growls. The sound is personal though, and you can tell the creative potential of the band in future releases. What I really enjoyed and want to emphasize is the haiku-like brevity, conciseness, and terrible beauty of the lyrics (all in Spanish), decrying the Western ideal of progress, neoliberalism, war, family, the church. Killer release.

The Passengers Under the Cruel Light LP

Debut album by the goth/post-punk band from San Diego, the PASSENGERS. It seems that every month I’m telling you the same thing, but there is something sinister in the water in Southern California, where bands just pop out incredibly formed, with fully crafted statements, personality traits, and a carefully developed sound—case in point, the PASSENGERS. The band has a sense of dynamics within their songs that plays to their advantage, each song has a narrative arc with peaks and valleys, the faster songs are full of vitality while the mid-tempos are oppressive and brutal. The keyboard work generates oppressive or romantic atmospheres depending on what the song requires, the drums are powerful, the bass hypnotic, the guitars melancholic, and the voice tremendous. I want to highlight “The Plague,” “Strange Patterns,” and “Burning Pride,” great anthems that any follower of darker sounds should listen to now.

Cemento Killing Life cassette

I guess it’s all that sunshine that makes people uneasy and avid seekers of darkness, and they use post-punk and deathrock to paint an opaque shadow over the eternally sunny Southern California. I say this because that state, and L.A. in particular, has shown in recent years that the land is fertile in bands that seek to create bleak sceneries to inhabit. CEMENTO is one of those bands. Formed by members of SMUT and SMIRK, the band bets on the immediate power of good melodies, the great force of its rhythmic base, some very intense bass lines, and an extremely expressive voice. The guitar creates simple but elegant riffs, able to hook and generate dense, hazy atmospheres, ideal to dance all night long. “Cash Grab” is already one of my favorite tracks of the year in any genre, followed by the great “No Ambition,” but still, the rest of the album is full of great moments. I particularly love the very fast and fierce “Coming Down.”

Desintegración Violenta Desintegración Violenta cassette

This is some nasty and dark hybrid punk/metal. Think of the weird hardcore but quite metal Japanese ’80s punk bands, HELLHAMMER, and obviously, DISCHARGE. The band is a collaboration from Bogotá and Berlin, the lyrics are sung in Spanish, the riffs are heavy as a brick, vocals are demonic, the D-beat is omnipresent, the bass tone hits you directly in the face, and guitar solos are demented. All of that in only sixteen minutes. I think they are truly following the path of Colombian underground extreme metal legends like PARABELLUM or BLASFEMIA and I celebrate that. Get it as a cassette, all the proceeds (also the digital ones, btw) go directly to the band to be distributed to local collectives in support of the national strike in Colombia.

Inyeccion Marginada cassette

Maybe you know them from their rather excellent demo released by the vital Discos Enfermos from Barcelona earlier this year. Maybe you don’t. If that is the case, I can tell you this: INYECCIÓN is a band with members from Chile and Argentina, with a sound that merges perfectly noisy and raw Latin American punk with a little of the classic UK82 style. Maybe it’s because I’m Mexican, but I feel a lot of the bubbly energy and celebratory discomfort of the early ’90s Mexican scene in these two songs. “Inyección” is an awesome street punk anthem about the despair generated by the lack of opportunities our countries offer to the youth. It has bile, it has vigor, it has hatred. It’s beautiful. “Peleas Callejeras” starts with a clean riff and devolves into a pure mayhem-inducing ritual. Love the way the male and female vocals interact in both tracks, so vicious.

Adrenochrome The Knife 7” flexi

ADRENOCHROME is a dark punk supergroup of sorts straight out of Oakland, with members of bands like CRUZ DE NAVAJAS, ZOTZ, KURRÄKA, ÖTZI, and FALSE FIGURE. The Knife is released as a 7”, a story of reflection on the trauma and abuse experienced by women in the world, through fantasies of revenge and violence and self-empowerment. Musically, it is thrilling and addictive, the bass and drums building a solid and muscular base where the riffs work in a really expressive way, and the vocals, full of tribulation and agitation, deliver the message in a direct and brutal way. They also have a great EP, The Buzz or Howl Sessions from 2018, highly recommended.

Canal Irreal Canal Irreal LP

By now, Martin Sorrondeguy should require no introduction. His work with the transcendental LOS CRUDOS speaks for itself in the minds of thousands of young people across the American continent. The queer emancipatory effort from LIMP WIRST is a visceral work of self-acceptance which you can mosh to. Martin got together with members of SIN ORDEN and DROIDS BLOOD to form CANAL IRREAL, and now they present their debut, a 12″ with nine absolutely addictive tracks; one of those materials that the more you listen to it, the more details you discover and the more you enjoy it. Sonically, this is hardcore punk, but the band happily travels a twisted path of their own—it’s trashy but incredibly dark, like Greg Sage taking leads in the ADOLESCENTS. But it’s all that and more. The muscularity provided by the throbbing bass, the often dissonant guitar work with that chorus pedal, and above all Martin’s voice, intense and hostile as always, give the band a truly unique sound. The whole thing is fantastic, sung half in Spanish, half in English. That guitar riff on “Glaze” is incredibly nasty, amazing how it builds and builds and never releases the tension it creates. Get it now!

Sial Zaman Edan 7″

SIAL is a great band from Singapore. Like, really, really, great. I don’t know what’s going on in the city-state, but Singaporean punks tend to be quite intense in their approach to music, something that my own intense self appreciates. The single is titled Zaman Edan, which means “mad times” in the language of Shakespeare. Both songs are cathartic in ways I couldn’t fathom if catharsis was possible before. Side A means “You Were Born To Fight” and it displays a really interesting sound, anarcho-punk with space rock elements: a really sick guitar riff, a dirty bass tone, and a synth bringing out of space and drone-y effects into the mix. Side B means “You Were Born To Die.” The song starts with a beat reminiscent of that part of the thumping bassline of “Land” where PATTI SMITH starts singing “Horses, horses, horses,” which leads to getting suckerpunched by a huge power chord ringing with a tinnitus-inducing guitar tone. There is some cowbell thrown in there just for fun and then you get this death disco beat with an ominous synth that maps a deathrock-y territory. Awesome. And then the song gets all this anarcho-punk in-your-face brashness that gets you exhilarated until it finishes with noise-induced psychedelia snippets à la HAWKWIND. Brilliant. Get it on vinyl.

Campaña Del Terror Atropello cassette

This is the debut EP from a one-man Chilean project started by Luis from MISA HISTÉRICA and INCENDIO, edited as cassette by To Live a Lie Records. Imbued by the violence and strife of Chile’s recent socio-political climate, this pandemic bedroom-core document of fast-as-fuck D-beat and powerviolence with furious high-pitched vocals is a visceral chronicle of the South American country’s last two years of popular rebellion. The super-short EP reflects the frustration and impetuosity of the rioters with ten songs that cover the full spectrum of the experience: media manipulation, police violence, corporate greed, the terrorist violence of the state forces, and the burning desire of change. The sound is brutal and will leave your ears ringing, there’s this feral intensity akin to MOB 47 and that whole scene that I particularly find addictive.

Systema Sobrevivir demo cassette

This is the demo debut for Bogotá’s SYSTEMA. You can get it on cassette with some really cool artwork. These guys talk business and get to the point. They get mean, brutal, and raw while perfectly creating dynamics inside each song in order to release the right amount of aggression for those moshpit-inducing violent attacks we love. They remind me of the rough sound of ’80s  Italian hardcore and the primitive scorched earth approach of ’90s Mexican and South American punk. This is a beautiful and fulfilling aesthetic experience. We need a full-length now.

Erik Nervous Bugs!! LP

ERIK dropped the BETA BLOCKERS for this LP; he’s going solo and the results are marvelous.  Eleven tracks of DEVO-worshipping, synth-laden Midwest garage rock which sometimes veers into absolute hardcore mayhem. Songs are fast, hooks are catchy, riffs are sick, guitar solos are quick and frantic, with a vital impulse to push things to the extreme which is very alluring and fun. This kind of sound’s been on a revival kick of sorts lately, I haven’t been that interested in it to be honest, but ERIK NERVOUS delivers. Just listen to the chaotic opener “Our Hungry Fruit,” ERIK never lets up the intensity throughout the record. This was released on cassette last year but now you can get it on red, white, or black vinyl. Be stiff!

The Mind Open Up the Window and Leave Your Body LP

This is the second album by Cleveland’s the MIND, a band capable of crafting beautifully gloomy gems of songs: vaporous, uncanny, and with all the hidden qualities of a Man Ray photograph. Their sound is really peculiar, it lives in the exact confluence of ’80s post-punk and early dream pop. The music feels like a monolith casting a shadow over a poppy field.  There is a dark psychedelic edge to the songs, reminding me of Chicagoans DA! or really early SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES. The band seems to really be hitting you straight from the unconscious with each song, and this is an LP that deserves to be played really loud late at night. A pleasant surprise.

Ataac Peligro de Muerte cassette

D-beat attack (pun intended) from Benidorm and Alicante, Spain. This was originally released in 2016, and this reissue on cassette is from September of last year. People from bands like PUNKO UK, TOKKŌTAI, and PEQUEÑA ORUGA MECÁNICA take part in this album, with eleven songs worth of visceral ruminations of the 21st century global violent psyche. The prison system, the absurdity of life, and the murderous desire of the capitalist system get all their due with the proper street punk rawness and D-beatness it deserves. Crispy guitars, shouty vocals, throbbing bass, pummeling drums, the works. Highly recommended.

V/A Seaside Sickness EP

This is an excellent regional punk compilation that documents an under-reported scene, the East Coast of Canada. We can tell it is a small but highly active and creative scene. The 7” includes exclusive tracks from the ferocious MISANTHROPIC MINDS, the KBD style of ANTIBODIES, the brutal chaos of FRAGMENT, the primitive fun of DARK DIAL, WARSH’s sharp blast of rage, BRAIN POLLUTION SYNDROME’s gutter noise abuse, and the unique genius of the BOOJI BOYS. Absolutely no filler. 

Balacera Gafas demo cassette

“I already saw how I’m gonna end, dead in a shootout against officers of the law and assault weapons, and if this is my time…well, fuck it!”  This is a rough translation of the movie sample (I guess) that Argentina’s BALACERA uses at the beginning of their demo, an ultra-fun lo-fi affair that mixes a TALES OF TERROR approach to punk, as in the opener “Gafas” and “Confundido,” and straight doom metal, as in the bass riff that slowly builds itself into a full on thrasher in “Busted” that, by the way, sounds like Argentina’s own minimalist art-punkers DIOS being more into VENOM than British post-punk. The tape manipulation of the voice and their eerie use of keyboards all adds up to an extremely original sound with the low production values of the demo. Awesome, get it on cassette.

Detoxi First Flesh LP

DETOXI is a band from Ventura, California, formed by members of MAASK and CATHOLIC SPIT, with roots in the Nardcore scene. On this, their first LP, they present us with ten dark rock songs that grow with each listen. DETOXI wears their influences on their sleeve, a mix of English post-punk like the CHAMELEONS with the impetus and tonality of Southern California deathrock—I’m thinking in particular of Rikk Agnew’s color palette. The keyboard sound is awesome and gives a particularly sinister touch to the songs, along with Derek’s deeply distinctive vocals. We are talking about perfectly crafted songs, with inventive and catchy riffs, outstanding basslines, exciting arrangements, and intelligent lyrics that dissect current popular culture issues with a precise scalpel. The opener “Grey Lines” and “Death of a Nation” are impressive. Such a thrill. You can get it on a beautifully designed cassette, CD, or vinyl.

Alambrada Muerte Preventiva EP

I love debut 7”s. Bands tend to showcase their virtues in a raw and colorful way, like they have so much to prove in just a few minutes. ALAMBRADA is a new Colombian band, straight from Bogotá with members of beloved MURO in their ranks, and this is their first EP, one of the best of the year so far. Eight songs of noisy as fuck yet incredibly hooky guitar riffs, a rhythm section that splits your head open with uncompromising determination, and a voice so thick in poisonous spit, it can melt metal. Their sound is so vicious and raw that it can sometimes veer into total chaos, but just this close enough of atonal oblivion. It is actually hard to have a favorite track, but I can tell you to go straight to the double-decker of “Control Total/Un Acto de Lealtad” and you can thank me later. So it goes.

Hatã Demo 2021 cassette

HATÃ, “hard” in the Guarani language, is the name of this band formed in Barcelona in the middle of the pandemic by people from Paraguay, London, and Colombia. International solidarity manifests itself in beautiful ways when we see migrants from different countries come together to create noise that denounces global injustices and share the experiences of those who seek to destroy the borders that divide us so artificially. It reminds me of the sound of ’90s South American and Mexican hardcore: raw, brutal, with enough room to breathe and wait for the stampede of the next riff. Beautiful and intense. This is their first demo of four songs, and it comes with a fanzine if you want to get it on cassette.

Bibione Tell Me What I Think EP

If you sometimes feel that the post-punk realm is overcrowded with bands that leave you totally indifferent, don’t miss this amazing 7” inch from this female Czech trio from Prague. Five songs of playful, intimate and furious post-punk, seven if you get the download. The band can make poppy and dynamic short blasts of surfy fun, like “Tell Me What I Think,” that make you think of BRATMOBILE, and they can get harsh and noisy like in “Gloves” and “Call Me.” “Summer Hit” may be the, erm, hit of the record, with some beautiful guitar riffs, like a riot grrrl ELECTRELANE. “Pleasures” sounds like PYLON fighting KLEENEX/LILIPUT.  Sorry if I’ve been name dropping too many bands, BIBIONE has a sound of their own, I just don’t wanna sell them short. This is a record that deserves to be played repeatedly. The two bonus tracks are damn good: “Colours” just kicks you in the face.

Mundo Primitivo Paisaje Interior cassette

Sydney’s MUNDO PRIMITIVO is a band formed just last year with Melissa from Colombia’s ABUSO and members of MORTE LENTA, ILL BRIGADE, PHOTOGENIC, and MUM. This six-song tape is sung in Spanish, but you can get the lyrics in English on their Bandcamp. I urge you to do that, just to get the full message of the band: the personal is political, but if the personal is imploding while the world burns, what are we supposed to do? To resist is the answer. There is a hallucinatory edge to the images painted by the lyrics, the urgency of action is so strong it takes the form of expressionist and vitalist imagery. Sonically, we’re talking about some intense and gripping hardcore with catchy riffs and energetic performances; it reminded me of early ’80s Southern Californian bands like the GERMS or T.S.O.L. Anyway, this is one of the best punk releases of the year. You can feel and smell the sweat dripping from each song.  I particularly loved “Medium” with its very deathrock-y slow intro, noisy guitar feedback, and slightly pysch hardcore finale. You can get the single-sided tape, with beautiful original artwork printed by Melissa, on Static Shock Records. Also important, all proceeds from this release are donated directly to all the people resisting fascist state violence in Colombia.

Hallucination Hallucination cassette

I’ve been loving all the stuff that’s been falling on my ears from Philadelphia. What a great scene you have there! HALLUCINATION presents their self-titled first cassette, five tracks of obsessive guitar noise that meshes D-beat, rough punk, and crazed crust. Get the cassette tape for the exclusive POISON IDEA cover.  Songs are short and violent with riffs that replicate themselves as they morph into a destructive nuclear squall, scorching a city in just a few minutes. This EP is a place to inhabit, so take your time to listen to it repeatedly and grasp the slowly revealing melodies and hooks, catchy guitar riffs, and pounding drums between the manic thickness of the guitar tone.  Just play this loud and demolish your last vestiges of hope.

Rata Negra Una Vida Vulgar LP

Finally, the highly anticipated new album of Madrid’s RATA NEGRA is here, and it’s a treat. It is a pleasure to realize that this ability for melody has become their main weapon. Each of the songs on Una Vida Vulgar (“A Vulgar Life”) have memorable choruses; you can imagine yourself singing them at the top of your lungs as soon as you hear them for the first time. We are facing direct and fresh songs, perfectly structured to generate the greatest emotional impact on the listener, the desperation and boredom of life in 2021 are reflected in the lyrics and in a hint of generational sadness that contrasts and makes more powerful the vital energy of the music: amphetamine pills for people who no longer have anything to lose, all with a sound that is already absolutely personal; dark melodic punk, desolate power pop. A new classic.

Plague Thirteen Plague Thirteen LP

It’s dark. It’s heavy. It’s oppressive. It induces moshing. It’s the debut album from PLAGUE THIRTEEN, a crust punk band from Czech Republic formed by ex-members of LINK and SORE in 2019. Inspired by last year’s COVID lockdown, the band presents six songs that achieve a really satisfying balance between expansive arrangements (like the brutal breakdowns of “Eyes Wide Open”), guitar epicness, D-beat fury, and full-on assaults and melodic richness.  If you wanna sample the intense power they can produce, I command you to listen to “Saturated Black,” which veers into extreme metal territory with some vicious riffing and death metal growls.

Drill Sergeant Vile Ebb LP

Echoey and cavernous hardcore from this Philly-based band. Vile Ebb is their debut LP for Denver’s Convulse Records, after 2020’s The Cosmic Leash demo. DRILL SERGEANT walks a line between vicious ’80s hardcore and just full powerviolence assault. The songs are short, dynamic, and almost dramatic in their take-no-prisoners approach. Hard to have a favorite song; all the songs come in a line of successive brutal blows to the head, giving you a really satisfying punchdrunk feeling. But I’ll give it a try. I really like “Real Evil,” which is part INFEST, part NEGATIVE APPROACH, and the closer song “Sense of Community,” with its sonic barbaric battle against your senses.

Nunca Nada Discordia LP

This was a total surprise. Composed of two ex-members of Spain’s darkwavers ANTIGUO RÉGIMEN and another one from TERCER SOL, Discordia is NUNCA NADA’s first album. It has a really stern sound: lyrics are direct, pointing out the futility of life, while guitar, bass, and drums sketch impressionistic sketches of gloom. Love the way the band allows each instrument space to breathe. It makes the sound truly expansive, like the songs could last forever and nobody would mind. The band takes its cues from WIRE’s precision and their less-is-more approach, the more melodically rich end of British post-punk guitar, and the doomy tones of the always magnificent WIPERS. They manage to make a personal and distinctive sound out of these key influences. Discordia is a pessimistic record you can dance to. A really good companion to the long night of capitalist decay.

Academy Order To Wilt Without Shame cassette

ACADEMY ORDER is a band from the Philadelphia area, formed in 2021. It features current and former members of DRILL SERGEANT, FIXATION, STUD COUNT, and FLUORIDE. This is their debut, six songs of deathrock with some prominent synth work. Think Southern California staples like 45 GRAVE or the mighty TSOL with a great dose of SKINNY PUPPY-esque synths. My fave track is “Slice of Life,” a song with just the right amount of darkness and abandonment to dance the night away. I think the tape is sold out, but you can buy the digital version or ask for another run of tapes directly to the band. It’s worth it.

Cyanide Cyanide cassette

This short EP comes directly from Tel Aviv. I have no clue about the Israeli punk scene, so it was really fun to listen to CYANIDE and their take on street punk. This is teenage angst in its purest form, nine songs played with earnest intensity by a bunch of teens with some kinship for BLITZ or the Killed By Death bands. It’s a blast. There is a short doc about the band, their life, and surroundings while they get ready for the release of this EP. You can easily watch online, it’s called “Dreaming Tel Aviv.” You can get the EP as a beautifully designed tape released by A World Divided, a collaborative non-profit label that promotes Mediterranean punk from places like Tunisia, Greece, Italy, Spain, Cyprus, Lebanon, Morocco, Turkey, and more. You should check out their entire catalog.

Mundo Infernal Nunca Más cassette

Just listen to that trashy guitar riff intro and how the whole band comes pummeling through. “Aniquilación de Este Mundo Cruel” is just eight seconds in and it’s already one of the most powerful moments I’ve heard this year in heavy music. Just wait a little more and enjoy those epic guitar leads. “Sin Control” follows on Los Angeles band MUNDO INFERNAL’S Nunca Más cassette. A show of brute force and savagery en español. We’re talking about beautifully crafted hardcore: lyrics lamenting the current state of the world, heavy tone guitars, chokingly disgruntled screaming vocals, and a ceaseless rhythmic attack. The record it’s too damn short, just four songs, and it leaves the listener wanting more. Awesome feeling, by the way. Nunca Más was released as a cassette with a limited run, but I urge you to get it as a digital album and play it as loud as you can.

Alement Onward EP

ALEMENT is a crust band from Philly with a hideously dark guitar tone, trashy riffs, raspy vocals, fun solos, and furious tempos. Think AXEGRINDER, AMEBIX, and the like. Just three songs on this EP from last year, but you can expect a hell of a ride. “Sea of Consequence” starts with a full trash assault, reminiscent of ENGLISH DOGS in its most violently-induced slam riffery. “Dwell” develops with even more metal-sounding riffs, with some cool mid-tempo choruses and gigantic breakdown worthy of a wall of death. “Onward” ends the EP in a darker tone. It begins with a drone-y and doomy intro, followed by an amazing demonstration of killer after killer riff and epic solos, a real tour de force.

Declaration What is the Reason for Tomorrow? cassette

This is the sold-out cassette from Singapore’s DECLARATION. The city-state’s punk scene is rife with incredible bands, including this one, formed by members of SIAL, DAILY RITUAL, LUBRICANT, PAZAHORA, C.L.A.W., the SCUDS, FALLEN WORLD, and VAARALLINEN. The album was recorded during lockdown and it sure shows. The paranoia and profound disbelief of watching the whole world paralized delivered in eleven songs of pure and raw D-beat, executed with vigor and respect for the DISCHARGE legacy. The guitar tone reminds me of Swedish D-beat, plus there’s some really cool riffs in songs like “What Is The Reason for Tomorrow?,” “Always Restricted,” and “Lifelong Subscription.” I urge you to keep checking out the Singaporean/Malaysian punk scene, it is full of delight.

Pöls Agrieta el Asfalto LP

Love it when bands like Madrid’s PÖLS get me to listen to styles I haven’t been exposed to or cared about in decades, such as melodic hardcore. Along with Barcelona’s ACCIDENTE, this band has taken that suburban sound and infused it with themes of anarchism, animal rights, ecology, and self-empowerment. And they do it by mixing up youth crew energy, heavy breakdowns, lots of “wooaahs,” and even rap. The contrasting relationship between the girl and boy voices keeps you interested for the whole record. They also feel free to experiment with flamenco-ish ending in “Barcelona” and rap with the last song “Pöls.” Intense energy and creative songwriting. Get it on vinyl.

Asocial Aldrig Som Er 12″

ASOCIAL’s history begins in the early ’80s in the Swedish hardcore scene. They pushed the envelope with great EPs of crust and D-beat, and an album, How Could Hardcore Be Any Worse, an absolute beast of noise that had a great and lasting influence on extreme music worldwide. The band has been writing new music since 2017, and this EP finds the band revisiting four of its classics and presenting four new songs. I have to admit I’m not really into bands re-recording their old songs, but in this context, they sound as raw and chaotic as the originals, and the new songs are pure mayhem. The EP starts with “Religion Still Sucks,” one of the best openers I’ve heard so far this year. “Krossa Nazismen,” “Mïlitardiktatur,” and “Samhällets Offer” are all incredibly intense. A must-have.

Mausoleo Absolución LP

MAUSOLEO it’s a post-punk band from Valencia. They call their sound “devotional punk” and certainly there’s a spiritual quest quality to their music: super melodic and dark arpeggiated riffs, deep and throbbing bass lines, and pounding drums. It’s Andrés Sanabria’s voice that gives the band an almost ethereal idiosyncrasy. Sonically, they thrive in the space created by their hometown’s ANTIGUO RÉGIMEN and the legacy of Spanish bands like DÉCIMA VÍCTIMA, or, at least in vocals and lyrics, GOLPES BAJOS. The record is great. “Mausoleo” is a hell of an album opener, somber and beautiful, “Paredón” quickly takes us to a sort of celebration of personal dismay. My favorites: “Sodomizado” with that irresistible SISTERS OF MERCY type of guitar riff and “Dogma,” with a crystalline guitar tone and a fast and interesting riff, like KILLING JOKE without the metal leanings. They also have a pretty cool cover of Valladolid’s punk band QLOACA LETAL. Get the vinyl, the artwork is awesome. You won’t regret it.

SS/BLOCK Mob Violence EP

Amazing D-beat straight from Malaysia. This EP is the debut release of this band from Mentakab Pahang, and they’ve got a pretty cool demo that you should check out, too. Oh man, the sound. So raw, so furious, it makes my brain pogo against my skull. This EP is full of energy blasts, and with production values that accentuate their sonic attack, it feels like you’re listening to the constant and overwhelming noise made by some river rapids. The lyrics are highly political, as you might expect, being a punk in Malaysia ain’t easy at all. This band clearly likes DISCHARGE and delivers six songs within that frame, but their primal rage provides a distinctive sound. I really like the sing-along and shouty chorus of the track “Anti77-Fascist Society.” You should have this band on your radar, I hope they make an LP soon.

Ansiedad Cerebral Terapia Cognitivo-Conductual cassette

When it comes to no-frills punk, it’s always best to go the lo-fi way, allowing your chops (or lack thereof) to become an integral part of the message you’re delivering. Malaga’s ANSIEDAD CEREBRAL shares this piece of wisdom and offers nine songs full of sloppy and splendorous p-u-n-k. These guys have already made some racket with other bands (RATAS DE SUMATRA, LIMASSA, and MASS VOLUMEN), so they know how to write a hook or two. They’re actually so good at it, “Punkis de Gimnasio” or “Vive Rápido y Aterriza en el Geriátrico” could be hits in the next Matado Por La Muerte comp of Spanish-speaking punk. Their lyrics are usually extremely ironic, as they say, “designed to offend and undermine morale.” Quite a commendable enterprise in my book. The one that I replay all the time is “Rosalía,” with that raw and almost atonal guitar riff, a sardonic little hymn in honor of the Spanish pop singer. Short, sweet, sweaty, and to the point, get it on cassette for more lo-fi pleasure.

Codigo Neurotico Totus Tous EP reissue

When a record starts with some Gregorian chants, you know it’s gonna turn out to be something else. Barcelona’s CÓDIGO NEURÓTICO makes exemplary first-wave punk rock: snotty, fun, with buzzsaw guitars, great basslines, and conceited vocals. The overall sound reminds me of Killed by Death bands in style and content, with very tongue-in-cheek lyrics and a healthy dose of adolescent humor, reminiscent of Spanish bands like SINIESTRO TOTAL or M.C.D. “Totus Totus” sounds like a WEIRDOS song played by KAKA DE LUXE, with a chorus that’s a real earworm. “Pega a tu Mama” has the ANGRY SAMOANS’ shock value energy. It’s dumb and it’s fun. “Quema Tanques” is a pure adrenaline rush with lyrics concerning WWII while “Las Malvinas” continues with the rush and war themes with an irresistible sing-along that you will have stuck in your head for weeks. “Cotolengo” is yet another manifestation of their incredible ability to create a gem of beautiful trash. You can get the 7” on red vinyl. Les sugiero que lo hagan.

Stagger Abuse of Power cassette

The Philadelphia scene is full of talent and STAGGER is just one example of it. This is their first LP, and their first proper release since Thermobaeric Blues EP from 2018 (you should check that one too, it’s got a SUN RA cover!). What do we get here? A very cool cassette with nine songs, volume, distortion, and feedback all the way up to red; it reminds me of the raw energy of Mexican or Colombian hardcore from the ’90s. This is just eighteen or so minutes of pure D-beat mayhem sometimes verging on noise punk. That guitar tone is pure filth. I can’t really understand the lyrics but vocalist Mike’s tone is all you need to really get it. We’re talking about pissed-off commentary on the current state of the American empire. You can also tell Mike has an incredible ability to generate a pit in a split second just with an “uggg!” Their violent cover of “You Tear Me Up” by the BUZZCOCKS is just awesome.

Auxiliö Mi Piel cassette

The moment the riff in “Mi Piel” starts playing, you know you’re gonna be bulldozed by the raw power of it. This is an extremely pissed-at-the-world work of art. Four songs, four punches straight to your face. AUXILIÖ works the line between D-beat, thrash, and pure hardcore mayhem, and they do so by way of some great songwriting: violent riffs, driving bass lines, pummeling drums, and some truly great guttural vocals. Thematically, the band lashes out against the usual sources of oppression: religion, misogyny, the trappings of a decaying capitalist world, only with a unique point of view, switching between Spanish and English. “Religión Hipócrita” is great trash with some vicious riffing,  “Ciclo Vicioso” has some cool ’90s Mexican hardcore vibes, and “Death Trophy” is an instant moshpit-inducer classic. AUXILIÖ is a hardcore band from L.A. They’ve been doing their noisy thing since 2016 and have played in Perú (they’ve got a split with PODRIDO on Unsainted Records, if you want to check it out). You can get this furious EP as a CD or cassette. Do hurry ‘cause they’re running out.

Los Saicos El Mercenario / Un Poquito de Pena 7”

Oh, LOS SAICOS, great representatives of Peruvian sonic teenage terrorism. This pair of songs came after “Demolición” and “Entierro de los Gatos” and all those great classics that led them to be retroactively read as the originators of punk rock. We’ve almost got a new band here, as there’s only two original members left, Erwin Flores and César “Papi” Castrillón, who recorded these songs together with other musicians for a local Peruvian label in the distant year of 1969. The Spanish label Munster Records is in charge of the reissue and it has everything we came to love about the Los Saicos sound. “El Mercenario” is a mind-blowing tale of a mercenary, who embarks to Africa in order to commit atrocities as a soldier for hire only to realize the futility and damage he caused, leading him to commit suicide; the story is narrated by a voice somewhere between a ballad singer and a young amphetamine user with euphoric screams marking “1, 2, 3, 4” as a kind of cool vocal hook, plus guitars with dark surfer vibes. On the other side, “Un Poquito de Pena” is a love ballad with intense singing, arpeggiated and extremely melodic guitar riffs, a true gem that could’ve been included in one of those Back From The Grave comps. Great single that deserves to be on par with the rest of LOS SAICOS’ work.

V/A Matado Por La Muerte Vol. 3 LP

I remember quite well the first time I listened to Matado Por La Muerte Vol. 1. I think it was 2008. It just felt like being hit in the face by a brick and just laughing about it while you bleed. It became an instant classic. This is the third volume (the second was released in 2015), with 21 exclusive tracks from eighteen Spanish-speaking bands. As always, the comp is full of gems and styles, all sharing the same iconoclast spirit. Here are some of the songs I enjoyed the best: CAMPAMENTO RUMANO’s PEGAMOIDES-meets-REZILLOS sound, the lo-fi fun of FINALE, the fury of Mexico’s CREMALLERAS, Peru’s MORBO’s street knowledge, Spanish SATÉLITE’s gothic notes on modern life, and the anthemic “España Me Pertenece” from TENDIDO CERO. This a really good introduction to current Spanish-speaking punk, hardcore, and post-punk if you’re interested in getting into it.

Burning Image The Final Conflict / Burning Image, Burning 7″ reissue

Bakersfield’s BURNING IMAGE was one of the original bands from the California deathrock scene and this is the official reissue of their classic single from 1984. The 7” has “The Final Conflict” and “Burning Image, Burning,” two songs produced by Chaz Ramirez, producer of SOCIAL DISTORTION’s Mommy’s Little Monster. Enough context. Side A starts all sinister and dark. “The Final Conflict” has an awesome guitar tone. I really enjoy the way the almost angular riff sets the unsettling space for the chorus, then those Spaghetti Western-style solos, and how it ends in almost full chaos. Amazing. Side B’s “Burning Image, Burning” riffing is pure Rikk Agnew beauty, both melodic and dissonant, always interesting and full of harmonics. The band really knows how to build tension and release within the song while making it catchy as hell.

Disappearances III cassette

This cassette got me immediately into a frenzy. Just the kind of harsh and vicious noise that’s so needed in times like these. This is the third release by Philadelphia’s DISAPPEARANCES, ten songs full of short, intense, and brutal spurts of vile. The powerviolence influence is there, but I would say that it’s just the template for more angular and dissonant leanings (think of ’90s bands like BORN AGAINST and RORSCHACH), with just the right amount of breakdowns to keep things dynamic and interesting. Lyrics can certainly be bleak, but that’s just how the world really is. They really know how to weave the personal and the private within the structural and systemic. There’s humor in there too, a self-deprecating and black one. “Blue” is my favorite of the bunch, it has a really cathartic feel to it. Would love to hear this in a live setting.

Satélite Otra Era LP

SATÉLITE is a Spanish band with a dark, melodic, and beautiful post-punk sound. Otra Era was released in February but it missed my radar. The album’s second song “Estado Hipnótico” condenses the themes and sounds of the whole LP: prominent bass lines, chorus pedal guitar, gorgeous melodies, and vigorous drumming with lyrics that paint paranoiac landscapes of capitalist desperation and the urge of getting the hell out it, into a new era, with new ways of living. There’s a sense in all of these songs of trying to escape the new systems of control. Some of my favorites are the pretty “Otra Era” and the disquieting “Nuevas Maneras.” If you’re into Spanish post-punk bands like DÉCIMA VÍCTIMA, or early CURE, this is for you. You can get it both digitally or on vinyl. Really cool cover design, too.

Antifaces Como Moscas LP

ANTIFACES is a three-piece band from Miami. Their language is Spanish and their weapon of choice is direct and sincere melodic hardcore punk. Six years of career, and several demos and LPs later, they have come up with a forceful sound: the angriest and sweatiest of melodic punk from Argentina and Spain with some sinister touches here and there. This is ANTIFACES’ bet: to unleash a storm of noise and create urgent songs dedicated to survivors of the system; men and women who live on the edge, who fight and resist the terror of modern life, violence, and corruption of the soul. Rather than wait to be devoured by the nothingness of it all, these songs demand us to spit, kick back, and dance in a mental pogo of catharsis. As they say, “I don’t want to die in the arms of a policeman.”  It doesn’t matter if it’s Latin America or the First World, there is a system in place that seeks our death, ANTIFACES sings to life. Choose life.

La Rabbia In the Face of Atrocities LP

This is a good one. Get ready for 24 tracks of raw and in-your-face noise blasts from these London-based anarcho-punks. Formed by members of the GAGGERS, MISCALCULATIONS, and WARREN SCHOENBRIGHT, LA RABBIA (“The Rage”) contains the best bits of England’s punk; as they say in their Bandcamp bio, the classic ’77/’82 sounds. You have it all: hooligan sing-alongs, street punk defiance, classic razor-wired riffs, cool melodic sensibilities, and lyrics decrying the terrible state of the world in both English and Italian. “The Ends Don’t Justify the Means” has some really sick riffs, so vicious, almost atonal. The violent intro of “Professional Arrogance,” well, the whole damn song, gets me immediately into a frenzy. I also really like how they mix Italian and English in the song “In The Face of Atrocities,” they should do that more.  Keep an eye on LA RABBIA, they’re delivering the goods.

A Culture of Killing A Culture of Killing LP

This ain’t how you usually expect anarcho-punk to sound. This band from Italy goes epic: they take the icy guitars, melodic basslines, and baritone from early ’80s post-punk and mix it with anarcho themes and sensibilities. Think of short-haired the CURE, SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES, the CHURCH, and the MOB, the latter whom they cover (go straight to “Mirror Breaks”) on this LP. I couldn’t find that much information about these guys but it doesn’t matter, this record is full of hits. A CULTURE OF KILLING’s songwriting takes you places. Overall they sound dark but not bleak, dynamic yet really melodic, almost thrilling. “War” and “We Can Never Go Back” are two beautiful gems, a pair of chart hits from an alternative timeline in the ’80s. Perhaps what I’ve said so far might make you think these guys are fixated on the past, but they do have their own style and their lyrics are completely focused on the tribulations of these times. These eight songs were originally released on tape and now as vinyl. I hate to tell ya, though, the record is so good it actually sold out. Hope there’s a new edition we can get our hands on very soon.

Tentáculo Cansados de Esperar LP

Straight from Triana and Nice (Spain/France), TENTÁCULO is a punk band that treads a fine line between mid-tempo melodic punk and hard rock, or NWOBHM and post-punk, with the chops and attitude of those great working class heavy metal Spanish bands from the ’80s. Whatever, we don’t need to pinpoint TENTÁCULO down anywhere: these eight songs give no-frills rock’n’roll with existential dread-themed lyrics and hook after hook after hook. “Extrañas Luces” shines with an old-school hard rock riff in contrast with the bleak pessimism in the lyrics and the energetic singalong of the chorus. Have to highlight the guitar work on this record: simple at times, but extremely melodic in a HÜSKER DÜ kind of way. The three last songs on the B-side are some serious bangers: you can imagine yourself singing with your pals in a sweat-drenched embrace at a dark small club or spitting this street poetry into a hot and humid night after a really bad day at work. Beautiful cover and design work. 

Tumbas Dolor LP

It’s a shame that this is TUMBAS’ last album. The Bogotá, Colombia band embraces the gloom and doom of deathrock with the intensity of hardcore, and showers it with a sick guitar tone that paints a picture of a world in pain. TUMBAS make you think, make you scream, and most importantly, make you dance your misery away. There’s a sense of urgency in Marcelo and Fausto’s dark guitar riffs that works nicely with the driving pulse towards catharsis of Maria Paula’s bass and Ximena’s unrelenting drumming. On top of that, you have Luisa’s vocals, with the necessary anger and poise to expose the rotten corpse of Latin America’s social reality. These songs get better with each listen but if you make me pick one, “Destinados a Perder” has it all: it’s dark, it’s heavy, and the guitars sound like a swarm of furious bees. The album has a really cool cover and insert. It also includes four extra songs from their demo cassette.