Reviews

11 PM

Adderall Big Pharma vs. Adderall EP

Seven and a half(-ish) minutes of North American squirmy millennial hardcore punk. Manic, down-picked riffs played to straight 4/4 on (pharmaceutical) speed and loads of echo on the short, filthy vokills. The riffs are tiiiiiight, and if you like your shit to land between LUMPY and NOSFERATU, then this one is your 2020 banger, kids.

Armor Some Kind of War EP

Direct from Tallahassee, D-beat-ish punk with a twist of new punk sounds. It’s impossible to stand still while you listen to these musical jewels; it transports me to a basement show packed and with aggressive pogo in such a small place, you can smell and feel the sour. There wasn’t a single moment that I didn’t feel like breaking everything, that beautiful feeling this kind of punk can trigger.

Big Laugh Manic Revision EP

I reviewed this record for Undergrounz Zine the first day it came out ’cause I thought it was too much. I think I must’ve listened to it twenty or so times in a row. It’s kind of a cyclic album; the instrumental fade-out in the last song, “Fazed,” works as a transition to the epic drums that open the EP in “Imposter.” The whole vibe of this reeks of the ABUSED, from the artwork, which pays tribute to the Loud and Clear aesthetic, to the sound. Or, better, the ABUSED meets This is Boston Not L.A., because BIG LAUGH merges heavier passages with more fluid ones, but always without losing strength and presence. I said it before, I’ll say it again, their strength is how they managed to combine that overfall of dizzy, hectic guitar riffs and omnipresent drum work, hard as nails, that sweeps everything else with the power of a cascade. BIG LAUGH is the best example that Milwaukee hardcore is alive and kicking.

Black Button I Want to Be in Control cassette

BLACK BUTTON really caught my attention last year with their short demo tape, so I was pretty psyched when I saw this release pop up. As I had hoped, it’s a hell of a ride. This formidable Richmond act plays intense, jazzy, angular, and cerebral lo-fi hardcore that creates a dense, disturbing, dystopian-like atmosphere to pull the listener in. The music is equal parts groovy and gripping, aided by a desperate, tortured, and venomous vocal performance spitting thought-provoking spoken word on top. Every once in a while everything seems to just fall apart, adding a dimension of No Wave clamor to the sound. I just can’t decide which version of the band’s self-titled “theme song” I prefer—the haunting live arthouse version on the demo or the tightly-wound, homicidal-horn-laced chaos found here. They’re both great, and so are the rest of these unique tunes. I’m pulling out the big B-word on this one—brilliant stuff. Don’t sleep on it.

Cadenaxo Lenguas Podridas 12″

Direct from Tenochtitlan in Mexico, CADENAXO finally releases their LP, full of energy, fast punk, aggressive like a cadenaxo in the teeth, the definition of hardcore. Impossible not to think of a sweaty pogo in a small gig during the summer time. Perfect blend of POISON IDEA and ATOXXXICO.

Deviant Loading the Gun EP

Sharp, focused, distorted modern hardcore. Overbearing buzzsaw guitars, lightning fast with a sick snarl. Think about the SKEMÄTA school of attack, but way less nuanced. Ferocity in six movements.

Gazm Heavy Vibe Music LP

I like Canadian HC, they always seem to put something out that’s just slightly left of the mainstream. What we have here, however, is a slab of Age of Quarrel-era worship that, despite my distaste for worship bands, had me nodding my head along the whole way. There’s that thin line between tracks that have the thick, aggressive stomp of the CRO-MAGS at their angriest, and then tracks that waver between hardcore and that wave of neo-thrash bands that were abundant in record bins all over the world a couple of years back. Is this LP good? Depends, I suppose; I probably would’ve liked it a hell of a lot more if it was a 7”, but what the fuck does that even mean? Maybe if they could lose that kinda goofy, borderline pizza party vibe I get from this shit.

Haircut Cake EP

HAIRCUT had an EXIT ORDER affinity when they first popped up, but they’ve fully come into their own here on their third 7″. The drummer’s got fills, the vocals come across like distorted pleas, and there are a few riffs that are catchy enough for me to remember. Both “Prayer for a Little Girl” and “Take It” offer what I want to hear in a hardcore song, with changes of pace that flip the slam/skank switch in my mind. Nothing boundary breaking or genre defining, but still a fine specimen of modern hardcore punk with no major discernible rip-offs.

Kontaminate Blood Hunger demo cassette

The 11 PM logo on a demo is always a good sign, as they have been consistently releasing the best fresh-sounding hardcore bands in the US. This time they released the kick-ass demo of Richmond-based KONTAMINATE, featuring members of NOSEBLEED and JACKAL. The mash of spazzy, almost Scandinavian-sounding TOTALITÄR riffs over a NECROS backbone makes KONTAMINATE an essential modern USHC band to keep an eye on. Five tracks of unrelenting bangers, with the cherry on top in the form of a cover of “Crime for Revenge” by ULTRA-VIOLENT, one of the unsung heroes of UKHC. Time to mosh in your room.

Loss Prevention Shoot to Kill EP

No-frills, straight-to-the-point fast hardcore hailing from Kansas City. LOSS PREVENTION pulls a lot of inspiration from other Kansas City hardcore bands like BETA BOYS or RED KATE, among others. The best way I can describe this is as flyover state punk—in that it’s a fucking awesome anomaly that there’s good punk music coming out of Missouri, but it’s definitely nothing boundary pushing or original—and that’s coming from someone who lives in a flyover state. Definitely a mixed bag of an EP, but if you’re just looking for something to bang your head to on a Tuesday this could be your jam.

Protocol Bloodsport 12″

Ugly, blown-out primitive hardcore played with knuckles bloodied from both punching and being dragged on the ground. Hints of contemporaries like WARTHOG (the punchy, driving attack, the super-mean vocals) and URCHIN (the occasional massive, vicious breakdown) appear, though this is more raw than either band’s output recording-wise and it includes interesting ambient-ish electronica elements courtesy of the brilliantly-named INTERNET GF. The fadeout ending of the record-closing “Divinity” has a genuine creep factor that dovetails nicely with the opening synth drone, demonstrating the band’s adept incorporation of the electronic elements. Witty, nihilistic lyrics only amplify the band’s bleak presentation, as does the crude, thematically perfect artwork. Only 300 copies available on appropriately blood-colored vinyl, definitely recommended.

Reek Minds Rabid EP

“Blistering” is an adjective that comes up frequently when describing hardcore bands, and it’s certainly the first one that comes to mind when considering REEK MINDS’ new EP. Powerviolence fury with croaking and growling vocals propels this record forward at breakneck speeds, with the occasional breakdown providing a little respite from the chaos. If you like ‘em super-fast, nasty, and unforgiving, you’ll likely join the choir of enthusiasts who are saying that this is one of the best records to come out in a while.

Rolex Hip Intellect EP

This release is ten furious cuts of ’80s futurist punk. While the band seems happy to harken back to the “glory days” of their hometown LA—mostly evident in their highly-mobile bass lines and howling vocals—they incorporate odd melodic and rhythmic turns that break with tradition and keep the ear abuzz in new ways on every track. The guitar stands out in particular, sounding like D. Boon doing divebombs; it’s some of my favorite axe work I’ve heard all year. The entire package fits perfectly with lyrical themes of apocalypse, climate crisis and everything else you’d want from California hardcore. This band is weirder and wilder than most—definitely deserving of your attention.

Subliminal Excess 2020 cassette

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

Zig Zag It Gets Worse EP

ZIG ZAG is South Florida’s answer to the GERMS and SUICIDAL TENDENCIES. A pummeling wall of noise and the ever-present snarl of the front man are the defining features of this EP. The opening track begins with a sample of PINK FLOYD before moving into CAPTAIN BEEFHEART’s “Zig Zag Wanderer,” and I have to say I really dig the intro. Lo-fi, noisy, catchy riffs, and harrowing vocals. This is an EP I can get behind.