Reviews

For review and radio play consideration:

Send two copies of vinyl (one for our archive, one for the reviewer) or one copy of CD-only or cassette-only releases to MRR, PO Box 3852, Oakland, CA 94609, USA. Maximum Rocknroll wants to review everything that comes out in the world of underground punk rock, hardcore, garage, post-punk, thrash, etc.—no major labels or labels exclusively distributed by major-owned distributors, no releases outside our area of musical coverage, no reviews of test pressings or promo CDs without final artwork. Please include contact information and let us know where your band is from! All vinyl records received are added to our archive, which since 1977 has grown to become the largest collection of punk records in the world.

Gauze 言いたかねえけど目糞鼻糞 CD

Forty fucking years! That’s how long GAUZE has played hardcore. Just think about that for a second. Absolute legends in the Japanese hardcore scene, never took a break and still kill it live. Goddamn, they never slow down! No one was expecting this record and one day it just popped up to everyone’s surprise, and it’s still as relentless as one would expect from them. Surprisingly, 言いたかねえけど目糞鼻糞 is only their fifth full-length album, with a couple of EPs in-between. Expect ten tracks of high-energy, spazzy, thrashy hardcore, just the way GAUZE knows best, that will leave you feeling like you just ran a marathon. Often imitated but never duplicated.

Guns’n’Gänseblümchen Perspectives LP

Big, rich sound from a drum/guitar duo based in Germany and France. The vocals really shine through here, dueling from female to male, from tenderness to grit on both sides, evoking that peace-punk hope and despair all at once. Perspectives is the sophomore album from this true DIY, no-profit outfit—that’s right, free download on their Bandcamp page, so get it in ya!

Hinge Hinge CD

The cover of this album features a bunch of skeletons at a show while, presumably, the three members of HINGE clink some beer bottles together. Some of those skeletons are wearing NOFX and PENNYWISE shirts. So, before one even puts on the album, you get a pretty good inclination of what’s in store. As hypothesized by looking at the cover, what we have here is a carbon-copy of ’90s skate punk of the Fat Wreck/Fearless variety. There is a certain sect of people who never moved on from that stuff and still dig it and this is definitely geared toward them.

Kalle Hygien Songs About Chuck LP

KALLE HYGIEN is a Swedish electro-punk band with a singer who sounds like he should be in COCK SPARRER. He’s got that tough guy, plain-spoken style and an English accent. The music is high-energy and futuristic. It’s like listening to the music of multiple amusement park rides while in a nightmare. All the songs on this record are really catchy and the catchiest is called “Nazi”. KALLE HYGIEN is weirdly fun. Highly recommended.

Lipstick Killers Strange Flash: Studio & Live ’78–’81 2xLP

A garage-y quartet formed from the ruins of two first-wave Australian punk bands (FILTH and PSYCHO SURGEONS), the LIPSTICK KILLERS played the kind of spunky, glam-tinged rock‘n’roll that was popular among grown-up punks in the late ’70s. This collection takes the sole single released during the band’s active period and gives it the ol’ “as much bonus material as you can handle” treatment. In addition to the 1978 “Hindu Gods of Love”/”Shakedown USA” 45, this double-LP includes studio demos, an additional album-length unreleased demo session, two lengthy live shows, and some bonus PSYCHO SURGEONS songs as well. “Hindu Gods of Love” showcases the band at their best, with a crankin’ guitar that recalls DMZ and a sort of stripped-down jazziness that brings fellow Sydney rockers RADIO BIRDMAN to mind. On the single, this hit tune is pushed through a wall of flashy production that gives it a tint of psychedelia. You can compare it to the demo and live versions of the song that also appear in this set. These guys are really only putting in the tip in terms of punk, as most of their songs read as a “STOOGES-lite” kinda deal and often flirt with a commercial sensibility, though the singer does pepper it up with a good amount of growls and howls that you probably wouldn’t hear much on the radio in that era. The LIPSTICK KILLERS eventually made their way to L.A. and gigged with the likes of the GUN CLUB and the FLESH EATERS before calling it quits in 1981. If you’re clueless and curious about this hazy chapter of Aussie punk history as I was, this sprawling body of work pretty much tells the whole story.

Nasti Life is Nasti LP

Another hardcore banger coming from two labels that always deliver the best in punk. Washington’s NASTI is able to play hardcore without overusing the genre’s tropes. Sometimes it’s fast, sometimes it’s stompy, sometimes it’s weird as hell, but it all flows perfectly through each song just at the right time. Life is Nasti has eight powerful tracks of rage-filled moshpit bangers, a LP that could be on the shelf right next to contemporary hardcore like GAG or HOAX but certainly pays homage to VOID, UNITED MUTATION, and NO TREND alike. Their territory is somewhere in between the chaos and the weirdness, a bleak vision of modern life. Life is fucking NASTI!

Neon Belly What’s Mine Ain’t Yours cassette

Very cool, catchy, mid-tempo head-bobbing punk from Wilmington, North Carolina. The lo-fi recording feels very fitting for the band, but the even lower-fi artwork makes it hard to decipher how many songs there are on the cassette. The tracks being in a completely different order than they’re listed and the program repeating over and over on the tapes doesn’t help that either. Eight or nine songs, two of which are covers: “Civilization’s Dying” by ZERO BOYS and “Don’t Hide Your Hate” by FILTH.

qb qb cassette

QB is a new project from the Russian punks behind projects like FUTURAT and MATERIC. This tape is sonically as lo-fi as lo-fi can be. There’s a current of crunchy distortion running under every track. It’s straightforward garage rock and a raucous bit of fun, and hey, how cool to hear music like this coming out of Russia! QB doesn’t mess around and they make some kick-ass tunes on this tape, so there isn’t anything to complain about here.

Sad Lovers & Giants Lost in a Sea Full of Sighs LP

In the realm of dark and dreamy UK post-punk, Lost in a Sea Full of Sighs collects SAD LOVERS & GIANTS’ early work, recorded from 1981–1982. Filled with plenty of bass and synth leads, sax sections, and guitar flourishes, I’ve got a soft spot for this kind of thing. The lyrics are sometimes sappy, like “And when I see you / I fall helplessly in love” from “When I See You” (which could be a CURE song), to the heady lyrical “Lately I find I’ve been walking on tightropes / That stretch through my mind in the spaces I don’t know” in “The Tightrope Touch.” Love songs? Existential crisis? Yes please, and all at once. Lots of music to look back on here, and they’re still at it with the Mission Creep album in 2018 and shows up until the pandemic shutdown. Let’s hope they keep it up!

Slimex Slimex demo cassette

Portland robo-punk for fans of ERIK NERVOUS and RESEARCH REACTOR CORPORATION. “Big Drag” is an absolute winner. It sounds like the SPITS, with classic catchy rock’n’roll melodies layered in keyboards set on the flute setting. I just listened to it three times in a row. “Blood Circus” is more synth-heavy with jerky rhythms that bring to mind our lords and saviors of this type of shit, DEVO. “No Clue” is another solid tune with heavy vocal reverb. No clue pertains to the lyrics too, since they are echoed beyond comprehension, but it doesn’t really matter because it sounds good. “Pressure” breaks off the reverb knob on the vocals, all delivered over manic keys and bass. We’re talking Baby Jessica-down-the-well levels of echo, but it fits well here. Cool band with a great name and killer opening track. Recommended. Also, if you like this brand of lo-fi synth punk, check out Richter Scale’s other releases—they have as many releases as you have buttons on your broken Casiotone.

Spodee Boy Dark Times EP

Chunklet brings you the latest from Nashville recording project SPODEE BOY (Conor Cummins of G.U.N., SNOOPER), a five-song EP that’s offered in lathe-cut edition of…50! The physical version is of course long gone, but fortunately, you can still find it via all streaming services. And it’s worth seeking out! The opening track, “Dark Days,” takes the side-winding COUNTRY TEASERS worship of the Rides Again 7” and cranks the tempo up to a hardcore pace—it’s really an incredible song, easily the best on the record. “Dark Nights,” “Man Of Tomorrow,” and “Suicide” are all variations on a Mark Winter theme but, still, solid takes on the sound. “Waiting Around to Die” is perhaps the most bold cut on the record. It’s a SMITHS-y dirge that’s probably the polar opposite of what’s popular these days and is also very goofy. Nevertheless, there’s something here, and you have to applaud his willingness to take a chance, which in and of itself is refreshing. Keep an ear to the ground for future releases from this guy—I get the sense they’re only going to get better.

TV Freaks People LP

This has got to be the best thing coming out of Ontario in recent times. It’s a noisy freak show of garage and hardcore. The band is tight enough to match the best of math-rock groups. I hear elements of THEE OH SEES and the BLACK LIPS, occasionally mixed with some heavier punk elements. Each of the ten tracks build on the other, getting better and better, finishing on a chaotically beautiful note. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and check this out.

V/A Diggin’ Up the 90s, Vol. 1 LP

Here we go…the collector scum are starting to figure out that the ’90s weren’t the lost decade after all. In the spirit of the KBD and Bloodstains comps, Amok delivers a collection of unheralded ’90s DIY punk and hardcore gems. OFFICIAL HOOLIGANS, MENSTRUAL TRAMPS, BLOODY MUTANTS, STALINS ORGAN, Japan’s the HECK, France’s BETTY BONDAGE, and ten more. Grab this shit, do your homework, and start scouring the bargain bins, because these are the bonzers of the next decade!

V/A Youth Crew 2020 EP

This compilation features eight bands from across the globe that are keeping the youth crew flame burning. While each band shares similar styles here, there is enough difference between them to keep things interesting. Standouts for me are HOMETOWN CREW from the Netherlands, NO EXCUSE from Indonesia, and TIDES DENIED from Germany (if only for the riff at the end that kinda sounded like the theme from The A-Team). By no means is this compilation gonna go down in the annals of hardcore classics, but it’s worth a listen.

Acid Casualties Victims of Psychick Warfare cassette

Seven tracks of the grimiest hardcore punk I have heard in what feels like forever! ACID CASUALTIES from the New York/New Jersey area are relentlessly pummeling and have found a way to prove that hardcore can still be absolutely terrifying. Do you like ’80s hardcore? Do you hate everything else? Well, this tape might just be for you. It is most certainly for me.

The Bastards Impossibilities EP reissue

True to their nation’s storied tradition of neutrality, first-gen Swiss group the BASTARDS didn’t take sides in the late ’70s UK/US punk rivalry while they were cribbing influences for this one-and-done, three-song 1979 EP. Ripping, eternally DAMNED “Neat Neat Neat” guitar and snotty, SEX PISTOLS prefab pop-nihilism meet JOHNNY THUNDERS-inspired street tough rock’n’roll swagger (when co-vocalist Sandro Sursock takes the lead on “Danger”) and a leather-jacketed bad-girl power pop beat à la NIKKI CORVETTE (on the Marie-Pierre-sung “Impossibilities”), while the frantic Sandro/Marie-Pierre duet “Schizo Terrorist” is like a BASTARDS-ized take on those early John Doe/Exene X rave-ups. It’s all throwaway fun, and if your idea of fun isn’t forking over multiple hundreds for international KBD rarities, this faithful Reminder repro is a real public service.

Blood Loss Surviving Life in the Shadow of Death EP

BLOOD LOSS returns with their third release. Their demo tape was smoking and I don’t think I heard the first EP, but I really missed out if it’s in any way as good as this. Classic USHC rage that reminds me of SSD meets LOCKJAW. They even have one of those typical but classic “fight, fight” choruses in “Organize!” which gets your blood pumping from the get-go. Denver has been pumping out some great hardcore with bands like VIDEODROME or CADAVER DOG, and this carries on the Rocky Mountain rage in fine, brutal fashion. I hear PCP is legal there now and it shows. Smoke up.

Choice to Make Vicious Existence EP

Thrash-y, metal-tinged hardcore. The songs are short enough to not get stale, but it’s only six songs and I really need more here to knock me off the fence I’m riding in one direction or another. If I did have one swaying point, I suppose it would be the instrumental in the middle of the record. I am adamantly opposed to instrumentals in hardcore. It comes off as an unfinished song to me. Filler really, and for me the placement really kind of threw off my listening experience. I suppose if you must include an instrumental it’s probably better suited as a bookend.

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. 

Critter All Better cassette

Seven-song demo cassette by this three-piece Canadian outfit. Slow-to-mid-tempo plodding songs in the grunge/riot grrrl kinda vein. This demo was originally released as part of Demo Fest 2020, a fundraiser event which had over 200 demos released on the same day by bands from around the world. I wonder what percentage of them actually made demo tapes of their release.

Dead Finks The Death and Resurrection of Johnathan Cowboy LP

This album is a chameleon unstuck in time. Every time you look at it, it seems to be on a different plane, in a different form. This is all to say that DEAD FINKS continue a welcome tradition of breaking down and rebuilding what actually constitutes music being “punk.” The results of their experimentation takes familiar-enough roads of driving elastic rhythms and ringing guitars to arrive at destinations wholly fresh and new. Tracks like “Reanimation” lock into the head-bobbing groove of contemporaries such as PARQUET COURTS or even more psych-leaning bands such as WAND, but vocally and lyrically stand out as more impassioned and a good deal more present. The duo, Joseph Thomas and Erin Violet, really sound like they give a damn while coming across as no less cool than more detached present-day punk tinkerers. That’s probably what drives the whole project home for me, a wild-eyed emotionality that offsets the mastery of aesthetics and headiness. It’s no wonder, then, that the band finishes with a cover of the FALL’s “Frightened,” reportedly recorded on the eve of Mark E. Smith’s death. DEAD FINKS’ version is a beautiful closer that couldn’t possibly outshine the original but comes damned close.

Desenterradas Danzando En El Caos LP

From beautiful and sunny Palma, in Mallorca, comes a record so dark that it eclipses the vibe of the place from which it comes. Five-piece DESENTERRADAS have been around for ten years and unburied their full-length Danzando en el Caos after the now-mythic tape Sangre Azul. Sung in Spanish for added drama and passion, these ten songs are crafted with highs and lows when it comes to emotional states. A post-punk-infused deathrock mash-up that is sometimes depressive, but there is always a light shining through. They share a bleak quality only found in the records of fellow Spanish post-punk legends DECIMA VICTIMA, but filtered with the energy and spirit of Eduardo Benavente and his phenomenal PARALISIS PERMANENTE. DESENTERRADAS are a great torch carrier for all the darker “Movida” bands. A record for the dark days ahead.

Double Fisted The First Seven Inches EP

Here we have some mostly instrumental punk chugging from a couple of dads, pressed on a 7”. It opens with speedy skate punk and progressively gets slower, tossing out a few cool riffs along the way. On the last track, they finally decide to start singing and it’s some type of spooky theatrical ’90s rock number. It’s an interesting piece of work, but I liked this record title better when SLOPPY SECONDS used it in 1987.

Eddie Mooney & the Grave Lockdown Baby / Working Man 7″

Two songs from this Manchester, UK power pop band. The newest, “Lockdown Baby,” was recorded in 2020. It is a song written by and featuring a guest appearance by non-band member and Still Unbeatable Records owner Malte Buhr. The subject seems a little bit tired in 2021. Yeah, that’s correct. We were in lockdown. How romantic. Maybe in twenty years we’ll look back on it fondly. The tune, however, is catchy with straightforward style. The B-side “Working Man” is a previously unreleased 1979 recording featuring the band’s original lineup. It is a lo-fi, nostalgic ode to the value of hard work. The style is very familiar to the more famous bands of the area, but the ease of performance gives the song a distinct sound. Both songs are a compelling and fun introduction to the band.

Friends of Cesar Romero War Party Favors CD

This is a beautiful combination of (power) pop, punk, and garage rock. Some songs are more pop than punk. Others are more garage and pop. You get where I’m going with this. Mid-tempo, catchy, and super melodic, this is right up my alley. Like it was possibly made just for me. And while it’s easy on the ears, it’s not soft. There are real guitars and real drums. If I know me, fifteen tracks might be pressing my attention span, but this one just keeps on delivering. Snappy Little Numbers continues to impress me.

Grand Collapse Empty Plinths LP

Heavy, intense, and instantly engaging UK hardcore. The guitars dominate this release—heavy mosh metal chugs interrupted by melodic leads that manage to land organically between Euro-crust and mid-’80s Mould. GRAND COLLAPSE is fast, sometimes even sounding like they finished writing a song and consciously decided “that’s cool…faster would be even cooler” (they were right). Empty Plinths is an injection, hard to not feel fucking amped after listening.

Gutterskull Coldness of the Bunker cassette

Croatia’s GUTTERSKULL does grimy, blackened punk powered by raw D-beat banging. On this demo, all fourteen songs have the same beat, most of them are between thirty seconds and one minute long, and they’re all covered with raspy black metal whispers. These songs could be the battle hymns of some bizarre type of evil war witches. Straight sinister depravity. I find the dead drums of the funeral march-style opening to “Final Death Raid” to be a bit addictive, craving them as I sip my morning coffee on the way to work.

Don Howland Endgame LP

Punk-blues solo record from this long-standing member of the BASSHOLES. With one foot in the garage and one in a hazy after-hours bar, this collection of lo-fi creepy crawlers builds and maintains an aura of murder ballad dread and Southern gothic menace. “Half Off” brings to mind the MURDER CITY DEVILS with sinister organ casting a spooky shadow over everything. “Party in Hell” evokes the bluesier moments of DEAD MOON with its repeated vocal melody and lived-in atmosphere. “Sleep in Cars” has a snaky guitar lead that slithered out of a swamp to make a guest appearance on this record. “Thank the CIA” is a sing-along anti-authority blast that calls back to vintage fun-not-funny indie jams like “Take the Skinheads Bowling” or “Gimme Indie Rock.” An interesting stand-out is “How Now (Brown Cow),” a Farfisa-led instrumental that sounds like a slow-dance at a hockey rink. Its unhurried melody, repeating structure and heavy organ tone sounds dark, romantic, and classic. If a greasy, smoky blend of punk rock spirit and blues malaise is your jam, Endgame is worth your time.

Instigators 1993 Demo N Live LP

Giants of UK anarcho-punk in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, and we get to hear a re-release of their last push in the studio and on stage before disbanding after a ’93 European tour. Side A contains the six-song demo with some really catchy tunes—“Never in a Million” almost feels like a BAD BRAINS track, but ya know, not quite as fast; it’s an anthem to the disenchanted and is my favorite of the demo. Side B, a live excerpt from the Huddersfield gig, starts, as Side A does, with “Suckerpunch,” and then delves into older songs, sung entirely with a vocal echo. The echo remains for the rest of the side, so when Tez speaks between songs you hear everything twice, which must have been a little maddening in the crowd, but does well to invoke chaos through the speaker. With so many changes in labels and members (and subsequently styles) over their career, the INSTIGATORS have a history and discography worth the dive down the rabbit hole, and this album is a great display of that career and ultimate progression.

Muro 12.07.19 Bogota cassette

If someone had played me this cassette without mentioning it was a live recording, I would have thought it was a proper studio recording. MURO is such a ferocious live band that they sound just like they do on their records. Recorded live in 2019 at the Festival Asfixia in Bogota, this flawless live set shows why MURO is on the top of the hardcore game worldwide. Relentless, raw, and energetic, they don’t skip a bit and deliver an assault of hardcore punk that puts many studio recordings to shame. If this wasn’t enough to entice you, every copy comes with a “Meat is War” mini-zine and all proceedings of this release will be used to aid those struggling against fascist violence in Colombia. So besides delivering it sonically, MURO also grasps the politics of punk, which is something missing in quite a few bands today, and they wave the flag of justice right in your face. MURO is a force to be reckoned with.

Nubs Job / Banana 7″

If you don’t already have it, here’s another chance at this always-in-style NUBS 7” courtesy of the dependable Munster Records. The escalating nihilism of “Job” remains an especially tasty KBD delicacy. Spot-on punk. On the other side of the record, “Banana” is a song, too.

Road Pig Road Pig demo cassette

Sleazy and nasty hardcore rock’n’roll steams out of the New Jersey sewers. ROAD PIG plays six tracks of boiling punk, and their tunes remind me of the later records of WORLD BURNS TO DEATH. In some parts, the guitar echoes in a slightly post-punk way. Lyrics are especially nihilistic. There are a few breakdowns that don’t wait around too long before driving the song home, very deliberately wrapping it up. The last two songs are the only tracks over two minutes and they both weave a somber tale of this dying “empire” none of us asked for, from a wider point of view to a narrower view finishing off the tape. ROAD PIG plays tightly performed and intelligent punk. A great demo that they clearly put a lot of thought into, from the compositions to the lyrics to the samples.

Smirk EP 12″

It’s only been about six months since the world was treated to the debut LP from this project, but SMIRK—Nick Vicario (PUBLIC EYE, CRISIS MAN) doing the solo recording thing—is back! This time you’re getting an EP’s worth of tightly written, loosely produced pop-speckled punk. The four tracks on the A-side are a nice continuation of what you got from his debut. Rhythmically, these tracks are absolutely locked-in. But the tape warble, garage jangle, and tuneless vocals make it feel as though these songs are otherwise on the verge of falling apart, giving off quite a cool SWELL MAPS vibe—particularly in the Krautrock-y stretch of “Precious Dreams”. The three tracks on the B-side really up the pop factor—“So Original” even throws in enough vocal melody to end up sounding like the MARKED MEN. Overall, this 12” further establishes Nick as a nifty songwriter who warrants your attention in an increasingly crowded landscape of solo recording projects. Initial pressing of the LP is sold out at the source, so grab it if you run across one in the wild! Otherwise, be on the lookout for the upcoming repress.

Soursob Soursob LP

Scottish trio SOURSOB plunks down snarly and gnarly punk gunk on its debut LP. Most of these eight songs are mid-tempo movers, buzzing with fuzz guitars and exuding displeasure with the world as-is. SOURSOB’s screeds about modern life recall GOOD THROB’s stick-in-the-eye punk POV. “Shoegaze” sports a down n’ dirty groove and LOL lyrics, while “Berlin” eviscerates the sheltered, moneyed culture tourists that seem ubiquitous in certain parts of the world. SOURSOB is further proof that bile never goes out of style.

Suburban Resistance Suburban Resistance LP

Snotty, melodic SoCal punk all wrapped up nice and ready for the big stage. Songs about partying (and the dark side of partying) and fierce determination in the face of just trying to fucking get by, from a Vegas outfit (that’s Las Vegas, which is not in Southern California) featuring members from ’80s skate punks the FACTION and ’00s Upstate NY DIY rippers WAR SQUAD. The backing “whoa-ohhh”s aren’t really for me (there are a lot of them), and the lyrics to “Fools” (maybe about getting along in the face of getting called out…?) give me slight pause, but these fellows know exactly what they’re aiming for, and if gruff, catchy adult punk is what you’re after, then you’ve surely found it on the debut from SUBURBAN RESISTANCE.

TV Dust Beep cassette

This tape is entrenched in a childlike post-punk sound. Its angular, somewhat out of focus approach is pulsating with punk grooves. Employing toy drum machines and noisy machines, there’s an element of playful industrial music that gives this tape a really rough feel. Some tracks even dip into electronic, psychedelic sounds, like the sinister “Believe,” which conveys a dark bit of angst. Overall, this is a really unique bit of experimentation, which is really what lo-fi recording is all about.

V/A End of the Corridor: A Compilation of Belgian Cold Wave and Post-Punk 78-84 LP

There’s always room in this house for another compilation highlighting one of post-punk’s most overlooked scenes. End Of The Corridor is a journey through some of the best that Belgium had to offer in the late ’70s and early ’80s. You’ve got some of the more recognizable names (DE BRASSERS, CULTURAL DECAY, SIGLO XX) mixing it up with lesser-known but crucial outfits like STRUGGLER, SUSPECTS, and PROTECTION PLUS. Belgian post-punk tends towards monolithic, bass-heavy grooves that bask in a sort of fatalistic charm. In other words, these are life-affirming odes for the downtrodden. As most of these tracks are unreleased, this is an excellent collection for both the neophyte and those already familiar with the skills of the old Flemish masters.

V/A …So This Is Progress? 004 flexi EP + zine

Short and sweet—five Ohio bands with tracks recorded during Thee Time Ov Covid. TV DRUGS (meaty punk rock), HUMAN LAW (ugly, downtuned drum machine noise/sludge), STALL (vicious hc/grind), LOCKED UP (even more vicious grind), and JACK KNIFE BEAT DOWN (blinding lo-fi thrash punk). Delivered with issue #4 of …So This Is Progress? fanzine.

Blood Ties Make Me Sane EP

There’s no lofty concepts or deep poetry to be found here, friends; just a good old-fashioned ass-kicking courtesy of Vancouver’s BLOOD TIES. Raw and direct in terms of sound and substance, these eleven tracks are laid bare for the tribe to devour. This band does a good amount of heavy stomping on this debut EP, but their meaty hardcore is really at its best in the few moments when they kick into full-blown D-beat mode. This collection of songs feels more like an intro to the band rather than a complete body of work, but they manage to work up quite a sweat during this brief session. By the end of the record, the poor fella doesn’t even know where he is.

Broken Vessels Broken Vessels cassette

Reissue of the band’s demo originally from 2018. BROKEN VESSELS from Santa Ana, CA play fast, catchy, driving hardcore punk that feels rather timeless. I honestly could have probably been convinced that this had been recorded in just about any decade from the 1980s on. There are a lot of cool elements peppered in which make it a bit hard to fully pin down. “Greasy Little Addict” is such a killer song that’s gonna get a lot of play over here.

Collapsed Collapsed LP

COLLAPSED delivers an ugly, stenchy, distorted mass of old school death metal and dirty crust punk. Hailing from Canada, these crusties know how to deliver the goods and play off on the stenchcore tropes very well, without sounding like everyone else. Just the right amount of crust and just the right amount of death metal. After a mid-tempo intro paying homage to AMEBIX and AXEGRINDER, they erupt into sickening crust violence similar to DOOM or HELLSHOCK. The freezing cold solos they added bring a whole new blackened dimension to the savage battlefield landscape they created. A record that will please crusties and death metalheads alike.

Custody / Spells split 7″

Denver label Snappy Little Numbers brings you a split 7” featuring a song apiece from Finnish band CUSTODY and the label owner’s band SPELLS. According to Discogs, the former band features members from NHL 95, CIGARETTE CROSSFIRE, and BAZED, while the latter pulls from MAIL ORDER CHILDREN, DUST HEART, and CHARLIE CONTINENTAL. I’ve never heard of any of those, but they all certainly sound like band names! Anyway, the CUSTODY side starts off promising enough—the first fifteen seconds sound like the band is gearing up to launch into a sick MAN OR ASTRO-MAN? rocker. Then the vocals kick in. Remember back in the mid-to-late ’90s when emo rock bands were trying to make it big by playing music that could slot in nicely next to VERTICAL HORIZON or LIFEHOUSE? No? Well, if you want to get a taste of what that sounded like, give this side a spin. SPELLS deliver on the promise of their name and start their side chanting out “C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-C-E” like the BAY CITY ROLLERS. They then launch into something that sounds an awful lot like early HOT WATER MUSIC trying their hand at posicore. I’m having trouble imagining who this 7” would appeal to.

Dead United Fiend Nö.1 CD

This disc was assigned for review in September, but considering the content I figure it’s better that I waited until closer to Halloween. While the aesthetics don’t fully represent the content, rest assured that some poppy German horrorpunk is in your future with DEAD UNITED. Imagine a poppier AVENGED SEVENFOLD, singing about zombies and fiends and ghouls—it’s tongue-in-cheek (there’s a track called “Aaaahhhhhhh! Some Bees!”), and it’s fun and ghoul-y as shit.

Gel Live! cassette

GEL, a hardcore group hailing from New Jersey, makes some totally bomb-ass punk. This tape isn’t technically a live record, but it was recorded live and has that raw feel to it. Clocking in at about twelve minutes long, there isn’t a moment that lets up. GEL came to fuck shit up, and fuck shit up they do. The band gives a truly primal performance. It’s almost animalistic. There’s not much diversity in the tracks, just a general face-pummeling, brain cell-destroying level of intensity. Fans of fast-paced hardcore will find a lot to love here.

Girls in Synthesis Shift in State 12”

As a follow-up to their debut LP Now Here’s An Echo From Your Future, this mini-album is another GIRLS IN SYNTHESIS release of which the hardcopy is already sold out! Sticking true to super-limited pressings, this UK DIY band delivers with lots of ambient noise and grit—they’re pissed, and you better not get in the way, as in their closer track, “Don’t try!”

Grand Scheme Grand Scheme demo cassette

Fast, short, and pissed-sounding. The vocals remind me of INFEST a bit, although musically it’s a little slower with some two-steppin’ breakdown parts. It’s hard to believe that this is a demo, because it’s super tight. Six songs in all, and it appears that this tape was limited to 100 and is already sold out, but thanks to modern technology, I’m sure it’s not hard to track this down.

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.

Indoctrinate Failbringer cassette

Two doses of downtuned Euro crust/grind, with two bonus doses of the same unforgiving assault from 2014 included as a bonus on the physical version. High/low vocals and erratic metallic song construction all work together to create something not far removed from mid-’90s Per Koro fodder, but with a keener ear towards blistering metalcore and beatdown hardcore. It’s a lot, and Austria’s INDOCTRINATE crams it all in.

Judy and the Jerks Live in NWI cassette

If you are yet unfamiliar with JUDY AND THE JERKS, well then you’ve got some homework to do now, punk! With a killer 7” and a slew of cassette releases under their belt, Hattiesburg, Mississippi’s golden children JUDY AND THE JERKS are truly unstoppable and have been putting Hattiesburg on the punk map for a number of years now. This new cassette is a live show from Hammond, Indiana recorded on January 6, 2020 by “Nervous” Erik Hart. Solid sound quality, a lot of fun, but let’s be honest here, not as fun as seeing the band live.

Kina Se Ho Vinto Se Ho Perso LP reissue

Refreshingly, I don’t know a damn thing about this Italian hardcore band that started in the mid-’80s. This was their fourth LP, and it’s an interesting example of the time period. KINA’s sound sources its inspiration from Washington DC’s world-famous post-hardcore scene; bands like DAG NASTY, SWIZ, and SOULSIDE. The band can still rock pretty hard, but they tend towards melodic guitar lines that complement the earnest vocals. Recalling the HATED, KINA is not afraid of acoustic guitar and other “un-punk” elements. A track like “Cosa Farete” is closer to morose college rock than, say, INDIGESTI, but you can imagine them playing a show together at some thatched-roof squat on an abandoned farm outside of Turin. Interestingly, KINA’s mix of these influences prefigures a band that would become massive on an underground level less than a decade later—AVAIL. There’s a similar anthemic quality that is pretty damn hard to pull off convincingly, but KINA manages.