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.

Ratizzage Ratizzage demo cassette

Grueling, dirgelike, and guttural crust punk from Mexico. The initial rhythmic delivery reminds me of early BRUJERIA splintering out of the speakers with a much more punk angle. Varying vocal pitches harken to DEATHTOLL 40K, COP ON FIRE, or later era ENT. Grisly crust that does not let up on the D-beat and chaotic soloing. I reviewed a demo a couple years ago by PERVITIN from Finland, and this reminds me of that powerful impact. Hopeless, bleak, pulverizing filthcore spanning twenty minutes, from a demo with seven complexly written tracks. RATIZZAGE has groove and gruesomeness. The bass grumbles lower than anything else, like a tank rumbling in the distance, and the vocals scorch. Not sure how easy this will be to find, but it’s one of the better crust demos I’ve heard so far this year. Everything that went into this sonically and visually exceeds that of an average demo tape.

Rotary Club American Tower / Planet 67 7″

Ah, yes, Iron Lung’s famed Systemic Surgery series—a collection of releases we’re all definitely aware of, bound together by a concept so apparent that it needs no explanation here. It’s been a mere three years since they dropped the third installment (of a planned five), so it’s quite a treat to be getting this fourth entrant so soon! Anyway, ROTARY CLUB is a four-piece out of Reno who play telephone-themed punk tunes (the members have names like Hotline, Operator, etc). The Bandcamp copy says they play Killed By Death-style punk, even going so far as to bring up the UNCALLED 4, a mid-’80s Texas act who actually tricked folks (including the compilers of Killed by Death 8 ½) into thinking they had been late-’70s punk obscuros. But I don’t think anyone’s going to be tricked by these folks. That’s not to say this isn’t KBD-ish at all—it’s just not the first thing I would have thought about the band. The production is pretty loose, but it doesn’t feel anywhere near as amateurish as, say, TEDDY AND THE FRAT GIRLS, and these tracks are much more melodic than what I’d expect from the KBD set. To me, this sounds more like a mix of what NOTS has been doing since they shed the amateurism of their early 7”s and some of the tamer tracks from JUDY AND THE JERKS, particularly in their adoption of multi-tracked talk-sung vocals. And when you pair that with awkward lyrics about wires and shit, as they do on “American Tower,” it really starts reminding me of SERVOTRON. “Planet 67” has more of a Dangerhouse vibe and is probably the better of the two tracks. Not a bad release by any means. I just wish I hadn’t read that comparison prior to listening, as it was all I could think about.

Shitty Wizard Shitty Wizard cassette

Self-described Philadelphia party punk. SHITTY WIZARD opens with a GG cover (piece of shit glorified rape for most of his career, so minus ten points—fight me) and careens through eight more high-energy slammers with heavy rock’n’roll vibes. Vocals have an occasional Rev Summer tinge that genuinely sets SHITTY WIZARD apart from the dirt rock set. There’s something here, for sure.

Sludgeworth Losers of the Year LP reissue

Here we have a reissue of an already posthumous compilation album from a SCREECHING WEASEL-affiliated band that predicted the ’90s Midwest pop punk that would eventually birth that weird, crooning dude-sweat style that VFW hall punk bands did in the late ’90s/early ’00s. It is both a time capsule and something that the Riot Fest crowd would freak out about if it was recorded and released today. It feels like the hype around the original couple GASLIGHT ANTHEM releases, when they were maybe the new saviors of Americana punk or something. There’s just something here that’s tangible and timeless that sticks with you. The fact that there’s still enough warranted interest in this release 30 years after the band broke up (and almost 28 years after this was originally released on Lookout!) is testament to how perfectly this collection captures a feeling that many of us want to experience over and over. It’s also one of a million examples of the second track on an album always being awesome, with “Someday,” originally from their only LP, What’s This?, taking that spot here.

Strange Attractor Good Boy Bad Boy LP

Drunken Sailor’s track record of killer material continues to burn the forward path. STRANGE ATTRACTOR brings the snotty fringe from the far-flung corners of Sadbury, hard rock (mining) capital of the world. Admittedly, Good Boy Bad Boy took a few listens for me to glom onto, but after letting this one settle in, I’m a believer. The whole record skips through eighteen tracks in under seventeen minutes of jaded and despondent garage punk. These people are devotees of the school of ANGRY SAMOANS, with a bit of Finish Your Popcorn-era F.Y.P. Call me crazy, but I am picking up on a little PERE UBU? Now go on tour.

Tetnis Moving Quickly to Prevent a Hater From Detonating the Vest cassette

Incredibly catchy, pretty garage pop from Columbus, OH. TETNIS has been around releasing music regularly since 2018. Some of the songs on this tape are rather middle-of-the-road, rock-en-general sounding, but there are more than a few cool, driving tunes to make up for that. It’s like an indie pop bastard sibling of the MARKED MEN or something. A bit slower and wimpier, but catchy all the same.

Visitors From Hell Bon Appetit! CD

Six-track effort from this self-described “punk and roll” quartet from Warsaw (that’s in Poland, apparently). They remind me a lot of the driving metallic hardcore of STRAW DOGS, without the guitar solos. I guess early MOTÖRHEAD would be the obvious gold star. I’ve always been partial to this particular style, and they do it well.

Waste The Next Century is Almost Over EP

Dutch hardcore types wind back the years with a remontada release a mere 40 years after their debut, which is a level of lackadaisicalness to which one can only tip your bonnet. The tunes sound broadly how you would expect a band who made their debut in ‘82 would sound. A nice nostalgia trip around the musical tropes of the time—a dash of anarcho here, a pinch of Oi! there. A real Bombay mix of second-wave punk and a pleasant enough way to spend your time, but if they waited another 40 years for a release, I wouldn’t exactly be calling for them to pull their finger out.

Weak A Guide to Adult Despair LP

This band should be on Fat. Like seriously. I’m not even joking. Why are they not already? Somebody send this to the right people, and if this “review” is the catalyst of that actually happening, I’d like a finders fee. Thank you.

Zealot Zealot demo cassette

From Houston, Texas, we are delivered this graceful debut of metallic crust punk. Five tracks in under sixteen minutes of stench metal punk, filled with sludgy cadences, sick guitars with a ball-of-noise sound, and anger-filled, pain-induced vocals with a cathartic cadence releasing all, plus heavy drums that often take the speedway before leaving a spree of chaos behind them and with you. Raw energy contained and let loose at different paces, with great palm-muting and riffy strings. Suggested track: “…And How Did We Get Here?” for seekers of crust punk sounds of a more metallic nature.

V/A If, When & With Whom cassette

Great compilation for a great cause, with all proceeds benefiting the National Network of Abortion Funds. Wide range of genres here, spanning ’90s alternative radio worship to West Coast garage rock to lo-fi bedroom pop. Hell, there are even a couple vaporwave-fused synth-funk tracks as well. There’s something for everyone here. Heavily recommended release, both for the music and the mission. At this point, all we can do is look out for each other and help wherever we can.

Antigen / Socialstyrelsen A Sense of Dread split LP

Phobia Records from the Czech Republic won’t stop delivering crust punk D-beat bands. On these eleven tracks in under 25 minutes, we encounter ANTIGEN and SOCIAL STYRELSEN. ANTIGEN offers four tracks led by a crust-cut female voice pitching high choruses, filled with desperate feeling along with a painful screaming. Solid crust punk with hardcore drums, pretty much all straightforward. SOCIALSTYRELSEN blasts crunchy D-beat crust punk with demonic high vocals, guitars like non-stop chainsaws, and ranting drums. A chaos sound from another era with modern nods. The Swedish language hits hard, with such suffering-infused voices fueled by violence. Suggested tracks: “Knivad” and “Hata Mig.”

The Brokedowns Maximum Khaki LP

I relentlessly wished every nearby human who would listen a “Happy Kony 2013” (and 2014, 2015, and so on) every New Year’s Day for almost a whole decade and did not get tired of that incredibly stupid joke. I am therefore very happy to see “Kony 2022” as a track title on the new BROKEDOWNS album. This is a collection of fourteen straight-ahead punk music moments, most under ninety seconds each, with tongues shoved into cheeks and maybe other places. A prime example of what’s being presented here is the EXPLOITED sequel no one asked for, “UK82 Pt. 2: The Olds Are Not Alright.” If you’re slowly finding yourself past your physical peak at shows lately, “I’m Sore” is the new anthem the crowd that stands in the back now has been waiting for. It also serves as a rad showcase for the guitar section. If you find comfort in the awkwardly warm embrace of Midwest punk à la DILLINGER FOUR or the LAWRENCE ARMS with just a smidge of GOOD RIDDANCE thrown in, there are a few fun little ditties for you on this album. You also can’t be mad about the option to get in on the mature and business-like khaki-colored vinyl.

Bug Central And the Fires Began 10″

Gargling bass starts what quickly presents itself as classic UK anarcho-punk. Sort of reminding me of SPITE, or RIOT/CLONE with a KILLING JOKE rhythm to it. Abrasive while equally encompassing a tide of UK82 and some crust influence, BUG CENTRAL hits a SUBHUMANS groove at times as well. This is dancey and slamming. Boots and bristles with a darker veneer. This is clearly composed by maestros from decades of UK punk rock. “Another Vegan Hipster” is cracking me up. BUG CENTRAL pulls no punches, but packs a catchy wallop. SUICIDAL SUPERMARKET TROLLEYS, PIL, RESTARTS, POLICE BASTARD…it has a lot going on. I want to see this band play with PI$$ER. I wish this was the direction ANTISECT went in. This album is earnest and smart. The title track kind of recalls early ENT with more discernible vocals. BUG CENTRAL is gloomy and bright. The cover art is a full-color British street scene, if you mixed CRASS graphic design with Zdzisław Beksiński. Check this out.

Cataphiles Cataphiles LP

A very dark cloud was above Bremen when goth punks CATAPHILES wrote their debut self-titled LP—a quick listen to it is all it takes to prove that punk with goth leanings is still alive and well. The same energy and melancholy can be found on records by the CURE and CHRISTIAN DEATH, who are obvious references but fitting ones. A punkier edge to deathrock and goth did no harm to their sound and elevated it into new sonic spaces, as did the dual male/female vocals and usage of keyboards for gloomier purposes. CATAPHILES will surely stand out in the goth punk scene.

Celebrity Handshake Final Education LP

Attention, weirdos. Portland, Maine’s CELEBRITY HANDSHAKE has released the newest in a long line of shattered, no-fi blues-noise records. Read their other MRR reviews to see how divisive this band can be (and it’s not hard to hear why) with their room-clearing take on art-punk. They sound like a blues band falling down the stairs, every player clinging on to their last strangled pattern. The vocalist is the grouch behind you in line who talks to himself about how long everything takes these days, and how back in his day, kids had respect, etc. Imagine the energy of HARRY PUSSY mixed with U.S. MAPLE mixed with your uncle, and you get the idea. That’s not to say it’s terrible (well, it is terrible, but I think that’s the point); the spoken non-sequitur lyrics like “A dictator without a mustache? / That’s no dictator” and “Take your lunch to work / Flush it down the toilet / You can eat next week / Blame it on the cigarette snake,” sputtered out against the band all trying to solo at the same time, is interesting. If you’re into heavy skronk, check it out. If you like it, you’re in for a treat, because they have released a whole bunch of this stuff.

Cotärd Delirio EP

I have to say, I did not have a clue about either Cotard’s syndrome (some sort of neuropsychiatric condition involving the delusional fear of losing limbs, something like that) nor CÖTARD, the band, before this review. Needless to say that I much prefer the latter, as the aforementioned syndrome did frighten me quite a bit after reading about it online and I spent the night checking whether my limbs were still in place…but then, that is generally what happens when I Google medical conditions (I once thought I had caught the bubonic plague). Let’s stick to punk, shall we? CÖTARD is from San Luis de Potosi in Mexico and Delirio is their first proper vinyl output after two tapes and one CD. The umlaut on the “’o” does suggest that they are not insensitive to Scandinavian music, which does not exactly come as a surprise, since they play relentless, gruff, and hairy crustcore. This is exactly the sort of band that makes me wonder why and how I had not heard of them before, as they are right up my street (figuratively speaking, I looked and they are not actually up the street, sadly). On the bright side, it is very pleasant to be surprised. CÖTARD plays absolutely crushing Scandicrust with hoarse, desperate-sounding vocals in Spanish. I suppose the comparison with a metal-free NAPALM RAID makes sense, as they do share a similar unrelenting fury, not unlike Portland’s DÖDLAGE, either. If you need a more poetic image, let’s say the band sounds like a blown-out version of classic Swedish crustcore, like an electrocuted 3-WAY CUM or SKITSYSTEM, or maybe like SVAVELDIOXID covering DISRUPT while being chased by starving hyenas wearing sunglasses. This is Scandicrust at its most intense—the recipe is classic but the dish, well-executed, is perfect. This EP is a significant improvement upon their previous works and hopefully it will find its way to Europe (to be more accurate, in my mailbox).

Damak Crisis of Faith cassette

A wild ride of a debut full-length release by this trio from Austin, TX. Not the style I initially expected, seeing as it was released by the label that put out the newest records by LIQUIDS and ERIK NERVOUS. DAMAK does their own thing, a jangly, driving, poppy take on modern post-punk. Really catchy songs, beautiful instrumental interludes, unconventional rock instruments like flute, cello, and autoharp peppered through the recording—this is sure to get quite a few more plays on my stereo. Very much looking forward to what DAMAK does next.

En Love Fled EP

Brutal powerviolence from Columbus, OH’s EN LOVE. Clocking in at under ten minutes, the Fled EP is a mosh classic. In what seems to be specifically crafted for the pit, this slab flows perfectly for anyone who is looking to dance their ass off. The EP kicks in slow and low, but immediately jumps into the action. No guitar solos, drums set deep into the pocket, just one homogeneous pile of fervent intensity. Very reminiscent of CLOUD RAT and other modern PV bands. I don’t know if this was on purpose, but the drums are blown out like crazy and it adds so much depth and vigor to an already massive recording. Good stuff here, recommended to anyone who loves newer grind.

Feral / Judy and the Jerks Free Violence split cassette

I’m assuming everyone’s familiar with JUDY AND THE JERKS at this point. They’ve been around since 2017, making a blend of deliriously infectious hardcore that’s somehow both a straight homage to classic American scenes and distinctly contemporary. If it weren’t for them and Earth Girl (the label putting out this cassette), I doubt anyone would think of Hattiesburg, MS as being a punk town (it’s still wild to me how fertile that scene seems to be). Their side of this split is more of what you’ve come to expect from this act. That being said, the production here is much crunchier and more immediate than anything I’ve heard on their past releases. So, these five mainly sub-one-minute rippers really pack a wallop. FERAL shares 50% of its members with JUDY AND THE JERKS, who’re also maybe Atlanta-based now, so it’s not surprising that their side bears a lot in common with JUDY AND THE JERKS’ sound. But FERAL is a little less straightforward. The guitar and vocals on these four tracks are often bathed in effects that give their sound more of a psychedelic sheen. Reminds me a bit of the weird hardcore we got in the early 2010s from acts like GUTTER GODS. Both sides are great—definitely worth your time!

Ghidrah Invincible Deluxe LP reissue

Blessing GHIDRAH’s ’96 CD with a vinyl release, this record commemorates the 25th anniversary of the veteran New Zealand band’s debut. With a sharp new remastering courtesy of Dead Air Studios, this slab showcases 21 blasts of rowdy hardcore that are punctuated by random TV, movie, and video game sound bites. That structure was typical for powerviolence albums in the 1990s, and while the music here touches on that style with a few healthy blastbeats, there are other flavors at play that are hard to ignore. This is more of a primal and expressive sort of chaos in the vein of SUN CHILDREN SUN, complete with a good bit of brass cacophony. It’s a heavy, heavy racket that goes into a range of moods. There’s also a baked-in sense of strangeness that makes me think of the BUTTHOLE SURFERS, and the song “Can’t Undo” with its yearning indie melody and spoken-word overlays reminded me of the closing “Tugena” on the DEAD MILKMEN’s Big Lizard LP. An unlikely stew, but it’s a raw and original document that deserves the celebration.

Haren Demo 2022 cassette

HAREN is a three-piece band from Murcia, Spain, and their demo tape is (also) released by Educacion Cíncia from Buenos Aires. A quick note on current tape labels such as Educacion Cíncia: they keep punk fresh. It is impossible to keep up with how many random bands there are with streamable records, yet for those whom a physical release is still important, tape labels have become more handy than ever. It gets better when they are focused on a local scene and function as a platform for the bands to show off. Tapes are cheap and small, ship easily, still look alright and allow a lot of mastering bullshit. What better format, right? I also dig the fanzine-esque promo that is written by the label of this release. But back to HAREN: They play street punk/Oi!, but uptempo and with enough dirt that it swings into the UK82 sound with a significant amount of melodies. Don’t expect blazing energy, it’s much more rudimentary and therefore predictable. But how many variations are there for power chords? While the songs do not offer anything extraordinary, HAREN does not slip into becoming background music. There is an elusive determination behind their playing that demands attention and feeds their simple melodies to my brain. It’s capital-letter punk music—if you played it for a mohawk owner, they would start to move. The guitars play dense-to-bouncy and mid-tempo, and the vocals add a bit of a hymn-like feel to each track. This is a decent tape, proving that punk is still accessible and showing how putting yourself into your music can improve your songs no matter how simple they are.

Home Front Games of Power LP

Upon the release of their 2021 EP Think of the Lie, Edmonton, Canada’s HOME FRONT brought something new to the table in an already diverse modern punk scene: a new wave sound drenched in catchy synth and nods to some of the ’80s greatest. Masterminds Graeme Mackinnon and Clint Frazier delivered songs with hooks that could go toe-to-toe with nearly any one-hit wonder of the era. It comes as no surprise, then, that with their debut LP Games of Power, HOME FRONT has pulled out all of the stops and it pays off in spades. This is a lovingly crafted album full of wall-to-wall hits that not only continues the trajectory HOME FRONT set out on with their debut, but takes it to soaring heights, incorporating nearly every benchmark of the new wave and post-punk eras. Opener “Faded State” and second track “Real Eyes” were wisely the first two tracks available before the album dropped, and give a good idea of where things are heading, but even the perfect pop sparkle of the former and the propulsive post-punk grit of the latter cannot prepare the listener for what’s ahead. Track three (“Nation”) is an Oi!-infused family affair, featuring vocals from Cal of the CHISEL as well as members of RIXE on backing vocal duties. Typically the word “anthemic” feels overused and trite, but here it fits quite nicely. Stuffed to the brim with icy synths and righteous indignation, this one will do well with a live crowd. Highlights elsewhere include “Contact,” a euphoric ode to the end of the world that shimmers like a NEW ORDER single at the end of a John Hughes film, “Crisis,” a Krautrock-y second spin down KRAFTWERK’s Autobahn, and the album’s crown jewel, title track “Games of Power.” It’s a dazzling, beat-laden groove straight out of the Haçienda during peak Madchester. Rarely does a song get an immediate second spin from me, but this one demands it. It cannot be understated: HOME FRONT’s songwriting is superb. They have a sound that is familiar and authentic without teetering into parody, only tasteful homage. Both Ian Curtis and Alan Vega receive heartfelt love letters via “End Transmission” and “Born Killer,” respectively. Both are so deftly put together that you can easily forget it isn’t JOY DIVISION or SUICIDE playing from the speaker. Therein lies the beauty of Games of Power: it lovingly celebrates a genre while pushing it forward into a modern age. HOME FRONT is no throwback, they are the future.

Komplex Viny Suita Pro Nové Konce EP

KOMPLEX VINY is a band from the Czech Republic that plays some killer crust punk tunes. The powerful vocals are backed with furious but complex riffs and smashing drums. This is one of those 7″ records you can spend hours listening to over and over again. Each song is unique, so KOMPLEX VINY avoids the trap of writing songs that all sound somewhat similar, and the sound is something totally exclusive to these rockers. If I had to compare KOMPLEX VINY to other sounds, I’d hazard to say it’s all of the best global crust noises distilled into a palatable but commanding recording. There are familiar riffs and fills, but KOMPLEX VINY also manages to reshuffle certain elements to create a very refreshing presentation. The song “Dno za Dnem” even manages to fit a bit of Oi! into it without going full gang vocals. Overall, I highly recommend this one!

LDMA / The Seeker split EP

France versus Italy, in a ring called powerviolence. LMDA delivers a brutal ham-slapping of vicious modern powerviolence almost stepping into grindcore territory, complete with all the tropes of the genre: movie samples, INFEST vocals, start/stop motions, everything one can expect. The SEEKER takes a more chaotic approach but also goes heavy on the trope usage. Powerviolence the way it’s supposed to be, rooted in hardcore punk, not just breakdowns followed by blasts.

Machiavellian Art Indoctrination Sounds LP

From the midriff of England, MACHIAVELLIAN ART resembles FLIPPER and TODD trapped in outer space, with their faces rapidly purpling and someone’s voice box changing so he sounds like he’s fronting some HOAX kinda mysterious hardcore band. Must be tons of reverb up there too, because you can’t make out much of what Benjamin Thomas is hollering about, but you hear most of it several times over. Indoctrination Sounds, arriving nearly four years after the band’s sole previous release (a six-song tape, which you get with the digital version of this LP), is nasty noise rock with sax and freeform jam segments, but also—because you may have heard music which answers to that description before—a stamp of individuality. Goth basslines and black metal guitar tones lurk, then reach out to grab your ankle, and the title track almost ends up in RIGOROUS INSTITUTION territory. There’s some SNOB and VILE SECT folks in the band, and I have no idea if that’ll push you into investigating (though it should) or makes for especially helpful sonic pointers, but whatever leads you to this release is good by me.

Night Vision The After LP

The musical “Intro” of this release sounds like the opening credits for the cheesiest ’80s slasher film, and then the thrash starts. This French band clearly loves the ’80s, because of the occasional samples and weird synth interludes between tracks. They vacillate between hardcore and thrash effortlessly. “Shower,” in particular, is reminiscent of early SUICIDAL TENDENCIES. Other tracks feel more like D.R.I. and fellow Europeans CRIPPLED FOX. Lots of great thrash coming out of Europe lately. Every track is tight, fast, and  clocks in under two minutes, perfect to skate or slam to.

Psychrophore Why Should We Care? LP

Melodic punk from this Lille, France band that really doesn’t do it for me. The band is tight enough, as mostly uninspired three-chord punk goes, but the vocals are distracting, and the lyrics are sincere and simplistic to the point of amateurishness. Imagine a husky-voiced, femme Axl Rose fronting TILT. The vocal delivery is just not a fit. The lyrics rhyme so precisely that I stopped reading them out of secondhand embarrassment. For example: “There was this boy / He wasn’t interested in school / He didn’t care about what was deemed cool / He didn’t mind being taken for a fool / All he wanted was to play music on his stool.” That’s some rough-draft songwriting there. I will say that the tracks were self-recorded, and the production sounds great; nice and thick. But this is something I will not listen to again.

Pus Pus II LP

A dark Peruvian chamber under a tomb is where we descend with this LP. Raw, distorted, fast-paced, dark blackened hardcore punk that will drive you mad. You can tell they are looking toward chaos and blackened deathrock and punk. A hellish voice echoing from an abyss, chanting deep, desperate screams in a gloomy hardcore atmosphere. Heavily recommend seeing the band live, tearing everything apart. Savage, dark realms from the grave from one of the Latin American bands that has managed to synthesize their own true sound of deathrock and blackened punk. Suggested tracks: “Fosa Común,” “Danza Sombría,” and “Noche.” One of my current projects (EMBOSCADA) did a split with these crazy people, and we are now cursed. A modern must-listen for MOROI and NOSFERATU followers, and seekers of darker sounds in hardcore punk.

Rabid Delusion Rabid Delusion demo cassette

This shit sounds so unbelievably wild, I don’t even know where to start. Blown-out hardcore with ramshackle crust vibes that are masked by the absolutely bombastic recording. I’m not even sure if there’s a guitar (except for the solos), the bass sounds like…I don’t fukkn know man, but not a normal bass…and the vocals land somewhere between GRUMPIES and NAUSEA. Total sonic overload is exactly what DIY punk needs and that’s exactly what Ohio’s RABID DELUSION delivers. Really want to hear where this band goes next.

Rekäl Part One cassette

I’m speechless, a little confused, though I’m surely smiling; let me explain…any fans of ’50s sci-fi paperbacks and sludge metal? Look no further than Providence, Rhode Island’s REKÄL, who have pulled every lyric from Philip K. Dick’s “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” short story, and put it to mid-tempo, greasy, and distorted sludge punk (though it sounds pretty metal to me). I can’t say this will be hailed as a favorite of mine, but as someone who does enjoy the ’50s sci-fi thing, filled with stories of Martian expeditions, rayguns, and people getting left in space, I like what’s happening on this cassette. Liner notes read “all music by E. J. Dick”—a coincidence? A dramatic name change? A relation? Color me curious. Part Two coming soon.

Restos Fósiles Transparente LP

Slick, catchy, melodic emo punk from Buenos Aires that immediately reminded me a little of TUESDAY or something of that ilk. A bit more clean and pretty than I prefer, but there’s something about this that makes me want to listen more. I can’t tell if it’s because I slightly enjoy it, or if it’s because it reminds me of something specific and it’s bothering me that I can’t figure it out.

Sarin Reaper Sarin Reaper demo cassette

Four tracks of unhinged-sounding D-beat with a little of the wailing vocals and guitar I associate with crust and black metal. The band places the emphasis on delivery with the instruments melting into a wave of feedback and fuzz. The song titles and lyrics reference an infamous sexual assailant and anti-Jewish violence. In general, I dislike when bands flirt with this kind of imagery in such a morally ambiguous way.

Sørdïd Sørdïd demo cassette

From 2011–2013, I spent an exorbitant amount of time going to NYC gigs that featured offensively raw hardcore punk. Bands like BORTGANG, ZATSUON, and PERDITION were an average night out, so to say I like SØRDÏD would be a total understatement. This demo sounds and feels like a subway train disaster, which is exactly how I’d expect it and want it. The guitar has that sound of having dumped a bowl of Rice Krispies and angry locusts into the monitors, while the rhythm section keeps the entire project from thrashing itself apart with heavy bass delivery and annihilating beats. The opening track “Blankhead” features a guitar solo that is relatively clean, but also incredibly grimy. The final track of this demo, “Idle Hope,” closes with a sound sample that could easily be ripped from a CRAZY SPIRIT track, and puts a heavy exclamation point on the statement SØRDÏD makes with this demo.

Speed Plans Statues of God LP

It’s always cool when bands can go super old-school without sounding like a wishy-washy imitation, and Pittsburgh’s mighty SPEED PLANS hit that description right on the noggin with whiplash-inducing results. These sixteen tornados of meaty hardcore are strewn with restless guitars and captured with a basement sound that makes this killer LP worthy of a spot right behind your favorite O.G. ’80s records. Commanding tracks like “Jesus Christ” and “Make Them Watch” are an instant win, and this type of authentic fury only gets better with every spin.

Swab Big City LP

Melbourne is a hot hub of hardcore punk nowadays—SWAB and their label, Hardcore Victim, are living proof of it. The band has just released their first album after a demo and an EP. Their latest work is a really fun record: thirteen songs in fifteen minutes of straightforward, direct, abrasive punk with no pretensions, artistic approaches, or pseudo-metaphysical lyrics. What could you expect of songs like “Hippies Still Exist (And I Hate Them),” “Pills in My Mouth,” or “A Real Punk”? They sound like a kid erupting in a childish tantrum, urgent but carefree, with a sloppy vibe but precise execution. No bullshit, just quality hardcore punk.

Why Bother? There are Such Things cassette

The latest in a slew of releases by Mason City, Iowa’s WHY BOTHER?, There Are Such Things is a cassette collection of songs from previous small-batch cassette/lathe releases, as well as five new tracks specific to this tape. The A-side, filled with the more straightforward new songs, is the beauty of this tape to me, with the B-side getting a little too artsy/avant-garde for this knucklehead’s tastes. All in all, it’s a very cool collection and shows the versatility of this somewhat uncategorizable band. They continue to toe the intersection of post-punk, synth punk, garage rock, art-punk, and whatever other sub-genres you care to throw at them. Dare I say, WHY BOTHER? trying to categorize them? An incredibly interesting and prolific modern band that deserves your attention. Hop to it and give this a listen!

Zone Infinie Atomisés LP

What a pleasant surprise; I’m so glad ZONE INFINIE came into my orbit. Having not heard them before, I was expecting more of an icy post-punk style like fellow Frenchmen BLEAKNESS or SYNDROME 81. Instead, it sounds like a mix of the CLASH and the JAM with a sprinkle of CAMERA SILENS for good measure. I mean seriously, the singer sounds like Strummer or Weller, depending on the song. Checkout the final track “En Plan,” with one of the best hooks I’ve heard in a minute, accompanied by girl group handclaps and clean and crisp guitar leads. Excellent stuff.

V/A Between the Coasts cassette

Heck yeah, this tape shreds! As you might guess from the title, Between the Coasts is a compilation of bands from the Midwest area of the ol’ US of A. Just when it seems like the big-city bands get all the glory, a release like this pops up to remind us that hardcore punk is alive and thriving in less obvious places. Featuring twelve bands contributing a single track each, this comp is chock full of stone-cold rippers. Highlights include vital cuts from RABIES BB, BIG LAUGH, WEAK PULSE, and ZHOOP. There’s a smattering of more eclectic numbers to keep things fresh, but front to back, there ain’t a dull moment to be found. Do yourself a favor and check this one out. 

Ättestor / Zero Again The Ä to Z of Ignorance, Indifference and Apathy EP

Brighton’s ÄTTESTOR made me feel anxious from the start—self-described ADHD-beat punks deliver straight-for-the-throat hardcore punk with a decidedly erratic bent that will make you clench your fists unconsciously. On the flip, ZERO AGAIN from Bristol goes heavier, goes darker, and paints a bleak sonic picture over their two tracks. The chorus riff in “Damaged Goods” is a should-be classic, and the entire song seems to set the tone for the unleashing of fury that fills the final 30 seconds. Not only is there no filler on this split, there’s barely time to take a fukkn breath.

Be All End All A Further Life flexi EP

This four-song flexi EP is the newest release from Florida’s BE ALL END ALL. This release goes in hard and unrelenting, a mix of whirlwind fastcore and bludgeoning heavy hardcore—a mix that proves to be very potent, with roaring, hoarse shouting on top of the chaos, along with some guttural death growling in spots as well. An incredibly vicious and abrasive release that comes highly recommended.

Bulbulators Nie Nie Nie LP

Long-running Polish label Enigmatic is back on the scene after a fourteen-year hiatus from 2005 to 2019. Curiously, they chose to resurrect the BULBULATORS’ second full-length album from 2002, and reissue it on vinyl. Free of any nostalgic ties to this release, I struggle to get my head around why this needed to be dredged back up. That said, after a few spins, I admit that some of the songs have started to grow on me. There is a certain charm to the way they blatantly ape first-wave punk like the VIBRATORS or RAMONES. And while the BULBULATORS don’t actually sound much like either of those bands, it is clear that they genuinely embraced the spirit of ’77. I have a feeling that this album may, for some, inspire a glue-sniffin’ trip down the gutter of memory lane. For my part, I’ll stick with my worn-out copy of Pure Mania.

Cinderblock Breathe the Fire LP

CINDERBLOCK was an early ’90s hardcore band from Buffalo, NY whose members would go on to bands like EARTH CRISIS, SNAPCASE, TERROR, etc. Unlike the more metallic sounds of those bands, this collection of songs is much more melodic-leaning. These songs were originally written back in the early ’90s but recorded fairly recently, giving a fresh outlook to a throwback sound. I find myself going back for repeated listens, although I could see this not appealing to everyone.

Crime of Passing 2017–2020 cassette

Welcome to the synth/noise-laden post-punk world of CRIME OF PASSING; a combination of members from the DRIN and the SERFS. Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, CRIME OF PASSING occasionally calls to mind fellow Ohioan MY DEAD IS DEAD. The amount of synth packed into this cassette is deep: drone tones, electronic drums, and harmonious keyboard runs. The song “Eleventh Hour” manages to squeeze in some saxophone, which only encourages the feeling of bummed-out gloom. “Dancing Prick” has a very CURE-ish riff and vocal delivery, if you’re into that. Towards the end of the cassette, “Don’t Turn” kicks off with a lo-fi drum machine beat that initially reminded me of HE SAID, but when the vocals kick in, it’s an ireful delivery more reminiscent of SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES. If you’re a fan of dark-spectrumed post-punk with a barrage of electronic instruments, then I highly recommend this cassette.

Crüel Night / Disdain Alászállás split LP

A filthy, filthy split coming from Hungary with two bleak bands. CRÜEL NIGHT opens hostilities with a B-movie-esque intro to set a dystopic tone for this split effort. Their side tells a story of suicide, so a heavy, hard-hitting, darkened crust approach ridden with blastbeats was taken. The interludes that live between the songs evolve into a more industrial space and even touch on dungeon synth. DISDAIN goes for a more raw approach, following the legacy of English crust like EXTREME NOISE TERROR or DOOM. The interlude usage continues on their side as well, painting another picture of horror and giving this split a narrative to follow.

Dead Low Not for Sale EP

Four blasts of mid-paced street rock’n’roll with a melodic undercurrent. Did this band time travel from the ’90s? It’s like they were drinking at a pub with the WRETCHED ONES and fell into a wormhole that dumped them out onto a grimy modern-day Massachusetts sidewalk. One thing’s for sure, DEAD LOW won’t be accused of breaking new ground. The guitarist’s flirtation with metal is a trifle unnerving and the production is overwrought, but they do pack a punch with solid musicianship and anthemic shout-along choruses. If you ever felt like the TEMPLARS were too stripped-down, this might be worth a spin.

End Forest E.N.D. LP

I like a record that demands a dedicated listen, and E.N.D. does exactly that. A project featuring more than 20 artists, END FOREST creates crushing, sample-drenched soundscapes and patiently delivers meticulously crafted otherworldly hardcore. NEUROSIS and SWANS influences are evident (MORNE and THEMA ELEVEN, as well), but hear the horns on “Ulsce Dudh” and know you’re listening to something entirely different. As a project and a concept, END FOREST is commanding…but as an album? Fucking spiritual.

Fatal Wound Fatal Wound demo cassette

Mean-as-fuck brutal hardcore that rules. If you like CITY HUNTER, or GAOLED’s excellent demo from last year, get on this. Most of the tracks are blistering fast punk with distorted bass and full-throated roaring vocals. There are enough dynamic shifts to keep it fresh, like the occasional thrashy divebomb solos and the creepy-crawl pummeling of “Senseless Slaughter.” In addition to some of the metallic guitarwork, FATAL WOUND takes some underground metal cues with the grim artwork and hard-ass photocopied Gothic font on the back. Check out the track names: “Pathetic Worm,” “Merciless Despair,” and the best, “Skinned for Sport.” Fuckin’ “Skinned for Sport.” What a stone-cold Grim Reaper title! If you are having a bad day, give it power and make it terrible with this absolute ripper of a demo.

Final Dose World Prisoner / Void Inside flexi 7″

World Prisoner feels like a final scream, an agonic yell from a post-apocalyptic, dying world. The guitars form a devastating wall of sound that kind of numbs you, like a steamroller rolling over you. I think they’ve listened to a lot of LEBENDEN TOTEN, because FINAL DOSE has some of that anguished anger in their music too, which they like to call “blackened hardcore.” I can’t really understand the second track, an electronic elevator song that doesn’t really do much for me. An interesting band to keep on your radar.

Greyhound Scorched Earth cassette

Is it hard for anyone else out there to relax? With the doomy vibes weighing heavy in all the same ways (climate in crisis, bloated military spending, killer cops, bigotry and violence), it takes a lot to get me to take a deep breath of relief. But that’s exactly what I got out of this stunning full-length of crisp, ripping hardcore from this Oakland group. There’s a distinct Bay Area grit to these eleven cuts, captured perfectly in the band’s rehearsal space and mixed/mastered/released by themselves. It hits hard as nails—there’s heft in the low end and clarity in the guitars, something other home recorders could take some notes on. On top of that, the songs bleed with passion and cut through the crowded HC landscape with ingenious guitar work that consistently caught me off guard. On top of all that, all the band’s proceeds (including T-shirt sales) go toward G.L.I.T.S., so while the world may be a miserable place, GREYHOUND is out there doing the good work. Real deal.