Grin and Bear It / Musket Hawk / Sidetracked / Ugly split LP

This is a four-way split LP of grindcore punk rock. I don’t mean mincing splatter grind, or trigger-heavy technical grind. Classic thrashing grind, the best kind. I have a few four-way splits and they seemed mostly popular coming from Japan in the ’80s and ’90s. Anyway, this compilation of sorts starts off with MUSKET HAWK (Baltimore)—think GRAVES AT SEA meets POPULATION ZERO. Grinding crust. GRIN AND BEAR IT (Cleveland) plays psychotic grind leaning into powerviolence like DISCORDANCE AXIS meets CHEPANG. SIDETRACKED (Tacoma)—holy shit, this band has extensive releases. I know I was sent their tape Dweller for review. These tracks continue with halting, wild earhole abuse like AGORAPHOBIC NOSEBLEED or CHARLES BRONSON, totally frenzied but denser and tighter than both. UGLY (Prescott) rounds out this day at the beach with echoing gloom-core similar to EYEHATEGOD, DYSTOPIA, or INITIAL STATE, but more to the rhythm of a metropolitan area collapsing. You’re getting a lot of grind/hardcore/PV bang with this well-rounded comp/split. We need more of these, again!

Maxxpower / Sidetracked split EP

Second straight batch with new SIDETRACKED cuts, so I start with the flip so I can keep myself hungry. Wise choice, it turns out—Montreal’s MAXXPOWER are a ruthless wall of speed-picking fastcore, and all I want is more fukkn fast after I hear their five tracks. Thick, meaty, and subtly metallic bursts that hover around the half-minute mark, they’re my introduction to the band and they are absolute killers. Half-a-minute is like a rock opera to SIDETRACKED though; each of the tracks on their side barely top the twenty-second mark. More nasty start/stop powerviolence manipulations from these Washington stalwarts, overall slightly dirtier-sounding than you might be used to (especially the bass), but their digitally-enhanced breaks that make them sound like fastcore robots are on full display. You might think you know, but no one sounds like SIDETRACKED—they’ve taken the formula and manipulated it beyond recognition…this is truly theirs now.

No Comply / Sidetracked split EP

The SIDETRACKED side will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with their erratic start/stop, no time to breathe approach to powerviolence—seventeen tracks in three-and-a-half minutes, taken from different recordings and different sessions, so it sounds even more fucked-up and weird than they normally do. But speaking of old heads, NO COMPLY is still in the game after more than twenty years, and still they sound like they just crawled out of the grooves of a 1994 dollar bin score. Treble-heavy and bass guitar-driven, classic PV in the West Bay tradition—there’s nothing polished here, but there’s a lot that’s pure. This split needed to happen, and it didn’t disappoint.


Sidetracked Dweller cassette

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

Sidetracked Hollowed Out LP

24 tracks, not one of which is longer than a minute? Yeah, it’s a powerviolence record. It’s got that classic west coast style Á  la DESPISE YOU and CROSSED OUT. There’s nothing wildly different about this record compared to the last 200 or so that To Live A Lie has put out, but it does hit pretty hard. The songs, though short, are pretty dynamic, stacking tons of riffs and different styles. Some of the songs sound more punk and driving, like “Turmoil,” while others like “Suffocate” and “None the Wiser” get groovy. What I appreciate about this band is that they really trim the fat: there’s no obnoxiously long heavy parts leading into a four second blastbeat. The breakdowns on this record run an appropriate amount of time, and don’t take away from the fury. Other powerviolence bands: take note!