Reviews

Bobby Cole

Ivy Creep Demo 24 cassette

Richmond, Virginia has had so many awesome hardcore bands emerging out of there, especially very recently, and IVY CREEP is no exception. This is pounding, evil hardcore to get your fists and veins pumping ferociously. The howling vocals are buried under an avalanche of aggression from the musicians to great effect. 11 PM always puts out winners it seems, and I’m happy to report that IVY CREEP makes the grade with the rest of them. Crank it!

Closedown IV EP

The aptly-titled fourth EP from San Diego’s CLOSEDOWN. Mid-paced, stompy hardcore with growly, aggro vocals and misanthropic lyrics—you know the type. It’s definitely competent, it’s certainly not bad, but these bands kinda come a dime a dozen these days it seems. Not a bad listen or anything, you just won’t really be missing anything in your life by side-stepping this one. Also contains a pretty neat STIFF LITTLE FINGERS cover.

Black Uniforms Straight Edge My Ass… CD

BLACK UNIFORMS were a Swedish hardcore band during the golden age of such music. With members serving time in MODERAT LIKVIDATION, the BRISTLES, and later in ANTI-CIMEX and DRILLER KILLER, BLACK UNIFORMS seem to have been a bit overlooked in comparison, but this rips. This particular release is a compilation of records from 1986–1990. This is pure, thrashing hardcore with lots of metal influence—even down to the acoustic intros and stuff! Reminds me a lot of F.O.A.D./Trader in Death-era BROKEN BONES at times. Holds up really well in my opinion. Definitely worth a shot if you like your hardcore with a healthy slathering of thrash metal bombast.

Minor Threat Out of Step Outtakes EP

Oh boy! When I heard about this release, I was beyond excited, and rightfully so. Who knew that MINOR THREAT—who obviously need no introduction—had any more unreleased material? Well, these recently rediscovered session outtakes from the landmark Out of Step EP answer that question (…motherfuckers!). Having recently expanded from a quartet to a quintet, “In My Eyes” and “Filler” (along with “Out of Step” on the actual record) are re-recorded here to see how the new lineup sounds on older material. Steve Hansgen is an amazing bass player, and his presence bumps the band up a notch sonically—hearing him shred up the intros to “In My Eyes” and “Filler” is truly sublime to an ’80s hardcore nerd like myself. The twin-axe attack of Lyle Preslar and previous bassist Brian Baker also works wonders for this band; it’s a real shame Hansgen was kicked out not long after (and, of course, that the band dissolved not long after that). This record also features the full version of “Addams Family,” which appeared in an abridged form on the actual record as the outro to “Cashing In” (and the record itself). The prospect of unreleased MINOR THREAT recordings should be enough to spur any hardcore fan into coughing up some bucks for this but, unsurprisingly, the sheer quality of the performances here make this a must-own.

Concrete Caveman Feral LP

A strong offering of death metal from Philadelphia’s CONCRETE CAVEMAN. Some touches of punk-leaning styles like grindcore and powerviolence (especially in the song lengths), but this is definitely a death metal record. I don’t think the production is really good enough for an album of this sort and makes it sound weak at times, but the sharp, tight musicianship does make up for it. Worth a listen if you’re into death metal.

Guimauve Azovstal EP

The latest release from Paris-based GUIMAUVE. When listening to the intro, I was initially given the impression that I had been assigned some terrible electro-industrial punk record to review for some reason—thankfully, for the sake of my own mental well-being, this was not the case. In reality, this is six tracks (intro notwithstanding) of solid, POISON IDEA-influenced hardcore punk. It’s not too shabby, although it’s probably not something I’d ever feel the need to revisit. Certainly not bad though, and worth a listen if you’re interested.

Choir Boys 30 Years of Choir Boys cassette

This is just not my thing. Berlin’s CHOIR BOYS are certainly talented at their instruments and what they do, but I just can’t get into it. “Chaotic hardcore” is a bit of a coin-toss genre for this reviewer—I dig DEADGUY, I dig RORSCHACH, but I don’t dig this. It’s not complex enough to grab my attention, and the riffs that are played just do not register. Once it reaches “2000,” the tracks just become second-long blasts of whatever—just makes it feel like nothing more than a mere gimmick. This isn’t to say that you won’t enjoy it; maybe I’m just a philistine, but I am not interested in this.

Subliminal Excess Witness EP

Chicago’s SUBLIMINAL EXCESS finally follow up their raging 2020 demo tape with Witness, and it goes just as hard. Four tracks of uncompromising hardcore brutality—fast speed and aggression mixed with hard and heavy grooves à la BREAKDOWN. This shit gets me pumped, I get a massive kick out of it. When the four tracks are up, they leave you wanting more but, as Witness proves, good things come to those who wait. Highly recommended.

Motive Controlled Confusion EP

After a blazing demo (that this reviewer actually had the pleasure of releasing) last year, Leeds-based Harry Townend returns with more from his solo endeavor MOTIVE. It rages even harder than the demo with its five tracks of twisted D-beat mayhem, taking the best aspects from UK and Scandinavian D-beat and molding them together in a frenzied haze. This record is made all the more impressive when you learn Townend was a mere seventeen years old at the time of this record’s writing and recording. Fans of VARUKERS, ANTI-CIMEX, and the like will get a massive kick out of this barnburner.

Innocent Bliss Innocent Bliss cassette

The debut release from Berlin’s INNOCENT BLISS is a sampling of hardcore punk with some traces of more post-hardcore-type sounds. Not too much grabs this reviewer’s attention on this demo, but it certainly isn’t a bad effort either. This is eleven-odd minutes of entirely serviceable hardcore—nothing more, nothing less.

Prevention Split the World EP

This is the fourth release from Springfield, Illinois straightedge hardcore band PREVENTION, and it’s pretty much as generic as it gets. There’s some heavy riffs and drops here that will please the bruised meatheads on the dancefloor, but this slab likely won’t interest any of those outside that specific demographic. If you like your hardcore hard, this may be of some interest to you, but it just bored me.

Double Me / Fuck on the Beach split EP

I imagine it’s probably pretty high up on every powerviolence band’s bucketlist to do a split with Tokyo PV legends FUCK ON THE BEACH—Italy’s DOUBLE ME can now cross that one off of said list. DOUBLE ME has them beat in the song ratio (six vs. FUCK ON THE BEACH’s two), but both sides of this slab rip pretty hard. One of FUCK ON THE BEACH’s tunes is quite a raging take on CHAOS UK’s “No Security”—songs both rip hard, but DOUBLE ME’s bass-heavy sound is this reviewer’s favorite. It’s certainly worth the time investment, that time being just over four minutes. Depending on how stupid you are (which, if you like powerviolence, is probably quite a bit), it might even take you longer to read this review than listen to the record.

Heavy Discipline Your Scapegoat 12″

I am happy to say that the newest release from Pittsburgh’s HEAVY DISCIPLINE is yet another winner. These guys have been putting out raging SSD-style hardcore for quite some time now, and Your Scapegoat comes three years after the release of their self-titled LP (which was one of my favorites that year). While it’s not quite as fast as that one, it still rages incredibly hard and packs a real mean punch. Another glowing recommendation from me.

Entrapment Tempers Flare EP

A pretty standard slab of heavy hardcore from Australia’s ENTRAPMENT. Can’t say I dig it very much, but if you’re into the more “tough guy” end of the hardcore spectrum, you might dig this. However, this four-track record does very little for this reviewer. Next…

Spine Raíces LP

This is the third full-length release from Kansas City’s SPINE, and is perhaps their most ferocious to date. The LP’s opening blast of oppressive feedback should tell you just about all you need to know right off the bat. From start to finish, this is a fast, discordant, angry, and aggressive record. The only letting up from this whirlwind torment comes with its penultimate track “Pure,” which chooses to slowly bludgeon as opposed to attacking rapidly—it is no less effective. This record brings the listener directly inside the damaged minds of its creators, and it is certainly not pretty. This record is yet another win for SPINE, recommended to those with a very strong stomach.

Wrong War On Further Reflection EP

A strong effort from Chicago’s WRONG WAR. This three-track EP leans more on the melodic and (pun entirely intended) reflective side of hardcore music. All three tunes on here are super solid (I am particularly fond of “The Call”)—the title track is the star of the show, sprawling off into a repetitive mantra towards its conclusion. Overall, a very solid release that I would recommend to anyone who likes a hint of melody in their hardcore.

Existence Go to Heaven LP

Here comes the debut full-length release from Sweden’s infamous EXISTENCE, and it does not disappoint. Go to Heaven takes the sound established in the band’s previous releases and builds upon it with great success. Jam-packed with stomping riffs and a diverse sound, this record is a great example of metallic hardcore done right in the modern day and age. It’s a lengthy listen, but it does a great job at keeping the listener’s attention—something even the most revered ’90s hardcore bands struggle to achieve. Recommended highly to fans of ’90s heavy/metallic hardcore, not recommended to fans of the GRATEFUL DEAD album of the same name.

Mock Execution Rebels Without a Cause cassette

After delivering a blistering full-length last year (which I previously wrote about as one of my favourites of 2022), Chicago’s MOCK EXECUTION returns with four more blasts of damaging noise. The title track is the main highlight, a modern-day punk rocker anthem if there ever was one. Speeding and blasting away with mischievous delight, Rebels Without a Cause doesn’t quite measure up to the landmark Killed by Mock Execution LP, but it’s still a winner and gets a glowing recommendation from this reviewer. Since this cassette’s release, it’s been reissued on 7″ vinyl by La Vida Es Un Mus as the Circle of Madness EP (featuring one extra track)—go cop this ranger on whichever format you prefer!

Tchernobyl Face Au Mur EP

This is the second release from French Oi! band TCHERNOBYL and, as is the case for a lot of the country’s Oi! for the past 40 or so years, it’s a winner! Ruff ‘n’ tuff but packed full of hooks and melodic guitar lines in the grand French Oi! tradition. I dig this slab of sound a hell of a lot! Three tunes of driving punk rock’n’roll done very well. Music to shave heads to.

Absolute Truth Where Does It Start? cassette

Some straightedge hardcore now from Chicago’s ABSOLUTE TRUTH. Ultimately, this is some by-the-numbers youth crew stuff. Certainly not bad, but it’s also not too interesting. When this type of hardcore isn’t done perfectly it just kinda puts me to sleep—unfortunately, this release isn’t any different.

Spam Caller Imposter Syndrome cassette

From Novato, California comes SPAM CALLER with their second release. A slab of aggro, pissed-off hardcore, but there isn’t too much to latch onto here, either. Not bad by any means, but not super memorable to these ears. It’s worth your time if you like your hardcore angry and aggressive, but I didn’t come out of it with much.

Foresight In Search of Understanding LP

This is the debut full-length from Polish metalcore band FORESIGHT. This is pretty by-the-numbers ’90s-style metalcore here, nothing more and nothing less. Not very much here really grabs my interest, truthfully. The musicianship is competent and if you’re into this kind of thing it might be worth your while, but I don’t dig it very much.

Jock Jock demo cassette

Montreal’s JOCK comes out swinging with this one. Originally released digitally in 2020, this one ultimately got a cassette release in 2023. Seven tunes of aggro, whirlwind hardcore assault. The Bandcamp description uses AGNOSTIC FRONT, NEGATIVE APPROACH, and Youth Attack Records as stylistic comparisons, which should give an idea of what you’re in for. I also hear a few sprinkling of fellow Canadians URBAN BLIGHT. If all that sounds appetising to you, which it probably should, I would recommend that you give this one a spin.

Split Tongue Living in Sin City EP

Malaysia-based SPLIT TONGUE leaves a good impression on this 7″. The style is Oi!-tinged hardcore punk, not dissimilar to bands like 86 MENTALITY. It’s raging, it’s driving, and it gets the blood (not to mention the fist) pumping. This is a super solid record, and I really look forward to hearing more stuff from these guys. Recommended!

Amygdala Besitos Para Todos Mis Haters EP

Here is a brief little three-song EP from the San Antonio-based AMYGDALA. Some parts on here sound like a typical fast hardcore band, some parts have mental blastbeats, some parts sound like melodic stadium crust, and some parts sound like weird 2000s metalcore. It’s a lot of stuff squeezed into just under four minutes of music, but I think it’s cool. Would recommend this if you’re into any of those things I mentioned.

Illiterates No Experts LP

The newest release from Pittsburgh’s ILLITERATES does not disappoint. These guys have been releasing quality hardcore punk music for a while now, and No Experts is absolutely no exception. Featuring twelve tunes blazing by in about as many minutes, ILLITERATES know how to do this type of thing right. Fast for the sake of it, loud for the sake of it, and dumb because it’s all they know how to be—just like so many of the classics. Recommended!

Unified Action Unified Action LP

Hailing from around Newcastle, United Kingdom is UNIFIED ACTION, a band whose members boast an impressive resume that includes bands like EXTORTION, TIED DOWN, and CONTROL, among others. As one may suspect from this lineup, UNIFIED ACTION delivers straight, fast hardcore punk. Originally released on cassette tape, this demo has gotten the vinyl treatment, which I would say it has earned. All the tunes here are solid, filled with aggression and fast semi-blasts. The INFEST cover is neat, if a bit unnecessary in my opinion. Definitely one to check out if you’re into bands like the aforementioned INFEST, or VOORHEES and the like.

Kellerasseln Geradeaus EP

Geradeaus is the latest EP release from the long-running German hardcore punk band KELLERASSELN. With ten songs in almost (but not quite) as many minutes, these tunes are short, fast, and loud, with not a single song exceeding the one-minute mark. They aren’t without any tunefulness though, as most personified in the vocal delivery. Not necessarily something to write home about, but a solid EP that I would say is worth your time.

Staticø Il Nostro Cimitero EP

A newer hardcore band from Serbia, this is STATICØ. This five-track EP is essentially meat-and-potatoes hardcore punk, although the occasional touches of more post-hardcore-esque guitar work does help it stand out from the pack a bit. Not too much else is memorable to me though, I must admit. Not bad, but not something I would return to. Give it a listen and decide whether or not I’m full of shit.

Stiff Meds Exciting Violence EP

Based between London and Leeds, England is STIFF MEDS, who go in hard and fast on their debut vinyl release. Uber-fast hardcore punk with some powerviolence-esque time-fuckery thrown in for good measure. Exciting Violence drips with rage and aggression on all fronts— the vocals roar over tight-as-a-vice instrumentation (drummer Luke is the absolute best in the game in the UK right now). If you like it as fast as possible, STIFF MEDS is not a band to sleep on.

A.M.D. Sucking Stalin Tour cassette reissue

A.M.D. (ANTI MILITARY DEMONSTRATION) was a hardcore punk band based in Budapest, Hungary and was active around the late ’80s. This cassette, initially released in 1989, was recorded live, and while the audio quality certainly isn’t high-definition, it is certainly comprehensible. This tape is great—much like a lot of the bands coming out around this time, the guitarist has clearly been digging a lot of metal records, but this is hardcore punk through and through. Reminds me quite a bit of BGK at times. My only complaint would be that, at 42 minutes, it does go on a bit, but don’t let that dissuade you. Recommended for fans of classic hardcore punk with a slight metal bent (only slight).

Schwach Kälter LP

Hailing from Berlin, SCHWACH has been putting out music for quite some time now, although it is this reviewer’s first time listening. All in all, it is by-the-numbers, melodic youth crew hardcore (although it does contain surprises within, including but not limited to the latter half of “Gedankenpalast,” which contains both a killer drum solo and even a pretty bitchin’ sax solo!), which isn’t a bad thing. Most of the lyrics are in their native German, but with the occasional burst of English lyrics like “Don’t give up!” that should give an idea of the lyrical content. Sure, it is far from groundbreaking, but it doesn’t need to be. This LP will be a two-stepper’s delight and comes very recommended for fans of the youth crew style.

Wipes W.F.O. cassette

WIPES, hailing from Tokyo, play a tuneful but off-kilter kind of thrashy hardcore punk. This cassette tape (released as a 7″ EP in their native Japan) is wild and unhinged, but still hummable. Not necessarily something to go crazy over, but it’s certainly a worthwhile and enjoyable listen for fellow fans of that classic American-influenced hardcore punk style.

Firestarter / Madhouse split EP

Man, we love to see a good ol’ split 7″. And this one rips. Two bands from Southern California, L.A.’s FIRESTARTER and the Inland Empire’s MADHOUSE, share the stage on this platter. FIRESTARTER carries on the youth crew (à la UNIFORM CHOICE and INSTED) style of their demo tape that I previously reviewed—they offer three tracks and they all rule. The last two tracks come courtesy of MADHOUSE who, on the other hand, go for unhinged speed and aggression not unlike HERESY or TERRORAIN, and it slays all the same. This is one raging 7″ that you should definitely blast out.

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.

Prayer for Cleansing The Rain in Endless Fall LP reissue

Here’s a recent reissue of this cult classic late ’90s metalcore LP, PRAYER FOR CLEANSING’s only full-length release The Rain in Endless Fall. Their approach to metalcore included heavy amounts of influence from black metal and from Swedish melodic death metal like AT THE GATES and IN FLAMES, with the top-notch musicianship and technicality required to pull this sound off out in full force (it may or may not surprise you to find out members of PRAYER FOR CLEANSING went on to play in the progressive metalcore band BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME). This freshly remastered version comes courtesy of To Live A Lie. While this admittedly isn’t the type of thing that I regularly go out of my way to listen to, I dig this record a hell of a lot and can certainly see why it is so well-regarded. This one a must-listen for any fans of ’90s-style metalcore.

Violin Violin LP

New heat from London—this is VIOLIN, a creative vehicle for one Lindsay Corstorphine. All instrumental and vocal contributions are carried out by Corstorphine, with the exception of the drums, handled by the outstanding talent of Jonah Falco of FUCKED UP. This self-titled debut release bludgeons the brain with righteous indignation, firing on all cylinders with unhinged, aggressive hardcore punk. Highlights include the slower-paced stomp of “Chaos at the Seance” and the cacophonous, synth-textured “Empty Mind”. This one is an all-out rager—recommended!

Counter Control The World is Burning Up cassette

COUNTER CONTROL from Indiana offers up this cassette as their second release. Blisteringly fast and airtight instrumentals over a delightfully unhinged vocal delivery, all encompassed in quite rough and abrasive production (exactly as it should be). All the tunes here are great, but the closing track “Counter Control” is by far the standout with its dissonant riffage and several tempo shifts and even some youthful gang shouts thrown in for good measure. A jolly good time and worth your while!

Endless Bore Drive Not Detected LP

The newest release from Australian-based grindcrushers ENDLESS BORE is another winner,  delivering more angry, riffy hardcore with blisteringly fast powerviolence thrown in the mix, with a few surprises also in store for you. Can’t go wrong with this slab of aggression and fun—check this one out!

Wax Wax demo cassette

Here’s a new band from Brooklyn, New York. WAX plays hardcore punk with an especially loud and aggressive approach. The vocal style has a particularly howling, tortured quality to it. While it generally isn’t anything that you haven’t heard before, if you’re a fan of that strain of pissed-off and tortured HC punk, you can’t go wrong with this one. All in all, a very promising debut release that is worth your attention.

Mutated Void Slash the Altar EP

Nova Scotia’s MUTATED VOID seemingly went full goblin mode last year by releasing two records—this 7″ EP on Sewercide Records and the Roses Forever LP on Iron Lung—a mere week apart from each other, an absolutely bonkers move (whether the word “bonkers” entails sheer genius or stupidity is entirely up to your own interpretation) that demands respect. But fuck if that matters, it’s all about the music…and this slays. Ripping hardcore thrash performed by two skate freakos! The production is harsh and ear-splitting, but if you only want to hear HC punk with super-polished production, you frankly should eat shit and die in my opinion. The band’s unofficial logo, a crude cut-and-paste job combining the UNITED MUTATION and VOID logos, should tell you just about all you need to know. Shove this and the Roses Forever LP down your tinnitus-ridden earholes immediately!

Sluggo Sluggo LP

Man, I was so delighted to see this one pop up on my assignments list—I had no idea the SLUGGO stuff had been reissued! Hailing from Cincinnati, SLUGGO were one of the countless lower-rung HC bands that emerged from every nook and cranny in the USA from 1982–1984. Their Contradiction 7″ from 1984 has been one of my personal favourites in the “inessential in the grand scheme, but fucking awesome regardless” subset of American hardcore releases for quite some time. A straightedge band, many accuse(d) SLUGGO of being little more than a MINOR THREAT clone and, while they certainly wore their influences on their sleeves, I feel that calling the band a wholesale rip-off does these tunes a massive disservice because they really stand on their own merits. In addition to the aforementioned Contradiction EP, this self-titled reissue also features the fruits of a different 1984 recording session on its B-side, with most of the material being previously unreleased in an official capacity—it all rips! After this, they went in a more MOTÖRHEAD-influenced metalpunk direction that, if you can track it down, also rips. This LP comes highly recommended to any fellow connoisseurs of the classics and any fans of early straightedge bands like MINOR THREAT, STALAG 13, AMERICA’S HARDCORE, etc.

Frisk Stalker LP

Loud, raw, uncompromising. Stalker is the debut LP from Leeds, England’s FRISK. This record melds early angry hardcore acts like NEGATIVE APPROACH and DISCHARGE with more contemporary noises from the likes of HOAX to create a twisted, bludgeoning sound that is all its own. The vocals growl and howl over the harsh and noisy instrumental passages. This is the perfect record for a murderous killing spree. An unnerving, unsettling listen that comes highly recommended for those with the stomach for it.

Auto Hardcore 2022 demo cassette

The title of this demo tape from Singapore’s AUTO says all you need to know—this is fast, raw, uncompromising hardcore fucking punk rock. Hardcore 2022 contains seven songs in almost as many minutes. Clearly influenced by the classic American and European hardcore bands, AUTO does a stellar job at bringing that same aggression to 2022. Initially self-released in the beginning of the year, La Vida Es Un Mus has given this rager a wider release…so what are you waiting for?

Pulso Enfrentamiento Total LP

Enfrentamiento Total is the newest LP from Barcelona’s PULSO (previously known as APPRAISE). The sound is reminiscent of the classic youth crew approach of bands like YOUTH OF TODAY, IN MY EYES, and MOUTHPIECE, so you should know exactly what you’re getting from this one. Plenty of stompy and moshy parts to get your rocks off to while still remaining fast and catchy. Solid stuff! If you’re into youth crew, you can certainly do a lot worse.

Dominant Patri Heroes Glory 12″

Formed in the early ’80s in Luton, England, DOMINANT PATRI were a part of the thriving anarcho-punk movement raging on in ’80s Britain. Forty years later, their first demo tape gets the reissue treatment…and rightfully so! The title track of the Heroes Glory 12″ is a brooding peace punk dirge, while the other two tracks are more of the classic “pounding drums with drill sergeant-esque barking” anarcho-punk variety. All three tracks rip incredibly hard! Thanks to the wonderful people at Demo Tapes Records, you can experience this rediscovered anarcho gem for yourself now—go do that!

Indre Krig Destroyer EP

Yowza! Here’s the long-awaited EP from Copenhagen, Denmark’s INDRE KRIG. Rip-roaring hardcore punk of the classic early ’80s variety. While wearing their influences on their sleeves, this isn’t a simple clone. Along with the full-tilt, off-the-rails instrumentation, the vocals exude rage and frustration. Everyone is playing their little hearts out on this record with tons of passion, which is how it needs to be done. Highlights on this platter include the title track, “Pinball Eyes,” and “Claustrophobia,” but this record is wall-to-wall with bangers, so throw a dart. Mandatory listening!

Ugly Shadows Ugly Shadows cassette

Initially released back in 2015, this is a more recent reissue of this EP by Istanbul, Turkey’s UGLY SHADOWS. This is fantastic! Very anthemic political punk with some welcome touches of gothic punk/deathrock—it’s pretty reminiscent of the early UK82 and anarcho-punk bands of the ’80s, with its own dark flavors chucked into the mix. This EP has been reissued on cassette by A World Divided Tapes and I highly recommend that you pick one up!

Arma X Violento Ritual LP

Music to crush your enemies to. ARMA X from Madrid, Spain crafted a record of pummelling heavy hardcore/beatdown. With Xs Sharpied proudly on their hands, the band produces only the hardest riffing and throws an ungodly amount of dive bombs your way in between. And, unlike many heavy HxC records, Violento Ritual doesn’t overstay its welcome, containing eight songs in under twenty minutes. This is an LP that is bound to crush all the weak who attempt to take it on—not one for the faint of heart.

Holehog Dystopian Reality LP

The latest release from Sacramento, California’s HOLEHOG is a rip-roaring blast of punk chaos—a marked influence from UK82 and early street punk with a touch of crust and D-beat makes for an intense listening experience. This platter drips with rage and frustration aimed squarely at the modern world (the dystopian reality, if you will) that we all have to live in and that we all have to survive in. This LP from HOLEHOG is a direct middle finger to the hellscape we currently occupy.

Bad Image Bad Image cassette

This is the second self-titled release by Phoenix, Arizona’s BAD IMAGE. Playing a classic style of hardcore punk with a nice little slavering of UK82 in the mix, this is a super solid release exuding with venomous anger in the vocal department. A particular standout on this tape is the stomping “Energy,” but all four tracks on here rip considerably well. Looking forward to hearing more from BAD IMAGE in the future.

Sawchuk Modern Love LP

Active for around eleven years so far, this is the first full-length release for Detroit’s SAWCHUK. Modern Love straddles the line between fast hardcore punk and the more heavy, more groovy variety of hardcore—whichever mode it is in at any given moment, it is consistent in its negative energy. This record displays a wide array of different emotions, very few of them of a positive nature. Modern Love is a very dour listening experience, but in the best way.

Raw Breed Universal Paranoia LP

Denver strikes yet again! Those guys are maniacs, they just cannot stop themselves producing quality hardcore. RAW BREED is yet another example of this, brought to us once again by Denver HC powerhouse label Convulse Records. Universal Paranoia rips all who dare to listen to it a new one. The vocals growl and scowl over a vicious instrumental ensemble. The music sounds like a mish-mash of several different HC variants, but it all works like a charm. The standout track for this reviewer is the pummelling “Damnation,” but you can’t go wrong with any of these twelve tracks.

Unit X Ontario Songs cassette

UNIT X is a self-proclaimed vegan straightedge band from London, Ontario, but, as opposed to the more metallic-style commonly associated with that term, UNIT X owes a greater debt to the classic, late ’80s youth crew bands. Ontario Songs offers some solid music and ideas and a nice ‘n’ gruff vocal approach. Unfortunately, I feel this four-track release is let down quite a bit by a pretty sterile mix. The drums also sound pretty clearly programmed, which can be a very hit-or-miss move in the land of punk/hardcore, and I feel like the move did not land here. Regardless, this is still a perfectly solid release that is worth your time if you’re into youth crew.

Candy Apple World for Sale EP

More heat from Denver courtesy of Convulse Records with the latest release from CANDY APPLE. This 7″ platter is packed to the brim with heavy and dissonant riffage. World for Sale has a very noisy, very dirty sound to it without going all the way with it. It is simple and to-the-point, angry any-riffy hardcore, and that is all it needs to be! This rages—Denver does it again.

Gunn / People’s Temple East Coast Tour 2022 split cassette

The GUNN/PEOPLE’S TEMPLE split tape is yet another example of a classic, decades-old musical conflict: West Coast vs. East Coast. Orange County’s GUNN represents the West with four brand new absolute ragers on their side—already with a stellar discography on their back, these tunes may in fact be their best offerings yet. Representing the East is New York City’s PEOPLE’S TEMPLE, who are absolutely no slouches themselves. Their early POISON IDEA-styled approach works incredibly well in their favour, with a total of six tunes on their side of the cassette—some new stuff, some re-recordings of material from their demo, and even a cover of “Rampton Song” by Brits DISORDER. So which coast takes the prize this time? That, loyal MRR readers, is for you to decide…blast it loud and choose wisely!

Fashion Change / Hologram Live in DC split cassette

Two different solo studio bands from two different coasts of the United States (HOLOGRAM and FASHION CHANGE) came together to tour that country in May of 2022. This particular performance was recorded at Slash Run in Washington DC, current hometown of HOLOGRAM (or at least mainman Brendan Reichardt). The audio fidelity of the performances is very lo-fi, but this does not take away from the listening experience—of course, if anything, it only adds to it. HOLOGRAM, whose No Longer Human LP was my favourite release of 2021, plays several choice cuts from that slab along with tracks from their previous releases Build Yourself Up So Many Times Only to Be Brought Down Again and Again and Illusion of Control, along with, quite fascinatingly, a short cover of the intro to “Horizontal Hold” by THIS HEAT. On the flipside, FASHION CHANGE rages through numbers off of their Coward cassette and Devil’s Laugh 7″, with a couple of new songs thrown in the mix. This cassette tape comes highly recommended to anyone who is already acquainted with these two bands’ previous respective discographies—if you are not yet, make sure to remedy that! Two thumbs up for two of my favourite currently active bands.

Lesser Minds Futile cassette

New Jersey’s LESSER MINDS come out swinging with this debut cassette EP. Futile is a very pissed-off, riffy affair in the vein of classic CEREMONY, with some of the dissonance of chaotic bands like DEADGUY. The abrasive and oppressive sounds omitted by LESSER MINDS is certainly far from easy listening. Recommended.

Nailed In Shovel LP

Croatia’s NAILED IN offer some pissed, fast hardcore on their Shovel LP, taking clear influence from other pissed-off fast hardcore such as INFEST and the early ’80s Boston bands. If you’re into that type of stuff, then you should dig this slab a fair amount. It doesn’t quite grasp this reviewer as much as it should, but I do like it and would recommend it a listen.

Thyroids A Swift Kick in the Ass EP

Some more wacky Texas punkers, this is THYROIDS from Dallas. This is some ripping, angular garage punk with some hardcore punk in the mix, along with a slight and welcome experimental bint. This EP offers three kick-ass punk rock bangers—the vocals exude attitude and the instrumentation delivers on the record’s title with ease. The song structures are unconventional, with plenty of starts, stops, tempo changes, irregular time signatures, and all that good stuff. This EP is a real blast and I dig it a ton!

Polluted Womb I & II cassette

This release is a compilation of the first two releases by POLLUTED WOMB from El Paso, Texas. The music is raw and downtuned crust punk with some odd touches of grind. And in the grand tradition of dour ’90s-era crust, it is absolutely jam-packed with samples. Of the two releases on this cassette tape, I prefer II slightly more but, if you’re into this type of thing, both releases are worth your time.

Terminal Addiction EPs 2020–2021 LP

This is a collection of two EPs from Russia’s TERMINAL ADDICTION compiled by Not For the Weak Records from the USA. TERMINAL ADDICTION offers some ripping, Scandinavian-style D-beat that is sure to get your fist pumping in earnest. These two EPs are packed to the brim with riffs, rage and bitchin’-ass guitar solos—this platter rips! Recommended to those who like their D-beat ragin’ and rippin’.

Last Affront 10 Track EP

Fast and ripping hardcore punk the way it should be done. LAST AFFRONT from London/Brighton, England put out this blasting EP in 2021 following a slightly disappointing demo back in 2019. On this EP, the band perfectly translates their live power and presence into a studio setting. The instrumentation is fast and furious (not unlike YDI or SSD) while still delivering some top-notch musicianship, all performed underneath a shrieking, hoarse vocal delivery. This was one of my favourite records to come out last year and it still holds up.

Artificial Peace Live at the Wilson Center: June 25, 1982 LP

Hell yeah. Here is an archival live record from one of my favourite hardcore bands, ARTIFICIAL PEACE. This 1982 set at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC was recorded and mixed by GOVERNMENT ISSUE’s Tom Lyle and, while the audio fidelity is quite far from pristine, it does the exact job it was meant to do—capture the atmosphere and experience of that particular magical night. This fourteen-song set hits you right across the face with HC fury and does not let up. All the classic ARTIFICIAL PEACE tunes get played here: “Outside Looking In,” “Suburban Wasteland,” “Against the Grain,” etc. This mighty performance is a must-listen for any fans of this criminally underrated band.

Dräumar D’Krig EP

Norway’s DRÄUMAR put forth a slab of pure punk fury in the form of D’Krig. Jam-packed with vicious riffs and ferocious vocals, this record is an incredibly hard-hitting punch of super pissed-off, mid-tempo(ish), noisy(ish) hardcore. There’s also some fantastic, more ominous guitar lines here sprinkled on to great effect. Awesome work from these Oslo Obliterators. Recommended! Stoked to hear more from DRÄUMAR.

Male Patterns / Under Attack split EP

This is a split 7″ containing two pretty different sounding bands, but both sides of this slab of wax are worth the price of admission. The first three tunes come courtesy of Albany, New York-based MALE PATTERNS. This rips! Killer early ’80s East Coast-style hardcore like the ABUSED or (excuse the more contemporary comparisons) AGGRESSION PACT and CHAIN RANK, with the gravely, pissed vocals to match. It absolutely kicks butt. The flip side is also killer, with three tunes from Richmond, Virginia’s UNDER ATTACK, who deliver some righteous, crusty and fast hardcore. Powerful stuff on both sides! Even though the MALE PATTERNS side does win over this reviewer’s heart more, the UNDER ATTACK side is also a bona-fide burner.

G.A.Z.E. Living the Life EP

G.A.Z.E. from Finland are a band with a pretty unorthodox approach to ripping hardcore, which is always welcome. They have the blistering speeds and riffs of bands like CRUDE SS and TOTALITÄR, but also have quite a few melodic guitar noodlings and some pretty “out there” vocal stylings at times. Living the Life is certainly some pretty crazy stuff, and it may not necessarily be to everybody’s tastes, but I sure as hell dig it! Very intrigued to hear what these guys do in future.

Ohjus / Raamattu Raaka Mysteeri… split EP

Here’s a split EP composed of two ripping Finnish bands, OHJUS and RAAMATTU. Both bands play a very old school style of hardcore punk and it rules. OHJUS play fist-pumping fastcore as well as TOTALITÄR-style D-beat at blinding speeds that are bound to leave your head spinning. More fist-pumping madness is on the table on the flip side with RAAMATTU, with bits that sound a lot like HEADCLEANERS or Finland’s very own RATTUS while also keeping the velocity of the previous side. This platter is great! Highly recommended for fans of classic Scandinavian hardcore.

Obsolete Man Glory Be to the Bomb cassette

Four angry blokes from San Francisco, OBSOLETE MAN. On the table here is a really good mix of heavy hardcore, metalcore, and powerviolence, making very good use of uncommon song structure to create something very unpredictable and unique. These vocals drip with anger and venom, with the instrumentation following suit very nicely. These guys know how to set a damn desolate mood. Solid stuff!

Cutre Inconscientes cassette

It is riffs ahoy on this killer cassette from Buenos Aires, Argentina’s CUTRE—there’s so many of them and they all rip! Classic-style hardcore punk that’ll get your blood pumping (along with your fist). The vocals howl and scream in sheer defiance while the instrumentation is as tight as can be—and did I mention this is jam-packed with superior riffage? I feel like a good indicator of this tape’s bad-assery is the fact that there is an INDEGESTI cover on it. Get this blasted!

C-Krit C-Krit cassette

Now, this is nuts. On their second cassette release, C-KRIT delivers some freako, lo-fi hardcore punk with plenty of attitude. The word that most comes to mind when listening to this is “obnoxious.” The vocalist makes practically no attempt to get in sync with the music, spitting and slurring the seemingly ad-libbed(?) lyrics in a particularly snotty demeanour and peppering in strings of gratuitous profanity along the way. As the recording continues, it sounds like they’re all getting dumber and dumber. The last two songs are two cliché hardcore covers: “Louie Louie” and “Stepping Stone,” except C-KRIT’s interpretation of these two tunes is certainly original. This is music entirely made for and by people who only possess two brain cells—I like it…

Prowler Prowler demo cassette

Man, what the fuck is it with Denver? What have they got in the water there to make their HC so sick? PROWLER is another addition to Denver’s hardcore domination. This is hardcore punk the way it should be done (in my humble opinion). The influence from bands like the ABUSED, NEGATIVE APPROACH, and YOUTH OF TODAY is apparent, while also not being cheesy like a lot of YOUTH OF TODAY clones can be. It’s loud, it’s fast, it’s pissed-off, and that’s all it needs to be. I think this one rules—give it a listen and you’ll feel the same way. Stoked to see what PROWLER has coming up next.

Controller The True Sense of Strength Within LP

Busting out of Lehigh Valley, PA comes CONTROLLER with their debut full-length release after two cassette tape releases. This is heavy hardcore, with heavy emphasis on the word “heavy.” This LP is packed to the brim with stomping riffs to get your blood boiling. There’s also a pretty strong thrash metal influence in several of these tunes. And, of course, an ungodly amount of guitar divebombs. Exactly what you’re looking for in music like this. If you like your hardcore much more on the metal side, you could certainly do much, much worse than The True Sense of Strength Within. Recommended.

Pänika Wear Your Own Fur, Asshole! EP

Wroclaw, Poland’s PÄNIKA offers some angry, political, raw hardcore punk on this 7″ release. Lurching forward in full force from the off, this EP has some back-breaking fast tunes on it with some heavy-hitting, pogo-y tunes sandwiched in between. A real ferocious listen—really solid stuff!

Maniac / Spy split EP

Two bands from opposite sides of the States come together for one vicious 7″ EP. California’s SPY and Massachusetts’ MANIAC bring their two different brands of pissed-off hardcore onto a single disc, and it’s great. The two bands’ respective vocalists both spew their venom across their two tracks (two per band/side), with the instrumentation being similarly biting. This reviewer does slightly prefer the SPY side, but both are very much worth your time.

Battlesex The Battlecall EP

Here is another new release on the prolific Convulse Records label—this one is from Portland’s BATTLESEX. This is a fist-pumping, tuneful hardcore punk affair with a healthy dose of hard rock/heavy metal influence (especially in the bitchin’ guitar licks sprinkled across the record). The early ’90s work of bands like ANTI CIMEX and fellow Portlanders POISON IDEA are pretty clear influences, however The Battlecall is not a mere rehash of such material, either. This 7″ righteous slab of rockin’ HC that is certainly worth your time—horns up brothers!

Smear Campaign Smear Campaign demo cassette

Denver, Colorado is killing it with hardcore at the moment, and SMEAR CAMPAIGN is no exception. This is some gnarly, vicious, fast solo hardcore with super blasted, blown-out “production.” Asa, the person behind SMEAR CAMPAIGN, is clearly a big fan of URBAN BLIGHT, ‘cus this sounds a lot like they did. If you’re into URBAN BLIGHT and the ferocious Boston HC sound and such, this scorcher will be right up your alley. And clocking in at a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it running time of just over three minutes, you’ll be sticking this rager on repeat over and over. You know what they say; the best music only leaves you wanting more.

The Flex Chewing Gum for the Ears LP

Well good goddamn, would you look at that. Seven years after the release of their last record, Leeds’ own superstars the FLEX are back with a brand new album. As they say; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and the Burley Boys understand this mantra all too well. The sound on Chewing Gum For the Ears is nothing short of classic FLEX—fast, old school Boston-style hardcore with plenty of mosh parts included (of course). This new LP includes some of their most blistering compositions yet, including “War Boy,” “Voight-Kampff,” and the mind-blowing closing title track (my favourite song on the album). It’s been a while, but the lads still have it down to a T. This has been possibly my most anticipated release of the past four years and it truly delivered on all fronts, and, at the end of the day, was well worth the wait. The New Wave of British Hardcore may be dead, but the FLEX lives on—ten years strong and hopefully many more to come. Cannot recommend this slab enough.

Klonns Crow EP

Tokyo, Japan’s KLONNS come out swinging with this blistering new EP. The influence from classic Japanese hardcore bands like LIP CREAM and DEATH SIDE is very apparent, but do not mistake KLONNS for being a worship band. The sound on the Crow EP is super ferocious and raw. The instrumentation makes this record sound like it’s coming apart at the seams, and the vocalist sounds so hoarse that his throat could be bleeding. This is a violent, vicious listen. Pure hardcore punk.

Void Condensed Flesh EP reissue

Hey. I’m sure you already know, but VOID is a truly landmark band in the history of hardcore. The Condensed Flesh demo is one of the best to ever come out of the genre (and there’s been a lot of them) and, 41 years on, it holds up better than ever. Recorded in 1981—prior to the groundbreaking, trippy metallic recordings that would roar into this world on 1982’s stone-cold classic split LP with the FAITH—VOID is a lot more primal and raw on these recordings than the experimental nature of their later works. Including some of VOID’s best-loved ditties like “Organized Sports” and “War Hero,” along with equally awesome deep cuts like “Annoyed” and “Go South,” this demo is even more proof that VOID never produced a single bad note in their three-year lifespan (including Potion For Bad Dreams!). In celebration of VOID’s 40th anniversary, the wonderful folks at Eye 95 Records have reissued this classic demo on 7″ vinyl, so what are you waiting for?  Absolutely essential. Obviously.

Scowl How Flowers Grow LP

Southern California’s SCOWL is probably the hardcore hype band of 2022, receiving a lot of attention in the underground—they also quite bizarrely opened for LIMP BIZKIT at Madison Square Garden recently—but I’m happy to say that, every once in a while, you can indeed believe the hype. How Flowers Grow is a total fist-pumping affair, dripping with passionate anger and righteous fury. Fast hardcore with plenty of mosh appeal, the band is driven by the appropriately scowling vocal stylings of Kat Moss, who delivers a hell of a performance on this record. In the midst of the chaos, “Seeds to Sow” appears basically out of nowhere with a more alt-rock style to it, but it also doesn’t feel out of place, either. And right after, it roars back into the insanity! You’ve been hearing lots of good things about SCOWL for a reason—they’re great! Highly recommended.

Арлекин Извор На Главоболките LP

From Macedonia comes Арлекин with this dirty, scummy slab of wax. Their debut album Извор На Главоболките delivers some inspired noise rock jams, packed with plenty of punch and even more riffs. There are a bunch of interesting ideas on this album, especially on the nine-minute descent into madness “Извор на главоболките,” which in my opinion is the album’s highlight. I do feel the album does slightly drag on a bit in spots, but when they get it right, it hits hard. Not necessarily an essential listen, but recommended for fans of noise rock.

Mercenary Demos Collection LP

Atlanta’s MERCENARY was active from around 2013 until 2015, playing a particularly vicious and virulent strain of D-beat. They never released any vinyl records in their time, but put out two blistering demo tapes that have since become underground classics—one in 2013, and 2015’s Atlanta’s Burning—along with one compilation appearance. Former members would go on to play in bands such as NAG, EXTENDED HELL and ANTI-MACHINE, just to name a few. Tragically, vocalist Michael “Ruby” Rubenstein passed away in March 2021. One year following, this record compiling all of MERCENARY’s recorded material was released, finally immortalising this underrated, blistering group—and the visceral vocal styling of Ruby—on wax. Demos Collection is an absolutely ferocious listen, drenched in echo, dissonant riffage, and tortured howling; it is a must-listen for any dis-rocker worth their salt. And, on top of all this, all digital sales from this record are being donated to the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition, with other proceeds going towards a mural in memory of Ruby—what’s not to love?!

Slashers Hang On / Snap My Neck 7″

New York-based SLASHERS play gnarly skate punk with a dash of metal influence thrown into the mix. This single is really cool, with both sides of the vinyl exuding snot and attitude. The metal influence is what makes this one really interesting, with the traditional metal/Japanese HC-style guitar leads/soloing. The instrumentation on this record is really top-notch—these guys really know their stuff. All in all, this record is totally rad and I’m excited to see what else is in store in the future.

 

Lousy Suffer cassette

Right off the bat, you know that Indonesia’s LOUSY is here to deliver some real aggressive, moshy, riff-driven hardcore punk. Riotous stuff, not unlike, say, FREEDOM—this is music made to get you raging and get you moving. This is twinned with barking, reverb-and-delay-smattered vocals that compliment the tough instrumentation very nicely. We’ve got a super solid release on our hands here—highly recommended.

Spy Habitual Offender CD

Bay Area hardcore contingent SPY kinda popped up out of nowhere in 2020 and took the scene by storm overnight following the release of their first EP, Service Weapon. With Habitual Offender, SPY is back with more of the vicious, mosh-friendly hardcore punk that endured them to so many people when they first popped up. The vocals spit bile in every discernable direction toward the listener, with the instrumentation serving to further pummel them. This record exudes pure, unrestrained hatred from its first second to its last—it’s great!

Televised Human Condition EP

The second song on this EP is literally called “Violent Hardcore,” which pretty much says it all about Portland, Oregon ragers TELEVISED—a band made up of entirely one man, that man being Aidan Stutzman. Old-school-style, rough hardcore punk the way it’s supposed to be done. Taking clear notes from bands such as NEGATIVE APPROACH and local legends POISON IDEA, TELEVISED has that classic sound totally down and fits into the fold just nicely. The vocals are incredibly gruff and pissed, in the tradition of Brannon, Choke, and all the other USHC greats. An awesome record highly recommended to fans of “violent hardcore.” Also, an interesting tidbit—this record was mastered by L.A. punk legend Geza X, responsible for the sound of classic recordings by bands like GERMS, DEAD KENNEDYS, MDC, and BLACK FLAG (amongst a deluge of others)! So if you’re somehow not convinced yet, I feel like that should just about do it for you.

Tempter Tempter 12″

Crawling out from the deepest, darkest depths of Richmond, VA is TEMPTER, a new ensemble combining the talents of members of NOSEBLEED, DIVISION OF MIND, CANDY, and EKULU. The metal/crossover influence is strong on this mind-melting EP, taking plenty of cues from UK crust and Japanese hardcore—including the atmospheric interludes! The incredibly meaty riffs and hoarse, raspy vocals are masterfully combined with super raw, lo-fi production with plenty of reverb. These brutal tunes will have you pumping your fist and banging your head—especially the two bookenders, opener “Sacricide” and closer “Pestilence.” Highly recommended for anyone after a bit of that metallic flair in their hardcore. 

Consec Demo cassette

Killer lo-fi hardcore/punk from Athens, Georgia. CONCEC’s debut release clocks in at just over four minutes—very brief but very effective, taking no more time than is needed. The vocals are snotty and the instrumentation is riffy and intense. This rough-and-ready dose of HC shows off a lot of future potential and is a much recommended listen to anybody who likes their hardcore punk on the scrappier and primitive side.

Endless Bore What Do You Dig For?! 10″

All the way from Melbourne, Australia comes ENDLESS BORE, with a record that has the power to shake the Land Down Under to its very core. In this 10″ EP, ENDLESS BORE offers some riffy, shit-stomping hardcore in the vein of the nastier Boston-style HC. They also throw some of the grinding intensity and superhuman speed of powerviolence into the mix—the combination is immensely palpable.

Move BHC Freedom Dreams EP

On this debut 7″ EP, Boston’s MOVE BHC delivers some bone-breaking heavy hardcore/beatdown with overtly political lyrical content, with heavy emphasis on Black struggle. No thrills or smiles here, just totally righteous indignation. These eleven minutes contain several truly powerful moments, such as the intro to “Righteous Unrest.” Recommended to all those searching for some broader nuance in their windmilling music.

Demand Demo 2021 cassette

Washington DC’s DEMAND’s demo from last year delivers some super solid hardcore. Very danceable with some nice hints of melody while still keeping it HC to the very core—the type of hardcore that wouldn’t be out of place on the Triple B roster. This debut release demonstrates some real powerful potential for this band and I’m really stoked to see what’s up next—recommended!

Celebrity Handshake Move Back to Outer Space LP

Wowee! Now here’s something interesting. Maine’s CELEBRITY HANDSHAKE’s four-song, aptly-titled LP Move Back to Outer Space is some truly out-of-this-world “music.” The vocals bark and bellow—sometimes coherently, other times anything but. The guitar is sharp and fuzzed-out, very occasionally jamming out an identifiable riff. The drums keep some kind of a beat sometimes. The production—non-existent. The thing that makes this album so right to me is how wrong it is. My favourite track on the album is the total spontaneous free-for-all known as “Meet Me in the Iron Cage,” a free-jazz-inspired cacophony of sound overlaid with a bellowing malcontent challenging you to a one-on-one “tonight!” over the top of it all. God bless this mess.

Firestarter Los Angeles Straight Edge cassette

I am happy to report that FIRESTARTER indeed does exactly what it says on the tin—Los Angeles straight edge. Immensely danceable youth crew-type beat not dissimilar to FLOORPUNCH. The riffs are crucial. The lyrics are vital. And the instrumentation is another positive HC power-word. In other words, it’s everything you want in a youth crew recording. All of this topped off with an Ian MacKaye sample as the outro, which is definitely a worthy way to close out your straight edge release—much better than how UNIFORM CHOICE decided to end that first album!