Reviews

Bobby Cole

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!