Reviews

Daiki Kusuhara

Schenectavoidz Wax Void cassette

Raging, bong-ripping hardcore punk from upstate New York with a couple members from DEVOID OF FAITH. As you can see in the artwork, it’s so raging that both the cat as well as the rat can’t even quite keep up with its intensity…something about how they’re able to play in a way where it feels faster than the actual BPM of the music. A continuation from DEVOID OF FAITH as well as IN/HUMANITY or GUYANA PUNCH LINE. Chaotic destruction of thrashing madness from Schenectady.

Reek Minds Malignant Existence LP

Fourth release by Portland’s REEK MINDS, again with a non-stop chaotic destruction of brain-melting, thrashing hardcore to grind your face off with. From the first D.R.I. 7” to SIEGE’s Dropdead, to GAUZE’s discography to UNITED MUTATION, to borderline old school death metal like AUTOPSY or ATROCITY (without metallic riffs)—really, the best of all worlds. Complete mutants of the punk scene, but also a real product of the current conditions in the Rose City. Recommended release.

Valtatyhjiö Kuristusleikki EP

Raging debut 7” by Finland’s VALTATYHJIÖ. With many bands taking cues and almost relentlessly knocking off classic KAAOS or RIISTETYT or some other already validated international hardcore group, VALTATHYHIJIO takes its influence much further and creates something new and that is themselves. Drier-sounding recording than the traditional style, yet still just raging, fast, in-your-face hardcore. The first track has the same energy as the Totaalinen Kaaos EP without sounding the same. Hard to pinpoint, but really into what’s coming out of the speaker. Another recommended release.

Codeseven Division of Labor LP

Reissue of CODESEVEN’s 1999 release Division of Labor. Again, not really MRR-realm music, and most likely will deter the average reader—somewhere between the blurry lines of the DIY side of ’90s metalcore bands like RORSCHACH and the obscure side of the pro-core pool of bands around Victory/Equal Vision/Trustkill Records. Sonically, it’s somewhere between metalcore and post-hardcore; proto-”mall screamo,” which many probably wanted to bury under the rug in the past couple of decades because of what it eventually became, until recent years which, in hindsight, showed its unique sound at the time. For fans of early CAVE IN and GLASSJAW.

K-Hole Discordant cassette

The latest cassette from Buffalo’s K-HOLE consists of obtuse, hard to describe, mind-altering outsider metallic hardcore punk. Thought I was going to hear another noisy D-beat punk band based on the artwork, which they do deliver to a certain extent, but with an SST Records side as well as a RUDIMENTARY PENI aspect and DEVIATED INSTINCT demo breakdowns. Rough, confusing, mid-tempo, “blown guitar speaker but we don’t give a fuck” hardcore punk annihilation. Recommended release.

Prey Unsafe EP

Fierce combustion of nasty, metallic hardcore punk assault coming from the UK. Without falling into scooped modern high-gain metallic sounds, the riffs sound hardcore but still don’t fall into the “noisy hardcore” trap, nor do they have any of the retro UK crust revival vibes. Raging warware of maniac dual vocals and rule-bending riffage at times (especially for hardcore punk), grabbing the right kind of attention for our minds. Hard to describe similar bands, but you would like them if you’re into early D.R.I., HERESY, SYSTEMATIC DEATH, B’LAST, etc. I needed to hear something like this these days.

En La Muerte Silencio EP

L.A.’s new blood. EN LA MURETE’s debut EP is nasty and ferocious ’80s-style USHC, similar to WASTED YOUTH, GANG GREEN, or maybe something that should’ve been on the Welcome to Venice compilation or a failed business idea Doug Moody came up with in the late ’80s. Sung both in English and Spanish. Reminds me of the reek of the sewage going through the alley before getting to the backyard gigs of Los Angeles. True punks from the streets of L.A., recommend release.

Sosial Ilegal Never Surrender cassette

Indonesia’s DIY collective SOSIAL ILEGAL’s latest release is on the melodic side of D-beat/crust, reminiscent of Japan’s RESULT, MUGA, or early ENVY. Honest lyrics about the real life struggles that the aforementioned bands even might have lacked the ability to deliver. More D-beat/crust bands probably should take note of this.

Hard & Cheap Seven Civilized Inches EP

Madrid’s HARD & CHEAP’s latest release sounds like rapid-fire combustion of outrageous energy. Reminiscent of Pick Your King-era  POISON IDEA with good recording production. Seemingly lousy at first glance, but pretty raging at the same time as soon as they go into the frantic speedcore intensity, if that makes any sense.

Caveman Opinions EP

The latest EP from the Bay Area’s CAVEMAN is disgusting, noisy hardcore with two-stepping breakdowns in the vein of HOAX and GAG.. Heavier emphasis on grooves and mosh parts for the fans for that realm of hardcore. Does the world need more of these bands? I’m good, but maybe you do..?

Hollow Point 10 Track E.P. cassette

Vancouver, BC’s HOLLOW POINT’s debut EP is ten tracks of raging, turbulent, early ’80s-style USHC thrashcore mayhem. Sonically reminiscent of early Dischord releases like STATE OF ALERT or TEEN IDLES, but with its own style added into it. Willow House Records is still keeping it real in the city of SF.

Mazandaran Estranged EP

Mazandaran is known as “Devil’s Land” in north central Iran. This UK-based band consists of members of the Iranian diaspora playing protest music, reminiscent of Burning Spirits-style Japanese hardcore with epic guitar leads. Estranged is the debut recording by the band, with direct political expression coming from their own complex experiences. Raging hardcore punk with a sense of urgency and a combustion of powerful energy.

Sexpill Demos 2xEP flexis

This release consists of demo sessions from Houton’s own SEXPILL. Waging warfare of unrelentless noise bombardment with the H-town royalty, Big Swerv’s Sakevi-style barking vocals rip your skull throughout the record. Feels just like grinding up some rare vintage GAI and CONFUSE demo tapes from the ’80s, crushing up some Hot Cheetos you got at the gas station, mixing it together, and snorting it up your nostril. SEXPILL’s got some real tracks, and I think we all already know who’s going to win the next Grammy Awards. My favorite track on the EP is “Barry White.”

Fortitude DCxPC Live, Vol. 12: Live at Lou’s LP

FORTITUDE live recording at Lou’s in Orlando on 12” vinyl—DCxPC focuses on live recording releases on vinyl. Stylically, it’s NYHC in the vein of JUDGE, GORILLA BISCUITS, etc., with songs about anti-racism and going back to the core values of HC. The recording documents a specific vibe that won’t be replicated in the studio, but not sure if most people would like to hear live recordings in this format. Might mean something more for people that were involved in their scene to have this in their collection. Limited edition of 200.

Parasite Parasite LP

PARASITE’s new LP consists of eight tracks of epic, canonical raw punk. Melodic parts aren’t as death metal-sounding as the typical melodic crust bands, but have this particular kind of eerie atmosphere to them. Punch-in-the-gut hammering drums with driving guitar and bass tracks that sound extremely similar to Victims of a Bombraid-style raw punk. Seemingly  cookie-cutter, but a unique approach to the melodic side of this genre.

Repression War Comes Home EP

Complete noise mayhem with sickening, growling vocals and an in-your-face, blown-out recording. Plenty of dirt in the mix, yet still audible without losing any punch of power. An output of pure aggression, without having to resort to the stylistic replication of already validated styles, War Comes Home is hard to compare to anything. Vocal style is reminiscent of Amy from NAUSEA, while the instrumentation is a product of the modern breed of Boston/NYC punks.

Stüds Ice Pipe EP

STÜDS is a project run by Conner from SNOOPER and a member of Australia’s RESEARCH REACTOR GROUP during the pandemic. Style changes from track to track: ’80s Japanese-style noisecore to something in the Lumpy Records catalog to a bedroom post-punk project…it almost sounds more like a compilation release than one single project yet still feels like it’s one thing, especially the feeling of confusion and being on the very edge of sanity. Contains a recording of a death threat towards the band by someone with an Australian accent.

Amanita Toxica Amanita Toxica cassette

Latest cassette by AMANITA TOXICA from Chile. The raw punk artwork may not quite do justice to what they sonically represent—the tape consists of an eclectic approach to raw grindcore with some modern hardcore parts to it. A filthy attack of distortion and heaviness reminiscent of the ’90s out-on-a-limb approach of ASSÜCK, RORSCHACH, or LOS CRUDOS.

Corrupt Vision / Jodie Faster split EP

Split release between Orange County’s CORRUPT VISION and France’s JODIE FASTER. CORRUPT VISION plays thrashing, in-your-face fastcore with some ska breakdowns; not necessarily resorting to the crack rocksteady model, but heavier on the fastcore end. JODIE FASTER plays fastcore with clean guitars reminiscent of ’80s Italian band PEGGIO PUNX. Personal preferences aside, this is a great split release where both bands sound different enough while still having a similar quality that doesn’t resort to dark noisiness or heavy sounds. Raging anti-authoritarian speedcore intensity.

Accusation Accusation demo cassette

ACCUSATION from London’s latest demo. Tracks consist of SSD/STRAIGHT AHEAD or BREAKDOWN/ANTIDOTE-style early period Boston HC and NYHC. Chaotic drum smashing with powerful, in-your-face intensity. No weird effects or polished production thingamajiggies; it’s sonically stripped down to the core because this is fucking hardcore.

Final Dose Void Inside LP

The first LP from London’s FINAL DOSE. For metalheads, it might be black-metal-influenced hardcore punk. For the punks, it might sound more like modern hardcore-influenced black metal.  Metal and punk have always had inseparable connections and have influenced each other for quite some time, but this one is a rather new approach for listeners of both early DARKTHRONE and surprisingly, SPY or GULCH fans.. Listeners of the latter bands might enjoy it more than the former. Noisy and raw tracks that still have a modern production punch.

Bomb Out / Miami Death 2 split EP

Split release between BOMB OUT from Berlin and MIAMI DEATH 2 out of Leipzig. The BOMB OUT side consists of a tight, well-produced metalcore/beatdown track with death metal parts reminiscent of AT THE GATES. MIAMI DEATH 2’s side consists of four tracks of gritty hardcore (including a noise track), all under three minutes. You want real short-attention-span hardcore? MIAMI DEATH 2 is your answer.

Private Hell Days of Wrath cassette

The latest release from Richmond’s PRIVATE HELL consists of six tracks of dark, metallic hardcore punk attack, sitting right in the middle of the ’80s or ’90s approach but not quite polished enough to be rubbed off as booking agent metal. Reminiscent of the sound of the world of ’90s DIY hardcore rediscovering the ’80s HC style, around LEFT FOR DEAD, the SWARM, or TALK IS POISON. Solid metal-edged riffs rage throughout the tracks without any sacrifice of intensity.

Dente Canino Dente Canino demo cassette

Imagine what would happen if the Crucificados Pelo Sistema LP, Valtion Vankina LP, and Who the Helpless EP morphed into one and then mutated into some fucked-up thing? Complete devastation of hardcore annihilation. The world is ending and this is the music for it.

Peace Talks Progress LP

The first LP by Pittsburgh’s PEACE TALKS consists of nine tracks of politically-driven, raging hardcore punk. Not a pretentious or try-hard approach of fitting into some mold, other than the expression of anger coming from living in modern society. Everything from fast two-beat drumming to blastbeats, yet still sounding like controlled chaos. Maybe the closest vibe to this record might be NYC’s NAUSEA while still having a sound of their own. Full-frontal ferocious attack of turbulent sonic bombardment.

Cut Piece Accept Defeat (Don’t Sabotage Me) EP

The first release by PDX city punkers CUT PIECE is a four-track vicious punk attack with a sense of urgency. Sonically, it’s somewhere along the melodic side of UK82 punk, like CHRON GEN or VICE SQUAD instead of DISCHARGE or the EXPLOITED, yet each track has its own unique musical approach. Instead of relying on naive teenage angst, there’s more complex expressions of anger and frustration. Minimal yet complex post-punk-like guitar licks tangle through the aggressive drive of drums and bass with a catchy, almost sing-along shouting vocal style.

Skeptic? The Worst That Could Happen CD

Twelve-track CD release by SKEPTIC? from Birmingham, Alabama. Politically-driven lyrics with hardcore punk songs somewhere between RUDIMENTARY PENI and NAKED AGGRESSION. Slightly metallic but still nasty-sounding distorted guitars with maniac vocals. Chaotic yet well-written songs about our cruel world.

Lexicon Poison Head EP

Seattle’s LEXICON’s latest EP is a six-track lethal brainbomb of filthy noisecore at its finest. Full-on DISORDER meets CHAOS-UK-style assault without having to resort to punk cosplay mode, because we all already know punk still isn’t dead. Noise guitars and insane vocals exploding into an onslaught of rapid-fire blitzkriegs.

Vitriol Vitriol demo cassette

Five tracks of raw punk destruction from VITRIOL out of Singapore. Wailing vocals roaring within the chaos of blown-out speaker buzzsaw noise guitar, with bulldozing drums crushing the eardrums. Teeth-ripping tracks that will make your flesh rot while you’re listening.

Crippled Fox That’s Just Life Now EP

Budapest’s CRIPPLED FOX’s latest release is a fierce, energetic fastcore explosion. Fast, start/stop, relentless punch of shortcut hardcore tracks. A raw-quality recording that isn’t crap-sounding, but not overly produced either. No lousy parts or boring breakdowns, focusing on fast speedcore intensity at its finest moments.

Cold Decay Cold Decay cassette

This cassette from Paris’s COLD DECAY is metallic hardcore in the NYHC vein of MADBALL, MERAUDER, or ALL OUT WAR. They may not be MRR-realm bands, but some BOLT THROWER and SEPULTURA fans from the punk world will realize some aspects that they can maybe get down with here more than they want to admit to themselves. Good at what they do, which is in-the-pocket, groovy metalcore, if you’re into that sort of stuff.

Stigmatism Ignorance in Power LP

Latest LP by NYC/Toronto’s STIGMATISM. Ignorance in Power is Victim in Pain-style straight-ahead, fast hardcore punk with absolutely no bullshit. Straight b2b bangers—recording is on the drier side with no shitty metal parts, no echo on the vocals, and none of the modern pro-core sound. Reminiscent of early ’80s NYHC or Boston HC, yet without any of the reactionary patriotic boomer hardcore dad vibes, reminding the listener to recognize what hardcore was all about. A non-stop, tight energetic outburst of fast, ferocious hardcore punk intensity.

Barrage Barrage LP

Latest release from France’s BARRAGE. Non-stop crushing crustcore in the vein of EXTREME NOISE TERROR or DISRUPT, although BARRAGE sticks to hardcore punk roots rather than the crustier realm of the aforementioned bands. Some death and thrash metal phrases can be heard in parts of the album, yet it successfully avoids the modern-sounding extreme metal approach. The D-beat tag does get thrown around, but D-beat masters out there might not call it quite that. Still raging, full-front ferocity of in-your-face sonic bombardment.

Deletär Deletär LP

This full-length LP from Saint-Étienne’s DELETÄR is teeth-ripping hardcore punk in the Swedish style of hardcore à la TOTALITÄR to NO SECURITY, with an epicness in the still yet-to-be-burning-spirits of Chelsea’s guitar leads and a CAMERA SILENS-like triumphant sing-along vocal style at times. Within the tracks of controlled chaos, very well-crafted catchy riffs flow throughout the songs in a fierce, non-stop bombardment attack. Plummeting full-drive drums attack with maniacal yet still catchy vocals that will make you raise the fist and sing along. While referencing the aforementioned bands, the sound is original—they’ve got all the right influences from good bands and still made this sound into their own. My favorite release of the year.

Skiplife Prison EP

Total ’90s West Coast powerviolence-worshiping hardcore from Prague, with scene veterans in MINDLOCK and LYCANTHROPY. Sounds like INFEST and LACK OF INTEREST. Non-stop, short-as-fuck, fast, loud, shortcut-style golem crusher fast hardcore. You can look elsewhere for some modern-sounding, deathcore-adjacent bullshit. Back-to-basics, yet actually great-sounding anti-authoritarian outsider hardcore to its core.

Rash Decision Year of the Silence LP

Year of Silence is raging, crossover-style hardcore with thrash metal chugging guitars with pummeling, powerful drums and vocals to sing along with. The album was written during the pandemic, with an ode to health workers who risked their lives, with humorous yet important stuff to say about subjects ranging from anti-fascism to the solidarity of the working class. Easily could’ve been dismissed as some band that sings about eating pizza and partying, but in actuality, they’re singing about a sociopolitical reality more than most DIY hardcore punk bands out there. Unique approach for this style of hardcore.

Double Standard Mt. Focus LP

DOUBLE STANDARD from Malta’s latest release consists of unique-sounding political hardcore punk tracks full of thoughtful expressions of injustices of our world, reminiscent of the feeling of ’80s-style recordings of NWOBHM and anarcho-punk that isn’t overtly metallic or modern-sounding. Mt. Focus successfully expresses the complex, subtle feel of the issues facing our societies and ecosystem, not just through their lyrics but through sonic means as well.

Silence Burial Preparations cassette

This release from L.A.’s SILENCE is four tracks of raging raw punk in the vein of Victims of Bombraid-era ANTI-CIMEX, with vocals reminiscent of KRIEGSHOG. Well-recorded, all-around great release from these punks. A fierce exploding energy of rage, and a well-articulated approach to the right influences.

Asmonumentsfall This Means Fire 12″

The latest release from Tijuana/San Diego’s ASMONUMENTSFALL, with crust scene veterans from OUTLAW BASTARDS and COACCION. In contrast to their previous straighter crustcore approach from previous projects, this record consists of the melodic side of the genre, in the vein of HIS HERO IS GONE/TRAGEDY or early-era ENVY, with the basis of later ANTI-CIMEX/WOLFBRIGADE. Despite the slippery slope approach of this style easily becoming too focused on the prettier and beautiful side of things, This Means Fire successfully captures the complex feeling of despair and anger without forgetting the aggression-driven side of hardcore punk; we still have plenty to be angry about. Fierce energy, not just in a naive teenage angst way nor just simply accepting the fact of our cruel world, but realizing our need to continue to keep up the fight.

Butchers Dog Age of Inversion EP

Ohio’s BUTCHERS DOG is waging warfare of noisy, clunky guitars with a plummeting drum attack like boiling magma. Crazed vocals squeeze more words into phrases, reminiscent of ’90s hardcore groups like GRIMPLE or NAKED AGGRESSION, which can be hit-or-miss for many of us hardcore punk freaks, but the music is ’80s thrash metal demos or crust axe-grinding the enemy meets raw hardcore punk hell. An explosion of absolute madness and chaotic outburst of energy.

Yellowcake Can You See the Future? EP

Seven tracks of combusting, raging crust war mayhem from YELLOWCAKE from Phoenix. Raging mangel thrash-style beats mangling with an Osaka-style wall of noise-not-music, yet still sounding original. This is not another bullshit recording that sounds like it’s recorded in a tin can—the sound quality is crisp without losing the intensity of spending loud night. Top-notch sun-fried, cactus thorn raw punk noise devastation from the desert. Recommended.

Kato Demo ’23 cassette

Four tracks of Finnish hardcore thrashing bombardment fury. Straight-up 1982-era Propaganda Records, Totaalinen Kaaos 7” meets Valtion Vankina LP, Super Fuzz-style fuzzed-out guitars with psychedelic howling vocals. A convulsion of explosive chaotic energy with pure intensity. Jakke is rolling in his grave every time you play this, and Lazze will most likely say it’s right up his alley.

Flash Eztek Ber Besteik cassette

Basque Country’s FLASH released this three-track cassette for a West Coast USA tour, and it’s a lo-fi attack of catchy, fully driven, snotty mid-tempo punk rock songs, sonically akin to local legends such as LA PERRARA as well as ZERO BOYS. Lyrics are in Spanish as well as the Basque language. Heard this for the first time, but I already know that these are catchy, classic punk anthems—no filler, all bangers, no bullshit right here, a straight-up explosion of fist-pumping pure energy for punks to pogo and sing along to.

Pus Demo 2023 cassette

PUS’s demo on German label STTW consists of five tracks of metallic, almost NYHC-style hardcore fury sung in a Slavic language. Despite the fact that one might consider this to be in the metallic hardcore realm, the gritty, overdriven guitars and the shouting vocals tend to make them a unique-sounding band compared to many counterparts that have a typical crossover sound. Many parts for two-stepping, border-destroying mosh tracks, a combustion of tough, energetic output.

Unspec Century of Torture cassette

Indonesia’s UNSPEC brings a relentless attack of stompy hardcore. It could have easily become metallic chugging mayhem, but instead it went towards a raw, noisy, evil hardcore approach, along the lines of HOAX or GAG. A sonic expression of raw, full-force ferocious madness.

The Dweebs Goes Without Saying EP

This EP from Plymouth, UK’s the DWEEBS is ten tracks of British punks playing fast ’80s-style USHC akin to the earlier Dischord catalog and bands like YOUTH OF TODAY or UNIFORM CHOICE. Reminiscent of another USHC-inspired band from the UK, the STUPIDS, but despite having a similar fast approach to their sound, it’s still quite its own thing, a product of its own environment. Still nasty-sounding enough for the MRR realm, yet it’s straight-up circle pit music. Straight-ahead, full-speed attack of action-packed hardcore.

Interpunkce Nen​á​vid​ě​t Srdcem, Milovat No​ž​em EP

The latest EP by Prague DIY punks INTERPUNKCE, with six thrashing tracks of speedcore hardcore punk fury. Politically-driven lyrics with English translations to get their message across to a wider audience. No hesitation, urgent, raging songs bringing up social issues that many of us face around the globe. The Slavic language vocals offer a unique and distinct type of hardcore reminiscent (yet still different) to some ’80s Polish bands such as DEZERTER and MOSKWA.

Bondage Bondage demo cassette

Demo cassette from Kuala Lumpur’s BONDAGE, released in 2021. Four tracks of raw, blown-out, ugly chaotic hardcore punk mess. Reminiscent of something that would be on ’80s Euro HC compilation from Really Fast or something on Pogar Records, yet with a vibe more akin to the filthy underground vibes of ’80s Tokyo or Sweden than the contemporary noisy hardcore sound. It may not necessarily follow the exact rules to be considered “raw punk” in the official book of the department of Swedish studs at leather jacket school, but it has its own unique take on raw, grinding, nasty hardcore. Recommended.

Consec Wheel of Pain LP

The new LP from Athens, Georgia’s CONSEC is twelve tracks of intense, high-energy, noisy hardcore punk fury similar to VOID, Cows and Beer-era DIE KRUEZEN, or Dirty Rotten-era D.R.I.. Pummeling drums and full-speed combustion of energetic controlled chaos. Despite all that, it still has well-crafted songwriting and a unique approach to riffs, making them more interesting than most of their contemporaries. The soundtrack to constant anger and frustration towards our society.

Ignorance Poison EP

Helsenki’s IGNORANCE’s latest EP consists of seven tracks of raw hardcore punk similar to the darker, grimy side of ’80s Japanese hardcore, like L.S.D. or GUDON to more contemporary bands such as KRIEGSHOG or even Y2K-era PDX hard punkers RELIGIOUS WAR. Thunder-striking lower frequency bass electrocution with boiling blood drum sounds, noisy guitars with maniac vocals.

Sultry Promotional cassette

This promo cassette from Virginia’s SULTRY is three tracks of fast hardcore punk with furious speedcore energy, but also acid-dosed vocals as well as chorus-driven guitars like worn-out wobbly cassette tape sounds—reminiscent of bands on the ’80s Italian HC comps BCT Tapes put out. For true weirdos.

Heroindöd Demo 2011 EP

Roachleg’s vinyl reissue of early ’10s Floridian crasher crusters HEROINDÖD’s demo. Five tracks of in-your-face mangel thrash meets Kyushu noisecore, crossfaded with ’90s Crust War-style crustcore tracks. Furious, thrashing madness to blow your eardrums out for pleasure. Looks like all crusties did spend loud night in Florida. For fans of COLLAPSE SOCIETY, FRIGORA, FEROCIOUS X, you get the idea.

Ternura Trinchera cassette

Six tracks of politically-charged hardcore sung in Spanish from Bilbao’s TERNURA. Sonically, it sounds like something that came out of the US East Coast area in the late ’80s or early ’90’s—mostly hard-hitting tracks with breakdowns, but also melodic at times. An honest expression of the real struggles of daily life.

Lethal Lethal’s Hardcore Hit Parade EP

Lethal’s Hardcore Hit Parade is five tracks of noisy, raw, ferocious hardcore punk coming from the underground of NYC filth. Nasty yet aggressive, blistering hardcore, in the vein of the crustier side of UKHC meets the earlier, non-groovy era of NYHC, with urgency and the nihilistic destruction of ’80s Japanese and Swedish HC mentality. Full-blown distorted guitar sounds with pummeling drum beats and explosive breakdowns, along with maniac golem crusher vocals. For fans of VILE GASH, CREEP STARE, the REPOS, etc.

Life Sentence Demos EP

This EP consists of the first studio recording from Chicago’s LIFE SENTENCE, plus a four-track demo track that the band did prior to their LP that came out the following year. The studio tracks include their original vocalist Ray Morris, who is on half of the LP release since he departed while the LP was being recorded. Compared to the LP, the guitars here are a straight-up blown-out “chainsaw guitar” fuzz sound akin to MALEFICE or SHITLICKERS, or even what Kawakami from DISCLOSE thrived on. Blisteringly fast ’80s USHC speedcore. With an up-to-date mastering job, we get to listen to this beefed-up version of the original tracks.

JJ and the A’s Show Me EP

The debut EP from Copenhagen/Barcelona punks JJ AND THE A’S consists of six tracks of urgent, fully driven, catchy late ’70s/early ’80s mid-tempo KBD comp-style tracks. Solid vocal harmonies with no-bullshit rock’n’roll guitar riffs. Somewhere along the lines of a gasoline-injected version of X, VICE SQUAD, Static Age-era MISFITS, ZERO BOYS, AGENT ORANGE, or D.I.—trim out all the SoCal boomer bro-punk vibes for a refined modern version of it. A fierce combustion of pure energetic output.

Weak Pulse The Killing Moves Around the Planet cassette

The latest cassette from Chicago’s WEAK PULSE is eight tracks of ’80s-style USHC somewhere along the veins of VOID, CRUCIFIX, a lo-fi version of MINOR THREAT, and ARTICLES OF FAITH. Raw yet fast sonic texture of full speedcore mayhem. No hesitation, non-stop straight-ahead hardcore. Nasty, gritty output coming from these mutants from Chicago.

Blow Your Brains Out The Big Escape 12″

The latest from the Tōyoko Line area—BLOW YOUR BRAINS OUT brings nine tracks of ’80’s/’90s NYHC-rooted metallic hardcore. A rare approach, especially in the crossover/NYHC scene there, is to sing in their own native language, with politically charged lyrics about real life and current societal issues in modern Japan. Heavy, hard-hitting grooves of the aforementioned influences with well-crafted metallic riffage and Godzilla breakdowns that will want you to go Kokkai Gijido and fuck everything up while you’re at it. Artwork by Nicky Rat.

Inflicter 7 Song Demo cassette

This seven-song demo from the UK’s INFLICTER is raw, fast, raging hardcore punk, not unlike the fast, thrashier hardcore of the HERESY/RIPCORD/STUPIDS late ’80s UKHC tradition. It’s more of a modern yet raw and noisy approach, with breakdowns for the moshers out there.

Diffuse Life Out of Balance EP

The latest EP from Tampa’s DIFFUSE consists of eight tracks of late ’80s NYHC/youth crew-style hardcore with politically charged lyrics about modern life issues. Straight-ahead hardcore fury with brutal breakdowns, mid-tempo parts for two-stepping, and fast parts for circle-pitting. An honest, direct expression of daily life struggles.

White Collar Demo 2023 cassette

Debut release from Victoria, BC’s WHITE COLLAR. Nasty-sounding anti-capitalist tracks from the city of the newly dead. Aside from the UNITED MUTATION vibes and perhaps some influences borrowed from the Crass Records and Riot City catalogs, it’s also reminiscent of ’80s Montreal mutants CAPITALI$T ALIENATION. WHITE COLLAR not only sounds pissed-off, but reminds us of the ugly realities of our society.

Psoas Psoas CD

The latest release from PSOAS of Buenos Aires consists of eight tracks with a unique approach to thrashy fastcore fury. Airy, psychedelic, cleaner garage-rock-sounding overdriven guitars, screamy vocals, a hint of psychedelia at times, but somehow doesn’t scream “math rock.” Reminiscent of the weird side of the tail-end of Y2K thrash, buried somewhere in the 625 or Sound Pollution catalogs with bands like the SPROUTS, MIND OF ASIAN, the FUTURES, or earlier period MELT BANANA, except with better breakdowns. Recommended.

The Hell The Hell LP

The latest LP from Cleveland’s the HELL consists of ten tracks of pure fast and furious hardcore punk, like a sober, Darby Crash-fronted Pick Your King-era POISON IDEA, but too Midwestern to avoid DIE KREUZEN-ness. With energetic bursts of ferocity, the guitar sounds like they stole their vintage guitar enthusiast uncle’s amp and blew out the speakers because they couldn’t make it sound loud enough. No-frills, no bullshit, no metal, straight-ahead hardcore attack.

Ratos De Porão Al Kasal LP

This LP consists of live soundboard recordings of RATOS DE PORÃO from the mid-to-late ’90s at various squats and venues in Mallorca. The tracks are from the band’s crossover era (Feijoada Accidente? and Carniceria Tropical), with a few covers for the punks. Perhaps the audio isn’t the greatest quality, but it successfully captures the pure aggressive live energy and the tension in the air that would not be able to be replicated inside any studio. May not be the most representative era of the band (such as Crucifados Pelo Sistema), but is when the band decided to cater to a wider audience while still staying true to their roots. Something to add to your RATOS DE PORÃO or Brazilian HC collection.

The Breath Promo 2021 cassette

Yokohama’s the BREATH’s Promo 2021 cassette consists of a unique blend of thrashing fast hardcore, an eclectic approach to hardcore punk that includes breakdowns and rule-bending styles that doesn’t resort to the tradition. Everything from YOUTH OF TODAY to SDS to contemporary hardcore punk like GLUE to NEGAZIONE/RAW POWER Italian hardcore style. Their fuzzed-out, blown-out speaker-style guitar resembles LINK WRAY’s blown-out speakers instead of the CONFUSE/GAI Kyushu noisecore approach. Despite its musically challenging approach, the lyrics are pure direct political expressions of the struggles of marginalized communities, as well as a more constructive, positive approach to working to achieve a brighter future.

Psychic Death Psychic Death 2 cassette

Spokane’s PSYCHIC DEATH’s latest cassette release is five tracks of both fast and mid-paced hardcore punk, with unique songwriting styles that don’t resort to another cookie-cutter mold. Music is ’80s-style USHC, but the vocals are reminiscent of ’90s San Diego bands à la SWING KIDS or ANTIOCH ARROW—oddly, it works. Unique musical complexity, but may need a dose of simplicity to make it a more of a good hardcore release. For fans of DIE KREUZEN.

Gaoled Bestial Hardcore flexi EP

The Bestial Hardcore EP from Perth, Austria’s GAOLED is a wall of aural hell. Raw, nauseating, distorted guitars with boiling magma drum sounds from hell (the vocalist is undoubtedly a golem). Reminiscent of where CROSSED OUT and other local veterans RUPTURE left off, but with the contemporary metallic influences of BEHERIT and BLASPHEMY worshippers. Perhaps it has something to do with great weather and this almost reinforced sense of happiness and positivity, but all RUPTURE, CROSSED OUT, and NO COMMENT seem to come from similar environments and ended up with similar sounds. Includes a cover of Boston’s CROSSED OUT worshippers SCAPEGOAT.

Stray Bullet Factory EP

Latest release from Sheffield’s STRAY BULLET consists of four tracks of a fast ’80s USHC/Swedecore approach, meeting the UK82 style of contemporary UK hardcore. Fierce combustion of straight-ahead, full-speed hardcore with its own groove. Solid recording quality that doesn’t resort to hiding underneath low-fidelity or any other gimmicks. Absolute no-bullshit, in-your-face hardcore, and they mean it.

OK Satán Master of Neglect cassette

Copenhagen’s OK SATÁN’s latest cassette release consists of five tracks of garage punk with vocals reminiscent of CHEETAH CHROME MOTHERFUCKERS or even Darby Crash at times. Fuzzed-out, lo-fi trash punk from the city with too much daylight or too much darkness, with noise punk vibes of FLIPPER, NO TREND, or KILSLUG. Soundtrack to slowly losing our minds. It’s a matter of time.

Unsanitary Napkin All Billionaires Are Bastards LP

Raging political hardcore from Te Whanganui-a-Tara in New Zealand. Very few bands accurately pull off the sonic expression of pure anger and frustration with the injustices of our society, which UNSANITARY NAPKIN does in a vicious manner, with tracks in support of figures like Josie Butler, who threw a dildo at Steven Joyce in protest of signing the TPP, and a track criticizing conservative billionaire Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel. All Billionaires Are Bastards is a great, direct representation of the ills of our society.

Bloodsuckers The Real Cost cassette

This 2021 reissue of BLOODSUCKERS’ cassette release consists of UKHC/UK82 in the VARUKERS’ Another Religion Another War/BROKEN BONES’ Dem Bones school, an ’80s Finnish HC approach with the power and intensity of ’80s Boston hardcore running through their veins. No frills, nothing artsy fartsy or no weird esoteric bullshit, just an output of raging hardcore with a backbone of UK82/UKHC bombardment riffage, the urgency of ’90s Japanese HC, and the toughness of ’80s Boston HC. A combustion of pummeling drums with all-in-one killer machine gun buzzsaw guitars, and a tough vocal style with ferocity.

Persona Free Your Mind! 12″

Free Your Mind!, the latest release from NYC’s PERSONA, consists of seven tracks of anarcho-punk-infused, thrashy fast hardcore punk fury. Fierce combustion with the intensity of maniac drums and noisy, textured analog-sounding recording, a damaging, in-your-face explosion. Reminiscent of anarcho-punk bands going outside of their musical boundaries and fusing the fury of fast USHC such as HERESY/RIPCORD and DAN, or the intuitive New Mexico/East Bay fury of GRIMPLE. We’ve been pogoing for the last decade-plus with the Toxic State catalog, and perhaps it’s time for more circle pits and stage dives.

Cutters Australian War Crimes EP

This release from Melbourne’s CUTTERS consists of six tracks of hardcore punk reminiscent of early “No Parasan”-era FUCKED UP, with songs about the bleakness and emptiness of modern society and a title track in reaction to war crimes committed by Australian SAS soldier Ben Roberts-Smith in Afghanistan. Without resorting to gothy post-punk or anarcho-punk aesthetics, CUTTERS manage to sonically mirror the very dark realities of our world, with rage coming from the daily disgust and depressive nature of self-claimed proud nations and their patriotic cultures. which seems to be a relatable reality many face around the world.

Future of Despair Hell City cassette

The latest cassette release from Los Angeles’s FUTURE OF DESPAIR is from the G.I.S.M.-worshipping school of ’80s Japanese HC, along with ZOUO, ANTISEPTIC, BONES, etc. Perhaps the next generation of L.A. bands is continuing to carry on the DNA of the East 7th/Silenzio Statico catalogs with BLAZING EYE and ZOLOA running inside their veins. A bombardment of Randy Uchida-style noisy distorted guitars with hellish screams coming down from the struggle of daily life on the streets of L.A.

Spit! Spit! cassette

Taipei’s SPIT’s new release sounds like an aural hell of fastcore/grindcore chaos—a thrashy-sounding HC approach with screamed vocals, furious blastbeats, and tough breakdown parts for two-stepping. Somewhat reminiscent of SENSELESS APOCALYPSE releases without the grit, and with a more modern hardcore touch to it than the AGATHOCLES school of grindcore. For fans of PUNCH, TRASH TALK, WEEKEND NACHOS, and DROPDEAD/SIEGE at times.

Aihotz Matar al Superhombre EP

Latest release by Basque punks AIHOTZ from Bilbao. Their sound is psychedelia-drenched, international ’80s punk/post-punk, a third-generation mixtape copy meets UK82-style street punk like something that comes out of NYC on Toxic State, or the La Vida Es Un Mus school of punk—art school dropout, yet still quite unclassifiable. For fans of RAKTA, BARCELONA, and UNA BESTIA INCONTROLABLE.

The Path Dies Screaming EP

Latest release by Vermont’s the PATH, consisting of six tracks of raging fast hardcore. Some of the song breakdowns are remiscent of screamy ’90s political hardcore groups, or some youth crew stuff coming out of that area in the late ’80s, yet faster and without the militancy. Politically-charged lyrics reflect the current state of the world that we are facing, and the last track is a melodic acoustic antifascist anthem. Their message is clear, and Vermont probably rules.

Ilusion Ilusion cassette

Hailing from Montreal, this is ILUSION’s latest cassette release on A World Divided. There really is a difficulty name-dropping bands to make a comparison here, but the closest thing it reminds me of would be of a multiple-generation dubbed copy of some ’80s international hardcore punk compilation, except it’s a single band. This is another release where despite the lo-fi recording, it’s still musically interesting with variations of its own texture. It’s not that there isn’t a continuity, it’s definitely the same band, but despite the variation between mid-paced punk, to D-beat/raw punk, to somewhat grungy punk songs, something glues it together to have its own unique style. Definite post-punk vibes without relying on the genre, if it makes any sense. For fans of IV REICH’s first 7″.

Resin Bad Trip Bad Day cassette

RESIN’s latest cassette release by L.A.’s new label 1753. Sonically, it lands somewhere around Mexico’s MUERTE EN LA INDUSTRIA with the evil-sounding KURO-style vocals, as well as Kyushu noisecore influences. Catchy but not just drunk and pogo, and I don’t know… puke and vomit as well. But coming from L.A., these punks must have the SILENZIO STATICO catalog and BLAZING EYE/ZOLOA riffs running inside their veins. The phrasing and riffs are actually interesting enough to where it’s not dismissable as another relentless D-beat/raw punk band. This will make you go to an alley and drink 40s with the crew.

Spad Spad demo cassette

New cassette release on No Solution Ltd. from Orange County’s SPAD. The first thing that came to mind listening to this band is ’80s USHC/Italian bands such as RAW POWER and INDIGESTI, except this band can play their instruments. Rather dry recording without too much distortion or effects—perhaps something about the weather may have some sort of influence on the dry sound like this. Fast, thrashy hardcore punk.

Under Attack Mercy Killing EP

This is UNDER ATTACK’s latest EP, co-released by 625 and To Live A Lie. Despite cover artwork depicting older hardcore members, looking like it’s going to be yet another crossover thrash metal band from their area, this record is straight-up raging fast hardcore hell with bursts of negative energy, with some My War-era BLACK FLAG dirge mixed in the slow parts. If the artwork consisted of more black, Xeroxed anti-war or dark imagery of society or something, it would easily sit well next to older DROPDEAD records, or on Pessimiser Records or the Youth Attack catalog from a few years back.

Telesatan Behave! cassette

Behave!, the latest cassette release from Leipzig’s TELESATAN, consists of eight tracks of fuzzed-out, noisy garage punk, at times reminiscent of FLIPPER or even something along the lines of FYP or the Recess Records catalog. Fun, mid-paced, driven punk rock with a tinge of post-punk elements.

Belmondo Du Är Död EP

Du Är Död, the latest release by Gothenberg’s BELMONDO, consists of seven mid-paced hardcore punk tracks. Sweden has a reputation for DISCHARGE-inspired kängpunk, but this one is snotty punk that might sit right in between the KBD/Bloodstains and Really Fast compilations. Not hardcore or punk enough. With song titles like “Bathroom Floor” and “Drinking the Day Away,” BELMONDO certainly has a different approach to expressing anger than ANTI-CIMEX. They probably don’t give a fuck.

Herida Profunda Power to the People LP

Latest release by HERIDA PROFUNDA from Poland. This sort of stuff probably would’ve been considered just “thrashy” or “crusty,” reminiscent of the pre-internet era of DIY punk when people didn’t have enough info to pigeonhole bands. Somewhere in the context of being in squats, social media track sharing, tagging, and dollar bin punk records, Power to the People must have been created. The world may need this unclassifiable aggressive music that just simply is an output of intuitive pure aggression.

Suffering Mind Lifeless LP

Latest LP from Poland’s SUFFERING MIND. Pure anti-facist grindcore in the vein of ASSUCK and BRUTAL TRUTH to Peel Sessions-era NAPALM DEATH and CARCASS—yes, the ones punks listen to. Non-stop blastbeats, nothing but short, fast, and loud, driven by the rage and aggression from an oppressive system we live in rather than a technical talent show for metalheads.

 

Multiplex Segway Cops cassette

Latest cassette release by MULTIPLEX from Bremen, Germany. Sounds like something along the lines of a three-month-long DETESTATION European tour during the ’90s, a PARAGRAF 119 set at Ungdomshuset, or Venezuela’s APATIA NO. Cover consists of a crew of lazy cops riding on their Segways drawn in MS Paint. Something like this needs to be listened to on a thrift store boombox with blown-out speakers while taking over some unoccupied building in your town—just don’t bring the dogs to the show.

Planet on a Chain Last Word. Last Act. EP

Follow-up release to the demo/first 7” by Oakland/Austin’s P.O.A.C. At the risk of name-dropping, it is an unavoidable fact that the band consists of ’90’s and ’00s Bay Area punk veterans from TALK IS POISON, LOOK BACK AND LAUGH, and NEEDLES, as well as New Jersey thrashers TEAR IT UP. Similar to their previous outputs, it consists of the signature Bay Area-style raging, dark hardcore punk somewhere along the lines of CHRIST ON PARADE and early NEUROSIS, before they went out on the limb to sonic experimentation. Based on the fierce intensity of the recording, it’s apparent these veterans are still raging as hard as they have since the beginning. Still DIY as fuck and relevant as it’s ever been.

Discreet Dead Man’s Line cassette

Latest release by DISCREET from Austin, a band which consists of members of ’00s outcast hardcore veterans TOTAL ABUSE, CREEPOID, SKELETON, etc. playing ’80s-style USHC with noise rock influences. The cover consists of Tony Kiritis kidnapping Richard Hall and holding him hostage on live TV after being upset about falling behind on a mortgage (Hall didn’t end up getting killed). An expression of the devastating, confusing, traumatic, ugly realities of our society. For fans of the members’ previous outputs or FLIPPER, BRAINBOMBS, SACCHARINE TRUST, VOID, SST, you get the idea.

 

The War Goes On Discount Hope EP

Latest record by Copenhagen’s THE WAR GOES ON, a band consisting of ex-members of the acclaimed NO HOPE FOR THE KIDS. Discount Hope is bleak, dark punk that sounds like it was written by the kids of the black hole. Yet the band isn’t from the suburbs of Orange County, but a Scandinavian city that either gets no sun during the day or the sun doesn’t go down at night. Despite the songs consisting of darkness and bleakness, it still has this catchy pop sensibility (something difficult to achieve unless you’re from Southern California) without having the SoCal bro punk vibes—the lack of SoCal bro punk-ness does seem to add a character that is rather unique. Perfect background music to these dark times. Highly recommended.

Tourist Take Five cassette

Chula Vista’s TOURIST’s new cassette release consists of five tracks of crushing hardcore/fastcore hell. Even though we may not be able to call this “powerviolence” because the department of H.S.M.P. enforcement will not tolerate it, this is a closer, modernized hardcore version of the genre done very well in 2022. Tracks of anger and frustration from constant  hopelessness and devastation are well suited these times. For fans of OG’s CROSSED OUT to more modern-sounding hardcore such as WEEKEND NACHOS and CURSED.

Pestigor Nurgle’s Rot EP

Latest release by this Warhammer-themed hardcore punk band from Denmark. B-thrash chainsaw guitar parts with some classic metallic ’80s UKHC vibes. Non-polished, nasty, and gritty-as-fuck apocalyptic hardcore you can smell the stench of from miles away. Appropriate background music for the filthy, disgusting, devoted mutants of the chaos god, Nurgle.

Fuse This Segregation Will End 12″

New LP of hardcore fury from Lion City. Unique blend of classic ’80s NYHC with UK anarcho bands, and yet still having a contemporary, up-to-date-sounding approach. For fans of stompy breakdowns with raw and raging fast parts that also won’t let us punks down. Artwork by Nicky Rat.

Dissuffer Sudden Threat cassette

DISSUFFER from Indonesia’s latest release is furious metallic D-beat mayhem. Perhaps due to the vocal style and the melodic approach of guitars along with the low-fidelity recording, it’s more reminiscent of black metal bands playing punk than HIS HERO IS GONE neo-crust territory at times. Dark metallic crust punk played by true punks.

Be All End All Pact Music LP

South Florida’s BE ALL END ALL’s latest LP on Triple B sounds like a well-recorded, modernized powerviolence approach. Members of ECOSTRIKE and SEED OF PLAIN. For fans of TRASH TALK or the To Live a Lie catalog and the contemporary breed of powerviolence bands. Well-executed fast and furious yet heavy songs that end after around ten minutes.

Bad Batch Bad Batch demo cassette

BAD BATCH from Cleveland, Ohio’s latest demo release. Carries on the local tradition of LIP CREAM Á  la NINE SHOCKS TERROR’s (the band, not the album) approach to the late ’80s Japanese HC sound. Burning Spirits-style epic leads without being a complete replication of the bands they like. Recommended.

Delirio Delirio CD

DELIRIO’s latest release contains energetic, no-frills, highly energetic bursts of modern-sounding hardcore. Their fast yet sincere-sounding hardcore approach can be comparable to bands like COMEBACK KID or HAVE HEART. Great recording production, yet sounding too polished and boring.

Cage Kicker Parasitic Future cassette

On this release, CAGE KICKER from Berlin plays angry and vicious—yet catchy, pogo-y, and stompy at the same time—’80s USHC/UK82-style punk. Endless circle pits with pogo-ing, I believe Parasitic Future is where the rare, bilateral agreement between the society of circle pitting hardcore and pogo-ing punks occur.

Zero Again Out of the Crooked Timber of Humanity… EP

ZERO AGAIN from Bristol are an anarcho band consisting of members of UKHC veterans such as WARWOUND, DECADENCE WITHIN, REGRET, BRING TO RUIN, and others. Perhaps due to the use of modern instruments and higher level of musicianship, it sits on the metallic side of anarcho-punk, maybe even a tad modern metal-sounding for the fans of Ian Glasper’s publications (he is a member of the band). Yet the songs are still not unlike the mid-’80s UKHC/anarcho-punk sounds of SACRILEGE, ICONS OF FILTH, RUDIMENTARY PENI, or WARWOUND, if they used modern gear and recorded on DAW software. Fierce anarcho-punk songs driven by a world of emptiness, frustration with endless police oppression, COVID isolation, etc. Songs reflect the same angry, dark realities of the world that have yet to be really improved since the first WARWOUND demo was recorded.

Peace Test Uniform Repression EP

PEACE TEST from Providence, Rhode Island’s newest EP. Stomping, misanthropic non-posicore straightedge hardcore in the vein of IMPACT UNIT, or the STRAIGHT AHEAD side of things that many older powerviolence acts like INFEST or CROSSED OUT had. For fans of the aforementioned bands or HOUNDS OF HATE/CONCEALED BLADE.

Hellish Inferno Ablaze demo cassette

Demo by HELLISH INFERNO from Oakland, CA. Seeing their band name, it looks like it’s a DIATRIBE reference. Sounding more like a modern approach to raw punk/D-beat than another relentless rehash of the ’80s, something that has an influence from bands along the lines of CONDITION, MAUSER, or early PARANOID. Despite its artwork and the reference, it does have slight similarities with the more hardcore side of the genre with ex-local peers like TØRSÖ, yet with appropriate amount of dirge and nastiness to be considered a crust band.

The Fight Endless Noise LP

The FIGHT from Long Island’s latest LP. They combine the No Future Records-style UK82 attack with early NYHC Á  la SHEER TERROR or a NEGATIVE APPROACH-like approach. Stompy and pogo-y at the same time. Reminds a bit of the recent New Wave of British Hardcore approach in the UK with bands like ARMS RACE, VIOLENT REACTION, and the FLEX. Without trying too hard or being corny, contains honest lyrics about the police, and dependence on social media validation, some things many of us can relate to.

Life Ossification of Coral LP

Tokyo crust veterans LIFE’s latest LP Ossification of Coral combines the influences of ’80s Swedish hardcore, English and Scottish metallic crust, perhaps some influences from their peers over the years; yet still makes it their own. With the implementation of slower, groovier parts Á  la UK crust bands (AXEGRINDER or DEVIATED INSTINCT), the tracks have more variation than in the past, but they still continue to deliver the raging fast SEDITION/SCATHA-like approach for which they were known. Lyrics consist of anti-military sentiments that not only point out the issues that we face, but also manifest anthems in solidarity and support of the victims of oppression in this society. Includes a cover of ’90s Tokyo scene peers ABRAHAM CROSS’s “Same As War” and artwork done by Nozaki of COLLAPSE SOCIETY/STAGNATION. This release is a great representation of how the ’90s generation of the Tokyo crust scene is relevant in the current generation; still absolutely raging as hard as it did even after a few decades of existence. Highly recommended.

Backlash Danger / (I Hope) Fight 7″

BACKLASH from Finland’s newest 7″ from SPHC. The disc consists of two tracks, with “Danger” a mid-tempo anthem in the vein of post-BASTARD or DEATHSIDE projects such as JUDGEMENT and FORWARD. Having one or two raging tracks per side instead of a release with mostly filler tracks is a really JUDGEMENT-like approach. When it comes to this style and we hear Japanese-style hardcore, most of us think of SELFISH, but BACKLASH is another long-running band doing this style for a while.

Genöme Young, Beautiful & Free LP

Debut album from GENÖME of Malmö, Sweden. Great production D-beat/kängpunk with echoed vocals. Many bands in this style tend to take a low-fidelity DIY approach to recording but GENÖME does it in the modern, non-retro-sounding style of ’90s Japanese meets Swedish-style hardcore production. Reminds me of a bit of DETESTATION or some of the crustcore bands coming out of the Minneapolis area in the ’90s. Artwork by Petter from GLORIOUS?

Bootlicker How to Love Life EP

BOOTLICKER’s latest output. Reminiscent of early G.B.H. and DISCHARGE singles, the production nails that certain UK82 texture down well with some extra punch. Also has some aspects of contemporary DIY hardcore punk that reminds a bit of Boston bands from few years back such as BLOODKROW BUTCHER or SAVAGEHEADS. Carries the catchiness and drive that G.B.H. had but also has this stomping USHC that Midwest hardcore delivered. Has this continual punch that seems addicting to your ears. A+

Nope Nope 10″

NOPE are from Winnipeg, Manitoba. The impression of listening to the first couple of tracks was about DISORDER/CHAOS UK vibes but this also somehow has a F.Y.P. or Recess Records feel. Less punch or aggression, more garage punky, and sloppy, catchy (somewhat), and most importantly, fun. Artwork consists of pictures of a dump and with song titles like “We’ve Tried Nothing And We’re All Out Of Ideas” it sounds like trash in the most appropriate way possible.

Forclose Fear of Bombs flexi EP

As the name implies, FORCLOSE is another DISCLOSE worship band. Vocals like Kawakami, but the chord progressions sound a little melodic at times (especially on the title track). Yes, it’s fuzzy noise guitars and boxy sounding drums, but less CONFUSE/Jackie Crust War/static noise/EQ treble boost-type stuff, and more of the torn speaker-sounding Super Fuzz texture. Lyrics are about war (what else did you expect?). At this point, not really sure if anything positive or negative can be said about this approach. It really just begins and ends with Kawakami. RIP.

Punitive Damage We Don’t Forget EP

We Don’t Forget is PUNITIVE DAMAGE from Vancouver, BC’s latest output. Plenty of breakdowns and moshier grooves with punchy parts, and a more modern-sounding hardcore approach. Urgent political lyrics relevant to current times, PUNITIVE DAMAGE’s output is coming from a more personal place, yet it’s something many of us across the board in different scenes can relate to. In the DIY punk scene where it looks like there’s a political consensus for certain topics, oftentimes it still tends to lack critical analysis of what the slogans actually mean, which PUNITIVE DAMAGE brings to the table. They push back with honest, real-life-based output that isn’t just a reiteration of slogans without critical thought. For fans of PUNCH, LIFE’S BLOOD, NO JUSTICE, CARRY ON, and LIMP WRIST.

Destruct Echoes of Life LP

Hailing from Richmond, VA, DESTRUCT sounds like an unfuckable great mix of BASTARD, DEATH SIDE, JUDGEMENT, and FRAMTID. Imagine the aforementioned bands, blend and mold it back together, trim all the fat, and that’s Echoes of Life. DESTRUCT makes the international hardcore enthusiast dream a reality: if BASTARD was a currently active band, still in their prime and releasing another great record in 2020. DESTRUCT accompolishes something DEATHREAT tried to accomplish 20 years ago with Consider It War, but perhaps an even better articulated version of the ’90s Japanese hardcore approach. Sounds like something that was recorded at Our House in Tokyo in the mid-’90s but was actually mastered at Enormous Door by Jack Control of WORLD BURNS TO DEATH, who is way too familiar with that type of production and nails it beyond perfection. This is no-frills, straight up devestating dark hardcore punk without having any gimmicks, macho-ness, or cosplay-ness, which is something many of us are looking for in the current punk scene that seems to have its head stuck up its ass or is way too concerned about what the next leading hip trend will be. One might criticize how much they can just listen to BASTARD instead, but this perhaps is a great example of learning something from the past and creating something even better with it. Highly recommended.

Kürøishi Sound the Alarm LP

This LP was released in 2019 by KÜRØISHI (Japanese name translates to “Black Death”) from Oulu, Finland. At first glance, with Akihito Sugimoto’s artwork, people will assume it’s something along the lines of ’80s/’90s-era Japanese hardcore worship like SELFISH, but KÜRØISHI has an early-’00s melodic crust approach along the lines of WOLFPACK/WOLFBRIGADE and TRAGEDY. Quite often dismissed but perhaps this sound was pioneered by Absolut Country of Sweden-era ANTI-CIMEX in 1990, later progressing to WOLFPACK/WOLFBRIGADE or HIS HERO IS GONE touring Japan in the ’90s and getting influenced by bands like JUDGEMENT with some melodic harmonic elements—yielding a “Japanese HC influenced” style a.k.a. TRAGEDY. In reality, the sounds are influenced by not only the aforementioned bands but also Sweden’s and Norway’s extreme metal scenes from the mid- ’90s… So, with many people already having knowledge and a sense of what Japanese hardcore sounds like, this might not cater to punks with a preference for that approach, but those who’ve seen the “Japanese hardcore” references thrown around at crust shows in 2002 will definitely be able to identify. It’s easy to talk trash on a release for how inaccurately it represents the ’90s Japanese hardcore approach, but it’s also something that we might need more in this age of easy replication and overload of resources. Sound the Alarm sounds like it’s an honest output from what they grew up with but still having an appreciation of something they truly love. They’re from Scandnavia and the influences of that region’s hardcore and metal makes more sense than sounding like they’re from Tokyo in the late ’80s. The record also contains this great sense of imagination (perhaps it can be taken as a misinterpretation?) whether intentionally or not, creating something unique with wide possibilities. Guest appearances by members of PARANOID, VIVISEKTO, SYSTEMATIC DEATH, THINK AGAIN and others.

Rocky and the Sweden City Baby Attacked by Buds LP

Latest release from ROCKY AND THE SWEDEN from Tokyo—Japanese hardcore scene veterans that have been around for quite some time with ex-members of BASTARD, SYSTEMATIC DEATH, and VIVISICK. With song titles like “Green Riot,” “Mary-Go-Round,” and “Weed Weed Weed,” ROCKY AND THE SWEDEN really show their  appreciation for weed. It’s still not quite legal in Japan but glad to see they’ve yet to get in trouble for constant dedication to the ganja for the past 20 years. ROCKY AND THE SWEDEN also impresses us with how fast and aggressive they sound despite consuming such a mellow substance. 420 hardcore bands with a similar approach include REAL REGGAE, another counterpart from Japan that sung about smoking weed. From the title of this record, you might imagine something in the stoner rock realm (along with some G.B.H. reference) but turns out to be a great Japanese hardcore punk record. In terms of sketchiness, their chosen expression is reminiscent of older MRR articles about how it was illegal to be a punk band in certain countries. Most people typically would want to play in a jam band or stoner rock but these guys remind us to not judge anything by its cover. This shows us a new possibility of smoking weed where not only you can play slow and groovy but you can also play aggressively and fast. City Baby Attacked by Buds sounds more like they’re on speed or methamphetamine than smoking weed—basically the DEATH SIDE style Japanese approach with epic, dramatic riffage and NWOBHM-influenced guitar leads. ROCKY AND THE SWEDEN continue to fight for their freedom of smoking weed not only by “burning spirits” approach but by “burning buds” with the same spirit. Great colorful artwork done by Masato Okano of NYC.

Agonista Embusteros 10″

AGONISTA consists of San Diego and Tijuana scene veterans who in the past 25 years appeared in BUMBKLAATT, SWING KIDS, SOME GIRLS, RUN FOR YOUR FUCKING LIFE and SPANAKORZO, to name a few. In contrast to some of their previous outlets, AGONISTA plays what they themselves might consider a rather “traditional” brand of hardcore: a tight crustcore/’90s Swedish HC approach sung both Spanish and English, something along the lines of DISRUPT, STATE OF FEAR, SEVERED HEAD OF STATE, UNCURBED that was found in the Prank or Distortion Records catalogs a generation back. AGONISTA carries on the tradition particular to the Tijuanese crustcore style that centered around DISCORDIA (members of which went on to BUMBKLAATT and COÄCCION in the ’00s). Being a cross-border band between the US and Mexico, they directly feel and experience the complex reality between the two countries in their daily lives. Their output seems to be the direct friction from the socioeconomic differences spawned from the systematic oppression of people’s lives tangled by racism, drug abuse, financial instability, and violence. Embusteros sounds like a burst of the filthy remnants that have been forcefully hidden underneath the rug by the “America’s Finest City” and the feeling of anger and frustration in order to survive in “Sin City.”

Kriegshög Paint It Black / White Out 7″

Latest release by Tokyo’s hardcore veterans, with almost fifteen years under their belt. As with their previous release, their sound has changed a bit from the raging Mangel thrash-esque “Magma Beat Hell” approach. Perhaps due to the lineup change, the approach has shifted from blown-out noisy hardcore to mid-paced hardcore with a cleaner guitar tone, reminesent of DISCHARGE’s non D-beat mid-tempo songs such as “Decontrol” or “State Violence State Control” more than something you will hear from the kangpunk approach like “Victims of a Bomb Raid” or “Nitad.” Still, seeing that they’re a raging hardcore band based out of Tokyo, it’s hard to say they’ve toned down a bit; the sound has matured in its unique manner. It’s not overtly noisy or intense sounding like their earlier releases, but focused more on subtle intensity that is quietly building up. Perhaps it’s their long career or maybe it’s the cultural influences that it has, seems like it’s an output of aggression that is rather unique to an environment like Tokyo. The B-side still carries on with their no-bullshit, raging hardcore punk.

Lifelock 2018 EP

2018 EP is a vinyl version of their tape released on Brain Solvent Propaganda. Just by looking at their logo, it’s obvious that LIFELOCK from Singapore pays homage to late ’80s/early ’90s UKHC DISCHARGE worshippers DISASTER. Simply said, LIFELOCK does sound like DISASTER meets DISCLOSE. For the majority of the punks out there, it usually just starts and ends with “Oh, it sounds like DISCHARGE.” DISASTER indeed was an early-era DISCHARGE worshipping punk band (so was DISCLOSE). Yes, the beat, distortion, chords, song structure, and lyrics are all more or less the same as that one band we keep hearing about, but the specific atmosphere is executed quite well. LIFELOCK gets that very specific intense weight in the air that DISASTER had, but DISCLOSE or even DISCHARGE lacked. LIFELOCK continues to deliver their fear and anxiety driven anthem of the apocalypse. The final song is a DISASTER cover.

Khiis Bezoar LP

KHIIS is a four-piece hardcore punk band hailing from Oakland, CA; their latest release, Bezoar, is sung in Farsi and English. Good riffs, catchy yet well-crafted songwriting, and simply a brutal, raging hardcore punk record that raises your fist up in the air. Reminds me of a modern DIY punk version of mid-tempo driven UK82 bands like GBH and the EXPLOITED. It’s not necessary UK82 revival pogo/street punk (but somehow sounds much more UK82 than most street punk bands out there), and whether intended or not, there are similarities with contemporary Bay Area hardcore such as NO STATIK, TORSO, REPLICA, and others. The Earhammer recording production is clear and dynamic sounding, reminding me more of the TOTALITÄR material or ’90s Japanese hardcore production (something recorded at Our House or from the Selfish Records or Bloodsucker Records catalog) than some basement demo recording. No bullshit, great hardcore punk, not just for punks, but also hardcore fans of all. Great cover artwork done by Ji Hwan Ryu of SCUMRAID.

Rigorous Institution Penitent EP

As many of us already know, the influence of post-punk bands like KILLING JOKE, JOY DIVISION, and BAUHAUS was to shape the sounds of AMEBIX/AXEGRINDER (referring specifically to the ’80s era, and not their current incarnation). RIGOROUS INSTITUTION reminds me of those gritty, dark, gloomy aspects of the original anarcho/post-punk influenced crust punk bands that were coming out from the UK in the ’80s. They combine aspects of KILLING JOKE meets VENOM with the synth parts used in AXEGRINDER songs. It’s common to see people blindly ripping off anarcho/post-punk bands like EXIT STANCE, VEX or PART 1 this past decade, but RIGOROUS INSTITUTION doesn’t fall into that realm. It’s “crust” but not in the HIS HERO IS GONE-inspired neo-crust/’90s hardcore kind of way, nor another version of the mid-’00s “metallic crust.” It doesn’t comply with most people’s stereotypes of the genre (the ones who would be into that stuff would most likely be in the old school death metal scene right now). In this current day and age of easy access to an overwhelming amount of information to simply mock a certain style that’s considered cool or validated, I’m glad to hear a unique band like RIGOROUS INSTITUTION doing what they do. Highly recommended.