Eric Anderson

Dead Heat Endless Torment 12”

Adding to the ever-growing list of killer crossover releases dropped recently, DEAD HEAT’s Endless Torment features five tracks of gnarly thrash that recall the best qualities of “the big four” of ’80s, while sitting comfortably next to modern classics by bands like FUGITIVE, POWER TRIP, and ENFORCED. Title track “Endless Torment” wastes no time in laying down the groundwork of what DEAD HEAT is all about: fast and fun riffs-on-riffs, never-ending drum fills, and inspired touches of authenticity throughout. Lead singer Chris Ramos has a perfectly raspy growl, tearing his way through each track and even stopping to flex his clean vocal ability on “Tears of the Wolf.” It’s a great example of DEAD HEAT’s ability to be over the top without teetering into corny, which can be a difficult feat considering this style can easily become parody. “Smite Thee” is a quick ripper which reminds me a bit of IRON MAIDEN in its intro, while closer “Hard Reset” boasts a moody acoustic intro and some righteous guitar solos, once again being pulled off expertly with just the right amount of cheese without being too cheesy. If all of this whets your appetite, wait until you get a load of “Eyes of the Real,” a truly impressive showing which features, amongst other things, a bell toll, rattlesnake rattles, heavy echoing gang vocals, and a drum intro that sounds like it was recorded in a steel mill. This is the kind of album the metalheads you went to high school with could only dream of. Fantastic stuff and highly recommended.

Guiding Will cassette

GUIDING is a duo from Tokyo who play youth crew-style hardcore on their debut Will. Within roughly five minutes, GUIDING lays down four fast and angry stompers that have some solid breakdowns that are tailor-made for two-stepping. No reinventing the wheel here, but the DIY recording quality and Japanese vocals set it apart from the crowd.

Rose Glass Demo 2022 cassette

Killer demo from ROSE GLASS, featuring various players from Santa Ana and New York. Three cuts of meat-and-potatoes hardcore punk with frantic drums, crunchy guitars, and snotty vocals that kind of remind me of the ANNIHILATED. This tape feels so lived-in, like something that’s been around much longer than a year. Closer “Cold War III” (and the rest of the tape for that matter) could easily be mistaken for an early SST release. Great stuff.

Bell Toll 23’ Demo cassette

At a glance, I’d have expected Las Vegas’s BELL TOLL to be a little heavier. They have a great name and some cool artwork, but to be honest, I was a little let down by the skate punk style I found here. It’s not bad by any stretch, just a little generic. The vocals remind me a bit of MALLWALKER or BE YOUR OWN PET, and sonically, there are some slight BLACK FLAG and DEAD KENNEDYS vibes, but overall it just doesn’t stick the landing. In time, I could see BELL TOLL carving out a place for themselves, but in this listener’s humble opinion, they need to let these songs cook for a little longer.

Step to Freedom Step to Freedom CD

STEP TO FREEDOM’s self-titled CD is a non-stop barrage of riff-y metallic crust with brutish and mean vocals. It’s music as intense as you’d expect from a Russian stenchcore band, especially considering the turmoil unfolding over there these past couple of years. Perhaps what’s more impressive than the fiery delivery is how catchy each of these grime-coated songs are, each filled to the brim with hooks that keep the listener’s attention in spite of the long-running track times. Standouts “Bad Karma” and the seven-minute odyssey “Revengeance Altar” are both thrashing headbangers with vicious backing vocals and guitar solos that will (not to be too cliché) melt your face. A powerful listen and highly recommended.

Cross Control Try and Survive LP

CROSS CONTROL from L.A. plays hard and mostly mid-tempo traditional hardcore on their LP Try and Survive, following in the footsteps of the classics (think BLOOD FOR BLOOD, SLAPSHOT, and CRO-MAGS). While not bringing anything particularly new to the table, fans of the genre will find plenty to sink their teeth into. In addition to some great breakdowns on “Half Right” and “Always the Same,” “Number of Dead” and “Diadem” both boast some majorly catchy vocals, and final track “Everything’s Fucked” veers into straight punk territory reminiscent of MINOR THREAT. Good shit that sounds tailor-made for a hardcore fest.

偏執症者 (Paranoid) S.C.U.M. EP

It can be tempting to write off bands that wear their influences too obviously; more often than not modeling yourself directly after another band’s style and sound can come off as disingenuous and cheap, like a knockoff of a better product, a “Wish” version if you will. On paper, PARANOID’s fusion of perfectly manicured Japanese and Swedish-style D-beat may seem like such an instance, but fortunately for them and more fortunately for us, PARANOID are masters of their craft and draw from their well of influences (VENOM, CELTIC FROST, DISCLOSE, and DISCHARGE) to create something refreshingly effective. S.C.U.M. is a whirlwind EP that goes hard right out of the gate, a vicious, evil take on crusty D-beat punk that is one of the best my ears have heard in a long time. “Shiminteki Fufukujyuu” (“Civil Disobedience”) starts things off with a six-second instrumental flurry before hitting the gas and heading straight to hell. In addition to all the hissing, fuzzed-out guitars, sizzling bass, raw vocals, and thunderous drumming you’d expect in this style, PARANOID adds some great flourishes throughout, like the rockin’ outro here that’s surprising in the best way possible. “Musabetsuna Kutsuu” (“Indiscriminate Pain”) has a couple of breaks that are nearly psychedelic with shrieking backing vocals, screeching guitars, and breakneck solo drum beats. “Jinsei No Kizu” (“Wounds of Life”) and “Sensou Nanimo Oshimazu” (“Sparing No War”) are two more scorchers, with some nasty bass lines in the former and tight, dueling guitar leads in the latter. “Uragiri” (“Betrayal”) is really the only outlier here, ditching the D-beat for a quick 30-second scorched earth grind of blastbeats and gang vocals that’s over before you realize it started. It’s a great set-up for closer “Taikeiteki Kunou” (“Systemic Anguish”), which returns to the rock’n’roll influence found on the first track. Galloping drums and righteous guitar solos wrap things up, and before you know it, you’re sitting in silence ready to take the trip all over again. Considering how long they’ve been active and playing this style of music, PARANOID deserves some serious credit for keeping things this fresh and exciting. It’s true what they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Drill Sergeant Grim New War EP

Philly punks DRILL SERGEANT dropped their latest EP Grim New War and it rips; cool thrashy hardcore with rabid vocals reminiscent of FORESEEN and CHAIN WHIP. Each track here packs a nasty punch, but none more than “Cries for Justice,” which features an unexpected shift to powerviolence with blastbeats that are sudden enough to cause whiplash. It also features someone named “the Meat Man” on backing vocals, so you already know it’s gonna be crazy. Highly recommended.

B-Side / Holehog To Have and to Hold split LP

Sacramento’s HOLEHOG and Boston’s B-SIDE (GLOBAL THREAT’s Bryan Lothian) have released a white-hot split LP, each playing their own take on UK82 street punk akin to CLIT 45, the VIRUS, and of course GLOBAL THREAT. Both bands really rip; HOLEHOG are a well-oiled machine with crystal clear production, razor-sharp riffs, and an angry and scornful message: the system blows. Check out “By the Throat,” a D-beat-driven blast of energy with a great breakdown and vocals that had to have left a sore throat. Meanwhile, B-SIDE takes a fuzzier and more raw approach, with songs about the trials of living in American society, from our relentless bombing of other nations and our inability to think in terms beyond black and white. On “Waiting To Talk,” Lothian enlists an unhinged guitar lead and demented vocals to great effect; it gives the song a paranoid and eerie vibe that fits the anti-colonialism message well. Overall, a very solid showing from both bands, but I really have to hand it to HOLEHOG here. Their sound is so dialed-in and so clean, it’s a great take on the style and I’ll be looking forward to hearing more.

Gosh Pig Skinner cassette

Oakland’s GOSH embraces the hate on their latest cassette Pig Skinner—three tracks of violent, anti-cop hardcore that range from slowly lurching to quickly pummeling, with grind and powerviolence influences appearing here and there. All three tracks are impressively diverse, but I prefer the final track “Synthetic,” the thrashiest of the three, which has a cool POWER TRIP vibe. Overall, a solid batch of songs that must be fun as hell to hear live.

Spider Bite The Rainbow and the Dove LP

My first thoughts upon hearing SPIDER BITE’s The Rainbow and the Dove LP is that this is the sound of a band who’ve been around the block and know exactly what they’re doing. They check all the boxes: proficient playing, songs as tight as springs, and lyrics that are bursting with wit, anger, and humor. As it turns out, I wasn’t wrong. SPIDER BITE is comprised of three scene veterans whose resumes include OUTFIT, CONSTANTINES, and CAREER SUICIDE. Mostly sounding like a cross between BLACK FLAG and any of John Dwyer’s OH SEES incarnations, SPIDER BITE packs a wallop on each song here, complete with classic punk riffs and lyrics so dense you’d be missing out by not reading along. For the most part, they speak on the current social and political climate in Canada, and I’ve gotta say, things are sounding pretty grim (and I live in the States!). From beginning to end, I can’t really find any weak spots, but I can definitely say that my favorite moment here is the title track—a trashy, semi-slowed-down affair à la the STOOGES that skewers the privilege of a nepotism baby in the music scene. With mentions of minute-long saxophone solos and glorious Pitchfork scores, it’s perfectly sarcastic. If you’re a generally annoyed and aging punk like myself, this is the album for you. Highly recommended.

MSPaint Post-American LP

Genre-benders MSPAINT’s LP Post-American is a fitting album for the bonkers times we’re living in, properly capturing the hectic speed and exhaustive nature of the present. Stuffed to the brim with mercurial sounds and ideas, it’s plastic-y and bendy with a sheen of metallic synth. It’s a difficult album to pin down, as every genre I try to attach to it doesn’t quite nail it. Synth-punk? Sort of, but vocally more indebted to hip-hop than punk. Hardcore? At times, yes, but more often it sways into industrial and even techno. It really is a fusion of sounds, and regardless of how you choose to label it, Post-American is a modern and vital album that is lyrically filled with optimism, an interesting juxtaposition to its frantic and at times paranoid sound. Check out “Delete It” and “Titan of Hope.”

Alienator World of Hate EP

Portland’s ALIENATOR delivers the goods on their EP World of Hate, an angry and intense blast of hardcore punk that takes no prisoners. With great riffs and mid-tempo stomping, ALIENATOR is relentless and pummels you into submission on each track here, from the headbanging opener “Senseless Violence,” to the snarling vocals and screeching guitar leads on “I’m Nothing,” right to the end of the last track “Social Disease,” which closes with a slowed-down and vicious pace that dares you to get into the pit. Really though, the crown jewel here is title track “World of Hate,” filled to the brim with vitriol and chants of “Alienate!” and “World of hate!”—it feels like a bit of an anthem for ALIENATOR. Word is their live show is somehow better than this recording (and includes a POISON IDEA cover). Don’t be intimidated, go see them if you can.

Fairytale Shooting Star LP

The moment the air raid sirens on opening track “Submerged In Water” morph into feedback, you can feel the momentum of FAIRYTALE’s debut LP Shooting Star pushing you into a hurricane of raw hardcore punk that’s easily a contender for best album of the year. FAIRYTALE brings forth an album that is so cohesive and fully realized, it boggles the mind that it’s a debut LP. In the tradition of classics from the likes of MOB 47 and ANTI CIMEX, the guitar playing is heavy and dense with squealing and swirling guitar leads that balance and compliment the unrelenting rhythm section, a full-on D-beat assault that never lets up. What sets FAIRYTALE apart is vocalist Lulu’s sharp and venomous delivery, which on more than one occasion drifts into borderline spoken-word that is perfectly evil. It’s difficult to pick out a single standout track here as each one is dynamic, layered, and frankly catchy as fuck, but if one needed a recommendation, it would be “Possible to Grow,” two minutes of wretched guitars, brutal drumming, and a chorus that will be ringing in your ears for days to come. Do yourself a favor and give this thing a listen if you haven’t already. Highly recommended, it will be appearing in many top-ten lists come year-end and rightfully so; albums this raw don’t come along very often.

Caged View Demo 2022 cassette

San Francisco’s CAGED VIEW has released two volumes of online demos from 2022 together here on one single tape, totaling seven songs of melodic post-hardcore. The band lists a number of heavy bands from the late ’80s and early ’90s as influences, but to my ears, it’s mostly FUGAZI-worship with a few detours here and there, which isn’t a bad thing! “Back Light Reflection” stands out in particular, featuring a feedback-laden opening complete with creeping bass line before the full crunch of guitars and nasally yelping vocals kick in, leading to a chorus that is surprisingly catchy. “Push” is cool as well, with a fairly punky direction that sounds like DAG NASTY and other Revolution Summer bands. Not my usual thing, but I dig it.

Mallwalker Danger cassette

Baltimore’s MALLWALKER have compiled their unreleased studio recordings along with a live performance on their Danger cassette, sadly released in unfortunate circumstances as a memorial to their late lead singer Sarah Danger Underhill, and released at her memorial earlier this year. As the band graciously chose to honor her by releasing this tape, those who missed the chance to see them play live will still get to enjoy these stellar songs. MALLWALKER played classic punk with a sneer and a big two fingers up, reminding me of CRASS, SEX PISTOLS, and U.K. SUBS (whose “Tube Disaster” they absolutely crush). Sarah rants and raves with sarcasm and wit, mostly preserving her scathing barbs for the likes of creeps in the punk scene, from emotionally draining partners (“Taker,”“Spell It Out”) to gaslighting perverts (“Hunt You Down”). She even saves some venom for mom and dad on the clever “Parent Trap,” a big eyeroll to all the rules given to you as a youngster living under their roof. For someone who never knew Sarah or saw MALLWALKER play live, it’s easy to see and hear what so many people miss.

חרדה (Jarada) No Co-Existence With…12″

This is a cool one: punk from Tel Aviv sung entirely in Hebrew. JARADA plays tough and heavy hardcore songs about the oppressive system they live in, and boy, do they seem pissed. Each and every song here is angrier than the next, and rightfully so! These guys are living in a world of corrupt police, religious extremism, and general apathy towards it all. Sound familiar? Loud, fast, and hard is the name of the game sonically, each song pummeling forward with crunchy riffs and hoarse vocals, and even though I don’t understand the language, I can understand loud and clear what these guys are expressing in songs like “Inertia,” or the excellently titled “Tear Down the Settlements and Sentence Their Leaders.” If you like your music politically minded and desperate, check this out.

Blessure Blessure cassette

Here’s another one to add to the growing number of emerging Oi! bands: BLESSURE from the Basque Country. BLESSURE is refreshingly female-fronted, and plays a post-punk brand of Oi! with wiry guitars, rumbling fuzzed-out bass, and leftist lyrical content (at least that’s what you’d gather from the “A-C-A-B!” chanting chorus on opener “Ils Sont Partout”). BLESSURE keeps it sparse and simple, even cold at times and bordering on deathrock; check the icy synth on “Ça Suffit.” Overall a solid effort, although I can’t help but feel like if they leaned into the deathrock/goth sensibilities more, they could stand out a bit more from the crowd. That said, I’ll be looking forward to hearing what BLESSURE puts out next.

Dinos Boys Holy War / Don’t Mind 7″

Atlanta punks DINOS BOYS’ 2022 single “Holy War” / “Don’t Mind” gets the vinyl treatment on Crossbar and boy, what a treat! Two straight-outta-’77 tracks that bring to mind any number of CBGBs mainstays. Both sides are super catchy, but  A-side “Holy War” is truly an earworm, with a chorus that will be rattling around inside your head for days and an outro that would make the RAMONES bop their heads in approval. Side B is a cover of obscure Japanese power poppers the RAYDIOS’ “Don’t Mind,” and while I can’t speak on the original, this version is like Stiv Bators fronting the HEARTBREAKERS (those guitars!). Highly recommended!

Surrogates Surrogates demo cassette

Holy shit, this is a white-hot ripper from Minneapolis’s SURROGATES. If you like some nasty metallic hardcore punk à la WARTHOG, ELECTRIC CHAIR, and FAIRYTALE, you’ll dig this. Lead singer Lulu delivers frantic vocals over crunchy guitars and furious hardcore beats, letting up on the gas exactly zero times throughout the entirety of the cassette. I recommend “Waste” and “Repellent” as standouts, but every track here is worth a listen.

Belgrado Intra Apogeum LP

La Vida Es Un Mus never ceases to impress, especially when it comes to the diversity of albums they put out. The latest case in point: BELGRADO’s Intra Apogeum, a stunning eight-song long-player that is so assured in its style that you’d be fooled into thinking you’d heard it before. BELGRADO wears their influences on their sleeve, and in this case, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It’s icy and clinical but catchy, danceable, and full of romance, not unlike Berlin-era BOWIE, NEW ORDER, and most certainly Siouxsie Sioux. Each song’s propulsive auto-drum beat bops along with bouncy synth effects, rubbery bass lines, and vocalist Patrcyja Proniewska’s ethereal voice, all coming together to create a rich and cinematic sound that makes for an unforgettable listen. A year-end top ten album, to be sure.

Punter Punter 12″

In 2020, Melbourne, Australia had a particularly rough nine-month COVID lockdown policy that has left PUNTER with plenty to yell about. On their self-titled 12”, the Aussies play charged-up hardcore punk infused with rock’n’roll, and while this MOTÖRHEAD-influenced style of hardcore usually has a sex-and-drugs party vibe, here not so much. Not far beneath the surface of rabid vocals, riffs on riffs, and galloping drumming is a record largely about the systemic assault on lower-class people by a government under the guise of precaution and safety (it should be said that PUNTER is vehemently pro-vaccination). This isn’t a boneheaded diatribe about losing “freedom,” it’s about feeling robbed of your culture and autonomy for the sake of a false sense of security, a feeling that most people (especially young people) can likely relate to. Closing track “A Year’s Silence“ sums it up a little too perfectly with the heartbreaking line “I don’t wanna stream another funeral again.” If you need a cathartic purge of any lingering COVID-induced anger, give this one a spin.

Litovsk Litovsk 12″

France’s LITOVSK has released a beautifully packaged slice of life on their new self-titled 12″. Playing crisp and clean melodic post-punk with shimmering guitars and nasally vocals, LITOVSK recalls bands like MISSION OF BURMA and the REPLACEMENTS, and would fit quite nicely on a bill with contemporaries MIDDLEMAN. Lyrics range from socio-political themes like nationalism and chauvinism to themes of heartache and longing, most notably on “Riverside,” a sparkling ode to childhood in a poor town where riding mopeds and attending soccer matches distracted from the mundanity of life. Heartfelt and sincere, LITOVSK delivers a satisfyingly introspective listen.

Crocodiles Upside Down in Heaven LP

L.A.’s CROCODILES have been a mainstay in the rock’n’roll scene for years now, and they sound tighter and brighter than ever on their latest Upside Down in Heaven. Ten punchy, power-poppy bangers that recall the best of the early days of Stiff Records mixed with a moody shoegaze sheen. Lead single “Degeneration” sounds like Arabia Mountain-era BLACK LIPS tipping their cowboy hats to the WHO, while title track “Upside Down in Heaven” sounds like the Reid brothers adding some color to their palette. And while sticking closely to the revved-up “April Skies” sound, CROCODILES keep things feeling fresh with surprises here and there, like the ripping saxophone on “Surfin the Dead,” or the sterling guitar work on opening track “Love Beyond the Grave” that would make the STROKES proud. Just in time for summer, Upside Down in Heaven is a blast and wouldn’t be out of place bumping from a stereo on the beach with a beer or three.

Eat My Fear New Era LP

Angry, fast, and loud, EAT MY FEAR’s New Era is a collection of political punk songs about solidarity, conflict, gentrification, friendship, and community. According to the album’s write-up, it was recorded during the COVID-era lockdowns amidst the displacement of many local DIY spaces in Berlin. You can certainly feel the power and urgency behind these songs, mostly in the vocals which are shredding in near-desperation throughout. Sonically, EAT MY FEAR ranges from straightforward hardcore to skate punk to nearly pop punk, but what carries this album is its venom, its intent, and its message.

Antagonizm Freeze Motherfuckerz EP

Coming in hot after last year’s gnarly debut live tape is London’s ANTAGONIZM with their first EP Freeze Motherfuckerz, a batch of expertly-built UKHC bangers from a group of seasoned players in the current punk scene. While they have a diverse sound brought together by many influences ranging from ’80s NYHC to current UKHC, I prefer the CELTIC FROST-leaning vibes on “Progression?” and “Euthanized.” Truthfully though, if you have an itch for any style of hardcore, this EP will scratch it.

Killing Frost Frozen Dawn EP

From the depths of Hell(sinki), KILLING FROST has returned with their follow-up to last year’s killer The Declaration of W.W. demo. Blending classic thrash with ’80s US hardcore and adding a healthy amount of dramatic flair, KILLING FROST takes you on a harrowing journey over the eleven-minute run time. Opener “Frozen Dawn” kicks things off with glorious riffs and a brutal vocal delivery from frontman Niko Wilkman before unexpectedly washing over with glorious keys and angelic backing vocals. The juxtaposition of brutish hardcore and gothic wailing make for an exciting listen, which reaches a full realization on “Wilkman’s War II”, a blistering five-minute closer. Beginning as a mid-tempo head-banging grind, the song lurches forward before the return of the gothic organ, more desperate growling from Wilkman, and metal riffing that ascends to the heavens before reaching its payoff, a minute of head-splitting thrash that leaves you begging for more. Highly recommended.

Gel Only Constant LP

It’s likely you’ve already read a handful of reviews of Only Constant, the excellent debut LP from New Jersey hardcore band GEL that is currently making waves, so I’ll keep it brief. Only Constant is a very angry and very catchy record, but it’s also wildly accessible. It’s easy to see why GEL is having the same sort of moment as SCOWL and TURNSTILE before them. GEL’s songwriting is razor-sharp and full of attitude, and on songs like “Attainable,” “Dicey,” and “The Way Out,” they make the sound of wanting to smash a chair over someone’s head surprisingly danceable. Each song barrels forward relentlessly with the exception of “Calling Card,” a jarring but fitting break in the middle of the album. It’s a sharp U-turn featuring a lo-fi guitar played along to voicemails left by fans who vent about a number of issues, including but not limited to misogyny, shitty coworkers, and their thoughts on the hardcore scene. It’s a clever way for GEL to connect to their fanbase and another example of this album’s surprisingly charming nature. Highly recommended.

Loosey Winter Promo ’23 cassette

Finally, an excuse to dust off the platform boots and denim overalls! New York City’s LOOSEY is here with their Winter Promo ’23 cassette. LOOSEY’s sound falls somewhere between the Australian Sharpie scene where pub-rock bands like COLOURED BALLS and ROSE TATTOO reigned supreme, and the Bovver scene from England which preferred the glammier side of rock’n’roll (checkout the comp Bootboy Discotheque to get down). After the right-on intro “Enter Planet Dust,” LOOSEY treats listeners to three earworms that stomp, shimmy, and howl (thanks to the gloriously gruff vocals of lead singer Fizzy of NEW YORK HOUNDS fame). Check out “There You Were (Alligator Song)” to hear LOOSEY at full-force; beginning with a glam stomp before bulldozing their way into Exile on Main Street-era ROLLING STONES and even BIG STAR territory, it’s pure bar-room boogie for lovers and fighters alike. This is the dawning of LOOSEY music, get into it!

S.C.U.M. Born Too Soon… LP reissue

Discovering a great band or album you’ve somehow missed over the years never gets old, especially when it’s a record as killer as this. Underrated hardcore heroes S C.U.M. from Montreal get the reissue treatment for their excellent 1985 LP Born Too Soon…if only I could go back in time and give this to my high-school self. Oh well, better late than never. S.C.U.M. (who bastardized the Montreal Urban Community police name and logo at the time) played hard and confrontational punk similar to J.F.A. and BAD BRAINS, with some cool satirical Jello Biafra-esque vocals. Lyrically, the band hits every touchstone of punk that was as relevant then as it is today: politics, war, skateboarding (although truthfully, I could do without the sort of corny “Pool Hunt”), and of course, hating the police. Ragers like “Go to War,” “Exit Death,” and “So Much Hate” rattle with power and are so well-produced, it really is a shame these guys haven’t received more recognition.

Electric Chair Act of Aggression LP

Olympia’s ELECTRIC CHAIR dropped their debut Act of Aggression on Iron Lung, and it has to be said, this band has chosen the perfect name—putting on this record is like getting strapped in and shuffled off this mortal coil. Stuffed to the brim with abrasive metallic punk, ELECTRIC CHAIR plays in the same vein as GERMS and N.O.T.A., with some oddball freakouts sprinkled throughout that remind me of TY SEGALL at his freakiest. Musically, it’s a dense listen; songs vanish as quickly as they appear in a flurry of violent guitars entangled with frenetic bass and drums. Vocalist Dinah Corona’s unhinged warble is mixed so low it becomes like another instrument, adding an evil vibe that permeates throughout the album. Check out “Fatal Disease Pt. II” and “Security Camera” to see what I mean. Overall, an overwhelming but fucking awesome listen.

Negative Prayer Morbid EP

Three evil crushers from NEGATIVE PRAYER, for fans of GENOCIDE PACT, NECROT, and DISFEAR. “Morbid” is the standout for me here; a flurry of growling D-beat that pumps the brakes a minute-and-a-half in, detouring into a thrash-y chug before grabbing you by the throat and throwing you back into the pits (of Hell). Lyrically, NEGATIVE PRAYER isn’t exactly a ray of sunshine, but who wants that from their crusty death metal anyway?

Vacum Pang – Du Är D​ö​d! EP

An interesting single from VACUM, a pioneering post-punk band from Northern Sweden who were active in the late ’70s. After some digging into the band’s discography, I found a lot to love on their earlier releases. VACUM had a cool style, sort of a quirkier WIRE, or even JOY DIVISION with an additional female vocalist. They were active for a few years and seem to have had a small but powerful impact on the punk scene at the time. Years later in 2019, they re-recorded their track “Pang – Du Är D​ö​d!” (“Bang – You Are Dead!”) to celebrate the 40-year anniversary of their label Massproduktion. While still maintaining the general vibe of their earlier work, this updated version unfortunately doesn’t work as well. The production is a little too slick and the blaring saxophones during the intro and chorus reminds of third-wave ska, while the verses jerk back to icy post-punk mode, making for a slightly confusing listen. The B-side is an updated demo from 2014 which starts off well but is a bit bland overall. It’s a shame, because VACUM is a band worth looking into—this just isn’t the right place to start. Check out their debut Rädd För Tystnaden 16 Brottstycken Ur 5 Verkligheter for the good shit.

Mess Traidores / Excuses 7″

Here are two more crackers from MESS, one of the best to do it in the current crop of Oi! bands gaining popularity. Both sides of this 7” scratch the itch, with “Traidores” and “Excuses” straddling the line of first-wave ’70s punk and classic UK82 and Oi!, influenced by the usual suspects (BUSINESS, BLITZ, 4-SKINS). Throw this on with a beer or spliff for a solid Saturday night.

Revanche À Jamais EP

A nicely-done EP from Switzerland’s REVANCHE, featuring four sturdy Oi! tracks sung in French. No frills here; this is as clean as a freshly shaved dome. Opening track “Poucave” and title track “A Jamais” are a saxophone or two away from being indistinguishable from the source material these guys are working from. For fans of the old school (TROTSKIDS) and the new school (MESS, CASTILLO) of the genre.

Positive Violence No Such Thing! CD

Poland’s POSITIVE VIOLENCE play Oi!-influenced, East Coast-style hardcore with some UKHC influences on 2022’s No Such Thing!. Pretty standard fare that unfortunately falls prey to feeling a little generic at times. There are, however, a couple of odd exceptions; POSITIVE VIOLENCE has a penchant for beer and hippies, so much so that each subject gets its own song (the former on “Pearl Among Beers,” the latter on the aptly titled “Hippie Chick”). Curiously enough, each of these tracks trades the tough-guy hardcore act for more of a goofball pop punk thing (which helps explain the equally eccentric album cover). Kind of a bizarre listen, but also an interesting one.

Slug Continuing Growth LP

I may be biased, but nothing hits quite like hardcore from the Midwest. Very cool shit from SLUG, an Ohio-based outfit playing lean and mean punk on their EP Continuing Growth. There’s some lurching WARTHOG goodness here—check out “Axe” and “…Tired” to see what I mean. I’ve seen some Hate5Six footage of SLUG and all I can say is that I’m anxiously awaiting a Chicago date.

Heaven’s Gate Heaven’s Gate 12″

Fast and furious blasts from HEAVEN’S GATE, a who’s who of thrash/crossover/metal playing thrash/crossover/metal. If you need an idea of HEAVEN’S GATE’s sound, look no further than the impressive resumes of their members—MUNICIPAL WASTE, WARTHOG, CANNIBAL CORPSE, REVERSAL OF MAN. Stuffed with blastbeats, riffs on riffs, sludge-y baselines, and shredded vocals, HEAVEN’S GATE impressively scratches every itch in five songs’ time. Checkout opening track “Smear Crusade” and prepare to have the skin melted off your face like the poor fella on the cover.

Pest Control Don’t Test the Pest LP

Leeds-based thrashers PEST CONTROL have ticked every box on their debut LP Don’t Test the Pest: pristine production by Arthur Rizk, an album cover that will be included in the best metal artwork for years to come, and a release on Quality Control HQ, a legendary label in the making. If any of the aforementioned whets your appetite, you’ll be happy to hear that while you may come for the package, you’ll stay for the tunes. Don’t Test the Pest will satisfy fans of old school thrash (SLAYER), new school thrash (POWER TRIP), and everything in between. Opener “Extermination” begins things with some ominous early METALLICA-inspired drama, leading into “Masquerade Party,” a double-kick-laden pummeling that channels everything there is to love about thrash/crossover: speed, anger, and riffs. Vocalist Leah’s aggro delivery is perfectly suited to the lyrical content; mental anguish, feelings of isolation, and general disdain for any outside forces. Other highlights include “Buggin Out,” which boasts one of the catchiest choruses I’ve heard in a long time, “Don’t Test The Pest,” a fast and furious pummeling with a gnarly guitar solo, and closer “The Great Deceiver,” a grand exit that punctuates the album perfectly. Between this and labelmates FORESEEN’S 2022 LP Untamed Force, it’s never been a better time to be a metalhead.

Home Front Games of Power LP

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

Zone Infinie Atomisés LP

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

Stress Positions Walang Hiya cassette

From the prolific and diverse Chicago hardcore scene comes STRESS POSITIONS and their 2022 debut cassette Walang Hiya (“No Shame” in Tagalog). Musically, STRESS POSITIONS play fairly straightforward hardcore with lots of fun surprises thrown in—check out the noise at the 40-second mark on “Lust for Pleasure,” or the screeching halfway point of “This Land.” Vocalist Stephanie Brooks has a brutal vocal delivery that oscillates between shredding and shrieking, only slowing down to softer singing on an occasion or two. All of that said, the title track “Walang Hiya” is the standout here. Opening with ringing guitars before blasting off, it’s a three-minute punk odyssey condemning the white Catholic takeover in the Philippines and its destruction of indigenous culture there, specifically in regards to the treatment of women and their right to make choices about their bodies. It’s a bold song and a subject matter that doesn’t seem to be touched on often, at least not this specifically. By the time the repeated chorus of “Ayako sayo!” (“I don’t like you!” in Tagalog) comes along, the cover art depicting a Catholic priest being burnt at the stake by three Indigenous people feels a lot more profound. Highly recommended.

Factory City Children Perfect Utopia EP

Here’s some cool shit outta New York via Mateo (or “Tormented Imp,” as credited here) of WARTHOG fame. Auto-drum mutant punk is how I’d describe this one; imagine the Gremlins from the movie Gremlins starting a punk band and you’re close. First up is “Perfect Utopia,” which is more or less “Some Kind of Hate” by MISFITS if it were dropped into a vat of toxic sludge. It’s as awesome and weird as it sounds. The rest of the EP follows suit: wicked vocals, catchy riffs, and demented programmed drum beats. “Obsessed” and “Gut the Pig” are both quick and evil bursts that sound like RAMONES songs dressed up in Halloween costumes. “Hell Man 88” changes the pace a bit with a mid-tempo WARTHOG-ish rocker, and “F.U.M.E.S.” wraps things up nicely, taking a quick feedback-filled breather before making a final descent to hell. Originally released in 2021 on cassette and now on vinyl thanks to Toxic State, this is a surprisingly charming EP that is sure to delight all of you mutants listening out there.

Jivebomb Primitive Desires cassette

JIVEBOMB is in good company on two counts—they’re from Baltimore, where something is clearly in the water (see: TURNSTILE, END IT), and they’re on Flatspot Records, alongside countless other hardcore powerhouses (ZULU, SCOWL, and TRAPPED UNDER ICE, to name a few). On the five-song cassette Primitive Desires, JIVEBOMB delivers a whirlwind five-and-a-half minutes of expertly crafted modern hardcore. Opener “86” is a muscle-bound instrumental stomper that leads into title track “Primitive Desires,” an impressive one-minute blast that is sure to get stuck in your head. “Steel” follows suit, catchy and quick, with vocals that sound like they’re frying to a crisp. “Illusion of Choice” opens with a WARTHOG-worthy “blurgh!” and steamrolls through its 48-second runtime in a flash before closer “Ditz” wraps things up by reiterating what’s so fucking good about JIVEBOMB: they’re so tight and play with such a chaotic but clean style. For fans of any of the aforementioned bands and good music in general.

Dragged Dragged cassette

Hailing from New Bedford MA, DRAGGED is new to me, although I knew the name sounded familiar (they played a gig with CONSERVATIVE MILITARY IMAGE a bit back). From the sound of the opening “blergh!,” I was expecting a WARTHOG or maybe POISON IDEA-style hardcore punk, and while those influences are definitely there, the overall vibe reminds me more of NEGATIVE APPROACH, especially in the vocal department. All of these songs kick ass, but my favorite is “Tough Look.” Its mid-tempo metal chug goes well with the mean vocals and breaks the proceedings up nicely, giving you a moment to bang your head before the remainder of the tape bangs you in the head. Check it out!

Mastermind The Masters’ Orders LP

After four-ish years, MASTERMIND has decided to call it a day, but not before leaving us with The Masters’ Orders, a love letter to hardcore with nods to NYHC, UKHC, and crossover. MASTERMIND comes from the same school as contemporaries BIG CHEESE and T.S. WARSPITE: gruff, throaty vocals and heavy riffs that bring to mind legends JUDGE and SHEER TERROR. Opener “Collateral Damage” is like a sampler platter of the rest of the album: pummeling double kicks, rubbery bass leads, searing guitar solos, and a menacing vocal delivery that is perfectly over-the-top. MASTERMIND has a lot of gnarly stuff happening, but their ability to change tempo and style will leave your head spinning. The breakdown on “Patience” slows to a zombie-paced sludge before being resurrected by a drum and guitar solo, while “Haunt” starts with a funky little bass line playing along to a toe-tapping beat before hurtling into a mid-tempo chug that changes speed and direction enough times for me to lose count. The overall effect is a little like being on a rollercoaster; it’s jerky and unexpected at times, but always exciting and always a good time. The hardcore scene is losing a real one with MASTERMIND, you’d be wise to catch ‘em if you can!

Layback Sit Down and Layback EP

Quality Control HQ continues its run of excellent releases with LAYBACK’s Sit Down and Layback, a five-song crusher taking cues from the sun-scorched late ’80s West Coast hardcore scene, specifically OC bands like PUSHED ASIDE, INSTED, and HARD STANCE. In fact, LAYBACK’s style is so dialed-in that I half-expected them to be a straightedge band themselves (a quick glance at their Instagram would suggest otherwise). I’ll say less. Go buy this album, drop the needle and do as they say: sit down and lay back. It’s not a bad way to spend a cold winter afternoon.

Bleakness Life at a Standstill LP

What can you say, the French love their cold goth post-punk and so do I. From the same label as the excellent SYNDROME 81 is BLEAKNESS with their second LP, Life at a Standstill. While the former plays it straight with the post-punk iciness, BLEAKNESS is far more dramatic, opening the album with a lone piano that gives the proceedings a dramatic flair that permeates throughout the album. The vocals especially stand out; they have a pained warble that feels authentic. While all ten tracks are solid, two stand out above the rest: halfway point “Refuse Their Reality,” a hypnotic spoken word deathrocker that has an evil BAUHAUS vibe, and “19061924,” a beautiful and surprisingly sweeping instrumental that, if pushed, could almost go into MOGWAI or even PELICAN-like territory. I’ve got to say, it really left me wanting more of that sound. I’ll be excited to hear whatever these guys come up with next.

Middleman Cut Out the Middleman cassette

A solid EP from London’s MIDDLEMAN, with four tracks of post-punk heavily influenced by the likes of WIPERS, MISSION OF BURMA, and the REPLACEMENTS. Opener “Train Man” suggests a straightforward, prickly CBGB punk sound, before switching tempo around the one-minute mark to reveal a style closer to early DC emo. “Entropy” pulls the same trick; a straightforward punk track in the vein of WIRE that hits the breaks after a minute and a half to reveal a slowed-down finish that’s hard not to nod along to. Really cool stuff that must sound great live.

Mononegatives Kill Mono flexi 7”

Here’s a cool one from MONONEGATIVES out of London (not that London, the Canadian one). “Kill Mono” sort of reminds me of John Dwyer from OSEES playing songs by SUICIDE. It has a repetitive nature often found in this style, but with some great hooks thrown in to keep you interested. Lots of style, lots of swagger, I dig it.

The Annihilated Submission to Annihilation LP

2022 was certainly a memorable year for punk albums, with a number of releases I would consider to be new instant classics. Coming in at the final hour, the ANNIHILATED unleashed Submission to Annihilation, one of the year’s latest and greatest. Full-throated and raw, the ANNIHILATED play a similar strain of D-beat hardcore to BOOTLICKER, with a vocal delivery that has been correctly compared to Damaged-era Rollins. Lyrically, topics cover class warfare (“Divide and Conquer,” “Bootstraps”), widespread apathy (“Normality”), and the hell of substance abuse (“Vice Grip”), themes that are all uniquely modern and unfortunately timeless. Add to that the artwork from drummer Nicky Rat and mixing by Jonah Falco (whose seal of approval is always a sign of quality) and that it’s self-released(!), and it simply cannot be understated: the ANNIHILATED have ticked every box and delivered their own instant classic.

Conservative Military Image Skinhead cassette

A couple of months ago, I began to notice a buff dude popping up in pictures with some of my favorite bands like the CHISEL and VIOLENT WAY along with the letters “CMI,” and I couldn’t help but wonder “who is this guy, and what the fuck is ‘CMI’?” Well, it didn’t take long for me to find out. “CMI” is CONSERVATIVE MILITARY IMAGE, a Chicago-based band making waves with their one-two punch of EPs, Summer Skinhead and this, their debut Skinhead. Playing a catchy mix of Oi!, hardcore, and street punk, CONSERVATIVE MILITARY IMAGE has cited inspiration from bands as diverse as WARZONE, ROSE TATTOO, and NEW YORK HOUNDS. Lead singer and lyricist Adam is the glue holding this crew together, and while I love his classic tough-guy punk sneer (almost going into Stiv Bators/DEAD BOYS territory at times), the real gold is his lyrics. Clever and direct, proud and loud, Adam is extremely economical with his writing yet leaves plenty to unpack. “Generation Kill” is a great example; a sub-two-minute stomper that tells you everything you need to know about this band’s mentality and manages to slip in an easter egg of a lyric from Boston’s the TROUBLE. It’s a tasteful homage and something CONSERVATIVE MILITARY IMAGE is so good at: respectfully mining inspiration and making something fresh of their own. I’m fortunate enough to be a Chicago native and look forward to catching these guys this year. Fuckin’ Oi! is right!

Bootlicker Lick the Boot, Lose Your Teeth: The EPs LP

The first BOOTLICKER material I heard was their fourth EP, 2020’s How to Love Life. As soon as the opening track “It’s Beautiful” started I knew one thing for sure: this was some of the gnarliest drumming I’d heard in a minute. Crunchy, brutal, and unrelenting, like a machine gun ripping through clips of ammunition. That’s all I needed to become a believer. BOOTLICKER is putting out some of the best D-beat hardcore punk at the moment, and this collection of their first four EPs (from 2017–2020) showcases the band’s ascent from their first 6 Track EP towards the aforementioned How to Love Life. To get the full scope of the band’s output, listen to all 37(!) minutes, but as I mentioned, I highly recommend the track “It’s Beautiful” to hear the band at full power. 

Faul Techniczny Dalej Pójdę Sam LP

Here’s a band I’d never heard before, FAUL TECHNICZNY (or “technical foul” for you non-Polish speakers) from Poland. They’ve been kicking around since 2017 and have compiled and released their first three LPs here as Dalej Pójdę Sam. NYHC-inspired fare with gruff vocals, frequent breakdowns, and absolutely no frills. In fact, there’s really no fat anywhere here—every song is very direct with little to no deviance from the formula that they’ve obviously found works for them. Unfortunately, this makes the songs blend together a little from time to time. Overall it’s not for me, but I know a few punks back in my hometown who could get down to this.

T.S. Warspite Stop the Rot LP

Leading us by the hand into a grim vision of the not-too-distant-future is the excellently named T.S. WARSPITE with their first LP Stop the Rot on Quality Control HQ. Following a stellar demo from 2020, the Manchester-based outfit plays a supercharged take on early DC melodic hardcore and modern UKHC; think BAD RELIGION and DAG NASTY but also BIG CHEESE and the FLEX. Singer Marco Abbatiello’s rumbling voice serves as the narrator, taking us through the struggles of getting through the hellscape that is modern society including politics, housing issues, and impending environmental destruction. Both incredibly urgent and scathingly intelligent, we’d be wise to listen to what these guys have to say. Standouts include “Scampia,” “Redemption Arc,” and “Slum Landlord.”

Todd Killings & the Contracts (I’ve) Got Your Contract EP

Thanks to TODD KILLINGS & THE CONTRACTS, I’m now aware of the proud Vancouver punk pastime of “fuck bands,” or bands with members swapping instruments and opening for themselves at shows, playing joke songs that were more than occasionally actually very good. You see, at the time, the scene was so small that there weren’t enough bands to play opening slots at shows. Thus, the “fuck band” was born. Inspired by this tradition, (I’ve) Got Your Contract was recorded by Josh and Pat of CHAIN WHIP during COVID lockdown with minimal takes to keep it raw, and it sounds great. You can clearly hear the pent-up energy of two punks having a good time without giving themselves many restraints. Fun and rowdy pogo-punk, for fans of Killed By Death comps and rare punk 45s, this will be a fun discovery for crate diggers in the future.

The Chisel / Mess split EP

The sound of the new wave of Oi!—the CHISEL and MESS are leaders of the pack, and this is a perfect snapshot of some of the best of what this genre has to offer. MESS fares excellently on their side with “Don’t Look Back” and “I Don’t Like You,” the former proper BLITZ-worship and the latter a catchy belter with some nice BUZZCOCKS-style guitars. The CHISEL’S contributions are fantastic as always with “Keep it Schtum,” a hard one that reminds me of something off their first EP Deconstructive Surgery, and “Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” their catchiest and most celebratory since “Not the Only One.” Don’t be a square, shave your head and listen to this!

Violent Way Bow to None LP

Earnestness isn’t an easy look to pull off, but VIOLENT WAY from Buffalo, NY wears it well. On Bow to None, lead singer Nick Terlecky and the boys encapsulate their world neatly and wrap it in a bow. Lyrically, it’s all about loyalty, respect, and not taking any shit. Sonically, these guys are the real deal and have clearly done their homework. On opener “We Don’t Need You,” VIOLENT WAY channels the spirit of ’82 flawlessly. If you’re into Oi! classics from the likes of COMBAT 84, the LAST RESORT, and TEMPLARS, you will find lots to be happy about here. Standouts include anthemic title track “Bow to None,” “Our Stand” (featuring a cameo from Cal of the CHISEL) ,and instrumental “VWS”. No frills, no fuss, just the good shit.

Watermelon Watermelon demo cassette

WATERMELON is a snappy three-piece from Chicago playing one-and-a-half-minute knuckle sandwiches on their 2021 demo cassette. Sonically, there’s a heavy RAMONES influence, but also a dash of EATER and MISFITS. What really stands out are the vocals, a girl-gang chant that reminds me of Holly Golightly and THEE HEADCOATEES. Standouts “Shithead” and “I’m So Happy” both sound like they’ll be on punk comps someday. Good stuff!

Snuffed Coping Human Waste LP

Chicago’s SNUFFED play crunchy and mean Midwestern hardcore on their LP Coping Human Waste, released earlier this year on Another City Records. With Andy Nelson of WEEKEND NACHOS and HARMS WAY on recording duties, SNUFFED delivers a nice mix of fast punk and riffy hardcore in the vein of URBAN WASTE and the FLEX, showcased best on tracks “Pesticide” and “Flock.” The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it “If You Resent” is the shortest track here, a traditional one minute as opposed to the rest which clock in at about the two-and-a-half-minute mark. It’s unusual for this style, but it’s refreshing and makes repeated listens essential.

Mindforce New Lords LP

Upstate New York hardcore giants MINDFORCE return with their excellent second LP New Lords on Triple B Records. It’s been four years of heavy touring and headlining festivals since their debut Excalibur, and it shows—MINDFORCE is sharper than ever. The band is a well-oiled machine and frontman Jay Peta’s performance is worth the cost of admission alone. Opener and title track “New Lords” is a shout-along headbanger leading into “Survival is Vengeance,” a no-frills thrashing that showcases Peta’s strong vocals. At the album’s halfway point, the band shows (a little) mercy with epic standout “Thirteen and Mean,” the album’s longest track and what feels like the centerpiece. Awesome mid-tempo muted riffs and white-hot solos lead to a fake-out ending followed by a stomping final thirty seconds. A few rippers later, we arrive at closer “Rotten,” which sees MINDFORCE go out with a bang. Beginning the song with ominous metal-riffing, the band takes us through a whirlwind of different speeds and styles before inviting the listener back to the pit to get their ass kicked one last time. MINDFORCE are masters of high-energy live performances and they’ve successfully captured that same energy on New Lords.

Strong Boys Homo EP

Gay hardcore punk heroes STRONG BOYS from Dublin are back after a six-year hiatus with their just-over-five-minute-long EP Homo on the always wonderful Static Shock label. There is a heavy influence from John Brannon and an early NEGATIVE APPROACH vibe, with barking tough guy vocals and lean/mean guitar and rhythm section. Lyrically, you can hear what STRONG BOYS have to say loud and clear: they are not here to take your shit. Not yours, not the church’s (“Pink Death”), not society’s (“UB2FU,” “Bad Blood”), and most definitely not some creepy shitstain trying to cop a feel at the bar (“Bad Bear”). Great hardcore that isn’t fucking around.

Foreseen Untamed Force LP

Finnish thrashers FORESEEN have unleashed their highly anticipated new LP Untamed Force. I’m going to get straight to the point: this record is fucking awesome. A truly wild ride that places FORESEEN comfortably next to thrash/crossover contemporaries MUNICIPAL WASTE and POWER TRIP (R.I.P. Riley, to whom the album is partially dedicated), while also bringing to mind the best of the NWOBHM: VENOM, DIAMOND HEAD, and MOTÖRHEAD. Opening track “Soldier’s Grave” sets the tone for the rest of the album with chugging guitars, double kicks, and righteous solos. Vocalist Murko Nummelin’s delivery matches the music almost too perfectly; at times he sounds like he’s foaming at the mouth. Lyrically, you can feel the urgency and fury in every track. By the halfway point, FORESEEN has aimed their sights on those entitled in society on “Birthright,” the pain endured to please the powers that be on “Tolerance of Abuse,” and the despair of drug addiction on “Suffocating Routine.” Then two minutes into “Fetish Oppression,” things take off into an unexpected soaring bridge complete with angelic (or demonic) backing vocals. It’s one of many moments that make this album such a fun listen. FORESEEN is masterful at adding touches throughout that take each song to the next level. Check the organs playing in “Cold Comfort,” the runaway train guitar and bass chug in “Serve Your Purpose,” and the dizzying drums and face-melting intro of “Desensitized.” Title track “Untamed Force” closes the album with the band declaring “Crashing the gate / No time to wait / For someone to do it for us / Storming onwards / A ferocious untamed force,” a firm affirmation that this is FORESEEN’s world and we’re just living in it. Expect this to be on every “best of” list at the end of the year.

Zikin Zementua Armosaten 12″

Basque Country band ZIKIN (Basque for “dirt”) has released their EP Zementua Armosaten on one of my new favorite labels Mendeku Diskak, and rightfully so, as ZIKIN fits right in alongside labelmates MESS, CASTILLO, and BRUX. Quick, sharp, angry bursts of street punk with a slight tint of deathrock. Standout track “Jodidu” (Basque for “iodize”) is a catchy fist-pumper with a DEAD KENNEDYS-inspired surf guitar lead that seems to appear out of nowhere. A rad EP that makes me look forward to hearing more from ZIKIN.

Buggin Brainfreeze / Gratitude flexi 7″

“Brainfreeze” is a two-minute pummeling from BUGGIN, one of the best hardcore bands from Chicago right now. Simply put, this is hardcore punk that is incredibly accessible. Very catchy, great breakdowns, great riffs. Also, it’s a love song, which is cool as fuck. The B-side is a cover of “Gratitude” from BEASTIE BOYS’ Check Your Head, handled wonderfully as the band flex their mid-tempo muscles.  Fresh off of the Darkside of the Moon 2 tour from Triple B and Flatspot Records, BUGGIN are ones to watch. Fingers crossed for a full-length soon.

Cuir Album LP

CUIR (French for “leather”) is a one-man band cruising through eleven two-minute cuts of neo/cyber/future Oi! on the superb Album. These strong (if slightly repetitive) traditional punk songs are elevated with flourishes of synth running through each track. Opening instrumental “Maniac” sets the pace, and standout “Luxure Objectif” sums things up perfectly: a propulsive two-and-a-half minute ode to kinky leather bondage. CUIR mastermind Doug Zilla even sounds a little bit like Tony from the RIFFS, what’s not to love? For fans of CAMERA SILENS and the movie Drive.

Vanilla Muffins The Drug is Football LP reissue

VANILLA MUFFINS refer to their brand of upbeat punk as “Sugar Oi!,” drawing from SHAM 69 and the RAMONES in equal measure. On Puke N Vomit’s reissue of their beloved 2003 LP The Drug is Football, you can nearly taste the sweetness. Opener “Brigade Loco” is a love letter to punks in Spain with a catchy sing-along chorus and guitars à la COCK SPARRER, “Pride of the North” is three minutes of perfect pop punk probably worth the price of admission alone, and “Viva El Fulham” is all BUZZCOCKS and the JAM riffs. By the time they reach their take on WALL OF VOODOO’s “Mexican Radio,” they have covered just about every ’70s punk benchmark I can think of. Great, catchy football-worship for anyone with a sweet tooth.