Jake Joyce

Ritual Warfare Poison Death Noise EP

You know, there really isn’t anything that stands out to me about this EP. It’s pretty cut-and-dry blackened death metal with some decent riffage, pummeling drums, and the typical themes ranging from gore to anti-religious iconography. However, it’s charming in its own way. There’s a palatable sort of passion that oozes from it. This is the kind of band I’d have a really great time seeing live, but probably wouldn’t listen to much in any other setting. I think it’s because there’s absolutely no low end on this recording. If there’s a bass player, then they absolutely buried them in the mix. Some metalheads dig that kind of thing, though. If that’s up your alley then this is worth a spin.

Strikeslip Stuporstar / Terribly Tangled Up 7″

This is a really lovely single. Tongue-in-cheek power pop that brings to mind NATURAL CHILD, SPACE PHLEGM, and even a little bit of early ROLLING STONES. Incredible production here as well. Everything sounds clean and natural. I love hearing poppy music like this that isn’t compressed to all hell. This might not enter the rotation of the typical MRR reader, but I’m smitten by it. For fans of Matador Records and people who think indie music peaked in the mid-’90s.

Birth Ritual Hell CD

Fantastic three-song EP from Japan’s own BIRTH RITUAL. Thrash punk teetering way more towards the trash end of the spectrum. This album is absolutely brutal straight out of the gate. No frills or unnecessary bullshit. Just pure intensity and raw power. A true throwback to the classic years of thrash and metal in general. For fans of NUCLEAR ASSAULT, MESSIAH, HOLY TERROR, etc.

The Darbs She’s a Dungeon Master Now LP

Catchy and fun pop punk out of the Malibu of the Midwest: Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Maybe I’m being subconsciously influenced by the dairyland association, but these guys remind me a lot of BORIS THE SPRINKLER. Fantastic vocals, especially the harmonies. This is the kind of band I’d love to see live at some desolate Wisco bar late on a Friday night, with a lukewarm bottle of PBR and a matching neon sign hung behind the stage (in this fantasy, the stage is just a spot on the dining room floor where they cleared away the extra tables and chairs). Great album here. In my opinion, Wisconsin’s punk scenes in general are crucially underrated and they need to be boosted on everyone’s radar.

Kirkby Kiss / Medicinal split EP

Great split EP here. MEDICINAL sounds like a modern rendition of the lost wave of emo that no one really ever talks about, which featured bands like CAR VS DRIVER and BOYS LIFE. Noodly riffs in a minor key with a vocalist who appears to have worshiped at the altar of Guy Picciotto. This is what I think about when someone references post-hardcore. KIRKBY KISS plays a more stringent version of hardcore, but their singer really stood out to me. Very raw and real, sounding like they blew their voice out before they even got into the studio. My only complaint is that it’s over too soon!

Cornish Game Hen Death Process CD

Imagine my surprise when a dance punk band named CORNISH GAME HEN wasn’t from across the pond, but instead from Houston, Texas of all places. Sounding like ADAM ANT, the B-52’S, and THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS all smashed together, it is a daunting task to get through this fourteen-track album. Very repetitive and drab, which is interesting to me because it sounds like each member takes up vocal duties throughout this disc. You’d think this would spice things up a bit, but it still just all sounds the same. I do need to point out that out of all the tracks, the vocal performance on “Poster Punk” really stands out, as it showcases an impressive run during the chorus. The synth work is great, don’t get me wrong. However, it does a metric ton of the heavy lifting and doesn’t fill the gaps left wanting by the rest of the band. CORNISH GAME HEN ultimately chose quantity over quality here. Death Process may have worked better as an EP with a handful of their best songs from this session.

Accidente / Nightwatchers split LP

Genuine question here: are these the same bands with different singers? They both sound identical sans vocals, and even then, they both sing with the same inflection. It almost seems like these folks sat around and wrote these songs together. I guess that would be pretty impressive in itself, seeing as one band is from France and the other from Spain. I’ve whined about this in the past, so forgive me if you’ve heard this tirade before, but split albums are really only interesting when you can clearly distinguish the bands from each other. There were times listening through to this album that I didn’t realize it had hopped over into the second half until the singer appeared. Regardless, both bands are quite talented and have obviously taken great care with their songwriting. The production is beautiful, and each side sounds absolutely massive and sweeping. However, there’s nothing really groundbreaking here. I’ve listened through a handful of times and very little has really stuck with me. Closest I can come to a comparison is SUGAR STEMS and MARKED MEN, but they don’t replicate the same type of catchy hooks. Interesting to note that while both bands are from Europe, this LP was mastered at the legendary Sonic Iguana Studios in Indiana.

Zondar The Chain / The Light Burns 7″

Rob from BUCK BILOXI brings us some more of that DEVO-inspired egg-punk that’s everywhere these days. Both songs have movie samples that seem to last longer than the actual music itself. This single is fine. This drum-machine-laden bedroom punk genre has been done to death, and you really gotta come out swinging if you want to contribute something interesting, especially on a label like Goodbye Boozy, which has released a ton of heavy hitters in this style over the last couple of years.

Paprika Let’s Kill Punk LP

Really solid hardcore record here. Reminds me of a modern MDC, especially with the vocalist who has the same poise and energy as Dave Dictor. Similar candor as well; the lyrics are blunt and straight to the point, as heard in tracks like “Polite Society” and “Let’s Kill Punk.” Brilliant production, too. Everything sounds loud, crisp, and massive. There’s an echo effect on the vocals that I would usually not be a fan of, but it works well on these recordings. It sounds like the singer is shouting into the abyss and the abyss is shouting back. I am a huge fan of the drums here. Drummer hits hard as hell, and it really helps foster the chaos that is PAPRIKA. A+ effort here, and well worth a spin.

Virvon Varvon Four Bars of Hate cassette

This band fucking rocks and this band fucking rolls, baby. Great lo-fi garage rock that sounds like if the STOOGES started writing music with NOBUNNY and nosier acts like GOD IS MY CO-PILOT. Raw and catchy with an attitude to match. I absolutely love how the vocals are recorded. Slightly blown-out, but not enough that they’re obnoxious or grating. Drummer is the unsung hero here. They’re tucked in the back, but they trudge along and keep the slightest bit of order to this madness. Fantastic work here, and well worth a play!

Brody and the Grodies Brody and the Grodies Went to the Bar So This Half-Finished Record is All That You Ge CD

One of those bands that purposely tries to sound like shit and is proud of it, except BRODY AND THE GRODIES don’t really sound like shit. They’re just kind of boring and corny. Seven drum-machine-driven punk songs with topics ranging from beer, coffee, Bigfoot, beer, and meat. Wait, did I mention beer? The album is topped off with a five-minute sketch that sounds like it came from an old ICP demo tape. You can tell they had fun recording this, which is really the best thing I can say about this whole ordeal. You’d be better off listening to FOSSIL FUEL or one of the other hundreds of FOOD FORTUNATA-related projects out there.

Toxic Thrust I Love You / Cenotaph 7″

I love this 45. That’s a pretty fitting reaction if I do say so myself. Two fun little rock’n’roll ditties that sound as if KING KHAN started writing music for the DR. DEMENTO show. There’s a surf/psych-rock element to them as well which gives these tracks a real summer jam kind of vibe. Not much to show in the lyrics department, but sometimes all you need to do is let someone know you love them.

Failure Face Junction Pizza EP

I am a huge sucker for live punk albums, and this little slab here is a great example as to why. Pure, raw, rock’n’roll chaos, recorded in April of 1995. FAILURE FACE plays a hybrid type of hardcore powerviolence that reminds me a lot of bands like KUNG-FU RICK and AUTHORITY ABUSE. I absolutely adore the crowd interaction throughout the record. It starts off pretty enthusiastic and it begins to dwindle as the show progresses. Very relatable, very endearing, and very real. We’ve all been there! Comes with a neat little two-page autobiographical write-up of the band and the record itself. These recordings were initially ripped from a VHS! Incredible! They sound great. Fantastic 7” here, especially if you’re someone like me who really loves the history of obscure punk scenes of the past.

Pi$$er Too Busy Eating Gruel LP

Wow, I didn’t know what to expect here, and this album completely blew me away. What starts off like a THROBBING GRISTLE record soon kicks into what I can only describe as ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT on steroids. PI$$ER doesn’t remain married to that sound, and they bounce between early industrial, DEVO-like new wave, and a surprising amount of soundscapes for a punk LP. The production flows together beautifully, and there is nary a second of dead air. A very well-crafted concept album that never once feels boring or hastily manufactured. Featuring members of DOOM and SORE THROAT, if you can believe it. Fantastic stuff here, and well worth tracking down!

Better Plastic Mint Condition EP

First and foremost, I am a big fan of this album art. Throw a couple skulls on your record cover and it’s an automatic spin from me. Artsy powerviolence out of Brooklyn—shocking, I know. Super groovy, and sounds similar to FUCKED UP’s Glass Boys (Slow Version). Has a Steve Albini edge to it, and reminds me a lot of heavier JESUS LIZARD/LAUGHING HYENAS. What really sets this 7′ apart from their peers is the guitar and bass work. Pummeling at times, but also noisy and dissonant. Treble-heavy bass sounds like it’s come straight from the ’90s, giving off a classic post-hardcore vibe. Guitar is noisy as all hell and reminds me of if WOLF EYES collaborated with Greg Ginn (at least during his late ’80s era when he tried playing jazz guitar). A fun little romp and well worth a spin.

Ultras Ultras II EP

Very tight fastcore here. The drums and guitar both sound great, but I wish the vocals and the bass were a little louder in the mix. It lacks any low-end and comes off sounding a lot less heavy than it should. The vocals sound like they’re being run through an old distortion pedal and have very little power behind them. They’re tucked behind everything else in the mix and are drowned out by the rest of the band. This is fine for what it is, but I guess I just expected more from a band featuring members of WORLD PEACE.

P.S Tensión cassette

Fantastic synth punk from Ecuador. Almost like a South American ATOM AND HIS PACKAGE/I HATE YOU WHEN YOU’RE PREGNANT, which scores huge points with me. Vocals are powerful and energetic. I wish I was smart enough to understand what he was saying, but I barely eked by in my Spanish classes in college. According to the liner notes, this was made with an authentic analog synthesizer. None of those bland, overused GarageBand samples here! Pure electronic madness, and well worth picking up if you’re looking to diversify your cassette collection.

Impermanence 9-Song Offering cassette

Powerviolence out of Portland teetering more on the trashier side. Hard for me to not compare these guys to MAN IS THE BASTARD seeing as they’re a bass/drums combo, but that’s what I’ll have to default to here because…well, they sound a lot like them! They also give off a SPAZZ/CAPTAIN THREE LEG vibe, as their riffs are catchy and melodic. For just being two people, they sound massive and super heavy. Drums sound natural, which is always an A+ in a genre that resorts to triggers.

Rejoice All of Heaven’s Luck LP

The first new release from this Columbus quintet in about two years, REJOICE reminds me a bit of what NEGATIVE APPROACH would sound like if its members were born within the last quarter-century, mainly because the singer sounds like a modern-age John Brannon. Otherwise, this a pretty groovy record, and teeters more on the metal side of the hardcore see-saw than punk. I don’t know how else to explain this, but this record is chock-full of what I’ll call “spooky” guitar leads that you often hear in black metal. Actually, this whole album has a blackened edge to it. It would probably sound like it came directly from the Arctic Circle if the recording quality wasn’t so top-notch.

Bedspin Liminal Spaces LP

As a fellow Illinoisan, I will always give props to bands from not-Chicago, especially if they’re from the very bottom of the state. I hear Carbondale has a great punk scene, though. Anyways, lovely pop punk outing here. A very nostalgic listen for me. Reminded me of the first time I heard Fat Music for Fat People, which forever changed my life. Catchy vocals, noodly guitar leads, treble-heavy bass runs, and the occasional drive-by ska riff! Feels like the early ’00s for me, makes me want to dig out my old skateboard and pretend like I know what I’m doing again. Great stuff here. For fans of early Fat Wreck and Epitaph.

Small Steps Breakthroughs/Breakdowns LP

Cookie-cutter pop punk out of Kentucky. Reminiscent of DIGGER, GAMEFACE, and early ATARIS, but lacking a lot of the charm those bands had. Very lukewarm lyrics that range from the utmost corny (“I’ll learn to take long walks with you / As I forever stand beside you,” as heard in “Rome is Where the Heart Is”), to straight-up tired cliches (“I was born at night / But not born last night” from the track “Three Button Sweater”). The lyrics are probably what kills the band the most for me. The music is actually pretty decent. Catchy at points, sentimental at others. Production is great and everything is very clean and mixed well. But with songs like the ironically titled “Skip This Song,” in which the singer laments about playing a poorly attended show in a wishy-washy scene, these guys make it hard to like them. We’ve all played bad shows, man. It happens. This just comes off sounding more entitled than anything. SMALL STEPS could be a great band if they took a little more time on the writing process. I look forward to seeing what they come up with down the road.

R.M.F.C. Club Hits LP

Yet another top-notch band out of Australia. I have said it over and over again at this point, but they really know how to rock in the Southern Hemisphere. Lovely dance punk that reminds me quite a bit of SHOPPING, CHERRY CHEEKS, and all things ADAM ANT. I am smitten with the guitar tones here. Very natural, but unique and ethereal. Lots of care and patience went into this recording and it really shows. Great work here, and well worth a spin!

Disinterred Corpse Burial cassette

Holy shit, this is chaotic as all hell. I can’t lie, the moment I saw the length of each song, I knew I was going to love this. Is that a bias? I guess it could be, but I can’t deny my adoration for sub-minute songs. Pure grind insanity here. I’m curious as to how the drums were recorded. It sounds like they were tracked directly to a TASCAM through a karaoke mic. They are blown the fuck out and it really adds to the madness. This sounds like the most organized mess of music I’ve ever heard in my life. It really distances them from other modern grind which sounds a bit too over-produced and clean for my tastes. I did initially scoff a bit at the cover art’s “Extremely Graphic Content” warning, but in hindsight, if any album is deemed worthy of that title, it’s this one. Wonderful stuff here, straddling the line between noisecore and grindcore.

Todestrieb DEsperAte THanatology CD

Listen, I’m gonna be honest here. If you’re someone who likes conventionally “good” hardcore—polished, on tempo, and in tune—then you’re not going to like this album. However, if you’re someone like me who likes the sloppiest of the slop, who loves musicians that sound like they’re attempting their instruments for the first or second time, then this record is for you. TODESTRIEB may not have the technical chops of their crust peers, but to say they don’t have the correct attitude is straight-up false. These guys just go for it and kill it. I love seeing this kind of confidence in punk. Less solos and more noise is what I say! Big fan of this album.

Lone Creep 100 Beers of Music: The First Year CD

Self-proclaimed AARP hardcore! Thrash-inspired one-man punk act out of the Southwest. Biting satire, not only aimed at nationwide issues seen in songs like “Get Shot” and “Corporate Job,” but also on a personal level with tracks like “My Neighbor is a Dickhead” and “I’m in a Foul Mood.” I can definitely relate with those last two. Charisma here is infectious, and his vocals are absolutely built for punk music. Very strong and in-your-face! Lots of attitude and confidence. You can tell this dude just loves having fun, making music, and cultivating his scene at large. I did a little research here and his social media presence is nothing but PMA. Love to see it. The kind of guy you’d love to get a beer with. Well worth a spin, especially for all you old fogies!

Lazer Bullet Spirit Suck Shit EP

Fastcore punk rock outta the Pacific Northwest. Really brilliant work here. The guitar has a little bit of a twang with a natural distortion to it, which gives it a crisper and cleaner sound while maintaining the hardcore energy. Everything is just so near-impossibly fast and never wavers. Super intense energy and incredibly tight. Vocals sound great; high-registered yelps drenched in reverb that really gives it that rock’n’roll edge. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention just how great the drums sound, spot-on and massive. This is a great EP all around. I’d even consider it a very early contender for future “Records of the Year” lists.

Variation 8 EP

As soon as this EP kicked off, I knew I was going to love it. Fast, sloppy, garbage-grind. Lo-fi and gritty recording makes it sound like it was unearthed from a ’90s time capsule. The treble on the guitars and bass is turned up way high and gives off a classic black metal vibe. Nothing beats the pukey vocals for me. So many modern grind bands hire vocal coaches to “learn” how to scream. What’s up with that? This dude here just goes for it and it sounds a million times better than someone who had to pay to sound brutal. They’re probably a real joy to see live. Really great stuff here, and well worth a pick-up if you’re into this type of trash-grind.

Attack Total Total Attack EP

Fun punk/pub rock out of Sweden, which is surprising because this sounds a lot like the bands that  came from the Chicagoland area in the mid-to-late ’90s—very similar to WALKER and WINEPRESS and all of the other Harmless Records groups, probably because each song has these simple little guitar licks that are catchy as hell. Singer reminds me a lot of Joey Ramone mixed with Frankie Stubbs of LEATHERFACE fame. The kind of band I’d love to come across on a pub crawl. Big fan of this EP, and think it’s well worth a spin.

Terre Neuve Condamné EP

Really great modern Oi! out of Belgium that incorporates a lot of hardcore elements as well. Solid guitar gallops and throaty, barking vocals. Speaking of guitar, the utilization of the barre chords adds a whole level of additional heaviness on top of the melodic leads that give off a bit of a pop sensibility. Catchy but brutal. Everything is played tight, and the drums and bass are interlocked real well. I love the bass tone here, it sounds like the strings are melting off the neck with each stroke. Really amplifies the energy as a whole. These dudes just went all out. Lovely work here.

Simp Society Idolizing Meaningless Products cassette

Raw and fast hardcore out of the Pacific Northwest. Seems to be just two dudes writing and recording everything on their own, which is always very impressive to me. Has a real powerviolence feel, and reminds me quite a bit of late-era CHARLES BRONSON and ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN. My only complaint is that this EP is extremely short. I use the term “blink and it’s over” often enough, but that is literally the case here. As soon as the album gets moving, it’s done. I guess that just leaves us wanting more. If that was their intention, then it worked! Now I’m simping for SIMP. 

Strangely Addictive Animal CD

Your typical run-of-the-mill garage rock here. There’s some decent stuff on this disc, but a lot of it comes off like JACK WHITE trying to ape the NEW YORK DOLLS and RICHARD HELL. I usually love me a good drum machine, but the lack of real drums hinders this album quite a bit. It’s way too clean, robotic, and precise. This is an odd complaint, but this album is a tad too long, almost like being forced to eat an entire bucket of ice cream. The first four scoops are great, but halfway through, you’re choking it down and wondering why you have so much ice cream in the first place—very ironic considering the band name. Vocals are great, snotty and charismatic, and carry most of the album. Lots of potential for STRANGELY ADDICTIVE, I think they just need to adjust their game plan a bit.

Abanglupa Of Rats and Swine LP

Brutal powerviolence out of the Philippines. Teeters more on the metal side than the punk side of PV. Super heavy, but slow and low at points. Has a doom metal element, but also reminds me of the early era of nu-metal when it was still experimental and not the cornball mallcore it later became. Lots of dissonant guitars and deeply heavy barre chords. I love non-American grindcore because they think more outside the box than their Western counterparts—always comes off more authentic and less fashionable. Really beautiful production, everything is crisp and full. Vocals are full-throttle and front and center. Everything sounds great here; super tight and groovy as hell. Well worth a spin if you’re into this type of thing.

Kageneko / Merked split cassette

Great split between two grindcore bands from the West Coast. Both sound pretty similar, but MERKED has real drums and KAGENEKO is a classic cybergrind band with the drum machine playing impossibly fast beats. Reminds of something you’d find in some random distro in the early ’00s. Nothing groundbreaking here, but it’s fun as hell.

Karkaisu Tulenarkaa EP

Hardcore crust out of Finland. Very thrashy at points. In fact, this feels more like a metal album than a punk one. Not that I’m complaining, I’m a big fan of this release. It was almost a little shocking to see this was recorded within the last year—it honestly feels like this was unearthed from the early ’80s. Very tight recording, and the guitars are absolute fire. Blistering fast galloping that never wavers. Fantastic stuff, and the album art is the icing on the cake. For fans of early METALLICA and ZNOWHITE.

D.R.L.N. Broadcasting cassette

Incredible album—has a classic DC vibe and sounds a lot like a more sinister FUGAZI. I’m sure they get that a lot. Lots of energy, but also some slow, low, and sludgy moments. Very cool mathy parts; I love how the drummer utilizes the hi-hat as a stopgap in between certain measures. It helps foster a strong dynamic that keeps the orderly chaos moving. The singer is a modern-day Guy Picciotto, which I’d argue is hard to pull off in earnest. It doesn’t come off as cosplay. Very authentic and raw. Over the years, the genre of post-hardcore has evolved away from its original definition, but I think this album brings the style back to its roots. Well worth a spin if you’re into stuff like QUICKSAND, RIVAL SCHOOLS, and Q AND NOT U.

Jonas Patterns of Dominance 12″

A re-release of their 1996 demo recording, pressed from the original masters. Classic grindcore from a time before bands started using drum triggers and studio trickery. Vocals sound authentic and real, unlike a lot of today’s grind acts who run their singer through a whole mess of effects and processing. I’m starting to come off like some bitter old man, but it’s refreshing to hear something that isn’t attempting to be a polished product. Noisy, raw, and fast as hell. Blink and it’s over, just the way it should be.

The Losers / Rote split EP

Really great split between two bands out of California, albeit in different directions. Makes sense, as both of these groups sound like they’ve come straight from the heyday of Gilman. ROTE brings us some classic melodic hardcore while teetering on the edge of crust. They remind me a bit of LEFTÖVER CRACK with less ska and better vocals. Very authentic, and a lot of fun. If I can be honest, I didn’t expect much from a band called the LOSERS in this day and age, especially since they included a cover of “Rockin’ in the Free World.” But my mind was quickly changed during their first track “The Big Question,” owing to their very charismatic frontman and blistering guitar leads. Classic punk rock right here with a bit of an Oi! tinge. Hey, even the NEIL YOUNG tribute is pretty cool!

Vintage Crop Springtime / Mercenary 7″

More fantastic music out of Australia. Poppy post-punk with a little bit of slowcore thrown in. Chill and laid back. The singer sounds a bit like a less energetic Fred Schenider, which might seem like a critique, but it works very well for VINTAGE CROP’s styling. Great use of the synthesizer during “Springtime,” and especially the horns (or what I think are horns) at the end. Fits right into the pocket and gives the track a floral accent. “Mercenary” reminds me a lot of ’90s indie groups like SUPERCHUNK. Very catchy with upbeat guitars that don’t overlap the vocals. Great composition for both tracks. Lots going on, but it doesn’t sound messy or overthought. I initially wondered why this wasn’t released during the spring, only to remember it’s currently spring in Australia. The Earth is crazy, huh!

Lengua Salvaje 2023 Demo cassette

Raw, crusty hardcore three-piece out of Chicago. They’re another one of those trios that does a great job filling in the gaps, sounding absolutely massive with just a drummer, guitarist, and vocalist. Reminds me of all the early grind bands who came to fruition without a bass player but still sounded heavy as hell, much like a more rustic PIG DESTROYER. Vocals are blood-curdling like a banshee in the night. Absolutely intense and unwavering. The lo-fi production pairs perfectly here. I love how the drums come off in the mix—tucked a tad into the back, but when they come alive they’re pummeling. Top-notch stuff here.

Stiff Meds Tales From the Slab LP

I wanted to like this album. I really, really did. I love the album art, and I’m a sucker for any hardcore band with sub-minute-long songs. Before I start with my griping, I will say that the drummer on this album is incredible. Fast and tight as hell. I had to do a little research to make sure it wasn’t a drum machine—I really wish they were louder in the mix. There is absolutely no low end on this album. Every song sounds weak. The bass and drums are tinny, and the treble is turned up way too loud. In fact, the bass is so low in the mix that I sometimes can’t even tell that it’s there. The singer is just not built for this style of music. They drench his vocals in some weird compression effect that, again, eliminates the low end and makes it sound way too airy. I assume it’s supposed to make his voice raw and grittier, but it only makes it sound like he’s trying to clear his throat constantly. During “Torn Out,” the tenth track on the album, there’s a portion where he speaks the lyrics, and it honestly sounds better than his attempt to do the tough-guy vocals. Very paint-by-numbers hardcore here. Nothing feels fresh, and they really over do it with the samples, placing them directly in the middle of the song where it causes a giant clusterfuck, sounding sloppy and disjointed. STIFF MEDS has the talent. I just don’t know if it’s conducive to this type of songwriting.

Goblin Brain Goblin Brain CD

Damn, this EP is brutal. This is some classic straightedge hardcore. Feels like I picked this up from the back of some distro catalog in the late ’90s. If you ever needed a proper example of fastcore, this is it right here. Drums are absolutely incredible on this recording, easily the most intense part—loud, in-your-face, and tight as hell. Very reminiscent of early WEEKEND NACHOS, and with breakdowns much like DAMNATION A.D. Blink and it’s over, but that’s the way hardcore should be!

The Gents Responsible Dog Walker EP

Fun stuff here out of Germany—melodic garage punk with an Oi! twist. Reminds me a little bit of early SNUFF mixed with BLITZ. Very catchy hooks. Each song sounds slightly different than the last, and it leads to a very compelling EP. The dual vocals really help keep everything fresh and they create a great dynamic. These guys apparently have day jobs as elementary school teachers and practice each night in the school’s music room. Nothing more rock’n’roll than that. Well worth a spin. Very tight and energetic.

Piss Shivers Piss Shivers LP

Yet another fantastic import out of Australia. At times, this album sounds like a modern BUZZCOCKS paired with barking vocals akin to Rick Froberg of HOT SNAKES fame. Guitar has a very natural distortion and doesn’t sound like it’s being processed through a bunch of different pedals. I was gobsmacked to learn this band is a two-piece. They really know how to get the most out of their limitations because these recordings sound absolutely massive. I’m aware that there’s studio trickery to fill the gaps, but the overdubbing sounds to be at an absolute minimum. This is rock’n’roll.

Agathocles / Malicious Algorithm split EP

I know that I should know better by this point, but every time I see a new AGATHOCLES split, my first reaction is always “wow, another one?”— I’m sure I’m not alone here. And usually, right before I throw it on, I always assume that this EP will be the one where they start phoning it in; that their side of the slab will be a bit of a bore or lazy or unimaginative or what have you. However, once the record starts spinning, I wonder why I ever doubted them at all. AGATHOCLES always delivers, and such is the case with their new split with California’s MALICIOUS ALGORITHM. AGATHOCLES strays a bit from their classic mincecore styling, opting for a slower, sludgier sound. MALICIOUS ALGORITHM plays brutal, lightning-fast powerviolence, but also with a classic grind influence as the guitars and blastbeats pair exceptionally well together. Both bands sound different enough to make this a quality split.

Mace Head / Slavery split 7″

Fun split out of the Czech Republic. SLAVERY really teeters on the edge of classic power metal, but is brought back from the brink once the vocals kick in, sounding more like DOOM with throatier vocals. MACE HEAD’s side of the split is much more crusty and lo-fi. Very reminiscent of AUS-ROTTEN with a phaser pedal and a soft spot for industrial music. Vocals are intense as hell, and I’m curious as to how they recorded them. A tad sloppy at times, but I think that’s what makes this a great split. No ego. Raw power. Well worth a spin.

Continued Without a Finding CWAF LP

Grind-sludge out of Massachusetts. Originally recorded in 2007, this album was recently mixed and mastered for a 2023 release. Could have fooled me, so kudos to the engineering team—these recordings sound very modern. Took me a couple listens to really sink my teeth into this one. Sure, there are your typical grindcore elements, like the insane chops of drummer John Gillis (of late-era AXCX/YOU’RE FIRED infamy). But the riffs are borderline nu-metal, and sound like songs PANTERA left on the cutting room floor. The vocals are layered with so many effects that they sound as if they recorded them from a payphone and then drenched them in an astounding amount of reverb and echo. However, tracks like “Just Another Day in the Orifice” and “Copulate” have more of a crushing, grindy/doomy edge and really make me rethink how I view this record. All in all, there are a couple stand-out tracks here, but CWAF opted for more quantity over quality.

S.H.I.T. Demo 2023 cassette

I love modern D-beat that doesn’t default to sounding exactly like the oldies. Great demo here from Toronto’s S.H.I.T. Brutal and fresh, but there’s something buried in here that makes these songs sound like they’ve come straight from the ’80s. I think it’s the vocals, as they sound classic and familiar, yet timeless and unique. A real crusty paradox! Lots of hardcore elements as well, with the guitars almost having a youth-crew-esque edge. Very full recording, and surprisingly heavy at points. Two originals and a couple covers from CRUCIFIX and BLITZ, respectively. Their Bandcamp URL is brilliant.

The Shakewells Who the Hell Are? cassette

Surfy garage rock that reminds me of the VENTURES, the MUMMIES, and MAN OR ASTRO-MAN? all rolled into one. Very impressive musicianship here; very tight and never cluttered. I think it can be a challenge when you throw an organ player into the mix, but the SHAKEWELLS do a good job of not playing over each other. Otherwise, this is your typical spooky-adjacent rock’n’roll release. Not bad by any means, but nothing really groundbreaking. If you enjoy the genre, you’ll probably love this. A perfect soundtrack for the Halloween season.

The Steves In a Room EP reissue

My first thought listening to this EP was “Wow, every band really does want to be DEVO these days.” Then I noticed this was a reissue from 1980, and thought “Wow, this band wanted to be DEVO during DEVO’s peak.” Which, honestly—bold move, STEVES. I can’t fault you for trying. But I also can’t help but laugh at the press release, claiming the STEVES sounded too unruly to be considered for radio play. Freedom of Choice literally came out that same year! Maybe it’s all tongue-in-cheek and I can’t pick up sarcasm the way I used to. I will say though, it was daring of them to put a disco track on the B-side in 1980. Now that’s bold.

Smirk Polyrhythmic Ticks EP

More drum machine egg-punk, which seems to be completely dominating underground rock’n’roll at the moment. I loved it when all those Total Punk bands did it, but I think it’s time for us to move on to a different style. They’re all starting to sound exactly the same. Most of this EP is very drab and dry, and is void of anything catchy. “Bored By Everything” is the standout track, and is a much more energetic and engaging anthem than the other three. I’m all about bands experimenting, but “Bored By Everything” sounds much more like their prior work and I think it suits them better. Coincidentally enough, I’m just bored with this EP.

Powerplant Grass EP

Dark, melodic post-punk out of London. Has a similar feel to the dozens of other drum-machine-laden bands that are everywhere these days, but POWERPLANT comes off more nuanced than their electronic peers. Less DEVO, and more SMITHS meets ALIEN SEX FIEND. I might catch some flak for this, but they also remind me of a rustic THOMAS DOLBY. That’s supposed to be a compliment, but I understand if it’s not taken as such! I need to give POWERPLANT their due for using sleigh bells throughout “Walk Around (Hang My Head).” You don’t hear enough of those in punk these days. No fooling!

The Dissidents / Vitrolic Response split EP

Cool split between bands from the US and England. The DISSIDENTS feature MISCHIEF BREW’S former bass player on drums and play your typical sloppy punk rock, but the vocalist is so intense and charismatic that it brings everything together. A true pissed-off poet, and the kind of singer I’m sure a lot of bands wished they had. Seriously great stuff. VITRIOLIC REPONSE plays classic UK hardcore and sound like a modern GBH with barking vocals, but also incorporates doom/black metal elements, like slowing the tempo and using sinister arpeggios. Both bands sound different enough that it creates a great dynamic.

Mass Separation Semarak Api CD

Grind-crust out of Malaysia. Sloppy and noisy as hell, the way the genre is meant to be. As is with a lot of these types of releases, the drums immediately stick out to me, as they are blisteringly fast and never waver. Guitars have a very powerviolence/metalcore tint to them. Lots of crunchy breakdowns, squealing pinch harmonics, and dissonant chords. Vocals have a ton of nuance and range from deep-throat growls to banshee-like screams. All in all, a decent release if you’re a fan of the genre.

Morreadoras Morreadoras y Ya Está cassette

Flexidiscos has been releasing some of the best synth punk out of Europe over the last year or so, and they continue the trend with London’s MORREADORAS. This sounds like Halloween punk to me. Like BOBBY “BORIS” PICKETT with one hell of an edge. I mean this in the best way possible, and it is in no way a slight. As with most of the Flexidiscos releases, the synth drives everything, and it is hauntingly chilling. The fun kind, not the scary kind, like the soundtrack for an ’80s Scooby Doo special. Again, not a slight. That’s a compliment! Top-notch stuff here, and just in time for the spooky season.

Cryptic Void Physwar//Psywar LP

Brutal death-doom out of Texas. Drums are absolutely incredible here and are all over the place. Recording quality is conducive to this, picking up every little thing the drummer does—almost mind-blowing at points, and really what caught my attention the most. Guitars are heavy as all hell, slow and low at points, and manically fast at others. Vocals are in the traditional death metal styling here, but sound great. All in all, a fantastic record for those who are fans of the genre.

Silicon Heartbeat MT0001 cassette

Fantastic Great Lakes beach punk from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Real surfy vibes with a hint of horror punk, like a poppy MUMMIES or a rustic EPOXIES/SOVIETTES with deeper, growling vocals. The synth completely drives this band and it’s the immediate focal point of this whole EP. The guitar and bass have tones that mesh insanely well and are locked in sync throughout. Lovely slab here, and pretty solid autumn jams if I may say so myself.

Kiht Fihsto Kiht Fihsto cassette

It took me a couple listens to appreciate this EP. KIHIT FIHSTO melds a bunch of different styles ranging from D-beat to metalcore to skate punk to Kill ‘Em All-era METALLICA. Sometimes when a band draws from different influences, it comes off as more disjointed than it does eclectic. That’s the impression I got on my first run-through here. But the more I re-listened to this album, the more it all clicked into place. They’re just a group of folks looking to have a good time playing rock’n’roll, and that’s all that really matters. To hell with an aesthetic! The guitars sound huge on this and are impressively tight, even if they are just power chords. As a fellow Illinoisan, I always need to give props to a band from Not Chicago.

Novak’s Kapelle Hypodermic Needle / Doing That Rhythm Thing 7″

A repressing of a 1968 single—I initially thought this was a modern recording of a band doing a throwback sound. Austria’s NOVAK’S KAPELLE played psychedelic garage rock, and while it’s a decent little single, I was much more into it when I thought it had been recorded in this day and age. I do appreciate a re-release for those who want this stuff on wax, especially considering that the original 45 has gone for upwards of $400 on Discogs. For fans of IRON BUTTERFLY and doing large amounts of LSD.

Endless Swarm Manifested Forms LP

I feel like I’ve been a little bored with today’s grindcore scene at large, and was perhaps a little nervous that I was falling out of love with the genre. Enter the UK’s ENDLESS SWARM, reminding me that the style is still alive and kicking. Quintessential powerviolence here; the perfect combination of hardcore punk and blistering metal. SPAZZ-like dueling vocals, heavy riffs, and breakneck drums bouncing between insanely fast blastbeats and groovy breakdowns. Very high-energy and intense as fuck.

Blind Solution Blind Solution cassette

Hardcore out of Tacoma, with a style that I’ve come to refer to as “blink and you’ll miss It” punk. Six songs in roughly three minutes and change. I’ll be honest, folks. If your band can write a decent twelve-second song, chances are I’ll love you. Like a more modern, polished NEGATIVE APPROACH. Great stuff here.

Squelch Chamber Eater of Self cassette

I’ve been a big fan of Owlripper Recordings over these last couple of years, but have only been familiar with their compilations featuring sub-minute tracks from harsh noise artists the world over. Imagine my surprise when this album (released digitally via Owlripper and on tape by Bastard Premonition) kicked off with nothing but a simple, clean drumbeat. I was being baited, but at this point I had no choice but to go along with the ride. The moment that blown-out bass kicked in, I knew I was listening to an instant drone metal masterpiece. Noisy as all hell, dirty, slow, and low. Reminiscent of KILSLUG or a much more rustic version of Bullhead-era MELVINS. Worth a spin for any lover of doom or sludge.

Dragnet The Accession LP

I sound like a broken record, but Australia is exporting some of the best releases in rock’n’roll at the moment. Gritty dance-punk similar to bands like BLOC PARTY and ADAM AND THE ANTS, but much more rustic, raw, and powerful. Drums and bass are massive and everything is just so damn catchy. Love the dueling harmonic guitars as they seemingly compete for attention with the keyboards. Somehow with all of this going on, the vocals still stand out front and center. Even within the chaos of having six members, the music never sounds cluttered or messy. Great stuff.

Pilau Pressure EP

Pretty standard hardcore affair, but man, is this heavy as hell. Grindy and doomy with a little bit of black metal thrown in as well. Very nuanced, which is important when you’re writing a hardcore record in 2023. Has a little bit of a Southern groove to it, which is unique for a band from D.C. Recommended for all raucous pit-goers.

Ford’s Fuzz Inferno War, Peace & Fuzz EP

With a name like FORD’S FUZZ INFERNO, I was expecting something doomy. What we’re treated to here, though, is some good old-fashioned anti-war pop punk from the Netherlands. I’d say that’s just as good. Very reminiscent of BAD RELIGION and all the other classic bands you’re all familiar with. Nothing really groundbreaking here, but it’s catchy and recorded very well. Recommended if you’re nostalgic for the skate punk of the ’90s and have a hatred of armed conflict (which I assume includes all of us at this point).

V/A Benefit for Prevention Point EP

Great compilation for a great cause. Nice mix of different-sounding bands, ranging from snotty garage rock to grind-influenced hardcore, from catchy to brutal all within fifteen minutes. Each band hails from the same region, so suffice to say Philly has a pretty healthy scene. Lovely stuff here, reminds me of the old compilations of my youth. Well worth a pick-up.

Priors Daffodil LP

Melodic rock’n’roll straight out of Montreal. PRIORS’ newest release is their fourth LP in five years, which is impressive in its own right. Power pop akin to MARKED MEN, FIDLAR, or MIND SPIDERS, great use of synthesizers that pairs well with the catchy guitar licks that are laden throughout each track. Although the guitars are the most prominent here, I was really drawn in by the rhythm section—lots of great bass runs and the drums sound crisp and tight as all get-out. Solid album, although it’s a pretty standard garage rock piece. Definitely worth a spin if you’re a fan of the genre.

V/A Err02 EP

Four-way split between four different hardcore bands that all sound pretty similar. Typical gruff, tough-guy riffs written solely with the pit in mind. HUNDREDS OF AU stands out from the other three with more of a classic ’90s emocore sound similar to GRADE and early THURSDAY. The rest are reminiscent of the slew of Victory Records bands that were huge in the late ’00s. I’ve always loved this type of compilation 7”, but you really gotta diversify the sound if you want to make it interesting.

Royal Drug Defend Degeneracy CD

Powerviolence out of Albuquerque that draws comparisons to SPAZZ and CAPTAIN THREE LEG. Great barking vocals more reminiscent of youth crew than grindcore. Drums and bass sound huge on this and drive more of the record than the guitars. That might sound counterintuitive for a hardcore album, but it works here. Groovy as hell. I may be biased, but bands who reference Altered Beast in any way get a gold star from me. My only complaint is the samples at the beginning of some tracks. I know this is a classic grind trope, but it kills the momentum on such a short record.

Frisk / Last Affront split cassette

Split between two hardcore outfits out of the UK. There’s a little bit of a grind/powerviolence element here as well. FRISK is reminiscent of early CEREMONY, while LAST AFFRONT has more of a D-beat edge mixed with NEGATIVE APPROACH. Really love the vocal stylings from LAST AFFRONT. They’re unique and help them stand out from the mix of other bands who have done this type of hardcore countless times in the past. Otherwise, nothing really groundbreaking here. Worth a listen if you’re a moshcore junkie.

Red Crap The Truth is Still Out There LP

Poland’s RED CRAP brings you traditional punkabilly with a little bit of a surfy goth-rock edge. The kind of band you might see at a hot rod show or a very large tattoo convention. Recording quality is fantastic, but that isn’t automatically conducive to an interesting album. While the talent is obviously there, The Truth is Still Out There is chock-full of old punk tropes that we’ve heard hundreds, if not thousands, of times before—very reminiscent of the early Fat Wreck bands. They would have fit in well with the Lookout! crowd in the late ’80s and early ’90s, but at this point we’ve heard this all before.

Gumm Slogan Machine LP

Oh my. This is one hell of a record here, folks. Melodic hardcore coming to us straight out of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Akin to the SUCIDE FILE and very early EVERY TIME I DIE, this album just feels like it’s from the South. I mean that in the best way possible, attributing this to their heavy use of twangy, jammy guitar leads. Bouncing between groovy, catchy, dissonant, and downright violent, Slogan Machine features some of my favorite lyrics I’ve heard all year—a lamentation of a lack of community within a “community.” At least that’s how I interpreted it. Maybe I’m just jaded. Great stuff here, and very much recommended.

Ex-White This is Future LP

If you had told me this band came from the late ’80s/early ’90s Chicago punk scene, I wouldn’t have doubted you for a second. Hailing from Germany, EX-WHITE’S first full-length ranges from dance-driven post-punk to raw, Midwestern melodic hardcore similar to NAKED RAYGUN and LEATHERFACE. Very much in line with some of the classic No Idea bands. I can’t lie, there’s a little bit of AC/DC thrown in here as well, especially on the titular track. Catchy as all hell, and released at the right time. This is a summer jam right here, folks. Give it a spin, you won’t be disappointed.

Completed Exposition & Blackphone666 / Transient & Bastard Noise split EP

Nothing makes me happier than seeing BASTARD NOISE still active and evolving after over thirty years of making ears bleed. Their most recent reincarnation has them teamed with Portland grindcore vehicle TRANSIENT, a partnership that has blossomed over the last several years. This pairing takes up the A-side, and it’s pretty much what you’d expect. Brutal powerviolence infused with classic industrial. COMPLETED EXPOSITION takes up the B-side and continues the flow with a style of death-grind that mirrors CARCASS mixed with MAN IS THE BASTARD. Go figure. A wonderful slab to add the collection for any extreme music fan.

Metrics Demo 2022 cassette

High-energy hardcore from Spain that teeters on the edge of egg-punk thanks to their inclusion of a keyboard. Speaking of which, I’ve been listening to this EP on repeat for the last couple of weeks or so and only just realized there were synth leads layered in throughout the entire demo. In fact, the guitar overpowers almost everything, including the vocals. Otherwise, the production here is solid and crisp. I would just suggest they be a little more careful with the mixing next time around. All in all, a decent debut from METRICS. It makes me look forward to what they’ll do next.

Big Rat Rock n’ Roll Fever cassette

BIG RAT’s new EP brings us four pure rock’n’roll tracks for the politically-conscious party animal in all of us. Singer Ian Brink channels Richard Hell and a nasally David Johansen, so naturally you’d think he was born for the role. With almost all of the energy coming from Brink, this is a very vocal-driven record, showcasing the authentic “punk” attitude that some attempt unavailingly. The rest of the band sounds very much like STREET BRATS and the JABBERS. Some great guitar licks here, at points giving off a real classic AC/DC vibe. All in all, nothing groundbreaking, but is absolutely worth a pick-up if you dig these types of tunes.

Italia 90 Living Human Treasure LP

Very cool artsy post-punk from across the pond in London. Darkened dance-rock akin to JOY DIVISION, ADAM & THE ANTS, and PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED. Spacey and ambient at points, atmospheric and subtly industrial at others. Singer reminds me very much of Nik Fiend of ALIEN SEX FIEND fame. The rhythm section provides most of the hooks while the guitar is left to wander on its own, getting lost in a sea of dissonant chords and reverb-laden licks. Dystopian poetry for an ever-growing apocalyptic world. Lovely work here.

3D & the Holograms 3D & the Holograms LP

Man, I’m sure someone out there is going to read this and consider it blasphemy, but my first thought upon hearing 3D & THE HOLOGRAMS’ self-titled release was “this is what GG ALLIN wishes he had sounded like.” Rock’n’roll chaos that is as brutal as it is catchy. There’s no build-up or warning. Once you hit play, you’re immediately thrown into the tornado of sound. Much like a caffeine-induced panic attack, you feel trapped. The walls are closing in around you and there is no escape. However, you find yourself enamored with this unadulterated fear. You embrace it. You crave more. But with a blink of an eye, it’s all over. Fantastic stuff here.

Demoralized Demoralized demo cassette

There’s no mincing words here, folks. This is some of the best grindcore I’ve heard in quite a while. DEMORALIZED’S demo is very true to the genre’s nature—raw as hell, unlike a lot of the overproduced, studio grind you get nowadays. Drums sound natural and range from fast to fastest. Feels as if they were all done in one take, I mean that as a compliment. Guitars are heavy as hell and the vocals go unwavering. I’m usually not a fan of heavy treble on the bass, but it fits the DIY aesthetic so well that I can’t be mad. I terrorized my neighborhood last weekend by blasting this while grilling in my backyard. You kids make me feel young again.

Decorticate Conditioned By Violence cassette

Danish powerviolence with a hint of Ray Cappo thrown into the batter, sounding like BETTER THAN A THOUSAND merging with CAPITALIST CASUALTIES and other similar Slap-a-Ham-adjacent bands. Tightly mixed without being too over-produced. The drums are killer and direct traffic throughout, as is the case with most bands like this. Dueling vocalists channeling both youth crew and death metal energies. They’re not reinventing the wheel, but the nuanced singing styles make the album feel fresh, relentless, and unwavering. I am absolutely amazed that this is a trio. The sound is huge and intense as all hell. Well worth a spin if you love it fast and loud, which, if you’re reading this, I’d assume was the case.

Level Gone West EP

I typically love short and quick hardcore albums, but there’s something about this one that feels a tad empty and unsatisfying. The momentum is affected by dead air and sudden tempo changes, and it kills the energy midway through. These types of transitions work well on full-lengths, but for an EP that’s barely hitting the seven minute mark, there isn’t a lot of room to stretch your wings. I’d love to hear what an LP from these folks sounds like—feels like it’d fit their aesthetic a little better and give the building parts more time to breathe. Regardless, there’s some good stuff here. Very reminiscent of early CEREMONY. The drums sound great on this and are probably what’s causing me to long for more of their intensity.

Teini-Pää Sata Syytä Aloittaa LP

I don’t have an inkling of how to speak the Finnish language, so I had no idea what to expect with this record. The cover art reminded me a lot of the mid-to-late ’00s indie rock scene, and to be honest, because of that, I wasn’t expecting much here. However, this album completely blew me away. Very sentimental, rustic dream-rock. I can’t understand what they’re singing about, but I can feel it with the hooks and melodies. For all I know, they could be singing about something absolutely brutal. Still, the songs ooze with tenderness and nostalgia. “Mun Sydän On” is the standout track, the one that caused this album to sink its teeth into me. For fans of SUGAR STEMS and GOOD LUCK. Wonderful stuff.

Tee Vee Repairmann Organic Mould EP

More wacky, drum-machine-clad, DEVO-infused garage rock from our friends at Goodbye Boozy, this time featuring Australia’s TEE VEE REPAIRMANN. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it a thousand times: the best in punk is currently being exported from the Land Down Under. The rest of the world should collectively thank Strai’yah for their services to rock’n’roll. First half of this slab retains the traditional egg-punk we’ve all come to know and love, reminiscent of SNOOPER, ALIEN NOSEJOB, and CHERRY CHEEKS. The B-side features two slower ballads with a much stronger bedroom pop vibe. Really rounds out the EP as a whole. Great piece here, highly recommended.

Doctor Explosión Superioridad Moral LP

First record in over a decade from Spain’s DOCTOR EXPLOSIÓN. Great collection of songs here that bring to mind KING KHAN AND THE SHRINES melded with the MAMAS & THE PAPAS. This may sound like a weird concoction, but it works well. What you get here is a combination of the raw energy of a ’70s garage rock band and the bittersweet sentimentalism of golden-age oldies radio. Very partial to the vocals here, which sound like they’re coming from the deepest depths of an AM receiver in an old station wagon. Guitar work is incredible with licks for days. Great summer jams for those hot days where you sit around and do nothing but drink beer and sweat your ass off.

Sistema de Entretenimiento Sistema de Entretenimiento LP

Fantastic synth-heavy, drum machine punk from across the pond (Valencia, Spain). Diverse flavors in each track—well, as diverse as you can get with punk music. The first half of the album sounds like EPOXIES and GRAVY TRAIN!!! with a hint of ’90s Euro house. The rest are a mixture of classic DEVO and what could be described as a modern-day MUMMIES. I know drum machines aren’t for everyone, but I’m a sucker for them. Really adds to the band’s motif, and I don’t think a real drum set would do the music justice. Judging by their YouTube presence, their live shows look fun as all hell. Hopefully we’ll see them stateside soon enough. Lovely record here. Well worth a spin if you’re into melodic dance punk.

Endorphins Lost Night People LP

Sludge-violence out of Seattle. Not a bad record by any means. Band is tight, and production is on-point. But if you’re recording a hardcore album in 2023, you best bring something unique that makes you stand out from the rest of the crowd. Night People comes off as a formulaic, grind-by-numbers slab. Very reminiscent of a modern CAPITALIST CASUALTIES and MAN IS THE BASTARD, especially with the dual vocals. Drums are easily the most impressive part here, and really drive the energy of each song. Worth a spin if you’re a powerviolence junkie.

V/A If, When & With Whom cassette

Great compilation for a great cause, with all proceeds benefiting the National Network of Abortion Funds. Wide range of genres here, spanning ’90s alternative radio worship to West Coast garage rock to lo-fi bedroom pop. Hell, there are even a couple vaporwave-fused synth-funk tracks as well. There’s something for everyone here. Heavily recommended release, both for the music and the mission. At this point, all we can do is look out for each other and help wherever we can.

En Love Fled EP

Brutal powerviolence from Columbus, OH’s EN LOVE. Clocking in at under ten minutes, the Fled EP is a mosh classic. In what seems to be specifically crafted for the pit, this slab flows perfectly for anyone who is looking to dance their ass off. The EP kicks in slow and low, but immediately jumps into the action. No guitar solos, drums set deep into the pocket, just one homogeneous pile of fervent intensity. Very reminiscent of CLOUD RAT and other modern PV bands. I don’t know if this was on purpose, but the drums are blown out like crazy and it adds so much depth and vigor to an already massive recording. Good stuff here, recommended to anyone who loves newer grind.

Rumor Kontrol Here are the Facts cassette

I can candidly say that this release will not be for everyone, but I absolutely love what I will affectionately dub “bedroom punk”—hardcore drum machine madness from RUMOR KONTROL’s maiden voyage, Here are the Facts. DIY as all hell. Fast and gritty guitar that sounds like it’s being played from an old practice amp. I don’t want to mince words, I mean this as a compliment. Although I champion all things lo-fi and DIY, I didn’t notice the bass until much later in the album; my only complaint is that it should be a little louder in the mix. But other than that, this is pure rock’n’roll rawness right here. No ego bullshit, straight to the point.

Dead 77 Demons LP

The first full-length from Los Angeles’ DEAD 77. Upon first glance, I fully expected this to be a street punk album, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it was more akin to the early A-F Records bands such as THOUGHT RIOT and the CODE. Gang vocals galore here, which act as a call and response to the raw, melodic lead vox. There’s a delicate balance to be had between both, and DEAD 77 does a good job of not overlapping them. It creates a strong energy that is unwavering throughout the entire record. This is also helped by the guitars, which are layered into a wall of sound, peppered with fiery leads throughout. Well worth a listen if you’re a fan of late ’90s melodic hardcore.

Snooper Town Topic EP

I have adored SNOOPER since I first laid ears on them several years ago. Do you remember that “egg-punk vs. chain punk” meme that was big back in 2018? If you’ve ever had a hard time distinguishing between the two, I’ll make it easy for you. SNOOPER is the quintessential egg-punk band, and they do it better than anyone else today. You see, while SNOOPER might draw comparisons to bands like DEVO or TOY DOLLS, they’re something completely different. They are their own influence. Town Topic continues their trend of fast-paced, new wave jazz-punk. Quick little jaunts about the simple things in life, for better or for worse. SNOOPER’s guitar tone is what hooks me in the most. Clean, punchy, and swift; a styling all their own. Fantastic band who will most certainly do huge things in the years to come. Better hop on this train now!

Bothers II LP

Second full-length from Portland’s BOTHERS. Very interesting record, as it tends to meld certain punk styles that typically contrast. While a majority of the record has an early HOT WATER MUSIC/LEATHERFACE vibe, you can also hear a little bit of LAUGHING HYENAS-era John Brannon in the vocals. Songs swap between brutal, straightforward power chords to soaring harmonies. Catchy as all hell at parts. The bass is the unsung hero of this album, putting in work throughout. I wish it was a little louder in the mix so it could act as a stronger driver. For fans of No Idea Records and other melodic hardcore from the ’90s.

Choke / Döpemess split cassette

Music aside for a second—maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I don’t understand why each half of this split is being hosted on two separate Bandcamp pages. I’m aware that this is first and foremost a cassette release, but the majority of the folks who will be listening to this will be doing so digitally. I feel like it would make more sense having it all in one place. Regardless, it’s a pretty groovy split. Both bands sound different enough for it to be interesting. As a two-piece, DÖPEMESS does a fantastic job filling any and all gaps. Drums are incredible and never waver. Fast as all hell. Dual vocals give the tracks a real call-and-response vibe. CHOKE is much more slow and low, reminiscent of SPAZZ and CAPTAIN THREE LEG-styled powerviolence with their barking vocals. Drums sound almost impossibly fast at times. Comes complete with samples that are almost longer than the song. Good shit.

Compassion Pacing Animal LP

First release in three years from Brooklyn’s COMPASSION. Blisteringly fast grind tracks—blink and you’ll miss them, which is arguably the best kind of grindcore in existence. Everything is super tight and heavy. Drums are so fast and on point that I need to see it to believe it. Vocals are intense and nuanced, switching between guttural growls and banshee-like screams. Guitars cut through everything else like a knife, crisp and menacing. Very reminiscent of IRON LUNG and early WEEKEND NACHOS. Press release mentions that this band is a duo, but this recording is layered with two guitars and a bass. Would love to see how they pull this off live. Well worth a digital spin.

Split System Vol. 1 LP

There must be something in the water down in Australia because every band that has come through there lately has been incredible. Vol. 1 from Melbourne’s SPLIT SYSTEM is of course no exception. This album is what I would expect if the ROLLING STONES decided to try their hands at proto-punk, with the end result sounding like if the NICE BOYS had a heavier ADAM ANT influence. The vocals and lead guitar co-exist beautifully, and are both catchy while avoiding stepping on each other’s toes. Rhythm section is tight and stays in the pocket, letting the guitars shine. Great clean tone from both axes. Lovely record here, and very much recommended.

Desiccate Desiccate demo cassette

Man. I love this. DIY to its fullest. No-bullshit, heavy noise punk from the Great White North. Not a lot of nuance to their songs, but they don’t need it. DESICCATE isn’t here to be flashy. They’re here to fucking rock. Honestly, that’s what I like to see from bands these days. Energy that transcends the medium. No over-the-top production, no more than three takes. There’s no need for any ego-stroking solos here. Just the white-knuckle grip of a barre chord, the howl of indecipherable vocals, the grounded melody of a bass run, and a steady but powerful drum beat.

Alien Nosejob Stained Glass LP

This band is everywhere I look. I swear, I had three friends text me this album the day it dropped. With good reason, too. It rips! Guitar-worship to its fullest out of Melton, Australia. The press-release for this slab likens it to AC/DC. While that may be true for tracks like “Coastal Living 2,” I think the majority of the record sounds more like the NEW YORK DOLLS mashed with ZZ TOP. And not even just early-era TOP. I’m talking about the ’80s shit where they took a lot of risks, especially with “Sharp as a Needle” where the rhythm section really comes out for the first time. Speaking of, the bass and drums are tight as hell. I honestly can’t tell if it’s real drums or the best drum machine I’ve ever heard. Bass stays in the pocket for the majority of the record, and really gives the guitars the time to shine. Fantastic album, but seeing as it’s from Total Punk, you may already know that.

Sweet Reaper Microdose EP

Lovely little four-song slab from Ventura, California’s SWEET REAPER. Energetic, vocal-driven power pop with such a clean guitar tone that you’d think they were playing from an original 1950s Telecaster. Vocals are very melodic, and bring to mind MARKED MEN, RADIOACTIVITY, and a slew of other Dirtnap bands. Helps warm the bones on these chilly winter nights. Great stuff.

Mala Vista Ruthless & Toothless LP

I don’t know about the rest of you, but power pop has always struck me as one of the most “dangerous” forms of music—even more so than hardcore and the like. Something about a bunch of tatted-up dudes having the confidence to play sugary-sweet rock’n’roll has one hell of an edge. Lovely album from this NYC quartet. Very reminiscent of EXPLODING HEARTS and EDDIE AND THE HOT RODS, especially with the vocals. They’re not reinventing the wheel here, but the songs are catchy as all hell and the guitars sound great with crisp, soaring riffs. Makes me nostalgic for my younger years, wandering the streets of Chicago after a couple drinks.

Ingrown Gun LP

Classic straightedge metalcore out of Boise, Idaho. More emphasis on the “core” than the “metal,” the way it should have always been. The length of the songs is a unique twist on a genre that’s usually known for its long, drawn-out ballads. Brutally fast at points, transitioning into some of the slowest and lowest breakdowns I’ve heard in years—the kind of breakdown that makes me want to zip up my hoodie and head into the pit. Production is crisp, with everything sounding crystal clear. You can hear every little detail. Very reminiscent of DEADGUY and all the bands you’d hear from Spook City back in the day.

High Cost What’s Living Worth? 12″

Heavy powerviolence out of NYC. The drums are incredible, going from blistering fast speeds to slow and low breakdowns within mere seconds. The guitars and bass follow along just as closely, and appear to borrow some tricks from black and thrash metal, a really dark tone set early on that continues through the whole record. The vocals are easily the most impressive part: raw, unwavering barking that comes off very natural and relentless. Doesn’t sound like they had to resort to studio tricks to give them that edge. Speaking of, fantastic production and tight as hell.

Cloud Rat Cloud Rat Redux LP

A remastered, partially re-recorded version of Michigan grindcore trio CLOUD RAT’s debut album. If you’re familiar with them, then you heard this when it first came out over a decade ago. The record itself is great; the guitar swapping between relentlessly brutal and beautifully elegant riffs. The drums embody the classic grind element, while the vocals are non-stop barbarity from the moment you hit play. There’s a reason why this band is one of the top players in the game today. I just don’t think I understand the point of reworking the album—I personally think the original release still sounds better. If you’re a grind fan who appreciates ever-evolving production, then you’ll love this.

Ann Beretta Like a Riot! Live From the Broadberry (Acoustic) LP

More proof that the line between country and punk is much thinner than you’d think. Originally released in 2020, this 2018 live recording of Richmond’s own ANN BERETTA features live, acoustic renditions of their typically electric originals. It’s popped back up on our radar because DCxPC Live recently gave this album a limited vinyl release. Much like other country-adjacent punk bands such as DRAG THE RIVER and TWO COW GARAGE, these songs are a fine mix of debauchery and sentimentalism. The heavy use of a pedal steel and fiddle pushes the tender vibe while helping fill the gap that’s been left from going acoustic. Strong vocals, very reminiscent of Ben Nichols from LUCERO—very gruff but melodic at the same time. Personally, I enjoy these versions way more than their traditional punk songs. Really adds to a stronger dynamic and makes it much more interesting.

C.O.F.F.I.N. / Mini Skirt split EP

A fantastic split between two Australian punk bands. MINI SKIRT is up first with a very bass-driven style. The vocals come off monotone at times, but there’s something I really like about them. They feel authentic and sincere, especially on “Bag of Bones,” which appears to be a love song. Feels similar to Frankie Stubbs of LEATHERFACE. MINI SKIRT can be a little repetitive at times, but again, it works for them. C.O.F.F.I.N has a very different dynamic. Guitar-driven tracks with a vocalist that could be described as a punk rock MEAT LOAF. Very theatrical, especially when the piano lead comes in on “Under Your Wing.” This split works because the bands sound different enough to keep it fresh, but similar enough that you’ll be happy with both sides if you dig this sound.

Jade Dust Wild Geese LP

This band describes themselves as being influenced by mid-to-late DC melodic hardcore, and man, let me tell you…they’re either extremely self-aware, or they’ve done a great job learning how to reproduce that sound. My first thoughts went straight to RITES OF SPRING, EMBRACE, and GRAY MATTER. There’s a little bit of twinkling Midwest emo spread throughout as well. The vocals are energetic and melodic, they’re arguably the strongest part of these recordings. The guitar can be formulaic at points, but they sound great when they come out of the pocket. If you’re a fan of the late ’80s Dischord sound, you will love JADE DUST.