Jason Ryan

V/A Moncton’s Burning: 18 Slabs From the Underground LP

This one has been on the backburner for far too long and we apologize for the misplacement. Here we have a very solid collection of local indie rock and melodic punk bands from the small town of Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, recorded between 2011 and 2022, with aspects of late ’70s early ’80s French punk and catchy North American punk, and dare I say hardcore grunge at times. Thinking everything from RAMONES to LEMONHEADS to RIVERDALES to JOAN JETT to TAD to PUBLIC NUISANCE. Also getting vibes of DINOSAUR JR, MODERN LOVERS, L7, ATTAK, DETROIT COBRAS, MEAN JEANS, the BRIEFS, SHONEN KNIFE, DIRT…there are eighteen jangly Canadian rocker acts on this comp, and I don’t want to go through them all, but for one single self-described “small” town, this a great and eclectic offering. Parts garage, hardcore, punk, blues, lots of edge, swagger, and distortion, and even some cool synth post-punk moments. I’ve made the gut-instinct first impression comparisons above, but in pretty much all cases, these bands I’ve never heard of are nowhere near demo-quality. This is a totally professionally recorded collection. Overall, I love how all over the place this comp is, and how well it is curated as a play-though. It really flows and I, again, wish I got to it sooner. Although you are burning, Moncton, you sound damn cool to me.

Destruction Discography 1998–2011 CD

This collection contains the entire output of Japanese anarcho-crust band DESTRUCTION from Ibaraki. Aside from their name, they also carry a very strong peace punk sound, while being a crustcore calamity at times. Loose and pulverizing. Reminds me of AXIOM, with some melodies of PAINTBOX or BASTARD…it’s like A.P.P.L.E. meets INITIAL STATE. There are upbeat grooves that collapse into grinding, blasting rage, like E.N.S. or LUDICRA with intros by LIBERTY. DESTRUCTION members have gone on to form bands such as UNARM and ATARAXIA. This is definitely worth your attention these days; very unique, passionate, raw, and powerful punk about war, children in war, the working class struggle, and the constant oppression from a controlling class.

偏執症者 (Paranoid) Cursed CD

Dark and dreary from this summer, PARANOID returned with a powerhouse of chamber-echoing Swedish thrash metal, combined with their signature D-beat attack. Ten tracks of ’80s-infused metallic riffs under savage, raspy vocals and dense, punctuated percussion. Mid-paced and catchy, PARANOID is somewhere between CRUCIFIX and NIHILIST. I’m a big fan of DEATH BREATH and BASTARD PRIEST, and PARANOID always delivers, but even more punk. Actually, this might be my favorite recording from them (I have their covers cassette Out Raising Hell LP, and that session’s outtakes LP). It’s clear, harsh, and just moves like a war bison. A tornado of punk metal thrash and a dash of hardcore; breakdowns, anxiety, death, and destruction. If PARANOID has not let you down in the past, this is sure to hit hard as hell.

Pöbel Möbel The Return of the Mob CD

This Swedish band from the late ’80s played fast metal hardcore like ONSLAUGHT or BLACK UNIFORMS, mixed with BLACK SABBATH vocals and paces. This is great, and the production is excellent. Bouncy punk like something off UK/DK, but clearly picking up on some CELTIC FROST attitude. There are even hints of GISM echoes and weirdness. This is like a 4:00 am album and no one is going home or to sleep, if that makes any sense. Also would be good if you are in a bad or sad mood. No-fucks-given Swedish punk rock. With tracks like “Honeymoon with Satan” and “Daily Depression,” you can’t go wrong here.

Virus You Can’t Ignore It Forever LP

Much like the time passed before this 1984 cassette was released on record, I’m glad I didn’t wait to sit down with this any longer. VIRUS brings a bygone production value and mood I haven’t heard as earnestly since the likes of KULTURKAMPF, The E.P.s of R.P., KARMA SUTRA, or LEGION OF PARASITES, with the somewhat gothic post-punk swaying of SKELETAL FAMILY and TOXIC WASTE, though much more sensitively delivered like contemporaries the MOB, LIBERTY, and OMEGA TRIBE. The writing here is authentic and classic 1984 UK anarcho-punk. Simply poetic and rhythmic, with themes of anti-war, animal liberation, class struggle, and nuclear power and its threats. Floor toms, militant snares, jangling, echoing bass, spoken word moments…from “Oven Overture”: “Handin’ out presents, it’s Christmas day / Well it’s ‘bout fuckin’ time that a turkey had its say!” The earliest forms of anarcho-punk always had that blunt lyrical content, and VIRUS is no exception. This is an excellently remastering of their cassette debut from 40 years ago, and a must-have if anything from SUBDUED or AOA to FLUX OF PINK INDIANS and MOET THE POET is your voice of reason in this cyclically unreasonable world. I’ve rattled off several bands of the era and region but not randomly, as this early VIRUS material sincerely fits right in.

Natural Fun Natural Fun cassette

NATURAL FUN of Copenhagen reminds me of Retro-Bution-era EXTREME NOISE TERROR with some more metal and hardcore influences such as AUDIO KOLLAPS and SHARPVILLE. This has a heavy crust drive like VISIONS OF WAR, but also brings it down with bitter hardcore fury like SEVERED HEAD OF STATE, and accomplished solos in the style of NIGHTMARE or BASTARD. Vocals have a sort of NYHC attitude, too. NATURAL FUN is not overly flashy, but what they do, they do tightly, especially back to those constant ripping solos. The track “Wind” opens like a mix between THIN LIZZY and HOLY MOUNTAIN or INFEST. The vocals are utterly killer, the more I get into this—sung, but from the back of the throat like a furnace. Their longest song is three-and-a-half minutes. NATURAL FUN puts down what it needs to, wants to, and is out. I think this is their debut (apologies if not), but it’s an impressive one at that.

Exterminating Angel Inherited Future EP

This sounds like a mix between SXE hardcore and late ’90s European grindcore, along with various post-hardcore breakdowns. I don’t want to say it’s deathcore, but it is taking on all forms of darkness and riff crushing—I’m thinking of bands such as MÖRSER, VISION OF DISORDER, CANDIRIA, OBITUARY, or MIND ERASER. Track three, “Sanctuary,” is a multi-tempo onslaught of EXTERMINATING ANGEL’s many strengths. Five tracks of intense, grueling metallic hardcore, each around four minutes in length, on a 12” EP. That’s no slouch for the amount of ideas they have going on. Try not to get into this. But at my age, I’m going nowhere near an EXTERMINATING ANGEL pit. You can just tell how that would go; catch me outside of that. If this is a debut, it’s quite the impressive one.

Languid Resist Mental Slaughter LP reissue

This reissue of the debut LP from LANGUID of Canada contains bonus material of their first demo as well, and the remastered production (by Kenko from EXPLOATÖR/VERDICT) rips. If you are not familiar, LANGUID play raw, distorted D-beat crust in the style of DISFEAR, TOTALITÄR, DISGUST, DISASTER, or ASPECTS OF WAR, with some hints of MELAKKA…you know the drill. It’s great. I only have the follow-up LP to this and then their third, so this comes at a perfect time as something I could never get. What was even more great was when I caught their set in Oakland—an endless barrage of rhythmic noise, which cut to silence for brief arrests only to detonate once more. LANGUID stands out on drum fills, sizzling feedback with a piercing edge, DOOM-ing vocal pace, a full grumbling sound that is equal parts fluid and harsh. The title track is particularly haunting. Did I mention all LANGUID cover art rules? You can’t go wrong here if you never got this or the demo. Like me.

Cluster Bomb Unit Abgesang LP

D-beat raw crust stalwarts CLUSTER BOMB UNIT return with a new LP, after churning out distorted chaos since the late ’80s. I have a few records by CLUSTER BOMB UNIT, including a 10” and some EPs, but I think this is the first full-length I’ve listened to by them. Anyway, I was not familiar with their new vocalist Julia, and they kill it. At one point on the opening track, their vocal harshness blends seamlessly into a bombarding guitar solo. This happened a few times on the album—vocals melding into and sounding like a screeching guitar. This EP sounds eerie and off-kilter. The snare is high and tight, almost like CRASS, while the strings buzz à la CONFUSE. The overall tempo is like meets KURO and STATE OF FEAR. Grim riffs and singed solos, as you’d come to expect. This return LP stands out with primitive flair; slight stumbles and organic flowing make it punker than ever. Raw clamor and a grumbling Dis-onslaught with some hits of prog noise between the verses. Fifteen tracks of ear-melting punk racket. For fans of LEBENDEN TOTEN and CLUSTER BOMB UNIT over the decades.

Illvilja / M:40 split EP

M:40 is presented first here, as a char-core discordant mosh cacophony. As far as newer crust goes, this registers on the blackened epic side. SLUTET comes to mind, but more abysmal and desperate, like ACCURSED or MARTYRDÖD in mood, but add some bone-grinding blastbeats and take away all glints of hope and light. M:40 is a lesson in Scandinavian blackened crust. ILLVILJA has an intro that creates a new dawn of sorts on this split, but equally reminiscent of ACCURSED. Epic chords and melancholy journeys across a desolate crust landscape. ILLVILJA plays remarkably more optimistically, if that means I’ve come to terms with the complete dread of the world. Not a feel-good split—here it is, drowning whirlpools of dark crust anguish for your embittered nihilistic enjoyment.

DSM-5 Skärblacka D-Beat LP

I am not familiar with DSM-5. As a band name, it reminds me of MC5, M:40, SPACEMEN 3…but here I see they are from Sweden, and their album is titled in such a manner. First impressions are of a more hardcore attitude, thinking of TOXIC NARCOTIC, ANNIHILATION TIME, S.H.I.T, MIND ERASER, or RAT CAGE, with some call-and-response compositions. Most songs come in around two minutes, so there is ample time for some interesting changes. A song titled “Sick of It All” continues to remind me of hardcore when it was fast and punk. This is an accomplished hardcore punk album with intense musicianship and palpably pissed-off messages. DSM-5 is ugly and angry, and the entire play sinks into more dismal tones around the halfway point. “Empathy” is a true depressor with uneasy industrial effects. Seriously, once Skärblacka D-Beat hits its stride, you’re going to want to hold on. I could imagine this band obliterating a live set. “Word” brings some absolutely scorching vocals that seem to be from the addition of a guest vocalist—think DISRUPT’s “A Life’s a Life.” A relentless LP with both impact and melody that took me a moment to catch up with.

Warcycle Manifesting Barbarity EP

This is a D-beat barrage from Australia that is like a sonic scavenger on fire—that was actually meant to compliment them and describe the rad cover art. Drum fills cascade with intense fury, vocals are bellowed out until the last gasp, with a powerful range. Distortion is crasher-level red. This is hitting like ENZYME, FRAMTID, KINETIC ORBITAL STRIKE, ANTI-METAFOR, or SYMPTOM. It has all of the ingredients to be served up generically, but it is not at all. Various rhythms and songs are linked together like an exhausting, raging raw live set with a dense production value, and moments of pause before the bombardment adds a unique quality of thoughtfulness for the style. This is the second EP from WARCYCLE and a first for me. Impressive crustcore D-beat!

Without Defeat Absurd World CD

Excellent new grindcore punk from Tokyo. Featuring members of deathcore mammoths KRUELTY, WITHOUT DEFEAT blasts forth nuclear ’80s-style with ripping intent—brutal, slaying grind with crust punk leanings. WITHOUT DEFEAT nails the styles of TERRORIZER and HERESY with some GISM detest and SOB rage. This is a highly recommended debut EP-length CD of eight super heavy tracks, as an exclusive from Black Konflik Records. Contemporarily, I’d compare them to KLONNS, COFFINS, DISCRIPT, or GUILLOTINE TERROR, however playing much faster with levels of D-beat and crushing mid-tempo breakdowns. Slowburner measures hit hard and retreat before it gets stale. I like this and think it will only get more interesting with each listen—’80s grinding thrash and ’90s death metal make for a killer hardcore punk debut. Nasty art adorns the bleak matte black sleeve.

Only Shallow No Way Out But Death cassette

At first read, I was immediately reminded of the MY BLOODY VALENTINE song, and I wondered if there would be a connection. Once ONLY SHALLOW started playing, I was transported to a world of groove and gloom that quickly galloped into a ripped D-Beat hardcore attack. The lines “Drape my organs around a plastic Christmas tree / At the end of life it’s only been me” scathe forth with anguished vocals in “Mistletoe Can Be Deadly.” This is dark deathrock with wild punctuations. I’ve been to Rochester in the winter, and this is the sound of grim dread with warm goth reverberations—“Buffalo 666” would be an additional description. DOOM meets GRIEF meets XYMOX and ROSETTA STONE. The other song themes really emphasize the tape’s title No Way Out But Death. There are some really sick double kick blasts on “No Justice, No Peace.” I love every song title here: very creative, but my favorite track is probably “Welcome to the Hellmouth”: “My heart is filled with spite / For everyone in sight / The texture of worms beneath my feet / Kicking up leaves on wet concrete,” sung sort of like CRO-MAGS and DR. KNOW’s later recordings. I appreciate the visuals, I appreciate the various style expressions of ONLY SHALLOW, I appreciate the upstate NY desperation. Now, at the end of this tape, I think the band name is about a grave and not the MY BLOODY VALENTINE song. P.S.—love a good church bell sample.

Simbiose / Visions of War split EP

I’ve said it in a previous recent review, and I’d say it again: VISIONS OF WAR keep getting better. From my perspective, the band was on hiatus for some years around 2013, but when I actually look into it, they seem to just put out a quality recording every few years. It is not oversaturated, but this is another split within a year or so, and again, I’m impressed! They just get heavier, tighter, and faster each time. Three tracks, and what can I say, this perfect Euro-crust like it was 25 years ago, yet polished in all directions. SIMBIOSE plays a more technical percussion angle while ripping through with metallic fury. There is a more hypnotic thrash attack going on here and the editing is tight. This is hardcore punk played with experienced skill. Neither side is all-out raw—the overall flavor of the split is brutal crust punk with some harmony but more grinding displeasure. Well-balanced, but clearly differentiated sides. I love this washy ink illustration on the cover. Yes, I believe they are skulls, but not entirely human. Come to think of it, both logos look really well-crafted here, too. Excellent stuff, I need to learn more about SIMBIOSE (Portugal), as VISIONS OF WAR has been my second favorite Belgian punk band for quite some time (see second sentence).

D.T.A.L. Dark Dimensions of War LP

Cult punks D.T.A.L. recorded this LP in 1990, moving away from the classic ripping hardcore roots of their Time to Die debut EP, but it was shelved for 33 years! Now remastered, here is a very synth-heavy Swedish stench album that is leagues more metal. While their earlier material is fantastic, blisteringly fast mangel, Dark Dimensions of War offers a practically symphonic long-composition crust record. D.T.A.L. does no wrong in either lane. Many might find this a bit more contrived in its execution, but that kind of reminds of criticism of RUDIMENTARY PENI—“I don’t like anything after Death Church.” It’s just different. Musicians want to explore different sounds. If the D.T.A.L. EP and this LP were by two separate bands, no one would argue it’s “not as good” as the other. Significantly different. Anyway, think of the rhythmic delivery of ONSLAUGHT or VENOM (except tighter, but who isn’t?), with a lot of interesting synth like AMEBIX, AXEGRINDER, or DEVIATED INSTINCT (flute-like arias at times, and I thought it was on the wrong sped at first), but not lacking the punch of ANTI CIMEX and their own early ’80s impact. Riffs galore within seven songs of long passages and advanced changes. This came out at a good time, with a sound from the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, but holds up against modern war/stench/crust metal bands. Pretty sure we’re getting some sax on Side B here too, but that may be a keyboard. A bleak catastrophic scene of the bombing of Cologne addresses the album’s themes on the cover. Overall, this is just a bigger, badder, more advanced sound from D.T.A.L., and I like both their razor-sharp narrow path and this tank-crushing direction as well. Get this, a dream album that sounds like a dystopian nightmare, for your next DJ night. It provides plenty of time to step away and enjoy your own playlist!

Sabot Noir Fahl LP

First of all, I am intrigued by the Kåthe Kollwitz cover art. If this image is representing your music, I’m expecting something wrought with sorrow and the cold exhaustion of struggling to live. So let’s get started! SABOT NOIR of Munich/München plays gnarly blasts of smothered grind-punk. This is ferally fast and raw, with touches of anarcho-punk and dismal crust. Reminds me of ANTISCHISM, ARMISTICE, FLEAS AND LICE, BODY FARM, SCATHA…lots of levels ranging from guttural hardcore to inspiring melodic punk. Most of the lyrics are sung in German, one song is in English, and another is in Spanish. The variety of emotional output here, flowing between outright aggressive attacks, is heartfelt and poignant. Post-hardcore indie rock parts will drastically change to anthemic crust within the same song. Several vocalists drive SABOT NOIR (“Black Clog/Hoof”) along. Seriously, having a black clog as their logo is one of my favorite details about this band. SABOT NOIR has carved out a groove in anarcho sound that is somewhat CAN psychedelic and somewhat PROTESTI destructive—see their track “Wissenschaftsleugnung” leading into “Sabotage” for this comparison.

Guillotine Guillotine demo cassette

Here is a mysterious and minimal hardcore punk face-grater. An extremely lo-fi and mid-tempo demo of excruciating, warbling, abysmal punk and spectral voices haunting from the corners. Tracks include “Death’s Head,” “Death Reversed,” “Covid-19,” and “Futureless.” Bleak as fuck, and does not stick around long to check for a pulse. I can’t help but compare their tone to GISM, with the up-drive of STALIN and the bizarre hypnotic repetition of GAI. A horrible mess happened in Brooklyn last April that sounds like Kyoto in 1982. I’ve listened to this five-minute recording (presented as one take, but I’m not sure) five times now, and I’m increasingly unsettled and intrigued by the terror of GUILLOTINE.

Grin and Bear It / Musket Hawk / Sidetracked / Ugly split LP

This is a four-way split LP of grindcore punk rock. I don’t mean mincing splatter grind, or trigger-heavy technical grind. Classic thrashing grind, the best kind. I have a few four-way splits and they seemed mostly popular coming from Japan in the ’80s and ’90s. Anyway, this compilation of sorts starts off with MUSKET HAWK (Baltimore)—think GRAVES AT SEA meets POPULATION ZERO. Grinding crust. GRIN AND BEAR IT (Cleveland) plays psychotic grind leaning into powerviolence like DISCORDANCE AXIS meets CHEPANG. SIDETRACKED (Tacoma)—holy shit, this band has extensive releases. I know I was sent their tape Dweller for review. These tracks continue with halting, wild earhole abuse like AGORAPHOBIC NOSEBLEED or CHARLES BRONSON, totally frenzied but denser and tighter than both. UGLY (Prescott) rounds out this day at the beach with echoing gloom-core similar to EYEHATEGOD, DYSTOPIA, or INITIAL STATE, but more to the rhythm of a metropolitan area collapsing. You’re getting a lot of grind/hardcore/PV bang with this well-rounded comp/split. We need more of these, again!

Life Expectancy Decline cassette

This is a mechanical, corrosive delivery of ’90s industrial punk metal, like an adolescent era of cyber-thrash with PITCHSHIFTER or MEATHOOK SEED, but played at the pace of GHOUL, LSD, KURO, and ZOUO, and tweaked to CHARRED REMAINS in its final form. Maniacal, gnarly vocals burble under sizzling riffs and mechanical percussion. NIGHTBREED recently had a similar effect, and that shit was blissful lunacy—ELECTROCUTIONER as well, though more guttural and GISM-like. This is a tape that is perhaps even darker than both in its skeleton, adding layers of amorphous calamity, a wash of static punk chaos. This is for the slightly disturbed and raw noise enthusiast, waning and mocking at times, others downright mind-numbing. “Missing Nasty Men” truly reminds me of KURO burning in hell. Digital. Evil. Lifeless raw punk meddling in the UK.

Pig Sweat Don’t Panic LP

Swiss punkers PIG SWEAT bang out a barrage of sputtering and scrapping hardcore punk like a gut punch. Tracks are fast and furious, clocking in at around one to two minutes each, yet they are chock full of attitude with blistering riffs and changes. Some moments are mid-tempo jackhammers, others are blazing hardcore. A lot comes to mind here, from contemporaries GOLPE and EXIL to NIGHTMARE (huh, that’s the title of track three) and POISON IDEA. Guitars are in the higher register like DIE KREUZEN, while the rhythm section plays with a ton of heavy umph, think SEVERED HEAD OF STATE. The balance of punk rock groove and insane hardcore meltdown, all done, again, in just a couple minutes each, is impressive and concise. The outro track “Dictators of Austerity” is a perfect melody-churning send-off and seems like their ballad track—but it’s only two minutes! And it is just as impactful as the 45-second “No Aims” into the title track.. A fuckin’ winner from PIG SWEAT.

Siekiera Róbrege ’84 EP

I put this record down on the turntable thinking what a treat this will be. I hadn’t given it a good look yet, and realize now it is a live sampler from 1984. The SIEKIERA Demo Summer ’84 repressing was a very top record for me in 2021—one of the best reissues I’d ever heard, that was initially recorded when I was seven years old, and I had never heard until a couple years ago. So all you need to know: track down the Demo Summer ’84  record. Track down this blistering fast and tight live recording (maybe first, as it’s probably cheaper). Totally powerful and a raw, bass-driven example of their relentless hardcore punk sound, similar to VORKRIEGSPHASE if you’d like a comparison. There are four live tracks on this EP, they all destroy at the highest caliber, and only two of these songs are on the demos record. SIEKIERA was on fire in Poland 1984! Treat yourself to both!

Deathfiend Beyond Life LP

Sizzling doom metal punk from Birmingham. This reminds me of when members of DOOM went in a more dismal SABBATH style in a doom project called GLOOMY SUNDAY. Speed-wolfing HIGH OF FIRE riff addiction with sinister, blackened vocal tones like SCOLEX. Tasty riffs without a bunch of technical mumbo jumbo, just all-around killer D-beaten crusty doom metal. Vocals at times recall BOLT THROWER, but are much more evil. Clearly pronounced and gnashing (ex-DOOM, POLICE BASTARD, SORE THROAT—ahem). Parts ENTOMBED, parts BRAINOIL, songs clock in at around three to four minutes, with an abbreviated intro track and an epic outro track. Paces are full of variety but groove throughout, never getting overly aggressive, mostly filled with despair and world-eating interstellar gloom. DEATH STRIKE also comes to mind. I am only halfway through and the production and sharp changes have me hooked. Definitely check this out if you enjoy grizzle-charred death punk metal played sturdily as the old oak tree. Tie a black ribbon for good ol’ DEATHFIEND, kudos on this LP.

M.O.A.B. Massive Ordnance Air Blast cassette

A raw assault of D-beat fury from Brooklyn. Early DOOM vocal pitch with the drum clobbering of more modern ASPECTS OF WAR. Loads of chaotic feedback carries you through these classic hardcore punk attacks. Guitar riffs are cosmically higher in register than usual, making for an even more anxiety-ridden track. As a demo it totally delivers, similar to the impact of a recent tape from REALM OF TERROR. Everything stands out here: great vocals that bellow out longer than expected, wild guitar that reaches higher than expected, a massive drum sound in a classic tempo, grueling bass holding it all on the rails. MASSIVE ORDNANCE AIR BLAST, simple as that. Quite killer and just the way you like it.

Arrest Pobre i Perrillos EP

Barcelona has one of the most enigmatic, powerful, and unique punk outputs in my opinion, and ARREST is no exception. ARREST presents with a straightforward streetpunk flair that is mid-tempo and melodic under gravelly vocals and vibrant chords. Part the BUSINESS with a vocal rasp à la SPITE UK and the dissenting tones of DESENTERRADAS and earlier BELGRADO. ARREST is enigmatic, as they sound somewhat UK82 with a gothic post-punk sheen. Percussion tumbles through and the rhythm remains constant throughout, yet the pace never tires, with maniacal laughter taunts throughout similar to INYECCIÓN. My favorite track is a seething, circle-pitting romp called “Fakin Many Nen,” which really rounds out a very solid, mid-paced anthemic punk EP. Recommended for its trashy attitude and classic crudeness that feels familiar and well-versed in an older Oi!-meets-post-punk scene. ARREST definitely pulls this balance off.

Raskol Raskol cassette

A warm, lo-fi embalming of class-itch hardcore. The bass distortion is particularly crunchy, while the songwriting is traditionally stompy with outstanding trembling drum rolls. Vocals are belted with intense power—a furnace recalling INTEGRITY and REACT, and later ANTIMOB and GOLPE. As the four tracks move on, RASKOL gets more comfortable with their flow while simultaneously bashing you up with thunderous hardcore punk beats and dark beatdown riffs. MIND ERASER and HOAX come to mind, bringing my stomach back to an unsettling point, and my mind to euphorically grinning, pre-pandemic pits, if that makes sense? RASKOL feels new and relevant but from a timeless place. This is a short, sharp shocker of a tape that you’ll return to immediately, as it really settles into being special about a quarter of the way through. That’s a good thing. Get with the flowgram and follow that snare…

Pestigor Baptized in Pus LP

Described as “bubonic hardcore,” this filth from Denmark is reminiscent of SACRILEGE or TEMPTER, with some power metal falsetto vocalizations like HIRAX. But almost more importantly, I’m feeling a strong relationship to the PLASMATICS, as well as the chosen theme of this band, Warhammer 40,000. PESTIGOR plays a ravishing mix of D-beat and thrash metal in their malevolent Realm of Chaos and space marines. They sound fun and furious. The last two tracks are my favorite—this is the kind of album where I wasn’t sure how impactful it would be at first, but once it warmed up and the cosmic war theme sponged through my soft Warhammer-able skull, I was all in. Wild cover art in the BOLT THROWER fashion: content of Realms, in the hand of In Battle…PESTIGOR shares members with the very good gothy post-punk but similarly D-beat (and peace punk as well) band MOTORSAV, and that kind of proficiency in different styles is additionally cool.

Inebrious Bastard God Swipes Left LP

With a sort of goregrind entrance, INEBRIOUS BASTARD levels out to gruesome crustcore. This has a Motör-charged death metal sound to it like CARCASS, CRETIN, or GURHKA. Plastered with blastbeat meat and chunky thrash riffs, INEBRIOUS BASTARD of Sydney offers a splattercrust LP with clever, tongue-in-cheek songwriting, typical of perhaps GHOUL (US). Crust grind with such subjects as a “Shadow Pony” (how they see themselves within a categorizing scene), “Tuesday Night Budget Blues,” “Bish Bish Bash the Bish,” and a curious and killer track called “Boat Thrower.” The production is warm and gooey—like a muffled pounding upon cardboard and murky earth. That is to say, it is dense and fits really well with their sound. If the guitars were piercing and showy and the drums high and tight, I would not appreciate this nearly as much. This is repugnant crust with lots of horrific attitude, a savage splatterfest that seems more death grind by punks than crust punk or anarcho by genre nerds. But INEBRIOUS BASTARD obviously does not care what I think. They are sailing on into a messy storm caring about the ecosystem and making noise just the way they want to.

Pesadez Fenomenologia Del Espiritu Agonico: De La Existencia Sordida Al Pendulo De La Nada LP

Atmospheric and dank, PESADEZ plays grim death thrash from deep in the bog-reeking forest. This is an onslaught of gruesome, torrential deathbeat blackened metal with choked, vulture-esque vocals (including underlying early BRUTAL TRUTH vocals) and blistering riffs. Percussion palpitates through in a raw, off-kilter D-beat style, though vibing with POSSESSED, a new death metal band I got into called HAUNTER (on this album’s intro and outro), or SARCAFAGO. From Costa Rica, this record is ripping with a Central American crusty metal tone and nihilistic attitude. There are brief moments of pause to catch your breath at the surface, or a headbanging riff passage, only to be strangled back into its chaotic bile. Part BASTARD PRIEST, part Cracked Cop Skulls; you are definitely going to want to check this debut out. An echoing, horrific charred punk offering in an electrified skull chalice. The longest album title I’ve seen in a while, but for each track, a single word was needed. First listen, and I’m anticipating a top ten for the year. Fresh as guts.

Call the Cops Manifesto (For the Rebirth of the Worldwide Punk Scene) LP

Well, this is interesting. This is the second record I’m reviewing this weekend that has a distinct industrial rhythm; this is a compliment. In a sense, it’s similar to the way SADIST does it, but this is more like RESTARTS or RANCID meets MALIGNANT TUMOUR. Tone is sort of street punk though, with more death metal crust vocals. CALL THE COPS from Italy play breakdown hardcore with a pogoing street punk stance. I have no idea why you would ever even hint at CALL(-ing) THE COPS, but perhaps there is something not translating for me. Other jams swing with an Italian Oi! flavor and melodic bounce. CALL THE COPS can sing. There are a lot of samples throughout, and they are all interesting and unique political statements—I’m not talking ’90s movie quotes, more like interviews. CALL THE COPS have a lot going on, from the melancholy intros to downright grizzly street crust. There is a traditional old European folk sound to their album that is sincere and not overly sentimental. Sixteen tracks of malicious mohawked hardcore punk. A powerful fourth outing from CALL THE COPS.

Arrogänt / Visions of War split LP

Cool to see VISIONS OF WAR are still around—I was organizing my records this weekend and put on their split with OLHO DE GATO. I haven’t heard anything from them in a decade! Anyway, they retain a guttural crust vocal delivery with clean rhythmic D-beat hardcore à la later ANTI-CIMEX. Chords are bright and the tones are dense and dark, which creates balance and contrast that is aggressive and smoothly irreverent. Vevarsle at its finest; dirgelike, heavy, metallic, and crust as ever. This side totally rages. ARROGÄNT follows with an even heavier death-beat, with echoing vocals and an industrial punk pace. Percussion palpitates and bitterness seethes. Dual vocals complement one another, similar to FLEAS AND LICE meets MEATHOOK SEED. This looser and more raw and chaotic side suits the split so both sides are unique but equally sinister. I want it!

Verdict Time to Resign LP

I am so happy to be assigned this scorching LP. VERDICT’s debut was on my year-end top ten for 2022—a raging attack of Swedish hardcore with the speed of TOTALITÄR and KRIGSHOT, plus a unique nod to American hardcore crust giants DISRUPT and FINAL CONFLICT, for example. Galloping D-beat throughout with clear accentuated vocals, this one is a non-stop hardcore pummel-fest that teeters on fastcore thrash while retaining classic ‘80s mangel and the original grinding ‘90s crust sound. So many subgenres mentioned here, and only a few bands, but some years from now, Time to Resign will still sound like quintessential hardcore punk fucking rock. Oh, this band is comprised of members from NO SECURITY, 3 WAY CUM, MEANWHILE, WARCOLLAPSE, IMPERIAL LEATHER, SLUTET, EXPLOATÖR…VERDICT is just what these guys do when they don’t want to relax.

Iena / Scalpo split EP

At first, I found this quite simple, almost pop, but as it went on I became immersed in the rowdy, dark Oi! grooves. European Oi! and the like are not a specialty for me; I love CAMERA SILENS, I’ve checked out PRISION POSTUMO (not sure I’m even accurate here, but whatever, this reminds me of them), KRONSTADT LPs…I don’t know much. But damn, I really dig this. It’s super catchy and executed very tightly. Of the four total songs, my favorite IENA track is “Luna,” which is actually a cover of LITFIBA, an Italian new wave duo. IENA’s side is perfect. SCALPA’s side is bit heavier, almost like Oi! meets later RUDIMENTARY PENI. SCALPO also does a cover of ROUGH, an Oi! band from Torino, Italy. Overall, this is a great Italian Oi! split. Glad for the introduction!

Ratizzage Ratizzage demo cassette

Grueling, dirgelike, and guttural crust punk from Mexico. The initial rhythmic delivery reminds me of early BRUJERIA splintering out of the speakers with a much more punk angle. Varying vocal pitches harken to DEATHTOLL 40K, COP ON FIRE, or later era ENT. Grisly crust that does not let up on the D-beat and chaotic soloing. I reviewed a demo a couple years ago by PERVITIN from Finland, and this reminds me of that powerful impact. Hopeless, bleak, pulverizing filthcore spanning twenty minutes, from a demo with seven complexly written tracks. RATIZZAGE has groove and gruesomeness. The bass grumbles lower than anything else, like a tank rumbling in the distance, and the vocals scorch. Not sure how easy this will be to find, but it’s one of the better crust demos I’ve heard so far this year. Everything that went into this sonically and visually exceeds that of an average demo tape.

Bug Central And the Fires Began 10″

Gargling bass starts what quickly presents itself as classic UK anarcho-punk. Sort of reminding me of SPITE, or RIOT/CLONE with a KILLING JOKE rhythm to it. Abrasive while equally encompassing a tide of UK82 and some crust influence, BUG CENTRAL hits a SUBHUMANS groove at times as well. This is dancey and slamming. Boots and bristles with a darker veneer. This is clearly composed by maestros from decades of UK punk rock. “Another Vegan Hipster” is cracking me up. BUG CENTRAL pulls no punches, but packs a catchy wallop. SUICIDAL SUPERMARKET TROLLEYS, PIL, RESTARTS, POLICE BASTARD…it has a lot going on. I want to see this band play with PI$$ER. I wish this was the direction ANTISECT went in. This album is earnest and smart. The title track kind of recalls early ENT with more discernible vocals. BUG CENTRAL is gloomy and bright. The cover art is a full-color British street scene, if you mixed CRASS graphic design with Zdzisław Beksiński. Check this out.

Nervy Nikdy Jsme Si Nebyli Rovni, Ani Ve Smrti Nebudeme LP

Excellent neo-crust with an immediate TRAGEDY vibe, and although this style of bleak D-beat crust has been emulated for a couple decades now, NERVY really stands out with a stoic groove. I was really into MÖRKHIMMEL when I first heard them, and I’m picking up that intensity here. The production quality is spot-on: heavy and gritty at all the right levels. Vocals smolder and rattle with over-distortion at times, and the rhythm section is punctuated. Leads are set back, as they can kind of screech like a cat with some bands that play in this style. For the cliché I mentioned at the start of this review, NERVY lays it on thicker than most. The crucial plodding that travels through the entire LP is that real shit, in Czech—I will add, in that NIGHTFELL vein. Recommended if you need that warm crust glow in your shit mood.

Skotos Demo 2022 cassette

A three-piece from NYC (I believe Brooklyn) playing a harsh racket of powerviolence mixed with chaotic D-beat. The unsettling feedback is intentional, and it works. The recording is gritty, noisy, and reduced to fragmented moments or lo-fi raw punk arrangements. “Concealed Carry” is a three-minute macabre dance through hardcore with blown-out psychedelic punk and maybe even droning blackened crust. I really like what SKOTOS is doing; it’s different and dark and sincere. For only being a three-piece, they bring a lot of ominous clatter and weirdness, while echoing some NYHC breakdowns and squat-show bleak punk.

Nightfeeder Cut All of Your Face Off LP

It took me a while to sit down with this one and write about it, yet I listened to it most of last year. It is one of the best records of 2022. NIGHTFEEDER was introduced to me in demo form by a friend and I was blown away. Then came an excellent EP, and this debut LP is the pinnacle of their sound. Song subjects cover such punk life issues as psychological torment, the existential, and being irreverently maligned by the system. What NIGHTFEEDER does best is rip with the feeling of blood, sweat, anguish, and angst. I’m not sure it’s really a formal term, but this is American crust as a style of hardcore punk that was sincerely invented by the members of this band (DEATHRAID, CONSUME, SHITLIST, STATE OF FEAR, DISRUPT…) and the regions where they started playing punk. NIGHTFEEDER plays with US thrash and hardcore influences and European/Scandi-crust dynamics, while delivering a classic hard rock’n’roll sound when they feel like it, because they fuckin’ feel like it. That is the attitude of this band and record in a nutshell. An amalgamation of MOTÖRHEAD, POISON IDEA, CRUCIFIX, INEPSY, DISFEAR, and DISCARD comes to mind. I’m even finding some RUDIMENTARY PENI chords here. Cut All of Your Face Off is a must if you’re looking for a gut-punch that is not any form of DIY trend and is like the quintessential hardcore punk and crust records from the last several decades. If you haven’t heard it in person, you’ll put the needle down on Side One and go “holy shit…”—that’s pretty much the reaction I get from others every time. And on Side Two, they turn the burners up all the way. The drumming on “Amoral Minority”…ugh. The LP is dismal, charred punk rock goodness (grief) from start to finish.

Egrogsid Sawn Off Throat Gun 2xCD

Otherwise known as DISGORGE backward, here EGROGSID offers 122 tracks of gruesome mince-noise and primitive grind. I let this compilation play before I even started working on the review. There is plenty of time to catch up. These are true grind songs, however—thirty seconds to almost two minutes at times. This is very much in the style of loose, chaotic, death-beaten cacophonous droning grind. Sick guitar tones and killer splattering drumming. Being from Melbourne, I am sure they played with neighbors BLOOD DUSTER in the later part of their tenure. Bizarre (and humorous) occult samples are throughout with low vocals, high vocals, and maniacal vocals all over the place. This is the kind of thing I’d put on sitting in some living room with the worst 40 ever bottled in my lap. That is to say, it brings back fond memories. Included are NAPALM DEATH, EXTREME NOISE TERROR, UNSEEN TERROR, and EXTRA HOT SAUCE covers. This is entirely that SORE THROAT/GORE BEYOND NECROPSY/WARSORE/ACCION MUTANTE/EXCRUCIATING TERROR sound. You could put this on for an afternoon (or at 2:00 am with both your friends like I would) and just zone out and enjoy it. I’ve pretty much completed my task here and I’m on track seventeen.

Last Climb Fauna Conruptus LP

French neo-crusters LAST CLIMB play technical screamo crust punk with some grind metal influences in their riffs and percussion. There is a militant delivery at times, in the very “hardcore breakdown” sense, aggressive and straining. Vocals are traded off between agonized and grizzly. Seventeen tracks of metallic, hopeless, and bleak crustcore, much closer to the later (or current) era than an early one. Breakdowns are punk, while the caliber of the drumming could easily work into death metal. Torrential. Same goes for the inspired guitar additions—calculated alarms. There is nothing simple about the record, while it never puts on airs, either. A ballistic and sincere outing from LAST CLIMB.

Extinction of Mankind Baptised in Shit LP reissue

Mid-’90s UK crust was a huge part of my interest in the heavier spectrums of punk rock as I was finishing up school and entering a world where I really made my own decisions for the most part. This scene of music, including the Bradford 1 in 12 Club and Flat Earth Records, was very formidable for me lyrically, culturally, stylistically, and musically. HELLKRUSHER, EXCREMENT OF WAR, DOOM, ENT, CONCRETE SOX, EXTINCTION OF MANKIND…all a huge deal to me. Okay, enough about me. I haven’t even started listening to this yet! Objectively, Baptised in Shit is a walloping heavy crust album. Dirgelike, epic, D-beaten, metallically riffed crust punk. It reeks of bitter pessimism, channeling earlier UK bands such as ANITSECT, ICONS OF FILTH, STONE THE CROWZ, NAPALM DEATH, and AMEBIX, and certainly pulls inspiration from European thrash metal from about a decade earlier such as ONSLAUGHT and CELTIC FROST. There are also peace punk moments reminiscent of OI POLLOI, LIBERTY, or OMEGA TRIBE. It is not the fastest of their ilk, but it flows and is immersive. If you’ve never checked out this debut album, now is your chance to get a good deal. This remastered reissue really brings out the metal guitar tones and rolling drum moments. INSTINCT OF SURVIVAL, VISIONS OF WAR, GUIDED CRADLE, even EFFIGY and HELLSHOCK really would not stand out as they do today without a nod to albums like this one.

Scan EP2 cassette

This is a new D-beat outfit from Austin, TX that plays on the brighter, cyberpunk side, with harsh vocals like Digital Evil in Your Life-era S.D.S., and sort of EXIL-style hardcore in speed and pitch. This is not very dark or dismal, but it rips hard—I could compare to some other contemporaries too, like NERVOUS SS of Macedonia or RAT CAGE of the UK whose split was one of my favorite records last year, and if a record could have three sides, this tape would bridge those two bands swimmingly. There is plenty of distortion on the mic here and the cymbals smash. I would categorize this on the hardcore punk side of things rather than raw D-beat noise. The guitar tones are at times spacey. I currently don’t have a physical version of this, but I bet that would sound even heavier. There is one remaining copy on their Bandcamp as I’m writing this, featuring a shit photo that would look better in real life, so someone grab it now if you can!

Rot Organic CD

Oh, this rips: 25 tracks of blistering crust grind from São Paulo. Dual vocals, totally guttural death and clearly sung Portuguese with killer conviction. This is very much for fans of the most crucial NASUM, early BRUTAL TRUTH, EXCRUCIATING TERROR, MORSER, early PHOBIA…this really takes me back to ’90s gigs where you can see no light and you hear 5,000 decibels at once (yes, I realize that would shatter the solar system). Super tight non-stop blasts that have several groove breaks for brief moments, mid-tempo beats, then back to over-the-top clobbering. ROT has this sound down so well. As the CD goes on, the vocal tradeoff is more like later E.N.T. or DEATH TOLL 80K. And, well, certainly current NAPALM DEATH, it may even rival them! Through a punk lens. And thankfully, this is not gore cartoonishness in content at all: political, apolitical, social (unrest), anti-fascist, cerebral. Some of the guitar tones on “Under Black Clouds” are downright sinister. Terrorize your best grind memories with this one. Since 1991, almost all of ROT releases have been an EP or split. Absolutely brutal album, like ROT does this shit effortlessly!

Vomitatrix Vomitatrix cassette

I am not well-versed in noisecore, but from what I remember of seeing BASTARD NOISE, MERZBOW, and SEX MOB (featuring JOHN ZORN), VOMITATRIX aligns with their sonic insanity. However, VOMITATRIX adds more carefree, psychedelic guts to their music. This is chaotic but with formation. Disturbing and unhinged but not without consciousness. I think VOMITATRIX would be a thrill to see live. From Jupiter, FL—I’m feeling more like from Jupiter the planet. Some of the song titles are more disturbing than the maniacal structures (think A.C.). This is “free death,” in the musical genre sense. Like JOHN ZORN, what do you do with yourself when an audience standing there expects you to “play”?

No Comply / They Live To the Max split 5″

Due to some technical difficulties, this review is late, as the format is a unique 5” I could not get to play on my turntable. Well, the wait is over, and it was worth it. NO COMPLY play bizarre-core, as if the brood of RIGOROUS INSTITUTION played more like SWING KIDS, or if MAN IS THE BASTARD teamed up with ASSHOLE PARADE. Two tracks to grease up the wheels. THEY LIVE take a much more blasting hardcore approach, and it is awesome. Think DEVOID OF FAITH, or PLUTOCRACY in terms of distortion, but a little less crusty. Straight-up powerviolence HC with palpable tension. I’m pretty sure the last song is about Animal Chin and this all has an aggressive skate vibe to it. If you see this, get it. It’s a novel 5” and it’s great.

Rabbit Rabbit demo cassette

Love the name (which is presented symmetrically and fairly illegibly) of this band from Brooklyn. RABBIT plays DARKSIDE NYC-style blackened HC with some dooming psych elements. Four tracks of lo-fi bleak hardcore that is set-back and captivating. The guitar tones are a blanket of space warmth, the drums and bass piledrive through with early ’90s NYHC bitterness. Every musician in this band is bringing something powerful, but RABBIT is clearly not about showmanship. I’m about halfway through this listen and now feeling a specter-like sound of CRO-MAGS’ “Malfunction” mixed with NO FUNERAL tone and the OUT OF LINE demo production. Wait for the Watership breakdown (sorry, had to). Excellent demo if old school dark death-inspired NYHC is (or was) ever your thing, and you’re seeking something fresh from this atomic garden.

Detësto Atomdöd EP

Raw and rugged hardcore punk from Brazil. This unassuming slab kicks off solid immediately, and then you realize “holy fuck, they are nailing this Scandi-beat style to a D [sic].” Crunchy, distorted, and echoing, DETËSTO scorches on this debut EP. Mid-tempo D-beat mangel, leveled in the dense Vevarsle zones. Heavy and dark with some metallic breakdown moments that serve more as intros than running throughout their classic structure (and, might I add, classic lyrical content). Yes, some things do need repeating to death! Some wild percussion effects occur that sound like glass bottles or windchimes on the crash. Think DISFEAR, WARCOLLAPSE, AVSKUM, or NUCLEAR DEATH TERROR with groove—a detonating five tracks that take no pause. Some of the sickest Sugi cover art I’ve seen as well, using way more negative space than usual. Contemporary D-beat at its finest.

Agravio Que Futuro De La Verga EP

A hasty and harsh chaotic storm of hardcore punk from Mexico City, AGRAVIO wafts forth from the embers of SARCRIFICIO playing more anxiously and less thrashy, like NEGAZIONE, VICTIMAS, ATOXXXICO, or TRAMPA. Some aspects branch out into to post-hardcore punk’n’roll and immediately fall back into hammer-smash mode. This is gnarly, raw, lo-fi, and killer. Unique structures that hold back with explosive experience then let loose with skull-knocking punk rage. Fastcore changes fit perfectly in the classic riffs and beats, as if they were stolen and tossed back, used up without care. There is a feeling of urgency on every track, never quite solved or satisfying a solution. Always left hanging, always waiting for the fall, squinting and checking the sky…what’s more punk than that?

Nashgul / Teething split LP

Oh hell yeah. I have not heard much from this band since the mid-2000s I’m sorry to say, but I am stoked to have this for review. Am I bummed I don’t have a reviewer copy? You bet. Says on Bandcamp there are two remaining. Oh well. NASHGUL plays brutal grind crust in the style of MISERY INDEX with D-beat and early SEPULTURA elements, and a killer RATOS DE PORAO cover and motor-charged RIP cover. One song is called “VHS.” I like that. TEETHING, also from Madrid, plays even more furious grind with tracks such as “Going on Vacation” (yes, please) and “Eat Your Boss” (ew…sick track, though). TEETHING’s side also features various hardcore moments that are more like DYING FETUS meets early SUICIDAL and MDC. If BLACK FLAG went grind? I’m just riffing now. This is a punk grind onslaught and I totally dig it. Awesome collage cover art, too.


Merked Murk Mob cassette

Oakland’s heavy hitters MERKED play twenty tracks of sinister, grinding powerviolence with a gruesome slab of sludge, recalling HARD TO SWALLOW and UNRUH. Excellent stuff that does not tire on the ears like some forms of PV can. Punk grind attitude, somewhat sloppy at times, in a fluid way. It sounds like they are having a good time doing what they love and I like that. A three-piece that sounds like a mammoth, lots of breakdowns and some mid-tempo moments. I got through the entirety of the twenty tracks and it sort of felt like a play. There is definitely a story here and they don’t overdo it; the tape simply slams start to finish. I reviewed CHOKE from the Bay Area some months ago as well, and still have yet to see them. Lame of me, but it would be rad to check both these bands out. That would vibe nicely, I think.

Nightbreed Plague Dogs cassette

I love stuff like this. Lo-fi, gruesome, death-beat blackened punk. NIGHTBREED plays squealing, hypnotically rhythmic riff blasphemy with whisper-like chanted vocals. Clear comparisons to TRANQUILIZER, KURO, BEHERIT, GHOUL (Japan), and ZOUO— NIGHTBREED shines in a dark, eerie chamber of punk madness. Psychedelic metal punk D-beat that is grim, cosmic, and enrapturing. I guess there are only 22 copies of this tape available, so if any of this appeals to you, I recommend you go after it now. These four tracks are kvlt as fuck. NIGHTBREED? Plague Dogs? So unassumingly creepy and weird. Sonically, this sort of creeps me out, but I also kind of want to listen to it over and over for hours, seesawing between feeling insane and feeling relaxed.

Emboscada / Pus split cassette

A raw, blistering onslaught of Argentinian/Peruvian metal punk and grindcore, in the late ’80s-to-’90s sense. EMBOSCADA reminds me of HERPES—Medellin calamity meets a bit of G.I.S.M., while P.U.S. plays a gothier blend of blackened post-punk crust. And they cover LEUSEMIA, plus NIRVANA’s “Negative Creep” (in Spanish!). Both bands are inherently sinister-sounding. Half this tape is flesh-melting grind punk, the other is bone-pogoing death punk. None of it is pretty, and if both bands were on a bill live, I think I’d need some fresh air afterwards. There are similarities, but these two bands go great together on a split tape as complements.

Squander War Crimes cassette

Punk from Nova Scotia, reminding me structurally of AUS-ROTTEN, with the sting of A.O.A. or EXIT-STANCE and the production tone of KORROSIVE or PROTESTI. At points loose and chaotic like Finnish HC, and other times straightforward and brutal like LANGUID. This is comprised of members of NAPALM RAID and SYSTEM SHIT, etc. It is somewhat more hardcore and old school than it is crust, like CRUCIFIX mixed with several ’80s Scandinavian and UK influences. A tape that gets heavier and heavier as it goes.

Burning//World Peace is No Reality LP

Lashing out with sizzling fury, BURNING//WORLD brings a torrential downpour of distorted, raw D-beat hardcore. This is DISCLOSE’s Tragedy leveled off the mixing board, buzz-sawing like your ears and speakers can hardly take much more. Blistering riffs and haunting divebomb solos blast though at a relentless pace. This waits for no peace and is just above mid-tempo. Eleven tracks of a GLORIOUS?(-style) nightmare I could get lost in all day—total Dis-onslaught. D-CLONE pitches, FRAMTID pummeling, ANTI-METAFOR tightness, DISPENSE harshness…by now you know the DRILLER KILLER. BURNING//WORLD hits this style perfectly in the face and knocks its fucking jaw out. “Give Up All Hope”-core at its fullest decibels, and I seriously hope you can get this.

Fatalist Ruination LP

Parts MASTER/DEATHSTRIKE, FROM ASHES RISE, WORLD BURNS TO DEATH— FATALIST excel at groove and doom. Metal crust at a high caliber with sinister, tyrannical vocals. The bestial nature of the vocals reminds me of some blackened crust bands, but strangely, I’m picking up the tones of slower SCATHA tracks. Definitely dig the fluidity and conciseness of this album. It sounds like metallic hardcore but does not go overboard on any particular song structure identifying its roots in punk. A variety of beats show off their skill, but FATALIST never gets too grandiose. Miserable, downtrotten, anguished hardcore punk. This feels like a theme album for pirates of cold dark waters, and I’ll just leave it at that.

V/A Demons Inside Us: 20 Years of Phobia Records LP

If you’re looking for a fantastic, frenzied collection of contemporary Scandinavian and Eastern European hardcore punk, here is your comp. Twenty-one tracks of blistering heavy käng-and-roll, classic crust, and D-beat, comprising various levels of speed and distortion, yet compiled thoughtfully in pace and tone. All your favorites are rumbling the pots off your speakers here: PARANOID, EARTH CRUST DISPLACEMENT(!!!), ABSOLUT, PARASIT, DISSEKERAD (you need Dis LP), UTSATT, WARCOLLAPSE, SVAVELDIOXID, VOIDFILLER, SLUTET (you need Dis LP), and much more. Several decades of Scandi-beat punk-tuated melody and passion come though over the course of this LP, covering a bit over two decades from the Czech Republic’s punkest label. An excellent sampler from Phobia Records. Sixteen-page zine and poster included. Only a few are left on gold vinyl. Comp is a ripper, zero slouch tracks, and I enjoyed it even more while revisiting it to write about it.

Motorsav Respiratordrømme LP

MOTORSAV of Copenhagen plays upbeat goth punk, immediately recalling the popular swing and moody grooves of MURDER CITY DEVILS. As the play progresses, though, the tones wallow darker, where vocals recede deep into the shadowplay. Synths and post-punk riffs take the lead with anthemic choruses beneath the fog. This is all a lot faster than your average goth punk band, but vibing with HORROR VACUI or BELGRADO…I like the strained lunacy of the vocals without sounding trope-ishly morose. It is rawer that way, and warmer, amongst a vast array of bands like this that strive to sound cold and gloomy. The track “Din Krop” has some really awesome, deep monk-chant-like moments. This LP is bleak while being upbeat. If Hardcore-era DEVO and the MUMMIES sounded more like the FUZZTONES covered in a warm syrup tomb of ROSETTA STONE. Screams of agony, gnashing teeth, CEMETARY walks, SHE PAST AWAY synth overload, and plenty of distortion. The last track “Spøgelsesbyen” reaches octaves that remind me of ZOUNDS’ Subvert—a fantastic harmonizing outro to a great album. It moves really quickly for a genre that can lose me sometimes. This is goth punk on the attack with feelings of optimism and a carefree nature.

Utrota 7 Track Demo / Radioaktiv Ödemark LP

Crispy and sizzling splashes of D-beat noize käng from Sweden. This is an LP comp of UTROTA’S two demos, limited to 300 copies on black or white vinyl. Overall, this is classic D- beat played in the raw and higher register such as DISCLOSE or GLORIOUS? Some aspects remind me of HORRENDOUS 3D. There is something seething and mechanical about it, though. This is a timeless entry in the slew of bands like this. UTROTA sounds like a demo that would cost you hundreds today had it been released in 1984. It’s sort of laid-back but equally pulverizing. Could it all use a bit more bass? Perhaps. The floor tom takes care of all that, anyway. The second demo is heavier, also. Think the build of STATE OF FEAR as this LP progresses into the late second half. They lay it all down sharp until it becomes a slow burn. A perpetual cycle in the demo zones; in its purest hardcore-mangel form. Vibing SVAVELDIOXID on the last couple tracks. So don’t miss out on this—I really wish they had sent me a copy, but I’m now about to take my own advice.

Nexø False Flag LP

Copenhagen’s NEXØ plays an obnoxious arrangement of post-punk skate rock with interludes of twisted cold/no wave, similar to if DEPECHE MODE collaborated with PROPAGANDHI and added even more thrash elements. The trudging riffs of SKITKIDZ and the optimistic speed of NO HOPE FOR THE KIDS. Overall, this is quite unique, and I give it great acclaim for that. Super well-produced and masterfully played punk rock. The minimal vocals are excellent—when they are on, they are intense. NEXØ makes a racket that is perfect to zone out in for measures longer than usually edited for this style of music. So NEXØ brings forth the unexpected and they do it well. There is a lunacy to their music, but it is very precisely rehearsed. I don’t know where to categorize this outside of art-core proto-punk. There are some elements of industrial and carnival madness. The LP listen only gets faster, like a ride you can’t get off, interspersed with melodic soundscapes throughout. Sheer escapist punk with a lot of heart.

Days of Desolation Circles LP

Titan riffs coming through from Belgium’s DAYS OF DESOLATION. DAYS OF DESOLATION play hyper-blast grinding crust as a three-piece, with morose chords beneath the fury. Cacophonous synth subtleties are dispersed within the tracks and sound squeamishly off-putting with ominous dread. This is quite technical with all the grit of classic crust. Thinking NASUM, GADGET, SNIFTER, early INSISION, or more recently, SAYYADINA, D.E.R., P.L.F., or GRUELING SENTENCE. A fine mix of prog ambiance and pulverizing grindcore with nodes of death metal and crust. DAYS OF DESOLATION tether between exhausting blasts and well-composed passages that grab you by the throat. I admit I sort of lost touch with this style of crust-grind, but DAYS OF DESOLATION have my eyes bulging out with attention. With songs titles such as “King of Pikes,” “Autumn,” “Your Prerogative,” and “Hypersleep,” I feel like I will grow to give this one a much deeper connective listen over the coming months. A definite for manic grind blasters that like their crust extra heavy and their death extra fast. I also have learned DAYS OF DESOLATION are on the CAPITALIST CASUALTIES tribute album, so that rules. Circles is their first LP after an EP, and it slays.

User Unauthorized Harsh Truth LP

Hailing from Austin, USER UNAUTHORIZED plays an interesting mix of anthemic hardcore and dark punk. Ripping drum fills punctuate heavy breakdowns throughout, which is interesting because they have a track called “No Breakdowns.” The sound (mastered by Enormous Door, so it’s killer) is clean and very detailed from the clear, harsh vocals to the buzz of the strings and the pop of the cymbals and snare. I do like USER UNAUTHORIZED’s ability to bend songs from classic punk riffs to down-tuned hardcore. Layers of lyrics filled with angst and spite toward, well, authority, in all its stifling and suppressing forms. A lot of these compositions reminds me of an old favorite EP by NO WIN SITUATION, but seething with the attitude of AUGUST SPIES, DEFIANCE, and rhythmically, MIND OVER MATTER. Harsh Truth is a solid mix of old-school East Coast hardcore and popularized West Coast punk. But in Texas. Stay harsh!

Agoni En Röst För Fred 1984–1986 LP

AGONI of Stockholm was one of the predecessors of modern D-beat and Scandinavian hardcore, playing in the heavier register such as SVART PARAD, BOMBANFALL, CRUDITY, DNA, HEADCLEANERS, ANTIBOFORS, DISARM, or DISCARD…but in some cases, several years prior to those bands. So, if any of that is of interest, this review is for you, and you already want or have this LP. AGONI was fucking heavy and fast, and pre-any of those categorizations. Just hardcore käng (känga “boot” crust) punk. Grumbling, furious bass and a calamity of drumming and distortion. An intonating furnace of vocals. Classic tumbling intros and tempo changes you hear all the time in a D-beat “Dis” band today. Not just today, ever since the mid-’80s, and all over the world! But AGONI, and their Swedish contemporaries, wrote that skit. The freshness is almost palpable; it sounds so sincerely constructed and musically destructed. The remastering of these three demos(!) and a live 1985 gig is outstanding. Not to get too far off track here, but if you watch ’80s skate videos and you see the look on the skater’s face when they are like, “What the fuck did I just do and land?,” you realize they were inventing something raw and powerful and always went as hard as possible —it was their scene to do so. That is what it’s like to listen to this compilation. Beautiful hardcore in its the purest and earliest form. No carbon copies here, actually writing the often-imitated fill stylings and riffs you hear today, seemingly happening on the exact take you are listening to. Those subtle imperfections in timing and dropping tone that make it so fucking punk. Side B (demo three) moves into their more thrash-crossover material, as bands of this style were doing then, but even their take retains hardcore roots in its hooks. This collection is essential! Alas, all the liner notes are in Swedish. Use your translation app or something, it’s not 1984—and don’t forget your band is not AGONI when you rehearse that two-second raw moment they did, but you’re still pretty good.

Graveripper Radiated Remains CD

GRAVERIPPER of Indianapolis plays very cleanly produced thrash death with elements of blackened metal. The vocals are grim, reminding me of CENTINEX but with the punk attitude of BAT. Also, the themes create illustrious visions of cosmic, bleak scenes of monsters and beasts. Think AURA NOIR played a bit more melodically but just as intensely. Black hypnotic riffs blanket my soft brain with scorching bile. All the greatness of ’80s US thrash with the demonic harmonic vibes of Scandinavian death-beat. This is catchy and cold, and I can’t help but be ripped from my seat into the talons of GRAVERIPPER. I see this was mastered by Joel Grind of TOXIC HOLOCAUST, and Joel really gave it the full-on hexing and unholy treatment. Definitely recommended for escaping into a headbang and a mind-melt. It also seems to be selling like hotcakes, so grab this whenever you can. Damn, the vocal rhythm and IMMORTAL grimacing is insane on “Cherenkov Light.” Six evil tracks, each one more impressive than the last. Did I mention the cover art rules?? GRAVERIPPER is detailed as hell on every level. This is a great new one evoking thee metals of olde.

Body Farm Living Hell LP

Oh, I feel fortunate to be assigned this record. The flexi by BODY FARM I reviewed last month was thoroughly impressive and a powerhouse of consolidated hardcore. Politically drenched in passionate activism, BODY FARM brings an intense, clear, and brilliant message in a positive light. Musically, BODY FARM goddamn rips. A flurry of powerblasting and anarchistic cheer punctuation. Feeling some old favorites such as EBOLA, HARD TO SWALLOW, GRIEF, CAPITALIST CASUALTIES, DR. KNOW, PLASMATICS…you have likely not heard anything like this recently. Part dooming breakdowns, part raging blasts, with brief skips of D-beat and thrash ferocity. Bass gargles like a leviathan, vocals are manic and echoing. Complimentary lower vocals are smoldering crust. “Ohioan Solidarity” is a bolstering anthemic crusher. “Death on Two Wheels” might be my favorite, starting off with a Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure quote from the biker bar. Love it! The closing title track grooves me out, just to want to spin it again. It is a fast listen, but there is a lot to pick up on. This record is fantastic if you are looking for something very fresh and very smart. A+!

DShK Power For Them, Pennies For You cassette

Hardcore D-beat fury from Asheville, NC, DSHK orates from the bellows of the publicly squalored and community denied. This is a project born out of the frustrations and confusion of the pandemic, where tensions in the United States are at a boiling point, and it shows. Five tracks of inspired hate for fucking pigs, patronizing politicians, and even pointing a finger at pacifism in general and its inherent snail’s pace. No offense to snails. But fuck all cops. Anyway, DSHK puts their pennies where their mouth is too, donating a generous percentage to mutual aid groups in NC with every tape sold. Also contains one HERÄTYS cover, and it’s a great one. This is a two-piece, covering guitar/vocals and drums/bass/vocals, who come across as dueling punk twins. The execution levels are similar, but they echo and support one another. Production-wise, I am reminded of CALLOUSED on the rhythm and percussion side and HOLY MOUNTAIN on the lead and vocal side, but significantly grittier. A nasty sting of a demo. Check it out.

Slutbomb 8612 LP

SLUTBOMB plays metallic thrash fastcore that reminds me of CAPITALI$T ALIENATION meets wild ’90s street punk. They are by no means sloppy, but the delivery is hasty and has that intense early death/thrash delivery. Parts sound like MANKIND?, parts sound like IRON REAGAN. Lead guitar soloing is on point. There are moments of twangy country rock, quickly interrupted by churning hardcore. Honestly, I’m having a hard time describing this one. Its various changes are impressive and at times distracting. The production could be heavier on the bass-and-kick side, but SLUTBOMB has many elements of punk and metal, and it doesn’t let up—they really put a lot of songwriting into this LP, which could easily have been four spoonfuls of EP sugar. But SLUTBOMB don’t play that way. Sixteen tracks of maniacal thrashcore with anarchistic tones and filled with independent identity.

Body Farm Body Farm flexi 7″

One three-minute track of vicious powerviolence and raw hardcore with excellent harmonic vocals. A punctuated assault of brutal blasts and breakdowns. This flexi really accentuates the band’s tightness, timing, and ferocity. It almost feels like a three-chapter musical that detonates in a chant in solidarity. Out of Baltimore, OH, for fans of ’80s UK thrashcore, anarcho/peace punk, powerviolence, hardcore, and excellent vocals. Reminded a bit of RUBBLE, MELT BANANA, HOPE?…this brief mind-bender is punk as fuck.

Charged D.I.S. Charged D.I.S. cassette

This band has got it going on with the band name CHARGED D.I.S. They play a calamity of noise, with strange samples, awkward graphics, D-beat rhythms, classic riffing, and a warbled recording with from-the-throat singing. A lot of the constant sampling is children crying. I can hardly read the song titles, but I’m pretty sure they include “Killing” and “Humans.” The demo insert folds out and suggests you “cut here” (at the dotted line) “and hang” a (miniature) poster design. That’s just funny. It is of a larger gas-masked figure marionetting a smaller gas-masked figure with the header “D New World Graves.” There are also graves in the image. I’m hoping CHARGED D.I.S. made like ten of these and I’m now rich, because I could see that happening. Play this for your dog, see what happens. D.I.S. FTW.

Toxic Control Dexconxtroll CD

TOXIC CONTROL is all over the map in style, from raw street punk to dub mixed with grunt-like Japanese rap to grimacing muffled noisecore and some roots rock…it all seems very deliberately abrasive. Sung in Japanese, some song title examples include “End Stop and Frisk,” “Fuck Homophobia,” “All You Fascists Bound to Lose,” and “Who Killed the City?,” and with lyrics provided in English, I can really start to relate with TOXIC CONTROL. TOXIC CONTROL is from Tokyo, but I’d like to know the answer to who killed where I live, too—I think we all do. The irony is not lost on me…anyway, I find myself bouncing to this gnarly bizarre punk expression like I’m young, free and crazy. Unfortunately, I’m left with crazy, but I’d like to be free if only in my mind. TOXIC CONTROL definitely are. Nice work from this three-piece. Reminds me of ZYANOSE meets very early CASUALTIES or CHOKING VICTIM. “Tu Puedes! Antifascista!

Crisis Beat Void of Humanity cassette

Hailing from Brazil, CRISIS BEAT plays a subtle mix of gothic Oi!-style hardcore and metallic punk, picking up the energy of CAMERA SILENS, the gloom of some darker metal bands such as BLOOD INCANTATION, and harsh, desperate, echoing crust à la MÖRKHIMMEL.. Some Motör-charged elements and Burning Spirits-style work make for a unique experience melding modern psych-metal, crust (vocals), and all sorts of weird, unexpected macabre interludes. Five tracks of anti-fascist dark metal punk that span the influence of several decades of noise and experimentation.

Blinding Glow Unconditional Surrender cassette

With a logo inspired by Apocalypse Now, BLINDING GLOW sets things off with a magnitude of napalm-charged, chamber-echoing D-beat slaughter. This sounds like it was recorded in a castle’s dungeon, and I like it. With aspects of, well, war, LIFE CHAIN, KARBONITE, DETONATE, CRIMEX, VITTNA—this has all the making of a sought-after demo among their contemporaries of Dis-wave bands. Nothing too surprising going on here, but what they lack in shocking freshness, they make up for with speed and non-stop power. Every member excels on Dis, and proves even more so as the demo progresses. The more I listen, the more I’m reminded of some form of TOXIC WASTE or CRUCIFIX meets AKKA or UNARM. Favorite track: the title cut “Unconditional Surrender.” A bouncing wallop of soulful, raw Dis-beat. And in a BLINDING GLOW, it’s all over.

Drogato / Forclose Tomorrow? split cassette

FORCLOSE plays metallic Dis-punk with highly distorted vocals on the higher register, to the tune of DISCLOSE or FINAL BOMBS meets NIHLIST or the riff style and bone-snapping hits of REPULSION. This is sizzling deathbeat-to-death with blazing solos and maniacal vocals. Great side. DROGATO follows up those three tracks of depression and anxiety with two hammers of solid lo-fi, monstrous dual-vocal crust delivery. Focus very strongly on the early DISRUPT EPs, DESTROY!, DISSENSION, and CONSUME, then add a bit more organization and rhythm change-ups that are a bit wilder and seemingly come out of nowhere Á  la MASSGRAV or SCUMBRIGADE. This entire split is Dis-crust for you fukker.

Svaveldioxid Första Dagen Efter Sista Bomben LP

This was one of the best kängpunk D-beat records of last year, if not the best in that category. Wanna know how I know? Because I put it on my 2021 top ten. More to my own point, this was one of the best D-beat albums of last year that I did not hear a lot about. Perhaps because no one can spell it? It’s a mystery to me. Swedish vevarsle at its finest, in the realms of DISFEAR, ANTI CIMEX, BOMBANFALL, and SVART PARAD (the band’s namesake is the first track on ANTI CIMEX’s first EP Anarkist Attack, as you know). To be brief and specific, this album fucking rips. The drum fills are subtle and smooth, yet a gut-punch at just the right moment. And those moments are never overdone, appreciated like a cold slap of reality. That is, kängpunk as fuck. Authentic and not tryhard. And certainly not hype—more likely taken for granted. Is that a china cymbal? From SVAVELDIOXID, this is their most vicious, ambitious and grimacing offering. It is more pushed forward, less muffled, distorted and jangling at all the right levels. This is a clobbering, galloping D-beat record that if you missed out on, you should check out. A classic sound that is just the right amounts of fucked-up crazy adrenaline.

Kirkby Kiss Listen Closely CD

Dramatic post-hardcore from New Jersey with sludgy, guttery vocals and suspenseful breaks throughout. There is a level of anticipation to KIRKBY KISS that is waiting for something to break—when it finally releases, there is a feeling of relief. Solid hardcore with post-hardcore moods and solos. Songs cut off in an intense way and it is appreciated as not to drag on. Like I said, KIRKBY KISS plays with a lot of build and suspense that dive bombs or bursts into some calamity at the end. These careful structures containing an intensity of underlying fire is undeniably heard. I Listen(-ed) Closely and here are all sorts of levels of street punk, blue-collar hardcore, Oi!, and post-punk. Digging their combination of all these subgenres with sincere grit.

Realm of Terror Accelerated Extinction cassette

Loose, jangly crust Á  la early DOOM demos or ABRAHAM CROSS, with the buoyancy of some early ’90s grind like UNRUH or ACRID. Tight-as-fuck snare and grizzly basslines, sizzling feedback cross-channeling buzzsaw strings and ugly vocals. Lots of breakdowns in the DEVIATED INSTINCT/APARTMENT 213 sense, while constantly driving forth like DEFORMED EXISTENCE or CRUSADE. Low levels of subtle dirge, DISCLOSE riff-raining terror followed by more breakdowns. This is so good. Heavy as fuck with a hard stance toward animal liberation and this world of constantly accelerated pollution. This is worth your attention and speaker destruction. Six tracks of obliterating, downtuned crustcore guts, in a D-beat skeleton, a total distorted onslaught.

Dead Stare Dead Stare cassette

This is extremely raw and lo-fi crusty art noise. I say “art” because there is something unearthly, irreverent, and rebellious about this. It is so basic yet ensnaring. Riffs sound like early DISCHARGE or STONE THE CROWZ played through a blender with very raw black metal pedals. Lyrical pace is performative and reminds me of the FREEZE at times, and the percussion is primitive MURDER JUNKIE madness. I like this. It’s jangly and off-putting. It’s distorted and creepy. It is hardcore and mechanical. DEAD STARE is obtuse and deranged. This is a very bleak tape with sparks of brilliance throughout.

Mankind? Discography LP

In ten-plus years, this is probably my most personally-invested review; one that brings back a lot of important memories for me, as I am sure this release will be for many of you readers, too. In 1996, I moved from NY to New Haven, CT for art school. But what I learned and gained in New Haven, besides some lifelong friends, was that the city’s punk scene was extremely active in socio-political activism, from benefit shows, Food Not Bombs, and protesting the retail and polluting spaces and industrial zones in the area. Various anarchist proactive reactions were happening. Punk was actually happening, in real life (prior to this cyber age we are in now, but I digress). A club downtown called the Tune Inn was where I would begin going from NY, and of course continued to, when I lived in New Haven. Politically, the scene was heavily anarcho-voiced, with sounds ranging from street punk to grinding crust. I was very interested in all of this. Distros, pamphlets, tabling; the message and this movement. MANKIND? was winding down around this time, but I befriended Chris “Picasso” who went on to form a couple lesser-known acts like ARCHAIC PAX and ANGUISH as well. Of course, Bill Chamberlain of BEHIND ENEMY LINES, the PIST, REACT, and DEVASTATION was on guitar and concurrent vocals in MANKIND?, with Al Ouimet and Rick Abott also of the PIST, Stacey of CALLOUSED (on vocals as well), and Jeff Wilcox of BRUTALLY FAMILIAR. In sound, MANKIND? initially could be compared to DIRT, with some balance of NAUSEA (their cover of “Electrodes” is included on this), though they were more contemporaries of CONFLICT, ICONS OF FILTH or AUS-ROTTEN in tone. But today I can only say this is MANKIND?—the one and only. Chris has full lungs on every measure and every track, and Stacey’s delivery is just as relentless, firing off passionate, detailed lyrics with backing exclamations throughout. Really, the balance between Stacey and Picasso is the voice of thousands and a conversation in solidarity. As the ’90s moved on into the millennium era, the lyrical writing style of many punk bands became pithier. Vaguer. Metaphoric. I am not saying this is lazy at all, but MANKIND? was far from that on every measure. The messages were clear and highly detailed. This was not a punk band I could simply agree with. MANKIND? and the surrounding scene forced me to question my own white suburban comforts. Animal liberation, sexism, and homophobia, Ecocide and nuclear power, The fucking death sentence. The remastering here is incredible! I have two MANKIND? EPs and the Pogo Attack compilation, but this sound engineering blows everything I’ve ever heard from the band to smithereens. The strings are incredibly fuzzy and crispy, the vocals, main and backing, are a forefront of rage and skepticism. The drums have never sounded so impactful. The playlist does not skip a beat of intense DIY attitude, Freedom, awareness and equality—outro-ing with their cover of CRASS’ “Punk is Dead.” Included you get a gorgeous collection of color photos, flyers, handwritten lyrics, setlists, photos of pins from that time period, all the liner art from releases and comp appearances, a thorough explanation of “WHY” [sic] they use a question mark in their name, and current ideas of how to make a difference in your area or on a larger scale. In short, this is an amazing collection of the efforts from MANKIND? and a reminder of the roots of punk, and really the point of caring about it, wherever you stand in DIY punk. “Hopefully I’ve made an impact and I’m not just wasting my breath…Punk’s not dead if you know the cause.” MANKIND? certainly got that then, and clearly still does. Yes, you need this!

Futuro Os Segredos Do Espaço e Tempo cassette

This release harkens to the psych sounds of GUIDA, the ethereal hardcore of CONTROPOTERE, and the dark corners created by RAKTA. FUTURO of San Paulo melds hardcore beats and drawn-out riffs similar to SLANT while presenting with a more melodic and cosmically-fueled aura. This is the kind of heart mainstream post-hardcore bands wish they had,  sounding organic and authentic and not postured and plastic at all. Some aspects remind me of BELGRADO or SKELETAL FAMILY, then surprisingly show up with a more IMPERIAL LEATHER energy, then fly away into the HAWKWIND or CAN night. Okay, this is actually fantastic, dreamy acid punk with hardcore and peace punk roots. Equally spacey, equally bumping, equally lashing. Every other song is my favorite and the bridges in-between have me totally intrigued and surprised. The musicianship and vocals are all tops. So excited I will get a copy of this. Definitely recommended.

Death Gasp Executioner EP

Pittsburgh’s death-beat crustforce DEATH GASP returns from abysmal stench to deliver their brutal flavor of pulverizing, downtuned mind grind. I thought the first EP was a ripper and this is burying. Galloping distortion and smoldering vocals from the bellows of despair. With this EP, DEATH GASP is proving to be a concentrated behemoth of the style. Again, I thought the first EP was well on its way, but this bloated, embittered carcass of a slab really balances confidently in riff and rhythm, where I think they excel. It’s slightly death thrash, but certainly punk as fuck. It is very austere. Think HELLSHOCK but below-freezing grim frostbitten ghoulishness. Think EFFIGY but vocals like a goddamned beast. But it is essentially more dooming D-beat, like DISCRIPT or KLONNS (Vvlgar EP). Think everything registering low and the axe registering lower; a haircut at the shoulders. Executioner, a crustcore nightmare—respect.

The Decayed Corrupt Politicians Will Never Set You Free LP

This chainsaw gut-rip from Chicago’s the DECAYED is their first LP after an EP a couple of years ago. A snotty warhorse of galloping metal punk; vocals are minimal and snarled. This teeters somewhere on a railroad track between thrash metal and street punk. Riffs are far-off horizon landscapes at times and fierce, punctuated hardcore moments later. The DECAYED have a groove that grabs you immediately. Vocal pace is stompy in a ’90s hardcore way, the metallic stylization is more modern. Punk passages are throughout each song, while being at the core a metal album. I like the standout, non-distorted bass call-and-response with the distorted guitar. This is sort of a mix between NAUSEA (vocal pace), MUNICIPAL WASTE (riffs), early RANCID (bass), FILTH (bitterness), the Pogo Attack compilation bands, and ’90s Epitaph bands. The DECAYED’s debut LP has a lot of different attitudes for sure, while maintaining something recognizably their own.

Pervitin 10 Tracks cassette

I absolutely love this. As self-described “No School Hardcore Crust,” PERVITIN is flooring my face off right now with dual-vocal, echoing death-chamber earslaughter. Anywhere between Phonophobia/Peel Sessions ENT or the FILTHKICK split, DISRUPT, ACCION MUTANTE, DEATH TOLL 80K, CETACEAN, INSTINCT OF SURVIVAL, DISASSOCIATE, SARCASM, NIGHTMARE FUEL, DEVASTATION, SOB, COP ON FIRE…this is obliterating 1000% crust. A five-piece from Tampere, this is a much heavier offering I’m being pummeled by at the moment than was expected. Refreshing as hell, too. All the song titles are in Finnish, and you get ten of em! Non-stop crust onslaught from start to finish, how else should I even put this?? Just what you want if you dig this sound. Nothing too fancy, yet the lunacy of some vocals and the unison of others is very on-their-game in this day and age. Many bands want to sound this obliterating and manic. PERVITIN stands out. Very stoked by the introduction! Insane hardcore crust. Get this miserable little tape while you can.

Road Pig Road Pig demo cassette

Sleazy and nasty hardcore rock’n’roll steams out of the New Jersey sewers. ROAD PIG plays six tracks of boiling punk, and their tunes remind me of the later records of WORLD BURNS TO DEATH. In some parts, the guitar echoes in a slightly post-punk way. Lyrics are especially nihilistic. There are a few breakdowns that don’t wait around too long before driving the song home, very deliberately wrapping it up. The last two songs are the only tracks over two minutes and they both weave a somber tale of this dying “empire” none of us asked for, from a wider point of view to a narrower view finishing off the tape. ROAD PIG plays tightly performed and intelligent punk. A great demo that they clearly put a lot of thought into, from the compositions to the lyrics to the samples.

Neurotic Existence At War With the World LP

NEUROTIC EXISTENCE of Bremen reminds me of MUSHROOM ATTACK meets CHAOS UK and CALLOUSED and DREAD MESSIAH. There are dual vocals at distinctly different ranges: the more leading vocal is gritty and tinged with lunacy, sometimes reminding me of SCATHA in the slower deliveries. The complimentary vocals strike at a various degree of octaves anywhere between FLEAS AND LICE and the MUFFS. This recording is not very dingy, and everything is produced quite clean, but the bass is really accentuated like ZMIV. I’m really digging this drawn-out epic track “(Sorry Mom) Never Homesick.” Although I feel this is supposed to be a classic ’90s-style Euro crust record, the warmth in the singing is inspired and the long bridge-style songs kind of take me away, and the diminutive chords (thinking BASTARD’s “Cause of Civilization”) hit me in the feels, not gonna hard-stance about this one. Ending on “Animal Freedom,” you can’t go wrong with what NEUROTIC EXISTENCE is about.

Warcollapse Bound to Die EP

Sweden’s masters of gruesome, Vevarsle-style dismal Scandi-beat return with four tracks of feverous hardcore punk. I’ve enjoyed the grim, depressive tones of WARCOLLAPSE for decades now and this EP matures with particularly punchier percussion, faster in a way, and more experimental in the riffs which can border on stoner metal at times, but always played at an accelerated kängpunk pace. The vocals are more twisted and coarser than ever. Passages and vocal deliveries are also extended longer than on previous recordings, almost sung. This is carefree and embittered crust punk with more tilt into grease-stenched, MOTÖR-charged crustn’roll. I have a few comparisons to Eastern European crust LPs from the last decade or so, but I compared said bands to WARCOLLAPSE at the time! They have always been very associated with writing the script for this style, with pace changes bordering on other aspects of metal but always remaining true to form. Totally killer return EP from these Swede crust-as-fuck existence vets, start to finish.

Hauntus Hauntus CD

Somewhere between pop skate punk/snotty Warped scene and thrashcore death mince, there is HAUNTUS. Obnoxious ripping metal punk that reminds me of GUTTERMOUTH meets GWAR, MUCKY PUP, and later DRI. There is a strong stench of humor on this CD. HAUNTUS plays well with a very produced product. At times, this harkens to the brilliant VIOLENT SOCIETY debut, and at others a schlocky BLANKS 77 drunken rampage. I’m not saying this band is drunk, they are tight as hell. I am saying they have a heavy party vibe and could probably destroy a small venue or clear the room in moments. There are thirteen intense tracks on this beast and the musicianship is very sharp, and so is the vocal pitch for that matter. I feel like these guys have been haunting for a while and will continue to linger. They have a lot of energy and a lot to let loose.

Drah Brud LP

DRAH of Poland plays five tracks on a full LP, with very KILLING JOKE or even PESD vibes. Chords range from QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE to ZYGOTE—post-industrial downturned aggression. A lot of this is repetitive but in a drawn-out mathcore way. The bass recoils to GODFLESH and MORNE. The song structures are stagnant and struggling to break free. Perhaps that is the tension DRAH wants to build. I feel a bit stuck in a trap with each song. I also wish I could understand Polish, to be fair. There are moments that recall UNWOUND for a moment, but the pace is structured like a cold building and contrived, and I need to get out. I want something else to happen here in this maze. The last track “Czerwony” lets go a bit, but I must admit DRAH caught me under the weather, and this is not helping my migraine. The songs are good, but I want more, or any, harmonizing. I might want to edit this review heavily, but I’m not sure. I feel lost and at a loss with this one. The CAN soloing outro is cool. Oh, no reviewer copy? Sweet. It’s a sign.

Devoured by Rats Devoured by Rats demo cassette

Let’s make this one short and killer, just like the tape. DEVOURED BY RATS gives you three tracks of chamber-echoing hardcore metallic noise, seething with abrupt blackened riffs and gouging hardcore vocals. “Chemical Bath” cuts off in a murderous way. Track two, “Septic Severance,” tears to pieces what I thought was insane at the beginning. Cyber-gruesomeness in the best way. This is just plain bizarre and welcome. The last track “Return to Filth” slices with the most riffing on any track, that is obliterated by speed-punk vocals and thrash ambiance. Don’t you dare think this is a thrash or metal tape. This is disgusting sewage grind crust oozing with pus and a pulse. Kill it with fire! There are only 50, so don’t sleep on this nightmare. Brought to you by the label that brought you RASH. This shit is just as nasty.

Keepers I cassette

Hailing from San Diego, KEEPERS bring spooky, carnivalistic, atavistic post-punk gloom to the arena with hazy delivery and morose groove as an intro. Some of this is discordant jangly garage rock, feeling like the FALL and SYNTHETIC ID. Parts are drawn out with cataclysmic psych-rock and lo-fi ’90s indie rock. The EP rounds out with vocal-effected, millennial gaze-y rock that seems both disturbed and carefree. Four tracks of irreverent, playful proto-punk with some twangy edge to it.

Kärtël / Ódio Social split EP

I have yet to grab my reviewer copy of this, but lucky for me I happened upon it at Black Water Records in Portland and picked it up. I had been hearing solid reviews of this from older punks and younger punks and all the mad D-beat heads, and it certainly does not Dis-appoint. KÄRTËL of NYC, comprised of members from Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico, plays pounding hardcore with militant force and fluid vocals. This is tough as nails and rhythmically flowing. Female lead vocals in Spanish rip through with the meter and pitch of KOHTI TUHOA, AFTER THE BOMBS, and SACRILEGE. This is one of the best voices of the year. Attitude and sheer power à la FORÇA MACABRA, oration as inferno like RIÑA. The writing is relentless and KÄRTËL plays it seamlessly. ÓDIO SOCIAL, native to Brazil, complements Side A in Portuguese with buoyant, loose bass and similarly tight speed-demon percussion. Dual vocals ranging from hardcore to more guttural crust to anthemic käng-stomp singing. This EP is essential Latinx hardcore and one of my favorite Vex releases. All those debating the sides of the NERVOUS SS/RAT CAGE split LP, give yourself a break, and check this out. A split EP of the year.

Rotting Hammer Clinging to Life cassette

The self-described D-beat poseur mower ROTTING HAMMER plays frothing-at-the-bit, sinister raw punk conjuring a ’90 squat scene filthcore-style, thinking POPULATION ZERO, VIRULENT STRAIN, DEATH MOLD…maybe even the more recent DEVIL MASTER. The drums are blistering D-beat with classic riffs riding with rapturing insolence. Vocals recall the more scathing, scratchy style of death metal. This is perfect plague pestilent death music, where we are at today. Nothing lives under the fall of the ROTTING HAMMER! A truly nihilistic sound with furious pace and aggression. I swear, if I had it in me this week, this review could be fraught with comparisons. Solid foreboding punk.

Sycophant Innate Control cassette

Arizona thrash punkers SYCOPHANT play like a very smooth hypnotic alien attack. Reminds of DISCHARGE meets later DRI and SACRED REICH. Repetitive, impassioned lyrics are spat forth with haste and then pulled back with hesitation, which creates for an interesting dynamic! Like SYCOPHANT knows about some seriously evil scientific conspiracy and is not sure if we can handle the information. I’m really digging these super metaled-out DISCHARGE rhythms drenched in ’80s thrash effect and groove. This is very tight, and I love the weird science retro- technologic-overkill cover art. For weirdos, freaks, and fans of D-beat and thrash. Shit, the more this goes on, I’m pulled in the direction of ANTI CIMEX, INEPSY, Repo Man, and Night of the Comet…relentless punk, bizarre and rips hard!

Hazard Profile Slime EP

Snotty hardcore from the UK that immediately reminded me of CHAOS UK and the more contemporary PI$$ER, and as it turns out they share members with both, as well as FUK, the WANKYS, and a slew of others. HAZARD PROFILE plays jangly, wanking blasts, kind of like a looser HARD TO SWALLOW meets SUICIDAL SUPERMARKET TROLLEYS with the maniacal energy of PLEASANT VALLEY CHILDREN. The attitude and grimacing is over the top, and this is a great pint-drinking, loud night kind of EP. Five tracks of boot-stomping, slightly crossover slam punk with blasts and palpable negativity. My favorite track being “Rubble & Bones” (“Nothing fucking matters / Nothing fucking matters / We”ll soon be…”), which starts out with a moment of THIN LIZZY-like intro soloing and immediately dominates into a nihilistic beating. HAZARD PROFILE is ugly, cold, and prickly on the ears; I imagine a live set to be significantly more embittered.

Just Ice Sleep EP

JUST ICE plays extremely tight rhythmic grooving hardcore from outer space and Quebec, somewhere between LIFE OF AGONY in harmony, MÖRKHIMMEL in heavy darkness, NECRO (the rapper) and INTEGRITY in vocal grit, and VISION OF DISORDER in hooks and fury. But the cool thing about JUST ICE is that they make it sound so easy. It is very well-produced and grabs you on every track. Backing vocals meld everything together with the winded yet bellowing and strained lead vocals. Breakdowns galore run through, but it never gets boring, with lots of tempo changing and hardcore riffage. Listening to JUST ICE is kind of like watching a gnarly fearless street skater who is just nailing everything. Looks like this is limited to only 100 copies (for the second press!) and at the time of writing this, only fourteen remain. From 2019, and I hope this review moves a few, because it’s damned good grooving hardcore with a shit-ton of heart and a frigid hard stance.

False Confession Resurrectionists LP

Hailing from Oxnard, California, FALSE CONFESSION brings a VARUKERS-speed punk attack with the clarity of FINAL CONFLICT and the ease of CHEM-TRAILS from Connecticut. This album may sound traditional, but in that way it sounds timeless. You could tell me this was an obscure classic from the ’80s and I’d believe you. Picking up ICONOCLAST, DR. KNOW, and CRUCIFIX power as well, maybe a bit on the melodic side of VOIVOD. FALSE CONFESSION plays fast and clearly from the roots of hardcore punk and Dis-bands. Vocals are sung and repetitive, but I mean that in a poetic way. Over all of the aggression, the message is sincere and stylishly delivered. Songs are also quite long and complexly composed for this style, which can easily be offered as a verse-chorus-verse stale slab. Thrash breakdowns here and there, minimal obtuse discordant riffs and solos, various themes about the shared planet and the personal psyche all create something a bit different that at first notice sounds expected. Fuck…upon further inspection, I now realize this band was a pioneering band of the Nardcore movement in the ’80s. I am sorry, I’m from the ’80s/’90s East Coast scene and was not aware. Now FALSE CONFESSION is actually starting to sound familiar. It happens, m’kay! I’m such a fucking idiot, I’m submitting this. Making punk an honest threat again. Good new album, guys! I especially like this plodding metallic track “Mortal Coil.” I’m here to tell you this band should not be forgotten! Like the other HERESY or something…apparently, they were good…ugh. I should be fired.

Choke It’s Hard to Talk Shit With No Fucking Teeth cassette

This is insane, clobbering, grinding hardcore chock full of samples and breakdowns. Crucially intimidating HXC from Oakland killing it on the blasts and mic. Recalling MERAUDER, KRUELTY, NEGLECT, DMIZE, OUT OF LINE, and INFEST…slam your head to this whirlwind of thrash and anthemic powerviolence. The rage really comes forth in “Blue Lives Don’t Mean Shit” (true) and “Talk Shit, Get Hit.” They even got Greta Thunberg’s infamous maddening distraught public statement on here, and covers of APARTMENT 213 and MADBALL! I don’t always go in for this style of hardcore, but holy shit, is this great. Rhythms are harsh as hell, surprising change-ups, inspired lyrics, and the message is clear. Various vocalists guest-spot on this tape. “You Suffer and React” (the song by the band) style jams on here with the five-second “You Failed, Now Die.” Yes, super fucking clear; like I said. And some slower beatdowns like “Why Should I Fear Death When I’m Already Dead Inside?” Valid. CHOKE sounds like a truly dedicated family member of hardcore. CHOKE will get a hold of your neck and mind. This is a fantastic tape for the assertion of contemporary punk grind and hardcore music.

Disable / Löckheed split EP

Who wants blistering D-beat kängpunk for disfukker? DISABLE kicks things off with grueling, distorted, mid-tempo hardcore punk. A classic style with slightly reverberated vocals à la GLORIOUS?, DISCLOSE, et al. Pace quickens and riffs thicken by the second track, a snare-pummeling composition called “Enola.” The bass here is a ghost-ridden chopper cycle of fire and mayhem. An awesome three tracks from DISABLE, who switch it up subtly and keep you mesmerized in raw, chainsawing fury for six solid and distortion pedal-immersed minutes. LÖCKHEED follows suit with a slightly more Vevarsle/Scandi-beat style, with the feeling of DISCARD, WARCOLLAPSE, or DISFEAR. Vocals are harsher, solos are higher and more dive-bombing. This heavy madness is the perfect compliment to Side A. I want to describe track two on their side as well, as things really climax with “Pill Mill.” Both sides share a parabolic structure but bring a unique offering of this classic style. The last track “Black Wings of War” takes the register even eerier, ending the entire EP with unsettling ominous death-beat. Mastered with the finely-tuned ear-slaughtering of Jack Control at Enormous Door. Strongly recommended for this gross world/your life.

Sarushibai The Melancholy of the Social Outcasts LP

With optimistic fire, SARUSHIBAI plays catchy hardcore like if you mixed TOY DOLLS with the COMES, DEAD KENNEDYS, the STALIN, KURO, and SHOWCASE SHOWDOWN. Everything seems to have a sing-along style to it while being wildly fast. The song titles have me terribly intrigued: “Forest of Lies,” “Full of Lies,” “Bottomless Swamp Side,” “Distorted Landscape,” “Is It Dawn Yet?” This LP is incredibly fun to listen to but seems dripping with intelligence and purpose. Like if SPARKS or T. REX was a punk band, you might get something like SARUSHIBAI. Sometimes sounding like the SAINTS, sometimes sounding like STEELY DAN, SARUSHIBAI always sounds like themselves. Super cool and trippy new direction in hardcore, for you, from Japan.

Dregs Built to Rot EP

Back in the ’90s there was a NYC squat band called the DREGS, a reference to the bottom of a beer. This here is ferocious sXe hardcore from Vienna reminding me in vocals of EXCREMENT OF WAR, in downtrodden darkness the NYC DREGS, in sheer power NO STATIK. These vocals are something so raw and ugly and furious. The breakdowns cannot be fucked with. The circle mosh moments are intense. The EP in summation is a brutal powerhouse of sXe HC rage. This is almost more intimidating than SLANT, of recent listening, and if it were a full-length it might very well be. Get this if you think you’re pissed-off. You’ll see you’re not as pissed-off as DREGS.

Life Once Flourished Here / Roäc split LP

ROÄC plays loose, grizzly crust reminiscent of MISERY, DEVIATED INSTINCT meets HIS HERO IS GONE, themes of desolation, despair, and a stark realization of darker days ahead. The pace remains gloomy and macabre almost throughout their side, harkening the ’90s finest metallic crust on the more composed and tight, less chaotic side; WINTER, the metric delivery of GODFLESH, the double bass pedal of BOLT THROWER…. but hotdamn, when they gallop off at a DEATH STRIKE pace, ROÄC rips. There’s a lot to offer on this side from the twelve-string acoustic guitar and tambourine to the pulverizing, more EFFIGY/AXEWIELD riff-driven tracks. You’re getting a lot for half of a split. LIFE ONCE FLOURISHED HERE delivers one track, “Land That God Forgot,” a sonic landscape of JACK ROSE-esque primitive guitar on the side of ALARIC or ATRIARCH. A melancholy and harmonic slightly prog or Krautrock escape under socio-political spoken word. Feeling a message and mood of AXIOM and BLACK KRONSTADT here as well, as the intro grows into a discordant hardcore attack. I think this is an important split LP for the eco-conscious free-spirit cruster—an ally to love and peace. Neither side disappoints.

Frustrerad The Truth in Lies EP

Motor-charged D-beat from Belgium. Vocals remind me of the less melodic aspects of TURBONEGRO, maybe better to compare to NAILBITER, and the tunes overall of CHARGER, at times Scandinavian Jawbreaker-era ANTI CIMEX with the production of the ANTIMASTER/GIVE UP ALL HOPE split. What FRUSTRERAD do, they do a bit loose and predictably, but they do it well. The EP, which clocks in at just under ten minutes, happens fast, as FRUSTRERAD plays classic kängpunk from start to finish. I feel like I had to play it twice to really appreciate the subtle earnest flow of FRUSTRERAD. Their demo tape seemed to have a little more in the kick pedal but this is a solid vinyl debut, that from here I think can only gain heaviness and a shift into top gear.

Rotstrotter Rotstrotter LP

Monstrous non-stop D-beat with some motor-charged vibes. For fans of HELLKRUSHER, DISASTER, POLICE BASTARD, WARCOLLAPSE, and DISTRAUGHT. Vocals remind me of DEVOID OF FAITH, the music is as fast as DISGUST, E.N.T, and DISFEAR. ROTSTROTTER isn’t rewriting the book here, but their speed is definitely up there with the most insane of them. The transitions are smooth and the riffs melt together in excellent D-beat harmony. Some solos almost sound like computer gibberish and that’s fucking cool and different. ROTSTROTTER debuts with a powerful LP that grasps you right away. It’s simple, but it is real kängpunk turnt up a few notches in its truest form. You can tell the members of this band are no freshmen to this sound. 100% D-beat hardcore from Denver today that reeks forth like Europe thirty-something years ago.

Emboscada Demo 2020 cassette

Gruesome vocals from Argentina reminiscent of BLAZING EYE, SODOM, ELECTROCUTIONER; things of a gruesome metallic punk nature. I love that the first song is “No!” and the last song is “Nada.” Otherwise, I’m picking up “my head” and “your house;” songs seething in melodic aggression. The construct feels derived from ’80s Latin American hardcore in its diminutive distortion, with some aspects of ’80s US hardcore in the more anthemic upbeats. This contrast, plus the vocals (some femme vocals), the production, and the various tones, all create a unique demo. Long enough to be interesting, short enough to be wanting more.

Bain de Sang Sacrificed for a Load of Filth and Lies LP

This LP opens up with pulverizing, blackened, downturned rippage reminiscent of UNRUH meets AT THE GATES, MISERY INDEX, INSISION, and SKITSYSTEM. BAIN DE SANG of Paris plays intensely tight grindcore with galloping precision while locking up crust-inspired riffs and brutal black metal grimness. At times slightly screeching, BAIN DE SANG always seems to pull back into the realm of hardcore at just the right moment. Powerful rhythms undercut the complete onslaught of technical modern grind. Bestial dark deathcore breakdowns punctuate where necessary, and thrash momentum opens up the cover of “Warsaw”—previous to this track, my favorite homage was done by SWING KIDS. This one brings such smoldering, depressive merit to covering songs. Self-described powerviolence; I wouldn’t go there at all, personally. This is from a warmer place, for lack of a better word. Damn fine French grindcore album.

G.A.Z.E. Sielun Tuli demo cassette

Self-described “Super Dimension Hard Core!!!!” bringing a brightly packaged cassette in yellow with many psychedelic aspects to it. This may be a reference to the MANBIKI CHOCOLATE compilation, from the look and sound of it? The sound—this is like PAINTBOX and TURBONEGRO meets GISM and ZOUO, with Oi!/Scandi-folk anthemic cheering and fully demonic verse vocals like BEHERIT, IMPALED NAZARENE, and MARERIDT. Psychotic metal punk!!! Ungodly and totally scorching!!! I’m scared to submit a review of this diabolical treat! One thing is for sure, it just melted my face off. If you’re looking  for something totally insane, non-stop confounding, and well, I am 100% fucking convinced—”Super Dimension Hard Core!!!!” Get this!

Colonial Wound Colonial Wound 12″

COLONIAL WOUND plays spacey, atmospheric post-hardcore that is as discordant and intimidating as it is smothering and embracing. Vocals are monstrous, but at moments subtly spoken, dream-like, and the lyrics are poetically miserable. This is a tight three-piece who play blackened ethereal hardcore with a dooming metallic tinge. Florida, in my opinion, is known for its ruthless grindcore and death metal. COLONIAL WOUND offers something new and more personal-sounding without being over-dramatic or emotional about it. This is polished, but certain instrumentations are gritty. Reminds me of the punk qualities of early CORROSION OF CONFORMITY, the dark warmth of ROSENKOPF, and the overall style of ISIS, all mixed together. Cream white vinyl as a picture disc on one side—a chain link fencing making an eye. A debut that is quite good.

Dropdead Dropdead 1993 LP reissue

Holy unruliness. DROPDEAD sounds more ferocious than ever on this remastered reissue of their 1993 self-titled release. Bob Otis’s vocals are ripping through the speakers, the bass is a gruesome gritty meld of bounce and rhythm. The drums are absolutely pulverizing and the cymbals glimmer. I had a cassette of this around 1996 and I used to blast it driving around New Haven, around the first time I saw DROPDEAD at The Tune Inn, and their sincerity and raw power completely floored me. No mercy for my ears, only for all animals. It brings back very fond memories hearing this again. Compared only at the time to locals BOILING MAN, I found DROPDEAD so overwhelmingly passionate when I first heard them. Messages you could not ignore or not admit were real. If “Unjustified Murder” into “The Circle Complete” to “Clone” doesn’t move you to live responsibly, and you claim to exist in a scene that cares, I don’t know what will. Thirty-four tracks of ruthless, grinding hardcore assault. If you never had this, this is the version you need right now, for a time right now. Remastered by Brad Boatright, this is a total pummel-fest that has never sounded so full and heavy while retaining the unmistakable DROPDEAD savagery and intensity, if that is even possible.

Herjaza Herjaza CD

Blasting proto-hardcore with some grind elements such as MIND ERASER but not as dark. More in the vein of LUDDITE CLONE or EIGHTEEN VISIONS. A cyclone of rage and fury. Vocals break out with desperation that could border on screamo, but rein and rasp back in just at the tipping point. In fact, that comparison dissipates track after track, creating an interesting crescendo of bitter hatred glazed with anguish. Compositions range from spaced-out psych-core to discordant metalcore breakdowns. Audiosiege, once again, brings a sizzling production to the forefront while accentuating the heavy hitting. Themes are angry for sure, but there is an irreverence in these songs from New York, that I as a native I can relate to. “Not If I See You First,” “Yeah, I Cuff My Jeans,” “Turd Eye Blind,” and “Sean Goes To Glee Concerts” being the most curious to me. There is a riff on “Ghost of Former Gods” that reminds me of MINISTRY’s “Scarecrow,” and I’m grooving on it. There are some really welcoming melodic vocal harmonies on the exit track too, which I am glad was not over-exhausted throughout. HERJAZA plays confounding powerviolence hardcore, with radiance and bizarre disturbing cover art by Alex Eckman-Lawn to boot.

Deformation Deformation LP

DEFORMATION plays on fire, with machine gun ripper drum fills and the slight swagger of HUMAN WASTE. This is straightforward echoing D-beat with the effects of some recent Finnish hardcore outfits and the stern delivery of later AVSKUM, and there are also some mid-tempo moments that recall metallic ’80s hardcore. DEFORMATION is from Denmark and this three-piece is tearing it down like when I first heard GLORIOUS? It clobbers, it annihilates, it changes up, this could be from any time between ’85 and today. Furthermore, this cover art is amazing. A skull barfing bombs and within the recess of its head is the ever-fuming industrial engine of pollution and greed. The three members of DEFORMATION play tight as DISCLOSE with the vibe of UNCURBED at twice the speed. 300% D-beat metal punk up the world zoo. I went from concluding early this was just okay to realizing it absolutely smolders.

Sidetracked Dweller cassette

Okay, the longest song on here is thirty-five seconds. The shortest is five. Yeah, it’s powerviolence/fastcore, with an emphasis on the power. A lot of vocal effects went into this. Vocals sound shouted out over the loudspeaker at Caldor or the drive-thru through an ugly sweater. Drums do the same roll over and over, though blisteringly fast, and then blast off a lot, too. I’m not sure what the story is here but I feel like I’m being drilled by an officer and forced drugs at the same time. It is extremely repetitive for a five-minute PV release and fucking clean. I want more slop and more mess. I want more grind, more surprises. It is heavily edited. Or maybe it’s not at all? I don’t have a moment to tell. I’m kind of nervous about this. If that makes you comfortable, go get it. You will. Understand.

Warsh EP II cassette

Always love a good church bell gong-like intro, and on a demo? Even better. WARSH plays echoing, lo-fi riffed hardcore with urgency and chaotic warmth. The tempo is reminiscent of DR. KNOW and the delivery reminds me of LIFE CHAIN. Songs lacerate shut around the one-and-a-half to two-minute mark and it seems a bit anxious and hasty, but maybe that works. I wonder what WARSH would come up with if they added a bit more to each song. Breakdowns are momentary, intros as well, but there is something unhinged about it. This self-described “potato punk” band from Prince Edward Island, if I was to guess, is not baked, but I look forward to hearing more toppings.

Reality Complex Failure demo cassette

Bitter and vicious vocals abound on this raw, distorted hardcore demo from Denver. REALITY COMPLEX plays with heaps of bash-attack breakdowns and mid-tempo cruelty. Part VIOLENT SOCIETY, part CRO-MAGS, and toward the end, the barf-tastic disgust of DARKSIDE NYC. The blast attack is fast and fueled with aggression. I do not have lyrics handy, but REALITY COMPLEX seems to me not very concerned with self-care or your friendship. This seems like the kind of reality checking Colorado needs more of, or the entire US for that matter. Four original tracks, one VOORHEES cover—this is how you do a solid demo for sure. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but up the clarity of production a bit next go around, and REALITY COMPLEX will be breaking down walls.

Conquest for Death A Maelstrom of Resentment and Remorse LP

Full transparency, I was not that familiar with CONQUEST FOR DEATH’s music, but except by name and band connection proper enough for, and prior to, reviewing this. Those lack of credentials alone had me feeling a bit nervous and a bit queasy, to be honest. Sick from hardcore? And maybe that’s the point and best way to go into this. I also like to use maelstrom a lot in reviews, so I immediately connected with a band I felt I should already know much better. I had only seen a few of the bands associated with CONQUEST FOR DEATH: WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?, ARTIMUS PYLE, FUCKFACE, and NO STATIK often when I moved out West, and I bet had they made it over East (and they probably did), holy crap, I must have missed out! Anyway, this beautifully designed LP, their return recording since 2013, kicks off with what I can only describe as if SHOCKING BLUE or BABE RUTH played hardcore and FINAL CONFLICT ripped forth with gruesome guttural crust vocals. The timbre of BRUTAL TRUTH rears back and forth throughout, as does the lost rasp of BLACK FLAG. That being said—an excellent combination on the mic. Weird and wild thrash moments are fused within Á  la VOIVOD with the all-go abomination of REPULSION, adding grit. The lyrics are deep, existential, somewhat scientific at times(!) and real. “Philosophy, rock climbing, liquor, and weed!” Real words, which I loved, but in all seriousness, the songs cover a lot of topics, through storytelling and reflection. Now let’s talk about this artwork. This gorgeous cover by Alex Nino, a glossy black ink and grey wash warrior, rides a battle elephant, covered in bladed armor, which was used several times throughout history, but my nerdy imagination immediately went to Return of the King. An enormous full-color poster is also included; another elephant battler, on what seems like the body of Mazinger Z, by Glenno Smith. Add a vinyl sticker, and a gatefold panoramic photo (AND a second poster of this gatefold photo is included!) of the band captured in frozen energy, surrounded by a sea of their closest conquesters, a sight sorely missed this day and age. Overall the packaging is top-notch, and the tunes are an adventure in, yes, resentment and remorse, anger and injustice, but they also have a party feel and are kind of a psychedelic journey, and return trip if you will, into modern hardcore while retaining the styles of the past. To sum up, do I have any other CONQUEST FOR DEATH records, no. Am I thrilled to have this magnificent love-FOR DEATH effort, will I put the sticker on my BMX? Fuck yeah, I am. Fucking awesome! 

Desolat Songs of Love in the Age of Anarchy 12″ picture disc

With a mammoth sound, DESOLAT of Vienna plays plodding, clear, and heavenly sludge metal. The sound here is more riff metal than dooming, droning earthquakes. There is a catchy flavor to the chords, such as MELVINS, and comfortingly dismal such as ASUNDER and NIGHTFELL. Some aspects of this record are ice-cold embittered vocals that have a harmonizing crust feel to them, others are warm, dense, and heavy breakdowns. The pace here is everything from dragging epic passages, to blackened riffing, to D-beat measures for a brief moment. I’m honestly not feeling the love songs from DESOLAT, but definitely the passion. “The Bureaucrat,” about midway through, is my favorite track, which goes all over the place as far as extreme music goes. There is a tidal of misery and optimism that moves from pastel clouds to the dark sea with their horizon of proto-metal and Scandinavian/European death metal. DESOLAT defines said Age of Anarchy without chaos, which I believe is the point of anarchy. So I’m feeling the unity here, presented with a palette mixture of BLACK SABBATH magic and SOILENT GREEN abrasion.

Excrement of War Cathode Ray Coma LP reissue

This was definitely an exciting 1994 reissue to be assigned. It starts off with a ripping, bombarding soloed instrumental, as most crust bands did in the ’90s. Fueled-up punk, raw and powerful, E.N.T./HELLCRUSHER-style intro, right into “Exist Enslaved” (which I believe I’ve heard covered several times before being introduced to this record). So if you like DOOM or STATE OF FEAR with a bit more range between vocalists, this reissue is for a lucky you. Mags has one of the most ferocious, vitriolic, raspiest vocal tones ever. Ripping. The EXCREMENT OF WAR split with DEFORMED CONSCIENCE might be my favorite of their material—this was earlier and looser—but to that point, it’s raw crust and punk as fuck. The UK/US match-up complements each other so well on the split, so if you can get a hand on this, or either for that matter, you will not be disappointed. Essential ’90s European crushing, ripping, hardcore crust. “Encased in their military cocoon; the outside appearances [are just] blips on [a] screen. Enemy tank. Enemy child. Enemy plane. Enemy tree…”

If It Kills You Infinite Hum LP

When I was in high school I loved QUICKSAND’s Slip. I heard one word from this band, and I was immediately transported to that time. As we proceed, IF IT KILLS YOU plays with even more feel-good melancholy, adding pitches of FUGAZI bark, CAVE IN bite, and HOT ROD CIRCUIT companionship. Some of the more descending chords of A MINOR FOREST come through as well, with the post-hardcore nodes of that first WEEZER album. That’s a bit much, but it must be there for a reason, not trying to edit—let’s just say HOT WATER MUSIC, that flows much more casually, with emotional messages and irreverent compositions. IF IT KILLS YOU is not trying to kill you, but they’re not trying to save you, either. You’ll figure it out, as you concentrate on them more and more each song. IF IT KILLS YOU comes to us from Bakersfield. And I feel like it could go either way living in Bakersfield. Stay safe, stay strong, IF IT KILLS YOU. Into it.

Exploatör Avgrundens Brant LP

I’m going to say a few things, outing my lameness, before I even get started on the listening. One, I have heard of this band, and I am familiar with their insane punk pedigree of band members (INSTITUTION, SLUTET, WARCOLLAPSE, KRIGSHOT, TOTALITÄR, NO SECURITY—yes, I’m still going—ÄÄRITILA, DISFEAR, MEANWHILE…etc.!), but I regret to say I don’t know that I’ve heard them yet since their 2017 debut. Sad face. Two, the umlaut and aforementioned resume lets me know I’ll probably be into this. So let’s see. Okay, I absolutely love the raspy vocals that gasp out to the very last breath. This is quite heavy metal-charged Scandi Dis-beat hardcore. There is a unique level of vibration to the classic riffs. That is to say, the traditional Swedish hardcore chords are almost sung from the guitars. Outstanding. Like literally, the guitars are a standout, fucking awesome. This must be Kenko, who I met at a wedding in NY once, and his unassuming kind poise brings total fire through his instrument. Simultaneously catchy and abrasive, this is certainly recommended. Some parts double-time D-beat käng (à la MOB 47), other moments knuckle-dragging stomping breaks, but never for too long. I was just listening to INSTITUTION yesterday and I believe they share the vocalist. Or perhaps the TOTALITÄR vocalist, actually. I could check but let’s leave it at that, the old-fashioned way. Just like EXPLOATÖR plays hardcore punk. I am not sure who’s doing what here, but I am sure I love this.

Scab Eater Ultra Vires LP

SCAB EATER of Australia plays diminutive slam-pit hardcore that sounds like a more lo-fi garage-core version of MIND ERASER with the punk ugliness of SADIST, HOAX, and GAG. You know the drill. SCAB EATER, however, has a subtle, more dark tone to them such as DEATH CHURCH. Ultra Vires switches up the tempo several times while remaining a straightforward steam engine of hardcore. Songs clock in at under two minutes yet seem to be filled with deep composition. By the fourth track “It Gets Worse,” I am totally hooked and it gets better from there. Followed by “Flag Bearer” with grabbing double kick pedal, gritty, filthy bass, and a locomotive furnace for a mouthpiece. You will get into this immediately and wish you’d worn a helmet. A.C.A.B. S.C.A.B! EATER. FTW.

Cartridge / Wet Specimens Dawn of the Ice Age split EP

I already have a soft spot for this split, as my first hardcore band in the mid-’90s was called CARTRIDGE. But let’s get to work. Well, CARTRIDGE of Boston is far superior to what we were. This is clobbering GLORIOUS?-style hardcore with some echo added to the vocals, but played with the sheer intensity of BLOODKROW BUTCHER. Non-stop bombing blast such as HUMANT BLOD—there is literally a “bomb fall” effect sample added that is punctuated with a blast on a break. And there are hardly any breaks here. Shit, this side fucking rules! WET SPECIMENS torrentially rain in on the higher register with equally fast hardcore, though they add some twangier post-punk riffs and spaced out solos and surprising late ’80s thrash metal riffs. But really just as subtle accents. This is much catchier, to the intensity of Side A. Great split, now I want to find one. Jeez, you got the name, and this was totally impressive. Send a damn copy next time.

Wretched of the Earth Collapse // Rebirth LP

Contrasting this optimistic album title, I naively venture to the recording: epic, despairing neo-crust from Portland. To that point, I’m feeling the renaissance of FROM ASHES RISE and TRAGEDY here. The true personality is emulated between various vocals. I’m picking up like three vocalists, but this is perhaps being expressed by two. But even more remarkably, in several languages: English, Spanish, Arabic, African? Indigenous or Polynesian? I’m sorry, I’m not sure the origins of some of these songs and lyrics, but the variety of dialects here is inspiring. Certain spaces of this remind me of REACT and SCUMBRIGADE with, again, that multiple vocal energy. Within the barrage of hardcore crust pummeling, WRETCHED OF THE EARTH have riveted down some ominous melancholy passages as well. After all, this album gets better as it escalates and plateaus and fades out. I bet this band would rule live, if we ever get there again.

M:40 Arvsynd LP

I do not know if the band name M:40 is in reference to a weapon or what, but M:40 of Sweden is weaponized with dooming folksy acoustic landscapes that remind me of ACURSED, GUTS PIE EARSHOT, and some tinges of blackened metal. My favorite thing about Arvsynd is the way all the musical levels are blended together. There is not much breathing room here, but it is not overwhelmingly aggressive either. It’s like a dense Scandinavian fog of heavy turmoil. This is the kind of hardcore that can usually get exhausting to me, but M:40 breaks it up with casual D-beat such as UNCURBED, sinister metal riffs such as NIHILIST, and fuzzed-out duo vocals. Favorite track: “Viskningar I Mörkret.” Melodic crustcore with finesse.

Zyanose Total End of Existence LP

What can I say to start, I love ZYANOSE and what a perfect title for a record. I was fortunate to see them in SF, Oakland, and Brooklyn, and they decimated each time. I’ve actually been listening to the Crossing EP a lot lately too, so this assignment comes at an opportune gloomy early-year time, when I need ZYANOSE again. Total End of Existence comes to us from December 2019 but I regrettably have not picked up a release since their Putrid Sick Society LP. This is thirteen tracks of rhythmic, frothing, grotesque, beautiful, furious stenchcore. As a comparison to previous ZYANOSE releases, it is more contained and stylized, dare I say catchy. ZYANOSE to me has always played with an optimistic blend of losing one’s mind, a search for oneself without a care in the world, and complete sonic turmoil. Tracks are short, stabbing, jolting, and unique to one another. Rhythms change up, all hell breaks loose, until you are scooped up again by some brilliant sections and earthly-transcending talons of artistic freedom. My favorite track is the longest, “Silence II,” which is anything but, followed by an amalgamation of ideas that all stir in the soup of crushing noise. Pretty much every track is as a hook flies by your nose and just slices you on the bridge without fully tugging out a nostril. Totally crasher-crust I want to understand, fully immerse into, but is far beyond my comprehension and constantly leaves me behind. I mean, there is a song literally called “Gggggg.” Toward the end, in “I.N.R.D.D.,” ZYANOSE takes on their final form. Totally destroying and lovely oceans of grinding amps in my ears. Total freedom. Seriously, the last four tracks might be the greatest achievement on here. This album feels like a transformation from beginning to end. ZYANOSE is that good and remains so on this latest album.

Besthöven / Disjawn split EP

Playing with peak Scandi D-beat dynamic here, and reminding almost of the latest PARANOID LP or later AVSKUM, BESTHÖVEN still retains that FINAL BOMBS jangling, metallic, riff-ripping classic Finnish ’82 style, but with authentic Brazilian attitude. It feels a bit strange saying that, but there is a fire to these few tracks in a classic D-beat formula that brings a warmth to the style. Don’t get me wrong, there is steel-charged grit to Fofåo Discrust’s music as well, but his vocals are fuego/fogo. The DISJAWN recording is far more havoc-ridden, smashing across both crash cymbals, D-beating to death from Philly. I mention that because there is an East Coast hardcore tone of voice here in the meter of the lyrics and the irreverent chords, compared to the earnest presentation on Side A. Both sides stylistically complement one another while bringing a similar message from each hemisphere: Fuck war. Fuck the military. Where is [this] (either) country? Where is a peaceful life?

Moment of Fear Covid Sessions 2020 EP

MOMENT OF FEAR does not let up on the assault for a minute. Three tracks of scorching, exhaust-fuming hardcore lacking any form of dazzle camouflage. Side A offers an in-your-face blast of aggression and frustration, with the vocals from Bartek (REACTOR, RELIGIOUS WAR) reminding me so much of those on the obscure MORAL SUCKLING LP. Strained, tense and harsh. Side B formulates a more post-punk somber sound, echoing a depression further in the distance, but equally to Side A: torn through by pissed off punk rockers. MOMENT OF FEAR is craggily, rough, scraping hardcore from what feels like a cold PNW ocean, although they are from Long Beach. Covid Sessions 2020 storms in and drags you out to extinction.

Tortür Never Ending Grief LP

Scaly, scaling, escapist rÁ¥punk D-beat noise from LA. Deliberate face-ripping riffs that flail through the play with no mercy. TORTÜR plays the standard D-beat formula, but the energy is many ticks above normal. Vocals are grimaced and the chords are buoyant. Drums pulverize—sticks tumbling with classic DISCLOSE openers and breaks, at a rate a notch faster than everything else, and it works—as TORTÜR ebbs and stabs in unison. The way a band like this should sound; slightly organic but still nailing it like the nightmare machine they are illustrating. Some surprising rhythmic change-ups, in the way I fell jawless skull-over-boots for WORLD BURNS TO DEATH some 20-odd years ago, in “Who Will Survive The Human Collapse?” which adds shock treatment to the overall seizure of this album. Basically, a blistering new chaotic D-beat album that excels with production fervor and speed. Might be on my top ten had I not already sent it in. Recalling TOTAL WAR, DESPAIR, ASPECTS OF WAR. Art by Robin Wilberg of SVAVELDIOXID (previously DISFEAR). TORTÜR, a three piece of LA, are a gift (GASATTACK), and I definitely recommend trying to find this raw physical slab, it goes for $666 on their Bandcamp, and was released this past September 11th, yikes.

Joukkohauta Valloita Ja Tuhoa EP

Side A is a scorching non-stop frenzy of breathless vocals and swarm-like guitar with the morphine-drop speed of DESTRUKTIONS. Drums barrage through similar to VIIMEINEN KOLONNA with the overall density of RAJOITUS. However, JOUKKOHAUTA is one of the even heavier Finnish hardcore bands I’ve heard, mixing in slight echo in the production similar to contemporaries KOHTI TUHOA. Writhing between charges under hissing and seething vocal madness. Side B lets up on the intense speed for a moment but continues to wash over everything with aural turmoil. I’m just gonna say it, the Finnish language as presented through punk always sounds fucking nasty to me! This play is extremely intense on all levels. Course, menacing vocals, tight-fisted punching riffs, subtly dark changes played on the higher side—a register that is hard to hit, sounding bleak without folding the hardcore down-tuned into crust. Bound to be a classic Finnish release, and one of the best of the year. This EP rules!

Disfear Soul Scars LP reissue

This is a mammoth reissue from Havoc Records. This is the A Brutal Sight of War era line-up of DISFEAR abominating a ruthless Scan-D-beat echoing riff onslaught. DISFEAR hits the tempo spot-on with a repetitive hexing of hardcore bestial anti-warpunk. The drums cut the air like the propellers of a war chopper, the guitar buzzes like a blowtorch, the bass crushes all in its path. Soul Scars is harsh attack from beginning to end. I think you know what to expect; but DISFEAR always hits the target and decimates it by the time the LP is through. Like DISCLOSE pound like a torrential rain, DISFEAR thunders and explodes. Even the mid-tempo tracks are as fast as many imitators play entire sets. DISFEAR has the timing and simplicity for the style that is perfect. The vocals are a charred furnace. Being a band since the late ’80s, there are many dimensions to their classic style. Even their name is straight to the point! They remain kings in the D-beat arena. I saw them once at CBs in 2006 with Tompa on vocals, and hearing this reissue takes me back to that pulverizing set. Defenders of the D-beat until the end! Definitely worth your attention.

偏執症者 (Paranoid) Out Raising Hell Outtakes LP

This is a mini-LP of outtakes from PARANOID’s latest full-length Out Raising Hell. Regrettably, I have not picked up that album yet, but this is very appetizing, recording/production-wise. Diminutive chords (thinking VISIONS also from Sweden) and death metal infernal riffing conjure VENOM, REPULSION, and POSSESSED, also reminding me of contemporaries BASTARD PRIEST and ELEGY. I first got into PARANOID when I reviewed their Cover of the Month cassette some years ago, and was completely stoked on their choices, raging from death metal and classic metal, to crust and mangel D-beat hardcore. PARANOID’s execution plays confidently within the thrash metal/D-beat spectrum, and they make it sound easy. All the gruesome hardcore punk disdain with giblets of old school death metal. This latest LP is clearly headbänger-for-känger.

Prism Wrong Side demo cassette

Feeling as stuck as we do in 2020, and we won’t be forever, I really had to let go of the abrasive hardcore punk rails with this tape, and allow myself to be transported in time. PRISM is heavy and bright, post-shoegazing late-grunge-era rock in a world embracing a self-fog, pre-terror, feel-good energy, but still lost and sad. They play from the heart of punk with the glassy stare of DINOSAUR JR, the CHEATAHS, UNWOUND, and some of the more diminutive tones of SONIC YOUTH. The vocals howl beautifully with a variety of melancholy harmonies and optimistic androgyny. The dial on guitar and bass are down-tuned and the drums tumble like GUIDED BY VOICES meets SEBADOH and the WIPERS.  In the mid-’90s, I would pick up a CD based solely on the cover art—take for example STARFLYER 59 in its silver ominous sheen that ended up delivering an obscure, gloomy indie rock gift. Well, PRISM is doing the same—their logo rules, and the cyan case and red cassette would have sold me, too. The more I listen to this tape, the more I become addicted to its vibrance. Four tracks of lo-fi, noise-pop no wave joy.

Korrosive Hiroshima flexi

Sizzling hardcore from Oakland densely churning with Finnish inflection. Vocals trill and cinder over gloomy mid-tempo tribal percussion. Guitar wanes and dives like a bomb raid alarm, with bass pulling the message through with poetic meter. A lengthy piano outro reminds of ANTI-SECT’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Get this limited edition flexi, a single track called “Anti,” which encapsulates the mood of the year quite provocatively, however stating all due respect to the victims of Hiroshima—an incomparable devastation, this year marking its 75th anniversary. What have we learned?

Rash Hivemind LP

Echoing chamber-cold crusty hardcore with mammoth sound from windy, good olde Chicago. I haven’t heard such pile-driving fire-fast changes that border on pit-core and thrashing crust since RITUAL CONTROL. That band ruled, and so does this. Venomous vocals, slightly cyberpunk-effected guitar and drum tones, hypnotic artistic passages that suddenly pull you down into a blender breakdown. Bass elbows in for some peaks and valleys, showcasing a reverberating lid on all this chaos. This album is thoroughly impressive. The songs are easily embraced thrash hardcore, such as early CORROSION OF CONFORMITY with the abominable precision of MIND ERASER or COLD SWEAT. The cover art is disturbing and awesome, like low-res DISCLOSE skull, GISM confrontational, awesome. Really digging RASH. All-in-all an absolute face-grind of embittered, ruptured punk.

Execütors / Male Patterns split EP

Grinding, harsh, gangly garage hardcore from EXECÜTORS. Soloing, maniacal-laughing streetwalking punk like GANG GREEN meets a NAILBITER hardcore attack. Anthemic at the heart with an irreverent attitude. Two tracks of no-fucks-given arcade-era hardcore. MALE PATTERNS play at a lower register, such as BUTCHER, with a MOTÖR-charged tempo that quickly roughens up the songs like some serious uppers. Drums triplet with accomplishment where it’s not even necessary, adding some interesting licks. Vocals are spat in kick-time with even more resentment and destruction than Side A. Together, this split offers all-go bitterness that sounds different, but flows together like the foulest brothers on the block. EXECÜTORS, MALE PATTERNS, what awfulness happened to you guys? Intimidated to even ask about it.

Pi$$er Crushed Down to Paste LP

I’m certainly intrigued when the first track is called “Jazz Wasps.” Holy shit, I haven’t heard anything with horns in a while. And to hear it working in a punk record is wild and surprising. This is like if the poetic rhythm of INSTIGATORS played as hard as SPITE UK or POLICE BASTARD but with saxophones! The bold venture alone is worth acknowledgement, but damn, I’m really moved by this. Fire solos, steady D-beat with slightly snotty, slightly robotic vocals. Chaos ensues! Some tracks are as fast and outrageous as GAUZE, others as heavy and classically-driven as DOOM. As a saxophone player in my youth, I kind of always wanted to trill over hardcore punk or even ambient black metal, and I find PI$$ER hugely inspiring. The horns are complementary to both guitar and bass—not to be ignored, but in no way steer the intention away from punk. This seriously fucking works! And I’m going nowhere near the “S-word.” More like JOHN ZORN playing DISCHARGE, SORE THROAT, or PLEASANT VALLEY CHILDREN. War-siren, dismal alto octave dissidence as fuck. Lyrics about living and learning and gaining those experiences. “Life = Art / Art = Life!,” as it says in the liner notes. Agreed. I’m not going to get into the amazing band connections this group has, that is not the point. This is totally new. A rad project you’ve done here, PI$$ER.

V/A …So This Is Progress? 002 7″ flexi

This flexi mini-comp is included in a 16-page zine of disposable camera photos taken between 2001-2007 in California featuring 38 bands! So let’s get right to it; KIRITIERRA remind me of a more metallic NEGAZIONE; SACRIFYX recall CRUDE SS and FINAL CONFLICT; JEFFREY DONGER brought me back to LACK OF INTEREST and PLUTOCRACY. KRATOM seemed very OP IVY at first, then laid down a more BLACK FLAG sound. NERVOUS AGGRESSION plays like CAPITALIST CASUALTIES with the A-political voice of AXIOM. Pretty damn good and the photo zine is no slacker either. Photos of AFTER THE BOMBS, DYSTOPIA, MUNICIPAL WASTE, MELT BANANA, ANNIHILATION TIME, INSECT WARFARE and many others. A nice like celebration piece in a year where we can hardly see each other’s faces.

Brünner Deathmarch 20:20 EP

Damn, this is rocksteady fire! Metered, rhythmic, dense, dank hardcore from the Czech Republic!  I am really digging the knuckle-dragging heavy production. It’s like a smooth mix of raging D-beat Á  la DISPENSE and raging metallic hardcore Á  la FORÇA MACABRA. The bass is pulling a fierce barge of weight under all this. The accentuation of these lyrics are on point. Like, a jackhammer point. This band is cutting it up. It’s not a long EP, but it’s full of tight riffs, gut-knotted death-grunts, and blasting beats mixed with circling D-beats. The BRÜNNER TODESMARSCH, or death march, was the expulsion of Germans from surrounding provinces during late/post WWII. Resulting in the obvious; disease, malnutrition, death. I need to read these lyrics, because this sounds like the difference between 2020 inspired crust/hardcore and 2020 sincere crust/hardcore. 20:20 is definitely recommended.

Moderat Likvidation Kuknacke CD reissue

I mean, hey hey! Here is a collection of melodic ultra-fast hardcore from young Swedish legends MODERAT LIKVIDATION. This is a no-brainer must-have for noisefucker. Whenever I hear “Hiroshima” or “Enola Gay” my brain and heart melts. MODERAT LIKVIDATION packs the classic ’80s rough fuzz and fury into every track. And might be the ’80s band with the most pairs of glasses on. Fun fact! As a longtime spectacles-wearer, I appreciate how hard they rocked in cable knit sweaters, bleach-splat denim, leather and glasses. What do we want, excessive LIKVIDATION? NO! The CD quality sounds great, and my CD player isn’t even that great. Get this for a road trip or something—LIKVID your life a little! *pushes glasses up onto noise*

Rigorous Institution Survival / Despotism 7″

As I write this, Portland, OR and the entire Pacific Northwest is suffering a siege of wildfires and noxious smoke pollution. In suit, RIGOROUS INSTITUTION plays their signature brand of highland war-wandering metal punk for the scorched earth doom parade. Awkward choking vocals and bizarre echoing dark-castle-like synth moments ooze through the tracks. A dirging medieval Battery Humans-era AMEB-oid, VOIVOD-ing, STONE THE CROWZ-eque cloak of brutal esoteric toxic existential gloom crust with non-light vibes of later DARKTHRONE. I picked up their The Coming of the Terror EP last year and was very stoked to receive this for review. Way into this band, a voice in my frustrated corroded 2020 mind.

Affect Fucked Reality cassette

Well, you got that right, AFFECT. I first played this tape well into the evening, after a few park sodas, and said to myself “maybe I’ll listen to this again over the weekend, and it won’t sound so much like DISCLOSE.” AFFECT are a Swedish band, and if you love DISCLOSE and GLORIOUS?, this is a perfect addition to your Dis-collection. Dis is absolut raw chaos punk noize for reality fucker. And the best part: it’s done by two people, yet sounding like a catastrophic cacophony of several more. The percussion is a bit heavier than is standard, as is the galloping stomper track—my favorite—”Bleeding.” The words are lengthy and well-paced, nicely understated, throughout the tracks, and my only complaint is that I’d love to have some printed lyrics. The tan-on-black cover art is also excellent. AFFECT goes from “eh” to “hmm, well, OK!” with each subsequent listen.

Anti-Cimex En Product Från Dagens Skitsamhälle CD

This demo recording from 1982 is Anarkist Attack-era ANTI CIMEX, and it sounds great. It was originally sent out to zines and friends and hasn’t been available on CD before now. I have some of these demo recordings on the Demos 81-85 comp, but not all of them. Harsh, warbling and heavy, Nils delivers broken vocals with adolescent intensity, before Tomas took over with a gruffer, more matured sound. This features a DISCHARGE cover and a few impromptu instrumentals, and several rarer tracks such as “Eibon” that are only on demos. This is a powerful and raw ANTI-CIMEX disc, like a table saw that delivers.

Crow 1988.2.28 Antiknock Live CD

This recording of CROW is crude, and captures the fury of punk that CROW was live. Some of my favorite CROW songs stand out on this anxious recording: “I’m Looking Out Over,” “Give Up All Hope,” my personal favorite “Bloody Earth,” and so on. The raw anguish and passion is captured in the racket, as CROW does not wait up for anything between songs. “The Day of Annihilation” into “Bloody Earth” into “Storms of Despair” into “Is Fiction,” right around the middle, just brings me to a moment of how relentless this show must have been to witness in person. A blast-through of a fire set that sounds like 25 people are in the band melting everyone’s face off.

Deviated Instinct Nailed CD

A hammering, high-production level EP on CD with classic hardcore metal riffs, breakdowns, and sinister vocals, the latter from Mid who coincidentally provided a ton of great punk art for NAPALM DEATH and EXTREME NOISE TERROR. Double-kick-pedal-driven death crust riffs, escapist vibes, cyber-industrial landscape effects—this reissue of DEVIATED INSTINCT Nailed longs for a lazy summer day under the trees with a gang of your best squatter buds. In a world where such things are no longer recommended! “OOH!” Just going to have to thrash on my roof. Tangent aside, if you’re not that familiar with DEVIATED INSTINCT, Nailed is the perfect example of terminal filth stenchcore. It’s killer. “Slow Death Suck” is a must hear death crust track. For fans of SKAVEN, BURNING WITCH, 13… this was a pioneer release when death metal punk was making its way into the NYHC sound as well. “UGH!”

Horror Vacui Living for Nothing LP

HORROR VACUI of Italy are very well-rehearsed and the vocals are beautiful and deep. It pushes hard on the retro CHAMELEONS sound, but not so much that HORROR VACUI don’t bring their own unique efforts to the ennui table. Much of the vibe brought by ROSETTA STONE mixed with the morose tones of SISTERS OF MERCY, the electrified angst of CLAN OF XYMOX, and with the bass drive of NEW MODEL ARMY. Some of the vocal intonations recall PSYCHEDELIC FURS. The combination of melodramatic deathrock and post-punk irreverence is choice. Production is vibrating and clear, then some moments are dreamy like the most depressing JOY DIVISION songs. Amazing cover art that reminds me of somber medieval Renaissance printing meets the graphic novel Persepolis. A very solid offing for the darkroom brooding punker set.

LMI Excess Subconscious LP

LMI, or LAZY MIDDLE-CLASS INTELLECTUALS (from the BAD RELIGION lyric), play spiraling spats of obtuse post-hardcore. There is a constant discord between the three members that through repetition slowly overwhelms. I really want the bass to be brought up a few levels, like molasses coating this jagged pill. Most vocals are screamed monotone with minimal guttural death metal vocals sprinkled in. This occurs mostly on “Ghost Teeth” where the low-end growl takes the mic. The drums are along for the ride and carry this unique presentation through like a cosmic tour guide. LMI is sort of SWING KIDS, HOT SNAKES, CAVE IN. The playing style is so tense, I prefer the tracks that loosen up and groove a bit, such as on “Concrete Illusions” and “Tomorrow Midnight,” because LMI still lays it on harsh. I’m not going to soothsay land this review down on any runway, because LMI didn’t do that for me. Sort of leave it hanging and awkward, but in a bewildered and good way. These LAZY MIDDLE-CLASS INTELLECTUALS might just be way above my head.

Death Gasp Stranglehold EP

From the industrial wasteland of Pittsburgh cinders forth a rusty, warped sound of bastardly punk. Vocals are delivered like early DOOM, with a bellow-filled lung of oration. The entire production is burning filth and fills my earholes with grit and noise. Drums have a hard kick and tumble over all the crunchy delights. In some parts INTEGRITY hardcore rolls through, in others, ’90s European crust. Very much digging the surprising riff changes and driving fire of rhythm inside this EP. Side A does not wait up and excites with mid-tempo churning HC punk. Side 2 opens with a classic crust eulogy called “Poisoned Well” that quickly picks up into a D-beating wallop. Lastly, the title track, again with classic squat-style crust that erupts shortly after with galloping verse and throbbing bridges. Four great tracks in total from this three-piece that each have their own merit and personality (the songs, not the members, though they are very gelled on this recording). Come to think of it, this EP fucking rules. Hard and dark as fuck. I only wish I was reading some lyrics because I get the impression they are profound. Totally recommended while you circle-pace around your home this summer wondering WTF is going on. *Sharply inhales*

Might Might CD

This unassuming CD, stark black with chalk-like lettering, MIGHT lead you to believe this band was going to sound subtle. The wispy spoken word intro, “Introduce Yourself,” MIGHT even creep you out a bit. Femme witching vocals slither in and you MIGHT even be a bit scared. I used to love the morose steaming feminist carnival-like recordings of SOW (partner of PIG) back in the ’90s. And this reminds me of the laissez-faire of SOW a little bit. A tribal and metal DIAMANDA GALÁS of sorts with the more CHELSEA WOLFE acoustic eeriness. There is also a CONCRETE BLONDE kind of twang to it. I’m in all sorts of places with this, Southern stoner doom (thinking BRUME, TOTEM/JEX THOTH), black metal, gothic neo-folk. MIGHT is unassuming and escapist. For only two folks from Hanover, Germany, they’ve put together a very interesting project that MIGHT just deserve a few more instrumental layers to crawl into.

Nightmare Fuel Vaccination for the Social Plague Demos — Part One

For the ’90s death metal and crust scene, and beyond really, a full-length had to have a classic intro. EXTREME NOISE TERROR, DISRUPT, HIATUS, MISERY, ENTOMBED, TERRORIZER… something to give you a taste of what you’d be fucking with. How often can that be said about a demo? Well, in the case of NIGHTMARE FUEL, you are getting just that. Punctuated STATE OF FEAR-style hardcore crust, with prolific death metal virtuosity. An exceptionally balanced smash-face fast-forward HAIL OF RAGE pummeling, to the thunderous aspects of DYSTOPIA with monstrous vocals. Far be it from me to turn down a new crust demo, but rarely do they exude such inspired changes, fills and detailed production. This is fucking leveling for a demo! I do not have the technical knowhow to describe the hi-fi tune of the guitars compared to the tight lo-fi of the snare, but that is all there. All is wrought with dense grooves and classic ’90s cinematic sampling. I love that! NIGHTMARE FUEL has created a prison of desperation, gloom and anxiety communicated via an apocalyptic galloping crustcore attack. A carnival of riff madness Á  la CENTINEX to the thrashing anthemic conversation of SHITLIST, NIGHTMARE FUEL nods to several generations of death metal, hardcore punk and crust in its most self-realized era. Underneath all that, poignant lyrics concerning depression, unraveled trust, unraveling truths, society’s fucks, the planet’s chaotically spiraling demise. A not-to-be-missed demo. And I know the foredooming LP will crush. This grim gang of the PNW will surely rule live if anything ever lives again.

Vlack Mental Diaspora 12″

VLACK plays upbeat chords with exhausted, morose, downbeat vocals. Clashing discordant guitar riff peaks surprise and bend through predictable rhythms. Harrowing vocals such as from the CULT, the END (Boston) and the bass tones clang under lost guitar reverberation. VLACK is from Spain, however songs are sung and howled in English. Parts blackened steaming cauldron and HOT WATER MUSIC optimism, flowing like ghosts over a haunting goth melancholy tempo. This is generally unsettling. It is delivered with basic indie rock post-hardcore compositions, but the dismal glimmers of death rock and doom tempo make it ultimately depressing. These are sad and sinister sonnets from only two musicians. VLACK sounds in mourning and showcase that they are completely fine with that. Six tracks of gasping poetic mathematical neo death rock with hardcore indignation coursing its veins. “Abandon to the Fire,” an instrumental, might be my favorite, acting as a nice intermission from the anguish. I assure you, this is not as depressing on the surface as I make it sound, but the almost hidden pain is what I find most impressive about the recording.

City of Industry Conspire Conspire Conspire LP

Gasping, anguished and anthemic indie rock hardcore from Seattle. The rock-steady pace is exciting and optimistic, contrasted by the dooming tone of the bass. Guitars play longer than usual bridges that create a more unique landscape of reflection between the chorus moments and attacking vocal verse. Lyrics are confident, romantic in the renaissance sense, and poetic, almost delivered with hip hop flow and NYHC aggression. Parts ACRID grinding doom, FOURHUNDREDYEARS creativity, CAVE IN post-hardcore vibes in all their forms. CITY OF INDUSTRY opens up the flood so you may walk right in and collapses with tidal wave form. Production is pummeling. Toward the end I’m feeling some elements of MORAL SUCKLING and FUCKED UP. To be totally transparent, this is not the style of hardcore or punk I generally go for, but I am thoroughly impressed with the pace of all songs, the meter and the passion in this release. The cover art is romantic again, and well designed from a graphics standpoint. A tapestry of florals, harkening back to my renaissance comment. This may be renaissance-core.

Illya Microcosmos LP

Spaced-out psychedelic hardcore from Japan that edits at all the right points. Think PAINTBOX, KRUW meets ABIGAIL, JUDGMENT and some undertones of American West Coast ’80s skate punk, strangely enough. This is an artistic endeavor that I’m having a hard time classifying. Screeching vocals are sung wildly, weaving through entirely guitar-soloed tracks. ILLYA sounds like freedom in its most subversive form, unified within its own community of acceptance; epic without being too grandiose. With all of the dread and helplessness in the world today, Microcosmos revives the spirit of fervent fire. With songs like “Open The Window,” “Burning Heart Burn The World,” “Pebbles,” “Blind Dancer” and “Go Forward Into The…” Microcosmos is a good idea for you if you love Japanese hardcore, taking a deep breath, laughing maniacally in the face of evil, and are trying your damnedest these days to love life.

Infekcja Singles 1997 LP

Ghastly screaming vocals combined with a guttural crust racket, bring a lashing of squat-punk fury from Poland. This is a combination of the band’s self-titled EP, Symbioza EP, and their tracks on the split with SO WAR. Dual vocals remind of some Japanese influences around that time, as well as European crust from SEDITION, SCATHA, FLEAS & LICE while sharing some of the optimistic chords of POST REGIMENT and the irreverence of DEZERTER. INFEKCJA plays it close to the vest—with some stressful blast beats, post-punk breakdowns, rotting metallic ride-out riffs. Throughout the play there are totally chaotic moments and artistically deliberate avant-garde moments. This is by no means generic crust-core forgotten from the ’90s. And if I just have not heard enough memorable hardcore punk from Poland to make further comparisons that is clearly my problem. It just gets better and better as it plays through. Glad to be introduced.

Skeleton / Svaveldioxid split EP

Oh, wow! I was very excited to be assigned this split as a fan of both bands, the genre in general, and holy fuck! SVAVELDIOXID rages forth with a railgun D-beat attack, the most grisly and monstrous vocal effect I’ve heard from the band yet, sizzling bass fills and scorching guitars. Seriously, this is one of the more ferocious raw käng recordings I’ve heard in a while, and I listen to a lot of them, but I keep coming back to this to hear the subtle levels that make it stand out. Compared to previous records, this side from Sweden’s contemporary hardcore kings sound more MOB 47/DISCARD in pace at first, then exceedingly drops tune and tone finishing up in the DISPENSE/BOMBANFALL zones…this is 100% bombarding “Vevarsle”! Love! SKELETON lowers the miserable vibes even further with echoing Dis-gruntled death-beat. This is burning more from the gut than the fists, if that makes sense. Thinking MARERIDT, INFERNÖH, BRAINCELL. Four tracks of gruesome paroxysm from Canada. Always with the most imaginative crusty-life existence drawings, Robin Wiberg (SVAVELDIOXID drums) graces the cover with his gnarly pen. In short, get this—both sides rule.

Headsplitters Headsplitters LP

Mad, clean blasts of highly aggressive D-beat hardcore fury from NYC. Vocal cords strained and lost, and the hopeless abandon in its essence sounds metaphorically lost as well. The drums piledrive through with tumbling, slightly sloppy fills, and I mean that in a good way. Solo piano moments break up the assault of furious hardcore. Some metallic crust riffs from HEADSPITTER on this one contrast with their earlier, more Scandi-style recordings, and classic hardcore riffs with optimist attitude are abound, counteracting the bleak tone of everything else. All the songs hit all the marks between two and three minutes, keeping the adrenaline pedal pinned. “At What Cost?” is my favorite track, with lots of variety. Sixteen tracks of quintessential jaded, brooding NYC hardcore from this powerful three-piece.

Membrane Life Sum EP

Piercing my eardrums apart, MEMBRANE out of Oakland drives a stake through my head with a death march of echoing, sizzling noisecore. Imagine the SCREAMERS, GAI, RUDIMENTARY PENI and the SEXUAL all teamed up in a prison yard, needing to escape. With a sonic arsenal and pipes like this, they easily would. This is wild, dream-like hardcore, mixing it up in a bowl of raw noise punk, seasoned with unique cosmic shredding zest. There is something really alien about this, while being familiar. It’s not hostile, but it definitely wants out, and I am not gonna be the one standing in its way. I feel full, and I’m hungry for more. Life Sum is destined to sell out; good luck getting your hands on a copy.

Parötid / Zudas Krust split EP

ZUDAS KRUST’s filth-kicking things off with the wrath and gnashing vocals of, well FILTHKICK, ABADDON, and lots of European crust of the early to mid ’90s. This is grotesque, noisy, and blistering muffled D-beat sung in the meter of classic crust hardcore of that era. No-fucks-given aggression, in three passionate tracks. Think ENYZME and FRAMTID contemporarily, with bestial wild force. PARÖTID plays more in the rhythm of DISASTER, with very buoyant loose disruptive bass. Lots of echoing reverb and strange speed changes, sort of weird, but totally intentional and impressive, where one might expect straightforward D-beat the entire way. I really like the way these two play off each other. They are distinctly different, in tone, polish, and speed, but compliment each other. “Humanism” is catchy as fuck! Getting lost in this one. Both bands are recommended, as is the split as a whole.

Concrete Sox Sewerside CD reissue

Fuzzy crossover metal punk from Nottingham. Short mad burst of thrash punk fury while at its core is A-political stenchcore riding the wave of the late ’80s thrash explosion. That’s the real standout here: the anarcho-punk stench is unrivaled through snotty coarse vocals, fanatically harsh D-beat/thrash drumming, and melodic breakdown with dirgey subterranean riffs carrying them through. Like the grooves of S.O.D. with the importance of C.O.C. Messy and punk technical thrash with Scandi-style ten-second guitar solos. This is actually a really fun listen. It’s aggressive, has bizarre samples, the lyrics are smart, the metal is up your arse and the punk is in your face. I first heard CONCRETE SOX on the Endless Struggle 1-in-12 comp and they sounded like DOOM meets OI POLLOI. Every time I got into a “new” CONCRETE SOX recording, it’s something new to experience. Anywhere from SORE THROAT to SUICIDAL to GANG GREEN. Sometimes that can seem confusing. But in their case somehow it is exciting. Keep it salty, keep it strange.

Black Uniforms Splatter Punx on Acid CD reissue

OMG, I almost typed ”Splatter Punks”… This is thrashing, metal-soloed Swedish D-beat by the ultimate Splatter PUNX! On Acid, apparently, because there are plenty of bizarrely psychedelic moments, Motör-charged punk’n’roll, leather-reeking anthemic riffs, and obscured samples—BLACK UNIFORMS always play with a grandiose Swedish vocal power, recalling parts CONFLICT in conviction and lyrical content, parts KAFKA PROSESS, parts SODOM. Get this CD and Faces of Death if your heart beats punk vitriol but your breath smells like greasy metal!

Chaos UK Stunned to Silence CD reissue

Indeed, this is a stunning racket of CHAOS UK classic ripper punk. The first fifteen tracks are a grisly, minimally tracked echoing rehearsal take, slightly edited between songs in all its crudity. Super washed-out with pulverizing drums and brash vokills from Mower.  Portishead, England must have had their windows insulated that night. Classic raw ’80s hardcore with vocals, drums, bass, guitar—all arguing together and sounding like absolute cohesive chaos! Some of the more mid-tempo songs are awesomely punctuated for the production quality. The second fourteen tracks are a live gig at Rokumeikan Club in Tokyo. Much heavier production, scrapping guitars, grumbling drums, this half is even more distorted. For punx, by the punks, CHAOS UGHH! This is an expensive cassette, so here’s your chance to get it much easier.

Klonns Vulgar CD

Holy shit. This is my shit—hyper-distorted pummeling D-beat noise. I know, I know… but seriously KLONNS is like the heaviness of COFFINS, the gnarly ferocity of D-CLONE, the driving beat of SYMPTOM and the embittered sincerely of FRAMTID. Fly your brain into the blacked clouds with this brief demonstration of gargantuan hardcore noise and gut-churning death-beat punk. I’ve been so fucking frustrated with this COVID-19 pandemic and our living situations… this was the guttural brain-cooking death punk attack I needed. Desperately. The last track is an ABRAHAM CROSS cover. Killer! Recommended for simple-minded D-beat Tokyo crasher crust romantics. NWOJHC!

Blinded Humanity Mind Control EP

Chucky and extremely aggressive gore-core from Australia. The intense speed reminds me of BASTARD filled out with the crustier rage of COP ON FIRE. Six tracks of inferno-core reminiscent of DEATH TOLL 80K with vocal hopelessness and a maniacal regurgitation/choking reflex on every track, which tranforms this EP even further into a bitter pill to swallow.

Genogeist Genogeist LP

Hailing from PDX, GENOGEIST plays tidal waves of crushing static hardcore crust. Two levels of vocals are presented: a choking guttural dense layer, and a clearer digital affected top layer sort of reminding me of ACCION MUTANTE. Songs end and begin seamlessly sutured together. The compositions are at their root punk, branching out with cyber-botanical metal briars. That is to say they bang, hard, but are smothered in distortion. The guitars slice out with AGE accents. The drumming is exceptional, constantly holding a steady mid-tempo crust beat, then all of a sudden cascade and explore into a ruthless fit.  This album moves fast with its attack, but covers all areas of expert songwriting and never seems repetitive. Engaging riffs, punctuated vocal moments, D-beat piledriving, ghoulish momentary death metal solos. GENOGEIST haunts shit up from beginning to end. An epitome of crust’s origins while offering contemporary fresh individuality. Favorite track: “Systemic Shroud.”

Hellbastard Hate Militia CD

The crustiest raw war metal punk. Loose triplet drumming, doom droning disgusting riffs. Headbangers all the way through. Octaves upon octaves of crust basics that sharpened its axe on the blackened stone of Northern England crust madness. Passionate ecological political lyrics spat over anarcho-metal with a goth-like undercurrent and thrash moments. Rather unique combination at a time when bands with a similar aesthetic were much more stripped down to a CRASS/AOA/ICONS OF FILTH style. The thanks list alone says it all: “To all the animals on earth, all the insects on earth, all the mammals and trees, birds, rivers and seas. Forests, lakes, ponds and woodlands—everything else can fuck off.” HELLBASTARD fucking yes. Full-color booklet of photos and lyrics. This is a nice appetizer, stay tuned for a HELLBASTARD 2020 album, as announced on these liner notes.

Influënzia Kønflik cassette EP

Scorching Malaysian hardcore blisters through five tracks of manically guitar soloed splatter-drummed, echoing distortion with Finnish influence and contemporary depth. Initially the presentation sounds like it’s going to be especially fast, but is surprisingly mid-tempoed with layers upon layers of distortion, harsh noise and grit, and “Ughs!” added at all the right moments. Some longer, lo-fi riff exploration reminds of blackened metal. Constantly ascending riffs pull you higher and higher over the gallows branch. Until it ultimately cuts you off wanting more. I’m reviewing a cassette called Kønflik, from Black Konflik, Malaysia. This rodent of audio media oozes with frustration and organic solidarity. Favorite track: “Isolasi II” into “Kriminal” into “Tragedi.” But they all sort of blend together one after the other. The entire play feels like a story in chapters. An unassuming introduction that grows on you by the end. Well done.

Scavengers Circle Beyond Repair CD

Changed motor-kang from Sweden. Dual vocals grate through the play with anguish and a sort of jovial punk attitude. After NASUM, BASTARD PRIEST was the most impressive Swedish two-piece I had heard exhume from a Swedish death metal scene. SCANVENGERS CIRCLE is ready to join the feast. These songs seem from that experience while being heavily influenced by the punk scene as well. Reminded of the GURKA/MALIGNANT TUMOUR split, in the way the songs seem like a reply to each other. Favorite track: “Endless Winter.” Second: “We Summoned a Demon.” This one is parts DISRUPT, parts MASTER. Great stuff.

Fuck It… I Quit! The War Ritual LP

Vicious mad blasts of retro-crust hardcore fueled with defiance and rage. Recalling the sounds of REACT, CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, LOGICAL NONSENSE, AUS-ROTTEN, BOILING MAN, focused on themes of veganism, animal liberation, and a strict stance against the capitalist corporate masculine hypocritical system. Several shared furious vocal duties nail-gun through each track, which clock in under a couple minutes each on average, a brief harsh slap of reality like DROPDEAD. A few songs explore into the three- or four-minute range, thinking of ANTISCHISM, PROVOKED, ZERO HOUR but for the most part, on this 22-track LP laced with several unsettling interludes, the band delivers their message concisely. FUCK IT… I QUIT! is the sound and constitution of the inherent punk culture fight and the uncensored non-metaphoric, straight-to-the-point voice we need again.

Snake Tongue No Escape – No Excuse EP

SNAKE TONGUE sounds much like they are named. The vocals are raspy and hissing, the music is lo-fi and powerful, and the guitars slither under aggressively punctuated percussion. The songwriting is nothing extremely avant-garde, but classic hardcore with moments of doom, mathcore, and thrash. It is as unexpected as a snake tongue, in fact. Four tracks of inspired rage.

Disowned / Kinetic Discord Scavengers LP

DISOWNED plays spattering raw hardcore with the organic tarnish of crust. Rhythmic, engaging riffs snare the neck while brutal, ghastly vocals fill out the spaces, like abysmal death metal laced within anthemic hardcore grooves. The production packs a fucking wallop. So tight. KINETIC DISCORD plays cleaner thrash with a skate punk attitude, harmonizing and bright song progressions. Songs remind me of I-SPY, AGENT ORANGE, and the ADOLESCENTS. Their song “Politicon” is such a ripper. More like POISON IDEA. The split is a surprising contrast, which works.

Zygote 89-91 CD

Wow, this is much cooler than I had expected! It is no mystery that ZYGOTE is composed of members of AMEBIX as well as the SMARTPILS. When I first heard A Wind of Knives in the late ’90s (after getting into AMEBIX), I found it much more post-punk, to the tune of KILLING JOKE and even parts early JANE’S ADDICTION. The first half of this CD is much like that jangling industrial post-punk expression. Decent production with muffled gloom and hypnotism. The second half is a live set whose quality is as clear and on the same level as the demo. The low grinding vibe of AMEBIX is much more prevalent here on this raw offering of a more minimal post-punk project versus their single full-length album.

Absolut 2019 Demonstration EP

Double kicking, mad-blasting metal-charged käng punk from Toronto. ABSOLUT have melded their sound from an ASOCIAL or SVART PARAD delivery to more of a GISM, BOMBRAID, HAWKWIND experience. And this EP rips raw and flourishes with wild technicality. More breakdowns, more crude hissing metallic tones, less of what you’d expect from this originally hyper-echoed D-beat band.

Autarch The Light Escaping LP

Dark, gloomy transcendent crust with galloping beats and minimal vocals spate fourth with pithy apprehension. I appreciate the concentrated pace of the lyrics here, accented with harsh screeching backing vocals set back in the mix. The basic formula is epic neo-crust, but AUTARCH stand out with hypnotic fluidity. The songs are like a lucid fairy tale. This is no generic sketch. Acoustic moments and bow string instrumentation contrast powerful blasts with a soothing nature. Like warm storm waves on cold sharp rocks. AUTARCH deliver a heavy LP that is hardcore punk, and will probably be filed under metal based on the celestial aesthetics and song titles alone. The album doesn’t demand attention, but they have mine.

Dekonstrukt Dekonstrukt 10″

What if TANGERINE DREAM played crust songs? DECONSTRUKT have concocted oceanic and hypnotic, anthemic bangers that hastily move into the chorus. Each track ends with harsh conviction. Abruptly composed attacks with long landscapes of melodic bridges threading through the more intense moments. Minimal strained and screaming vocals over thin reverberated guitars harken to both ’80s post-punk and ’90s blackened crust.

Geiger Counter Nuclear EP

I am so happy to be assigned this vicious EP, that I’ve been spinning personally a lot late last year. What can I say about this dank crust release? This is up there with the stench-dragging psychedelic brutality of HORRENDOUS 3D, EXTREME NOISE TERROR, DISRUPT, the more upbeat aspects of MISERY, with riffs advanced as DESPITE. GIEGER COUNTER truly embrace the origins of late ’80s/early ’90s crust when it may have even been called “grindcore.” HIATUS, DOOM, and DETESTATION come to mind—the Nuclear EP resonates with sonic destruction, yet with slightly more metal virtuosity than all these said examples. Crust fans: do not fear this word “metal.” Tasty, tasty, bits of shrapnel, right here.

Jack Acid Gutless / Lo-Hi 12″

“Turn down for what?!” JACK ACID play GREEN JELLÖ-style SLAYER-ish rap that reminds me of SLIPKNOT or BILLIE EILISH. I do not know much about either, but if you’re into AGATHOCLES, BAD RELIGION, and you think you might be coming “down with the sickness,” this two-track psychedelic slab of disconformity is for you.

Krake Streitkultur LP

Aus Deutschland, KRAKE play sorely-produced raw hardcore punk nodding to ’90s-era breakdowns and sinister maelstrom interludes of metallic radiance. Short blasts and enigmatic, vicious riffs and scathing vocals seethe through in German. Tracks like “Fries ScheiÁŸe” pack a fucking wallop. I really like how pulled-in KRAKE keep their songs. A few hooks on guitar, a break, an even more dismal break, some fade out, then over. KRAKE are not fucking around. Songs max out at three minutes, but seem to have all the elements of a solid hardcore song, with some ballad moments and even more battle moments.

Negativ Projections LP

NEGATIV of Oslo plays metallic punk along the lines of POSSESSED and SEPTIC DEATH meets the SCREAMERS or RUDIMENTARY PENI. This extremely catchy LP is part BLAZING EYE redeye punk and dark riffing, and part double-kicking TOXIC HOLOCAUST metal. Pit-churning maniacal anthems from start to finish—this would have probably made my top ten if I had heard it when it was released in April. Densely and clearly produced. You will drool and squeal, bobbing your cavernous cranium along to this slab of lunacy. NEGATIV sounds finitely death punk and infinitely grim thrash simultaneously, all while powering through with unique bizarre measure. Can I go see them with ZYANOSE, PARANOID, SEX DWARF in early 2020!? Damn, fire gig!

Existence Into the Furnace EP

EXISTENCE of Stockholm fuse melodically charged, metallic Scandi-death metal riffing with an overt NYHC style. Imagine if AMORPHIS or KATATONIA had mixed it up with 25 TA LIFE, CRO-MAGS, and MERAUDER. The riffs are intoxicating, and the grunting and barking vocals are totally menacing. There has been a resurgence of deathcore as of late, and I’m kind of drawn to it again. Thinking of the MOMENT OF TRUTH/KRUELTY split… EXISTENCE here joins those rank beats, while retaining unique thrashing compositions that blend harmonizing ethereal death metal and Neanderthal pit-core. Themes include the struggles of fascism in Sweden and abroad, and also delve into cathartic perspectives on realizing one’s mistakes. Heavy on many levels, and a sonic rager.

The Restarts Uprising LP

The RESTARTS are at it again with gurgling, snotty, two-fingers-in-the-air London punk. Kieran hisses forth with an insane inferno in his throat. This record is as catchy as anything the band has done—I loved the System Error-era songs when I saw them in NYC a few times. But also, under its streetwise romping-stomping, there is sharp blade of political vitriol. The record starts with a quote from Greta Thunberg on panic versus hope. In all its pop punk nature and bright ska riffing, they return with a blistering, diminutive, punchy, outspoken brain beater. For fans of INFA-RIOT, CONFLICT, COCKNEY REJECTS, and even the RESTARTS! Favorite tracks: the snarling and powerful “Out and Proud,” and the glimmering macabre “The Fork.”

Osmantikos Survival LP

Crusty hardcore from Malaysia, with furious vocals and clean production. Survival features a dozen grandiose compositions that bring to mind TRAGEDY, the HOLY MOUNTAIN, and COP ON FIRE, as tracks ooze toward a more stenchcore sound. Anthemic passages from dual vocals; all-in-all a full sound from this three piece. Side B opens with some surprisingly upbeat riffs amidst slow gloomy hardcore, similar to GUILLOTINE TERROR or MOONSCAPE. A moody intro-as-intermission midway through the LP, then some more Motörcharged rhythms. With several styles of extreme punk going on, OSMANTIKOS have a lot to offer.

New Skeletal Faces Celestial Disease LP

Just missing Halloween, NEW SKELETAL FACES play gothic post-punk crust, with dissonant sub-aquatic bass lines and discordant contemporary blackened metal riffing. Vocals are grim, sometimes screeching and other times howling, like SHADOW PROJECT meets ZERO HOUR. Songs sound like ROSETTA STONE channeling SATYRICON. Themes are ghoulish cemetery strolling metaphors about the dying planet and a perverse overestimated society. This three-piece make dire cacophonies calling to (or rather, from) the grave. The last songs on each side are my favorite, with IRON MAIDEN, EMPEROR, DEVIATED INSTINCT and CHRISTIAN DEATH flavors peppering them. Recommended for fiends of the dark crafts and infernal tones.

Grey Walls Honest Self-Deception EP

Gloomy, trudging hardcore from Germany with vocal akin to DYSTOPIA and DISRUPT. Proto-hardcore riffs summon a couple horseman of the apocalypse with an appreciation for MORSER and RORSHACH. Low-tuned strings buzz underneath abysmal tracks that end sporadically. Side two is an aquatic carnival of SWING KIDS-type punk, reminding me of the gothic side of INSTINCT OF SURVIVAL which is quickly torn apart by power-crust screams of torment. An avant-garde artistic approach to an easily categorized, abrasive, misanthropic corner of hardcore. I can’t ignore the intrigue. The skeletal artwork is beautiful: black-and-white pencil-and-wash drawings similar to KÄTHE KOLLWITZ, with handwritten lyrics in German and English. You’re not giving me a lot a space here, but I appreciate you, GREY WALLS.

Meatwound Culero LP

Metal hardcore fusion with entrancing passages. Life-gripping and grimacing; MEATWOUND plays pulverizing hardcore channeling MIND ERASER, HIS HERO IS GONE, INTEGRITY, COLD SWEAT, HOLY MOUNTAIN even DEAD MEADOW and PALLBEARER at times. This music is simultaneously downtrodden and chaotically aggressive, including spaceship-contacting cathedral-spelunking synth moments. This is very impressive proto-psych power thrash with occult undertones in a burning, spirited pulse with nature. Make no mistake, there are plenty of churning breakdowns within these sonic labyrinths. Thick green vinyl, an extensive booklet with illustrations for each song, a huge poster of the nine-eyed Baphometic/goat cover art by Vincent Locke, stickers, and other eldritch goodies. Total madness, calling itself MEATWOUND. Get this and zone the fuck out in their cosmic cacophony. This is some next level shit that I feel lucky to hear.

Future Terror Plague EP

Atrocious, galloping, guttural D-beat from Virginia that hisses with WARCOLLAPSE-type angst and echoing screams. A sheer blast of classic ’90s Scandi-style punk that sounds like a sonic battlefield. Totally brutal, buoyantly produced, thick and dirgy, and bound together with samples that take me back to the ’90s filth-core onslaught. Wild paces of that classic SARCASM, Phonophobia, ASPECT OF WAR sound, with time-signature changeups that leave a lump in your throat. So fucking ripping. This is an addicting release.

Protestera Kampen GÁ¥r Vidare CD

The thrilling, epic, and chilling debut LP from Götenborg’s PROTESTERA is now available on CD. Bitter, metallic, and melancholic late ’90s/early ’00s crust, with harsh riffs, and drums that are fierce and tight: weaving D-beat with circle pit-ready mosh breakdowns. Spoken passages, dual vocals with static-filled hardcore breaks and vicious oration, and menacing, rhythmic gang vocals all put forth intense conviction. If you’re into CONTRAVENE, SCUMBRIGADE, POST-REGIMENT, OI POLLOI, FLEAS AND LICE, or ANTIPRODUCT, this is for you. The 30-page booklet oozes with photos, a history lesson, and squat scene nostalgia. We need more bands like this again. Such a level of solidarity and passion in a time of exhausting hopelessness. Digitally remastered to the highest standard since its original release on Skuld release in 2000. This will not disappoint.

Bonefire Fade and Decay LP

Third LP from these Minneapolis thrashing metal-punk veterans’ project—BONEFIRE features members of MISERY, SOCIAL SCHISM (UK) and TROUBLEMAKER (CA). Snarling anthemic hardcore with a no-fucks-given attitude. Lots of catchy breakdowns, a tight double kick pedal that won’t let up, and bass grooves that add a lot of ingenuity to pretty standard albeit furiously charged compositions. The guitars are fuzzy, the vocals are gargled, the riffs are dirty. Everything sounds filthy and punk as fuck, but the morose bridges are taken with pause, and the recording was handled with a lot of care. Oh geez, and this is an Enormous Door mastering job, who up the ante again. So good. Fade and Decay is easy to get into, and features signature sounds from said members’ bands, while putting forth a unique, shadowy, and saturated new offering. I’m reminded of KILLING JOKE, INSIDE OUT, HIGH ON FIRE, VARUKERS and CHAOS UK, all at the same time. I mean…

Malcría El Reino De Lo Falso LP

MALCRÍA of Mexico City plays rhythmic, punctuated macabre punk with the demented tones of RUDIMENTARY PENI meeting the urgency and chokehold of SIEGE. The bass bombards forth, while the guitars sizzle under smashing drums with feral unexpected thunderous attacks. Songs are short and tight, filled with raw power and unbridled energy boiling simultaneously as a lidded cauldron ready to erupt. Very tense, very real. The Spanish vocals are screamed and megaphoned across the spiraling, flaying hardcore tracks. As the play progresses, shadows of FORÇA MACABRA, CONFUSE, PART 1, SEPTIC DEATH, and RAJOITUS rear their ugly heads. MALCRÍA has concocted a fresh stab of distorted, demented, threatening hardcore. Cool your head with this all summer, and into the fall crispness. Songs as crispy as dead leaves on fire.

Game No One Wins LP

London jangling punks GAME play scathing, hexing, barking hardcore in the style of MUSHROOM ATTACK, the COMES, the STALIN, CHARGE, NEGLECT, and NO STATIK, orated with Polish and English command. Vocals are punctuated with pounding harsh rhythm, while the songwriting varies from anthemic circle pit hardcore to thrashing ’80s punk metal. This LP is powerfully energetic, with surprising changes yet flowing evenly from start to finish. Encapsulating, hasty, bewitching and in complete control. Its production is perfectly clear, as well as engineered to accentuate what makes GAME on top, making it an immediately engaging listen. Bizarrely kvlt art by Nicky Rat.

1919 Futurecide CD

The latest full-length from Bradford post-punk legends 1919 slinks forth with catchy melodic abrasion. Harmonies as mesmerizing as the CHURCH; serpentine cradle-shaking akin to BAUHAUS; contemporary angst reminding of the ESTRANGED, MOIRA SCAR, and SEX GANG CHILDREN; the twitching ennui of MIDNIGHT OIL; and even the pop spin cycle Á  la CULTURE ABUSE, with a slack standard of SUEDE. 1919 have composed at times an optimistic, albeit still-life and morose effort that’s smoother than their tribal ’80s death rock sound, exploring a goth-gazing that is absolutely worth checking out. Introduce yourself as if they were the newest sensation in this darkwave movement, as if they weren’t around 35 years ago already nailing that fresh pine coffin.

Discript 未知 cassette

It is an honor to review this exhumation of a 1993 project by BEYOND DESCRIPTION’s alter ego. DISCRIPT play pulverizing, heavy D-beat fury with muffled riffs, china hits, cybernetic effects, putting forth themes of dissatisfaction with society and its inherent rudeness, all sung in Japanese with vapid flavor and viscous flow. Reminds me of the VARUKERS channeling CORRUPTED. Or an old obscure Swedish HC favorite VISIONS. What an intense combo—and DISCRIPT is killing it after 25 years of grimacing slumber. Sonic terror level red. If this were any louder I’d be knocking shit off the speakers. Five tracks of sheer awesome grunting bestial Japanese crust that have left all metal-grind preceding reputations in the dust.

Tragedy Fury LP

There was a time around the turn of the millennium that I was simultaneously obsessed with WORLD BURNS TO DEATH’s The Sucking of the Missle Cock and TRAGEDY’s Vengeance. You could not fuck with the raw aggression of either, and they both sincerely, mercilessly charged a wave of Bush Jr.-denouncing US hardcore punk. Though I’ve never been opposed to changing up an approach in musical style, if you have lost track of TRAGEDY on their last two LPs, I highly recommend you visit Fury: a threatening, intense return to form, with the poignant lyrical content they have impressed with previously. Fury hits hard, if not harder and more calloused, with unhinged emotion than the philosophic, metaphoric content of Vengeance. Dare I say the flavor is more ’80s Japanese HC in vocals and leads, and more Scandi-core in rhythm and percussion? Fury is technically an EP that feels like a full-story LP. If WARCRY emulates the dawning battle strife, TRAGEDY is the madness, a blinding flash at dusk and the more-recent NIGHTFELL the smoldering grave…but I totally digress on PDX killer bands. Fury is dark, harrowing, fast as wildfire, and an unexpected phoenix woke as fuck.

War Bison Acre LP

Powerhouse hardcore bursts with a disjointed NYHC flavor, thrash metal churning, and posi-core changes, with an undercurrent of old school circle pit mosh. The solos are flashy fire over a steady punk drum attack. There are vibes of BUDGIE, YOUTH OF TODAY, EXODUS, and BASTARD, but WAR BISON play feel-good party crossover metal with a punk sensibility and experienced musical arrangements. The delivery is expected and familiar in an inviting way. Gang vocals galore bring me back to Lower East Side hardcore matinees or metal shows in any old random American warehouse. Acre is a classic post-hardcore metal album. I once saw a friend in a WAR BISON scarf, and damn the thing looked cozy and varsity, but I noticed the lettering was that of AMEBIX lettering, so I knew I’d be in for a bit of a treat that was all over the place. I love the full-color medieval jacket art too.

Sago Flood Island LP

Anguished and furious hardcore punk from Toronto, with an overt anarcho-punk delivery. Breakdowns are everywhere, whether in the early ’00s screaming proto-grind or the dual-vocal ’90s euro-crust. There are some very ripping death metal riffs on here, with waves of pop punk, melodic hardcore, and D-beat. Songs clock in at about two minutes each, which is perfect, leaving me ready for more.

V/A Peace, Unity, Noise And Having Fun: Tekken Tribute & Remixes LP

So this compilation LP is apparently a tribute to the French fastcore band TEKKEN. I regret to announce I was not familiar with TEKKEN the band, but it looks as though they were around in the late ’90s and early ’00s, and with some video research, I have realized that they were pretty good! If you like to blast off with CHARLES BRONSON, SPAZZ, DAMNABLE EXCITE ZOMBIES, AGATHOCLES, or even FANTOMAS, or any bands that were forming when fastcore was really breaking into its stride, I have this recommendation for you! There’s also some really bizarre MIDI carnival music, which I must admit I am entertained by, if not perplexed.

Mutant Scum Mutant Scum LP

Ambient tribal drums start this LP off, before breaking into galloping, hard rock rhythms that channel HIGH ON FIRE, DAMAD, early COC, and Connecticut crust-core slayers REACT, with a fine combination of southern blues guitar and death metal. The vocals are grimacing, strained, and well in key. A mid-paced guttural banger that, from aesthetics, I expected to be way more goregrind thrash. This LP has catchy diminutive chords, straightforward punk-tinged heavy metal, and excellent dense production. I’m quite impressed. Songs about wizards, sewers, creatively metaphoric environmental messages, and our subsequent mutations from its demise. Cool ’80s toxic horror cover art—this version of the vinyl is green, but like opaque Ninja Turtle green, a vinyl color I had yet to see.

Cloud Rat / The World Is a Vampire Split LP

A beautifully played piano starts out the CLOUD RAT side, coupled with delicate, warm, and haunting vocals. This seamlessly tumbles into ruthless, crust-stenched, abysmal riffs, with high and tight drums. This dark, dense, churning, hexing grind and crust reminds me of the terrifying sounds of EBOLA, the fury of INITIAL STATE, the metallic bewitching nature of CETASCEAN, and the chaotic maelstrom that came with SKARP. CLOUD RAT is all things steady punk D-beat, blasting grind, and blackened metal sorcery. THE WORLD IS A VAMPIRE calms the nerves with pulverizing, heavy drudge metal. The vocals spew forth like a cindering furnace, and the chords are subtly disharmonic, creating an off-kilter, unsettling hypnotic rhythm. Calculated but surprising effects pierce through the thick tones. Parts indie rock, parts cacophonous doom punk—I’m really digging this side too! The last track is a brilliant cover of TEARS FOR FEARS’ “Mad World.” Yes! This split is definitely recommended for the dismal, strange, and curious.

Bombanfall Åsiktsfrihet CD

It is remarkably bittersweet to be writing my final reviews for the print edition of MRR, but what a distinct honor it was to receive this reissue of one of the greatest Swedish hardcore EPs ever…that was followed up by nothing. As far as I’m concerned, this is pretty much the epitome of Scandinavian hardcore that captures both a melodic legendary folklore sound, and despairingly raw punk fueled with grandiose, godless hammering. Unless you want to spend $150 on one of mine, you absolutely must pick this up. It’s pretty much a flawless, organically played, sincerely furious, monstrously echoing, pulpit-orated, masterpiece of extreme/DIY music history, which inspired so many future compositions. I know that’s a lot of praise to print. Well, here’s my chance.

Black Uniforms Faces of Death CD

Splattering metal punk from the Scandinavian hive of hardcore: Malmö, Sweden. BLACK UNIFORMS play motörcharged D-beat raw punk for all the moonlight rambling crashers. You get G-ZET, INEPSY, NAILBITER, and DIS-BONES style bammers, and heck, it even sounds like AMEBIX at times. This CD has both the original 1989 version of Faces of Death and the 2001 remastering. You know you want it!

Vaaska Inocentes Condenados EP

Austin, Texas’ VAASKA play six ripping tracks of high-pitched, ’80s Finnish inspired hardcore, echoing brutal flavor and a buzzing guitar tone that is stinging, with confident lyrics in Spanish spat forth with furious power. Crushing hardcore along the lines of MELLAKKA, RAJOITUS, and LAMA. I can’t say anything bad about the release, and yet I struggle to find a particularly stand out thing about it. It clobbers with D-beat fire, and the tones are freakishly coarse static hissing. That’s the big takeaway. My hearing loss.

Sheenjek Volume 1 EP

Hypnotic, shoegazing psyche-influenced bar rock with a grunge twang that I kind of love. The vocals are great, and definitely have a punk howling that has matured like fine mead. All the good parts of FUCKED UP, the Twin Peaks soundtrack, and the MERMEN. A solid, timeless, rock release. A short and sweet EP, like this review.

D.N.A. Retrospective CD

Retrospective comprises all of this guttural Swedish D-beat band’s output. They have the vibe of early ANTI-CIMEX and the heaviness of SVART PARAD or BOMBANFALL, with funks-not-dead baselines that come to the forefront, and some slower-knuckle dragging ghostly rhythms as well. Think ATTACK SS, late-era RUDIMENTARY PENI, or even RADIO BIRDMAN, with macabre twists, turns, and gothic mangel. They cover “Green Onions,” for crying out loud. And the hardcore parts are raging. Not-as-talked-about 80s Swedish skit punkers, but certainly recommended.

Dissekerad Domenatten EP

Supergroup of sorts featuring members of BRAINBOMBS, AVSKUM, TOTALITÄR, and a buncha other Swede greats. Unfortunately this lil EP is nowhere near as exciting as any of those bands, but it’s not a total waste. The riffs hold this back—I coulda sworn I’ve heard them on a couple of dozen records before this one! The redeeming grace is Poffen’s incredible voice, still snarling and snapping with the same desperation and fury he had decades ago. Despite that, this record is still pretty forgettable.

Butcher Return to Nothingness LP

BUTCHER’s second LP is harrowing chaos on overdrive. Jack Butcher snarls forth with a clear yet grizzly delivery, at times bringing Rob “The Baron” Miller of AMEBIX, or intense black metal straining to mind, while still retaining hardcore razor cuts. The guitar intros are metallic and extremely accomplished, and at times melancholic post-punk vibes are mixed with discordant blackened chamber metal. Everything is much faster than you even need or expected. “Beyond the Triple World” is my favorite track, with well-placed mid-tempo bludgeoning. The lyrics are formulated into mystical analogies and spiritual perditions, which resist the power of evil, though embrace its existence, expressed through words that are wholeheartedly nihilistic and minimal, while at once fluid and existentially vast. “Beware The Gnawing Nothingness” is especially poignant and depressing. Featuring members of FORWARD, WORLD BURNS TO DEATH, ASSHOLEPARADE, and LIFECHAIN, and with calamitous cover art by the uncompromising Tomohiro Matsuda. And just like that, it ends like a cleaver to the skull. Darker, denser, and even deeper than the
debut. Get this.

Organa Organa LP

German anti-oppression powerviolence and grindcore that sounds like the industrial soundtrack to Brazil meets HIS HERO IS GONE, COMBATWOUNDEDVETERAN and the most downtrodden riffs from the CURE. Neo-crust breakdowns, blistering grindcore attacks, and open intermittent D-beat sections that are so brief you can’t ignore their ingenuity. Gnarly charred vocals spew out lyrics in both German and English. Lyrical themes decry the ugly existence of fascism, racism, nationalism, sexism, and homophobia. ORGANA, lay down six brutal tracks through shattering noise and fury. Production is super heavy—well done. This is a one-sided LP with a circle of barbed wire etched on the other.