Ollie Hudd

Cymeon X Wygrać Swoje Życie LP

While one of my best pals is from the Polish hardcore scene, along with a few other heads I’ve met, I know little about Poland’s history of punk and hardcore bands, with the exception of a couple of current bands such as the hip group TONFA and HEAVY RUNNER. Nevertheless, it is really refreshing to hear a gem like this released from a very wild time in HxC. Originally released in 1992, Refuse Records’ reissue of this is fitting in our day and age when deep dives are more popular than ever before, thanks to an online database of limitless information known as the internet. While their photos would convince any audience that CYMEON X were fans of the BOLD or EARTH CRISIS style given their look, this LP sounds more like if bands such as LÄRM, KAAOS, and TERVEET KADET were listening to the likes of STRAIGHT AHEAD and the New Breed! compilation. It sounds like a pretty hilarious combination, but the poor recording of this LP adds such rawness to a clearly good band. It’s not the best Euro edge I’ve heard from the ’90s, but it’s still cool. 

System System F for Effort cassette

This reminded me a lot of GLUE, particularly their sound on the 7”s, with a slight rock’n’roll aspect in the vein of WICCANS, although this is more subtle. However, I can’t say I was particularly interested throughout. That noisy vocal effect is so bloody overplayed at this point. The tunes are generally decent themselves, but in our day and age, I feel they just don’t really stand out.

Warfare Doomsday LP

Whether you are a fan of “hardcore” or not (‘cause you Yanks are such morons that you’ve divided your punk and HxC scenes), one cannot deny the importance of Triple B Records as a label, having put out absolute powerhouse records such as the first couple of releases from FURY, the DIVISION OF MIND self-titled album, releases from FREEDOM, the FIGHT, SHRAPNEL, the RIVAL MOB and lastly, one of my top 50 favourite hardcore records of all time, THREE KNEE DEEP’s Wrong World EP. With an immensely outstanding catalogue, no one can say they haven’t been crucial in getting HxC to the masses. Despite this, I feel that the label has taken on far too many bands in more recent years, and in my humble opinion, could do with much stronger quality control regarding some of the bands they sign. With WARFARE, label head Sam’s band, I can thankfully say they aren’t one of the weaker releases, but this LP is certainly not one of Triple B’s stronger releases. As is the same with many hardcore or punk releases, they aren’t bad songs on the LP, they just don’t stand out. The band still shows significant potential regarding future releases, and I can tell they could have something great waiting to get out there, but that wasn’t reflected so much on this LP.

V/A Introductory Rites cassette

Don’t let a pretty weak opener from BOOTLICKER (confounding given that the band’s output has generally been very consistent) fool you into thinking that this isn’t a groovy as hell comp—TOTAL SHAM’s one-minute-and-ten-second ripper will reassure you of what’s in store. This is then further reiterated by the next track from EASY TARGETS. I’d never heard of the Chicago-based band, but they live up to their CHEETAH CHROME MOTHERFUCKERS-inspired name with a blasting, bouncy tune. Nice one. TUPPERWARE came next. I wasn’t in the slightest bit intrigued by their self-titled 7” from 2021, but this song was fucking great, nice Lumpy Records-esque rawness to a really danceable riff. Reminded me a lot of New York’s TEMPORARY AUTONOMY ZONE (T.A.Z.), and if you don’t know them you’re really missing out. It’s enticing to hear a band like ABI OOZE in our day and age as well. In America, there’s practically no one as indebted to the early L.A. punk scene as these guys are. Don’t fucking call this riot grrrl, ‘cos it’s not; it sounds as if the EYES or the BAGS shared members with BEAT HAPPENING. I love it. PISS KINKS sound as if a snotty late ’80s NYHC frontman like Paul Bearer or someone fronted a D-beat band. The drums on this song are madness. To conclude, this was a really fun comp and I highly recommend it to anyone. Keep dancing, punk!!!!!!!

Instructor Terror Zone LP

Released a mere two days before the end of 2022, Quality Control HQ really closed the year with a bang with this one. After an array of great 2022 releases, particularly FORESEEN’s Untamed Force LP, INSTRUCTOR’s Terror Zone made for a very suitable cherry on top indeed, the last straw in proving what an absolute powerhouse the label is. Hailing from Brussels, Belgium, INSTRUCTOR released a couple of demos in 2019 and 2020, both which had some cool tunes but nothing outstanding. Private Execution followed, a tape which was again cool, but the recording really held the band back. I wasn’t particularly impressed with anything they had put out at that point. This all changed drastically with the release of Terror Zone, a magnum opus of ignorant, good ol’-fashioned skinhead CRO-MAGS-style breakdowns, merged with other more subtle influences taken from aspects of Oi!, KICKBACK, and Rawn Beuty-era COLD AS LIFE. Make no mistake, unlike other bands (who won’t be named) doing HxC in the New York vein by taking the chorus from “Malfunction” and the main riff from “Telltale,” nothing on this LP sounds of a style heard before. I think one thing when hearing this: “Belgian skins who like the CRO-MAGS.” What more could you want? The number of American bands worshipped at FYA who desperately want to play hardcore at such an incredible level of musicianship as present here but who won’t be able to reach the heights of INSTRUCTOR is staggering. Kings, queens, and in between, none of you will want to miss this giant.

CML The Dirty Tape cassette

I first heard this on the iconic No Deal channel, and wasn’t interested from the first song. After a couple of listens, however, I’ve definitely changed my mind. If you like the classic fast and nasty style in the vein of the Texas I Hate, I Skate label that featured bands such as GLAASSSS, ARMY, and others, along with general noisy HC punk bands such as Q, LUMPY AND THE DUMPERS, and generally everything in the Lumpy Records discography, then this is undoubtedly a tape for you. This is just snotty, childish hardcore punk that, while it’s been done many times before, never seems to get old.

Shaved Ape Shaved Ape demo cassette

If it’s got Will Killingsworth’s name on it, you can presume it’ll be a good release. Seriously, you can put your money on it. This solo project of Vince Klopfenstein, the legend behind several Philly and Pittsburgh bands such as the CRACKS and more recently LOOSE NUKES and WHITE STAINS (the latter being absolutely fucking incredible), has made a truly extraordinary demo. It’s fast raw punk in the vein of YDI, but reminds me a lot of Texas bands from the past decade, but also more current ones such as STUNTED YOUTH, SAVE OUR CHILDREN, and READY ARMED SYSTEM, with incoherent, lo-fi, snotty screaming alongside mean, stellar guitar playing. Great job Vince, I hope the band ends up playing some out-of-state shows.

Call in Dead Deepest Condolences LP

Whatever anyone’s feelings are toward “old-head punk” or this release, one has to admire three former hardcore kids for regrouping years later to create something ultimately quite modern that doesn’t feel out of touch by today’s standards. While I initially expected this to be undoubtedly indebted by early ’80s American bands such as AGRESSION or whatever, their influences range all over the place, from ’90s chug-core alluding to the likes of the Victory Records catalogue to…reggae? What the fuck, indeed. Albeit, I’ll admit I really enjoyed some parts of it, given I wasn’t expecting to at all. However, while “old guy” punk is always going to be hit or miss, by the standards of today’s releases, this isn’t something I will go back to frequently.

Fatal Vision Zeitgeist LP

Now we’re talking. Originally released in 1984, this short-lived Long Island act expressed their sound on a demo which is all killer, no filler, just true outrageous early American fastcore. While a little bit late to the game, it’s brilliant that this demo finally sees the light of day with a wider audience in HC thanks to the internet. Ultimately, what comes to mind is other contemporaries who were perhaps a bit earlier than them such as the MOB (NY), but more so, you can see where influence from acts such as the ABUSED came in with slower, trudging guitar sections that we would all come to know as “mosh parts,” so it’s sick to see bands in Long Island getting influenced by that as early as this. However, the vocalist really reminds me of Sab Grey from IRON CROSS meets the madness and franticness of Springa or Jackal from YDI, which is just awesome. Go listen to this.

Abstain Infirm of Purpose 12″

In a day and age where heavy/heavier hardcore is dominated by BULLDOZE wannabes, this edge powerhouse really stands out against the grain. While the band is ultimately indebted to heavy edge bands of the ’90s (think Belgian H8000 bands such as CONGRESS’ first 7” and LENGTH OF TIME), what it lacks in technical, prolonged solos is made up for here with a stronger element of UNBROKEN, Satisfaction-era HATEBREED, and even New Jersey’s RESSURECTION (to an extent). By no means is this some tragic ode to desiring to be a part of a different time, as the band take influence from newer bands, with the vocal style sounding somewhat similar to New England’s BROKEN VOW. For me, a particular highlight came with the opening of the second song, “Faced With A Choice,” which is nothing other than brilliant. They show a lot of promise here, so here’s hoping for a stellar LP someday.

Baixa Permanent / Hatã HÛ/FOSC split EP

Undoubtedly one of the more interesting records I’ve had the pleasure of taking a look at. Barcelona’s HATÂ have an interesting merge of NWOBHC, of course in the vein of bands such as the FLEX and, at points, even PAYDAY, with Spanish lyrics. There is a blatant rawer and slower aspect to the music however, acting somewhat as an homage to UK82, but more specifically other more modern Colombian acts, with elements of UZI expressed at points. While I certainly admire the diverse fusion here, particularly the ode to some of my favourite bands, HATÃ’s approach ultimately felt somewhat lackluster, as hardly any of the tunes failed to truly make an impact. Catalan band BAIXA PERMANENT instantaneously makes much more of an impact from the start of their side, with a take on hardcore paying tribute again to modern Spanish-language hardcore bands, but with the addition of mosh sequences of early/mid-’80s NYHC with drum parts from the likes of KRAUT, and of course early Boston hardcore. Again, such a take is indeed intriguing, and perhaps this could be accomplished, but some of the riffs didn’t feel as iconic as they could’ve been—to an extent, this and the musicianship is what holds both bands back from fully flourishing. While it was a somewhat amusing listen, I feel there could be far more development and impact in the tunes from both bands.

Churchgoers Churchgoers demo cassette

In the UKHC scene, it is more than common to be at any show and hear an exchange between a 19-year-old and 23-year-old saying “we should start a band that sounds like UNDERDOG meets…SHEER TERROR”. However, it is practically almost never when a group of kids get together wanting to start, and I quote drummer Bobby Cole, “a NEOS-worship band”…until now. To say this demon absolutely floored me would be an understatement—I was nothing less than bewildered, in fact astounded, by the sheer musicianship and originality projected from this demo. While Bobby (the ANNIHILATED, ANTAGONIZM, MOTIVE) writes almost all the songs, each member of the band contributes equally in their own way to creating this absolute Magnum opus, sounding as if HERESY or RIPCORD had been listening to nothing but Hassibah Gets the Martian Brain Squeeze and YOUTH KORPS’ Demo ‘82 rather than SS DECONTROL. Mark McCutchan’s vocals here provide a fiery adolescence completing the general vibe of this band, just four angry, pissed kids, with Ben Hills (LAST AFFRONT, VILE SPIRIT) playing the riffs phenomenally at a raucous speed, while bassist Xav (NEGATIVE FRAME) keeps it steady throughout. This is probably my favourite release of the year, so please, do go and give it a listen.

Axe Rash / Therapy split EP

Stockholm’s AXE RASH have, and always will, it seems, provide straight, simple, raw, and heavy metallic D-beat to the masses. This, however, is a similar merge with American hardcore as we’ve seen with bands à la WARTHOG, and the lyrics to each of their two songs are humorous, particularly on the opener “Ostrich Man.” Great stuff. THERAPY from San Diego, while providing some great music as well, doesn’t have quite the force that AXE RASH has in their songs, but nonetheless is a promising band. The first couple of their songs lack a bit, but “Power” is mental. I really felt I was being transported to seeing the band in person via this song, which few records can accomplish. Ultimately, the truly exciting aspect lies in the A-side, but it’s still worth taking the time aside for a full listen.