Paolo Bon Tempo

Alpha Hopper Alpha Hex Index LP

I’m too stupid and narrow-minded to be writing this review. ALPHA HOPPER is for self-assured smart punks who like the experience of walking down a long hallway of practice spaces and hearing a fucked up amalgamation of shrieks, needling guitars, brief moments of respite, breakdowns, and bashing drums—a.k.a. hardcore people who’ve never listened to the NEGATIVE APPROACH 7″. It’s more jagged and technical than a group from rusty old Buffalo would have you believe. Responsibly haphazard mathcore for people who could barely pass geometry, with schoolgirl bully vocals on top. Alpha Hex Index is for those who survived the ’90s, people who want more from modern hardcore or who want their No Wave to have crunch.

Blaze Still Nothing Ever Change LP+CD

An all-around great compilation of highly ferocious, emotive, and danceable Japanese hardcore from the early ’90s. I found the vocals and repetitive structure to be annoying at first, but if “Skill!,” “Why,” and “But Nothing Ever Change” don’t immediately hit your pleasure receptors, then you should give up on hardcore. The glossy record contains a booklet with extraordinary colored mohawks and crusty street punk looks, but the real substance lies within the CD collection containing all studio material plus seven extra demo tracks. I’ve never heard anyone play drums like this and the mastering is perfect, allowing everything to come through crystal clear. I would say the LP and CD combo is the way to go on this one. An essential reissue considering you’re getting all the bands’ output for only like 1/5th the price of the original 7”.

LSG Salvation/Solution demo cassette

The demo art depicts a cartoon punk who is being walked like a dog, or it could be a leashed child that traded the leash for a chain. They look content and mindless, like their name should be something stupid like “Bloopy the Punk.” Musically, it’s nothing original, but it’s a bit more rambunctious than Bloopy would have you believe, with only two tracks getting over the one-minute mark. Sparse vocals backed by bare-bones ’80s Midwest thrashing that could fit seamlessly onto a compilation like The Master Tape Vol. 2. A surprising ripper.

Pitbul Demo 2020 cassette

These demo recordings offer an exciting look at a new mixtape from American rapper PITBULL! The “Dale” attitude is there but he cranks up the BPM and energy expressing some frustration that I think we can all relate to after such a hard (insert number of years you’ve been alive) years. PITBULL does stray a bit from his Reggaeton roots but finds inspiration in the likes of INFEST and YDI. Club music typically doesn’t make me want to beat the shit out of someone but this is a real vibe! Can’t wait for the PITBULL/Youth Attack collaborative sunglasses and skinhead cap. Personally, I’d prefer human growling over actual dog noises, thanks. Kill yourself to it!

Boofin Tylenol Symptoms of Life cassette

I’m not sure what makes a truly good-sounding hardcore punk release. Sometimes people try too hard to ape their influences (sometimes that’s fine and good) and sometimes people fight too hard for modernity and originality, becoming unrecognizable from the original form (also fine, I guess). I feel comfortable saying that BOOFIN TYLENOL is a decent representation of good current hardcore punk. The influences are apparent (TAR BABIES and SST Records) without being overly paraded. Simple yet forward-thinking, all-around great playing, fast and aggressive, surprisingly melodic and refusing to be pigeonholed.

Lethal Means Zero Sum Game LP

LETHAL MEANS force their hands to mechanically tweak a naturally simplistic Scandinavian hardcore approach with decent ability. In other words, they squiggle around the frets to ring out a few extra notes and adjust the verse-chorus structure a bit (see the aptly titled “Ad Nauseam”). The subtle technicality of the opener “Break Free” gave hope that LETHAL MEANS would offer something intriguing, but overall there were maybe three attention-grabbing moments here. I’ve never listened to stadium crust cause the good lord didn’t plan that in my life’s trajectory, but LETHAL MEANS’ catchy riffs, endlessly pounding drums, smooth production, and more technical playing inevitably creates an “epic” sound that I assume is indeed stadium crust. “Break Free,” “Serve No Man,” and the closer “Life Cannot Be Owned,” which feels inspired by but lacks the swing and ease of DEATH SIDE’s “Crossfire,” could’ve served as an acceptable 7″. Low points are an instrumental track featuring video game-like sound effects of decommissioned military planes and album art featuring the Grim Reaper stroking a phallic atomic cloud, which seems appropriate for presumably older punk men doing their take on music written by children 40 years ago.

Eye Witness Demo 2019 cassette

EYE WITNESS from Salem/Boston, MA released a limited quantity of tapes in late 2019 with poor circulation but what they lack in promotional skills they make up for in perfectly brutish hardcore punk. The recording is blown out and sounds like a tape that’s been dubbed well over a hundred times but even still the guitar, drums and vocals stick out over the rumbling bass. It’s worth hearing between the perfectly timed accentuating shouts that sound like a caveman pondering life and the nods to POISON IDEA, MISFITS, and RAW POWER. What you’d expect from a band with a members-of list longer than this review.

Haircut Cake EP

HAIRCUT had an EXIT ORDER affinity when they first popped up, but they’ve fully come into their own here on their third 7″. The drummer’s got fills, the vocals come across like distorted pleas, and there are a few riffs that are catchy enough for me to remember. Both “Prayer for a Little Girl” and “Take It” offer what I want to hear in a hardcore song, with changes of pace that flip the slam/skank switch in my mind. Nothing boundary breaking or genre defining, but still a fine specimen of modern hardcore punk with no major discernible rip-offs.

Pus Anaquila demo

Hardcore punk caked in black metal tone from Lima, Peru. They kick off at searing speed but switch directions with each track. The simple pogo attack of “Eres Una Pose” comes across as traditional and straightforward but PUS seeks to be anything but. Their blood-curdling vocals, technical ability, variance of styles, blackened sound, and overall recording quality makes it hard for me to place a stylistic comparison. PUS does a good job of building tension and can write some catchy riffs, but they haven’t fully mastered their songwriting craft and fail to deliver a fatal blow. The songs got a lot going on, though, and show promise.

Alien Nosejob Once Again the Present Becomes the Past LP

The HC45 single was one of the best hardcore records I’ve heard in recent times and Mr. Nosejob brings those quick, nimble riffs to full-length form. The description for Once Again notes that it began as a concept record referencing both WWII bombings and comedian Norm Macdonald. It sounds like if MODERN WARFARE or the MOB (NYC) had Mike D. of the BEASTIE BOYS on vocals and were emulating DISCHARGE singles. Or if DEVO had been a metal band. Or if the MINNEAPOLIS URANIUM CLUB wrote a hardcore record. It’s wacky and has nice subtleties and moments that’ll make your ears and eyes pop. The guitar solo in “Pointed Shears” reminds me of the guitar in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers theme song (which now that I listen back on that theme song sounds like it could’ve been a scrapped tune from Military Affairs Neurotic if it was a bit slower). This record will draw a line in the sand for many hardcore fans, probably multiple lines, once again illuminating the dreaded egg v. chain dichotomy.

Rat-Nip Comfortable Chair EP

Everyone and their fuckin’ cousins got a TOTALITÄR rip-off band but some of ’em might not be doing too well due to COVID-related complications, so RAT-NIP is here to provide your dose of mean and catchy hardcore. The palm-muted breakdown and guitar solo of “Ay Mijo” hits like a hot iron to the back of the head and will keep me warm for the impending winter. The B-side may not enthrall me as much as the A, and a live video I’m watching of them suggests the singer may only be half alive, but I think this will hold me over for a while.

Straw Man Army Age of Exile LP

This is it. Saying “a proper LP” doesn’t do it service. Inventive and varied, Age of Exile flows with ecstatic energy from loud and distorted to subtle, sinister, anxious, and even charming. Very fresh sounding, it has a tendency to harken back to old anarcho-punk while also exploring more jamming, worldly aspects, all coalescing into a sinisterly dark and beautiful 30 minutes of spine-shivering punk. It’s admittedly a lot to take in between subject matter and the quality of the tunes. Lyrically, it sets you on the floor in reflection with direct and chilling anti-imperialist narration on historical and ecological subject matter. The amount of disturbingly poetic one-liners is fucking insane. There’s an accompanying video for “The Silver Bridge” which is jarring and visually stunning that I highly suggest viewing. The whole album is well-thought-out, well-researched, extremely well-versed, and a hell of a lot more earnest and sincere than most every band pumping out anti-cop and anti-Trump tunes (all of which are valid, this just smokes the rest). It’s like a dirty old ELF pamphlet from the ’90s coming to life in musical form. Poignant and necessary, a truly great record in my opinion. (Edit: I sent this to my brother and he said it sounded like PARQUET COURTS, but I don’t know what that means.)

Mindforce Swingin’ Swords, Choppin’ Lords 12″

Seven minutes of heaven for fans of heavy bouncing hardcore that facilitates swinging fists and (hopefully) a variant of beautiful mosh styles. The thrashy guitars squeal then fade, acting as a precursor to pig-pile-inducing shouts, all of which allow me to imagine the claps and boastful “Wooooh”s elicited from hardcore fest attendees. Between the stomp and crawl of “Fratello” and the quick oddly abridged song structures, MINDFORCE’s formula takes equally from heavy metal, thrash and early ’90s NYHC synthesized into their own quick, twisting, simplified bursts. It works for them and I now understand the hype, but I would like to see some ideas explored further. This 12” leaves me wondering two things: how many members of MINDFORCE are Italian-American, and how can we reverse market forces so that 7″s are once again the cheapest means of putting out records?

Septic Yanks Septic Yanks cassette

Stupid back-to-basics hardcore punk that was probably made by children. You’ve heard this crud before but if you’re like me, SEPTIC YANKS (what a name—you’ve gotta love it) project images in your mind of a kid tangled in a microphone cord doing a nice back/forth strut before rolling around on the grimiest basement floor and getting tube lights smashed on their back. The opening of this cassette has me singing COMBAT ZONE’s “Untamed mind, mad at the streets, anti-social mentality” which is a good rip-off even if it’s not a rip-off and I’m being presumptuous. Stand out track is the closer titled “School to Prison” which they can barely seem to grasp. Forgettable in the long run but let’s breathe every breath and enjoy all that life has to offer us.

Research Reactor Corp. The Collected Findings of the Research Reactor Corporation LP

It’s a head scratcher that this group that sets battery acid in your veins is actually from Australia and not American flyover country. This is a compilation of previously released cassette tapes with an unabashedly egg-punk composition. R.R.C. plays rock’n’roll standards with a GEZA-X-like sneer characterized by herky-jerky interplay, a synthesizer setting down a catchy hook and dog-bark vocals somewhere between UROCHROMES and HANK WOOD on top. Nth wave of skrunky, Adderall-eyed DEVO-worship.

Violent Change Squandered EP

With a name like VIOLENT CHANGE I had the words “no frills” preemptively written out, expecting a simple ’80s hardcore thrash attack. I was awestruck to hear “Squandered” with a drum track backing some poorly recorded, low-fi, psychedelic simple strumming. It made me imagine if contemporaries CHRONOPHAGE were more of a jam band. Subsequent tracks carried that strung out VELVET UNDERGROUND feel with harmonic vocals and Moe Tucker-like pounding. None of these laid back tunes exceed two and a half minutes which makes you want just a bit more.

Ecostrike A Truth We Still Believe LP

Let’s get something out of the way, I’m fucking straight edge. Now that that’s over with, let me say that with a name like ECOSTRIKE I was expecting some heavy eco-terrorism vibes or some sort of stance beyond PETA commercial veganism and they massively fail in this department. Thus, the name immediately elicits a jerk-off hand motion. Second, I believe a lyricist whose largest issue in life is that a couple of their friends stopped hanging out with them in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant is what the kids now call privileged. I suppose you can view the lyrical dedication to the monotonous subjects of broken promises and pain from ending friendships as well as togetherness and the act of still being here as being virtuous, sincere, and maybe even pure. Sure, but these themes are undoubtedly codified and any adult writing these lyrics should be examined by a child psychologist. It’s my opinion that ECOSTRIKE needs to either surround themselves with better people or maybe, just possibly, their being straight edge is ruining their personal relationships as ECOSTRIKE imposes barriers between themselves and once friends who have stabbed ECOSTRIKE in the back by seeking “validation” for their “treasonous hearts” (that’s prose meaning not being straight edge). There’s a couple mentions of brotherhood as well which is a shame. It’s as if these guys learned nothing from the bow-core revolution of 2016. As for the music, you’ve probably heard it before. Stringy Youth Crew riffs with chugging palm mutes, JUDGE-like breakdowns, pick slides, deep evocative screams followed by whiny pleas, massive buildups, gang vocals and super clean production. You’ll like this record if you’ve only been listening to Firestorm in your walkman CD player for the past 27 years. Yes, this review is cynical because this music sucks. And that’s fine, Triple B Records already sold out of the album and are waiting on the second press to come in. Nothing I say matters because, despite my pessimism, the market for this music exists and I doubt serious readers of MRR (if there are any at this point) are lanyard carrying ECOSTRIKE fans. This is hardcore music for people who didn’t experience HAVE HEART, for a new generation of hardcore kids in the military, for people with no real life problems aside from their friends experimenting with gravity bongs, and for people who think being straight edge is the only signifier and personality trait that makes them unique and can connect them with others. From personal experience I can say that straight edge can be a great thing, a life saver in many cases but god damn if it doesn’t completely blind some people and make them intolerable shitheads. If “A Truth We Still Believe” is what makes you feel whole, then great, but I just hope you can have personality traits aside from black Xs on your hands (if that even is one).

LD-50 Lethal Dose Hardcore EP

It took a few listens of this 7″ for me to find any substance. The title Lethal Dose Hardcore is ill fitting and presumptuous. The cover art seemed to suggest blandness, indifference, and a possible attempt at a formulaic and repetitive vision that the music doesn’t align with. The first two tracks remind me of ARTIFICIAL PEACE and the third, “Gaping Hole,” is their best with a simplicity that stands out. The B-side seems to be an attempt at raw, bashing, käng-style hardcore with the closer decelerating to a punchy pace that stands apart. It’s not awful but it ain’t loud enough and it ain’t raw enough. The band needs to focus and find their sound in the midst of their mixed inspirations. The plus side is that donations from the download of this 7″ on Symphony of Destruction Bandcamp go to international causes.

Spike Pit Animal of Disrespect LP

Some of the most rudimentary, intellectually debased hardcore I’ve heard in a minute. The playing is tight with some metal-influenced riffing, little solos, not overly technical drumming and shouted vocals with a less nasally Doc Dart quality. It all comes together to make some fantastically simplistic hardcore punk. It makes me imagine SPECIAL FORCES or if RAW POWER had been a tiny bit more technical with their riffs. The song titles and lyrics have a real MENTAL ABUSE aura (“Lust” = “Come on Baby”) with songs like “Work Sucks,” “Fruits and Veggies Suck,” “Kill Bums,” “Diaper Rash/Diarrhea,” and “Beat Meat.” Yes, the themes of being chronically horny and desperately needing to kill vulnerable populations of people may be absurd, gross and hard to defend (the singer’s in high school and this is all so obviously tongue-in-cheek anyway so why feel bad?) but the song “White Devil” does provide a consolation prize for anyone who wants to feel politically and socially conscious. SPIKE PIT is exactly what I want to hear when every band is so serious; when playing fests or being popular is more important than the actual quality, excitement and expression from punk bands; when every hyped record is based on punk resumes and OK’d by international lads and cool guys. The record is probably so cheap because they didn’t have to shell out hundreds of dollars for a flavor of the month punk artist to do the cover. SPIKE PIT is a return to basics and I bought the record the second I heard the lyrics “Yeah, I beat my meat.”

Android CH 001 cassette

The vocal patterns remind me of HANK WOOD (with some obvious nods to WHITE PIGS), the changes of pace remind me of HOAX, and the lack of interesting riffs backed with a major outpouring of adoration from people on the internet remind me of GAG. There are six songs here but it’s actually four if you don’t count intros and interludes, although the interlude could’ve actually been the best track here if they had kept jamming it. The art’s pretty cool and if you missed out on punk in 2013 you may think the music is as well.

World Peace Towards a New Supreme Understanding EP

Ten tracks of drums and bass powerviolence/grind with a median average song length of 30.4 seconds. The lack of guitar leaves the sound a bit thin even with such burly bass and drums. The power comes from non-stop speed, slow parts that don’t drag on and fairly technical playing. It gives the aura of powerviolence for macho hardcore heads and makes me imagine one third of XIBALBA covering something off of Trapped Inside by LACK OF INTEREST.

Belly Jelly What It Is EP

Someone has idolized CONEHEADS and now we have another bedroom punk project about cell phones and whatever else. I wish I had a joke to tell about this band but all I can say is that “BELLY JELLY” just seems to be the butt of the joke about modern punk. If squiggly chipmunk DEVO t-shirt computer simulation punk is your thing, then gorge yourself. I appreciate the Bay State representation with the NERVOUS EATERS cover and the pace change on “Big Questions” is good, but goddamn, this all sounds like Mark Winter scratching his pubes.

Cran Samedi Minuit EP

CRAN is a French band that, at best, is trying to do some sort of melodic, more thoughtful Oi!, but ends up sounding like a confused up-tempo goth band with shouted vocals. The artwork is bland, two of the three songs drag on forever, and I don’t think the drummer plays a single fill. In CRAN’s defense, I’m not cosplaying as some wanna-be skinhead who could somehow conceive this as good. Giving it multiple listens for the sake of a fair review was one of the more arduous parts of my day.

Leather Lickers Spit EP

If you were in Melbourne, Australia and dug a hole all the way to the center of the earth and went straight on through to the other side, you’d end up in Cleveland, Ohio, which is in America. I have a degree in geography, you can trust me on shit like this. If the 9 SHOCKS TERROR compilation CD from Havoc Records is being played relentlessly in your car/van cause you’re too poor or stupid to buy anything else, if your reaction to someone pouring a beer on your head in any given situation is to punch them in the mouth, or if you still actually enjoy hardcore punk then LEATHER LICKERS may appeal to you. I honestly wish they played faster more often but beggars can’t be choosers.

Street Weapon Quick to Die EP

Multiple eras of ’80s New York street music are represented with nods to the ABUSED, A.F., and CAUSE FOR ALARM as well as breakdowns reminiscent of ALTERCATION and MADBALL. Aping the early NY sound isn’t exactly new or surprising but STREET WEAPON actually gains intrigue by doing a decent job of balancing the early and late ’80s styles without being tied down to anything. Ultimately the name is corny, the artwork’s forgettable and they provide another straight edge song about abandoning people with addiction issues but they’re also kids in high school so chalk it up to them being impressionable, possibly excitable boys. Buy it for a teenage punk in your life.

Taste the Floor Scam EP

The art reminds me of the Facts And Views 7″ by UPRIGHT CITIZENS, while the music makes me imagine this is probably what RAW POWER’s most current albums may sound like. This is thrash with a skatecore vibe. Quick guitar leads, plenty of palm muting and almost non-stop blast beats which make it feel like it should’ve been out on Party Time or 625 Thrashcore records. The vocalist has a Roger Miret quality to him and all true intensity is lost in the double kick drum and super clean production.

Litovsk I’ll Never Forget You / Dit Will Ik Nooit Vergeten 7″

I scoured MRR’s list of reviewable records and stumbled across this band I had never heard, and decided to review it based on the cover art: some youth soccer game with a kid going-one-on-one with the goalkeeper. “I’ll Never Forget You” has a tough rumble, making you think you’re dealing with some Oi!-type attack, and then the guitars come through with those big melodic strums. It all comes together like a quicker, leaner track off of Second Empire Justice. The B-side is more focused on getting goths to dance, with a drum machine and synth pushing the tune. Maybe I should break edge and do ecstasy or whatever club drug to really understand how the cover art relates to the music? I originally thought this was going to have a real running-down-the-back-streets vibe (I’m fine without it), but they use the soundbite of a football crowd much more subtlety than Cut the Crap-era CLASH. You’re gonna need this shit for your darkwave Instagram Live DJ set.

Subliminal Excess 2020 cassette

Listening to the first few tracks, I get the idea that if someone had never heard the RIVAL MOB demo but got handed this tape, they could maaaaybe think that this was it. It’s punk for devout capital-H hardcore kids. Mosh part, fast part (the catchiness and allure of such riffs haven’t made themselves known to me), then another fast part. SUBLIMINAL EXCESS, or “SEx” for short, don’t sound like they’re at their tightest, especially on “Psychotic Break,” and the final track “Burning Feeling” meanders for a minute with a noisy dirge, but then gets into a mid-tempo assault that would feel very modern if it wasn’t for the whispered INTEGRITY-like vocals that crescendo into Jerry A.-type growling. Nothing I write really matters since the tape already sold out, but then again only 100 were made. Is that a lot now? Does that make it a collector’s item? Is the market fixed? Regardless of those answers, it’s assured that demo-core is back.

Fried E.M. Modern World LP

It’s cool how unpretentious this record is. The band’s got no pedals or gimmicks to hide behind and no fake street politics or ideology to promote aside from a seething distaste for society and life. The vacant mindset is represented by the bare jacket art resulting in an extremely snotty record but the music isn’t as barebones as it may seem as FRIED E.M. operate in an interesting fits-and-stops manner. Some songs are rumbling blasts while others are more janky stop-go mutations with groaning bass, Ginn-esque guitar squeals and pummeling drums. It’s like they’ve scraped the grime and desperation from BLACK FLAG’s Damaged and thrown it onto a cleaner modern interpretation of MAD SOCIETY, the CIRCLE JERKS, the OVERKILL 7″ and other random L.A. punk bands. The A-side kinda lacks but the B really takes off. If you were into SCHOOL JERKS ten years ago, you can feel young again with this.

Haircut Sensation EP

When that two-step part comes back in with the ringing guitars on “Les Va a Tocar” I figured anyone with a spine would give HAIRCUT a nod of approval if they weren’t already moshing. The drums on “Seeking” hit like “High Places” by ZERO BOYS, and that’s tops baby. After the A-side I was like “yeah, this is fine” but the B has me wanting to hear it again. A good hardcore punk record.

The Annihilated 6 Song cassette

Maybe I’m completely making this up but I recall reading or being told that OUT COLD had written a good chunk of their stuff without ever hearing NEGATIVE APPROACH and refuted the idea that they ripped them off. Again, I could be mixing things up but ANNIHILATED sounds as if OUT COLD had indeed heard NEGATIVE APPROACH and were blatant in nodding to their inspiration. I’ve returned to this cassette much more than I expected to. True roots American hardcore played by fuckin Brits who, if they keep this up, will be flagrantly stealing our culture and heritage.

Ohyda Koszmar 12″

OHYDA’s songwriting is more experimental than most D-beat bands. The rumbling bass, heavily reverbed vocals, guitars shrouded in distortion, pace changes and a thick drum sound switching between D-beat and plodding, KILLING TIME-like primitivism strays far from the typical DISCHARGE worship. The blown out sound rings in my head like Finnish classics but the style is undoubtedly Polish with a driving attack that’s not afraid to sway into varying directions. The album includes two covers, one by an old Polish band called ABADDON and the other by PESD but if you hadn’t read the liner notes you wouldn’t have guessed these tracks weren’t originals, as both songs complement OHYDA’s style. Overall it’s a cool album that pushes things into an interesting direction and showcases the quality and ingenuity that these Polish bands retain.

Alien Nosejob HC45 EP

The first hardcore record I’ve heard in a long time that instantaneously made my eyes bulge. I’ve been brushing off every ALIEN NOSEJOB release as some quantity not quality shlock but this exactly the bright, rigorous, exciting hardcore I love. The vocals sound like Mike D. on the Aglio E Olio EP and the spastic, eye-twitching BAD BRAINS-style hardcore found on that ’90s BEASTIE BOYS release certainly lends some influence here. Reminiscent of bands like SOCIAL CIRCKLE, BIG ZIT and LAFFING GAS but it definitely sets itself apart.

Jackal Jackal EP

On first listen, I disregarded this as just another AGNOSTIC FRONT/NEGATIVE APPROACH/CRUCIFIX rip-off but it’s got a lot more going on. They definitely have some nods to the aforementioned groups but JACKAL cohesively twists and turns to layer their songs with changes of pace that AF and NA didn’t have the patience to attempt. D. Boon said there should be a band on every block, and I say every city should have a band that sounds like AGNOSTIC FRONT. At this point JACKAL may blow the rest out of the water. Four songs in under five minutes. It’s been ten years since URBAN BLIGHT released More Reality. It’s time to check back into hardcore reality.

Sleeper and Snake Junction & High LP

I pulled the trigger and bought this after only hearing “Sugar and Gold” which was enough to convince me it was worth it. This is a beautiful album that touches on some country, folk, lo-fi and experimental properties all written and performed by Al of TOTAL CONTROL, UV RACE and every other Australian band, plus Amy of CONSTANT MONGREL, TERRY, and others. I’m definitely not worldly enough to be able to tell you about the various influences but it just feels very well balanced and has tracks that put me at ease. It seems like they used every instrument at their disposal from guitars to horns to synths and electronic drums. They’ve got those SQUEEZE-like high and low vocals going on and overall it feels complimentary to old Flying Nun stuff. It doesn’t come across too kitschy and strikes a balance between simple melodic tunes and more experimental sounds. “Flagged” is probably my favorite here.

Brain Tourniquet Shot Dead EP

Both “Fate” and “It Takes Three…” nail INFEST’s sludgy, almost prog rock style to a T. The riff on “Shot Dead” and bits of “Paranoia” remind me of NO TOLERANCE, the little breaks in “Not Alive” are very INFEST-like, and the breakdown in “Animal Instinct” has a looseness that isn’t unflattering but seems uncommon for this genre. “No Solution” comes across as if the lyrics don’t fully fit, like the song could’ve used more work and was maybe rushed. I thought I’d be bored with it but the first four tracks on Side A had me coming back for repeated listens. It’s fucking powerviolence, OK?

The Cowboy Wi-Fi on the Prairie 12″

The simplicity of it all makes this hard to describe. Elements of HOMOSTUPIDS are apparent but this sounds even less blown out than the previous COWBOY release. Wi-Fi reminds me a lot of Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts in that it’s so simple and so catchy but there’s just little janky things that make it sort of odd, unconventional and seemingly unattractive. Imagine one those trippy SST Records “members of” groups but instead it’s What Makes a Man Start Fires-era MINUTEMEN combining with Metal Circus-era HÜSKER DÜ. That’s a bad description but you’ve got nothing but time now so you should just listen to it. Art by John Morton as well. An all-around great release.

Mustang Mind Wandering LP

Not as crushing as I’d hoped it to be. With six tracks it’s definitely got variety but it’s about two-thirds Burning Spirits-styled metallic rocking and about one-third hardcore. The hardcore tracks follow DISCHARGE-like song progressions while the songwriting is still fairly creative. The sound quality is dirty enough to feel true menace and power, which thankfully is not lost in too slick of a production. It’s pretty entertaining and warrants multiple listens but I’d imagine the live show is more enthralling.

Nabat Potere Nelle Strade LP reissue

NABAT is true Bolognese. Their music is thick and meaty while still glistening into a uniformed consistency. It’s hearty and warm and like most other things it’s been bastardized and ruined by Americans. If you’re not familiar with NABAT they’ve got a hefty Oi sound all their own with a mix of speedy UK82-inspired tunes and uniformed mid-tempo stuff, big woah-oh choruses and very gruff vocals. This isn’t a full reissue of all the band’s material, just their studio recordings, as some compilation songs, along with “Kill Police” and “Nichilist Nabat” which appeared on the split tape with RIP OFF, are missing. The roughness of the recordings becomes glaringly obvious moving from the smoothness of the Laida Bologna 7″ to the RIP OFF split tape recordings. Puke N Vomit tried but this reissue comes across like Sunday Sauce (half-assed and lackadaisical but ultimately pleasing to the many who buy a new pair of boots instead of performing upkeep on their flagship store Docs Martens). It’s not the highest quality but if you want to hear NABAT then this will cover you.

Cyanamid This Is Hell: A NJ Hardcore Anthology LP

New Jersey is a pretty interesting place. Listening to CYANAMID, you’d think it was literally just a gigantic six-lane highway allowing you to look at perpetually closed strip malls, Superfund sites and trash-filled streets. These kids sounded like they would’ve been throwing bricks and hatchets at Springsteen’s ’69 Chevy with the 396 as it raced by. Lines are to be drawn north to the GROINOIDS and SIEGE, south to TEDDY AND THE FRAT GIRLS and west to Crucifucks, Scratch Acid and Flipper CRUCIFUCKS, SCRATCH ACID and FLIPPER. I can’t imagine PSYCHO SIN could’ve existed without this band. Absolutely fucked up anti-hardcore. The accompanying booklet is pretty baller as well. The problem is that flipping this from A to B feels like you’re hearing the same shit and that doesn’t even take the bonus CD with live material from three different shows with similar set lists into account. An amazing collection that is not for the weak of heart.

Dum Dum Boys Let There Be Noise LP reissue

Let There Be Noise is a hard-to-find album of cut and bloody backstreet rock’n’roll from a sleepy town in Australia in ’81. The STOOGES, IGGY and British imports infected the minds of youth. I can see it now; sheep farmers rolling around in smashed beer bottles, cigarettes hanging from their lips, spitting as a new hobby, etc. “True Friend” comes off just like “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and I get heavily reminded of the stupid simplicity of COCKNEY REJECTS and SLAUGHTER AND THE DOGS throughout. In the Red does a handsome job with some retrospective writing and improved art. All trendy assholes with DJ nights should buy it and play it so all those violent skinheads on a rampage can bop around and have some fun.

Sweet Tooth Sugar Rush 2009 EP

This is from the era when everyone discovered powerviolence and completely lost their shit. Sugar Rush is very much of the time but it blows a lot of stuff out of the water with intensity and great musicianship. The focus is power through speed and the obliteration of everything. SWEET TOOTH’s speed was powerviolence-y but avoided the tough-guy attitude and when they slowed down it just allowed for hard-hitting mosh parts. It’s just an Adderall laser focus on destruction and pure fucking stupidity. I wish I got to experience it live. Also includes a hilarious retrospective booklet.

AI Backing to the Battle 12″

1997 demo recording released onto a one-sided 12″. The sound of hissing tape may have been engineered out, but this maintains that poorly-mixed quality of a hastily made demo. It sounds pretty raw, which is fine considering this is extremely abrasive hardcore. AI is about as straightforward as Japanese HC comes. The furious pace is really what’s on show, much akin to the singer’s previous band BANDIT, although the sound is reminiscent of Discrete Records bands like GAIZI or HUMAN DESPAIR. It’s only four tracks, which makes me question why it didn’t just get released as a 7″ or why no one dug up some live material to throw on the B-side. It’s got some of the better Sugi art in the last few years, considering every fuckin’ band with money to throw around started using his stuff, and it contains a booklet with old photos, flyers, and recent shows. Only 200 copies pressed on black, 100 on blue.

Heavy Discipline Demo 2019 EP

This demo pressed to vinyl contains five songs in six minutes. It’s straightforward Boston-style hardcore without being as precise as BOSTON STRANGLER or SHIPWRECKED’s The Last Pagans, but it feels like a close relative. The riffs are nods to the FU’s (“Stuck,” “Empty Worship”) and DYS (“You’re Good,” “Moment Won’t Come”), and although the drumming doesn’t have the absolutely spastic cymbal hits of the aforementioned bands, the drumfills still lend a lot to the sound and intensity. The first track has a mosh part that strikes me like STEP FORWARD, and the breakdown on “You’re Good” feels of the same ilk as BOSTON STRANGLER. Makes sense, as both bands pulled from the same deck of influences, but this feels less polished compared to the Primitive and Fire LPs. I’ll bet you could find Primitive for the same price as this 7″ now.

Peter Laughner Peter Laughner 5xLP box set

I knew PETER LAUGHNER from his guitar solo on “Final Solution” by PERE UBU, and bits I’ve read over the years on the Ubu Projex website. I read that Richard Hell book where he talked about LAUGHNER being a tryhard New York wannabe who could write a good song but was a loser because he took his own life, and for that, Hell spat on his grave. If anything, that made me want to listen to LAUGHNER more, and you’d be rewarded by doing so. His work was the next logical move on the timeline from BOB DYLAN to LOU REED / VELVET UNDERGROUND to TELEVISION. I sure as hell can’t write like LAUGHNER, and I’m not sure what he’d say about this rekindling of care surrounding his music and story, but in my immodest admiration, I gotta say: this is really fucking good. This boxset is incredible, considering that it delved so deeply into so many lost tapes, bootlegs, and unreleased recordings, and was able to produce a great sounding array of music spanning only a few years, but which possesses innumerable, unlikely and refreshing influences and ideas. I’ve never been a believer when people say “this artist transformed this song and made it their own,” but there’s an insane live version of “Heroin” here that LAUGHNER made all the more insane with his improvised guitar that made me lose my mind. This five-LP box set fetches a pretty penny, but seeing as copies of LAUGHNER’s self-titled and Take the Guitar Player for a Ride have asking prices a little under what this goes for, you may want to just pull the trigger here, considering you’re getting a larger quantity of music. The booklet containing photos and samples of his writing is fantastic as well. It’s simple but beautifully packaged. A curious coincidence on quality; both the PSYCHOS (reviewed below) and LAUGHNER cover “Summertime Blues” on their posthumous releases. Badass.

Articles of Faith Wait EP reissue

One of the best and at the time most inventive USHC 7″s gets the reissue it deserves, had Alternative Tentacles not already compiled all of AOF’s material onto Complete Volumes 1 & 2 in 2002. Is this a necessary move? I’m leaning towards yes. The ferocity of “I’ve Got Mine” and “Buy This War” can’t be understated and probably warrant the reissue in order to teach new-age bootleg shirt kids, egg punks, and chopped and screwed enthusiasts what hardcore is supposed to sound like. The album art comes across simple, almost completely inept until you open the meticulously made insert containing the lyrics to “Wait.” Bondi may have said some of the worst no-no words in the American Hardcore doc but he’s got some of the most brilliant lyrics of the era on show here.

Big Cheese Don’t Forget to Tell the World LP

Previously released material from a band who I chose not to listen to cause I thought the name was too stupid. A-side is their smoothly recorded 7″ and the B is their demo plus an extra track, all in the vein of RAW DEAL, the ICEMEN, BREAKDOWN and OUTBURST. This is hefty moshing hardcore with screeching lead guitar and is in my opinion the Parmesan of demo-core. There are some memorable choruses like “Pass the Buck” but overall the vocals come through in the quickened verses allowing you to give it 100% in the pit when CHEESE gets thick ’n’ heavy. The inventive riffing and patterns on “Glass in Your Foot” and “Aggravated Mopery” make me feel this is some of the best hardcore I’ve heard in years.

Psychos One Voice LP

Maybe you know the PSYCHOS from their song “Before” on the Big City’s One Big Crowd comp. Maybe you’ve seen old photos of NY street kids rocking PSYCHOS T-shirts with the illustrated colossal man who is either a) caught inside, b) attempting to smash, or c) struggling to uphold the name “PSYCHOS.” Maybe the Back With a Vengeance CD by post-PSYCHOS group TRIP 6 is your most coveted disc. Maybe I’m assuming too much about you, but even if you’re completely unfamiliar with the band, I guarantee you elation upon hearing these primitive hard-as-hell blasts of simplified rock’n’roll, which formed the basis of what we know to be NYHC. The music is raw, simplistic, hard, and extremely catchy. The breakdowns of “Blind Justice” and “Rejected Youth” are the basis of NYHC to come, while you could perpetually skank to the duration of “One Voice.” It’s not as rapid fire as classics like AGNOSTIC FRONT, ANTIDOTE, and CAUSE FOR ALARM, or inventive and odd as the MOB, URBAN WASTE and FATHEAD SUBURBIA, but like some of these aforementioned groups, the PSYCHOS have a definitive style all their own. As expected, the insert booklet and layout of the record is another top quality Radio Raheem production. This stands as a fantastic representation of NYHC at the time: unfashionable, raw, and eclectic. Praise be.