Romain Basset

Shit Tax World Demise cassette

SHIT TAX seems to be a band that has been going for more than ten years, but only bothered to release something last year. To each their own pace, I guess. The moniker gave it away a little: SHIT TAX is a punk-as-fuck band playing direct, punk-as-fuck music. I am reminded of ’90s US anarcho-punk bands a lot, like RESIST, BROTHER INFERIOR, or DEPRIVED. Fast and snotty punk rock with lyrics against the pigs, religion, and consumerism, and about trying to survive in a violent society without going insane. It’s not bad, but with all the songs sounding a lot like each other, I found myself losing focus halfway through the tape. It is not so easy to keep the listener engaged with such a straightforward punk rock sound, and I think the EP format would have suited SHIT TAX better. They must be fun live, though, and I’m sure the local studs-and-spikes brigade are into them. And they’ve got a raptor playing the guitar on their Bandcamp, which is a definite yes.

Cop an Attitude Cop an Attitude cassette

This tape is the first recording from this young band from Karlsruhe, Germany. Now, when I say young, I am talking about the actual band, since the members seem to have all played in other bands before, like ’90s hardcore unit DIAVOLO ROSSO (to be fair, the only band on their resumes I am familiar with). COP AN ATTITUDE plays fast, ’90s-style hardcore with hooks, tunes, and quite a variety of paces and moods (from emotional hardcore—the acceptable term for “emocore”—moments to fastcore) and political lyrics. The songs were recorded live at their rehearsal space, so you can infer that they are seasoned musicians who already know what they are trying to create. It is a little too “progressive” and clean to my ears and not raw enough (but I am half-deaf anyway, so that certainly affects my perspective). It sounds passionate and I can imagine quite a few people being into COP AN ATTITUDE, what with the current ’90s revival, but it is not my cuppa.

Sludge Toxic Misery CD

From the glorious point of view of 2024, a band calling itself SLUDGE is, depending on your perspective on punk paranomasia, either unfortunate or brilliant. Or both, actually. Of course, SLUDGE couldn’t have known that the term “sludge” would come to represent a whole musical subgenre. And, well, let’s all admit that it is objectively a good name for a punk band. This is definitely an obscure one, and details are scarce to say the least. What I can tell you is that this CD is a reissue of the band’s 1990 demo entitled Toxic Misery, released on Snake Den Entertainment, a label based in Pennsylvania. And that’s about it. But it only made listening to it even more mysterious and challenging. In a world where you have access to almost all of the music of all bands in a heartbeat, it is a pleasant feeling to just give a band a go without any prior knowledge, like a baby tasting lemon for the first time. And on the whole, I like what I am hearing. The band has that distinct late ’80s raw hardcore edge with throaty, angry vocals and a crunchy crossover feel on some songs. Obviously, the band completely belonged to the ’80s American hardcore school, and I am reminded of POISON IDEA in the vocal delivery and the punk beefiness of the songwriting. The filthy, heavy, and crusty metal number “Lost” is the clear winner for me. I cannot say I love it, and some of the tough guy hardcore moments are totally lost on me (that probably has to do with the fact that I am about as hard as a dead shrimp), but I am sure fans of old school USHC would fall for this. Good job by the label to unearth this rare recording from a short-lived band that was typical in the noble sense of the term.

Dead Name Dead Name cassette

DEAD NAME is a new fresh upcoming hardcore band from London—there seem to be a lot of them recently, lucky bastards—with a name and a cover clearly indicating you are dealing with a proper pissed-off queer/trans punk unit. I am told there are members of ÄTTESTOR (more on the political USHC side of things) and TRAIDORA (a solid one-woman queercore project with a distinct Spanish hardcore touch), so you can legitimately expect some raw hardcore punk aggression and political lyrics which is, indeed, what you find on this demo tape. What I did not expect, however, is the primitive evil metal vibe permeating the demo, adding something original to the otherwise rather classic stomping hardcore style, combining heavy, slow-paced moshing parts with fast and wild bits. The production is raw indeed, if not rough, so be warned that you won’t probably play this at your cousin’s birthday, but I think it fits the primitiveness and the anger of DEAD NAME. Imagine Quality Control HQ hosting a black mass with ETERAZ and GALLHAMMER as guests. And you’ve got to love the song “The Tories are Not a Vibe,” illustrating how horrible Sunak’s government is. I’ll keep an eye on them.

Rövsvett Den Stora Brakfesten CD

I have never been a sucker for live records. I can understand the relevance of releasing live recordings from ’80s bands since many then did not have the opportunity (or did not care) to do proper studio recordings but were excellent live, so a live LP somewhat makes up for this absence—ANTISECT is the perfect example here, without mentioning dozens of punk bands outside of the First World who often could not afford to record in a studio. Contemporary live albums are, however, something of a rarity, and the pressure is definitely on for the band because while you can work some magic in the studio thanks to modern technology, on stage you are basically naked, there’s no way out, and your mistakes will be there for all to listen to for eternity. It is like removing the filters on your selfies. RÖVSVETT has always been a band that I was familiar with but that I didn’t know well (their discography is significant), although I am aware that they have dedicated fans. This was recorded for the fortieth(!) anniversary of the band in July 2023, and this massive, impressive achievement must be saluted. How many hardcore punk bands can claim to be 40 years old; to have survived four decades? This is a GAUZE-level success. To me, RÖVSVETT was always that band that was Swedish but did not really sound like your typical ’80s käng band, although they certainly were raw and really fast in the ’80s which confers them something of a cult status. This album will absolutely delight and even move those who are already fans and know the band’s classics, and it is a decent listen if you’re just a casual RÖVSVETT listener like myself, but I would not recommend it as an introduction to the band.

Zdrajca Zdrajca CD

If you think that pronouncing the name of this band properly would prove difficult, just be aware that they are from Szczecin, a town that is notorious for being both the mighty WŁOCHATY’s hometown and a nightmarish word to read aloud. ZDRAJCA (meaning “traitor”) was unknown to me, and this first album was released on the well-established and respected label Pasażer. The band is clearly influenced by ’90s hardcore and, if the recipe is classic, you can hear a lot of variations, articulations, and details that are typical of that decade, back when punks strove to expand hardcore’s songwriting. While I am not a massive fan of that type of sound (overall, ZDRACJA is clearly influenced by heavy USHC), I have to say that it is a powerful and mean hardcore album with hard-hitting, aggressive sing-along choruses, but the band still manages to offer hooks and interesting changes of pace in order to bring something more narrative, versatile, and darker to the story they are telling. In fact, I enjoyed listening to the album, as it is just the right length for the style and all the songs have been carefully thought out (the Polish language also adding some additional intensity). Not a work I would buy for myself, but definitely a band I would expect to be devastating live. And by the way, I almost forgot to mention: I can actually pronounce “Szczecin.”

Não Não demo cassette

I was not late to the party for this one, as I was lucky enough to see NÃO play last summer in Hamburg and gladly enjoyed their short set of energetic hardcore punk. They were the opening band, always a tricky spot since most of the audience is generally busy downing cheap cans of lager (and Germany has a lot of these) outside of the venue, and they managed to keep things interesting. They did a good job and I was curious to see what this Bremen band with members of INFERNO PERSONALE would produce in the studio. I like the production, it has a genuine ’80s feel without too many fancy effects. The band is not trying to “out-distort” anyone, and the balance between contemporary fuzzy D-beat punk and raw ’80s hardcore is adequate. It has a simplicity that I find refreshing, and listening to these six songs is basically a pleasant experience, like a Sunday morning stroll in the park in good company. The vocals are really good here, raucous and angry, but still managing to get some tunes in all the mayhem (the sonorities of the Brazilian Portuguese language certainly help, it’s like the singers of POTENTIAL THREAT and TOŽIBABE going to a hardcore festival in São Paulo in 1984). I like the fact that they are not drowned in effects, just a bit of reverb and saturation which confer that ’80s touch that I mentioned. Musically, the recipe is tried and tested, DISCHARGE-influenced old school hardcore punk, but not exactly D-beat. It’s a revisit of classic peace punk like the ICONOCLAST and DIATRIBE, UNDERAGE from Italy, and definitely INOCENTES from Brazil. A good hardcore band worth keeping a watchful eye on.

Rejestracja Kontrola LP

Now, this is a long-overdue reissue of a band that is cult if you are Polish, and probably completely unknown if you are not. A tribute to REJESTRACJA was even released a couple of years ago, and that says something about a band’s status. Have you ever been to a gig in a foreign country and all of a sudden, the local band covers a song you have absolutely never heard but everyone goes apeshit and sings along to the lyrics, spills their glasses on your favourite shirt, and you’re just left with a sense of cultural irrelevance and curiosity? They would be that kind of cover. Every place has its local heroes, and Toruń’s REJESTRACJA was such an act in the early ’80s, back in the glorious days of Polish communism when being a punk was not a tea party and singing protest songs was legally forbidden. In these early days of Polish punk, the band was mostly known through live tapes and performances, notably at the legendary Jarocin festivals, because it was hard to release a proper record at a time when record labels were owned by the state. They only recorded one studio demo (entitled Kontrola) as a consequence, with a sound that can be said to be about as rough and direct as their live recordings. REJESTRACJA was undeniably snotty, angry, and energetic, and can be said to have been the fastest band of the country in 1982. It’s not all hardcore punk though, as the band had several songwriting tricks up its sleeves. You’ve got dark and mid-paced punk rock numbers with almost goth-style sung vocals typical of early Eastern European punk (“Tunel” and the incredible “Idzie Wariat Ulicą”), but also snotty and catchy dynamic punk rock songs with sing-along choruses (“Nowa Generacja” or “Perweriusz”), and of course those fast and frantic raw hardcore punk numbers (like my favourite “Armia”) that saw the band at its most energetic and ferocious—the drummer’s style is pretty amazing and he certainly like his rolls fast and manic for extra dynamism. On the Kontrola LP (which comes with a booklet with lyrics and pictures), five songs recorded live between 1981 and 1982 have been added as bonuses. They certainly have that distinct Polish style, but early Italian hardcore and bands like DISORDER or even CRASS do come to mind, and if you are a fan of early hardcore punk, you must give REJESTRACJA listen, and maybe even learn how to pronounce their name.

Ultimate Disaster Demo 2024 cassette

Before I even listened to ULTIMATE DISASTER, I already knew that I was highly likely to love it. Not just because the name is an absolute cliché (just like myself), or because the band is from Richmond and has members of DESTRUCT and HORRID PEACE, but because I knew that it would comfort me and validate my tastes, which is pretty much why I listen to new bands these days. ULTIMATE DISASTER plays orthodox D-beat, meaning they don’t stray far from the “te amo D-beat” philosophy. In fact, they stick to a very pure version of the formula, not so much aping DISCHARGE but emulating those aping DISCHARGE. Know what I mean? D-beat bands like ANGER BURNING or DEATHCHARGE or even HORRENDOUS. The sound is raw with a “live in the studio” feel, but it still sounds aggressive and impactful—not unlike ’80s peace punk, maybe. D-beat raw punk at its finest, and you can tell that ULTIMATE DISASTER knows exactly what they want to do and how to do it. The D-beat path is a well-trodden one that many think is easy but it is hard to do well something as seemingly and deceptively simple as a good DISCHARGE rip-off. It requires taste and faith in the beauty of the D, and this band has both.

Banda Des Femer / Svnya Talaiotik Attack split cassette

Two bands from Barcelona that I have absolutely never heard about (damn, I do get older) do a split tape together, and well, you’ve got to like it when local bands team up to release something. Sadly, this is not my cuppa at all. SVNYA reminds me of late ’80s Deutsch punk or early ’90s Mexican hardcore back when both genres were starting to become boring. The band definitely sounds like a Spanish band (especially the very special vocals, half spoken/half shouted). I am not really sure what the band is trying to achieve—you’ve got straight-up punk songs, some with a crossover metal punk feel, and the production is heavy but somehow lacks energy and aggression to really work. I am a bit harsh and I can see the band has a worthy political message, but their side is not for me. On the other side, BANDA DES FEMER delivers 21 short hardcore songs, and I actually quite like it. Simple and unsophisticated old school hardcore punk in Catalan with a raw sound that fits the genre. I am reminded of classic Spanish bands like HHH or ANTI DOGMATIKSS, and more recent bands like OTAN when BANDA DES FEMER goes fast, but I am unconvinced with their slower, snotty punk songs. You can tell the band has a lot of fun and they’ve got that youthful energy that makes their side worth giving it a try if you are into raw Spanish punk. This is the first recording for both bands, so they are bound to improve (or are they?). The artwork is punker than you.

Terminal Απολυταρχικές Απολαύσεις LP

Some people take the concept of DIY absolutely literally, and the man behind TERMINAL is one of them: he did it all by himself. TERMINAL is a solo project from Kifisia, Greece, and it is its second release after the rather good Θύμα Προπαγάνδας EP last year. It can be convenient to be a one-person band, as you manage everything without having to wait for your bass player who is always late or drunk or both, and therefore you can write a lot of songs fast and release records on your own one-person label. Απολυταρχικές Απολαύσεις is very much a continuation of the EP, with a heavier production and more guitars (the rocking vibe is more present). In terms of songwriting, TERMINAL aims at creating a käng-influenced hardcore punk sound, and overall, it is executed well enough and the LP makes for an enjoyable listen. The music is fast, but lacks a little pummeling power at times. I guess current bands like GOLPE, NUKIES, or RAT CAGE would be influences, but the atmosphere is somewhat different. I am a massive sucker for punk music sung in Greek, as this very peculiar language and its unique flows and sonorities always confers an angry vibe. Good, I love the vocals, but I find myself wishing for more aggression. I am confident that the next recording might provide just that.

Haavat Myrsky Nousee CD

This is one band I somehow totally missed until recently, although they have been going since 2019. I should have my punk radar looked at by a specialist; too much Japanese distortion might have damaged it, or there are just so many new bands to check that it has become humanly impossible to know them all, even with a radar as sensitive as mine. So I keep it simple and just pretend to know all the bands and nod confidently whenever an unknown band is mentioned in public, like everyone else. I don’t want to lose punk points. I was curious about this band since Mid from DEVIATED INSTINCT drew the cover (his style is very distinctive) and I was expecting some heavy metallic sludgy crust, but wrong I was. Mid also plays the guitar in the band, but HAVAAT plays heavy hardcore punk with brilliant energetic female vocals in Finnish (she used to sing in RAKKAUS) and a dash of crust. It is a rather straightforward affair, which is the whole point I assume, and I am reminded of ’90s and ’00s anarcho hardcore bands like OPERATION, PARAGRAF 119, or DETESTATION, and crustier British bands such as EXCREMENT OF WAR or RUIN also come to mind. There are a couple of mid-paced numbers reminiscent of old school Finnish hardcore, and even some slower dirty metal punk ones to bring some diversity, but overall the songs are beefy and fast-paced. There are seventeen tracks on the CD, and to be honest, it does feel a little long at times, because this kind of direct hardcore punk works better on a shorter format. HAAVAT could have easily gone for an album with the ten songs highlighting best of the several tricks the band has up their sleeves and it would have made for a more solid record. Less would have been more here. Not a bad album, the vocalist is an amazing singer, but a little long.

Locura / Pesticide split LP

This record is a bit like a time machine to the mid-’00s for me, an epoch when neocrust was still hot and many patch-worshipping bands started to experiment with epic, dark, melodic tunes, but also screamo and black metal. A time when I listened to and enjoyed the genre, but one that did not last too long in my case, as the genre’s cheesiness quickly bored me (I don’t mind cheesy, just not this kind). Since I don’t follow new neocrust or blackened crust or screamo crust bands, I am absolutely clueless about what’s hot these days in this little niche that still has a lot of devoted fans (the genre appeals to the emo crowd, too). The young PESTICIDE and LOCURA are good at what they do. The former is from Belgium and reminds me of MADAME GERMEN or FALL OF EFRAFA, which I suppose is what they are going for. A lot of different moods and changes of pace with long, narrative numbers. The latter is from the Netherlands, and is more direct and less polished. LOCURA is more balanced between modern hardcore and ’00s crust; they have that generally fast, brooding, and dark hardcore sound with melodies, but also a ’00s crust vibe. Let’s say they would feel at home between Biel’s PACK and Poland’s ANTICHRIST. Both bands have a genuine DIY political punk feel and the job is done. But they are not my cuppa.

Mass Extinction Never Ending Holocaust LP

This lot is serious, dead serious. It might just be an impression, but I feel that fewer bands sing about animal rights and the horror of slaughterhouses these days, while the topic was very popular back in the ’90s and ’00s. It sounds a little paradoxical, since more and more people these days question the meat industry and challenge conventional diets by going vegetarian or vegan, or calling their parents cruel murderers at dinner. The growing presence of the issue in the mainstream may have impacted its prevalence in traditional punk discourses: since it is in the mainstream, why bother dealing with it in our lyrics? Or is it just taken for granted nowadays, whereas it was still something of an oddity a few decades ago? Do punks still even care? I would think so—after all, vegan food is highly Instagrammable, which seems to matter a lot. But MASS EXTINCTION still cares about this important topic. A lot. These two brothers (they use a drum machine) are rightfully angry at all the abuse animals suffer at the hands of humankind, and to protest this systemic oppression, the band chose the most furious style there is in the punk universe: gruff, dual-vocal grinding crustcore. The sonic and political tradition that MASS EXTINCTION belongs to is old and obvious, namely EXTREME NOISE TERROR and DISRUPT, but with a significant grindcore influence, pretty much like a militant vegan version of MASSGRAVE. Beside the very apt songwriting, the anger and outrage on this recording are genuine, and that’s what makes it work so well. The band even manages to make you forget that they use a drum machine. Never Ending Holocaust was first released on tape in 2020, but it was just too good not to enjoy a vinyl release.

Haveri The End LP

This is one for the Swedish hardcore diehards, for the true followers of the käng cult, for those who worship at the CIMEX altar. HAVERI is completely unknown to me, which is not so surprising, as they were a relatively obscure band from the late ’00s/early ’10s to start with, and their only album, Into the Crypts of…, was released on a Mexican extreme metal label, so the distribution would not have been great in Europe (unless everyone knows the band well but no one told me, and I am going look like an ignoramus, or, god forbid, a poseur writing this review). The studio material on this LP was recorded in 2009, and there are also live songs from 2010 that sound about as good as the studio ones, which does indicate a high level of brute hardcore rawness. Sonically HAVERI was old school and lovingly looked at their glorious elders like early ANTI-CIMEX, early AVSKUM, or DISARM, but with a more distorted sound. I like how spontaneous the whole thing sounds, you can tell the band wanted to go straight to the point without fancy effects. This is fairly well-executed but a little too fuzzy for my taste, as this makes the songs less urgent. The vocals are a genuine strong point, I love the singer’s vocal tone and flow as they have a distinct ’80s vibe. Käng up your life.

3-Way Cum 1993–1998 2xLP

Punk has a long, complicated, not to mention fascinating, story with band names. Picking a proper moniker can be career-defining and allow you to sell a couple of shirts. On the other hand, a poor choice is unlikely to get you invited to the cool Insta-friendly hardcore festivals. 3-WAY CUM’s is head-scratching. I have always loved the band, in fact I consider them one of the best Swedish crust bands ever, but I still wonder why they went for this name, fitting for an obnoxious grindcore band but rather awkward for political crust. I am sure they are wondering, too. Does that keep me from wearing their shirt? Fuck no. The band started in 1993 with members of WARCOLLAPSE and SAUNA (who were stylistically very close) at a time when the D-beat and crust waves and the käng revival were seriously taking off in the country. In retrospect, it may seem difficult to find one’s way in this demented maze of DISCHARGE-loving gruff hardcore and locate the best bands of the era, the ones you would spontaneously recommend at your nan’s dinner party. 3-WAY CUM was one of those. The band managed to blend with ease the ’90s dual-vocal crustcore school of EXTREME NOISE TERROR or DISRUPT with the ’80s cavemen käng style of BOMBANFALL or SVART PARAD, and they significantly delivered great records during their five-year run, one LP and five EPs, among which were two splits with DEFORMED CONSCIENCE and ANOTHER OPPRESSIVE SYSTEM. They had that relentlessly savage, heavy, and dirty vibe, with vocalists reminiscent of bears fighting angrily over a pot of honey. A genuinely classic ’90s band, Scandicrust at its very best, and we should be grateful to Phobia for releasing the band’s full discography.

Gizon Berria Lurran Arnasa EP

One-man projects can be dangerous double-edged swords. If they are meant to reflect perfectly, to mirror the uncompromising artistic vision of one person, they are not without risk. Sure, we all hate it when drummers offer supposedly “good” ideas (as if they knew what they were talking about), or when the singer raises some doubts about your cracking five-minute-long solo, but then when you’re on your own in the studio composing everything, no one is going to warn you if the musical brilliance you just came up with is actually dross. GIZON BERRIA is a one-man band from the Basque Country and, on the one hand, I’m sure the EP achieved what the songwriter aimed at creating, so that it can be said indeed to be a coherent work. On the other hand, I don’t think the elements all work well together. GIZON BERRIA strives to create an occult, dark, creepy and menacing punk sound. It sounds like SLIMY MEMBER and GISM having a date at a witch convention, which could theoretically work—and I gladly admit there are some good riffs on the EP—but it falls a little short. I understand the concept of a hypnotic, pagan, macabre punk sound, but I don’t feel it. It would work better on a longer format with more narrative storytelling moments helping the atmosphere to settle, like the genuinely eerie outro, but on the EP format, it just sounds like a regular modern dark punk band, which I suppose is not the point. This said, it cannot be said to be a bad record, and I can imagine people being curious and even interested.

Tolive Live CD

This band from Kyushu Island was already included on the Downright Vulgarities compilation (also released on Black Konflik Records) that I reviewed a couple of months ago, and unsurprisingly, the band delivers seven new tracks of the traditional ’80s Japanese sound. To be honest, if you told me that TOLIVE used to be active between 1984 and 1987 and that this was a reissue, I would definitely believe you, especially if you caught me at my most gullible. The singer sounds exactly like your typical ’80s Japanese hardcore singer (think GUDON or GISM, obviously), and this confers a delicious vintage feel to the recording, which I suppose is what the band goes for. Musically, this is classically executed Japanese hardcore with those triumphant riffs and characteristic high-energy backing choruses that you can shout along to with clenched fists. The production is quite raw and simple so that it almost has a stripped-down feel, which may not be intentional. In any case, I think TOLIVE would have benefited from a more energetic and refined sound. The cover looks absolutely beautiful, though. I am not the biggest fan of this brand of traditional mid/late ’80s Japanese hardcore, but I am convinced this would appeal to the nerds who are.

Private Jesus Detector Nobody’s Master Nobody’s Servant LP

This is one that nobody expected: a new record from Bruges’ PRIVATE JESUS DETECTOR. I have always seen the band as part of a scale that can be used to assess the degree of nerdiness of a given punk. If one is cognizant with them, you know there is some solid knowledge of the ’90s crust and D-beat scene involved, and potentially the lovely prospect of a lengthy debate over the merits of SVART PARAD. You could say PRIVATE JESUS DETECTOR are something of a cult band if you are into primitive and raw European hardcore punk influenced by the heaviest brand of UK anarcho-punk and vintage käng hardcore. It is admittedly a small cult. I am always dubious when I am faced with new material from a band that split up 30 years ago (that was even before the SPICE GIRLS’ formation), because you never really know what you are going to get—a lot of old bands reform and record stuff that they would have been ashamed to listen to back when they were still relevant. But you can also be pleasantly surprised, and this Belgian powerhouse falls in the second category. The influences haven’t changed, and PRIVATE JESUS DETECTOR still works with the same basics, namely ANTISECT and ANTI-SYSTEM getting into a school fight with CRUDE SS and DISCARD (don’t worry, they all make peace and listen to EXCREMENT OF WAR by the end), but the sound is cleaner and clearer and it reminds me of how HELLKRUSHER has evolved. The band hasn’t given up on the vintage anarcho politics either, and the song “Serpent’s Game” shows they think critically about “the scene.” On the whole, Nobody’s Master Nobody’s Servant is a pretty good album and it does have a couple of genuinely hard-hitting numbers where the dual vocals work great together (a second singer, Vrokker from CHRONIC DISEASE, has been added for the album, and I’m always a sucker for those). Hopefully it might make people want to check out the earlier material, but I know full well that the ones who will listen to this new album are the ones who are already fans anyway, some of whom will whine that it doesn’t sound like the How Evil Can One Get EP from 1994 as if the band should have been frozen in the ’90s like a punk mammoth. I wish ANTISECT’s reformation sounded something like this LP.

Wolfbrigade Progression / Regression LP reissue

Before this review, I realized that I had not played WOLFBRIGADE for a very long time. And I am not sure why, because they have become something of a classic band, one of the few Swedish hardcore bands whose popularity transcends the DIY hardcore punk scene (in general, accusations of selling out are never too far away when this happens). It’s a little tragic but, while I do play WOLFPACK regularly, I don’t think I ever really sat down and paid properly attention to Progression/Regression, the band’s first album under their new name, and to be honest, I do feel like a bit of an idiot for it. This album is a hardcore bulldozer—it hits really hard, it sounds mean and unstoppable, as if darkness itself were shattering your bones. The production is massive (more so than on 1999’s Allday Hell), thick and heavy, and there is a feel of relentless unstoppability to the work that leaves one in awe. Intense shit. I am not necessarily the biggest fan of their take on the käng genre, but listening to this again makes me want to ride a bike into the wasteland wearing boots and a bandana. Musically, we’re still heavily in the dark hardcore period of the band when they maximized the late ANTI-CIMEX sound with the addition of a Swedish death metal influence in some guitar leads and in terms of epicness. I almost hear some of POISON IDEA’s rocking darkness at times too, although WOLFBRIGADE is quintessentially Swedish. This is undeniably a real ’00s hardcore classic and it still sounds fearfully powerful. Agipunk and Havoc Records had the sense to offer a new cover because the original was quite dreadful, if quite typical of the ’00’s. A welcome reissue.

Gargara Gargara cassette

Fuck me, this is mean. GARGARA (apparently meaning “gargle” in English) is from Buenos Aires, and this is their first recording. This all-female three-piece has the impetuous energy that characterizes young bands, who mostly (and rightly) focus on making a racket and shouting angry words instead of pedal boards and tuning. I wasn’t expecting something quite so raw, and on a second listen, I think I actually like what I’m hearing. This is genuinely primal, snotty as hell, sloppy at times, fast punk rock with that typically raging tupa-tupa Latino punk vibe. I am reminded of classic late ’80s Mexican hardcore punk bands like MASSACRE 68, SS 20, or XENOFOBIA, with something of the Medellin sound of DEXKONCIERTO. You could probably see GARGARA in the light of recent bands like IGNORANTES or INYECCION as well, who successfully built on that infectious, pogo-inducing punk sound. The gruff, screamed vocals are very aggressive and almost too extreme, as I sometimes had the impression I was listening to a demented black metal vocalist auditioning for a tribute band to ’89 Mexican hardcore, which at least is quite memorable. The last song, “Nada,” is the gem here, with some melodic(!) backing choruses providing the hook to otherwise pretty basic songwriting. But then, that’s the whole point of the genre. The perfect soundtrack to pogo like you’re sixteen again.

Extensive Slaughter More Than a Nightmare LP

Have you ever had to face a charging rhino? Unlikely, I suppose, but listening to EXTENSIVE SLAUGHTER’s first serving, entitled More Than a Nightmare, can be said to be the punk equivalent of wrestling such a monster, because you’ll similarly get bruised, trampled, and possibly abducted. However, if you emerge victorious in the fight, the trophy will be a crust album to rock to instead of a horrible stuffed rhino head to hang above your fireplace, looking judgingly at you for eternity. This new Vancouver-based unit took their name from an EXCREMENT OF WAR song, so it gives a pretty solid indication of what to expect. The production is thick, powerful, and makes the band sound like an unstoppable, pummeling, galloping force. EXTENSIVE SLAUGHTER reminds me of furious ’00s metallic crustcore bands like NUCLEAR DEATH TERROR or MAN THE CONVEYORS, as well as the more recent EXTINCT/EXIST from Melbourne or Sweden’s PARASIT. The band also adds some blastbeats here, and there are some genuinely thrashing metal moments to headbang to (the description says that some members play in death metal bands too, which makes sense). As an orthodox crustcore fan, I personally don’t think the death metal blastbeats really add anything to the songs, but I guess they work well enough and keep the energy level high, in a MASSGRAVE kind of way. The vocals are hoarse, shouted but not too forced, so that they have more of a Swedish hardcore feel rather than a gruff crust one, which would broaden the band’s appeal, I assume. This is a very solid Scandicrust record and a band I will keep my watchful eyes on.

Infekzioa / Reclusión Hau Da Zuen Askatasuna / Futuro Oscuro​ split LP

These are two bands I have been meaning to check for some time, so to be assigned this split LP for review feels like the perfect opportunity, something I was just destined to do. RECLUSION is from the Basque Country, Lasarte-Oria to be specific, and this is their first vinyl appearance. They play straightforward, pummeling, distorted hardcore punk with a lot of energy and a proper angry vibe, a bit like a date between classic Finnish and Brazilian hardcore at an authentic Spanish raw punk restaurant. The production is similar to a lot of contemporary distorted hardcore bands. I like the furious vocals in Spanish, but there is too much effect for my taste (the same can be said for far too many current bands), and it sounds a little mushy at times. I also think RECLUSION would benefit from a bit of variety in terms of speed and beat to keep the listener alert, as the songs sound a little generic. This is not bad by any means, as their eight songs pack a serious punch. Energetic, rabiozo, and genuine. A good first record. On the flipside, INFEKZIOA, from Barcelona and the Basque Country (the lyrics are in Basque), is an older band formed in 2012, and yet I have never properly listened or paid much attention to them. And what an arse I have been, since I really enjoy them—maybe more correctly, they are really enjoyable. This is radical, primitive, pissed raw punk at its best. Spain has a long tradition of DISCHARGE love, and it is easy to compare INFEKZIOA to bands like DESTRUCCION, FIRMEZA 10, or ’80s pioneers MG15. But I also hear that rough, noise-loving hardcore thrash sound of bands like RAPT, PLASMID, or ASYLUM and early proto-D-beat like UNDERAGE or DIATRIBE, but with a typical raw Spanish vibe like ANTI DOGMATIKSS or HHH. Alright, that’s a lot of name-dropping, but the band is good, and you can tell that they know what they are doing and how to do it. The guitar is very distorted, the bass fuzzy, the singer full of fury and snot, and the drummer beats the shit out of you. Overall, it is really a wonderful time and just simple, fast, raw hardcore music. A good split with one young, promising band and one that has mastered its craft. 

Attaktix / Stranguliatorius split LP

How often do you get the chance to review a split record between two bands from Vilnius? In fact, depending on how attentive you were during geography class, you may even have to quickly check Wikipedia just to be sure. I don’t know much about the current Lithuanian DIY punk scene, but I am always eager to learn in order to shine at dinner parties, so this split LP comes properly handy. I am usually a little scared upon reading the “grind” tag when it comes to bands’ descriptions, because I am not exactly a grindcore lover, especially if it gets technical, but ATTAKTIX is really good. I was a little skeptical at first hearing the blastbeat moments, but in the end, I think it does not distract because they are not overwhelming. If the grindcore influence is obvious (even in terms of production), ATTAKTIX resides on the metallic käng side of the river. They are heavy with a perfect guitar tone, really tight but still very much hardcore punk which makes them sound wild and angry. I am reminded of the potent, relentless vibe of bands like DRILLER KILLER or WOLFPACK, with added blastbeats and a CELTIC FROST influence in terms of grooviness and vocals, not unlike what AKRASIA is up to. The last song, eerier, is brilliant. It’s a win for me. I must confess that I was afraid STRANGULIATORIUS would be totally out of my comfort zone, but I enjoyed their five songs, even though I suck at death metal. Again (and thank fuck for this), the band does not sound all technical and remains on the punk side, although they undeniably belong to the old school death metal category. They sound primitive and filthy and almost grave-like enough to appeal to lovers of metallic crust like myself, with their dirty guitar sound and gruff, guttural vocals. I can picture STRANGULIATORIUS sharing the stage with TERMINAL FILTH or CANCER SPREADING and definitely making sense. Overall, this is a pretty strong record that can be played in a festive environment, especially if you never want to get invited to your in-laws’ again. Recommended.

Kontaminate 8 Songs cassette

This lot is from Richmond, home of many a good band, and this is my first contact with them. I am a little torn over this one because I am not sure what KONTAMINATE is really trying to pull off. Technically, raw D-beat hardcore is a style I literally feel at home with, as I have a room in my palace that is exclusively dedicated to the genre. KONTAMINATE strives, as far as I can tell, to locate themselves at the crossroads between snotty American hardcore and ’80s DISCHARGE-influenced hardcore. When they manage to sound like early FINAL CONFLICT or recreate BODY COUNT’s raw angry sound, I think they are great, but there are songs that I feel sound a little disjointed and lacking direction. But then I have never really cared for traditional ’80s US hardcore, so it could be me. One thing KONTAMINATE is undeniably good at is the recreation of an almost perfect raw ’80s hardcore sound, warts and all. Eight songs in about ten minutes, so you know what you are in for. Urgent hardcore worth keeping an eye on.

暴力装置 (Bōryoku Sōchi) Corruption of the Lawful Violence CD

This is another release on the very active Black Konflik label (a passionate enterprise indeed), with yet another Japanese hardcore band that I am clueless about. Which, in fact,  is a lovely feeling, as it allows me to register new bands, expand my knowledge, and give me new opportunities to outshine (if not outcrust) the competition during important punk social events like the annual Punk Nerds Symposium. I was expecting 暴​力​装​置 (BOROYOKU SOHCHI) to deliver Burning Spirits hardcore but, beside the song “State Power” that does abide rather gloriously by the epic standards of the genre, the main influence is beefy Swedish hardcore. The vocals are right between BASTARD’s Tokurow and CIMEX’s Freke. The riffs and overall songwriting clearly point to ’90s ANTI-CIMEX and the bands that worked on that specific angle, like NAILBITER or early WIND OF PAIN (to name just a few). I am not convinced by the production though, there is too much reverb on the vocals for me and the sound sometimes makes me feel like I am listening to the band underwater. I think it would have sounded more powerful and impactful with less effects. Still, it does the job, I really like the vocal tone, and I had a good time listening to the five songs, so I may just be an ungrateful bastard like my dad always told me when I skipped classes.

Torture Agenda Catalyst for the New Homo Sapien cassette

Yet another unknown band knocking at my door just before Christmas, asking for a merciful review that would pave their way for glory. TORTURE AGENDA is from Buffalo, and the first impression of them is one of evil roughness. We are not talking about the pretense of rawness that many bands revel in these days—no, TORTURE AGENDA is genuinely raw, primal, and probably paying the studio by the hour so that they did not arse around during the session and arrive late to a goat sacrifice or somethig. I enjoy this more than I thought I would. The band is fast and the songwriting is simple (if not basic), not unlike early extreme metal back when it was still highly influenced by hardcore punk, like demo-era POSSESSED or SEPULTURA when they still had acne. But TORTURE AGENDA is a punk band, and they also have that rotten crust vibe, especially in the aggression of the female vocals (maybe like EXCREMENT OF WAR’s?). The overall threatening primitiveness is, I’d suggest, an aesthetic choice, and given the template, it works. I am not sure I could listen to a whole LP, but the six-song tape format is appropriate. I love the artwork, it has that ’80s serious cheesiness that defined extreme metal’s visuals. However, what is the person in the background holding in their Bandcamp profile picture? It looks like a paint roller.

V/A Downright Vulgarities CD

Alright, this is an interesting one, a CD compilation with five Japanese hardcore punk bands I have never heard of. The bands are all from Kyushu Island so that the project is regional, and area-based compilations are often the best way to discover current local scenes. Overall, all the bands’ recordings display that distinct spontaneousness and urgent sound that characterized the traditional Japanese hardcore sound that ruled the country between the late ’80s and the mid-’90s (like LIPCREAM, NIGHTMARE, OUTO, and the like), and still does. The winner of Downright Vulgarities appears to be M.V.11 (meaning MAXIMUM LEVEL 11, that did crack me up) because they are the band that displayed the highest level of energy, the most effective and epic choruses, and that triumphant vibe that goes hand-in-hand with the genre. Despite not being comprehensively cognisant of that type of hardcore (B2 level I reckon, one cannot excel at everything), I suppose the listener is bound to expect it to have that fist-pumping vibe, and a lot of songs on this CD do. A special mention also goes to ABSURDITIES with their super snotty punk vocals (almost SWANKYS-like) and their intense speed. I still see Downright Vulgarities as an album primarily aimed at the biggest fans of traditional Japanese hardcore who want to keep up with where the genre is at a given point in time and in a specific location. If you are just a casual, albeit rather educated listener, eighteen songs might be a bit much for you.

Verdict The Rat Race LP

There are bands that you feel you have known forever—recent ones, new ones even—because you are already so familiar with what you know they are going to offer, familiar with the anticipation and the need, with the pleasure you expect them to, quite rightfully, provide the masses (by which I mean people who have once considered calling their first-born Käng). VERDICT is such a band. It has members of MEANWHILE, NO SECURITY, WARCOLLAPSE, 3-WAY CUM, TOTALITÄR, and too many other bands, and even though I have never actually met any of them, I still have had more interactions with them through (over)playing and rocking to their records than I have had with some members of my family, which, to be honest, is definitely for the best. VERDICT is a rather new (but experienced in the things of the D) käng hardcore band, and they know exactly what they are doing and how to do it. Had they produced something different, that would have completely taken me aback—something horrendous like ska-punk would have made so little sense that I would have had to quit punk altogether. Alright, what about The Rat Race, then. This is the follow-up to last year’s Time to Resign, and this one has even more punch, fury, and pummeling power than its predecessor. Unoriginal, in a good way, and thoroughly checking all the correct boxes: the drumming is pure and relentless, the riffs’ efficiency is religiously executed in a “Scandicore 101” way, the vocals are angry, direct, and raspy. Think a joyous orgy between NO SECURITY, UNCURBED, and TOTALITÄR. This is the kind of record that makes the world a better place to rock. Thank you Phobia Records. Käng up your life.

V/A Screaming Death LP

I could bet my shirt that this LP will be featured on a lot of top ten lists this year. This album has everything. It looks absolutely brilliant with its Burning Spirits-inspired cover and a clear nod to some classic Japanese hardcore compilations; it has a great title; it has a cracking lineup with four popular hardcore bands. On paper this is a sure win, the kind of record that might become a classic, assuming the quality reaches the inevitably high expectations. When you buy a sixteen-song album with four songs each by DESTRUCT, SCARECROW, DISSEKERAD, and RAT CAGE, you are entitled, as a spoiled materialist, to expect the best of raw hardcore, a “special record.’’ Is it as good as it should be then? I suppose so. It is as good as I expected, but it is not better than I expected and, clearly, such a record can be expected to be better than expected. Do you know what I mean? Alright, let’s start with DESTRUCT, possibly one of the best bands in the US right now. This Richmond band has the craziest hardcore punk drummer around—the man is an octopus and punishes the listener with a pure and relentless D-beat attack seasoned with insane drum rolls, conferring the songs extra energy and a vibe of madness unleashed. I am sure they must tie the bastard to his bed at night so that he doesn’t hit things in his sleep. The music is close to what FRAMTID offers in terms of sheer intensity and anger (and drumming), which is no small compliment. The vocals and many anthemic choruses and riffs point to more traditional Japanese hardcore like BASTARD (the most obvious and redundant comparison), and the blend is brutal and compelling. DESTRUCT is a tough act to follow, and Raleigh’s SCARECROW does their best to keep the aggression level high. They are one of the most solid TOTALITÄR-influenced bands around (and there are many of those), and I like the fact that they don’t try to go for the rocking side of the genre but keep the käng raw, direct, and angry, like INFERNÖH used to do, but with a more blown-out tone (almost crasher hardcore), more so than on the previous EP and with the great pissed female vocals more to the front. On the other side, actual Swedish band DISSEKERAD shoots first and unsurprisingly sounds just like themselves. Classic käng done right with craftsmanship and (a lot of) experience. TOTALITÄR meets NO SECURITY. A walk in the park, not an adventurous one, but one you’d be ready to take every weekend. Finally, RAT CAGE from sunny Sheffield closes the show and offers four songs of…TOTALITÄR-inspired hardcore punk. Fuck me if I saw that coming. They are arguably the hottest band in the genre right now and, contrary to SCARECROW or DISSEKERAD, RAT CAGE goes right for the rocking side of the käng school with nods to SKITKIDS or UNCURBED. It’s a bit much for me at times, but in terms of energy and anthemic songwriting, they certainly deliver, and they do show a bit of variety in these four songs, the last one sounding almost like a pogo punk number, like the CASUALTIES suddenly converting to käng hardcore. It is a strong album, and I believe the format serves the songs well and displays cohesion and coherence between the bands. Let’s just say that it makes sense. Arguably too much TOTALITÄR worship going on, but then that’s what punks crave, I suppose.

Bipolar / Nukelickers Death by Desperation split EP

The internet says that listening to NUKELICKERS may severely damage one’s auditory receptors, but as usual, the internet tends to blow things out of proportion—if you are a real punk, that should not scare or inconvenience you in the least, more so if you chose to listen to the band knowing full well what you were in for. They’re called NUKELICKERS for a reason, it’s like SHITLICKERS going atomic. NUKELICKERS is truly the death of music, I guess in a good way. I could not stand more than eight minutes of the band, and that would already be considered a prolonged listen, but the three-and-a-half minutes of noise on the first side of the split EP feels exhilarating and liberating after a day at work doing as little as possible. This is actually a Berlin-based solo project aimed at destroying preconceived views of what music is supposed to be like. The drums are far too loud, with the crash cymbal being the real star of the show, the guitar is distorted to the max, and the bass sounds like a drunk plane. There is an element of crude, primal Swedish mangel like SHITLICKERS, obviously, but it goes further (or deeper?), and is certainly sweet on old school noisecore like ASYLUM, BIGADA DO ODIO, or RAPT. Strangely hypnotic. On the other side, BIPOLAR is a band from Greenland. Yes, Greenland. Etah City to be accurate. I don’t think I even knew of a punk band there before BIPOLAR. That’s what makes international punk magical, so magical in fact that BIPOLAR happens to worship at the international church of DISCHARGE like myself. With a font copying DISASTER’s, you already know if you are going to like the band’s four songs. Besides the Brits, DISCLOSE appears to be a solid point of reference, and I am reminded of some ’90s Swedish bands like HARASS or DISHONEST. The music sounds a little sloppy at times, which is fine for the style and confers a proper punk feel. They are not the best at this brand of distorted, orthodox D-beat, but they are certainly good enough for me. This is D-beat for the D-beaten. BIPOLAR is a pretty prolific bunch, and there are more recordings on their Bandcamp if you think you are DIS enough. This modest EP reeks of the true DIY punk spirit, it is a short run so don’t sleep on it if you are a die-hard.

Misery The Early Years LP

MISERY is the perfect example of a band most punks know by name, but aren’t necessarily familiar with their full discography. Few bands can claim to have the endurance of MISERY. Active since 1987 (I read they recently practiced after some years of silence), MISERY has survived several decades of punk trends, some of which haven’t aged half as well as Minneapolis’s loudest, through their unshakable loyalty to the old school crust genre. Initially highly influenced by the original crust sound that rose in Britain in the mid/late ’80s (especially AXEGRINDER, AMEBIX, and HELLBASTARD), MISERY went on to create their own sound and epitomize not only what old school crust could and should sound like, but also what dirty vibe and visceral tension it had to convey. With their raw and heavy chugging, apocalyptic, polyphonic stench-crust, MISERY became the ultimate crust band. They outcrust the competition. Where all the bands appeared to split up and give up, not to mention take showers, they remained standing (depending on the amount of special brew, let’s be fair), loyal, faithful to their first love and evolving, growing with it, like a healthy couple. Sure, just like in a relationship, some moments were better than others, but MISERY and crust never went their separate ways. They are crust lifers. Many contemporary crust bands owe a lot more to MISERY than they think, and I am under the impression that they don’t always get the credit they deserve in terms of songwriting, as they showed that you could pen heavy metallic crust songs and be inventive and even (gasp) catchy. And you won’t find a better bass sound in an old school crust band. Early Years gather material released between 1989 and 1996 on the first three EPs of the band (minus the live one), along with the lesser-known two split EPs with ASSRASH and HELLSPAWN. Absolutely essential, not just if you are into the genre, but if you are interested in punk history as a whole. In an epoch when the average lifespan of a new band is 24 months, there aren’t many die-hard bands like MISERY anymore. Agipunk took care of making this flawless, wonderful soundtrack for the end of the world available to the punters, and it is an ideal entry to the band’s world. Don’t be a poser. Get this.

Poison Tribe Allie Sessions demo cassette

At least the band picked a good name, which is always a nice first impression. POISON TRIBE comes from Denver, and from what I can tell, they are a relatively new band, as Allie Sessions is their second demo tape. Let me warn you that the sound is definitely raw and primal on this recording, which certainly doesn’t bother me (quite the contrary). Let’s just say that it genuinely sounds like a demo, not those fancy demos that get reissued on vinyl—no, the real no-arsing-around kind, warts and all. I have no idea if the people in the band have been active for long in our glorious punk scene (a polite way to inquire about how ancient they are), but I detect a sensible early ’00s political punk feel on this demo, from back when George W. Bush was thought to be the biggest villain the US of A would ever have. I enjoy this tape, more than I thought I would. As mentioned, it conveys the vibe that was so prevalent in North American ’00s crusty political hardcore, not dissimilar to California bands like AGAINST//EMPIRE, DISSYSTEMA, HOLOKAUST, or the mighty ARMISTICE though they started in the ’90s (POISON TRIBE has similar crunchy metallic breaks). For some reason, I am also reminded of a less Eurocrust SILNA WOLA—clearly a compliment in this quarter—but that could be because of the vocals that take a bit of time to get used to. This recording, although cruder than the first one, is a clear improvement in my book, and I am curious to see what POISON TRIBE could achieve with a more cohesive story to tell on an EP.

Skotos EP 2023 cassette

This sounds like a garage band in the best sense of the term. I can definitely picture SKOTOS playing a wild gig in a tiny, damp, illegal venue with 50 people in a room that can barely fit 30—the kind of gigs where you are not just getting drenched in beer, but also in other people’s sweat because the venue is so tiny that there is nowhere to hide from your neighbour’s nasty armpits. Listening to this new tape EP, I can also imagine SKOTOS actually living in a New York garage. There are a lot of things going on here and, were it not for the genuinely raw and minimal aggressive hardcore production, I think they would lose me rather quickly. I enjoy the faster hardcore punk bits, especially the opening song “Penny for Pound” with its early FINAL CONFLICT/BODY COUNT vibe, but I don’t care for the heavy NYHC moments (but then to be honest, I never care for any). There are hints of powerviolence as well, especially because of the versatility, the threatening mean vibe of the songs, and the brutal changes, which works well on the whole. The ten-minute running time clearly fits with SKOTOS’s style. Typically the kind of band I would go see live expecting gladly to be punished with intense hardcore music, but I would not get their record (unless they are a friend’s band, in which case I feel guilty not to). All in all, a solid and very enjoyable hardcore band that can stylistically appeal to a lot of people, but might alienate a few for its deranged, raw production, which I would argue is precisely why the music works here (a clean production would have me run for my DISCLOSE records).

Decade World Stops Turning LP

There are records you wish you could love and yet fail miserably at doing so—I wish I could enjoy DECADE’s World Stops Turning, because people who do seem to have a lot of fun doing it. And technically I should be able to. On paper, I am the prototype of someone who should be into this LP. I love DISCHARGE, I love DISCHARGE-worship and its science, its self-awareness. The thing that loses me on this record is that, although it aims at replicating the embarrassing parts of DISCHARGE’s career, it is still dead serious. Which beats me: the ridiculous-sounding vocals should be celebrated as such (that’s what THISCLOSE did very well, a respectful parody). Once upon time, DISCHARGE’s Brave New World was rightly seen as a shit record, one that was best forgotten about and even denied it existed at all, as it tarnished the legacy of arguably the most influential band in punk’s history. From 1984 on (and I am being kind, as on a bad day I would almost throw in 1983 as well), DISCHARGE had become a farce and, assuming they were to be remembered at all, the guilty records were stuff to have a laugh with (just try to karaoke “Ignorance” and you’ll understand). It was the ’80s after all, and many bands went shite. Still, DECADE is undoubtedly a talented band, and they nail the 1984–86 DISCHARGE songwriting to a tee. All the songs are mid-paced, thrashing heavy metal with the Cal-like odd prosody, accentuation, and scansion. If you are into “Born to Die in the Gutter” and “The More I See,” as well as the even less respectable follow-up, then you will adore this LP. It reminds me of FINAL BOMBS in terms of obsessiveness and source material. World Stops Turning was originally released on CD, and this vinyl version is adorned with an ace-looking cover by Sugi. But if you have never listened to DECADE, I suggest you land the split LP with FATUM, as it is a more diverse work that tells a proper story, and the aforementioned DISCHARGE parts actually fit well. I wish I could enjoy it, but I may just be a boring bastard after all.

Arsenico Reign of Fear EP

This recording takes me back a little, just enough to feel nostalgic, although I would struggle to pinpoint the cause of this slight but nonetheless real melancholia. It could be because ARSENICO’s style reminds me of the ’00s, a pivotal time for yours truly, back when things felt fresher and receding hairlines were just a distant, albeit dreadful, prospect. This lot come from Sydney and appear to be a new up-and-coming band, as Reign of Death is their first record, and I must say that it does not quite go the distance. Clearly, judging from the title of the songs like “Forced Motherhood” or “White Fears,” the band has something of value to say and deliver, but overall the recording lacks in power and focus. I understand that ARSENICO wants to go for that anarcho crust/thrash vibe (I am reminded of CLUSTERFUX or WORDS THAT BURN or even APPALACHIAN TERROR UNIT), and there are moments, especially when they vigorously beat the D, when it works, and some of the moshing thrash parts are pretty energetic. The dual vocals, however, sound a bit monotonous by the end of the EP, and with the lyrics being quite long, this is not something that you want. This said, I do believe there is some potential, and ARSENICO definitely sounds like they believe in what they do, which is what matters.

Black Dog Overthrow EP

I cannot say I really like the moniker BLACK DOG as, for some reason, it immediately evokes images of tough metalcore lads who wear beanies and spend a lot of time looking unironically hard. But this BLACK DOG is absolutely amazing, right kick-up-the-arse amazing, the sort of amazing that can resurrect the pair of crust pants you discarded years ago because you do get a bit fat with age. Distracted me had only vaguely heard the first demo and, partially because of the name (I know, I know, the book, the cover and all that), I just did not pay much attention. But this band from Halifax, Canada is the real deal, and I don’t know what they put in the water in Nova Scotia, but the locals always deliver when it comes to jaw-dropping punk music. Unsurprisingly, BLACK DOG is made up of members of ZYGOME and FRAGMENT (Overthrow is not so unlike the latter’s 2016 demo, actually), and they play distorted crasher-style raw hardcore of the highest quality. The sound is not exaggeratedly blown-out like some of their Japanese counterparts, but is rawer with an organic, almost cavernous texture that I really enjoy. Similarly, the guitar still has some crunch and is not completely lost in distortion, and overall you can sense the anger and the intensity amplified by the crusty gruff vocals. I suppose you could file BLACK DOG along contemporary bands like PHYSIQUE, ASPECTS OF WAR, or the newly formed KINETIC ORBITAL STRIKE, but I hear a stronger Swedish influence, albeit by way of FRAMTID arguably (especially in the riffing), and I caught myself thinking about NPG or GIFTGASATTACK and even some classic ’90s käng bands (like SAUNA or something) that would have been left in a Crust War Records marinade overnight. Very aptly executed, and everything you are entitled to expect from the best representatives of the genres. Another great one from the always reliable Halifax punk scene.

Kinetic Orbital Strike Rotten Lies EP

Fuck me, I have to admit that I really have been blessed this month with the recordings I have been assigned, as they are all right up my alley. I was right to sacrifice three cans of lager and an AMEBIX patch to the Gods of Crust, as my wishes were quickly granted—I hope my prayers for protection against ska and shoegaze also worked. The moniker KINETIC ORBITAL STRIKE apparently refers to a modern military technology, “the hypothetical act of attacking a planetary surface with an inert kinetic projectile from orbit,” and not a ninja move as I initially thought. I was relieved to find the actual definition as Google only pointed me toward World of Warcraft at first, which kinda filled me with a sense of gloom (and sadly not of GLOOM). The name might be a bit of a mouthful, especially around 2:00 am, but this Philadelphia band (with members of the mighty POLLEN or IMPALERS, among many other bands) unleashes that familiar brand of brutal, distorted, noisy discore that we have all grown to love (right?). They sound like the almighty FRAMTID teamed up with COLLAPSE SOCIETY and FEROCIOUS X in order to borrow DISCLOSE’s gears and flair in order to inject more DISCHARGE worship into their Japanese käng tornado, with a spoonful of HORRENDOUS, too. The drummer is on bloody fire on this recording, I have rarely heard such manic rolls and the insane level of intensity takes one’s breath away. They manage to keep that urgent, raw vibe and still sound punishingly heavy (my very angry neighbour banging on the door would not disagree). Angry hardcore at its best, and the self-released version (Phobia Records will take care of the European one) has an ANTISECT-inspired wheat logo on the back which checks yet another one of my romantic boxes. Top-notch hardcore.

Régimen de Terror Disputas EP

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the D-beat, here comes RÉGIMEN DE TERROR’s second EP. The overcrowded genre can be said to be the victim of two major identifiable flaws—it can be overproduced and thus completely miss the point of a style based on raw primitive aggression (although it might certainly appeal to a larger audience), but it can also be drowned in far too many effects on the guitar, vocals, and just about everything, turning the subtle art of the D into a pedal board exhibition (without mentioning that it sometimes sounds like a fight between your dad’s drill and a drunk goat). Basically a Spanish side project, RÉGIMEN DE TERROR is for purists in the sense that their music is pure, absolute, bare, primal, unrefined, and unpolished, close to the D-beat Valhalla and yet without sounding like they tried too hard. The songs epitomise the delightful predictability, the miraculous imitativeness, and the delicious unoriginality inherent in the style in its pure embryonic form. This is D-beat for the true DISCHARGE lovers, and for the lovers of DISCHARGE lovers. Spain has a long and healthy tradition of well-executed genuine raw D-beat bands (like DESTRUCCION or ATENTADO), but I would rate RÉGIMEN DE TERROR higher. Why-era DISCHARGE, DISASTER, and proto D-beat bands like MG15, SUBVERSION, or VIOLENT UPRISING come to mind. Simple, tastefully obvious riffs, crude, aggressive, spontaneous vocals, a classically executed beat, a buzzing bass sound. On an existential level, this EP, released on Roachleg Records in the $tates and La Vida Es Un Mus in Europe (the latter proving they can still deliver the goods in terms of primal hardcore), is exactly as it should be. A serious contender for the much coveted award for Most Orthodox D-Beat Group.

Disaffect / Sanctus Iuda Fuck All Borders split LP

To many punk veterans, this one will feel like a ’90s wet dream, like a time machine to a different—and yet not so different—DIY punk scene. I am a little too young for rose-tinted glasses since I got into anarcho-punk in the early ’00s and both DISAFFECT and SANCTUS IUDA had already split up, although I was aware of both band’s relevance and importance. DISAFFECT was quite popular in France and definitely a favourite of mine, and even though I don’t play them that often these days, I was a very happy (not to mention emotional) lad when they played in Paris this year and realized I still knew all of the words. If you have never heard the Scots, they epitomise all that was great about ’90s political punk, and if you were to illustrate what that sounds like, just introduce DISAFFECT: genre-defining fast, thrashing hardcore punk with anarchist lyrics and absolutely brilliant dual male/female vocals (Lynne’s voice is so unique). It also works with HOMOMILITIA, FLEAS AND LICE, or ANTI-PRODUCT. Of course, this new recording sounds cleaner than their old material, which makes sense as you cannot really expect people to stay exactly the same as they were 25 years earlier with the very same instruments and gear and even shirts and haircuts. DISAFFECT’s songwriting is pretty similar, maybe a little more tuneful and intricate which is a wise choice, and does not sound like a parody of itself. At times, the modern production is a bit too clean for my taste, but overall it still sounds aggressive and angry enough as the band has not lost any of their bite and politics. A solid first side. On the other side is SANCTUS IUDA, who belonged to the same generation of cracking Polish crust bands in the ’90s as the aforementioned HOMOMILITIA, SILNA WOLA, or HOSTILITY—a prolific scene and one of the genre’s major strongholds in Europe at the time. On this new recording, SANCTUS IUDA (who I incidentally also saw after they reformed) do not sound as openly anarcho-Eurocrust as in their glory days, as they lie more on the dark hardcore side of the spectrum with an ’00s epic vibe that is almost reminiscent of Spanish neocrust. You can sense the anger, but the band loses me a little with this change of direction. Don’t get me wrong, SANCTUS IUDA is still at home with the crust punk sound and aesthetics, and I enjoy the global moodiness, but I suppose I was expecting something different. Both bands have meaningful lyrics and the title of the LP, Fuck All Borders on both sides, could not be clearer. Fuck the borders indeed. Refugees welcome.

Asylum Closure CD

In Stoke-on-Trent, no one can hear you scream, I guess. Closure is a discography CD of Stoke’s most feared punk band of the ’80s, ASYLUM. With 31 songs of rough-as-fuck, noise-loving, sometimes barely listenable UK hardcore, this is definitely not an easy one, especially since the running order is sometimes a bit random and you don’t always know which songs are taken from which sessions (assuming it really matters). Even I could not take the thing in one sitting, and I am a resilient fellow when it comes to shit-fi hardcore. There are people among us who can actually tune their instruments and see songwriting as an essential part of the form of art known as music. ASYLUM were not these people. For a long time, ASYLUM were that sort of obscure, short-lived cult band that pioneered noisecore and made CHAOS UK and DISORDER sound like school choirs. In retrospect, their chaotic and obnoxious sped-up take on their neighbours DISCHARGE sounds both childish and incredibly ahead of its time. ASYLUM were the ultimate noise-not-music band, a stance, if not a way of life, that they proudly wore on their sleeves. Their finest (well…) recording Is This the Price? was reissued on vinyl in late 2021, and Closure is the definitive retrospective. The aforementioned session can be seen as an early example of proto-D-beat music, like EU’S ARSE, SUBVERSION, or SHITLICKERS, with a heavy focus on the most chaotic, noisiest side of it, and also as trailblazing of the harsh noise-not-music hardcore sound of LÄRM, RAPT, or PLASMID that would appear in the mid-’80s. The comparisons with the classic Japanese noisy hardcore bands (GAI and the like) are not irrelevant, either. They even influenced SCUM DRIBBLERS, an even more intense aural racket, who themselves influenced NAPALM DEATH, but then we all tend to retroactively create connections that might not be relevant (although they are definitely necessary in punk storytelling). This is an essential piece of history and a work that had to be done. If you are not already a fan of raw-as-fuck, DISCHARGE-ish hardcore, you should probably avoid this like the plague or your mother-in-law, but if you are interested in a band that sounds like a piss-soaked live tape of DISORDER hastily covering DISCHARGE, then Closure will be a sound investment. And it’s got a massive booklet full of details about the band’s “career” and an obi.

Eskorbuto Eskizofrenia LP reissue

A long time ago, a lover of Spanish punk rock explained that, in this Iberian country, you basically had two distinct tribes when it comes to the identity of the ultimate classic Spanish band. You are either in the team of LA POLLA RECORDS or in ESKORBUTO’s. The rivalry is mostly friendly, but I have been told that, in some cases, particularly heated arguments did end up in nasty pub brawls. Some of the most fanatical have been known to hold entire record collections hostage to emphasize their point. My friend was adamant that proper punks with a decent taste in music would definitely go for ESKORBUTO. This band, from the fiercely rebellious Basque Country, is something of a legend: crude, dark, nihilistic, spiteful lyrics, two of the original members dying in 1992 and an old-school punk rock sound that has had a massive imprint on el punk en español. The internet has significantly spread the band’s unique take on punk music to a worldwide audience that they never really had outside of the Spanish-speaking world. It is a little tricky to review a record from such a cult band. Because I was not familiar with the band’s work in my youth, I approach the music with objectivity—like I would other international treasures like DEZERTER, EBBA GRÖN, or CÓLERA—and ESKORBUTO was a great ’77-influenced punk rock band with attitude, style, snot, and a strong ability to write catchy songs. If you grew up listening to the band, you probably find them absolutely wonderful, unrivaled, and genre-defining, because it is the teenage heart speaking. Although I prefer Anti Todo, Eszkizofrenia is indeed a classic punk album (with a weirdly distracting effect on the drums), the obvious qualities of which I wholeheartedly acknowledge even though I struggle to really feel it and get excited, and I have to confess that the very strong Spanish accent (by which I mean actually from Spain) is a little overwhelming at times. ESKORBUTO is the epitome of a band that can either be loved with the absolute passion of youth or appreciated from the analytical point of view of a lover of punk music. And while we’re on the subject, I am team RIP all the way.

Alternative What Revolution? EP

Apparently, in the ’80s ALTERNATIVE were often called “the Scottish CRASS,” which, depending on how much one liked CRASS, could have been either a massive compliment or an insult (the latter especially true if you were barmy and glue-prone). The comparison makes sense, and you can instantly tell ALTERNATIVE was heavily influenced by their commune-dwelling elders, even though the Scots’ music was much more accessible. I would argue that their oddly-named crowning glory, 1984’s If They Treat You Like Shit, Act Like Manure LP, can be basically seen as CRASS’s punk quintessence. The album contains all the punkier elements of CRASS (the upbeat numbers, the dual male/female vocals, the songwriting versatility, the visuals, the politics, the emphasis on the collective, and so on) without the layered dissonance and the (sometimes anguished) weirdness. ALTERNATIVE was the more tuneful and catchier Scottish cousin of CRASS. In fact, they were more tuneful and catchier than most of the bands gravitating around CRASS, like FLUX OF PINK INDIANS or DIRT. Yet they have always remained somewhat overshadowed, despite being potentially more appealing and easier to get into. Is it a London bias? Is it because they were unfairly deemed “CRASS clones”? Is it because they did not tour as much because they had troubles securing a stable lineup (I’m putting that euphemistically, only one member remained between 1982’s In Nomine Patri EP and the 1984 LP)? Is it because they have weird accents? The album, released on Corpus Christi, was always very hard to find and about as pricey as a kidney on the black market, so that clearly did not help, but music streaming did contribute to making the band accessible to new generations—I personally had to order a crap CD-R with the first two records burned on it. Finally, Sealed had the great idea to make the LP available again almost 40 years later, and here they go again with the What Revolution? EP. The statement that the album may be the ultimate ’80s anarcho-punk album is not irrelevant if you think in terms of a retroactively construed “anarcho checklist” that includes standards that we have come to associate with the “typical anarcho sound.” If so, yes, 1984’s ALTERNATIVE was the perfect anarcho-punk band. What Revolution? includes one song that was recorded during the LP session and should have appeared on it, but it was replaced with a live recording of “Where are Your Hiroshimas?,” a proclaimed fan favorite at the time (it is a simple anthemic song after all) that was still far inferior to the song “What Revolution?’” that has now finally found its way onto vinyl. This is a flawless number epitomizing and concentrating the sound of ’80s British anarcho-punk: energetic, tune-oriented, political with spoken parts, and just bloody catchy. CHUMBAWAMBA certainly looked up to and listened to this lot. The EP also includes two songs from the album with a different mix, a clearer guitar sound, and more of a stripped-down feel. Not essential and more “for the fans” (count me in). If you don’t know ALTERNATIVE, start with the album and then succumb to this one. And if you need a description, which you should not, put LOST CHERREES, the EPILEPTICS, and DIRT in a blender, and voilà. Another great initiative from Sealed Records.

Raw Peace No Hope LP

With such a strong record, I can imagine a lot of people will get into RAW PEACE. I had seen the name before but never listened to this Belgian powerhouse, and with such a moniker, I was expecting unabated shitlicking DISCLOSE worship with too much reverb on the vocals. RAW PEACE is clearly a band of their time, as they play a blend of beefy American hardcore (the singer also growls in the long-running band REPROACH) infused with D-beat hardcore. It is an objectively mean-sounding album with a thick production, and it sounds about as ferocious and subtle as a charging boar—listening to the band reminds me of that one time when I was chased by a massive goose on a school trip in 1989. As powerful and effective as No Hope (the band’s second album) is, I don’t love the thing. I enjoy it, and its hardcore intensity and relentlessness makes it quite compelling, but I cannot really love it. RAW PEACE sounds like US hardcore vets trying to play heavy Swedish D-beat. Even if a lot of D-beat tricks are indeed present and executed well enough, it still does not have a proper dis-feel songwriting-wise. And to be honest, this is probably the sound these guys are going for, an American hardcore perspective on dis things and as I said, this will definitely appeal to a wider audience than your average DISCHARGE clone would. This is still very solid and packs a serious punch. If they were actually American (the country where gods are made), I am sure they would be more widely-known.

Avskum En Annan Värld Är Möjlig LP

What can one ideally expect from a new AVSKUM album? In 2023, what should a lover of käng and D-beat expect from an established yet humble hardcore band? It’s not like there is any shortage of this specific sound today. Because of the unstoppable march of music streaming worldwide, there are probably more active Scandicore-inspired bands now than ever. A recent study revealed that, in some countries, there are more S-beat bands than there are working hospitals, which is saying a lot about the state of public health services. You could argue that, with the large amount of solid käng bands, the world may not need a new AVSKUM album, and that’s without mentioning that I am seriously running out of storage space for my collection of D-beat records. Besides, haven’t we all often been disappointed with newer records of “hardcore legends”? And yet, it’s not like the band vanished from all radars since the ’80s—in fact, AVSKUM’s output has been quite solid since 1998 (I’d argue that everything they did was quite good, with Punkista being my least favourite). Still, they have not released anything since the ferocious Uppror Underifrån in 2008 which is a long time in punk years. So why should you consider getting En Annan Värld Är Möjlig? Precisely because AVSKUM always sounds exactly like AVSKUM and doesn’t try to be something they are not. Forget your overproduced hardcore or fakely raw bands, AVSKUM still plays direct, DISCHARGE-oriented political käng hardcore with classic, simple but effective riffing and song structures and a rocking heaviness that has come to characterize their approach. They sound even closer to DISCHARGE and orthodox D-beat bands like MEANWHILE. In addition to the band’s tasteful musical classicism, the vocals are what set the band apart for me. Gunnar has always been one of my favourite Swedish hardcore singers, as the tone of his voice and his distinct prosody manage to express raw, spontaneous anger as well as a rough-hewn emotional tunefulness. He is both shouting and singing and has been doing so since the band’s first EP in 1984. This balance between strictly canonical Swedish dis-oriented hardcore and a highly recognizable vocal style is what makes En Annan Värld Är Möjlig predictably great and AVSKUM quietly memorable.

Upside Upside LP

Now this is one for the true lovers of Italian hardcore, those who can pretend to speak Italian because they can half-pronounce the titles of WRETCHED songs and show off at dinner parties by pointing out that NERORGASMO actually rose from the ashes of BLUE VOMIT. Avoid these boring bastards at all costs. UPSIDE can barely be considered a classic band of the amazing Italian hardcore punk scene of the time—I was familiar with the band for their delightfully snotty Nato Per Sofrire EP from 1983, but never took the time to properly listen to the rest of their discography. The aforementioned EP was a perfect example of an Italian take on the vintage UK82 sound, and this demo originally recorded in 1981 is (a little) more versatile, with songs convincingly exhibiting darker overtones and others sounding like furious proto-hardcore. I have to say the production is, well, raw, if not rough or non-existent, so that it will appeal to the aesthetes of old-school hardcore music (those who do not fear bands who could not tune their instruments but still did solos), but it might alienate other audiences. There are some great, catchy songs on the demo, reminiscent of CANI or even NABAT for the punkness and the aforementioned BLUE VOMIT for the eerier and darker influences. I personally love Italian hardcore, so I believe this record is important for two reasons: first, it is a testimony of one of the most powerful hardcore waves in punkstory, and this project matters because it is an archive, something that preserves our collective past because punk belongs to the punks. Second, because I just like, on a very primitive level, raw, snotty punk from Italy. I suppose the first reason makes me sound a bit more clever, though.

Dispair The Other Side cassette

With such a moniker, only a nincompoop could ignore that we are dealing with a D-beat band with a capital D. DISPAIR belongs to the category of D-beat bands that chose to adopt the prefix “dis,” like you-know-who. While I understand and don’t dislike the idea of dis-names during the first D-beat wave of the ’90s (although DISFORNICATE could have gone with something else, I suppose), the practice has clearly lost most of its appeal and charm some twenty-odd years later, and has arguably fallen on the wrong side of referentiality. I mean, why can’t you just pick the name of a DISCLOSE song? Finland’s DISPAIR has been going for a while now, since 2013 apparently, and delivers, well, D-beat raw punk with pissed, low-pitched shouted vocals (the singer also operates in the brilliant KERETIK). If some bands rely on blown-out distortion or a heavy metallic production in this genre, DISPAIR’s The Other Side EP intentionally chooses the (genuine) raw path of the post-DISCHARGE philosophy. I like the simplicity of the compositions, and the guitar sound is actually crunchy despite being too low in the mix. I am not a massive fan of the double-bass drum for the genre though, and at times the music sounds like it is plodding, and you do not want your D-beat to have that vibe—even raw D-beat should sound relentless. I am definitely reminded of a primal HELLKRUSHER or SLANDER, and Swedish bands like DISCOVER or DISPOSE could also be mentioned, but this does not quite work as well as it could here.

Vejamen Aquel Que Creían Muerto cassette

This is the third tape from the German label Iniquity Records that I was given to review, and I must say that it is by far my favourite. More than this, I actually find it really good for what it is. I am aware the label is a small DIY unit dedicated to releasing rough, distorted, raw hardcore punk tapes for fans of rough, distorted, raw hardcore punk who want to listen to a tape of rough, distorted, raw hardcore punk to confirm the validity of their passion (I would argue that it is healthier than collecting Warhammer figurines, but I might biased on the issue). Joking aside, VEJAMEN deserves a bigger run. The band comes from Lima, Peru, and unsurprisingly delivers rough, distorted, raw hardcore punk with a Japanese crasher crust touch and, at times, a rabioso tupa-tupa Latino punk influence. I have to warn you that the sound here is rougher than a badger’s arse (and believe it, that’s already pretty rough) and that VEJAMEN do not mess about—this is real primitive, angry hardcore. Imagine a blend of early DISCARD, MUERTE EN LA INDUSTRIA, and demo-era GLOOM, then soak it in Atropello!!-era Peruvian hardcore punk à la AUTOPSIA, glaze it with some noizecrust distortion, eat the thing, regurgitate it, and make twenty copies of it. Et voilà! My one reservation is the almost systematic use of samples between the songs, which somewhat impairs the overall dynamic. I suppose you already know whether you are going to find it absolutely disgusting or thoroughly enjoyable?

Dogma Disarm or Die 10″

I was supposed to put on a gig for DOGMA in June 2020, but COVID happened and they had to cancel their European tour. A real shame, since I see this Ottawa-based band as one of the best in contemporary anarcho-punk. In our day and age when being “insta-famous” is actually a thing, DOGMA sounds fresh, genuine, and humble. This is not to say that they are reinventing the anarcho wheel. Indeed, they would be serious contestants in a dove logo challenge, and I assume the title of this brand new 10’’ nods lovingly to POLITICAL ASYLUM. However, while too many bands used the classic anarcho-punk imagery and references as mere gimmicks, not signifying much else than themselves, I feel DOGMA’s overt tribute works. If it was a drink, DOGMA’s music would be a delicious smoothie called “ANOK Bonanza,’’ and their lyrics, while relying on traditional lexical fields, remain relevant and tackle modern topics. I am a massive fan of their first album—its upbeat yet moody dynamics convinced me instantly, and it has been on constant rotation at home. As a result, expectations were high, hopes were up, and anticipation was tense as I awaited the new record like you wait for a pizza at a restaurant: feverishly. Disarm or Die is different from the first album, though. It doesn’t look different (it is bordering on the self-referential, maybe not the best call), but it sounds different, just enough. The guitar sound has grown into something darker and more elaborate, and with the reverb effect on the bass, there are post-punk undertones. But stylistically, DOGMA remains first and foremost a British-inspired traditional punk rock band—thankfully, as the world does not need yet another generic goth-punk band. The songs are as delightfully catchy yet significantly longer and a bit slower, which allows for more space to work on the songwriting and the atmosphere. I love the hypnotic vibe of the very discernible, powerful, and almost spoken vocals, and how danceable and tune-oriented, and yet a little wistful, Disarm or Die sounds. DOGMA reminds me of many old anarcho bands (duh), especially with the very forward female vocals and that seemingly effortless catchiness and hooks. Blend ICON AD’s infectious tunefulness, A-HEADS’ passionate energy, NAKED’s songwriting flair, and INDIAN DREAM’s moody catchiness, and you’d be pretty close. Did I mention DOGMA covers ‘Witch Hunt’’ from the MOB? Don’t miss this jewel.

Society Social Flies cassette

Strictly speaking, I am not sure what to think of the name of this band. It is either clever and intriguing enough to entice the curious listener, or just embarrassing, too arty for its own good, and a bit snobbish. But then what do I know, I actually think PINK TURDS IN SPACE is a good name. In any case, I think the moniker works in this particular instance. SOCIETY is a one-man project from Philadelphia (the brain behind it also plays in MESH, thanks Discogs for the support), and Social Flies is its second tape. Like all solo projects, Social Flies has its own cohesive personal dynamics, and utterly reflects with accuracy the creator’s intent and vision. It is often a tricky exercise, and you cannot get away with a bad song by blaming the bass player as one often does. SOCIETY’s music is very lo-fi and purposeful and tends to have an ’80s avant-garde feel, which is something I am always a little suspicious about. It sounds pretty free, rather original even from my perspective. The music has a minimalistic feel and, with some songs openly borrowing those typical tribal beats, I am reminded of anarcho-punk demos from the ’80s from ZOUNDS or the EPILEPTICS, as well as the more experimental and versatile bands like the APOSTLES and the EX or even, indeed, early CHUMBAWAMBA. The primitive sound certainly confers an old-school vibe and, were it not for the vocal delivery and some arrangements pointing to inspired modern American bands like STRAW MAN ARMY (they are listed as influences for good reasons), I could have been tricked into believing that Social Flies is an unreleased All the Madmen tape. However, the cover is hideous, and I cannot see the connection with the carefully crafted, deceptively simple music. Other than that, give SOCIETY a go if you are curious or just open-minded.

Armoured Flu Unit The Mighty Roar LP

Blimey, this is old-school. Well, the record is technically a new release, but the band members are, well, not. As my late friend and mentor, who had been active in the scene since the mid-’80s, used to say, “Let’s just agree that I am an experienced punk and not dwell on the issue that I put on gigs for YOUTH OF TODAY while you still feasted on your own boogies.” I personally love to see how old-timers keep forming new bands, touring, being involved in worthy causes, and delivering relevant political messages. To me it is as important as supporting teenage bands. We all were snotty brats at some point, and we will also all (hopefully) grow older, as punks. Enough cheesiness already. ARMOURED FLU UNIT is from the south of England and have been going for a few years now, made up of people formerly in A.U.K and HAYWIRE (a band I have always loved)—those bands were known for their anarchist political stances, notably on the topic of animal liberation, so it hardly comes as a surprise that The Mighty Roar includes songs tackling an issue that is as relevant today as it was 30 years ago, perhaps even more so with more and more common people seeing the truth behind animal exploitation but with big corporations thriving on animal murder for decades trying to get their capitalist hands on the vegan pound. Lyrically, The Mighty Roar is an angry, honest, direct political charge that is meaningful and contextual (no abstract metaphors about oppression here). Musically, ARMOURED FLU UNIT plays hard-hitting hardcore punk with a metallic edge, mostly inspired by US bands but with a British touch. Classically executed. I enjoy the punkier, catchier mid-paced moments the most here (“Blindsided’’ is ace), but I find the production too clean for my liking. But then, I have been feeding on filthy, distorted hardcore punk for so long that I am probably not the most qualified to comment. They remind me of a cleaner version of ’90s bands like POA or IN THE SHIT, or the more recent CONSTANT STATE OF TERROR. The LP was released on Grow Your Own, a very active DIY anarcho-punk label run by Oscar from ANTHRAX—go for it if you are looking for hard-hitting political hardcore with a clean sound.

Out of Control / Prisoners of War War Control / Out of Prison split LP

I don’t like to be mean about DIY punk bands as they are the fabric of all local scenes, the lifeblood, the passion, often what unites us. They are our culture. A place without punk bands is a dead place. It does not mean, however, that one should embrace everything uncritically. In fact, you could argue that the intentional lack of a critical perspective on any given punk work is insulting. All art deserves to and should be critiqued, in context, fairly and honestly, and, in the case of punk music, with the idea to support and encourage and create bridges. Now that I’m done with all this hippie bollocks, let’s just say that I was unable to listen to the split LP between Czech bands OUT OF CONTROL (from Hradec Kralove) and PRISONERS OF WAR (from Omolouc) in its entirety. If you are into beefy, American-styled, hardcore-tinged street punk, this would probably be your thing, but it is a style I do not relate to at all. OUT OF CONTROL may be a little more on the Oi!-core side, while PRISONERS OF WAR are more aligned with the sing-along hardcore-ish street punk philosophy (if I had to pick one, it would be them). The production is very clean and I guess the two bands are dynamic enough.

Kirot Helppo Ja Mukava Tapa cassette

Yet another new band from Finland, from Oulu to be accurate. KIROS, meaning “curse,” is a young dynamic band having a go at tried and tested male/female vocal anarcho crusty hardcore. I had never heard of the band at all, which makes me think that there are probably dozens of promising (or unpromising, to be fair, but it does not really matter) Finnish punk bands to be discovered. This notion of an infinite supply of snotty Suomi punk is pretty romantic, but as far as I know the bands could be like Gremlins. Just get them wet (or more realistically get them vodka) and they just multiply. Helppo Ja Mukava Tapa is an entertaining listen. I don’t always understand what KIROT is trying to do in terms of songwriting as they include a lot of different influences, from metallic blastbeats, to mid-paced crust, to fast and direct anarcho-punk. It is a bit much to my ears and sometimes it sounds all over the place, not unlike that annoying guy who switches records every five minutes at parties. Less is more—a corny saying often uttered by uninspired musicians to make up for their lazy riffs, but it is relevant here. The album reminds me of a metallic take on ’00s Scandinavian anarcho bands like OPERATION or PARAGRAF 119, and more especially of early RAKKAUS. I like how the angry dual vocals work (I am a massive sucker for those anyway), and I am looking forward to hearing a more focused recording. I’ll be watching them.

The Ejected A Touch of Class LP reissue

Blimey, a reissue of the EJECTED’s first album, A Touch of Class. I know the name of the record was supposed to be ironic and tongue-in-cheek, but even that intent does not make up for the pictures of the lads with their girlfriends that already looked awkward in 1982. A rather tasteless choice for a cover, akin to your average chauvinistic heavy metal band. When I was a teen, I played this LP to death (I owned the 1996 reissue for some reason) because its simplicity, sing-along choruses, and energy really appealed to me, and as a consequence, I know the thing by heart. I cannot say that it aged well, though. Overall, it is pretty sloppy, if not generic. It does get the feet tapping, but it could be out of nostalgia and my natural disposition to love naive ’80s British punk, as there were objectively much better bands at that time. The lyrics are what you would expect from an Oi!-inclined UK82 band, about being working class, being fifteen, fighting, England not being dead, and not having 10p. Despite all this, I still get goosebumps when I listen to the shower-tested “Carnival,” a quintessential teenage punk song with an unlikely, out-of-tune reggae moment right in the middle and a chorus that just goes “Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah.” There are two ways to look at A Touch of Class and at the EJECTED. If you think that Riot City Records was the most meaningful ’80s punk label and that getting hammered in front of a brick walls is a way of life, then you can probably already sing along to all the EJECTED’s lyrics, and if you buy this record, it is just because you could not afford the original version. If you are just looking for some solid, tuneful, old-school British punk music but are not a fanatic of the genre, then you can definitely find better bands to listen to.

Lasso Ordem Imaginada EP

I am a little torn about this one. Not so torn that I would lose sleep or talk about it to my shrink (God knows he’s been through enough), but circumspect enough to be unable to judge if Ordem Imaginada is a solid or average ’20s hardcore EP. There are some elements of the record that I cannot help but find rather generic in terms of production and songwriting considering the current creative context of hardcore punk. On the other hand, it would be wrong and unfair to discard LASSO, as their third EP is objectively, taken as a singular work (out of context, so to speak), a good hardcore punk record. And besides, as a massive fan of orthodox D-beat, I should be prone to love generic music anyway. LASSO’s work sounds angry and very energetic, the seven songs flow with ease, and there are enough shades of hardcore paces (and even some dissonant moments) to please every clique. There are strong elements of the furious years of Italian hardcore like IMPACT or INDIGESTI, but I can also hear some ’80s Mexican hardcore like CLAMOR INEXORABLE or MELI, and even hints of the hardest branch of UK82 punk (say CRIMINAL JUSTICE)—all brilliant influences on paper, but I guess the effects on the vocals and guitars are a little too overwhelming for me, and it actually impairs the raw and direct quality of the songs. I wish I understood Portuguese, because I am sure the band has a lot to say about Brazil.

Ahna Crimson Dawn LP

I remember catching this band in 2016 in Croatia or, to be more accurate, I remember having a great time and being quite impressed by them, but actual details are largely lost—I think they played toward the end of the No Sanctuary fest, which was pretty much an obligatory summer migration for crusties in Europe. This album is the nastiest, meanest record I have heard this month. AHNA comes from Vancouver, has been going since 2008, and is the best example of a band successfully blending stenchcore and old-school death metal. They keep the best of both worlds in a seamless fashion. While the majority of bands conducting such a perilous experiment generally fail because they merely make either an angrier dis-oriented version of death metal or a more technical version of stenchcore music with too clean a production, AHNA’s sound is an actual brew which can appeal to both punks and metalheads. If it does sound like a herd of disgruntled, possessed hippos ravaging your hometown, the tastefulness and the mastery are obvious if you are a fan of crust. This is basically how a dark and desperate cocktail blending death metal and crust should be prepared. If BOLT THROWER, SACRILEGE, DISMEMBER, and AUTOPSY engaged in a brawl at the release party of a split between CRUZ and LIMB FROM LIMB, it would be pretty close to this. Crimson Dawn has a thick, dark, and macabre vibe, but still sounds like it could angrily bite you in half like your studded punk friend can tear through a vegan kebab at 2AM after downing eight pints of lager. I especially love the raging work of the two vocalists on this, and singer/drummer(!) Anju does a magnificent impersonation of Tam from SACRILEGE. The best I have heard, in fact. This album was originally released on CD and cassette in 2020, but the always reliable Phobia Records had the good idea to do a vinyl version.

Leuk​é​mia K​í​v​ü​l cassette

This is one for the historians, for those of us who dig, excavate, exhume, dust, analyze, and present to the (often ungrateful) masses. Of LEUK​É​MIA, I had only vaguely heard their 1987 demo tape, a prime example of fast and raw, angry ’80s hardcore from what was then called “the Eastern world,” at a time when punk wasn’t exactly welcome there. However, I had no idea that the band had kept going until the mid ’90s in a rather prolific fashion. Kivül is a tape reissue of the band’s 1991 demo (there was a vinyl reissue last year). Gone is the hideous original cover (thank fuck), as this tape has a cracking new visual that looks much more enticing. Like many hardcore bands at that time, LEUK​É​MIA had left the “play fast or die” approach to their music, and this recording saw them go in a decidedly crossover thrashcore direction with plenty of changes of paces and riffs. To be honest, I actually like the faster, pummeling, thrashing metal-punk moments, as the many progressive technical moments are completely lost on me—there are just too many things happening and, as granny used to tell me, “you’re a simple man who loves simple things.” It is pretty obvious that at this point LEUK​É​MIA had become good musicians and strove to progress. I guess you could file this between ANARCRUST and ACID RAIN DANCE on one side and late ’80s US crossover on the other (for my ears untrained in thrashcore). An interesting piece of punk history from a scene we hear too little from.

Verzet Verzet demo cassette

This is the first demo tape from VERZET, a brand new band from Belgium, and I have to say that, sadly, I am unconvinced. It is just not my cup of tea. Not that the band sounds terrible—they don’t, and I’m not just saying this magnanimously to not hurt their feelings and get my ass kicked—but I don’t really understand what they are trying to achieve. I can hear a lot of old-school American hardcore, especially in the upfront vocal flow and tone. The music sounds energetic but the songwriting tends to lose focus in the process (as do I). This said, I can imagine people into the US hardcore school of thought enjoying this demo. And I imagine them wearing bandanas. Definitely wearing bandanas and trainers.

Grawlixes / Unknown Liberty Chaos NY split EP

If you love CONFUSE, you will adore GRAWLIXES precisely because, just like you, they also love CONFUSE, and therefore loving GRAWLIXES is like loving the love for CONFUSE, if you know what I mean. The band is from Albany and some of its members played in NEUTRON RATS, if that rings a bell. There are four songs on their side, very well executed given the template: it’s fuzzy, loud, distorted, fun, a bit silly and delightfully pogoable. Proper punk music. Ten or fifteen years ago, there were a lot of bands doing the Japanese noisepunk thing (like the WANKYS or SAD BOYS, for instance), and I reckon GRAWLIXES do it with gusto. On the other side, we have UNKNOWN LIBERTY, who are mostly unknown I guess, from nearby Kingston—a band that I had noticed with their rather good Chain of Madness demo tape last year. They also have a Japanese hardcore punk influence, but they don’t rely as much on the Kyushu tradition as GRAWLIXES, although there certainly is a noisy distortedness about them and they do love some feedback in their punk. On that level, I am reminded of CFDL and crasher hardcore bands like (Osaka’s) ICONOCLAST or DECEIVING SOCIETY, but UNKNOWN LIBERTY also has a more versatile side and they do add some nice dissonant guitar leads, not unlike some Italian greats maybe. The vocals are harsh and insane-sounding, and as the crude dove logo suggests, they obey the peacecrust doctrine. This is a split that I would love to own.

Warkrusher Epitaph / Victims of Mortality 7″

This is a record I have been anxiously awaiting since I first heard the band’s convincing 2019 demo. If the tape’s cover was pretty much unreadable, the content was certainly more clear and unambiguous: stenchcore for the unwashed. I suppose the rather unoriginal name did give it away, and an experienced linguist would have easily hypothesized that WARKRUSHER would probably sound like a cross between BOLT THROWER’s War Master and HELLKRUSHER. Not bad at all professor, thanks for dropping by. WARKRUSHER is from the prolific Montreal hardcore punk scene, and the members have played in a bunch of other bands that you have probably heard of like NAPALM RAID, PMS 84, and PARASYTES. This is the band’s first endeavour into the world of vinyl and it is, as I hoped, an absolute winner. The production is much better, crunchier and groovier, than on their previous recordings (and I do really enjoy the Pils Session, and not just because it is a terrible pun I wish I had come up with)—it just sounds heavier and more aggressive without falling into the merciless “we wish we were a death metal band” trap which is the equivalent of the Odyssey’s Sirens for crust bands. WARKRUSHER loves filthy metal, but they are in essence a punk band. There are two songs on this 7”; the A-side is a classic mid-paced stenchcore track reminiscent of early HELLSHOCK, SANCTUM, and early ’10s CANCER SPREADING. On the other side, “Visions of Mortality” opens with some AXEGRINDER-esque synth which always gets my attention straight away; it is the equivalent of a whistling toy for crusties. This one is probably more epic and I can picture myself riding a war horse (or more realistically a friendly pony) in the wasteland. What I especially like about WARKRUSHER is that they play the genre exactly as it is supposed to be played and write proper songs instead of just offering a D-beat version of BOLT THROWER. One of the best old-school crust bands around, without a doubt. The tape version of this gem has three additional tracks, two covers from AXEGRINDER and COITUS and an original.

Phosphore Phosphore cassette

Nowadays, when people abroad refer to “the French scene,” it often entails Oi! bands with bowel issues modeling for Fred Perry. Fortunately, we have Bordeaux, which has been our national haven for proper dis-studded hardcore punk for almost twenty years. Over there, D-beat bands can mate and prosper freely without interference from the outside world. PHOSPHORE is one of the latest typical examples of this Bordeaux punk subspecies. With current and former members of GASMASK TERROR, NAATLO SUTILA, FOSSE COMMUNE, and many others, the new breed does not fail to deliver the expected goods, namely Swedish-inspired raw hardcore punk for faithful käng-inclined punks. This is pretty much flawless and baked to a D. If the genre is to your liking, this is tailor-made. It would be a little pointless to drop names in order to describe them, but doing pointless things is pretty much my leitmotif. The core of PHOSPHORE is obviously rooted in traditional ’80s Scandi hardcore (say ASOCIAL or SOUND OF DISASTER), but if they always stick to the classic soundtrack, they have several tricks under their sleeveless jackets, from the classic fast pummeling käng scorcher to the canonical D-beat cruise, and delightful DISCHARGE-loving, mid-paced numbers like “Marche ou Crève” or “La Proie.” On that level, they are not unlike contemporary bands like PROFOSS or EXTENDED HELL, for instance. The vocals are hoarse and direct, without dodgy effects, the lyrics are mean, the no-frills production packs a direct punch to the gut, and it is just a strong recording. Eight songs in twelve minutes, no arsing around.

Huomio Demo ’23 cassette

How many hardcore bands does Finland produce in a year? If the embassy’s website does not say anything on the subject, it is however adamant that Finland is the happiest country in the world, and with hardcore bands that are as good as HUOMIO, it is hardly a surprise. Still, I’m sure you will find knobheads who’d rather visit Santa Claus’s village than sing along to KAAOS on the streets of Tampere while absolutely plastered. What an odd sense of priorities. I did not know of HUOMIO before this review, and I have to say that I really enjoyed this Helsinki lot’s first demo. I don’t think the members are the happiest punks in the world (but who knows?) because the music sounds seriously pissed and is everything you are entitled to expect from a good Finnish hardcore punk band (or just a good punk band, really). If the influence of traditional Suomi hardcore is undeniable (think BASTARDS or MELLAKKA), I can hear some Italian hardcore too (it does have that intense touch), a vibe typical of contemporary raw, wild hardcore punk acts, and the unhinged-sounding, rapid-fire vocals of the singer definitely give the music an additional edge. I love how demented and threatening she sounds. Some effects on the guitar and vocals are used, but it is not overpowering the energy of their classic hardcore songwriting. The recording is not perfect, but still very promising. It’s old-school without trying too hard, if you know what I mean.

Tick Ignorance is Bliss cassette

From what I can gather, TICK is from New York City, a town that is apparently somewhere on the East Coast of the US of A and I’m told is a bit famous, but I couldn’t tell you for sure. They are a three-piece and Ignorance is Bliss is their third cassette recording, with eight songs. I am not sure what to really think about the band. The music has a raw punk energy and I can imagine them being very enjoyable live. I like TICK best when they deliver short, sharp shocks of direct, snotty tupa-tupa UK82 punk with delectable sing-alongs, as the very primitive production and the clear guitar sound work well with that style. Early US hardcore and deathrock are also very present influences and I guess they lose me a bit along the way with these, but then it might have to do with the fact that the other songs made me expect old-school UK punk to drink cider to. Not bad at all, and I think TICK might appeal to a lot of punks because they are energetic and have great sarcastic lyrics, but they are just too much on the US side of the hardcore spectrum. And is it me, or does the logo look like the Transformers logo?

Eteraz Destined to Kill flexi 7″

Not sure what is happening in Olympia right now, but I would not be surprised to learn that a pack of rabid nuclear rats raised on a diet of CONCRETE SOX and SACRILEGE was recently unleashed on the town and befriended all the local punks before biting them in the arse. I had heard of ETERAZ before but never really got to pay much attention to them, because catching up with all the new bands feels like filling the Danaid’s barrel without the cool perk of being part of Greek mythology. I did listen to a couple of their songs from their 2022 LP Villain and was favorably impressed with their slightly thrashing brand of dark hardcore punk with chunks of Sweden and Japan in it. This new record came out only six months after the LP, so I’m guessing ETERAZ didn’t have time to lose (or the LP was late to come out). To be fair, I prefer this flexi. I really enjoy the old-school crusty thrashing influence pervading the two songs, as it blends perfectly with the band’s dark and threatening, almost evil, hardcore sound. Besides the British classics mentioned at the beginning, I am reminded of TEMPTER and even AHNA, although ETERAZ is still firmly on the punkier side. One of the band’s notable strong points is the lyrics in Persian, not just for the originality (it is rather uncommon and a welcome change), but because it cannot be easy to adapt a language to a formal hardcore punk songwriting structure (on that level ETERAZ is rather classical) when there are not many prior examples to be inspired by. That makes things interesting and probably challenging if you are the singer. The only flaw of Destined to Kill is that it is too short. I am aware that a flexi is, by essence, short (you don’t often see flexi LPs), but in this case I want to hear more of the band with that new formula. Get it if and while you can.

Greed When the Holocaust Come LP

There is a lot of GREED in the world. Indeed, I have been able to find quite a few bands using this moniker on Discogs, from a ’90s Italian hardcore band, to a Leeds-based metalcore band, to a Japanese melodic punk band, to a nu-thrash groove metal band from Germany (this sounds pretty horrific, do not try this at home), and not one but two house dance acts. And that’s without mentioning the ’90s Swedish crustcore band that had an EP on Distortion Records—I initially thought that When the Holocaust Come was some sort of discography, but I was wrong, as it is an album from a Mexican GREED from Nezahualcoyotl that I had never heard of. The band has been going since 2011, and with a cover depicting a gas mask, skulls, and soldier skeletons, you won’t be surprised to learn that GREED play dis-oriented music, in the present case a brand of raw, primitive dis-crustcore with vocals that are not unlike those of some Japanese crust bands. The production reminds me of old-school grindcore more than crust though, and it makes sense that the singer/guitar player also makes noise in grind bands. It sounds like AGATHOCLES covering BATTLE OF DISARM and BOMBRAID. I didn’t really expect to like it, but I think it is a good record of primitive, dark D-beat crust. The vinyl version was released on Swedish label Cimex Records, the label run by ANTI-CIMEX’s drummer (duh).

Sirkka Viivyttely EP

You would think that with an EP entitled Viivyttely that SIRKKA would come from Finland, the only other option being that they are actually a Japanese band singing randomly in Finnish. But you would be wrong, twice. SIRKKA is from New York City—well, at least originally when they were a two-piece, since they now have included members from other parts of the East Coast of the US of A and from Leipzig. With personnel formerly or currently active in other rather unmelodious bands, I did not expect SIRKKA to be serenading me with pop punk tunes and the band, quite logically, plays mean hardcore punk with a dexterity that would have you think that they play every weekend, whereas for obvious reasons, well, they’re clearly not. The brilliantly raucous vocals from Sanja with the typical Suomi flow, patterns, and prosody are what strike first, but the music, simply put, is perfectly executed. It ticks most of the boxes you are entitled to expect from Finnish hardcore, but instead of going for a raw, primitive KAAOS-like drunk attack, the songs are more polished and less direct, keeping that classic intensity but working on the details, the (manic) drum rolls, the riffing, the catchiness, the overall songwriting, and a production that is thick and balanced. SIRKKA is not unlike a blend of early and late KOHTI TUHOA, and I was also reminded of ÄÄRITILA beside more obvious oldies like BASTARDS or RATTUS. Viivyttely is a very strong and dynamic hardcore EP that is bound to appeal to many hardcore kids (a phrase that has come to mean everyone under 50), well beyond the smelly confines of Finnish hardcore nerds. I just personally wish it hit a little harder, more brutally, with more emergency, but I can tell that was not totally what they had in mind. Another good release from Sorry State.

Perplex Perplex cassette

There have been hundreds of raw hardcore punk bands in the past ten years, so it is has become hard, if not near impossible, to keep up with everything—sometimes you are just too late to the party and you’re being told that the band you just came across and are excited about split up ages ago (meaning six months in 2023), but the members already formed two brand new bands that you are still clueless about but you nod. PERPLEX from Phoenix, Arizona is one of the bands that I should not have missed but still did. On the one hand, they clearly belong to that modern school of raw, old-school hardcore punk with reverbed vocals, but on the other, they somewhat stand out from the crowd (and it has grown into a big one) because they are heavily influenced by WRETCHED and manage to build on that influence with efficiency and emergency. With the opening of the first song being a massive nod to WRETCHED, you pretty much know what you are in for—furious, primal hardcore punk with obsessive riffs and demented leads. But PERPLEX doesn’t lose sight of what really matters: relentless energy. Käng from the ’80s is also very present in the songwriting, and bands like CRUDITY or SOD definitely got invites, too. No wheel is being reinvented here, but I love this demo. This release is a bit particular since the tape was initially released in 2019 but quickly sold out, and the Oxford-based Richter Scale (a great tape label that specializes in rather obscure hardcore acts) decided to reissue it. The drummer of the band, Mal (he also played in SLIMY MEMBER, among other projects), tragically died that same year, and the tape is dedicated to him. The two remaining members went on to do the fine MEMORY WARD, who I recommend you check out, too.

Sepsis The Divide EP

Reviewing a record feels a little like dissecting a body at times—well, without the nasty smells and the graceless medical gown you tragically cannot sew patches onto. You first have to gently lay the record on the table and, before proceeding to the actual listening, you have to check and analyze, with medical precision, the visible clues of a given punk subgenre and its signifiers. This particular band is called SEPSIS, a nasty word for infection. They use a hairy font and the EP’s cover displays a gloomy Lovecraftian humanoid creature, drawn in an old-school death metal style, holding in its tentacled paw what looks like an agonizing human head. So yeah, not a skacore band. SEPSIS is from Melbourne/Naarm, and The Divide was released on Hardcore Victim, a brilliant label dealing in quality crasher hardcore noise crust punk. With such scientific observations in mind, I can claim, before even putting the record on the turntable that, congratulations, it is a crust record! And I love a good old-school crust record—no, I crave good old-school metallic crust records, and this band precisely belongs to that school of thought. SEPSIS is an all-female band that works on the classic “DOOM revisiting ANTI-CIMEX in a cave” template, with a revival stenchcore toolbox borrowed from AFTER THE BOMBS and a vibe not dissimilar to that of ARMISTICE. The recording could do with a bit more power, but it is dark, aggressive, and groovy enough to reach a solid level on the international scale of crustness. The shouted vocals are angry but comprehensible (to an extent, we’re not dealing with pop punk here) with an ’00s feel maybe, the guitar has that perfect crunch, and even the creature on the cover feels like a mate after these four songs. Now give us an LP. Ace.

Influenza I Think 12”

With a band called after a disease (the second one this month, probably a sign from the gods of punk that I should go to the doctor for a checkup soon), a slimy green font dripping onto a severed human head (or is it a head inside a head?), and ‘’I think’’ carved on the forehead, I initially thought that INFLUENZA was going to be some sort of raw and noisy gruff hardcore punk affair, especially since they are from Tampere. But I was wrong. I did not expect them to be, but INFLUENZA is very much influenced by early US hardcore, or maybe more accurately, I would compare them to those ’80s Italian bands that were influenced by US hardcore (not unlike SHOTGUN SOLUTION?), as the band has that similar wild vibe—I suppose POISON IDEA was also very much on their mind when they wrote the seven songs making up this mini album. There are some well-crafted, crawly, mid-paced numbers on this one and some proper rocking guitar leads, while the snotty singer is clearly committed and the lyrics have that sarcastic political tone that you expect from this style. Not the kind of sound I necessarily listen to often, but I did enjoy it, and with a total length of about seventeen minutes, the energy and dynamics are always present. Apparently INFLUENZA started out as more of a typical distorted hardcore punk band with reverb-heavy vocals, but the change might be for the best.

Liver Values Blind Anger cassette

Fuck me, this is a rough one. I don’t recommend blasting this at your next family reunion (unless you actually want to be repudiated, in which case definitely go for it). LIVER VALUES are from Germany (Blind Anger was recorded in Ludwigsburg, so I’m guessing they must be from the Stuttgart area) and I’m not completely sure about what they are trying to do, apart from making a lot of noise. The production, if you can call it that, is rough indeed. I do like the very primal raw vibe of the recording, but because of the lack of hooks and breathing space in the songs, it just leaves the listener exhausted. In terms of songwriting, LIVER VALUES’ dark hardcore tends to go in all directions, too many in my opinion, and I think a more focused approach would help. I do like the distorted D-beat moments, I think they work well especially with the drums being very forward in the mix, and I can hear a lovely DISORDER/CHAOS UK influence too, but on the whole, the slower hardcore parts and some transitions lose me and it is all too harsh and flat to really make sense.

Hambre Libre Es El Que No Desea Nada EP

Now this is a bit of an odd one. Or maybe not that much, as it cannot be denied that there is currently a trend in punk that sees the music go back to very minimalistic and primitive forms like those that could be found in the ’80s, when punks could not play and were unintentionally crude musicians. This band can be thought of in this light. Still, they’re a bit weird, but in a good way. HAMBRE comes from Mollet del Vallès in Catalonia and they are, quite aptly, rather mysterious. There is no bass guitar on this single-sided EP made up of four short songs of, supposedly, taoist hardcore (!), with lyrics dealing with foundational concepts from the Tao Te Ching (“Libre es el que no desea nada” for instance, which means “Free is the one who desires nothing”). Not exactly topics you see everyday on the punktube, but it confers a sense of originality and paradox to the band’s concept (the Tao Te Ching can hardly be said to have been a massive influence on punk or glue-sniffing). Is it just a silly pose? Well, I don’t think so, as HAMBRE plays minimalistic, fast tupa-tupa punk rock music, maybe not unlike some old Mexican bands, with vocals typical of old-school Spanish punk. Think REVOLUCION X and HEREJIA with a clearer punk rock sound and an obsession with simplicity. The demented artwork reminiscent of Asian horror is as bizarre as the band’s creative stance, and emphasizes the contrast between the taoist notion of harmonious selflessness and the utter madness of our psyche. Or something. I’m not sure the EP is good, but at least it is bizarre enough to be fresh.

Disease SS Distort Pollution cassette

Would I have called my band DISEASE SS? Probably not. It is, truth be told, rather generic, and I am not a massive fan of having “SS” in a moniker (it makes bands’ shirts pretty much unwearable at dinner parties). But then, the name DISEASE SS definitely gives you a clear preliminary idea of what this Malaysian punk unit from Kedah is all about: the D will be beaten, distortion will be celebrated, and fury revered. The band comes from the same scene that has recently graced us with bands in love with the Swedish and Japanese sound like 13DAS, SYNKKYYS, or PARÖTID, so that when the listener is confronted with a tornado of raw distorted D-beat from that area, surprise is not exactly of the essence. Just another day at the noise-not-music office. Does it matter? Of course not, as DISEASE SS do well what they claim to be doing. If you are in need of a raw and wild take on LIFELOCK or DISCLOSE (whom they cover), significantly infused with the “dislickers” sound of bands like the Swedish DISCONTROL or early APPÄRATUS like Malaysian punks are renowned for, then this will be your thing. It is a niche, but a comfy one.

Physique Again cassette

PHYSIQUE has been one my favourite US bands of the past five years, a statement that is not to be taken lightly since the belly of the beast has produced a lot of quality crust, noisy hardcore, and D-beat music in that time. Before PHYSIQUE, the word “physique,” in its English form, inexplicably evoked images of David Beckham’s underwear ad campaigns, so I am extremely grateful that it has now been replaced with visions of crust pants and Flying Vs. Olympia is not a town that one would traditionally associate with being mercilessly assailed by Japanese-style distorted atrocious hardcore madness, but this makes PHYSIQUE even better. Again is the band’s first real LP and it is relatively long for a dis-noise crasher oeuvre, no less than thirty minutes (as a comparison The Evolution of Combat was a twelve-minute affair), so clearly it is an ambitious undertaking. I have always liked how the band’s sound evolved through time, as the progression from Punk Life is Shit to Again is striking. On this new one, PHYSIQUE keeps working in the liminal space between the crasher hardcore crust school and the most brutal käng tsunamis. D-CLONE Frenching FRAMTID at a conference about the Tokyo Crusties EP and followed by a workshop about how to write your band’s name with the classic DOOM font. Basically. The sound on this album is devastating and almost scary: the drums sound insane, an impressive demonstration of the manic crasher style with its distinct rolls and transitions, the guitar’s distortion is al dente, the bass sounds like there is an earthquake next door, and the vocals have never sounded so desperate, agonizing, and almost unnaturally angry. They sound like a zombified bear singing along to SHITLICKERS on a night bus. PHYSIQUE shines on this, but it is the sheer relentlessness of the songwriting that is incredible, with only two delicious, DISCHARGE-loving, mid-paced scorchers to let the listener breathe and throw a few cool dance moves. Again is an articulated work behind its frightening ferocity, and the last song “Again (Reprise)” is a seven-minute-long galloping D-beat song that goes on again and again, precisely in the style that traditionally goes on again and again, just like war and misery go on again and again. The song never seems to stop even when it should, which is a pretty accurate metaphor for the world we live in. The tape is released on Iron Lung, but there will be a vinyl version soon enough. What a brutal experience.

Mass Separation Semarak Api EP

There are bands that your granny may definitely enjoy if you include them on her birthday playlist, like the UNDERTONES for example, or maybe your terrible high school pop punk band because she’s too kind to hurt your feelings. Kuala Lumpur’s MASS SEPARATION is not one such band. I had not heard of them in ages and thought that they were no longer active, but I was fortunately wrong. Incidentally, MASS SEPARATION was the first band from Malaysia I came across back in the ’00s through their split with ATROCIOUS MADNESS, so their name clearly has a positive connotation for me. The Semarak Api EP includes six songs, three of which were actually recorded in 2007 and remastered for this release. If you are not familiar with the band, MASS SEPARATION plays—and indeed have played since 1996—noisy grinding thrashcore with a punk attitude and lyrics in Malay and English. It is a little out of my perimeter and there are probably too many tempo changes for my tastes, but I am into the harsh, aggressive vocal style and the political nature of the band. Not totally my kind of raw noise, but I can tell that they know what they are doing, that they are doing it properly, and that they are for real. In it for life. This EP was released on Bollocks Records, a new local label run by, well, the singer of the BOLLOCKS.

Rudimentary Peni Cacophony LP reissue

To review a classic record is a difficult task. Ideally, a serious reviewer should pretend to be unfamiliar with the work before writing about it in order to be somewhat objective and maybe offer something fresh. The risk of being in awe before a canonical record and therefore unable or unwilling to think critically about it is also serious. After all, there must have been dozens of reviews about Cacophony in the past 35 years, and most people already know about the record. Why bother when I could just binge-watch a mediocre series that I will inevitably forget about? Originally released in 1988, Cacophony is one of RUDIMENTARY PENI’s most famous recordings and some people rate it as the band’s best work, but I am not one of them. The band’s uniquely deranged, bizarre sound, magnificent creepy aesthetics, their reluctance to play live, and the mystery surrounding them have clearly created a legend, and few bands can claim to be as cult as PENI. There is no doubt that reissuing Cacophony is a brilliant idea and a necessity, as it is a classic album that just should be available. More than a collection of songs, it has to be listened to as a gothic trip, if not a descent, into the life, psyche, and oeuvre of Lovecraft, an uncanny world governed by fear, madness and eeriness. It is as strange as it is particular, unlike any other punk albums. To be honest, I like Death Church much better, and I think Cacophony makes more sense if you take PENI’s previous output into account, as it is a clear departure from conventional punk songwriting, if not from the classical definition of punk itself. Taken individually, the 30 songs that made up the LP are not particularly meaningful—it is only as a cohesive whole, as a full narrative, that they create deep meaning. Musically, Cacophony is hard to describe. Polyphonic, versatile, dark, free, macabre, insanity-driven, undead, strangely sensual, anguished and tortured, creative asylum punk rock. It is great, essential even, but I am still struggling to know if I love it or if I am just fascinated. Whatever the answer, we should all thank Sealed Records.

Putrid Future / Szk​ł​o split EP

Split EPs have always symbolized the idea of collaboration and togetherness (known as the “network of friends” by geriatric punks) inherent to the true punk spirit, without mentioning the opportunity to discover two bands for the price of one. I did not know PUTRID FUTURE and SZKŁO (it means “glass” in Polish) before being offered to review this delightful split, and I have to say that the experience was very pleasant, although I probably should have not played the thing in the morning. I dislike my neighbours, but still. Let’s start with PUTRID FUTURE from Wellington, New Zealand (or Aotearoa, as the band also refer to the country in its Maori name). This three-piece unleashes unabated gruff käng hardcore with a crasher noise influence, especially in some of the drumming and the textured distortion. If PUTRID FUTURE was a topic, it would be what GIFTGASATTACK and PARANOID would talk about at a POLLEN or PHYSIQUE gig (after covering the primordial topic of distortion pedals, obviously). Two solid songs, promising as I think they could do with a bit more power, but a clear progression from their earlier tapes. On the other side, the bollocking continues, increases even, as SZKŁO, from Melbourne (or Naarm, the Aboriginal name) delivers three fast and absolutely furious songs of insanity-driven distorted hardcore thrash. Mean, angry punk music with one song about the weaponization of animals by the police, which is a pretty original topic. If DESTROY! and ’87 NAPALM DEATH hung out with the Osaka crusties in the ’90s and they all caught rabies, the ensuing chaos would sound close to this. This EP was released on Razored Raw, based in Wellington and dedicated to make the world a deafer place, and Feral Dog Records. Looking forward to more loud things from these two bands.

Dissekerad Inre Strid LP

I had not realized that DISSEKERAD had already been going for ten years. On the surface, bands playing Swedish hardcore—or käng as it is known by nerds—are not unlike haikus: they are always doing the same thing over and over again, and yet some are clearly better than others. Alright, writing haikus usually does not involve playing as loud as possible in order to punish an audience that actually paid for that, but you get the gist. DISSEKERAD is made up of members of AVSKUM, MAKABERT FYND, and obviously TOTALITÄR, as singer Poffen, with his recognizable flow and vocal tone, is also the frontman of the aforementioned cult band, whose popularity has never seemed as important as it is today. Unsurprisingly, the band plays angry and pummeling käng hardcore with mean, hoarse, raspy vocals. The comparison with mid-’90s TOTALITÄR (even without taking the vocals into consideration) is not irrelevant, and I can also hear late ’90s UNCURBED and the ferocious NO SECURITY, too. The production is brilliant, heavy and thick but keeping that direct aggressive hardcore punk sound. Inre Strid does not disappoint and does not surprise. It is probably my favorite DISSEKERAD work and an objectively solid LP. It should be pointed out that the past two or three years have been quite generous in quality Swedish hardcore records, as Inre Strid can attest. As usual, this was released on Phobia Records, a label that could be compared to a delicatessen for käng music.

Cotärd Delirio EP

I have to say, I did not have a clue about either Cotard’s syndrome (some sort of neuropsychiatric condition involving the delusional fear of losing limbs, something like that) nor CÖTARD, the band, before this review. Needless to say that I much prefer the latter, as the aforementioned syndrome did frighten me quite a bit after reading about it online and I spent the night checking whether my limbs were still in place…but then, that is generally what happens when I Google medical conditions (I once thought I had caught the bubonic plague). Let’s stick to punk, shall we? CÖTARD is from San Luis de Potosi in Mexico and Delirio is their first proper vinyl output after two tapes and one CD. The umlaut on the “’o” does suggest that they are not insensitive to Scandinavian music, which does not exactly come as a surprise, since they play relentless, gruff, and hairy crustcore. This is exactly the sort of band that makes me wonder why and how I had not heard of them before, as they are right up my street (figuratively speaking, I looked and they are not actually up the street, sadly). On the bright side, it is very pleasant to be surprised. CÖTARD plays absolutely crushing Scandicrust with hoarse, desperate-sounding vocals in Spanish. I suppose the comparison with a metal-free NAPALM RAID makes sense, as they do share a similar unrelenting fury, not unlike Portland’s DÖDLAGE, either. If you need a more poetic image, let’s say the band sounds like a blown-out version of classic Swedish crustcore, like an electrocuted 3-WAY CUM or SKITSYSTEM, or maybe like SVAVELDIOXID covering DISRUPT while being chased by starving hyenas wearing sunglasses. This is Scandicrust at its most intense—the recipe is classic but the dish, well-executed, is perfect. This EP is a significant improvement upon their previous works and hopefully it will find its way to Europe (to be more accurate, in my mailbox).

Some Kind of Nightmare DCxPC Live Presents, Vol. 9 EP

When a live recording is old, it can prove to be an interesting piece of punk archaeology, a picture from and of the past, in which case I listen to them sternly with my glasses placed right at the tip of my nose, looking like a proper professor. When it is just a live tape from your mate’s first band, the interest does dwindle, though. I am not sure about this one. This EP is a decent (good, even) example of a live recording that can be played and enjoyed, assuming you are into bouncy, three-chord, ’90s-style spiky punk rock. SOME KIND OF NIGHTMARE is from San Diego, has been playing for a decade, and has quite a few records under their belt. I do like the raucous male/female dual vocals, but on the whole, I did not really relate to the music. Not unpleasant at all, I am sure they are sincere, and they do have some catchy tunes and relevant things to say, but just not my cuppa. This EP is part of a series released by DCxPC, a label from Central Florida aimed at documenting the local scene, which is always a good initiative.

Utsatt / Varoitus split EP

Two Swedish bands face off on this split EP released by ByeBye Productions and the very prolific Phobia Records from Praha, a label equivalent to a sanctuary for käng hardcore bands. Unsurprisingly, VAROITUS and UTSATT play Scandinavian hardcore punk, a field of expertise I am no stranger to, and which I can be exposed to almost constantly without flinching. VAROITUS includes members of bands like WARCOLLAPSE, EXPLOATÖR, 3-WAY CUM, and even the legendary DISARM, and indulges in that brand of raw käng punk that we have all grown to love (or grow bored of, depending on your worldview). Their two songs sound rawer than I expected, which is not a bad thing as it gives them a welcome ’80s feel. Otherwise, I have to say that VAROITUS is predictably effective and proficient in that “TOTALITÄR meets DISFEAR in 1992” way, with some rocking moments for you to headbang a bit and raspy, aggressive vocals, in Swedish this time. It does the job. On the other side, UTSATT offers three songs, and this EP is their first recording (although I very much doubt it is the members’ first endeavor into hardcore music). They are a little less powerful and not as fast, more gruff and primitive—I am reminded of SVART PARAD and early WARVICTIMS, which is actually to my liking. Cave-käng. On the whole, I enjoy this record, but if there were a 2023 Scandicore Royal Rumble, it would probably not reach the final four, as there have been a lot of worthy contenders lately.

A.F.K. Another Pair of Eyes LP

A.F.K. from Hamburg has been going for a while and is, in my opinion, one of the most solid hardcore punk bands in Germany right now. I never quite got their moniker (the initials stand for ‘’Aargh Fuck Kill,’’ the very words I utter whenever I stub my toe on a table leg, which is quite often), but at least it is pretty easy to remember. Their latest album Another Pair of Eyes can be rightly considered to be their most intense and focused offering so far, and for good reason. The production is thick and heavy and the band does not try to hide behind walls of distortion, mists of reverbs and echoes, or endless pedal boards, and relies on energy and intensity first and foremost. The trick is that there is really no trick. Like many contemporary bands, A.F.K. blends several hardcore punk schools and paces in order to create a versatile sound that still manages to sound angry as fuck, but also cohesive and compact and not like a patchwork. When they speed things up, they are not far from the classic, heavy anarcho-punk sound of ANTI-SYSTEM, or HELLKRUSHER’s late ’90s UK dis-core, or even NO SECURITY, and because they are intent on varying paces, I am reminded of a more modern take on the great ICONS OF FILTH or ’90s bands like POLICEBASTARD (conceptually) or even a non-dissonant version of BAD BREEDING with spikier hair and a crusty bumbag—I am aware that someone with a big American hardcore background would probably hear different things. This is pummeling anarcho hardcore punk that is done with sincerity and never sounds boring, and they are a powerhouse live. A highlight of 2022 released on Ruin Nation, a label celebrating its 30th birthday in 2023.

Krash Devastation cassette

Saskatoon—actually a Cree word for a specific purple berry—is located right in the middle of Canada, and is apparently graced with a rather inclement climate that would make Warsaw feel like a Dominican resort (minus the obnoxious first-world tourists, though). D-beat fanatics KRASH are from this icy place. I was not familiar with this three-piece before being assigned this review, and I have to say they suit my exquisite tastes: intentionally unoriginal, pure D-beat raw punk orthodoxy for studded punks who dream of being able to wear a gas mask at work without being frowned upon. Given the style’s fundamentals, I cannot find any real flaw to this 2020 recording, the third in their oeuvre. The raw production highlights the primitive power of the songs, the singer has the perfect gruff tone and scansion, and the uncreative structural template of the raw early D-beat tradition is respected to a T (well, a D). KRASH is a very convincing example of this busy genre. They know exactly what to do and how to do it, and beside the canonical fast D-beat punk, there are a couple of ideal mid-paced, early DISCHARGE bouncers to freshen things up, too. With ten songs in eighteen minutes, Devastation feels more like a proper album, so it might sound a little redundant for those of us not addicted to the mighty D, but it will delight those who crave that shit and cannot get enough of “Warsystem” covers (covering SHITLICKERS is a rite of passage for any self-respecting D-beat band). Not unlike DISCHANGE, DISCARD, and the classic Saskatoon dis-band DECONTROL, if you need comparisons. Top-shelf.

Open Veins Open Veins LP

I have recently read that, and I quote, “unforgettable 2000s fashion trends are making a comeback,’’ which got me excited instantly, not just because it would remind me of a time when I still had all my hair, but also because ’00s DIY hardcore punk was really formative for me and I could not wait to see current pop stars rocking BEHIND ENEMY LINES or KONTROVERS shirts and talking about vivisection between songs. Of course, I was wrong, as I usually am about such things, and what people generally mean with the ’00s has more to do with BRITNEY SPEARS and thongs, but OPEN VEINS did somehow alleviate this harsh disillusion. Now, this is an album that takes me back. Not that it is a reissue, it is a brand new recording, but OPEN VEINS sounds just like a US crust band from the ’00s (it does have former members of PONTIUS PILATE or DOOMSDAY HOUR) with their female-fronted, hard-hitting epic political crust punk attack with some crunchy metallic parts thrown in. In terms of songwriting, you find transitions and a diversity of structures reminiscent of that decade, and even the direct production—free from our epoch’s overbearing reliance on effects-based tricks and textures—would not sound out of place on a Profane Existence or Skuld Releases compilation. I am reminded of US bands like PROVOKED, SCORNED, and APPALACHIAN TERROR UNIT, or European ones like DETRITUS or PCP. You can tell that the band’s music is sincere even if some songs do not work perfectly to my ears. The vocalist’s hoarse, intensely angry style is impressive, and you can tell she is pissed-off—which we all should be—and it is without a doubt one of OPEN VEINS’ strongest points. This first album for the band was released on Chain Reaction, a label run by CLUSTERFUX punks.

Atomski Rat Nekro San cassette

ATOMSKI RAT is a band that has been going for much longer than I originally thought (at least since 2009) and that I never really took the time to properly listen to, so this review is an ideal opportunity. The band comes from Šid, a small town close to Novi Sad, the punk capital of this Serbian region. Nekro San was originally released on tape by Odmetnik, the label run by Miloš from the cruelly underrated DAŽD and MUTABO, and a vinyl version also recently came out on Angry Voice and Terminal Records (the band’s first vinyl output). ATOMSKI RAT is a little difficult to describe. They are certainly a raw and feral dark hardcore punk band, but they are not generic. I can hear element of Dis-oriented punk like HELLKRUSHER, but they are quite versatile with songs borrowing from crossover hardcore thrash, primitive metal, and good old plain raw punk, I suppose not unlike a less pagan-sounding version of the aforementioned DAŽD (whom they cover) or even ’80s hardcore bands like TERVEET KÄDET or Brazilian hardcore thrash at times. The production is rather raw and the songs have more than enough energy to make up for it. I suppose the insane vocals are one of ATOMSKI RAT’s main assets, as they sound like a demented prophet of doom just escaped from the local asylum and is banging on your door to warn you that there is a war coming. In a good way, of course.

Repression Repression demo cassette

With three songs and about six minutes worth of music, this demo tape is short and to-the-point, although it is a bit difficult to say with accuracy what REPRESSION is going for here. As my nan would say, “they don’t mess around, this lot.’’ The first track is my favourite, a fast-paced raw hardcore punk number that reminds me a little of Californian peace punk. The second one has more of a beefy, stomping US-style vibe, while “Eradicated’’ is a heavy, slow-paced mosh-inducing song, which would be the exact time when I heroically retreat to the back of the room during a gig. I like the raspy and aggressive female vocals (I always do), and on the whole it does sound pretty mean and most of the typical boxes of 2020s hardcore are ticked. But to be honest, it leaves me a little cold as there are (too?) many bands trying to produce that hardcore blend right now, and I don’t think REPRESSION stands out enough. Who knows, perhaps subsequent releases will prove me wrong? This was released on Total Peace from Phoenix and all the proceeds go to Operation Solidarity, which is operated by Ukrainian anarchist groups trying to help out civilians in the war zone. A great initiative, and whatever the style of punk you play, this is what truly matters.

Barren Soil Barren Soil cassette

As you would be right to presume, BARREN SOIL do not play ’90s revival skacore; there aren’t any ska puns in their songs nor, as far as I can tell, any pork pie hats. Thank fuck for that. This Vancouver-based unit, as the grim and sadly realistic moniker gives away (a reference to a line from NAUSEA’s “Extinction”?), does not deal in cheerfulness—BARREN SOIL is an unstoppable metal crust bulldozer. We have been quite blessed (or cursed, depending on your point of view) with quality stenchcore music in the past couple of years, and this band definitely sits on the top shelf. This tape is their first recording, but the sound is amazing; it has a heavy, thick production but still keeps that specific nasty, dirty edge. The three-piece definitely knows what they are doing, and what they aim at creating and destroying with these eight songs (in fifteen minutes, an appropriate length for the genre). BARREN SOIL sounds like a brawl between deranged bears. It is an indelicate blend of NUCLEAR DEATH TERROR, mid 2010s CANCER SPREADING, and early ANGUISH, with grizzly vocals, some rotten, groovy FROST-like mid-paced bits, and even proper old-school blast beats, which I salute. So crusty it bites. I actually counted that the singer shouts the word “crust” six times on this recording, so there is one “crust” every 180 seconds on average (as a comparison, Oi! bands usually shout “oi!” every 55 seconds). Ace. The artwork, courtesy of Mike Roberts from GENOGEIST, fills the apocalyptic crust template to a T, too. This gem is a self-released tape, but it would certainly deserve a vinyl reissue. Now grab your crust pants and play this loud.

Drug City Drug City demo cassette

After much consideration, I have deduced that DRUG CITY is from Bruchsal in Germany, a middle-sized town not far at all from French Alsace. They have a song poetically entitled “South West Fuck You,’’ and since Bruchdal is located in the country’s southwestern part and that Iniquity Records is based there, my ever-insightful, perceptive mind was quick to guess (unless they are actually from Tucson?). I have to admit I had never heard of neither place nor band before, and this first demo tape is a rough one indeed. I have never been one to back down before barely audible distorted raw hardcore punk and even regularly play some during family dinners, but in this case I am at a loss as to what they are actually trying to do here. There is certainly a D-beat raw punk influence—they do cover DISCLOSE—and a couple of mid-paced songs, but the production is so rough that it pretty much falls flat, the songs lose the necessary energy, and the vocals have that evil hellish demented tone that would be more fitting to a blackened crust template. This very limited edition (ten copies!) is clearly a first attempt, but it is just very hard to listen to. I do like the lyrics however, especially to “Destroy All Art,’’ with its direct, political, and quite clever words. I just wish DRUG CITY would have been a bit less literal with the topic.

Tuhoon Tuomitut Nälkä Kasvaa Syödessä LP

I am very glad that I was assigned that one, not just because I am quite good at pretending I speak Finnish (it is not that hard, you just have to make up sentences with the names of Finnish punk bands while looking very stern, but note that it does not work when there are actual Finns in the room), but because I had the pleasure to see TUHOON TUOMITUT live this summer. Their name means “doomed,” and the band certainly delivered despite playing first at a festival when it was too early for people to be pissed yet and everyone was therefore still discerning. The Tampere-based TUHOON TUOMITUT plays punk-as-fuck thrashing anarcho-punk with furious dual-female vocals arranged in the classic trade-off style, with the demented, high-pitched screams and rabid hoarse screams discussing important political issues. The music is reminiscent of the ’90s and early ’00s crusty anarcho-punk wave, including bands like SOCIETY GANG RAPE, STRADOOM TERROR, JOBBYKRUST, and even WITCH HUNT or PARAGRAF 119, and I just love that unpretentious old-school feel. The songs are not formulaic, either—you have some tuneful moments and mid-tempo numbers as well as full-on hardcore thrash attacks, and I think the relentless vocals work very well with each other. I guess you could argue that the production is lacking a bit in power and is pretty basic, but it works with a style of punk that was once popular but seems to have gone a little out of fashion, so TUHOON TUOMITUT sounds almost fresh.

Nukies Can’t You Tell That This is Hell cassette

Fun fact: did you know that TOTALITÄR’s hit “Multinationella Mördare” was originally a very popular Swedish children’s song, one that all school kids have had to memorize since the mid-’80s? That explains a lot, doesn’t it? NUKIES —”nukie” being either the endearing term for a nuclear weapon or the name of a Star Wars creature—are a brand new band from Stockholm playing käng hardcore punk. Can’t You Tell That This is Hell includes nine songs of rocking and anthemic Swedish hardcore with a clear guitar sound and typical TOTALITÄR-ish blazing riffs. With the heavy rock’n’roll influence openly at the front, especially with the mid-paced headbanging numbers and the emphatic solos, SKITKIDS is an obvious point of reference, and I would locate NUKIES between them, INFERNÖH, and LARMA on the grand käng scale. This is definitely a hardcore ripper, the production is great for the genre, the catchy hooks are here, all very pleasant but I sometimes wished that it hit a bit harder. This was released on tape for some reason (quality-wise, it could definitely be on vinyl) by Adult Crash, a Danish label that was very active indeed on the hardcore front in 2022.

V/A Φωνή Διαμαρτυρίας (Voice of Protest) cassette

Now this is exactly the kind of project that gets me overexcited, almost to the point of hyperventilating. Φωνή Διαμαρτυρίας is a piece of punk archaeology. With more than four decades of punk music worldwide, in order to make sense of it all because the scope is vertiginous indeed, the global history of punk rock has to be polyphonic, like an endless, fluid, ever-evolving collection of specific stories. This Herculean task requires a quixotic nature to even contemplate engaging in such a perilous time-consuming endeavour. This compilation tape tells a particular story, one that can only be told from the inside: the rise and the stabilization of crust and extreme hardcore in Greece in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Many are not aware of the fact that Greek crust, with its distinctive apocalyptic and epic, aggressive, and melancholy metallic crunch, is an actual, proper style of crust music (try to remember it though, it is trivia-worthy), a branch on the proverbial scruffy crust tree like Japanese crasher crust or OC crust are, for instance. The man behind the label Extreme Earslaughter, Vangelis, is also the brain behind leading contemporary Greek crust act Παροξυσμός (PAROKSYSMOS), and many of his label’s tapes are great obscure stories of Greek crust, from the past and the present. This tape gathers twenty (very) rare songs (live or practice recordings) from brutal Greek punk bands, with some relatively well-known ’90s bands like Χαοτικό Τέλος (HAOTIKO TELOS), Αρνητική Στάση (ARNITIKI STASI) or Ναυτία (NAFTIA) as well as some genuinely unknown entities. I have to point out that the sound is mostly raw, if not rough, so if you have never dealt with that scene, it might be a bit of a tedious and tough listen, although it might prompt you and kindle the desire to check other works from the bands included. If you are already familiar with and fond of Greek crust, then it is pretty much a gift from the gods and the crust equivalent of finding the lost ark (but without the hassle of doing the research yourself or risking your life). The tape comes with a beautiful booklet with artwork and lyrics from each of the bands, which reminds me of the glory days of the ’90s anarcho-punk scene. This is what passion looks like.

Sociedad Bastarda Maqueta Askerosa demo cassette

Florida is not a place I associate much with punk rock, but SOCIEDAD BASTARDA proves me wrong. In our modern world, we are constantly fed new music that we are told is the next hottest shit in town, so bumping by chance into a brilliant unknown band like this lot feels like a breath of fresh air. What’s not to like in being sonically brutalized by dis-loving cavemen crust music? With a front cover depicting three visibly intoxicated crusters discussing the merits of the mighty GLOOM (just another day at the office, right?), and further unsubtle references to crasher crust with a logo using the classic double crass circles and the ELECTRO HIPPIES smiling face and the band openly thanking bands like ABRAHAM CROSS or DOOM for existing, the listener should know what kind of bollocking is to be expected. Unsurprisingly, SOCIEDAD BASTARD’s music is distorted, heavy, and crustier than your oldest pair of socks, but I would not describe them as being strictly crasher-noise-oriented. Beside the obvious DOOM/SORE THROAT structuring influence, the Japanese school of crust is also proudly represented with solid hints of CONTRAST ATTITUDE and ABRAHAM CROSS, and the band is clearly into the Swedish classics as they reworked two songs from BOMBANFALL and SHITLICKERS—to top it off, I am also reminded of more modern furious Scandicrust tornadoes like FLYBLOWN or WARVICTIMS. Quite a smoothie, that one. The production is cavernous and pummeling, the band’s slight sloppiness further adds to the impeccable crust vibe of the songs, and I love how the two pissed vocalists (en Español) work together here, too. I can definitely imagine SOCIEDAD BASTARDA delivering something really good on a proper vinyl release. This is gruff crust at its most asqueroso, the way it is meant to be. Yet another good one from Roachleg Records.

Organized Chaos Still Having Fun LP

I don’t know what to think about this one. I love and have a lot of respect for what Sealed Records put out. The label makes popular classic anarcho-punk records (from the ICONOCLAST, ZOUNDS, or RUDIMENTARY PENI) finally available again to the grateful punters, giving lesser-known/underrated but absolutely brilliant and crucial ’80s bands like TOXIC WASTE or KARMA SUTRA the reissue treatment at the same time. Clearly a work of passion and good taste I really relate to. But I was a little surprised to see this ORGANIZED CHAOS album. Not that the band is bad—they did play enjoyable enough political, snotty UK punk that makes you want to drink cheap cider and spike your hair (assuming you have any), but they can hardly be said to be as classic or memorable as the rest of the label’s catalogue, although they may have been very relevant in their area at the time (would that make them a ‘’local classic” band’’?). They sound like a mix of ACTIVES, LUNATIC FRINGE, and STUPID HUMANS (the band had a connection with Bluurg Records, actually), if you need points of comparison. If you are a massive fan of British anarcho-punk and undeterred by sloppiness in punk music in general, you should buy the thing, and the amount of work put into the huge booklet is worth supporting in any case, as Still Having Fun is as much a piece of our collective history as it is a record. However, if you are not a completist or an undiscerning fan like myself, I don’t think ORGANIZED CHAOS will impress you much. There are some decent sing-along numbers like ‘’H-bomb Wars,’’ but on the whole it is pretty typical and generic, neither really tuneful enough to be really memorable nor energetic and furious enough to really stand out. I want to like this more than I do.

Spore Rabid Intent cassette

Here comes a new band from Richmond, a town that has had a lot of solid hardcore bands for the past few years (something in the water, I suppose). I am not sure I totally get the recent floral obsession in American punk bands but a compilation with POLLEN, ALLERGY, FLOWER, and SPORE would be ace. Maybe as a benefit for a local garden centre? I had never heard of SPORE before this review, and Rabid Intent is a lovely little ripper and, impressively, the band’s first endeavour into the studio. My favourite thing about SPORE is the supremely angry, harsh, and powerful crusty-sounding female vocals. Fuck me. I am a massive sucker for female-fronted käng-flavoured hardcore, and these songs sound like you are being grabbed by the collar and shouted at for twelve minutes straight, which in real life would be pretty traumatizing but is exactly what you want from a furious hardcore punk band. It would not be wrong to claim that käng hardcore is SPORE’s primary source of inspiration (especially the modern TOTALITÄR-inspired bands and PARANOID as well), but I am hearing a lot of American hardcore as well, especially with the numerous tempo changes and the breaks, so that Rabid Intent often sounds like a US hardcore band having a go at Swedish hardcore rather than the opposite, which seems to be what a lot of bands, like the excellent AXE RASH, try to go for these days. The distorted guitar sound gives the material an additional aggressive edge and some nice textures, too. On the whole, this is a relentless recording with a lot of energy, although there may be a little too many changes in the songwriting for my taste (and too much reverb). I do believe the band has a lot of potential and is very promising, and we will be hearing about them in the future.

Lexicon Devoid of Light 12″

I would recommend blasting this one on a Monday morning—which is exactly what I am doing now, perhaps against my better judgement—as, not only will it wake you up efficiently if abruptly, but it will allow you to mentally pogo your way to Christmas and make the week more bearable. Iron Lung has been very busy in 2022 with no less than 27 new releases (which is more than the average number of baths a French person takes in a year), and LEXICON’s LP would be my favourite of the bunch. This Seattle band is seriously ferocious and relentless. The most immediately striking things about this work lie in the contagious energy of the songs, and the level of distortion which one would rightly associate with classic Kyushu noise punk or modern crasher hardcore—saying that LEXICON’s sound is close to ZYANOSE covering GAI in D-CLONE’s practice space is not irrelevant. However, in terms of songwriting and structures, I think LEXICON is significantly closer to USHC than they are to an Osaka distortion fest, especially since the music is crust-free (perhaps bands like NERVESKADE or SEX DWARF should come into the equation). I suppose Devoid of Light would probably appeal to all hardcore crowds, and the implacable intensity and furiousness make up for the work’s relative shortness and lack of really catchy hooks (I’m being picky here). I love the vocals as I think they convey seething anger very well, and they remind me of Jorge’s from the CASUALTIES, which I am sure is not what LEXICON’s singer was going for but there you go. A solid ear-splitting hardcore release with brilliant punk-as-fuck artwork, too. Europe soon?

Zaniak Zaniak cassette

I am aware that Marvel movies are pretty popular, but as far as I am concerned, watching one is something of a psychologically grueling endurance challenge. But then, I am clueless about American comics, so it makes sense. Zaniac is apparently a demonic parasitic creature from the Marvel universe, and this must be from where San Diego’s ZANIAK took their name. Zaniak is also a children’s game book, but it would not make much sense to have a blown-out pogo-core band named after that, I suppose. I actually really enjoy this recording, and while the most obvious influence would be fuzzy Japanese noise punk like the SWANKYS or a less distorted version of DUST NOISE, pogo punk love is strong in this one indeed, and bands like ORDER or SAD BOYS are also at the top of the recipe. Finally, I can detect a songwriting vibe that is not unlike the school of primitive, raw ’80s Mexican hardcore punk like HEREJIA or XENOFOBIA. But it could just be me. My one minor reservation lies in the vocals. There is probably too much effect on them and it somehow diminishes the sonic aggression in my book. I do love the gratuitous DISORDER-style lunatic screaming, though, and the punker-than-you artwork is lovely. On the whole, a pretty good first effort, a very fun band to listen to, and I’d love to have a band like ZANIAK where I live.

Hog Discografía 1996​–2001 LP

HOG is one of those ’90s bands I am familiar with but that I don’t actually know well. I remember hearing them and thinking they were alright, but did not bother checking their whole body of work. But since I love ’90s political crusty hardcore and Mexican punk in general, it proved to be fun to explore. They were from the Distrito Federal in Mexico and had three tapes (two of which were splits with ULTIMA RAZON MENTAL and INSURRECCION) and one proper EP released on Lengua Armada (it included their side from the split with URM), the well-known hardcore label run by Martin Crudos. This discography LP opens with HOG’s first tape from 1997 and it is probably my favourite of their recordings. They don’t sound full-on ’90s crust, but there is definitely a crusty element (they have clearly been listening to HIATUS). I can also hear that furious brand of thrashing Latin American political hardcore like the mighty ABUSO SONORO from Brazil (throw in some Scottish SEDITION, too), and it is not irrelevant to point out similarities with other raging Mexican bands like DESOBEDIENCIA CIVIL or DISCORDIA. The next songs are taken from the split with URM and show a more chaotic, grindcore-oriented HOG. The backbone is still of the threatening political thrashing hardcore variety, but the songs are shorter, a bit more complex and rougher, not unlike a more controlled REGENERACION maybe, and they hit hard. The last songs are written with a similar intent and originally appeared on compilations. It would be far-fetched to claim HOG were a classic band, but they were undeniably angry, emphatic, and honest, and relevantly reflected that late ’90s crusty hardcore vibe.

Massdead Compostable Billionaire Bones cassette

Ecological collapse is on its way. Because of capitalists’ greed and exploitation of natural resources, many species have tragically gone extinct, such as the Bramble Cay melomys, the Spix’s macaw, or the baiji, and the French social security system is bound to be next. One once-thriving species in the ’90s that everyone thought had been extinct since the late ’00s is the legendary dual-vocal cavemen crustcore. The only surviving specimen had long been thought to be MASSGRAVE. However, rumours of several sightings of the species in the wild caught my attention, and when it was confirmed that these beautiful animals had miraculously survived predatory species that had been invading their natural habitat (such as post-punk), it did bring tears to my eyes. With an unoriginal and referential name like MASSDEAD, it is pretty clear that this California unit is nodding toward MASSGRAVE’s furious grinding crustcore. That said, MASSDEAD trimmed off most of the grindcore aspect and, creatively speaking, are more akin to late DISRUPT, late ’80s EXTREME NOISE TERROR, or early VISIONS OF WAR. Compostable Billionaire Bones—a rather sensible green idea—sounds like a seriously pissed charging rhino and brings back a sound that I love dearly and that has sadly fallen out of fashion. The production is devastating and the vocals are adequately over-the-top. The persons responsible for this extreme crust assault have all been involved in bands like STORMCROW, VASTATION, and ABANDON, among many others. This Neanderthal crustcore attack was released on the excellent Blown Out Media, a label that specializes in class raw D-beat, beefy käng, and tasty old-school crust that I am following closely.

Gefyr Gefyr LP

Now Sweden, you are just being unfair; you are taking the piss. Seriously. Of course, käng hardcore was born from your womb, so it makes sense that your progeny would master the style. But still. A study from the World Hardcore Agency recently revealed that the ratio of D-takt/käng bands per capita in Sweden was as high as two in major towns, meaning that each Stockholm or Malmö inhabitant plays in at least two Scandicore bands (one of which has to start with the prefix “dis’’ by law; what an odd country, right?). For comparison, we in France have one D-beat band for ten million. I had never heard of GEFYR from Hudiksvall, which is almost insulting since I am a massive sucker for that style, but it appears there are just too many ace bands in Sweden to keep track of. GEFYR’s album, released on Gothenburg’s Flyktsoda, is a pummeling, furious slice of käng with a perfect production for the genre. It has relentless power while keeping a certain hardcore rawness. What a massive kick up the arse. The band is heavily influenced by classics like TOTALITÄR and NO SECURITY, and INFERNOH or PROFOSS also come to mind if you need a modern point of comparison. How could GEFYR fly under my omnipotent radar? The thing was mixed by Jan, engineer at D-Takt Studio and an actual dis-legend—pretty much to Swedish D-beat what Cristiano Ronaldo is to hair products—so it makes sense that it sounds so good.

Yilan Yilan demo cassette

This modest demo tape proves that D-beat raw punk has become, since the unstoppable rise of free music streaming and social media, an actual artistic language spoken liberally worldwide. One could probably communicate with other fellow punks everywhere with just a simple combination of DISCLOSE song titles and pictures of studded jackets—a solid basis for intercultural exchanges. YILAN is from Budapest and this tape is their first recording. The band describes themselves as a “D-beat raw punk terrorist organization/power trio,’’ which makes me thinks that they are probably the smallest terrorist organization ever recorded. They would still be able to terrorize my mum, I suppose. It will not baffle anyone to learn that YILAN plays, well, D-beat raw punk, with an adequate level of distortion, some dissonant mid-paced numbers to keep things interesting, and a SHITLICKERS cover just to make sure the listener really gets what they are going for. What makes them stand out is the very harsh and hoarse, aggressive female vocals, not unlike EXCREMENT OF WAR or HOMOMILITIA’s. The tape will satisfy those in need of raw dis-core, but will certainly leave cold those that are not (the fools!). I am curious to see what YILAN will offer next. The tape was released on Szégyen Kazetták, which translates to “cassettes of shame,” and seeing that they put out a band called PISS CRYSTALS, I salute the choice.

Fukker Demo EP

With inverted crosses on the Ks and a logo that has three skulls (two goat skulls and a human one that is being stabbed), an alert listener like myself can guess that this band called FUKKER is probably not arsing around with fancy melodies or ambitious songwriting (or even with tuning for all I know). I must say, I was not familiar with this Australian lot. Contrary to what the aesthetics hint at, FUKKER is not an evil metal-punk band, but a rather classic käng hardcore one, with a well-balanced, fuzzy, distorted sound and shouted vocals with a bit too much echo for my taste (a trap that too many hardcore bands fall into these days). I suppose they don’t intend to create anything new here, but it is done well enough and it reminds me a lot of the Japanese take on the Swedish hardcore sound, not unlike a hungover CONTRAST ATTITUDE covering SHITLICKERS and DISARM or something, but the closest comparison would be early GIFTGASATTACK. This six-song demo was originally released on tape in 2019 but this is the vinyl version of it released on two Australian labels that specialize in raw and noisy hardcore, Televised Suicide Records (BOOTLICKER, ODIO, DISEASE, KOSZMAR, etc.) and Fuzzed Atrocities. Did I mention that FUKKER covers NO FUCKER? Cheeky bastards.

Kanada Kanada LP

Now here’s an obscure one. This album is a reissue of an ’80s punk band from Mikołów, Silesia, not far from Katowice in South Poland (just in case you are too lazy to actually check the location on your smartphone). I suppose that if you already know KANADA, a band with former members from AWERSJA and GARAZ W LEEDS, you were probably a young Silesian punk rocker between 1987 and 1989. It would be a euphemism to point out that those were not exactly the easiest times to play political punk music in that part of the world, and most music from Polish punk bands in the ’80s was taken from live tapes or rough studio recordings, which is the case here. In retrospect, especially if you are familiar with what Polish punks were up to, you could say that the sadly short-lived KANADA was quite unique because of their heavy UK anarcho-punk influence. Their rather tuneful and versatile punk rock style with snotty dual male/female vocals reminds me a lot of ALTERNATIVE, CHUMBAWAMBA, and TOXIC WASTE, and “Apatia’’ is even a reworking of a POLITICAL ASYLUM song. The closest comparison with another Polish band I can think of is the criminally underrated STRACONY, but they would only start to play five years after the demise of KANADA. The first ten songs are taken from a live recording from a gig in Wodzisław Śląski and were originally released on tape on Svoboda Records in 1990. The sound is unsurprisingly a little thin, although KANADA were pretty tight indeed. The two last numbers on the LP are studio songs and hint at how great a proper KANADA album would have been, especially since the lyrics are passionate and highly political (‘’Pray, vote, and die,’’ they shout). This wonderful piece of punk history is released on Enigmatic Records, a label that had been running prolifically from 1989 to 2005 and came back to life in 2019. Fans of traditional British anarcho-punk will love this one. A real enigma remains: why call your band ‘’KANADA’’? Had they been a terrible ska act, I would have understood ‘’SKANADA,’’ but I admit I am clueless here.

Ä.I.D.S. The Road to Nuclear Holocaust 12″

My dad’s dog is really quite extraordinary—my dad actually thinks the said dog is Nobel Prize material, but he’s always been a little hyperbolic. The little bastard has the sharpest ear in the animal realm. Even if you softly whisper words like “cake” or “walk” to someone else’s ear, the furry tornado will rush toward you and glare miserably. I am endowed with the same power when it comes to DISCHARGE. I can effortlessly hear random people in another room discussing the band and, while I try not to bother them, a part of me wishes that I would be more like my dad’s dog and just run to them. So when I heard about Ä.I.D.S., a Swedish project blending the classic D-Takt sound with power electronics, I was very curious, and upon reading the epic romantic description provided by La Vida Es Un Mus, the well-established and prolific label releasing it, I was determined to love The Road to Nuclear Holocaust (a very common road in D-beat mythology). I don’t necessarily dislike original takes on the discore genre—I love THISCLOSE and their silly but respectful tribute to the obsession with DISCHARGE, and even the insane Truth of Arize LP (harsh noise + DOOM-styled cave-crust) gets some playing time. But this one does not do anything for me. There are classic DISCHARGE riffs and a couple of decent ideas but on the whole it just sounds like a bored punk arsing around with a synth during the COVID lockdown convinced that Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing would sound alright with more solos and played through a ’90s kid’s electronic toy. I wanted to love this but ended up disappointed.

Hellshock Hellshock LP

Like many soap-dodging, crust-loving punks of my generation, HELLSHOCK is a band that has had a massive influence on me (especially as far as my crust-pants wearing habits go), and the ’00s stenchcore revival that followed in their wake was brilliant and probably the first meaningful wave I felt a part of—let’s not count the sloppy CASUALTIES cosplay of the late ’90s. I still play the early records regularly, and while time was not so kind to some of the ’00s metal crust bands, HELLSHOCK still sounds genuinely brilliant. The world left them at They Wait For You Still in 2009, an album infused with Japanese hardcore which I have always been quite undecided about. It was not a bad piece of work, but I could not relate to it that much, and in the end did not care much about it. When this brand new album recently came out, I was very curious like everyone I suppose, but did not expect too much. And sadly, I cannot say I care about this one either. This time, HELLSHOCK are full-on old school death metal and, apart from the odd crust overtone, the band of yore is definitely gone. I am sure they still sound like a freight train live, but this LP leaves me a bit cold, like death metal does in general. One can safely assume that death metal fans would be well into it. I do think the artwork looks brilliant, though.

Languid A Paranoid Wretch in Society’s Games LP

If D-beat was an Olympic sport, it would probably be diving—like diving, to the unversed, it pretty much always sounds and looks the same. Only self-proclaimed experts can actually tell the brilliant kind from the mediocre one, and everyone can spot a really botched dive just as well as an excruciatingly boring D-beat band. And if D-beat was an Olympic discipline (it won’t be until 2032), then LANGUID would possibly win a gold medal. This Edmonton band has been going since 2015 and has delivered quality orthodox D-beat ever since, but their new album A Paranoid Wretch in Society’s Game (a very COVID-compatible title) takes them to new heights. D-beat is a subgenre based on strict expectations, and LANGUID knows the game well and totally meets it with a heavy production, perfect Swedish D-beat riffs, some groovy bass lines, a very pure version of the beat on the drums, and shouted vocals with the compulsory scansion, flow, and accentuation. LANGUID belongs to the Swedish branch of the loving D-beat family and clearly aims at emulating DISFEAR (A Brutal Sight of War-era), DISPENSE (In the Cold Night-era), and the most obvious reference by far, Remaining Right: Silence by MEANWHILE, a band who under the name DISCHANGE were one of the very first bands in punkstory to try to sound just like DISCHARGE. So from a creative stance, LANGUID tries to sound just like a band who tried to sound just like another band. Referential punk poetry in action. This album is a pure declaration of love to the mighty D and probably the strongest work in the Swedish-styled D-beat category in a few years (it is admittedly a narrow category). This gem was released on D-Takt & Råpunk Records, a label that specializes in such delicacies, the aptly nightmarish artwork was drawn by Adam Kindred (from CONTAGIUM and ZYGOME), and it was mastered by Kenko…from MEANWHILE. A future classic, to be sure.