Romain Basset

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.