MRR #477 • February 2023

208 Nearby LP

This is the first LP from 208, a guitar-and-drums duo from Detroit. The sound all throughout is swampy and completely blown-out, almost to the point of making the whole recording sound as one. Imagine Jet Generation slowed down and blasted through an overdriven bass amp. 208 has the key words that I am usually immediately drawn to: blues, basement, and Detroit; however, in this case it’s impossible for me to get past the mixing. It’s a “once you hear it you can’t unhear it” kind of situation. I am sure that underneath the wall of murk there is something very engaging to be had. I bet they kill it live, it’s all about context right!?!?

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.

Abi Ooze Forestdale Sessions cassette

JOAN JETT and the RAMONES are listed as influences here, and reader, this is no lie. Prepare to be whisked away to a basement show in your senior year. It’s packed with friends, randos, and a janky PA. You’ve endured the awful nü metal band who bought the keg, but then some unassuming looking punks plug in, turn up, and play a set that blows everyone away. You pogo, drink watery beer, and break the chair sitting down too hard.

Absolute Order? Arrrgh EP

ABSOLUTE ORDER? brings quick, tight, pogo-able punk to any party with the Arrrgh EP. Five songs (four originals and a cover), bashing and chugging their way in a UK82 style. There is something here that is very different from what most people would expect from something described as UK82, though. There’s an element of play in ABSOLUTE ORDER? that is less hardcore and more like something the TOY DOLLS might deliver, a sort of humorous outlook on the dark lyrics. The song “Blink of an Eye” is perhaps the darkest of the bunch, with lyrics critiquing our collective misuse of Mother Earth, but then ABSOLUTE ORDER? heads right into a blasphemous cover of “Barbara Ann” that is definitely meant for fun. Overall, an enjoyable spin.

Atol Atol Atol Koniec Sosu Tysiąca Wysp CD

Polish post-punk with limber bass and drum interplay at the fore. The songs sound like a frenetic Etch-a-Sketch, quickly rendered and quickly shaken away. While rhythms bounce like a rubber ball around the room, the nooks and crannies are filled in with spates of scratchy guitar scribbles and glitchy electronic squirms, with terse dual shouting right down the middle.

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.

Bar Tape Bar Tape LP

Beer-sloshing pub-punk from the debut LP of Dublins’ BAR TAPE. This is melodic in the likeness of MILLENCOLIN or NO USE FOR A NAME, but far less whiny, and more driven for fun. At times, the dueling male vocals remind of some LEFTÖVER CRACK verses as well.  By the third song “God Damn,” the lads have already lost their voices, in the best way possible, wth “oooooh” backing melodies under the gruffly-sung “Smile and pray / And walk your own way” (from what I can parse). This is nothing groundbreaking, and maybe you’ve retired from this type of Oi!-ish, ’90s teen skater thing, but if you’ve got room for a little rough-housing and nostalgia, get your friends together and have a knock around. 

Black Shape F·U·C·K·M·E cassette

Earlier encounters with BLACK SHAPE, London-based if not necessarily Londoners, pegged them in my mind as jawdropping outsider two-man doom primitivism (with recorder solos and monologues)—a British version of SLOTH, in essence. This album-length tape is distinct from that, in that the songs are faster and it sounds a little cleaner, though we’re talking guitar heroics somewhere between HARVEY MILK and SCISSORFIGHT with a touch of SHELLAC clang-tone, so all these things are relative. The guitarist, David Burdis, also writes lyrics for the ages: genuinely funny without just doing relentless one-liners or otherwise going OTT on the zaniness (that NORMAL MAN LP from a few years back is a decent reference point, actually.) “Your Money or Your Life,” towards the end of the album, contains especially pleasing multitudes: a VAN HALEN-worthy solo, Burdis’ condensed history of capitalism (“Back in the day it was all about goods / Brought in the ships by the merchant traders / Now they trade in imaginary things / Information, numbers, ideas”), and a concluding call for solidarity with people who have to clean toilets after the world’s vomiting hordes have passed through.

Bleakness Life at a Standstill LP

What can you say, the French love their cold goth post-punk and so do I. From the same label as the excellent SYNDROME 81 is BLEAKNESS with their second LP, Life at a Standstill. While the former plays it straight with the post-punk iciness, BLEAKNESS is far more dramatic, opening the album with a lone piano that gives the proceedings a dramatic flair that permeates throughout the album. The vocals especially stand out; they have a pained warble that feels authentic. While all ten tracks are solid, two stand out above the rest: halfway point “Refuse Their Reality,” a hypnotic spoken word deathrocker that has an evil BAUHAUS vibe, and “19061924,” a beautiful and surprisingly sweeping instrumental that, if pushed, could almost go into MOGWAI or even PELICAN-like territory. I’ve got to say, it really left me wanting more of that sound. I’ll be excited to hear whatever these guys come up with next.

Boom Boom Kid Souvenir Tour Europeo 2022 7″

Date yourself by saying that you remember BOOM BOOM KID’s debut Okey Dokey like it was yesterday. Now note that this EP was released for the European tour that marked the 20th anniversary of that timeless slab of melodic punk and…sigh. But they’re still at it, and these two songs are some of the best BOOM BOOM KID material I’ve heard. Tuneful and tune-filled infectious punk fronted by Nekro’s inimitable and eponymous tenor voice. Equally perfect for long-time fans like me or soon-to-be converts like…you?

Bothers II LP

Second full-length from Portland’s BOTHERS. Very interesting record, as it tends to meld certain punk styles that typically contrast. While a majority of the record has an early HOT WATER MUSIC/LEATHERFACE vibe, you can also hear a little bit of LAUGHING HYENAS-era John Brannon in the vocals. Songs swap between brutal, straightforward power chords to soaring harmonies. Catchy as all hell at parts. The bass is the unsung hero of this album, putting in work throughout. I wish it was a little louder in the mix so it could act as a stronger driver. For fans of No Idea Records and other melodic hardcore from the ’90s.

Burn All Flags Burn All Flags 12″

Collecting songs from three different early 2000s recording sessions, this small-batch, lathe-cut release shines a spotlight on Manchester outfit BURN ALL FLAGS. It’s seventeen tracks of fast, politically charged late ’90s-style punk. At their best, they sound like a snottier early ANTI-FLAG, and at their worst, they sound like RANCID. I’m sure this will be a solid nostalgia trip for some, I’m just not sure who.

Butcher’s Laugh Demo 2022 cassette

Like many of my favorite HC/punk bands, BUTCHER’S LAUGH is tuneful under all the noise. Sure, the guitars are abrasive and the drums rarely move beyond a pogo march, but the songs have a little ’77 or early ’80s hardcore catchiness. The band isn’t just throwing one over the other; the harmony and dissonance work together. The tape ends with an air raid siren wailing over the fading feedback. I’ve heard this move countless times, but it sounds a little less ironic in 2023.

Cacogens Flesh in Hell cassette

Cool synth punk side-project from one of the members of WEREWOLF JONES. Check out the cover art—I wanted a shirt of it before I pressed play, and now I want one even more. “Flesh in Hell” begins with detuned guitars and synths like a demented orchestra warming up and then delivers eight keyboard-addled garage punk dirges with raw vocals. The whole tape is solid, but “Facehugger” and “The Garden” are clear standouts. “Facehugger” is a dark and woozy post-punk hit with a jagged guitar line that sticks in your brain. If goth sounded like this, I would commit to the darkness. “The Garden” starts off with bizarre vomit-sung vocals that end up being pretty catchy after a few repetitions, and ends with a grandiose instrumental buildup that lands somewhere between COWS and freaky labelmate SPACE DANISH. Keep an eye on CACOGENS and keep an eye on Tetryon because they have released some under-the-radar weirdo gems like this tape lately.

Caverna Nueva Paz 12″

Another hardcore band from Colombia, and yes, they are great, too. Each song is violent and intense, although most have an interesting blend of different tempos, unexpected bridge parts, and smart stops. The record has the power of running into the wall and continuing to crawl forward through the cracks, yet CAVERNA operates with rather thoughtful coloring of, at their core, raw punk songs—these extra thoughts do not tame any of their songs. Each is killer, recorded in a great form that translates their power perfectly. If not, and they are in fact even better live, then I would love to see them. For real, this is a great record; there is the powerful urgency, the drums are beaten as if each slam would hit my brain, and the record has a non-stop noise current that pushes each song into my face. It’s super pissed, tastefully diverse, and lacks any gimmicks. I should stop writing this and instead try to find a copy for myself. Highest recommendation.

Choke Cocoi Choke Cocoi LP

Releasing a full-length album is a significant moment in any band’s trajectory. For CHOKE COCOI, that moment was over twenty years in the making, and the results feel particularly noteworthy. Hailing from Lucena City, Philippines, CHOKE COCOI is one of the few all-women punk bands from their country. They have been a source of inspiration for legions of punks and metalheads across Southeast Asia and beyond. So, at long last we have their debut LP, and it’s a banger. Thirteen cuts of blistering, dark neo-crust with a prominent metallic bent. The band’s years of experience shine through in the precision and deliberateness with which the songs are constructed. I can only presume that these are the crème de la crème. There are lots of twists and turns to be found. Tempos change multiple times in each song—from moshy breakdowns to blastbeats—but this keeps things interesting and never seems gratuitous or contrived. There is a ferocity here that most bands only gesture at, with the vocals in particular delivering a pummeling, relentless aural assault. CHOKE COCOI is somewhat reminiscent of LUDICRA, if they were more punk than metal, or SCHIFOSI if they were more metal than punk. And while they bear resemblance to some of the finer bands of the mid-’00s wave of heavy melodic crust, CHOKE COCOI has clearly forged their own path. In a world where most bands actively imitate others, this is no small feat.  

Cigar The Visitor CD

Skate punk veterans from the late ’90s get back together again, and, well, do a new record. CIGAR was always noteworthy for the incredible speed and precision of their drumming, and sort of melded PENNYWISE and the SATANIC SURFERS with lots of RUSH-esque chops and changes and stops and starts. I mean, why use three chords when you can use thirteen instead!? For those looking for some straight-ahead LAGWAGON, you’ll be disappointed. But if you fancy BAD RELIGION doing some math rock, you’ll be in veritable heaven, all driven by a drummer who makes early NAPALM DEATH sound positively laid-back.

City Saints Punk & Roll CD

Slick-sounding, upbeat, almost poppy street punk, with songs sung in both English and Swedish. I would throw this in a “street punk starter pack” for anyone who was interested in the genre but maybe didn’t know where to start, as a way to ease into it.

Claymore Crime Pays! LP

You know those stories you read in the papers? The ones about people who wake up after a traumatic incident and they speak in an accent they’ve never had before? Seems rare, right? Well, I can only assume that matey who sings in CLAYMORE has had this happen to him, because there is no earthly reason why anyone would pick to sound like this—every new syllable reveals new wonders as they are approached and attacked in untold and unpredictable ways. One minute it sounds like TOM WAITS doing a prank call as a British person, the next like Tim Armstrong being startled by a cold toilet seat. Truly, genuinely unbelievable. If the music wasn’t so by-the-books and unremarkable it might make this record interesting. However, it isn’t, so it’s not.

Completed Exposition Early Tracks: 2004–2013 10″

If there was ever a release meant for 625 Thrashcore, it’s this collection of blistering cuts from Osaka’s COMPLETED EXPOSITION. A collection of their first four demos and unreleased/comp tracks, this 10” is a fucking clinic in manic fastcore/grind from a three-piece that’s been in the game for almost two decades—raw, punishing, chaotic hardcore stripped down to its purest form; twenty blasts of unadulterated speed. I consider myself lucky to have seen them in the US and Japan, and I’ve listened to the Structure Space Mankind LP more times than I can count…but listening to this record just makes me want to feel that power again. Mandatory for the uninitiated, and even more important for those who already know.

Conditions Apply Rage & Ignorance CD

CONDITIONS APPLY aren’t especially catchy, but their songs still have a memorable, infectious quality, like a chant at a St. Pauli game. The drums deliver a martial beat while the guitars and vocals follow suit: three, maybe four chords barely identifiable under the distortion and rumbling bass. The lyrics include the usual suspects of left-wing punk grievances, but honestly, even the party song sounded like an angry screed.

Corvo Cortadas cassette

Where the fukk did this come from!?! From the opening blast, DC’s CORVO absolutely obliterates six manic, fast hardcore tracks, dropping in mind-bending riffs just when you start to get comfortable. Each track keeps you guessing, even though they never stray too far off the path—guitar solos that jump out from behind a corner, breakdowns when you least expect them, marble-mouthed Spanish-language vocals that struggle to keep up with riffs that are just….just…well, there are a lot of wild riffs. This was my first exposure to CORVO and I loved all ten minutes of it

Counter Control The World is Burning Up cassette

COUNTER CONTROL from Indiana offers up this cassette as their second release. Blisteringly fast and airtight instrumentals over a delightfully unhinged vocal delivery, all encompassed in quite rough and abrasive production (exactly as it should be). All the tunes here are great, but the closing track “Counter Control” is by far the standout with its dissonant riffage and several tempo shifts and even some youthful gang shouts thrown in for good measure. A jolly good time and worth your while!

Crime 84 Kidnapped demo ​​cassette

Some real rocker shit from out of Jakarta here; UK82-influenced pogo mayhem to shake yer mullet to. Driving drums for the dis-rocker in your life, barked vocals, and guitars that rattle along at a rate of knots. If you like the SKEPTIX, ULTRA VIOLENT, or even GBH, you’ll find something to like here.

Cymeon X Wygrać Swoje Życie LP

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

Dead 77 Demons LP

The first full-length from Los Angeles’ DEAD 77. Upon first glance, I fully expected this to be a street punk album, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it was more akin to the early A-F Records bands such as THOUGHT RIOT and the CODE. Gang vocals galore here, which act as a call and response to the raw, melodic lead vox. There’s a delicate balance to be had between both, and DEAD 77 does a good job of not overlapping them. It creates a strong energy that is unwavering throughout the entire record. This is also helped by the guitars, which are layered into a wall of sound, peppered with fiery leads throughout. Well worth a listen if you’re a fan of late ’90s melodic hardcore.

Destripados Lenguas Venenosas LP

The Portland scene continues to churn out some of the best and most unique hardcore/D-beat. Case in point: DESTRIPADOS (“gutted”), a four-piece consisting of members from Peru and Columbia who have created a masterfully blistering, ear-bleeding record of hell on earth. A few of the songs are delivered in Spanish, and each one tears the world apart layer by layer. Throughout each track, the band’s delivery and sordid energy is punishing and does not leave a second to waste. Some CRUCIFIX and VARUKERS meets TOTALITÄR, with lots of songs ending with a persistent and desperate falling shriek. DESTRIPADOS do not slouch on a single track throughout the Lenguas Venenosas LP, with “Eat N Shut Up,” “Deadly Pathogen,” and the album’s title track being prime examples. I really, really dig this record. Please come and play in my hometown.

Devastation Fucking Bastards demo cassette reissue

It is a joy getting to review this one. DEVASTATION was a crust punk hardcore band fromConnecticut  who recorded this back in the late ’90s, but I don’t think a lot of folks got to hear it then. It’s a shame, as this is pure slime-drenched blackened gold. There’s a lot of history here that you can search for online, as members went on to bands like MANKIND?, BLANKS 77, DESTROY, STATE OF FEAR, BEHIND ENEMY LINES, and tons more. With the latter band in that list, you can see there’s a Pittsburgh connection with AUS ROTTEN and CAUSTIC CHRIST, which made me really happy. The music is along the lines of the faster, crustier bands they would later go on to, as well as the token DISCHARGE worship, but this stands alone quite nicely. It sold out quickly, so I hope to score a copy somewhere. There’s also material from a split with the late, great DISTRAUGHT that never saw the light of day. Hope to see that out at some point, too. Kill!

Discomfort Creature Discomfort Creature LP

Melodic punk that kinda sounds like GREEN DAY, if they made a hard right at the fork in the road that led them down the rock opera path at the left. Cementing this opinion is the fact that the singer sounds so eerily similar to Billie Joe, both vocally and in the way some of the vocals are structured, that I had to make sure my headphones were plugged in to the right thing. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, this is a really great record. A very catchy, fun listen. Kinda like a more matured take on the pop punk sound.

Choke / Döpemess split cassette

Music aside for a second—maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I don’t understand why each half of this split is being hosted on two separate Bandcamp pages. I’m aware that this is first and foremost a cassette release, but the majority of the folks who will be listening to this will be doing so digitally. I feel like it would make more sense having it all in one place. Regardless, it’s a pretty groovy split. Both bands sound different enough for it to be interesting. As a two-piece, DÖPEMESS does a fantastic job filling any and all gaps. Drums are incredible and never waver. Fast as all hell. Dual vocals give the tracks a real call-and-response vibe. CHOKE is much more slow and low, reminiscent of SPAZZ and CAPTAIN THREE LEG-styled powerviolence with their barking vocals. Drums sound almost impossibly fast at times. Comes complete with samples that are almost longer than the song. Good shit.

Dragged Dragged cassette

Hailing from New Bedford MA, DRAGGED is new to me, although I knew the name sounded familiar (they played a gig with CONSERVATIVE MILITARY IMAGE a bit back). From the sound of the opening “blergh!,” I was expecting a WARTHOG or maybe POISON IDEA-style hardcore punk, and while those influences are definitely there, the overall vibe reminds me more of NEGATIVE APPROACH, especially in the vocal department. All of these songs kick ass, but my favorite is “Tough Look.” Its mid-tempo metal chug goes well with the mean vocals and breaks the proceedings up nicely, giving you a moment to bang your head before the remainder of the tape bangs you in the head. Check it out!

Electrika Agonia EP

Oof—this is a good one. Super-pissed, lead-heavy hardcore from Mexico City that mixes elements of crust, D-beat, Japanese hardcore, and even a little crossover in some of the drum patterns. Imagine H.H.H., GAUZE, maybe a sprinkle of HIS HERO IS GONE. It all adds up to a short, nasty treat that is perfectly accentuated by the throat-shredding shrieks of vocalist Diana. The first two tracks have pounding, mid-tempo, rolling drums and distorted bass that give them a crusty feel, while “Tormenta” speeds with D-beats and double-kicks. The effect is like a punch right in the middle of the chest—it knocks you back and takes your breath. I wish I had the Spanish-language lyrics to translate, and I also wish this EP were longer. Check it out.

Endless Bore Drive Not Detected LP

The newest release from Australian-based grindcrushers ENDLESS BORE is another winner,  delivering more angry, riffy hardcore with blisteringly fast powerviolence thrown in the mix, with a few surprises also in store for you. Can’t go wrong with this slab of aggression and fun—check this one out!

Estorbo Estorbo cassette

I like this cassette a lot—bass-driven, noisy, chaotic, raw punk sung in Spanish that makes me want to pogo, two-step, and otherwise act a fool. Only two songs on this ten-song cassette clock in at over two minutes, so you know ESTORBO isn’t messing about. Sonically tight, ESTORBO rages and smashes through songs with intricately crafted instrumental sections all played with just enough slop to give the feeling that it was recorded live. “En la Cruce” is one of the slower-paced songs; the chugging guitars, crashing cymbals, and stomping bass connect my primordial mind to my body and get me moving almost immediately.

Exploatör Blind Elit LP

Comprised of ex-TOTALITÄR members (three out of five) and other high-ranking käng veterans, EXPLOATÖR are simply kings of the genre, sounding better than ever on their third release. The formula remains the same – heavy hardcore punk with a manic D-beat backbone and raw vocals, and here it’s executed flawlessly. The sound is full and scorching, with some direct DISCHARGE worship in tunes like the title track and “Skiter På Allt,” as well as songs like “Ingrid Framtid” and “Dags Att Dö” that echo the almost-jazzy energy of TOTALITÄR’s swan-song Vi Är Eliten LP. These guys somehow make that rough shit go down so smooth. Special props to Poffen for stubbornly refusing lozenges since the 1980s.

Factory City Children Perfect Utopia EP

Here’s some cool shit outta New York via Mateo (or “Tormented Imp,” as credited here) of WARTHOG fame. Auto-drum mutant punk is how I’d describe this one; imagine the Gremlins from the movie Gremlins starting a punk band and you’re close. First up is “Perfect Utopia,” which is more or less “Some Kind of Hate” by MISFITS if it were dropped into a vat of toxic sludge. It’s as awesome and weird as it sounds. The rest of the EP follows suit: wicked vocals, catchy riffs, and demented programmed drum beats. “Obsessed” and “Gut the Pig” are both quick and evil bursts that sound like RAMONES songs dressed up in Halloween costumes. “Hell Man 88” changes the pace a bit with a mid-tempo WARTHOG-ish rocker, and “F.U.M.E.S.” wraps things up nicely, taking a quick feedback-filled breather before making a final descent to hell. Originally released in 2021 on cassette and now on vinyl thanks to Toxic State, this is a surprisingly charming EP that is sure to delight all of you mutants listening out there.

False Figure Castigations LP

Normally, I’m a huge fan of anything goth and darkwave, but this album just did nothing for me. The music is good, the production is fine, there’s just something missing. It kind of reminds me of the HUNT, but the vocals aren’t as looming. There are definitely moments of the CURE, a touch of CHRISTIAN DEATH, but nothing that screams “This is a keeper!” I’m sure there are people that’ll love this album, but I’ll personally keep looking.

Flea Collar Flea Collar LP

Spot, Sparky, Cookie, and Blitz—members of BAD NOIDS, BROWN SUGAR, and WOODSTOCK ’99 and current Cleveland weirdos—drop their debut LP on Feel It. Nine tracks of gremlin-y hardcore bound to induce the zoomies in all you puppers and doggos. Sounds like a mix of ’80s hard rock, the STALIN, and a survey of USHC from ’81–’95. Closing track “In the Abyss of the Eclipse” even has a bit of a dum-dum “Third Stone From the Sun” vibe because, well, why wouldn’t it? Real good stuff! Best of all, you get to see this gorgeous watercolor cover art and the lyrics lovingly rendered on a gatefold sleeve so you have no trouble reading along with tracks like “Buttcrack Man” and “Jacken It”!

Fruit Tones Pink Wafer Factory LP

FRUIT TONES have the ’60s-inspired garage revival sound completely nailed down. From the jangle and chime of their lo-fi guitars, to the Jagger-on-benzos vocal delivery, these Manchester (UK) freaks deliver just the right blend of charm and sleaze to make things interesting. There’s a touch of early BLACK LIPS and a hint of REIGNING SOUND lurking beneath the paisley-patterned façade, but FRUIT TONES stick mostly to their roots. This album fits into the Alien Snatch catalog like Lux Interior fit into a pair of sweaty leather pants…exquisitely. 

Gasmiasma At War With Punk cassette

A six-track 2022 cassette originally recorded in 2015 by New Orleans, Louisiana’s GASMIASMA, featuring members of EYEHATEGOD and CROWBAR. High-velocity powerviolence mixed with crust that seems to never stop, with several hardcore punk nods, great ranting vocals (desperate screaming choruses are included), and thrashy guitars with crazy whips. A ball of sound can be found in almost each song, giving us that uneasy feeling that some crave. Suggested tracks: “Skin the Corpse of Action” and “The Name is Clash, Not Crass,” in order to lose your mind in the pit.

Government Abuse Pigs in Pigs Clothing flexi EP

More lean than a ‘roid-raging gym rat, GOVERNMENT ABUSE tears through four songs in less than four minutes. Don’t be fooled by the ultra-generic band name—this flexi rules! It sounds as though these Swedish freaks immersed themselves in some classic USHC; URBAN WASTE springs immediately to mind. No breakdowns, elaborate intros, or other unnecessary bullshit to be found here, just full-bore hardcore with tasty riffs and pissed-off vocals. For reasons unspecified, this release took a while to see the light of day after being recorded back in 2014. I’m glad it has finally made its way onto a physical medium. Hopefully there will be more to follow.

Green/Blue Worry / Gimme Hell 7″

This Minneapolis act featuring folks from the BLIND SHAKE and the SOVIETTES is once again teaming up with Feel It, bringing you their third release of 2022! And it’s a bit of a tonal shift from their prior two LPs. Where those records borrowed heavily from new wave, shoegaze, and indie pop to make dark but airy compositions, the two tracks on this 7” are much more straightforward, stripped-down, and anthemic. There’s still some darkness to be found here thanks to some overdriven one(ish)-chord riffs and thick, primitive drumming, both of which sound like they’ve been pulled straight from White Light/White Heat, really imbuing these tracks with some of that record’s seediness. Most of that is tempered by the vocals though, which are anything but dark. Annie Holoien and Jim Blaha tackle vocal duties together, simultaneously belting out melodies that are pretty sweet and uplifting. The end result is something like a bizarro-world version of the VELVET UNDERGROUND put together by the folks behind UP WITH PEOPLE. It’s a combination that I’d probably shy away from if I’d just read about it, but turns out it really works in practice. Give it a listen!

Grout EP II cassette

EP II begins with a riff practically lifted from RUDIMENTARY PENI’s “Inside,” and continues in that vein from there. There’s Blinko and company’s stompy beats, buzzsaw guitar, and drums sounding like they’re played inside a cavernous warehouse. The tape occasionally deviates from that formula—”Confine” speeds up to a rollicking D-beat. But for the most part, they’re playing at the pace of pogo. I feel like I’ve heard all these songs before, which I mean in the best possible way.

Gunfighter Ballads EP

Transmissions of a phantom radio program that broadcasts intermittently from a parallel dimension, a dimension where Martin Rev programmed beats for the LEGENDARY STARDUST COWBOY in a project called GUNFIGHTER that creates psychobilly anthems for the 21st century. Turn it up!

Hammered Hulls Careening LP

’80s hardcore is back! But was it ever gone? While this is HAMMERED HULLS’ debut LP, coming after their 2019 self-titled 7″, they are by no means a novice act. The foursome of Mark Cisneros (CHAIN AND THE GANG) on guitar, Mary Timony (AUTOCLAVE, HELIUM, EX HEX) on bass, Chris Wilson (TED LEO / PHARMACISTS) on drums, and Alec MacKaye (IGNITION, UNTOUCHABLES) on vocals (and yes, younger brother of Ian MacKaye) have all contributed to many more bands than mentioned, and are all legends, still at large.  HAMMERED HULLS p(l)ays homage to its ’80s DC hardcore roots, vis-à-vis MINOR THREAT, FUGAZI, RITES OF SPRING (the lyrics here bring them to mind), BAD BRAINS—you name it—yet their sound strives purposefully into the present. Or is it Careening its way to us?  Too pissed and sad to run, too driven to ever stop. The guitar riffs are clever, fast, and range from off-tempo jabs to steady chugging; the bass steamrolls through each track and then links up with the guitar line for techy transitions; drums slam and berate, then back off at the crescendo, rolling with the bass as Alec picks it all up again with spoken, sung, and screamed lyrics. This whole album rules, but “Abstract City” and “Written Word” are at the top of the heap, for me. Careening is already sold out on their Bandcamp page, so check your local shop.  Do. Not. Miss.

Heavy Metal IV: Counter Electrode Iron Mono 2xLP

Is HEAVY METAL heavy metal? Nope, but that’s old news. They’re not really punk either, except that they totally are. I don’t even want to ruin the breadth of surprises on this 2xLP vinyl pressing by describing the tracks. Spurts of perfect lo-fi garage punk meld into and stomp through dance pop, experimental electronic, post-punk, shambling C86 pop, and hip hop, all peppered with found-sound non-sequiturs. It shouldn’t work, but it flows so well, like a mixtape from a cultured and weird friend who gets to everything just a little sooner than you do. I was sold from the first ten seconds of the funky, BS2000-style drum break of opener “Savagely Beaten by Funk” and rewarded for the next hour. HEAVY METAL throws all popular music and sick modern culture into a blender, and we are fortunate to drink from its nectar. Get into it—Total Punk is only doing one pressing.

Hiatus From Resignation… LP reissue

Crusties arise! HIATUS (Belgium’s answer to all things crust) has reissued their 1993 debut LP. The grinding buzzsaw guitars are enough to keep me coming back for more, with distortion levels creating a tone that is rarely heard. The opening of “Purulent Stench of War” would be an example of one such noise, almost more of an electric crackle than anything musical. The drum work is fast and tidy, with speedy fills galore. Like most crust, vocals range from some spoken word to all-out barks, with the occasional guttural howl let out for good measure. In all, a splendid bit of aggro anarcho tunes ready to join your collection.

Histeria Discografía LP

HISTERIA was a short-lived band from Mexico with a couple tapes, compilation appearances, and splits. Prior to this release I had not heard of them, which is a bummer, but better late than never—they turned out to be another sick group of the early Mexican scene that had an amazing variety of great bands. This discography release contains two of their recordings from ’84 and ’86. The great thing about such retrospective releases is that the members probably did not expect that one day they would be an obscure band for collectors, and therefore I guess their tape releases did not include as much information as the 32-page-long appendix fanzine with photos, information, and lyrics included here. Nerds like me love that shit, so even if it’s rad to own tapes in falling-apart condition with inserts that once were folded by the original members, these packages that tend to be created for current discography releases are still super entertaining—if you only press the mp3s to vinyl and the most effort you make is to print the cover, then you are doing a bad job. But how does it sound? The best way possible! As if it were recorded with a single tape dictaphone thrown into a rehearsal room where the excited band plays their ferocious tracks. The sound quality distorts the guitars into a chainsaw-like level, something that you would need at least three pedals and a week full of research to turn out something so nasty nowadays. The tracks are pretty short and dense, with a moving jet-like sound as the base, the drums are as distinguishable as a heavy banging on a door, and the singer yells with desperate urgency. The guitars are the best when they make zero sense, and as they do most of the time. It’s a super angry and determined record. Great that such things are recovered, and even if it is sometimes a pointless mania to put everything on a preferred format, the fact that such a band has resurfaced is worth all questionable obsession.

Hot Tubs Time Machine Double Tubble LP

Second album by this synth side-piece of UV RACE frontman Marcus Rechsteiner and Daniel “Tubs” Twomey of DEAF WISH. As a UV fan, I’ve always enjoyed Marcus’ goofy but erudite perspective, his observations on the everyday, and his ability with a standout one-liner. The second song talks about his favorite Lebanese bakery, where he ponders “What is even zaatar? It’s delicious…I wonder if I’d be a decent Zaatarist?” Twomey provides a musically minimal matte painting for Marcus to meditate and meander upon, with sinewy sine wave washes and looping beats, but also an ability to create the odd texture that separates it from any synth punk reenactors and minimal wave what-have-yous.

Hunter Schizophrenia EP

Somehow there’s still unheard music from the seemingly bottomless well of UK bands that formed from 1977–1982. This is a first-time issue of three songs by the one-and-done HUNTER from the Isle of Wight, who broke up shortly after recording this EP back in 1980. The songs have more of a jumped-up pub rock or power pop sound—very tightly played, melodic rockers like something by EDDIE AND THE HOT RODS or an also-ran Stiff Records single.

I Recover Promo Tape cassette

Two songs from a forthcoming release, I guess. Melodic punk with emo tendencies. There’s a lot of spoken vocal parts. Like a lot. On both songs. I don’t know about that. Does that mean they do this on every song? Because that could get old pretty quick. Aside from that, it’s not bad. I don’t know if the two songs on this tape would make me want to get a whole album, but if they threw two more on a 7”, I could see myself getting down with that.

Inferno Personale In Ira Veritas LP

A hardcore band based in Bremen, Germany with international membership (even the recording, mixing, and mastering each happened on a different continent). This eleven-song LP contains the re-recorded tracks from their demo tape, blending finely with new ones. The record starts with distorted, chunky bass, followed by the eruption of the whole band’s energy, and even when they slow down later to mid-tempo—which happens occasionally—the tension is not lost for a second. The cover art refers to WRETCHED’s La Tua Morte Non Aspetta, though both their sound and songwriting differs from their Italian predecessors. The promo mentions crasher crust, but based on what that means to me, INFERNO PERSONALE also differs, since each and every riff is clearly distinguishable and the cymbals are not piercing into my ears like shards of a nailbomb. They never fall apart and still continue, scattered all over the place. Yet the record has a pumping power that is rare and precious, and could remind one of D-CLONE or GLOOM, but this atmosphere and energy covers more structured and less destructive songwriting. Urgency is replaced by restlessness; feedback and chaos are present on the record, but the latter is due to the well-balanced mixing and dense playing. Free from references, In Ira Veritas is a killer hardcore record that channels the devotion and fandom for the subculture, yet remains distinct from most of their contemporaries. It’s a thoughtful, well-built record, although it is not as savage as it might try to be. The band keeps everything under control the whole time. But when has being creative and talented become second to being primitive and chaotic? Still, this record can grab and shake you, and it gets better with each listen, especially when it sucks you into its whirlpool of crushing riffs. I prefer their fast songs, but their stompers surprise me with their power as well. Great record, highly recommended.

Inhalators Inhalators LP

Some straight-up punk rockin’ out of Poland here from INHALATORS. It bops along at a nice canter with some classic-sounding RAMONES-y buzzsaw riffs, and has a very slick and modern studio sheen to it which perhaps belies some of the more puerile nose-thumbing lyrics, which even the most ardent teenage edgelord would dislocate their retinas rolling their eyes at. All in all, it seems extraordinarily radio-friendly, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them mid-afternoon at a big Euro fest.

Instructor Terror Zone LP

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

Jivebomb Primitive Desires cassette

JIVEBOMB is in good company on two counts—they’re from Baltimore, where something is clearly in the water (see: TURNSTILE, END IT), and they’re on Flatspot Records, alongside countless other hardcore powerhouses (ZULU, SCOWL, and TRAPPED UNDER ICE, to name a few). On the five-song cassette Primitive Desires, JIVEBOMB delivers a whirlwind five-and-a-half minutes of expertly crafted modern hardcore. Opener “86” is a muscle-bound instrumental stomper that leads into title track “Primitive Desires,” an impressive one-minute blast that is sure to get stuck in your head. “Steel” follows suit, catchy and quick, with vocals that sound like they’re frying to a crisp. “Illusion of Choice” opens with a WARTHOG-worthy “blurgh!” and steamrolls through its 48-second runtime in a flash before closer “Ditz” wraps things up by reiterating what’s so fucking good about JIVEBOMB: they’re so tight and play with such a chaotic but clean style. For fans of any of the aforementioned bands and good music in general.

Kettenhund Tarnen Und T​ä​uschen EP

Austria’s KETTERHUND plays weighty, mid-tempo hardcore with post-punk and Oi! infusions, led by passionate, raw-throated vocals. Following up their debut single from 2017, this four-song EP has a dark and desperate atmosphere to it, pinning angsty and tortured sentiments to a steady-rocking backbeat. The high point for me here is the ominous third track, “Nacht,” but this is all solid work.

Kill the Hippies Special Master cassette

Not to be confused with the 1978 DEADBEATS album, or the 2013 Kill the Hippies! Kill Yourself compilation, this group comes from Cleveland and has been making music since the early ’90s. This version of the band features the paired-down threesome of Morte Treehorn on guitar and vocals, P.P. Envy on bass and vocals, and Joey Pepperoni on drums, and while they’ve been at it for a minute, there’s still plenty of energy on the table here. The falsetto on “Single Prayer System” reminds of something the ADICTS might have done, while other tracks bring to mind local forefathers DEVO, and the alternating male/female vocals provide a nice variety throughout. “Defective” slaps the hardest, and reminds of any charging GBH track. There’s a pretty straightforward cover of “New England,” which kind of comes out of nowhere, but has a funny spoken word opener “Well, I live in Ohio so why should I care? / But I just happen to like it there / So I guess I’m just a square.” I haven’t gone through KILL THE HIPPIES’ whole catalog, but I like what I hear. And don’t be fooled, no part of this is promoting violence. Listen up!

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.

Layback Sit Down and Layback EP

Quality Control HQ continues its run of excellent releases with LAYBACK’s Sit Down and Layback, a five-song crusher taking cues from the sun-scorched late ’80s West Coast hardcore scene, specifically OC bands like PUSHED ASIDE, INSTED, and HARD STANCE. In fact, LAYBACK’s style is so dialed-in that I half-expected them to be a straightedge band themselves (a quick glance at their Instagram would suggest otherwise). I’ll say less. Go buy this album, drop the needle and do as they say: sit down and lay back. It’s not a bad way to spend a cold winter afternoon.

Lee Patterson Burning Sun cassette

Highly efficient punky sludge riff salad from a London two-piece who, in neither case, are themselves named Lee Patterson. Burning Sun follows a previous cassette and a split 7” with suburban garage weirdos BUSINESS DUDES, and has an apparent “disaster movie” style theme across its four songs which you can basically take or leave. There’s a healthy level of bottom end for a release with no one playing bass on it, guitarist Adam Martin compensating with HELMET-esque crunch, while the title song touches first on late ’90s stoner/doom in its tunings, then Bleach-era NIRVANA.

Los Tarzanillos Todo Lo Que Quieras + Lo Mejor De Lo Peor cassette

One-man DIY project from Barcelona, Spain released by the Valencian label Flexidiscos, featuring two separate releases combined on an eighteen-track cassette. Bedroom synth punk with songs heavily influenced by political stances, and an anti-music position that erupted from a boring life mainly because of the pandemic (according to the artist statement of David Garcerán, ex/current member of ALGARA and IRREAL). It’s filled with anarcho-punk affirmations and in some ways takes on forms of guerrilla warfare, like the recorded statement of ethos and principles in the middle of this release, for example. Reverbed monotone vocals, with electric drums and garage-y strings following. If you dig synth punk and things of an eggy nature, you may find this interesting. I personally enjoyed the first half better, and the synthesized statement in the middle that invites the listener to a sense of guerrilla audio. Suggested track: “Hartos.”

Lousy Sue Artless Artifacts LP

Not that long ago, I wanted to get out of the house to write some reviews, so I headed to one of Indianapolis’s many millennial-ass coffee shops. It was a nice day, so I’d picked one that I knew had lots of outdoor seating. Only when I got there, I found that they were hosting some sort of crafts market. The outdoor seating I was counting on had been pushed aside to make a space for bands to play to the people shopping for artisanal soap or whatever. Not ideal! But the middle-aged folks who were setting up when I arrived looked vaguely punk, so I decided to stick around for a minute and see what they were about. They played inoffensive garage punk—a mix of originals that were solid enough and a tasteful selection of non-obvious covers. It was actually kinda good, and I found myself really enjoying it. Enough to remember the name of the band that was playing or what any of the members looked like? Apparently not! But they may as well have been LOUSY SUE, an Indianapolis-based garage punk act that I’d never heard of until now. This LP, their second release after a 2019 EP, is fifteen tracks—fourteen originals and one BUCK BILOXI cover(!)—of straightforward garage punk. It primarily sounds like one of the less memorable Rip Off Records acts with access to better recording equipment, but you’ll also hear some interesting influences bleeding in, like LAMPS, OBLIVIANS, or maybe CARBONAS. It’s pretty good!

Maldita Maldita LP

MALDITA is a four-piece from Toronto, and this is the group’s first LP of raw, metal-tinged street punk with vocals sung in Spanish by Rosa Venerosa. Throughout the record, the themes stick to politics and the chaos surrounding them, all whilst being dispatched with an intense and annihilating intonation. There is the low-hanging fruit of ESKORBUTO to compare the band to, as well as some metal-tinged ANTI CIMEX sound brought to mind. The opening track “Trabajo” kills. The production is all I want to hear on a record (wiry, drowned vocals, crunchy).  Throughout the LP the band does not let up and pummels through all ten tracks, almost all of them over two minutes each. However, the only minor qualm is the slight repetition with both style and lyrics. To illustrate this I would point to “Todos Muertos,” which was a bit rough to get through, but nothing that takes away from the whole of the record.

Mastermind The Masters’ Orders LP

After four-ish years, MASTERMIND has decided to call it a day, but not before leaving us with The Masters’ Orders, a love letter to hardcore with nods to NYHC, UKHC, and crossover. MASTERMIND comes from the same school as contemporaries BIG CHEESE and T.S. WARSPITE: gruff, throaty vocals and heavy riffs that bring to mind legends JUDGE and SHEER TERROR. Opener “Collateral Damage” is like a sampler platter of the rest of the album: pummeling double kicks, rubbery bass leads, searing guitar solos, and a menacing vocal delivery that is perfectly over-the-top. MASTERMIND has a lot of gnarly stuff happening, but their ability to change tempo and style will leave your head spinning. The breakdown on “Patience” slows to a zombie-paced sludge before being resurrected by a drum and guitar solo, while “Haunt” starts with a funky little bass line playing along to a toe-tapping beat before hurtling into a mid-tempo chug that changes speed and direction enough times for me to lose count. The overall effect is a little like being on a rollercoaster; it’s jerky and unexpected at times, but always exciting and always a good time. The hardcore scene is losing a real one with MASTERMIND, you’d be wise to catch ‘em if you can!

Meatbot In My Head CD

Debut full-length from this trio. They claim NAKED RAYGUN as a primary influence, but manage to produce a sound more akin to NAKED RAYGUN covering RUDIMENTARY PENI’s Death Church. And judging by their photo on the back of the CD, they look aged enough to have actually been hanging out in the practice room while NAKED RAYGUN was scratching their heads over how to best assault the Nick Blinko opus.

Middleman Cut Out the Middleman cassette

A solid EP from London’s MIDDLEMAN, with four tracks of post-punk heavily influenced by the likes of WIPERS, MISSION OF BURMA, and the REPLACEMENTS. Opener “Train Man” suggests a straightforward, prickly CBGB punk sound, before switching tempo around the one-minute mark to reveal a style closer to early DC emo. “Entropy” pulls the same trick; a straightforward punk track in the vein of WIRE that hits the breaks after a minute and a half to reveal a slowed-down finish that’s hard not to nod along to. Really cool stuff that must sound great live.

Mod Fun …Tea Four 2 EP

This one’s a bit of a head-scratcher. I’d say the name is a bit misleading, as this isn’t a mod band, at least not in my mind. These guys were an ’80s pop band from the New Jersey area. They broke up and reformed in 2004 and are still playing. This is a four-song EP, with the A-side consisting of a BADFINGER cover and a YARDBIRDS cover. They don’t really do anything with either song and come across more as a cover band than a band with serious aspirations, at least on that first side. I’ve never understood that—if you’re going to cover a song, make it yours. The two originals on the B-side are fine pop songs with at least a little new wave influence, and both are rooted in harmonies. Neither will knock your socks off, but both are totally fine.

Möney Boiling Wells cassette

MÖNEY is a band from Bristol who play a gentle form of post-punk. Softly strummed and picked guitars merge with atmospheric synth work and chunky bass lines to create music that is palatable enough to play for nearly anyone. The fourth song on the cassette, “Happiness,” has a couple moments that almost sound like surf rock, but then quickly dissipate into more standard post-punk tones. The final song “Wrong Way Home” opens with a more aggressive guitar sound, but then turns almost dirge-like and with a slight desert sunburn. I’d probably put this album on to fall asleep to; I’m in no way implying this album is boring. The softness, depth of sonic field, and slight melancholy cause almost immediate disassociation and relaxation. Absolutely worth at least one listen.

Mongrel Life Unlived cassette

Trusted purveyors of formidable crust action Phobia Records introduce us to MONGREL, a noisy and rugged hardcore unit out of western Ireland. This tape (their sophomore release) contains five tracks driven by a simple, barbaric stomp and covered with chaotic, off-center vocals. While the songs seem to relish in their primitive composition and dystopian feel, they’re also a bit polished for what I feel best suits the style. I’d probably get more of a kick out of a muddier and more mangled MONGREL.

Guff / Mongrel Inner Self split EP

Three heavy hardcore hitters from Ireland’s MONGREL, with high(er), sinister vocals and a sound that feels like it’s always on the brink of coming unglued. Norway’s GUFF is actually unglued, with an interpretation of epic Euro crust that defies explanation. Maniacal vocals and a guitar that sounds like someone took away some black metal kid’s distortion pedal and gave him a wah-wah. It makes no sense, which is why it works so damn well. My first exposure to both bands, and they compliment each other perfectly—freak interpretations of classic sounds.

Mordloch Mordloch LP

Stench death metal from Velký Osek, Czech Republic, achieving infernal inferno guitars and sludge cadences with notable grindcore nods, and a sick, steady, deadly voice that gives ritualistic feels that sometimes double to deliver possessed, high-pitched screams filled with pain. Devilish death metal nature. Recommended tracks: “Vse Zive” and “Dorakví” for a slow, steady walk to the tomb, taking up speed for some parts in order to run from the demons. Get ready to mosh with skeletons.

Nagazaki Planeta//Carcel cassette

Bogotá, Columbia has produced some of the best noisy, aggro punk, and NAGASAKI is the latest premium example. If you like noisy, fuck-it-all, crashing raw punk, then you’ll want this cassette. With vocals that sound like they’re already destroyed from roaring against the system, bass lines that sound ripped from DISCLOSE, and guitars that crackle and grind, you’ll find yourself nodding along to these four songs of indignation. The guitar on “Reflejo” soars beautifully through the composition with a style that is similar to Randy Uchida’s. If you’re a fan of punk crudo and you haven’t heard NAGAZAKI yet, then wake the fuck up with this cassette!

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

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

New Buck Biloxi Cellular Automaton LP

Okay, so first things first: the NEW BUCK BILOXI is pretty similar to the old. And thank god for that. This is like the motorik equivalent of pissed, pop-structured garage punk, with everything tuned for maximum efficiency and impact. Here, BILOXI’s (a.k.a. Robert Craig) voice takes on the sort of detached android quality one might expect given the album title, which lends an almost inhuman edge to the hopelessness on display, especially in tracks like the all-too-relatable “My Hole.” What made Craig’s previous output so legendary is all still here, but reduced down into a demiglace of nihilism. Super condensed, end-of-world self-mythologizing at its pinnacle. If you don’t love it, you’re probably a loser—them’s the rules.

Not Moving Live in the Eighties LP

It seems NOT MOVING was an Italian band from the ’80s, with these live cuts recorded in Italy and Germany in the mid-to-late ’80s. Honestly, I’m having a hard time getting worked up over it. The recording is fine, particularly if you consider the time period. But the music leaves me a little underwhelmed. It’s catchy punk rock that is somewhat heavy on the effects, which creates a garage-y feel, but for me at least, there’s nothing to make me wonder why it took them over 30 years to bring it to my attention. If you’re bringing me something that’s 30 years old, there should be a wow factor. I’m not getting that.

O.T.D.S. Co Ma Wisieć Nie Utonie LP

1980s Polish mutant punk revived and repackaged for a new generation. Total mutated drum machine punk, recorded and originally released on cassette in 1989 and given the (deserved) vinyl treatment from Enigmatic—think SPITS meets DEZERTER. The world of “essential” reissues can get overwhelming as everyone keeps turning over rocks from past decades, but O.T.D.S. is an absolute score. Fans of primitive punk and freak sounds (like me) are going to love this.

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.

Ostseetraum Mondmenschen EP

On their 2020 debut cassette (later turned LP), Berlin’s OSTSEETRAUM cruised straight down the coldwave Autobahn with rigid drum machine beats, percolating synth, sparse strokes of guitar and bass, expressionless German voice-overs, and ample negative space left between those elements—an aesthetic that’s obviously restrained by design, but it often tipped into almost being too clinical. With the follow-up Mondmeschen EP, they’ve finally passed the Voight-Kampff test, and the added human energy really benefits these five songs. The bass is at the forefront this time around, snaking through “Du Siehst Mich Nicht” and “Du Bist Gefangen” in a way that’s borderline funky (a little more Factory/Rough Trade than their usual steady diet of Zickzack), and locking into the sparse, spin-cycle tom rhythm that pushes “Kein Inhalt” precariously forward. Even “Mondmeschen,” the EP’s most straight electro offering, is more cyber-dub than minimal synth, all liquid delay and rattling, echoed beats under woozy space-age keys; a soft glow radiating through cracked steel.

Over To the Teeth LP

Sophomore album from Portland, OR’s OVER, with a high-gloss take on post-punk. They lean into longer-format songs, with fuzzed bass, hi-hat-clattering drums, and reverb-droning guitars used to create climaxes worth the wait. That said, the female vocalist doesn’t take a back seat during tracks that push past the six-minute mark, singing throughout with an impressive range. I hear moments of poetry, but wish they had included lyrics online! We’ll see what the vinyl copy includes. This reminds me of ESSES’ Bloodletting for the Lonely LP. Moody, ethereal, and certainly worth a listen.

Personal Damage Ambush cassette

If you were to distill the essences of the CIRCLE JERKS and DEAD KENNEDYS into a cocktail, I would drink of it heartily, and L.A.’s PERSONAL DAMAGE is the closest I’ve come to tasting such a concoction. Playing fun and catchy mid-tempo punkers, this combination ends up sounding like something akin to classic FEEDERZ, and I mean it in the best way possible when I say this cassette bumps on by like something I’ve played a million times. They even close out the tape with a cheeky cover (“Stepping Razor” by PETER TOSH), a signature move of both of those aforementioned perceived influences. This was a great little introduction to the band, and I’m hoping that next time they serve up a double.

Peur Bleue Peur Bleue demo cassette

Great demo from Lille, France’s PEUR BLEUE. Female-led group with a post-punk style and grace that’s bold enough to squat ‘n piss between two parked cars. Released on the DIY tape label Dirty Slap, I feel this band would fit nicely with their native Symphony of Destruction comrades in sound and ethos.  Looking forward to the next release!

Fractured / Phane Phane vs. Fractured split LP

This split presents a battle between Canadian bands. Vancouver’s PHANE delivers six tracks of their own charged hardcore punk inspired and fueled by GBH and the like—punk militia drums, thrashy guitars with tasty riffs, and fast soloing. A deep, ranting voice leads with resemblances of UK82-style anthemic performance, but adding modern nods in the guttural delivery. A good discovery; well-executed, fast punk rock. Suggested tracks: “Musorá” and “No Need to Breathe” for classic street punk rhythm and solid bass lines. FRACTURED, a trio from Montreal, brings five tracks displaying a D-beat/UK82-infused sound heavily influenced by crusty hardcore punk. Good riffing fast guitars and thrashy ’80s metal female vocals mixed with classic hardcore punk drum cadences, reminding me in some songs of Canibalina’s screams in her band ABYECTA. Suggested track: “Full Speed Ahead.” PHANE would win this pairing.

Phantom 7 Song Demo cassette

New Brunswick, NJ’s PHANTOM provides seven tracks of spun-out, rabid hardcore on their debut cassette. Breathing a weird mania into simple song structures, these guys touch on a number of different styles throughout this speedy and unhinged set, including a cool grooviness that surfaces on tracks like “Canker” and “Business Man.” This wild little ride will likely appeal to fans of ANTIBODIES and MUTATED VOID.

Piss Me Off Scam of a Lifetime cassette

Continuing the legacy of loud and lurid Cleveland punk, PISS ME OFF follows up their ear-scorching demo with this tape that’s equal parts tough and artistic. The band’s heavy sound appears to be inspired by old-school stormy Midwest hardcore and the ingestion of hallucinogens, as well as the stark weirdness of fellow Clevos CRUELSTER and PERVERTS AGAIN. These ten songs are mostly straight pounders, but then in the last three they expand into a less compressed, more rocking style with lots of soulful and piercing guitar soloing. Nice.

Pletyka Pletyka demo cassette

The three women of Budapest’s PLETYKA are all in their thirties, and for two of them, it’s apparently the first band they’ve ever played in—as a thirty-something female punk who followed a very similar timeline and path to finally making music myself, I’m instinctively drawn to fellow late bloomers, and this demo is totally inspiring. When you have a delayed start, it can be so easy to feel like you’ll forever be left behind while struggling to catch up with those around you who weren’t as disadvantaged by time, but the flip side of that coin is that it typically offers one more time to develop a focused creative vision, and the disconnect between experience/ability and intention almost always yields far more interesting and engaging results than technically skilled replication ever will. PLETYKA’s sparse, hypnagogic post-punk echoes the great (and seemingly already forgotten) mid-2010s UK micro-scene of bands like EDIBLE ARRANGEMENTS, ALISON’S BIRTHDAY, and MEN OH PAUSE, with spectral chants (in Hungarian), brittle drums, cavernous bass, and layers of quavering synth buzz to plumb the deepest recesses of your subconscious. And a WIRE cover?! So dreamy. Yes, the rhythms are shaky and halting at points, but those imperfections and lack of polish are exactly what give the songs their glow—it’s an honesty that can’t be faked.

Polute Dirty Swig EP

Can Lemmy really die when bands like POLUTE are banging it out like this? Four blistering tracks of Motörpunk from Australia, roaring along smelling of black leather and motor oil. Drummer/vocalist Ben Portnoy’s singing style is very Oi!, which puts the band’s sound more on the punk side. If their Bandcamp is to be believed, they wrote the demo in one jam session and recorded it in three hours. But there’s nothing sloppy or thrown together here, it’s just straightforward, fast, raw rock’n’roll.

Postage LP2 LP

I enjoy this record more than their previous LP, which I also liked. This one has much more of a raw, dirty, and desperate sound than the last one, which I find much more to my liking personally. Sonically, it’s somewhat reminiscent of Plan-It-X stuff, if those bands used electricity and turned up the volume and distortion. I’m not sure what they did differently this time around, but keep it up!

Posy Bongga Ka Dai LP

This is a limited-edition LP reissue of a 2021 tape by this Olympia hardcore band. It starts off with a big fist-swinger of a tune and only ramps up from there. Every song is built with an off-kilter dissonant riff or stuttering rhythm for the weird hardcore heads, but builds up to a classic mid-paced stomper payoff part for the ignorant moshers. The vocals and lyrics are crystal clear, torn-throat screams spitting personal truths and catharsis, crossing off vendettas one by one. I wouldn’t say they’re mysterious guys, but I can’t find too much info on them.

Prayer for Cleansing The Rain in Endless Fall LP reissue

Here’s a recent reissue of this cult classic late ’90s metalcore LP, PRAYER FOR CLEANSING’s only full-length release The Rain in Endless Fall. Their approach to metalcore included heavy amounts of influence from black metal and from Swedish melodic death metal like AT THE GATES and IN FLAMES, with the top-notch musicianship and technicality required to pull this sound off out in full force (it may or may not surprise you to find out members of PRAYER FOR CLEANSING went on to play in the progressive metalcore band BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME). This freshly remastered version comes courtesy of To Live A Lie. While this admittedly isn’t the type of thing that I regularly go out of my way to listen to, I dig this record a hell of a lot and can certainly see why it is so well-regarded. This one a must-listen for any fans of ’90s-style metalcore.

Przepych I Inne Zabawne Rzeczy CD

I know this is a lot to ask of you, but I need you to ignore this album’s cover. Maybe even scroll to get it off screen. Gone? Good. One more thing. The opening track is a bit of a throwaway number—it’s a disjointed collage seemingly composed of snippets pulled from the album’s remaining tracks. Maybe it succeeds in signaling that this is going to be a difficult listen, but it overstates how unpleasant things are going to be. Skip it! OK, now you can sit back and enjoy what’s left of this Wrocław, Poland act’s second (and apparently final) album—eight tracks of experimental but very listenable artsy/jazzy post-punk. The music is very much in the vein of THIS HEAT, particularly in the meandering compositions, manic freeform drumming, and fitful interplay between the guitar and bass. But instead of fully copying that act’s sound, they’ve opted to jettison some of the dronier aspects—their monotonous vocals or Krautrock digressions—and replace them with a little no wave ferocity and some more industrial vibes (provided at times by, of all things, a clarinet—wild!). A track like “Final Warning,” once you get past a 45-second intro that sounds like it was pulled off the Liquid Sky soundtrack, even sounds a bit like early SPECIAL INTEREST. It’s a cool and interesting twist on a type of music that doesn’t seem to get made much anymore. I don’t know what the deal is with all the apparent self-sabotage—the best I can figure is that it’s some sort of ploy to chase off the faint of heart—but this release is pretty great!

Qinqs Edgar Allan Poe EP

Perth punks Alec Thomas and Matt Rodrigues team up to bring you this new recording project. Alec you may know from acts like GHOULIES or KITCHEN. Not sure what you’d know Matt from, nor is it clear who handles what across this five-song EP. In any case, they’ve made a pretty cool record! QINQS play a mix of the same brand of garage-y, ping-pongy, smart-guy post-punk that the URANIUM CLUB peddled and just straightforward COUNTRY TEASERS-core. That is, some of their songs fall into the former category (“Edgar Allen Poe,” probably my favorite track on the record), and some fall in the latter (“The Great White Wonder” and “Roadkill”). I guess the closing track “S.L.O.B.” is somewhere in the middle…or more in, like, INSTITUTE territory, and “(IM) in Hell” is a bit of outlier altogether (I’m having trouble putting my finger on what it reminds me of, but it’s somewhere in the arena of, like, the A FRAMES’ mechanical monotone and some sort of sing-songy sci-fi—this one really didn’t gel with me). Anyway, they maybe lack the wry wit or inimitable creativity of Ben Wallers—though, they certainly give it a go—but it’s really impressive how well they’ve otherwise emulated the COUNTRY TEASERS’ sound. I wish more bands would do that.

Rabbit Halo of Flies cassette

This interesting cassette comes straight out of Brooklyn, New York. RABBIT provides the finest metalpunk merged with classic hardcore, delivered with blunt force. Deep bass, great solid drums casting breakdowns from hell, smashing guitars, and a reverberating chaotic voice that takes over all the space (and your ears, too) from time to time, producing the feeling of melting down in a violent pit full of raw energy. You can sense some GULCH vibrations and a setting of unease. Highly recommended for those in dire need of a blunt dose of metalpunk and heavy breakdowns. Great art cover featuring a nice putrid egg. Definitely a band to check out live; surely their gigs exude energy and chaos. Suggested tracks: “Malparido,” “Withdrawal from Mass Grave,” and “Worse,” if you fancy some demonic possessed vocals.

Raut Raut cassette

“Egg” is hard to wash off, apparently. A meme turned flesh like Videodrome, thrown into the goofy blender that was essentially codified and perfected by its originators, yet still somehow refuses to be fully assimilated into a more generalized sound. I only spend so much time on the term because this Polish duo uses it in part to describe themselves, throwing the word “dark” in there for good measure although I can’t piece together why. These songs are stripped down to the point of monotony, which could strike a nerve in an interesting way (let’s never forget Mark E. Smith’s credo of “repetition, repetition, repetition”) if the music weren’t so sexless. This is ABABAB-structured coldwave that all sounds like it was recorded DI so that nothing really has depth or character. The vocals have a garbled telephone effect, like a rogue AI wants you to wire crypto or your loved ones will “get it.” If that all sounds appealing, and I’m sure it does to some, go all in. For me, the music just holds me at arm’s length, never letting me regard it as more than a curiosity. Let’s face it, no one likes eggs when they’re cold or old. Can we move on now?

Ready Armed System Ready Armed System demo cassette

Abrasive hardcore demo from these Austin punks. Blazing fast right from the start, these nine tracks feature raw vocals and a classic USHC attack approach, reminiscent of MINOR THREAT or S.O.A. While they don’t necessarily break any new ground here, this tape rrrips. The unhinged scream at the end of “Kill Someone,” the “Straight-Edge” (the song, not the movement) attitude of “Hair of the Dog,” and the instant banger anthem of “Cease to Exist” make this one to play again and again. Solid.

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.

Rosie Rosie’s Coming to Town / The Zoo Song 7″

The Bandcamp page would have you believe that this is authentic glam circa 1973. I’m a cynic at heart. Whether or not they’re legitimately from mid-’70s Europe, I can tell you that both the recording and the vibe it creates will take you right there. Chugging guitar coming at you mid-tempo along with a drum set that is heavy on the cymbals and vocals that benefit from reverb complete the mood. How and why glam ever went away will always remain a mystery to me. Both cuts here kick some serious ass.

Scalpo È La Lotta L’Avvenire flexi EP

Right from the start of È La Lotta L’Avvenire, a metallic, suggestive, and defiant bass grabs you by the neck and it won’t let go. Then a simple but effective guitar lick comes into the scene and razes everything in its path. Next thing you know, you’ve listened to the EP fifteen times in a row. SCALPO has that dark and cold sound you’d expect from a band based in Sondrio, a little town in the north of Italy, almost caressing the Switzerland border. Also, their sound is in the vein of the Italian Oi!/hardcore bands forged on those northern lands. You can hear a bit of NABAT in the rawness, but also in the more catchy, commercial parts. Throw some WRETCHED in there, and I even hear some NEGAZIONE—the more straightforward tunes, not the psychedelic, unhinged ones. They sure have a taste for vintage sounds and sand-like guitar textures, but without losing a keen, sharp sound. The ideal soundtrack for long, bitter winters in boring border towns. When I listen to it, I feel transported to Italy in the ’80s: the Years of Lead, deindustrialized cities, strikes, picket lines, social conflict, depressed communities, and skinheads taking the streets. A must-listen.

Science Man Nines Mecca LP

This band first caught my attention when it was just a one-person project. John Toohill (singer) has since put together a group of like-minded curiosities to record with him on Nines Mecca. The album connects the dots between MC5 and ELECTRIC CHAIR with some metal riffing to carry the weight. Might sound more interesting than it actually is? There is not a ton of variety, as the album’s tracks list all bleed into one another. Standouts for me would be the “The Sign” and “Old Timer,” which offer a bit of refuge from monotony and display a level of vocal terror that could chum around with a young Jerry A. Would be interested to see how the new group continues to formulate.

Second Layer Courts or Wars LP

In the late ’70s and early ’80s, Adrian Borland and Graham Bailey of gloomy UK post-punks the SOUND were simultaneously making music as the duo SECOND LAYER, leaving the SOUND’s peacoats-and-clove-cigarettes atmosphere behind to conduct some SUICIDE-schooled, end-times electro-punk exorcisms. Courts or Wars compiles SECOND LAYER’s output up to their 1981 LP/final release World of Rubber (1979’s Flesh as Property EP, 1980’s State of Emergency EP, and five orphaned tracks)—almost everything here was also included in Dark Entries’ expanded 2015 reissue of World of Rubber, so not exactly unturned stones, and the real highs come from the pair of EPs. Borland does his best menacing Alan Vega whisper over Bailey’s sparse, ice-cold synth/rhythm box strobe on “Metal Sheet,” “Courts or Wars” layers fuzzed-to-oblivion guitar and primitive drum machine drone like 39 CLOCKS without the ’60s garage obsession, and “State of Emergency” clatters through a dystopian techno-hell very similar to the one that CABARET VOLTAIRE’s “Nag Nag Nag” stalked just a year prior; “Split Screen” is the unreleased keeper, with a cracked, unrelenting mechanical disco beat and Borland’s echo-submerged vocals wavering like transmissions from a shortwave radio in some bombed-out bunker. Maniacally monochrome as all get-out.

Shake Chain Snake Chain LP

London-based noise punk, with a vocalist that fully embraces their lizard brain. The heaviness is a skosh like a ’90s AmRep band, but with a slightly chaotic sense that gives me San Diego vibes à la a vintage GSL or Three One G release. The album is best at its strangest, when it’s overloaded with samples and synth squiggles and the songs sound like a collapsing house in flames, so I hope SHAKE CHAIN continues to further embrace their unhinged side in the future.

Sklitakling Vi Har Hørt Det Dør (del 1) 7″

This is a solid two-count of crunchy, earnest rock songs from Norway. It kind of exists in some limbo between garage and something more straightforward. The guitar work is stellar, with staccato rhythms that prick like pinpoints while the drums remain playful throughout. Vocally, there’s a lot going for the sound, too, with some feral theatricality that gives way to effective gang vocal chants. If I spoke Norwegian, I’d definitely want to be shouting along by the end of this short and sweet salvo of tracks.

Skotos Demo 2022 cassette

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

Smirk Material LP

When George W. Bush took office in 2001, there was a certain subset of punks that, in a beleaguered search for a silver lining, would say “at least we’ll get some good bands out of this.” Along the same line of thinking, I suppose one could consider that Ronald Reagan was a bigger influence on hardcore than, say, John Lydon. In 2023, the impact of the (ongoing) COVID-19 pandemic on music is just beginning to come into focus. One aspect of this that has become clear is the proliferation of solo recording projects. Case in point: Nick Vicario’s SMIRK. What began as home-recorded “cassettes-de-quarantine” has become a fully realized entity. On the heels of 2021’s utterly fantastic seven-song EP on Total Punk, SMIRK has graced us with a proper full-length album. Material showcases Vicario’s songwriting brilliance on a whole new level. Everything here is so exquisitely dialed-in. The ten songs encompass a broad range of sounds. Flitting from the starkly angular, anxiety-ridden opener “Material World’s Unfair,” to the power-pop-inspired jangle of “Souvenir,” Vicario weaves it all together seamlessly. There are nods along the way to sonic pioneers like WIRE and MAGAZINE, but Material is largely free of anything approaching nostalgia. This is an album very much of its time. I’m not one to jump at a chance to call something classic, and certainly time will tell when it comes to how well pandemic-era projects hold up in the long term, but this record has been burning up many more turntables than my own, and sometimes you just have to call a spade a spade. Nick Vicario is an alchemist and SMIRK is pure fucking gold.

Snooper Town Topic EP

I have adored SNOOPER since I first laid ears on them several years ago. Do you remember that “egg punk vs. chain punk” meme that was big back in 2018? If you’ve ever had a hard time distinguishing between the two, I’ll make it easy for you. SNOOPER is the quintessential egg punk band, and they do it better than anyone else today. You see, while SNOOPER might draw comparisons to bands like DEVO or TOY DOLLS, they’re something completely different. They are their own influence. Town Topic continues their trend of fast-paced, new wave jazz-punk. Quick little jaunts about the simple things in life, for better or for worse. SNOOPER’s guitar tone is what hooks me in the most. Clean, punchy, and swift; a styling all their own. Fantastic band who will most certainly do huge things in the years to come. Better hop on this train now!

Speech Odd Demo 2022 5″

Anytime a hardcore, grind, or powerviolence band has a female vocalist, they become ten times cooler in my book. Thailand’s SPEECH ODD rips through this four-track demo with all the rage and hate of young people disgusted with an oppressive government. Take the song “Fucx Coup,” with these, and only these lyrics: “Fuck coup!!! / Stupit [sic] / Government fake democracy you are.” If you like your powerviolence with gobs of antifascist screaming, then this is the band for you. Well-produced, and over before you know it.

Suspex Suspex demo cassette

Hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, SUSPEX belts out five tracks of UK82-influenced punk, including a PARTISANS cover. Despite the technically deficient drumming and a fairly annoying “always on” guitar effect, I can’t help but to be charmed by this demo. It’s clear from the jump that SUSPEX are really pouring themselves into these songs. The charismatic vocal delivery is the linchpin here, injecting both character and energy. “Dead City” is a prime example; the harrowing shouts soar above the din of the instruments, giving the entire affair a boost. It strikes me that SUSPEX sounds like they’re having a blast playing their songs. What a novel concept! This gets a (circled) A for effort from me.  

Sweet Reaper Street Sweeper LP

Forty-five seconds in and I’m fucking digging this thing. It’s mid-tempo and melodic and just catchy as all hell. The guitar, bass, and drums are in perfect harmony. Even if I felt like stopping my head from bouncing, it just wouldn’t be possible. I give into my urges and I bounce my head. It reminds me of bands like the POPPETS and the WHITE STRIPES, without sounding much like either of them. Even when it gets heavy and methodical, it remains upbeat. It’s pop. It’s punk. It’s not pop punk. And not all songs make your head bounce, some make it shake from side to side, like you’re some kind of a tough guy or  smartypants. This will get a lot of play on my devices.

System System F for Effort cassette

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

The Anomalys Glitch LP

These Dutch masters (haw-haw) of surf-tinged rockabilly garage have been a Euro staple for more years than I’ve paid attention. They play a punker version of what their Swiss peers/elders the MONSTERS have been doing forever. The singer has a crooning, almost REVEREND HORTON HEAT style of singing, but all comparisons aside, these people can stand on their own merit quite well.  Nine songs speed by in a blur, leaving you spun and dizzy from head-bobbing and hip-shaking, and I imagine vast amounts of hash and beer. “Steppin Out” is the best. Yay. Proost.

The Battlebeats Get Lost EP

Furious trashcan serenades from an Indonesian garage punk force of one named Andresa Nugraha. I guess he uses a full band to play live, but it’s definitely one man’s vision here, and a wonderfully fucked one at that. Discogs says this is “strongly influenced by TEENGENERATE,” but I’m mostly hearing the blown-out Southern charms of Soul Food-era OBLIVIANS, REATARDS, and the CARBONAS. I’m taken back to a sweaty Kilowatt club show or the 17th and Capp warehouse in Frisco. Every song is a loser here (in a good way), but the title track and “I Don’t Like You” really bring it for me. Lick it up.

The Cool Greenhouse Sod’s Toastie LP

Tom Greenhouse took on this alias to make glorious tumble-down post-punk garage all by himself, then got a bunch of band members to make an album that pretty much kept the same sound (that’s good!), and, excepting some saxophone and backing vox, has done everything you hear on Sod’s Toastie on his own again. What does it all mean? For us the grateful listener, very little. The COOL GREENHOUSE’s patented talking blues spin on the FALL and the MODERN LOVERS is still prevalent, though the swerve into Flying Nun-style fuzzed jangle on “I Lost My Head” feels new for this project, likewise the frequent bursts of rickety Afro-funk organ. Tom’s lyrical targets are righteous if not always revelatory—Jordan Peterson, Steve Jobs, finance market shitheads—and, with songs like “Hard Rock Potato” and “Get Deluded,” attached to some real joyful dirges, if that’s not an oxymoron. Heck, I can imagine the first of those being a floor-filler at the sort of decades-gone indie discos that played the SULTANS OF PING. Delightful music made with a legit DIY mentality that improves my life when I listen to it.

The Dead Nittels Anti New Wave Liga LP

Reissue of Austrian hardcore from 1983. Fast songs, rigid tempos, three-chord thrash. Using Google translations of the titles, I can ascertain that one song is about “Friday Night” and the others are some leaden political sloganeering about human rights and a “miscarriage of justice,” and from the record title, they certainly do not like new wave. File under: Standard-Issue International ’80s Hardcore.

The Gizmos The Gizmos EPs 1976–1978 cassette

This is a no-brainer. Unless you think punk began with RANCID, you’ve most likely bobbed your head to “Muff Diving” or “Amerika First” at some point. The GIZMOS were Bloomington’s first punk band, and darlings of record nerds (Graham Booth, where are you?) for a minute. If you’re a newbie to the GIZMOS’ magic, it’s a charming mish-mash of lo-fi bedroom (literally) STOOGES-style scuzz (such as “Kiss the Rat”) to MODERN LOVERS folksy fun (such as “Regular Dude”). It’s all of this and ’60s garage rock molded with delightful Midwest dumb joke humor. There’ve been many versions of this band with various members over the years, but this is the real deal original here. You even get three unreleased bonus tracks, so what are you waiting for? Buy or lie about being cool.

The Gobs 1-2-3-4! cassette

Straight outta rockin’ Olympia, we get this collection of the first four demos (hence the title, get it?) of this synthy, catchy pogo party band that’s forever going to suffer the SPITS comparison. I tried to find some live footage or something to give them a personality of their own as they definitely deserve it. They’re like a nicer SPITS that you’d take to your mom’s house, and with all the same influences like the NUBS, DEVO, RAMONES, etc. (but maybe if they’d never listened to GG). It’s really a great tape and very much worthy of your time, though. Hope they make it to NYC someday. Good work.

The Misunderstood She Got Me / Cryin’ Over Luv 7″

Two cuts from the mid-’60s that will instantly transport you to San Francisco in 1964. Specifically, you’ll be dropped at Haight and Ashbury. They’re garage ragers. They have an eerie creepiness about them. They’re dark. Pretty sure these guys were all high on the marijuana at the time these were recorded. At first, I was sort of “yeah, sure…that’s cool,” but they really do transport you back in time and that’s a pretty cool thing.

The Tacks The Tacks LP

Debut LP from Christchurch, NZ’s the TACKS. This five-piece identifies as a goth band, but comes across with broader influences of post-punk, darkwave, and dance-y new wave. I think it sounds like a horror lullaby, and it’s wonderful. The female vocalist leads the group with catchy, concise melodies, and the band achieves a cohesion amongst fast chord changes, rests, and tireless guitar leads. The self-titled cassette they put out in 2020 is much rougher-around-the-edges punk (and is worth a listen), but I don’t mind the polish that was put on this Rockstar release. I think fans of CRIME OF PASSING will take to this, and generally anyone who likes “1980s college radio,” as the band suggests. Tune in.

The Types A Blast From the Past With… EP

Reissue 7” of this achingly obscure Hamburg mod/power pop group, whose original output was limited to a single four-song cassette of only twenty copies before the band broke up in record label limbo. Looked like the Hamburg BEATLES, kinda sounded like the JAM, but also hedged their bets with a few tunes of watery guitar like the CURE. I wouldn’t say it’s the Lost Ark of Power Pop, but if you need new tunes to listen to on your mirrored-up Vespa, one of these four songs will provide some filler for your mixtape.

Toeheads A Cruel Winner’s World LP

Garage punk played straight is a hard thing to make interesting these days. Emphasize too much of the garage side of things, and you end up sounding like you’re doing SONICS cosplay. Tip too far in the other direction, and now you’re some sort of Rip Off Records tribute act. That’s not to say you can’t do that kind of stuff well or it can’t be fun—it’s just that those types of acts generally have a tougher time standing out, especially with no shortage of contemporary projects vying for your attention. TOEHEADS, an act out of Detroit with a couple of tapes and split 12” under their belt, manage to hit the sweet spot on this debut LP by playing straightforward garage rock infused with enough vitality that it can’t help but be punk. The twelve tracks on here—ten originals and two classic covers—are loud, raw, sloppy, tuneful, and just a good-ass time. It reminds me of what I’ve loved about the GORIES, OBLIVIANS, NEW BOMB TURKS, or CHEATER SLICKS. Obviously, this isn’t on the same level as those classics—their songwriting isn’t quite there yet—but it’s close enough that it certainly warrants your attention. Pick it up!

Townies Meet the Townies! CD

Debut full-length effort from this female-fronted band composed of some punk veterans. Unsurprisingly, they’re not shy about their influences, which run the gamut of late ’70s/early ’80s California punk, from the surfy side of the early DEAD KENNEDYS to FEAR (via a spirited cover of “I Don’t Care About You”) and the AVENGERS. All gloriously lo-fi and politically barbed.

Último Templo Nuevo Hechizo Punk de Amor y Mística cassette

Formed by veterans of the darkest Spanish punk and post-punk scenes, ÚLTIMO TEMPLO’s debut is of a remarkable blackness. A very particular voice delivers dense and catchy melodies that give a touch of expressionism to each song. This band has an original and powerful sound, with lyrics of powerful imagery that invite you to be part of a private occult ceremony. Brilliant and mystical.

Unknown Liberty Chain of Madness cassette

The artwork on this cassette doesn’t really convey the experience you’re in for when you listen to UNKNOWN LIBERTY. My initial expectation was anarcho peace punk, but when I pushed play, I was immediately rewarded with some loud, rough-hewn punk with no care for song structure or musicality. This isn’t straight-up “noise not music,” but more like hardcore punk played by hellions that care, but want to annoy. The six tracks that comprise this cassette are over and done with before you’re ready, so expect to push play again. “Science of Violence” is perhaps my current favorite song off this cassette. The start of it sounds like the band is trying to find the ideal rhythm. Once it comes together, the guitar wiggles around amongst the bass chugging and drum pounding, while the vocal delivery is caustic and baleful. If you’re into punk that jumps in unexpected directions and has the sound of an angle grinder running over a two-stroke engine, then you’ll be very pleased with UNKNOWN LIBERTY.


From appearances, I thought I had another French D-beat compilation on my hands, but I stand corrected! While still French, the four bands presented here (KARNAGE, OMG, STAKANOV, and MEMORIAL VOICE) all seem to glean influence from the immortal METAL URBAIN, copping their harsh guitars, haywire drum machines, and venomous vocal attack. If you’re a Francophilic punk who has already already worn through your copies of the BIPPP or Paink comps, this will probably be worth your while.

V/A Introductory Rites cassette

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

V/A Öresund HC Omnibus LP

The description is pretty much the same as the review: four killer hardcore punk EPs on one 12” record. Please don’t let that dissuade you, dear reader, because these are four killer hardcore punk EPs on one 12” record, and you’re going to need all of them in your earholes. ZYFILIS is bombastic and completely without nuance—harsh shouted vocals dominating the white-noise guitars. NONPLUS hits like ’90s Swedish D-beat with in-your-face femme vocals (even better than the demo tracks, in my humble opinion). JUNTA is wild, swinging D-beat, and then the second track is like moshing through molasses and I’m hopelessly stuck. And then, just when you think you survived, Sweden’s HAG rips through four hyper-speed modern hardcore stomps. The format rules, the content is mandatory.


V/A Big, Big Wave LP

Wild and very ambitious project that tries to give the listener a good glimpse into Hattiesburg, Mississippi’s underground punk scene, attempting to document as much of the scene as possible in a single day while on tour (with great success, in my opinion). Biff Bifaro, you are a crazy visionary! Keep on driving to far-away and under the radar scenes! Eleven bands with one or two tracks each recorded on the very same day, no doubt sharing some common ball of sound—to my taste, most of the bands were more on the garage side of rock than the punk side, minus FUMES, JUDY AND THE JERKS and YEAR OF THE VULTURE, but that’s only my view. Also features PLEATHER, CONTROL ROOM, and BIG HITS, among others. Great effort, give it a listen.

Violin Violin LP

New heat from London—this is VIOLIN, a creative vehicle for one Lindsay Corstorphine. All instrumental and vocal contributions are carried out by Corstorphine, with the exception of the drums, handled by the outstanding talent of Jonah Falco of FUCKED UP. This self-titled debut release bludgeons the brain with righteous indignation, firing on all cylinders with unhinged, aggressive hardcore punk. Highlights include the slower-paced stomp of “Chaos at the Seance” and the cacophonous, synth-textured “Empty Mind”. This one is an all-out rager—recommended!

Violin Sect Vile Insect 12″

“Newly excavated ’80s UK DIY” is the sort of hype that will get me to reflexively open my wallet faster than you can say “it was easy, it was cheap, go and do it,” so Minimum Table Stacks had me right where they wanted me with their appended reissue of the one-off, two-song 1981 7” from Welsh art-punks VIOLIN SECT. The hopscotching bass line, one-drop drum rhythm, and disintegrating guitar delay on “Highdays and Holidays” are all lovingly smudged with the fingerprints of dub and accented with some of the most lackadaisical post-punk cowbell ever committed to tape, while “Fit & Anxious” has more of a disjointedly funky messthetic—a fanzine interview reprinted in the insert for the 12” has the band calling out the RED CRAYOLA as a key influence, and there’s definitely some big Soldier Talk energy on display. Two other songs were recorded during the same session but ultimately cut for the 7” release; they’ve been made available for the first time on Vile Insect, so any wannabe Johan Kugelbergs out there now scrambling to cop the original single should still pay attention here. “MILK” is a sparse, sideways shamble of drolly narrated vocals, rubbery bass, and trebly guitar scribble, very much of a piece with their Welsh compatriots REPTILE RANCH, and the almost SOLID SPACE-ish melancholic pop warble of “Rivals” adds some rudimentary keyboard for texture—both are just as great as the the tracks that did end up getting the 45 nod. A no-brainer!

Warfare Doomsday LP

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

Warhawk Pray for War LP

Sweaty, denim-vest hard rock from Sweden. Like MOTÖRHEAD meets the HELLACOPTERS, WARHAWK mixes classic NWOBHM and psych-influenced guitar leads with fist-pumping riffs. While this record could have come out any time in the last 40 years, it sounds fresh and raucous. “Watch Out” lays down a pummeling D-beat with relentless riffing. “Devils Dust” conjures Lemmy’s immortal energy and does him justice. Really, there’s not a dud in the mix, as long as you like this particular mode of full-speed greasy rockin’. I feel like you already know if this is for you. If you’re into conversion vans with airbrushed wizards, choppers, and raw rock‘n’roll, you’ll dig this.

Wax Wax demo cassette

Here’s a new band from Brooklyn, New York. WAX plays hardcore punk with an especially loud and aggressive approach. The vocal style has a particularly howling, tortured quality to it. While it generally isn’t anything that you haven’t heard before, if you’re a fan of that strain of pissed-off and tortured HC punk, you can’t go wrong with this one. All in all, a very promising debut release that is worth your attention.

Werewolf Jones Rot Away LP

Grimy garage punk slithering out of Detroit’s streets. WEREWOLF JONES deliver thirteen tracks of bad attitude with fast punk that interestingly uses a surf-style drum beat, all double snare hits and rolls. I imagine the drummer holds his sticks sideways like a jazz player, but my search for live pics didn’t confirm it. It totally works though, and gives the songs a rollicking propulsion that makes them seem even faster than they are. On a few tracks, the band veers into sludgy noise rock territory, sounding like TONGUE PARTY or WHORES. “Bigmouth,” for instance, has a plodding caveman riff that works like a shovel breaking through rocks. Among the faster garage-influenced songs, “Lock the Door” reminds me of ZEKE with a hilarious non-solo where the bass and drums play and the lead guitar just emits a distortion feedback tone. It’s this kind of tongue-in-cheek casualness that makes this such a fun, albeit heavy, record. Similarly, “Eating Life Shitting Skulls” is over four minutes of that surf beat with shrieked vocals and clean, reverbed surf licks played at half-speed. It’s weird and wonderful. Loud, slimy, with speed and humor to spare, this is a great punk record.

Πυρ Κατα Βουληση Θ​υ​μ​α​τ​α Ε​ι​ρ​η​ν​η​ς LP

Hot damn! This smokes!! Absolutely raging raw punk from Athens, Greece. This album is packed to the gills with killer riffs. With the unrelenting pounding of an incessant D-beat and vicious buzzsaw bass, ΠΥΡ ΚΑΤΑ ΒΟΥΛΗΣH (“fire at will” in English) leaves a path of utter destruction in their wake. Not dissimilar to recent offerings from CHAINSAW or RAT CAGE, there are distinctive Scandinavian influences at play here—and like the aforementioned bands, ΠΥΡ ΚΑΤΑ ΒΟΥΛΗΣH wields those influences to great effect. From top to bottom, this just doesn’t let up. Robin Wiberg’s artwork perfectly encapsulates the paroxysms of outrage and anger found within. It’s undeniable; this is a top-shelf scorcher.