MRR #478 • March 2023

A Culture of Killing Dissipation of Clouds, The Barrier LP

Really unique sound coming from somewhere vaguely in Italy—A CULTURE OF KILLING brings in elements of goth, post-punk, anarcho, peace punk, and even dub. Vocals come at us with call-and-response male/female parts that harmonize on choruses, keeping us engaged the whole record through. Guitars also call and respond, arpeggiate, jab, and blare into crescendos that has everyone on double-time. Bass does not merely toe the line, and is in fact front and center on a lot of the tracks (check out “Speculations”). I also hear a guiro (I think?), some other odd block percussion, and a xylophone somewhere. The drums provide a rhythm seamlessly transitioning between pared-down, stark post-punk, to groove-centered dub beats that gather the band into a potent force, never devolving into a belabored “jam,” while providing endless fun. A CULTURE OF KILLING mentions ZOUNDS, the CURE, and CRASS as some influences, and while I hear pieces of each, they have truly formed their own breed of punk. This is their third album, and first with Drunken Sailor, and I’m equally excited to listen to their past two LPs as I am to see what is next.

Alternative If They Treat You Like Shit, Act Like Manure LP reissue

Rolling bass lines and protest-style drum beats combine with jagged guitar work to form songs that are reminiscent of other Crass Record bands, but with something a bit different. Pete Wright, bassist and vocalist for CRASS and ANNIE ANXIETY, assisted with the production and performed backing vocals on the original 1985 Corpus Christi Records release. ALTERNATIVE plays like the distillation of Crass Records; as if all the indignation, thematic content, and musical experimentation were concentrated and then finally released. This album as a whole is an adventurous sonic ride with various sound samples creating introductions and conclusions to songs that shift time and rollick freely through a world of criticism, warnings, and encouraged introspection with the summation being that the real revolution begins with the self.

Angerboys How to Profit From the Panic LP

I’m going to make a food analogy here, sorry in advance. Hardcore, like food, is best prepared from the best ingredients and prepared simply with proper seasoning. No fuss in the mixing booth, the right blend of influences and new ideas, and mastered properly. While ANGERBOYS have some of the ingredients right, namely speed, this full-length just doesn’t sound right. For one thing, it’s not mastered properly. I’m not a sound engineer or a snob, but when there are differences between the overall volume from track to track, it’s not a “who gives a fuck” punk ethos, it’s annoying. Combined with the fact that everything here sounds way too upfront, with no room to breathe in the instrumentation, and the vocals isolated and unnatural (not to mention some truly irritating lyricism)—this is just an unpleasant record altogether. Whatever happened to “community not competition,” when you have a song like “Your Band … Sucks!” (yes, punctuated like that). They even reference Bandcamp in said ten-second “fuck you” to other, presumably local, bands. Mirror, meet band, where do you think I listened to this thing?

Astrid Lindgren Świat Jak Śnieg LP

ASTRID LINDGREN’s songs seem built around their big, anthemic choruses. The build-up can be a restrained verse, a chugging guitar, or even some frantic post-punk bass lines. This record could be described as melodic hardcore, but the delivery feels more somber, more demonstrative than your typical rager. The band knows when to ease off the gas and give us time to recover from each peak. The end result sounds cathartic and urgent.

Balta Rendszerszintű Agybaszás EP

Completely feral feedbacker thrash meltdown from a Budapest unit making their debut, and whose number appears to include another MRR reviewer (Viktor Vargyai) and someone from NORMS. Anyone already aware how out to lunch that band’s last two LPs sounded, prepare for BALTA to cube that on Rendszerszintű Agybaszás. If one wanted to pinpoint the location where noisepunk of the CONFUSE ilk morphs into noisecore à la SEVEN MINUTES OF NAUSEA, they could try the seven minutes and seven songs on this 7”. Fully life-affirming anti-music.

Be All End All A Further Life flexi EP

This four-song flexi EP is the newest release from Florida’s BE ALL END ALL. This release goes in hard and unrelenting, a mix of whirlwind fastcore and bludgeoning heavy hardcore—a mix that proves to be very potent, with roaring, hoarse shouting on top of the chaos, along with some guttural death growling in spots as well. An incredibly vicious and abrasive release that comes highly recommended.

Brian Disease Brian Disease cassette

They may have come up with low-effort (but high impact) joke names, but there’s something serious and even a bit sinister to this angular take on lo-fi punk. While these songs definitely have a bop to them, thanks largely to the rhythm section putting in heavy work, there’s a misanthropy that perfectly puts to rest any worry that punks will ever tire of telling folks to “fuck off.” Like life, this tape is nasty, brutish and short. It probably won’t brighten up your day and there’s nothing mindblowing here, but there’s still plenty to like.

Bug Central And the Fires Began 10″

Gargling bass starts what quickly presents itself as classic UK anarcho-punk. Sort of reminding me of SPITE, or RIOT/CLONE with a KILLING JOKE rhythm to it. Abrasive while equally encompassing a tide of UK82 and some crust influence, BUG CENTRAL hits a SUBHUMANS groove at times as well. This is dancey and slamming. Boots and bristles with a darker veneer. This is clearly composed by maestros from decades of UK punk rock. “Another Vegan Hipster” is cracking me up. BUG CENTRAL pulls no punches, but packs a catchy wallop. SUICIDAL SUPERMARKET TROLLEYS, PIL, RESTARTS, POLICE BASTARD…it has a lot going on. I want to see this band play with PI$$ER. I wish this was the direction ANTISECT went in. This album is earnest and smart. The title track kind of recalls early ENT with more discernible vocals. BUG CENTRAL is gloomy and bright. The cover art is a full-color British street scene, if you mixed CRASS graphic design with Zdzisław Beksiński. Check this out.

Bulbulators Nie Nie Nie LP

Long-running Polish label Enigmatic is back on the scene after a fourteen-year hiatus from 2005 to 2019. Curiously, they chose to resurrect the BULBULATORS’ second full-length album from 2002, and reissue it on vinyl. Free of any nostalgic ties to this release, I struggle to get my head around why this needed to be dredged back up. That said, after a few spins, I admit that some of the songs have started to grow on me. There is a certain charm to the way they blatantly ape first-wave punk like the VIBRATORS or RAMONES. And while the BULBULATORS don’t actually sound much like either of those bands, it is clear that they genuinely embraced the spirit of ’77. I have a feeling that this album may, for some, inspire a glue-sniffin’ trip down the gutter of memory lane. For my part, I’ll stick with my worn-out copy of Pure Mania.

Capric​ö​rn Sink in Tears LP

French D-beat punk that sounds a whole lot like MOTÖRHEAD. The production on this record sounds great—thick bass lines, drums straight up front, and clear vocals. A “Road Warrior” clip starts us off, and then it’s ten fast and earnest rockers about goats, Satan, beer, and Satan again. There’s an OZZY clip at the beginning of “Sober is Bullshit,” who is either the best or worst spokesperson for the cause. Gang choruses and some call-and-response vocals give the album a fun, live feel throughout. If this kind of speed-punk/metal mix is your jam, you’ll like this.

Cataphiles Cataphiles LP

A very dark cloud was above Bremen when goth punks CATAPHILES wrote their debut self-titled LP—a quick listen to it is all it takes to prove that punk with goth leanings is still alive and well. The same energy and melancholy can be found on records by the CURE and CHRISTIAN DEATH, who are obvious references but fitting ones. A punkier edge to deathrock and goth did no harm to their sound and elevated it into new sonic spaces, as did the dual male/female vocals and usage of keyboards for gloomier purposes. CATAPHILES will surely stand out in the goth punk scene.

Celebrity Handshake Final Education LP

Attention, weirdos. Portland, Maine’s CELEBRITY HANDSHAKE has released the newest in a long line of shattered, no-fi blues-noise records. Read their other MRR reviews to see how divisive this band can be (and it’s not hard to hear why) with their room-clearing take on art-punk. They sound like a blues band falling down the stairs, every player clinging on to their last strangled pattern. The vocalist is the grouch behind you in line who talks to himself about how long everything takes these days, and how back in his day, kids had respect, etc. Imagine the energy of HARRY PUSSY mixed with U.S. MAPLE mixed with your uncle, and you get the idea. That’s not to say it’s terrible (well, it is terrible, but I think that’s the point); the spoken non-sequitur lyrics like “A dictator without a mustache? / That’s no dictator” and “Take your lunch to work / Flush it down the toilet / You can eat next week / Blame it on the cigarette snake,” sputtered out against the band all trying to solo at the same time, is interesting. If you’re into heavy skronk, check it out. If you like it, you’re in for a treat, because they have released a whole bunch of this stuff.

Cinderblock Breathe the Fire LP

CINDERBLOCK was an early ’90s hardcore band from Buffalo, NY whose members would go on to bands like EARTH CRISIS, SNAPCASE, TERROR, etc. Unlike the more metallic sounds of those bands, this collection of songs is much more melodic-leaning. These songs were originally written back in the early ’90s but recorded fairly recently, giving a fresh outlook to a throwback sound. I find myself going back for repeated listens, although I could see this not appealing to everyone.

Cotärd Delirio EP

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

Crime of Passing 2017–2020 cassette

Welcome to the synth/noise-laden post-punk world of CRIME OF PASSING; a combination of members from the DRIN and the SERFS. Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, CRIME OF PASSING occasionally calls to mind fellow Ohioan MY DEAD IS DEAD. The amount of synth packed into this cassette is deep: drone tones, electronic drums, and harmonious keyboard runs. The song “Eleventh Hour” manages to squeeze in some saxophone, which only encourages the feeling of bummed-out gloom. “Dancing Prick” has a very CURE-ish riff and vocal delivery, if you’re into that. Towards the end of the cassette, “Don’t Turn” kicks off with a lo-fi drum machine beat that initially reminded me of HE SAID, but when the vocals kick in, it’s an ireful delivery more reminiscent of SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES. If you’re a fan of dark-spectrumed post-punk with a barrage of electronic instruments, then I highly recommend this cassette.

Crucified Class Promo Tape ’23 cassette

Much like fellow pissed-off punks SAVAGEHEADS, CRUCIFIED CLASS managed to Frankenstein the best from US hardcore and UK82 on this cassette brimming with bile. The pogo-friendly hooks of anything off a Riot City comp, twinned with the unhinged bark and aggression of Stateside hardcore to dizzying effect. A real good time.

Cryin’ Hand Laugh Now… cassette

Lo-fi punk to make you feel like you’re at a basement gig. It’s chaotic and manic, reminiscent of bands such as GLUE, FRIED E.M., or some Lumpy Records group. There’s nothing new here, but if you like ’80s-sounding recordings, moldy cellars, vintage cassette textures, primitive riffs, raw tunes, and repetitive structures, you’re probably gonna enjoy CRYIN’ HAND. I did.

D.O.V.E. D.O.V.E. LP

D.O.V.E. plays that jam-laden style of anarcho-punk that explores riffs as much as societal criticism. Sure, there are portions of this album that are “heavy” and “fast,” but there’s also a lot of instrumental and vocal experimentation. Most of the songs on this album are well over the three-minute mark, without including any sort of outside audio sample. In fact, I don’t believe there are any samples used on this album, which in 2023 is a rarity of its own. If I had to compare D.O.V.E. to something, I’d say something like HONEY BANE, but with more willingness to embrace the jam, or maybe a more chilled-out PERMACULTURE.

Damak Crisis of Faith cassette

A wild ride of a debut full-length release by this trio from Austin, TX. Not the style I initially expected, seeing as it was released by the label that put out the newest records by LIQUIDS and ERIK NERVOUS. DAMAK does their own thing, a jangly, driving, poppy take on modern post-punk. Really catchy songs, beautiful instrumental interludes, unconventional rock instruments like flute, cello, and autoharp peppered through the recording—this is sure to get quite a few more plays on my stereo. Very much looking forward to what DAMAK does next.

Dead Low Not for Sale EP

Four blasts of mid-paced street rock’n’roll with a melodic undercurrent. Did this band time travel from the ’90s? It’s like they were drinking at a pub with the WRETCHED ONES and fell into a wormhole that dumped them out onto a grimy modern-day Massachusetts sidewalk. One thing’s for sure, DEAD LOW won’t be accused of breaking new ground. The guitarist’s flirtation with metal is a trifle unnerving and the production is overwrought, but they do pack a punch with solid musicianship and anthemic shout-along choruses. If you ever felt like the TEMPLARS were too stripped-down, this might be worth a spin.

Dischordia Andrà Tutto Bene CD

I have to say I’m a real sucker for this kind of melodic hardcore/pop punk stuff. Given that there is nothing on the sleeve, and these Italians sing in their native tongue (and sound all the better for it), I’ve no idea whatsoever what they’re lilting on about, though they do have a circle-A as the last letter of their band name, which may or may not have some significance!? Regardless, they produce a gloriously structured racket, drawing on the best of early WESTON, first couple of LPs-era PROPAGANDHI, and NOFX when they got Hefe in the band, and suddenly became brilliant. Yes, they’re that good.

Discreet This is Mine LP

Holy shit—this record is a motherfukkr!! You want abuse? The chorus to the opening track “King Heroin” reads: “Bow down, my lord / I am restored.” And then they go fast. This lands like HOAX on a diet of ANTISEEN, and I am terrified.

Crüel Night / Disdain Alászállás split LP

A filthy, filthy split coming from Hungary with two bleak bands. CRÜEL NIGHT opens hostilities with a B-movie-esque intro to set a dystopic tone for this split effort. Their side tells a story of suicide, so a heavy, hard-hitting, darkened crust approach ridden with blastbeats was taken. The interludes that live between the songs evolve into a more industrial space and even touch on dungeon synth. DISDAIN goes for a more raw approach, following the legacy of English crust like EXTREME NOISE TERROR or DOOM. The interlude usage continues on their side as well, painting another picture of horror and giving this split a narrative to follow.

Disolvente Disolvente cassette

Mid-tempo, no-frills punk rock trio from Barcelona. All Spanish-language chanted vocals complete with doubled-up, sing-along style choruses on many of the songs. Repetitive riffs that manage to keep my attention and make the recording sound incredibly timeless. We’re not reinventing the wheel here, because it needs no such reimagining. This is A+ in my book.

Dissekerad Inre Strid LP

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

En Love Fled EP

Brutal powerviolence from Columbus, OH’s EN LOVE. Clocking in at under ten minutes, the Fled EP is a mosh classic. In what seems to be specifically crafted for the pit, this slab flows perfectly for anyone who is looking to dance their ass off. The EP kicks in slow and low, but immediately jumps into the action. No guitar solos, drums set deep into the pocket, just one homogeneous pile of fervent intensity. Very reminiscent of CLOUD RAT and other modern PV bands. I don’t know if this was on purpose, but the drums are blown out like crazy and it adds so much depth and vigor to an already massive recording. Good stuff here, recommended to anyone who loves newer grind.

End Forest E.N.D. LP

I like a record that demands a dedicated listen, and E.N.D. does exactly that. A project featuring more than 20 artists, END FOREST creates crushing, sample-drenched soundscapes and patiently delivers meticulously crafted otherworldly hardcore. NEUROSIS and SWANS influences are evident (MORNE and THEMA ELEVEN, as well), but hear the horns on “Ulsce Dudh” and know you’re listening to something entirely different. As a project and a concept, END FOREST is commanding…but as an album? Fucking spiritual.

Endorphins Lost Night People LP

Sludge-violence out of Seattle. Not a bad record by any means. Band is tight, and production is on-point. But if you’re recording a hardcore album in 2023, you best bring something unique that makes you stand out from the rest of the crowd. Night People comes off as a formulaic, grind-by-numbers slab. Very reminiscent of a modern CAPITALIST CASUALTIES and MAN IS THE BASTARD, especially with the dual vocals. Drums are easily the most impressive part here, and really drive the energy of each song. Worth a spin if you’re a powerviolence junkie.

Exaltrist Demonstration of Violence ’22 cassette

Great four-song cassette from a trampler of a band. EXALTARIST is a combined effort from members from other Jacksonville obliterators UNREGISTERED WEAPON and MANIFEST IN FILTH. Lots of black metal-crusted feedback. These tracks all have enough vitriol to keep the lights on in each of the blistering tracks on the cassette. Washed-out cymbals and just murky enough belches throughout each track that burn into each other. Really diggin’ the song “No Gun Ri,” can we ever get more of this?

Fatal Wound Fatal Wound demo cassette

Mean-as-fuck brutal hardcore that rules. If you like CITY HUNTER, or GAOLED’s excellent demo from last year, get on this. Most of the tracks are blistering fast punk with distorted bass and full-throated roaring vocals. There are enough dynamic shifts to keep it fresh, like the occasional thrashy divebomb solos and the creepy-crawl pummeling of “Senseless Slaughter.” In addition to some of the metallic guitarwork, FATAL WOUND takes some underground metal cues with the grim artwork and hard-ass photocopied Gothic font on the back. Check out the track names: “Pathetic Worm,” “Merciless Despair,” and the best, “Skinned for Sport.” Fuckin’ “Skinned for Sport.” What a stone-cold Grim Reaper title! If you are having a bad day, give it power and make it terrible with this absolute ripper of a demo.

Final Dose World Prisoner / Void Inside flexi 7″

World Prisoner feels like a final scream, an agonic yell from a post-apocalyptic, dying world. The guitars form a devastating wall of sound that kind of numbs you, like a steamroller rolling over you. I think they’ve listened to a lot of LEBENDEN TOTEN, because FINAL DOSE has some of that anguished anger in their music too, which they like to call “blackened hardcore.” I can’t really understand the second track, an electronic elevator song that doesn’t really do much for me. An interesting band to keep on your radar.

Full Stride Demo 2022 cassette

Youth crew-ish hardcore complete with the good ol’ gang vocals peppered in here and there. Songs range from fast to mid-tempo and there’s definite heart here, not to mention potential. The thing that kinda turns me off, while at the same time endearing this to me (I know that’s a mind-bender), is the recording quality. For the last handful of years, every time I’ve heard a “demo,” it’s sounded album-quality. This actually sounds like a demo. Like, you can tell the songs are good and with a bit more hammering and polish they could be great, but the recording doesn’t do them any favors. You know what I mean? Don’t get me wrong, though! This is exactly what a “demo” should sound like. Like, why would you go to a fancy studio and record some polished, album-quality recording of four songs to put on a tape that you made 50 copies of or put up as a free download? Fuck that. This is the proper use of the term “demo” and I am for it!

Ghidrah Invincible Deluxe LP reissue

Blessing GHIDRAH’s ’96 CD with a vinyl release, this record commemorates the 25th anniversary of the veteran New Zealand band’s debut. With a sharp new remastering courtesy of Dead Air Studios, this slab showcases 21 blasts of rowdy hardcore that are punctuated by random TV, movie, and video game sound bites. That structure was typical for powerviolence albums in the 1990s, and while the music here touches on that style with a few healthy blastbeats, there are other flavors at play that are hard to ignore. This is more of a primal and expressive sort of chaos in the vein of SUN CHILDREN SUN, complete with a good bit of brass cacophony. It’s a heavy, heavy racket that goes into a range of moods. There’s also a baked-in sense of strangeness that makes me think of the BUTTHOLE SURFERS, and the song “Can’t Undo” with its yearning indie melody and spoken-word overlays reminded me of the closing “Tugena” on the DEAD MILKMEN’s Big Lizard LP. An unlikely stew, but it’s a raw and original document that deserves the celebration.

Gluer Gluer LP

Gritty, grubby, nasty, and mean. GLUER bashes through fifteen songs of misanthropic, mid-tempo punk rock’n’roll. I would’ve guessed this band was from San Francisco rather than Stockholm. This is oozing with bad vibes in the best way possible, not dissimilar to LIFE STINKS or CRIME. Dirgelike but never plodding, GLUER delivers plenty of tough, catchy hooks both vocally and through instrumentation. “Weird Boy,” in particular, is a choice cut with a killer picked-out guitar riff and the howling cadence of the line “Look at that weird boy!”. Few things brighten my day more than some menacing downer punk. Excellent.

Grawlixes Demonstration 2022 cassette

Blistering, lo-fi raw punk the likes of which upstate NY has not seen since NO FUCKER or their subsequent (and my preferred) band HERPES. That isn’t to say they are cut from the exact same cloth or anything. GRAWLIXES isn’t a by-the-numbers recreation of classic D-beat bands. It’s nasty, it’s driving, it’s also quite familiar. Hmm. Oh, perhaps that is because the same six songs were released on a cassette last year, entitled Demonstration 2021. Re-recorded versions of the same songs make up this second demo. No complaints here, as it is truly ripping. Word has it that a 7” is coming out very soon. Will it be the same six songs recorded a third time around? Even if it is, you can bet your life I’m getting a copy as soon as it is available.

Greyhound Scorched Earth cassette

Is it hard for anyone else out there to relax? With the doomy vibes weighing heavy in all the same ways (climate in crisis, bloated military spending, killer cops, bigotry and violence), it takes a lot to get me to take a deep breath of relief. But that’s exactly what I got out of this stunning full-length of crisp, ripping hardcore from this Oakland group. There’s a distinct Bay Area grit to these eleven cuts, captured perfectly in the band’s rehearsal space and mixed/mastered/released by themselves. It hits hard as nails—there’s heft in the low end and clarity in the guitars, something other home recorders could take some notes on. On top of that, the songs bleed with passion and cut through the crowded HC landscape with ingenious guitar work that consistently caught me off guard. On top of all that, all the band’s proceeds (including T-shirt sales) go toward G.L.I.T.S., so while the world may be a miserable place, GREYHOUND is out there doing the good work. Real deal.

Gurs Tierra Quemada EP

Tierra Quemada is the impeccable debut of this quartet from Euskal Herria, born from the politicized underground of Bilbao. Four songs of muscular post-punk, with well-sharpened guitars and a very rich melodic quality, delivered in a very energetic fashion. Lyrics are political but full of rapturous, poetic images. For fans of Spanish bands like LA TRINIDAD or BIZNAGA. “Cien Cuchillas” is a great gateway to this band with a very promising future.

Haren Demo 2022 cassette

HAREN is a three-piece band from Murcia, Spain, and their demo tape is (also) released by Educacion Cíncia from Buenos Aires. A quick note on current tape labels such as Educacion Cíncia: they keep punk fresh. It is impossible to keep up with how many random bands there are with streamable records, yet for those whom a physical release is still important, tape labels have become more handy than ever. It gets better when they are focused on a local scene and function as a platform for the bands to show off. Tapes are cheap and small, ship easily, still look alright and allow a lot of mastering bullshit. What better format, right? I also dig the fanzine-esque promo that is written by the label of this release. But back to HAREN: They play street punk/Oi!, but uptempo and with enough dirt that it swings into the UK82 sound with a significant amount of melodies. Don’t expect blazing energy, it’s much more rudimentary and therefore predictable. But how many variations are there for power chords? While the songs do not offer anything extraordinary, HAREN does not slip into becoming background music. There is an elusive determination behind their playing that demands attention and feeds their simple melodies to my brain. It’s capital-letter punk music—if you played it for a mohawk owner, they would start to move. The guitars play dense-to-bouncy and mid-tempo, and the vocals add a bit of a hymn-like feel to each track. This is a decent tape, proving that punk is still accessible and showing how putting yourself into your music can improve your songs no matter how simple they are.

Hayes Noble Head Cleaner CD

With his debut CD after his “Forget It” single from Fall 2022, HAYES NOBLE brings forth a shoegaze wall of sound. And literally, there’s a lot of shoegazing in his “Forget It” music video, as he swims in a pool fully clothed, wearing black-and-white Chucks. This kid’s seventeen, but has clearly done his homework on the indie/alt/grunge genres, as the songs are tight and engaging. The light-hearted, higher vocal register of BUILT TO SPILL, mixed with J Mascis’s heavy, blurred guitar lines. But HAYES, come on, Head Cleaner? This should really be a cassette release, just saying. All told, a warm and fuzzy good listen.

Heaven’s Gate Heaven’s Gate 12″

Fast and furious blasts from HEAVEN’S GATE, a who’s who of thrash/crossover/metal playing thrash/crossover/metal. If you need an idea of HEAVEN’S GATE’s sound, look no further than the impressive resumes of their members—MUNICIPAL WASTE, WARTHOG, CANNIBAL CORPSE, REVERSAL OF MAN. Stuffed with blastbeats, riffs on riffs, sludge-y baselines, and shredded vocals, HEAVEN’S GATE impressively scratches every itch in five songs’ time. Checkout opening track “Smear Crusade” and prepare to have the skin melted off your face like the poor fella on the cover.

Heavy Mother This Time Around LP

This Bloomington outfit features an original member of the GIZMOS and some of the COWBOYS and, if I understand the weird write-up correctly, is a resurrected old band from the ’70s. It’s pretty close to some of the GIZMOS in sound, but leaning more towards the SEEDS and SONICS’ (whom they cover) garage with maybe a little NEW YORK DOLLS or HEARTBREAKERS thrown in, like on “Don’t Talk To Me.” Drinking corn liquor in a field and heading to a roadhouse is the vibe here, and that’s not a bad thing at all. Skip the hangover and pick this up instead.

Helta Skelta Helta Skelta LP reissue

Despite having been a big fan of the Perth scene that birthed this band and an avid follower of the label that bears their name, I’ve somehow managed to avoid listening to HELTA SKELTA up to this point. I don’t really have an excuse, just never got around to it. Thankfully, Bad Habit is here with a reissue of their 2011 debut LP to make me feel like a big dummy for prioritizing whatever bullshit I was into back then. This thing smokes! It’s fifteen tracks (the eleven from the original LP, plus four from their 2010 Parasite demo) of blown-out, mid-fi garage punk ramped up to hardcore tempos. The music seems to be equally pulled from a variety of garage-y influences—the raw simplicity of the Back from the Grave comps, the artsy primitivism of LAMPS, and the bouncy, treble-heavy, soulful garage pop of contemporaries ROYAL HEADACHE. But the vocals are 100% hardcore—somewhere between the croaky holler of POISON IDEA and the grunty shout of G.B.H. Just an exceptional record that everyone should have owned since 2011!

Home Front Games of Power LP

Upon the release of their 2021 EP Think of the Lie, Edmonton, Canada’s HOME FRONT brought something new to the table in an already diverse modern punk scene: a new wave sound drenched in catchy synth and nods to some of the ’80s greatest. Masterminds Graeme Mackinnon and Clint Frazier delivered songs with hooks that could go toe-to-toe with nearly any one-hit wonder of the era. It comes as no surprise, then, that with their debut LP Games of Power, HOME FRONT has pulled out all of the stops and it pays off in spades. This is a lovingly crafted album full of wall-to-wall hits that not only continues the trajectory HOME FRONT set out on with their debut, but takes it to soaring heights, incorporating nearly every benchmark of the new wave and post-punk eras. Opener “Faded State” and second track “Real Eyes” were wisely the first two tracks available before the album dropped, and give a good idea of where things are heading, but even the perfect pop sparkle of the former and the propulsive post-punk grit of the latter cannot prepare the listener for what’s ahead. Track three (“Nation”) is an Oi!-infused family affair, featuring vocals from Cal of the CHISEL as well as members of RIXE on backing vocal duties. Typically the word “anthemic” feels overused and trite, but here it fits quite nicely. Stuffed to the brim with icy synths and righteous indignation, this one will do well with a live crowd. Highlights elsewhere include “Contact,” a euphoric ode to the end of the world that shimmers like a NEW ORDER single at the end of a John Hughes film, “Crisis,” a Krautrock-y second spin down KRAFTWERK’s Autobahn, and the album’s crown jewel, title track “Games of Power.” It’s a dazzling, beat-laden groove straight out of the Haçienda during peak Madchester. Rarely does a song get an immediate second spin from me, but this one demands it. It cannot be understated: HOME FRONT’s songwriting is superb. They have a sound that is familiar and authentic without teetering into parody, only tasteful homage. Both Ian Curtis and Alan Vega receive heartfelt love letters via “End Transmission” and “Born Killer,” respectively. Both are so deftly put together that you can easily forget it isn’t JOY DIVISION or SUICIDE playing from the speaker. Therein lies the beauty of Games of Power: it lovingly celebrates a genre while pushing it forward into a modern age. HOME FRONT is no throwback, they are the future.

Hue Blanc’s Joyless Ones Hue Blanc’s Joyless Ones LP

It takes some years to get this kind of patina of confidence on your sound, and it’s been a fair few for this Wisconsin group. There’s almost a mysticism at the core of these songs—the sound is rooted in a somewhat scummed-up version of BEAT HAPPENING or other paragons of what used to be dubbed college rock (BIG DIPPER comes to mind?), but there is an effortless cool to the vocal delivery and unvarnished lyrical approach. Nothing flowery here, just pure attitude that jangles its way through the abyss with great guitar work and a rhythm section that won’t hold back. It’s hard to pin down the sound (as evidenced by the disparate sound of both previously mentioned bands) as it touches on garage, early grunge, and even some touches of cowpunk. The band feels singular in this way, and therefore ascended from the general rock‘n’roll din. Not to say the group doesn’t get down and dirty when it counts—just listen to the manic horniness of “Negra Bordello.” But this is one of those bands that sings songs like they’re sermons. Sermons of the nastiness of ordinary fucking life, sure, but those are the kind we need. So grab a pew and listen up.

ICD10 Faith in Institutions LP

Big movers from a few different nooks of the Philadelphia punk scene make up ICD10 on Faith in Institutions, their debut album following a self-released 2020 tape. Feels like this has flown under the radar a little, if anything, with the main POISON RUÏN dude and ex-SHEER MAG and DEVIL MASTER heads among the five members, but I’m going to chalk it up to Sorry State releasing the album two days before Christmas, because this is pretty ripping hardcore for rockers that splits the difference between heads-down charge and swirly psychedelic skygazing. ICD10 would be a pretty solid modern-classic HC band à la, say, MURO if they’d eschewed the hefty reverb on the vocals and other trippy FX, but those elements add a whole new dimension, with the guitarists going especially hog-wild for four minutes on LP closer “Can’t See Out.”

Feral / Judy and the Jerks Free Violence split cassette

I’m assuming everyone’s familiar with JUDY AND THE JERKS at this point. They’ve been around since 2017, making a blend of deliriously infectious hardcore that’s somehow both a straight homage to classic American scenes and distinctly contemporary. If it weren’t for them and Earth Girl (the label putting out this cassette), I doubt anyone would think of Hattiesburg, MS as being a punk town (it’s still wild to me how fertile that scene seems to be). Their side of this split is more of what you’ve come to expect from this act. That being said, the production here is much crunchier and more immediate than anything I’ve heard on their past releases. So, these five mainly sub-one-minute rippers really pack a wallop. FERAL shares 50% of its members with JUDY AND THE JERKS, who’re also maybe Atlanta-based now, so it’s not surprising that their side bears a lot in common with JUDY AND THE JERKS’ sound. But FERAL is a little less straightforward. The guitar and vocals on these four tracks are often bathed in effects that give their sound more of a psychedelic sheen. Reminds me a bit of the weird hardcore we got in the early 2010s from acts like GUTTER GODS. Both sides are great—definitely worth your time!

Kalle Hygien The Raft LP

I can tell you with close to 100% certainty that if I didn’t have an obligation to listen to this record, I wouldn’t have. Even if I somehow made it past this MEAN JEANS-ass record cover, I’m positive I would have shut it off within a few seconds of the jokey PET SHOP BOYS-meets-SLEAFORD MODS opener “The Raft.” This just isn’t the kind of shit I’m looking for when digging into any record, let alone one that purports to be punk. But we’re here to give this thing a fair shake, so let’s soldier on. KALLE HYGIEN appears to be the solo project of Kalle Jansson, whom you may know from the Swedish garage rock act the MANIKINS. This is the first LP from the project after a handful of EPs of aggro drum machine punk. But don’t go into this expecting more of the same! Aside from “Dope Him Up,” a cool rinky-dink dum-dum electro-punk number, this record bears little resemblance to his earlier releases. It actually sounds more like the GORILLAZ or an early BECK album. The winky rapping on “Snake in My Garden” has some punk bite to it, but it’s impossible not to imagine Damon Albarn yawning out that chorus. And the production on “Surprise Party”—one of the record’s highlights—really reminds me of the DUST BROTHERS maximalism you’d find on Odelay. Other tracks touch on chintzy ’90s neo-exotica or budget Red Mecca experimentation. Most of the tracks, even the ones I really dislike, are compositionally impressive, even catchy. They’re just not very punk. Probably worth checking out—I really did enjoy bits of it—but I wouldn’t blame you if you bail partway through.

The Black Black / Kissed by an Animal split EP

Two indie-flavored pop punk bands from Brooklyn on a split with two songs from each. The first song from both is a separate take on “Songs About New York,” but don’t be confused, they really, irreverently “fucking hate songs about New York.” Comparing the second tracks, BLACK BLACK is a little heavier and darker, with distorted vocals and a more driving beat on “Work,” while KISSED BY AN ANIMAL has that feel-good, shamble-y guitar and operatic backing “ooooh”s on “I’m So Happy I Don’t Wanna Die.” The album art caught my attention, with the primary colors of a graphic novel depicting a woman giving the so-what hand flip to a drunken, lumpy Muppet (KISSED BY AN ANIMAL), and the lumpy Muppet finally passed out on the bar, wine glass intact, woman gone (BLACK BLACK). I enjoy the jab at how over-romanticized New York City is, but this kind of dark indie-dance thing isn’t quite for me. Are you looking for a snarlier version of the BLACK KEYS? Well then, this could be for you, and both bands have a couple LPs in their catalog if you want more.


Komplex Viny Suita Pro Nové Konce EP

KOMPLEX VINY is a band from the Czech Republic that plays some killer crust punk tunes. The powerful vocals are backed with furious but complex riffs and smashing drums. This is one of those 7″ records you can spend hours listening to over and over again. Each song is unique, so KOMPLEX VINY avoids the trap of writing songs that all sound somewhat similar, and the sound is something totally exclusive to these rockers. If I had to compare KOMPLEX VINY to other sounds, I’d hazard to say it’s all of the best global crust noises distilled into a palatable but commanding recording. There are familiar riffs and fills, but KOMPLEX VINY also manages to reshuffle certain elements to create a very refreshing presentation. The song “Dno za Dnem” even manages to fit a bit of Oi! into it without going full gang vocals. Overall, I highly recommend this one!

Little Baby Tendencies Bad Things cassette

LUNACHICKS vocal energy and a heavy fuzzed-out attack set the framework for a Tennessee two-piece who assault hypocrisy and humanity with the same energy they use to assault riffs (there are a lot of riffs, for the record). The churn has ’90s alt/metal undertones, but even as a likely product of their influences, LITTLE BABY TENDENCIES truly sound like nothing I’ve come across—intense and intent garage sludge presented as metallic punk. Their ability to look in the mirror when addressing grievances is especially refreshing, and I can only assume that the live performances are even better.

Los Yndeseables Escapa del Control / Asquerosa Sociedad 7″

Raw mid-’80s electro-punk solo project from Kimba Vilis, who was simultaneously the drummer for Peruvian RAMONES disciples LEUSEMIA and Dangerhouse-ish punks DELIRIOS KRÓNIKOS, although the lo-fi industrial rattle he offered up as LOS YNDESEABLES couldn’t be further from visions of leather jackets and sniffing glue. LOS YNDESEABLES’ home-recorded 1985 demo is regarded as one of the first artifacts of Peruvian DIY but was never actually released until Buh put it on vinyl earlier this year, and this 7” completes the history lesson with two songs from the demo that were re-recorded in a studio later in 1985 for the landmark Vol. 2 tape comp. Both tracks are five-minute-plus creepy crawls through the same grimy electro-underworld occupied by fellow freaks like CHROME, SPK, CABARET VOLTAIRE, the NORMAL, etc., with menacing vocals, trebly no wave guitar strangulation, bass lines that would be eminently danceable if they weren’t so murky, warbling blurts of synth, and the monotonous tick of a rhythm machine—they could have easily come out on a label like Industrial or Mute or M Squared in the ’80s, while LOS YNDESEABLES were forging their own post-punk underground in Peru without the benefit of physical media. Really cool to see this rescued from the abyss of time.

Lost Legion Bridging Electricity 10″

Three brawny bruisers of the harder end of Oi!-influenced hardcore here, with luminaries from FUERZA BRUTA, among others. Gravel-gargling vocals and a sound that suggests ARMS RACE having a go at (saxophone-less) French Oi!—add a leftfield GO-GO’S cover into the mix, and you have a very promising first release.

Machiavellian Art Indoctrination Sounds LP

From the midriff of England, MACHIAVELLIAN ART resembles FLIPPER and TODD trapped in outer space, with their faces rapidly purpling and someone’s voice box changing so he sounds like he’s fronting some HOAX kinda mysterious hardcore band. Must be tons of reverb up there too, because you can’t make out much of what Benjamin Thomas is hollering about, but you hear most of it several times over. Indoctrination Sounds, arriving nearly four years after the band’s sole previous release (a six-song tape, which you get with the digital version of this LP), is nasty noise rock with sax and freeform jam segments, but also—because you may have heard music which answers to that description before—a stamp of individuality. Goth basslines and black metal guitar tones lurk, then reach out to grab your ankle, and the title track almost ends up in RIGOROUS INSTITUTION territory. There’s some SNOB and VILE SECT folks in the band, and I have no idea if that’ll push you into investigating (though it should) or makes for especially helpful sonic pointers, but whatever leads you to this release is good by me.

Firestarter / Madhouse split EP

Man, we love to see a good ol’ split 7″. And this one rips. Two bands from Southern California, L.A.’s FIRESTARTER and the Inland Empire’s MADHOUSE, share the stage on this platter. FIRESTARTER carries on the youth crew (à la UNIFORM CHOICE and INSTED) style of their demo tape that I previously reviewed—they offer three tracks and they all rule. The last two tracks come courtesy of MADHOUSE who, on the other hand, go for unhinged speed and aggression not unlike HERESY or TERRORAIN, and it slays all the same. This is one raging 7″ that you should definitely blast out.

Memory Ward Memory Ward cassette

Phoenix’s MEMORY WARD really leaves a mark with this cracking debut tape. Filled with blown-out agile and angular riffage, and pounding, primitive drums, this is some red-hot noisy hardcore. The warped thrashing partially buries the vocals that are bellowed, gnashed, and dripped through a broken bullhorn, resulting in a raw and caustic sound that’s reminiscent of Virginia rippers BLACK BUTTON at their nastiest. Great stuff, I’ll be looking out for more.

Moron’s Morons High-Tension Situation LP

Leopard-clad rock’n’roll garage action outta Warsaw, Poland, and that’s pretty cool in itself. Really nothing mind-blowing, but hard and steady sorta like a non-stop “Pushin’ Too Hard”/ “Search And Destroy”/”Slow Death”/”Sonic Reducer” medley wrapped up in brothel creepers. They do a nice T.S.O.L. cover and the singer has a great Dave Vanian-meets-SCREAMING LORD SUTCH voice. I’ll probably never listen to this again, but it’s a real good time for now. Dzięki.

Murmansk Voices cassette

Named after a city in Russia, this fairly new outfit from Tours, France debuts with Voices—a new project, but with experienced players from the likes of LOVVE, CRACKHOUSE, and VERBAL RAZORS. This power trio blends old and new influences, creating a moody crust album leaning towards neocrust with the occasional blastbeat (think MASAKARI with a more hardcore edge). Different styles pop up here and there to keep the juices flowing and add some spice to the album. Voices works well as a whole, and the songs go by quite nicely together.

Neurotypicals Something in the Attic cassette

This Jackson, MS act ends this cassette, their second release after their July 2022 demo, with two covers—the NERVES’ “Paper Dolls” and WIPERS’ “Mystery.” I don’t think either track works particularly well (I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a WIPERS cover), but it should give you a rough sense of what these folks are going for on the rest of the cassette. And I think it mainly works! Most of the six originals, although played much faster than either of the bands they’re covering, do kind of blend Sage’s straightforward, oddball melodic punk with the more overt pop of the NERVES. It ends up sounding a bit like a more fucked MARKED MEN, thanks in part to a tinny boombox production and some loose overdubs. I dig it! They do throw you one curveball, though. “Janie Says” is this weird semi-reinterpretation of the VELVET UNDERGROUND’s “Sweet Jane” mixed with the similarly named JANE’S ADDICTION track—an odd woozy ballad that runs for over four minutes smack dab in the middle of a bunch of sub-two-minute scorchers. At the very least, I guess it’s interesting.

Night Vision The After LP

The musical “Intro” of this release sounds like the opening credits for the cheesiest ’80s slasher film, and then the thrash starts. This French band clearly loves the ’80s, because of the occasional samples and weird synth interludes between tracks. They vacillate between hardcore and thrash effortlessly. “Shower,” in particular, is reminiscent of early SUICIDAL TENDENCIES. Other tracks feel more like D.R.I. and fellow Europeans CRIPPLED FOX. Lots of great thrash coming out of Europe lately. Every track is tight, fast, and  clocks in under two minutes, perfect to skate or slam to.

Nohz Nohz demo cassette

Right out of the gate, NOHZ digs into a devastatingly tough riff that sets the table for what is to come—a flagrant disregard of the safety of your eardrums. This is an altogether brutal affair, with extremely well-crafted songs that feel both fresh and familiar at the same time. Tempos fluctuate from track to track in a way that makes every cut feel like a singular accomplishment, yet does not detract from the effectiveness of the broader sequence of the release. There is a brooding quality to the music that is heightened by the evil as fuck vocal delivery. In that regard, I’m reminded of RASPBERRY BULBS for their wedding of punk and black metal, though NOHZ certainly skews more punk. Song titles like “Brief Lights, Forever in Pain,” and “Sundial Impailers,” should be a pretty clear indication of what we’re working with lyrically. Musically, this release is brimming with hooks and discordantly catchy riffs. It’s an ugly, ugly world and this demo provides a fitting soundtrack for a waltz through the wastelands. NOHZ beckons you to join the blood party…will you accept the invitation?    

O.C. Rippers Happy Hours Air Travel Club LP

O.C. RIPPERS have been grinding for a few years now, and these Beachwood, New Jersey boys are coming in hot on their second LP. The opening “Mean Streets” sets the tone for the record with a NEW BOMB TURKS-type rock energy and a vocal delivery that falls somewhere between “Nervous Breakdown”-era Keith Morris and “Search and Destroy” Iggy. From there, it continues down familiar roads of ’90s punk’n’roll paved with sleazy ’70s attitude and it’s a hell of a ride. While a lot of bands who tread this territory these days are content in delivering pastiches, the RIPPERS are writing good tunes, some of which would play pretty smoothly in between classics from the likes of the NEW YORK DOLLS, the HUMPERS, the DEAD BOYS, and ZEKE. The songs shift between smoky and bluesy moods, to shambolic ’60s garagery (see the ethereal organ that appears on “Murder” and “Late Night TV Lover”), to soulful and sinewy electricity seamlessly, all played with unabashed lowbrow finesse. I’m thinking it will sound great on Friday nights with a cigarette lit.

Official Hooligans 29 Years Wasted CD

This is some prime ’90s (the new ’70s) CT lo-fi trash dug up from the muck. They had another song from their legit first release included on a foggy-lensed, look-back ’90s comp, thus the new interest. I could totally see them on a bill with the SPITES or BASEBALL FURIES. “Percocet” is charming as hell, but a recorded “Sex Bomb” cover is unnecessary. Definitely worth a spin.

Oil! Unify Unity / Don’t Forget Me Mate 7″

This one was a fuck of a surprise! I had thought these hard-working lads folded up and stored their Sta-Prest long ago. Upon receiving it, I reached out to former OIL! member Private Skick, now in Australia, for further comment. “Aw, that’s Corporal Boots (lead voxist) carrying on the name with a new lineup and an umlaut(?!)”. Well I guess he dropped the famed German metal accent for this release, but picked up some stellar guests including Phil Templars and Johnny Peebucks for further vocal duties. Sure there’s no “Proud of My Pride,” “Spent My Paycheck at the Pub,” or “Red, White and Boots” here, but this still has the magic and tongue-in-shaven-cheek humor that’s their trademark. “Unify Unity” is the anthem we all need right now to shake off the plague and get back to work, and “Don’t Forget Me Mates” is the new “Built Up, Knocked Down” ballad of the year. So go to the closet, dust off your boots, and give this a whirl. I wonder if they can still do push-ups on stage? Gimme ten, gents.

Pandemix Dead Celebrities cassette

PANDEMIX have been doing the dang thing for the better part of a decade, and they’re always a heavy-hitting live band each time I have seen them. Oddly enough, they were the last band I booked a show for mere days before the COVID pandemic kicked in, as well as the first band I booked a show for once it started feeling safe enough to do so after that. With multiple records and cassettes under their belt already, the band’s newest release is a four-song cassette which they had for sale on their most recent tour. Mostly continuing the band’s ongoing mixture of hardcore punk blended with peace punk, this cassette features one piano/fiddle/trombone/vocals ballad to close it out. A little out of place for my tastes, but it seems like it would be enjoyed by the folk punk/AGAINST ME! aficionados.

Pest Control Don’t Test the Pest LP

Leeds-based thrashers PEST CONTROL have ticked every box on their debut LP Don’t Test the Pest: pristine production by Arthur Rizk, an album cover that will be included in the best metal artwork for years to come, and a release on Quality Control HQ, a legendary label in the making. If any of the aforementioned whets your appetite, you’ll be happy to hear that while you may come for the package, you’ll stay for the tunes. Don’t Test the Pest will satisfy fans of old school thrash (SLAYER), new school thrash (POWER TRIP), and everything in between. Opener “Extermination” begins things with some ominous early METALLICA-inspired drama, leading into “Masquerade Party,” a double-kick-laden pummeling that channels everything there is to love about thrash/crossover: speed, anger, and riffs. Vocalist Leah’s aggro delivery is perfectly suited to the lyrical content; mental anguish, feelings of isolation, and general disdain for any outside forces. Other highlights include “Buggin Out,” which boasts one of the catchiest choruses I’ve heard in a long time, “Don’t Test The Pest,” a fast and furious pummeling with a gnarly guitar solo, and closer “The Great Deceiver,” a grand exit that punctuates the album perfectly. Between this and labelmates FORESEEN’S 2022 LP Untamed Force, it’s never been a better time to be a metalhead.

Presión EP 2022 cassette

“Honest hardcore with nothing to prove,” as can be read on their Bandcamp page. This might be the best way to introduce this hardcore band straight from Santiago, Chile. The vibes scream ’80s hardcore with strong thrash influences, sitting on the fence of crossover. Mosh pit music for sure, filled with gang shouts, thrashy riffs, and relentless drumming. Hardcore for hardcore people.

Prison Affair Demo III EP

Barcelona’s egg-punk referents PRISON AFFAIR released this four-track EP (their killer third demo) on Under the Gun Records from East L.A. in September 2022—deep, psychotic bass lines plus the most heavily dubbed synth mayhem. On the first track “Big Bottom Baby,” you get the feeling of descending into the prison of an internet tube. Addictive eggy, thrashy synth trances are here, with steady, monotonous vocals jumping through the fast-paced melodies, achieving complexity and implying layers in their sound as they mix theme songs with crazy catchy tracks. This gives them the title of the current kings of the eggy situation. Suggested tracks: “Big Bottom Baby” and “Nice Guys.”

Psychrophore Why Should We Care? LP

Melodic punk from this Lille, France band that really doesn’t do it for me. The band is tight enough, as mostly uninspired three-chord punk goes, but the vocals are distracting, and the lyrics are sincere and simplistic to the point of amateurishness. Imagine a husky-voiced, femme Axl Rose fronting TILT. The vocal delivery is just not a fit. The lyrics rhyme so precisely that I stopped reading them out of secondhand embarrassment. For example: “There was this boy / He wasn’t interested in school / He didn’t care about what was deemed cool / He didn’t mind being taken for a fool / All he wanted was to play music on his stool.” That’s some rough-draft songwriting there. I will say that the tracks were self-recorded, and the production sounds great; nice and thick. But this is something I will not listen to again.

Psyop Permanent Underclass cassette

PSYOP plays USHC while folding in the usual pairings: a thrash metal riff here, a beatdown interlude there, and of course, some brief, grindcore/Cookie Monster woofing from the vocalist. The songs sound good, in no small part because of the drummer, who fires off all the standard beats and rhythms seamlessly. The lyrics tilt more towards the political than the nihilistic. For fans of vegan potlucks and union drives.

Pus Pus II LP

A dark Peruvian chamber under a tomb is where we descend with this LP. Raw, distorted, fast-paced, dark blackened hardcore punk that will drive you mad. You can tell they are looking toward chaos and blackened deathrock and punk. A hellish voice echoing from an abyss, chanting deep, desperate screams in a gloomy hardcore atmosphere. Heavily recommend seeing the band live, tearing everything apart. Savage, dark realms from the grave from one of the Latin American bands that has managed to synthesize their own true sound of deathrock and blackened punk. Suggested tracks: “Fosa Común,” “Danza Sombría,” and “Noche.” One of my current projects (EMBOSCADA) did a split with these crazy people, and we are now cursed. A modern must-listen for MOROI and NOSFERATU followers, and seekers of darker sounds in hardcore punk.

Rabid Delusion Rabid Delusion demo cassette

This shit sounds so unbelievably wild, I don’t even know where to start. Blown-out hardcore with ramshackle crust vibes that are masked by the absolutely bombastic recording. I’m not even sure if there’s a guitar (except for the solos), the bass sounds like…I don’t fukkn know man, but not a normal bass…and the vocals land somewhere between GRUMPIES and NAUSEA. Total sonic overload is exactly what DIY punk needs and that’s exactly what Ohio’s RABID DELUSION delivers. Really want to hear where this band goes next.

RAN Atrabil​ä​r LP

Fast, crusty hardcore/PV from this Lyon, France band. First off, this record sounds amazing. Recorded and mixed by the band, these fourteen songs sound so nasty, so heavy and distorted, that you’ll immediately know if this is for you. RAN’s sound is so good: syncopated drums that frequently lurch into breathless blastbeats, super heavy bass tones, thick guitars that skew dissonant, and screams. While this is a punk record, there is enough chugging and chaos here to appeal to mathcore and death metal fans, too. Every song rips hard, and I especially like “Why Don’t You Stick Your Head Up Your Ass…See If It Fits” for its ridiculous title, and “Funky Crusty Rambling” for the classic ’50s-style rock’n’roll riff that starts it off. Actually, I recommend you just press play and then repeat it as soon as it ends. Highly recommended.

The Kutoffs / Rath & the Wise Guys DCxPC LivePresents, Vol. 10 EP

RATH & THE WISE GUYS deliver three songs of high-energy, dirty rock’n’roll-tinged pop punk that brings to mind kindred spirits like NOBODYS, DWARVES, and even a little bit of ZEKE. KUTOFFS have a more straightforward poppy skate punk style, complete with the good ol’ “ooh”s and “ahh”s and start/stop breaks that are popular in that style of stuff. Both bands are pleasant enough, albeit not without faults, but it’s a live recording so I can’t hold it against them. This has piqued my interest enough to seek out studio recordings from both bands, so I suppose in that respect this split has done its job.

Ratizzage Ratizzage demo cassette

Grueling, dirgelike, and guttural crust punk from Mexico. The initial rhythmic delivery reminds me of early BRUJERIA splintering out of the speakers with a much more punk angle. Varying vocal pitches harken to DEATHTOLL 40K, COP ON FIRE, or later era ENT. Grisly crust that does not let up on the D-beat and chaotic soloing. I reviewed a demo a couple years ago by PERVITIN from Finland, and this reminds me of that powerful impact. Hopeless, bleak, pulverizing filthcore spanning twenty minutes, from a demo with seven complexly written tracks. RATIZZAGE has groove and gruesomeness. The bass grumbles lower than anything else, like a tank rumbling in the distance, and the vocals scorch. Not sure how easy this will be to find, but it’s one of the better crust demos I’ve heard so far this year. Everything that went into this sonically and visually exceeds that of an average demo tape.

Red Die Number Nine American Dream CD

Lyrics that range from political, personal, and social, set to a musical background that is equal parts melodic hardcore, ’80s beach punk, and alternative rock. Vocally, the singer reminds me a bit of Kevin Seconds, a bit of Jeff Pezzati, a bit of Joey Vindictive, all blended together. I don’t know how I feel about this, really. At times it grabs me, but then it just kinda falls flat. This is a “give it a couple more spins” for me before I can truly make a definite verdict on my feelings about this one.

Rekäl Part One cassette

I’m speechless, a little confused, though I’m surely smiling; let me explain…any fans of ’50s sci-fi paperbacks and sludge metal? Look no further than Providence, Rhode Island’s REKÄL, who have pulled every lyric from Philip K. Dick’s “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” short story, and put it to mid-tempo, greasy, and distorted sludge punk (though it sounds pretty metal to me). I can’t say this will be hailed as a favorite of mine, but as someone who does enjoy the ’50s sci-fi thing, filled with stories of Martian expeditions, rayguns, and people getting left in space, I like what’s happening on this cassette. Liner notes read “all music by E. J. Dick”—a coincidence? A dramatic name change? A relation? Color me curious. Part Two coming soon.

Repo Fam Venus Fly cassette

This feels a little bit over my head, to be completely honest. It is my opinion that for songs of any genre of music to be memorable, there must be a “hook” of some sort to keep the listener engaged. The definition of a “hook,” in my mind, is incredibly loose, as you can find them in the grimiest of punk music, the most intense of extreme music—they exist truly everywhere. The REPO FAM songs on this cassette almost feel as if any sort of “hook”’ has been intentionally taken out of them, and yet I am still feeling inclined to refer to this as pop music. I’m having a bit of an existential crisis over here about it. Can pop music exist without any semblance of pop sensibility? I don’t know that I have the answer to this question. Listen to these eight songs of avant-garde New York City music yourself and see if you can help me understand.

Restos Fósiles Transparente LP

Slick, catchy, melodic emo punk from Buenos Aires that immediately reminded me a little of TUESDAY or something of that ilk. A bit more clean and pretty than I prefer, but there’s something about this that makes me want to listen more. I can’t tell if it’s because I slightly enjoy it, or if it’s because it reminds me of something specific and it’s bothering me that I can’t figure it out.

Romansy Doves of Peace and War cassette

This four-track cassette by Melbourne band ROMANSY kicks off with a hardcore ripper in which the vocal delivery sounds somewhere between barking and vomiting. The instruments are tight with stop/start buzzsaw guitars and drums, but tend to blend to form a sort of harmonious bullet. ROMANSY rips through the second song in 44 seconds, but then they get a little weird with the third song. “Fucking Flower” is my favorite track on this tape. The additional vocal and guitar modulation/distortion makes for a strange but fun sonic environment while the “breakdown” still goes hard. Expect everything by the forth song, “(Introduction To) Fang Lives,” opening with synth and then finally emerging as another hardcore song, but with none of the frills, finishing like a dystopian acid trip of the worst kind.

Rotary Club American Tower / Planet 67 7″

Ah, yes, Iron Lung’s famed Systemic Surgery series—a collection of releases we’re all definitely aware of, bound together by a concept so apparent that it needs no explanation here. It’s been a mere three years since they dropped the third installment (of a planned five), so it’s quite a treat to be getting this fourth entrant so soon! Anyway, ROTARY CLUB is a four-piece out of Reno who play telephone-themed punk tunes (the members have names like Hotline, Operator, etc). The Bandcamp copy says they play Killed By Death-style punk, even going so far as to bring up the UNCALLED 4, a mid-’80s Texas act who actually tricked folks (including the compilers of Killed by Death 8 ½) into thinking they had been late-’70s punk obscuros. But I don’t think anyone’s going to be tricked by these folks. That’s not to say this isn’t KBD-ish at all—it’s just not the first thing I would have thought about the band. The production is pretty loose, but it doesn’t feel anywhere near as amateurish as, say, TEDDY AND THE FRAT GIRLS, and these tracks are much more melodic than what I’d expect from the KBD set. To me, this sounds more like a mix of what NOTS has been doing since they shed the amateurism of their early 7”s and some of the tamer tracks from JUDY AND THE JERKS, particularly in their adoption of multi-tracked talk-sung vocals. And when you pair that with awkward lyrics about wires and shit, as they do on “American Tower,” it really starts reminding me of SERVOTRON. “Planet 67” has more of a Dangerhouse vibe and is probably the better of the two tracks. Not a bad release by any means. I just wish I hadn’t read that comparison prior to listening, as it was all I could think about.

Rumor Kontrol Here are the Facts cassette

I can candidly say that this release will not be for everyone, but I absolutely love what I will affectionately dub “bedroom punk”—hardcore drum machine madness from RUMOR KONTROL’s maiden voyage, Here are the Facts. DIY as all hell. Fast and gritty guitar that sounds like it’s being played from an old practice amp. I don’t want to mince words, I mean this as a compliment. Although I champion all things lo-fi and DIY, I didn’t notice the bass until much later in the album; my only complaint is that it should be a little louder in the mix. But other than that, this is pure rock’n’roll rawness right here. No ego bullshit, straight to the point.

Sarin Reaper Sarin Reaper demo cassette

Four tracks of unhinged-sounding D-beat with a little of the wailing vocals and guitar I associate with crust and black metal. The band places the emphasis on delivery with the instruments melting into a wave of feedback and fuzz. The song titles and lyrics reference an infamous sexual assailant and anti-Jewish violence. In general, I dislike when bands flirt with this kind of imagery in such a morally ambiguous way.

Satellites AkuPUNKtura LP

Starting your album with a RAMONES cover (“I Don’t Wanna Grow Up,” but in Polish it’s “Nie Chcę Znów Dorosłym Być”) was a good choice for these Warsaw punks—it sets the tone for what you’re in for. Their vibe is unapologetically 1977 NYC punk. With ex- and current members of GLUE SNIFFERS and INHALATORS, among others, SATELLITES make good noise. Switching from Polish to English, and stirring in different flavors like rockabilly, keeps the album from getting repetitive. Sixteen tracks of the same 4/4 RAMONES-y stuff would get old, but that’s not the case here. 

Iena / Scalpo split EP

At first, I found this quite simple, almost pop, but as it went on I became immersed in the rowdy, dark Oi! grooves. European Oi! and the like are not a specialty for me; I love CAMERA SILENS, I’ve checked out PRISION POSTUMO (not sure I’m even accurate here, but whatever, this reminds me of them), KRONSTADT LPs…I don’t know much. But damn, I really dig this. It’s super catchy and executed very tightly. Of the four total songs, my favorite IENA track is “Luna,” which is actually a cover of LITFIBA, an Italian new wave duo. IENA’s side is perfect. SCALPA’s side is bit heavier, almost like Oi! meets later RUDIMENTARY PENI. SCALPO also does a cover of ROUGH, an Oi! band from Torino, Italy. Overall, this is a great Italian Oi! split. Glad for the introduction!

Shitty Wizard Shitty Wizard cassette

Self-described Philadelphia party punk. SHITTY WIZARD opens with a GG cover (piece of shit glorified rape for most of his career, so minus ten points—fight me) and careens through eight more high-energy slammers with heavy rock’n’roll vibes. Vocals have an occasional Rev Summer tinge that genuinely sets SHITTY WIZARD apart from the dirt rock set. There’s something here, for sure.

Sistema de Entretenimiento Sistema de Entretenimiento LP

Fantastic synth-heavy, drum machine punk from across the pond (Valencia, Spain). Diverse flavors in each track—well, as diverse as you can get with punk music. The first half of the album sounds like EPOXIES and GRAVY TRAIN!!! with a hint of ’90s Euro house. The rest are a mixture of classic DEVO and what could be described as a modern-day MUMMIES. I know drum machines aren’t for everyone, but I’m a sucker for them. Really adds to the band’s motif, and I don’t think a real drum set would do the music justice. Judging by their YouTube presence, their live shows look fun as all hell. Hopefully we’ll see them stateside soon enough. Lovely record here. Well worth a spin if you’re into melodic dance punk.

Sludgeworth Losers of the Year LP reissue

Here we have a reissue of an already posthumous compilation album from a SCREECHING WEASEL-affiliated band that predicted the ’90s Midwest pop punk that would eventually birth that weird, crooning dude-sweat style that VFW hall punk bands did in the late ’90s/early ’00s. It is both a time capsule and something that the Riot Fest crowd would freak out about if it was recorded and released today. It feels like the hype around the original couple GASLIGHT ANTHEM releases, when they were maybe the new saviors of Americana punk or something. There’s just something here that’s tangible and timeless that sticks with you. The fact that there’s still enough warranted interest in this release 30 years after the band broke up (and almost 28 years after this was originally released on Lookout!) is testament to how perfectly this collection captures a feeling that many of us want to experience over and over. It’s also one of a million examples of the second track on an album always being awesome, with “Someday,” originally from their only LP, What’s This?, taking that spot here.

Snailbones Keelhaul ‘Em All LP

There is definitely noise here, though more punk than noise and more rock than punk. The guitars are a hard rock via grunge variety: blues riffs with the sensuality replaced by sludge. They’re supported by solid and occasionally very left-field drumming. The album seems cut down the middle to me. The first half features a few more awkward FLIPPER-style dirges, while the second spends a lot of time filtering pretty, saccharine tunes through a mesh of early ’90s Sub Pop angst. According to their Bandcamp page, Steve Albini will record their next album, which seems like a good fit.

Antigen / Socialstyrelsen A Sense of Dread split LP

Phobia Records from the Czech Republic won’t stop delivering crust punk D-beat bands. On these eleven tracks in under 25 minutes, we encounter ANTIGEN and SOCIAL STYRELSEN. ANTIGEN offers four tracks led by a crust-cut female voice pitching high choruses, filled with desperate feeling along with a painful screaming. Solid crust punk with hardcore drums, pretty much all straightforward. SOCIALSTYRELSEN blasts crunchy D-beat crust punk with demonic high vocals, guitars like non-stop chainsaws, and ranting drums. A chaos sound from another era with modern nods. The Swedish language hits hard, with such suffering-infused voices fueled by violence. Suggested tracks: “Knivad” and “Hata Mig.”

Soft Shoulder Smile Building’s Exit LP

James Fella and friends have been cranking out SOFT SHOULDER releases in the Arizona desert for close to two decades now (like, a lot of them—I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a lathe operation somewhere that is single-handedly being kept in business by this crew), generally sprouting through various cracks between collapsing improv avant-punk and blown-out no wave antagonism, but the more overtly FALL-indebted turn they’ve taken over the past year or two is by far my favorite incarnation of the project. Smile Building’s Exit opener “Raw Time” is pulled along by a gouging, infinite loop bass line that’s simultaneously filthy and funky, like A FRAMES with a serious GANG OF FOUR fixation, abetted by a spring-loaded disco beat and Fella’s stream-of-Mark E. vocals that sound like they were recorded on an answering machine circa 1987, and “Narrow Yellow Slip” follows a similarly wavering line, with deadpan-shouty lyrical ruminations about PO boxes punctuated by stabbing synth squeals, while “Dual Deck’s Decay” adds some skronking sax and extra-trebly guitar clang to its droning Messthetics-gone-Krautrock outro. Total prole art threat damage.

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

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

Speed Plans Statues of God LP

It’s always cool when bands can go super old-school without sounding like a wishy-washy imitation, and Pittsburgh’s mighty SPEED PLANS hit that description right on the noggin with whiplash-inducing results. These sixteen tornados of meaty hardcore are strewn with restless guitars and captured with a basement sound that makes this killer LP worthy of a spot right behind your favorite O.G. ’80s records. Commanding tracks like “Jesus Christ” and “Make Them Watch” are an instant win, and this type of authentic fury only gets better with every spin.

Strange Attractor Good Boy Bad Boy LP

Drunken Sailor’s track record of killer material continues to burn the forward path. STRANGE ATTRACTOR brings the snotty fringe from the far-flung corners of Sadbury, hard rock (mining) capital of the world. Admittedly, Good Boy Bad Boy took a few listens for me to glom onto, but after letting this one settle in, I’m a believer. The whole record skips through eighteen tracks in under seventeen minutes of jaded and despondent garage punk. These people are devotees of the school of ANGRY SAMOANS, with a bit of Finish Your Popcorn-era F.Y.P. Call me crazy, but I am picking up on a little PERE UBU? Now go on tour.

Stress Positions Walang Hiya cassette

From the prolific and diverse Chicago hardcore scene comes STRESS POSITIONS and their 2022 debut cassette Walang Hiya (“No Shame” in Tagalog). Musically, STRESS POSITIONS play fairly straightforward hardcore with lots of fun surprises thrown in—check out the noise at the 40-second mark on “Lust for Pleasure,” or the screeching halfway point of “This Land.” Vocalist Stephanie Brooks has a brutal vocal delivery that oscillates between shredding and shrieking, only slowing down to softer singing on an occasion or two. All of that said, the title track “Walang Hiya” is the standout here. Opening with ringing guitars before blasting off, it’s a three-minute punk odyssey condemning the white Catholic takeover in the Philippines and its destruction of indigenous culture there, specifically in regards to the treatment of women and their right to make choices about their bodies. It’s a bold song and a subject matter that doesn’t seem to be touched on often, at least not this specifically. By the time the repeated chorus of “Ayako sayo!” (“I don’t like you!” in Tagalog) comes along, the cover art depicting a Catholic priest being burnt at the stake by three Indigenous people feels a lot more profound. Highly recommended.

Swab Big City LP

Melbourne is a hot hub of hardcore punk nowadays—SWAB and their label, Hardcore Victim, are living proof of it. The band has just released their first album after a demo and an EP. Their latest work is a really fun record: thirteen songs in fifteen minutes of straightforward, direct, abrasive punk with no pretensions, artistic approaches, or pseudo-metaphysical lyrics. What could you expect of songs like “Hippies Still Exist (And I Hate Them),” “Pills in My Mouth,” or “A Real Punk”? They sound like a kid erupting in a childish tantrum, urgent but carefree, with a sloppy vibe but precise execution. No bullshit, just quality hardcore punk.

Putrid Future / Szk​ł​o split EP

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

Sørdïd Sørdïd demo cassette

From 2011–2013, I spent an exorbitant amount of time going to NYC gigs that featured offensively raw hardcore punk. Bands like BORTGANG, ZATSUON, and PERDITION were an average night out, so to say I like SØRDÏD would be a total understatement. This demo sounds and feels like a subway train disaster, which is exactly how I’d expect it and want it. The guitar has that sound of having dumped a bowl of Rice Krispies and angry locusts into the monitors, while the rhythm section keeps the entire project from thrashing itself apart with heavy bass delivery and annihilating beats. The opening track “Blankhead” features a guitar solo that is relatively clean, but also incredibly grimy. The final track of this demo, “Idle Hope,” closes with a sound sample that could easily be ripped from a CRAZY SPIRIT track, and puts a heavy exclamation point on the statement SØRDÏD makes with this demo.

Tetnis Moving Quickly to Prevent a Hater From Detonating the Vest cassette

Incredibly catchy, pretty garage pop from Columbus, OH. TETNIS has been around releasing music regularly since 2018. Some of the songs on this tape are rather middle-of-the-road, rock-en-general sounding, but there are more than a few cool, driving tunes to make up for that. It’s like an indie pop bastard sibling of the MARKED MEN or something. A bit slower and wimpier, but catchy all the same.

The Brokedowns Maximum Khaki LP

I relentlessly wished every nearby human who would listen a “Happy Kony 2013” (and 2014, 2015, and so on) every New Year’s Day for almost a whole decade and did not get tired of that incredibly stupid joke. I am therefore very happy to see “Kony 2022” as a track title on the new BROKEDOWNS album. This is a collection of fourteen straight-ahead punk music moments, most under ninety seconds each, with tongues shoved into cheeks and maybe other places. A prime example of what’s being presented here is the EXPLOITED sequel no one asked for, “UK82 Pt. 2: The Olds Are Not Alright.” If you’re slowly finding yourself past your physical peak at shows lately, “I’m Sore” is the new anthem the crowd that stands in the back now has been waiting for. It also serves as a rad showcase for the guitar section. If you find comfort in the awkwardly warm embrace of Midwest punk à la DILLINGER FOUR or the LAWRENCE ARMS with just a smidge of GOOD RIDDANCE thrown in, there are a few fun little ditties for you on this album. You also can’t be mad about the option to get in on the mature and business-like khaki-colored vinyl.

The Cardiac Kidz Get Out​ /​ Find Yourself a Way 7″ reissue

Reissue of this San Diego band’s 1979 KBD “classic”—two tracks that are certainly inept but manage to split the difference between power pop and punk in such a way that they somehow fail to qualify as either. If you’re not a fan of the Killed by Death comps (or ducked out after the first half-dozen), these tracks wound up on entries #007 and #12. I don’t know that I ever registered that both of these were from the same band. Even still, I always thought that they were some of the more forgettable/lamer inclusions, but Discogs prices on the original Lub Dub 7” seem to suggest that other folks are more into them. So, if you’ve been itching to get a copy of these tracks on the same release but haven’t wanted to fork out the big bucks to get an original, Breakout’s got you!

LDMA / The Seeker split EP

France versus Italy, in a ring called powerviolence. LMDA delivers a brutal ham-slapping of vicious modern powerviolence almost stepping into grindcore territory, complete with all the tropes of the genre: movie samples, INFEST vocals, start/stop motions, everything one can expect. The SEEKER takes a more chaotic approach but also goes heavy on the trope usage. Powerviolence the way it’s supposed to be, rooted in hardcore punk, not just breakdowns followed by blasts.

The Sueves Tears of Joy LP

This record could have been made in any of the last four or five decades. While sounding fresh and new, they remind me of TELEVISION—smart, groovy, mid-tempo garage punk. Some tracks like “Alexxa” and “Find the Right Fit” have a wilder, unhinged edge, like MR. CLIT AND THE PINK CIGARETTES. One track can be tight and moody, and the next could sound like it’s shaking in all directions like a low-rent carnival’s janky Tilt-a-Whirl ride. Over the course of the whole album, you get a satisfying synthesis of styles and eras with a throbbing vein of  straightforward rock’n’roll at its core. Other standout tracks are “Mop Bucket” and “These Pines.” Listening to them and closing my eyes, head swaying back and forth, I hear echoes of STOOGES and sometimes BLACK CROWES. This album would be a good soundtrack to a long road trip.

Thought Control P.M.R.R.T.W. EP

Damn, THOUGHT CONTROL has been eating their Wheaties since releasing their 2021 Shock to the System 7”. That record was a solid slice of old school, but on this new EP, the band has grown into an even sharper and more formidable unit. Titled P.M.R.R.T.W. (“Psychos, Murder, and Rape Rule the World”), this six-song 7” does the neat trick of making that old classic hardcore style fresh again for a few minutes. They rock back and forth between blazing fast numbers and chill mid-paced head-bobbers, sounding a little bit like Atlanta’s underrated JOINT D≠, especially on the excellent “Violence for Violence.” Good to have you back, THOUGHT CONTROL—always a pleasure. “Aunt Suzi Has An Uzi” has some real hit single potential, if you ask me.

TJ Cabot The Sound of Cape Breton CD

This mainstay of New Brunswick’s trash-and-slash rock scene has been kicking it around the island for a good bit. You get three (count ‘em, three) EPs inserted onto one plastic disc, and the songs are a good carry-on of ye olden Rip Off Records sound, or prime-time Goner Records racket, albeit a little cleaned up production-wise. The songs are catchy and dance-worthy as hell, with even a tinge of classic glam on songs like “King Grove,” or ’78 DICKIES speed-pop on “Away.” If you’re like me, you’ll be wondering how you missed out on this for so long. It’s all fun with a capital “PH,” and you should get on the bus real soon because this guy’s going places.


Unruly Boys Too Hard Livin’ cassette

Scorching new tape from these Charlotte bruisers. I’m a little biased because I have seen this band’s live power many times, but this tape captures the intensity with five UK82 and Oi-inspired tracks of intense, classic hardcore. Imagine ARMS RACE and RIXE playing together, but extra pissed-off. Opening track “Take Your Shot” pummels with a mid-tempo chug and gruff vocals, which lead into a pit-killing breakdown accompanied by haunted house keys that give it a sinister crawl. “Path of Fools” and “Too Hard Livin’” feature abrupt time changes with blasting and furious D-beats driving the anger. The production is great, too—thick, clearly defined, but still completely aggressive. This is tough-as-fuck, mirror-punching, fighting music and totally recommended for your worst days.

V/A Girlz Disorder, Volume 3 LP

With 25 “femipunk” bands from 17 different countries, there’s a lot to enjoy here. I highly recommend taking a look at the Mass Prod website that details the DIY record label and show organizers, with plenty of photos from past events, an active calendar page of future ones, and tons of records to search through—Mass Prod is based out of Rennes, France and has been at it since 1996. But about the music…compilations are always tricky for me, I don’t want to leave anyone out, but in this case, there’s too many bands to mention. Compared to the Typical Girls, Vol. 6 LP that I recently reviewed, Girlz Disorder is much heavier, and in its abundant diversity, leans towards hardcore. Some of my top picks are the German post-punk group CONTA doing “Was Geben,” English hardcore/crossover band LADY RAGE with “Because F You,” featuring completely brutal vocals (think of a female-led FORESEEN), Canada’s pretty straightforward punk but really tight the HORNY BITCHES with “1000 Lives,” Brazilian hardcore rippers BIOMA with “Falsas Causas,” and Australia’s BLONDE REVOLVER with “Pocket Rocket,” featuring one of the best opening lines I’ve heard in a while (“I’m an alpha baby / And you’re a beta bitch!”). The contribution of these 100% female bands proves their gender is alive and well in the genre, and is as important and urgent as ever.  Have a listen and I’m sure you’ll find something new to enjoy.

V/A Between the Coasts cassette

Heck yeah, this tape shreds! As you might guess from the title, Between the Coasts is a compilation of bands from the Midwest area of the ol’ US of A. Just when it seems like the big-city bands get all the glory, a release like this pops up to remind us that hardcore punk is alive and thriving in less obvious places. Featuring twelve bands contributing a single track each, this comp is chock full of stone-cold rippers. Highlights include vital cuts from RABIES BB, BIG LAUGH, WEAK PULSE, and ZHOOP. There’s a smattering of more eclectic numbers to keep things fresh, but front to back, there ain’t a dull moment to be found. Do yourself a favor and check this one out. 

V/A If, When & With Whom cassette

Great compilation for a great cause, with all proceeds benefiting the National Network of Abortion Funds. Wide range of genres here, spanning ’90s alternative radio worship to West Coast garage rock to lo-fi bedroom pop. Hell, there are even a couple vaporwave-fused synth-funk tracks as well. There’s something for everyone here. Heavily recommended release, both for the music and the mission. At this point, all we can do is look out for each other and help wherever we can.

V/A Skate Ratz Vol. 1 LP

Everything on this comp took me by surprise. Dose after dose of hard-driving punk rock’n’roll, ripping crossover, crunchy pop punk, metallic hardcore brutality…every song fit to shred (to). DISCO ASSAULT, FASTPLANTS, GOOD TOUCH, and TOO MANY VOICES are this reviewer’s faves, joined by cuts from the HACKS, RABID ASSAULT, BING CROSBY, SLASHERS, and SINCE WE WERE KIDS—an LP with nine DIY bands I’ve never heard of is going to perk up my ears every time, but it helps when it’s an LP full of new good bands.

Utsatt / Varoitus split EP

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

Visitors From Hell Bon Appetit! CD

Six-track effort from this self-described “punk and roll” quartet from Warsaw (that’s in Poland, apparently). They remind me a lot of the driving metallic hardcore of STRAW DOGS, without the guitar solos. I guess early MOTÖRHEAD would be the obvious gold star. I’ve always been partial to this particular style, and they do it well.

Voces de Ultratumba Demo + Live Session cassette

VOCES DE ULTRATUMBA were the first all-female Galician punk band, an important stepping stone for a male-dominated scene. After recording a demo, some lineup changes occurred and, finally, the band changed their name to LA TRAICION. Buried since the ’80s, this demo was not forgotten and now sees the light of day. Side A is a rehearsal recording, while Side B is a live recording at the legendary Kremlin. Hauntingly beautiful and hauntingly disturbing, VOCES DE ULTRATUMBA perfectly encapsulates Spanish post-punk. Each song has its own mood and its own atmosphere, a quality that makes listening to this demo a gloomy journey into the unknown. The recording quality just adds another layer of discomfort, the good kind of discomfort, the one you would expect from an obscure ’80s post-punk release. A sinister recording that still feels in place with the current state of the world.

Voltage The War to End All Wars cassette

From Kamloops, BC comes roaring a biker DISCHARGE-worshiping hoard of miscreants. Some might cry MOTORCHARGE, but labels equal weak minds. Five songs that level you with wailing guitars melting brains, ending with the anthemic if not stereotypical “Charged Rock’N’Roll.” Get this crew on a bill with MÖWER, pronto.

War//Plague Manifest Ruination LP

Minneapolis crust punk agents who have achieved fifteen years of intense DIY activity since 2008, with more than ten releases. Elaborated songs with great drums and solid riffs and socio-political content. A ten-track LP with sharp cutting cadences, blending metal punk, crust, and thrash in more than decent dosages, delivering a blunt sound and desolate tunes accompanied by a deep, screaming voice in trance. Suggested tracks: “Grief,” “Vacillation,” and “Disruption.” Punk is protest!

Waste The Next Century is Almost Over EP

Dutch hardcore types wind back the years with a remontada release a mere 40 years after their debut, which is a level of lackadaisicalness to which one can only tip your bonnet. The tunes sound broadly how you would expect a band who made their debut in ‘82 would sound. A nice nostalgia trip around the musical tropes of the time—a dash of anarcho here, a pinch of Oi! there. A real Bombay mix of second-wave punk and a pleasant enough way to spend your time, but if they waited another 40 years for a release, I wouldn’t exactly be calling for them to pull their finger out.

Weak A Guide to Adult Despair LP

This band should be on Fat. Like seriously. I’m not even joking. Why are they not already? Somebody send this to the right people, and if this “review” is the catalyst of that actually happening, I’d like a finders fee. Thank you.

Why Bother? There are Such Things cassette

The latest in a slew of releases by Mason City, Iowa’s WHY BOTHER?, There Are Such Things is a cassette collection of songs from previous small-batch cassette/lathe releases, as well as five new tracks specific to this tape. The A-side, filled with the more straightforward new songs, is the beauty of this tape to me, with the B-side getting a little too artsy/avant-garde for this knucklehead’s tastes. All in all, it’s a very cool collection and shows the versatility of this somewhat uncategorizable band. They continue to toe the intersection of post-punk, synth punk, garage rock, art-punk, and whatever other sub-genres you care to throw at them. Dare I say, WHY BOTHER? trying to categorize them? An incredibly interesting and prolific modern band that deserves your attention. Hop to it and give this a listen!

Witch Piss Witch Piss cassette

Well, this absolutely rules. The tape of the month, for my money! I believe WITCH PISS to be a solo project from Simi Valley, CA. Five songs of completely idiotic, synth-heavy, drum-machine-driven moron music. Subject matter of the songs ranges from painting The Hamburglar as a revolutionary, to the troubles of being Garfield, to transmogrifying oneself into a slug, and all things in between. This tape is super fun and easy to flip and continue listening to, as there is an A-side of the tape as well as an “also A”-side. Unfortunately for all fans of the utterly absurd, the WITCH PISS Bandcamp page informs me that this cassette tape is already sold out. Sorry, mutants.

Zealot Zealot demo cassette

From Houston, Texas, we are delivered this graceful debut of metallic crust punk. Five tracks in under sixteen minutes of stench metal punk, filled with sludgy cadences, sick guitars with a ball-of-noise sound, and anger-filled, pain-induced vocals with a cathartic cadence releasing all, plus heavy drums that often take the speedway before leaving a spree of chaos behind them and with you. Raw energy contained and let loose at different paces, with great palm-muting and riffy strings. Suggested track: “…And How Did We Get Here?” for seekers of crust punk sounds of a more metallic nature.

Ättestor / Zero Again The Ä to Z of Ignorance, Indifference and Apathy EP

Brighton’s ÄTTESTOR made me feel anxious from the start—self-described ADHD-beat punks deliver straight-for-the-throat hardcore punk with a decidedly erratic bent that will make you clench your fists unconsciously. On the flip, ZERO AGAIN from Bristol goes heavier, goes darker, and paints a bleak sonic picture over their two tracks. The chorus riff in “Damaged Goods” is a should-be classic, and the entire song seems to set the tone for the unleashing of fury that fills the final 30 seconds. Not only is there no filler on this split, there’s barely time to take a fukkn breath.

Zone Infinie Atomisés LP

What a pleasant surprise; I’m so glad ZONE INFINIE came into my orbit. Having not heard them before, I was expecting more of an icy post-punk style like fellow Frenchmen BLEAKNESS or SYNDROME 81. Instead, it sounds like a mix of the CLASH and the JAM with a sprinkle of CAMERA SILENS for good measure. I mean seriously, the singer sounds like Strummer or Weller, depending on the song. Checkout the final track “En Plan,” with one of the best hooks I’ve heard in a minute, accompanied by girl group handclaps and clean and crisp guitar leads. Excellent stuff.