MRR #480 • May 2023

3D & the Holograms 3D & the Holograms LP

Man, I’m sure someone out there is going to read this and consider it blasphemy, but my first thought upon hearing 3D & THE HOLOGRAMS’ self-titled release was “this is what GG ALLIN wishes he had sounded like.” Rock’n’roll chaos that is as brutal as it is catchy. There’s no build-up or warning. Once you hit play, you’re immediately thrown into the tornado of sound. Much like a caffeine-induced panic attack, you feel trapped. The walls are closing in around you and there is no escape. However, you find yourself enamored with this unadulterated fear. You embrace it. You crave more. But with a blink of an eye, it’s all over. Fantastic stuff here.

A 5 Kalte Erotik / Längst Vorbei? 7″ reissue

The debut EP from Germany’s A 5 (1980’s Erst Ausgabe EP) was a fairly trad expression of early ’80s Deutschpunk, all speedy, bouncy rhythms and rapid-fire dual vocal trade-offs, but for this 1981 follow-up (also their final record), they waded into the much darker and icier waters of Neue Deutsche Welle. The sinister rhythm of A-side “Kalte Erotik” is intensified by percussive piano stabs and disorienting waves of synth as the female vocalist (who delivers her lines entirely in German) switches from a stern, dispassionate MALARIA!-esque tone to wild shrieks with shades of NINA HAGEN, while her male counterpart responds with shouts in English about, uh, ice cream—an unintentional psychic synth punk bond with KITCHEN AND THE PLASTIC SPOONS’ “Ice Cream to God” from the same year?! On the flip, “Längst Vorbei?” is comparatively more bright, with bubbly new wave keys behind a breathless call-and-response and a charging minimalist beat, like HANS-A-PLAST with a little more PETTICOATS/PLASTIX-modeled eccentricity. Post-punk really did suit them much better, das ist gut.

Abscess Political Vomit LP

Iowa’s first hardcore band ABSCESS recorded this ten-song session back in 1983, and it’s just now seeing the light of day, in proper LP form, no less. Time-capsuling the band’s early Midwest punk style, this record showcases a mix of mid-paced and fast melodic tunes, all bass-heavy and delivered with an endearing clunkiness. While not exactly revelatory, this release unearths another forgotten piece of the USHC story and is a solid example of the genre in its formative stages.

Adrenochrome In Memoriam LP

ADRENOCHROME from Oakland just released their first full-length, and it’s a burning gothic pyre from the opening howl to the closing chord. Downtuned, darkened songs that draw the listener in with aggressive riffs and catchy lyrical delivery. The powerful punchiness of punk rock rhythm fused with flanging, cold guitar work creates a deathrock album that is sonically interesting. There’s quite a bit of pop sensibilities at work on this album as well: Gina Marie has a vocal delivery that utilizes a vast range without drifting into full-on screaming and shouting. This album seems to move from strength to strength as it progresses through each song, gaining momentum and indignation with each pass of the needle. The final song “Celebration” wraps the album up like a ritual.

Antagonizm Freeze Motherfuckerz EP

Coming in hot after last year’s gnarly debut live tape is London’s ANTAGONIZM with their first EP Freeze Motherfuckerz, a batch of expertly-built UKHC bangers from a group of seasoned players in the current punk scene. While they have a diverse sound brought together by many influences ranging from ’80s NYHC to current UKHC, I prefer the CELTIC FROST-leaning vibes on “Progression?” and “Euthanized.” Truthfully though, if you have an itch for any style of hardcore, this EP will scratch it.

Appaloosa Western Glow cassette

Five songs on cassette, previously released as singles by Seattle, WA’s APPALOOSA.  Femme-led pop punk with a strong backbone of garage rock. Shamble-y guitars tear into solos, light vocals turn sassy and harsh, occasional keys provide texture, while bass and drums keep a pretty steady rock’n’roll groove. The earliest contribution to this release, the RATS cover “Thoughts By Now” (from 2020), is my favorite, with contrasted clear-as-a-bell vocals against lo-fi and super rough-sounding guitars; that said, the polish on “Western Glow” shows a nice maturing of their sound. I get the vibe of the COURETTES with rougher edges. Hope we have an LP to look forward to!

Arsou Arsou demo cassette

At first, I thought ARSOU’s songs changed a lot minute to minute. It kept me on my toes. After another listen, I realized the central riffs and chords just appeared in different incarnations: sometimes distorted, sometimes clean, bass-only, etc. This gives the music an uncertain, restless quality without feeling like a distraction. Besides that, they sounded to me like street punk playing at a slower, creeping tempo. This gives the songs an almost goth quality, though flamboyant they are not. At several points I expected them to fire on all four cylinders, but they kept the real fist-pumpers to a minimum, making them especially satisfying once they arrived.

Bibione Quattro Formaggi 12″

Riot grrrl, post-punk, darkwave, surf guitars—whatever you want to call it, it’s a delicious four-cheese blend that will drip gooey sass and pizza(zz) all over your turntable and into your ears. This threesome (with occasional help from a possessed trumpeter) comes from Prague, Czech Republic and achieves a softness and rage wrapped all together, best actualized on “Spin It,” which is tragic and droning and fucking amazing. BIKINI KILL anger mixed with CRIME OF PASSING iciness. If after this quick listen you’re looking for more, BIBIONE’s self-titled release from 2021 is also fantastic. Keep it coming.

Big Mess Chartbusters cassette

I love when a band just tosses out a strong four tracks of well-written, earnestly performed and unfussy rock‘n’roll. That’s exactly what this is, and it never fails to amaze me how refreshing that is. No pretenses, just a lot of fun with enough teeth to really bite down. I don’t think everyone realizes how much harder it is to write songs with juicy hooks in under two minutes. Most bands seem to have a problem with editing, not so with these Danes. It’s lean as you like, and a hell of a good time.

Big Rat Rock n’ Roll Fever cassette

BIG RAT’s new EP brings us four pure rock’n’roll tracks for the politically-conscious party animal in all of us. Singer Ian Brink channels Richard Hell and a nasally David Johansen, so naturally you’d think he was born for the role. With almost all of the energy coming from Brink, this is a very vocal-driven record, showcasing the authentic “punk” attitude that some attempt unavailingly. The rest of the band sounds very much like STREET BRATS and the JABBERS. Some great guitar licks here, at points giving off a real classic AC/DC vibe. All in all, nothing groundbreaking, but is absolutely worth a pick-up if you dig these types of tunes.

Black Dog Demo II cassette

Whenever you spot a release from Roachleg, you are sure to get the rawest of the raw, and I’m saying this in the best of ways. Only a few months after their first demo, Nova Scotia’s BLACK DOG angrily bites back with Demo II. It sounds just like the first one, which is basically what you would want. When it comes to raw punk, the more basic, the better. BLACK DOG follows the trash-filled route of the UK greats like DOOM (nice wink on “Life is a Lock”) or ENT, without innovation or changes to the style, just good old-fashioned crusty punk. “Life is like a lock on my mind. Is death the only key?”

Blonde Revolver Good Girls Go to Heaven, Bad Girls Go Everywhere LP

If the title of the debut LP from this six-piece, all-female ensemble of Melbourne punkers doesn’t draw you in, then simply hit play. With members coming from BODY MAINTENANCE, CARPET BURN, DELIVERY, FUTURE SUCK, and GUTTER GIRLS, this lot is churning out some snotty, synth-drenched, Aussie-signature tracks that truly make you want to move. The album opens with the theme from Buffy and goes into a song about vampires (“Raise the Stakes”), they lean into their leather and fishnet aesthetic on “Lipstick and Leather,” and in “DOC NRG,” which is my favorite track, shouting the chorus “We’ve got big DOC N-R-G.” Late ’70s rock’n’roll irreverence in a modern, doom-driven context that finds a way to laugh the whole way through. I think of an all-female SICK THOUGHTS, and fans of JUDY AND THE JERKS would definitely enjoy this. Dirty and grimy sounds covered up in bright makeup—what’s not to like?

Blue Ricky (BR) LP

Pop punk stuff that has a bit more grime to it than others of this genre. If you’re a fan of ANGRY SAMOANS or the more punk, less bubblegum QUEERS stuff, this would be right up your alley. The cover art GERMS homage is cool, but it could be a potential deterrent for those who are quick to judge a book by its cover. Which would be a shame, because this is a pretty good record.

Broken Barcodes Get in the Van CD

Five songs of RAMONES-inspired pop punk. Nothing groundbreaking here. Your standard RAMONES-core fare, although the tempo of these songs is much slower than they probably should be for this type of stuff. If this was a bit more peppy, it’d serve them well. The cover art’s nod to the Henry Rollins book that this EP is named after was kinda “ha-ha” funny.

C.P.R. Doll Music for Pleasure cassette

You might get excited looking at all the folks attached to this project—the uniformly excellent Goodbye Boozy and Under the Gun labels, players from ABORTED TORTOISE and GHOULIES, cameos from other top-tier Aussie acts like SATANIC TOGAS and TEE VEE REPAIRMAN. Well, stay excited, because this tape is rough-and-rumble like all the best coming out of Australia. It has an added layer of spaced-out darkness, even with the faintest cold touches of deathrock (especially in the bass) that really sends it home. The melodic shout-along vocals are dialed-in and the rhythms have that beautiful, almost Teutonic motorik android quality that locks you into a bop you can’t escape. Everyone involved in this beautifully incestuous rock scene just keeps getting better and better and it’s exhilarating to hear.

Call the Cops Manifesto (For the Rebirth of the Worldwide Punk Scene) LP

Well, this is interesting. This is the second record I’m reviewing this weekend that has a distinct industrial rhythm; this is a compliment. In a sense, it’s similar to the way SADIST does it, but this is more like RESTARTS or RANCID meets MALIGNANT TUMOUR. Tone is sort of street punk though, with more death metal crust vocals. CALL THE COPS from Italy play breakdown hardcore with a pogoing street punk stance. I have no idea why you would ever even hint at CALL(-ing) THE COPS, but perhaps there is something not translating for me. Other jams swing with an Italian Oi! flavor and melodic bounce. CALL THE COPS can sing. There are a lot of samples throughout, and they are all interesting and unique political statements—I’m not talking ’90s movie quotes, more like interviews. CALL THE COPS have a lot going on, from the melancholy intros to downright grizzly street crust. There is a traditional old European folk sound to their album that is sincere and not overly sentimental. Sixteen tracks of malicious mohawked hardcore punk. A powerful fourth outing from CALL THE COPS.

Choncy Community Chest cassette

Debut eight-track release which keeps the listener guessing the whole time. We’ve got catchy post-punk, angular artsy punk, driving garage rock, weirdo nasty hardcore/noise rock stuff, this tape is all over the damn place! And I mean that in a good way, in case that didn’t come across as obvious as it was intended. It makes a lot of sense to me that CHONCY is from the wacky city of Cincinnati, OH, one of the more interesting punk scenes in the country currently. After releasing that new album by the DRIN, this seems a lovely addition to the catalog of the powerhouse that is Feel It Records, now that they have relocated to the same aforementioned city. Keep ‘em coming, Sam!

Billy Batts and the Made Men / Close Encounter No One Knows About the Secret Potato split EP

Hey, April Fool’s! Hahaha…oh shit, this is real. If you’re misty-eyed for the glory days of AVRIL LAVIGNE or SUM 41, look no further than CLOSE ENCOUNTER to fill your soul with some non-edgy, mediocre pop punk. Maybe this shit flies at the mall in suburban South Carolina, but to these ears, it’s weak like a warm Slurpee. Atlanta’s BILLY BATTS ain’t much better, with an almost identical vocal attack that simply makes them a punker version of the previous band. I’ll put them up a notch in punk points to an almost QUEERS or DESCENDENTS category, but man, I’ve always hated the DESCENDENTS. They all look real young and I’ll give it to them for getting out there and doing something, but that’s about it. No more, please.

Cran Natë LP

CRAN is a Parisian punk band that infuses their sound with a heap of Oi! and a little bit of post-punk. The resulting sound is reminiscent of a dark VICE SQUAD, or more similarly, contemporary fellow countrymen COLLISION. The song “Ad Vitam” has a slow opening that quickly jumps into overdrive only to close out with a slow, vicious beating. The gang vocals on “L’Amour” invite a communal feel while delivering a scathing treatise on the realities of love. This album is as equally strong on instrumental technique as it is on thematic content, making it easy to play on repeat.

Crimetime …Let There Be Crime LP

First let me address the album cover. Band name, album title, and a drawing of the Hamburglar with boots and a baseball hat with a flipped-up bill. Simple, eye-catching, and most importantly, it really gives the listener no clue as to what this band is all about, which I actually prefer when going into hardcore records. Now, let’s talk about the record itself. Hardcore punk, fast and angry. Overall, pretty good. Some of the songs may be a bit too long for my liking when it comes to bands like this, but that’s personal preference. I think with a bit of spit and polish recording-wise, this could have been a pretty good-sounding record. Parts of it just don’t sound as good as they could, but all in all, a pretty decent outing. Even the last song with the ska parts didn’t bother me.

Crocodiles Upside Down in Heaven LP

L.A.’s CROCODILES have been a mainstay in the rock’n’roll scene for years now, and they sound tighter and brighter than ever on their latest Upside Down in Heaven. Ten punchy, power-poppy bangers that recall the best of the early days of Stiff Records mixed with a moody shoegaze sheen. Lead single “Degeneration” sounds like Arabia Mountain-era BLACK LIPS tipping their cowboy hats to the WHO, while title track “Upside Down in Heaven” sounds like the Reid brothers adding some color to their palette. And while sticking closely to the revved-up “April Skies” sound, CROCODILES keep things feeling fresh with surprises here and there, like the ripping saxophone on “Surfin the Dead,” or the sterling guitar work on opening track “Love Beyond the Grave” that would make the STROKES proud. Just in time for summer, Upside Down in Heaven is a blast and wouldn’t be out of place bumping from a stereo on the beach with a beer or three.

Daltonz Hier, Demain, Maintenant LP

La République has always been a bastion of Oi!, and while the current crop of current cropheads waving the tri-colour are doing a lot to drag the genre in the direction of more spartan, post-punk influences, it’s nice to see grizzled vets DALTONZ steadfastly sticking to the old ways and sounding great twenty years in. Firmly in the tradition of the COCKNEY REJECTS or 4 SKINS, it’s eight solid tracks of full-fat, 100% not-from-concentrate skinhead rock’n’roll, and it sounds great. Vive La Oi! Vive Les DALTONZ!

Dancer Dancer cassette

DANCER’s new sound of young Scotland is not so new—on their debut cassette, these Glaswegians pick up directly from where their hometown’s cult heroes LIFE WITHOUT BUILDINGS left off in the early ’00s. Abstractly poetic lyrics and conversational talk-sung vocals that are sparingly punctuated by ecstatic chirps modeled after Clare Grogan from ALTERED IMAGES (taking the Glasgow local history reenactment back a few more decades to the early ’80s), noodly/twinkly guitar lines that owe more to ’90s post-rock/math rock (big SLINT energy) than any late ’70s DELTA 5/AU PAIRS-style moves, and languid, almost jazzy beats that get just riled up enough at the right moments to push DANCER back toward post-punk tradition and away from the sort of thing that you’d be likely to hear following the SEA AND CAKE at insufferable airspace-aesthetic coffee shops in any city with punishing rents. The tape actually clicks most successfully when they’re at their least mannered and buttoned-up, like on “Ferret Fancier” with its slippery bass, harsh, almost no wave-textured guitar racket, and drawn-out wails; I certainly wouldn’t be mad if they embraced the mess even more the next time around.

Decorticate Conditioned By Violence cassette

Danish powerviolence with a hint of Ray Cappo thrown into the batter, sounding like BETTER THAN A THOUSAND merging with CAPITALIST CASUALTIES and other similar Slap-a-Ham-adjacent bands. Tightly mixed without being too over-produced. The drums are killer and direct traffic throughout, as is the case with most bands like this. Dueling vocalists channeling both youth crew and death metal energies. They’re not reinventing the wheel, but the nuanced singing styles make the album feel fresh, relentless, and unwavering. I am absolutely amazed that this is a trio. The sound is huge and intense as all hell. Well worth a spin if you love it fast and loud, which, if you’re reading this, I’d assume was the case.

Deletions Stets cassette

Not sure if it’s intended to be an homage, but the graphic design on this cassette really brings to mind that period in the late ’90s where melodic hardcore bands were flirting with Midwest emo and sci-fi aesthetics (not a time I’m wistful for!). Like, compare this to the cover of, say, GRADE’s Separate the Magnets. Musically, that comparison isn’t too far off, either. I wouldn’t say DELETIONS, an act out of Harrisburg, PA, plays melodic hardcore by any means—this is closer to post-hardcore with more overt post-punk leanings—but there’s definitely an emo influence to the ten short songs on this cassette. Honestly, it sounds like this band is going for an A FRAMES vibe but knows their love of the PROMISE RING is going to bleed through, so their hope is they can add enough farty analog synth sounds that people won’t notice. It’s some real rough stuff. And that’s not even considering the lyrics, which are borderline excruciating! Still, their commitment to playing profoundly out-of-touch music with this much verve had me rooting for them. So, while I don’t recommend that you listen to this release, I can’t help but recommend that the band keep it up!

Demoralized Demoralized demo cassette

There’s no mincing words here, folks. This is some of the best grindcore I’ve heard in quite a while. DEMORALIZED’S demo is very true to the genre’s nature—raw as hell, unlike a lot of the overproduced, studio grind you get nowadays. Drums sound natural and range from fast to fastest. Feels as if they were all done in one take, I mean that as a compliment. Guitars are heavy as hell and the vocals go unwavering. I’m usually not a fan of heavy treble on the bass, but it fits the DIY aesthetic so well that I can’t be mad. I terrorized my neighborhood last weekend by blasting this while grilling in my backyard. You kids make me feel young again.

Depress 2 Track EP flexi 7″

Malaysian punk outfit DEPRESS presents two songs taken from the Johor Hardcore Compilation CD from 2001. “Sejahtera” is a melodic anthem, filled with dual vocals that almost go into Oi! territory. “Phobia” is a bit more aggressive but still retains the melodic component of the band. Music to have a drink (or ten!) and enjoy yourself.

Dez Dare Perseus War CD

Garage punk meets psych-damaged hard rock on this Brighton band’s latest. Classic rock riffing lives on in the stompy, all-downbeats rock‘n’rock of “Bozo” and “Myopic Tropic” with fuzzed-out guitar fills and spoken/sung vocals, some about society’s ills, some nonsensical. “Beach!” is catchy in its rocking immediacy, rolling toms, and laser-gun guitar tone. Final track “STOP. STOP. STOP TALKING.” is an eight-minute opus of distorted bass, chiming keys, and bubbling electronics that rocks the whole time. Recommended for fans of KING GIZZARD, fuzz pedals, and maybe those rad conversion vans with wizards painted on the side.

División Autista Hijo Marginal 87​–88 LP

Credited for their role in introducing straightedge to Latin America, DIVISIÓN AUTISTA were major players in the Argentinian punk scene of the late ’80s. The two songs they contributed to the extraordinary Invasion 88 compilation are among the very best, and stand out as being contemporaneous rather than peddling in nostalgia. Hijo Marginal 87–88 contains the two aforementioned tracks, an additional song from the same studio session, demo recordings, and eight live cuts. While the band was short-lived, they had an outsized impact on the scene in Buenos Aires and beyond. DIVISIÓN AUTISTA’s brand of fast, melodic hardcore punk is fully realized on songs like “Straight Edge” and “Hijo Marginal,” where the vocals are propulsive and the guitar work feels particularly innovative. The sound quality on some of the live songs is unsurprisingly on the low side, but the energy they exude makes up for the drop in fidelity. This has loads of charm, excellent vocals, and some wicked guitar lines. Absolutely worth checking out.

Dry Sockets Dry Sockets demo cassette

Deary me. For the first fifteen seconds of this demo, I genuinely held out hope that this wasn’t complete and utter horseshit, and then, sadly, like watching Harry Maguire trying to defend a simple one-on-one, the inevitable happened when the vocals kicked in. I’m not sure if it is possible to die of secondhand embarrassment, but if I do cark it in the next week, I’m sure listening to this record will be referenced in the post-mortem. Like if Tom DeLonge swapped the big shorts for jeans that actually fit and read the adolescent poetry of a complete arsehole. Would genuinely rather suffer from dry socket than listen to this total bollocks ever again.

Eat My Fear New Era LP

Angry, fast, and loud, EAT MY FEAR’s New Era is a collection of political punk songs about solidarity, conflict, gentrification, friendship, and community. According to the album’s write-up, it was recorded during the COVID-era lockdowns amidst the displacement of many local DIY spaces in Berlin. You can certainly feel the power and urgency behind these songs, mostly in the vocals which are shredding in near-desperation throughout. Sonically, EAT MY FEAR ranges from straightforward hardcore to skate punk to nearly pop punk, but what carries this album is its venom, its intent, and its message.

Eteraz Destined to Kill flexi 7″

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

Fate Ananke 2xLP

The labels that are meticulously combing the early stages of Polish DIY punk and presenting the recordings to new ears are simply invaluable. I’m talking about Warsaw Pact, Pasażer, and specifically Nikt Nic Nie Wie, who are responsible for this beautiful reissue of FATE’s 1994 recording Ananke. Classic Polish punk mingling with folk, psychedelia, and reggae…it’s incredible to hear bands coming into and developing their own sounds on the same record. Fans of ARMIA, DEUTER, and BRYGADA KRYZYS will be lured in by tracks like “Do Mięsożerców,” while the quieter experimental tracks are the glue that will make it stick. Incredible and invaluable recording, presented by Nikt Nic Nie Wie with love and respect (as it should be). Highest recommendation.

Fatigue Precious Rage cassette

Killer fuzz, solid L7 vibes, an opener titled “People I Want to Punch,” and I’m standing at full attention. The whole band is digging deep into early ’90s grunge for influences (I’m gonna mention that fukkn fuzz again because it’s that damn good), but between the aggressive approach and the snarky snarling vocals, FATIGUE sounds anything but tired.

Fracture Purgatoire EP

Kick-ass young punk/Oi! band outta Paris. Catchy as all hell, like a lost R.A.S. track or anything on a Chaos En France compilation. I imagine or hope they’re on the ins with the whole RIXE/CONDOR scene or else they should be, as they might give the old-timers a run for their baguette. “Imposteur” is my personal fave, with that mid-tempo menace that just screams trouble. All songs are perfect though, and I hope it’s not too hard to track down a copy. Kill!

Future Suck Simulation LP

As their first foray into full-length releases, Rack Off Records issues the debut LP from this Melbourne hardcore act featuring folks from BLONDE REVOLVER and SUPER-X. FUTURE SUCK’s brand of hardcore is hard to peg down. Throughout the record, I would hear snatches of what to me sounded like pre-Crossover D.R.I., mid-’80s 7 SECONDS, or even early DAG NASTY (at least instrumentally). It’s all solidly played, but it’s a mix of sounds that I probably wouldn’t be that into were it not for this stellar, tough-as-shit vocal performance from Grace Gibson. There’s just something about the way that she delivers these lyrics that makes it seem like a genuinely nice person has snapped and things are on the verge of spiraling out of control, adding a welcome sense of danger to what may have otherwise been a pretty standard hardcore record. Cool!

Gaoled Bestial Hardcore flexi EP

The Bestial Hardcore EP from Perth, Austria’s GAOLED is a wall of aural hell. Raw, nauseating, distorted guitars with boiling magma drum sounds from hell (the vocalist is undoubtedly a golem). Reminiscent of where CROSSED OUT and other local veterans RUPTURE left off, but with the contemporary metallic influences of BEHERIT and BLASPHEMY worshippers. Perhaps it has something to do with great weather and this almost reinforced sense of happiness and positivity, but all RUPTURE, CROSSED OUT, and NO COMMENT seem to come from similar environments and ended up with similar sounds. Includes a cover of Boston’s CROSSED OUT worshippers SCAPEGOAT.

Gel Only Constant LP

It’s likely you’ve already read a handful of reviews of Only Constant, the excellent debut LP from New Jersey hardcore band GEL that is currently making waves, so I’ll keep it brief. Only Constant is a very angry and very catchy record, but it’s also wildly accessible. It’s easy to see why GEL is having the same sort of moment as SCOWL and TURNSTILE before them. GEL’s songwriting is razor-sharp and full of attitude, and on songs like “Attainable,” “Dicey,” and “The Way Out,” they make the sound of wanting to smash a chair over someone’s head surprisingly danceable. Each song barrels forward relentlessly with the exception of “Calling Card,” a jarring but fitting break in the middle of the album. It’s a sharp U-turn featuring a lo-fi guitar played along to voicemails left by fans who vent about a number of issues, including but not limited to misogyny, shitty coworkers, and their thoughts on the hardcore scene. It’s a clever way for GEL to connect to their fanbase and another example of this album’s surprisingly charming nature. Highly recommended.

Gonk Oh My Gonk! cassette

Alex Sandoval’s bedroom solo project from Salt Lake City, Utah merges lo-fi with softcore egg-punk, blending programmed drums that lack force and a submarine telephone conversation effect on the vocals that make it quite monotonous. Some guitar riffs are sweet and in line with egg-punk referents PRISON AFFAIR. This one might be right up your alley if you dig everything eggy, but it just didn’t hit the spot for me.

Grandine Discography LP

From Trento and active from 2000 to 2004, this now-defunct band offers the world a compilation of their material in LP format. This is Italian hardcore that proved to be highly influential since everyone in their scene wanted to sound like them. They go from fast-paced thrashing parts to more melodic and groovy hardcore. A great piece of modern Italian hardcore history

Greed When the Holocaust Come LP

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

Hands Off Hands Off demo cassette

Independent punk band and label from Groningen in the Netherlands, with ten tracks of swift and buzzy riot grrrl. I really enjoy the pulse beat in the synth-driven “S.I.M.” that employs the repetition of “no one has” to start every line of the song. With this type of repetition used throughout, I hear a poetry in their songwriting, which is presented calmly over synth lines, like on “S.I.M.,” or shouted over fuzzy guitars like on “Get Me One.” If you enjoyed the 1993 Stars Kill Rock compilation put out by Kill Rock Stars, then I think you’ll be at home here.

Hellish View Demo ’21 cassette

HELLISH VIEW only worships three things: lyrics about war, D-beats, and Kawakami! Nothing new, no improvement, just good old raw hardcore the way that DISCLOSE and SHITLICKERS used to do it. As it says on their Bandcamp page: “New bassist and drummer, still worshipping DISCLOSE.”

Hotza Demo EP

Once again I find myself researching the mineral content of the water supply in Euskara, because this region has once again produced a near-instant classic. Eight minutes of heat over four blistering tracks from Bilbao with this release, which doesn’t let up for the entire time. Scratching that traditional French Oi! itch you didn’t think you had, ticking the same boxes that RIXE and IENA did, this is just the tonic for those tired of milquetoast, by-the-numbers Euro bollocks. Rumbling bass that sounds like tank warfare, over tight and taught guitar lines giving you that brickwall sound that is sorely lacking these days. A suitably raucous 4 SKINS cover rounds it off, and back on repeat it goes. Excellent stuff.

Ibex Clone All Channels Clear LP

Back in 2019, a handful of Memphis musicians (folks from NOTS and EX-CULT) put out an LP under the name HASH REDACTOR. The music they played was part wry post-punk, part brash noise rock, part swampy garage punk, and 100% my shit—easily one of the best records of the year. Alas, like most good things, HASH REDACTOR wasn’t made to last. About a year into the pandemic, they announced they were ramping down operations. But they also offered a silver lining: three quarters of the band would continue on as a new project, IBEX CLONE. So, when Goner announced this debut LP two-ish years later, I was stoked. Now, I don’t know what I was expecting from this outfit, but I did not foresee a pivot to adult-oriented jangly guitar rock. It’s gotten me all out of sorts. I’ve listened to this album countless times at this point, ready for it to click, but it just hasn’t. It’s certainly no fault of the production. This thing is sonically incredible, probably the best a guitar will sound on record all year! But the songwriting is leaving me cold. The label copy calls this “post-pop,” a term I’ve never heard before but instinctively want to say is inaccurate (for context, the band that popped in my mind was HOME BLITZ)—there’s just not enough pop here. They also mention XTC and GUIDED BY VOICES, which, yes, absolutely. If anything, I’m tempted to call this post-slacker rock, as it’s clearly indebted to the latter act while featuring enough of the former’s intricacies and proggy-ness to leave no doubt these songs weren’t just casually tossed off. But therein lies the problem. This is decidedly uncool music. It’s music for grownups—stuff that needs to be actively appreciated rather than passively enjoyed. And, look, that’s fine, it’s just not what I’m looking for in my punk records. I’m looking for drecksounds.

Idiopathique Idiopathique cassette

IDIOPATHIQUE throws everything at the wall and sees what sticks. They tear through a mixtape’s worth of styles, from crust to MINUTEMEN-esque jazz parts to early ’80s HC. The dual vocals are pitched screams and growls throughout. I felt my attention pulled in too many directions here. All of those genres deploy more than enough aural input on their own. Featured back-to-back like this, they just felt like a hurdle instead of a provocation. It’s also possible that my middle-aged self is just fatally out of touch with the youth of today.

Inebrious Bastard God Swipes Left LP

With a sort of goregrind entrance, INEBRIOUS BASTARD levels out to gruesome crustcore. This has a Motör-charged death metal sound to it like CARCASS, CRETIN, or GURHKA. Plastered with blastbeat meat and chunky thrash riffs, INEBRIOUS BASTARD of Sydney offers a splattercrust LP with clever, tongue-in-cheek songwriting, typical of perhaps GHOUL (US). Crust grind with such subjects as a “Shadow Pony” (how they see themselves within a categorizing scene), “Tuesday Night Budget Blues,” “Bish Bish Bash the Bish,” and a curious and killer track called “Boat Thrower.” The production is warm and gooey—like a muffled pounding upon cardboard and murky earth. That is to say, it is dense and fits really well with their sound. If the guitars were piercing and showy and the drums high and tight, I would not appreciate this nearly as much. This is repugnant crust with lots of horrific attitude, a savage splatterfest that seems more death grind by punks than crust punk or anarcho by genre nerds. But INEBRIOUS BASTARD obviously does not care what I think. They are sailing on into a messy storm caring about the ecosystem and making noise just the way they want to.

Italia 90 Living Human Treasure LP

Very cool artsy post-punk from across the pond in London. Darkened dance-rock akin to JOY DIVISION, ADAM & THE ANTS, and PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED. Spacey and ambient at points, atmospheric and subtly industrial at others. Singer reminds me very much of Nik Fiend of ALIEN SEX FIEND fame. The rhythm section provides most of the hooks while the guitar is left to wander on its own, getting lost in a sea of dissonant chords and reverb-laden licks. Dystopian poetry for an ever-growing apocalyptic world. Lovely work here.

IZM IZM demo cassette

IZM, a four-piece out of Los Angeles, does the whole “punk band plus a synth” thing that I tend to rail against here in my reviews. To reiterate, my position is not that punk bands can’t have synths, it’s that if you have one, it’s way too easy to fuck things up, so to be safe, it’s best to avoid them altogether. The most common mistakes with these outfits are that they opt for some squiggly-ass timbre, making the act sound too jokey, or they put the synth too far forward in the mix, drowning out the rest of the band—often it’s both. But I’m happy to report that IZM commits neither crime. These fellas play grimy, knife-fight hardcore punk—not generally where you’d expect to encounter a synth! Thankfully, it’s buried in the mix, really playing more of a supporting role, and the cheap (but not too cheap!) haunted-house tone they use actually adds some menace to the record. I think I still would have dug these tracks had they been synth-free, but I’m pretty sure they would have been less memorable. Solid work!

Kat Haus Manic cassette

Fantastic EP that stands between egg-punk and post-punk, in the vein of KLEENEX/LILIPUT with the sense of humor of K Records. Songs are fun and catchy, lyrics are smart and satirical, guitars are razor-sharp, the bass wants to dance with me. A delight. My fave track is “Bum a Light.” Listen to that, right now.

Kellerasseln Geradeaus EP

Geradeaus is the latest EP release from the long-running German hardcore punk band KELLERASSELN. With ten songs in almost (but not quite) as many minutes, these tunes are short, fast, and loud, with not a single song exceeding the one-minute mark. They aren’t without any tunefulness though, as most personified in the vocal delivery. Not necessarily something to write home about, but a solid EP that I would say is worth your time.

Killing Frost Frozen Dawn EP

From the depths of Hell(sinki), KILLING FROST has returned with their follow-up to last year’s killer The Declaration of W.W. demo. Blending classic thrash with ’80s US hardcore and adding a healthy amount of dramatic flair, KILLING FROST takes you on a harrowing journey over the eleven-minute run time. Opener “Frozen Dawn” kicks things off with glorious riffs and a brutal vocal delivery from frontman Niko Wilkman before unexpectedly washing over with glorious keys and angelic backing vocals. The juxtaposition of brutish hardcore and gothic wailing make for an exciting listen, which reaches a full realization on “Wilkman’s War II”, a blistering five-minute closer. Beginning as a mid-tempo head-banging grind, the song lurches forward before the return of the gothic organ, more desperate growling from Wilkman, and metal riffing that ascends to the heavens before reaching its payoff, a minute of head-splitting thrash that leaves you begging for more. Highly recommended.

Knickers Collection cassette

Well, this is a treat! I first heard KNICKERS shortly after the release of their excellent 2019 tape Bored. Collection compiles the eleven songs from Bored, plus a whole slew of new material as a complete discography. Strap in for an hour of top-notch, art-damaged punk. Graduates of the Mark E. Smith school of post-punk, KNICKERS pack in enough surprises into their tunes that an hour of music doesn’t drag or become repetitive—except for when they want it to be. There are some definite krautrock undertones, along with nods to GANG OF FOUR and SUBURBAN LAWNS. Despite all the references to bands of yesteryear, KNICKERS have a thoroughly contemporary sound. Crisp guitar tones, synth for atmosphere and texture, fantastic vocals…these cats really struck gold. Quirky punk with loads of character! I assume the release of a discography indicates they’re no longer an active band, and that’s unfortunate, but leaving behind a solid collection like this is nothing to balk at.

Kolpeka Amorruz Beteta flexi EP

KOLPEKA’s debut tape is refreshingly bleak in all the right ways. Playing rugged and dark punk with ominous overtones, these teenagers from Spain offer a caustic, punchy take on early NYHC styles. There’s also a bit of devilishness to the melee that reminds me of G.I.S.M., and I like how the three songs on this tape become increasingly more deliberate and hostile as it progresses. The members were only between sixteen to nineteen years old at the time of this recording, so let’s hope they’ve got plenty of juice left in ‘em to keep pumping out cool and inventive music.

Left On High The Green Album CD

Really mediocre rockin’ punk with a hint of hardcore and some metal guitar. I guess there’s a Red Album and an Orange Album as well. The flag of Zambia? Dunno, but this is barely twenty minutes long and I’m still having a hard time getting through it. There’s some really cringe-worthy STONE TEMPLE PILOTS-like moments on “Laughter in the Rain.” Maybe that’s your bag? There’s moments where hillbilly rhythms and Southern accents arise (they’re from Florida) like “Tomorrowland,” and sludge-heavy riffs as on “Knew You.” There, I made it through. Oh shit, there’s one more. Can’t do it. Zzzzzzzzzzzz

Litovsk Litovsk 12″

France’s LITOVSK has released a beautifully packaged slice of life on their new self-titled 12″. Playing crisp and clean melodic post-punk with shimmering guitars and nasally vocals, LITOVSK recalls bands like MISSION OF BURMA and the REPLACEMENTS, and would fit quite nicely on a bill with contemporaries MIDDLEMAN. Lyrics range from socio-political themes like nationalism and chauvinism to themes of heartache and longing, most notably on “Riverside,” a sparkling ode to childhood in a poor town where riding mopeds and attending soccer matches distracted from the mundanity of life. Heartfelt and sincere, LITOVSK delivers a satisfyingly introspective listen.

Loosey Winter Promo ’23 cassette

Finally, an excuse to dust off the platform boots and denim overalls! New York City’s LOOSEY is here with their Winter Promo ’23 cassette. LOOSEY’s sound falls somewhere between the Australian Sharpie scene where pub-rock bands like COLOURED BALLS and ROSE TATTOO reigned supreme, and the Bovver scene from England which preferred the glammier side of rock’n’roll (checkout the comp Bootboy Discotheque to get down). After the right-on intro “Enter Planet Dust,” LOOSEY treats listeners to three earworms that stomp, shimmy, and howl (thanks to the gloriously gruff vocals of lead singer Fizzy of NEW YORK HOUNDS fame). Check out “There You Were (Alligator Song)” to hear LOOSEY at full-force; beginning with a glam stomp before bulldozing their way into Exile on Main Street-era ROLLING STONES and even BIG STAR territory, it’s pure bar-room boogie for lovers and fighters alike. This is the dawning of LOOSEY music, get into it!

M.V-11 6 Songs EP

Japanese hardcore alert! M.V-11 rose from the ashes of ENDLESS CHAOS to deliver a hardcore ass-kicking the way that only Japanese punks can do. Six hardcore bangers that use the same energy as bands like NIGHTMARE or LIP CREAM. A solid EP for the Japanese hardcore maniacs!

Maldita Existencia Demo 2022 cassette

Two songs from Chilean synth-punkers MALDITA EXISTENCIA. Knowing this comes from Cintas Taciturnas, this demo sounds like it’s paying homage to EXRAÑA MISIÓN’s Ensayos 1988 which the label re-released last year, and they do a great job. Big, reverbed synth with matching high-octave bass, like you’d find in a JOY DIVISION intro, with jumpy drums and a clean, wandering guitar line. The vocals stay steady, almost spoken, and don’t achieve a huge range, but combined with the instrumentation, this really works.

Martø Martø cassette

Ripping fast powerviolence from Lille, France that sounds like the best of the microgenre. This is a great twelve-song demo, full of full-throttle guitar/bass assault, machine-gun blastbeats, and dual vocalists: one shrieker and one graduate of the Chris Dodge school of caveman-core. It’s all top-tier intense hardcore, and there is enough variety to keep it from being a power blur. For instance, “Baton” opens with a heavy bass-led groove, “Enclume” has classic hardcore riffing, and “Pointe” features crunchy metal chugging before exploding back into furious PV. Place this next to your CAVE STATE and NO COMPLY records and let it blast.

Motormouth More Time / Get It On 7″

While the band is from Belgium, the songs are sung in English. This is fairly straightforward mid-tempo punk rock that has elements of hardcore, but remains pretty melodic and catchy. Some of the guitar seems a little unnecessary to me. It’s got an intensity that seems on the verge of exploding. I wouldn’t say that I loved it, but I did enjoy it.

Nubot555 No Way Back cassette

Okay, this one tested my patience, but hear me out because some of the freakiest among you egg-punks might dig it. NUBOT555 is an Antwerp, Belgium-based sci-fi punk band with a vocal approach unlike anything I have ever heard. The synth-based tracks bubble along with bouncy bass, buzzing keys, and a tinny electronic drum sound. Not bad, but nothing new—until the vocals kick in. Each song is a duet between two voices: one like a vintage Speak & Spell delivering platitudes about resurrection and human life, and one that sounds like what you would make a sock puppet say to a child, but pitch-shifted. Think about it for a second. Computer voice plus silly puppet voice doing call-and-response vocals over thrift store electronics. You’re either in or you’re out; consider this the line in the sand.

Nukke Virtue Signaling EP

An EP of six tracks in eight minutes, released by Portugal’s NUKKE. Pandemic-inspired bleak metal punk with lyrics heavily influenced with sociopolitical content and a lexicon about consumer culture, the dark outcomes of social media and its sinister status machinery, social inequity and injustice, and even quite polemic thoughts and stances regarding the coronavirus and the world’s situation in quarantine. Metal-infused hardcore with good drumming and guitar riffing of a crude metal nature.

Obsoletos Obsoletos demo cassette

Garage punk project from Chile, with frantic vocals talking about existence and systemic disposable culture. Bits of post-punk, but primarily focusing on the garage-y side of punk, with wide open, high-pitched reverbed guitars that go along just fine with the vocal exultation that leads the music. The formula might sound redundant as each song is similar to the others, but all of the three tracks have something interesting and different to offer, even nodding to classic punk rock as in “Pandilla Agresiva,” which reminds me of high-energy early NEW YORK DOLLS. Solid and interesting demo, I’m eager to hear more.

OK Satán Master of Neglect cassette

Copenhagen’s OK SATÁN’s latest cassette release consists of five tracks of garage punk with vocals reminiscent of CHEETAH CHROME MOTHERFUCKERS or even Darby Crash at times. Fuzzed-out, lo-fi trash punk from the city with too much daylight or too much darkness, with noise punk vibes of FLIPPER, NO TREND, or KILSLUG. Soundtrack to slowly losing our minds. It’s a matter of time.

Perplex Perplex cassette

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

Pesadez Fenomenologia Del Espiritu Agonico: De La Existencia Sordida Al Pendulo De La Nada LP

Atmospheric and dank, PESADEZ plays grim death thrash from deep in the bog-reeking forest. This is an onslaught of gruesome, torrential deathbeat blackened metal with choked, vulture-esque vocals (including underlying early BRUTAL TRUTH vocals) and blistering riffs. Percussion palpitates through in a raw, off-kilter D-beat style, though vibing with POSSESSED, a new death metal band I got into called HAUNTER (on this album’s intro and outro), or SARCAFAGO. From Costa Rica, this record is ripping with a Central American crusty metal tone and nihilistic attitude. There are brief moments of pause to catch your breath at the surface, or a headbanging riff passage, only to be strangled back into its chaotic bile. Part BASTARD PRIEST, part Cracked Cop Skulls; you are definitely going to want to check this debut out. An echoing, horrific charred punk offering in an electrified skull chalice. The longest album title I’ve seen in a while, but for each track, a single word was needed. First listen, and I’m anticipating a top ten for the year. Fresh as guts.

Pestigor Baptized in Pus LP

Described as “bubonic hardcore,” this filth from Denmark is reminiscent of SACRILEGE or TEMPTER, with some power metal falsetto vocalizations like HIRAX. But almost more importantly, I’m feeling a strong relationship to the PLASMATICS, as well as the chosen theme of this band, Warhammer 40,000. PESTIGOR plays a ravishing mix of D-beat and thrash metal in their malevolent Realm of Chaos and space marines. They sound fun and furious. The last two tracks are my favorite—this is the kind of album where I wasn’t sure how impactful it would be at first, but once it warmed up and the cosmic war theme sponged through my soft Warhammer-able skull, I was all in. Wild cover art in the BOLT THROWER fashion: content of Realms, in the hand of In Battle…PESTIGOR shares members with the very good gothy post-punk but similarly D-beat (and peace punk as well) band MOTORSAV, and that kind of proficiency in different styles is additionally cool.

Playthings Playthings 12″

Ōtautahi/Christchurch’s PLAYTHINGS have far too often been left in the shadows when it comes to post-mortem histories of New Zealand’s ’80s underground, which generally privilege bands who recorded for Flying Nun and/or the pastoral psychedelic Kiwi pop sound most closely associated with the label, but that’s exactly why this new compendium of the post-punk group’s two bonzer-certified singles (plus a bonus unreleased track) is so necessary. Bassist Jay Clarkson and guitarist Janine Saundercock each took a turn at the mic for their 1981 debut 7”—“Coloured” employs dryly recited vocals from Jay and angular twists of guitar with a dark and mysterious early UK DIY/Rough Trade feel, while the Janine-sung B-side “Sit Down (Stand Up)” explodes with bold, no-nonsense first wave New York punk energy like a femme-fronted VOIDOIDS. Janine left before the second and final PLAYTHINGS single in 1982 and Jay took over as PLAYTHINGS’ sole vocalist for three songs that smooth out some of the band’s sharper corners for a more pop-inclined approach, although there’s still plenty of tension to be found in the AU PAIRS-ish “Pure Frost” and the sharp, cutting guitar and rumbling bass that runs through “Bird’s Eye View,” with the previously unreleased “Grits” vaguely recalling Exene-led, Wild Gift-era X. There’s only 300 copies of this out there, and that’s criminal.

Psychic Death Psychic Death 2 cassette

Spokane’s PSYCHIC DEATH’s latest cassette release is five tracks of both fast and mid-paced hardcore punk, with unique songwriting styles that don’t resort to another cookie-cutter mold. Music is ’80s-style USHC, but the vocals are reminiscent of ’90s San Diego bands à la SWING KIDS or ANTIOCH ARROW—oddly, it works. Unique musical complexity, but may need a dose of simplicity to make it a more of a good hardcore release. For fans of DIE KREUZEN.

Raskol Raskol cassette

A warm, lo-fi embalming of class-itch hardcore. The bass distortion is particularly crunchy, while the songwriting is traditionally stompy with outstanding trembling drum rolls. Vocals are belted with intense power—a furnace recalling INTEGRITY and REACT, and later ANTIMOB and GOLPE. As the four tracks move on, RASKOL gets more comfortable with their flow while simultaneously bashing you up with thunderous hardcore punk beats and dark beatdown riffs. MIND ERASER and HOAX come to mind, bringing my stomach back to an unsettling point, and my mind to euphorically grinning, pre-pandemic pits, if that makes sense? RASKOL feels new and relevant but from a timeless place. This is a short, sharp shocker of a tape that you’ll return to immediately, as it really settles into being special about a quarter of the way through. That’s a good thing. Get with the flowgram and follow that snare…

Rollsportgruppe Denkfabrik CD

ROLLSPORTGRUPPE have a nice bounce to their pretty trad rock. Or maybe it’s mod? The guitars have a dash of distortion and, with the drums, create some driving but uniquely restrained rock’n’roll. The vocals are pleasing yet hoarse and urgent. Don’t get me wrong, this is no snooze-fest, my foot was tapping the whole time. But the band holds back and lets the rhythms, stops, and starts do the work. The whole thing has a soft, almost whimsical tone.

Rough Kids The Black and White and Gray LP

Admittedly, on first listen I thought maybe this was nothing special. With my often jaded snob glasses on, I was probably thinking something corny like “well it’s not that rough, is it?” But this is goddamn good. Melody in punk is a tough gig, but this Los Angeles group has perfectly hit that intersection of late ’70s energy and an ear for tunefulness that is immensely satisfying. Making harmonies sound tough is no easy feat, and most punks can’t pull it off so they don’t even try. I’m hard pressed to think of a stronger display of just down-to-basics songwriting in recent years, and it doesn’t let up track to track. Dig into “She’s All Gray,” which hits like GENTLEMAN JESSE fronting DEAD BOYS, and tell me you’re not hooked. I definitely am.

Rövsvett We Are the Roadkill LP

Some smooth käng-ing here from the small town of Tranås in southern Sweden. This sprawling LP features nineteen tracks of pounding D-beats, rocking guitars, and gang vocal choruses presented with shining clean production. While not particularly inventive, the music is rather accomplished, and this would be a fitting soundtrack to any gathering of tough guys with long-ish hair in black T-shirts.

Science Man Mince’s Cane LP

It’s a rare feat when an album can transport the listener to a place beyond the confines of quotidian cognition. Enter SCIENCE MAN. The brainchild of John Toohill, SCIENCE MAN embodies more than a band or project in that it is an amorphous entity that continually expands, contracts, and creates. Mince’s Cane is an ambitious undertaking that has spawned the seven utterly ripping songs found on this LP, along with a seven-part accompanying short film produced by Toohill and Lindsay Tripp which is available on a professionally duplicated VHS. The videos and the music are truly of a piece, however, they are crafted with such deftness that each can stand on their own. Listening to the album decoupled from the video component is interesting because the music is both imaginative and evocative in its own right. More explosive than a lab experiment gone awry, Mince’s Cane pushes the boundaries of hardcore punk in an unrelenting aural attack. Frenetic drumming undergirds blasting bass and guitar riffs that create a haunting atmosphere for the mutated wailing vocals. The lead guitar parts are forward in the mix, and provide the extent of what one could consider harmony. These leads are juicy, though! As a whole, the album is so ripe with character and perverse charm that it just oozes mystique. That’s where the sense of being transported to another realm comes into play. The songs feel bigger than their constituents, hinting at otherworldly psychotropic visions. Drop the needle and strap in, SCIENCE MAN will strip you of your mortal coil. 

Sepsis The Divide EP

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

Sharizza Hot Sauce cassette

Tireless German punk Franny Franzen, a.k.a. Maracuja Zitroune, finds time between her gigs with EX-WHITE, HOT CHICKS, and probably a handful of other Leipzig-area bands to issue this collection of solo recordings. The nine tracks on this release find Franny alternating between playful garage punk and artsier experimentation. The punker tracks are great—they’re a nice mix of contemporary herky-jerk, ’90s budget rock, and even more abrasive, almost industrial sounds. It reminds me a lot of some of the stuff LILI Z was putting out in the late ’00s. The other tracks sound more like she’s just farting around while rolling tape. But they’re never too annoying and do act as nice interludes between the rockers. It’s a cool cassette!

Lotus / Ship of Fools split LP

Belgian hardcore punk is alive and well, and this split will prove it! Side A belongs to LOTUS, a band that occupies the sound territory of early TRASH TALK and early CEREMONY, when they played powerful and energetic melancholic hardcore. Violent and resigned with the outside world, the same sentiment that the aforementioned bands would project on their releases. Side B showcases SHIP OF FOOLS, a two-man venture turned into a full traditional punk band. The name is lifted from a FUCKED UP song, so that is a good starting point to describe them. Sounding fresh while rooted in old-school USHC at the same time, SHIP OF FOOLS brings a groovy quality that can hook you. A split that encompasses two sides of the hardcore world that seem to fit together perfectly. At the end of the day, it’s all hardcore!

Shitty Life Limits to Growth EP

Parma, Italy won’t stop surprising us with their garage punk releases, like their fellow residents DADAR (more egg-punk, but still on the same wavelength). On this occasion, we have SHITTY LIFE delivering a frantic, fast-paced garage punk seven-track EP, full of energy, histrionic high-pitched guitars, and consonant screaming vocals very much singing along with the band’s overall rhythm. Reverb and tone changes are on-point, with a good non-stop drumming. Tune your chitarrino for this one. Favorite track: “In the Corner,” the one instrumental song, as it gives me a new wave feeling somehow related to skating and roaming the streets with friends; solid good.

Sial Sangkar EP

Since 2017 or so, SIAL has put out great record after great record, each one summoning more rage mixed through burning, buzzing psychedelic noise. The Singaporean band’s recent EP Sangkar brings more groove and swagger than I have noticed on their past releases. Case in point: the ripping opener “Tali” that is a can of deep bass drums, long, delayed reverb and…what is that? A tambourine? This record continues on with aural infectiousness. The track “Sia Sia” is ripping end to end with a hand-clapping break in the middle of the song. Perfect and just off the D-beaten path enough to bring a different perspective. 

Sirkka Viivyttely EP

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

Squish Days of the Grumble CD

Has-been garage punkers from the mid-2010s that started a band specifically to make weird concept albums. This is from their Bandcamp page. Sound like a good thing to you? Kill me. Their first offering that I’m blessed to review here is a punk magnum opus about maggots invading the earth. Oh wait. Sound familiar? Yes, the PLASMATICS did this much better on their last album Maggots: The Record decades ago. This apparently comes with a comic zine that could give this a little more cohesive power, but really, it’s just lukewarm HIVES-like garage slop with deadpan vocals that the CHILD MOLESTERS or DICTATORS did much better. It’s not totally awful and there’s moments to be had, such as the SPITS-like “Collective, Correction, Collection,” but overall it’s hard for me to care. Wendy O. is coming back for them and she’s not happy.

Staticø Il Nostro Cimitero EP

A newer hardcore band from Serbia, this is STATICØ. This five-track EP is essentially meat-and-potatoes hardcore punk, although the occasional touches of more post-hardcore-esque guitar work does help it stand out from the pack a bit. Not too much else is memorable to me though, I must admit. Not bad, but not something I would return to. Give it a listen and decide whether or not I’m full of shit.

Stray Bullet Factory EP

Latest release from Sheffield’s STRAY BULLET consists of four tracks of a fast ’80s USHC/Swedecore approach, meeting the UK82 style of contemporary UK hardcore. Fierce combustion of straight-ahead, full-speed hardcore with its own groove. Solid recording quality that doesn’t resort to hiding underneath low-fidelity or any other gimmicks. Absolute no-bullshit, in-your-face hardcore, and they mean it.

Street Sweeper Fallin Outta Love (With Myself) EP

Debut release from this hard rockin’, power poppin’ quartet out of Melbourne, comprised of folks from ALTAR BOYS, HYDROMEDUSA, and GRIM RHYTHM (a couple of those gotta be fake band names, right?). You’re getting three tracks that are a fine melange of ROSE TATTOO, COLOURED BALLS, SYLVAIN SYLVAIN, and THIN LIZZY—good-time RnR made by dudes with wispy Cliff Burton mustaches, equally suited for a night out at the pub with your mates or a night in the backseat of your Trans Am with your partner.

Suspect Demo EP

Five-song banger of a demo by this German outfit. Hardcore punk songs that all clock in at under two minutes. This has everything you’d want in a band like this. Fast parts? Check. Slower but not overdone breakdown parts? Check. The only downside to this is the recording itself. It’s a demo, so one should not expect a full-blown, highly produced recording, and really it’s not too bad. There’s just something off about it that I can’t quite put my finger on. That aside, this has potential to be awesome.

Tasiemka Wanna Po Dziadku LP

The moody post-punk of Wanna Po Dziadku is constantly tense, rarely providing catharsis or relief. Like others in the genre, the bass and drums lead, but the guitars still provide more than just backup. The chords and notes float over or through the more pronounced rhythm section. It’s an unnerving effect which makes the songs feel spare, harsh, and fleeting all at once. The music has a repetitive quality, but in fact subtly adds layers and evolves. Just don’t get your hopes up for an anthemic chorus or faster beat. TASIEMKA keeps things uncomfortable.

Taünt Taünt demo cassette

Blackened noisecore filled with hints of powerviolence, coming up from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Use headphones for a better experience, as the vocals are heavily echoed and synth mayhem is strong in this one. Suggested tracks: “Dawn” and “No” (“Future dreams / Days of peace / Broken bombs / Nature keeps / Hunger fed / All released / Open arms / Can human escape? / No.”). This debut consists of five relentless tracks in less than six minutes, containing a noisy intro with detonations and even fighting video game sounds. Extra credit for the lyrics being on their Bandcamp site, which happen to be synthetic yet very good. Great noisy start for TAÜNT, keep ‘em coming!

Tee Vee Repairmann What’s on TV? LP

The Aussie one-man, Drew Owen-like multi-band force returns with his egg-punk power pop project TEE VEE REPAIRMANN. In case you’re ignorant or just don’t care about supportive plastic footwear, this is Ishka Edmeades, who does the genre-crossing neo-garage-meets-hardcore projects RESEARCH REACTOR CORPORATION and GEE TEE, among other popular combos. It’s pretty damn catchy, and old spiky punks might find themselves nodding along as they grumble. Besides the contemporary Mark Cone-ish correlation, this could be juxtaposed as a DEVO meets MIRRORS (CLE) meets the ONLY ONES being played in the mall scene in Valley Girl. “Time To Kill,” “Drowning,” and “Get Outta Here” are tops. It’s selling out as we speak, so don’t be a geek or embrace your inner one. Snag a copy today.

The Buzzers Behind / Incoming 7″

The BUZZERS with two mercifully short tunes here on this 7”. Band bops along at a decent pace, but for some reason the singer has chosen to adopt the voice of some kind of street-smart crow, perhaps wearing a bowler hat, smoking a cigar, and saying “what’s the big idea?” It’s a shame really, because it truly is passable for what constitutes modern Oi!—has a bit less studio shimmer and is not un-TEMPLARS-like in places, too.

Crown Court / The Enforcers split 7″

Courtesy of Crossbar Records, we have a premium slab of close-shave rock’n’roll, featuring one track each by two of the best in the game. CROWN COURT lands a heavy blow with “Rich Boy,” which exhibits a particularly gnarly bass line. The guitar leads are tastefully employed, unlike the subject of the song’s derisive lyrics. Grab a mop ‘cause this is dripping with attitude. Speaking of attitude, the ENFORCERS sound genuinely pissed! From the moment the vocals kick in, “Collision Course” is full-bore street rock designed to pound your sorry ass into the pavement. Burly as hell and exquisitely executed, this song is that perfect blend of toughness and tunefulness. Great split!

The Eurosuite Sorry LP

It’s not an easy feat to create music that is both shimmeringly beautiful and unnervingly chaotic, but the EUROSUITE does just that on Sorry. Culling from post-punk, post-hardcore, glitched-out electronics, and noise rock, these ten tracks never linger in one moment too long, carefully layering a collage out of punk’s fringes. Opener “I Thought Your Hand Was a Cup of Water” begins with feedback, disembodied vocals, and synth, then charges into DIÄT-style Berliner ice-punk two minutes in. “B.O.D.Y.” turns snare rolls into electro-glitch malfunctions with screamed vocals placed on top—think SWING KIDS meets early LIARS meets MOUSE ON MARS. Most impressive are the gorgeous swirls of distortion that couple with punishing noise rock on songs like “Pull Back.” Thick, vacuum cleaner guitar churns against sputtered and shrieked vocals like Kevin Shields playing with MCLUSKY. If you hear a beat, it will eventually syncopate, a note will stretch and compound into a synth flutter, bass will decay into uneasy synth squelches. Such is the nature of Sorry, a punk record that experiments and frequently finds greatness in its meticulous chaos.

The Foilies Kick Out the Grams CD

Cocaine-fueled, high-energy, ass-kicking rock’n’roll from the land of big skies. There’s absolutely no denying the jams here—NASHVILLE PUSSY, ANNIHILATION TIME, MENSCLUB, straight fucking barroom fire from start to finish, accented with tracks like “Do Some Drugs About It,” “Crystal Beth,” “You Turn Me On (So Let’s Get Off),” “Blizzard Wizard,” and the end-of-the-night lament “2 Broke 2 Coke.” There’s not a wasted moment here, the FOILIES go hard until there’s nothing left but to scrape shards off the mirror. Absolute party slammer here, full endorsement.

Brody and the Grodies / The Minor Inconveniences A Grody & Inconvenient Split cassette

Pairing a Connecticut one-man band with a campy garage quartet from Seattle, this tape showcases two types of homespun punk action. The MINOR INCONVENIENCES is a gentleman by the name of Zach Fontanez playing bass, guitar, and vocals on some digital drum-assisted hardcore punk tunes with a ’90s type of lean. He follows two solid tunes that ride the line between melodic and maniacal with a cover of POISON IDEA’s “It’s An Action” that’s equipped with a razor guitar sound that’s pretty sweet. BRODY AND THE GRODIES come next with “Who Drank All the Beer,” a goofy-ass stomper with an intentionally obtuse attitude à la PERSONAL AND THE PIZZAS. They continue the juvenile party rockin’ with their band theme before wrapping it up with a SUPERCHARGER cover that’s somehow even more “budget” than the original. Good, clean punk.

Louse / The Shits split 10″

An insert packaged with this lathe-cut 10” bills this as the first in a series titled The Red Room Collection, a repository for “the UK’s most distinguished scum rock outfits.” Clearly, you have to come flying out the blocks with a claim like that, and this occurs with the SHITS and LOUSE (from Leeds and Newcastle respectively, although I believe there’s some shared membership). The SHITS have been getting increasingly psychedelic over their short-ish discography, albeit in a disagreeable bad batch kinda way; of their two cuts here, “Gratification” sticks in the head hardest thanks to an ignorant wah pedal sound as heard in latter-day BRAINBOMBS albums. LOUSE tips the cap to their confessed influences even more straightforwardly via a cover of DRUNKS WITH GUNS’ “Fist Puppet,” alongside two of their own. “Human Ashtray” is like when you listen to KILLDOZER and ALICE DONUT and think it could stand to be a bunch more deranged. That adds up to distinguished scum rock!

The Thingz In the Age of Giant Moths LP

Maybe it’s me. Maybe looking for something fresh in the crowded space of garage bands is a fool’s errand, and I should just get over myself and try to have fun. But we’ve been at this stuff for decades now: the Tiki kitsch, the organ without any bite, the fuzzy but compressed-to-all-hell guitar. On their ninth LP (and yes that is impressive), this band presents something squeaky clean and calls it trash. It just doesn’t sell for me. Bands were obsessed with all these same things in the ’90s, cryptids and aliens and cocktail lounge decor. I’m sure this Long Beach act has a blast doing this after all these years, but for me it’s just another band harkening back to some made up alternate history of American rock’n’roll and doing nothing novel to tweak the formula.

Träume Ob​ł​ę​d EP

First recording from this Warsaw-based hardcore foursome. TRÄUME (or “trauma”) and Ob​ł​ę​d (“madness”) give the English-speaking sap like me a context for the rage within these four songs, which are over within seven heated minutes. The band rips—pick slides and chugging guitars galore with straightforward tom-pummeling drums. Vocals remind me of the way BAD BRAINS shout, howl, and emphasize end lines by swinging up an octave. Not a clue what they’re singing about, but I’m all in!

Unsanitary Napkin All Billionaires Are Bastards LP

Raging political hardcore from Te Whanganui-a-Tara in New Zealand. Very few bands accurately pull off the sonic expression of pure anger and frustration with the injustices of our society, which UNSANITARY NAPKIN does in a vicious manner, with tracks in support of figures like Josie Butler, who threw a dildo at Steven Joyce in protest of signing the TPP, and a track criticizing conservative billionaire Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel. All Billionaires Are Bastards is a great, direct representation of the ills of our society.

Uzumaki Uzumaki cassette

This is the musical testament of UZUMAKI, a Galician punk duo that made noise between 2013 and 2016, and you can now listen to all their recordings on a limited-run cassette. Razor-sharp guitars, melodic bass lines à la Kim Deal, a hyper-accelerated drum machine, and a voice that rips and is reminiscent in a very pleasant way, of yes, Kurt Cobain. Think of FUTURE OF THE LEFT, but more unhinged. Think of those bands that deliver everything on stage with absolute conviction in what they do and that you find in an unexpected way, bands that slap you in your face with their forcefulness and awaken in you absolute devotion by the end of the show. This cassette is your little secret, your own private beach of visceral catharsis, a code that only you manage to decipher. The world sucks, but then you come across gems like this and the birds start singing again and all that.

V/A Mendeku Diskak Promo Kasetea, Vol. 3 cassette

This ten-song sampler gives a tantalizing peek at what Basque Country’s preeminent punk/Oi! label Mendeku Diskak has in store for our undeserving ears. For those familiar with the label’s previous output, what lies herein may not surprise, but it certainly will not disappoint. If you dig gruff punk, Bovver rock, and Oi!, then you’re in the right place. Tracks by COLLAPS and RÉSILIENCE stand out, but there are really no duds in the bunch. Mendeku Diskak expands out into blackened hardcore as well with the inclusion of PURO ODIO, and caps things off with an excellent garage-y number by LOST LEGION. All signs point to more great punk from a label that doesn’t really miss. Now, prepare your wallets for the impending onslaught.

Violent Pigz The Night a Pig Came Home! cassette

Japanese hardcore punk band that’s heavily influenced by classic West Coast hardcore punk, and especially hardcore and skate punk from the early ’80s in line with the legendary CIRCLE JERKS, TSOL, and D.I. (this last reference linked directly to the label that released this, coming from Orange County). Aggressive and fast tempos, lyrics in English, and expeditive yet sufficient drums with good solid beats. Released in January 2023 but it seems to be from another era, and it sums up the band’s activity from 2016–2022. Suggested track: “Fix and Insert.”

Yfory Chwaer Pwy? EP

The four members of YFORY converged in Berlin from disparate corners of the world (and from a veritable A-list of hot-shot contemporary punk groups like GOOD THROB, DIÄT, BARCELONA, etc. etc.), with various ’78–’83 Rough Trade singles and the collective works of DATBLYGU serving as the lingua franca for their debut EP. Bryony’s vocals (delivered primarily in Welsh, with occasional lapses into English) skip from KLEENEX’d trills and shrieks to deadpan talky monologues, guitar parts are economical and almost more jangly than jabbing, and the drums and bass wind around in calculated, unhurried concentric circle rhythms—the result is a quartet of smart, spiky post-punk/whiplash pop bops right in step with post-millennial heirs to the ELASTICA throne like PRIMETIME or CHILD’S POSE, and it’s a real delight.

Ženevski Dekret Protest 1986–1988 cassette

A compilation by Yugoslavian hardcore legends ŽENEVSKI DEKRET, with songs recorded before the war. Protest 1986–1988 has two demos rescued by the guitarist’s sister during the war—how many bands from the area can say that they recorded before the war? Yes, all these bands talking about war from the comfort of their suburban homes can learn a thing or two about humility from this band. If you are unfamiliar with their sound, think Finnish punk mixed with METALLICA. Strange but it works!