11 PM

Adderall Big Pharma vs. Adderall EP

Seven and a half(-ish) minutes of North American squirmy millennial hardcore punk. Manic, down-picked riffs played to straight 4/4 on (pharmaceutical) speed and loads of echo on the short, filthy vokills. The riffs are tiiiiiight, and if you like your shit to land between LUMPY and NOSFERATU, then this one is your 2020 banger, kids.

Armor Some Kind of War EP

Direct from Tallahassee, D-beat-ish punk with a twist of new punk sounds. It’s impossible to stand still while you listen to these musical jewels; it transports me to a basement show packed and with aggressive pogo in such a small place, you can smell and feel the sour. There wasn’t a single moment that I didn’t feel like breaking everything, that beautiful feeling this kind of punk can trigger.

Asbestos Wishful Thinking EP

Some nasty and dark hardcore here from Denver’s ASBESTOS. This 7” delivers a speedy, pummeling, and unforgiving punk assault with chunky bass lines and exasperated, raw-throated vocals along the lines of TOTALITÄR. They were considerate enough to separate the six songs with an interlude in the middle that allows you to regain composure from their blunt force pounding.

Big Laugh Manic Revision EP

I reviewed this record for Undergrounz Zine the first day it came out ’cause I thought it was too much. I think I must’ve listened to it twenty or so times in a row. It’s kind of a cyclic album; the instrumental fade-out in the last song, “Fazed,” works as a transition to the epic drums that open the EP in “Imposter.” The whole vibe of this reeks of the ABUSED, from the artwork, which pays tribute to the Loud and Clear aesthetic, to the sound. Or, better, the ABUSED meets This is Boston Not L.A., because BIG LAUGH merges heavier passages with more fluid ones, but always without losing strength and presence. I said it before, I’ll say it again, their strength is how they managed to combine that overfall of dizzy, hectic guitar riffs and omnipresent drum work, hard as nails, that sweeps everything else with the power of a cascade. BIG LAUGH is the best example that Milwaukee hardcore is alive and kicking.

Black Button I Want to Be in Control cassette

BLACK BUTTON really caught my attention last year with their short demo tape, so I was pretty psyched when I saw this release pop up. As I had hoped, it’s a hell of a ride. This formidable Richmond act plays intense, jazzy, angular, and cerebral lo-fi hardcore that creates a dense, disturbing, dystopian-like atmosphere to pull the listener in. The music is equal parts groovy and gripping, aided by a desperate, tortured, and venomous vocal performance spitting thought-provoking spoken word on top. Every once in a while everything seems to just fall apart, adding a dimension of No Wave clamor to the sound. I just can’t decide which version of the band’s self-titled “theme song” I prefer—the haunting live arthouse version on the demo or the tightly-wound, homicidal-horn-laced chaos found here. They’re both great, and so are the rest of these unique tunes. I’m pulling out the big B-word on this one—brilliant stuff. Don’t sleep on it.

Cadenaxo Lenguas Podridas 12″

Direct from Tenochtitlan in Mexico, CADENAXO finally releases their LP, full of energy, fast punk, aggressive like a cadenaxo in the teeth, the definition of hardcore. Impossible not to think of a sweaty pogo in a small gig during the summer time. Perfect blend of POISON IDEA and ATOXXXICO.

Churchgoers Churchgoers demo cassette

In the UKHC scene, it is more than common to be at any show and hear an exchange between a 19-year-old and 23-year-old saying “we should start a band that sounds like UNDERDOG meets…SHEER TERROR”. However, it is practically almost never when a group of kids get together wanting to start, and I quote drummer Bobby Cole, “a NEOS-worship band”…until now. To say this demon absolutely floored me would be an understatement—I was nothing less than bewildered, in fact astounded, by the sheer musicianship and originality projected from this demo. While Bobby (the ANNIHILATED, ANTAGONIZM, MOTIVE) writes almost all the songs, each member of the band contributes equally in their own way to creating this absolute Magnum opus, sounding as if HERESY or RIPCORD had been listening to nothing but Hassibah Gets the Martian Brain Squeeze and YOUTH KORPS’ Demo ‘82 rather than SS DECONTROL. Mark McCutchan’s vocals here provide a fiery adolescence completing the general vibe of this band, just four angry, pissed kids, with Ben Hills (LAST AFFRONT, VILE SPIRIT) playing the riffs phenomenally at a raucous speed, while bassist Xav (NEGATIVE FRAME) keeps it steady throughout. This is probably my favourite release of the year, so please, do go and give it a listen.

Deviant Loading the Gun EP

Sharp, focused, distorted modern hardcore. Overbearing buzzsaw guitars, lightning fast with a sick snarl. Think about the SKEMÄTA school of attack, but way less nuanced. Ferocity in six movements.

Enemy Maladjusted LP

The title Maladjusted hints at the rebellious spirit of hardcore, as it embodies the raw power and unapologetic energy that defines the genre. Hailing from the vibrant L.A. scene, ENEMY launches into a relentless onslaught of ear-pounding beats, blistering riffs, and vocals that bristle with intensity. The saxophone on opener “Unprecedented/Zero Sum-Game” denotes a certain influence from local legends FEAR, paying homage to the band’s roots while injecting a modern edge. Tracks like “The Freak” showcase their ability to meld melodic hooks with unbridled ferocity, creating an infectious energy that’s hard to resist. For fans of classic USHC, a sonic statement that refuses to be ignored.

Faze Content EP

FAZE brings us some sonic chronic from Canada in the vein of S.H.I.T. With echoed vocals over psychedelic hardcore droning, the music conjures images of a megaphone-carrying carnival barker in a tattered trench coat riding high on a sleepy-eyed elephant that keeps changing colors as it marches obliviously forward. Turn on, tune in, tap out.


Freon PYK demo cassette

A lot of punks can play fast, but it takes specialists for fast to come across as legible. St. Louis speed punks FREON know how to give every sound enough space to keep the proceedings in sharp focus at a clip that less capable bands would allow to just smear and blur to oblivion. The sharp-as-tacks approach tends to land with a bit more impact, and with vocals echoing the great agitator Doc Corbin Dart of the CRUCIFUCKS fame, this EP cracks like a damn whip. The songs are fierce, the music engaging and fun without ever sounding the least bit goofy. Off-kilter song structures veer away from same-y verse-chorus into stranger territory. Killer players—especially in the rhythm department—keep the ear activated throughout the twists and turns of the group’s snare-tight anarchy. Featuring members of other fearsome units such as BAD EXAMPLE, RÜZ, and the WARDEN, it’s no wonder these six tracks cut quick and deep.

Gazm Heavy Vibe Music LP

I like Canadian HC, they always seem to put something out that’s just slightly left of the mainstream. What we have here, however, is a slab of Age of Quarrel-era worship that, despite my distaste for worship bands, had me nodding my head along the whole way. There’s that thin line between tracks that have the thick, aggressive stomp of the CRO-MAGS at their angriest, and then tracks that waver between hardcore and that wave of neo-thrash bands that were abundant in record bins all over the world a couple of years back. Is this LP good? Depends, I suppose; I probably would’ve liked it a hell of a lot more if it was a 7″, but what the fuck does that even mean? Maybe if they could lose that kinda goofy, borderline pizza party vibe I get from this shit.

Grand Scheme Numbers Game EP

Hook-laden hardcore, but not in an overtly poppy way; it is as pissed as it is catchy. Seven songs that all clock in under two minutes each, with two that come in under a minute. Fast, short, angry, energetic, with enough variety stylistically to keep one’s attention and leave you going back for multiple helpings all while wanting more.

Haircut Cake EP

HAIRCUT had an EXIT ORDER affinity when they first popped up, but they’ve fully come into their own here on their third 7″. The drummer’s got fills, the vocals come across like distorted pleas, and there are a few riffs that are catchy enough for me to remember. Both “Prayer for a Little Girl” and “Take It” offer what I want to hear in a hardcore song, with changes of pace that flip the slam/skank switch in my mind. Nothing boundary breaking or genre defining, but still a fine specimen of modern hardcore punk with no major discernible rip-offs.

Ivy Creep Demo 24 cassette

Richmond, Virginia has had so many awesome hardcore bands emerging out of there, especially very recently, and IVY CREEP is no exception. This is pounding, evil hardcore to get your fists and veins pumping ferociously. The howling vocals are buried under an avalanche of aggression from the musicians to great effect. 11 PM always puts out winners it seems, and I’m happy to report that IVY CREEP makes the grade with the rest of them. Crank it!

Kontaminate Blood Hunger demo cassette

The 11 PM logo on a demo is always a good sign, as they have been consistently releasing the best fresh-sounding hardcore bands in the US. This time they released the kick-ass demo of Richmond-based KONTAMINATE, featuring members of NOSEBLEED and JACKAL. The mash of spazzy, almost Scandinavian-sounding TOTALITÄR riffs over a NECROS backbone makes KONTAMINATE an essential modern USHC band to keep an eye on. Five tracks of unrelenting bangers, with the cherry on top in the form of a cover of “Crime for Revenge” by ULTRA-VIOLENT, one of the unsung heroes of UKHC. Time to mosh in your room.

Kontaminate 8 Songs cassette

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

Last Affront 10 Track EP

Fast and ripping hardcore punk the way it should be done. LAST AFFRONT from London/Brighton, England put out this blasting EP in 2021 following a slightly disappointing demo back in 2019. On this EP, the band perfectly translates their live power and presence into a studio setting. The instrumentation is fast and furious (not unlike YDI or SSD) while still delivering some top-notch musicianship, all performed underneath a shrieking, hoarse vocal delivery. This was one of my favourite records to come out last year and it still holds up.

Lethal Lethal’s Hardcore Hit Parade EP

Lethal’s Hardcore Hit Parade is five tracks of noisy, raw, ferocious hardcore punk coming from the underground of NYC filth. Nasty yet aggressive, blistering hardcore, in the vein of the crustier side of UKHC meets the earlier, non-groovy era of NYHC, with urgency and the nihilistic destruction of ’80s Japanese and Swedish HC mentality. Full-blown distorted guitar sounds with pummeling drum beats and explosive breakdowns, along with maniac golem crusher vocals. For fans of VILE GASH, CREEP STARE, the REPOS, etc.

Little Angels Psycho Summer EP

Okay you cheeky monkey, I don’t know if that’s a bum on the cover, but this LITTLE ANGELS EP is a sexy slab of ruckus nonetheless. This rocking hardcore ranges from chill mid-tempos to unforgiving brutality in the spirit of fellow Pittsburghians SPEED PLANS, all delivered with the rough and choppy sound of nine tracks crammed onto a 7”. It’s a ripper.

Loss Prevention Shoot to Kill EP

No-frills, straight-to-the-point fast hardcore hailing from Kansas City. LOSS PREVENTION pulls a lot of inspiration from other Kansas City hardcore bands like BETA BOYS or RED KATE, among others. The best way I can describe this is as flyover state punk—in that it’s a fucking awesome anomaly that there’s good punk music coming out of Missouri, but it’s definitely nothing boundary pushing or original—and that’s coming from someone who lives in a flyover state. Definitely a mixed bag of an EP, but if you’re just looking for something to bang your head to on a Tuesday this could be your jam.

Phantom 7 Song Demo cassette

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

Protocol Bloodsport 12″

Ugly, blown-out primitive hardcore played with knuckles bloodied from both punching and being dragged on the ground. Hints of contemporaries like WARTHOG (the punchy, driving attack, the super-mean vocals) and URCHIN (the occasional massive, vicious breakdown) appear, though this is more raw than either band’s output recording-wise and it includes interesting ambient-ish electronica elements courtesy of the brilliantly-named INTERNET GF. The fadeout ending of the record-closing “Divinity” has a genuine creep factor that dovetails nicely with the opening synth drone, demonstrating the band’s adept incorporation of the electronic elements. Witty, nihilistic lyrics only amplify the band’s bleak presentation, as does the crude, thematically perfect artwork. Only 300 copies available on appropriately blood-colored vinyl, definitely recommended.

Reek Minds Rabid EP

“Blistering” is an adjective that comes up frequently when describing hardcore bands, and it’s certainly the first one that comes to mind when considering REEK MINDS’ new EP. Powerviolence fury with croaking and growling vocals propels this record forward at breakneck speeds, with the occasional breakdown providing a little respite from the chaos. If you like em super-fast, nasty, and unforgiving, you’ll likely join the choir of enthusiasts who are saying that this is one of the best records to come out in a while.

Repression War Comes Home EP

Complete noise mayhem with sickening, growling vocals and an in-your-face, blown-out recording. Plenty of dirt in the mix, yet still audible without losing any punch of power. An output of pure aggression, without having to resort to the stylistic replication of already validated styles, War Comes Home is hard to compare to anything. Vocal style is reminiscent of Amy from NAUSEA, while the instrumentation is a product of the modern breed of Boston/NYC punks.

Rolex Hip Intellect EP

This release is ten furious cuts of ’80s futurist punk. While the band seems happy to harken back to the “glory days” of their hometown LA—mostly evident in their highly-mobile bass lines and howling vocals—they incorporate odd melodic and rhythmic turns that break with tradition and keep the ear abuzz in new ways on every track. The guitar stands out in particular, sounding like D. Boon doing divebombs; it’s some of my favorite axe work I’ve heard all year. The entire package fits perfectly with lyrical themes of apocalypse, climate crisis and everything else you’d want from California hardcore. This band is weirder and wilder than most—definitely deserving of your attention.

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.

Skinman Skinman cassette

Always keep an ear perked for what’s happening in Hattiesburg. There’s been heaps of top-tier punk coming out of there for ages, and this ferocious quintet is no exception. This band hits hard with a grim touch that almost calls to mind DARKTHRONE’s more recent bizarro ’80s output. That’s not to say this is True Mississippi Black Metal, it’s fully its own brand of frenzied hardcore, but it’s coming from a far left field that makes it crushing and crucial. Don’t miss it.

Subliminal Excess 2020 cassette

Listening to the first few tracks, I get the idea that if someone had never heard the RIVAL MOB demo but got handed this tape, they could maaaaybe think that this was it. It’s punk for devout capital-H hardcore kids. Mosh part, fast part (the catchiness and allure of such riffs haven’t made themselves known to me), then another fast part. SUBLIMINAL EXCESS, or “SEx” for short, don’t sound like they’re at their tightest, especially on “Psychotic Break,” and the final track “Burning Feeling” meanders for a minute with a noisy dirge, but then gets into a mid-tempo assault that would feel very modern if it wasn’t for the whispered INTEGRITY-like vocals that crescendo into Jerry A.-type growling. Nothing I write really matters since the tape already sold out, but then again only 100 were made. Is that a lot now? Does that make it a collector’s item? Is the market fixed? Regardless of those answers, it’s assured that demo-core is back.

Subliminal Excess Witness EP

Chicago’s SUBLIMINAL EXCESS finally follow up their raging 2020 demo tape with Witness, and it goes just as hard. Four tracks of uncompromising hardcore brutality—fast speed and aggression mixed with hard and heavy grooves à la BREAKDOWN. This shit gets me pumped, I get a massive kick out of it. When the four tracks are up, they leave you wanting more but, as Witness proves, good things come to those who wait. Highly recommended.

Total Nada II EP

Following their self-titled 7” from 2021, II features seven new tunes from Montréal’s TOTAL NADA. With lyrics in Spanish, the bands’ taut hardcore approach is cast in looming post-punky shadows that lend an heir of dread to the spirited music. It’s fiery, battle-cry-laden punk slathered in dark moods that range from jaded dissatisfaction to full-on impending doom. Powerful and pouty, this would make a perfect soundtrack to being trounced by a gothic MMA fighter.

Yambag Strength in Nightmares EP

Now here’s an aural equivalent to smelling salts. Hailing from Cleveland, YAMBAG transcends tradition by infusing their heartless brand of bumping punk with spasmodic, nerve-shaking blastbeats. The seven tracks here shift between rocking, stilted, and pummeling shards of hardcore that erupt into brutal, rattling bursts of relentless powerviolence when you least expect it, and somehow it all feels like a party. It’s a ruthless, calculated killer, and is easily the best record to feature bastardized versions of the McDuck family on the cover of all time.

Z-Pak Z-Pak demo cassette

This demo is one distressing crash after another distressing crash. The sound is damp and a little off-time, with waves of reverb and squealing vocals that bring a lot of early LUMPY AND THE DUMPERS to mind right from the start. The band is from Philly, and this appears to be the first cassette out for them. I will for sure make time for this band with what comes next. Get into it.

Zig Zag It Gets Worse EP

ZIG ZAG is South Florida’s answer to the GERMS and SUICIDAL TENDENCIES. A pummeling wall of noise and the ever-present snarl of the front man are the defining features of this EP. The opening track begins with a sample of PINK FLOYD before moving into CAPTAIN BEEFHEART’s “Zig Zag Wanderer,” and I have to say I really dig the intro. Lo-fi, noisy, catchy riffs, and harrowing vocals. This is an EP I can get behind.

Ztuped Are You Stupid? EP

ZTUPED really carries the torch of DC punk into the 21st century. They wear their influences heavily on their sleeves, but expand in slightly new directions. Their sound is more muscular than BAD BRAINS, more intense than MINOR THREAT. In true DC punk fashion, there are six tracks forced onto a 7″, each more blazing than the last. It’s quite a bit of raucous fun. Surely not one to miss!