Bunker Punks

Fatal 6 Songs cassette

Featuring members of SCARECROW and OUT COLD, Raleigh’s FATAL delivers a slick exercise in traditional USHC stylings on this aptly-named cassette. These six blasts of pounding hardcore are produced in a way cleaner fashion than their accompanying artwork would suggest. In a world increasingly inhabited by echoes, distortion, etc., FATAL opts to come through loud, crisp, and clear. Favorite track: “Ghost on the Shelf.”

Instinct? Pray to Death cassette

Bands that use D-beat and more metallic riffs get labelled as “crust” but maintain a clean sound. Not in this case. Philly punks INSTINCT? drop a massive crust punk bomb with Pray to Death. This is true crust punk with a barrage of sound coming through with every song and a sense of impending doom. Bands like DOOM and E.N.T. come to mind, so you get transported to the UK in the late ’80s. Another great release from Bunker Punks.

Scarecrow Revenge EP

Swedish D-beat-inspired hardcore from Raleigh, NC? Yes, but SCARECROW carves out a niche of their own. The admirable TOTALITÄR-textured guitar/bass tone is achieved, and there’s a comparable intensity, but I’ll end that comparison there. The rhythmic punctuation and scathing rapid-fire vocal style elevate this EP to top-tier status. Lyrics avow all the damage we’ve inherited and what it looks like to cope with grim realities like children stolen from their loved ones and caged by the state, mental health struggles, the carelessly trashed planet, and the never-ending occupations fueled by American exceptionalism. Goddamn, shit is so fucked, but the rich language used here comes off more authentic and relatable (and frankly more inspirational) than typical “fuck society” tyrades. Long live the eight-song 45 RPM punk 7″. Definitely recommended.

Slan Skiter i Allt EP

How nasty of SLAN from Gothenburg to title this ghastly five-song käng  assault Skitr I Allt (“Shit in Everything.”) With a cover that’s painted in the color of stains, depicting some stinking dirtbag in his rotten little apartment, this diabolic EP is filled wall-to-wall with caustic hits, including the charming title track, “Svälj Skiten” (“Swallow the Shit”), and more. This is a ripping, raw, and rabid D-beating that occasionally drops into some head-bobbing punk rocking, and it kills. As it turns out, they were spot on with the name, as this is absolutely the shit.

Tizzi Tizzi demo cassette

Another North Carolina bomber, this awesome demo from TIZZI has six songs with loads of variety and depth, mixing a UK82-like style with a vicious sardonic darkness. The singer has a similar energy as Ash of COLD MEAT, which is high praise, and she sounds awesome on top of these brazen elemental D-beats. The infectious “Brain Storm” is the hit here for me, but there’s a lot of cool moments, like that sneaky little spiraling backup guitar on “Bird Song,” the epic closer. Watch out for TIZZI.


V/A Screaming Death LP

I could bet my shirt that this LP will be featured on a lot of top ten lists this year. This album has everything. It looks absolutely brilliant with its Burning Spirits-inspired cover and a clear nod to some classic Japanese hardcore compilations; it has a great title; it has a cracking lineup with four popular hardcore bands. On paper this is a sure win, the kind of record that might become a classic, assuming the quality reaches the inevitably high expectations. When you buy a sixteen-song album with four songs each by DESTRUCT, SCARECROW, DISSEKERAD, and RAT CAGE, you are entitled, as a spoiled materialist, to expect the best of raw hardcore, a “special record.’’ Is it as good as it should be then? I suppose so. It is as good as I expected, but it is not better than I expected and, clearly, such a record can be expected to be better than expected. Do you know what I mean? Alright, let’s start with DESTRUCT, possibly one of the best bands in the US right now. This Richmond band has the craziest hardcore punk drummer around—the man is an octopus and punishes the listener with a pure and relentless D-beat attack seasoned with insane drum rolls, conferring the songs extra energy and a vibe of madness unleashed. I am sure they must tie the bastard to his bed at night so that he doesn’t hit things in his sleep. The music is close to what FRAMTID offers in terms of sheer intensity and anger (and drumming), which is no small compliment. The vocals and many anthemic choruses and riffs point to more traditional Japanese hardcore like BASTARD (the most obvious and redundant comparison), and the blend is brutal and compelling. DESTRUCT is a tough act to follow, and Raleigh’s SCARECROW does their best to keep the aggression level high. They are one of the most solid TOTALITÄR-influenced bands around (and there are many of those), and I like the fact that they don’t try to go for the rocking side of the genre but keep the käng raw, direct, and angry, like INFERNÖH used to do, but with a more blown-out tone (almost crasher hardcore), more so than on the previous EP and with the great pissed female vocals more to the front. On the other side, actual Swedish band DISSEKERAD shoots first and unsurprisingly sounds just like themselves. Classic käng done right with craftsmanship and (a lot of) experience. TOTALITÄR meets NO SECURITY. A walk in the park, not an adventurous one, but one you’d be ready to take every weekend. Finally, RAT CAGE from sunny Sheffield closes the show and offers four songs of…TOTALITÄR-inspired hardcore punk. Fuck me if I saw that coming. They are arguably the hottest band in the genre right now and, contrary to SCARECROW or DISSEKERAD, RAT CAGE goes right for the rocking side of the käng school with nods to SKITKIDS or UNCURBED. It’s a bit much for me at times, but in terms of energy and anthemic songwriting, they certainly deliver, and they do show a bit of variety in these four songs, the last one sounding almost like a pogo punk number, like the CASUALTIES suddenly converting to käng hardcore. It is a strong album, and I believe the format serves the songs well and displays cohesion and coherence between the bands. Let’s just say that it makes sense. Arguably too much TOTALITÄR worship going on, but then that’s what punks crave, I suppose.