Academy Order To Wilt Without Shame cassette

ACADEMY ORDER is a band from the Philadelphia area, formed in 2021. It features current and former members of DRILL SERGEANT, FIXATION, STUD COUNT, and FLUORIDE. This is their debut, six songs of deathrock with some prominent synth work. Think Southern California staples like 45 GRAVE or the mighty TSOL with a great dose of SKINNY PUPPY-esque synths. My fave track is “Slice of Life,” a song with just the right amount of darkness and abandonment to dance the night away. I think the tape is sold out, but you can buy the digital version or ask for another run of tapes directly to the band. It’s worth it.

Alienator World of Hate EP

Portland’s ALIENATOR delivers the goods on their EP World of Hate, an angry and intense blast of hardcore punk that takes no prisoners. With great riffs and mid-tempo stomping, ALIENATOR is relentless and pummels you into submission on each track here, from the headbanging opener “Senseless Violence,” to the snarling vocals and screeching guitar leads on “I’m Nothing,” right to the end of the last track “Social Disease,” which closes with a slowed-down and vicious pace that dares you to get into the pit. Really though, the crown jewel here is title track “World of Hate,” filled to the brim with vitriol and chants of “Alienate!” and “World of hate!”—it feels like a bit of an anthem for ALIENATOR. Word is their live show is somehow better than this recording (and includes a POISON IDEA cover). Don’t be intimidated, go see them if you can.

Battlesex The Battlecall EP

Here is another new release on the prolific Convulse Records label—this one is from Portland’s BATTLESEX. This is a fist-pumping, tuneful hardcore punk affair with a healthy dose of hard rock/heavy metal influence (especially in the bitchin’ guitar licks sprinkled across the record). The early ’90s work of bands like ANTI CIMEX and fellow Portlanders POISON IDEA are pretty clear influences, however The Battlecall is not a mere rehash of such material, either. This 7″ righteous slab of rockin’ HC that is certainly worth your time—horns up brothers!

Battlesex Strike With Precision cassette

Portland, OR-based BATTLESEX returns with their second cassette release. Four songs of fast, heavy metal-infused raw punk. The clean production of the recording mixed with the riffs having some serious pop sensibility somewhat makes you forget that you’re listening to a pretty nasty band. A style that seems like it would benefit from a gruffer-sounding recording.

Blood Loss Who’s to Blame? EP

Blood Loss is carrying the torch of Denver Hardcore from bands like CADAVER DOG, CIVILIZED, and CITY HUNTER with this pulverizing 7″. The music, the lyrics, the production, the artwork, it’s all gritty and dark as hell—a common theme in Denver that gives the scene its personality. What sets BLOOD LOSS apart from those bands though, is the grooviness. Tracks like “Who’s to Blame?” and “Double Life” have a very YOUTH OF TODAY-type moshy feel to them. But like NO TOLERANCE, BLOOD LOSS takes a much darker approach to that style. Much of that comes from the lyrics, which are super angry: both at the world and at the person screaming them.

Blood Loss Surviving Life in the Shadow of Death EP

BLOOD LOSS returns with their third release. Their demo tape was smoking and I don’t think I heard the first EP, but I really missed out if it’s in any way as good as this. Classic USHC rage that reminds me of SSD meets LOCKJAW. They even have one of those typical but classic “fight, fight” choruses in “Organize!” which gets your blood pumping from the get-go. Denver has been pumping out some great hardcore with bands like VIDEODROME or CADAVER DOG, and this carries on the Rocky Mountain rage in fine, brutal fashion. I hear PCP is legal there now and it shows. Smoke up.

Candy Apple World for Sale EP

More heat from Denver courtesy of Convulse Records with the latest release from CANDY APPLE. This 7″ platter is packed to the brim with heavy and dissonant riffage. World for Sale has a very noisy, very dirty sound to it without going all the way with it. It is simple and to-the-point, angry any-riffy hardcore, and that is all it needs to be! This rages—Denver does it again.

Candy Apple Sweet Dreams of Violence LP

Don’t let the band name fool you, because you are about to get some bitter taste after a bite or two. Fuzzed to the gills, crunchy and untamed hardcore full of bottled-up anger like S.H.I.T. or GLUE. Sweet Dreams of Violence is the follow-up to the band’s 2018 demo and 2019 Joyride cassette. The perfect record to let some steam out.

Cell Rot Slowly Falls Apart 12″

Releasing a record this deadly in 2021 when (most) punks haven’t seen a live hardcore show in a year is…well, kinda mean. Crushingly heavy California hardcore, CELL ROT moshes as aggressively as they blast, with a dark undertone that makes you feel like you’re listening to something dirty. But you’re not. You’re listening to something joyful…it’s just the joy that comes when you realize that you will never win. Never. If you thought the Violent Spirals LP was devastating (it was), wait until you hear what it sounds like when CELL ROT Slowly Falls Apart

Cold Brats Punk in the Digital Age Extended LP

Solid collection of negative hardcore from this Bucharest, Romania band. This LP is a compilation of tracks recorded over several years, and it shows because the sound and direction change a bit from song to song. What COLD BRATS do well is raw vocals over mid-tempo chugs, like HOAX with occasional sinister organ backing. “Split Saber” and “Republic of Dust” are great spooky bummer blasts. “Hollow Point” works in the same mode with a dissonant guitar figure that empowers the bad vibes into real bad vibes. Where the band loses me a bit are on tracks where they get silly with the vocals. “Life, and Nothing More” has a goofy spoken part with someone describing how a knock at the door interrupted them watching “Finding Nemo.” It’s Mike Muir-demanding-a-Pepsi silly and halts the momentum that the first few tracks build up. A skronky no wave sax wail and the return of screamed vocals in the chorus help it, but barely. “Banana” tries it again with a mostly instrumental, noisy surf-inspired song with the only lyric being the song title. It’s a weird shift in tone for those two tracks and would surely get the skip if this were a CD. Other than those two weirdo outliers, this is a good soundtrack for bad days.

Community Gun Target Practice cassette

Absolutely relentless, blistering hardcore punk. Short and sweet four-song demo clocking in at just over four minutes. Completely crushing. This is unquestionably my kind of hardcore. Sounds a bit like LIFE’S BLOOD to me, and how can that possibly be bad? A lot of attention to detail went into making this tape look super cool, too; maroon print on sparkly silver paper, white cassette shells, and a really cool embossed effect having the band name raised off the cassette itself, like how a label maker would look but without the label. My only gripe was that the copy I was sent was dubbed unbelievably poorly. The A-side was unlistenable and warbly, and the B-side was depressingly quiet. Had to re-dub my copy off of the label’s Bandcamp. Hopefully it was a fluke and the rest of the mere 50 copies of this stomper sent out into the world sound better.

Compassion Pacing Animal LP

First release in three years from Brooklyn’s COMPASSION. Blisteringly fast grind tracks—blink and you’ll miss them, which is arguably the best kind of grindcore in existence. Everything is super tight and heavy. Drums are so fast and on point that I need to see it to believe it. Vocals are intense and nuanced, switching between guttural growls and banshee-like screams. Guitars cut through everything else like a knife, crisp and menacing. Very reminiscent of IRON LUNG and early WEEKEND NACHOS. Press release mentions that this band is a duo, but this recording is layered with two guitars and a bass. Would love to see how they pull this off live. Well worth a digital spin.

Cyst Cyst demo cassette

Primal, raw hardcore punk from Denver. The recording and presentation is every bit as chaotic as the contents, and they feed off of each other throughout these four tracks. “Sickening” opens with a full intro/fast/slow/slower/painfully slow format and then the drums fight through feedback on the intro to “Hard Kill” and I’m completely sold. This thing sounds fukkn nasty, so prepare yourself.

Dazy Maximumblastsuperloud: The First 24 Songs cassette

Absolutely ridiculous ’90s college rock hook-laden pop. BIG STAR, TEENAGE FANCLUB, maybe even a touch of the POSIES here and there; this is the backpage of Rolling Stone in 1989, where those of us trapped in MRR-free small towns would scour the College Radio Top Ten looking for something—anything—to help us break free of the commercial pop doldrums and hoping that the only record store in town could special order something that we thought sounded cool based on name alone. I would have ordered this—and I would have been stoked. DAZY is a COVID-era solo project, and this tape compiles the entirety of the output though Spring 2021…let’s just hope that there’s more, because this is the kind of nostalgia I can get behind.

Destiny Bond 2021 Demo cassette

Six-song debut demo cassette from Denver, CO. DESTINY BOND plays fast, spastic, riffy hardcore punk which teeters on the edge of fastcore at times, but rather than going into that realm, DESTINY BOND instead occasionally kicks into shredding metal solos or a heavy breakdown. It’s a good mix and you never get bored through the whole demo. Granted, that’s only like seven minutes, but still, I dig it!

Devoured by Rats Devoured by Rats demo cassette

Let’s make this one short and killer, just like the tape. DEVOURED BY RATS gives you three tracks of chamber-echoing hardcore metallic noise, seething with abrupt blackened riffs and gouging hardcore vocals. “Chemical Bath” cuts off in a murderous way. Track two, “Septic Severance,” tears to pieces what I thought was insane at the beginning. Cyber-gruesomeness in the best way. This is just plain bizarre and welcome. The last track “Return to Filth” slices with the most riffing on any track, that is obliterated by speed-punk vocals and thrash ambiance. Don’t you dare think this is a thrash or metal tape. This is disgusting sewage grind crust oozing with pus and a pulse. Kill it with fire! There are only 50, so don’t sleep on this nightmare. Brought to you by the label that brought you RASH. This shit is just as nasty.

Dirt Sucker Valley Fever EP

Last time I went on tour, in 2019, my senior citizen rocker of a mother threatened to drive from Wyoming to come see us play in Salt Lake City, and when I warned her it was being held in a stinking, claustrophobic punk house basement, she immediately snapped back “I used to go to gross punk houses in Salt Lake all the time in the ’80s.” Fair enough of a point, I reckoned, but now she needn’t leave her state, as DIRT SUCKER roams near her home on the range, and they might even come rock at her place. The rampaging hardcore din contained in these soily brown grooves is a qualified ripper. Each side is spiraling with Ginn-sian guitar dissonances, a punchy, crunchy rhythm section that embraces the whorl with a puissance for stops and starts, topped off by vocalist that’s a mutually maniacal and menacing musical match. I hope mom doesn’t mind blood on the carpet, because I bet this guy can take a mean mic to the face.

Discreet Dead Man’s Line cassette

Latest release by DISCREET from Austin, a band which consists of members of ’00s outcast hardcore veterans TOTAL ABUSE, CREEPOID, SKELETON, etc. playing ’80s-style USHC with noise rock influences. The cover consists of Tony Kiritis kidnapping Richard Hall and holding him hostage on live TV after being upset about falling behind on a mortgage (Hall didn’t end up getting killed). An expression of the devastating, confusing, traumatic, ugly realities of our society. For fans of the members’ previous outputs or FLIPPER, BRAINBOMBS, SACCHARINE TRUST, VOID, SST, you get the idea.


Discreet This is Mine LP

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

Drill Sergeant Vile Ebb LP

Echoey and cavernous hardcore from this Philly-based band. Vile Ebb is their debut LP for Denver’s Convulse Records, after 2020’s The Cosmic Leash demo. DRILL SERGEANT walks a line between vicious ’80s hardcore and just full powerviolence assault. The songs are short, dynamic, and almost dramatic in their take-no-prisoners approach. Hard to have a favorite song; all the songs come in a line of successive brutal blows to the head, giving you a really satisfying punchdrunk feeling. But I’ll give it a try. I really like “Real Evil,” which is part INFEST, part NEGATIVE APPROACH, and the closer song “Sense of Community,” with its sonic barbaric battle against your senses.

Entry Exit Interview EP

ENTRY follow up their highly acclaimed 2020 LP Detriment with Exit Interview, a six-track EP recorded, mixed, and mastered by the band themselves, in what would best be described as a modern USHC style. Blending traditional ’80s hardcore punk with some D-beat and a little powerviolence, ENTRY’s sound isn’t terribly dissimilar to labelmates GEL or Baltimore’s JIVEBOMB: scorched vocals, muscular guitar work, and breakneck drumming. Lyrically, vocalist Sara G lets loose on the greedy, profit-driven forces that are damaging people and the environment, namely on final songs “Ashes Fill the Sky” and “Greed Only Grows.” Highly recommended if you like a healthy dose of anti-capitalist sentiment in your hardcore.

Cold Brats / Gel Shock Therapy split LP

I love splits because bands usually try to bulldoze everything in their path over their own side of plastic grooves or slice of tape. In this case, New Jersey’s GEL does a search-and-destroy action with four tracks of ear-shattering and brash hardcore, blowing away any neuron connections you have left. Then it’s the turn of Romania’s COLD BRATS, with an army of sharp riffs ready to drive punks and normies alike berserk. After listening to their contribution, you’ll understand why the split is called Shock Therapy. The talent of both bands is undeniable, and putting them together is an act of pure genius.

Gel Live! cassette

GEL, a hardcore group hailing from New Jersey, makes some totally bomb-ass punk. This tape isn’t technically a live record, but it was recorded live and has that raw feel to it. Clocking in at about twelve minutes long, there isn’t a moment that lets up. GEL came to fuck shit up, and fuck shit up they do. The band gives a truly primal performance. It’s almost animalistic. There’s not much diversity in the tracks, just a general face-pummeling, brain cell-destroying level of intensity. Fans of fast-paced hardcore will find a lot to love here.

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.

Goon Natural Evil LP

GOON is one of a number of noteworthy hardcore bands coming out of Denver as of late. For the first few songs, the primary sound is, but not limited to, the intersection between a stompy yet heavy contemporary hardcore sound—I’m not going to use internet-conceived genre descriptors, but, um, S.H.I.T. might be one reference point—and more abrasive and outright mosh-ready hardcore. Things get a little more free-form from the relatively more sparse and jangly “Spit” through the eight-minute(!) closer, but all the pieces of the puzzle: the flow of the songs, the frequent change-ups, the pedalboard noise accompaniments, and the art-damaged visual aesthetic all form a cohesive package.

Gumm Slogan Machine LP

Oh my. This is one hell of a record here, folks. Melodic hardcore coming to us straight out of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Akin to the SUCIDE FILE and very early EVERY TIME I DIE, this album just feels like it’s from the South. I mean that in the best way possible, attributing this to their heavy use of twangy, jammy guitar leads. Bouncing between groovy, catchy, dissonant, and downright violent, Slogan Machine features some of my favorite lyrics I’ve heard all year—a lamentation of a lack of community within a “community.” At least that’s how I interpreted it. Maybe I’m just jaded. Great stuff here, and very much recommended.

Life is Beautiful Men’s Health 12″

Don’t let the cover fool you. Actually, please do. Let the artwork open the door, and invite yourself into the world of Men’s Health. Vile, self-deprecating Midwestern powerviolence awaits. Ten disturbing doses fill the smooth grooves of this one-sided ruby red wax, so you don’t even have to flip it over to do it all over again. LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL will surprise you (the solos in “Hunk” and the title track), disgust you (the lyrics to “Dysfunction”), surprise you (“Don’t Touch Me” is a sleeper smash that will sadly never be)…but mostly they will crush you (“Sorrow Collective/Torment of Consciousness” in its entirety). And they manage to avoid genre-specific trappings in the process—you are familiar with the sound(s), but you haven’t heard this before, and that is an accomplishment.

Militarie Gun All Roads Lead to the Gun II 12″

If you’ve been listening to North American punk and/or hardcore for more than a few years, then you’ve heard MILITARIE GUN. And what I mean is that even if you’ve never heard of MILITARIE GUN…you know these sounds. That might sound like a dig, but this band nails so many sounds and feels all at once, and they do so flawlessly, that….you know this band the instant you drop the needle. I hear elements of ’90s AmRep (CHOKEBORE, GUZZARD), my wife hears early AGAINST ME!, there’s “Background Kids” that hits like CEREMONY with Surfer Rosa-era guitars and…and it all works. Everything. These L.A. kids pack pure, relevant, accessible power. “When it leads to the gun, need to pull back and adjust. When it ceases being fun…run.”

Militarie Gun My Life Is Over EP

Snotty, melodic hardcore with a Dischord lean tackles the JESUS LIZARD. It’s mid-tempo, it’s chunky, but it’s catchy and it’s probably just barely on this side of the line between punk and heavy rock. Strangely, the most interesting song, the final track, is the lightest one here. It’s melodic and head-nodding with a Revolution Summer feel, but with harsh, screamed vocals. Four solid songs, not a stinker in the bunch.

MSPaint Post-American LP

Genre-benders MSPAINT’s LP Post-American is a fitting album for the bonkers times we’re living in, properly capturing the hectic speed and exhaustive nature of the present. Stuffed to the brim with mercurial sounds and ideas, it’s plastic-y and bendy with a sheen of metallic synth. It’s a difficult album to pin down, as every genre I try to attach to it doesn’t quite nail it. Synth-punk? Sort of, but vocally more indebted to hip-hop than punk. Hardcore? At times, yes, but more often it sways into industrial and even techno. It really is a fusion of sounds, and regardless of how you choose to label it, Post-American is a modern and vital album that is lyrically filled with optimism, an interesting juxtaposition to its frantic and at times paranoid sound. Check out “Delete It” and “Titan of Hope.”

Nag Human Coward Coyote LP

If you’re looking for straightforward hardcore or punk, maybe look elsewhere, but if you’re in the mood for that creepy, kind of surreal, Outer Limits-inspired punk, then stick around. NAG from Atlanta, Georgia released Human Coward Coyote earlier this year as a fresh addition to their growing catalog. This new album pushes the punk element deeper with a bit more raw production and in-your-face drums. If you’ve ever enjoyed the work of A FRAMES, then you’ll like this. There’s even elements that remind me of the ADOLESCENTS and a bit of AGENT ORANGE. Overall, it’s a fast, fun blend of darker punk interspersed with some intergalactic noise.

Public Opinion Pay No Mind cassette

It’s very much a cliché for a reviewer to use terms like “stripped-down,” “no-frills,” “back-to-basics,” “catchy punk rock’n’roll” with “hardcore energy,” but in the case of PUBLIC OPINION, these terms very much apply. Deceptively simple chunks of guitar riffage plough ahead at a pace adequate to energetic movement, providing a springboard for strident vocalizing that, in cadence and delivery, falls somewhere between the HIVES and HOT SNAKES.

Public Opinion Modern Convenience LP

The record begins with a stomping, almost hair rock riff and keeps that spirit throughout. This is a punk interpretation of rock, or maybe rock poured through a punk filter. The rhythm is steady, not raging, and there’s cowbells kissing the honky tonk breaks. The power chords are crisp and the singer is ready to “break down the door” ‘cuz they “were right all along.”

Punitive Damage We Don’t Forget EP

We Don’t Forget is PUNITIVE DAMAGE from Vancouver, BC’s latest output. Plenty of breakdowns and moshier grooves with punchy parts, and a more modern-sounding hardcore approach. Urgent political lyrics relevant to current times, PUNITIVE DAMAGE’s output is coming from a more personal place, yet it’s something many of us across the board in different scenes can relate to. In the DIY punk scene where it looks like there’s a political consensus for certain topics, oftentimes it still tends to lack critical analysis of what the slogans actually mean, which PUNITIVE DAMAGE brings to the table. They push back with honest, real-life-based output that isn’t just a reiteration of slogans without critical thought. For fans of PUNCH, LIFE’S BLOOD, NO JUSTICE, CARRY ON, and LIMP WRIST.

Rash Hivemind LP

Echoing chamber-cold crusty hardcore with mammoth sound from windy, good olde Chicago. I haven’t heard such pile-driving fire-fast changes that border on pit-core and thrashing crust since RITUAL CONTROL. That band ruled, and so does this. Venomous vocals, slightly cyberpunk-effected guitar and drum tones, hypnotic artistic passages that suddenly pull you down into a blender breakdown. Bass elbows in for some peaks and valleys, showcasing a reverberating lid on all this chaos. This album is thoroughly impressive. The songs are easily embraced thrash hardcore, such as early CORROSION OF CONFORMITY with the abominable precision of MIND ERASER or COLD SWEAT. The cover art is disturbing and awesome, like low-res DISCLOSE skull, GISM confrontational, awesome. Really digging RASH. All-in-all an absolute face-grind of embittered, ruptured punk.

Raw Breed Universal Paranoia LP

Denver strikes yet again! Those guys are maniacs, they just cannot stop themselves producing quality hardcore. RAW BREED is yet another example of this, brought to us once again by Denver HC powerhouse label Convulse Records. Universal Paranoia rips all who dare to listen to it a new one. The vocals growl and scowl over a vicious instrumental ensemble. The music sounds like a mish-mash of several different HC variants, but it all works like a charm. The standout track for this reviewer is the pummelling “Damnation,” but you can’t go wrong with any of these twelve tracks.

Reality Complex Failure demo cassette

Bitter and vicious vocals abound on this raw, distorted hardcore demo from Denver. REALITY COMPLEX plays with heaps of bash-attack breakdowns and mid-tempo cruelty. Part VIOLENT SOCIETY, part CRO-MAGS, and toward the end, the barf-tastic disgust of DARKSIDE NYC. The blast attack is fast and fueled with aggression. I do not have lyrics handy, but REALITY COMPLEX seems to me not very concerned with self-care or your friendship. This seems like the kind of reality checking Colorado needs more of, or the entire US for that matter. Four original tracks, one VOORHEES cover—this is how you do a solid demo for sure. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but up the clarity of production a bit next go around, and REALITY COMPLEX will be breaking down walls.

Sex With a Terrorist S.W.A.T. demo cassette

There is a rule in films that say you have to trap the viewer in the first thirty seconds of footage. I don’t think S.W.A.T. are filmmakers, but they know for sure how to apply that principle. The opening riff immerses you in a crumpled sound, a crossover between LUMPY AND THE DUMPERS, VOID, and SCHOOL JERKS. This is weird punk, receiving direct influences from the Californian hardcore punk tradition and turning it into a fresh sound. Something fast, with breakneck riffs, but with enough space to experiment and improvise. Especially on “Screenshot Hardcore,” the last song of the demo and the longest, with strong vibes of the last OILY BOYS record. This is an album that requires several listens for one to capture its true essence. A great first impression. I’m looking forward to more releases.

Smear Campaign Smear Campaign demo cassette

Denver, Colorado is killing it with hardcore at the moment, and SMEAR CAMPAIGN is no exception. This is some gnarly, vicious, fast solo hardcore with super blasted, blown-out “production.” Asa, the person behind SMEAR CAMPAIGN, is clearly a big fan of URBAN BLIGHT, ‘cus this sounds a lot like they did. If you’re into URBAN BLIGHT and the ferocious Boston HC sound and such, this scorcher will be right up your alley. And clocking in at a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it running time of just over three minutes, you’ll be sticking this rager on repeat over and over. You know what they say; the best music only leaves you wanting more.

Spine Raíces LP

This is the third full-length release from Kansas City’s SPINE, and is perhaps their most ferocious to date. The LP’s opening blast of oppressive feedback should tell you just about all you need to know right off the bat. From start to finish, this is a fast, discordant, angry, and aggressive record. The only letting up from this whirlwind torment comes with its penultimate track “Pure,” which chooses to slowly bludgeon as opposed to attacking rapidly—it is no less effective. This record brings the listener directly inside the damaged minds of its creators, and it is certainly not pretty. This record is yet another win for SPINE, recommended to those with a very strong stomach.

Stud Count Pleasure Center cassette

There’s a lot going on within the walls of these four tracks—a blast of hardcore rage on the first track, a grunge ballad complete with emotive compressed vocals, and a punchy, melodic punk anthem. The fourth track is a cover of the WIPERS’ “Telepathic Love,” steered in a power pop direction with singing along the lines of the EXPLODING HEARTS. The cover really works. It makes me consider how Greg Sage’s unflinchingly earnest delivery defines the WIPERS’ sound just as much as the songwriting itself. Stoked to see STUD COUNT playing around with that and re-imagining such a great song.

Televised Human Condition EP

The second song on this EP is literally called “Violent Hardcore,” which pretty much says it all about Portland, Oregon ragers TELEVISED—a band made up of entirely one man, that man being Aidan Stutzman. Old-school-style, rough hardcore punk the way it’s supposed to be done. Taking clear notes from bands such as NEGATIVE APPROACH and local legends POISON IDEA, TELEVISED has that classic sound totally down and fits into the fold just nicely. The vocals are incredibly gruff and pissed, in the tradition of Brannon, Choke, and all the other USHC greats. An awesome record highly recommended to fans of “violent hardcore.” Also, an interesting tidbit—this record was mastered by L.A. punk legend Geza X, responsible for the sound of classic recordings by bands like GERMS, DEAD KENNEDYS, MDC, and BLACK FLAG (amongst a deluge of others)! So if you’re somehow not convinced yet, I feel like that should just about do it for you.

THIRDFACE Do It With a Smile cassette

Super harsh, blasting hardcore from Nashville that brings in elements of powerviolence, psych, and a little metal. First track “Local” is a good indicator of things to come, with start/stop rhythms, blastbeats, and mini math-y breakdowns. The raw, shredded vocals are immediately arresting and have to leave the singer looking for a cough drop after shows. “Ally” is a good mix of everything THIRDFACE does well, with fast blasting, creepy-crawl breakdowns with sinister feedback, those awesome filthy vocals, and a noisy outro. It rules. They remind me of DESPISE YOU in parts because of how fucking thick and nasty everything is, but they are not afraid to get weird and stretch out with some spacy psych feedback jams like “Interlude.” Sounding like GASP, these moments are a perfect mix of heavy and experimental. We get some great thrash riffing on “Villains!” and “No Hope” that give glimpses of raw hardcore meets crossover for a few seconds at a time. Great release and highly recommended!

Ultras Ultras cassette

Not to be confused with the great Spanish band ULTRA, this Oakland crew rips through four sinister, crushing hardcore stompers in about as many minutes. Pummeling, no-frills, no-fills brutality with relentless drums and vocal-cord shredding, all bookended by bleeding shards of feedback. This is fighting music, and I would cross the street if I saw this tape coming my way. Every track is strong, but let’s take the lyrics to “One and the Same”: “Problem made flesh / Each breath a regret / Wake up, same shit / Life counterfeit.” Nihilism you can smash your head on. Featuring members from WORLD PEACE and FENTANYL, and for fans of mean-ass punk like VACCINE and CITY HUNTER.

Raw Breed / Video Prick split EP

This six-song 7” showcases cuts from Seattle’s VIDEO PRICK and RAW BREED from Denver—an appropriate pairing. The A-side is filled with speedy D-beating, ripping chainsaw guitars, and spastic, venom-spewing vocals that conjure visions of a raw punk version of Doc Corbin Dart at times. On the flip, RAW BREED brings more of a tougher, crust-flavored clamor with stomping hardcore songs that, to me, have a kind of a NYHC-type of sensibility to them. A decent racket here.

Videodrome 2020 cassette

Nasty, nihilistic Middle America hardcore punk. Howling and affected vocals, the way the kids like(d) to do it in the ’10s, and plenty of sonic tweaks in the mix and between songs to remind you that you’re listening to something genuinely damaged. The drums that drag “Meade St.” out of that feedback and into the pit are….well, that little bit seals the fukkn deal. Bare-knuckle hardcore punk. Sold.

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.

Yambag Posthumous Pounce! LP

This is this shit that my jaded-ass reviewer ears are looking for: relentless fastcore. Guitars are clean and super fukkd up sounding, drums have a HELLNATION-meets-teenage-blastbeat awkwardness (and they are kinda recorded like shit in the most endearing way), and just 25% of the tracks top the 60 second mark. Put me in a space machine and send me back to 2001, but with all of the anger I feel in a 2020 reality, and boom I’m ready for some fucking YAMBAG. Choice track: “(O)Possum,” but there are seriously no clunkers to be found here. Thank you!