Dirty Slap

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.

Blessure Blessure cassette

Here’s another one to add to the growing number of emerging Oi! bands: BLESSURE from the Basque Country. BLESSURE is refreshingly female-fronted, and plays a post-punk brand of Oi! with wiry guitars, rumbling fuzzed-out bass, and leftist lyrical content (at least that’s what you’d gather from the “A-C-A-B!” chanting chorus on opener “Ils Sont Partout”). BLESSURE keeps it sparse and simple, even cold at times and bordering on deathrock; check the icy synth on “Ça Suffit.” Overall a solid effort, although I can’t help but feel like if they leaned into the deathrock/goth sensibilities more, they could stand out a bit more from the crowd. That said, I’ll be looking forward to hearing what BLESSURE puts out next.

Gummo Complete Discography 2019–2023 cassette

France’s GUMMO brings all kinds of grindcore/powerviolence pain on this compilation of their recorded work. Side A contains their 2019 LP Sheltered Despair, which is hardcore as fuck with droning, grinding bass in your face. The vocals for that album were recorded with various singers from their local punk/hardcore/grind scene, but the cassette A-side also includes a version of the LP re-recorded with their permanent singer, Théo. Their cover of NASUM’s “The Final Sleep” changes up the pace with a slightly slower attack but keeps the gloomy, angry mood unchanged. “Neaderthal Scream” has a chorus worth screaming in traffic or in a public library.  Side B has more of the same with their 2019 split Split the Hard Way, a 2021 single for “Heart Shaped Box” (NIRVANA), the 2021 LP A Fresh Breath on the Neck, reviewed by me in in MRR #465, and three exclusive tracks. One of my favorites on this side is “Fucking Monkey Drummer,” which has a chous that spoke to my soul: “Fucking monkey drummer / He strike like a beast / Even with my earplugs / He destroys my feelings.” In fact, most of the tracks on the split, as well as the NIRVANA cover, introduce a good sense of humor, a refreshing break from the unrelenting hate and depression of their LPs. Altogether, this discography is an hour-and-a-half of unrelentingly fast, brutal, aggressive shit, and a must-have for the discriminating grindcore fan.

Metrics Demo 2022 cassette

High-energy hardcore from Spain that teeters on the edge of egg-punk thanks to their inclusion of a keyboard. Speaking of which, I’ve been listening to this EP on repeat for the last couple of weeks or so and only just realized there were synth leads layered in throughout the entire demo. In fact, the guitar overpowers almost everything, including the vocals. Otherwise, the production here is solid and crisp. I would just suggest they be a little more careful with the mixing next time around. All in all, a decent debut from METRICS. It makes me look forward to what they’ll do next.

Murmansk Voices cassette

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

Nohz Nohz demo cassette

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

Peur Bleue Peur Bleue demo cassette

Great demo from Lille, France’s PEUR BLEUE. Female-led group with a post-punk style and grace that’s bold enough to squat ‘n piss between two parked cars. Released on the DIY tape label Dirty Slap, I feel this band would fit nicely with their native Symphony of Destruction comrades in sound and ethos.  Looking forward to the next release!

Phosphore Phosphore cassette

Nowadays, when people abroad refer to “the French scene,” it often entails Oi! bands with bowel issues modeling for Fred Perry. Fortunately, we have Bordeaux, which has been our national haven for proper dis-studded hardcore punk for almost twenty years. Over there, D-beat bands can mate and prosper freely without interference from the outside world. PHOSPHORE is one of the latest typical examples of this Bordeaux punk subspecies. With current and former members of GASMASK TERROR, NAATLO SUTILA, FOSSE COMMUNE, and many others, the new breed does not fail to deliver the expected goods, namely Swedish-inspired raw hardcore punk for faithful käng-inclined punks. This is pretty much flawless and baked to a D. If the genre is to your liking, this is tailor-made. It would be a little pointless to drop names in order to describe them, but doing pointless things is pretty much my leitmotif. The core of PHOSPHORE is obviously rooted in traditional ’80s Scandi hardcore (say ASOCIAL or SOUND OF DISASTER), but if they always stick to the classic soundtrack, they have several tricks under their sleeveless jackets, from the classic fast pummeling käng scorcher to the canonical D-beat cruise, and delightful DISCHARGE-loving, mid-paced numbers like “Marche ou Crève” or “La Proie.” On that level, they are not unlike contemporary bands like PROFOSS or EXTENDED HELL, for instance. The vocals are hoarse and direct, without dodgy effects, the lyrics are mean, the no-frills production packs a direct punch to the gut, and it is just a strong recording. Eight songs in twelve minutes, no arsing around.

Reflex Demo 2022 cassette

Strong demo from these French punks. Don’t let the sterile artwork dissuade you—at its core, it’s melodic hardcore, but they keep it pretty dirty and loaded with tough riffage. I love the singer, as he sounds kinda like a French-accented version of early ’80s Keith Morris, and it’s endearing to me for whatever reason when he delivers vulnerable lines like “I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see anyone” on the opening track, or “I’m not afraid anymore” on “Any Decision.” In general, there’s an urgent sincerity to the songs and they feel personal and somehow relatable. I’d really like to hear more from these guys.