Apsurd Derealizacija / Svemu Će Doći Kraj LP

APSURD is back, following up their well received demo, now on vinyl dividing one side to their debut and the other to a few new tracks. This Serbian band plays masterfully crafted hardcore punk, drawing from traditional sounds but not forgetting to be in contact with the present. They create a haunted atmosphere within noise that is at once the form of frustration and escapism. While the bass and drums are building a usually mid-tempo solid base, the guitars mix raging riffs with exploring, curly ornaments. A vibrant desperation blasts from each song, coating Eastern European metaphysical melancholy on uptempo melodies. APSURD recalls bands as TOZIBABE, SOLUNSKI FRONT, DISTRESS or even SACCHARINE TRUST and POISION IDEA, though they are not completely stuck in a proxy-nostalgia—they sneak enough original ideas onto this heritage, while cherry-picking the best parts and instinctively organizing songs from them. There isn’t a significant difference between the two sides/records yet the music never exhausts. This indicates the mature sound of APSURD. They can write proper songs and turn their batch to albums. Their challenge will be to stay fresh within this established sound but I have high hope in them.

Crna Žuč Crna Žuč cassette

New project from Dragana, the bassist/vocalist of Serbia’s APSURD—the dark, anarcho-accented drive of ex-YU punk paragons TOŽIBABE is an obvious point of departure for both projects, with CRNA ŽUČ leaning harder into TOŽIBABE’s goth/post-punk underpinnings in contrast to APSURD’s stripped-down hardcore bash. The six tracks here are recorded with a raw, unpolished immediacy, cloaked in Cold War-era Eastern Bloc greyscale gloom and tapped-telephone paranoia, with vocals rising from shadowy narrations to desperate shouts, drums charging ahead of the beat toward an uncertain future, and sinister, descending minor chords that bring the record label’s WIPERS-referencing name full circle. All of the unease and high anxiety comes to a head on “Niko I Ništa,” where textured, moody guitar drone is staggered with insistent death-disco rhythmic breaks as Dragana’s icy reserve gradually cracks into a seething snarl. Proceed down CRNA ŽUČ’s ill-lit corridor and watch your back.

Generacion Suicida Regeneracion LP

GENERACION SUICIDA is one of the best punk bands in California right now, and that’s saying something when you’re talking about such a fertile scene. After a four-year wait, the band released Regeneracion at the end of 2021. Ten tracks (in twenty-three minutes) of hardcore attack (the fast and brutal drum work is awesome), with piercing bass and guitars halfway between the CHAMELEONS and WIPERS. It’s really a very beautiful guitar tone. The lyrics are full of rage about life in the empire: violence, racism, abuse of authority. Musically, it all works to give depth to a very developed melodic sense. A great album that grows with each listen—listen to “Fuego” or “Identidad” and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Gutterskull Coldness of the Bunker cassette

Croatia’s GUTTERSKULL does grimy, blackened punk powered by raw D-beat banging. On this demo, all fourteen songs have the same beat, most of them are between thirty seconds and one minute long, and they’re all covered with raspy black metal whispers. These songs could be the battle hymns of some bizarre type of evil war witches. Straight sinister depravity. I find the dead drums of the funeral march-style opening to “Final Death Raid” to be a bit addictive, craving them as I sip my morning coffee on the way to work.

Kpax! Kpax! LP

Don’t believe the cover, as the mutant-looking creatures in a melting town suggested this might be some falling-apart, naive hardcore. It is quite the opposite—KPAX! from Belgrade plays rigid Oi!; there is no song under two minutes and the pace rarely goes above mid-tempo. Big-scale melodies mix with simplified rock-ish sound, all in Serbian. The singer has a great voice, and the mixing makes it sound like one person singing in the name of at least a factory of desperate people. Guitars have a nicely adjusted sound delivering post-punk tones here and there, and the parts are way more creative than Oi! usually is. Overall, they have a great balance between modern and classic local sounds, between Oi! and post-punk, between careless and determined vocals. All these dualities make the record interesting and fun—for my preferences, it is really long, but at least you got material for your money.  

Mižerija Mižerija demo cassette

The defiant and danceable sound of ’80s ex-YU post-punk, updated for the new dark ages by a group of punks affiliated with the Nigdjezemska autonomous space in Zadar, Croatia. Doomtown’s assertion that this is “likely the poppiest-sounding” thing they’ve put out is a bit of a red herring—relative to Scandi-hardcore copycats, sure, but it’s not like MIŽERIJA is TALULAH GOSH, either. There’s definitely a strong melodic pull in these four tracks, though much like that first HONEY BANE single, the hooks embedded in MIŽERIJA’s anarcho-pop jabs are further wrapped in razor wire, with nagging, klaxon-call guitar (especially on the perfectly paranoid-sounding “Izolacija”), driving deep-set bass, frenetic drumming, and intently shouted femme vocals, warbled with blown-out echo as if captured via a clandestine tape recording from under the floorboards. Very sick. 

Parnepar Dobar Dan, Izvolite cassette

Whenever I mention international hardcore or punk, I refer to the variety of the worldwide representation of this art form. I am aware of how archaic it sounds, because scenes as individual sounds and characteristics are on the brink of extinction. The local resonance is vanishing; instead we have a list of variations for punk that is followed internationally and strictly, recreating globalized forms, appearances and manners. The scenes are not providing distinguishable interpretations to the same influences when the reference point is a genre-defining band, nor do they express their own unique conditions in their own unique way. A great part of contemporary punk is basically worship-core. Then we have bands like PARNEPAR from Croatia that rely on the musical history of their region, yet it’s surprising how they are not trying at all to fit in with current punk and still they do. It’s not alien or old fashioned, just unique and refreshingly strange. Their approach is rather naive and introverted, the disconnection is keeping them from trying to prove anything. So they play barely distorted, fragmented to a demented rhythm art-punk/no wave with scary and alienated overtones. They draw influence from the Yugosalvian punk scene but—maybe due to its rarity—it does not feel reused and exhausted, their sound is modern but not in a polished way. It’s strange, fun, dissonant and haunted. While it has a great flow, the music is so fragmented it both motivates and enables listeners to move to. The slowly creeping guitars and the determined drums are taking the lead roles, vocals are barely more than spoken word presentation of the lyrics although it is never ridiculous for its seriousness, since this is not serious, it’s just art. PARNEPAR is an interesting, unique band who demands your time, openness and ability to see punk as a place for outsiders even among the outsiders.

Senata Fox Discography cassette

Croatian punks SENATA FOX started in the late ’90s and lasted through the ’00s, and this tape collects the entire recorded works they left in their wake—47 songs on the gnarlier side of the spectrum, with relentless pounding drums and dual screaming/monster vocals. With a thrashy and rabid attack, the band plays a type of hardcore that toes the lines of neo-crust, powerviolence, and grind. In this career-spanning collection, you can hear the band evolve from more of a straightforward fastcore style into the sarcastic, blastbeating beast they had become by the time they recorded “Death Metal Diet.” Kudos to Doomtown Records for preserving the carnage.

Sukob Tvoje Misli Su Nečija Umjetnost LP

Debut LP of a new Croatian band playing hardcore and referring to both POISON IDEA and CELTIC FROST. Based on this description (written by their label), I assumed “oh so, you sound like WARTHOG,” but even if in theory both bands have the same inspirations, this record differs from their contemporary. For one, SUKOB started with an full-length album, and they are way less metal-influenced and much more unstructured hardcore, which does not mean chaotic but instead a gimmickless riffage and not-so-varied songwriting. The tempos change between galloping riffs, straight-up brain-hitting direct parts, and mid-paced. It is a short record and lacking that overwhelming effect that is usually created by close-to-pitching mixing and mastering—the sound does not explode out from the speakers, and the listener has to turn it up and pay attention, otherwise it could become decent hardcore/punk background music. The singer screams with lots of passion, almost spitting out his throat, occasionally switching to rather bitter spoken vocals. This emotional outrage is constant, which makes the sound of it a bit monotone. Listen, readers of MRR: this is not a bad record, even if I was not super excited about it so far. I like falling apart, chaotic, larger than life, weirder-than-VOID hardcore, which means I have a though time in general to find bands that really interest me. If you are not that busy sabotaging your own life and you are just looking for decent hardcore coming from less familiar places, then SUKOB is your band. If you are into non-stop tension, tight ripping, riff carpet bombing and super-pissed atmosphere, then I recommend this. It’s an honest one, the love of this type of music comes through every song—take your chance, thrash your room listening to them, prove that I am just a picky asshole.

The Celetoids Optic Nerve cassette

Optic Nerve is nine minutes of classic hardcore punk in the style of DEAD KENNEDYS and some old school UK anarcho-punk with a twist of cybersecurity conspiracies in a real paranoid schizophrenic way—but god damn I think this group of paranoid schizophrenics is on to something. This ain’t anything boundary-pushing. I’ve heard this brand of punk a thousand times, but we’ve all been stuck inside way too long and this cassette is cathartic as hell. Conceptually, Optic Nerve takes on big topics like the dystopian nature of our modern digital age and altered consciousness. There’s something for everyone here. Fast-paced caustic hardcore for the angry punks, and just enough conspiracy theories for the men in tin foil hats. Give it a listen, you won’t regret it.

חרדה (Jarada) מעגל שנאה (Ma’agal Sina’a) 12″

Following their first album in 2018, JARADA comes back with this one-sided 12″ with eight hardcore punk, raw, chaotic, aggressive gem songs. This Tel Aviv band makes us feel the struggle to live in hostile territory, and brings us a cultural and political debate in their lyrics, both in Hebrew or English. If you like bands like EXIT ORDER and ARMS RACE, you should definitely listen to them.