AI Backing to the Battle 12″

1997 demo recording released onto a one-sided 12″. The sound of hissing tape may have been engineered out, but this maintains that poorly-mixed quality of a hastily made demo. It sounds pretty raw, which is fine considering this is extremely abrasive hardcore. AI is about as straightforward as Japanese HC comes. The furious pace is really what’s on show, much akin to the singer’s previous band BANDIT, although the sound is reminiscent of Discrete Records bands like GAIZI or HUMAN DESPAIR. It’s only four tracks, which makes me question why it didn’t just get released as a 7″ or why no one dug up some live material to throw on the B-side. It’s got some of the better Sugi art in the last few years, considering every fuckin’ band with money to throw around started using his stuff, and it contains a booklet with old photos, flyers, and recent shows. Only 200 copies pressed on black, 100 on blue.

Asocial Föralltid Underground LP

Holy shit this is a beast. Sweden’s ASOCIAL left a criminally limited discography in their wake when they disbanded in the mid ’80s, but their return a few years back with Död Åt Kapitalismen was a welcome kick in the ass…this one, however, is light-speed käng. Föralltid Underground is so damn fast, and the riffs are just deadly in their simplicity and execution—this is literally a perfect record. Only two tracks top the two-minute mark, Berggren’s vocals are fueled by a fire akin to early DISFEAR, and the transition from primal ’80s ScanD-beat fury to 21st century power has only made the guitars more deadly. The drums in the title track alone are worth the price of admission—a veritable clinic on hooks and raw power joining forces…much like the entire LP. Raise your collective fist.

Bayonet Taste of Piss 1982-1983 LP

Everyone and their mom in Finland at the beginning of the ’80s were in a hardcore band that played the best music. BAYONET is another good example of how obscurity does not always equal mediocracy. On the contrary, they should have been mentioned among KAAOS, SORTO, KANSAN UUTISET, BASTARDS, etc., yet their demo was stuffed in someone’s drawer. Now the Italian label FOAD—who are making crazy reissues—are serving justice to BAYONET, collecting and dusting off their demos, rehearsal tapes, and live recordings. All of it raw stuff within the timespan of a year, documenting young folks forming hardcore with their ideas and going dumb savage on their instruments, using them as channels for their angst to explode. There is no filter between them and their music, it is the way it is because that was inside them. The freedom is bursting from the songs: uncontrolled, unadjusted, unaligned zig-zag riffs, one-finger solos, mindless drum beats, and the ceaseless uptempo of the whole band guarantees a loony bin vibe where the crazier a sonic idea is the better. Hardcore is international and BAYONET is a great addition to its history.

Cyanamid This Is Hell: A NJ Hardcore Anthology LP

New Jersey is a pretty interesting place. Listening to CYANAMID, you’d think it was literally just a gigantic six-lane highway allowing you to look at perpetually closed strip malls, Superfund sites and trash-filled streets. These kids sounded like they would’ve been throwing bricks and hatchets at Springsteen’s ’69 Chevy with the 396 as it raced by. Lines are to be drawn north to the GROINOIDS and SIEGE, south to TEDDY AND THE FRAT GIRLS and west to Crucifucks, Scratch Acid and Flipper CRUCIFUCKS, SCRATCH ACID and FLIPPER. I can’t imagine PSYCHO SIN could’ve existed without this band. Absolutely fucked up anti-hardcore. The accompanying booklet is pretty baller as well. The problem is that flipping this from A to B feels like you’re hearing the same shit and that doesn’t even take the bonus CD with live material from three different shows with similar set lists into account. An amazing collection that is not for the weak of heart.

Discharge Noise Not Music 3xLP box set

F.O.A.D. has a reputation for doing great retrospective releases with lavish packaging and lots of unreleased material. They pulled out all the stops for this most important of bands: three LPs, a bonus 7″, a hardbound book (in the size and shape of an LP, to fit in the box) and a poster. The first live LP features a shockingly good audience recording of a 1980 London gig. This was previously bootlegged as the First Ever London Show LP but this version sounds cleaner and captures the band’s early fire and energy. I really enjoyed this recording as it’s all the early 7″ material, played with great verve and gusto. You can tell these guys are young and fired up with a new sound and message. A rare documentation of music history in the making. The second LP is a soundboard recording from Detroit from 1982. I don’t think this recording has surfaced before, except perhaps among tape traders. The third live LP is a soundboard recording from the 100 Club from 1983 and features more of the Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing-era material. It captures the band’s progression into a more metallic realm, but still comes across as pure hardcore, just with the added high-pitched scream or lead here and there. The highlight of this release, though, is the book. There are lots of flyers, photos and press clippings, many never before seen. Rich “Militia” Walker does an entertaining job of retelling how much DISCHARGE was reviled by the music press while at the same time inspiring a diehard following of devoted fans. He is pretty fair and balanced, is in a good position to measure the band’s worldwide impact on music, and I think he was a good choice to handle this important task. The DISCHARGE story related here ends abruptly in 1983 with Price of Silence. Notably omitted is the second US tour with BATTALION OF SAINTS; however, some flyers from those gigs are featured and one of the live LPs is from this era. Not told is the story of DISCHARGE’s later years and the third US tour, perhaps for the better. Absent from the proceedings is Cal, so we don’t get his voice on the early days or the band’s message. But this doesn’t detract too much from the overall package—and what a package it is. We may take a moment to contrast the lavish nature of a triple-LP box set and hardbound book to the raw and urgent 7″ singles of the early days. I do enjoy F.O.A.D.’s deluxe reissues and the care that goes into them. At times it seems far from the roots of hardcore, but as diehard fan, I appreciate the attention to quality and detail. Is this release essential? No. Is it a rare treat for diehard DISCHARGE fans? Yes. If it’s in your budget and you love DISCHARGE, it’s certainly worth picking up for the book and graphics alone, even if you don’t care for live albums.

Gess Suffer Damage LP

I was afraid I would fail trying to tell the history of GESS, but the insert helps me out. They formed in ’83 when they were 15 years old and this record—which is their demo tape—came out a year later. Not until ’86 did members from CONFUSE and SIEG HEIL join. If you are into this sort of history, go get General Speech and More Noize zines and get educated and laugh on my ignorance. Anyway, this release is the first vinyl edition of the demo tape of the band that is pure noise-core madness. Guitars are distorted into one annoying line of noise, and within this chaotic thread of buzz I found all the beauty of the world; the bass is interpretable and dynamic compared to some of their successors where it is just dumb (but great) poking. The beat is constantly pumping although the endless noise, introducing a sort of monotony that prevents you from catching a heart attack. Makes me wonder if it is the beat that is monotonous or the guitar, though I focus on the guitar; the whole band is all over the place and it feels as if it is spinning around in a museum. Synthesizing what’s going on here would result in rudimental punk songs performed with enthusiasm, but the point is that you should synthesize my ass! GESS is great because 15-year-old kids in Japan thought that they would make the noisiest music that sounds as my grandma would imagine hell—the singer does sound like a possessed person—and how they heard DISCHARGE and possibly DISORDER in their head. What’s even better is that decades later whole record labels, festivals, genres, lives are spent on hailing this radically pioneer approach that sadly has become a strict establishment that is rarely renewed despite the liberating idea of the brave approach of creating a unique sound. Beside the Suffer Damage tape on side A, there is a live recording on side B and props to then-current technology that both recording sound the same. A CD is also included with two gigs from the Violent Party Gigs series, but I have no idea where to put that in. The vinyl plays great both on 33 1⁄3 and 45 rpm. The review is based on both paces.

Human Gas Super Violence Hardcore 1984–1989 2xLP+CD box set

When a band is named after a KURO song, you can pretty much expect that it is going to be an instant win. Hokkaidō island dwellers HUMAN GAS bring on the finest in raw and noisy ’80s Japanese hardcore not that far off from bands like GAI or CONFUSE. This box set is a true labour of love by the punk devotees at F.O.A.D.: double-LP, CD, DVD, book, and extra case-wrapped box. Seventy-nine tracks that originate from the split 7″ with STALI NISM (1985), Noice and Hardcore first demo (1986), Explosives second demo (1986), tracks from the Street Punk in Obihiro Omnibus tape (1986), Lackluster third demo and extra studio songs (1987), and unreleased studio jam session with members of STALI NISM and MIDDLE CLASS (1987). This is a must have for any classic Japanese hardcore enthusiasts out there still bummed about the GISM reissue on Relapse.

Military Shadow Blood for Freedom LP

Total metalpunk maniacs from Japan bring on their GISM herritage and write a modern piece of metallic hardcore, the Japanese way. After their debut Metal Punk Ironfist, these terrorists stepped up their game with Blood For Freedom for more incendiary riffage that just shows that they wear their metal and punk influences right on their sleeves. Fans of fellow countrymen PARASITE will be more than happy to bump this record on their next binge-drinking night out. And what an amazing band lineup: Infernal Pyromaniac, Goblin Acid Strike, Branded Rebel, Lusty Pervert, and Hellbrain Venomizer. You can’t go wrong with a lineup like that!

Mustang Mind Wandering LP

Not as crushing as I’d hoped it to be. With six tracks it’s definitely got variety but it’s about two-thirds Burning Spirits-styled metallic rocking and about one-third hardcore. The hardcore tracks follow DISCHARGE-like song progressions while the songwriting is still fairly creative. The sound quality is dirty enough to feel true menace and power, which thankfully is not lost in too slick of a production. It’s pretty entertaining and warrants multiple listens but I’d imagine the live show is more enthralling.

Paranoid Visions The Robot is Running Amok LP

This British band specializes in committed mid-tempo punk in an ’82 formula, sounding somewhat like a rawer DIRT with their alternating male/female vocals. Good nostalgia value here, but the formula is fueled with contemporary energy.

Ratos De Porão Carniceria Tropical LP reissue

Legendary Brazilian punk band RATOS DE PORÃO achieved this status with the classic album Crucificados Pelo Sistema. This album had unmatched ferocity and remains as one of the most important records in Brazilian music, not just punk. After a few albums they began to lean on a more crossover-influenced style, and it was on Carniceria Tropical where they achieved the perfect balance, the true RxDxPx sound. It’s thrashy, it’s punk, it has speed, it has melody, and most of all it is catchy as fuck. Songs like “Crocodila” or “Vá Se Virar” are now classic RxDxPx songs. Producer Billy Anderson was able to bring the best out of this punk outfit with a brilliant balance of crusty yet audible metallic sound. This reissue contains remastered tracks, an unreleased track, restyled sleeve, insert with lyrics and exclusive photos. Get this one or “vão se foder“!

Rocky and the Sweden City Baby Attacked by Buds LP

Latest release from ROCKY AND THE SWEDEN from Tokyo—Japanese hardcore scene veterans that have been around for quite some time with ex-members of BASTARD, SYSTEMATIC DEATH, and VIVISICK. With song titles like “Green Riot,” “Mary-Go-Round,” and “Weed Weed Weed,” ROCKY AND THE SWEDEN really show their  appreciation for weed. It’s still not quite legal in Japan but glad to see they’ve yet to get in trouble for constant dedication to the ganja for the past 20 years. ROCKY AND THE SWEDEN also impresses us with how fast and aggressive they sound despite consuming such a mellow substance. 420 hardcore bands with a similar approach include REAL REGGAE, another counterpart from Japan that sung about smoking weed. From the title of this record, you might imagine something in the stoner rock realm (along with some G.B.H. reference) but turns out to be a great Japanese hardcore punk record. In terms of sketchiness, their chosen expression is reminiscent of older MRR articles about how it was illegal to be a punk band in certain countries. Most people typically would want to play in a jam band or stoner rock but these guys remind us to not judge anything by its cover. This shows us a new possibility of smoking weed where not only you can play slow and groovy but you can also play aggressively and fast. City Baby Attacked by Buds sounds more like they’re on speed or methamphetamine than smoking weed—basically the DEATH SIDE style Japanese approach with epic, dramatic riffage and NWOBHM-influenced guitar leads. ROCKY AND THE SWEDEN continue to fight for their freedom of smoking weed not only by “burning spirits” approach but by “burning buds” with the same spirit. Great colorful artwork done by Masato Okano of NYC.

Rubella Ballet Radio Sessions 1982—2018 LP

RUBELLA BALLET is a crucial UK anarcho group that came up with bands like POISON GIRLS and CRASS, and was also a major influence on the goth scene. This album incorporates two early ’80s Peel Sessions with a 2018 radio session. The time span of this record made me a bit wary upon first listen (seamlessly spanning three decades is no easy feat). Although I’ll probably always be biased towards the sound of older recording technology, the newer tracks definitely hold their own. I appreciate that the band has stayed true to their hard-hitting roots, while remaining open to the musical evolution that happens over years of playing. The Peel Session tracks capture the raw magic of a band at the height of their influence. The 2018 recording finds them exploring group vocals, and a greater range of instrumental tone/experimentation.

Svart Parad Total Svart Parad 2xLP+CD

With just two years of activity, this classic, short-lived Swedish hardcore band needs no introduction if you like your hardcore with extra crust in it. Their influence is undeniable in bands like DOOM or EXTREME NOISE TERROR, and they even got their own tribute album with covers by the kings of D-beat, DISCLOSE. F.O.A.D. has done an amazing job in reissuing these classic bands, and has now released the remastered discography. Includes 80 tracks with extra studio out-takes, compilation tracks, and a bonus Total Live CD. An essential band that helped shape what crust punk would become in terms of intensity. For the Scandi-beat aficionados out there.

Wardogs It’s Time to Fight! LP

I love Italian hardcore and I have never heard of WARDOGS although this is not a review of how big a poser I am. Rather a praise to F.O.A.D. who restored this demo tape from ’83 and added a live recording too, as a tip. No idea how this band could get lost because they play top quality Italian hardcore just as urgent and weltering around as WRETCHED or early RAPPRESAGLIA, although WARDOGS include strange but great intros for some of their songs that remind me of lo-fi, damaged Our Band Could Be Your Life post-hardcore room recordings. The live recording is even crazier, super fast and recalls Finnish hyper-speed bands like SORTO, sparkled with one-finger solos, then they go into a rage that runs between DEEP WOUND/early SEBADOH that is followed by SIEGE-esque proto-grind and their Grim Reaper madness. The band just does not stop and even when the songs seem to be over they keep making nonsense noise. Even if I haven’t heard of WARDOGS before, I love them now.