Reviews

Iron Lung

Acrylics Sinking In LP

ACRYLICS have made a full-length LP, playing with much more atmosphere than I recall either of their singles or their demo having. Although the band is still ferocious, still massive sounding (more massive than ever, in fact) and still has the coolest FLAG homage riffs (without really sounding too much like BLACK FLAG), they’ve added a couple of instrumental interludes, some synthesizer, lots of pedal effects and some studio trickery, all of which add texture to the sounds. Songs like “Harm” and “Losing Sight” are moodier and more expansive than anything on prior ACRYLICS releases, while “New Face,” “Awake,” and the previously released “Structure” feature the more familiar gut-punch hardcore. It’s hard to put into words how great this record is. Sinking In is clearly the result of a lot of hard work. Nothing about the record—the songs, recording, artwork, lyrics—feels like an afterthought.

Alien Nosejob HC45 EP

The first hardcore record I’ve heard in a long time that instantaneously made my eyes bulge. I’ve been brushing off every ALIEN NOSEJOB release as some quantity not quality shlock but this exactly the bright, rigorous, exciting hardcore I love. The vocals sound like Mike D. on the Aglio E Olio EP and the spastic, eye-twitching BAD BRAINS-style hardcore found on that ’90s BEASTIE BOYS release certainly lends some influence here. Reminiscent of bands like SOCIAL CIRCKLE, BIG ZIT and LAFFING GAS but it definitely sets itself apart.

Alien Nosejob Once Again the Present Becomes the Past LP

The HC45 single was one of the best hardcore records I’ve heard in recent times and Mr. Nosejob brings those quick, nimble riffs to full-length form. The description for Once Again notes that it began as a concept record referencing both WWII bombings and comedian Norm Macdonald. It sounds like if MODERN WARFARE or the MOB (NYC) had Mike D. of the BEASTIE BOYS on vocals and were emulating DISCHARGE singles. Or if DEVO had been a metal band. Or if the MINNEAPOLIS URANIUM CLUB wrote a hardcore record. It’s wacky and has nice subtleties and moments that’ll make your ears and eyes pop. The guitar solo in “Pointed Shears” reminds me of the guitar in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers theme song (which now that I listen back on that theme song sounds like it could’ve been a scrapped tune from Military Affairs Neurotic if it was a bit slower). This record will draw a line in the sand for many hardcore fans, probably multiple lines, once again illuminating the dreaded egg v. chain dichotomy.

Alien Nosejob HC45-2 EP

Australia’s ALIEN NOSEJOB gives us a quick dose of freaky hardcore with this collection of six rippers in eight minutes. Check out the cover art for a visual preview of what’s inside: colorful gore delivered via box-cutter surgery. Egg punks, but real ones. Blood everywhere. Likewise, these short bursts of hardcore frenzy have a lot of moving parts and seem to be on the edge of breaking apart at any second. But they don’t, and that’s the exciting thing. These tracks have a lot of USHC influence like early BLACK FLAG, CIRCLE JERKS, etc., but with added trebly guitar fills and near-constant drum rolls that reveal hidden complexities upon further listening. Listen to this and enjoy a modern take on the classic hardcore blueprint: very fast, snotty, and great.

All Hits Men and Their Work LP

A year-end top tenner for this reviewer, Portland’s ALL HITS’ debut, Men and Their Work, has been in heavy rotation in these parts since the summer. They’re everything I like to see in a power trio. With intricate interplay between guitar and bass, eight stripped-down but killer tunes about all of the enduring bullshit of our age: white supremacy, abusers in the scene, and police as natural class traitors. There’s not a lumbering moment here and not a dud to be found. I remember Mike Watt once said it was a political thing in the MINUTEMEN how the bass, drums, and guitar were distinct and equal in their mix and songwriting, and I imagine a similar ethic at work here. Every component gets to shine, in a sense, putting their politics into their song structure—that’s what I’m going to infer, anyway. Great shout-along moments, sung moments, and inventive instrumental bits to keep things interesting. Sonic comparisons to MIKA MIKO are not far off—but with deft and agile basslines. From the tape glitch freakout of “Intro” to the anthemic rager “World is a Fuck” with the extended breakdown, this is a superb debut. 

Bad Breeding Exiled LP

This record sounds like a cross between WHITE LUNG, RUDIMENTARY PENI, and DISCHARGE—three bands that sound almost nothing alike.The anarcho-punk vibes are heavy throughout the music, lyrics, and artwork, but unlike a lot of modern anarcho-punk that seems to go the goth route, this is a lot heavier, even verging into hardcore territory. The bass is turned up loud in the mix and become the main driver of the songs, and the guitar parts are experimental and chaotic, but manage to maintain punk. Something here for everyone.

Bad Breeding Human Capital LP

BAD BREEDING is anarcho-punk filtered through the lens of someone living in the ever-growing social collapse of this modern world, because times keep getting worse, so the anger grows. Imagine if any of the Crass Records bands were to be transported to 2022, and I bet they would come close to what BAD BREEDING is doing. I say “close” because BAD BREEDING operates in an artistic world of their own that is really hard to emulate. Yes, “artistic,” because that is something lacking in punk: art. So much more than just a punk band, BAD BREEDING is the complete package of social unrest, and Human Capital is a sonic mirror held to the metaphoric face of society. From anarcho-punk to post-punk passing through grittier hardcore punk, there are twists and turns that are hard to predict but easy to listen to, that leave you wanting more. This is a complete album in every way, as the artwork and the music are indistinguishable in the way the passion goes through both. The artwork is segmented and crafted by a fantastic team of visual artists that have the same love for punk as BAD BREEDING, featuring Nicky Rat, Dead City Tokyo, Shiva/Shadow Comms, Jack Sabbat/InHell, and Yagi. And as with their last record, there is an essay written by Jake Farrell that serves as a further depiction of the ideals of the record. A band that may divide the waters in a sense that many are not prepared to understand, but that is what punk is all about! Is this the album of the year?

Börn Drottningar Dauðans LP

I always like to look at the art of the album before listening to a record, so I feel like I can try to guess what it is going to sound like—this one was a surprise, a really great surprise. I love everything about this LP: the voice, the guitars, the drums, the bass. One thing that makes me really excited about this band is that they kinda remind me of SCARLET’S REMAINS, a deathrock band I used to listen to when I was like fifteen years old. I mean, not that they sound the same, they have a totally different style, but this album is pure obscure perfection.  Amazing record for deathrockers and post-punkers.

Brain Tourniquet Torture EP

The second EP from the Washington, DC band BRAIN TOURNIQUET is a bouquet of pain and fury. The band, formed by members of PURE DISGUST and TRUTH CULT, knows how to give their own twist to a genre (powerviolence/fastcore or whatever you want to call it) that we know has a limited creative spectrum. And they do it with songs whose foundation is anger, and from that base they build small monuments to bad vibes with a brutal musicianship and very imaginative arrangements. A very pleasant surprise.

Brain Tourniquet …An Expression in Pain LP

Crushing debut LP from DC’s BRAIN TOURNIQUET. Although this record is most easily categorized as powerviolence, there is so much innovation here that it tramples micro-genre labels. These are epics in bursts, blasts of fury with the intricate structure of much longer songs. Take “Mental Tomb” for example: there is the fast and extreme hardcore, which rolls into a bridge of dissonant guitar noise and rolling drums, then back to the hardcore. The song is 1:17 long. Many of the tracks have this level of careful intricacy that make repeated listens a treat. There is definite influence from classic West Coast bands like MAN IS THE BASTARD and CROSSED OUT, but I also hear CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER-style crossover (especially the amazing drums) in songs like “Deny.” “Little Children Working” and “Behind My Eyes” are feedback-laden, dangerously creepy instrumentals that keep the record’s urgent and unsettling tone intact, while “…An Expression in Pain” has a slow-crawl intro that erupts into relentless fast PV and back to the doomy slow crunch. This goes back and forth over ten minutes, and it rules. This record is fresh and exciting, bold and risky without being pretentious. It’s early in the year, but I’m bookmarking this one for my year-end top ten.

C.H.E.W. Feeding Frenzy LP

Finally, an LP from Chicago’s best recent hardcore export! There’s something incredible about the way that they seamlessly incorporate rhythm / tempo changes and dissonance into their lightning fast riffs. How the fuck do they do it? Every listen has left my mouth agape, every track feels like it could be an example in a class on how to write a great hardcore song (even the dirges). An incredible record—I can’t wait for the next one.

C.H.E.W. In Due Time EP

You’re flung backwards down some stairs into another room, sprung into the middle of a pit. You come to, thinking maybe four bands are playing at once but it’s all C.H.E.W, there’s just an extra frequency in there that pops up like an intrusive thought, real wacko sound only the baddest saliva animals can creepy crawl to. Doris’s nasal recriminations give way to a full sputtering throat and suddenly there are duelling riffs in five dimensions. A fastidiously choreographed meltdown executed with a similar deranged flair to IMPALERS, but way more petulant. Fuck!!! There’s an extra sub woof-woof-woof of vicious stomp. A song named for a disease you can only get from eating cat shit. Hot feedback. Is that a mosh part played backwards? You can’t feel your head. C.H.E.W have taken the hardcore palette and gone full Abstract Expressionist with it. There’s echoes of that GELD LP from last year, which makes sense because thinking about it Iron Lung put that out too. Exactly the type of factoid some punisher will whisper in your ear as you’re squeezing out the juice from these insane fractal solos. Maybe I am the punisher. Now my sweat is in your eyes and you forgot to shield your kidneys from the mass of feet and elbows and now things feel leaky but hey, that’s why you have two. Emboldened, you rip one out as an offering.

Cemento Killing Life cassette

I guess it’s all that sunshine that makes people uneasy and avid seekers of darkness, and they use post-punk and deathrock to paint an opaque shadow over the eternally sunny Southern California. I say this because that state, and L.A. in particular, has shown in recent years that the land is fertile in bands that seek to create bleak sceneries to inhabit. CEMENTO is one of those bands. Formed by members of SMUT and SMIRK, the band bets on the immediate power of good melodies, the great force of its rhythmic base, some very intense bass lines, and an extremely expressive voice. The guitar creates simple but elegant riffs, able to hook and generate dense, hazy atmospheres, ideal to dance all night long. “Cash Grab” is already one of my favorite tracks of the year in any genre, followed by the great “No Ambition,” but still, the rest of the album is full of great moments. I particularly love the very fast and fierce “Coming Down.”

Clarko I Just Wanna Pay / Medeocre Man 7″

One can almost picture CLARKO hard at work in his basement as they hear these two stripped-down, sarcastic and angsty yet bouncy solo new wave ditties. “I Just Wanna Pay” is driven by punchy synth bursts and light square wave hits, while “Medeocre Man” is more guitar-driven and a bit more brooding, as our protagonist lashes out at his subject with lines like “Your life is stupid / And I am poor!” This is one of five records in Iron Lung Records’ new Systemic Surgery series, and is now sold out.

Clarko Welcome to Clarko LP

Histrionic vocals and naughty guitar riffs coming from Reno, NV on this ten-track new wave brain-punk LP. DEVO-energy synth punk with a catchy, eggy garage twist, and even some early TELEVISION vibes in terms of tension, pauses, and the use of high notes. Synth and loop effects hit hard on this, achieving great balance (check the intro and the song “Alien Touch,” where the full spectrum of sounds and instruments merge and greet each other), but it also has a spacious sound filled with instrumental experimentation. Pretty much straightforward lyrics that verse on existentialism, with “Stifled” and “Your Time” being my favorite tracks on this release.

Consensus Madness Madness EP

New Iron Lung dispatch from Illinois in the form of a four-piece brimming with bratty holy terror. This appears to be the band’s debut EP, with seven tracks that encapsulate a pounding and catchy fervor through the track list. Lyrics are minimal and screamed by Sarah (no last name given) with more heart than most could muster, in a delivery reminiscent of Kirsten Patches. Start with “Confined.”  Hopefully more scathing punk rock is coming soon.

Cyberplasm The Psychic Hologram LP

This record sounds like a DIY Brain Machine hijacked by anarchist hardcore punks and reprogrammed to rearrange your psyche. The concept of the record is that redemption lies in liberating the body from the mind to achieve freedom from dystopian, fascist control. The artwork includes a poster proclaiming, “YOU ARE THE INFINITE,” and “FREE THE BODY FROM THE MIND.” Brutal, blasting hardocre riffs and vocals appear intermittenetly, drenched in reverb and effects in a cyclone of chaos. This is not a noisy hardcore record. At least half the tracks are totally electronic and edge toward slow, sludgy, angry dance music. It always frustrated me that ATARI TEENAGE RIOT was so almost good. Glad to see this record taking a page from the same book but putting together something truly excellent and completely punk. The irony of the futuristic artwork and theme wrapped around such an archaic object as a vinyl record is not lost on this reviewer.

D7Y D7Y LP

This is how you fukkn do it—bombastic and relentless D-beat punk that sounds totally original. Iceland’s D7Y tweak the formula just enough and in just the right ways: integrating the noise and the chaos into the songs themselves instead of just adding chaos for the sake of chaos like many bands are wont to do. But the main thing here is just the constant pummeling that D7Y delivers…it simply doesn’t stop, and just listening to this slab is exhausting. Absolutely top notch record in construction, presentation and delivery.

Diät Positive Disintegration LP

Four years following the excellent Positive Energy, we are presented with the dense Positive Disintegration. The overall tone here is sullen and tragic, distinctly marked by a subdued, deadpan vocal style and repetitious rotating rhythms. Build-until-release style songwriting, pulsating and throbbing drum sounds, but they’re still a “rock band.” Simple guitar hooks act as choruses, and the vocals appear almost as a support to the strong rhythm section, but it’s important to note the relevant lyrical themes. Relatable, biting criticism and satire of our social circles, ourselves, and the society that we wish we weren’t inherently a part of. Predictably, my favorite is the most uptempo “Foreign Policy,” which has an unmistakable CHAMELEONS vibe, and appears to be a critique of the way their fellow Germans approach Palestinian struggle (cue applause). It’s hard not to think of TOTAL CONTROL, though DIÄT feels a bit more focused (just to be clear, I’m not choosing either one). This album doesn’t smack you in the face like the last, but if you show up, it might sneak up behind and drag you into a dark pit of hellish reality.

Dimension Dimension demo cassette

DIMENSION encapsulates hardcore punk in its purest essence: a raucous, frantic, frenzy propelled by punk guitars, saturated with power chord lashes, pulsing distortion, thunderous percussion, and gritty vocals. Every song has its own hardcore dimension, and they sound like old-fashioned USHC tunes, leaving you wanting more. The demo’s closer “N.G.R.I.” gets stuck to the back of your brain like glue. Not guilty! Hardcore will never die!

Direct Threat Direct Threat cassette

While DIRECT THREAT from Denver adheres pretty strictly to the USHC playbook in terms of songwriting, the distorted demo-quality recording puts a layer of dirt on it all that adds to their “no fucks given” aesthetic. The band’s messy stomp is driven by foreboding hooks and raw-throated vocals. The singer also has a one-man-band side project called REALITY COMPLEX, just in case this tape leaves ya thirsty for more.

Doldrey Invocation of Doom LP

Like a modern-day raw punk take on old school death metal, this one brings bloody hell out of your imagination and into the streets. These shredders out of Singapore sound like an ice-cold OBITUARY with a mullet-hawk and a serious pogo habit. This record really hits all the marks. They’ve got tons of speed-picking, CELTIC FROST-style dirges and black and white cover art with demons, swords and skeletons—all with a sneering punk undertone that is undeniable. It’s like they made a record just for me. Not to be missed!

Doldrey Celestial Deconstruction LP

We don’t get to review death metal albums that often here at Maximum Rocknroll, so let’s get to it! In an oversaturated world of ENTOMBED clones, it is hard to stand out without sounding exactly like the next band in line. DOLDREY manages to sound refreshing, but maintains all the tropes of this microgenre some call ENTOMBED-core or “death punk.” Ice-cold HM-2 riffage? Check. Murky vocal delivery? Check. Pummeling D-beats? Check. Groove that makes you headbang? Double check! The curious thing is that DOLDREY worships Swedish death metal, but they come from an improbable place, Singapore. You can tell that they love punk and hardcore just as much as they do GRAVE or CARNAGE. A great record to put on when you burn out your copy of Wolverine Blues.

Electric Chair Performative Justice EP

Any worries I had that this EP wasn’t going to match this band’s sprawled-on-the-floor live set were eradicated by the end of the first song. On these five tracks, ELECTRIC CHAIR fuse together the freewheeling yet tough and melodic side of early ’80s Mid/western US hardcore with stripped-down and more abrasive early ’80s European hardcore (D-beat and otherwise), all filtered through the drugged vibes of the BETA BOYS, with whom they share members. Vocals like a drill sergeant who got dosed and enjoyed it. Can’t wait for what’s next.

Electric Chair Social Capital EP

Crucial hardcore in the form of a 7″ hand grenade. If you like classic USHC, get this immediately. Six songs of fast, super-pissed punk with lyrics reflecting our current dystopia. Anti-police, anti-scenester, anti-human, anti-fascist diatribes against this modern life. Check out “Life is Hell”: “Birth is violence / Life is hell / You sell your baby on the black market / I hate the way they smell.” Tough! If you have stick-and-poke BLACK FLAG bars or the DEAD KENNEDYS logo, you may want to consider a future patch of skin for a little electric chair. Have you bought this yet?

Electric Chair Act of Aggression LP

Olympia’s ELECTRIC CHAIR dropped their debut Act of Aggression on Iron Lung, and it has to be said, this band has chosen the perfect name—putting on this record is like getting strapped in and shuffled off this mortal coil. Stuffed to the brim with abrasive metallic punk, ELECTRIC CHAIR plays in the same vein as GERMS and N.O.T.A., with some oddball freakouts sprinkled throughout that remind me of TY SEGALL at his freakiest. Musically, it’s a dense listen; songs vanish as quickly as they appear in a flurry of violent guitars entangled with frenetic bass and drums. Vocalist Dinah Corona’s unhinged warble is mixed so low it becomes like another instrument, adding an evil vibe that permeates throughout the album. Check out “Fatal Disease Pt. II” and “Security Camera” to see what I mean. Overall, an overwhelming but fucking awesome listen.

Eteraz Villain LP

This album is absolutely punishing. ETERAZ rips through twelve tracks in a wild and noisy D-beat assault. The guitars have an extremely nasty, jagged tonal quality that is complemented by driving, buzzsaw bass. The crash-heavy drumming is top-notch, pushing everything deep into the red. Most notable are the vocals, which are shouted out in Persian. This really adds a lot of texture to the experience, and the higher-register delivery is an exquisite contrast to the rich bottom end of the production. “Terror” is a standout for me, but there’s not a single dud in the bunch. Gotta hand it to Iron Lung for consistently delivering the heat. Easily one of the top releases of 2022.

Eteraz Destined to Kill flexi 7″

Not sure what is happening in Olympia right now, but I would not be surprised to learn that a pack of rabid nuclear rats raised on a diet of CONCRETE SOX and SACRILEGE was recently unleashed on the town and befriended all the local punks before biting them in the arse. I had heard of ETERAZ before but never really got to pay much attention to them, because catching up with all the new bands feels like filling the Danaid’s barrel without the cool perk of being part of Greek mythology. I did listen to a couple of their songs from their 2022 LP Villain and was favorably impressed with their slightly thrashing brand of dark hardcore punk with chunks of Sweden and Japan in it. This new record came out only six months after the LP, so I’m guessing ETERAZ didn’t have time to lose (or the LP was late to come out). To be fair, I prefer this flexi. I really enjoy the old-school crusty thrashing influence pervading the two songs, as it blends perfectly with the band’s dark and threatening, almost evil, hardcore sound. Besides the British classics mentioned at the beginning, I am reminded of TEMPTER and even AHNA, although ETERAZ is still firmly on the punkier side. One of the band’s notable strong points is the lyrics in Persian, not just for the originality (it is rather uncommon and a welcome change), but because it cannot be easy to adapt a language to a formal hardcore punk songwriting structure (on that level ETERAZ is rather classical) when there are not many prior examples to be inspired by. That makes things interesting and probably challenging if you are the singer. The only flaw of Destined to Kill is that it is too short. I am aware that a flexi is, by essence, short (you don’t often see flexi LPs), but in this case I want to hear more of the band with that new formula. Get it if and while you can.

False Brother Uncanny Valley LP

A supremely dark and gloomy post-punk follow-up to their debut tape. Their sound follows closely to contemporaries like Australia’s TOTAL CONTROL and obvious influences like JOY DIVISION, but there is something uniquely beautiful and poetic about this LP. It’s simultaneously a record to put on with a cup of tea and the soundtrack to your trip to the Gulag. A nightmarish record to start your morning.

Fashion Change Smoking Kills flexi EP

To say “I like this three-track flexi” would be a total understatement, because I fucking love it! Effect pedals randomly turn on and off with harsh feedback, but it’s a welcomed addition to the whirlwind of hardcore fuckery that’s taking place on this disc. Chaotic, noisy, and pissed-off: Smoking Kills sounds like you allowed a crew of drunk, primordial beasts to play a basement show at your house, and now they’re using their instruments to tunnel out. Cathartic as fuck—we all have those days when this disc could be crucial sonic ammunition.

Frisk Stalker LP

Loud, raw, uncompromising. Stalker is the debut LP from Leeds, England’s FRISK. This record melds early angry hardcore acts like NEGATIVE APPROACH and DISCHARGE with more contemporary noises from the likes of HOAX to create a twisted, bludgeoning sound that is all its own. The vocals growl and howl over the harsh and noisy instrumental passages. This is the perfect record for a murderous killing spree. An unnerving, unsettling listen that comes highly recommended for those with the stomach for it.

Gag Still Laughing LP

After their disappointing previous full-length America’s Greatest Hits, I lost track of GAG and was surprised they still exist. I was also immediately interested in how they handle a second LP. Again their cover art concludes it well: Life is a strange mess, where overwhelmingly awkward events are at same time funny and frightening. So they laugh. There is an idea in which humor equals aggression and while this record is fun, there is a coping process that transforms their violent inputs into entertainment in a rather-laugh-than-cry way. It’s American hardcore rewound back to a crossroad where it already got jock-ish but kept its psychopath, lunatic vibe instead of its later form where it turned to ridiculously thugish. GAG’s record does as well, reacts angrily to the frozen madness of reality in an overpowering, unsophisticated way. Although here the anger invites, not deters. This comes through the riff-heavy record, where if one is killer then there is not gonna be any filler. The parts are ignorant but laid out in a meticulous system, tricked enough to keep the record constantly fun. It is fun if you love dumb hardcore, which despite how predictable it is, still transmits its physical influence. The imposing riffs are occasionally played in an airy manner, giving enough pace-space for the drums to break free from a forced, up-tempo simplification; the bridges are so effective it is ridiculous; elements from NO TREND-ish mindfuck appear and fit well. Not really getting the concept behind the intro/outro, since they sound so alien. Why they do not match with the body of the record is because this is not an experimenting, reinventing, transforming or redefining record of hardcore. It is and happens within hardcore. It can make fun of it, but even when it does, it does not demolish its walls, but reflects on the joy of the music. Which is great, and after all we are too trapped in a fucking celestial object and we got to make the best out of this imprisonment.

Gag Killing for Both Realities 3 ’92 LP

This is the latest release from Olympia hardcore band GAG. Vice once called GAG “America’s new hardcore heroes.” Normally that’s a surefire way to turn me off of a band, but I think Vice might actually be right about something here. This LP is the lo-fi, grimy, sweaty basement hardcore mixtape we’ve been waiting for. Let’s get something straight though, this isn’t another wannabe ’80s hardcore revival band, they’re doing something really fresh here. At their best on tracks like “No Cops,” “Meth Lab,” or “Warm Milk,” they sound like a slightly less technical but more frenetic NOMEANSNO, and there really isn’t a moment on the LP where the band is at their worst. All things considered; this is easily some of the best hardcore I’ve heard coming from the Pacific Northwest recently.

Gaoled Bestial Hardcore demo cassette

Fucking. Nasty. Pronounced “jailed,” this Perth band’s demo is a raw and filthy mix of powerviolence, furious hardcore, feedback damage, and paranoid atmosphere that is an instant classic. This tape is my perfect mix of extreme underground music: the basic skeleton is crusty PV, but there are touches of first-wave black metal, underground death metal (check out the lo-fi solo on “Lined”), and sludge (the slow crawl through slime on “Voices”) etched on its bones. Imagine IRON LUNG wearing CELTIC FROST shirts doing bong hits out of human skulls. Really, really raw and excellent. Let’s go ahead and make “bestial hardcore” a genre and use this as the blueprint. Highly recommended.

Gaoled Bestial Hardcore flexi EP

The Bestial Hardcore EP from Perth, Austria’s GAOLED is a wall of aural hell. Raw, nauseating, distorted guitars with boiling magma drum sounds from hell (the vocalist is undoubtedly a golem). Reminiscent of where CROSSED OUT and other local veterans RUPTURE left off, but with the contemporary metallic influences of BEHERIT and BLASPHEMY worshippers. Perhaps it has something to do with great weather and this almost reinforced sense of happiness and positivity, but all RUPTURE, CROSSED OUT, and NO COMMENT seem to come from similar environments and ended up with similar sounds. Includes a cover of Boston’s CROSSED OUT worshippers SCAPEGOAT.

Black Iron Prison / Gas Chamber Public Humiliation II LP

Public Humiliation II is a collaborative performance from Buffalo, New York experimental HC grind unit GAS CHAMBER, and BLACK IRON PRISON, a two-piece from Toronto, Ontario who sit even further up the experimental ladder than GAS CHAMBER, providing more drums and vocals as it rattles on and well the fuck off the platform of HC that is so crudely erected amongst this psychedelic rubble. This record is a live collaboration, recorded at Iron Lung Records’ 10th anniversary show, which would also mark GAS CHAMBER’s last performance, set to wax as an insane jam; at times reminiscent of early HC acts that attempted to breach the boundaries between psychedelia and hardcore, sitting somewhere between GASP and the MEAT PUPPETS. A truly monumental effort, highly recommended.

Gehenna Negative Hardcore LP

GEHENNA is negative hardcore and negative hardcore is GEHENNA. Having the title of “the infamous” before their band name is just one of those details that makes the legend of GEHENNA a bit more frightening—famous (or infamous) for their “take no prisoners” approach to live shows, filled with violence and disgust, and a big “fuck you” to the metal and hardcore scene. They don’t follow the rules, they make the rules. Starting out in 1993 and adding the steps that INTEGRITY built, they created a monster of blackened metallic hardcore that would open the doors to the likes of ROT IN HELL or BLIND TO FAITH. After some years in silence, the excellent Negative Hardcore finally came out, the third album in thirty years, and it is everything one can expect from this band. You can hear SEPTIC DEATH, BOLT THROWER, and of course INTEGRITY with the black cloud of black metal hovering over every track and the hateful delivery of the end-of-the-world premonitions of Mike Cheese signaling the apocalypse. A class-A record for the Holy Terrorists out there.

Geld Soft Power EP

Horrifyingly psychedelic, raw punk madness out of Melbourne,
Australia. It’s like tearing out my brain in chunks with over the top, effected noise, then ripping those chunks to pieces with some shredding guitar solos. This is might be what FLIPPER would sound like if they were a really pissed off D-beat band, and could actually play their instruments. If you’re looking to live the chaos, look no further.

Geld Beyond the Floor LP

’Twas the prehistoric epoch of 2018 when GELD’s Perfect Texture LP kicked my ass through the top of my head via its solid gold meld of Scando-Japano HC abandon and psychedelic guitar excursions. Beyond the Floor dials down the psych tropes—little on this twelve-tracker zongs out quite like, say, “Parasitic Fucker” off the debut; maybe the gothy scrawling on “Forces at Work” approaches that level—but is every bit as deranged and dangerous. Written and recorded on “pills, meth, booze, weed [and] DMT,” so says the sales spiel: if this is the case, this Melbourne foursome are the opposite of sloppy drunks, cabbaged stoners or too-gone tweakers, rather a destructive forward line dosed on black market medicine by a shadowy team doctor. That is to say: fully sick in-the-red guitar tone, basslines that are sinister but groovy in the same way, say, Kira’s were in BLACK FLAG, foaming provoked-animal vox from Al Smith, maybe some bestial black metal influence in there but it’s such a barrage yer just guessing really… plus the lyric “Pubs open in my mind” and, if you were quick enough (which you weren’t, should you be reading this as a buyers’ guide), a really neat Jack Chick-parody comic packaged with the browny-gold vinyl. GELD are god’s-honest dons.

Hatred Surge Demo 2004 cassette

Lifting your band name from a seminal NAPALM DEATH demo is always a good indicator of what you are in for. HATRED SURGE is a now-legendary band that has navigated through several genres, from powerviolence to death metal, always leaning on the extreme, but this review serves to talk about their 2004 demo, where it all began. Despite its limited initial release, Demo 2004 has left an undeniable mark on the world of extreme music. HATRED SURGE’s approach to grinding powerviolence showcases their dedication to pushing the boundaries of sonic extremity. A visceral blend of aggression and precision, characterized by their ability to seamlessly shift from frenetic tempos to crushing breakdowns. The tracks are concise bursts of aggression, rarely extending beyond the 40-second mark, yet packing more intensity into that short span than many bands do in entire albums.

Heaven Starless Midnight EP

Bashing out their own little cavity in the current hardcore landscape, HEAVEN from Texas keeps it heavy, fast, jarring, and dark. These tunes carry creepy melodies that sound like sped-up versions of UPSIDEDOWN CROSS riffs, which is appreciated, but it’s the East Bay Ray-esque lead guitar work and weirdo solos that really makes this thing pop. Factor in the agonized gang vocals and a dripping saturation of dread, and it’s a strangely alluring synergy. Just based on the day-and-night difference in styles of the two bands, I was surprised to learn that this group shares members with CHRONOPHAGE. If these guys have anything close to the ambition of that band, this debut 7” could be the start of something beautiful.

Hologram No Longer Human LP

This is good. Like, really good. Ferocious, high-speed hardcore with cryptic, reverb-shrouded vocals over hammering drums. The guitars frequently go atonal like on “Humiliation Drills” and “Bite the Smoke,” adding an uneasy tension to the battering-ram punk. “Untitled” provides a brief interlude of bubbling synths wafting from melted VHS tapes before the frenzy starts again. Final track “I See a Pale Light” gives SWANS vibes with a dread-inducing, extended guitar/drum build-up and feedbacked hate vocals. Even more amazing is that this all comes from one person. I like the mystery—I don’t want to know anything else about who it is or how they made this. I just want more.

Homeless Cadaver Fat Skeleton / Art. Eat It. 7″

Each track has a different vibe, and each is an instant classic. “Art. Eat It.” is a two-riff dirge, punctuated by electronics, and the title repeated as a dreary one line chorus. “Fat Skeleton” is more upbeat, just as simple, and hopelessly catchy. Ohio vibes abound (DEVO and / or Wheelchair Full of Old Men), and I’m pretty sure these kids have heard the SPITS before. Beefy guitars and extra confidence in the “don’t give a fukk” department—I think I’m gonna enjoy this Systemic Surgery series from Iron Lung Records.

HuraÁ±a Brujas, Cholas E Inventadas EP

Iron Lung Records seems to have all fingers on the pulse of modern punk, as they manage to consistently release new and exciting bands. HURAÁ‘A is one of those bands that manages to sound fresh but never lets their influences and love for the genre be overshadowed by production. The guitars scream in a weird and unsettling mixture of the CRAMPS and early DEAD KENNEDYS but with a hardcore punk rhythmic section pummeling in the background, while the echoing voice howls at a distance the ills of being dysphoric in Chiapas, Mexico. Includes a cover of “Me Gusta Ser Una Zorra” by the legendary Spanish punks VULPESS, which in turn is a scandalous take on “I Wanna Be Your Dog.”

Ignorance Poison EP

Helsenki’s IGNORANCE’s latest EP consists of seven tracks of raw hardcore punk similar to the darker, grimy side of ’80s Japanese hardcore, like L.S.D. or GUDON to more contemporary bands such as KRIEGSHOG or even Y2K-era PDX hard punkers RELIGIOUS WAR. Thunder-striking lower frequency bass electrocution with boiling blood drum sounds, noisy guitars with maniac vocals.

Insect Warfare World Extermination LP reissue

This is it. This is what grindcore is and what it should sound like. No bullshit, no gimmicks, just plain old school grindcore. World Extermination is up there next to Scum, Horrified and World Downfall. This is an album that will be hard to beat and will stay at the podium for best modern grindcore album. You can thank the grind gods for this official reissue that recreates the original release, improving on the original insert art with a heavier jacket and a bigger poster. Get this and let it melt your face off! Ughhhh!

Intensive Care Antibodies LP

Apocalyptic nightmare soundscapes from the mighty INTENSIVE CARE. Expanding further beyond hardcore into beat-driven industrial noise, this collection features a cohesive vocabulary of crumbling electronics, loops, and distorted vocals that sound genuinely unnerving. I stopped taking notes after the woozy swirl of the third track because it all flows so perfectly together, with the closest reference point being BASTARD NOISE with steady rhythms. When the vocals hit, usually as a distorted blast, they offer such a release from the bubbling tension that they hit hard. Some standout passages (although seriously, just listen to the whole thing in sequence) are the eerie strings and pounding of “Closure” that sound like the best parts of the HAXAN CLOAK and the BODY, and a dread-inducing knocking sound that emerges from the audio miasma of “Visible Distance.” This is innovative, menacing noise built from the charred bones of hardcore.

Internal Rot Grieving Birth LP

It’s noteworthy that a record label run by two members of a grindcore band so rarely releases the stuff, but it’s not hugely surprising. Grind (like most genres) attracts the type of people obsessed with it to the exclusion of anything else, and to the inclusion of some pretty generic crud; IRON LUNG’s Jensen and Jon are clearly not that type, so when they help a grindcore record into the world, expectations are of elite tier material. INTERNAL ROT, from Melbourne, matches that expectation. The trio’s past offerings hardly slouched, but Grieving Birth ascends a level again with relentless precision blasts, hideously thick downtuning and vocals that might veer a little far into the “slam death” style for some tastes (suits me fine, personally). Needless to say, you’ll need to take the lyrics on trust, but they’re excellent: gruesome apocalyptica and grouchy scene politics in psychedelically strange syntax, not unlike some of Chris Dodge’s musings in SPAZZ. This album might be considered a standard-bearer for grindcore in years to come.

Iron Lung Mental Distancing flexi EP

Three-song flexi that was culled from material the band recorded before the pandemic began. Okay, it’s IRON LUNG. I knew it was going to be good, but it’s really fucking good. “The Psychology of Quarantine” (how’s that for a pre-COVID omen, Jesus) opens the EP with a noisy soundscape and then delivers the absolutely pummeling guitar/drums powerviolence we know and love. The lyrics, “Their power / Fueled by depression / Granted access first to the mind / And then to its declining vessel / During crisis there is insatiable hunger / And an endless food source” encapsulates the chaos, confusion, and downward cultural spiral of the last two years in a 45-second invective. “Everything is a Void” is another grenade blast that has a stuttering, glitched-out guitar phrase before the blasting begins. “Our brains know what sickness tastes like,” indeed. The third track, “Only Human,” is a RUDIMENTARY PENI cover, and I was excited to hear what IRON LUNG would do with the original’s rolling drum cadence. My expectations were dashed, reconfigured, and handed back to me in a stunning way—they go industrial-influenced hardcore like a mix of GODFLESH-style booming low-end noise-bass and the filthiness of PIG HEART TRANSPLANT. It’s nasty and unique in the best way a punk cover can be. Even the best powerviolence records can run together a bit because of the fast blur of songs, but IRON LUNG, as usual, makes every track an innovative, distinct, unnerving experience. Can a stopgap, album-teasing flexi be one of the best punk releases of the year? Essential listening.

Klonns Crow EP

Tokyo, Japan’s KLONNS come out swinging with this blistering new EP. The influence from classic Japanese hardcore bands like LIP CREAM and DEATH SIDE is very apparent, but do not mistake KLONNS for being a worship band. The sound on the Crow EP is super ferocious and raw. The instrumentation makes this record sound like it’s coming apart at the seams, and the vocalist sounds so hoarse that his throat could be bleeding. This is a violent, vicious listen. Pure hardcore punk.

Kobra Confusione LP

KOBRA brings us some no-bullshit Oi!-tinged hardcore with a fresh and gritty feel. On this striking debut 12″ from the Milan four-piece, some of the songs have this cool production where the “meat” of the music is blown-out and in the red, while other components like vocals and saxophone are dubbed in more cleanly (like on “Confusione”). And then on other tracks, everything seems to be turned up to batshit-loud in one big clamor (“Stella Morta,” for example). The lyrics are in Italian and the songs are generally about resisting authority, staying sharp, and thinking for yourself in a world enslaved by consumerism, which somehow comes across even without using Google translate. It’s a fucking good record.

La Milagrosa Pánico LP

Maybe this has nothing to do with the album, but I need to write this to make you understand the moment. I was cleaning my apartment while I was listening to this record for the first time, and I started dancing to it, and at some point I wanted to fucking kick something in the room. I fucking hate cleaning my place, and LA MILAGROSA made that moment less annoying, so that means a lot to me. They are one of those bands that you know is gonna make people go crazy at a show, it’s fucking fire—Latino punks always making the best bands in the United States. This album is amazing, and not only because of the music, as the lyrics have a really strong meaning.

Frisk / Last Affront split cassette

Split between two hardcore outfits out of the UK. There’s a little bit of a grind/powerviolence element here as well. FRISK is reminiscent of early CEREMONY, while LAST AFFRONT has more of a D-beat edge mixed with NEGATIVE APPROACH. Really love the vocal stylings from LAST AFFRONT. They’re unique and help them stand out from the mix of other bands who have done this type of hardcore countless times in the past. Otherwise, nothing really groundbreaking here. Worth a listen if you’re a moshcore junkie.

Lebenden Toten Synaptic Noise Dissociation LP

The mighty Iron Lung Records has bestowed a gift upon us with this release, a live set from Portland’s LEBENDEN TOTEN, recorded during a tenth anniversary event for the label. Twenty-five minutes of absolute raging hardcore with blur-fast D-beats, constant sheets of swirling feedback, and shredded vocals pummeling the listener (and that lucky live audience) into submission. At first, it was a little overwhelming—noise chaos to the point of breaking apart—until I realized how tight the band is. What seems disorienting takes on an almost psych feel the more you listen to it and hear the layers of noise coming together. I hear some slight CONFUSE influence here and there, but this is its own manic beast. Standout tracks for me are “Inferno,” “Static #1,” and “Vampires,” but they are honestly all standouts. I can’t imagine not listening to this as a whole album, anyway. The artwork is cool too (looks like a ’70s Italian horror/sci-fi mashup), and it comes with a die-cut Halloween decoration. Get this, crank it, and blow your speakers out— it will be worth it.

Lexicon Devoid of Light 12″

I would recommend blasting this one on a Monday morning—which is exactly what I am doing now, perhaps against my better judgement—as, not only will it wake you up efficiently if abruptly, but it will allow you to mentally pogo your way to Christmas and make the week more bearable. Iron Lung has been very busy in 2022 with no less than 27 new releases (which is more than the average number of baths a French person takes in a year), and LEXICON’s LP would be my favourite of the bunch. This Seattle band is seriously ferocious and relentless. The most immediately striking things about this work lie in the contagious energy of the songs, and the level of distortion which one would rightly associate with classic Kyushu noise punk or modern crasher hardcore—saying that LEXICON’s sound is close to ZYANOSE covering GAI in D-CLONE’s practice space is not irrelevant. However, in terms of songwriting and structures, I think LEXICON is significantly closer to USHC than they are to an Osaka distortion fest, especially since the music is crust-free (perhaps bands like NERVESKADE or SEX DWARF should come into the equation). I suppose Devoid of Light would probably appeal to all hardcore crowds, and the implacable intensity and furiousness make up for the work’s relative shortness and lack of really catchy hooks (I’m being picky here). I love the vocals as I think they convey seething anger very well, and they remind me of Jorge’s from the CASUALTIES, which I am sure is not what LEXICON’s singer was going for but there you go. A solid ear-splitting hardcore release with brilliant punk-as-fuck artwork, too. Europe soon?

Lexicon Poison Head EP

Seattle’s LEXICON’s latest EP is a six-track lethal brainbomb of filthy noisecore at its finest. Full-on DISORDER meets CHAOS-UK-style assault without having to resort to punk cosplay mode, because we all already know punk still isn’t dead. Noise guitars and insane vocals exploding into an onslaught of rapid-fire blitzkriegs.

Life Expectancy Decline cassette

This is a mechanical, corrosive delivery of ’90s industrial punk metal, like an adolescent era of cyber-thrash with PITCHSHIFTER or MEATHOOK SEED, but played at the pace of GHOUL, LSD, KURO, and ZOUO, and tweaked to CHARRED REMAINS in its final form. Maniacal, gnarly vocals burble under sizzling riffs and mechanical percussion. NIGHTBREED recently had a similar effect, and that shit was blissful lunacy—ELECTROCUTIONER as well, though more guttural and GISM-like. This is a tape that is perhaps even darker than both in its skeleton, adding layers of amorphous calamity, a wash of static punk chaos. This is for the slightly disturbed and raw noise enthusiast, waning and mocking at times, others downright mind-numbing. “Missing Nasty Men” truly reminds me of KURO burning in hell. Digital. Evil. Lifeless raw punk meddling in the UK.

Living World World EP

The latest in a crop of blown-out, echo chamber hardcore that won’t stop swinging on you once you’re down. The energy and attitude is undeniable, but the writing is also complex. It’s a magic trick to write such seemingly straightforward hardcore, when all the while the tempo is fluctuating and everything is far removed from the usual “verse/chorus” arrangement. I’m not saying it’s prog or anything, but a cut like “Spite Controller” just drags you through an entire microcosm of anger, pain, and ultimately catharsis that never lets you quite catch your breath or find even footing. All in less than a minute-and-a-half. Masterclass hardcore.

Luz De Gas Luz De Gas cassette

Great Chilean punk with piercing female vocals and a no-frills approach that sounds like it was recorded live in a spacious empty room. From the instrumental intro to each of the songs, the fairly simple, straightforward arrangements find their groove quickly and stick with it, jamming while the vocalist Muriel delivers high-pitched, high-intensity messages about empowerment, consent, sexual harassment, and fighting the ever-present threat of the male gaze. From the mysterious artwork to the urgent, personal lyrics (thanks to an online translator since I don’t know Spanish), this is a killer demo definitely worth checking out.

Malcría El Reino De Lo Falso LP

MALCRÁA of Mexico City plays rhythmic, punctuated macabre punk with the demented tones of RUDIMENTARY PENI meeting the urgency and chokehold of SIEGE. The bass bombards forth, while the guitars sizzle under smashing drums with feral unexpected thunderous attacks. Songs are short and tight, filled with raw power and unbridled energy boiling simultaneously as a lidded cauldron ready to erupt. Very tense, very real. The Spanish vocals are screamed and megaphoned across the spiraling, flaying hardcore tracks. As the play progresses, shadows of FORÇA MACABRA, CONFUSE, PART 1, SEPTIC DEATH, and RAJOITUS rear their ugly heads. MALCRÁA has concocted a fresh stab of distorted, demented, threatening hardcore. Cool your head with this all summer, and into the fall crispness. Songs as crispy as dead leaves on fire.

Mass Arrest Power LP

The Tunes: No bullshit. East Coast hardcore and D-beat punk crashing headlong into the early FUCKED UP 45s. I’m talking “Police” production tweaks on Swedish hardcore, and Oakland’s MASS ARREST do it all with style. It’s an addictive record full of hooks, and those hooks are on fucking fire. “Liberation” is clearly the cut, with the organ dropping in just as you drop the needle on the B-side and hear Boo Boo yell “I’m living for liberation / I’m living with my fist in the sky,”  but don’t dismiss the record for the single. There’s a joy in the very songs on Power that is hard to describe, and perhaps it’s the intensity and the determination that makes that joy hit so much harder—like the fucking DEXY’S MIDNIGHT RUNNERS bridge in “Black Identity Extremist” and the ’80s alt/pop melodies that permeate tracks like “New Town Drag” even through its distinctively tough hardcore chorus. The Band: You’re going to hear people talk about this time in our society for literal (as opposed to punk) generations. And of course the messages of Black Liberation on this record resonate particularly in this moment…but the determination is timeless, even if this particular record is a document of a time. Read the words, but don’t stop thinking when you put the record back on the shelf.

Mentira Nada Es Sagrado LP

This is the debut LP from Kansas City hardcore band MENTIRA. The record bleeds chaos. It’s an overtly nihilistic and punishing listen. A real pummeling wall of noise that doesn’t let up for a minute of it’s half hour runtime. Reminds me of COACHWHIPS as far as the lo-fi recording. The vocals are delivered entirely in Spanish in a real demented and spacy howl. The best thing about this LP, though, is that it’s totally infectious and a record that’s gonna get stuck on repeat for me. This is one of those records that I have to say don’t blink or you’ll miss it. Give it a listen, then give it another.

Mutated Void Roses Forever LP

MUTATED VOID creates brilliant, foggy, and damp hardcore/terror on their debut fifteen-minute LP. To me, this record stands out and is a proven addictive substance. Who is this band? There is an odd and arresting mystery to them. They are a two-piece, right? They worship skateboarding, I think? Could it be that ABSU and DIE KRUEZEN (Cows and Beer-era) birthed an orphan love child who is now lost in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, screaming to be found? Its only hope of surviving in a cold cinder block basement is a headlong caterwauling in the form of Roses Forever

Nasti Life is Nasti LP

Another hardcore banger coming from two labels that always deliver the best in punk. Washington’s NASTI is able to play hardcore without overusing the genre’s tropes. Sometimes it’s fast, sometimes it’s stompy, sometimes it’s weird as hell, but it all flows perfectly through each song just at the right time. Life is Nasti has eight powerful tracks of rage-filled moshpit bangers, a LP that could be on the shelf right next to contemporary hardcore like GAG or HOAX but certainly pays homage to VOID, UNITED MUTATION, and NO TREND alike. Their territory is somewhere in between the chaos and the weirdness, a bleak vision of modern life. Life is fucking NASTI!

No Future Death flexi EP

Serving up agile D-beats from Australia, slathered in olde English fonts and Xeroxed skulls and stencils as god intended, NO FUTURE leaves you longing for more after imbibing in this slick three-song flexi. The seething buzz of the title track alone is enough to get the thumbs up from me.

No Statik Mysterious to Ourselves LP

Exactly what you would expect from NO STATIK. Fast, heavy- hitting, punchy hardcore. Mysterious to Ourselves doesn’t really lack anything that is hardcore, as it has all the tropes of a hardcore record: the blast, the fast, the chug, the breakdown. What has always stood out to me the most about NO STATIK is the cadence of frontperson Ruby. The way that anger, anxiety, and depression seem to just exude from the mic. They do get weird by adding some instrumental tracks to the end that serve as some soundscapes and noise, but in my opinion they could have gotten weirder. This record feels urgent and intense, the production is crystal clear, and the art is really fucking dope. I am assuming this is the last record from NO STATIK since they are billed as playing 1-2-3-4 Go! in Oakland with the tagline “say goodbye.”

P.S.Y.W.A.R. Defcon EP

Posthumous release of a (probably) short-lived band, with a strict military image. It’s a quick, five-song 7” of aggressive, heavy hardcore. The primary character of the record comes from it going into the red zone with overdriven mixing, which pairs well with their unstoppable nature, and this in-your-face wall of noise is pretty overwhelming. Nothing mid-tempo, no bridges, no complications, just head straight into the wall, hitting a crack and going through it. Might sound easy, although it’s hard to really shine from the mass of such bands. While the record sizzles from the aforementioned overdrive, the mixing makes a distinction between each instrument, and the clever, galloping riffs can be heard when they act as stabbing knives. The military image supports the idea that this is a sonic presentation of a blitzkrieg. It’s systematic and merciless. Maybe a bit too conceptual if you spend enough time with the non-sonic aesthetics of the record, but beyond those forms, the content is still rock solid. If you like full-frontal USHC with heaps of distortion, you will be satisfied with Defcon. Not sure how it will age due to the modernist sound, but currently, this is a very intense record.

Paprika Paprika cassette

The latest and greatest in the new generation of noisy, tornado-strength punk. This NOLA-based group delivers echoing, grime-encrusted bangers that exemplify why contemporary hardcore is maybe the height of the genre. Fierce and filthy, this band gets straight to the point: aiming down sights at the violence of the capitalist grind while never outstaying their welcome. The way the final track “Insane Machine” cuts out makes you feel like you’re only worthy to catch a glimpse of the band and its many strengths—brilliantly leaving you alone in the silence wishing you could hear more. Unforgiving harsh punk that you must grab a copy of while you can.

Persona Free Your Mind! 12″

Free Your Mind!, the latest release from NYC’s PERSONA, consists of seven tracks of anarcho-punk-infused, thrashy fast hardcore punk fury. Fierce combustion with the intensity of maniac drums and noisy, textured analog-sounding recording, a damaging, in-your-face explosion. Reminiscent of anarcho-punk bands going outside of their musical boundaries and fusing the fury of fast USHC such as HERESY/RIPCORD and DAN, or the intuitive New Mexico/East Bay fury of GRIMPLE. We’ve been pogoing for the last decade-plus with the Toxic State catalog, and perhaps it’s time for more circle pits and stage dives.

Physique Again cassette

PHYSIQUE has been one my favourite US bands of the past five years, a statement that is not to be taken lightly since the belly of the beast has produced a lot of quality crust, noisy hardcore, and D-beat music in that time. Before PHYSIQUE, the word “physique,” in its English form, inexplicably evoked images of David Beckham’s underwear ad campaigns, so I am extremely grateful that it has now been replaced with visions of crust pants and Flying Vs. Olympia is not a town that one would traditionally associate with being mercilessly assailed by Japanese-style distorted atrocious hardcore madness, but this makes PHYSIQUE even better. Again is the band’s first real LP and it is relatively long for a dis-noise crasher oeuvre, no less than thirty minutes (as a comparison The Evolution of Combat was a twelve-minute affair), so clearly it is an ambitious undertaking. I have always liked how the band’s sound evolved through time, as the progression from Punk Life is Shit to Again is striking. On this new one, PHYSIQUE keeps working in the liminal space between the crasher hardcore crust school and the most brutal käng tsunamis. D-CLONE Frenching FRAMTID at a conference about the Tokyo Crusties EP and followed by a workshop about how to write your band’s name with the classic DOOM font. Basically. The sound on this album is devastating and almost scary: the drums sound insane, an impressive demonstration of the manic crasher style with its distinct rolls and transitions, the guitar’s distortion is al dente, the bass sounds like there is an earthquake next door, and the vocals have never sounded so desperate, agonizing, and almost unnaturally angry. They sound like a zombified bear singing along to SHITLICKERS on a night bus. PHYSIQUE shines on this, but it is the sheer relentlessness of the songwriting that is incredible, with only two delicious, DISCHARGE-loving, mid-paced scorchers to let the listener breathe and throw a few cool dance moves. Again is an articulated work behind its frightening ferocity, and the last song “Again (Reprise)” is a seven-minute-long galloping D-beat song that goes on again and again, precisely in the style that traditionally goes on again and again, just like war and misery go on again and again. The song never seems to stop even when it should, which is a pretty accurate metaphor for the world we live in. The tape is released on Iron Lung, but there will be a vinyl version soon enough. What a brutal experience.

Prowler Prowler demo cassette

Man, what the fuck is it with Denver? What have they got in the water there to make their HC so sick? PROWLER is another addition to Denver’s hardcore domination. This is hardcore punk the way it should be done (in my humble opinion). The influence from bands like the ABUSED, NEGATIVE APPROACH, and YOUTH OF TODAY is apparent, while also not being cheesy like a lot of YOUTH OF TODAY clones can be. It’s loud, it’s fast, it’s pissed-off, and that’s all it needs to be. I think this one rules—give it a listen and you’ll feel the same way. Stoked to see what PROWLER has coming up next.

Rakta Falha Comum LP

RAKTA  seems to be constantly all around the world, dropping new records, changing members along the road while not only maintaining but upgrading their sound. All the events around them did not exhaust but enforced their sound. For proof here is Falha Comum, another LP from one of the hardest working bands in the business. They create an otherworldly environment with multiple layers of spaced-out sounds based on the collision of bass and drums that are primal instruments and electronics that supply the unclassified noise ornaments. Rhythm-centric music covered with alien noises both feels as a ritual and the epiphany itself, thus a whole process that moves you through stations. It travels via a childlike state where due to unfamiliar surroundings and confusing circumstances everything is frightening and enchanting at the same time, but time seems slower due to the eventful ceremony. It works as well as the songs after a point evolve to scenes that blend in to an experience. The spooky, surreal, beautiful atmosphere is almost touchable and through its pigeon holes leaks the haunted, echoed-out howling which reminds us that the environment has been created through people. The density of the record is loading a lot on the listener, yet when it’s over, silence sounds harsh.

Rank/Xerox Servants in Heaven / Cradle of Life 7″

RANK/XEROX were my fave local band when they still lived in SF, making super sick PROLETARIAT-meets-Leeds post-punk sounds for desolate minds… I think they live on different continents nowadays, so was surprised to see this 45 on my review sheet. It’s a dark, somber burner, kind of less vital sounding than the earlier recordings but maybe just a different feeling?! Repetitive driving doom, it feels darker and more contained. Worth investigating if you were a fan of their other works.

Rashōmon 病原菌X (Pathogen X) 12″

I certainly love guitar leads and frenzied hardcore, so DC’s RASHŌMON speaks my language. Those of us asking for more since their slick demo tape a couple years back have gotten as good of an answer as we could’ve hoped for. Dual riffs are blissful and radiant, sometimes swerving toward discordant and reminding me of ARTICLES OF FAITH. But this could just as easily been plucked from the Bloodsucker roster, as there is a definitive Japanese hardcore influence, made most obviously apparent by the Japanese vocalist. The warm, dry production highlights the glorious guitar and vocals, but the serious drum mastery deserves to not go unnoticed. Innovative drum fills and transitions are easter eggs scattered all throughout these six tracks. I’m sorry, but I just don’t care about the novel etching on the flipside of the disc, but I can simply ignore that in this case because the record is so damn great!

Rashōmon Nin-Gen 12″

RASHŌMON is Japanese for “dispute.” And there is no “dispute” that this record is a grade-A banger. Of course, we are dealing with Japanese-influenced hardcore right here. A well-oiled, chaotic machine of vicious melodious hardcore à la BASTARD but with the crudeness of a Dischord band (they are from Washington DC). They don’t sound like a rip-off band as much as putting their own twist on the genre, and it sounds more abstract than your average Japanese-influenced band. An excellent innovation in the genre and it will not disappoint. Or maybe they were named after the Akira Kurosawa flick?

Retirement Buyer’s Remorse LP

RETIREMENT plays fractured BLACK FLAG meets PAPRIKA negative hardcore that rips. From the pounding drum cadence of opener “No More” to the repeated chant of “No Refund” that closes the record, the band creates an intimidating and feedback-laden atmosphere that never dips below fully exciting. The guitar chugs out dissonant chord progressions and spits atonal noise solos as good as Greg Ginn at his most relevant. The drums (which sound great, full and front in the mix) move from galloping fast beats to mid-tempo stomps and back again. “Pull the Shades” is a great example of this, with a rhythm that moves from near-crossover speeds to creepy-crawl, backing one of the few intelligible vocal lines: “I pull the shades / I lock the door.” The raspy, almost blackened and reverbed vocals are perfect for the band and drip with malice and contempt. “DD.MM.YYYY” adds a harsh noise dimension to the sound with a minute of grinding guitar drone. If you like noisy, in-the-shadows hardcore like HOLOGRAM or FASHION CHANGE, check this out immediately.

Roht Iðnsamfélagið Og Framtíð Þess LP

You should expect a monster, and you will receive a monster. Thunderous and monotonous and fully exposed, ROHT take punk and drag it into a dark dark place; like RUDIMENTARY PENI and PAILHEAD, they are playing the game but never playing by the rules. I suppose you can call this industrial hardcore or something like that, and they would fit as nicely (or poorly) on a bill with LARD as with DYS. I had every expectation that this record was going to be good as soon as it was announced. I didn’t think it would be this good.

Rotary Club American Tower / Planet 67 7″

Ah, yes, Iron Lung’s famed Systemic Surgery series—a collection of releases we’re all definitely aware of, bound together by a concept so apparent that it needs no explanation here. It’s been a mere three years since they dropped the third installment (of a planned five), so it’s quite a treat to be getting this fourth entrant so soon! Anyway, ROTARY CLUB is a four-piece out of Reno who play telephone-themed punk tunes (the members have names like Hotline, Operator, etc). The Bandcamp copy says they play Killed By Death-style punk, even going so far as to bring up the UNCALLED 4, a mid-’80s Texas act who actually tricked folks (including the compilers of Killed by Death 8 ½) into thinking they had been late-’70s punk obscuros. But I don’t think anyone’s going to be tricked by these folks. That’s not to say this isn’t KBD-ish at all—it’s just not the first thing I would have thought about the band. The production is pretty loose, but it doesn’t feel anywhere near as amateurish as, say, TEDDY AND THE FRAT GIRLS, and these tracks are much more melodic than what I’d expect from the KBD set. To me, this sounds more like a mix of what NOTS has been doing since they shed the amateurism of their early 7”s and some of the tamer tracks from JUDY AND THE JERKS, particularly in their adoption of multi-tracked talk-sung vocals. And when you pair that with awkward lyrics about wires and shit, as they do on “American Tower,” it really starts reminding me of SERVOTRON. “Planet 67” has more of a Dangerhouse vibe and is probably the better of the two tracks. Not a bad release by any means. I just wish I hadn’t read that comparison prior to listening, as it was all I could think about.

S.H.I.T. Hidden in Eternity / Eraser III 7″

The songs ain’t new, but now they’ve been properly fastened to a 7″ you can add to your disgusting S.H.I.T. collection. Featuring two tracks from these Toronto-based purveyors of jarring hardcore that were previously released in digital format only, this record showcases the style you expect with a slightly different feel. The vocals are laid much flatter than usual, and the band’s signature twisted stomp is produced with a clean, futuristic sheen that rings as borderline industrial at times, especially on the first track. The second one, “Eraser III,” is the third part of a song that dates back to their first cassette, affirming that though they’ve been in it for a minute now, they haven’t lost the plot.

Screaming Fist Templanza EP

This is how you do it. People from TØRSÖ, VAASKA, and NEGATIVE STANDARDS (among others) doing rough D-beat with raw sound and political lyrics in Spanish. It’s a perfect combo: manic drums that don’t follow the same beat for more than twenty seconds, loops of skilled riffs punching your head over and over, and a voice that glues everything together. The strong personality of the vocal style supports the whole composition, with an attitude of “we’re gonna eat you alive” that has won me over. The dusty treatment of the guitars fits perfectly too, creating an aura of old and cheap punk, a harsh texture that’s really charming. Nothing new here, but there’s no need, SCREAMING FIST delivers catchy and rash hardcore punk just fine.

Sect Mark Promo MMXXI cassette

For the sake of this review, let’s call it “futurecore.” I’m talking about the dystopian hardcore with menacing, spiral riffs, venomous echoed vocals, and borderline-mocking tone played by bands like S.H.I.T., FAZE, COAX, Singapore’s excellent C.H.U.TE., and others. That’s what this is, and it’s one of the better takes on it that I’ve heard. This promo tape of four songs was enough to make me check out the forthcoming LP.

Shit Coffins Termination LP

This is a purely incredible record, made by some of the sharpest punks in the game. To put my love for it into context: When I was in high school, I discovered BORN/DEAD, which completely rocked my world and sort of shaped my taste in hardcore punk—catchy, rocking, versatile, political, with muddy guitar tone and barking vocals. If that band had continued, and got better and more experimental, you would have SHIT COFFINS. The guitar riffs are unrelenting, I heard a little TOTALITÄR in the D-beat parts, a little CHAOS UK in the mid-tempo punk parts, and maybe a little DROPDEAD in the hardcore parts. Nothing but pure chaos on the drums. The lyrics, sung with aggressive desperation, read like a book. They seem to center around carried pain, possibly trauma. “I close my eyes and it’s all I see / Presence is fear / consuming the past — fervency of now / This darkness will last.” The song “Benchmarks” has lyrics that I thought were actually pretty positive: “There is not hope beyond what you can hold / Life is loss / Hold onto hope no matter the cost.”

Shrinkwrap Killers Stolen Electronics to Shove Up Your Ass / Merch Killer 7″

Third entry (of a planned five) in Iron Lung’s mysterious “Systemic Surgery” series. Aside from the limited run (only 200 copies pressed), deluxe packaging (hand-stamped labels, custom die-cut sleeves, risograph prints), and hitherto unheard-of bands (the first two entrants were from CLARKO and HOMELESS CADAVER), I have no idea what ties these releases together. At least Iron Lung was nice enough to let us know who’s behind the outfit this time—Oakland’s Greg Wilkinson (BRAINOIL, DEATHGRAVE, and Earhammer Studios). The title track is straight up SPITS worship that’s maybe a bit heavier on synths. The B-side also really leans on the keys and has more of a gothic pop punk vibe, in the vein of the HEX DISPENSERS. Neither cut is particularly memorable, and this stab at dum-dum lyrics needs more…or maybe less work.  Recommended only for those Systemic Surgery completists out there.

Shrinkwrap Killers Feral Rats Have Become Our Only Pets LP

Based on the band name and cover, I was expecting some gross horror punk or maybe crossover thrash, and boy, was I wrong. SHRINKWRAP KILLERS is the solo project of Greg Wilkinson of BRAINOIL playing a bizarro new wave/synth-pop/garage punk mix. Imagine GARY NUMAN, the SPITS, and maybe DICK DALE camping out in a squalid punk squat with only dystopian novels to keep them busy, and you get the idea. With song titles like “Stolen Electronics to Shove Up Your Ass,” “Hive Robotics at the Human Zoo,” and the title track, the vibe is definitely jokey, but the grooves are too good to be a joke. There are some real, albeit goofy, earworms here. This record mixes some straight-ahead garage sing-alongs with a few lo-fi woozy synth dirges that wouldn’t sound out of place on a TOBACCO record. Do you have a quarantine anthem? “Shotgunning O’Doul’s and Kicking Dicks,” where the title is a good portion of the song’s lyrics, has you covered. Very weird fun if you are experiencing paranoia, boredom, or enjoy shoving stolen electronics up your ass.

Shrinkwrap Killers Feed the Clones, Pt. 1 LP

If you like the SPITS, then you’ll love SHRINKWRAP KILLERS. They play that brand of synth punk that uses electronic sounds as weapons of annoyance while heaping as much punk into the equation as possible. Conspiracy theory themes mix with the aural experience to shed light on real contemporary issues, albeit with a dystopian sci-fi slant. Imagine all of the most evil fictions becoming real—well, welcome to Planet Earth 2023, because it’s all playing out on our pocket computers and in the streets, and it’s this context that SHRINKWRAP KILLERS uses for artistic inspiration. Scorching guitars and chugging bass intertwine with the electro-noise to form an intimidating but witty production that is entertaining like a slasher movie, fun like a car crash, and hanting like an amusement park after dark. “Darwin Daycare” (a song about feral children surviving in a violent environment) is a prime example of the dark sense of humor that pervades this recording. If H.P. Lovecraft wrote punk songs, they’d probably sound a lot like this.

Slant Vain Attempt EP

Given that members of SLANT play in South Korea’s SCUMRAID, you would expect their first EP to be drenched in noise. You’d also be wrong. This is a pretty straightforward hardcore outfit that stands out from the pack of USHC revivalists due to both vocalist Yeji’s harsh, raw shouting and the band’s strong attention to detail. Songs like “Scorn” are more dynamic and punishing than a lot of bands mining the same territory. Fucking great.

Slant 1집 LP

After a demo and a 7″, Seoul’s SLANT is back with a ten-track LP on Iron Lung Records, a vicious slab of modern HC with its influences firmly rooted in the classics of ’80s American hardcore. While this is a snotty, stomping blast from start to finish, I find it’s the lighter touches on this record, like the squealing, STOOGES-esque guitar solos that tail-end a lot of the choruses, that really do it for me. This is a significantly more polished endeavour than their prior two releases, but I’d argue if anything, they stepped up the aggression for this LP. While this isn’t hardcore that’s reinventing the wheel, it’s a fucking good ride; SLANT is clearly an act that is just itching to get back to touring and playing live, I have no doubt they could tear a venue to shreds.

Smut First Kiss 12″

I saw SMUT twice here in Oakland: once a completely brilliant hot drunken mess with a faulty distortion pedal and performance-enhancing technical confusion, the other time just a regular, competent show. Same approving audience reaction at both shows. A general “feel-the-darkness as truth” manifests through SMUT, and this 12″ is permanent proof. There is self-abuse, there are drugs and sex, admissions and humility, punks’ experiences through punk music, devoid of the boring performative bullshit we scroll through all day every day. First Kiss is reminding me how I may have taken punk for granted pre-plague, but I know I was helplessly engaged at those two shows. And now we enjoy these eight tracks of pummelling hardcore that coulda been among the best examples from the Mutha Records roster in a different era, foul and lean but not sketchy or despicable. Or maybe the unmitigated power of early SS DECONTROL and JERRY’S KIDS. These East Coast comparisons are fine for reference but kind of unfair because this band falls into a trajectory of LA punk that’s been consistently inspiring for ten-plus years. Can’t wait til the citizens of the US value public health enough to return to a reality where we can pit to SMUT again, but in the meantime this 12″ rules!

Soga Demo LP

A trio of “all-star” punks from Mexico City make a seriously satisfying racket. SOGA (“rope” en ingles) shines through short punk-as-fuck guitar solos and rage-inducing rhythmic clatter. Each member contributes to the singing, shouting, and screaming—separately and in unison—solidifying a powerful collaborative outrage. “Fiambre” is my pick for most fucked and ferocious, while “Vil Migala” gets honorable mention for being a sped up and not-crass UFO Dictator. If you’ve been endeared by the likes of CREMALLERAS, TERCER MUNDO, or RIÁ‘A it would be a huge mistake to skip this one. I’m generally skeptical of demos being put to vinyl, but this one was a no-brainer.

Speed Plans Statues of God LP

It’s always cool when bands can go super old-school without sounding like a wishy-washy imitation, and Pittsburgh’s mighty SPEED PLANS hit that description right on the noggin with whiplash-inducing results. These sixteen tornados of meaty hardcore are strewn with restless guitars and captured with a basement sound that makes this killer LP worthy of a spot right behind your favorite O.G. ’80s records. Commanding tracks like “Jesus Christ” and “Make Them Watch” are an instant win, and this type of authentic fury only gets better with every spin.

Spirito Di Lupo 4 Songs cassette

The Milan DIY punk scene seems especially strong at the moment, and although I don’t know all the bands who supply personnel for SPIRITO DI LUPO (who are also partly Bolognese), I will rep KOBRA to anyone who cares to listen. Iron Lung clearly agrees, as they put the KOBRA LP out, and have given a North American home to this related band’s debut tape, released in Italy a few months prior. Revelling in its glorious shit-fi recording, it’s got proto-anarcho bin lid drumming, dual glowering dude/irate woman vox, a sort of Euro-Oi! tempo and something approaching a big rock moment in the riff power of the final song, “Canzone Della Foresta.” GERMS meets DIRT via NABAT, and as unhinged as such a meeting would have presumably been in reality.

Spirito Di Lupo Vedo La Tua Faccia Nei Giorni Di Pioggia LP

Although I know very little about the actual overall activities of the Occult Punk Gang and Sentiero Futuro Autoproduzioni, these Milan-based collectives have been busy and consistent in recent years, putting their scene on the map and making great hardcore/punk records. Italy has a legacy in hardcore, but after the legendary bands burned out and faded away, for distant foreigners like myself, it seemed that the country’s punk scene sort of lost its vitality. However, these aforementioned collectives rekindled my excitement. The SPIRITO DI LUPO LP is another great gem. It remains close to the artifacts of radical punk; they mix the different elements tastefully. The guitars resonate with post-punk-esque, chorus-pedal-infused sharp tones, while the rhythmic flow maintains a sense of urgency akin to hardcore. The male/female vocal duo delivers an anarcho/peace punk spoken-singing style, their voices loud enough to emphasize their significance, reminiscent of acts like SOGLIA DEL DOLORE or BEDBOYS, yet the riffs are more dynamic and include clever flicks other than being a wall of sound. The album’s eclectic fusion of ideas lends it a massive sound, oscillating between tradition and innovation, already imparting a timeless quality. A great, complex record that also looks great, including two fold-out posters as lyrics sheets, both in the original Italian and an English translation.

The Electronic Circus Direct Lines / Le Chorale 7″ reissue

This one-off synth-pop single from 1981 is one of your “underground by circumstance, not by design” scenarios, in that the main guy behind the ELECTRONIC CIRCUS, Chris Payne, was a biggish deal in the genre at the time (GARY NUMAN band member with a co-writing credit on VISAGE’s “Fade to Grey,” which I’m guessing has been a decent source of income since). He had a hit on his mind when releasing “Direct Lines,” it seems, but the world thought otherwise. Still, like plenty of other obscure early ’80s synth, it’s picked up an audience via YouTube, including Jensen from IRON LUNG, who’s given the single its second rerelease and first remaster. It’s solid stuff: briskly paced, with self-consciously space-age swirly keyboard FX and vocals erring on the dramatic side of paranoia. “Direct Lines” is of a piece with bands of the time like OMD, even if you can tell it was never likely to push the same pop chart buttons. “Le Chorale,” the B-side song, is a portentous instrumental built around pleasant electric piano.

The Steves Jerk! EP

Here’s an interesting pearl dredged up from the deep chasm of the early ’80s Boston underground. Jerk! is the third EP of STEVES material to be released this year. Unlike the reissues of Making Time and In a Room, Jerk! features previously unreleased songs that were recorded during the original sessions around 1980–1981, and have been unearthed and repackaged by Iron Lung Records. The STEVES played an eclectic blend of punk, proto-metal, and proggy power pop. I hear elements of BLACK RANDY AND THE METROSQUAD, DEVO, and the ZIPS, mixed with RASPBERRIES, FOCUS, and QUEEN. The ripping guitar solos and operatic layered vocals make the STEVES more interesting than a lot of the KBD-style punk they’ll inevitably get lumped in with. The three songs on Jerk! are not quite as potent as what you’ll hear on the two previous EPs, but they still pack a wallop. Recommended for anyone with a penchant for the quirkier side of obscure underground punk.

The Steves Making Time / Mechanical Friend 7″ reissue

Iron Lung presents a reissue of this long-forgotten 1980 7” record from Boston’s the STEVES, a synth punk duo that was definitely of their time sonically but has enough to separate them from other punk/new wave groups. The drums and synth set-up was not especially fresh in 1980, what with bands like DEVO getting MTV play and cult heroes like the SCREAMERS and LOS MICROWAVES employing a similar approach, if not attitude. Underground music has come full circle enough that the electronic whooshes and electro-bass sound as contemporary now as they did back then, but what strikes me the most about “Making Time” is its economical, straightforward songwriting and vocal delivery. It’s a short, well-written song that is performed without the affect or provocation of much of that era’s punk. When the chorus of “Making time for making time” hits, it’s a perfect melodic moment, reminiscent of ’60s pop as much as a robotic KBD curiosity. “Mechanical Friend” is the first-person account of a “robot lover” describing itself and how it’s “here to serve you” over slow, ESQUIVEL-leaning instrumentation. So, it’s weird, but the melodic, earnest vocal performance wins again. If the early days of synth punk or new wave get you moving, check out this unusual disc, and keep an eye out for two more STEVES reissues from Iron Lung.

The Steves In a Room EP reissue

My first thought listening to this EP was “Wow, every band really does want to be DEVO these days.” Then I noticed this was a reissue from 1980, and thought “Wow, this band wanted to be DEVO during DEVO’s peak.” Which, honestly—bold move, STEVES. I can’t fault you for trying. But I also can’t help but laugh at the press release, claiming the STEVES sounded too unruly to be considered for radio play. Freedom of Choice literally came out that same year! Maybe it’s all tongue-in-cheek and I can’t pick up sarcasm the way I used to. I will say though, it was daring of them to put a disco track on the B-side in 1980. Now that’s bold.

The Vacant Lot Living Underground EP reissue

Impossibly scarce OZ DIY artifact brought back to life! The four songs on this 1980 EP from Canberra’s the VACANT LOT legitimately sound like the product of four different bands—I’d love to see some sort of Myers-Briggs-type punk personality test based on one’s preferred selection from Living Underground. I’m in the group clustered around “She’s Really Dead,” an exercise in stark, FALL-ish rhythm and repetition with a hypnotic, endlessly spiraling bass line, off-center disco beats, layers of fucked-up keyboard buzz, and desperate, keening vocals laced with more than a touch of PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED. “Multinationals” is a rabid synth punk scorcher, like DOW JONES AND THE INDUSTRIALS gone murder punk, and “Tatslotto Night” is even nastier, just sheer unadulterated KBD snot and snarl. Oddest of all (the record’s INFJ?) is “Milk the Land of Its Honey,” which sets up Factory Records expectations (like, major, major early WAKE vibes) before completely shattering them with Nuggets’d-out ’60s garage/psych keys that could have been lifted from the SEEDS. Pick your king!

UBIK Next Phase LP

Blending snotty ’77 punk, spooky darkwave, and playful anarcho-punk sounds, UBIK delivers a refreshingly fun and inspired take. Dueling minimalist guitar and bass lines combined with overlapping vocals on the track “Peter Dutton is a Terrorist” offer up a catchy but earnest anarcho-punk vibe, while other tracks feature graveyard-ready, reverb-drenched vocals, and yet others offer a more straightforward hardcore attack. Definitely something for everyone here, but their songwriting and originality shine brightest in the anarcho-punk moments.

Under Attack Through the Blade EP

This six-song 7″ is as stripped-down as it gets for hardcore: no chugging, an appropriate amount of breakdowns, and generally pretty punk. It fits well with mid-2000’s crusty hardcore bands. The lyrics seem to center around disdain for certain individuals, mental anguish, and getting screwed over. My favorite track is probably “Dirt Nap,” which I think kind of starts out with a UK82 vibe, which goes into a moshy part with the anethemic lyrics, “Existing is terror / Why fuck why / Swallow the barrel / I must die.”

Urin Afekt EP

From Berlin, but with members from all over the place (just like Berlin itself, right?), URIN is back with a killer EP. They “upgraded” their sound a bit from the previous Incydent EP, adding layers of noise and chaos to the already frantic D-beat madness that they do so well. Their sound is unique and they were able to find their space sonically, as they sound unlike any other bands that come to mind. Maybe the best way to describe it is a modern version of GAI, but it still is not enough to get the whole picture, so just click play.

Vonbrigði Hanagal 2xLP

I’m only four songs into this, and I’m going to file it under essential listening. This collection of Icelandic post-punk and hardcore was recorded in 1982—83 and sounds immediately vital and current. VONBRIGÁI is new to me, and apparently was not very well-known outside of ReykjavÁ­k’s punk scene, and that is a shame for the ages. The recording sounds fantastic: warm and full like it was recorded in a studio this week. The drums and bass sound especially great. As for the songs, they teem with post-punk unease and tension but drive with hardcore energy. The band comes across as super confident and tight. What a gem, seriously. The guitars are frequently dissonant and feedback-laden with flanger swirls around arpeggiated structures that predate noisy indie rock and post-hardcore by years. Syncopated beats lock in perfectly with driving bass lines that will make you bob your head and also scratch it because these folks are not a household name. If I’m making comparisons, it sounds like the first few ICEAGE records meshed with End Hits FUGAZI, but that’s not doing this album justice. Just go listen to it now and love it—it’s on Bandcamp. It looks like the double-LP is sold out, but hold out hope for a repress. Highly recommended.

Wound Man Human Outline LP

This is a monster of a powerviolence album. Brutal, pummeling and unrelentingly hurtful. The short songs are so chaotic and frenetic that feel like being hit in the face and loving every single blow. But what I really love about WOUND MAN is how they manage to handle the riff-a-rama and all the violent spurts of noise (what a hell of a drummer they have, btw) with more sinister-sounding slow tempos that are incredibly heavy and tense and violent. This album is on repeat in this writer’s house.