Besthöven / Disjawn split EP

Playing with peak Scandi D-beat dynamic here, and reminding almost of the latest PARANOID LP or later AVSKUM, BESTHÖVEN still retains that FINAL BOMBS jangling, metallic, riff-ripping classic Finnish ’82 style, but with authentic Brazilian attitude. It feels a bit strange saying that, but there is a fire to these few tracks in a classic D-beat formula that brings a warmth to the style. Don’t get me wrong, there is steel-charged grit to Fofåo Discrust’s music as well, but his vocals are fuego/fogo. The DISJAWN recording is far more havoc-ridden, smashing across both crash cymbals, D-beating to death from Philly. I mention that because there is an East Coast hardcore tone of voice here in the meter of the lyrics and the irreverent chords, compared to the earnest presentation on Side A. Both sides stylistically complement one another while bringing a similar message from each hemisphere: Fuck war. Fuck the military. Where is [this] (either) country? Where is a peaceful life?

Condemned / Ernia Strike to Kill split LP

Somewhere in this batch of reviews I think I say that a dose of catchy, uplifting punk might be just what I need…this record definitively disproved that assertion, because this record is what I fucking need. CONDEMNED blasts straight out of 2004 with hard-charging crust fury, continuing a proud and storied legacy of bands from Connecticut like REACT, TORRINGTON, and DIALLO. On the flipside, Basque Country’s ERNIA matches the intensity and drops in fearsome blasts seemingly at will. Brilliant early ’00s European squat crust sounds hyped up on relentless fastcore and grind—I find myself exhaling after every song without even realizing that I was holding my breath. Lyrics presented in Basque, English, French, and Spanish, everything about this one hit the fucking spot.

Fracture Jualas cassette

Philly’s FRACTURE returns with their second outing after the fuckton of hardcore onslaught of their first release and it’s on cassette again like all good punk. They punish with almost ’80s SoCal-style skanking rhythms and lyrics sung both in Spanish and English, sometimes all in the same song. They rage along like a less raw LOS CRUDOS or RAYOS X and are definitely a couple bucks well spent. Next… 

Future Terror Plague EP

Atrocious, galloping, guttural D-beat from Virginia that hisses with WARCOLLAPSE-type angst and echoing screams. A sheer blast of classic ’90s Scandi-style punk that sounds like a sonic battlefield. Totally brutal, buoyantly produced, thick and dirgy, and bound together with samples that take me back to the ’90s filth-core onslaught. Wild paces of that classic SARCASM, Phonophobia, ASPECT OF WAR sound, with time-signature changeups that leave a lump in your throat. So fucking ripping. This is an addicting release.

Genöme Young, Beautiful & Free LP

Debut album from GENÖME of Malmö, Sweden. Great production D-beat/kängpunk with echoed vocals. Many bands in this style tend to take a low-fidelity DIY approach to recording but GENÖME does it in the modern, non-retro-sounding style of ’90s Japanese meets Swedish-style hardcore production. Reminds me of a bit of DETESTATION or some of the crustcore bands coming out of the Minneapolis area in the ’90s. Artwork by Petter from GLORIOUS?

Mankind? Discography LP

In ten-plus years, this is probably my most personally-invested review; one that brings back a lot of important memories for me, as I am sure this release will be for many of you readers, too. In 1996, I moved from NY to New Haven, CT for art school. But what I learned and gained in New Haven, besides some lifelong friends, was that the city’s punk scene was extremely active in socio-political activism, from benefit shows, Food Not Bombs, and protesting the retail and polluting spaces and industrial zones in the area. Various anarchist proactive reactions were happening. Punk was actually happening, in real life (prior to this cyber age we are in now, but I digress). A club downtown called the Tune Inn was where I would begin going from NY, and of course continued to, when I lived in New Haven. Politically, the scene was heavily anarcho-voiced, with sounds ranging from street punk to grinding crust. I was very interested in all of this. Distros, pamphlets, tabling; the message and this movement. MANKIND? was winding down around this time, but I befriended Chris “Picasso” who went on to form a couple lesser-known acts like ARCHAIC PAX and ANGUISH as well. Of course, Bill Chamberlain of BEHIND ENEMY LINES, the PIST, REACT, and DEVASTATION was on guitar and concurrent vocals in MANKIND?, with Al Ouimet and Rick Abott also of the PIST, Stacey of CALLOUSED (on vocals as well), and Jeff Wilcox of BRUTALLY FAMILIAR. In sound, MANKIND? initially could be compared to DIRT, with some balance of NAUSEA (their cover of “Electrodes” is included on this), though they were more contemporaries of CONFLICT, ICONS OF FILTH or AUS-ROTTEN in tone. But today I can only say this is MANKIND?—the one and only. Chris has full lungs on every measure and every track, and Stacey’s delivery is just as relentless, firing off passionate, detailed lyrics with backing exclamations throughout. Really, the balance between Stacey and Picasso is the voice of thousands and a conversation in solidarity. As the ’90s moved on into the millennium era, the lyrical writing style of many punk bands became pithier. Vaguer. Metaphoric. I am not saying this is lazy at all, but MANKIND? was far from that on every measure. The messages were clear and highly detailed. This was not a punk band I could simply agree with. MANKIND? and the surrounding scene forced me to question my own white suburban comforts. Animal liberation, sexism, and homophobia, Ecocide and nuclear power, The fucking death sentence. The remastering here is incredible! I have two MANKIND? EPs and the Pogo Attack compilation, but this sound engineering blows everything I’ve ever heard from the band to smithereens. The strings are incredibly fuzzy and crispy, the vocals, main and backing, are a forefront of rage and skepticism. The drums have never sounded so impactful. The playlist does not skip a beat of intense DIY attitude, Freedom, awareness and equality—outro-ing with their cover of CRASS’ “Punk is Dead.” Included you get a gorgeous collection of color photos, flyers, handwritten lyrics, setlists, photos of pins from that time period, all the liner art from releases and comp appearances, a thorough explanation of “WHY” [sic] they use a question mark in their name, and current ideas of how to make a difference in your area or on a larger scale. In short, this is an amazing collection of the efforts from MANKIND? and a reminder of the roots of punk, and really the point of caring about it, wherever you stand in DIY punk. “Hopefully I’ve made an impact and I’m not just wasting my breath…Punk’s not dead if you know the cause.” MANKIND? certainly got that then, and clearly still does. Yes, you need this!

Scared Earth Poisoned World LP

What made DISCHARGE such a powerful band is that they were a reaction to the times. In the early 1980s, the world stood at the brink of any-moment potential nuclear annihilation between the two great superpowers, who played a continual chess game of proxy wars and military funding across the globe. The horror and senselessness of the Vietnam War was less than half a decade from the band’s inception. The power of their music spawned an entire genre, but its continued resonance also grinds in its meaning, what it represented and still represents: a stark rejection of how the powers that be run the world. Stockholm’s SCARED EARTH’s ten-song debut LP carries the torch of D-beat hardcore with members from SVART PARAD, DISSOBER, DOM DÄR. And honestly, despite the pedigree, I was pretty ready to dismiss this as “old guys checking off boxes,” but by side B, Poisoned World stops being perfunctory solid and strong D-beat hardcore, and gets more interpretive and interesting—which is what some of the best Swedish old-timers like AVSKUM and ASOCIAL have done in some of their more recent (and arguably best) records. Opening guitar leads and weird song patterns capture a lot of what was so special about the influence of DISCHARGE in Sweden: They ignited a nation of teenagers to try to figure out how to learn to play hardcore, and the happy, sometimes inept personal expression is a large part of what makes Svensk ’80s and ’90s D-beat records so engaging. This debut’s A-side seems stuck like a lot of senior class punk records: where the musical competency, access to a good solid recording, and desire to capture the spark of their original musical influences regulates some of that personal expression and distinctiveness. It’s more direct and straight-to-the-jugular-forward. But the B-side really does give hope that this band will continue to explore and expand the confines of the really simple formula. The lyrics, largely in English, are shouted in scouring, raw screams; echo and underline blanket rejection of war, and while stark and to the point, there’s not the same kind of defining mood to the early 21st century as the early 1980s. Sure, there are armed conflicts and tragedies happening right now, but the crisis of the time is more complex and basically a slow-motion destruction of the planet by kleptocrats and indifference, so I wish this took the spirit of DISCHARGE’s lyrical intent and, again, inventively applied it to current realities. But inarguably a mandatory purchase if I was at the gig, cranked up and played loud, all of this overthinking fades and this is a killer solid blast of just tried ’n’ true classic Swedish hardcore!!!!

Tortür Never Ending Grief LP

Scaly, scaling, escapist rÁ¥punk D-beat noise from LA. Deliberate face-ripping riffs that flail through the play with no mercy. TORTÜR plays the standard D-beat formula, but the energy is many ticks above normal. Vocals are grimaced and the chords are buoyant. Drums pulverize—sticks tumbling with classic DISCLOSE openers and breaks, at a rate a notch faster than everything else, and it works—as TORTÜR ebbs and stabs in unison. The way a band like this should sound; slightly organic but still nailing it like the nightmare machine they are illustrating. Some surprising rhythmic change-ups, in the way I fell jawless skull-over-boots for WORLD BURNS TO DEATH some 20-odd years ago, in “Who Will Survive The Human Collapse?” which adds shock treatment to the overall seizure of this album. Basically, a blistering new chaotic D-beat album that excels with production fervor and speed. Might be on my top ten had I not already sent it in. Recalling TOTAL WAR, DESPAIR, ASPECTS OF WAR. Art by Robin Wilberg of SVAVELDIOXID (previously DISFEAR). TORTÜR, a three piece of LA, are a gift (GASATTACK), and I definitely recommend trying to find this raw physical slab, it goes for $666 on their Bandcamp, and was released this past September 11th, yikes.