Skin Graft

Cuntroaches Cuntroaches LP

Berlin’s most ballistic have somehow gone six years without releasing any new shit, and for that matter, this album is CUNTROACHES’ first after various tapes, lathes, splits, etc., but one listen to these eight songs (including two side-end locked grooves for extra noise vegetation) transported me right back to whatever year it was their first tape threw me fully clothed in the stagnant pond with its blackened noise-wave excess. Since 2018, members have also been part of URIN and KLÖSSE, and maybe both of those acts have leached into this music a little, with viciously blown-out dub-punk churn and FX-damaged hardcore. “Gravity System” does it all inside one (albeit five-and-a-half-minute) song: a gloomy, almost ambient intro, frazzled psyching-out that reminds me of that RAKTA/DEAFKIDS live collab LP, and a swerve into LEBENDEN TOTEN weird-crust. CUNTROACHES kill it live in my experience, and so will this set of music.

Hyper Gal Pure CD

Osaka two-piece that uses drums, keyboards, and vocals to blend elements of noise, no wave, pop, and blistering punk to create something remarkable and new. “Charm バイブル” opens the album with dueling fire-alarm synths that, through repetition and mellow vocal accompaniment, turn from irritating into shimmeringly beautiful. Repetition is an important part of HYPER GAL’s musical vocabulary, and they often follow a locked-in, krautrock-style groove to its logical extension. This is used to great effect on “Domestic Utopia ランド,” a seven-minute exercise in restraint and release that volleys between an isolated hi-hat/snare pattern and short bursts of noisy spoken/rapped vocals. As an album centerpiece, it captures everything great about this band: tension is maintained despite simplistic instrumentation, and there is a careful balance between experimentation and rhythmic familiarity. As wild as the noise gets, the drums ground the sound (even if it’s with blastbeats). When the drums pound out blown-out rudiments on jagged bizarro-universe J-pop excursions like “Tropical トロピカル” and “Wedding Ring 指 輪,” the pleasant vocals (especially on the harmonized latter track) keep them accessible. They are loud and abrasive without sounding aggressive, in the same vein as BLACK PUS or the 8-bit era of HELLA. Endlessly inventive and challenging, this is a great record.

Squid Pisser Vaporize a Tadpole CD

Day-glo LOCUST-core technical grind with gurgling synths make this a wild ride from start to finish. Featuring Tommy Meehan of CANCER CHRIST and GWAR on guitar and Seth Carolina of STARCRAWLER on drums, this release collects a previous album, EP, and some demo tracks in preparation for their Skin Graft debut. And it’s weird. Give it ten seconds, and you’ll know if it’s for you or not: blistering blastbeats, start/stop guitar bursts, and unhinged vocals with no space to breathe. Many songs feature guest vocalists that vary in sound and approach, from the straightforward grind of “Violence Forever” with Megan O’Neil of PUNCH, to the noisier experimental punk of “My Tadpole Legion” featuring Yako of MELT BANANA. Less successful are the forays into nu-metal riffing on tracks like the CRUCIFUCKS cover “Marching for Trash,” or “Everlasting Bloat.” They don’t match the neon sliminess of the surrounding work for me, but I could see metalheads digging them. Fun and grimy collection for aficionados of monster masks and brightly colored fluids.

Psychic Graveyard / USA Nails split LP

I’m not sure if people understand what a force ARAB ON RADAR was when they emerged before the turn of the millennium. The first time I saw them—resplendent in their janitor uniforms—they hit “go” on the strobe light and the band jolted to life like Frankenstein’s monster. The entire crowd backtracked ten steps in two seconds flat. Maybe “scurried” is a better description. DEVO, US MAPLE, and BRAINIAC weren’t just getting thrown into the blender, they were swinging a lawnmower around, chopping up bodies Dead Alive-style. And ARAB ON RADAR continued to deliver the goods up until they split. Afterwards came CHINESE STARS, who I always found frustrating. They didn’t have the killer instinct of RADAR nor quite the methodical precision of SIX FINGER SATELLITE. DOOMSDAY STUDENT was a good-enough rehash of ARAB ON RADAR, but to those who witnessed the first go-round, it wasn’t quite as much of an illicit thrill. Featuring some of the same key players, PSYCHIC GRAVEYARD delivers on the electro-punk promise of CHINESE STARS and pilots it straight into the eye of the hurricane. “Building You a Rainbow” is a suitably mellow-harshing recounting of whatever new age bullshit has crossed your path this week. Singer Eric Paul lists the various permutations of this noxious blather with a withering tone. If “Love My Skeleton Too” is what passes for romance in PSYCHIC GRAVEYARD’s world, then sign me up for the next speed-dating night. PSYCHIC GRAVEYARD’s side of this split is a surprisingly enjoyable trawl through a battered and beautiful landscape. The UK’s USA NAILS are the perfect complement to PSYCHIC GRAVEYARD. The London-based trio has been around for almost a decade now and their noise rock pummel still hits as hard as ever. These dudes are one of the few bands that took the influence of a band like MCCLUSKY and further refined it. And when I say “refined,” I mean “beat the living shit out of,” cuz these cats don’t mess around when it comes to inflicting damage. But they got songs as well, which makes the squall that much more disorienting. “What Have We Become?” is an example of restraint even as it throbs menacingly. “God Help Us If There’s a War” pairs up understated vocals with seesaw bass and a melodic guitar line. Nothing but pure, uncut high-quality goods on this evenly matched ocean-spanning split.