Sound Grotesca

Altar of Eden Chimeras cassette

ALTAR OF EDEN brings six tracks of faux-nihilist, gothy post-punk with a headache-inducing drum machine pounding loudly. “Matrix of Chaos” is good fodder for a darkly-lit dance party in a renovated basement. Step two feet to the right, then two feet to the left, and bang your head in time with your feet hitting the ground, repeat ad nauseam. You got it! Think ’80s deathrock that wants to be a little more hardcore, and you’re getting there. The real star of the album is the bassist keeping everything fluid, dance-y, and together next to the throbbing robot beat. If you’re a DJ at a local goth night, you know the kind with a dress code and $20 cover, this can be a fun new addition if your playlist is getting a little stale.

Maufrais Luxury of Complaint cassette

Trebly, fidelity-challenged post-punk from Austin that references CRISIS and the keyed up shamble of those first two MEKONS singles in equal measure, at least in general spirit if not strictly in practice—if one were to make a Venn diagram of influences that includes Messthetics-style UK DIY on one side and the most wiry takes on late-’70s/early-’80s anarcho-punk on the other, MAUFRAIS would clearly be taking up space where those two circles overlap. Sharp, needlepoint guitar over tumbling drums and murky bass, with completely affectless vocals detailing a litany of bleak realities accurately foretold by song titles like “Preferred Death” and “No Lease on Life.” Think of them as a Texan response to that great and very English QUANGO EP from last decade, which this tape also brought to mind in a somewhat abstract way—no future sounds par excellence.

Save Our Children Save Our Children demo cassette

Another scorching-hot banger from Austin, Texas. Seven deadly punk hardcore anthems in under seven minutes, as per punk tradition, in a GANG GREEN-meets-JERRY’S KIDS mash of ferocious energy. From the sound to the logo, this band exudes old school hardcore the way it is supposed to be. Even the lack of information about the band feels like the old days. Tune in and get transported to the ’80s!

Stunted Youth We May Be Dumb But We Ain’t Slow cassette

From the sound of things, these Texas boys have captured a level-5 storm in a garbage can. On their debut tape, STUNTED YOUTH conjures up a Tasmanian devil-like swirl of chaotic thrashing, complete with surrounding dirt cloud. The songs themselves come from the same spiritual place as some of the coolest bits of O.G. acts like CIRCLE JERKS and BLACK FLAG, but with the added ferocious firepower of a truly insane drummer. The muffled production of the tape gives it all a claustrophobic feel that somehow works, but I’m gonna need an actual record from these guys ASAP.