Apex Predator Apex Predator demo cassette

Savage, angry metallic hardcore out of Seattle! I am here for it. The guitars chug along relentlessly with the crashing cymbals. The lyrics are nasty and to-the-point. This is circle pit material reminiscent of SLAPSHOT with slower, anthemic breakdowns that accelerate into breakneck mayhem. “Intruding Thoughts” stands out for reasons that are just between my therapist and I. There’s no wasted space on this demo. Nothing but five tracks of solid old school hardcore in about fifteen minutes.

Bridge Burner Grave Mistake cassette

File this one squarely under “tough guy hardcore.” BRIDGE BURNER’s 2022 cassette Grave Mistake is a pretty straightforward listen, featuring all of the hallmarks of the genre: two pissed-off vocalists who want to fight you, stomping mid-tempo breakdowns, and plenty of metal riffing. Complete with hip-hop instrumental opening and closing tracks, as well as the trademark intimidating, hoodie-wearing cartoon characters on the cover, this tape checks all of the beatdown boxes.

Conceal Demo ’23 cassette

CONCEAL is a new Trier-based band with ex-members of SLON and BRIDGE BURNER. Like a wrecking ball, CONCEAL destroys the hell out of everything with their NYHC-influenced approach, gritty and relentless, just like early MADBALL and AGNOSTIC FRONT. CONCEAL is worth listening to for their authentic and powerful vision of what hardcore should be.

Crawl Space Crawl Space demo cassette

This is an easy one to review, as it’s been playing in my tape deck since it came out. This band basically shares the exact DNA of Washington’s excellent/defunct PITBUL (including one of the PNW’s best shredders Jose Mora, also from GAG), and brings a concise violence to hardcore that rattles your teeth and satisfies on a primal level. I even dig the production, even if it sounds like the drummer is performing on a metal trash can. But that’s what this is, quick and mean and grittier than the cat box. Step into the CRAWL SPACE. Zero fat, face-cracking hardcore.

I Recover Promo Tape cassette

Two songs from a forthcoming release, I guess. Melodic punk with emo tendencies. There’s a lot of spoken vocal parts. Like a lot. On both songs. I don’t know about that. Does that mean they do this on every song? Because that could get old pretty quick. Aside from that, it’s not bad. I don’t know if the two songs on this tape would make me want to get a whole album, but if they threw two more on a 7”, I could see myself getting down with that.

I Recover Until I Wake LP

It’s surprising how far small changes can go in HC/punk. If I RECOVER’s guitars had a little more bottom, they would be a pretty tight melodic HC outfit. Instead, the guitars sound a little lighter and looser than they could. The expressive drums and anguished, hoarse vocals help give the whole record a pensive, emo-ish feel. The songs are catchy, but the band doesn’t sound too focused on it. As their name suggests, the lyrical content is introspective and sincere.

Lethal Hate Demo ’22 cassette

Germany’s LETHAL HATE plays stormy hardcore of the bludgeoning variety, eschewing nuance in favor of blunt force trauma. Fast and tough with brooding breakdowns, they lean towards the more maniacal side of early NYHC influence without much concern for adding to the recipe.

Outfaced Outfaced demo cassette

This is some really classic-sounding hardcore mixed with a gruff vocal performance. It’s hard not to feel like I’ve heard some version of this a thousand times, but I’ll be damned if this band doesn’t pull it off really well. If you’re in need of six minutes of pure aggressive energy,  maybe something to put on while you angrily cook dinner, I fully suggest you give this tape a go.

Powerage Demo MMXXI cassette

Bombastic, chugging metallic punk from Düsseldorf, Germany. This four-song demo gives strong early VENOM vibes with dissonant, grinding guitars, thick bass lines, and evil, growling vocals. The aesthetic of this demo reeks of the good old tape-trading days where the bands had more enthusiasm than quality recording equipment or graphic design skills. The result is no-frills headbanging and foot-stomping. Each track is packed with riffs and attitude. The first three stomp along at a moderate pace, and then the final track, “Fascist Scum,” picks up the pace to hardcore speeds. In fact, their Facebook page has a great portrait-mode cellphone video of them performing it live back in September 2020 in an actual garage and is worth a look.

Pus Demo 2023 cassette

PUS’s demo on German label STTW consists of five tracks of metallic, almost NYHC-style hardcore fury sung in a Slavic language. Despite the fact that one might consider this to be in the metallic hardcore realm, the gritty, overdriven guitars and the shouting vocals tend to make them a unique-sounding band compared to many counterparts that have a typical crossover sound. Many parts for two-stepping, border-destroying mosh tracks, a combustion of tough, energetic output.

Wedding Songs Late July cassette

Debut release from Koblenz, Germany from the duo Simon and Dominik, known as WEDDING SONGS. While they hail from thousands of miles away, this music is enchanted by some American West twang and mystique, with lots of spoken word and bluesy/country licks, spooked up by post-punk dreariness. It’s as if JOHN CALE made a country deathrock group with the BLASTERS as the backing band. This 2021 release has been followed by their debut LP this year, Hard to Find, which I look forward to hearing. Over all, this is a unique take on the genre, worth the three-song listen.