Reviews

Triple B

Be All End All Pact Music LP

South Florida’s BE ALL END ALL’s latest LP on Triple B sounds like a well-recorded, modernized powerviolence approach. Members of ECOSTRIKE and SEED OF PLAIN. For fans of TRASH TALK or the To Live a Lie catalog and the contemporary breed of powerviolence bands. Well-executed fast and furious yet heavy songs that end after around ten minutes.

C4 Chaos Streaks EP

I always have room on my plate for a helping of hardcore that, quite frankly, revels in its own ignorance. I’ve written about this before; there is a push-and-pull between brains and guts in punk and especially hardcore. I have nothing but love for fellow overeducated bookworm punks, but sometimes you just want to throw something that lives up to its name. Boston’s C4 is simply explosive. They hate techno and mock BOB DYLAN, because nothing matters except riffs that make you go absolutely dumbass and dive bomb off a stage assembled in a church rec room. This is hard-hitting perfection, slamming hardcore that further proves the point: ignorance is bliss indeed. Get over yourself and turn it way up.

Dead Heat World at War LP

DEAD HEAT has delivered an excellent crossover album with World at War. From beginning to end, it feels like a throwback to early ’90s SUICIDAL TENDENCIES with a modern flair rooted in the hardcore scene. Oftentimes when bands attempt this style, it misses the mark and comes off a bit flat and sometimes hokey. Fortunately, that is not the case here. Thrash-y throughout, groovy when it calls for it, gang vocals that don’t scream “hey, we don’t need to be here,” pretty noodling intros that aren’t just noodling for the sake of it, but all with a deep-down punk aesthetic. Listening to this brought me back to my pre-punk days and made me nostalgic for riding my bike down to the 7-11 for a Slurpee while blasting a MEGADETH tape in my Walkman. This record is gonna get a lot of action on my drives to and from work for sure. Good shit here, folks.

Dominant Force Cosmic Denial 12″

On first glance, the cover art for DOMINANT FORCE’s debut 12″ looks like a middle schooler’s naive interpretation of a woman who might exist in an issue of Heavy Metal, posing in front of the Windows pipes screensaver. This is great in theory, but in practice, no viewing of this art is better than the first time. DOMINANT FORCE’s music sounds cool and aggressive at first glance, with clear and incisive vocals borrowing heavily from John Joseph. In fact, the whole record owes a cosmic debt to the CRO-MAGS circa ’86: swiping riffs, leads, and vibes left and right. DOMINANT FORCE does mix it up with a chirpy, dance-y breakdown during “Conspiracy,” and the record’s length is perfect—these songs aren’t too short, but more than the six offerings here would be a bit tiresome. Like the cover art, “Cosmic Denial” is an enjoyable listen, but lacks the depth to keep me coming back. If you’re reading MRR for gym music recommendations, you could do much worse than slapping this and the NEVER ENDING GAME LP on your phone.

Ecostrike A Truth We Still Believe LP

Let’s get something out of the way, I’m fucking straight edge. Now that that’s over with, let me say that with a name like ECOSTRIKE I was expecting some heavy eco-terrorism vibes or some sort of stance beyond PETA commercial veganism and they massively fail in this department. Thus, the name immediately elicits a jerk-off hand motion. Second, I believe a lyricist whose largest issue in life is that a couple of their friends stopped hanging out with them in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant is what the kids now call privileged. I suppose you can view the lyrical dedication to the monotonous subjects of broken promises and pain from ending friendships as well as togetherness and the act of still being here as being virtuous, sincere, and maybe even pure. Sure, but these themes are undoubtedly codified and any adult writing these lyrics should be examined by a child psychologist. It’s my opinion that ECOSTRIKE needs to either surround themselves with better people or maybe, just possibly, their being straight edge is ruining their personal relationships as ECOSTRIKE imposes barriers between themselves and once friends who have stabbed ECOSTRIKE in the back by seeking “validation” for their “treasonous hearts” (that’s prose meaning not being straight edge). There’s a couple mentions of brotherhood as well which is a shame. It’s as if these guys learned nothing from the bow-core revolution of 2016. As for the music, you’ve probably heard it before. Stringy Youth Crew riffs with chugging palm mutes, JUDGE-like breakdowns, pick slides, deep evocative screams followed by whiny pleas, massive buildups, gang vocals and super clean production. You’ll like this record if you’ve only been listening to Firestorm in your walkman CD player for the past 27 years. Yes, this review is cynical because this music sucks. And that’s fine, Triple B Records already sold out of the album and are waiting on the second press to come in. Nothing I say matters because, despite my pessimism, the market for this music exists and I doubt serious readers of MRR (if there are any at this point) are lanyard carrying ECOSTRIKE fans. This is hardcore music for people who didn’t experience HAVE HEART, for a new generation of hardcore kids in the military, for people with no real life problems aside from their friends experimenting with gravity bongs, and for people who think being straight edge is the only signifier and personality trait that makes them unique and can connect them with others. From personal experience I can say that straight edge can be a great thing, a life saver in many cases but god damn if it doesn’t completely blind some people and make them intolerable shitheads. If “A Truth We Still Believe” is what makes you feel whole, then great, but I just hope you can have personality traits aside from black Xs on your hands (if that even is one).

Final Gasp Haunting Whisper EP

The bone-chilling intro “Descending” does its best to summon a Halloween-esque feeling, and quickly “Burning Body” picks up where the synth eeriness left off and dives into something very familiar. Is this what SAMHAIN would sound like if they just formed in the current days? Probably! Haunting Whisper reeks of SAMHAIN, MISFITS, and DANZIG, so if you need a fresh take on the cobweb-filled world that the three aforementioned bands created, this is the record for you. Five tracks of blood-curdling, hardcore-influenced goth-punk, or is it goth punk-influenced hardcore? Who cares anyway? This record slays and it sounds massive as hell, without a single filler. The fact that this review was written during the Halloween season just adds to the mystique that they achieved.

Initiate Lavender 12″

This is a short record that reeks of Californian HC, from the stomping sing-along choruses to the stranger aspects of this LP, like the wavy dream pop track “Beverly” that bleeds into the marching band riff of “One in the Same”. Short records are the best records and this one whips by too quick for me use the dreaded term “post-hardcore,” but I can definitely see this band getting stranger, and that’s not a bad thing.

Mindforce Swingin’ Swords, Choppin’ Lords 12″

Seven minutes of heaven for fans of heavy bouncing hardcore that facilitates swinging fists and (hopefully) a variant of beautiful mosh styles. The thrashy guitars squeal then fade, acting as a precursor to pig-pile-inducing shouts, all of which allow me to imagine the claps and boastful “Wooooh”s elicited from hardcore fest attendees. Between the stomp and crawl of “Fratello” and the quick oddly abridged song structures, MINDFORCE’s formula takes equally from heavy metal, thrash and early ’90s NYHC synthesized into their own quick, twisting, simplified bursts. It works for them and I now understand the hype but I would like to see some ideas explored further. This 12” leaves me wondering two things: how many members of MINDFORCE are Italian American and how can we reverse market forces so that 7″s are once again the cheapest means of putting out records?

Move BHC Freedom Dreams EP

On this debut 7″ EP, Boston’s MOVE BHC delivers some bone-breaking heavy hardcore/beatdown with overtly political lyrical content, with heavy emphasis on Black struggle. No thrills or smiles here, just totally righteous indignation. These eleven minutes contain several truly powerful moments, such as the intro to “Righteous Unrest.” Recommended to all those searching for some broader nuance in their windmilling music.

Never Ending Game Halo & Wings EP

On the surface this is some pretty cookie-cutter “tough guy hardcore.” It checks all the boxes. Breakdowns? Yep. Gang vocals? Sure. Lyrical content about being “hard”? You bet. Metallic riffs? Goddamn right. Borderline hokey drawing of some tattoo-like art on the cover? Of course. All the red flags are there that would turn me off to a record like this, but there’s something about this that I don’t completely loathe. I can’t quite pin it down, though. I wouldn’t go out of my way to put this on, but I wouldn’t turn it off if it was playing. I suppose that’s a win.

Somerset Thrower Paint My Memory LP

This is one of those bands that has been on my radar for a while now, but for whatever reason I’ve neglected to actually check out until now. Well, after listening to this record a few times now, I feel like an idiot. This is definitely something I should have been getting down with since day one. Heavy ’90s emo/indie rock vibes. Imagine a gruffer, beefier KNAPSACK. This just gets better each time I hear it. I’d put this up against any classic emo record any day. Mark my words, this album is going to be on “Top Albums of All Time” lists for years to come.

Speedway S.O.F. EP

I don’t know what it is about this record, but I haven’t been able to stop listening to it. Musically, it’s definitely got strong youth crew vibes, but it sounds fresh. It doesn’t sound like a note-for-note rehash of the Revelation Records catalog circa 1988—89. Perhaps it’s the vocals that set it apart from other bands of its ilk. Kinda screamy, yet with a hint of melody. Almost like if the dude from the BRONX was in a hardcore band or something like that. I really dig this EP and can’t wait to hear more from this group.

Maniac / Spy split EP

Two bands from opposite sides of the States come together for one vicious 7″ EP. California’s SPY and Massachusetts’ MANIAC bring their two different brands of pissed-off hardcore onto a single disc, and it’s great. The two bands’ respective vocalists both spew their venom across their two tracks (two per band/side), with the instrumentation being similarly biting. This reviewer does slightly prefer the SPY side, but both are very much worth your time.

The Fight Endless Noise LP

The FIGHT from Long Island’s latest LP. They combine the No Future Records-style UK82 attack with early NYHC Á  la SHEER TERROR or a NEGATIVE APPROACH-like approach. Stompy and pogo-y at the same time. Reminds a bit of the recent New Wave of British Hardcore approach in the UK with bands like ARMS RACE, VIOLENT REACTION, and the FLEX. Without trying too hard or being corny, contains honest lyrics about the police, and dependence on social media validation, some things many of us can relate to.

V/A The First 100 2xLP

Ah, the glorified label sampler disguised as a compilation. Oh, how I loathe these. I mean all of these songs have been previously released, so other than different variants for the collector nerd, there’s really no reason to obtain this album. Unless…you are unfamiliar with the roster of bands and looking to discover some new-to-you bands and releases. Like every compilation, this has its hits and misses for me, although the misses outweigh the hits. That may sound a bit negative, but there are two reasons for that: I prefer more of the current releases from Triple B, and the lack of diversity in style here. I realize that Triple B is a hardcore label, it’s just that more often than not, a lot of the stuff here starts getting monotonous—with 50 tracks of hardcore that’s bound to happen. That’s not to say there isn’t some killer stuff on here, because there is, it’s just a bit much to wade through to uncover. That said, this is a tremendous undertaking to try and document 100 releases, so that in and of itself deserves a bit of praise.

Restraining Order / Warfare split EP

Two songs of short, fast hardcore/punk from each band here. Both bands play a style of music that is not easily pinned down. Is it hardcore? Yeah, but there’s also heavy street punk influences as well. I mean, hell, RESTRAINING ORDER’s song “Undercover Cop” almost sounds like it could have been a pre-Do or Die DROPKICK MURPHYS song. There’s definitely a little something for everyone here.