Up the Punx

Accidente Caníbal LP

Tight, melodic, high-energy release from Madrid, Spain, with vocals reminiscent of Agent M from the early TSUNAMI BOMB 7″ singles that were released by Checkmate Records in the late ’90s. That label was run by Hunter Burgan who plays bass for AFI, and we can argue if his band sold out well before the Black Sails in the Sunset album, but the tight guitar/bass interplay with thunderous drumming reminds me of those early albums. Recorded in Madrid, the album was mastered by Mass Giorgini (COMMON RIDER, SQUIRTGUN) at his Sonic Iguana Studios in Lafayette, Indiana…so maybe that’s where all this ’90s/’00s stuff is coming from. Translating the lyrics from Spanish, the songs take a strong rebellious stance, putting the common in the center and fighting back the corporate cannibals. I have a feeling this is the kind of band that will pack out the infamous Wurlitzer Ballroom in Madrid to sweaty spastic crowds after the pandemic is over.

Barrage Barrage LP

Latest release from France’s BARRAGE. Non-stop crushing crustcore in the vein of EXTREME NOISE TERROR or DISRUPT, although BARRAGE sticks to hardcore punk roots rather than the crustier realm of the aforementioned bands. Some death and thrash metal phrases can be heard in parts of the album, yet it successfully avoids the modern-sounding extreme metal approach. The D-beat tag does get thrown around, but D-beat masters out there might not call it quite that. Still raging, full-front ferocity of in-your-face sonic bombardment.

Colère Unleashed LP

Hailing from Belgium is COLÈRE, with a pretty strong LP release in the form of Unleashed. I think it’s pretty cool—strong D-beat influence on some American-style hardcore punk tunes. Not quite as dirty as I think it should be, but overall I like it quite a lot. Usually I find covers on full-length releases as largely pointless, but they do a version of “Face to Face” by the FAITH that I think is pretty cool and they put their own spin on it. Their own tunes ain’t half bad, either. Not an album I’d necessarily go nuts over, but a pretty cool listen overall and I’d recommend it.

Days of Desolation Circles LP

Titan riffs coming through from Belgium’s DAYS OF DESOLATION. DAYS OF DESOLATION play hyper-blast grinding crust as a three-piece, with morose chords beneath the fury. Cacophonous synth subtleties are dispersed within the tracks and sound squeamishly off-putting with ominous dread. This is quite technical with all the grit of classic crust. Thinking NASUM, GADGET, SNIFTER, early INSISION, or more recently, SAYYADINA, D.E.R., P.L.F., or GRUELING SENTENCE. A fine mix of prog ambiance and pulverizing grindcore with nodes of death metal and crust. DAYS OF DESOLATION tether between exhausting blasts and well-composed passages that grab you by the throat. I admit I sort of lost touch with this style of crust-grind, but DAYS OF DESOLATION have my eyes bulging out with attention. With songs titles such as “King of Pikes,” “Autumn,” “Your Prerogative,” and “Hypersleep,” I feel like I will grow to give this one a much deeper connective listen over the coming months. A definite for manic grind blasters that like their crust extra heavy and their death extra fast. I also have learned DAYS OF DESOLATION are on the CAPITALIST CASUALTIES tribute album, so that rules. Circles is their first LP after an EP, and it slays.

CMO​Γ / Ergophobia Paran​ö​id Visions split 10″

DISCLOSE worshipping time! You know the drill, this one is for the Kawakami aficionados out there. Nothing new under the sun, just two bands, CMOΓ (“Smog”) from Skopje and ERGOPHOBIA from Germany, sharing their love for noisy, fuzzed-out D-beat. So if you’re ready to dive headfirst into a sonic maelstrom of D-beat, give this one a spin. You won’t be disappointed.

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?

Crutches / Kontrasosial Chaos Riders Freedom Fighters split LP

CRUTCHES spit out nine tracks of clean-sounding Swedish D-beat in the vein of all your favourite umlaut-adorned and mispronounced backpatches, but with all the modern advancements of clean recording. It’s fine, I guess. Vocals could sound less shrieked, but I’m old now so what the fuck do I know; it’s just hard for me to get sucked into something so polished-sounding, especially when sonically, they just don’t manage to conjure that atmosphere of danger that I think is absolutely necessary in modern crust. I can hear all the shiny studs in this recording and none of the filth. KONTRASOSIAL gives this the kick that it needs with a slightly more metal approach and stomp that blows the other side outta the water, an unfair pairing really.

Mass Extinction Never Ending Holocaust LP

This lot is serious, dead serious. It might just be an impression, but I feel that fewer bands sing about animal rights and the horror of slaughterhouses these days, while the topic was very popular back in the ’90s and ’00s. It sounds a little paradoxical, since more and more people these days question the meat industry and challenge conventional diets by going vegetarian or vegan, or calling their parents cruel murderers at dinner. The growing presence of the issue in the mainstream may have impacted its prevalence in traditional punk discourses: since it is in the mainstream, why bother dealing with it in our lyrics? Or is it just taken for granted nowadays, whereas it was still something of an oddity a few decades ago? Do punks still even care? I would think so—after all, vegan food is highly Instagrammable, which seems to matter a lot. But MASS EXTINCTION still cares about this important topic. A lot. These two brothers (they use a drum machine) are rightfully angry at all the abuse animals suffer at the hands of humankind, and to protest this systemic oppression, the band chose the most furious style there is in the punk universe: gruff, dual-vocal grinding crustcore. The sonic and political tradition that MASS EXTINCTION belongs to is old and obvious, namely EXTREME NOISE TERROR and DISRUPT, but with a significant grindcore influence, pretty much like a militant vegan version of MASSGRAVE. Beside the very apt songwriting, the anger and outrage on this recording are genuine, and that’s what makes it work so well. The band even manages to make you forget that they use a drum machine. Never Ending Holocaust was first released on tape in 2020, but it was just too good not to enjoy a vinyl release.

Maudit Dragon Maudit Dragon LP

This three-piece from Grenoble, France quite simply fucking rules. For a debut LP, these songs are wise beyond their years, with a production that isn’t over-polished. Jo’s vocals range from high and light, to a low-end, strained output of total force, reminiscent of Brody Dalle’s snarl, particularly the opener “Ailleurs” that sounds like the DISTILLERS’ “Ask the Angels.” The guitars are perfectly big-fuzzed-out, mirroring the vocals, and make a wall of sound over the powerhouse drums—and did I even hear some keys in the background? I can’t imagine this not making my 2022 top ten. Everything I want out of a punk album: grit and power balanced with harmony and tenderness. The Cursed Dragon calls, so listen up.

Motron Who’ll Stop the Rain LP

The second album from this Motörcharged metal punk band from Varese, Italy featuring various members from PIOGGA NERA, KONTATTO, DEVOID OF THOUGHT, and more. This sounds a lot like if you took the gruff-beyond-gruff vocals from CRUDE SS, distorted them even deeper on the EXTREME NOISE TERROR spectrum, and then set them atop a far more metallic and rock’n’rage-driven crustcore peak, with riffs galore and sharp quick solos all sewn together with tight playing. A little less raw and more polished than their first album Eternal Headache, both in terms of the recording and the songs themselves, the fourteen tracks speed, crush, and rock, culminating in their take on a classic NABAT song. The lyrics are blunt: attacking war, scene problems, cops and the ever-relatable punk needs of drugs and a hangover-killing next-day hair of the dog. All in fun, there’s a wild “if you’re only in it for the lyrics…fuck off” warning on the lyric sheet, which is a wild inversion of the ’80s and ’90s “if you’re only in it for the music, fuck off.” Sadly, it’s hard to fathom where punk has landed in the 21st century—anyone is drawn to it at this point by the lyrics, but perhaps there are still (and more power to them) ancient diehards keeping close monitor from their squat somewhere in Europe, whom modern late stage capitalism has yet to pry loose. It’s an odd warning, like “hey don’t judge us too closely,” but with a crust skeleton riding a motorcycle on the cover next to a beer bottle on a chain. I think the party was clearly stated from the outset, and it meets it in, ahem, (ace of) “spades.” It is a fun, raging, rocking listen.

Rip It Up Morbid Laws LP

Not sure how a record released in France this past summer so instantly reminds me of mid-80s Chicago punk…but it does. And not even in a way that I can quantify or really explain, it’s just something about how it hits me. It’s catchy, but the teeth bite you hard and sink in—vocals are gruff and urgent while the whole recording swings even while it rocks, like NAKED RAYGUN and LES THUGS collaborating. Good shit.