Reviews

For review and radio play consideration:

Send two copies of vinyl (one for our archive, one for the reviewer) or one copy of CD-only or cassette-only releases to MRR, PO Box 3852, Oakland, CA 94609, USA. Maximum Rocknroll wants to review everything that comes out in the world of underground punk rock, hardcore, garage, post-punk, thrash, etc.—no major labels or labels exclusively distributed by major-owned distributors, no releases outside our area of musical coverage, no reviews of test pressings or promo CDs without final artwork. Please include contact information and let us know where your band is from! All vinyl records received are added to our archive, which since 1977 has grown to become the largest collection of punk records in the world.

Apatia Odejdź Lub Zostań LP

With this record, Nikt Nic Nie Wie continues to re-release the work of distinguished Polish HC/punk band APATIA. On their second LP, they sound better defined than before. Of course, it’s short, fast and (mostly) loud, but the band has always enriched or stretched the genre just a bit. There’s more lead guitar than you’d expect for hardcore, and the charging 4/4 rhythm is often altered in small, effective ways. I’m always a little nervous when punk bands instrumentalize too much. Luckily, on this record it felt of a piece rather than overshooting the mark. APATIA’s ambition (and maybe some good editing?) gives their hardcore a depth that other bands might not have.

Asbestos Wishful Thinking EP

Some nasty and dark hardcore here from Denver’s ASBESTOS. This 7” delivers a speedy, pummeling, and unforgiving punk assault with chunky bass lines and exasperated, raw-throated vocals along the lines of TOTALITÄR. They were considerate enough to separate the six songs with an interlude in the middle that allows you to regain composure from their blunt force pounding.

Bog People Bog People LP

BOG PEOPLE’S long-lost (but recently found and released) self-titled LP makes me think two things: first, thank goodness the fine folks at Iron Lung dusted this off and put it out there for everyone to hear, and second, how many killer LPs have been shelved with no hope of seeing the light of day? Instead of dwelling on the latter, I’m going to focus on the former. Recorded during their heyday back in 2010 and originally abandoned for being “too speedy”(?), BOG PEOPLE laid down twelve tracks of deathrock-infused UK82, sounding like an unholy mix of RUDIMENTARY PENI and CHAOS UK, with moments that remind me of current punk champs ELECTRIC CHAIR. I love the guitars here, they have an almost psychedelic, swirling effect that works so well, most notably on “Constant Torture” and “Illusions.” Highly recommended, this record fits perfectly amongst the current landscape of punk. Maybe in 2010, the world just wasn’t ready for BOG PEOPLE.

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.

Cross No Beginning, No End cassette

Faster hardcore bands seem to be often overlooked and forgotten. Seminal outfits like HERESY, ELECTRO HIPPIES, or DEEP WOUND helped to solidify the hardcore genre, but somehow got lost in the vocabulary of today’s hardcore scene. Luckily, there are some modern bands that dust off some oldies and give them a new dimension, like NOSFERATU, the ANNIHILATED, and others. CROSS is a fast hardcore band hailing from New York that brings an intense energy to the genre with blistering drums, gritty vocals, and raw guitar riffs. Their songs are short, sharp, and pack a punch, showcasing their ability to deliver high-octane performances that will leave you exhilarated and craving more. If you’re a fan of hardcore punk and fast-paced music, CROSS is a band worth checking out. And shoutout to Roachleg Records for delivering the goods yet again!

Disinterred Corpse Burial cassette

Holy shit, this is chaotic as all hell. I can’t lie, the moment I saw the length of each song, I knew I was going to love this. Is that a bias? I guess it could be, but I can’t deny my adoration for sub-minute songs. Pure grind insanity here. I’m curious as to how the drums were recorded. It sounds like they were tracked directly to a TASCAM through a karaoke mic. They are blown the fuck out and it really adds to the madness. This sounds like the most organized mess of music I’ve ever heard in my life. It really distances them from other modern grind which sounds a bit too over-produced and clean for my tastes. I did initially scoff a bit at the cover art’s “Extremely Graphic Content” warning, but in hindsight, if any album is deemed worthy of that title, it’s this one. Wonderful stuff here, straddling the line between noisecore and grindcore.

Frizbee / Pal Splat split cassette

Rust Belt split cassette between PAL from Cleveland, OH and FRIZBEE from Indianapolis, IN. Let’s start with PAL. We already know ‘em, we already love ‘em. Kooky, artsy, hilariously insightful, heavy on the synth, and catchy as all hell. Their first cassette made my 2023 year-end top ten list, and their side of this release might be even better. Two originals and a cover of “96 Tears” by ? AND THE MYSTERIANS, and all three songs are absolutely killer. Moving on to FRIZBEE. Another three songs on their side of the split, also two originals and a cover, the cover being “I’m a Bug” by the URINALS. As far as I can tell, this is the first release for FRIZBEE and it’s a pretty cool start, tho after listening to the PAL side, FRIZBEE kind of comes off like a less kooky, less witty version of PAL. The inevitable issue with splits—the sides will be compared and there will always be a preferred side. In this case, advantage PAL, whereas on their own, a FRIZBEE demo would likely seem all the cooler with nobody else snagging all the accolades.

Genogeist Technophobia EP

A 2021 recording released by various labels of Portland crust punk in a metallic form. A tank formation with a demonic, driven main vocal, a blasting wall of sound, doom-evoking bass lines, and very well-executed, on-point riffs. Ever-ranting drums and solid metallic guitars achieve a fortuitous ball of noise, with their metal crust nature on display in “Desolate Realm.” Hearing loss guaranteed! Favorite track: “Technophobia.”

Horror Vacui Distressed / The Last Dance 7″

HORROR VACUI from Bologna, Italy has descended again with a dual-track disc of deathrock that is sure to feed the goth in all of us. Heavy with punk influence, this isn’t just some CHRISTIAN DEATH-inspired darkwave, but more like grave-desecrating anarchic rock’n’roll. Opening this 7″ with “Distressed,” a rumbling, tube-screamer of desolate emotion, sets the mood for this disc. When “The Last Dance” kicks in, you’d better have your dancing shoes laced up, because it’s sure to “keep you dancing all night long.” There’s something in these songs that reminds me of LORDS OF THE NEW CHURCH, but with an even drearier delivery.

Laughing Corpse Demented Thoughts Posed as Dark Comedy cassette

DC hardcore that sounds like the best of that city’s punk pedigree. Four short songs in about five minutes that rip with tight bass/drums, solid guitar work, and intelligible vocals. The first three tracks sound like well-made DCHC that could have been on an ’80s Dischord comp, while the final track “Demented Thoughts” stretches out with textural, flanged-out, overlapping solos and screams, lending itself to a much darker sound. Strong release for traditional hardcore hounds.

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.

Moron’s Morons Go Pop! 7″

First off, what a fantastic band name. Second off, what a great record. This is rock’n’roll first and punk second, but it’s definitely punk. And honestly, doesn’t that describe a lot of the best punk ever? It reminds me of the PREACHER’S KIDS, a band I only discovered somewhat recently. Very garage-y, sometimes bordering on swampy (but not quite getting there), and so, so catchy. The hooks grab you and they don’t let go. From Poland, of all places.

NLK Oldbones NLK Oldbones LP

Old-fashioned Cali skate punk here in the vein of early OFFSPRING with a bit of TSOL mixed in. A tight band that I imagine kills at ramp jams, NLK OLDBONES should totally team up and play with BLUE ELEPHANT AND THE SEVEN SNAKES if they haven’t already.

Panic Defense I Don’t Give a Shit CD

Ahhh…this is a tough one to review. I’m not certain that this is a solo project, but in many ways it sounds like one. This is stylistically all over the map. There’s lots of shreddy guitar work and tons of tempo changes throughout the nine songs on this disc. Some of the tunes are rooted in punk, but there are grind parts, metalcore parts, and even some hip-hop thrown in for (not) good measure. I’ll just come out and say it: I did not enjoy listening to this. The guitar tone is frankly excruciating, and everything sounds very synthetic. I can’t quite suss out if the drums are electronic, but they are really shrill and tinny. Ordinarily, I’d have zero reluctance with my criticism, but there is an aspect of this release that has to be mentioned. Shortly after this project was completed, one of the band members (maybe the only band member?) passed away, and all the proceeds are going to his family to support his young child. While I can’t necessarily recommend picking this up for the tunes themselves, it sounds like a cause worthy of support given the tragic circumstances.

Pure Sport Bigger Business cassette

Las Vegas band whose music barely fits under the punk umbrella, but here we are. Bigger Business sounds radio-ready; QUEEN OF THE STONE AGE-leaning boogie crunch with clean production, frequent wah-wah solos, and “oh yeeeaaah!”s. This is a generous comparison, but “Waterboy” has fast spoken-sung verses that remind of MCLUSKY’s freewheeling vocal style. The music itself, though, is predictable, neutered modern rock. “One Too Much” sounds like that band JET blues-screaming through a plodding song about beer. Catch these folks at your local corporate radio station’s Summer Jam second stage. They will probably be huge.

Que Lindo Que Lindo demo cassette

Norwegian fringe music has always proved itself to be very nihilistic, and QUE LINDO’s debut demo is no different, as it is a wild ride through unconventional punk sounds. Their bold experimentation with different moods and sounds sets them apart in the punk scene. The raw energy and unapologetic attitude in their music creates a unique listening experience that leaves one wondering what else could come of this outfit. The weirdness is prevalent, and the only band that comes to mind is GISM—even though they sound nothing alike, there are some similarities in their adventurous “no fucks given” approaches to music. QUE LINDO’s demo is a refreshing break from the norm, offering a glimpse into the exciting future of punk music.

Scum Shots / Skappository DCxPC Live, Volume 16: Live at Mr. Beery’s split LP

Another live recording from DCxPC, this time featuring a skacore and melodic HC split. It’s not hard to see how these two ended up together. Their combined knuckleheaded angst sounds like something lifted directly from a mid-’90s pop punk sampler. Like their skacore peers, SKAPPOSITORY’s upstrokes, blue beats, and keyboards are a kind of musical insert to an otherwise punk affair. They’re driven by distortion and aggression, ska’s just along for the ride. SCUM SHOTS are equally loud and melodic (some of these riffs will burrow into many an ear), but have some of the bouncy rhythms of a skate punk band. The two guitars are putting their hours in, providing a big, chunky sound.

Shitshow -+#!?$ EP

Seven songs on a 7”. That is the proper usage of the format, in my opinion. A nice little slab of hardcore punk. The vocals are mostly sung with a nice attention to melody, which makes this much more of a pleasurable listen than if they were mostly screamed/shouted. It also avoids falling into the trap that a lot of bands like this tend to fall into by sounding dated. You can hear influence, yet it still manages to sound fresh. This one’s gonna get a lot of time on the turntable, I reckon.

Speed Plans Speed Plans cassette

Three lean and mean cuts of hardcore à la NEGATIVE APPROACH from SPEED PLANS, who continue in the wake of last year’s excellent Statues of God. Blown-out and grimy, the lo-fi recording definitely works in favor of the proceedings, in particular adding a gnarly sheen to the already gnarly vocals. Fast, catchy, and angry, with song titles like “Shut Up” and “Shut the Fuck Up,” this is all I really want from this style of hardcore.

Step Sister Façade cassette

Façade, the second release from Minneapolis-based STEP SISTER, hits with a commendable force. Rapid-fire lyrics are spat over an inferno of bass, drums, and guitar, roiling yet fairly technical for the speed they’re working at. I hear riot grrrl, hardcore, and Midwest DIY meets an Australian chaos, like a Stateside AMYL AND THE SNIFFERS. Grade-A thrash and energy on display here—not much I can find on this band that formed in 2018, but I sure like what’s happening, with seven songs that immediately claim your attention.

Todestrieb DEsperAte THanatology CD

Listen, I’m gonna be honest here. If you’re someone who likes conventionally “good” hardcore—polished, on tempo, and in tune—then you’re not going to like this album. However, if you’re someone like me who likes the sloppiest of the slop, who loves musicians that sound like they’re attempting their instruments for the first or second time, then this record is for you. TODESTRIEB may not have the technical chops of their crust peers, but to say they don’t have the correct attitude is straight-up false. These guys just go for it and kill it. I love seeing this kind of confidence in punk. Less solos and more noise is what I say! Big fan of this album.

Tripper People Die Every Day cassette

Typical generic hardcore from Baltimore’s TRIPPER. Plenty of required breakdown-y bits to get your mosh on, or whatever. There’s some more math rock-y bits in the mix sometimes that are a bit interesting, and the musicianship is certainly competent, but overall it doesn’t interest me. The Bandcamp page also has “female-fronted punk” in the tags, which as we all know is not a genre and is overall a terrible tag.

Warchrist Deafening Silence cassette

This recent release by UK’s WARCHRIST is brilliant, and let me tell you the many reasons why. WARCHRIST’s crusty, D-beat-driven hardcore is captured perfectly on this four-song release, striking a precise balance of studio versus raw aesthetic that creates the feeling of a chaotic but high-quality, live basement vibe. Grindcore influences similar to HIP COPS or FUCK THE FACTS present themselves within moments of pressing play and permeate the entirety of this cassette. The second song “Iron Fist” presents a sort of “Bömber” rhythm, but maintains a blistering pace and somehow still delivers those blown-out, throat-shredding vocals. Towards the end of “Iron Fist,” a melancholic guitar tone emerges and continues soaring wails of anguish into “Dismantling the Illusion” which still delivers the rage-filled vocals, creating an amazing sonic display of the juxtaposition of emotions. A quick vocal swap on “Dismantling the Illusion” also yields something reminiscent of AUS-ROTTEN. “Fuck the System” follows and closes the recording with a song that opens with a middle finger of a sound sample, continues into a ripping track of mosh-ready hardcore, and then reemerges midway through as an epic gang vocal/pile-on/grab-the-mic sing-along. The crust war mentality of this album is not to be understated—if I were to use a recording as a sonic offensive against the imperialist bastards, it might just be this one.

Amanita Toxica Amanita Toxica cassette

Latest cassette by AMANITA TOXICA from Chile. The raw punk artwork may not quite do justice to what they sonically represent—the tape consists of an eclectic approach to raw grindcore with some modern hardcore parts to it. A filthy attack of distortion and heaviness reminiscent of the ’90s out-on-a-limb approach of ASSÜCK, RORSCHACH, or LOS CRUDOS.

Aus Der Sch​ö​ne Schein EP

A new three-song EP from these Berlin-based creatures of the night who have been keeping the shadow-dimmed flames of XMAL DEUTSCHLAND and MALARIA! burning into the third millennium—their stern, goth-adjacent post-punk has all of the coldness and severity of a concrete Eastern Bloc factory floor. Opener “Der Sch​ö​ne Schein” plunges headlong into an abyss of tom-pounded drums, sinister bass rumble, and a tension only heightened by the sharp clips of air raid siren guitar that soon join in, before slipping into borderline funky death-disco choruses without ever breaking their stone-faced (and likely heavily black-eyelinered) facade. Likewise, the swirls of keys shrouding “Zugvögel” could have just as easily been pulled from a campy ’60s horror flick as early ’80s leather-and-lace deathrock, while its strict rhythms and austere German vocals are nothing but deadly serious, and “LSD” percolates along a pendulum-swinging cyclical bass line and an unwavering, bone-rattling beat for nearly three minutes before the vocals finally cut in like echoes in a claustrophobic crypt. Pitch-black perfection.

Bleakness Words / Greed 7″

Parisian punks BLEAKNESS have a distinctive aesthetic that has been rocking in the darkness for seven years now. Anthemic, high-energy, but moody and gloomy—D-beat with a post-punk attitude. Both tracks on this 7″ feature heavy, bouncing bass lines, while the gravelly vocal delivery is somewhere beyond singing but not quite hardcore yelling. “Words” is a diatribe on politicians’ speeches and the danger of their lies with some swift guitar licks thrown in along the way, while “Greed” enters with some ripping riffs and lyrics that eviscerate capitalist culture. If you dig fist-in-the-air sing-alongs, then you have got to check this out.

The Burn Vault Ignite LP

Greasy rock’n’roll-infused punk, mostly with lyrics about dead friends, aging punks, shitty cops, shitty landlords, etc. There’s a line in one of the songs about fucking Jeff Ott, which is stupid but it made me chuckle. Like, of all the people they could’ve name-dropped, they bust out Jeff Ott! The last song has a bit of a ska tinge to it and the outro is very, dare I say, epic, in a LEFTÖVER CRACK type of way. Interesting fact: the band name is a tribute to a friend of theirs who passed away from cancer. I thought that was a cool gesture.

Corrupt Vision / Jodie Faster split EP

Split release between Orange County’s CORRUPT VISION and France’s JODIE FASTER. CORRUPT VISION plays thrashing, in-your-face fastcore with some ska breakdowns; not necessarily resorting to the crack rocksteady model, but heavier on the fastcore end. JODIE FASTER plays fastcore with clean guitars reminiscent of ’80s Italian band PEGGIO PUNX. Personal preferences aside, this is a great split release where both bands sound different enough while still having a similar quality that doesn’t resort to dark noisiness or heavy sounds. Raging anti-authoritarian speedcore intensity.

Death Ridge Boys Society Overdose / Turn the Tide 7″

Two tough cuts of pub-bound street rock from some stalwarts of the Portland, Oregon scene. If I’m counting correctly, this is their eighth release, and follows up the Too Much Bullshit LP from last year. “Society Overdose” is a catchy mid-tempo number with a shout-along chorus and lyrics about having your eyes opened to the ills of society through punk. There’s a line that says “Inside my head looks like the cover of Cause For Alarm.” So tough. The flipside slows things down and introduces more melody with an anthemic, straight-ahead rock approach. Another solid showing from some trusty punks.

Diall Rut EP

Six cuts of the hard stuff from the UK. Loaded with swirling and ominous riffs, bestial growled vocals, and a powerful stomp, DIALL’s gnarly hardcore is embellished with a smooth and pointed sound on this 7”. It’s got that dark, distorted, dystopian vibe laced with feedback like BIB, HOAX, GLUE, and the like, done pretty well and complemented by the apt production. Solid debut.

Doc Flippers Human Pork LP

Second full-length from this Leipzig quintet, and it’s quite a confounding one. The eleven songs on Human Pork ping-pong from power pop to cowpunk to post-hardcore to dirge-y downer punk, with little holding things together beyond a mid-fi production and a persistent warble effect that seems to be thrown on pretty much everything. Oddly enough, though, that’s kind of enough to make this feel like a cohesive release. Still, it certainly has its ups and downs. The power pop tracks on here are some of the catchiest I’ve heard this decade—give “Steel Splinters” or “Celine Doom” a spin and try to not sing them to yourself as soon as you turn the record off. And “Human Pork” is one of the best bile-spitting downer punk numbers that I’ve heard since the demise of BLACK PANTIES. On the other hand, I’m absolutely all set on these “early COUNTRY TEASERS meets circusy egg-punk” tracks. On paper it sounds like it might be fine, but nah. And I don’t know that I’ve wanted to unhear a song more than I do “Stiffy Girl.” Woof!

Golers Die Now Pay Later LP

I can hear this band blasting in the background of a Vegas tattoo studio. I mean, I guess I get it, but it did not do a lot. The record is pretty monotonous throughout. If you are a big crossover fan, I can see this clicking. The cartoon artwork is cool.

Haveri The End LP

This is one for the Swedish hardcore diehards, for the true followers of the käng cult, for those who worship at the CIMEX altar. HAVERI is completely unknown to me, which is not so surprising, as they were a relatively obscure band from the late ’00s/early ’10s to start with, and their only album, Into the Crypts of…, was released on a Mexican extreme metal label, so the distribution would not have been great in Europe (unless everyone knows the band well but no one told me, and I am going look like an ignoramus, or, god forbid, a poseur writing this review). The studio material on this LP was recorded in 2009, and there are also live songs from 2010 that sound about as good as the studio ones, which does indicate a high level of brute hardcore rawness. Sonically HAVERI was old school and lovingly looked at their glorious elders like early ANTI-CIMEX, early AVSKUM, or DISARM, but with a more distorted sound. I like how spontaneous the whole thing sounds, you can tell the band wanted to go straight to the point without fancy effects. This is fairly well-executed but a little too fuzzy for my taste, as this makes the songs less urgent. The vocals are a genuine strong point, I love the singer’s vocal tone and flow as they have a distinct ’80s vibe. Käng up your life.

Ivy Creep Demo 24 cassette

Richmond, Virginia has had so many awesome hardcore bands emerging out of there, especially very recently, and IVY CREEP is no exception. This is pounding, evil hardcore to get your fists and veins pumping ferociously. The howling vocals are buried under an avalanche of aggression from the musicians to great effect. 11 PM always puts out winners it seems, and I’m happy to report that IVY CREEP makes the grade with the rest of them. Crank it!

Knowso Pulsating Gore LP

This may not be for everyone, but KNOWSO’s blend of jerky post-punk rhythms with spoken lyrics is unique and instantly interesting. It’s almost like the words and music are separate entities: the angular guitars pounding away to the propulsive drums, while the deadpan vocals deliver deranged free-association poetry from endless observation that become near-chants with repetition. If you are willing to receive the Pulsating Gore, it rules—short blasts describing snapshots of life in all its glory, equal parts trivial and grotesque. Singer/guitarist Nathan Ward’s job as a trucker is evident in the journalistic depictions of life in transit; interesting birds, accidents, trucks jackknifing, heavy loads—it’s all here because it all plays a part. “Last of the Punks” documents the decaying landscape with lines like “There’s satisfaction / If you want it” and “America / Land of the Free, Mark of the Beast / Those aren’t track marks / That’s the Mark of the Beast.” It’s a compelling listen, and as disconcerting as it is on first listen, it becomes more and more relatable on repeat. Highly recommended.

Lone Creep 100 Beers of Music: The First Year CD

Self-proclaimed AARP hardcore! Thrash-inspired one-man punk act out of the Southwest. Biting satire, not only aimed at nationwide issues seen in songs like “Get Shot” and “Corporate Job,” but also on a personal level with tracks like “My Neighbor is a Dickhead” and “I’m in a Foul Mood.” I can definitely relate with those last two. Charisma here is infectious, and his vocals are absolutely built for punk music. Very strong and in-your-face! Lots of attitude and confidence. You can tell this dude just loves having fun, making music, and cultivating his scene at large. I did a little research here and his social media presence is nothing but PMA. Love to see it. The kind of guy you’d love to get a beer with. Well worth a spin, especially for all you old fogies!

Mortar Fire & Steel LP

Noisy Polish D-beat crust punk of the metallic form, first started as a solo project by Jay Mortarand then re-recorded with a band, so you can still hear traces of the solo projection. Mid-paced with solid cadences, and you can see the influence of bands like late ’90s FILTH OF MANKIND (who share members with MORTAR). Polish-style metalpunk with their own blend of hardcore and D-beat that goes for somber tones, steady battle sing-alongs, and progressive riffage. You can even hear the ensemble between the first solo effort and then the whole band jumps into the first track, enhancing the project. Interesting work.

Nite Sprites No Notes cassette

Punk’s bare bones nature is a good showcase for songwriting. That means NITE SPRITES have plenty of room for their memorable hooks, usually played on the cleaner end of distortion with some solid drumming. Songs like “Closer to the Back” and “The Ocean” begin with and build on some great, driving motifs.  Vocalists Case and Mambo alternate between growls and croons, bringing to mind bands like AGAINST ME! or YOUNG PIONEERS who bought some of the urgency of crust and hardcore to a more sincere punk rock.

Palladists Demo 2023 cassette

Washington, DC’s PALLADISTS concocted a raw and haunting musical experience, fit for a funeral. Their sound blends the ominous atmosphere of goth punk with the gritty energy of deathrock. The band’s vocals are intense and evoke a sense of darkness, perfectly complementing the brooding instrumentals. The demo captures a nostalgic yet refreshing take on the goth punk genre, making PALLADISTS a band to watch in the underground music scene.

Seagulls The Rapture and Resurgens LP

Seven years after their inception, Atlanta-based SEAGULLS put out their first full-length LP. Melodic guitar riffs, gruff vocals, power pop stylings with song titles like “HELLHOLEBOOB” and “A Tale Told by an Idiot” self-effacing the immaturity they play at, while taking on serious personal and social issues and growth. The band reminds me of DILLINGER FOUR, replete with silly sound bites and whole-gang backing vocals. This is out from Say-10, the record and skateboard company out of Richmond, VA that has featured bands like LESS THAN JAKE and ALKALINE TRIO on their decks and puts out hometown bands that could otherwise fit into the Fat Wreck Chords catalog. If any of those names get you excited, this may be for you.

Secretors Comparing Missile Size, Vol. 1 EP

Combining elements of Japanese, Swedish, and English hardcore, NYC’s SECRETORS play unapologetically raw and ugly on Comparing Missile Size, Vol. 1. Featuring members of WARTHOG and INSTITUTE (among others), SECRETORS have an impressive pedigree and sound fantastic. While only slightly cleaner than their Antidote for Civilization demo, the guitars still sound nasty and the vocals still sound brutal, especially on freakout opener “Real World Data” and the furiously desperate standout “Comparing Missile Size.” At times, this reminds me of STINGRAY’s Fortress Britain in both its sound and its shared sense of paranoia and frustration with where our world is heading in the not too distant future. Overall, an excellent record with nonstop urgency and power; no frills, no gimmicks, no bullshit. Highly recommended.

Sentinel Age of Decay LP

This New York band’s intricate and amazingly achieved crossover formula is one that you don’t hear every day, with a very neat recording. Pinches of hardcore punk meeting fine thrash metal with fast-paced riffs and cadences. Special points for those tasty metal guitar solos and for delivering such a relentless force in each song. Featuring members of MINDFORCE, RESTRAINING ORDER, AGE OF APOCALYPSE, and more. For lovers of COC and DEATH SIDE alike (and much more), give it a go!

Tractorman Tractorman 12″

Mid-’90s Madison, WI was the stage (basement) for co-creators Corinna Greenwood on guitar and vocals (credited as Electra Lass, also of TORMENTULA) and Indra Dunis on drums (credited as Jungle Judy, also of PEAKING LIGHTS, NUMBERS, and DYNASTY) who comprised TRACTORMAN’s main lineup, later adding friend Scott Watson on bass (credited as Bob Casserole). They played house shows and bars between Madison and Milwaukee and eventually put these ten songs down on a four-track in the bank vault turned practice space of peers XEROBOT, and from what I can tell, released the cassette themselves in 1996. The recording is actually pretty good, making audible the drum kit abuse, string-scratching, spiky guitar riffs, gutsy bass, and Corinna’s vocals, coming in equal parts screech and low-end rumble.  Kitschy Spirits’ reissue is loaded with fun stuff—the vinyl plays the same ten songs as the originally cassette all on the A-side with a TRACTORMAN etching on the B-side, there’s a write-up from Corinna and Indra, and a copy of the “Bassist and Singer Wanted for Band” poster that hung on Madison telephone poles. While they only managed to find a bassist, and moved on to different projects shortly thereafter, TRACTORMAN’s raw, unhinged sound (never clocking over a two-minute track) and DIY work ethic give them an air of authentic greatness.

Vivisektio Uusi Normaali LP

VIVISEKTIO has a uniquely fascinating biography. Having formed and operated for a brief three-year period in the early ’80s, the band hailed from the Lapland region of Finland and played most of their gigs north of the Arctic Circle. This fact apparently even inspired a Trivial Pursuit question! Following this initial stint, VIVISEKTIO reformed in 2008 and has been periodically releasing albums ever since. This latest offering bears all the hallmarks of classic Finnish hardcore, bringing to mind KOHU-63 and RATTUS. Most of the thirteen songs are short, fast, and jam-packed with riffs, but tracks like “Sotakuume” mix things up by injecting peace punk rhythms into the formula. Closing out the album, “Uusi Järjestys” is a downtempo cut that veers into post-punk territory with a nod to early KILLING JOKE. Altogether, a powerful release building on a compelling legacy. Highly recommended.

Wageslave Human Terror CD

Crust punk from Fukishima, Japan that delivers classic metallic noise with complexity and texture. While most of the tracks tick all the right microgenre boxes (shredded guttural vocals, low-end riffing, lo-fi distorted everything, frequent guitar leads à la LIFE), songs like “Total End” and “Remote Control” soak in doomy ambiance with short phrases of clean guitars and textual figures that recall atmospheric black metal. These passages take nothing away from the crusty pummeling power of the faster tracks, and in fact make the whole experience even grimmer. “Micro,” “Majority,” and “Fall Down” deliver the no-frills chugging that fans of FRAMTID will appreciate. Expertly-made bad vibes punk.

3-Way Cum 1993–1998 2xLP

Punk has a long, complicated, not to mention fascinating, story with band names. Picking a proper moniker can be career-defining and allow you to sell a couple of shirts. On the other hand, a poor choice is unlikely to get you invited to the cool Insta-friendly hardcore festivals. 3-WAY CUM’s is head-scratching. I have always loved the band, in fact I consider them one of the best Swedish crust bands ever, but I still wonder why they went for this name, fitting for an obnoxious grindcore band but rather awkward for political crust. I am sure they are wondering, too. Does that keep me from wearing their shirt? Fuck no. The band started in 1993 with members of WARCOLLAPSE and SAUNA (who were stylistically very close) at a time when the D-beat and crust waves and the käng revival were seriously taking off in the country. In retrospect, it may seem difficult to find one’s way in this demented maze of DISCHARGE-loving gruff hardcore and locate the best bands of the era, the ones you would spontaneously recommend at your nan’s dinner party. 3-WAY CUM was one of those. The band managed to blend with ease the ’90s dual-vocal crustcore school of EXTREME NOISE TERROR or DISRUPT with the ’80s cavemen käng style of BOMBANFALL or SVART PARAD, and they significantly delivered great records during their five-year run, one LP and five EPs, among which were two splits with DEFORMED CONSCIENCE and ANOTHER OPPRESSIVE SYSTEM. They had that relentlessly savage, heavy, and dirty vibe, with vocalists reminiscent of bears fighting angrily over a pot of honey. A genuinely classic ’90s band, Scandicrust at its very best, and we should be grateful to Phobia for releasing the band’s full discography.

Accusation Accusation demo cassette

ACCUSATION from London’s latest demo. Tracks consist of SSD/STRAIGHT AHEAD or BREAKDOWN/ANTIDOTE-style early period Boston HC and NYHC. Chaotic drum smashing with powerful, in-your-face intensity. No weird effects or polished production thingamajiggies; it’s sonically stripped down to the core because this is fucking hardcore.

Atturri Atturri LP

Having first been exposed to Euskaran rockers ATTURRI on the fantastic Kaosa Euskal Herrian LP, it’s nice to see a full-length from the Basque bruisers. Short but sweet, with seven tracks of thunderous bass lines, soaring guitars, and righteous anger courtesy of perfectly orchestrated gang vox. Hoping to see more!

Billiam Corner Tactics LP

Melbourne simple-to-the-core new wave-y synth punk, filled with mid-paced drums and cheap, soft keyboards all merged with lo-fi submarine telephone vocals that monotone the shit out of this. Featuring a member from DISCO JUNK and COLLECTIVE HARDCORE, it brings a hyperactive vibe to bedroom punk. Goofy synth punk for lovers of simple, funny DIY projects. It lacks fire, it’s so monotonous, but it might be right down your alley. Funny yet boring, if it’s even possible.

Black Dots EP2/EP3 LP

Denver punks at it for over ten years put out an LP with 2021’s EP2 and 2023’s EP3. I reviewed a flexi single of theirs a while ago, which was comprised of the first two tracks of EP2, so I feel like I’ve been here before… heartfelt lyrics with backing melodies chiming in on choruses, pretty straightforward mid-tempo instrumentals: palm-muted chugging, rests for vocals to sail over, and economic guitar riffs. I kind of get a HOT WATER MUSIC vibe. While EP2 might be a little faster and heavier, EP3 slows down and is perhaps even more melancholic, if possible. This isn’t something I seek out, but the songwriting is clever, the band is tight, and the production is clean as can be.  Check out “Tired of Dreaming” for a good sample.