Reviews

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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.

The Annihilated Submission to Annihilation LP

2022 was certainly a memorable year for punk albums, with a number of releases I would consider to be new instant classics. Coming in at the final hour, the ANNIHILATED unleashed Submission to Annihilation, one of the year’s latest and greatest. Full-throated and raw, the ANNIHILATED play a similar strain of D-beat hardcore to BOOTLICKER, with a vocal delivery that has been correctly compared to Damaged-era Rollins. Lyrically, topics cover class warfare (“Divide and Conquer,” “Bootstraps”), widespread apathy (“Normality”), and the hell of substance abuse (“Vice Grip”), themes that are all uniquely modern and unfortunately timeless. Add to that the artwork from drummer Nicky Rat and mixing by Jonah Falco (whose seal of approval is always a sign of quality) and that it’s self-released(!), and it simply cannot be understated: the ANNIHILATED have ticked every box and delivered their own instant classic.

B.E.T.O.E. Civilización flexi EP

Crashing cymbals, blown-out vocals, shredded guitar, rumbling bass, punk crudo at its best! B.E.T.O.E. seemingly wishes sonic demolition upon all of the broken systems that mire our world. The production of this flexi yields some of the most listenable B.E.T.O.E. material for me. A slightly cleaner sound, not quite spotless, approaching a high-end studio sound but still retaining enough noise to sound like it came from the sewers of Barcelona. This is still some noisy, smash the system/smash everything rawness. This three-song disc clocks in well below six minutes, with each track offering intricate musicianship and composition in a miniscule amount of time.

Bloodstained Downfall Magnificant LP

Over-the-top apocalypse metalcore from Poland, hitting so hard from the opening bell that it might take a few tracks to catch your breath. Metallic ’90s hardcore taken to absolute extremes—BLOODSTAINED delivers with a ferocity that will win over even the most negative with their unhinged sonic negativity. 

Conservative Military Image Skinhead cassette

A couple of months ago, I began to notice a buff dude popping up in pictures with some of my favorite bands like the CHISEL and VIOLENT WAY along with the letters “CMI,” and I couldn’t help but wonder “who is this guy, and what the fuck is ‘CMI’?” Well, it didn’t take long for me to find out. “CMI” is CONSERVATIVE MILITARY IMAGE, a Chicago-based band making waves with their one-two punch of EPs, Summer Skinhead and this, their debut Skinhead. Playing a catchy mix of Oi!, hardcore, and street punk, CONSERVATIVE MILITARY IMAGE has cited inspiration from bands as diverse as WARZONE, ROSE TATTOO, and NEW YORK HOUNDS. Lead singer and lyricist Adam is the glue holding this crew together, and while I love his classic tough-guy punk sneer (almost going into Stiv Bators/DEAD BOYS territory at times), the real gold is his lyrics. Clever and direct, proud and loud, Adam is extremely economical with his writing yet leaves plenty to unpack. “Generation Kill” is a great example; a sub-two-minute stomper that tells you everything you need to know about this band’s mentality and manages to slip in an easter egg of a lyric from Boston’s the TROUBLE. It’s a tasteful homage and something CONSERVATIVE MILITARY IMAGE is so good at: respectfully mining inspiration and making something fresh of their own. I’m fortunate enough to be a Chicago native and look forward to catching these guys this year. Fuckin’ Oi! is right!

Cromosoma Fuera Plutón / Medicina Fantástica 7″

Two short synth punk jammers from this Spanish band. Veering away from the eggy DEVO-worship that is so common with synth projects, CROMOSOMA reaches back a little further for influences, sounding like a blend of LOS MICROWAVES and OG Spanish synth punks AVIADOR DRO. The two tracks here have clean keyboard lines and crisp drum machine beats with group vocals on top. “Medicina Fantástica” drips with icy new wave atmosphere, all driving bass pulse and echoes. Worth checking out.

The Dirts II cassette

Second album outta the Swedish band the DIRTS. From the start, this is a fuzzy and psychedelic reverb-riddled exercise in Garage 101. Songs move in and out of each other without much distinction, while carrying a looming and grinding bass guitar pounding that  keeps the whole ship afloat. Nothing great, but nothing to complain about either—you have everything packaged and delivered in the most comprehensive and indulgent way. I would listen to it all again if it came my way. Could the estate of JAY REATARD please get some royalties for this?

Drug City Drug City demo cassette

After much consideration, I have deduced that DRUG CITY is from Bruchsal in Germany, a middle-sized town not far at all from French Alsace. They have a song poetically entitled “South West Fuck You,’’ and since Bruchdal is located in the country’s southwestern part and that Iniquity Records is based there, my ever-insightful, perceptive mind was quick to guess (unless they are actually from Tucson?). I have to admit I had never heard of neither place nor band before, and this first demo tape is a rough one indeed. I have never been one to back down before barely audible distorted raw hardcore punk and even regularly play some during family dinners, but in this case I am at a loss as to what they are actually trying to do here. There is certainly a D-beat raw punk influence—they do cover DISCLOSE—and a couple of mid-paced songs, but the production is so rough that it pretty much falls flat, the songs lose the necessary energy, and the vocals have that evil hellish demented tone that would be more fitting to a blackened crust template. This very limited edition (ten copies!) is clearly a first attempt, but it is just very hard to listen to. I do like the lyrics however, especially to “Destroy All Art,’’ with its direct, political, and quite clever words. I just wish DRUG CITY would have been a bit less literal with the topic.

Egrogsid Sawn Off Throat Gun 2xCD

Otherwise known as DISGORGE backward, here EGROGSID offers 122 tracks of gruesome mince-noise and primitive grind. I let this compilation play before I even started working on the review. There is plenty of time to catch up. These are true grind songs, however—thirty seconds to almost two minutes at times. This is very much in the style of loose, chaotic, death-beaten cacophonous droning grind. Sick guitar tones and killer splattering drumming. Being from Melbourne, I am sure they played with neighbors BLOOD DUSTER in the later part of their tenure. Bizarre (and humorous) occult samples are throughout with low vocals, high vocals, and maniacal vocals all over the place. This is the kind of thing I’d put on sitting in some living room with the worst 40 ever bottled in my lap. That is to say, it brings back fond memories. Included are NAPALM DEATH, EXTREME NOISE TERROR, UNSEEN TERROR, and EXTRA HOT SAUCE covers. This is entirely that SORE THROAT/GORE BEYOND NECROPSY/WARSORE/ACCION MUTANTE/EXCRUCIATING TERROR sound. You could put this on for an afternoon (or at 2:00 am with both your friends like I would) and just zone out and enjoy it. I’ve pretty much completed my task here and I’m on track seventeen.

Flower City Maggots Consume EP

Ripper of an EP here from FLOWER CITY out of Austin, Texas. These six songs recall the darker side of classic old-school SoCal like early TSOL and DI. Embellishing their menacing riffage with a drummer who plays like MINOR THREAT’s Jeff Nelson and an echoed, spectral vocalist who wails over each song like a different section of a carnival spook house, this band has an awesome, memorable sound that I’m hoping to hear more of. One of the coolest new 7”s of the last while, for sure.

The Gaggers Shockwave / Stabbed in the Back… Too Many Times 7″

While this isn’t new music, these two tracks, which were recorded in 2016, are previously unreleased. Whenever I hear songs that were recorded years ago but are just being released now, I’m a little underwhelmed. The same is true here. I generally like the GAGGERS’ stuff. It’s mid-tempo, classic late ’70s punk.  It’s raw. It’s in-your-face punk. But if the songs weren’t worthy of release in 2016, what makes them worthy of release now? The lack of any new music? I remain skeptical.

Hævner Kaldet Fra Tomrummet LP

This is the type of music I’ve been seeking for years: a blend of raw punk and post-punk that is dark and hardcore. Noisy flanged guitars, powerful vocal delivery, driving bass lines that keep going, and smashing drums, all combining to form a threatening and ominous sonic environment. I mentioned this release to a trusted friend in Berlin who immediately said “HÆVNER is awesome live.” Being a reliable friend, I fucking believe it. I can only imagine how this must translate to a concert setting. While being raw, it’s also very danceable with big rhythm energy. I’ll definitely be dancing along for a while.

Imperial Leather Heavy Breathing EP

The first twenty seconds of this EP—this Melbourne act’s second following their 2020 self-released debut—sets you up for quite a rug pull. You’re presented with a minimal drums, bass, and keys arrangement accompanied by icy cool start/stop talk-sung vocals, and just as you’re settling in for maybe a “Chaise Longue”-type number—yank!—the song shifts into a higher gear and the muscle car on the record’s cover starts to make sense; you’re actually on your way to party rock city! Some Nuggets-esque guitars kick in, the keyboard that had up until this point merely been pecked at morphs into a sci-fi frat rock organ, and the vocalist slides into a Kathleen Hanna/Beth Ditto full-throated vibrato. It’s like the mashup of “Planet Claire” and “96 Tears” you never knew you wanted until now. “Lewis Lee” and “Smile Now, Cry Later” are still bouncy organ-driven numbers, but they’re closer to post-punk or new wave—the former reminds me a lot of fellow Melbournians TERRY, and the later features guitar melodies that are approaching CURE-like. But the EP saves the best for last—”Creep Stain” manages to split the difference between the rockin’ opener and the cooler tracks that follow, and the end result just sounds like really good punk with an excellent shout-along chorus. Real cool record!

Kometa Our Open Bodies Will Respond LP

This is melody-heavy indie rock with a somber touch. There’s a lot of harmony, a little reverb, and a bunch of light guitars played over PIXIES-esque bass lines. Several songs move at a dreamy pace as those faint guitar notes linger on for seconds. At one point, they stretch into a prolonged drone. It’s a nice-looking record with a clean, professional sound.

Kürøishi Käärme Sisälläsi, Myrkyttää Maailmahi LP

No need to look past the cover on this one—fans of Burning Spirits, fist-pumping modern D-beat hardcore, and WORLD BURNS TO DEATH might have a new favorite with the third full-length from Finland’s KÜRØISHI. Thundering drums, searing vocals, and guitars that trade epic leads and wildly catchy riffs. The late ’00s were dominated by bands trying to sound this good, and now here comes the early ’20s and KÜRØISHI is here to smoke them all. “Givers Turn Into Takers” is the notable curveball, and should be a classic for years to come. Euro press by Fight, CD in Japan by Break The Records, and the North American platter from SPHC.

Last Climb Fauna Conruptus LP

French neo-crusters LAST CLIMB play technical screamo crust punk with some grind metal influences in their riffs and percussion. There is a militant delivery at times, in the very “hardcore breakdown” sense, aggressive and straining. Vocals are traded off between agonized and grizzly. Seventeen tracks of metallic, hopeless, and bleak crustcore, much closer to the later (or current) era than an early one. Breakdowns are punk, while the caliber of the drumming could easily work into death metal. Torrential. Same goes for the inspired guitar additions—calculated alarms. There is nothing simple about the record, while it never puts on airs, either. A ballistic and sincere outing from LAST CLIMB.

Morgana Contemporaneità 12″

From Florence, Italy, MORGANA releases some re-recorded demos, a couple singles, and a new song to form Contemporaneità. These seven songs are an icy post-punk that reminds me of the Copenhagen group KOLD FRONT that I reviewed a while back. Mid-tempo, reverb-heavy, with high-octave, melody-driven guitar riffs. While this may not break any molds, this is certainly my cup of tea, and I would recommend a listen.

The Necessary Evil Vida Desastre flexi EP

Three solid pogo punk boppers from a Chilean/Californian two-piece collaboration. Canabilina’s distinctive vocals are a natural complement to Eddie Spaghetti’s bouncing, guitar-driven blasts. The NECESSARY EVIL doesn’t attempt to tinker with the formula, but you can’t repair what ain’t busted. Vida Desastre is much more about attitude, and on that front, this EP delivers in spades. Featuring super vibrant art by Mister Sister and pressed on a flexi, this release fits right into the 1753 catalog. This is definitely worth a spin, but good luck tracking down a physical copy. It’s limited to an edition of 100, and will undoubtedly be sold out by the time you read this.   

Outrage Factor Nothing Ever Changes cassette

Another great addition for Tetryon Tapes, this time from a member of their own local scene in Buffalo, New York. Released by Biff Bifaro’s one-man DIY operation DIY project in July, this consists of nine tracks with a sound that resembles classic ’80s US (especially West Coast) hardcore like POISON IDEA, GERMS, old BLACK FLAG, or CIRCLE JERKS, greeting us with an amazing rage and angst, visceral desperate and violent vocals that evoke puking on someone’s face, classic hardcore guitars and blasting drums, and even some surfy new wave riffs. This seems to have erupted from a long-sealed time vault or capsule, and I think that’s great—classic and yet quite refreshing. Excellent effort by the one songwriter in recording, mixing, mastering and even doing the artwork themselves! Suggested tracks: “Cyanide Solution,” “Contaminated,” and “Violent and Jacked” for nice palm-muting (“Violent and jacked / Under attack / The past is gone / And now you are looking back!”). Great cathartic cassette, give it a go!

Pogy et les Kéfars Dans Ton Rétro LP

Wow. This is very cool. It’s mid-tempo and super catchy power pop with a jangly guitar. Even if the lyrics are completely lame, I will never know because they’re in French! (They’re probably super cool.) Even while maintaining the melodic nature and the group vocals, it’s got a certain herky-jerkiness to it. They’re super tight. Head-bouncing is inevitable. You won’t be able to stop it. Four of the nine cuts clock in at under two minutes. None go over three minutes. This is heaven.

Revelons ’77–’82 LP

You can’t help but feel a little bad for the REVELONS—if they’d released more than just a 45 during their six-year run, maybe they would have found the same level of success and critical appreciation as their Ork Records labelmates like TELEVISION and RICHARD HELL. We’ll never really know for sure, but the unreleased material gathered on ’77–’82 offers a pretty convincing glimpse into what could have been, with the REVELONS’ trinity of revved-up rock’n’roll, sneering (proto-)punk, and tough power pop beat playing out like a pile of cut-up and reassembled flyers from heyday-era CBGB and Max’s Kansas City gigs. Both sides of that lost-gem 1979 Ork single (“The Way (You Touch My Hand)” and “97 Tears”) are included here, hiccupping and strutting in an almost VOIDOIDS-esque manner, while “My Town” has all of the nervous new wave jitters of the TALKING HEADS without the art school pretensions, the wired post-VELVETS chug of “Red Hot Woman” casts the REVELONS as a more streetwise MODERN LOVERS, and if TELEVISION had ever covered ROKY ERICKSON’s “Two Headed Dog,” it probably would have sounded a lot like “A Children’s Story” (featuring TELEVISION’s Fred Smith on bass, no coincidence). The REVELONS never got their shot at making their own Blank Generation or Marquee Moon, but this lost-and-found collection does them proper justice—pure pop for punks.

Split System Vol. 1 LP

There must be something in the water down in Australia because every band that has come through there lately has been incredible. Vol. 1 from Melbourne’s SPLIT SYSTEM is of course no exception. This album is what I would expect if the ROLLING STONES decided to try their hands at proto-punk, with the end result sounding like if the NICE BOYS had a heavier ADAM ANT influence. The vocals and lead guitar co-exist beautifully, and are both catchy while avoiding stepping on each other’s toes. Rhythm section is tight and stays in the pocket, letting the guitars shine. Great clean tone from both axes. Lovely record here, and very much recommended.

Strychnine Ninety Nine Divided CD

This definitely has ’80s Orange County vibes all over it. In fact, the singer kinda sounds like a mix of Casey Royer from D.I. and Stevo from the VANDALS. I dig it, but I also get the feeling that if the vocals were different, my feelings towards this would be different as well.

Tuhoon Tuomitut Nälkä Kasvaa Syödessä LP

I am very glad that I was assigned that one, not just because I am quite good at pretending I speak Finnish (it is not that hard, you just have to make up sentences with the names of Finnish punk bands while looking very stern, but note that it does not work when there are actual Finns in the room), but because I had the pleasure to see TUHOON TUOMITUT live this summer. Their name means “doomed,” and the band certainly delivered despite playing first at a festival when it was too early for people to be pissed yet and everyone was therefore still discerning. The Tampere-based TUHOON TUOMITUT plays punk-as-fuck thrashing anarcho-punk with furious dual-female vocals arranged in the classic trade-off style, with the demented, high-pitched screams and rabid hoarse screams discussing important political issues. The music is reminiscent of the ’90s and early ’00s crusty anarcho-punk wave, including bands like SOCIETY GANG RAPE, STRADOOM TERROR, JOBBYKRUST, and even WITCH HUNT or PARAGRAF 119, and I just love that unpretentious old-school feel. The songs are not formulaic, either—you have some tuneful moments and mid-tempo numbers as well as full-on hardcore thrash attacks, and I think the relentless vocals work very well with each other. I guess you could argue that the production is lacking a bit in power and is pretty basic, but it works with a style of punk that was once popular but seems to have gone a little out of fashion, so TUHOON TUOMITUT sounds almost fresh.

U.N.E. Sin Esperanza cassette

A collection of recordings from Toluca, Mexico, dating back to as early as 1994. According to the cool little booklet included with this cassette, UN NUEVA ENEMIGO played their first gig in ’94 with LOS CRUDOS after starting their band mere months earlier “without experience or knowledge of music.” Pretty damn cool. It’s a little rough around the edges, as one would imagine from a band who started without any experience. Lo-fi, repetitive, sloppy punk riffs with vocals passionately delivered in Spanish over the top. A cool collection by a band that apparently never played out of their hometown. My only gripe is how overwhelming the flanger effect on the guitar is on half these tracks. Sure, it was the ’90s and that effect was absolutely everywhere, but it comes off incredibly distracting to the overall song whenever it’s engaged. A minor gripe for a neat little piece of history in the form of this collection cassette.

Witches Broom Witches Broom LP

Kind of a surprise here. This isn’t punk and would fall more under the straight ’60s psych/garage category, but it’s really good. While not groundbreaking at all, it’s a nice interpretation of the Nuggets/Pebbles compilations done in a not-at-all-modern vein. Unlike more recent revival versions of this music, from the MUMMIES era to more recent stuff like Ty Segall’s projects, this is less punk or trash and more pure ’60s, like some of the Paisley Underground bands or maybe Northwest heroes like GIRL TROUBLE and the NIGHT KINGS. Mostly it’s just pure SEEDS, and how bad could that be? More to come, I hope.

Zero Function Zero Function cassette

From Wyoming, ZERO FUNCTION plays dense, dark hardcore with a fuzzy finish. On this eight-song tape, the songs are effective in painting bleak and frightening pictures, like with the noisy, stretched-out intro and warped lyrics on “Pull,” and the interspersed system-failure-like wreckage on “Serve No Purpose.” I keep seeing this producer Will Killingsworth’s name on new projects, each time accompanied by a solid sound, and this continues that streak. Its aura of hopelessness scratches the same itch as an artsy horror flick.

Acid Mikvah Acid Mikvah demo cassette

Directly from Chicago, Illinois comes ACID MIKVAH, a group of Jewish punks who released this cassette in June 2021 (extra credit for the lyrics on their Bandcamp page). Reverbed vocals over political, garage-y, fast punk rock, with quite catchy riffs led by a heavily distorted guitar that has resemblances of early raw punk mixed with classic hardcore. With songs that speak against apartheid and religious birthrights and take a stand against nationalism and hatred, they create freedom punk to fight against Israel’s war and sieges against Palestine (“Call everyone an antisemite, the establishment got your back / But we fight back, with Palestinians, for a just world”). Interesting political punk, you may like them.

Bootlicker Lick the Boot, Lose Your Teeth: The EPs LP

The first BOOTLICKER material I heard was their fourth EP, 2020’s How to Love Life. As soon as the opening track “It’s Beautiful” started I knew one thing for sure: this was some of the gnarliest drumming I’d heard in a minute. Crunchy, brutal, and unrelenting, like a machine gun ripping through clips of ammunition. That’s all I needed to become a believer. BOOTLICKER is putting out some of the best D-beat hardcore punk at the moment, and this collection of their first four EPs (from 2017–2020) showcases the band’s ascent from their first 6 Track EP towards the aforementioned How to Love Life. To get the full scope of the band’s output, listen to all 37(!) minutes, but as I mentioned, I highly recommend the track “It’s Beautiful” to hear the band at full power. 

The Contortions Buy LP reissue

What more can be said about this classic? Where their fellow no wavers DNA and MARS were abstractly recreating music and rewriting the rules from the ground up, the CONTORTIONS were fusionists, starting with a bedrock of funky, airtight bass and drums, layering the slashing, sliding guitars of Pat Place and Jody Harris with James Chance’s holy terror tenor skronk and nihilistic madman yelps into infectiously freaky dance music.

Curtains / Swift Knuckle Solution DCxPC Live Presents, Volume 7 split EP

I’m not a big proponent of live albums from the listener’s standpoint—most of the time, they don’t measure up to a band’s other releases. Even when they’re good, they’re often issued in order to fulfill a label deal or to make some cash for defunct bands (no judgment, punks gotta eat). I can’t say this record is better than either of the featured band’s studio recordings, but it’s not bad either. CURTAINS are right at the stylistic crossroad of pop punk and hardcore (think LEATHERFACE or LIFETIME). SWIFT KNUCKLE SOLUTION is a more cut-and-dry hardcore affair. This is a good showcase for each and a good excuse to give DIY bands some more cash.

Desiccate Desiccate demo cassette

Man. I love this. DIY to its fullest. No-bullshit, heavy noise punk from the Great White North. Not a lot of nuance to their songs, but they don’t need it. DESICCATE isn’t here to be flashy. They’re here to fucking rock. Honestly, that’s what I like to see from bands these days. Energy that transcends the medium. No over-the-top production, no more than three takes. There’s no need for any ego-stroking solos here. Just the white-knuckle grip of a barre chord, the howl of indecipherable vocals, the grounded melody of a bass run, and a steady but powerful drum beat.

Electric Frankenstein / Savage Beat split EP

Each band gives us one original and one cover on this split effort. SAVAGE BEAT covers the TUFF DARTS, while ELECTRIC FRANKENSTEIN covers the RUBINOOS. Those cover selections tell you a lot about the influences going on here, both in terms of musical style and also in terms of eras. Both bands are drawn to the late ’70s rock’n’roll version of punk. This isn’t good or bad, it just is. Both bands deliver music that is mid-tempo and catchy. In that way, they are very similar. I’d say the SAVAGE BEAT vocals remind me of the DICTATORS, while the ELECTRIC FRANKENSTEIN tracks tend to employ a little more lead guitar. Good stuff.

Fuera De Sektor El Mundo Segue cassette

FUERA DE SEKTOR pulls off an impressive genre-bender with El Mundo Segue. The songs are bright and succinct, replete with catchy guitar riffs and superlative bass lines, but somehow they’ve cultivated a perceptible darkness as well. CHAIN CULT may be a good reference point, but FUERA DE SEKTOR is not nearly as dense or gloomy. Musically, I’m reminded of a bit of EASTER AND THE TOTEM, though here again FUERA DE SEKTOR eschews comparison by introducing subtle new wave influences and delivering vocals in a higher-than-expected register. Of the four songs on this tape, “En La Oscuridad” is the one that grabs me most, but they are all bangers. Barcelona has produced some extraordinarily fresh and innovative bands in recent years, and FUERA DE SEKTOR is clearly continuing that trend while adding to La Vida Es Un Mus’ ongoing hit streak. Recommended.  

Gen Pop The Beat Sessions cassette

It’s often an impossible balancing act to teeter between sounding smart and acting tough, but it’s all the more intimidating when you can pull it off. This Washington-based four-piece is pulling up from a lot of deep wells, from straight-ahead bruising punk with an old-school flavor to more jangly ’80s New Zealand pop, and it blends well. Their previous full-length (2020’s PPM66 LP) showed this off handily, but hearing them in a live session like this really demonstrates prowess. A flexile track like “Rough Slough Triptych” does an entire floor routine before planting its feet firmly in polka beat, fist-swinging garage punk to stick the landing. This set of tunes flows breathlessly from three-minute heartfelt anthems to forty-second-long floor burners, leaving a perfect snapshot of a band that is imposing in how much they can get done in how little time—an almost endlessly re-playable release.

Infra Riot Still Out of Order LP reissue

This out-of-print long-player, originally released on Secret Records, has finally been reissued and is sure to satisfy all of the bootstompers out there. INFA RIOT played Oi!-infused punk complete with gang vocals. It’s a similar vibe to their contemporaries the OPPRESSED or UK SUBS, with the boys of INFA RIOT using the elements of Oi! to amp up the anger of their punk rock by creating bigger choruses and heavier instrumentation. This LP certainly had a massive influence on later street punk bands, and moments of it can even be heard in contemporary Oi! bands like BATTLE RUINS.

Kitchen’s Floor None of That LP

Eternal Soundcheck and Petty Bunco once again team up to bring you some of the best racket found on the fringes of punk. This time we’re getting the fourth LP from this long-running Brisbane act. The ten tracks on the record are a mix of brash noise rock, downer punk, and slower (though still pretty noisy) acoustic numbers. The vocals are a little on the nasally side and often treated with pretty heavy effects—reminds me a lot of WHATEVER BRAINS or ISS. The slower cuts are great, particularly “Before Dawn,” and should appeal to folks who’ve been into the stuff DAN MELCHIOR has been putting out the past ten years. But I’m really into these noisier ones, which remind me of some of my favorite acts—UNSANE, the STABS, SATANIC ROCKERS/SACRED PRODUCT—without ever really sounding like any of them. Real cool record!

Leaking Head Better Homes & Gardens EP

Rochester’s LEAKING HEAD follows up their strong 2021 demo tape with a nice slab of wax. Bashing out six snotty rippers in about nine minutes, these guys put a no-bullshit ferocity into their bouncy and brutal modern hardcore. Check some of their live footage on YouTube to get a further taste of what these heads are drippin’.

Mutated Void Slash the Altar EP

Nova Scotia’s MUTATED VOID seemingly went full goblin mode last year by releasing two records—this 7″ EP on Sewercide Records and the Roses Forever LP on Iron Lung—a mere week apart from each other, an absolutely bonkers move (whether the word “bonkers” entails sheer genius or stupidity is entirely up to your own interpretation) that demands respect. But fuck if that matters, it’s all about the music…and this slays. Ripping hardcore thrash performed by two skate freakos! The production is harsh and ear-splitting, but if you only want to hear HC punk with super-polished production, you frankly should eat shit and die in my opinion. The band’s unofficial logo, a crude cut-and-paste job combining the UNITED MUTATION and VOID logos, should tell you just about all you need to know. Shove this and the Roses Forever LP down your tinnitus-ridden earholes immediately!

Nukies Can’t You Tell That This is Hell cassette

Fun fact: did you know that TOTALITÄR’s hit “Multinationella Mördare” was originally a very popular Swedish children’s song, one that all school kids have had to memorize since the mid-’80s? That explains a lot, doesn’t it? NUKIES —”nukie” being either the endearing term for a nuclear weapon or the name of a Star Wars creature—are a brand new band from Stockholm playing käng hardcore punk. Can’t You Tell That This is Hell includes nine songs of rocking and anthemic Swedish hardcore with a clear guitar sound and typical TOTALITÄR-ish blazing riffs. With the heavy rock’n’roll influence openly at the front, especially with the mid-paced headbanging numbers and the emphatic solos, SKITKIDS is an obvious point of reference, and I would locate NUKIES between them, INFERNÖH, and LARMA on the grand käng scale. This is definitely a hardcore ripper, the production is great for the genre, the catchy hooks are here, all very pleasant but I sometimes wished that it hit a bit harder. This was released on tape for some reason (quality-wise, it could definitely be on vinyl) by Adult Crash, a Danish label that was very active indeed on the hardcore front in 2022.

P​ö​ls Instinto LP

This album starts with an instrumental track and then kicks into high gear with a pretty good blend of punk, hardcore, and a dash of emo for good measure. The vocalist has a sugary-sweet voice that compliments the music quite nicely, but it’s the backup vocalist(s) that really adds that extra something special that hooks me.

Private Lives Private Lives cassette

Debut release from this Montréal group that started as a husband-and-wife project during the pandemic. Now actualized as a four-piece, PRIVATE LIVES present five garage-y, post-punk songs with surf-pop drums and fuzzed-out guitars that drop into wiry riffs between distorted vocals, reminding me of CO-ED who I reviewed a while back. In general, this is hard to not enjoy: poppy enough to be catchy, heavy enough to be rollicking, rough enough to retain its edge. Looking forward to what’s next from these Quebecers.

Ribbon Ribbon demo cassette

The aesthetics of punk music packaging have evolved to a baffling place where a band called RIBBON can put crude, cherubic figures and a crumbly castle on the cover of their tape that’s filled with spindly splashes of rugged hardcore, and somehow it works. This Indonesian band’s bare-bones approach is bolstered by a cool vocal performance, and the style is hardcore punk in its original configuration—’70s attitude with the ferocity knob turned up to eleven. Their sound is striking enough that if I were to walk into a record shop where it was playing, I’d ask “who is this?”. Remember JJ DOLL? They kind of sound like the short-lived, post-IVY NYC act JJ DOLL, minus Shiva’s hypnotic guitars and with more of a straightforward Oi!-type influence.

Skarnio Horrores Da Vida LP

Fierce, metallic crusty hardcore from Brazil (of course). They’ve been tearing it up since 2009 or so and have not mellowed a bit. You could definitely give them the usual comparisons of RATOS DE PORÃO when they started to go a little metal or LOBOTOMIA if they didn’t suck when they got metal, but I’m hearing ANTI CIMEX and a little NO FUCKER as well. It’s all ripping from start to explosive ending and it’s not for a leisurely Sunday afternoon listen, unless you’re having morning tea in Ukraine. Check it out.

The Stools / Toeheads Watch It Die split LP

Filthy garage punk rock(’n’roll) in the finest Detroit tradition. Shit sounds nasty, like the shit is supposed to sound. The STOOLS come off like GORIES guzzling crack and distortion, then TOEHEADS add a seriously dark swagger to the equation when you flip the shit. Get fukkd up to one side, regret your life choices on the other—TOEHEADS’ “I Want to Be in Your Life (So I’ll Die)” is a devastating album-ender. Absolute killer on both sides; garage rock fans will eat it up, and pretentious punks will change their minds.

Varonas Instinto Animal EP

Given that there are Spanish labels involved here and the songs are sung in Spanish, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that these folks might be Spanish. Whether or not that’s true, if you’re a fan of female-fronted, sometimes up-tempo power pop with a focus on the vocals, this is likely for you. There’s nothing that says that your punk rock or power pop can’t come from someone with a pretty voice. Three quick songs, and just like that, it’s over. Well-played and well-produced. I wanted more.

V/A Φωνή Διαμαρτυρίας (Voice of Protest) cassette

Now this is exactly the kind of project that gets me overexcited, almost to the point of hyperventilating. Φωνή Διαμαρτυρίας is a piece of punk archaeology. With more than four decades of punk music worldwide, in order to make sense of it all because the scope is vertiginous indeed, the global history of punk rock has to be polyphonic, like an endless, fluid, ever-evolving collection of specific stories. This Herculean task requires a quixotic nature to even contemplate engaging in such a perilous time-consuming endeavour. This compilation tape tells a particular story, one that can only be told from the inside: the rise and the stabilization of crust and extreme hardcore in Greece in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Many are not aware of the fact that Greek crust, with its distinctive apocalyptic and epic, aggressive, and melancholy metallic crunch, is an actual, proper style of crust music (try to remember it though, it is trivia-worthy), a branch on the proverbial scruffy crust tree like Japanese crasher crust or OC crust are, for instance. The man behind the label Extreme Earslaughter, Vangelis, is also the brain behind leading contemporary Greek crust act Παροξυσμός (PAROKSYSMOS), and many of his label’s tapes are great obscure stories of Greek crust, from the past and the present. This tape gathers twenty (very) rare songs (live or practice recordings) from brutal Greek punk bands, with some relatively well-known ’90s bands like Χαοτικό Τέλος (HAOTIKO TELOS), Αρνητική Στάση (ARNITIKI STASI) or Ναυτία (NAFTIA) as well as some genuinely unknown entities. I have to point out that the sound is mostly raw, if not rough, so if you have never dealt with that scene, it might be a bit of a tedious and tough listen, although it might prompt you and kindle the desire to check other works from the bands included. If you are already familiar with and fond of Greek crust, then it is pretty much a gift from the gods and the crust equivalent of finding the lost ark (but without the hassle of doing the research yourself or risking your life). The tape comes with a beautiful booklet with artwork and lyrics from each of the bands, which reminds me of the glory days of the ’90s anarcho-punk scene. This is what passion looks like.

Alien Nosejob Stained Glass LP

This band is everywhere I look. I swear, I had three friends text me this album the day it dropped. With good reason, too. It rips! Guitar-worship to its fullest out of Melton, Australia. The press-release for this slab likens it to AC/DC. While that may be true for tracks like “Coastal Living 2,” I think the majority of the record sounds more like the NEW YORK DOLLS mashed with ZZ TOP. And not even just early-era TOP. I’m talking about the ’80s shit where they took a lot of risks, especially with “Sharp as a Needle” where the rhythm section really comes out for the first time. Speaking of, the bass and drums are tight as hell. I honestly can’t tell if it’s real drums or the best drum machine I’ve ever heard. Bass stays in the pocket for the majority of the record, and really gives the guitars the time to shine. Fantastic album, but seeing as it’s from Total Punk, you may already know that.

Bart and the Brats Bart and the Brats LP

Lo-fi and trashy garage punk from La Rochelle, France. BART AND THE BRATS take us back to the ’90s when bands played to have a good time with their friends in a cavernous, sub-street-level, dingy club. They are humorous without being too silly. For a good time, check out “Records I Used to Hate,” “Constant Nonsense,” and “A Boss is a Boss.” But skip “Predictable,” which rhymes the title with “suck my dick-table.” Yikes.