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.

Arrest Pobre i Perrillos EP

Barcelona has one of the most enigmatic, powerful, and unique punk outputs in my opinion, and ARREST is no exception. ARREST presents with a straightforward streetpunk flair that is mid-tempo and melodic under gravelly vocals and vibrant chords. Part the BUSINESS with a vocal rasp à la SPITE UK and the dissenting tones of DESENTERRADAS and earlier BELGRADO. ARREST is enigmatic, as they sound somewhat UK82 with a gothic post-punk sheen. Percussion tumbles through and the rhythm remains constant throughout, yet the pace never tires, with maniacal laughter taunts throughout similar to INYECCIÓN. My favorite track is a seething, circle-pitting romp called “Fakin Many Nen,” which really rounds out a very solid, mid-paced anthemic punk EP. Recommended for its trashy attitude and classic crudeness that feels familiar and well-versed in an older Oi!-meets-post-punk scene. ARREST definitely pulls this balance off.

Beton / Beyond Description split EP

Two bands that at first glance have nothing to do with each other, but does it even matter?  Slovakian deathbeat machine BETON opens this split with their terrifying brand of death metal punk assault—think DISMEMBER, but with a punkier edge. Crude and moldy, just like old-school Scandinavian death metal, and there is even a banjo solo on the second song (take that, TAAKE!). Japanese crusty legends BEYOND DESCRIPTION, who have been around since 1988, deliver two hardcore songs in the fashion of GAUZE. Fast and energetic, bringing to mind the good old crossover days. Splits don’t always have to make “sense,” as they offer new listeners a chance to discover or enjoy two bands at the same time.

The Breath Promo 2021 cassette

Yokohama’s the BREATH’s Promo 2021 cassette consists of a unique blend of thrashing fast hardcore, an eclectic approach to hardcore punk that includes breakdowns and rule-bending styles that doesn’t resort to the tradition. Everything from YOUTH OF TODAY to SDS to contemporary hardcore punk like GLUE to NEGAZIONE/RAW POWER Italian hardcore style. Their fuzzed-out, blown-out speaker-style guitar resembles LINK WRAY’s blown-out speakers instead of the CONFUSE/GAI Kyushu noisecore approach. Despite its musically challenging approach, the lyrics are pure direct political expressions of the struggles of marginalized communities, as well as a more constructive, positive approach to working to achieve a brighter future.

Claimed Choice Conséquences / La Part des Choses 7″

Following up their killer mini-album from last year, CLAIMED CHOICE return with two bruising cuts of stripped-down French Oi! The top-side track, “Conséquences,” eschews the Bovver glam of their previous effort for a dour mid-tempo stomper replete with straightforward, effective guitar leads and gang vocals. While this should make fans of RIXE begin to salivate, the flipside contains the real gem. “La Part des Choses,” is a bonafide earworm with catchy guitar lines and anthemic choruses, picking up right where We Won’t Give In left off. Gritty, melodic, and tougher than steel-toes, this song epitomizes the appeal of French Oi! in the 2020s. I love a proper 45, and this one does not disappoint!  

Confusion Lo Que No Es Simple Y Fácil De Entender No Puede Ser La Verdad cassette

Really fun stuff here from this Chilean group. Upbeat, rocking, poppy, wild, space-y at times, kinda garage-y too. The two vocalists complement each other well via backing vocals and their individual songs. The one thing that kinda throws me is that on a couple tracks, when the song ends, they throw in an interlude that sounds like the start of a new song but it just ends. I think that could have been done differently, but it’s minimal so it’s not really a big deal. All in all, this is a really fun listen. Also, there’s puppies on the cover. Puppies will win me over every time.

Demand Nearly Human EP

DEMAND delivers a very by-the-numbers, pro run-through of early ’80s USHC with some of the anthemic qualities of Japanese D-beat. Nearly Human has a satisfyingly thick, grimy sound while still allowing the band to show off. They really have an ear for hooks and beats, the essential ingredients for a mid-song breakdown. I pointed my finger, pumped my fist, and windmilled straight through this record.

Dezerter 1986 Co Będzie Jutro? LP

DEZERTER has roots in SS-20, a young punk band formed in 1981 in the Warsaw region, named after a then-made-illegal nuclear weapon, a very provocative name for their time. After several run-ins with censorship, they had to abandon the name and settle for DEZERTER because it was an ordeal just to get their name on a show. This time they went towards a hardcore punk sound with several influences ranging from post-punk and funk. In 1986 they had the opportunity to record songs for the Jak Punk to Punk compilation authorized by the censorship agency and, with the help of the sound engineer, they were able to secretly record the eight songs that are on 1986 Co Będzie Jutro?. Thrity-seven years later and still sounding great, DEZERTER provides a piece of punk history, and it was a big “fuck you” to the establishment and also the last recording by singer Scandal. Stories like this make this band legends.

Et On Tuera Tous Les Affreux Mange Tes Morts LP

Brilliantly crafted hardcore from Caen, France. ET ON TUERA TOUS LES AFFREUX delivers intense and tightly played punk much in the vein of La Vida Es Un Mus bands. They kick and scream against the masculinist clichés of the hardcore scene with ferocity, and they have the songs and the attitude to make serious damage. Excellent release.

Futura V cassette

As one might be able to guess from the title, V is the fifth release by Los Angeles-based hardcore punk outfit FUTURA. Four fast, raging tracks of metal-infused hardcore punk. I almost used the word “relentless” to describe it, but upon further listening, there are a few instances on this tape that let up a bit with a spooky or somewhat introspective interlude, so maybe a bit of relenting, but each instance only lasts a moment. Half the songs sung in English and half in Spanish, with high-pitched vocals that sound somewhat reminiscent of Christina from the mighty VANILLA POPPERS at times. Looking forward to VI.

Global Thermonuclear War Seeking Mastery cassette

Based on the band name and cover art, Portland’s GLOBAL THERMONUCLEAR WAR had me thinking D-beat/crossover, and was I ever right. If you like that particular strain of super-fast hardcore with thrash riffs and clean-ish vocals, check this out immediately. This relentless seven-track bombing raid starts with the slow, crusty intro to “The Rich,” shifts into pounding one-two-one-two drums, and doesn’t let up until it’s over. “Violent Settlements” increases the pace with deliriously fast blastbeats and killer, everything-turned-to-eleven production that creates a wall of pissed-off anti-government, anti-war, anti-meat sound that is staggering. I don’t think it could get any faster without a drum machine or something, and it harkens back to the glory days of D.R.I. and CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER. Just fucking in-your-face hardcore punk that demands your full attention. “Industrialized Meat Production” wouldn’t sound out of place on SLAYER’s Reign in Blood in its ferocity and riffs. Final track “B.T.H.A.T.A.” has a racing D-beat that leads the band into prime raw DISCHARGE mode. Highly recommended, but I need a breather after this one.

Huomio Demo ’23 cassette

How many hardcore bands does Finland produce in a year? If the embassy’s website does not say anything on the subject, it is however adamant that Finland is the happiest country in the world, and with hardcore bands that are as good as HUOMIO, it is hardly a surprise. Still, I’m sure you will find knobheads who’d rather visit Santa Claus’s village than sing along to KAAOS on the streets of Tampere while absolutely plastered. What an odd sense of priorities. I did not know of HUOMIO before this review, and I have to say that I really enjoyed this Helsinki lot’s first demo. I don’t think the members are the happiest punks in the world (but who knows?) because the music sounds seriously pissed and is everything you are entitled to expect from a good Finnish hardcore punk band (or just a good punk band, really). If the influence of traditional Suomi hardcore is undeniable (think BASTARDS or MELLAKKA), I can hear some Italian hardcore too (it does have that intense touch), a vibe typical of contemporary raw, wild hardcore punk acts, and the unhinged-sounding, rapid-fire vocals of the singer definitely give the music an additional edge. I love how demented and threatening she sounds. Some effects on the guitar and vocals are used, but it is not overpowering the energy of their classic hardcore songwriting. The recording is not perfect, but still very promising. It’s old-school without trying too hard, if you know what I mean.

Ida E Os Voltas Demo 1986 12″

This was truly something I wasn’t expecting to see come to light! IDA E OS VOLTAS existed from late 1985 to 1988 as part of a highly art-minded underground scene in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte which has been relatively under-documented, and consequently under-celebrated, compared to São Paulo’s concurrent post-punk output (you won’t find any Soul Jazz collections focused on Belo Horizonte bands). I first heard them on a 2018 digital-only comp of avant-garde Brazilian sounds (Colt 45, big-time recommendation) and I was completely spellbound by the art-punk mystique of their track “Jovens Raptados,” driven by tom-heavy percussion, sneaky guitar/bass interplay reminiscent of the CURE circa Seventeen Seconds, and perfectly flat-affect dual girl/boy vocals chanted in Portuguese. Aside from their two contributions to that comp, there was precious little trace of IDA E OS VOLTAS to be found in the internet ether (recordings or otherwise)—this six-song 12” reproduces their 1986 Samambaias Voadoras demo cassette in full, and what a gift it is. Textbook post-punk bass propulsion locks into sparse scribbles of bright guitar and Ida Feldman’s sing-song vocals like a Brazilian take on BONA DISH for the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it “Deus,” the instrumental “Samambaias Voadoras” dances around the edges of scratchy 99 Records-style mutant funk, and “Anti-Progresso” recalls SOLD SPACE’s dreamy, homespun electro-pop, while lo-fi Casio stabs and the anxious tick of a drum machine give “Cadê a Embaixatriz / Revolta” a similar roughed-up ’80s DIY charm. I only wish there was more where this came from!

Kosmetika Illustration LP

Melbourne-based art-punk/new wave band that bends the genres to their will, blending industrial noise with shambling dream pop that’s gone goth, maybe? Vocals are sung half in English and half in Russian, Veeka Nazarova’s native language, the harsh Slavic nature of which adds to the angular and industrial sound of the tracks. Fans of obscure ’80s new wave/darkwave/no wave will like this. I hear similarities to STRAWBERRY SWITCHBLADE in pop-driven songs like “Eighty Four,” or to contemporaries DELIVERY (who I reviewed a while back). On the other hand, the two opening tracks “Strawberry Needles” and “Psycho TV” remind me of—and I’m sure this is a stretch—the clamoring FOETUS, with noisy and experimental brushes throughout. This just came out in April, so if any of this interests you, get your copy of the limited pressing before it’s gone.

Lethal Hate Demo ’22 cassette

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

Metrics Demo 2022 cassette

High-energy hardcore from Spain that teeters on the edge of egg-punk thanks to their inclusion of a keyboard. Speaking of which, I’ve been listening to this EP on repeat for the last couple of weeks or so and only just realized there were synth leads layered in throughout the entire demo. In fact, the guitar overpowers almost everything, including the vocals. Otherwise, the production here is solid and crisp. I would just suggest they be a little more careful with the mixing next time around. All in all, a decent debut from METRICS. It makes me look forward to what they’ll do next.

The Neanderthals The Neanderthals in Space LP reissue

It’s funny to me that punks have always been so drawn to the kitschy. When bands do it, it worries me that it will only distract from the overall quality of the music they’re making. There’s definitely a space/universe theme going on here. Also noteworthy is that they choose to cover some legendary rock’n’roll songs. Musically, there’s a huge lean towards ’50s and ’60s rock’n’roll/rockabilly/garage/surf. A good number of the songs are instrumentals. Originally released in 2005.

Optic Nerve Angel Numbers LP

Impressive debut LP from this Sydney band that mixes elements of post-punk, deathrock, and classic country instrumentation into a great punk record. Songs like “Bird Bath,” “Gargoyle,” and “Bead Shop” pulse with energetic bass, stabbing guitars, and vocalist Gigi De Lacy’s poetically cut-up (and cavernously reverbed) lyrics. The record would be a worthy listen if it stopped there, but the band crosses into cowpunk-inspired lands with twangy, bent-note guitar lines and rolling, snare-led drum beats reminiscent of the GUN CLUB and ICEAGE that give the songs a rollicking “tight but loose” sound. “Tonic” surprises with acoustic strumming and blues riffs like country-fried deathrock. “Trap Door” adds heavy-distortion alt/rock vibes for an even thicker sound. Imagine Factory Records existing in the American South, and you get the idea. Always engaging with unexpected influences and diversions from genre expectations, OPTIC NERVE is a band to watch.

Public Interest Spiritual Pollution LP

Second album from Oakland’s PUBLIC INTEREST, with their take on dark post-punk. The only musician credited is Chris Natividad, so whether this plush, full-band sound is coming from him and him only, I can’t truly say. If you’re familiar with his other band MARBLED EYE, you will like this variation on their theme that is more pop-driven in its beat, while still providing those reverbed-out, languishing guitar lines. The vocals are as if Thurston Moore is singing in a monotone baritone the whole time, which works with the steady, mid-tempo drums and repetitious bass chugging and synth strokes, best exemplified on “Falling Ash.” The dark aura of MORPHINE or TYPE O NEGATIVE comes to mind, but as a punk outfit. Erste Theke Tontraeger hasn’t led me astray yet, and this record is no exception.

Punter Punter 12″

In 2020, Melbourne, Australia had a particularly rough nine-month COVID lockdown policy that has left PUNTER with plenty to yell about. On their self-titled 12”, the Aussies play charged-up hardcore punk infused with rock’n’roll, and while this MOTÖRHEAD-influenced style of hardcore usually has a sex-and-drugs party vibe, here not so much. Not far beneath the surface of rabid vocals, riffs on riffs, and galloping drumming is a record largely about the systemic assault on lower-class people by a government under the guise of precaution and safety (it should be said that PUNTER is vehemently pro-vaccination). This isn’t a boneheaded diatribe about losing “freedom,” it’s about feeling robbed of your culture and autonomy for the sake of a false sense of security, a feeling that most people (especially young people) can likely relate to. Closing track “A Year’s Silence“ sums it up a little too perfectly with the heartbreaking line “I don’t wanna stream another funeral again.” If you need a cathartic purge of any lingering COVID-induced anger, give this one a spin.

Recedent Somnia Incoming Nightmare LP

Mid-paced metallic hardcore with melodic tweaks and crusty vocals from Rennes, France. Filled with the sounds of classic 2010s melodic hardcore with soft touches of crust. On their second work included here (the Incoming Death EP released in 2021), they cling to even more melodic sources and even slower cadences, resulting in redundant and similar songs in-between. The anthemic choruses kind of in the middle of some of the songs just haven’t worked out for me. Suggested tracks: “Our Destiny” for slightly faster tempos, and “Inside Madness” for some sludgy tunes.

The Reflecting Skin II cassette

Another three songs and nine minutes of rank sludge punk to sit with this Leeds band’s first tape from early 2022. They’re faster and more hardcore-leaning this time out compared to the BRAINBOMBS vibes sloshing around the debut, though I still catch a black metal street punk influence, especially on “Irreversible Damage.” The goth-y guitar refrain on “Grimace” totally works too, cutting through the mire without cleaning anything up in doing so. Suspect the REFLECTING SKIN hasn’t gotten in enough faces live for the word to really spread yet, because this is blown-out, sloppy, and brutal in all the best ways.

Shadow 15 Days of Innocence 1983–85 LP

When it comes to the Twin Cities’ biggest punk exports, I hold the following apparently incorrect opinions: the REPLACEMENTS peaked at Stink (and fell off a cliff after Let it Be), and HÜSKER DÜ was better prior to joining the SST roster. Yes, part of that is due to being a compulsive contrarian. But I also just prefer punk and hardcore to the alternative rock these guys were better known for. So, when I saw this compilation hailed as “a hidden gem of alternative American alternative rock [sic]” by an outfit being compared specifically to those two bands, I braced myself for a bummer of a time. Thankfully, it’s not that bad! SHADOW 15 was a four-piece out of Nashville, TN and this ten-song LP compiles their total studio output (culled from an eight-song cassette and 12” EP released in the mid ’80s). And while it certainly is alternative rock that bears quite a resemblance to those aforementioned acts—it actually sounds a little like Paul Westerberg fronting New Day Rising-era HÜSKER DÜ, maybe with a bit of early R.E.M. in the mix—they’ve got enough of a punk edge to keep them from drifting too far off into emotional post-hardcore or proto-GOO GOO DOLLS territory. It’s also a little generic-sounding, like a band made up for a mid-’80s teen movie. Still, there are a couple of songs that bordered on being good, and the overall squishy production alongside a super snappy rhythm section added enough amateurish charm that I ultimately enjoyed my time with the record. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a hidden gem, but it’s probably worth your time if you like indie rock of the time period.

State Run Radio State Run Radio 12″

This is OK. Kinda boring, nothing particularly attention-grabbing about this record. Generic, homogenized melodic punk. Kinda similar to, say, NAKED RAYGUN, but with all the cool parts left out. Only six songs, so at least there’s that.

Tick Ignorance is Bliss cassette

From what I can gather, TICK is from New York City, a town that is apparently somewhere on the East Coast of the US of A and I’m told is a bit famous, but I couldn’t tell you for sure. They are a three-piece and Ignorance is Bliss is their third cassette recording, with eight songs. I am not sure what to really think about the band. The music has a raw punk energy and I can imagine them being very enjoyable live. I like TICK best when they deliver short, sharp shocks of direct, snotty tupa-tupa UK82 punk with delectable sing-alongs, as the very primitive production and the clear guitar sound work well with that style. Early US hardcore and deathrock are also very present influences and I guess they lose me a bit along the way with these, but then it might have to do with the fact that the other songs made me expect old-school UK punk to drink cider to. Not bad at all, and I think TICK might appeal to a lot of punks because they are energetic and have great sarcastic lyrics, but they are just too much on the US side of the hardcore spectrum. And is it me, or does the logo look like the Transformers logo?

Timmy’s Organism Lone Lizard LP

I never much got into TIMMY’S ORGANISM, and not for any good reason. I listened to Timmy Vulgar’s other combos EPILEPTIX and CLONE DEFECTS, but kinda drifted off about the time the whole Horizontal Action zine scene was no longer. Well, seven albums and a zillion singles later, I’m rocking this pretty hard. The description of the STOOGES meets HAWKWIND is one I can’t really argue with, though I’d put a little BLUE ÖYSTER CULT and GRAND FUNK in there as well. Purely a ham-fisted, Midwest sci-fi wah-wah experience like only Michigan can provide. It’s a little long, but really, this should be a big gatefold LP complete with a dayglo poster for your bedroom wall. Catch them when they play your town or don’t, as I think Mr. Vulgar is gonna be at it for longer than his hearing lasts.

Unified Action Unified Action LP

Hailing from around Newcastle, United Kingdom is UNIFIED ACTION, a band whose members boast an impressive resume that includes bands like EXTORTION, TIED DOWN, and CONTROL, among others. As one may suspect from this lineup, UNITED ACTION delivers straight, fast hardcore punk. Originally released on cassette tape, this demo has gotten the vinyl treatment, which I would say it has earned. All the tunes here are solid, filled with aggression and fast semi-blasts. The INFEST cover is neat, if a bit unnecessary in my opinion. Definitely one to check out if you’re into bands like the aforementioned INFEST, or VOORHEES and the like.

Wound Man Human Outline LP

This is a monster of a powerviolence album. Brutal, pummeling and unrelentingly hurtful. The short songs are so chaotic and frenetic that feel like being hit in the face and loving every single blow. But what I really love about WOUND MAN is how they manage to handle the riff-a-rama and all the violent spurts of noise (what a hell of a drummer they have, btw) with more sinister-sounding slow tempos that are incredibly heavy and tense and violent. This album is on repeat in this writer’s house.

Abscess Political Vomit LP

Iowa’s first hardcore band ABSCESS recorded this ten-song session back in 1983, and it’s just now seeing the light of day, in proper LP form, no less. Time-capsuling the band’s early Midwest punk style, this record showcases a mix of mid-paced and fast melodic tunes, all bass-heavy and delivered with an endearing clunkiness. While not exactly revelatory, this release unearths another forgotten piece of the USHC story and is a solid example of the genre in its formative stages.

Arsou Arsou demo cassette

At first, I thought ARSOU’s songs changed a lot minute to minute. It kept me on my toes. After another listen, I realized the central riffs and chords just appeared in different incarnations: sometimes distorted, sometimes clean, bass-only, etc. This gives the music an uncertain, restless quality without feeling like a distraction. Besides that, they sounded to me like street punk playing at a slower, creeping tempo. This gives the songs an almost goth quality, though flamboyant they are not. At several points I expected them to fire on all four cylinders, but they kept the real fist-pumpers to a minimum, making them especially satisfying once they arrived.

Big Rat Rock n’ Roll Fever cassette

BIG RAT’s new EP brings us four pure rock’n’roll tracks for the politically-conscious party animal in all of us. Singer Ian Brink channels Richard Hell and a nasally David Johansen, so naturally you’d think he was born for the role. With almost all of the energy coming from Brink, this is a very vocal-driven record, showcasing the authentic “punk” attitude that some attempt unavailingly. The rest of the band sounds very much like STREET BRATS and the JABBERS. Some great guitar licks here, at points giving off a real classic AC/DC vibe. All in all, nothing groundbreaking, but is absolutely worth a pick-up if you dig these types of tunes.

Broken Barcodes Get in the Van CD

Five songs of RAMONES-inspired pop punk. Nothing groundbreaking here. Your standard RAMONES-core fare, although the tempo of these songs is much slower than they probably should be for this type of stuff. If this was a bit more peppy, it’d serve them well. The cover art’s nod to the Henry Rollins book that this EP is named after was kinda “ha-ha” funny.

Choncy Community Chest cassette

Debut eight-track release which keeps the listener guessing the whole time. We’ve got catchy post-punk, angular artsy punk, driving garage rock, weirdo nasty hardcore/noise rock stuff, this tape is all over the damn place! And I mean that in a good way, in case that didn’t come across as obvious as it was intended. It makes a lot of sense to me that CHONCY is from the wacky city of Cincinnati, OH, one of the more interesting punk scenes in the country currently. After releasing that new album by the DRIN, this seems a lovely addition to the catalog of the powerhouse that is Feel It Records, now that they have relocated to the same aforementioned city. Keep ‘em coming, Sam!

C.P.R. Doll Music for Pleasure cassette

You might get excited looking at all the folks attached to this project—the uniformly excellent Goodbye Boozy and Under the Gun labels, players from ABORTED TORTOISE and GHOULIES, cameos from other top-tier Aussie acts like SATANIC TOGAS and TEE VEE REPAIRMAN. Well, stay excited, because this tape is rough-and-rumble like all the best coming out of Australia. It has an added layer of spaced-out darkness, even with the faintest cold touches of deathrock (especially in the bass) that really sends it home. The melodic shout-along vocals are dialed-in and the rhythms have that beautiful, almost Teutonic motorik android quality that locks you into a bop you can’t escape. Everyone involved in this beautifully incestuous rock scene just keeps getting better and better and it’s exhilarating to hear.

Crown Court / The Enforcers split 7″

Courtesy of Crossbar Records, we have a premium slab of close-shave rock’n’roll, featuring one track each by two of the best in the game. CROWN COURT lands a heavy blow with “Rich Boy,” which exhibits a particularly gnarly bass line. The guitar leads are tastefully employed, unlike the subject of the song’s derisive lyrics. Grab a mop ‘cause this is dripping with attitude. Speaking of attitude, the ENFORCERS sound genuinely pissed! From the moment the vocals kick in, “Collision Course” is full-bore street rock designed to pound your sorry ass into the pavement. Burly as hell and exquisitely executed, this song is that perfect blend of toughness and tunefulness. Great split!

Deletions Stets cassette

Not sure if it’s intended to be an homage, but the graphic design on this cassette really brings to mind that period in the late ’90s where melodic hardcore bands were flirting with Midwest emo and sci-fi aesthetics (not a time I’m wistful for!). Like, compare this to the cover of, say, GRADE’s Separate the Magnets. Musically, that comparison isn’t too far off, either. I wouldn’t say DELETIONS, an act out of Harrisburg, PA, plays melodic hardcore by any means—this is closer to post-hardcore with more overt post-punk leanings—but there’s definitely an emo influence to the ten short songs on this cassette. Honestly, it sounds like this band is going for an A FRAMES vibe but knows their love of the PROMISE RING is going to bleed through, so their hope is they can add enough farty analog synth sounds that people won’t notice. It’s some real rough stuff. And that’s not even considering the lyrics, which are borderline excruciating! Still, their commitment to playing profoundly out-of-touch music with this much verve had me rooting for them. So, while I don’t recommend that you listen to this release, I can’t help but recommend that the band keep it up!

Dry Sockets Dry Sockets demo cassette

Deary me. For the first fifteen seconds of this demo, I genuinely held out hope that this wasn’t complete and utter horseshit, and then, sadly, like watching Harry Maguire trying to defend a simple one-on-one, the inevitable happened when the vocals kicked in. I’m not sure if it is possible to die of secondhand embarrassment, but if I do cark it in the next week, I’m sure listening to this record will be referenced in the post-mortem. Like if Tom DeLonge swapped the big shorts for jeans that actually fit and read the adolescent poetry of a complete arsehole. Would genuinely rather suffer from dry socket than listen to this total bollocks ever again.

Eteraz Destined to Kill flexi 7″

Not sure what is happening in Olympia right now, but I would not be surprised to learn that a pack of rabid nuclear rats raised on a diet of CONCRETE SOX and SACRILEGE was recently unleashed on the town and befriended all the local punks before biting them in the arse. I had heard of ETERAZ before but never really got to pay much attention to them, because catching up with all the new bands feels like filling the Danaid’s barrel without the cool perk of being part of Greek mythology. I did listen to a couple of their songs from their 2022 LP Villain and was favorably impressed with their slightly thrashing brand of dark hardcore punk with chunks of Sweden and Japan in it. This new record came out only six months after the LP, so I’m guessing ETERAZ didn’t have time to lose (or the LP was late to come out). To be fair, I prefer this flexi. I really enjoy the old-school crusty thrashing influence pervading the two songs, as it blends perfectly with the band’s dark and threatening, almost evil, hardcore sound. Besides the British classics mentioned at the beginning, I am reminded of TEMPTER and even AHNA, although ETERAZ is still firmly on the punkier side. One of the band’s notable strong points is the lyrics in Persian, not just for the originality (it is rather uncommon and a welcome change), but because it cannot be easy to adapt a language to a formal hardcore punk songwriting structure (on that level ETERAZ is rather classical) when there are not many prior examples to be inspired by. That makes things interesting and probably challenging if you are the singer. The only flaw of Destined to Kill is that it is too short. I am aware that a flexi is, by essence, short (you don’t often see flexi LPs), but in this case I want to hear more of the band with that new formula. Get it if and while you can.

Fracture Purgatoire EP

Kick-ass young punk/Oi! band outta Paris. Catchy as all hell, like a lost R.A.S. track or anything on a Chaos En France compilation. I imagine or hope they’re on the ins with the whole RIXE/CONDOR scene or else they should be, as they might give the old-timers a run for their baguette. “Imposteur” is my personal fave, with that mid-tempo menace that just screams trouble. All songs are perfect though, and I hope it’s not too hard to track down a copy. Kill!

Greed When the Holocaust Come LP

There is a lot of GREED in the world. Indeed, I have been able to find quite a few bands using this moniker on Discogs, from a ’90s Italian hardcore band, to a Leeds-based metalcore band, to a Japanese melodic punk band, to a nu-thrash groove metal band from Germany (this sounds pretty horrific, do not try this at home), and not one but two house dance acts. And that’s without mentioning the ’90s Swedish crustcore band that had an EP on Distortion Records—I initially thought that When the Holocaust Come was some sort of discography, but I was wrong, as it is an album from a Mexican GREED from Nezahualcoyotl that I had never heard of. The band has been going since 2011, and with a cover depicting a gas mask, skulls, and soldier skeletons, you won’t be surprised to learn that GREED play dis-oriented music, in the present case a brand of raw, primitive dis-crustcore with vocals that are not unlike those of some Japanese crust bands. The production reminds me of old-school grindcore more than crust though, and it makes sense that the singer/guitar player also makes noise in grind bands. It sounds like AGATHOCLES covering BATTLE OF DISARM and BOMBRAID. I didn’t really expect to like it, but I think it is a good record of primitive, dark D-beat crust. The vinyl version was released on Swedish label Cimex Records, the label run by ANTI-CIMEX’s drummer (duh).

Hands Off Hands Off demo cassette

Independent punk band and label from Groningen in the Netherlands, with ten tracks of swift and buzzy riot grrrl. I really enjoy the pulse beat in the synth-driven “S.I.M.” that employs the repetition of “no one has” to start every line of the song. With this type of repetition used throughout, I hear a poetry in their songwriting, which is presented calmly over synth lines, like on “S.I.M.,” or shouted over fuzzy guitars like on “Get Me One.” If you enjoyed the 1993 Stars Kill Rock compilation put out by Kill Rock Stars, then I think you’ll be at home here.

Idiopathique Idiopathique cassette

IDIOPATHIQUE throws everything at the wall and sees what sticks. They tear through a mixtape’s worth of styles, from crust to MINUTEMEN-esque jazz parts to early ’80s HC. The dual vocals are pitched screams and growls throughout. I felt my attention pulled in too many directions here. All of those genres deploy more than enough aural input on their own. Featured back-to-back like this, they just felt like a hurdle instead of a provocation. It’s also possible that my middle-aged self is just fatally out of touch with the youth of today.

Italia 90 Living Human Treasure LP

Very cool artsy post-punk from across the pond in London. Darkened dance-rock akin to JOY DIVISION, ADAM & THE ANTS, and PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED. Spacey and ambient at points, atmospheric and subtly industrial at others. Singer reminds me very much of Nik Fiend of ALIEN SEX FIEND fame. The rhythm section provides most of the hooks while the guitar is left to wander on its own, getting lost in a sea of dissonant chords and reverb-laden licks. Dystopian poetry for an ever-growing apocalyptic world. Lovely work here.

Kat Haus Manic cassette

Fantastic EP that stands between egg-punk and post-punk, in the vein of KLEENEX/LILIPUT with the sense of humor of K Records. Songs are fun and catchy, lyrics are smart and satirical, guitars are razor-sharp, the bass wants to dance with me. A delight. My fave track is “Bum a Light.” Listen to that, right now.

Litovsk Litovsk 12″

France’s LITOVSK has released a beautifully packaged slice of life on their new self-titled 12″. Playing crisp and clean melodic post-punk with shimmering guitars and nasally vocals, LITOVSK recalls bands like MISSION OF BURMA and the REPLACEMENTS, and would fit quite nicely on a bill with contemporaries MIDDLEMAN. Lyrics range from socio-political themes like nationalism and chauvinism to themes of heartache and longing, most notably on “Riverside,” a sparkling ode to childhood in a poor town where riding mopeds and attending soccer matches distracted from the mundanity of life. Heartfelt and sincere, LITOVSK delivers a satisfyingly introspective listen.

Louse / The Shits split 10″

An insert packaged with this lathe-cut 10” bills this as the first in a series titled The Red Room Collection, a repository for “the UK’s most distinguished scum rock outfits.” Clearly, you have to come flying out the blocks with a claim like that, and this occurs with the SHITS and LOUSE (from Leeds and Newcastle respectively, although I believe there’s some shared membership). The SHITS have been getting increasingly psychedelic over their short-ish discography, albeit in a disagreeable bad batch kinda way; of their two cuts here, “Gratification” sticks in the head hardest thanks to an ignorant wah pedal sound as heard in latter-day BRAINBOMBS albums. LOUSE tips the cap to their confessed influences even more straightforwardly via a cover of DRUNKS WITH GUNS’ “Fist Puppet,” alongside two of their own. “Human Ashtray” is like when you listen to KILLDOZER and ALICE DONUT and think it could stand to be a bunch more deranged. That adds up to distinguished scum rock!

Motormouth More Time / Get It On 7″

While the band is from Belgium, the songs are sung in English. This is fairly straightforward mid-tempo punk rock that has elements of hardcore, but remains pretty melodic and catchy. Some of the guitar seems a little unnecessary to me. It’s got an intensity that seems on the verge of exploding. I wouldn’t say that I loved it, but I did enjoy it.

M.V-11 6 Songs EP

Japanese hardcore alert! M.V-11 rose from the ashes of ENDLESS CHAOS to deliver a hardcore ass-kicking the way that only Japanese punks can do. Six hardcore bangers that use the same energy as bands like NIGHTMARE or LIP CREAM. A solid EP for the Japanese hardcore maniacs!

Nubot555 No Way Back cassette

Okay, this one tested my patience, but hear me out because some of the freakiest among you egg-punks might dig it. NUBOT555 is an Antwerp, Belgium-based sci-fi punk band with a vocal approach unlike anything I have ever heard. The synth-based tracks bubble along with bouncy bass, buzzing keys, and a tinny electronic drum sound. Not bad, but nothing new—until the vocals kick in. Each song is a duet between two voices: one like a vintage Speak & Spell delivering platitudes about resurrection and human life, and one that sounds like what you would make a sock puppet say to a child, but pitch-shifted. Think about it for a second. Computer voice plus silly puppet voice doing call-and-response vocals over thrift store electronics. You’re either in or you’re out; consider this the line in the sand.

Playthings Playthings 12″

Ōtautahi/Christchurch’s PLAYTHINGS have far too often been left in the shadows when it comes to post-mortem histories of New Zealand’s ’80s underground, which generally privilege bands who recorded for Flying Nun and/or the pastoral psychedelic Kiwi pop sound most closely associated with the label, but that’s exactly why this new compendium of the post-punk group’s two bonzer-certified singles (plus a bonus unreleased track) is so necessary. Bassist Jay Clarkson and guitarist Janine Saundercock each took a turn at the mic for their 1981 debut 7”—“Coloured” employs dryly recited vocals from Jay and angular twists of guitar with a dark and mysterious early UK DIY/Rough Trade feel, while the Janine-sung B-side “Sit Down (Stand Up)” explodes with bold, no-nonsense first wave New York punk energy like a femme-fronted VOIDOIDS. Janine left before the second and final PLAYTHINGS single in 1982 and Jay took over as PLAYTHINGS’ sole vocalist for three songs that smooth out some of the band’s sharper corners for a more pop-inclined approach, although there’s still plenty of tension to be found in the AU PAIRS-ish “Pure Frost” and the sharp, cutting guitar and rumbling bass that runs through “Bird’s Eye View,” with the previously unreleased “Grits” vaguely recalling Exene-led, Wild Gift-era X. There’s only 300 copies of this out there, and that’s criminal.