For review and radio play consideration:

Please send vinyl (preferred), CD, or cassette 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 reviews of test pressings or promo CDs without final artwork. Please include contact information and let us know where your band is from!

Angel Face I Can’t Go Back / New Generator 7″

Tokyo punk lifers Fink (TEENGENERATE, RAYDIOS, RULER), Rayco (RULER), Toyozo (the FADEAWAYS), and a vocalist named Hercules (who appears to have spent time drumming in a handful of acts) team up to bring us this new group, which sounds like a true amalgam of their previous bands. Overall, things lean pub rock or power pop, but you can hear a little beat/garage in the mix as well as, of course, punk. It impressed the bigwigs over at Slovenly so much that they decided to simultaneously release this 7” and their debut LP. Both tracks are pretty great. “I Can’t Go Back” sounds a little like something that might have come off CHEAP TRICK’s Heaven Tonight had it been put out by a mid-’90s Rip Off Records band, and “New Generator” is more of a revved-up number that almost sounds like an Oi! band really leaning into their EDDIE AND THE HOTRODS and SLADE influences. I haven’t checked out that LP yet, but if this 7” is any indicator, it’ll be a ripper.

Better Plastic Mint Condition EP

First and foremost, I am a big fan of this album art. Throw a couple skulls on your record cover and it’s an automatic spin from me. Artsy powerviolence out of Brooklyn—shocking, I know. Super groovy, and sounds similar to FUCKED UP’s Glass Boys (Slow Version). Has a Steve Albini edge to it, and reminds me a lot of heavier JESUS LIZARD/LAUGHING HYENAS. What really sets this 7′ apart from their peers is the guitar and bass work. Pummeling at times, but also noisy and dissonant. Treble-heavy bass sounds like it’s come straight from the ’90s, giving off a classic post-hardcore vibe. Guitar is noisy as all hell and reminds me of if WOLF EYES collaborated with Greg Ginn (at least during his late ’80s era when he tried playing jazz guitar). A fun little romp and well worth a spin.

Blind Eye Waste of Time / Nothing’s For Free 7″

Do you like aggressive, femme-fronted hardcore? No, you love it? Look no further than this gem of a 7” by the Nottingham, UK group BLIND EYE. Steeped in the Nottingham scene, bandmates Andy Morgan (guitar) and Steve Charlesworth (drums) played previously in ENDLESS GRINNING SKULLS (and many other bands separately), and took their energy to this project with the help of Matt Grundy (bass, also a bandmate of Morgan’s in NADIR and DEAD IN THE WOODS) and Anmarie Spaziano (vocals). The tour-de-force of their 2019 demo has carried on through their Decomposed LP and now this single—fast, fierce, raucous, as if the whole thing could come to pieces at any moment, but somehow, they maintain. The A-side “Waste of Time” is an instant classic, with ascending guitar lines that boil over into choruses that get Spaziano screaming with the whole band working at a pretty flat-out pace. The B-side “Nothing’s for Free” starts out slow with some spoken word over dissonant guitars and shimmering cymbals, then rips into the frenzy they are known for, shouting “I’m just trying to stay alive” over a barrage of riffing, and don’t be mad they put a guitar solo in the outro, it rips! Overall, every member of this band is putting out excellent musicianship, true stewards of their craft. Am I avoiding using the obvious pun that’s to say “don’t miss out on this one”? Yes.

City Skyline Jarocin ’88 LP reissue

This reissue is by Polish band CITY SKYLINE, and might just be what your record collection is missing. Angst-ridden vocals riding upon groove-heavy punk rock with more than just a hint of melancholic emotions creates a sound that is captivating and addictive. With rhythm shifts that range from swift punk to swinging rock’n’roll, each song has an individual vibe, but they all coalesce into a very particular sound that is brimming with desolation. Vocals are snarly and often include the entire group, but not in the gang vocal sort of way—it’s different. CITY SKYLINE produced a decisively one-of-a-kind product that is difficult to compare to others, and it’s most certainly worth a listen.

The Defnics 51% / Hello From Berlin 7″ reissue

Classic Midwest punk rock from 1981—the DEFNICS are up there with the PAGANS as being among Cleveland’s finest. And they play a similar style of melodic, but tough as fucking nails, punk rock. Unless you’re one of the very few who have an original, you need this record. Hell, if you’ve got an original, get this one so you can preserve that original. Excellent shit.

False Tracks Hymn for Terror cassette

Play this cassette by Philadelphian rockers FALSE TRACKS loud! Their jangly, distortion-heavy, psych-drenched garage punk is sure to blow you away. If you ever wondered what the YARDBIRDS might sound like if they were into the BUZZCOCKS and JAY REATARD, then look no further. Occasionally soulful but more often noisy, FALSE TRACKS is definitely a unique sound in our currently bland musicscape. The song “Dandelion” is a rocking track that seemingly combines everything FALSE TRACKS is capable of into a stirring and hypnotic presentation. If you’re a fan of psychedelia and garage rock, then do not sleep on this release.

Fuerza Bruta Contra 12″

Talk about nominative determinism—straight out the gate, this record is like a dry slap round the chops, wasting no time in shoving down your throat eight new tracks of a Spanish-language, Oi!-flavoured hardcore assault on the senses. A tantalising mix of gang-shouted choruses, a touch of street punk-style “woah-oh!”s too are ticking several boxes, and it really must be noted that, for want of a better phrase, this drummer certainly knows how to twat them pots. Nestle this gently among other modern classics like the CHISEL or NO TIME. Run, don’t walk for this one.

Gentilesky Ways of Seeing LP

Debut LP from this Sardinia-via-Istanbul quartet, with a hype sticker invoking the names of numerous femme-forward post-punk outfits that will typically push my buttons when referenced—EDITH NYLON, LILIPUT, BUSH TETRAS, LIZZY MERCIER DESCLOUX, and the MO-DETTES?! In reality, GENTILESKY’s approach is way more toughened-up/garage-informed (the mention of TYRADES is by far the most accurate) and not nearly as funky/dance-oriented as those comparisons would suggest, with production that’s a lot cleaner than what I tend to gravitate toward in the art-punk spectrum. Guitarist Claudio Zucca slashes away with serrated, Andy Gill-like abandon (although the sheet metal edge seems to have been somewhat dulled by the compression of digital recording), and the vocals are pushed really forward in the mix, which suits Yaprak Kirdök’s expressive wails well enough, but when bassist Andrea Pilleri joins in on backing shouts and GENTILESKY digs into an especially busy groove, like the chorus to “Freedom is Coming,” it veers into the sort of slick maximalism that I’d more closely associate with mid-’00s coke loft dance punk than early Rough Trade. There’s also a dizzying number of twists and turns on display here, both structurally and stylistically, that will dash any illusions of scrappy DIY amateurism—“Honesty” kicks into some punctuated, MINUTEMEN-by-way-of-GANG OF FOUR trebly scratch that’s conceptually adjacent, but the knotted rhythms and quiet/loud dynamics of “My Hands” are late ’90s Touch & Go if anything (one part SHELLAC, one part BLONDE REDHEAD), and the title track is seven minutes of drowsy and vaguely VELVETS-y sprawl. Maybe it’s just the cognitive dissonance between what was promised and what was delivered that’s keeping me from fully connecting with Ways of Seeing; your results may vary.

Güeros Darker Days Ahead CD

Out of Piedmont, Italy, GÜEROS have an early melodic hardcore sound like 7 SECONDS. Fast and steady beats power their youthful charge through these ten songs, and seldom do they stray from the formula. With a strong bass presence, gang vocals, and a penchant for soundbites, these crazy kids are carrying torches that were originally lit in the ’80s and ’90s, god bless ‘em.

Hard & Cheap Seven Civilized Inches EP

Madrid’s HARD & CHEAP’s latest release sounds like rapid-fire combustion of outrageous energy. Reminiscent of Pick Your King-era  POISON IDEA with good recording production. Seemingly lousy at first glance, but pretty raging at the same time as soon as they go into the frantic speedcore intensity, if that makes any sense.

La Aferra Program 2xLP

Nikt Nic Nie Wie and DIY Koło put out a double LP from Polish green anarchist band LA AFERRA. Disc One is a partial rearrangement of songs from their 1996 cassette La Programo, and starts with a PA announcement and siren wail that set the motif of Eastern Bloc oppression.  “Kiedy Pozbędę Się Serca” follows with a mid-tempo hardcore rhythm and spat-up spoken word that rips into shouts at the end of the song that’s basically one long crescendo. This style remains throughout, speeding things up or down (mostly up), getting angry about the state of the environment through an ecological lens, based on notes from NNNW website. “Morderca” is a good taste from La Programo, with heavy riffing and lots of backing vocals from the band.  Disc Two is their 1994 debut cassette W Naszych Nagich Twarzach in its entirety. The songs here maybe hit a little harder and take less time for instrumental breaks or slowed-down bridges. The green anarchist anger is definitely present in this compilation, and makes a solid showcase of the band’s sound. If you’re looking to delve deeper, also check out Miłość (“Love”), their final album from 1999, that takes the band in a different, more somber direction with long, dark instrumentals, as if all their initial anger was swept over with a sadness inherited by not seeing the change they were after. Great to see bands like this, otherwise off the radar from 30 years ago, get some light of day.

The Losers Storm the Beach cassette

As a somewhat long-running demo/tape reviewer, I have always felt it was my responsibility to describe the music on the tapes that I am assigned objectively, make accurate comparisons, and be as encouraging as possible. I’m struggling with this one a little bit, because from the first listen, I can’t get past the comparison aspect. From the yelling of the first line, I thought “damn, this sounds a whole helluva lot like that first NOFX EP on Mystic Records.” I then listened to it again, and could think of nothing else. Seeing that name, people in the modern day might immediately be put off, and who could blame them, but I encourage you to listen to that first record to see how wildly different it is from the NOFX of nowadays. I probably hadn’t listened to it in fifteen years, but it was all I could think of. To attempt to break myself out of this internal cycle, I figured I would simply listen to the self-titled NOFX record to prove to myself that the comparison was all in my head. Well, it wasn’t. I went back and forth listening to that and the five songs on the LOSERS’ cassette, and at one point I lost track of which one I was listening to. If you told me these were lost songs from the first NOFX session, I would completely believe you. I guess the only thing left to be said is if you like the first NOFX 7”, you’re gonna love the LOSERS’ Storm the Beach.

Maldito Mundo Maldito Mundo demo cassette

If you’re a fan of raw, unapologetic punk music that hits you like a punch to the gut, then look no further than MALDITO MUNDO. This fierce band is a force to be reckoned with, drawing heavy inspiration from the likes of DISCHARGE and other international DISCHARGE-inspired hardcore bands like XENOFOBIA, OLHO SECO, and MG-15. With blistering guitar riffs, thunderous drumming, and raw vocals, their music is a sonic assault on the senses. It’s gritty, uncompromising, and utterly captivating. From the first chord to the last, MALDITO MUNDO grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go.

Não Não demo cassette

I was not late to the party for this one, as I was lucky enough to see NÃO play last summer in Hamburg and gladly enjoyed their short set of energetic hardcore punk. They were the opening band, always a tricky spot since most of the audience is generally busy downing cheap cans of lager (and Germany has a lot of these) outside of the venue, and they managed to keep things interesting. They did a good job and I was curious to see what this Bremen band with members of INFERNO PERSONALE would produce in the studio. I like the production, it has a genuine ’80s feel without too many fancy effects. The band is not trying to “out-distort” anyone, and the balance between contemporary fuzzy D-beat punk and raw ’80s hardcore is adequate. It has a simplicity that I find refreshing, and listening to these six songs is basically a pleasant experience, like a Sunday morning stroll in the park in good company. The vocals are really good here, raucous and angry, but still managing to get some tunes in all the mayhem (the sonorities of the Brazilian Portuguese language certainly help, it’s like the singers of POTENTIAL THREAT and TOŽIBABE going to a hardcore festival in São Paulo in 1984). I like the fact that they are not drowned in effects, just a bit of reverb and saturation which confer that ’80s touch that I mentioned. Musically, the recipe is tried and tested, DISCHARGE-influenced old school hardcore punk, but not exactly D-beat. It’s a revisit of classic peace punk like the ICONOCLAST and DIATRIBE, UNDERAGE from Italy, and definitely INOCENTES from Brazil. A good hardcore band worth keeping a watchful eye on.

Part Time Filth Full Time Filth EP

Nashvillian noisy punk’n’roll in the form of a duo project with Tony Filth on every instrument except drums which are played by Los, merging into this trailer rock trance. The ratcheted and fight-searching spirit of the vocals runs stridently and overwhelming. Medium and fast-paced rhythms with solid cadences and histrionic drive all around. Tennessee shows their own blend of punk that goes for crunchier rocking tones, steady choruses, and erratic riffage. The screaming and organic forms displayed by this duo glue something together that has its own fury while having vibes from another era. Interesting work.

Pet Mosquito Overalls EP

Here’s a fun blast of freaky rock’n’ roll from Carbondale, Illinois four-piece PET MOSQUITO. This chunky lathe-cut EP presents four cuts of what the group has described as “thrift shop thrash”—a rather fitting self-assessment. The opening “Ashamed” has a homespun punky charm in the vein of Hippies-era HARLEM, along with a cheap bubblegum feel à la Burger Records circa 2009. Next comes some screaming riot grrrl hilarity in the form of “Is There a Man Around?” Side B kicks off with the all-too-brief KING KHAN-style stomper “Two Flies” before launching into the excellent title track, which somehow manages to be foreboding and reassuring at the same time. This thing is awesome and I’m happy to have it on the shelf. Be sure to check out last year’s Live at the Lamplighter Lounge for more nasty garage grooves.

Rebelmatic DCxPC Live & Shiny Dome Records Present, Vol. 18: Live at Fuzz Fest WV LP

An actually good live album of a set from Brooklyn’s REBELMATIC from Fuzz Fest in Morgantown, West Virginia. First thing I’ll mention is that the production on this recording is pristine. Rarely do live shows translate well for me because of poor production, but this sounds good. REBELMATIC plays a familiar mix of high-energy hardcore and hip hop with a classic NYHC feel to it. Each track sounds bouncy and tight, and the crowd banter adds a charming element. It genuinely sounds like this was a fun show to be at. Check out “Pony” and “Blood and Gold.”

Rejestracja Darmowe Wczasy LP reissue

REJESTRACJA is a somewhat elusive band. I remember first hearing about them back in 2006 when my old band spent a few weeks touring in Eastern Europe. Here it is over twenty years later, and I finally get to check them out! I’m not entirely sure of the provenance, but I believe this is a reissue of a cassette release from 1983. There appears to have been a version of this from 2017, but in any case, this is remastered and ready to burn up your turntable. REJESTRACJA absolutely rips! Fast, unrelenting political hardcore punk that has the perfect blend of hooks and aggression. There are tons of juicy riffs throughout the twenty songs, with great drumming and forceful vocals. The songwriting makes me thankful to own a copy of B.G.K.’s Jonestown Aloha!, which I think I’ll throw on next. In case it isn’t abundantly clear, Darmowe Wczasy gets a strong recommendation from me. Killer stuff.

Saviour Complex Chance Your Arm LP

SAVIOUR COMPLEX’s new LP might dip into discord on tracks like “Rabbit,” but is otherwise uninterrupted sad punk. Their vocalist laments and rails and back again, always with a scratch at the back of the throat. There’s a lot going on underneath, too—the bass is almost always adding something to the guitars and from time to time will break out a sophisticated, scale-walking lead. The drums are everything from driving 4/4s to dramatic sways to a slow, lilting pace. This combo of pensive mood and innovation makes me think of the bands of mid-’80s Washington, DC.

Sexpill In Dust We Trust LP

SEXPILL is not your average hardcore band. You can feel it when you press play. Can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but you get a sense that SEXPILL doesn’t give a fuck about what you think! They just do what they love and that’s that! In Dust We Trust instantly delivers raw energy, unapologetic anger, and a sound that pushes all the right buttons. Japanese skank-driven bands like L.S.D. or KURO come to mind with their infectious pogo-inducing beats. The noisy, industrial-esque snippets help build an oppressive atmosphere that soon discharges in all directions once the hardcore kicks in. A sonic punch to the teeth.

Tiger Helicide Desensitized CD

Bonehead punk from Alabama made by bonehead punks. Repetitive riffs and simplistic songwriting that is composed of exact-rhyme quatrains gets old fast. The subject matter runs the gamut from axe murderers to punk scene fantasies to the Zodiac Killer, but none of it is captivating enough to keep interest for very long. Even “Jerkin’ Off,” at 39 seconds, feels too long, since it’s basically the title sung over and over again. TIGER HELICIDE stretches out a bit with the slow, dirge-like “I’ll Be Your Failure,” and the nearly six-minute, organ-driven “I Gotta Headache,” which would be a welcome change if the songs had more to them and were a third of the playing time. I did like the lyrics to “Zodiac Killer” because they are so random: “Zodiac Killer / Did he die of cancer? / Was he hit by a Ford Taurus? / Zodiac Killer.” Why a Taurus, the beigest of family cars? If your band is on the road and needs an opener in rural Alabama, check these folks out. Otherwise, you are probably okay without them.

Ultras Ultras II EP

Very tight fastcore here. The drums and guitar both sound great, but I wish the vocals and the bass were a little louder in the mix. It lacks any low-end and comes off sounding a lot less heavy than it should. The vocals sound like they’re being run through an old distortion pedal and have very little power behind them. They’re tucked behind everything else in the mix and are drowned out by the rest of the band. This is fine for what it is, but I guess I just expected more from a band featuring members of WORLD PEACE.

Vole Slibuji Za Všechny LP

VOLE has been around for a while now, constantly writing and putting out music, touring and booking shows for other bands, forming their sound and scene. A classic hard-working group who seem to enjoy all their invested efforts. They keep Prague on the map, and themselves on the road. Their new record is wild and strange, while deeply rooted in hardcore/punk: it’s aggressive, vicious, and has primitive, pumping hardcore in the middle of it all. But it also includes various different sounds and approaches that are less typical, although worked into a coherent unit, avoiding a messy hodgepodge. The record sounds big, groovy, and unshakably massive, and this largeness bears the newly introduced melodies and rather rock-ish riffs that are gloomier than before. Wrapped into intensity, nothing sounds unusually out of place—the flow of the record takes me away, and I have to rationally shake and distance myself to think about whether I like certain parts, in general and out of context. The answer would be, in many cases, “no,” yet VOLE was clever enough to craft such a forward-thinking record with multiple layers that still sounds, above all, like a banging punk record. Because it’s anchored well to the attributes of hardcore, the solid base lets them explore and incorporate without sacrificing the core sound. So it’s a fun, genre-bending record that balances well between tradition and innovation. It kicks you in the face and then sings to you: “la la la.”

Wise Guise Kick the Hive CD

First off, I think the band name is awesome. WISE GUISE are four women from Toronto. They play a melodic style of punk that sometimes reminds me of RANCID (or the INTERRUPTERS). In other words, it’s got a bit of a ska vibe going on. The vocalist sometimes reminds me of Kim Shattuck. This is their debut EP. Solid effort.

V/A Duma Młodych LP

Crucial comp from the annals of the Polish Mysha fanzine, active in the early ’90s. All tracks are from bands covered in the zine, with the first side dedicated to international content (INSTEAD, NO FRAUD, MANLIFTINGBANNER, EMBITTERED, THINK TWICE, and others), and the flip honing in on the Polish bands of the era (CYMEON X, INHELL, HOODED MAN, AGUIRE, NOWA DROGA, JAK DŁUGO JESZCZE?, and HOMOMILITIA—the latter the only band I was already familiar with). Eighteen bands all in, with a gorgeous zine anthology paying homage to an incredibly influential publication. No one is documenting the Polish scene (current and past) like Refuse and their Warsaw Pact subsidiary, and this comp absolutely shows the reverence they have for the era and their forebears.

Ataque Zero Ciudades 12″

Raw and riveting, ATAQUE ZERO delivers high-energy punk anthems! ATAQUE ZERO’s latest EP Ciudades showcases the band’s diverse influences and solidifies their unique sound. Hailing from different countries and with connections to renowned bands in the scene like MURO or EXILIO, plus being tied to the cultural hub Rat Trap, they bring a fresh perspective to their music that is reminiscent of classic punk and hardcore bands like HÜSKER DÜ and LEATHERFACE, or even STIFF LITTLE FINGERS. Their background in punk adds another layer to their dynamic sound, setting them apart in the punk scene.

Burning Sky Subconscious Cruelty LP

Especially blackened and metallic-driven heavy hardcore with killer dragging, cavernously deep vocals, awesome blunt-force drums, and riffy, driving tracks filled with breakdowns and fueled by fire straight from the Silesian Voivodeship. Gutturals are on-point here, and the whole lineup executes mercilessly. Recommended for the lovers of a combination of hardcore and death metal. Quite a mix.

Caveman Opinions EP

The latest EP from the Bay Area’s CAVEMAN is disgusting, noisy hardcore with two-stepping breakdowns in the vein of HOAX and GAG.. Heavier emphasis on grooves and mosh parts for the fans for that realm of hardcore. Does the world need more of these bands? I’m good, but maybe you do..?

Circles Still. LP

Having formed in Nantes, France in 2017, this marks CIRCLES’ sixth release. The band notes ’80s DC hardcore as a main influence for their sound, with a melodic twist. I hear this in songs like “Sunglasses,” with pummeled drums, angular guitars, and shouted/sung lyrics. While the title track “Still” starts with a FUGAZI-esque riff, it really takes a turn with a long, almost orchestral outro, featuring synths and keys. Other songs like “Giants” and “Waves” have brighter, splashy drums with a tambourine rattle and some of that melodic vocal influence, producing a pop-forward sound. Given this range of focus, I was a little lost after the first listen, but after a few plays, I think CIRCLES achieves the cohesiveness of a solid album with Still.

Demoted Shit for Brains CD

Brooklyn’s DEMOTED has a rough and immediate DIY sound. Simple, but carefully composed, these tracks range in themes from the juvenile self-deprecation of the title track, to the atmospheric dread of “Twitching Eye,” to the personal, Rollins-style lament of “Not Myself Today.” Standard punk misanthropy.

Fog Lamp Anxious Stargazing cassette

FOG LAMP out of Oakland, California is awesome! Cacophonous synth punk for mutants. Heavy riffs combined with SCREAMERS-style song structures makes for delectable tunes. Somewhere between the bashing drums and beleaguered vocal delivery, an almost hardcore aesthetic emerges and puts to bed any thought that this is egg-punk. The title track “Anxious Stargazing” opens with a dirge-like tone and quickly progresses into a tense but clamorous rock, and is then followed by “People are Sponges,” which opens with one of the best bass sounds I’ve ever heard. In all, I highly recommend this one!

Fugitive Bubble Delusion LP

This hard, fast, and weird LP arrives hot on the heels of an excellent output of cassette releases, and it brings the goods. The cross-pollination of hardcore and the experimental spirit of the earliest stages of L.A. punk sounds lived in and confident, largely thanks to top-notch songwriting that’s catchy as a cold and lightning-paced. One thing I love is how present all the instruments are, each taking its own place proudly under the stage lights and being allowed to shine. It keeps the recordings, while decisively gritty, sharp as well. The bass in particular has a real punch to it. Cap it off with articulate and brazen vocals throughout and you’ve got a real winner. “Chickenhead,” which effortlessly blends tones and showcases the band’s ear for melody, is an easy standout with the group’s full powers shining brightly.

Grazia In Poor Taste EP

Debut EP from London’s GRAZIA. Four tracks of bleeding-mascara garage pop dressed in thrift store chic spandex and leather. Nervous little guitar jabs, mid-tempo drums, wobbly synth, and almost vocal-fry-esque vocals that are resonant and syrupy. Fun release, check out the two music videos of “Cheap” and “Stupid Paradise” to get in the spirit.  Worried the record jacket won’t match your favorite neon? No problem, choose between fuchsia, lemon, or green!

Hollow Point 10 Track E.P. cassette

Vancouver, BC’s HOLLOW POINT’s debut EP is ten tracks of raging, turbulent, early ’80s-style USHC thrashcore mayhem. Sonically reminiscent of early Dischord releases like STATE OF ALERT or TEEN IDLES, but with its own style added into it. Willow House Records is still keeping it real in the city of SF.

Jumpstarted Plowhards Round Two LP

This is the second edition of a collaboration between two San Pedro legends, Mike Watt and Todd Congelliere. Watt contributes his prototypical bass lines and meanderings like the elder Zen advisor, accenting and moving parallel to Congelliere’s guitar work and vocals. Part of the collaboration is to bring in a different drummer for each track, and it’s quite the entourage ranging from old school legends to the local San Pedro scene: Stephan Perkins (JANE’S ADDICTION), Steve Reed (SACCHARINE TRUST), Russell Simins (JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION), Raymond Terrones (A LOVELY SORT OF DEATH), Mindee Jorgenson (MOD PODS), Derek Blook (FROM FIRST TO LAST), Kim Schifino (MATT & KIM), and Ryan Davidson (COMA TWINS). There are elements of Congelliere’s other bands here—the obtuse lyrical delivery of TOYS THAT KILL, the jangly scrappiness of UNDERGROUND RAILROAD TO CANDYLAND, and the humor of F.Y.P. But it’s Watt’s bass playing that gives this band a unique voice different from all the members prior collective projects.

Life Abuse / Skrewball split EP

The artwork for this record plays up the UK/US divide of the two featured groups, with Death himself cradling crucial governmental architecture in each of his bony hands, but Crew Cuts could have just as easily made it a newjack/oldhead thing. I suspect I’m right in saying most of LIFE ABUSE have been playing hardcore since before most of SKREWBALL were born: there is some hefty pedigree in the former band, which makes it extra cool that they’re on board here. Their two songs don’t much resemble any of DAS OATH, SELF DEFENSE FAMILY, LIMP WRIST, or LIBYANS (to list four of many more), but “Divide and Conquer” is a pretty rad bombastic rocker with a guitar sound somewhere between goth, metal, and anarcho. The shorter “Ambushed” sets the tone for SKREWBALL from Plymouth, who bring the early NYHC style mosh parts—with a buoyant, as opposed to meatheaded, vibe—and lyrics about animal liberation and crooked cops.

Muell Kunde cassette

This rips. MUELL is a Berlin duo that blasts through six brief tracks of buzzing, super high-energy noise punk on this tape. It’s hard to tell at times which parts are guitar and which are synth because each song is a blown-out exercise in musical economy and maximum volume, but it flows perfectly and deserves a replay right after it ends. “Kunde” starts off the tape with pounding drums paired with bass pulses and hollered vocals that sound equal parts exhilarated and exhausted. “Markt” gallops with D-beats and tangling trebly guitar lines, while the next track, “Weiss, Reich,” just fuckin smokes with speed and a verbal attack on racism and nationalism. Great tape, with one complaint: these jokers made their Bandcamp page all red text on a red background, so you have to highlight each section to see anything. Nice one, you rascals.

Necrotic Society DCxPC Live & Dead, Vol. 2 LP

NYC’s NECROTIC SOCIETY delivers some slamming hardcore infused with blastbeats for a hell of a headache. Hyper and aggressive, the songs incorporate political themes and an overall vibe of unrest and agitation. This album has a live session on the A-side and studio recordings on the B-side with no repeated tracks between them, and it’s all raucous, heavy shit to get you fired up.

P.S Tensión cassette

Fantastic synth punk from Ecuador. Almost like a South American ATOM AND HIS PACKAGE/I HATE YOU WHEN YOU’RE PREGNANT, which scores huge points with me. Vocals are powerful and energetic. I wish I was smart enough to understand what he was saying, but I barely eked by in my Spanish classes in college. According to the liner notes, this was made with an authentic analog synthesizer. None of those bland, overused GarageBand samples here! Pure electronic madness, and well worth picking up if you’re looking to diversify your cassette collection.

Pura Mania Extra​ñ​os Casos De La Vida Real EP

And they are back! PURA MANIA’s ability to transcend geographical boundaries and unite members from two different countries is a testament to their dedication and passion for their music. The fact that they are able to seamlessly continue their energetic punk sound despite the distance between them is a true testament to their talent and commitment to their craft. Featuring members of FRACASO and SPECTRES, they are somewhere between Oi! and Spanish punk. Fans of their previous release Cerebros Punk can expect more of the same high-energy, anthemic tracks from this exciting band. SCREAMERS cover included!

Rejestracja Kontrola LP

Now, this is a long-overdue reissue of a band that is cult if you are Polish, and probably completely unknown if you are not. A tribute to REJESTRACJA was even released a couple of years ago, and that says something about a band’s status. Have you ever been to a gig in a foreign country and all of a sudden, the local band covers a song you have absolutely never heard but everyone goes apeshit and sings along to the lyrics, spills their glasses on your favourite shirt, and you’re just left with a sense of cultural irrelevance and curiosity? They would be that kind of cover. Every place has its local heroes, and Toruń’s REJESTRACJA was such an act in the early ’80s, back in the glorious days of Polish communism when being a punk was not a tea party and singing protest songs was legally forbidden. In these early days of Polish punk, the band was mostly known through live tapes and performances, notably at the legendary Jarocin festivals, because it was hard to release a proper record at a time when record labels were owned by the state. They only recorded one studio demo (entitled Kontrola) as a consequence, with a sound that can be said to be about as rough and direct as their live recordings. REJESTRACJA was undeniably snotty, angry, and energetic, and can be said to have been the fastest band of the country in 1982. It’s not all hardcore punk though, as the band had several songwriting tricks up its sleeves. You’ve got dark and mid-paced punk rock numbers with almost goth-style sung vocals typical of early Eastern European punk (“Tunel” and the incredible “Idzie Wariat Ulicą”), but also snotty and catchy dynamic punk rock songs with sing-along choruses (“Nowa Generacja” or “Perweriusz”), and of course those fast and frantic raw hardcore punk numbers (like my favourite “Armia”) that saw the band at its most energetic and ferocious—the drummer’s style is pretty amazing and he certainly like his rolls fast and manic for extra dynamism. On the Kontrola LP (which comes with a booklet with lyrics and pictures), five songs recorded live between 1981 and 1982 have been added as bonuses. They certainly have that distinct Polish style, but early Italian hardcore and bands like DISORDER or even CRASS do come to mind, and if you are a fan of early hardcore punk, you must give REJESTRACJA listen, and maybe even learn how to pronounce their name.

Sacred Games An Atlas of Human Suffering LP

Distorted hardcore punk from Texas influenced by late ’80s Japanese bands, but merged with newer sounds, too—a ball of mayhem sounds that’s greatly executed. Crazy high screaming vocals that resemble bands from the Complete Death Live festival in 1988, with sharpened knife guitars and fast-paced cadences, creating an altogether maniac-driven atmosphere like legendary project BASTARD. Favourite tracks: “Golden Cage” and “Worst Comes First.”

Screaming Urge Buy LP reissue

HoZac brings us the first reissue of this Columbus, OH act’s 1980 LP. Folks are probably familiar with these oddballs from their debut 7”, particularly the dum-dum power pop punker “Homework,” which appeared on Killed By Death #6 and the inaugural entry of the beloved Hyped to Death compilation series that’s named for the track. It’s for sure one of punk’s greatest shits! And the business-savvy folks over at HoZac clearly agree, as the two tracks from that 7” kick off this expanded, remastered edition of the LP. So, that alone probably warrants a look-in. But you should definitely stick around for the rest of the LP. The remaining nine tracks on the record should definitely appeal to anybody who digs the more celebrated stuff that was coming out of the Midwest around that time, like the GIZMOS or the BIZARROS, when punk wasn’t really a template you could follow but something that was actively being defined by a bunch of weirdos who wanted to rile folks up by writing and playing original songs. Highlights include the DEVO send-up/ode “Mono,” or the ultra-dumb protest number “War”. Real cool stuff!

Slug Ohio LP

SLUG from Ohio plays straightforward, Boston-inspired hardcore, and following their excellent 2022 EP Continuing Growth, they’ve returned with their first LP Ohio. Featuring ten songs continuing their trajectory of meat-and-potatoes hardcore, there’s plenty to dig into here for fans of the style: killer dual vocals, metallic riffs, and plenty of breakdowns for the two-steppers. Check out “Get Ahead,” “Brain Rot,” and my favorite, “An Ulcer,” a catchy one with a great guitar lead. I should mention that Dwid Hellion of INTEGRITY has a guest vocal on the song “Introspection,” a cool full-circle moment for Cleveland hardcore. Highly recommended.

Straight From the Heart Same Shit Different Decade LP

I started listening and was taken aback at how ’90s-worship has reached new heights—now bands are emulating the worst of the decade. The tinny recordings, the slipshod performances, the cringe-inducing and shamelessly earnest vocals….really? We’re doing all of that now, when we know better? I get the DIY basement meets photo-post riffing, but this is almost too much…except…except that it’s real. STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART was from Rapid City, South Dakota and existed then. So now I’m listening with entirely different ears, because the context…? It fukkn matters, punk. All of the descriptors that sound like critiques? They still apply, but if you put yourself in their place while you listen—oh fukk, does it sound right. And,  important. This is the demo and an unreleased EP and some live tracks—this is everything. The shit lands real. It’s not for everyone, but it’s for everyone who had to struggle.

Urgent Care Fast Medicine CD

To have the name URGENT CARE as a band name isn’t the craziest thing in the world. To have that also be the theme of the band is a little odd. With songs like “Sloppy Surgery,” “Allergens,” and “Racing for the Cure,” it’s a thing. Even the record label has fallen in line. Musically, it’s bare-bones punk played in that sort of herky-jerky style. It’s fine, I suppose, but if that’s the best I can muster, that’s saying something.

V.V.M. Demo 2023 cassette

West Coast fastcore, mostly pretty standard fare. It’s fast and silly with goofy songs with subject matter like giving up your vegetarian ideals because there’s an In-N-Out Burger nearby. The unexpected thing about V.V.M. is the occasional melodic parts peppered into a few of their otherwise blisteringly fast songs. If we were to go based on the self-description on their Bandcamp page, it would seem the band thinks of these as being prog rock parts in their songs. To me, they just kinda sound like short skramz instrumental breaks before it’s back into the fastcore ripping. Who’s to say which of us is right? You be the judge. Five-song demo available online, an extra sixth song available only on the physical cassette.

Acaustix / Ready Armed System Military Grade, Vol. 1 split LP

Military Grade is a split series that aims to pair the best of the best in modern extreme music on 12’’ of wax. It’s curated by Roachleg, who vehemently stirred up the contemporary punk/hardcore scene by putting out dozens of interesting new bands from all over the world, as happened in case of READY ARMED SYSTEM and ACAUSTIX, whose demo tapes were released by this label. READY ARMED SYSTEM (R.A.S.) plays less distorted but totally frantic hardcore that’s clever rather than chaotic while getting super angry. They play ultra-fast, although their dynamism is varied with stops and changes creating powerviolence-ish vibes while their rather wild punk music is all over the place and never slows down. ACAUSTIX plays in a more established sound, loud and noisy D-beat, low growling vocals, doomsday preacher-style lyrics. Such music depends on the energy and sound, where ACAUSTIX manages to create the full speed without any breaks, blasting spirits with enough dirt. It works well, even if the frames are well known. So what? They sound to be fans of this type of music they have mastered playing. R.A.S. in this matter is more inventive, which comes with a strangeness that needs more attention. Both bands are great and this is a solid record, a great start for a hopefully long-term series. The cover looks great, recalling naive art of early hardcore records, bad but still good. Good stuff. 

The Breath 道理なき憎悪 Reasonless Hate EP

Here’s another banger from the prolific-as-fuck Convulse Records with the BREATH from Tokyo’s 道理なき憎悪 Reasonless Hate EP. Taking inspiration from bands like WARZONE, YOUTH OF TODAY, and the rest of the Revelation Records roster, the BREATH is fully cranked up, with catchy, muscular riffs and distorted, screeching vocals that are totally out of control. Each track here is worth a listen, but “Reasonless Hate” and “Harmful Classification” are standouts that demand to be heard live. With so many bands playing this style of metallic HC right now, something needs to stand out, and boy, does the BREATH stand out. Highly recommended.

Brix! Brix! CD

Seven original cuts of straight-ahead street rock and a by-the-numbers NEGATIVE APPROACH cover. BRIX! keeps things moving along at a brisk pace, which I appreciate. None of the songs crack the two-minute mark, and they play faster than many bands that they might be compared to. While not as refined as CONSERVATIVE MILITARY IMAGE, these lads are cooking with a few of the same ingredients, blending hardcore and Oi! As expected, the vocals are gravely with plenty of gang chants throughout. A touch of pub rock influence creeps in, culminating in a lifted “Back In Black” lick at the end of their eponymously titled song “Brix!”—I could’ve done without that, but it is instructive. They don’t sound like AC/DC, but they do sound like the kind of band that would randomly break into a tired AC/DC riff.