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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.

Arrived Consilium Pium cassette

D-beat hardcore from Bandung, Indonesia, with well-executed sounds from at least a decade ago merging with a slight metallic infusion, but it’s mostly highly energetic and non-stop speedy on some of the tracks. Flirts with emocore, and the female vocals are all over the place. Atemporal hardcore that reminds me of the Latin scene from the ’00s, with long ample screams backed by octaves and such—perhaps a bit outdated, but that’s only my opinion. Give it a go, it’s interesting if you are into this type of sound and melodic features.

Atomçk Towering Failures LP

From, at this point in their evolution, a haphazard combination of Bristol, south Wales, and Leeds, ATOMÇK is described by someone (possibly themselves?) as “UK grindcore veterans.” Sounds kinda funny, but thinking about it, they’ve been hard on it since 2006 or so without a lot of pauses, and few UK bands have actually played grindcore for that long. I would call Towering Failures their fourth album proper, depending on how you go about formatting things, and it’s a most energetic crusher that, rhythmically speaking, gets in ample wriggling and twisting while it’s blasting. “Brain Rot,” the LP’s first song, sounds weirdly hardcore—like post-VOID type hardcore—if you ignore the textbook grind snare sound and inhuman screeching vocals, at least. Thereafter, eighteen more portions of buckwild tempo-pushing, sludgy dropouts, guitar parts with justifiable prog ambitions (like the clean metallic bits on “Fives,” the last track on the album) and song titles which range from grind scene-themed punning to ersatz NAPALM DEATH to Welsh slang for being pissed-off.

Bad Nasty Chaos is Order LP

Really high-energy, poppy spiky punk from France via Switzerland. They’ve been kicking around in different forms since 1999, some lineups with more mohawks and spikes than others. This lineup finds them more mature but no less punk than before. They did a split with the KRAYS way back, and that gives you some idea what’s in store. The best songs like “No One and Everyone” or “Later in the Night” have a nice mid-tempo street punk vibe, maybe closer to KOMINTERN SECT than the less desirable, faster NEW FOUND GLORY-ish numbers.  Keep on keepin’ on, gents.

Be Nothing Be All the Nothing You Can Be cassette

For something wanting to “be nothing,” there is a whole slew of somethings going on here that are a little difficult to decipher. This is the bands second full-length release, and it features a total of fifteen songs which have pretty close to just as many confusing amalgamations of sub-genres within them. Some have simplistic drunk punk repetitive riffs, other songs add in a bit of garage-freakout BUTTHOLE SURFERS kinda vibes, and still others feel like artsy math-rock, but math-rock played by people who maybe flunked out of their algebra classes. There’s certainly some cool aspects peppered in here, but it all comes off a bit confusing and overwhelming. One of the songs, “Battle of the Billionaires,” feels like a combination of the introduction riffs to about a dozen classic rock songs butted up against one another but never getting to the real meat of the song. TGI Fridays Endless Apps™ in band form.

Chain Whip Call of the Knife LP

Have not heard from Vancouver, BC’s CHAIN WHIP since the mighty 14 Lashes LP that got into my hands late 2020 or so. There have been a couple of releases from them that have slipped by me, but this one is just killer and filled to the brim with aggro, brutish squeals from a gutter. Listen  to “Toothless,” “Teenage Kinks,” or the slowed-down “State Hornets,” and tell me this isn’t CAREER SUICIDE by way of ’80s Huntington Beach. Until the band does a proper Midwest/cowtown tour, I am relegated to YouTubing the hell out of them. Living in Europe? Go see them now. Neon Taste has my money.

Children of Sorrow Another Indestructible Dirty Sound LP

Melbourne band CHILDREN OF SORROW existed for a short time during the mid-’80s and played moody hardcore anarcho-punk that bites similar to T.S.O.L. Thundering bass that struts and slams comes from a double layer of bass and fretless bass (that’s right, there’s no six-string guitar jangle in here), while vocalist David “Ossie” Eldridge unleashes a vocal assault that ranges from a Jack Grisham-sounding delivery to all-out hardcore mayhem. Songs shift from mid-tempo to lightspeed in the time it takes to blink. This 12″ is packaged with a lyric sheet and a four-page zine documenting the band’s history that includes photos and gig flyers. The thunderous bass and drum work is perfect for Neanderthal pacing, but when the speedy sections hit, you’ll need to be prepared for crashing into everything around you. Needless to say, this is a brilliant document of a lesser-known band that is worthy of a longstanding position in everyone’s collection!

Class If You’ve Got Nothing LP

Brilliant follow-up to their fantastic debut—CLASS drops a banger of an album courtesy of Feel It Records. Channeling some truly classic-sounding tones colored in the rosiest tint of ’77-style punk, If You’ve Got Nothing careens from sounding like the BOYS to the sneering power pop of WHITE HEAT. The wizardry of songcrafting is something to behold, with layers of harmonies propelling ordinary melodies into the orbit of a higher plane. CLASS doesn’t sound that much like the EXPLODING HEARTS, but they draw from the same wellspring of influences. The ratio of punk to pop varies from song to song, while the balance is kept consistent. This creates a cohesion that eludes most bands. Subsequently, If You’ve Got Nothing is more than a mere collection of songs that work well together. It’s a proper album, striking gold where others have come up empty-handed. There’s a deftness to what CLASS has achieved here that indicates there will be quite a bit more to come. It’ll be hard to top this, but I’ll be eagerly awaiting the attempt.

Dennis Cometti Suburban Condition LP

Hard rock grunge punk from Australian surf city Perth. They owe much to the CHOSEN FEW, POWER, and the COSMIC PSYCHOS, which should mean a zero-braincell hit with me, but I’m not totally sold here. While there’s some definite rippers here like “Gone in the Gong” and “Death Rattle,” there’s not quite the charm of the aforementioned PSYCHOS showing. They’re named after a beloved sports figure, which could be suspect as I hate sports. Still not a tape I’d toss out the window. Don’t litter, please.

DTR Kungens Barn CD

DTR (or DEATH TO THE REGIME) was a band from Linköping, Sweden that was active from 1983 to 1985. Here we are dealing with a compilation of the full catalog of this short-lived band: tracks one through nine were recorded in 1985 at Bosse Sound, tracks ten through nineteen are from the compact cassette Rise Another World, and the final two tracks are demos recorded in 1984. They played fast and thrashy hardcore punk, but retained a Swedish musical sensibility with great melody. It’s not crossover, but it sure is close to that!

Fotokiller Eerie Nostalgia LP

Femme-fronted band FOTOKILLER of Berlin comes out with their debut LP.  Eerie Nostalgia features some songs off their 2020 Lenses demo, two singles from along the way, as well as some new material. This three-piece is concise yet full-bodied, playing driving post-punk, pointing it straight down an icy road, with bass lines way up on the fretboard and rarely ceasing, clean guitar riffs breaking way to distorted chords, then rests that let beautiful vocals float over drum and bass verses. 1980s post punk fans apply within. This is my first time hearing of the label Order05, but if you like the stuff coming out from Cintas Taciturnas or Symphony of Destruction, I think you’ll enjoy this. For a quick taste, try the catchy-upon-first-listen “Stop the World.”

Goblin Brain Goblin Brain CD

Damn, this EP is brutal. This is some classic straightedge hardcore. Feels like I picked this up from the back of some distro catalog in the late ’90s. If you ever needed a proper example of fastcore, this is it right here. Drums are absolutely incredible on this recording, easily the most intense part—loud, in-your-face, and tight as hell. Very reminiscent of early WEEKEND NACHOS, and with breakdowns much like DAMNATION A.D. Blink and it’s over, but that’s the way hardcore should be!

Gyrate Negative Excess cassette

Is there such a thing as too much icy post-punk? The answer is of course “no,” and here we have Sydney, Australia’s GYRATE to add to the list of bands currently excelling in this sort of thing, alongside LATHE OF HEAVEN and SYNDROME 81 (amongst others). GYRATE’s Negative Excess nails the noodling, clinical guitars, vocals more spoken than sung, and an overall vibe that’s slightly off-kilter. It sounds fantastic and comes together brilliantly on “Maze” and “Uniformed Choice.” The band cites LOW LIFE as forebears, and while I wasn’t terribly familiar with them before this came across my pile, I’m always happy to fill in some of the blanks in my musical knowledge, especially in this genre. Anyways, if you ask me, this shit never gets old, highly recommended.

Hypnotics Indoor Fiends LP reissue

How have I never heard of this before? Is Indoor Fiends supposed to be a play on the word “endorphins”? And just exactly what the hell is happening on this album cover? I’m left with these questions and more after listening to the reissue of this HYPNOTICS LP from 1982. Packing 22 songs that fill up a full 34 minutes and change, this thing is a straight-up KBD monolith showcasing a slew of sharp tunes. As much avant-garde art as it is outsider rock, the music uses subtle synths to beef up its quirky punk sound that calls to mind bands like Minneapolis first-wavers the SUICIDE COMMANDOS and San Francisco’s legendary NUBS. Subject matter here spans the realms of strange, offensive, personal, and sometimes even poetic, and they cap off this barrage of off-kilter toe-tappers with two fantastic back-to-back instrumentals (“Wild Kingdom Safari” and “The Quest”). It’s a fun ride that warrants many replays. Led by a guy that called himself “Marky De Sade,” this Long Beach band was known for their chaotic live shows, and the comments section on a YouTube upload of this album is filled with fond memories from locals who were there. If you’re into the oldies, you oughta have this one, and now you can own it on “Grimace purple” vinyl, no less.

Justifié X Paris S’ennuie EP reissue

Self-released back in 1983, this killer punk en français gets the reissue treatment with an extra cut added on. Despite the prime hardcore year of its provenance, JUSTIFIÉ X has more in common with first-wave French punkers like DOGS and GASOLINE. “Radio Libre” wasn’t on the original single, but it was recorded during the same session and fits in seamlessly. If this had come out in 1978, it would have ended up on more than a few want lists. But in the here and now, it just reveals how timeless this kind of rock’n’roll really is.

Landowner Escape the Compound LP

LANDOWNER puts emphasis on the limitations that they place on the creative process of the band, which in turn are clean, distortion-free guitar and bass tones, minimal drumming, and  almost spoken-word vocals. The results are intriguing, albeit somewhat repetitive and dinky.  There are moments to be had, with the diamond in the rough being when the band creates some melodies behind their usual tin march in the song “Thousands of Years in Fast Forward.” Beyond that, I feel that I am listening to early MEAT PUPPETS in 8-bit on a repetitive loop.

Lothario Drunk Fuck / Black Hair 7″

I want to take a moment to commend Mr. Goodbye Boozy. I feel like the 7”—the best medium for punk!—is becoming an endangered format. Most labels are either abandoning them entirely, or charging, like, $12 a record to make them financially viable, which I have to imagine contributes to their waning popularity. Meanwhile, Goodbye Boozy is pumping them out like there’s still a market for stocking jukeboxes, and offering them up at fairly punk-friendly prices. And he continues to hook up with acts that are perfect for the format. Take for instance LOTARIO, a new recording project from Melbourne artist Annaliese Redlich (IMPERIAL LEATHER/Triple R’s Neon Sunset program). Here we’re getting two quick, catchy tunes, one per side, about being dumb and horny and bored. It’s part dum-dum garage punk à la BUCK BILOXI (who’s playing drums here), part An Ideal For Living-era JOY DIVISION, part something with a more industrial timbre, like late ’00s LILI Z, but also still a little melodic and gentle (particularly this B-side). It’s great! Do I need more than five minutes of it? I mean, I’d certainly take it! But let’s just appreciate this release for what it is: an easy-to-digest portion of cool punk and a lovely artifact that doubles as a great argument for the continued existence of the best format. You should buy a copy!

Mary Bell Cerbero LP

Third LP (and the fifth release) from Paris’s MARY BELL, blaring out thirteen tracks of riot grrrl, grunge-laden aggression. Staccato guitar leads like you’d find from SLEATER-KINNEY with a super fuzzy rhythm guitar and a robust, gut-churning bass. Vocals vary from the sweeter side on “Watch Me Disappear” with a ’60s girl group influence, to more strained and typical of the genre on “Inferno.” American foresisters of the ’80s and ’90s would be proud, as Cerbero’s venom is just as potent. To give an example of the group’s serious, feminist intent, they take their name from a violently abused English girl, who went on to be England’s youngest killer in 1968. The point to be taken clearly is not the latter statistic, but rather to abhor the neglect, sexual abuse, and violence that catalyzed such behavior to begin with. If this dark, historic reference doesn’t sober you to the truth, try out “Viaggio,” it builds to quite the ripper.

Pissy Mide Tus Penas cassette

Two-piece bass-and-drums combo PISSY creates a dense sonic geography through the use of kaleidoscopic effects and layers of noise. At times the concept of tonality seems firmly at odds with the jet-engine swirl of phasers, though the chorus-soaked bass lines do still bleed through. The staccato vocal patterns riff off the drums in a mechanical, nearly robotic delivery. Cold and clinical, PISSY creates an atmosphere of din and discomfort, colored in the grayest shades of post-punk coolness. As stark as a winter garden in Berlin.

Pyrex Struck Down / Staying Alive 7″

Two-song hot shit alert from this Brooklyn band. A-side “Struck Down” layers cracked amp post-punk over disco beats that are heavy on the hi-hat. Ultra-ragged vocals rip around sneaky, catchy guitar lines, creating a song that unbelievably ends up melodic and danceable. Then the chorus comes, and the song collapses into screaming noise rock, only to stumble back to its feet and embrace the upbeat rhythm again. Give it a spin—it rules. B-side “Staying Alive” is—you guessed it—a cover of the BEE GEES classic. But this is no Punk Goes Pop novelty, PYREX burns it down and does snow angels in the ashes, organizes a dance battle with two broken legs, and still does the original more justice than necessary for noise punk derelicts. Check it out.

Red Dons East / West Collection LP

Early ’00s Portland, Oregon was a fertile and dynamic time and place for punk. The hazy, jaded eyes of nostalgia might call it a high-water mark. House shows and venues were plenty, and the scene was filled with a talented, incestuous group of misfits. Following the breakup of the OBSERVERS, Doug Burns connected with Hajji Husayn to form the RED DONS. The rotating group of collaborators who joined later included members of CLOROX GIRLS, CHEMICALS, TRIGGERS, SUSPECT PARTS, and the STOPS. Their melodic, minor chord post-punk political anthems became an important soundtrack in both the Pacific Northwest and across the globe. With Doug Burns’s painting and artistic visions crafting the look and style of the band, they became one of most popular and important groups in the circuit, with a sound that bridged both the garage rock and hardcore scenes at the time. RED DONS toured extensively in South America and Europe, continuing to do so with a recent tour back to Germany this year. This collection of songs spans the RED DONS catalog for well over the last decade. There’s “Independent” and “This City” from their debut LP Death to Idealism. The epic song “Ausländer” from the Dirtnap Records 7” clocks in at nearly five minutes, but never loses its earnest energy. “West Bank” and “Room 322” are included from the early Escaping Amman EP, and songs from the Fake Meets Failure LP and other releases round out the fourteen tracks. Unlike some retrospective collections that fluctuate in style, sound, and substance, this plays cohesively and strongly throughout in a testament to the band’s consistent vision and delivery. It’s a great starting point for those new to the RED DONS, and a welcome reprise for those there from the start.

Serotonin Zero Broken Worlds LP

Blackened hardcore from Poland, quite technical and gloomy, and on the metal side of the moon. Endless double kick on the drums and relentless doom vocals. Great chord sections delivering good riffs and intricate arpeggios. The songs take speed from time to time, but only to jump to melodic stances. It sounds well-executed, but stiff. Suggested track: “Point of No Return.”

Skiplife Prison EP

Total ’90s West Coast powerviolence-worshiping hardcore from Prague, with scene veterans in MINDLOCK and LYCANTHROPY. Sounds like INFEST and LACK OF INTEREST. Non-stop, short-as-fuck, fast, loud, shortcut-style golem crusher fast hardcore. You can look elsewhere for some modern-sounding, deathcore-adjacent bullshit. Back-to-basics, yet actually great-sounding anti-authoritarian outsider hardcore to its core.

Skotos EP 2023 cassette

This sounds like a garage band in the best sense of the term. I can definitely picture SKOTOS playing a wild gig in a tiny, damp, illegal venue with 50 people in a room that can barely fit 30—the kind of gigs where you are not just getting drenched in beer, but also in other people’s sweat because the venue is so tiny that there is nowhere to hide from your neighbour’s nasty armpits. Listening to this new tape EP, I can also imagine SKOTOS actually living in a New York garage. There are a lot of things going on here and, were it not for the genuinely raw and minimal aggressive hardcore production, I think they would lose me rather quickly. I enjoy the faster hardcore punk bits, especially the opening song “Penny for Pound” with its early FINAL CONFLICT/BODY COUNT vibe, but I don’t care for the heavy NYHC moments (but then to be honest, I never care for any). There are hints of powerviolence as well, especially because of the versatility, the threatening mean vibe of the songs, and the brutal changes, which works well on the whole. The ten-minute running time clearly fits with SKOTOS’s style. Typically the kind of band I would go see live expecting gladly to be punished with intense hardcore music, but I would not get their record (unless they are a friend’s band, in which case I feel guilty not to). All in all, a solid and very enjoyable hardcore band that can stylistically appeal to a lot of people, but might alienate a few for its deranged, raw production, which I would argue is precisely why the music works here (a clean production would have me run for my DISCLOSE records).

Strangelight Power, Rent, Control / A Three Day Weekend 7″

Two songs with rhythm, tempo and guitars sounding very pop punk in the gruff, slightly rough way some late ’90/early ’00s US and UK bands could be. But otherwise, this is very genre-neutral punk. You can tap your foot and sing along without much trouble, and the songs know how to quit when they’re ahead. All that and a sense of humor—I don’t ask for much else.

The Threat Lullaby in C EP reissue

Before recording this one-and-done heater in 1980, Dublin post-punks the THREAT were playing shows with the likes of a pre-fame U2, and if we lived in a just world, the martial deathrock march of the THREAT’s B-side “High Cost of Living” would have later been forcibly planted in everyone’s iTunes libraries instead of…well, you know. A rumbling, cyclical bass line and stark, mostly cymbal-less drums beat along in lockstep against an atmospheric swirl of lost-in-space synth for almost three minutes straight before Deirdre Creed’s vocals finally cut through the tension—the song’s lyrics literally consist of nothing more than the phrase “high cost of living” shouted with mounting desperation, but they still convey a CRASS insert’s worth of fiery polemic in just four words. Killer! Guitarist Maurice Taylor handles vocals on the A-side “Lullaby in C,” shrouded in a greyscale moodiness somewhere between early Factory Records and the more dub-minded factions of early ’80s anarcho-punk; a total inversion of the scorched earth stomp that follows on the flip. This first-time reissue also adds a previously unreleased 1979 solo soundscape from the THREAT’s synth player Stano (“Demo Above the Foggy Dew”) sandwiched in between the single’s two original tracks—when the THREAT ended in 1981, he turned to making avant-garde electronic/industrial music in the vein of CABARET VOLTAIRE circa “Silent Command,” and it definitely shows. Cost of living? High. “High Cost of Living”? Priceless.

Vulpess Me Gusta Ser Una Zorra / Inkisición 7″ reissue

VULPES or VULPESS (the second “S” added as a “fuck you” to the attorney general of Spain) were a very short-lived, all-femme punk band from the Basque region in the early ’80ss. Deliberately offensive, tongue-in-cheek chaos antics accelerated the band into the Spanish spotlight, only to find themselves quickly shot down with criticisms from various non-progressive factions. These two tracks are recordings of the band made after a television performance found the band embroiled in controversy. Originally 12,000 copies were sold, but until recently it has remained a rare recording. “Me Gusta Ser Una Zorra” is a snarky cover of  the STOOGES’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” with a sort of feminist twist on the lyrics and better musical arrangement (fuck those stupid sleigh bells!). “Inkisición” would later be re-recorded by the band in the early ’00s following the death of drummer Guadalupe Vázquez in 1993. Both tracks find buzzsaw guitars backing an energetic lyrical delivery and aggressive rhythm work. The vocal squeal on “Inkisición” sounds like tires burning out on a hotrod, and the frenetic musicianship throughout makes this 7″ addicting. The repress by Munster Records is beautifully packaged with a host of extras, making this recording well worth the small amount of coin it costs to buy. If you’re into punk oscura, then you’ll definitely want to escuchar.

Astio / Nag split 7″

This is a fantastic lineup of chilly, deathly punk. Following this year’s excellent full-length on Convulse, NAG brings in two more spiky little treats of heavy, rhythmic post-punk that do their own thing, while also dipping a wing in the airstream of erudite acts like the CHAMELEONS as well RUDIMENTARY PENI. It’s a blend of educated graveyard music that shakes your bones. On the flipside, ASTIO tackles a more anthemic sound in a similar sphere, with a slightly more straight-ahead bluntness. Italy has been bringing us a lot of beauts like this lately, replete with reverb-drenched, doomy leads and a tinge of black lipstick. All in all, great cuts from two acts across the ocean from one another who should be on your radar.

Autopsia Sistema y Poder LP

This is the long overdue reissue of Lima, Peru legends AUTOPSIA’s 1985 demo tape, official and on vinyl. Around for a barely two years before imploding and going on to form worthwhile successors like GX3 and ATAQUE FRONTAL, they left us all wanting more with these sixteen songs, varying in style from the rawest of political Spanish-language hardcore to catchy-as-hell punky sing-alongs. Just listen to the song “Autopsia” into “Mayoria Equivocada,” and one can hear  this clearly. They share the brutal guitar sound of early peers LEUSEMIA, without the RAMONES worship. They are more of an early LOBOTOMIA or GUERRILLA URBANA in spirit to me, but really, this needs to be appreciated on its own merits. Mandatory.

Douglas Bales Saint Joe CD

A tribute to Joe Strummer. That’s sweet. Joe was one of punk rock’s (and one of rock’n’roll’s)  greatest guitarists, singers, and songwriters. The A-side is a mid-tempo, super melodic rocker, with a super catchy sing-along chorus. And I’m not sure if Mr. BALES just sounds like Joe or if he made an extra effort here, but he does sound an awful lot like Joe. The B-side is a slower, somber, soothing piano-led number. The two go well together, and make for a fine tribute to one of the greatest.

The Barbed Wires The Barbed Wires cassette

Debut ten-song cassette that has all the pieces in place for the BARBED WIRES to become a legitimately popular band. Long-time rockers, who I was unsurprised to find out had been in such bands as PINK RAZORS, STRIKE ANYWHERE, and CLOAK/DAGGER, playing tunes that sound like a slightly more alternative rock version of the MARKED MEN. It’s instantly catchy, it’s memorable, and if the previous bands are any indication, this is surely going to be powerful as hell live, as all those aforementioned groups were great the times I saw them.

Caloris Impact Geoid LP

CALORIS IMPACT from Graz, Austria plays modern hardcore that sits comfortably next to BUGGIN, STRESS POSITIONS, and GEL, with a dash of of surf-y rock’n’roll added to the usual two-stepping riffs and breakdowns that works well. The swagger in these songs is refreshing, especially when paired with the vicious, politically-charged vocal delivery. Check out “Arrogance,” it’s a proper rocker.

Chiaroscuro La Fange 12″

French post-punk has a special quality to it. I can’t really put my finger on it, but it does in fact have something that makes iit stand out from the rest. From Lille, CHIAROSCURO is no exception to this rule. A dark and gloomy exercise in post-punk that retains a very punk urgency and intensity. Some moments remind me of UTOPIE, with a similar approach to the sound. A great piece of modern dark post-punk with an emphasis on punk.

Collate Generative Systems LP

Scratchy Portland post-punks COLLATE deliver their second LP after about five years and a string of excellent EPs. And despite what’s felt like an eternity passing since we last heard from them (2021’s “Medicine / Genesis Fatigue” 7″), they pick up pretty much where they left off. Generative Systems opens with a bass-forward minimal post-punk number that’s equal parts GANG OF FOUR, the CONTORTIONS, and ROSA YEMEN. It’s energetic without being overtly dancy, and the production is cold and bone-dry—an invigorating way to kick off a record, like the aural equivalent of stepping outside on a crisp winter evening without a jacket. From there, tracks tend to follow a similar formula, maybe cranking up one of the aspects of their core sound—a little more noise here, a little more rubbery groove there, maybe pop in some cowbell and take things in a bit of an ESG direction. It’s ground they’ve tread before, and they continue to do it well. But where this record really shines is when they push things punkward. It’s probably more attitudinal than sonic, but this record definitely has more of a punk vibe than past releases. They strike a tone somewhere between angry and mean, and they really wear it well. A track like “Stocks,” one of my favorites on the record, just really conveys being fed the fuck up in a way that I haven’t heard from them before. It’s an excellent record from an excellent band. Handsome physical release, too. Pick this one up as soon as you get a chance!

Decade World Stops Turning LP

There are records you wish you could love and yet fail miserably at doing so—I wish I could enjoy DECADE’s World Stops Turning, because people who do seem to have a lot of fun doing it. And technically I should be able to. On paper, I am the prototype of someone who should be into this LP. I love DISCHARGE, I love DISCHARGE-worship and its science, its self-awareness. The thing that loses me on this record is that, although it aims at replicating the embarrassing parts of DISCHARGE’s career, it is still dead serious. Which beats me: the ridiculous-sounding vocals should be celebrated as such (that’s what THISCLOSE did very well, a respectful parody). Once upon time, DISCHARGE’s Brave New World was rightly seen as a shit record, one that was best forgotten about and even denied it existed at all, as it tarnished the legacy of arguably the most influential band in punk’s history. From 1984 on (and I am being kind, as on a bad day I would almost throw in 1983 as well), DISCHARGE had become a farce and, assuming they were to be remembered at all, the guilty records were stuff to have a laugh with (just try to karaoke “Ignorance” and you’ll understand). It was the ’80s after all, and many bands went shite. Still, DECADE is undoubtedly a talented band, and they nail the 1984–86 DISCHARGE songwriting to a tee. All the songs are mid-paced, thrashing heavy metal with the Cal-like odd prosody, accentuation, and scansion. If you are into “Born to Die in the Gutter” and “The More I See,” as well as the even less respectable follow-up, then you will adore this LP. It reminds me of FINAL BOMBS in terms of obsessiveness and source material. World Stops Turning was originally released on CD, and this vinyl version is adorned with an ace-looking cover by Sugi. But if you have never listened to DECADE, I suggest you land the split LP with FATUM, as it is a more diverse work that tells a proper story, and the aforementioned DISCHARGE parts actually fit well. I wish I could enjoy it, but I may just be a boring bastard after all.

Ferriday Strangers / All Roads 7″

Two solid new songs from this quartet out of Albany, New York. With the shambling earnestness of mid-career REPLACEMENTS and the restrained bravado of HÜSKER DÜ in their Candy Apple Grey period, these songs would be equally at home on a ’90s college radio station or a present-day dive bar in an Elk’s Lodge. The singer’s voice brings to mind the NATIONAL’s Matt Berninger possessed by the lyrical spirit of David Lowery circa CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN.

The Gents Responsible Dog Walker EP

Fun stuff here out of Germany—melodic garage punk with an Oi! twist. Reminds me a little bit of early SNUFF mixed with BLITZ. Very catchy hooks. Each song sounds slightly different than the last, and it leads to a very compelling EP. The dual vocals really help keep everything fresh and they create a great dynamic. These guys apparently have day jobs as elementary school teachers and practice each night in the school’s music room. Nothing more rock’n’roll than that. Well worth a spin. Very tight and energetic.

Gimic Defer to Hate EP

This is the kind of hardcore I can eat with a spoon, especially knowing it’s exactly the kind of thing that makes bros in THROWDOWN hoodies take to the internet to rant about how the genre and scene are “totally dead.” The weirdos continue to take over the culture, cross-pollinating genres in a way that amplifies the raging core of the songs. There is a lot of melody packed into these songs, at times evoking ’90s emo/alternative as well as garage and even just straight up rock’n’roll. The bass lines are nimble, the drums are locked-in, and singer Harriet is utterly commanding. Addictively listenable.

Human Sacrifice / Levity split cassette

Chicago and Grand Rapids bands split three tracks each. HUMAN SACRIFICE gives  fast-paced hardcore mixed with powerviolence, delivering catchy, smoky, spitting vicious vocals. Their three tracks flow like bloody water, speaking to obscure hardcore punk that conveys the urge to pogo. LEVITY, on the other hand, is full-on powerviolence with a Satanic metallic infusion that exudes anger and desolate fits, yet with a relentless energy and dragging feeling, and even some Avernus noise “Breathe Endlessly.” Recommended.

Institute Ragdoll Dance LP

INSTITUTE returns with their signature creepy/catchy sound, and some inevitable updates. They’ve kept their snaky guitar lines and sinister rhythms, but the production has a real distinct texture from their previous releases. It’s both restrained and full, quiet but boiling. I’m sure many of us can imagine louder, brasher versions of these songs, but the band really holds back. The guitars sound like they’re surrounding and nudging you instead of blasting towards you. The songs are a recognizable, stripped down punk’n’roll with some almost KISS-esque leads. This made me think of some other bands who fold in a touch of hard rock. All that aside, the band’s songwriting still hogs the spotlight and carries the album.

The Jacklights Final Girl CD

For nostalgia-seekers of ’90/’00s female-led emo bands, listen up. Grainy and chunky guitars, with that fast-shuffling hi-hat beat, build a landscape for PARAMORE-esque vocals, saccharine to sour, asking questions like “Why’s this so hard? / I can’t believe the things you said to me” (from “Past Tense”). This is the JACKLIGHTS’ third EP, and they have kept laser-focused on their sugar-coated emo persona, dialing in some great songwriting chops. This four-song release is the perfect length for me—I enjoy it, but it’s the kind of thing I take in small doses.

Kurvy Češi Šne​č​í Med LP

Prague noise rockers with prog (at its punkiest) tendencies and lyrics in Czech. Even allowing for Google Translate not (yet) having the ability to point out all the wordplay, idioms, metaphors, etc., these cats are clearly singing about some pretty unconventional nonsense. The singer has a snarky, dramatic tone that I associate foremost with Jello, and the music feels a bit like something he might have released on Alternative Tentacles in the early ’90s. Get moderately more up to date by throwing some WRANGLER BRUTES and XBXRX in the pot too, and wonder aloud if the sleeve art, disagreeable as it is, could have been the product of someone who, having seen the first MARS VOLTA album cover on its release, tried to recreate it from a fragment of memory twenty years later.

Limbo District Rhythm Forward EP

LIMBO DISTRICT has long lingered in the back of my mind without me ever having been able to really hear them—their name is frequently dropped in recollections of Athens, Georgia’s late ’70s/early ’80s new wave and post-punk scene that typically center their much more well-known peers like PYLON and the B-52’S, but prior to this EP of archival recordings from 1981, the only audio evidence of LIMBO DISTRICT had been their soundtrack contributions to a twelve-minute 1983 short film called Carnival (later excerpted in the great documentary Athens, GA: Inside/Out). “Rhythm Forward” is aptly titled, although the rhythm in question is skittish and skeletal no wave rather than PYLON-style cool gyration, with vocals spit out in an agitated nerd-bark over hazy haunted house Farfisa and thudding cardboard box/trash can drumming, like a Southern Gothic COME ON devoid of any art-funk leanings. The brief “Knock Knock Lobo” zig-zags between ramshackle percussion, single-note bass solos, and punctuated pauses, while “Encased” extends the clattering for a full four minutes, gradually stripping out elements like Jenga blocks until all that’s left is a halting beat and Craig Woodall’s menacing yelp before building back up again. The LIMBO DISTRICT curtain may have been pulled back slightly with the release of these three songs, but their mystique hasn’t diminished at all.

Malicious Algorithm Gorgon Stare CD

Dizzying mix of powerviolence, hardcore, and grind from this California band. They have a split with AGATHOCLES (but, I mean, so does everyone), and they blend mean-ass PV like DESPISE YOU with precisely played grindcore à la INSECT WARFARE. It rips and sounds great. The drums, particularly the blasting, are so crisp that I thought they were digital at first, but no, just first-rate battery smashing. Many of the songs center on anti-capitalist subjects, like “Corporate Gaslighting,” with the lines, “I’ve dealt with robbers, I’ve dealt with crooks / I won’t forgive you for the hours you took / I’ve been a liar, I’ve been a cheat / But you’re the biggest one I’ll ever fucking meet,” but there are also tracks about drug abuse, doomsday cults, and MK Ultra mind control. All the good stuff. Full-tilt shredder from start to finish.

Plot The Revenge LP

Philadelphia three-piece PLOT have just released The Revenge, their first full-length recording on MPLS Ltd. This six-track album kicks off with “I Have Your Slattern,” which is a tempo-shifting appetizer to the rest of the album, followed by “Peccadilloes,” an acoustic palate-cleanser of sorts that makes way for the meal of the album. “Bobbit Worm” features howling vocals over clipped and distorted instruments, and just when you think you’ve figured out PLOT, they throw down the darkened noise rock of “Eye Decay.” The gothic bend continues through the plodding, synth-heavy “Walk the Plank,” which decays into the dirty, bass-heavy “Slush Fund.” This album is an engrossing journey through unexpected directions which will leave you wanting more.

Rash Decision Year of the Silence LP

Year of Silence is raging, crossover-style hardcore with thrash metal chugging guitars with pummeling, powerful drums and vocals to sing along with. The album was written during the pandemic, with an ode to health workers who risked their lives, with humorous yet important stuff to say about subjects ranging from anti-fascism to the solidarity of the working class. Easily could’ve been dismissed as some band that sings about eating pizza and partying, but in actuality, they’re singing about a sociopolitical reality more than most DIY hardcore punk bands out there. Unique approach for this style of hardcore.

Rebelión Anarcopunk Sus Limites Cruzar EP

Long-running Bogotá punks REBELIÓN ANARCOPUNK tear through four cuts of full-bore crust with wild abandon. The songs are blazing fast with shouted vocals, shredding guitars, and top-shelf drumming. Although there are some metallic elements—double bass, finger-tapped guitar solos, occasionally guttural vox—this is pure punk in the raw form, and doesn’t actually sound metal in the least. The title track “Sus Limites Cruzar” is my personal favorite with its over-the-top leads, manic caterwauls, and blastbeats. If the energy captured here is any indication, I imagine their live sets to be a true spectacle.

The Satyrs Don’t Be Surprised LP

Sundazed continues in their mission to reissue every small-time ’60s garage band under the sun, like it or not. Here we get a treat of British Invasion-inspired jams not from the Pacific Northwest, but from the town built on quartz, Asheville, North Carolina. Nicely packaged with tons of info, and the sound is decent if you figure how old and crusty these tapes probably were. Shiny boots, blazers, and high-strung guitars are the vibe, and some of it is really hokey, but there’s moments like their rare original single “Don’t Be Surprised / Blue Blue World” or their cover of “I Walk the Line” which can give you a glimpse of the birth of Southern punk that lead to C.O.C. and ANTISEEN, if you close your eyes and imagine real hard. Good stuff.

Saufknast Tränengas EP

Fresh punk project from Hamburg/Kiel. High-pitched female vocals, and strident guitars that contort between power chord sections and soloing from time to time. Garage-y vibes and mixed couplings, but with a hardcore punk drive. The eight tracks reiterate the same formula over and over, which may be a bit exhausting, but altogether it’s a great debut. Determination in the singing and tempos are on-point, with the garage-driven guitars and vocals being the main focus.

Skill Issue Total Doom cassette

Blistering hardcore centered around themes of advocating for human rights and defense against societal abuse. This tape is five minutes of righteous fury, delivered in a throat-ripping roar that steals the show, although the band is tight and plays with a filthy tone that fits perfectly. Opening track “Total Doom” starts the tape out strong with a gay rights archival sound clip that leads into a slow feedback crawl and lyrics like “Always knew it from the start / Hatred heals my burning heart / Slice a bigot in his neck / Total Doom / Fucking mess.” “Pitbull in a Basement” features savage call-and-response vocals and rips hard. You’re telling me they have two raw-as-fuck vocalists in the same band? That’s the best kind of rare. The whole tape is solid, furious hardcore about fighting against intolerance. What’s not to like?

Trenchraid War Mentality cassette

TRENCHRAID is a Motör-charged D-beat band from the left coast of Canada who have just released their first full-length cassette. Twelve songs that pummel the skull with hardline lyrics about ecological disasters, the horrors of war, and endless suffering pull no punches as they come in a quick barrage. Having previously reviewed their four-song demo cassette last year, I can say with absolute certainty that this crew has grown into their aggro sound and fully refined their thematic devices. If you’re like a lot of the punk community and waking up day after day with ever growing rage, then you’ll find a comfortable home in this album. “Is This the End?” and “(Position of) Fuck You” are standout tracks for me, as they contain the highest level of F.O.A.D. mentality. Get this in you, and your indignation will feel fully justified.