Reviews

For review and radio play consideration:

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

Altar De Fey And May Love Conquer All LP

The latest release from this cult band from San Francisco is exquisite deathrock, written with the confidence that comes from years, experience, and a full knowledge of the dark underbelly. You have your tribal drumming, your simple but powerful bass lines holding everything together, the deep and dramatic vocals, and an expressionistic guitar that elevates the songs to the quality of personal anthems. The closing track, “Division,” is absolutely addictive.

Antinomia Trilha Sonora Para um Jantar de Família Pós-Apocalíptico cassette

From the booming punk scene of Oporto, ANTINOMIA is one of the bands to keep an eye out for. These young fellows are old school hardcore afficionados and know what the hell is going on with the style that they do. They pay homage to the oldies like RIPCORD, VOID, HERESY, and ELECTRO HIPPIES, so basically every good fastcore band on the planet, plus some of the weird anti-hardcore riffage of NO TREND. There is an urban element that can’t be denied in the vibe of the band that goes beyond hardcore, turning it into a more visceral and palpable piece of music. Excellent artwork by the gruesome Legfarmer, once again able to put disgusting sonic putridity into visual form, and let’s not forget the added bonus that is a MISFITS cover of “Earth A.D.” Play fast or don’t, they will still be faster than you!

Belmondo Du Är Död EP

Du Är Död, the latest release by Gothenberg’s BELMONDO, consists of seven mid-paced hardcore punk tracks. Sweden has a reputation for DISCHARGE-inspired kängpunk, but this one is snotty punk that might sit right in between the KBD/Bloodstains and Really Fast compilations. Not hardcore or punk enough. With song titles like “Bathroom Floor” and “Drinking the Day Away,” BELMONDO certainly has a different approach to expressing anger than ANTI-CIMEX. They probably don’t give a fuck.

Black Dog Black Dog demo cassette

Another demo recorded in a bucket. BLACK DOG plays almost-D-beat, sloppy hardcore that reminds me of DISCHARGE, or how WHY could sounded after the twelfth tape dubbing played on a boombox that has been thrown into a lake. It’s obvious that bands can play this type of music; what is becoming incredibly hard is to put their own authenticity into it. The overdrive on an already pitching recording does its part and satisfies the noise lovers. It is a fun listen, but not really much more than a bunch of people into this type of punk making a record over a weekend. It is great they did that, it is great they shared it with us, and no one should feel restrained to do the same. This demo is as good as it is effortless, which could be an inspiration too, for all the anxious people who worry how they will sound. Do not overthink and overproduce your stuff, just create what you would love to listen to. Not completely sure, but the cover suggests that a skeleton is taking its dog (on a chain leash) to walk while riding a horse. This is silly.

Crime San Francisco’s Doomed LP reissue

I hold CRIME on high as one of the platonic ideals of late ’70s punk who, on top of being the first on the West Coast with a record, also seemed to come out fully formed, conceptually and aesthetically superior from the jump. Dressed up alternately like slick, sleazy gangsters or crooked beat cops, CRIME sounded like the distillation of everything crude, delinquent, stupid, and degenerant-ly fun about rock’n’roll—from the gnarled amphetamine twang of rockabilly to the primitive, pimple-faced stomp of garage rock—cooked down dirty and shot up with the amplifiers on ten. The music roars out lean, mean, and loud, with a white-hot attack of volume and attitude. The guitars sound like a souped-up muscle car revving its engine, with unhinged and untuned leads, while the rhythm section runs you down, swerving and careening, ending every song like a flipped-out ten-car pile-up. Following the mindblowing record-and-DVD live set San Francisco’s First and Only Rock n’ Roll Band: Live 1978, this is Superior Viaduct’s reissue of the original LP of then-unreleased recordings put out in the ’90s by UK label Solar Lodge. This was also subsequently reissued by Swami in the 2000s as San Francisco’s Still Doomed, which is where I first heard it. While I haven’t been nearly nerdy enough to A/B it side by side, this Superior Viaduct version seems to sound just slightly more cleaned up compared to the Swami one. But there isn’t much you can do to really clean up CRIME, and these recordings remain a perfectly raw and high energy document of the band at their best.

Cur Ínugamì cassette

Short, no-bullshit, demented hardcore punk from Philadelphia. Imagine the darker ’80s Japanese heavyweights, but ultra-primitive and with throaty USHC vocals. The tape is good, but the vision mostly makes me anxious to hear what they’re going to do next.

Dräumar D’Krig EP

Norway’s DRÄUMAR put forth a slab of pure punk fury in the form of D’Krig. Jam-packed with vicious riffs and ferocious vocals, this record is an incredibly hard-hitting punch of super pissed-off, mid-tempo(ish), noisy(ish) hardcore. There’s also some fantastic, more ominous guitar lines here sprinkled on to great effect. Awesome work from these Oslo Obliterators. Recommended! Stoked to hear more from DRÄUMAR.

Erupt Left To Rot EP

Love it when punks play metal! Featuring members of SHEER MAG, GELD, and many more, ERUPT knows their metal well. This Aussie bunch dug up the classic extreme metal albums and did their own take on the genre. One can hear SODOM, SLAYER, and BATHORY, providing a thrashing sonic eruption that almost goes into black thrash metal territory. Horns up for the punks!

Fastidio Fastidio cassette

Dreamy, drum-machine-powered post-punk from Argentina. I imagine a lot of JESUS AND MARY CHAIN and SUICIDE worship with this duo. The synth has moments of “Cheree” and “Dream Baby Dream,” and the “Just Like Honey” drum sound gets a go-round, but I prefer when the band programs a more danceable beat like on “La Antena,” or something harder and more synthetic like on “Tifus.” They win points with a SERGE GAINSBOURG cover, and if you’re in the mood for the gloomy, swoony, and reverb-drenched, FASTIDIO may fulfill your needs.

Grave Return / The Hamiltons DCxPC Presents, Vol. 6 EP

Two songs each recorded live at The Danger Room in Orlando, FL. The concept of this series is very similar to the V.M.L. live series that was seemingly endless in the mid-to-late ’90s. In theory this is a cool concept, but as someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy live recordings, I’m not sure I’d pick this up unless I was a massive fan of the bands featured. As a collector’s piece though, this is limited to 150 copies and a nice document of a certain scene at a certain time and place, so that wins extra points with me for sure. The bands? GRAVE RETURN has a darker pop punk’n’roll sound; the HAMILTONS are “RAMONES-core.”

Herida Profunda Power to the People LP

Latest release by HERIDA PROFUNDA from Poland. This sort of stuff probably would’ve been considered just “thrashy” or “crusty,” reminiscent of the pre-internet era of DIY punk when people didn’t have enough info to pigeonhole bands. Somewhere in the context of being in squats, social media track sharing, tagging, and dollar bin punk records, Power to the People must have been created. The world may need this unclassifiable aggressive music that just simply is an output of intuitive pure aggression.

Male Patterns / Under Attack split EP

This is a split 7″ containing two pretty different sounding bands, but both sides of this slab of wax are worth the price of admission. The first three tunes come courtesy of Albany, New York-based MALE PATTERNS. This rips! Killer early ’80s East Coast-style hardcore like the ABUSED or (excuse the more contemporary comparisons) AGGRESSION PACT and CHAIN RANK, with the gravely, pissed vocals to match. It absolutely kicks butt. The flip side is also killer, with three tunes from Richmond, Virginia’s UNDER ATTACK, who deliver some righteous, crusty and fast hardcore. Powerful stuff on both sides! Even though the MALE PATTERNS side does win over this reviewer’s heart more, the UNDER ATTACK side is also a bona-fide burner.

Nightbreed Plague Dogs cassette

I love stuff like this. Lo-fi, gruesome, death-beat blackened punk. NIGHTBREED plays squealing, hypnotically rhythmic riff blasphemy with whisper-like chanted vocals. Clear comparisons to TRANQUILIZER, KURO, BEHERIT, GHOUL (Japan), and ZOUO— NIGHTBREED shines in a dark, eerie chamber of punk madness. Psychedelic metal punk D-beat that is grim, cosmic, and enrapturing. I guess there are only 22 copies of this tape available, so if any of this appeals to you, I recommend you go after it now. These four tracks are kvlt as fuck. NIGHTBREED? Plague Dogs? So unassumingly creepy and weird. Sonically, this sort of creeps me out, but I also kind of want to listen to it over and over for hours, seesawing between feeling insane and feeling relaxed.

ÖPNV Deutsch Funk Revolte LP

It’s really all there in the album title. This Berlin band delivers a solid collection of cold post-punk songs with early industrial elements, and it’s pretty great. Several tracks have spoken word intros, and most all begin with heavy, distorted bass grooves and electronic drums. The vocals and production sound like EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN with some THROBBING GRISTLE at their most “Hot on the Heels of Love,” and several tracks feature a dying no wave trumpet twisted in the swirling synths. “Einzeltäter” dips into Euro techno but never loses its cool, perfect for a Berlin dorm room or a dancefloor. “Blockiert” is the closest to traditional punk, via the SUICIDE synth-and-drums route. Its crackling three-note riff and pounding kick drums combo is as economical as it is heavy. A simple and effective stomper to end a strong album. Sehr gut!

Phantasia Ghost Stories LP

NYC’s PHANTASIA drops a very well-rounded debut LP. Riddled with sentimentality (“Falling Falling”), darkwave bliss (“Out of Spite”), and poppy interludes (“All the Flowers”), this album is a culmination of noted influences like BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN and PYLON, to name a couple. Mixed with an original styling, I find a debut that captures this band at its rawest, and most close to the heart. The closer “Leftover You” reminds me of the REPLACEMENTS’ “Answering Machine,” or any of their B-side reveries, for that matter. The vocalist warbles through elongated notes of heartache, sounding like she’s hanging on to the microphone for dear life. This is worth your time.

Prize Hog Sweat Farm cassette

PRIZE HOG is a four-piece out of Cleveland who play a sludgy mix of noise rock, grunge, and punk. It’s certainly ’90s-influenced and undoubtedly a product of Ohio. Also, there’s a theremin. Just as the opening track gets going, a ’50s sci-fi ray gun sound effect kicks in. You think it’s just a fun opening salvo to establish the tone of the album, but it just keeps going…throughout the entire cassette. It’s kinda playing the same role as the electric jug on 13TH FLOOR ELEVATOR tracks, but it’s way more prevalent in the mix. Over the course of the nine songs on here, I went from thinking the theremin was interesting to annoying to fine to back to annoying again. Point is, I devoted a lot more time thinking about that theremin than I did the songs it was featured on. Which is a shame, really, because they were pretty good! Had it played more of an accompanying role or had it been buried more in the mix, I think I would have been really into it. In any case, an interesting release—give it a listen!

Proud Parents Live at Union Pool cassette

Eleven tracks of jangly sing-along jams from Wisconsin’s PROUD PARENTS, recorded live in Brooklyn (at a pool party, apparently). At times it (almost) sounds like Gordon Gano dropped in on some indie band’s basement rehearsal just to make it weird, but really, this is just smooth-ass garage-lite. Be careful though, it sticks.

Rudimentary Peni Media Person EP reissue

I love witnessing the early flashes of bands as transgressive and iconoclastic as RUDIMENTARY PENI. This is the reissue of their stunning debut EP, originally recorded in 1981 and released on their own Outer Himalayan label. Twelve songs in twelve minutes,  absolute glory remastered from the original tapes. Obviously this 7″ is a sample of a searching period of Nick Blinko’s project, where lines are thrown into dark areas of the psyche that the band would later explore in their sound, but where influences and youthful impetus are also noted, manifested for example in an unabashed love of speed.  The songs are short outbursts full of creativity and precision—you can already see the intention to create a private universe, a mental map, so to speak, that can be expressed through an assault on sounds. “Teenage Time Killer” and “Media Person” already point to the Death Church sound, while the rest inhabit a place where an abrasive, dark Pink Flag exists. This is a cultural artifact that deserves to be in our collection.

Schizos Banned! From the Hi Tone cassette

I want to make my own “If you don’t like SCHIZOS, fuck you” shirt. They’re such a refreshing band in that you know immediately if you’re in their corner or not. And if you’re not, friend, you should sip your beer elsewhere. This is beautifully unhinged and sounds shit-hot (I mean, recorded by Erik Nervous and mastered by Will Killingsworth, so no surprises there). There are very few groups that I’d rather hear a live recording of (I’m reminded of OBN III’s Live in San Francisco for the extra jolt of energy and the combative stage presence) and now I have another. And then there’s just the biggest dick-kicking cover of “Born 2 Be Wild” that actually manages to make me finally get that song. What this tape really gets across is that while the narrative is that this is totally unhinged, chaotic rock‘n’roll, this band is tighter than Rambo’s bowstring. Where I expected a sloppy, glorious blaze of glory, I got a band that knows exactly who they are and exactly how to blow up a stage. Heavy as hell. Wish I were there. Doubt I’d remember if I were.

Socoträ Born to Chaos cassette

Indonesia’s SOCOTRÄ brings us a stench-laden, damaged crust assault on their sophomore release, and it’s one of my most listened-to albums of the year thus far. It’s nine songs with no weak spots, just killer D-beat hardcore with all the spikes and patches. Covered in desperate, raw-throated vocals, these tracks have a ton of character and nuance, even tastefully delving into black-metalry a bit on “Disgust,” and “Toxic” is just an absolute crusher and one of the best songs of this style I’ve heard in a minute. The tape comes in a box set package along with a t-shirt, stickers, buttons, and a booklet with lyrics, etc. Fuck yeah.

Spooky Visions Spooky Visions cassette

Debut release from this mysterious recording project that’s maybe out of Buffalo. SPOOKY VISIONS plays downer-y synth punk, and their sound can be pegged somewhere among the broody/funky analog squiggle of early-aughts TRANS AM, the antisocial bile-spiting of GIORGIO MURDERER, and, like, the soundtrack to Doom (1993). Nothing mind-blowing going on here, for sure, but I found myself really digging this. Sometimes some meat-and-potatoes tunes by a lone weirdo yelling at you about digital slime or whatever just really hit the spot.

T​.​L​.​B​.​M. & the Joy Toys T​.​L​.​B​.​M. & the Joy Toys cassette

Incredibly catchy lo-fi punk rock with an emphasis on the rock. Seemingly recorded in a closet with the microphone underneath a pillow, this cassette contains four tracks of RAMONES-y, three-chord sweetness. I wish I could learn more about this band. The lyrics are unintelligible, but the spirit is wild, carefree, and infectious. You’ll be bopping your head but to what? Who knows.

Tuff Bluff Poppies flexi EP

Three-song release from this young Denver band, released as a flexi disc. Punk with enough heavy, rough edges to balance the smatterings of pop that lead vocalist and guitarist Sara Fischer sprinkles in. The distinct meandering bass lines tie it all together, almost like a second vocalist. The right mix of Kait Eldridge’s songwriting in BIG EYES and the energy of the SOVIETTES.

V/A Chaos in Basque Country LP

Another dip into the thriving Euskaran punk ‘n’ Oi! scene, taking inspiration from the classic Chaos En France series this time. Those who are already familiar with bona fide Basque hit factory Mendeku Diskak will know luminaries like the mighty STA. CRUZ, IRMO, and REVERTT who are all stand-outs, but the rousing gang vocal choruses of TAXTERS (like REICH ORGASM in their pomp) and the feral stylings of ATTURRI are also a treat. Not much to discover if you’ve already heard the excellent Kaosa Euskal Herrian LP from a while back, but a great intro to one of the more interesting scenes going at the minute.

The Adamseed Dancing With Urban Folk Devils CD

This album starts out with some weird noise intro, then launches into some fairly bland rock music. For some reason, I’m compelled to compare this to something akin to SHELTER ditching hardcore in favor of becoming a generic alterna-rock band. Not my particular cup of tea, but I would offer one piece of advice to the folks in ADAMSEED: the internet can be your friend. Use it to your advantage. When searching for any info on this band, it turns out they have zero internet presence, at least as far as I could tell.

Asylum Is This the Price? EP

ASYLUM was an English punk band of short existence. Hailing from the harsh industrial environment of the Midlands, they played a few gigs, recorded a demo tape, and some of their tracks were released on compilations.  Now, you can hear for the first time on vinyl that semi-legendary demo, originally released in 1982 by Retaliation Records. What do we have here?  Six devastating tracks. Basically, it’s the blueprint of the sound of worldwide noisecore (especially Japanese) and extreme music in general: a magmatic mix of ultra-distorted guitars, fuzz-drowned bass, chaotic drums, and desperate, disembodied screams focused on personal and political lyrics. It’s beautiful. Mandatory listening.

Badhabit Detroit 1980–1981 LP

Music-obsessed teenagers from the suburbs of Detroit dream of being in a band, and BADHABIT is formed before anyone knows how to play an instrument. A few years later they are playing Detroit clubs and ultimately take off to New York to record some songs. Those songs are included here, along with one song recorded live in Cincinnati. Their sound is a combination of heavy Motor City proto-punk and poppy punk, with an occasional English accent popping up on a couple of songs. Fantastically naïve and overconfident. I bet “Political Men” was their crowd-pleaser. “The only good politician is a dead politician / Oh yeah.” The songs are really good, but the recording needs a little oomph. Even still, it’s great to hear.

Billy & the Bad Peach Juiced cassette

These guys do a nice post-punk, slightly noisy thing that at its best reminds me of the CUNTZ or even KILSLUG. They’re from Philly and have been around for a minute. Having the luxury of being able to watch YouTube videos of this band, I can see that they might be able to pull it off live, which is crucial with this kind of druggy dirge. No idea what the unfortunate band name is about, but they coulda been on AmRep way back when in the golden ’90s. Carry on.

Catastrophic Dance Ensemble Vol. 1 cassette

Dial Club brings us more drum machine bedroom weirdness with this Ohio duo. But at this point, is it even that weird? This is in that same pocket we’ve been in for a while with bands like FREAK GENES and even some of ALIEN NOSEJOB’s oeuvre. There is, however, a little more of an unhinged feel to this. Bedroom, blown-out howled vocals and space siren guitars bring character to a subgenre of a subgenre I’d otherwise assume I knew everything about. So when a track like “Pay Me” really locks me in, manically bobbing my head at my desk like a true on-the-clock rocker, I take notice. It’s hard to do something the same but different, to innovate on a formula no matter how niche it is, but these two have done just that. By the closing track, “Again, Again,” I don’t know what to expect. Especially not the dissonant dystopian street anthem that devolves into echoey madness that hits a wall and goes dark prematurely. Kept me wanting more, for sure.

Chalk Neophobia LP

For listeners with experimental tastes and open minds, there is something for everyone from this Houston solo project. Sounding like a perfect mixtape of obscured beauty, warm found sounds, music concrète, knotty indie rock, and imploding disco karaoke beats, CHALK gently strolls across genre lines in a way that makes you question genre distinctions in the first place. The album opens with gorgeous gamelan rhythms played over sound collages that sound like SUN CITY GIRLS or Aaron Dilloway at their most introspective. “What is Tot Cannot” features meditative guitar, chiptunes, and tape decay that seamlessly flows into “Sambe Death Now,” a goth exploration with sampled (I think?) operatic vocals. “Slackjaw” and “Root by Root” are twisty, swirling indie rock jams that evoke UNWOUND. Often unironically beautiful, occasionally confounding (“Pig Song” is an odd children’s rhyme sung over junk electronics), accept this as an expert mix of sounds from carefully curated influences.

Cosmic Halitosis How Can I Help You? cassette

Ten-song cassette of slow-to-mid-tempo indie rock/’90s alt-rock worship. Noodly guitar leads and catchy sing-songy vocals over driving, repetitive riffs. Seems like the kinda project that people super into things like DINOSAUR JR. would be hyped on. It’s not bad by any means, but I am particularly confused by the band and the label each billing this as being “punk,” “hardcore,” and even “punk as fuck.” I find the usage of “punk” as a descriptive musical term as a catch-all for any guitar-driven band to be pretty obnoxious. It just makes the use of the term completely meaningless. I wouldn’t even refer to this music as being punk-adjacent. Guitar-driven jangly alt-rock. I guess there’s one song on the B-side entitled “Soggy Hotdog” that is in the modern pop punk realm, but it comes across as a bit of a novelty, as if it’s alt-rock kids being like “ooh, we gotta make a fast punk song.” Pet peeve ramble over, there’s some catchy and pretty songs on here, but even with the warbly, badly dubbed tape, I just don’t hear anything “punk” about it.

D. Sablu Odds & Ends cassette

D. SABLU is on a streak lately, recording wild, weird one-man-and-drum-machine tunes at home before taking it to the stage and fronting a shit-hot live band, playing the most economical but explosive sweat-stained garage punk. I’ve yet to see him live, but I can feel the perspiration already. But when, oh when, will we get a proper D. SABLU record? These short tape releases are just not enough! Taken By Sleep, the first release under the D. SABLU name, was a sleeper hit in the chaotic year of 2020, and has been followed up by two more cassette releases of demos and live sets. This one follows the same path, with two at-home demos of David and a drum machine, along with a recent live set, with the band tearing into a cover of RUDIMENTARY PENI’s “A Blissful Myth.” Now which one of you cowards is gonna put out a record for them?!

Emboscada / Pus split cassette

A raw, blistering onslaught of Argentinian/Peruvian metal punk and grindcore, in the late ’80s-to-’90s sense. EMBOSCADA reminds me of HERPES—Medellin calamity meets a bit of G.I.S.M., while P.U.S. plays a gothier blend of blackened post-punk crust. And they cover LEUZEMIA, plus NIRVANA’s “Negative Creep” (in Spanish!). Both bands are inherently sinister-sounding. Half this tape is flesh-melting grind punk, the other is bone-pogoing death punk. None of it is pretty, and if both bands were on a bill live, I think I’d need some fresh air afterwards. There are similarities, but these two bands go great together on a split tape as complements.

Eyes and Flys Manic AM cassette

This is the kind of gloriously “all over the place’” sound that comes along a little less frequently in a world where every band seems determined to emulate a specific sound (or worse, a specific band). From a foundation of jangly pop, EYES AND FLYS conjure a series of decidedly weird and undeniably unique tracks. Occasional OH SEES vibes, and I can’t help but think that this might be a Matty Luv side project in an alternate universe, and there’s an underlying REV (MERCURY) and/or FANCLUB (TEENAGE) sonic sensibility, with tunes that range from reverb-drenched bombastic sonic slammers to quiet and ever-so-slightly twisted quiet missives. Most notably, Manic AM held me tight from start to finish—I actively wanted to know what they were going to do next—and in a society filled with unnecessary stimuli, that might be the most powerful endorsement of all. “Go to bed high / Wake up in the dirt.” Excellent.

F.E.I.D.L. Wödmusik LP

Definitely not your typical punk record! F.E.I.D.L., a trio out of Vienna, follows up their 2020 7” with their debut LP—eleven tracks of oddball punk miscellanea. The record starts off with some barnyard animal noises then launches into a jaunty little intro that’s part BRIAN SETZER ORCHESTRA, part circus screamer. Maybe not exactly what I’m looking for in a punk record, but it’s an interesting detour and things seem to settle down quickly enough. The next two tracks are pretty straightforward, reverb-heavy garage punk numbers—they sound like an amalgam of Males-era INTELLIGENCE, TY SEGALL, and the stuff VISION 3D is putting out. It’s pretty good stuff! “Gusch” starts off in the same vein for maybe one of the most ripping tracks on the record, but then takes a hard left turn into, like, warped Balkan folk music. Subsequent tracks touch on anything from  MAN OR ASTRO-MAN?-styled ragers to numbers that wouldn’t sound out of place on a post-Swordfishtrombones TOM WAITS album. This strikes me as something that would really appeal to folks who worship at the altar of Mike Patton. For the rest of us, when it’s good, it’s good. When it’s bad, it sounds like GOGOL BORDELLO.

Fogueo Sesion Ao vivo en Le Studio cassette

FOGUEO, oh FOGUEO, wherefore art thou, FOGUEO? “Argentina!,” they replied between violent bursts of rockin’ hardcore. The band dabbles in various styles, with the vocals being particularly schizophrenic. They start off with shouted battle cries on the opening track before switching to a sinister, crusty growl on “Armas,” interspersed noisy whispers on “Figuritas,” and clean, plain singing on some of the songs. It sounds like they had fun making this.

G.A.Z.E. Living the Life EP

G.A.Z.E. from Finland are a band with a pretty unorthodox approach to ripping hardcore, which is always welcome. They have the blistering speeds and riffs of bands like CRUDE SS and TOTALITÄR, but also have quite a few melodic guitar noodlings and some pretty “out there” vocal stylings at times. Living the Life is certainly some pretty crazy stuff, and it may not necessarily be to everybody’s tastes, but I sure as hell dig it! Very intrigued to hear what these guys do in future.

The Grabowskis DOXA LP

German punk with an early Fat Wreck vibe. Mostly sung in German with a few songs sung in English, including a song called “Dinosaur” that may be about an old fool or an actual dinosaur. Another song that is sung in English is “The Knight of the Night,” which has definite nods to IRON MAIDEN. All in all, a solid album and definitely worth a spin or two.

Hogar Todos Contra Todos LP

It’s just like me to wait until the end of summer is in sight for the perfect record for the season to fall in my lap. This tight ten-tracker is bright, fast, and sharp, with more hooks per capita than I can keep track of. Firstly, the bassist is a mad scientist. So many bass players forget how much melody they can pack their toolbox with. Not so with mononymously-credited Javato. I’m spending a lot of ink (or RAM, I guess) to focus on this because he’s so goddamn good. The bouncy tunefulness of early GREEN DAY in the least corny way possible, and it anchors the whole three-piece’s sound, which is chameleonic in how it can slip from hazy, golden hour heavy pop to necksnappers from track to track. Highest marks, though, go to a song the repeat button was made for, “Intruso.” It’s that riff we all love, you’ll know when you hear it. But it goes places with it you don’t expect, and with the whole band backing up the vocals you can’t help but shout along. This is a joyous blast of punk with the faintest whisper of garage—if this were a martini, the garage would be the vermouth and have just rinsed the glass, but I’m damn glad it’s there. Celebrate the end times of summer with this stunner from Spain.

Instruct Death Instructions cassette

Great, chugging, old school hardcore in the vein of YOUTH OF TODAY but crustier and more distorted, Seattle’s INSTRUCT delivers a wall of distorted guitars, crashing cymbals, and howling, growling vocals. The third track of four on this tape, “No Option,” stood out as the rager to get your pulse racing, but there are no duds here. Each track bleeds into the next with guitar feedback similar to “Earth A.D.” by the MISFITS, as if all four tracks were recorded at once in one continuous take.

Lasso Amuo EP

LASSO came from out of nowhere and immediately grabbed the punk world by the balls. This may be a new outfit, but all of the members had previously played in ROSA IDIOTA. Following the Brazilian hardcore tradition and adding a bit of deathrock à la RUDIMENTARY PENI here and there, this debut is all one can ask for. An eight-song EP that will be stuck on your player for a long time.

The Monsters Du Hesch Cläss, Ig Bi Träsch LP

Listen to this shit. It was records like this that steered Tim Yo away from hardcore (and emo) in the ’90s and damn near turned MRR into a fucking garage rock fanzine. You know why? Listen to this shit. This is punk, you punk! Switzerland’s the MONSTERS have been a band since I was still getting ink on my fingers once a month, and they’re still dropping steaming piles of shit-hot fire on your turntable like they don’t give a shit where they shit. Because these motherfuckers are punk. Their suits are punk. Their two-riff songs are punk. Their blown-out solos are punk. Apparently there’s a version in English, but I’m gonna be so shitfaced before the first side is over that I won’t be able to speak (in any language). Volume is the international language of punk though, so crank the mindfuck titled “Mitfahr Glägeheit” and see god, you punk. If you can’t get down with cranked-out, fuzz-storm garage mania, then what are you even doing with your life?

Narcotic Void Narcotic Void demo cassette

Heavy Xerox aesthetics on the cover art, and the record is just as lo-fi, as if it were sent through a worn-out photocopy machine. I wonder how meta this is to create such noise in 2022 when our pencils can make a studio-perfect recording, yet we replicate the sound of a decades-old era which operated with barely functioning equipment. But this is what we like right, so who cares really? Buried under the fuzz, NARCOTIC VOID plays snotty, catchy, nihilistic hardcore that is closer to punk rock than to thrasing blast. They ride a beat that makes you nod and motivates you to jump around in a crowd with a beer in your hands among a lot of punks, although it is no pogo-punk—rather, each song has the potential to be a title track of a two-song 45 which evokes elevated feelings in the listener and could be your original soundtrack for glue sniffing. The guitar blends into the buzzing white noise of the recording environment and equipment (an asteroid should hit us if this is only an effect, switched on by pushing one single button on a computer), the singer has a great “fuck you” voice that varies between evil melodic and evil vocal-speech while the bass basically keeps it all together and directs where the music goes, to which barely identifiable drums give a rhythmic knocking. If you hate music, you will love this.

Ohjus / Raamattu Raaka Mysteeri… split EP

Here’s a split EP composed of two ripping Finnish bands, OHJUS and RAAMATTU. Both bands play a very old school style of hardcore punk and it rules. OHJUS play fist-pumping fastcore as well as TOTALITÄR-style D-beat at blinding speeds that are bound to leave your head spinning. More fist-pumping madness is on the table on the flip side with RAAMATTU, with bits that sound a lot like HEADCLEANERS or Finland’s very own RATTUS while also keeping the velocity of the previous side. This platter is great! Highly recommended for fans of classic Scandinavian hardcore.

Poison Ruïn Not Today, Not Tomorrow EP

Dungeon punk? Medieval post-punk? Anarcho-goth? Chainmail-core? POISON RUÏN is a super hard band to define as they have so much going on in terms of influences. At the core, they are a post-punk band, and that is very well-defined, but they lean towards Oi!, sometimes deathrock, and even dungeon synth at other times. Like medieval AMEBIX playing WIPERS songs after a few pints of mead. It started out as a solo project of Mac Kennedy, but since then has become a full-band venture. “Not Today, Not Tomorrow” starts out with dungeon synth and it ends with thunder over an epic punk riff. Shall I say more? The highlight is the closer “Edifice,” a bleak, mid-tempo post-punk anthem filled with dread. Throw on your chainmail, and get your dice ready.

Public Opinion Modern Convenience LP

The record begins with a stomping, almost hair rock riff and keeps that spirit throughout. This is a punk interpretation of rock, or maybe rock poured through a punk filter. The rhythm is steady, not raging, and there’s cowbells kissing the honky tonk breaks. The power chords are crisp and the singer is ready to “break down the door” ‘cuz they “were right all along.”

Roughed Up King and Council EP

Clandestine, channel-straddling Oi! outfit ROUGHED UP announce themselves with a cracker of a release here. Terrace-friendly chants waging class war, all delivered in an accent that in another life would have been selling two pounds of pears in a brown paper bag at Bethnal Green market. Plenty of joyful guitar-led choruses replete with a little glammy flourish, not dissimilar to the CHISEL at their most anthemic, too. One to keep an eye on.

S.O.H. Life on Edge EP

L.A. bands are so fucking good. There’s something in the smog and sun that consistently spits out the best rage and primal energy. I was awaiting this one eagerly like a hungry animal, as this is last year’s ass-ripper of a cassette put to wax and unlike the usual waste of resources out there, this one deserves it. SYSTEM OF HATE is what those initials stand for, but it could easily be SICK OF HUMANS from the amount of carnage left in this band’s wake. Featuring a member of the excellent PRISION POSTUMO as well as other notable SoCal all-stars, this all-too-short, six-song steamroller is driven by the fiercest vocalist I’ve heard in some time. The COMES, ULTRA VIOLENT, VARUKERS, blah blah…totally stands on its own and shouldn’t be diluted by old man comparisons. Cover art of the year. Don’t be a fool, fool. Pick it up.

State Drugs / Zephr split 7″

A feel-good track each from Denver’s own STATE DRUGS and ZEPHR. “Mr. Untitled” (STATE DRUGS) is soft, and almost a little sappy, yet earnest. A minor scale lead walks up and down over a jangly rhythm guitar while the vocalist croons out “Are we OK? / The world’s scaring the shit out of me / There’s no escape / No point to stay / No where to leave,” the fatalism of which hits home for, I imagine, too many. “Landline (J’ai Une Âme Solitare)” (ZEPHR) is a little more playful and noisier, with classic ambient shouts from backing vocals under “Hanging on a landline / Feeling low / Can’t get myself outside.” These songs could fit in any of the early-aughts Warped Tour compilations, but are obviously covered in the makeup of our present. All in all, they make a cohesive split—have a rainy day listen.