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.

Imploders EXD cassette

There’s something exciting about sharing new material in a live setting. I don’t mean if you’re just “some band” telling the audience you have a couple new ones, I mean specifically when recording a release for general consumption. Land Speed Record remains one of my favorite HÜSKER DÜ records partly for the gall of releasing your debut as a live record. So I’m excited by this bruising Toronto troupe releasing their follow-up to an excellent debut EP as a live session from Equalizing Distort Radio. It sounds great, beefier than your typical thin basement demo but with all the dials in the red where it counts. There’s an ’80s influence here—especially in that guitar tone blurring the line between clean and filthy, as well as the bratty, acrobatic vocals—but it all sounds like a fresh jolt of juice. Excited to see what comes next, but in the meantime I’ll play this a couple dozen more times.

Indre Krig Demo ’21 cassette

This fiery demo from London’s INDRE KRIG is over in a flash, but not before this tight and speedy band delivers solid nods to both original UK and So Cal-styled hardcore. They’ve got the motions and the power down, now I’d like to see a little more diversity and originality in the songs.

The Love Depression The Love Depression LP reissue

Straight from 1968, this record is freshly reissued, and for the first time since its release, widely available. You don’t often associate the garage and psychedelic music of the 1960s with Venezuela, but the LOVE DEPRESSION dispels that notion. This record is mostly covers including some of JIMI HENDRIX and CREAM. While the covers are pretty fantastic, some better than the originals, it’s the LOVE DEPRESSION originals that stand out. “Gonna Ride” is absolutely simmering with psychedelic garage energy. Something like a souped-up JIMI HENDRIX. You most likely haven’t heard of the LOVE DEPRESSION, but now is your chance. This record holds up better than ever.

Low Rats Ex-Crisis / Sweet Jane Doe 7″

Punk rock’n’roll. You know the type, played by Johnny Thunders-worshipping barflies who look like a ragtag bunch of souls, brought together through their mutual love of SLADE, RAMONES, COCK SPARRER, HANOI ROCKS, cheap whiskey, and cheaper beer. This is “getting ready to fuck shit up on a Saturday night” music!

Madison Bloodbath Gittin’ Loose With​.​.​. LP

In the early-to-mid-aughts, right around when things started to get digitized and when the cost and turnaround time for a band to put out a 7” wasn’t thousands of dollars and a year wait, there was a certain spirit and sound to a subgenre of punk. Back when you could just write songs about failed relationships, getting drunk, and going on tour, all with epic, future angst anthemic chords. I had a bunch of split 7” records from bands like GRABASS CHARLESTONS, THIS IS MY FIST, SASS DRAGONS, the ERGS!, and early OFF WITH THEIR HEADS from labels like No Idea, Recess, and the late and disgraced Plan-It-X. MADISON BLOODBATH lands right in there, and I’m going out on a limb and assume the members were and are still in that scene. The album doesn’t give the typical list of the prior bands the members have been in, and that’s great––it lets the album stand on its own. With layered vocals, crunchy guitars, and pummeling drums, it’s a debut where the sound is self-assured and well-practiced, but still rough enough to be honest.  It made me dust off and crank up my copy of The Cheap Wine of Youth by RIVETHEAD and reminisce. (Okay, I was just about to submit this review when I found out this is a 2022 vinyl reissue of the 2008 CD released by A.D.D. Records, so I’m not a total idiot for placing this record in that era. But I’m also too lazy to re-write it and I’ll stand by what I said: this record stands the test of time.)

Nape Neck Look Alive cassette

The UK’s leading jabbers and scrabblers NAPE NECK return with the follow-up to their absolutely bruising self-titled 2020 cassette debut, and somehow they’ve managed to squeeze the vice even tighter on Look Alive. Vocals from all three band members push and pull against one another, fighting for space in a claustrophobic crush of caustic sheet metal six-string scrape and a frenetic, lockstep rhythmic rumble, like the DOG FACED HERMANS or the EX if they had come up through artist lofts rather than anarcho squats. The exquisitely ERASE ERRATA-esque “Aim Slow” scratches and slides through a cycle of needling guitar and staccato bass grind before breaking down into abstracted-from-language shouts punctuating the title imperative; blink-and-you-missed-it chorus clangs of cowbell provide some limber post-punk-funk release in the otherwise hermetically pressurized “Kiss Me Boy, I’m Dying;” “Warm Air” spirals around a Möbius strip bass line, bisected by an anxious and agitated/coolly collected call-and-response vocal tradeoff—but anxious almost always wins out with NAPE NECK. No wave for the now!

Print Head Change cassette

Brief eleven-song (none of them longer than a minute) tape from this Canadian punk band. The skittery drums and intertwining trebly guitar lines in “-Theme-” had me expecting an eggy CONEHEADS-core clone, but I was pleasantly surprised at the rest of the tape. With a vocalist that sounds like David Byrne on Adderall, PRINT HEAD buries new wave-y pop gems in bursting 78 RPM capsule form. Kind of like how LIQUIDS and BOOJI BOYS do it, these songs, especially standouts like “1,000,000 Opinions” and “What I Be,” are serious hits under the fuzz and hiss. Final track “Wanna Change” has a JAY REATARD sound, all fast-strumming, pure gold vocal melody, and it’s over before you can click the replay button. I really liked this.

Programmed Hatred I Wish I Could Have Nice Things But I Live in Philadelphia cassette

Nine tracks of blown-out powerviolence/noisecore from a new Philly group. Side A has some unexpected ambient sections paired with plenty of voice-over clips (pretty on-brand for this type of thing), yet they are still structured as songs. Alternatively, Side B is an indistinguishable gargle of digital-distortion-peaking wreckage that made me double check my speaker connection. I threw headphones on and it sounded the same; as if the audio of Star Wars had been condensed to a nine-and-a-half-minute cassette and then bastardized by thousands of pirated copies. To be certain, the album title is my favorite part of this project, but maybe there’s a fan base for this kind of off-kilter depiction of urban decay, which, if you follow the liner lyrics, you complete a picture of—otherwise, good luck getting the message.

Progromo Im Zentrum der Macht / Die Sterne Fallen Auf Amerika 7″

Hyper-obscuro German post-punk from Bernd Zimmermann, who was a member of ’80s groups ADD, DEUTSCHDENCK, and ISOLIERBAND. These two tracks (along with those released on the “Heute Schlägt der Bauer den König” 7”) were originally recorded in 1982 and previously unreleased until this joint venture between Bachelor Archives and Red Lounge Records. This is solid post-punk with gloomy Teutonic vocals, firmly of its time but should nonetheless please anyone with more than a passing interest in the genre. The B-side “Die Sterne Fallen auf Amerika” especially reminds me of Pornography-era CURE or the early 4AD roster.

Schizos Fuck Music City EP

Holy moly! I think these guys have finally figured it out. This New Orleans-via-Nashville act got off to a rough start—their 2017 debut as, like, a minimal drum-and-synth OBLIVIANS tribute act really rubbed me the wrong way. Even still, I always felt like they had some promise. And sure enough, they’ve steadily improved from record to record. Their 2020 LP saw them going more of a straight REATARDS route with solid enough results. Then they really tightened things up on last year’s Come Back With a Warrant EP—a fantastic record! But I’ll be damned if Fuck Music City doesn’t manage to blow that record out the water somehow. It’s odd that the addition of Drew Owen a.k.a. SICK THOUGHTS (he’s providing “instruments”) ended up making the band sound less like the REATARDS, but that’s what we’re dealing with. The A-side of the record is three quick tracks that borrow as much from USHC as they do Memphis garage punk. It’s leaner and meaner than anything this project has committed to tape but still scuzzy as all get-out—just perfect shit! Then they get loose on the B-side with “Going South,” a track that runs three-and-a-half minutes and sounds like that period of NWOBHM that was still pretty heavily influenced by boogie rock. It rules. Buy this record!

Shark Attack The Awful Truth EP

Absolutely killer Arkansas punk relic, unearthed and put to wax for the first time! It should be criminal for shit this fucking good to go unheard for so long, but perhaps that makes this release so much sweeter. “The Awful Truth” opens with a devastating KARP-esque heavy churn that should have SHARK ATTACK on a who’s-who of essential ’90s DIY hardcore. “Problem” follows with a nod towards the hard-hitting DIY Bay Area punk that inspired their short-lived relocation before the band dissolved. “God” is a pure power-dirge and the perfect closer—a tortured two-riff dose of disbelief. If this record had come out in real time, then we would all still be talking about SHARK ATTACK, but file under “better late than never” and consider me grateful…though I sincerely hope that there’s more than just these three songs.

The Slickee Boys Here to Stay / Porcelain Butter Kitten 7″ reissue

This reissue of the 1981 single by DC cult heroes the SLICKEE BOYS is a two-sided heater of early punk propulsion, power pop hooks, and new wave production quirks. Probably because of their locals-only reknown and dissimilar sound to the larger DC hardcore scene, the SLICKEE BOYS have mostly been a footnote in the city’s hulking tome of punk lore. I have to admit to not following that footnote myself, but listening now, this and their other two early singles really hit my sweet spot for that late ’70s sound of revved-up rock’n’roll with wildly catchy choruses and hyper-melodic leads. “Here to Stay” has a desperate edge to it that reminds me of the WIPERS, and “Porcelain Butter Kitten” has a more adrenalized garage stomp, but both feature serrated, slightly psychedelic siren solos that slice through their respective songs.

Televised Human Condition EP

The second song on this EP is literally called “Violent Hardcore,” which pretty much says it all about Portland, Oregon ragers TELEVISED—a band made up of entirely one man, that man being Aidan Stutzman. Old-school-style, rough hardcore punk the way it’s supposed to be done. Taking clear notes from bands such as NEGATIVE APPROACH and local legends POISON IDEA, TELEVISED has that classic sound totally down and fits into the fold just nicely. The vocals are incredibly gruff and pissed, in the tradition of Brannon, Choke, and all the other USHC greats. An awesome record highly recommended to fans of “violent hardcore.” Also, an interesting tidbit—this record was mastered by L.A. punk legend Geza X, responsible for the sound of classic recordings by bands like GERMS, DEAD KENNEDYS, MDC, and BLACK FLAG (amongst a deluge of others)! So if you’re somehow not convinced yet, I feel like that should just about do it for you.

Thatcher’s Snatch Wapping Dispute EP

From its tongue-firmly-in-cheek EXPLOITED rip-off sleeve, down to its carved-into-a-school-desk naughty schoolboy name, the fellas from THATCHER’S SNATCH indulge in a form of worship of ’80s UK culture like they’ve got caught drinking Carling Black Label on Top of the Pops by Bruno Brookes. Normally this kind of carry-on has the whiff of a Kenny Everett skit rather than something to take seriously, but here’s the thing, right; it’s actually properly fucking good. Tackling targets as disparate as Antipodean egg-chaser turned professional bigot Israel Folau and striking printworkers in ’80s Wapping, it packs a rhetorical wallop in its eight minutes; and that’s not to speak of its lightning turbo-charged UK82, like if MENACE or ENGLISH DOGS had stuck their fingers in a plug socket.

Uni Boys Long Time No See / Rock ‘n’ Roll Dream 7″

Wow. This is super catchy and has my name written all over it. It’s pop music played with real guitars and real bass and real drums. Melodic and pretty, it’s still got the shit that separates the excellent from the okay. Sure, it’s pretty and all that, but it’s rock’n’roll. Two songs, and they cover the basics: rock’n’roll and women. Boom. You’ll be bouncing your head and tapping your feet. I personally guarantee it. You owe it to yourself to give this a try.

Yokozuna Lower Westside Crew EP

Total ’90s noisecore from Virginia—if you think the 1997 Demo side is too hi-fidelity, then feel free to flip your shit (over) and check the Live at Grandma’s House session on the flip. Someone might suggest that there was no need for this to exist, and maybe I wouldn’t argue with that person—it sounds like shit and it’s sloppy and it’s two decades old, they wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. But, if another person countered that this is an essential piece of shit-fi brilliance and the world is a better place with $1 bins full of actual noise instead of accomplished bands with the crossed-out music symbol logo on their records…? Well, I’m gonna be on that second person’s side, because that second person is smarter than the first person. What a fucking mess.

V/A Amenaza Mexicana Vol. 2 cassette

The International Anti-Capitalist Punk and Hardcore Union presents Amenaza Mexicana Vol. 2 (“Mexican Threat Vol. 2”): ”Noise to Survive Capitalism in the Third World.” This is a twelve-song compilation cassette showcasing Mexican underground punk. A wide array of genres make appearances on this tape. Kicking off with a couple tracks of melodic punk rock, it changes gears and brings us some goth-y deathrock and hardcore punk before spinning on its heels, taking us back full circle. The B-side gets a little less predictable, immediately kicking you in the face with back-to-back hardcore tracks before delving into driving, metallic crust punk and some sort of metal-infused shoegaze, switching back to the easier digestible hardcore punk and more melodic punk before the weirdness gets a little too weird. There is a bit of something for everyone on this compilation, the Union really doing their part to try to unite the different punk factions. All in all, a cool compilation with an even cooler message: “Ama La Musica, Odia El Fascismo” (“Love Music, Hate Fascism”). Bring on Vol. 3!

500$Fine Yer Wolfbro is in My Capitol EP

On their first release since their 1997 Forward CD, Richmond, VA’s 500$FINE makes a four-track comeback. Gary Llama’s vocals fall in the range of Tim Armstrong, and the band certainly has that Hellcat vibe, though these Richmond-rockers delve deeper and more seriously into the socio-political realm. They’ve slowed down a little since Forward, but understandably so, and written: “And now we are old / And everything I felt / Still fuels every part of me” from “The Same.” They’ve also abandoned their ska interludes, which frankly I don’t miss, giving a more distilled, powerful backing to songs that range from twisted conspiracy politics (“Yer Wolfbro is in My Capitol”) to the support of the Black Lives Matter movement (“Commonwealth”).

Angry Silence Strange Times Call for Strange Measures CD

Honest post-punk from Brittany. Jangly and abstract timing with sweet hooks like SWELL MAPS getting released on Flying Nun Records. The self- and life-reflective lyrics are delivered in English with a passionate Mark E. Smith duotone delivery, as if the FALL had a bit more lyrical optimism. The band describes themselves as pop, but their shambling, broken anthems with earnest delivery set them well apart from their pop peers. Found myself more engaged and amped on it with every listen, up there in the spirit of the JAM’s 1977 releases.

Blitz Second Empire Justice LP reissue

It’s funny revisiting this record so closely to Voice of a Generation, because if I hadn’t been blessed with the prior knowledge that this was by the same band, I would have bet my next paycheck that this was two very different outfits, and I’d be on the beans on toast for the next month. Stating the bleeding obvious: it doesn’t sound anything like their debut full-length, for better or for worse. Gone is the gruff bellow, in comes a skeletal and sparse croon. No more buzzsaw guitars and thunderous bass, in comes razor-sharp guitar lines and bin-lid snare. A magpie approach to the nascent post-punk scene, a JOY DIVISION riff here, an ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN riff here, and a sprinkling of the CURE and FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM here for a light seasoning of goth, it’s a strange beast. It’ll never top the debut for me, and it’s definitely an acquired taste, but perhaps you are less of a curmudgeon than me and this is the BLITZ album for you.

Marty Brass Painted Glass cassette

The last few years have shown an enormous uptick in the number of solo projects releasing music, and understandably so. You tell all the weirdos out there that they can’t go out and make music with their friends, and I really only see a few options as to what the reaction to that will be. Thankfully, our dear MARTY BRASS seems to have chosen the more constructive of those potential paths and has graced the world with an absolutely delightful cassette of solo music. Eight songs of masterfully crafted power pop/garage-pop from this talented gent from Cleveland, Ohio, one being a lovely version of a ROLLING STONES song. It’s beautiful, it’s catchy, it’s driving, it’s well-played on every instrument, it’s pop music at its absolute best! (And I have it on good authority that there’s plans to take the live band version out on the road in the coming months!) Two years in and one would assume we had seen and heard it all by now, but MARTY BRASS shows that there’s still new solo projects worth checking out.

Cupid and the Stupids 99 Ways to Fix a Broken Heart cassette

Spared Flesh continues their hot streak with a new cassette from this seven-piece Byron Bay outfit—fourteen tracks of loose, lo-fi jams recorded straight to four-track in a riverside shed. The release copy describes this as “cute-core” and “Broadway punk‘n’roll,” which aren’t entirely inaccurate descriptors. But don’t let that scare you off! The music here is way less annoying than you might be imagining. Really, this is more the sound of a group of friends having a great time making music—the end result might be cute, but it doesn’t come off as by design. The tunes themselves bounce around the lo-fi landscape—depending on the track, you might hear a little Flying Nun or Elephant 6 or Rip Off Records. To get a good sense of the variety here, I’d recommend listening to one of the gentler tracks, like “Burn the Mattress,” then flipping over to the absolute scorcher “Heartbreak Motel.” If neither floats your boat, this release likely isn’t for you…and maybe your broken heart ain’t worth fixing.

Dirt Sucker Valley Fever EP

Last time I went on tour, in 2019, my senior citizen rocker of a mother threatened to drive from Wyoming to come see us play in Salt Lake City, and when I warned her it was being held in a stinking, claustrophobic punk house basement, she immediately snapped back “I used to go to gross punk houses in Salt Lake all the time in the ’80s.” Fair enough of a point, I reckoned, but now she needn’t leave her state, as DIRT SUCKER roams near her home on the range, and they might even come rock at her place. The rampaging hardcore din contained in these soily brown grooves is a qualified ripper. Each side is spiraling with Ginn-sian guitar dissonances, a punchy, crunchy rhythm section that embraces the whorl with a puissance for stops and starts, topped off by vocalist that’s a mutually maniacal and menacing musical match. I hope mom doesn’t mind blood on the carpet, because I bet this guy can take a mean mic to the face.

The Entrails The Entrails LP

The opening instrumental steels the listener for a dark, psychedelic, guitar-drenched sonic journey. Instead, the ENTRAILS follow that misleading track with a steady stream of downtempo and off-kilter garage rock with drunk creep vibes. ALUMINUM KNOT EYE for a reference point (and I’m sure these folks have a few DEAD MOON records in their collective arsenal), though admittedly most of this self-titled debut lands a little flat. The upbeat numbers (few and far between) have an addictive swagger but are held back by vocals that hit like some dude trying out to be in your weird uncle’s ’60s cover band. This review condensed to one sentence: “Almost…not quite.”

God Plutonium Demo 2022 cassette

This is exactly what a hardcore punk demo should be! It’s fast, it’s pissed, the recording sounds completely demented, and above all it leaves you wanting more! GOD PLUTONIUM features members of NECRO HEADS, LIVING WORLD, ALAMOS, and presumably countless other Pittsburgh bands. The masterminds over at Kill Enemy Records have done it once again, continuing their flawless output thus far.

 

Hippyfuckers Pink Eye demo cassette

Seeing Olivia Gibb’s instantly recognizable drawing style on the cover art, colorfully cauterizing my corneas from a kilometer away, I immediately knew this HIPPYFUCKERS demo would be the freaky fuckin’ thing I needed. Six tracks of madness for Missouri mutants, every song is a brain-burster of heavy, gnarled riffs dripping with every effect pedal stomped on, while guttural bass grinds away and the drums barely hold this twisting car wreck together as it plummets off the cliff. You can almost see the vocalist contorting into shapes unseen, hanging off the ceiling, crawling between your feet. Wailing into the microphone as it’s already gone halfway through their digestive tract, flailing like they’re slowly dying from whatever household chemicals they swallowed before the set. Ten outta ten, top prize hog at the freak punk farm fair —go see ‘em on tour this summer and into forever.

Idle Hand Six Ways to Tell Your Boss Off cassette

C’mon now, of course I like this. Pummeling old-school punk with snappy riffs, a nice touch of damage, some neat spooky parts, and an overall cool feel. It’s one guy from Philly playing all the instruments and an awesome female vocalist, and it rules. No immediate comparisons come to mind, and that’s always a good thing. Great tape. I was going to put a couple songs I like the best here, but nah, I like all these.

Karkaisu Kohta Sataa EP

Great debut from Finnish hardcore band KARKAISU. This band from Helsinki plays melodic, almost Swedish-styled hardcore punk à la WOLFBRIGADE, but with a bigger hardcore edge. On tracks like “Ei Kuulu Sulle,” you can hear thrashy riffs as the game changes to a more crossover-influenced hardcore. A really well-rounded sound, and the vocals bring a whole new dimension to the six songs on the self-titled EP. A fun record that prompts you to hit repeat.

Lime Crush Timewaster EP

In three joyous, sub-two-minute bursts, the 2015 debut 7” from Vienna, Austria’s LIME CRUSH plotted a perfect equilateral triangle of playfully shambolic art-punk, Slampt-descended boy/girl revolutionary agit-pop, and an unraveling Girls in the Garage ’60s beat—on their new Timewaster EP, those angles have been stretched into somewhat tighter and more acute points, but they’re still bashing out some of the most ecstatic Alpine econo-punk racket this side of KLEENEX. Drummer Andi Dvořák takes the lead on the garage pop A-side “Timewaster” (a sonic successor to the band’s previous cover of LOVE’s “Can’t Explain”), his shouts foiled by slightly melancholic, girl-group-styled backing vocals; on the B-side, “Park” sticks most closely to the anxious twang-and-jangle of the first LIME CRUSH EP, quickly snapping from a bass-and-spoken-word intro to a breathless rush of galloping drums and girl-gang harmonies, and “Téléphone,” with its cyclic, snaking bass groove and matter-of-fact narrative vocals, almost strikes me as a meditative, soft-edged inversion of GAUCHE’s fiery dance-punk calls-to-arms. No time wasted here.

Milquetoast Caterwaul CD

Have you heard the song “Milquetoast” by HELMET? It’s from their “weird” album Betty, and not a bad starting point for understanding MILQUETOAST’s influences. This CD is a mix of noise rock, stoner riffs, and occasional punk blasts about our crumbling world, as well as goofy shit about space missions, “psycho tweakers,” and a Spanish-language song about “ghoul cops.” It seems like the band has a good time with these songs, many of which drag on past the four-minute mark with comic operatic vocal touches and lots of guitar solos. This might have an audience, but it isn’t me. The whole thing comes across as tedious and silly— especially songs like “Space Force,” with lyrics like “(Space force) / Hey man, did you tie that down? / Fuckin’ (space force) / Then why’s it floatin’ around? / Oh no (spaaaaace).” There are some good stoner riffs, like on “Step Off,” but the whole thing sounds very “local bar band” to me. Their bio describes them as “punked-up party sludge,” but really, bands like TORCHE have been doing this better for years. A positive I can mention is that the limited cassette run is held together with sealing wax. That’s cool.

Nestter Donuts Flamenco Trash CD

The label describes NESTTER DONUTS as “thee one and only flamenco trash one-man band.” They had me at “thee” (hee hee). I am MRR’s resident one-man band expert after all. Fun, rocking, trashy garage music with a foot-stomping style. DONUT is energetic and dramatic in the best possible ways. It’s a rollicking good time.

Oust Never Trust a Politician EP

Three tracks of ultra-bleak Dutch hardcore. This band wastes no time tearing into fast and ferocious territory with plenty of room for pit-demolishing breakdowns. No, not in a bro hardcore way, like truly violent-sounding. This band started out straighter kängpunk, but thankfully is in stranger, more satisfying territory with these songs. The echoing, throat-rattling vocals have major presence, and the guitars add texture and tone from across several genres from traditional hardcore to deathrock. It all blends, though; this doesn’t sound “experimental” but rather is a no-frills affair. Slams from the needle drop ‘til the bitter end.

Peace Decay Death is Only… 12″

The internet kinda melted when this record dropped last month. And then, because we live in the digital age of instant gratification, the internet started melting about some other cool-ass record that came out and PEACE DECAY just existed in some present past realm…and this is why the internet is great and also totally sucks, because you need to spend time with this record. Austin’s PEACE DECAY was born out of COVID, but their genes are pure Texas punk. If you take the sum of the parts (SEVERED HEAD OF STATE, PROGRAM, STORM THE TOWER, VAASKA, CRIATURAS…and on and on and on) and consider that these chaps hail from the land of WORLD BURNS TO DEATH and SPAZM 151, then brace yourself, because that’s a lot, and Death is Only… is more than all of that. Sonically, the recording embodies majestic and anthemic energy that’s only reinforced by near-constant guitar leads ripped from ’00s Burning Spirits hardcore while vocals nail Nerve Damage-era Burdette snarl without ever suggesting that they belong anywhere that’s not inside these fucking grooves. This record charges, it’s pure force from start to finish (a finish that comes way too fast)—the modern embodiment of whatever “anthemic hardcore” is supposed to be. Highest recommendation.

Planet Y En Plads i Solen LP

Besides their demo, this is the first full-length album that Copenhagen’s PLANET Y has released. There’s not much I can find on the group except a consistency in their album artwork: a post-industrial collage with a looming, orange sun. The twin vocals remind me of HYSTERESE who I reviewed a while back, but the instrumentation is much rougher on En Plads i Solen, which translates to “A Place in the Sun.” I really like the glassy guitar line in “Plasticsolen (Plastic Sun);” also the guitar and bass chugging verse of “Dør på Klem (Door Almost Open)” that sounds like the verse from NEIL YOUNG’s “Rockin in the Free World,” which somehow works here. It took me a few listens, but I think this despairing yet hopeful, charming yet in-your-face album is simply great.

The Roxies Don’t Wanna Dance Because I’m Told To LP

This is definitely a nod to the melodic punk bands of the late ’70s. The singer sounds vaguely familiar, but I think that is due to his style of delivery more than anything else. While the band is from Berlin, one of the greatest cities in the world, the singer is from Yorkshire, England. It doesn’t sound like it’s from 1977, but it’s definitely got that vibe. It’s mid-tempo and very catchy and melodic. That said, when it gets a little softer, it reminds me a bit of the CHILLS, high praise. This is nicely done and I’m a fan of the sound, so it’s right up my alley.

Socialcide Complete Discography 2006–2008 cassette

I had never heard of Virginia’s SOCIALCIDE, but this tape changed all that. This much-revered, short-lived band played “original recipe” USHC with a lot of early SoCal influence, and they were pretty awesome. Far from a one-dimensional copycat act, the band has a range of cool styles on display throughout the 32 tracks on this cassette. They thrash as hard as Dealing With It-era D.R.I., creep you out like TSOL in their heyday, and go into songs that sound like outtakes from the first SUICIDAL TENDENCIES LP. In other words, this would have been right at home in my fourteen-year-old self’s Walkman during any given skate session, but it also sounds pretty damn good today.

Soft Torture Soft Torture cassette

This is the first release from this veritable supergroup made up of members from some of Philadelphia’s best and brightest, including BLANK SPELL, DESTRUCTOS, and YDI. You read that last one correctly—bassist Chuck Meehan was in the original lineup of that legendary ’80s Philly band (and the SOFT TORTURE track “2021” is an updated version of “1983” from YDI’s seminal EP A Place in the Sun). The eight songs here (apart from the outro) showcase a fast and feral brand of rhythmically complex hardcore, with all band members firing on all cylinders at all times. The result is the kind of controlled chaos you can only achieve with a certain level of technical skill. Vocalist Jess Nicho has a unique delivery— at turns snotty, bored, detached, and deranged—that elevates the final product to something truly wild. “9.99” is a personal favorite, pairing an almost sing-song chorus with Jess’ typically twisted and visceral lyrics. Real freak shit!

Tempter Tempter 12″

Crawling out from the deepest, darkest depths of Richmond, VA is TEMPTER, a new ensemble combining the talents of members of NOSEBLEED, DIVISION OF MIND, CANDY, and EKULU. The metal/crossover influence is strong on this mind-melting EP, taking plenty of cues from UK crust and Japanese hardcore—including the atmospheric interludes! The incredibly meaty riffs and hoarse, raspy vocals are masterfully combined with super raw, lo-fi production with plenty of reverb. These brutal tunes will have you pumping your fist and banging your head—especially the two bookenders, opener “Sacricide” and closer “Pestilence.” Highly recommended for anyone after a bit of that metallic flair in their hardcore. 

Tusen Ögon Imorgon EP

May I present to you, dear reader, one hopelessly infectious Scandinavian garage jammer. Imorgon captures all of the pop hooks of bands like FRANZ FERDINAND, HIVES, and INTERPOL (you know, all those bands you don’t like to admit that you like until you’re having a weak and/or manipulative moment), but this makes the shit feel real again. Even the ballad/anthem hybrid “Sparka Ner Alla Kors På Kyrkogården” and the crooning vocals on “Tusen Hål” hit just fukkn right and it all feels edgy and punk as shit. Maybe it’s not in spite of the hooks, maybe it’s because of them—EBBA GRÖN had hooks…were they punk? Hint: they were punk. There’s a future world where TUSEN ÖGON is a household name and you’re telling your square friends about how you “read about them on this punk website years ago…” to make yourself feel cool. You can live in that world, or you can just crank the shit out of this stunning slab of wax. Your choice.

User Unauthorized Harsh Truth LP

Hailing from Austin, USER UNAUTHORIZED plays an interesting mix of anthemic hardcore and dark punk. Ripping drum fills punctuate heavy breakdowns throughout, which is interesting because they have a track called “No Breakdowns.” The sound (mastered by Enormous Door, so it’s killer) is clean and very detailed from the clear, harsh vocals to the buzz of the strings and the pop of the cymbals and snare. I do like USER UNAUTHORIZED’s ability to bend songs from classic punk riffs to down-tuned hardcore. Layers of lyrics filled with angst and spite toward, well, authority, in all its stifling and suppressing forms. A lot of these compositions reminds me of an old favorite EP by NO WIN SITUATION, but seething with the attitude of AUGUST SPIES, DEFIANCE, and rhythmically, MIND OVER MATTER. Harsh Truth is a solid mix of old-school East Coast hardcore and popularized West Coast punk. But in Texas. Stay harsh!

The Wirtschaftswunder Preziosen & Profanes LP

The WIRTSCHAFTSWUNDER (German for “economic miracle,” and a reference to the rapid development of West Germany post-WWII) was from the weirder and more experimental side of the ’80s Neue Deutsche Welle. They were a truly multinational group, featuring members from Germany, Canada, Czechoslovakia, and an Italian singer (Angelo Galizia) who sang/shouted in heavily-accented German. Preziosen & Profanes compiles their first EP Allein along with a handful of early singles and assorted compilation tracks. Demented zolo strangeness abounds here, in the same league as RENALDO AND THE LOAF, Sweden’s KITCHEN AND THE PLASTIC SPOONS, or fellow Germans PALAIS SCHAUMBERG. There is a playful sense of unpredictability to these tracks, combining musique concrète found sounds, sampled speech, cartoonish synth-pop, toy instruments, and various electronic squalls—often within the same song. “Allein” is an upbeat synth-punker with Galizia’s furious howl at the forefront, while “Metall” layers industrial noise over piano and violin (the overall effect reminding me of “Silent Command” by CABARET VOLTAIRE). “Television” is a bouncy synth-pop number, while its B-side “Kommissar” is a cover of what I assume is an iconic ’70s German TV theme song. “Ich steh auf Hagen” stretches out to nearly five minutes of experimental thrashing about, driven by the same propulsive drumbeat until it all falls apart near the end. Tremendous fun.

V/A Inkstains Across Atlanta cassette

Tired of digging through a wobbly stack of 7”s to find music by your favorite Atlanteans, only to put on a record that you then have to get up and flip a minute and a half later? There has got to be a better way! Introducing Ink Stains Across Atlanta, a collection of every Total Punk 7” by an Atlanta-based artist—fifteen songs on a single cassette! Total Punk? More like Total Convenience! Set adrift down the river of despair with GG KING’s “Joyless Masturbation,” soak in the healing aura of SLUGGA’s “Parasite,” experience pure ecstasy as the music of any one of a myriad of Brannon Greene-fronted projects (PREDATOR, NAG, HOSPICE) fills your ears, or journey into the unknown with a handful of unreleased and non-Total Punk tracks. To order this collection, take $7, wad it in a ball and put it in a bag with a SASE, and send it to Total Punk HQ, or simply log on to totalpunk.com using the browser of your choice.

Agoni En Röst För Fred 1984–1986 LP

AGONI of Stockholm was one of the predecessors of modern D-beat and Scandinavian hardcore, playing in the heavier register such as SVART PARAD, BOMBANFALL, CRUDITY, DNA, HEADCLEANERS, ANTIBOFORS, DISARM, or DISCARD…but in some cases, several years prior to those bands. So, if any of that is of interest, this review is for you, and you already want or have this LP. AGONI was fucking heavy and fast, and pre-any of those categorizations. Just hardcore käng (känga “boot” crust) punk. Grumbling, furious bass and a calamity of drumming and distortion. An intonating furnace of vocals. Classic tumbling intros and tempo changes you hear all the time in a D-beat “Dis” band today. Not just today, ever since the mid-’80s, and all over the world! But AGONI, and their Swedish contemporaries, wrote that skit. The freshness is almost palpable; it sounds so sincerely constructed and musically destructed. The remastering of these three demos(!) and a live 1985 gig is outstanding. Not to get too far off track here, but if you watch ’80s skate videos and you see the look on the skater’s face when they are like, “What the fuck did I just do and land?,” you realize they were inventing something raw and powerful and always went as hard as possible —it was their scene to do so. That is what it’s like to listen to this compilation. Beautiful hardcore in its the purest and earliest form. No carbon copies here, actually writing the often-imitated fill stylings and riffs you hear today, seemingly happening on the exact take you are listening to. Those subtle imperfections in timing and dropping tone that make it so fucking punk. Side B (demo three) moves into their more thrash-crossover material, as bands of this style were doing then, but even their take retains hardcore roots in its hooks. This collection is essential! Alas, all the liner notes are in Swedish. Use your translation app or something, it’s not 1984—and don’t forget your band is not AGONI when you rehearse that two-second raw moment they did, but you’re still pretty good.

Ataque Zero Ataque Zero 12″

Unrelenting five-track debut from Bogota, Columbia’s ATAQUE ZERO. Bass lines build to ride cymbal-clattering choruses, with Luis’ shouted vocals barely taking a rest throughout the entire EP. This project is part of the autonomous cultural center, Rat Trap, in Bogota, that features DIY artists and musicians. Limited copies going quick!

Blitz Voice of a Generation LP reissue

Look, I’m not here to tell you how to live your life. If you want to not eat your greens or avoid looking both ways before crossing the road, that’s on you largely, and given the natural truculence and stick-it-up-yer-bollocks mentality of the punk community, it’s likely to be met with resistance at best and open hostility most likely. That being said, if you haven’t listened to this record, I am going to tell you to go and listen to it right now. From the opening drum salvo and the first time Nidge’s guitar cuts through, it grabs you by the lapels and doesn’t let up. Unlike many of their contemporaries in the Oi! scene that was coagulating round Bushell, et al., BLITZ doesn’t have the same panto “don’t mind if I do, missus,” end-of-the-pier approach to street violence and class politics that came to define the scene in postcard caricature fashion. Undoubtedly you’ve heard this LP a billion times before, and a reissue’s a reissue’s a reissue, but if at the very least it’s stopped you and made you go back and try and capture that lightning-in-a-bottle sensational you got the first time you dropped that needle on the record for the first time, then it’s job done as far as yours truly is concerned.

Brower Live and Contagious LP

As we hopefully near the end of the COVID pandemic, what we are left with is a deluge of bedroom four-track albums or bathroom laptop solo epiphanies. However, this album will stand as the last live concert album to be recorded before the March 2020 shutdown. I left the mystery alone whether the live recording is in the vein of the BLACK LIPS Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo album recorded “live” in Tijuana, or more authentically, THIN LIZZY’s Live and Dangerous, which the art on this album cover reverently replicates. Regardless, it’s a fun raucous ride throughout. Sporting sounds from glam, English disco, and funk punk, the influences range from MUD and STATUS QUO to early KISS and late PHARMACY. The supporting band includes Josephine Network on guitar and Hershguy on drums. The songs pull from a range in BROWER’s career, so it’s a great intro if you haven’t heard this treasure before.

Crippled Fox Attack of the Thrash Wrist EP

Everything to be said about CRIPPLED FOX is in the lyrics of “United Mosh Pit,” the fifth track of eight on this EP. “Long-haired thrashers / And skatecore punks / Hardcore kids / Blasting the show as one.” That is the entire text of the song and could be the band’s manifesto. Occasionally punctuated with out-of-nowhere samples from DE LA SOUL, the TV show Married With Children, and others, this album shreds with fun, blistering, thrash-soaked hardcore. DRI’s Dirty Rotten LP is an obvious comparison to make. Close your eyes and you see nothing but kids in flannel shirts and bandanas zooming up and down half-pipes. The choice to record live in a rehearsal space was inspired. The resulting spontaneity and energy makes these good songs great. CRIPPLED FOX puts out some amazing crossover thrash and are now 95% of the reason I want to visit Budapest.

Decade The Impossible Scale of Increasing Slaughter EP

Few D-beaters out there stand out as much as Ontario’s DECADE, and the band’s unique range of styles is on display on this EP. We’ve seen a few different shades of DECADE over the course of their handful of releases, and this four-song record seems to have a hot little mix of everything. The chugging charge and ethereal vocals of the opener give way to the spaced-out, confusion-packed banger “Indifference” on the A-side. The flip opens with the crusty pounding of “Existence is Ignored” before the bass-heavy rocking swagger of the closing track, and the whole thing is painted with killer metal guitar licks. Some of the band’s best looks are when they pick up on less popular sources of inspiration like later ’80s-’90s DISCHARGE and FINAL BOMBS, and overall they’ve got an uncanny ability for forcing strange innovations into the genre with great results. If you haven’t heard their 2018 World Stops Turning LP or split with FATUM, you gotta check those too. These guys are killers.

Ford’s Fuzz Inferno The Book of Fuzz: Selected Verses (Part 1) CD

Two excellent EPs from 2021 on one little encoded piece of plastic for your bopping pleasure. Dutch duo FORD’S FUZZ INFERNO pretty much sounds like their moniker—walls of garage-damaged, blasted combo amp guitars topped with sweet in-your-face croons; these chaps serve up hit after should-be hit. They don’t rely on the heaviness, but they get there because they just want to crank the shit out of those guitars, you know…to fuzz ‘em up. Fans of RADIOACTIVITY and the like may find familiar hooks in here, but FORD’S FUZZ INFERNO is a stripped-down model—getting straight to business with none of the excess.