For review and radio play consideration:

Please send vinyl (preferred), CD, or cassette releases to MRR, PO Box 3852, Oakland, CA 94609, USA. Maximum Rocknroll wants to review everything that comes out in the world of underground punk rock, hardcore, garage, post-punk, thrash, etc.—no major labels or labels exclusively distributed by major-owned distributors, no reviews of test pressings or promo CDs without final artwork. Please include contact information and let us know where your band is from!

Cel Ray Piss Park EP

These Chicago punks who share a name with a gross New York deli soda have teamed up with French label Six Tonnes De Chair for their second release. CEL RAY is clearly a band who’ve clomped around in the yolk that oozed out of NWI a decade or so back, but they’ve managed not to track too much goo onto the four tracks that make up this EP. By forgoing the brash cartoonishness of a lot of their contemporaries and balancing their DEVO stiffness with some loose, jazzier sounds closer to the MINUTEMEN, they avoid sounding like the straight CONEHEADS-core that is all too ubiquitous these days. It’s upbeat, energetic punk that reminds me bit of what I love about the pre-hardcore punk that came out of Southern California,  anchored by a strong vocal performance—Maddie Daviss delivers her lyrics about the mundanities of Midwestern living in a cool, deadpan talk-shout that every so often breaks into a full-throated song—with just the right amount of C.C.T.V.-esque jitteriness to give it more of a contemporary post-punk-y edge. Absolutely worth checking out!

Cruelster Lost Inside My Mind in Another State of Mind: The Singles Collection LP

Cleveland, OH’s crazy lo-fi punkers present this collection of singles from their adventures, compiled here for the delight of the commensals. Made from non-album tracks from their twelve years of activity so far, it’s rough-edged with a kind of garage-y punk attitude, with its own dosage of fury, rage, and nostalgic feelings of being in a youngster punk formation in your early years playing live for the second time. Things of a sincere and chaotic nature.

Dez Dare A Billion Goats. A Billion Sparks. Fin. CD

Solo project from Australia that sounds like MONSTER MAGNET and DEVO caught in a drug bust. Heavy groove riffs and psych experimentation nestle up to chirping 8-bit synths and crunchy beats, accompanied by spoken/barked vocals. The production is perfect: DIY, open-room sound with big drums and bigger guitars and vocals slightly low in the mix. It sounds live, but it also sounds meticulously crafted at the same time. “Got a Fire in my Socket” opens the album with new wave keys and buzzing bass, while the next few tracks, “Matter Vs Matter” and “10,000 Monkeys + An Argument with Time,” bring out the super riffs. It’s an unusual combination of dorky guitar hero power, but it flows so well and comes across so naturally that you’ll question why this isn’t a regular genre blueprint. “Entangled Entropy” features swelling synths and a post-punk bouncing bass line with a vocal melody that recalls the mellower moments of TOTAL CONTROL. Highly unique and highly recommended.

E.T. Explore Me Drug Me CD

It’s difficult to use the tools of the past to make something that sounds new, coming from its own strange point of view. E.T. EXPLORE ME is firmly indebted to garage rock from all its resurrections, including that of the early ’00s, to refreshingly potent effect. With a crunchy organ highlighted in practically every hook, these Dutch rockers have a sonic palette that hammers home a disaffected-cool boogie. Track after track oozes with alien attitude, helped along by a lush use of synths that squabble and stab underneath hushed vocals and original applications of percussion. It’s all very danceable and never stale, sitting comfortably alongside tried-and-true acts like QUINTRON AND MISS PUSSYCAT and even dabbling in darker psych realms à la MOON DUO. Title track “Drug Me” in particular has a locked-in zaniness impossible not to bop around to especially with an utterly cranked organ sound that is deliciously dank ‘n’ dirty. All in all, a cool time that feels like a throwback to the future.

Fire Cult The Very Edge of the Sea LP

Debut LP from the Swiss/Spanish trio FIRE CULT.  Fun indie pop sound mixed with sass, whines, and screams that are at times dissonant and at others melodic (often both) within these longer-format songs, as in “The Runaway,” which starts slow, droning and repetitive, then halfway through shifts to fast and upbeat, declaring “I’m running away.” “No One Tells You” is my pick of the album, with blaring attitude and a quick tempo. That said, I think “Static World” is probably the catchy indie pop hit of the lot—it’s tender, sweet, and has enough grit to balance it out. I got to review their first release We Die Alive EP when it came out in 2021, and they have only expanded on their cult sensation that seems to be focused on playing great tunes and having a damn good time while they’re at it.  While The Very Edge of the Sea certainly contains the elastic-snap of indie, they have dropped the synths that were on their first release, giving this album a heavier, and at times more serious feel. This good-time pirate ship of a band may catch your attention, too. Beware!

Grisaille Entre Deux Averses​.​.​. 7″

The importance of melody in punk music is often overlooked. However, it played a crucial role in shaping the sound and impact of punk songs. GRISAILLE, featuring members of SYNDROME 81, presents a debut EP that seamlessly blends addictive melodic punk influences with emotive storytelling. Drawing comparisons to GORILLA ANGREB, the VICIOUS, and early MASSHYSTERI, the band showcases a fresh take on the genre. With each track, they deliver a raw energy that resonates with lovers of the more melodic side of punk, while their poignant lyrics add depth to their music. GRISAILLE’s EP promises to be a standout release in the punk scene, capturing the essence of classic punk while infusing it with their own unique style.

Hacker Psy Wi-Fi EP

On this latest EP, HACKER from Melbourne sticks to their marriage of tech themes and pounding hardcore while showing an updated approach to their songwriting. It’s just as tight as their Pick a Path 12” from 2021, but these four tough tunes feel a bit more creative and catchy than the band’s previous output. It seems like these guys are becoming the diabolical machine they allude to in their lyrics and artwork, and “Scammer” is a real jam if you’re looking for something snappy to get stuck in your head.

Impermanence 9-Song Offering cassette

Powerviolence out of Portland teetering more on the trashier side. Hard for me to not compare these guys to MAN IS THE BASTARD seeing as they’re a bass/drums combo, but that’s what I’ll have to default to here because…well, they sound a lot like them! They also give off a SPAZZ/CAPTAIN THREE LEG vibe, as their riffs are catchy and melodic. For just being two people, they sound massive and super heavy. Drums sound natural, which is always an A+ in a genre that resorts to triggers.

Kevlar Upper Kevlar Upper demo cassette

Caveman hardcore from California somewhere between a palate cleanse and a pressure wash, KEVLAR UPPER tips their hat to notions of “mystery,” presentation-wise, but not so much that I can’t highlight the presence of dudes from WORLD PEACE, COMPASSION, ULTRAS, and Fear the Walking Dead—as in the TV show, not some band naming themselves after it. Spenser Granese is the guy adding to the long if intermittent crossover history of hardcore punk and acting, and I think it’s him on vocals for these five songs. Charging out the gate with borderline powerviolence intensity—in the ballpark of someone like VACCINE—the five-piece goes slower and longer for “Shackle,” which is kinda like a weightlifter’s version of TOTAL ABUSE. A fine example of the sort of thing it is.

Life Scars Pekniete Serca CD

LIFE SCARS from Eastern Poland recently dropped this full-length slab of melancholic, stench-ridden, D-beat-driven crust and it’s pure gold. Simple yet concise instrumentation backs a vocal delivery that is reminiscent of NAUSEA. Lyrics delivered in LIFE SCARS’ native language have a sort of sweetness that feels ancient but alive. Blasting breakdowns and screaming guitar crescendos are ubiquitous and draw the listener further into the pummeling storm. If you’re a fan of NUX VOMICA, ROT//WOVEN, or AGE OF COLLAPSE, then be sure to check this out!

Mazandaran Estranged EP

Mazandaran is known as “Devil’s Land” in north central Iran. This UK-based band consists of members of the Iranian diaspora playing protest music, reminiscent of Burning Spirits-style Japanese hardcore with epic guitar leads. Estranged is the debut recording by the band, with direct political expression coming from their own complex experiences. Raging hardcore punk with a sense of urgency and a combustion of powerful energy.

Nightfeeder Disgust​ö​r EP

NIGHTFEEDER’s music is a raw, intense blend of punk and metal influences that some would call crust. The fact is that their members helped shape the genre with such important bands as DISRUPT and CONSUME. So, with a resume like that, you should open your ears to this three-track EP! Side A is an anthemic mid-tempo banger with a big chorus hook that almost flows like a VENOM song, and Side B expands on their more straightforward crust past with guitar-driven hardcore expertise. The band’s DIY ethos and commitment to their underground roots add authenticity to their sound. NIGHTFEEDER’s music is a fierce statement that captures the spirit of crust punk, and the artwork creates an interesting immersive MISFITS-like vibe.

Parallel Worlds In the Comet’s Path LP

Heavy, rocking, full-throated hardcore with former members of VOORHEES and IMBALANCE. The earnest shouted vocals and mostly mid-tempo clean production recall a mix of B’LAST and FUCKED UP; carefully arranged heavy guitar music with enough grit to appeal to metalheads as well as punks. The title track has a three-way guitar and bass call-and-response pattern that adds texture and gives slight post-punk vibes. This is continued in the six-minute-plus “End Song” with JOY DIVISION bass and sung vocals that builds into a loud climax. Solid, straightforward hardcore worth checking out.

Przejebane Przejebane LP

A lo-fi and primitive punk artifact from the late ’80s Polish scene, this demo from PRZEJEBANE (“Fucked” in Polish) was allegedly recorded in 1987 and features ten tracks of cut-and-dry punk, with clear influences from the RAMONES, the CLASH, and a little bit of early BAD RELIGION, sometimes inching towards skate punk. Lyrically, from what I found through some internet sleuthing, the band speaks mostly on anarchism and drug use, however I can’t make out if it’s in a positive or negative light. Pretty cool, but not entirely essential stuff. If you want a small taste of some late ’80s punk from Poland, this may be worth your time.

Rejoice All of Heaven’s Luck LP

The first new release from this Columbus quintet in about two years, REJOICE reminds me a bit of what NEGATIVE APPROACH would sound like if its members were born within the last quarter-century, mainly because the singer sounds like a modern-age John Brannon. Otherwise, this a pretty groovy record, and teeters more on the metal side of the hardcore see-saw than punk. I don’t know how else to explain this, but this record is chock-full of what I’ll call “spooky” guitar leads that you often hear in black metal. Actually, this whole album has a blackened edge to it. It would probably sound like it came directly from the Arctic Circle if the recording quality wasn’t so top-notch.

Riesgo Remolino de Muertos LP

This Chicago project’s debut LP delivers aggressive raw punk with somber tones and solid cavernous, reverbed screaming vocals, strident riffy as hell guitars, and sharply pointed drums. With former members of anarcho-punk beasts SIN ORDEN (who played once in my backyard on Argentina back in circa 2009, which I will never forget), they exude South Side Chicago attitude and scream about social inequities of the shit system as a very fast-paced ball of sound and mayhem. You are welcome to play here at my house again whenever you want! Recommended.

Scared Earth Death Comes Tumbling Down LP

Ready to have your speakers blown away by some raw, unfiltered Swedish D-beat music? SCARED EARTH’s second album is here to bring that gritty, high-energy sound straight to your ears! Drawing inspiration from legendary bands like ANTI-CIMEX and HEADCLEANERS, SCARED EARTH’s music is a powerful blend of old school Swedish hardcore vibes and modern intensity. They stay true to the roots of Swedish D-beat, delivering that signature sound with fierce passion. With members from DOM DÄR, SVART PARAD, MARTIAL MOSH, and DISSOBER, you know you’re in for a wild ride!

Sexpill Demos 2xEP flexis

This release consists of demo sessions from Houton’s own SEXPILL. Waging warfare of unrelentless noise bombardment with the H-town royalty, Big Swerv’s Sakevi-style barking vocals rip your skull throughout the record. Feels just like grinding up some rare vintage GAI and CONFUSE demo tapes from the ’80s, crushing up some Hot Cheetos you got at the gas station, mixing it together, and snorting it up your nostril. SEXPILL’s got some real tracks, and I think we all already know who’s going to win the next Grammy Awards. My favorite track on the EP is “Barry White.”

Somerset Meadows Recycle Your Dreams LP

An album from this Portland, Oregon-based band that was stalled by the pandemic lockdown finally makes it out on vinyl. The album is split into a “studio side” and “live side,” giving a special raw looseness to the latter half. The band’s anthemic mid-tempo sound feels equally influenced by garage rock, power pop, and an early ’90s college radio lineage. The lyrics and vocal delivery are what set the band apart from its peers, with a mumbled hesitant optimism for an increasingly dysfunctional existence.

Twelve Cubic Feet Straight Out the Fridge LP

Originally released as a 10” in 1982, Straight Out the Fridge is as succinct and perfect a representation of early ’80s UK DIY as you’re likely to find this side of a Messthetics CD-R: spiky enough to serve as a logical successor to the golden age of Rough Trade art-punk, sweet (but not saccharine) enough to lay down the initial bricks of a (wanna buy a) bridge to the jangly bash of C86. Sally Andrews’s chirpy vocals are the most obvious element connecting TWELVE CUBIC FEET to their proto-indie pop contemporaries like GIRLS AT OUR BEST! and DOLLY MIXTURE, bursting with giddy enthusiasm over the junkshop disco beats and bubbly keys of “Blob” and switching from breathless shouts to dreamy, sugar-coated melodies amidst the dark, moody swirl of “Mary’s Got the Bug.” Bassist Matthew Vosbergh takes the lead on “Escaping Again,” which slowly unwinds with a looping throb of post-punk bass and the otherworldly homespun minimal wave atmosphere of his SOLID SPACE project, before crashing into an pseudo-mod rave-up with Sally’s ecstatic backing harmonies and lilting keyboards, while the mind-bendingly hooky chorus of “Hello Howard” is borderline new wave in its synth-forward warble—it’s not difficult at all to imagine it being a ridiculous hit in a world less stacked against DIY pop oddballs. If you weren’t already a TWELVE CUBIC FEET believer, you can (and will) be one now.

Ultimate Disaster Demo 2024 cassette

Before I even listened to ULTIMATE DISASTER, I already knew that I was highly likely to love it. Not just because the name is an absolute cliché (just like myself), or because the band is from Richmond and has members of DESTRUCT and HORRID PEACE, but because I knew that it would comfort me and validate my tastes, which is pretty much why I listen to new bands these days. ULTIMATE DISASTER plays orthodox D-beat, meaning they don’t stray far from the “te amo D-beat” philosophy. In fact, they stick to a very pure version of the formula, not so much aping DISCHARGE but emulating those aping DISCHARGE. Know what I mean? D-beat bands like ANGER BURNING or DEATHCHARGE or even HORRENDOUS. The sound is raw with a “live in the studio” feel, but it still sounds aggressive and impactful—not unlike ’80s peace punk, maybe. D-beat raw punk at its finest, and you can tell that ULTIMATE DISASTER knows exactly what they want to do and how to do it. The D-beat path is a well-trodden one that many think is easy but it is hard to do well something as seemingly and deceptively simple as a good DISCHARGE rip-off. It requires taste and faith in the beauty of the D, and this band has both.

White Beast Suffering Time LP

Getting old is strange. Listening to new(er) bands draw from disparate and foreign influences to create something that sounds familiar in the context of DIY punk is interesting to say the least, and WHITE BEAST is this feeling in spades…’90s grunge, dark indie songsmiths, SYSTEM OF A DOWN, and infectious modern punk anthems will all find a place to nest here, and the Richmond, VA bass/drums duo owns all of it in a way that’s impossible to criticize. When’s the last time you heard a band conjure GODHEADSILO and INTERPOL?

Artificial Joy 100% Pure Joy LP

Woooofffff, this one lands just right. How did ARTIFICIAL JOY inject ’80 Sunset Strip energy into snotty, femme-fronted modern hardcore stomps? I don’t know and it doesn’t make sense (though I did blast RATT for a solid six hours the other day), but ARTIFICIAL JOY makes me feel like that even though they sound like a ripping 2020s DIY punk act. And this, my friends, is wonderful.

Banda Des Femer / Svnya Talaiotik Attack split cassette

Two bands from Barcelona that I have absolutely never heard about (damn, I do get older) do a split tape together, and well, you’ve got to like it when local bands team up to release something. Sadly, this is not my cuppa at all. SVNYA reminds me of late ’80s Deutsch punk or early ’90s Mexican hardcore back when both genres were starting to become boring. The band definitely sounds like a Spanish band (especially the very special vocals, half spoken/half shouted). I am not really sure what the band is trying to achieve—you’ve got straight-up punk songs, some with a crossover metal punk feel, and the production is heavy but somehow lacks energy and aggression to really work. I am a bit harsh and I can see the band has a worthy political message, but their side is not for me. On the other side, BANDA DES FEMER delivers 21 short hardcore songs, and I actually quite like it. Simple and unsophisticated old school hardcore punk in Catalan with a raw sound that fits the genre. I am reminded of classic Spanish bands like HHH or ANTI DOGMATIKSS, and more recent bands like OTAN when BANDA DES FEMER goes fast, but I am unconvinced with their slower, snotty punk songs. You can tell the band has a lot of fun and they’ve got that youthful energy that makes their side worth giving it a try if you are into raw Spanish punk. This is the first recording for both bands, so they are bound to improve (or are they?). The artwork is punker than you.

Bedspin Liminal Spaces LP

As a fellow Illinoisan, I will always give props to bands from not-Chicago, especially if they’re from the very bottom of the state. I hear Carbondale has a great punk scene, though. Anyways, lovely pop punk outing here. A very nostalgic listen for me. Reminded me of the first time I heard Fat Music for Fat People, which forever changed my life. Catchy vocals, noodly guitar leads, treble-heavy bass runs, and the occasional drive-by ska riff! Feels like the early ’00s for me, makes me want to dig out my old skateboard and pretend like I know what I’m doing again. Great stuff here. For fans of early Fat Wreck and Epitaph.

CMO​Γ / Ergophobia Paran​ö​id Visions split 10″

DISCLOSE worshipping time! You know the drill, this one is for the Kawakami aficionados out there. Nothing new under the sun, just two bands, CMOΓ (“Smog”) from Skopje and ERGOPHOBIA from Germany, sharing their love for noisy, fuzzed-out D-beat. So if you’re ready to dive headfirst into a sonic maelstrom of D-beat, give this one a spin. You won’t be disappointed.

Cold Cream Cold Cream II CD

Carrboro, NC band of scene veterans that plays SUPERCHUNK-style indie punk with some fuzz-psych and hardcore sprinkles. Tracks like “Cactus Wife” and “North Pole South” are catchy, likeable noisy pop that you could throw on at a backyard BBQ with no complaints. “Fast Fash Treasure Island” branches out with some Kim Gordon-esque vocals and a sneaky lead line that gives a hint of what’s to come. “Fixedair” and “Penelope” are swirling psych excursions with fuzz tunnels and submerged cave-in vocals. Then, as a surprise, COLD CREAM goes hardcore for the last two, channeling the melodic end of HÜSKER DÜ. Upbeat and enjoyable CD with enough experimentation for repeat listening.

Dead Years Night Thoughts LP

There seems to be no shortage of coldwave/post-punk/deathrock bands at the moment, and frankly, I love it. Go ahead and add Germany’s DEAD YEARS to the list. On Night Thoughts, they play a cool brand of post-punk, sometimes reminding me of a more propulsive HOME FRONT and sometimes reminding me of an Oi! band minus the saxophones and tough-guy gang vocals. Speaking of, the dual vocals are a nice touch and add some depth and nuance to the proceedings. I will say, the record is a little long for my taste, and some of the tunes do blend together about halfway through. This is no dealbreaker; in fact, it’s probably just my social-media-addled attention span that’s the problem. Anyways, the songwriting is solid, and on tracks like “Into the Dark” and “Mind Circle,” DEAD YEARS really take off.

Drill Permanent LP

A vinyl tombstone for Philly trio DRILL, who have finally resurfaced after their 2019 demo cassette only to release this LP in commemoration of breaking up. Eight tracks of skronky, shouty panic punk that have the art-schooled “household appliances as instruments” electro-wave of the first CRASH COURSE IN SCIENCE single positioned as the angel on one shoulder, and the early ’00s tech-hell dance punk agitation of NUMBERS as the devil on the other—cowbell is banged generously, synth whirrs and squiggles and squeals, and gyration-ready bass lines hold everything together like extra-sticky Krazy Glue. The twitchy beats and frayed-nerve shrieks of opener “Within Reason” untangle into an unexpectedly melodic (but still resolutely off-kilter!) sung chorus, and the doubled-up, sing-song chants from bassist Nina and synth player Sonam on “Pipsqueak” provide a playful counterpoint to the band’s wound-up instrumental squirm; Permanent is a continuous push/pull between anxiety and serenity, but as we all know, anxiety always wins, and so did DRILL.

Fortitude DCxPC Live, Vol. 12: Live at Lou’s LP

FORTITUDE live recording at Lou’s in Orlando on 12” vinyl—DCxPC focuses on live recording releases on vinyl. Stylically, it’s NYHC in the vein of JUDGE, GORILLA BISCUITS, etc., with songs about anti-racism and going back to the core values of HC. The recording documents a specific vibe that won’t be replicated in the studio, but not sure if most people would like to hear live recordings in this format. Might mean something more for people that were involved in their scene to have this in their collection. Limited edition of 200.

Giglinger React 12″

If you’re familiar with GIGLINGER, this may be a far cry from your expectations…React starts off with an eight-minute track (the shortest of the four cuts is five-and-a-half) that mixes post-punk with jammy psychedelic noise rock. Am I at rave? A cavern in hell? Right, Finland.  Looking back on their discography, I found a totally different band—straightforward, lo-fi punk that was great!  Take, for example, their full-length cassette 13 from 2021, that is two sides of riff-driven, fast-paced punk rock, like a group that enjoys the DAMNED. Whether these slower, longer, more spacious songs (with a much cleaner production) are a new beginning for GIGLINGER or an experimental layover, I don’t know.  I like parts of this, and I’m reluctantly pigeonholing the band by saying I miss the heart found in previous releases. But hey, they’ve been at it over two decades; it’s your band, get weird!

Jade Dust Grey Skies LP

Why does this record make me think ”grunge and ’90s alt-rock”? Is it the way the rhythm alternates between shambolic and thrashy? The distorted rhythm and strong lead guitars? For whatever reason, I feel this would fit nicely on the No Alternative compilation. The vocals have a gentle sneer that goes well with the otherwise splashy songs. Those songs felt bigger and more realized than their two-minute running time might allow. JADE DUST does more than alternate between verse and chorus, the song structures felt very deliberate and well-edited.

Last Quokka Red Dirt cassette

Real fukkn infectious Aussie punk with serious modern indie vibes—this is a band whose vision and mission are fully realized. The band that by all rights you should hear on the damn radio and think “damn, commercial viability has finally caught up to actual quality,” even though that will never really happen. “My Girl” is the smash hit that will never be, and literally every track here is absolute in-your-face garage punk of the highest order. Snarling ferocity and hooks for days, I’m actually not sure what else you could ask for.

Main Breaker II CD

This power trio from Buffalo surely distances themselves from the pop punk sound on their prior releases to give us a fusion of classic West Coast-influenced hardcore punk from the late ’80s and early ’90s, but with little pinches of other sources here and there. With solid cadences throughout the ten tracks, the vocals feature a drag that’s on-point and resembles a wide range of performers from Biafra to BLACK FLAG’s Rollins era on some tracks (like “Humanity Without the Human is Just Ity”), with crunchy bass lines that pick up and sufficient guitars. Some songs even have a gloom about them that’s associated in my mind with nostalgia for other times—altogether, it’s a solid album. Favourite track: “Ludicrous Speed.”

Model Workers Cry EP

My initial thought upon putting on this expanded reissue from Northeast England obscuros MODEL WORKERS was that it sounded a lot like an Ed Ball and Paul Weller team-up. I know it’s a bit lazy to compare one band to another when describing an act’s sound, but I’ve never really figured out a good alternative. I’m also a little lazy. That said, I don’t just toss out comparisons lightly—I generally spend an embarrassing amount of time making sure they are apt. Seriously, I’ll waste hours queuing up stuff to find the exact songs that made a band pop in my head as a point of comparison. So, when I saw the label copy for this release specifically mentioning TELEVISION PERSONALITIES, the TIMES, and the JAM, I pumped my fist in celebration, partially in an “I just got a tough question right on Jeopardy!” kind of way, and partially because I knew I wouldn’t need to bother checking my work. Anyway! This is the band’s sole 7” (1981’s self-released “Cry” / “My Winter Of Discontent”), plus two 1980 demos and an eight-page booklet with newspaper clippings, lyrics, and other band ephemera. The studio cuts are two great poppy UK DIY numbers that probably should be more widely known. I particularly like “Cry,” which starts out as an unremarkable, nervy new wave track before a hook carried by an incredible yawny croon that’s equal parts Edwyn Collins and Tracey Thorn kicks in—real good shit! The two demos are much rougher and lean closer to mod pop than punk, but they are super catchy and definitely a welcome addition to what was already a worthwhile release. It’s a cool glimpse into what else this band might have done had they stuck it out longer than the year or so they were in existence. All in all, another essential record from the fine folks over at Sealed!

Negative Prayer Self//Wound cassette

Are you a fan of death metal mixed with a touch of crust and D-beat? If so, then you’re in for a treat with NEGATIVE PRAYER. This band is a powerhouse duo of current and ex-members from renowned bands such as POISON IDEA, ACEPHALIX, INCANTATION, VASTUM, and FUNEBRARUM. With their unique blend of influences and experience, NEGATIVE PRAYER delivers a sound that is both ferocious and captivating. Drawing inspiration from iconic bands like DRILLER KILLER and WOLFPACK, they infuse their Swedish D-beat with relentless death metal aggression. The pounding drums, blistering guitars, and guttural vocals create a sonic assault that will leave you craving more. With a lineup boasting members with such impressive resumes, it’s no surprise that NEGATIVE PRAYER is a force to be reckoned with. Each member brings their own distinct style and expertise to the table, resulting in a cohesive and powerful sound that sets them apart from the rest. This is true sonic warfare!

Parasite Parasite LP

PARASITE’s new LP consists of eight tracks of epic, canonical raw punk. Melodic parts aren’t as death metal-sounding as the typical melodic crust bands, but have this particular kind of eerie atmosphere to them. Punch-in-the-gut hammering drums with driving guitar and bass tracks that sound extremely similar to Victims of a Bombraid-style raw punk. Seemingly  cookie-cutter, but a unique approach to the melodic side of this genre.

Reckless Upstarts We Walk Alone LP

Canadian flat cap botherers RECKLESS UPSTARTS land with their debut LP of meat-and-potatoes shorthaired rock’n’roll. Opening track nails their politics to the mast by clearly stating their unequivocal SHARP-ness, which I will always appreciate. As for the record itself, it’s more tuneful than I expected, clearly pitching at the more anthemic end of the Oi! spectrum. However, toward the arse end of the record, there’s a totally inexplicable and absolutely honking rendition of the MAXINE NIGHTINGALE classic “Back Where We Started” which made me pull a face that I last did when I accidentally trod in dog shit, and quite frankly, if I wasn’t a prison abolitionist, I’d be calling for a custodial sentence. That being said, while it’s certainly not going to be a bona fide classic by any stretch, it’s perfectly fine and I’m sure it’ll make some lads in sambas and West Ham scarves happy enough.

Savage Beat Tomorrow (Might Never Come) / Used to Be a Tiger 7″

Ha, the vocals immediately remind me of Stiv Bators and the DEAD BOYS. That can’t be too bad. Snotty and growly, this is very much old school punk. The guitar work is sometimes a bit much for me, but it’s also done in that DEAD BOYS style, so that helps. From Amsterdam, if you keep track of those sorts of things.

Silicosis Bocetos LP

Silicosis is a pulmonary fibrosis of the lung that is caused by breathing in silica dust during the mining process. SILICOSIS is also a dark punk band from the mining town of Lota in southern Chile, and Bocetos is their latest release. This LP is rich with anguish and grief from every angle. Atmospheric synths mix with sorrowful guitars while the rhythm section maintains the plodding pace of a funeral procession. Deep, rich vocals sing lyrics about the meaninglessness of life, depression, and other nocturnal emotions. The title track “Bocetos” is a driving, gothic anthem that builds in intensity and is absolutely beautiful in its agony-ridden delivery. It’s one of those songs that gives you goosebumps, draws tears to your eyes, but also keeps you stepping to the beat. In all, this album draws more from music of the Southwestern Hemisphere than from traditional goth and deathrock sources, and ends up being absolutely unique and incredibly hypnotic. This is for sure one of those albums that I can keep on my turntable for an extended amount of time.

Slevy Vol. 1 cassette

Alright, I’ve got a lot of numbers to throw at you and it may seem a little confusing, but stick with me because it’s more than worth it. SLEVY is a solo project (one man) from Irun, Spain. This Vol. 1 cassette is part of a two-cassette series which has the artist’s entire discography on it. Vol. 1 has his first couple EPs, comp tracks, and unreleased songs all recorded around 2005, it seems. This cassette was originally released in Spain in 2014, but a run of 100 tapes was just done by two Mexican labels at the end of 2023. SLEVY seems to truly be someone who loves all aspects of music within the punk umbrella. Ranging from darker, moodier, goth-adjacent synth-heavy tracks to catchy synth pop to driving garage rock, and some crust punk and hardcore influences on songs as well, SLEVY does it all without it feeling like a novelty. Here’s hoping these labels are working on Vol. 2 as well.

Terminal Απολυταρχικές Απολαύσεις LP

Some people take the concept of DIY absolutely literally, and the man behind TERMINAL is one of them: he did it all by himself. TERMINAL is a solo project from Kifisia, Greece, and it is its second release after the rather good Θύμα Προπαγάνδας EP last year. It can be convenient to be a one-person band, as you manage everything without having to wait for your bass player who is always late or drunk or both, and therefore you can write a lot of songs fast and release records on your own one-person label. Απολυταρχικές Απολαύσεις is very much a continuation of the EP, with a heavier production and more guitars (the rocking vibe is more present). In terms of songwriting, TERMINAL aims at creating a käng-influenced hardcore punk sound, and overall, it is executed well enough and the LP makes for an enjoyable listen. The music is fast, but lacks a little pummeling power at times. I guess current bands like GOLPE, NUKIES, or RAT CAGE would be influences, but the atmosphere is somewhat different. I am a massive sucker for punk music sung in Greek, as this very peculiar language and its unique flows and sonorities always confers an angry vibe. Good, I love the vocals, but I find myself wishing for more aggression. I am confident that the next recording might provide just that.

Vidro Upp Till Dans EP

VIDRO, from Stockholm in the sense of a base camp, throws some American, Brazilian, and British grounding into the mix (that last one is pushing it, but before vocalist Vendela was doing this band she lived in Manchester and sang in a rad no wave thing, QUEER’D SCIENCE). Their lyrics are in Swedish and are sometimes as brief and blunt as their early ’80s hardcore forebears, but musically speaking, they brood more than thrash: “Allt Brinner,” which is also the title of their first LP but does not feature on it, is played at hardcore tempo while its three companions are slower. The guitar sound is a gnarly plughole swirl triangulating between punk, goth, and anarcho, and Vendela’s vocals get more baleful and antagonistic with every VIDRO release.

Yakuza極​道 Yakuza極​道 LP

YAKUZA極道 is a fairly new band from Greece, with members who are involved in multiple other bands and have the sheer intent to play D-beat/raw punk. They succeed putting together a record with blasting D-beat songs that meet all the expectations from the genre, although nothing more. So I guess it is entertaining for them because they wanted to do something that they are able to, and those who always seek for new bands above a certain quality could be happy, too. Without this background info, you too would hear that this is an honest work from fans of the genre that respects all the borders and boundaries of the style. From our perspective, taking the time to write about records and culture, it could be a fair question: why bother? But one of the layers of punk is inclusivity and functioning as a hobby, so if someone wants to play in a sort of uniformed way of a very specific sound, I guess it should at least be respected. Also, this is the worst I can say about this record, since it has been put together well, sounds cool, and the songs are rather close-to-great good than anything else. It’s distorted and manic, but you can hear all the riffs and instruments distinguished from each other, with the atmosphere reminiscent of battlefield desperation. All in place, except nothing sticks out, and that is what makes good things great. Only a tiny part is lacking, but I miss it a lot. Still, if they tour close to you, book them or go see them (they are probably great live), and if you like buying records, this is a safe pick. If you are picky, this record will not hurt nor impress you too much, yet it has all the features to affect you, so maybe it’s about timing and mood.

Zimna Wojna Zimna Wojna LP

Melodic punk rock from Wroclaw, Poland. This album reminds me of something Epitaph Records would’ve released in the ’90s. Slightly more aggressive than a band like PENNYWISE, ZIMNA WOJNA bears the hallmarks of that regrettable era of commercialized punk, when it wasn’t out of the ordinary to hear gratuitous “whoa-oh-oh”s and random ska breakdowns. This is a bleak reminder of the dark ages of punk, when RANCID was a mainstay on MTV and the OFFSPRING could be heard blaring from speakers in malls across the land. Basically, the soundtrack to my worst teenage nightmare. I found this album to be a truly painful listen. There are forms of torture that are more enjoyable than being subjected to this drivel. Do yourself a favor and avoid this at all costs. Yuck.

Alamoans Licking the Boot EP

More Pittsburgh power here from ALAMOANS, contributing to the Steel City’s steady rise to becoming the hardcore capital of the US. Comprised of members of SPEED PLANS and EEL, this configuration eschews the pure violence of those two brands in favor of a more distorted and atmospherically foreboding approach. There’s plenty of punch to these tunes, but everything is covered in cobwebs of eeriness that create a distinct persona for the band. With five tracks in about eight minutes, it effectively whets the appetite.

Antagonizör DCxPC Live & Dead, Vol. 4 LP

I previously reviewed a cassette from this all-female, politically charged metalpunk trio from Gainesville, Florida—on this tape, we find a live side and a studio recording that repeats all of the same tracks except one. The live section got my attention this time, including interaction with the audience that highlighted catharsis and spilling anger Lemmy’s way. MOTÖRHEAD traces are still there, plus a politically charged ranting with compromised lyrics exuding attitude.

Ballon D’Essai Woot! is the Word LP

Formed in the early ’80s by a group of schoolboys in Christchurch, New Zealand, BALLON D’ESSAI played arty, bricolage post-punk in the style of so many like-minded projects of the era whose enthusiasm and ideas eclipsed what their technical skills could actually replicate: a slightly off-center mix of menacing, FALL-inspired rhythmic tumble, the anxious and moody post-VELVETS moves of Postcard Records, and requisite serrated, bass-forward danceable agitprop. They were actually one of the first handful of bands to ever release a record on Flying Nun, but their modest output (a pair of 12”s released in 1982 and 1983) has largely been lost in the shuffle amidst the Dunedin Sound holy trinity of their labelmates the BATS, the CHILLS, and the CLEAN, while also never really reaching the cult status of some of Flying Nun’s more noisy and experimental acts like the PIN GROUP or the GORDONS—Woot! is the Word cherry-picks tracks from both of the aforementioned EPs and a posthumous cassette comp, doing some minor leveling of BALLON D’ESSAI’s overall hit-to-miss ratio. At their most spiky and serpentine, like on “Armchair Tourist,” “He Who Kills,” “Smash Crash,” and “Artificial Romance,” they really get the most out of their dual-bass lineup, with some of the best faux-Rough Trade Kiwi post-punk this side of THIS SPORTING LIFE, while “Peanut Butter Jar” flips JOSEF K’s taut jangle to the opposite hemisphere, and “War Effort” clatters with a bit of sparse, sing-song UK DIY naivety. Is there any greater pleasure in life than just-inept-enough teenage art-punk?

Bib Biblical EP

Here’s the latest release from long-running Omaha hardcore hippies BIB. In my opinion, a lot of the mid-2010s hardcore punk bands of this ilk tend to have not aged all that well, but I’ve always really liked BIB. This new EP delivers in spades that sound that fans are so acquainted with—the psychedelic tendencies, spitting delay vocals, and dissonant riffage remain intact. If you’re already a fan, you won’t be disappointed by this one, and if you have yet to listen to the band, Biblical is as good a starting off point as any. Thumbs up, jolly well done!

Civilian Civilian demo cassette

Extremely promising demo from this Baltimore outfit, packing earworm riffs, larynx-lacerating vocals, and an intoxicating blend of hardcore sensibilities and some of the Second Empire Justice BLITZ worship so oft-used by nous amis across the channel in France. Really great stuff and cannot wait for more.