Reviews

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!

Skalp Mai Domi cassette

A new band from Milan, of the Sentiero Futuro Autoproduzioni collective and Sistema Mortal tape label scene. SKALP plays plain, simple hardcore, with plenty of dirt, distortion, and guitar screams. When it comes to such rudimental songwriting, all focus shifts to the flow of the music and how it sounds. They have that extra energy which functions as a definite presence, lifting this demo to be easily enjoyable because it is eventful. Occasionally sounding D-beat-ish, it’s fast-paced hardcore with reduced but entertaining (and recognizable) riffs which are better when they become hectic. Grunting, well-placed vocals sounding very mean and aggro, yet the anger is directed and frustrated not mindless.The last three songs are live recordings, and in quality they do not differ radically from studio recordings, creating an instant desire to want to see them live. Sung in Italian, the music is rather reminiscent of Scandinavian brutality or British primitivism, while the guitars do venture around the tape, although never too wildly. It’s dirty, attacking hardcore, with D-beat energy. Hope this is just the beginning because I want to hear more. Many people are able to quickly put together great demos or 7”s, so did SKALP. I wish for more.

Toxic Thrust I Love You / Cenotaph 7″

I love this 45. That’s a pretty fitting reaction if I do say so myself. Two fun little rock’n’roll ditties that sound as if KING KHAN started writing music for the DR. DEMENTO show. There’s a surf/psych-rock element to them as well which gives these tracks a real summer jam kind of vibe. Not much to show in the lyrics department, but sometimes all you need to do is let someone know you love them.

Vivisektio 1985 LP

Back in February, I had the privilege of reviewing VIVISEKTIO’s most recent album. It’s a great record and the band has a really fascinating backstory, which I won’t recount here but is worth checking into if you are even marginally interested in the intersection of Finnish punk and Trivial Pursuit. Listening to this material from the band’s formative period is like hopping into the most radical time machine back to 1985. The recording quality is all tattered edges, but the gold is in the grooves. Raw, raging, rowdy hardcore punk will always transcend fidelity as far as I’m concerned. Here, VIVISEKTIO sounds like a severely damaged KOHU-63 practice tape with any element of harmony extracted and fed to rabid dogs. Noisy, angry, and glorious. The record comes packaged with a full-color booklet that I presume enumerates the band’s historical significance, though I can’t say for sure since it’s mostly in Finnish (except for a reprinted MRR interview from 2015). A hidden gem of gnarly ’80s Scandinavian hardcore!

V/A Vent the Spew, Vol. 2 LP

Looks like a compilation of a number of records (EPs?) from the early ’90s put out by Midwestern label Red Hour Recordings. A lot of the cuts have that spastic, grungy sound from back then. Lots of screaming and nervousness in there. Sixteen cuts in all from CLAY, PET UFO, GUT PISTON, TH’ FLYIN’ SAUCERS, MOODY JACKSON, ECONOTHUGS, MY WHITE BREAD MOM, the HAIRY PATT BAND, and SUCK. Some really good stuff on here, and some that isn’t really memorable. What the hell is that rockabilly cut doing in there?

でぶコーネリアスEx / The Sensations SPLIT’24 split EP

Twenty songs on a split 7”!? Sick! Ten of the songs are contributed by でぶコーネリアスEX, who are certainly the more eclectic of the two bands. Genre-hopping madness with interspersed sound clips that truly defies classification. Obviously the songs are fast and short with many tempo changes, but they aren’t a powerviolence band…even though there is a song with blastbeats. There’s a ska part in one of the tunes, but no one would accuse them of being a ska band. My personal favorite track sounds an awful lot like ASSFORT, but it’s a bit of an anomaly, too. The connective tissue here comes in the form of ripping guitars, and many layers of wildly unhinged vocals. Do they close out their side with a Hawaiian vibe? Why, yes they do. The SENSATIONS are far easier to digest. Like でぶコーネリアスEX, they are hyper-energetic, but the song structures are straightforward and overflowing with poppy hooks. They’re so damn catchy! They have that frantic punk-pop sound nailed down just right. Like a perfect blend of the BANANAS and the BLUE HEARTS. According to the liner notes, this split is the culmination of over twenty years of friendship between the two groups, initiated by meeting at a show at the fabled Nishiogikubo Watts, “a live house where chaos and frenzy swirled every night.” Awesome! Not a single dull moment to be found on this sucker.

7 Inch Boots Tamped Concrete / Walkin’ Through LP

Here’s another cool artifact, this time from Germany’s 7 INCH BOOTS, a hardcore band active in the late ’80s who played a fairly intense take on the style. Included here is their Tamped Concrete EP on the A-side and their Walkin’ Through demo on the B-side, both impressive and showing a band with a unique sound and style. Rather than a speedier, in-your-face thrash, 7 INCH BOOTS opted to play at a slightly slower pace with some proto-powerviolence and metal mixed in. In addition to their heavier style, the band sang about racism and climate change as well as issues with misogyny, most notably on “Law of the Man,” a takedown of the unbalanced power dynamics between a woman and an abusive man. It’s compelling stuff and leaves you with the impression that 7 INCH BOOTS could have (and maybe should have) been bigger than they were.

Added Dimensions Time Suck / Hellbent EP

Following their self-titled cassette from 2022, ADDED DIMENSIONS puts five tracks to wax on this new EP, out on Erika Elizabeth’s Domestic Departure label. This is Sarah Everton’s project (of BLOWDRYER and TELEPATHIC), and she contributes everything from guitars and lyrics to the artwork, with drumming from Rob Garcia. Inside this lovely home-spun record, we find staccato SLEATER-KINNEY-esque guitar riffs with the shambling rhythms of the VASELINES and her very own lyrical grit about modern life, like on the second track “In the System”: “In the system I cannot leave / That’s OK, they know what’s best for me,” sung with a satirical sweetness. This won’t suck, doesn’t take up much of your time, and you might even be hellbent for more!

The Bellrays Ball of Confusion EP

Anchored by Lisa Kekaula’s singularly powerful vocals, the BELLRAYS have been belting out punk/garage/blues for the last three decades. Here they are covering the TEMPTATIONS’ ’70s hit “Ball of Confusion.” The original was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong and echoed the political tensions at the time. The song’s repeating refrain “And the band played on” was used as the title of Randy Shilts’s book about the Reagan administration’s apathy in addressing the AIDS epidemic. Here, the lyrics are refocused on modern times addressing mass shootings, pharma corruption, and venomous political ideologies. Kekaula belts out the message with the backing band sounding Detroit STOOGES and MC5-inspired. The flipside “I Fall Down” is equally as impactful and a stand-alone single in its own right.

Cuntroaches Cuntroaches LP

Berlin’s most ballistic have somehow gone six years without releasing any new shit, and for that matter, this album is CUNTROACHES’ first after various tapes, lathes, splits, etc., but one listen to these eight songs (including two side-end locked grooves for extra noise vegetation) transported me right back to whatever year it was their first tape threw me fully clothed in the stagnant pond with its blackened noise-wave excess. Since 2018, members have also been part of URIN and KLÖSSE, and maybe both of those acts have leached into this music a little, with viciously blown-out dub-punk churn and FX-damaged hardcore. “Gravity System” does it all inside one (albeit five-and-a-half-minute) song: a gloomy, almost ambient intro, frazzled psyching-out that reminds me of that RAKTA/DEAFKIDS live collab LP, and a swerve into LEBENDEN TOTEN weird-crust. CUNTROACHES kill it live in my experience, and so will this set of music.

Desintegración Violenta La Bestia EP

This joint release between Static Shock, Unlawful Assembly, and Roachleg Records finds DESINTEGRACIÓN VIOLENTA playing their hallmark thrash-addled hardcore punk on five tracks. With riffs set to overdrive, a primal rhythm section, and snarling, blown-beyond-belief vocals, it’s hard not to love everything DESINTEGRACIÓN VIOLENTA is doing on this recording. If you like your punk extra noisy, speedy as fuck, and a touch demented, then you’ll definitely want to give this a spin.

G​​​ū​​​tara Kyō / Destroy All Gondolas split EP

Pete Slovenly has been putting out records for over twenty years now, and for whatever reason, he’s decided that it’s high time his label embraced the world’s worst format. That’s right, Slovenly’s first split 7”! Two bands giving you about two-and-a-half minutes apiece. I feel like this format is annoying even digitally, but whatever. First up, we’ve got the Venetian band  DESTROY ALL GONDOLAS with a track called “Death by Hamburger.” Now, you might be tempted, like I was, to assume that this is some bullshit, 2009-style food-themed garage pop. And I hate to have to spoil the reaction you’d have going into this thinking as much, but this is decidedly not that. This is closer to something like RESEARCH REACTOR CORP. mixed with MOTÖRHEAD. And if they’re singing about hamburgers or whatever, you can’t tell, because the vocals are heavily processed and really buried in the mix. It’s absolutely fucked and kind of rips. GŪTARA KYŌ is out of Kobe, Japan, and they’re giving us two tracks that are certainly less full-on than the A-side. Still a pretty rowdy affair. They play super blown-out garage punk, not unlike their compatriots GUITAR WOLF, with more of a noise rock edge, with things even getting a little dancy at points. Reminds me a bit of the pre-A FRAMES band BEND SINISTER. I’m into it! I’ll even admit that the two sides of this record kind of compliment each other nicely. Still, I’d rather have a 7” from each band.

En La Muerte Silencio EP

L.A.’s new blood. EN LA MURETE’s debut EP is nasty and ferocious ’80s-style USHC, similar to WASTED YOUTH, GANG GREEN, or maybe something that should’ve been on the Welcome to Venice compilation or a failed business idea Doug Moody came up with in the late ’80s. Sung both in English and Spanish. Reminds me of the reek of the sewage going through the alley before getting to the backyard gigs of Los Angeles. True punks from the streets of L.A., recommend release.

Failure Face Junction Pizza EP

I am a huge sucker for live punk albums, and this little slab here is a great example as to why. Pure, raw, rock’n’roll chaos, recorded in April of 1995. FAILURE FACE plays a hybrid type of hardcore powerviolence that reminds me a lot of bands like KUNG-FU RICK and AUTHORITY ABUSE. I absolutely adore the crowd interaction throughout the record. It starts off pretty enthusiastic and it begins to dwindle as the show progresses. Very relatable, very endearing, and very real. We’ve all been there! Comes with a neat little two-page autobiographical write-up of the band and the record itself. These recordings were initially ripped from a VHS! Incredible! They sound great. Fantastic 7” here, especially if you’re someone like me who really loves the history of obscure punk scenes of the past.

Glass The Culture of Resistance LP

Pub rockers on a bar crawl stopping at different genres along the way. The guitars hug the band but aren’t especially loud. The record has a lived-in sound, which lets you hear the musicians indulge themselves with otherwise conventional rock arrangements. GLASS spends a lot of time explicitly invoking the musical past, but their own sound, at times understated but compelling and occasionally raucous, would have been enough for me.

Hero Dishonest Flat Society LP

Helsinki’s ever-prolific HERO DISHONEST is back again. This veteran band’s pummeling hardcore punk approach remains intact, complete with politically-charged lyrics and an overarching darkness shadowing their meaty sound. This album is overflowing with angry energy, and these dudes can really rip it up when they want to. Switching between Finnish and English lyrics, the universal language of disgust and frustration comes through loud and clear, especially when the singer forgoes words in favor of straight shrieking. Truth be told, this is as solid of a hardcore record as you’re going to get these days, and if the wordier tracks lose you, simply turn to the fantastic “Brick Wall” for a speedy assault with an unmistakable message.

Ikhras Jahanam Btistana cassette

Brighton and London anti-colonial hardcore debut that features vocals in a mix of Arabic and English, versing on resistance against illegal military occupations and Western exploitation through militarism dominance over other countries. Aggressive, impatient, blunt-force, overwhelming, and filled with a political message against ignorance, as in the track “El Nahr”: “For long as people are occupied / Resistance is justified.” Recommended and vitally current.

Little Girls Valley Songs CD

Sugary, female-fronted power pop—this oozes bubblegum and has my name written all over it. Honestly, some people might even be embarrassed to admit to liking it. Not me. This is catchy, fun goodness. Because this is both a reissue and a historical look back at L.A. in the ’80s, they get a pass for including 26 songs. Comparisons to the GO-GO’S are too obvious to ignore. There are some real gems here.

Nasty Nancy Hardcore Hotel cassette

Pittsburgh, PA’s gift to hardcore punk, Kill Enemy Records, blesses us with yet another disturbing cassette chock full of nasty, unrelenting hardcore. It seems NASTY NANCY is the solo project and brainchild of Devyn Brown, who is the drummer from LIVING WORLD. The recordings are entirely done by Devyn, but apparently he has a backing band playing with him to perform these monstrosities live. This is absolute outsider music, hardcore for the damn freaks. Put this high up on my list of bands I am dying to see!

Orreaga 778 Live and Loud!! 2xLP

A live(!) double LP(!!) (from Euskaran herberts ORREAGA 778 here, which with an eye-watering twenty-track length(!!!), is presumably the gift no one actually asked for. My natural resilience to live recordings aside (THIN LIZZY obviously the exception that proves the rule), it is, in spite of itself, a lot of fun, spanning their near two decades of existence. It’s mixed surprisingly well, although perhaps I would have enjoyed it sounding more like it was recorded in a bin. Probably not one for anyone but mega-fans and completists, though.

Pi$$er Too Busy Eating Gruel LP

Wow, I didn’t know what to expect here, and this album completely blew me away. What starts off like a THROBBING GRISTLE record soon kicks into what I can only describe as ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT on steroids. PI$$ER doesn’t remain married to that sound, and they bounce between early industrial, DEVO-like new wave, and a surprising amount of soundscapes for a punk LP. The production flows together beautifully, and there is nary a second of dead air. A very well-crafted concept album that never once feels boring or hastily manufactured. Featuring members of DOOM and SORE THROAT, if you can believe it. Fantastic stuff here, and well worth tracking down!

Public Acid Deadly Struggle LP

PUBLIC ACID self-released a demo, a flexi, and even a mini-LP prior to their recent 7” which came out at Beach Impediment. Condemnation was so good—paired with their crushing live sets, it gave them momentum. Then La Vida Es Un Mus re-released their 12” four years after it initially came out, because it was so good that it needed another chance to reach attention. This proves that good music does not disappear; it might need some time for recognition, but it is worth sticking around (and self-releasing does not diminish the quality of your records). After Condemnation, they recruited a second guitar player, which triggered anticipation for a record to come out. It has arrived, and it destroys. It’s great because its energy and constant urgency elevate the record, even when they go into palm-muted death metal riffing territory. Do not worry! It’s chaotic and heavy, as a hardcore sort of meta, but it’s rather the extra feature of the record which is an ultra-tight, totally blasting riff overdose. Both the tempo and the wall-of-sound effect recalls ANTI-CIMEX but double the speed, amount, and density of those riffs, with tons of sweet distorted and screaming licks. Not in style but in the overwhelming energy of the record’s sound, they recall KRIEGSH​Ö​G’s LP or IMPALERS’ Cellar Dweller. No mercy, just a constant buzzing stream of hardcore. They are clever with stops and twists, it’s not gimmicky and maintains the intensity. The sound is huge, everything can be heard but all the layers together give a great chaos. This chaos is a mix of meticulous songwriting that mirrors the love of hardcore, the obsession with noise and sick riffs, and playing as fucking hard as you can, and when you think something is brutal, then pushing it a bit further to be even more brutal. It’s one of those records that makes me want to run down to rehearsal—while I am excited to do my own thing, I can listen to this because this is for the listeners. I wish the members of PUBLIC ACID could enjoy this just as much as I do, because I’m sure it’s entertaining to perform these songs, but it’s so much fun to hear them, too. The cover looks like this was a bootleg of a basement demo death metal or powerviolence band, but the music transforms it, because it’s such an amazing record. 

Rövsvett Den Stora Brakfesten CD

I have never been a sucker for live records. I can understand the relevance of releasing live recordings from ’80s bands since many then did not have the opportunity (or did not care) to do proper studio recordings but were excellent live, so a live LP somewhat makes up for this absence—ANTISECT is the perfect example here, without mentioning dozens of punk bands outside of the First World who often could not afford to record in a studio. Contemporary live albums are, however, something of a rarity, and the pressure is definitely on for the band because while you can work some magic in the studio thanks to modern technology, on stage you are basically naked, there’s no way out, and your mistakes will be there for all to listen to for eternity. It is like removing the filters on your selfies. RÖVSVETT has always been a band that I was familiar with but that I didn’t know well (their discography is significant), although I am aware that they have dedicated fans. This was recorded for the fortieth(!) anniversary of the band in July 2023, and this massive, impressive achievement must be saluted. How many hardcore punk bands can claim to be 40 years old; to have survived four decades? This is a GAUZE-level success. To me, RÖVSVETT was always that band that was Swedish but did not really sound like your typical ’80s käng band, although they certainly were raw and really fast in the ’80s which confers them something of a cult status. This album will absolutely delight and even move those who are already fans and know the band’s classics, and it is a decent listen if you’re just a casual RÖVSVETT listener like myself, but I would not recommend it as an introduction to the band.

Skam No Name LP

Who doesn’t love a lost punk album from the ’80s? Check this one out: SKAM was a short-lived band from DC-area Virginia whose members were high schoolers, coming up right in the thick of one of the most fabled scenes in the history of the genre. After finishing up their math homework, these kids could bike down the street and catch SCREAM, FAITH, MINOR THREAT…what a time to be a pimply-faced teen. The songs captured on No Name were recorded between 1982–1983. Despite the era, geography, and what you may be expecting, SKAM was not a hardcore band. Rather, they seemed to be far more influenced by first-wave British punk like the CLASH and SEX PISTOLS, with clear nods to stateside bands like the DEAD BOYS and the STOOGES (this release includes a cover of “Search and Destroy”). I’d venture to guess that these lads discovered punk rock from the decade prior, before encountering the brilliant manifestation happening in their own backyard. That said, they do sound a bit like BLACK MARKET BABY, which I can’t imagine is a coincidence. Overall, I’m reminded most of Chicago teen punk favs EPICYCLE. So, if you’re looking for a lost gem of DC hardcore, this isn’t that (though one of the members did go on to be in NO TREND), but it is a solid batch of melodic ’77-style punk nonetheless. The title cut is a standout, bringing to mind the ZEROS. There are seventeen tracks in total, including four songs recorded live at their high school talent show. How rad is that?

Sosial Ilegal Never Surrender cassette

Indonesia’s DIY collective SOSIAL ILEGAL’s latest release is on the melodic side of D-beat/crust, reminiscent of Japan’s RESULT, MUGA, or early ENVY. Honest lyrics about the real life struggles that the aforementioned bands even might have lacked the ability to deliver. More D-beat/crust bands probably should take note of this.

Thirsty Giants Thirst and Misery CD

Seven-song EP from this Minnesota garage punk band that was a drag to get through. The songs vary from rudimentary three-chord hardcore to crawling, lo-fi slow-mo punk, but none of it really sticks. The vocalist uses a snotty affect, delivering lyrics that court shock value but come across as juvenile. It really seems like a younger brother’s punk band. Take “Butthole Skater” for example—through thick flange amid a distorted bass solo, we get the lines, “I ain’t no surfer, I said it before / But I wanna skate the dunes of a whore / I just can’t skate for shit / I wiped out and got an abortion / I’m a butthole skater.” Yeah, okay. If you want skate rock, it has been done better. If you want shocking, it has been done better. If you are twelve years old and need an entry into punk rock, try something else.

Wireheads Potentially Venus LP

I’d somehow gotten the impression that this was a new band, but nope! Turns out this Adelaide sextet has been at it since the early 2010s, and this is their fifth LP! How about that? I guess that explains why they sound like they know their way around a song. In any event, you can file this record alongside your LPs by bands TERRY, UV RACE, PRIMO!, etc. WIREHEADS play a distinctly Australian brand of garage-y post-punk, heavily influenced by the VELVET UNDERGROUND, but also a little twee. Unlike those acts, these folks tend to go on more indie rock-ish digressions, at times getting closer to MODEST MOUSE or BUILT TO SPILL territory. But I think the thing that will stand out to most folks is the band’s technically poetic lyrics. The vocalist delivers them in a sprung rhythm full of alliteration, half-rhymes, full rhymes—basically all of the poetic devices—sounding like a mix of Gerard Manley Hopkins, Mark E. Smith, and the dude from SLEAFORD MODS. It’s genuinely impressive and, at times, like in the first handful of tracks, tremendously satisfying. But over the course of eleven tracks and forty minutes, it can also feel tediously clever. Overall, I’d say it’s worth your time—there really are some fantastic songs on here.

Zdrajca Zdrajca CD

If you think that pronouncing the name of this band properly would prove difficult, just be aware that they are from Szczecin, a town that is notorious for being both the mighty WŁOCHATY’s hometown and a nightmarish word to read aloud. ZDRAJCA (meaning “traitor”) was unknown to me, and this first album was released on the well-established and respected label Pasażer. The band is clearly influenced by ’90s hardcore and, if the recipe is classic, you can hear a lot of variations, articulations, and details that are typical of that decade, back when punks strove to expand hardcore’s songwriting. While I am not a massive fan of that type of sound (overall, ZDRACJA is clearly influenced by heavy USHC), I have to say that it is a powerful and mean hardcore album with hard-hitting, aggressive sing-along choruses, but the band still manages to offer hooks and interesting changes of pace in order to bring something more narrative, versatile, and darker to the story they are telling. In fact, I enjoyed listening to the album, as it is just the right length for the style and all the songs have been carefully thought out (the Polish language also adding some additional intensity). Not a work I would buy for myself, but definitely a band I would expect to be devastating live. And by the way, I almost forgot to mention: I can actually pronounce “Szczecin.”

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

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

Better Plastic Mint Condition EP

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

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

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

City Skyline Jarocin ’88 LP reissue

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

The Defnics 51% / Hello From Berlin 7″ reissue

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

False Tracks Hymn for Terror cassette

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

Fuerza Bruta Contra 12″

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

Gentilesky Ways of Seeing LP

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

Güeros Darker Days Ahead CD

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

Hard & Cheap Seven Civilized Inches EP

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

La Aferra Program 2xLP

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

The Losers Storm the Beach cassette

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

Maldito Mundo Maldito Mundo demo cassette

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

Não Não demo cassette

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

Part Time Filth Full Time Filth EP

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

Pet Mosquito Overalls EP

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

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

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

Rejestracja Darmowe Wczasy LP reissue

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

Saviour Complex Chance Your Arm LP

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

Sexpill In Dust We Trust LP

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

Tiger Helicide Desensitized CD

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

Ultras Ultras II EP

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

Vole Slibuji Za Všechny LP

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