ΦΑΛΚΟΝΕΡΑ – S/T EP
And now for something a little different—keyboard-driven punk rock from Greece. Not really ‘60s garage influenced, it’s much too aggressive and played at too quick a clip for that sorta thing. In some ways, it reminds me a bit of the stuff that swirled around San Francisco in the late ‘90s early ‘00s—like they don’t sound like the SUBTONIX but you could definitely see them sharing the same stage. Dancy, catchy and super fun—though from the cover I was expecting heavy crust.
ADDERALL – VS Big Pharma EP
Jangly, angly guitars backed up to reverb-soaked snarling and unintelligible (in a good way) vocals—it creates an overarching creepy vibe that I really enjoy. The lo-fi production hints at mid ‘90s Rip-Off Records vibe, but only if that shit wasn’t a bunch dudes dressed like they were extras in the Brady Bunch. The guitar work at times reminds me of East Bay Ray’s spookier work—if the DEAD KENNEDYS were fronted by the guy from UNITED MUTATION, but on acid. Well, more acid.
ANDROID – Chapter 001 EP
Noisey, chaotic hardcore punk from Orlando, Florida–I could do with out the nearly two minute long Confustion Is Sex-esque soundscape which serves an intro, they launch into a clamorous full charge attack of burly hardcore punk. Its so killer to hear more beautifully raw blasts arising out of the sunshine state–you like PROTOCOL or ARMOR? You’ll dig this.
THE ANNIHILATED – Demo CS
Ugly music for ugly people—simple, barebones and pissed as fuck hardcore for people who think the NEGATIVE APPROACH LP is a little too metal. No d-beat, no metal just six detonations of throat punching fury straight out of London. Perfect in every way.
ANTAGONIZE – Slip Death LP
I don’t know exactly what it is, but there’s so much about this that reminds me of Seattle’s UNDERTOW (that’s a good thing). I’m really feeling the vocals on this—especially when paired with the monstrous guitar attack and drums that punch along at a rapid clip until crashing into breakdown’s that certain to inspire a legion of clean-cut hawdkaw dudes to start two-stepping like they’re in a line-dancing competition at Bob’s Country Bunker. Sure, there are a lot of clichés on this record, but hardcore is filled with clichés, and when motherfuckers do it right, it’s more than worth it.
ANTIMOB – II LP
One of the best things about writing about all these records for this issue is hearing bands like this for the first time. Hailing from Athens, Greece, ANTIMOB play an absolutely brilliant, intense, melodic version of hardcore punk with energy just cranked to one million. From minute one, my jaw was on the floor. Think a better produced ADRENALIN OD or early RKL—this just cooks.
ANTIMOB – 2019 EP
Two more brilliant tracks from this Greek band continuing in the same vein as their recent LP—they are more than worth your time, so by all means, sit up and take notice.
APOCALYPSE TRIBE – Ai Mageddon LP
Straight-forward hardcore punk with a slight crossover edge a la IRON REAGAN or Technocracy-era COC complete with lyrics about a dystopian future straight out of a Phillip K Dick book. Did I mention this is Karl from EARTH CRISIS’ project? To them that know me, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I prefer this to the stomping slow jams of Syracuse’s finest tofu eaters, but what surprised me is just how much I enjoyed this.
ARMOR – Some Kind of War EP
Primitive hardcore punk from Tallahassee, FL—straightforward, primal and to the fucking point. No fucking around—just ripping discharges of ear-splattering, face stomping destruction. For the babies, think BOSTON STRANGLER, for the geriatrics think NEGATIVE FX.
AXERASH – S/T LP
Rapid-fire hardcore from Sweden—it’s a vicious and blister-inducing journey through eleven tracks which just cook. Twisting, turning riffs that give off a feeling like watching Steve McQueen tear through San Francisco in Bullitt, pausing occasionally to catch its breath then it’s back to the races. Less classically Swedish and more American sounding, I’m still kicking myself for getting sick and missing out on their recent US tour. Top shelf stuff.
BATO – Ravages of Time EP
Excellent, full-speed-ahead hardcore from Virginia Beach—great hook-driven riffs and enough rocking breakdowns to allow you to take a break from all the thrashing now and then. This reminds me a lot of DEAD NATION. Great debut EP.
BATTLE ROYALE – Way Of The Derelict LP
Eighteen fast and catchy songs in around twenty-six minutes—its pretty solid meat and potatoes American hardcore punk through a slight UK82 filter. Put another way, this reminds me a lot of the sorta stuff Punkcore (A GLOBAL THREAT, VIRUS, etc) and Hellcat (UNION 13, F-MINUS) were putting out in the early to mid-00s.
BATTLE RUINS – IV.XII.MMXIX CS
Epic beyond epic street punk. By now you should be familiar with this band, and I highly recommend you Google their song “Glorious Dead Lay Under Waves,” down a pint of navy proof rum and light your face on fire while vanquishing your foes. This band takes the best, most gloriously cartoonish aspects of Oi and MANOWAR (seriously), honing them into this impossibly perfect band. At time I can’t even fathom how they are able to write such perfect hooks, and the melody lines… the only US band that can threaten THE TEMPLARS to their right to the Crown of Joe Hawkins. Epic beyond epic—I can’t even deal with how insanely good the song “Hell’s Raiders” is—you can just see the oncoming onslaught, sabers glinting in the morning sun…
BERNICHE – 4 Canciones De Mierda EP
Beyond inept, lo-fi punk rock from Spain. This feels a lot like something you’d find on a comp tape you’d order from Kill Rock Stars in the early 90s or a mix tape your BEAT HAPPENNING and DANIEL JOHNSTON obsessed friend would make you. The first two tracks give off a bit of a VULPESS vibe, but the other two more indie-rockers I could probably do without.
BETTER REALITY – I Like Punk Life EP
The counter argument to PHYSIQUE’s assertation that “Punk Life is Shit,” perhaps? I’d bet they’d all get along despite this difference—for their part, BETTER REALITY cranks out six tracks of beautifully inept hardcore that hints at a taste for CHAOS UK and DISORDER. You can almost taste the cider and smell the faint odor of bags soaked in solvents, ready for a quality night of chaos.
BIG CHEESE – Punishment Park LP
While I feel like their LP on Painkiller (Don’t Forget To Tell The World) had more of BREAKDOWN vibe, I’m seeing hella CRO-MAGS worship going on here and I ain’t mad at it. From the riffs to the vocalizations to the drumming—its like Bloodclot, Harley, Mackie and Paris had a love child. I’m not talking post Age of Quarrel CRO-MAGS, and I might just be talking demo era because this is got that same flouncing strut that’s present on the ’84 demo courtesy of its rawer recording.
BLEAKNESS – Functionally Extinct LP
Moody and heavy darkwave from France—there is a heavy KILLING JOKE vibe here, but more punk. It’s a powerful, driving, beautifully morose record blending goth and punk—there’s an intense feeling of yearning in the vocal delivery which makes this even more effective.
BLIND EYE – S/T CS
Seven tracks of rough and tumble punk rock from the UK—musically it reminds a lot of late 90s Oakland punx BLACK FORK in how it proceeds in a quick but rock inflected clip guaranteed to induce a packed house show into a sweaty, raucous mess. I’m definitely into this.
BLOOD TRACE – S/T CS
More quality hardcore punk from Greece—raspy throated vocals over quick-paced jams reminding me a smidge of early VARUKERS. A good first effort—hope we see more!
BLUEPRINT – Here to Please CS
There’s something about this band from the city of brotherly hate which reminds me a bit of early SLAPSHOT in a bubble bath with VOORHEES. Solid boots’n’braces aggro through an American hardcore filter, with a guitar player who has a whammy bar providing a solid foundation for a vocalist’s bark that hints at the early efforts of Mr. Kelly, albeit a little snottier. Good stuff.
BODY FARM – S/T EP
Seven track EP of quick paced bordering on power-violence style hardcore from Central Ohio. Reverb soaked female vocals lashing out against sexual violence, sexism and more–a great debut and one where it comes with a lyric sheet for a reason.
BOMBARDEMENT – S/T LP
Mid-paced, d-beat fueled, DISCHARGE inspired French hardcore. Meat and potatoes, stick to your ribs, (insert other idiom here) hardcore in one of the most classic styles. This is incredibly well executed and I’m certain that if I saw them live I’d be raving about how good they are, but not a lot of new ground is broken here—which begs the question, does one really want much deviation from the form in this style?
BRANDY – Clown Pain EP
A scuzzy sonic drag of reverb-soaked garage punk. A bit of early JESUS & MARY CHAIN mixed with THE HUNCHES—lotsa distortion and drugs. It’s an interesting taste of this band for sure—if you are a fan of the stuff In The Red releases this is one to watch.
BRUX – Anti-You CS
Brutish Catalan Oi—despite the rather thin production this comes off incredibly tough a la those early BRUISERS EPs. You know the drill—songs about fighting, general lawlessness, drinking, etc. It’s great.
CANDY – Super-Stare EP
There is so much about CANDY that reminds me of Humanity is the Devil & Systems Overload era INTEGRITY—it’s heavy, metallic hardcore with a foot planted in punk, but another in a five-gallon drum of LSD. Don’t like INTEGRITY? Maybe you enjoy Japanese jams like SOCIETIC DEATH SLAUGHTER? Just a crushing cacophony of heavy riffs, swirling solos, blasting drums—it’s a beautiful aural assault. A great taste of what is to come from this band.
CELDA – Demo CS
You know, it’s a travesty how punks in the US barely pay attention to what goes in their neighbors to the South. I’m including myself in this judgment—we end up missing so many great bands and potential friends! CELDA is from Mexico City and play a style of aggressive hardcore punk that would fit in well with a lot of the modern Los Angeles bands—TOZCOS, BLAZING EYE, FUGA, etc. It’s got a raw and noisy edge that just barely hides their catchy riffs and solid breakdowns.
CEMENT SHOES – Too LP
Demented and twisted hardcore punk that loves BLACK FLAG as much the ALICE COOPER BAND. A snotty, manic, acid-soaked vision of your punk rock future—one-part noodling psych and one-part background music for fist magnet convention. Unsettled, beautiful weirdo jams and I love it.
CESSPOOL – We Hide Among You EP
Oh København, so much to answer for… straightforward, high energy hardcore P-U-N-K. This ain’t no FRITES MODERN and it’s too POISON IDEA-by-way-of-MÖTÖRHEAD to fit in with that early ‘00s Kick’n’Punch style—there’s a delightful beefy muscularity to this which makes me think they’d fit in with the vibe of RIVAL MOB or DEAD STOP, even if they don’t sound exactly like them. Great debut, now do more…
CHAIN CULT – Shallow Grave LP
Oh the kids and their chorus pedals… when I was 12-years old, there was a goth girl named Kim who I rode the bus to school with, she smelled of clove ciggies and CHRISTIAN DEATH albums. She was the first person to play me BLITZ’s Second Empire Justice (which I heard BEFORE Voice of Generation, imagine my surprise and confusion). Anyway, if I had a time machine and could go back 33 years (oh my god, kill me please) and play this for her, she would LOVE it—bonus, she might have finally thought I was cool and not annoying. I’m still annoying but this record is not—perfectly executed dark wave punk that doesn’t drag nor drift too far into annoying new wave tendencies. There is a great melodic sensibility about this while not drifting away from being assertive in its attack—like if there was an alternate universe where NEW MODEL ARMY records weren’t overproduced and sonically, bland instead retaining a sense of rawness which adding to their urgency.
CHAINED BLISS – Stained Red Promo CS
This is outstanding dark garage punk that echoes of Portland heroes OBSERVERS. It is tuneful diving punk rock that maintains a moody edge with guitar work—at times hinting at the styling of THE WIPERS’ Greg Sage. This is a really cool thing to stumble across.
CHOICE TO MAKE – Vicious Existence EP
Modern production aside, this sounds like an outtake from the New Breed tape comp NYHC legends Freddy Alva & Chaka put together—its still got speed but spends more time grooving than thrashing. There’s a lot about this that indicates they’ve spent a lot time listening to OUTBURST, or bands that spent some quality time with OUTBURST and there’s nothing wrong with that.
CHUBBY & THE GANG – All Along The Uxbridge Road EP
A pleasant, infectious English pub rocker—you can almost see a bunch of pissed up geezers looking like late ‘60s, skinhead era SLADE impersonators spilling pints of Guinness and doing some sort of moonstomping dance of death in celebration of their local football club clenching defeat from the jaws of victory (or maybe it’s the other way ‘round). Totally killer release.
CHUBBY & THE GANG – Speed Kills LP
Absolutely brilliant–probably one of the most exciting things I’ve heard in ages There’s so much of this that reminds me of those late 70s UK punk bands like RIFF RAFF or the KILLJOYS–tons of snot, energy, sass and melodies that l could see leading to raucous, beer soaked evenning of smashing up the club. Brilliant.
CHROME SKULLS – Metal Skull EP
There is something here that makes me think of THE ABUSED—its not as desperate or unhinged and certainly pays more homage to the throne of d-beat than the legends of the A7, but still… something about the vocal delivery and the production maybe? Thick d-beat hardcore attack.
COCHONNE – S/T CS
Jangly, angular lo-fi punk rock that hints at many nights flipping KLEENAX and ERASE ERRATA records while plotting burning the banks and smashing patriarchy.
COGOTAZO – Demo CS
Do you remember the first time you heard City Baby Attacked by Rats? No, this doesn’t sound exactly like GBH, but man you can just feel Colin’s ghost twisting the nobs of inspiration all over these Spaniard’s brains—I know Colin isn’t dead but just go with it. Anyway, a heavy UK82, studs-and-spikes influence permeates. It’s punchy, tuneful, and really assertive in its attack—great early hint of what may come.
COMMANDO – Les Genoux Écorchés LP
More great French punk done up in the classic style—catchy songs with plenty of oompf backing up an urgent vocal approach. A bit garagey with a hint of oi in its approach—this simmers in your eardrums and infects them with mountains of hooks—a great listen.
COMMON WAR – Speak of the Devil 12”
Stomping, dissonant, metallic hardcore out of Southern California—it’s heavy yet moody with restive pauses that go on just long enough for you to catch your breathe before it comes pounding through your ear drums again. Younger folx who are fans of sa CULT LEADER would probably find something here to enjoy—the same could be said for gray hairs who find comfort in their worn copy of CAVE IN’s Until Your Heart Stops.
COMPANIES OF REJECTED UNION – S/T CS
Mid-paced, dissonant, and morose – albeit melodic – punk tinged with a slight darkwave ambiance overlaying the whole distortion-soaked experience from these Malaysian rockers. This is certainly a grower of a release—early takes were sorta ‘uh ok’, but multiple spins unveil that there are a lot of interesting hooks and other bits going on here.
CRONANDER – Trapped LP
Sometimes I’m truly baffled about certain releases that just slip through the cracks a bit—like this record. Hailing from the Bay Area (I think Oakland but not 100%), CRONANDER play a melodious and tuneful version of hardcore filled with complicated riffing that owes a bit to the brain of Rikk Agnew (think DI, think Adolescents, think All By Myself). Gruff yet snotty vocals lashing out at consumerism, Trumpism, and government surveillance. Get into it.
CRUSTY – Las Grabaciones De Pablo Rata CS
Primitive, chainsaw hardcore from Spain—it is slightly inept in the best way possible. Think HHH meets WRETCHED meets EU’S ARSE—a classic, intense and urgent approach, despite sounding a little like it was recorded on a boom box. I love this sorta noise-not-music approach, though there is a definite sense of song structure here that makes you sit up and take notice.
DARK THOUGHTS – Do You Dream EP
I’m such a sucker for unashamed pop that is clearly punk, and this fits the bill perfectly. This is unbelievably good—remember when Ben Weasel wasn’t a total douche, but instead was a snarky dude that wrote impeccably crafted, melody-soaked hits inspired by all the same stuff the RAMONES ate up? This is that—but modern and better! I just want to play this over and over at maximum volume. Outstanding.
DARK THOUGHTS – Must Be Nice LP
Is DARK THOUGHTS the best punk band in America? Probably. Not like punk like studs-n-spikes or pogo ‘til you puke but like P-U-N-K, r-r-r-r-r-ightah!? Look, do you like the RAMONES first four records? Do you like the MARKED MEN? Were you there when Paddy from DILLINGER FOUR shoved something up his ass? Do you like sweating with your friends in a packed basement/warehouse/living room while some band croons about love lost, anger, misery, and joy all in the same song? That’s P-U-N-K. Look, at the end of the day we’re all trying to our best to mimic what SISTER ROSETTA THARPE already did better than all of us but… god damn is this is close… a perfect record.
DEATH RIDGE BOYS – (Don’t Let Them) Divide Us EP
Two more blasts of powerful street punk from these Portland punx—the A-side is more of a mid-paced SHAM 69-style stomper while the flip cranks up the pace for their paean to the working class. Like all their releases, I love it.
DEATH RIDGE BOYS – Fooled Again EP
Fist-pumping, put-the-boot-in, decidedly left-wing street punk that harkens more to the sounds of ANGELIC UPSTARTS in a blender with THE BRUISERS than a band with former members of TALK IS POISON, PRESSING ON and TRAGEDY would lead you to believe. Then again, if you liked CRIMINAL DAMAGE, this would probably tickle your booty.
DÈCHE – Le Luxure En Vain LP
Excellent, snotty, sloppy pogo til you puke style punk rock from the city that birthed it, Cleveland. Its fast without being frantic, sloppy without being a carcrash–its a terrifically fun record. Female vocals in French from the city where the Twinkie juice still flows throw pipes in a bookstore. Oh, and for the fanboys, yes that’s Wedge from NINE SHOCKS TERROR/H100s/INMATES on the drums.
DEFORMATION – S/T LP
Don’t get me wrong, I love me some d-beat. I love the thought of a sea of studded and charged black leather clad miscreants casting forth fists in the air and raging against the system, etc. The problem I have is that so often people half-ass it, rather than taking the simplistic off-kilter drumming style the BUZZCOCKS (ahem) developed and injecting it with a sense of urgency and passion. It’s become just a plodding, boring formula and I find myself staring into my mezcal just wondering where it all went wrong. Copenhagen’s DEFORMATION suffer not from this fate—everything is done right on this record. Blazing riffs, vocals splattered about with a sense of urgency, and drumming that just hammers home the point—all glazed in a vital ooze of distortion.
DENNIS – The Enthusiast LP
Listening to this is like listening to an alternate reality where Darby Crash didn’t die but instead stepped into a time machine, ending up in 2019. Its sloppy, snot soaked punk rock that really, really sounds like the GERMS reborn. I’ll take it.
DIVISION OF MIND – S/T LP
Dense metallic and sludgey hardcore with the occasional blasts of speed to mix it up—there’s something here which reminds me of INTEGRITY’s Seasons In The Size Of Days in the interplay of weird sonic experimentalism and the thuggish soundtrack of some dude just beating the shit out of you in the pit. Put another way, you might think of the chugging outro of their song “Derealize” as just another metronomic means to getting your nose broken but then, when you consider the awkward, molasses soaked pace it proceeds at it almost hints at GODFLESH screaming something about breeding like rats… get it? I’m not gonna lie and say I don’t wish it were faster, I wish everything was faster, but there’s some really interesting things going on here which bodes well for their future…
DOCTRINA – Alimentar Su Final LP
Melodic punk rock from Spain that reminds me bit of Finland’s MANIFESTO JUKEBOX. It’s catchy, energetic and quick-paced, with an emphasis on injecting a bit of melancholy into their pop sensibilities. A lot of cool guitar work that helps to drive the point home.
DROPDEAD – Demo 2019
DROPDEAD has existed for THIRTY FUCKING YEARS. Just take that in for a moment—no slowing down, still remaining vital, still staying true to what they’ve always been despite fucking assholes still not getting it. This is just a taste of their new LP, which should probably be out early next year, and it remains just as powerful—raw, blasts of angry punk that transitions from gnarly 200mph maelstroms to more midtempo riffing and back again.
DUPLO – Dor Dor Dor, BB. EP
Darkwave? Post-punk? Dance goth? I dunno what the kids call it these days. I do know it’s really good—it’s unsettled and spooky sounding and definitely brings to mind the vision of a room filled with black-clad vampires grooving. There is an Only Theatre of Pain feel to this, though it is infinitely more danceable. Fans of BLU ANXXIETY, CRUZ DE NAVAS or the Spanish band SECT should take note.
EDUCATION – Culture LP
Spooky and raw post-punk from Italy. It’s interesting to see this style pop up and flourish over the last few years—somehow managing to retain an aggressive and demonstrably punk edge unlike their ‘80s forbearers. Maybe it is all in the production? It certainly adds power to the presentation. This reminds me a lot of FALSE FIGURE or THE WRAITH—powerful deathrock/darkwave which succeeds where so many before have failed.
ELECTRIC CHAIR – Performative Justice EP
Frantic hardcore punk in the classic American style—no frills, some thrills, but really just a healthy serving of fury. The recording is remarkably clean without being polished. Not as fast or crazy as KORO, but that’s the form they’re borrowing heavily from, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that.
EULOGY – Not The One EP
Crunchy, stomping, mid-tempo SoCal hardcore that reminds me One Voice– era STRIFE or maybe a little of BANE, the earlier years. Super clean production with tons of metallic frills certain to bring forth a bit of ye olde caveman stomp.
EXTENDED HELL – Mortal Wound LP
New York hardcore band that actually plays hardcore, what a novel concept! This rips from start to finish, with buzzsaw guitars, plenty of hooks, breakdowns, raspy vocals, energy through the roof, and fucking riffs for days. This ain’t no retro party—sounding totally mature and modern without losing an ounce of intensity. If you like WARTHOG or IMPALERS and you aren’t fucking with this, you are fucking up.
FALSE ACT – Extended Memory CS
Reverb and flange-soaked jams from Poland. This flips between a lo-fi modern darkwave sound a la ARTIC FLOWERS to something more akin to the garage inflected spooky punk of the VANISHING or LOST SOUNDS. There’s definitely a bit JAY REATARD sprinkled into this, both musically and in the vocal delivery. Certainly one to watch…
FINAL – Sentido Común Hegemónico Siglo XXI EP
Moody and intense music reflecting frustrations surrounding injustices of national borders, corruption, and the general casualties of life in a city surrounded by violence. A slight departure from their prior LP, Obsolescencia Humana, as some of the more driving and straight-forward pogo punk influences have been replaced with a feeling of WIPERS-esque melancholy and bitterness—there is still an overarching sense of anger which reveals itself in tracks like “Autoridad.” A really great release from these Colombians—hope they can make it to the USA some day.
FAIRYTALE – Two-Track Tour Flexi
I missed FAIRYTALE when they rolled through Richmond and I have to say I regret that mistake because if this flexi is any indicator they were outstanding—rumbley tumbley, noisey, raw-punk of the d-beat varietal with a vocalist that sounds like they transported Amy from NAUSEA straight from 1988. I won’t make the mistake of missing them again, that’s for sure.
FATAL STATE – Estado Fatal LP
Impassioned, quick paced, and explicitly political hardcore punk from Portland, OR. Intricate music that skips past the current d-beat crust/political punk trend and instead takes influence from a lot of ‘90s styles—think ANTIPRODUCT, think WITCHHUNT, think KILL THE MAN WHO QUESTIONS. It’s fast, dual vocal, intricate hardcore punk that is a refreshing departure from a lot of what comes across my desk these days.
FIREWALKER – The Roll Call EP
Stomping Boston hardcore from one of my favorite cookie monster fronted bands—snarling moshy and filled with aggro. If we’re out there looking for comparisons, this is definitely more in the tradition of Sudden Death Overtime rather than Get It Away, as far as Boston hardcore goes.
FLUSH!! – Change With a Shout LP
High-energy hardcore with a youth crew bent from South Korea—eleven tracks that just blast full-speed-ahead before busting to mosh-inducing breakdowns. A solid ripper of straight edge hardcore.
FORESEEN – Infiltrator EP
Two tracks of rampaging, metallic, crossover thrash from Finland—this is one of those bands that I’m convinced if they were from the US they’d be massive, along the same lines as POWER TRIP because they pack the same sort of wallop.
FRECUENCIA DE MUERTE – Death Frequency LP
Charging, riff-laden hardcore from Portland—Brad Boatright (FROM ASHES RISE, etc) remains a certified guitar hero constructing intricate layers of rock ‘n’ roll mayhem over a pummeling DISCHARGE-by-way-of-MOTORHEAD assault. There’s a bit of this which reminds me of some of the early FORWARD and PAINTBOX records in how it incorporates traditional rock stylings without losing its aggressive punk edge.
FUCK IT… I QUIT – The War Ritual LP
Brutal short blasts of primal hardcore in the most classic sense of the word. I’ve heard a few people try to paint this as crust but would you call Victim in Pain a crust record? HEART ATTACK’s Keep Your Distance a crust record? This is just pure simple pissed as fuck hardcore with lyrics around animal rights, corporate power and related ills of the world.
FUTURE TERROR – S/T LP
Sizzling, reverb soaked, mid-paced crusty hardcore, ferocious in its howling gut punch delivery. There is an almost robotic syncopation in the delivery that hints at the glory of UK crust lords CRESS, but then kicking into gear for a more straightforward d-beat onslaught. Could FUTURE TERROR in some way be what it would sound like if you played both sides of the CRESS/DOOM 10” at the same time? Maybe—I want more of this, please.
FVROREM – Bound by Routine EP
Seven tracks of Texas hardcore punk with an 80s USHC vibe—sonically its got slight SICK PLEASURE feel to it though I’m not finding any lyrics about doing speed or killing transit employees.
GENOGEIST – S/T LP
Beautifully filthy stenchcore style crust from Portland, OR—cookie monster vocals, heavy, metallic riffs played at mid-tempo pace painting a picture of a ghoulish world straight out of mankind’s worst science fiction dreams. Fellow travellers to the likes of SKAVEN, HELLKRUSHER, STORMCROW and the like, I can see them spreading their disease to a throbbing mass of black clad warriors—in the words of the poet, E-40, “Shake them dreads…”
GOING AWAY PARTY – Demo CS
New Wave vs The Truth—the age old battle continues! Tuneful, flange soaked, darkwave punk rock from France with feminine vocals. In many ways this reminds me of THE EPOXIES in a knife fight with KIM WILDE while GITANE DEMONE looks on from her throne.
GREY C.E.L.L. – S/T LP
Am super excited to finally get to hear this—angry discharges of powerful hardcore which pays attention to the importance of hooks and melody while overlaying them snarling, pissed as fuck vocals. Philly’s GRAY C.E.L.L. demonstrates that while the kids may have their say, there is something to be said about tempering of age to refine that anger into prime cutting steel. Really great hardcore from a pedigree that includes MONSTER X, CITIZENS ARREST & NEMA.
GUNN – Demo CS
Now this my shit—snotty thrashing hardcore punk that sounds like some sorta missing track from Mystic Record’s Copulation comp. Just raging OC hardcore free of any metal or rock influences—just lo-fi thrashing which would be a great soundtrack to an afternoon to skateboarding and breaking shit. Fans of LOOSE NUKES should pay attention.
HAIRCUT – Sensation EP
A tasty four-track ripper from Richmond—ferocious punk rock performed with passion and side of meat ’n’ potatoes. Complicated riffing and dynamic drum work backing up vocalizations that alternate between Spanish and English. It is always great to see a phenomenal live band translate that feeling to a recording, and these folx certainly accomplish that—you can just feel the energy creepy crawling out of your headphones. This band should be huge.
HAIBUKO – Un Nuevo Poder EP
Burning Spirits style hardcore through a Mexican punk filter? Its got a rough and tumble, raw recording style to it but the complex, sweeping, melodic riffing and searing leads which pay homage to the likes of DEATH SIDE still shine through.
HALSHUG – Drøm LP
Bands mature and evolve. At one time playing what was more of a straightforward, steamroller of d-beat hardcore in the line of VICTIMS or WOLFPACK, on their latest LP Denmark’s HALSHUG slow down a little bit, adding a slight KILLING JOKE feel to some of their tracks, creating a sense of ominous dread to their approach. Still plenty of punchy angst, though, and thankfully this doesn’t get wrapped up in a lot of navel gazing dour nonsense.
HAMMERED HULLS – S/T EP
Part of me wants to ignore the pedigree of this band, but when Alec Mackaye’s vocals kick in, it’s hard to do so—IGNITION was a such an important band to me as a baby punk, and FAITH would have been the kings of harDCore if VOID had never been born. So, let’s do this—yes this has people from a bunch of bands you’ve heard of (TED LEO & THE PHARMACISTS, MAKE UP, WILD FLAG, etc.) and might love, but even if it didn’t and you don’t, it’d still be good. Melodic, revolution-summer inspired punk rock from the place that formed it—the title track would fit snuggly somewhere on The Orafying Mysticle Of… while the other two tracks feel a little like missing FAITH demos.
HEAVY DISCIPLINE – Demo CS
I believe this is former members of BLOOD PRESSURE and doesn’t stray too far from that path. Raw, to the point, early ‘80s USHC influenced ‘core. I could spend my life listening to stuff like this and never ever get bored—I mean, do you like Flex Your Head? Boston Not LA? Then you should party with this!
HOLOCAUSTS – Liberty LP
Heavy crust, bass and drums only from Israel sung in Hebrew—its really intricate, musically and not just a blur of noise, speed and distortion, having a feel like something that would have been on Skuld in the late 90s. A really interesting release.
HONDARTZAKO HONDAKINAK – Zeru Hutsa LP
This is just fucking insane—manic, thrashing, and disquieting hardcore from the Basque country, though sonically it has the careening, teetering-on-the-edge-of-going-off-a-cliff feeling of classic Finnish hardcore. Have you heard the first DIE KREUZEN record? Imagine playing it at 10x the intended speed while occasionally bumping into the record player—that’s a bit of what’s going on here. Fantastic.
HOTET – Död Framtid EP
Quick paced, garage punk from Göteborg, Sweden—there’s a lot here that reminds me of MASSHYSTERI, so much so that I had to check I was playing the right record. Melodic, dual male/female vocalizations in Swedish that weave and overlay each other against a sound paying homage to late ‘70s Dangerhouse bands (X, ALLEY CATS, BAGS, etc) with an overtly pop edge. Can’t wait to hear more.
IDIOTA CIVILZZATO – Civilia Idiota EP
Their LP from 2018 was one of my favorites and this certainly doesn’t disappoint! While the production level is a little dirtier it only helps add to their hectic take on the classic Italian hardcore sound—think early NEGAZIONE, think hasty, discordant, and frenzied noise arising from your speakers. One of the top live bands I saw this year, for sure.
IENA – La Morte Chiama LP
Truly excellent street punk from Italy—total heavy boot, big beat vibe going here. It reminds me so much of RIXE that I had to check I was listening to the correct band. Tough yet anthemic music that should make a whole room explode—outstanding stuff.
IMPOSTER – Crown of Horns CS
Four tracks from these Brighton punx—think HERESY, think BOSTON STRANGLER, think RIPCORD. Rapid-fire hardcore with boot-to-throat breakdowns—it’s a follow-up to their 2017 demo and a great appetizer for their upcoming LP.
JACKAL – S/T EP
Tough sounding, d-beat inflected, USHC—very Boston hardcore sounding and I don’t mean garbage like TREE or SAM BLACK CHURCH. Hammer to nail attack, which alternates between blasts of fury to creepy crawling bits—just make sure you don’t slam to mosh parts and mosh to slam parts.
JAD – Strach LP
Burly, fast, yet fairly staccato hardcore punk from Poland—in a lot of ways this reminds of a less raw/primitive version of SIEKIERA (no, not the new wave stuff, the demo). Yes, I see most of you shrugging your shoulders—so how about this, almost industrial in its lockstep cadence, this roars across your cerebral cortex like a column of Russian armor across the frozen tundra.
JARADA – Ma’agal Sina’a 12”
This just rips—slashing, snarling hardcore punk from Tel Aviv. This single-sided twelve-inch features eight tracks, sung in Hebrew, presenting an urgent critique of the modern Israeli state, both from a socio-politcal bent as well as taking an introspective glance into how the grander state of politics affects the individual. This is outstanding.
KOHTI TUHOA – Ihmisen Kasvot LP
I think what has always appealed to me about Finnish hardcore is the overarching feeling of unease it projects in your eardrums—ripping across your cerebral cortex like a rickety out of control rollercoaster. Guitars and drums blast at an out of control pace while vocalizations in Finnish twitch and splatter to create this wonderful tension. KOHTI TUHOA continue this tradition perfectly on this, their third album. Modern and familiar at the same time, they are a band which certainly deserves your attention.
LAXITY – S/T EP
Chaotic, spastic punk from Poland that sounds a bit like if ANTIOCH ARROW got into a car crash with IN/HUMANITY and Dr. Frankenstein, put them back together, but mixed up the parts. Too random a reference? Ok, how about this—it’s like watching someone throw a temper tantrum, with interludes of someone else ineptly playing the soundtrack to Nosferatu on a keyboard, and rather than walking away you are mesmerized and find it completely enjoyable.
LEATHER LICKERS – S/T EP
Australian punx taking a manic thrashing ride through a wonderland of punk that hints at LIP CREAM, early NINE SHOCKS TERROR and Pick Your King-era POISON IDEA. Simple, to the point, relentless hardcore with solid hooks–this is one of those bands I could see being a perfect, chaos filled, good time.
LETHAL DOSE – Demo CS
Less a demo and more a two-song tape to promote their upcoming LP, Dallas’ LETHAL DOSE play a thudding street punk style that brings to mind the 4SKINS run through an American filter—if you are a fan of Pittsburgh’s NO TIME (I am) you might want to hunt this down.
LIFE SUPPORT – Die Like a Man 12”
Tense, ferocious, and burly hardcore with all the levels pushed to red—just swimming in a sea of distortion and violence. Explosions of speed collapsing into thick-necked breakdowns and then off to the races again. Modern hardcore as it should be.
LIPID – Nuclear Masturbation CS
When I was a teenage punk rocker my friend had a leather jacket painted with an image of Reagan and Gorbachev with missile cocks pointed at each other with “Make Me Cum” painted above and “Not if, but When?” painted below them. Listening to LIPID makes me think of this jacket—hell I think of bands like LIPID every time I sit through another “hardcore” band who sounds like they spent more time listening to SLAYER and doing reps at the gym than blasting CIRCLE JERKS and getting beat up for being a weirdo. Look, this shit is fucking great—total outsider hardcore for freaks by freaks—its got hooks, its sarcastic, angry yet funny and queer as fuck. I mean can you go wrong with a band that posits the solution to all the world’s ills is “free drugs and fucking in the street?”
LIQUIDS – 2 Soft Serves and a Hard Rock CS
Brilliant, sloppy, lo-fi pop punk that is decidedly punk—think early Lookout records, think SWEET BABY, think a non-annoying CRIMPSHRINE. Having attended many sweaty drunken East Bay house parties, I think I’m qualified to say this would be an excellent soundtrack to David Hayes breaking some scissors as the cops arrive to shut it all down before AGAINST ME can play someone’s kitchen. If I still made mix tapes for people, one of these songs would be on it.
LÖCKHEED – Demo CS
Mid-paced, dis-motor-charge style hardcore from Northern California—lyrics about how war is bad snarled over a driving, pounding attack. Think those early WOLFPACK records or ULTRARAT—a great first effort and can’t wait to hear more.
LOOSE NUKES – Behind the Screen EP
Their demo from earlier in the year was one of my favorites and this EP certainly delivers on that promise—relentless all go, no slow hardcore with genius-level riffing packed into eight tracks of perfectly snotty hardcore. You know how utterly perfect and relentless Pick Your King is? This has that same sorta feeling—just a non-stop twisting, turning hardcore hayride. Absolutely flawless.
LOSS – Tape 2019 CS
Crude and raw Swedish hardcore. There is so much reverb on this and the recording is so thin that it sounds like they recorded it inside a water tower, then cranked the mids and shot the bass player. Vocals are of the wailing-while-sorta-falling-down-a-well variety—trailing off into the primordial woods surrounding some ancient Swedish castle. The Vikings had castles, right? Anyway, this is enjoyable for sure—but don’t go into it expecting the stadium crust of VICTIMS or WOLFBRIGADE.
LUX – New Day EP
To judge the book by the cover art, you’d think this was the new WIDESPREAD PANIC or DEAD & COMPANY jawn, but once the needle hits the groove you are granted a one-way ticket to gloriously inept UK82 punk rock. Hints to the finer works of VICE SQUAD, or some other long-lost outtake from the Punk And Disorderly comp.
MACE – Beef LP
Quick-paced hardcore from Chicago that reminds me a bit of a less precise TØRSO—not because they both have women up front on the mic, but more because of their efforts to combine hoods-up, X’d-up style, youth crewy hardcore with elements of d-beat. As a fan of both styles, I’m down with this for sure–tough, energetic, and well executed.
MANGLED STATE – Stigma 12”
Caustic short blasts of mangled, distorted hardcore from deep in the heart of Texas. Loose and raw recording style giving it a sense of urgency—you feel like they were in the room during the initial tracking of the songs and someone came in and killed them all, leaving only this document to record they even existed.
MASTERMIND – Bad Reaction EP
Grooving but not groovy hardcore from the UK—it’s got that feel of a lot the tracks on the New Breed comp. Tough but not overtly macho in its feel, it cooks along with plenty of energy a la KILLING TIME or THE ICEMEN, or the likes of COMBUST.
MEMBRANE – S/T EP
Debut EP from a crew of Oakland punx obsessed with noise not music. You like GAI, ATROCIOUS MADNESS, and PHYSIQUE? Well, if you party with those, you’ll party with this. This isn’t a total wall of white noise, however – there are a few melodic hooks which come peeking through cascading sheets of white phosphorus coating your ears.
MUSTANG – Mind Wandering LP
Total blitzkrieg attack of sweltering Japanese hardcore. “Burning Spirits” is a term which gets thrown around fairly loosely these days but if you are looking for a great example, this is it—sweeping, melodic guitars played with intricacy, complexity and at blazing speeds? This is what you got! A bit less of polished recording style than their late 90s releases, but not in a way that’s distracting or taking away from their power. If you are keeping score, this has members of CRUDE and DEATH SIDE.
NEEDLE – S/T CS
Brutal power-violence infected metallic grind from Washington DC—if you told me this was from Redwood City and featured members of DEADBODIESEVERYWHERE and AGENTS OF SATAN, I’d probably believe you. Tony Molina would probably jump out a trash can to school you on the lie you told, but you know, I’m from the Midwest, what do I know about Ben Davis and smoking mountains of weed? But I digress—faster than fast blast beats alternating with SLAYER-esque grooves, vocals sound like a monster fighting with a hamster. This is good.
NEGATIV – Epicrisis EP
The first taste I had of NEGATIV was their brilliant LP from 2018, Projections, and I was hooked from the get-go. It was a miserable stew melding the finest elements of classic Norwegian hardcore like SISTA DAGERS HELVETE to the tension-inducing stomp of RUDIMENTARY PENI and wrapping it up in a package filled with an ominous sense of Lovecraftian dread. On this, their follow up EP, they continue in that tradition with twisting riffs and thrashing drums backing up snarling, howling vocals that cut through the cacophony with a sense mirthful misery.
NERVOUS JERK – 1994 EP
Punchy, melodic punk from New Zealand—the title track is a gut-puncher of slashing guitars and vocals that strut along building to a crescendo of “I was born in a hospital wasted…” One of the finest examples of this style I’ve heard in some time—if they were born in 1964 they’d be playing with STIFF LITTLE FINGERS, if they were born in 1974 they’d be playing with DILLINGER FOUR, or in 1984 with ALLERGIC TO BULLSHIT–all signs point to a drunken good time. Pop punk with the emphasis on the P-U-N-K.
NIGHTWATCHERS – La Paix Ou Le Sable LP
Absolutely brilliant melodic French punk that echoes heavily of bands like RADIOACTIVITY or THE OBSERVERS. Slashing, jangly, and pleasant guitar lines driven by lockstep drumming which never allows this to flutter off into being pure pop. One of my favorite recent discoveries and I hope to hear more soon!
NITAD – Allt Är Upp Och Ner EP
Oh NITAD—how do I love thee? Primitive hardcore punk from Sweden that leans more towards an early ‘80s snot-soaked California-by-way-of-early ‘00s-Copenhagen vibe than the lickers of skit or bomb raid victims, which Sweden is more known for. I know they’ve been quiet and allegedly broken up for a bit—does this mean they are back?
NO SUGAR – Rock ‘n’ Roll Isn’t Boring It’s You LP
Raucous garage punk from Germany—a strutting, high-energy rock ‘n’ roll assault filled with sass and swagger. They have a song about pizza and sex, you can’t lose with a song about pizza and sex. Really fun record.
NOSEBLEED – Outside Looking In EP
Thick slabs of tough hardcore that cooks along taking cues as much from URBAN WASTE as Droppin’ Many Suckers-era MADBALL—fast but with a bit of the ole Doc Marten Stomp. Gone is the tinge of d-beat hardcore swagger present on the first EP—a ferocious live band, this is a solid documentation of their journey through the hardcore jungle. Its gonna be cool to see where they go…
NOSFERATU – Solution A LP
This is just ridiculous, in the best possible way. Hearing this is like the first time I heard the NEOS or CROSSED OUT—just out of control, faster than fast hardcore which just explodes in your face and rips out your eardrums, stomping them flat. A sloppy and totally insane ball of pure, unadulterated furious energy, relentless in its approach, producing totally over-the-top, discordant slabs of hardcore that just pummel you over and over with manic velocity, producing a festering sense of unease in the most delightful way. Just perfect.
NUKKEHAMMER – A Distant Hissing In Your Ear EP
The first time I met the bassist of NUKKEHAMMER we spent the night blasting GRIM REAPER and COC records while talking about VOID, eventually leading to a glass coffee table being shattered as part of a proper demonstration of how to stage dive to the BEYOND demo. The next morning featured random nudity, mysterious bloodstains, and mountainous platters of Szechuan Tofu. Somehow, for me, this sums up the chaotic, treble-to-the-max, distortion-soaked mayhem that is NUKKEHAMMER. For you, it might be more like SEPTIC DEATH and ANTICIMEX hanging at Mike Dean from COC’s house doing monstrous bong hits while listening to HAWKWIND. This is great.
OBLAKA – Insight Flexi
OBLAKA hail from the remote Siberian town of Yakutsk—it is the coldest city on Earth. I’m talking -51F in the winter, that is insane!! Out of the grim permafrost rises the brutish, pummeling hardcore of OBLAKA–delivering a simple, raw gut punch of fervent brutality. Animalistic vocals layered over an austere, primal assault of drums and guitars. Really cool.
OHJUS – Ohjuskaaos EP
Blazingly fast thrash from Finland—this cooks along at 400mph, with desperate vocals shouted over a cacophony of jackhammer drums and sloppy thrashing guitars. It’s really the lo-fi garagey production that helps make this great for me—think HENRY FIATS OPEN SORE playing KAAOS covers. Triple thumbs up!
OHYDA – Koszmar LP
Pulsating and almost industrial in its approach—there are hints of something akin to a less produced KILLING JOKE, fellow Polish punks PESD, and the lockstep mechanical approach of CRESS. If you told me this was some recently discovered demo from deep in the vaults of Polish punk history, like the missing tracks from the Jak Punk to Punk or Fala comps, I would totally believe you. Classic in its approach to what could be deemed the classic Polish hardcore sound, this would snuggle in nicely with ABADDON, DEZERTER or WARSAWA releases of old.
OJOS ROJOS – S/T EP
Three blasts of thrashy hardcore from Mexico. Intricate in its execution, each song slowly builds into a steamroller of speed after a brief respite of calm. Lo-fi recording adds to the urgency. It’s odd how more Mexican punk doesn’t make it to the United States, I’d love to see that change—especially if this is an indicator of what else is bubbling down there.
OUST – S/T CS
Six cuts of Danish hardcore—less JEZUS & THE GOSPELFUCKERS style and bit more American a la demo era FROM ASHES RISE slung headlong into demo era WOLFBRIGADE. This is good but I think when the ideas are fully fleshed out it’ll be great.
OUT COLD – Living Is Killing Me LP
Like the RAMONES or MOTÖRHEAD, when you open up a new OUT COLD record, you know what you are getting. No bullshit, no experimentation, no drifting off into some sort free jazz exploration—just track after track of stripped down, throat punching, rhythmically precise American hardcore. Originally recorded prior to the untimely passing of founding guitarist Mark Sheehan in 2010, some of this material was released on 2013’s A Heated Display. An outstanding final testament to a legendary band.
PAYDAY – Second to None LP
Gonna go out on a limb here and say they are named after the CONFRONT EP and if you know that record you know what this sorta sounds like, muscular early ‘90s hardcore a la Clevo bands like the aforementioned CONFRONT, RINGWORM (The Promise-era), INTEGRITY, etc. They do breakout into bursts of thrashing speed now and then, but this is mostly mosh and bounce. Some of the faster tracks hint at demo-era COLD AS LIFE, which is certainly appealing… everything old is new again!
PERRA VIDA – Eterno Retorno LP
Driving melodic punk from Lima, Peru. Imagine, if you will, THE GITS, or even the first DISTILLERS LP, but in Spanish. Aggressive, yet dripping with melody. Breakdowns, not in the macho jazzercise sorta way, but more in the pogo-till-you-puke sorta way. A great follow up to their self-titled debut EP from last year.
PERSISTENT AGGRESSOR – S/T LP
What is it about Northeast Ohio that generates such brilliant degenerates? Is it the water? Is it the rust that permeates everything? Is it a steady diet of lead paint chips? Hailing from Akron (home of DEVO), PERSISTENT AGGRESSOR tear through fourteen tracks of burly metallic hardcore—equal parts NEGATIVE APPROACH and CELTIC FROST. There is something here that brings to mind The Promise-era RINGWORM, in that it still retains a level of hardcore punk aggression that tempers the metal flourishes. It’s fast, it’s heavy, it pummels—get into it.
PHYSIQUE – The Rhythm of Brutality 10”
I’m such a PHYSIQUE superfan—thick walls of distortion, played at an energetic clip, with an undeniable ferocity that just steamrollers you over? Why, sign me up! On The Rhythm of Brutality,we find our heroes alternating between blazing bursts of velocity, tempered with tracks of thudding, stomping, mayhem-inducing hardcore that gets the time machine in my brain to produce fantastical images of Donna Lee Parsons from Rat Cage demonstrating their style in the pit at the A7. Essential modern American hardcore.
PLASMA – S/T EP
More solid, no nonsense, heavy hardcore from Florida—I’m not sure what’s in the water down there, but they keep cranking it out in the Sunshine State. A heavy vibe of ‘80s Midwestern USHC through a NWOBHC filter, a la ARMS RACE or THE FLEX.
POISON IDEA – Pig’s Last Stand 2xLP/DVD
Its always hard for me to write about POISON IDEA—there is always so much I want to say but never the right words to say it. Too often, I fear the accolades and expressions of importance I want to layer on them come off as hyperbolic yet lacking in their ability to convey just how important they are—simply put, they are the best. Not just the best hardcore band or the best punk band but the best band. For me, they encompass everything I love about rocknroll—the aggression, the humor, a sense of honesty laid bare… even when they are a car crash (like the infamous Chaos in Tejas show) they are still perfect. There is just something about them, which manifests the best and worst in us all that I connect with more than any other band. Recorded in 1993 and shortly thereafter released as a CD only on Sub Pop, this captures them at one of their peaks—starting with the epic call to arms of “Plastic Bomb” it winds its way through their career and ending not with their own track, but with a remarkable cover of the WIPERS’ “Up Front,” stopping along the way to pay homage to GISM, THE RAMONES, and BAUHAUS. It’s a reminder that POISON IDEA was a musical sponge, soaking up influences from all over, processing them and regurgitating them back out through a filter of exceptional musicianship and romantic self destruction. TKO knocked it out of the park on this one—including a DVD of a four camera shoot of the show, it’s a perfect release.
PRESSURE PACT – Scared Off the Streets LP
Dutch hardcore that is more SSD, BOSTON STRANGLER, and HERESY than the blistering speed merchants I often associate with the country. This is tougher than nails, stomping, vicious hardcore that doesn’t let up for a moment. I want more of this please.
PROTOCOL – Bloodsport 12”
Subtitled “A Celebration of Violence,” Florida’s PROTOCOL crank out five tracks of gnarly, ferocious hardcore that calls back to the beautifully brutal. Take, say, YDI crammed into a blender with the sonic qualities of CONFUSE—less the style and more the way it sounds, blown out and thunderous, with all levels maxed beyond belief. There is just this near-perfect level of viciousness that permeates the recording. One of the best live bands I’ve seen in recent memory and certainly a band I hope to see great things from in the future.
PUNTER – Demo CS
Really cool four song release from these Australians—high energy rocknroll punk swagger and strut, not garage but P-U-N-K. It’s a little sloppy but in all the best ways—they say they’re taking influence from late 70s UK punk like MENACE or EDDIE & THE HOT RODS and running it through an 80s USHC filter, and I can certainly see that—for me I’m hearing a more aggro take on what MURDER CITY DEVILS were doing, less white belt hipster and more studs’n’spikes.
PYSCHIC VOID – Skeleton Paradise 10”
I loved LSD in high school—like I loved to drop acid and listen to mix tapes filled with YOUTH OF TODAY, HAWKWIND, JESUS & MARY CHAIN and THE PAGANS and slowly wait for the walls to melt. This sounds like that, sorta—garage punk with affection for psych and all things drugged out but punchier. I could see this band on tour with BRIANJONESTOWNMASSACRE & WOODEN SHJIPS and blowing them out of the water every night.
RADIOACTIVITY – Erased EP
Two tracks of flawless, melancholic punk rock from deep in the heart of Texas—this just oozes hooks and has this beautiful sense of misery which pervades the interplay of the vocals and guitars. On a recent cross-country trek, they provided the near perfect soundtrack for the twelve-hour journey from Santa Fe to Oklahoma City—the serenity of the open road and endless blacktop. By now you should be familiar with RADIOACTIVITY, as they’ve been doing this forever, but if not, this is as good a place to start as any. Who would have thought someone involved in the VOMIT PUNX could create something so wonderful and perfect?
RATA NEGRA – La Hija Del Sepulturero EP
I can’t get enough of RATA NEGRA—simple tuneful punk with beautiful melodies. There’s a lot here which reminds me of early ‘90s twee punx TIGER TRAP in the music, though it’s a bit more assertive in the vocal attack. Outstanding stuff.
REGIONAL JUSTICE CENTER – Institution 12”
Somewhere else in this zine there is an interview with Ian from RJC that centers around notions of art, the creative process, perceptions of your art by the greater world and the like—RJC is an abrasive and emotional artistic response to the incarceration of his brother. Musically, transitioning between sloth-like sludge and high-speed blasts, it is akin to a lot of what the kids call power violence. You know, bands that sound like CROSSED OUT or IRON LUNG though this feels a bit more cerebral than the pure rage-filled id of the former and more straightforward and ‘hardcore’ than the latter’s more obtuse impulses.
RESTRAINING ORDER – This World is Too Much LP
A hardcore band that plays hardcore—weird, right? Fast and anthemic, a la SLAPSHOT slammed headlong into 7 SECONDS. More “mature” than their prior efforts with the increased emphasis on melody and occasional intricate guitar work. My first impression was that the production is almost a bit too clean and modern for the style, but after a couple of listens I got over that—not everyone has to sound like it was soaked in a bucket of water, dried out and run through a distortion pedal, I guess. Really great stuff—in front of the right crowd I bet they kill live.
RESULT OF CHOICE – Place of My Dreams EP
Straight forward, youth crew style hardcore—it goes fast, it goes into breakdowns, there are stage dives, there are high fives. Think early FASTBREAK.
THE RESULTS – 6 Tracks EP
Delightful indie-punk that has the feel of a band you’d see open for SUPERCHUNK in the mid-90s. Think early ARCHERS OF LOAF or KARATE or UNREST. Really well-crafted pop songs laden with hooks, and a vocal approach that is just above a whisper. I could see them popping up on Slumberland Records and going on the GIRLS reunion tour.
ROCKY & THE SWEDEN – City Baby Attacked By Buds LP
It continues to amaze me how bands in Japan don’t break up—it has been nearly 20 years since the release of God Save the Green and, dare I say, rather than turning into some noodling, introspect clap-trap, these guys just crank up the velocity and sound as ferocious as ever. Sure, most of the songs are about smoking weed, but maybe that’s the secret—I mean the drummer was/is in BASTARD and SYSTEMATIC DEATH, they’re allow to chill out—by playing high speed intricate ‘Burning Spirits’ style hardcore dedicated to how they are “Mad About Mary.” This totally blazes, and at times has the same feel of early PAINTBOX in its dedication to melody at high speed—especially the track “Weed Weed Weed.” In my perfect world, all stoner rock would sound like this—rocking but ripping. What will it take to get them to come to the States?
SCAB EATER – Ultra Vires LP
Think slabs of distortion-soaked hardcore that just runs over your face like a bulldozer—this is one of those records that if the production wasn’t soaked in layers of noise I could see an army of dudes in Triple B hoodies running riot in the pit for, which once again begs the question: if we can walk together, why can’t we rock together?
SCARECROW – Revenge EP
Positively ripping stuff from the TOTALITÄR school of hardcore—eight tracks of ferocious and energetic fist pumping punk rock. This cooks along at a quick clip just barely slowing down to catch its breath and provide a hint of dynamics. Quality.
SCHOOL DRUGS – Modern Medicine LP
Snotty, garagey Jersey Shore punk that borrows heavy from the 80s SoCal surf punk vibe—think DI’s Horse Bites, Dog Cries but a bit more modern. Its loud, its fast, with a bit of taking the piss and vinegar coating it all. Really cool record.
SEDITION ACT – Demo CS
Powerful and straightforward hardcore from Singapore from members of SIAL—this time taking a less manic fuzzed out approach and going for something that reminds me a bit of what DEATHREAT or LIFES BLOOD were doing—catchy yet burly hardcore that doesn’t shift into metal or breakdown tedium. An excellent first taste—can’t wait to hear more!
SENSUAL WORLD – Feeling Wild LP
Richmond’s SENSUAL WORLD debut LP is such a pleasantly dreary journey—a beautifully morose trip of chorus-soaked dream pop. At times hypnotic in its sensibility, it’s like watching SLOWDIVE and the WIPERS make sweet love in the rain via an old 16mm projector. I’m struck by how much Julie’s vocals match the same timbre of Mia from THE GITS at times—they convey such a level of overarching passion and want that it’s stunning. Brilliant.
SEX DWARF – Sensou Hantai EP
I mean, they’re called SEX DWARF and claim to be noisy raw punk mangel—what else do you want? On the sixth listen, I think I’ve been able to distinguish five unique distortion pedal tones being cranked out by the guitar player, from swirling drill bit, to blender through a chorus pedal, to just the classic swarm of angry bees sound. This is the sort of thing I like to send people at work when they ask what kinda music I’m into, as they typically assume it’s like WILCO or maybe something more extreme like AC/DC. In contrast, it is exactly what you, dear reader, hope and dream it will sound like: thunderous drums, sludgey bass, and guitars that are a pure wall of dentist-drilling- your-molar infused distortion–almost the epitome of noise-not-music.
SHRINKWRAP KILLERS – Parents + FBI = Cahoots CS
And still I’m left to ask, do you want new wave, or do you want the truth? Can’t I just have both? Ten absolutely brilliant, synth heavy, new-wave infected songs which drip with a pop sensibility but are tinged with a darkwave edge. Conceived of and performed entirely by the sonic wizard known as Greg Wilkinson (hey, he’s got a Grammy), but this sounds nothing like his other projects (BRAINOIL or DEATHGRAVE). Absolutely superb stuff.
SIDE ACTION – Saykopatik Hula CS
Five tracks of distorted as hell, raw, thrashy punk hardcore with shrill, snotty vocals. This feels like one of those bands that would be absolutely explosive in a tightly packed basement show.
SKIZOPHRENIA – Undead Melodies EP
Snotty, nasally punk rock from Japan that just cooks along. Catchy and intricate, it sounds a bit like something I would expect Recess Records to release back in its earlier days—I could totally see them playing with LIL BUNNIES & FYP to a drunken chaotic house party somewhere outside of Sacramento circa 1999. Also, as I’m a sucker for well-done cartoon vampires and related monsters, this might be my favorite record artwork of the year.
SNIPER CULTURE – Combat Rock EP
Distorted as hell, ultra lo-fi hardcore punk from the Windy City—while this sounds like it was recorded in a kitchen using an old boom box, that shouldn’t dissuade you from partying with it at all. It’s got riffs for days and projects a sense of intensity thanks to its primitive production. Don’t sleep on this.
SNUFFED – SkinCrawler/Rats of Sympathy CS
Two tracks of stomping, snarling, 100% aggro hardcore punk from the Windy City that just rips at a quick clip. With each track clocking in at around 1:30 this is the sorta band you encounter on tour and after watching them play are like “THANK GOD ITS NOT ANOTHER SHIT BAND.” I could see lovers of TÖRSØ becoming lovers of this.
SQUELETTE – Squelette EP
What is it about the French that makes them so adept at cranking out catchy, distinct, and rather suave sounding skinhead bands? In contrast to the more thudding mid-tempo approach common with some of the US and UK bands (outside the classics of course), the bands coming out of France seem to have a knack for catchy melodies and playing at precisely the right tempo to create engaging street punk. Featuring members of RIXE and LION’S LAW, SQUELETTE give us four rather brilliant sounding anthems, rivaling forefathers such as CAMERA SILENS or WARRIOR KIDS. I’ll take another helping of this any day of the week.
SUBLIMINAL EXCESS – Demo CS
Cool debut from these Chicago punk rockers—its dark and moody punk with a cool, loose swagger to it. Like early TSOL, it’s still hardcore but there’s a little something more eerie going on.
THE ROYAL HOUNDS NYC – God Bless The Royal Hounds LP
How brilliant is this? Featuring members of CRIMINAL and THE BRASS this is a wonderful melodic street punk masterwork—marrying elements of pub rock, new wave-era BLITZ, glam-era SLADE, and cranking it through some sort of magic machine which churns out memorable and catchy tough-guy bubblegum rock ‘n’ roll. Yes, it’s all that and no, I can’t get these songs out of my head and yes, it’s a little cheesy but no, I’m not going to stop playing this over and over. I’m such a sucker for this stuff… I can’t wait until they come to Richmond…
The Templars -1118 – 1312 12”
Has it really been 21 years since this first saw the light of day?! I don’t feel like I’m being hyperbolic when I say there isn’t a better or more adored skinhead rocknroll band than these legends from New York City (you know, where the kids run streets). Perfectly crafted pop songs in an endearingly gruff, bravado glazed package. They’ve always displayed their 80s French Oi & 60s garage influences proudly and of all their releases this shows it the most–jangly guitars, fuzzed out leads, snapping drumming, cover of the French epic poem “Chanson de Geste” etc. This sounds like it was remastered as I recall the original version being a bit muddier.
TOMAR CONTROL – Nunca Mas Callar LP
Adrenaline soaked hardcore from Peru with a definite youth crew, stage-dives-and-high-fives, sing-a-long vibe—think 7 SECONDS, BETTER THAN A THOUSAND, THE FIRST STEP, etc. Lyrics address feminism, having a positive mental attitude, and animal/human liberation—this is a great follow up to their 2016 split with Boston’s SPIRITS and their own EP from 2018.
TRAMPA – Muerte Es La Paz EP
More great hardcore punk from Bogotá—snarling vocals and fuzzy guitars overlaying straight forward pogo-til you puke inducing drums. It might be a little simple in its execution but its certainly effective. No fuss, no muss just great hardcore punk.
TUNING – Hanging Thread LP
Sweeping and driving melodic hardcore from the SF Bay Area—though this sounds a more like the stuff coming out the Midwest in the mid to late ‘90s, or DC to some extent. Think later GOVERNMENT ISSUE mixed with BY THE GRACE OF GOD. There is a cool sense of urgency to these tracks.
UZI – Cadena De Odio LP
Ripping tupa-tupa punk rock from Colombia—melodic without losing a sense of aggression. Heavy UK82 vibe through a South American punk filter—think ULTRA VIOLENT, think UPROAR. It’s quite amazing how much good stuff is coming out of Bogotá these days.
VANTAGE POINT – An Answer You Won’t Find EP
More of that good time Boston straight-edge hardcore—four tracks of urgent and passionate hardcore in the tradition of TURNING POINT, CARRY ON, BANE and their ilk. The lyrics are about putting another log on the fire, dusting knick-knacks about the house, and looking for the way out of somewhere—the mall maybe? Jokes about the slightly boilerplate lyrics aside, I grew up on this kind of thing, and it is really well executed–they’re probably outstanding live.
VICTIMAS – Victimas CS
This is great! Explodes with a scream of “VICTIMAS!!!” and proceeds to tear into high energy, d-beat hardcore that probably owes more to Spain’s RIP than DISCHARGE—there’s a good sense of melody present here, not relying on being totally distorted to deafness to get the point across. I could listen to this daily.
VICTIMS – The Horse and Sparrow Theory LP
A bulldozer attack of crushing Swedish stadium crust—the unity of sweet, sweet d-beat, MOTORHEAD-style drive, an emphasis on anthemic melodies, and just utterly monstrous production values. Lyrics that take a dour outlook towards class division, the devastating effects of industrialization, climate change, and the repercussions of the world’s self-absorbed in the pursuit of greed and the accompanying corruption. Another great addition to their legacy.
VIDEO FILTH – Hypnosis EP
Tough, thick hardcore from Boston that draws inspiration more from the likes of OLHO SECO and BATTALION OF SAINTS (that makes sense, right?) than their fellow Bostonians. Guttural vocals, meaty guitars and drums that pound along in a sort of mid-tempo strut—the exception being the scorching track “System Violation.”
WARCHILD – No Victory in Death EP
More songs about nuclear war, humanity and suffering—I mean what else do you expect given the band name and EP title, right? Swedish hardcore—in that its like pickled herring but music, get it? GET IT?! Thankfully, this is properly done, concise, to the point and absolutely delicious—unlike the sort you get at the smørrebrød shop in Copenhagen, save it for your trip to Sweden. Its fast, it’s pissed, its done in the classic style—I love this band.
WARHEAD – Change The Reality/Release Yourself 45
The latest offering from the Kyoto legends, continuing on the path they set forth on their 1991 EP, The Cry of Truth. For the unfamiliar, they play a riff-heavy and anger-soaked take on the more classic Japanese hardcore form—it rocks, but avoids any sort of rock clichés with intense and insane vocals, courtesy of the legendary Jun. A bit rawer production values than I feel like they’ve had in the past, but not distracting.
WHISPERING MAN – Whispering Man CS
Musically, this alternates between raw blasts of noisy, chaotic hardcore, and stomping, more mid-paced breakdowns. The vocals are just an enunciated wail, which to this old brain sounds like old French screamo ala FINGERPRINT, but younger folx might think misc. black metal band. I can see them blowing up a basement.
WOLF WHISTLE – Private Hell LP
At first, I thought I was playing this on the wrong speed, but then remembered that I was listening to it online… so yeah, there’s that. The label references the MELVINS and I can see this, because it has moments where it picks up the pace a bit and rocks a little. But really, I’m getting more what in olden days people referred to as anti-hardcore, bands like NO TREND and FLIPPER, or, for a more modern take, CLOCKCLEANER and PISSED JEANS. Slow, abrasive music designed to annoy and provide an evening of quiet discomfort built around heavy, heavy riffs.
WOLFBRIGADE – The Enemy Reality LP
I love WOLFBRIGADE. Seeing them in Stockholm was one of my highlights for 2018—they were impossibly good. Just this massive juggernaut that took over the whole room and filled it with the most beautiful, skull-crushing modern take on the classic Swedish hardcore sound—stretching out ANTICIMEX’s riffs to let them breath, while mixing a bit of AT THE GATES’ sensibilities toward being melodic yet heavy, and DISFEAR’s rock ‘n’ roll vibe, to create their own massive take on crust, d-beat, etc. This continues on in that tradition—is it as good at Lycanthro Punk,or even 2017’s Run With The Hunted? When the bar is set that high its hard to hit it again, but it is a powerful and totally crushing album. Part of me wishes they would pick up the pace a little—it feels a little like being heavy has gotten in the way of just letting it rip like they do on A D-Beat Odyssey.
THE WRAITH – Gloom Ballet LP
When I was first getting into punk, goths and punks all hung out, at least they did in Toledo. Sure, it was probably because there weren’t enough freaks so we had to, but still, the cross-pollination of the underground was always a good thing to me, and it’s great to see it happening again. Here we find Los Angeles’ THE WRAITH on their debut LP cranking out a stew of Dance With Me-era TSOL, THE CHAMELEONS, early CULT—the production is a lot slicker than a lot of recent darkwave stuff passing through my ear drums, but not enough to remove a sense of intensity.
YLEISET SYYT – S/T EP
On the one hand, you could say this is a Finnish hardcore band playing what could be construed as traditional Finnish hardcore but, what does that even mean? What if I was like, it’s people from FORSEEN, KOHTI TUHOA and SICK URGE playing exceptionally catchy, driving hardcore punk, that draws inspiration from early ‘80s US and UK hardcore punk to produce something that translates into something not far removed from Finnish bands like LAMA or APPENDIX? Is that better? Never quite going full thrash, this pogos and bobs along at a rocking pace, with plenty of killer riffs and sick drumming—it’s interesting, a lot of US bands that ape this sound tend to have shit production on purpose, but thanks to how bright and polished this sounds, it comes across even more powerful. One of the most outstanding releases of the year for me.
ZIMA – Demo CS
This band has played a handful of shows around Richmond, but I’ve somehow managed to miss them all—listening to this demo, I need to remedy this error ASAP. Fuzzed out, clomping hardcore that reminds me a bit of Cleveland heroes CIDER—not too fast, definitely not slow, just straight forward, no frills, meat and potatoes hardcore punk.
ZORN – Hardcore Zorn CS
Black metal punk? Spooky punk? Metallic Goth? Everyone loves a label, but that shit is lazy—is it moody? Does it sound like the first MOTLEY CRUE at times? Does it sound like GISM at times? Do the guitars noodle away in this eerie harmonious manner throughout the whole tape? Does the vocalist wail like the queen of the banshees, Aibell, in the throes of ecstasy, while enveloped in the embrace of Dubhlainn Ua Artigan? Do they have a coffin the singer arises from at every show, even if it is in a kitchen smaller than the length of the coffin? The answer to all of this is yes. They hate it when people reference them to fellow Philly freaks DEVIL MASTER, so I’m not gonna do that, but if you prefer David Vanian to Captain Sensible… well you know what to do.
ZYANOSE / ENZYME – Permanent Damage EP
Two titans of absolute eardrum shattering, face melting, blown-out, distort-o-rama hardcore colliding for one devastating release. For their side, Japan’s ZYANOSE deliver three blitzkrieging blasts of fuzzed-out-to-the-max crasher crust—taking the ‘80s UK crust sound of SORE THROAT or ELECTRO HIPPIES to its logical extreme conclusion. I imagine this is what the Ukuk-hai in The Lord of the Rings listen to at the gym—just a heavy onslaught of devastating ferocity. On the flip side, Melbourne’s hardcore maniacs ENZYME crank out two discharges of pogo-till-you-puke, distortion-till-deafness punk rock with a slight psychedelic twinge—always with a tinge towards tunefulness. This is so sick.
ZYFILIS – EP One EP
Seven blasts of skull-cleaving käng punk attack! Powerful Swedish d-beat hardcore with really intricate bass work—if you are familiar with ‘90s Portland rippers DETESTATION, this is along that line of thought—it punches along at a more mid-tempo clip, but still is really enticing. These tracks originally appeared on a split tape with MURO.