Sunday, April 13, 2014

Suburban Voice blog #109


BLOODKROW BUTCHER
(last show, 2/21/24, Tufts University)
Yeah, I know a lot of these reviews are out of date. Part of the problem is I lost two months worth of work when I accidentally erased the draft of what I'd been working on and had to redo a lot of shit. And that was NOT fun. Anyway, let's get down to business... Also, I've gotten a lot of good records in the past few weeks so I'm really going to be cranking on the reviews in the coming weeks.

AK47-Garden City (self-released, CD)
Self-described old-timers from Victoria, BC who have been a band since the late 90s. Still angry, still pissed, with, among other issues, plenty of anti-cop rants--in fact, some of the songs deal with specific incidents, such as the shooting of an unarmed young man, Oscar Grant, who was gunned down at a public transit station in Oakland (everyone should see the excellent movie Fruitvale Station, a dramatic account of the last day of his life). AK47 slam out fast hardcore with the occasional metallic lead, some double-speed moves and chuggy sections (which I could really do without) and the rage seems genuine, especially vocal-wise. (ak47hardcore.blogspot.com)

ANCIENT FILTH

ANCIENT FILTH-You’re Nothing You’re Everything (self-released, 7" EP)
A new ten track EP and it comes with an elaborate package including a large fold-out poster and lyric booklet tucked inside the cover. Even if it came in a plain white sleeve, this record would be worth hearing. Ancient Filth don’t always get the recognition or hype that other Boston bands do because they’re not part of any specific clique but they’re one of the best bands going here right now. Fast and frenetic hardcore, sometimes incorporating a melodic element or two, and executed with crack efficiency and impassioned vocals from Matt. In case you can’t make out his emanations, the booklet offers in-depth explanations behind each song and the topics are both macro and micro—worldwide concerns, but also looking within oneself and coming to the realization that we’re all flawed individuals but it’s OK—you can still find a way to work through it all. A simplified overview for sure, and there’s plenty of food for thought to go along with this band’s spot-on sound. (43 Beals St. #2, Brookline, MA 02446, www.ancientfilth.com)

BLOODKROW BUTCHER-Nigh Hell (Boston Cassette, tape)
BKB just called it quits and it’s a shame because their most-recent, five piece lineup was a total powerhouse. BKB started out as a noisy, blown-out beast but by the time of their Anti-War EP, the noise was pretty much gone and there were more old-school hardcore influences fusing with a UK-82 feel. That continues for this five song cassette. The feel is akin to what 86 Mentality were doing some years back. A song like “BKB” has an anthemic feel, while “1000 Hiroshimas” and “Tribes Of Survivors” maintain the d-beat thrust. Eight songs were recorded in all and I hope they’ll decide to do a vinyl release at some point. (No address or info but several distros are carrying it)

BOMBER-Turn Off The Lights (Permaculture, 7")
A Hungarian band with a melodic street-punk sound—brawny, yet heartfelt, with hearty backup vocals on the chorus. OK, but nothing all that spectacular. “Turn Off The Looks” does have a halfway decent chorus hook. (permaculture.bandcamp.com)

BORN WRONG-Holding Cell (Schizophrenic, 7" EP)
Another smokin' 7" and, before you even drop the needle on the record, it’s obvious that this is a band that doesn’t have all that sunny an outlook on things—the label says “Your Life Is A Prison.” Nasty and aggressive, with throaty, emotion-packed (but NOT emo) vocals. It’s a muscular, pumping hardcore attack imbued with darker shadings. (17 W. 4th St., Hamilton, ON L9C 3M2, CANADA, schizophrenicrex.com)

CELLOS-Standard and Poor (Doormat, 7" EP)
 Despite this Windsor, ON band's name, there ain’t no cellos here. Just guitars. White hot screaming guitars. I stole that from Lester Bangs when he was reviewing Blue Öyster Cult (I admit to my thievery). A muscular rock sound weaned on late 80s/early 90s heavy hitters. That means it’s hard and heavy without being metal. (www.drawingroomrecords.com)

CONCRETE ASYLUM-Social Anxiety (Bad Vibrations, 7" EP)
A cacophony--and I mean cacophony--of whirlwind hardcore that doesn't let up for a second. Noise-damaged and feedback sputtering guitars, rumbling bass and piledriving drumming. Unfortunately, it becomes numbing after awhile although the guitar pyrotechnics for "Insomnia" do singe the senses. Originally released as a demo. (badvibrationsrecords.blogspot.com)

DARFÜR-s/t (Bad Hair Life, 7" EP)
Nothing new under the sun, really, but Darfür are effective at mixing fast Finnish hardcore with some UK-82 inspiration, particularly for the last song, "Fallen On Deaf Ears." And they're a bit of an anomaly, since they sing in English instead of their native tongue. Politically-charged lyrics paired with trebly production and a solid, straight-forward attack over the course of these six songs. Tucked inside a heavy-stock, foldout sleeve. (badhairliferecords.blogspot.com)

DECRANEO-s/t (Discos MMM/multi-label, LP)
Excellent melodic punk by this band from Mallorca. Urgent and impassioned-sounding from both a musical and vocal perspective, with plenty of presence and punch. Maria sounds like she could be Alice Bag's Spanish cousin (niece?) and the band's music echoes an early LA punk and classic Spanish punk sound mixed together. Decraneo do everything right and are another reminder of why I still like punk in 2014. Decraneo respect the roots and keep it fresh-sounding. (discosmmm.com)

DiE-s/t (Sonic Terror Discs, 7" EP)

This UK band have a bare-knuckled hardcore punk sound and the attitude is summed up nicely on the opening track “Life Is Hate.” You can hear some Boston hardcore influences on a few of these tracks but there are also dark and frayed guitar lines to give it an added dimension. The damage comes out most boldly for the dirgey “No Vision.” (diecunt.bandcamp.com)

DÖRTBIRDS-s/t (self-released, LP)
Crusty, metallic hardcore with thick riffs that have an aggressive nature but there's a problem and that's the vocals--one of the guys growls in Cookie Monster fashion and one with a higher voice is off-key. It's a big-time detracting factor from this band's not-too-bad music, generating a credibly aggressive rumble. The band's from Berlin and the lyrics are in German but deal with such universal themes as gentrification, oppressive regimes and complacency from the "have-nots," as the band puts it. Something of a mixed verdict here. (doertbirds.bandcamp.com)

GLUE
GLUE-Demo (Lagerville, 7" EP)
Austin band Glue's demo has been pressed onto a 7”. Harris’s harsh, throaty vocals remind me of Aaron from the Repos and they have a blistering hardcore punk sound. The attitude on the lyric sheet is summed up perfectly: “I DON’T GIVE A FUCK WHAT YOU THINK!” “Close But No Cigar” borrows the riff progression from the Germs’ “We Must Bleed” “Peer Evaluation” and “The Jokes Write Themselves” are both mid-tempo boot stompers. These guys were a blast live and it translates well here. (lagervillerecords.wordpress.com)

GREEN BERET-The Cult Of State (Side Two, 7" EP).
A scorching new EP. For those of you who need a refresher, this is a collaboration between Matt Smith and Ryan Abbott (they play/have played in such bands as Missionary, Social Circkle, Exit Order and many others) and they handle everything in the studio and have a full band for live shows. Rampaging d-beat hardcore driven by Ryan’s always-kickass drumming and lots of burn. Not blown-out sounding—the sound is cleaner but no less lethal. (Side Two, 6 Wadleigh Pl., Boston, MA 02127, www.side-two.com)

HARSH WORDS-Reptile Brain (demo)
This band features Jason Griffin from Shaved Christ and American Cheeseburger on both drums and vocals. Pure rage, done at a fast clip and throwing in some sputtering Die Kreuzen-ish guitar lines here and there, such as on “Purple Shit.” There’s also a blink-and-you-miss-it cover of COC’s “Center Of The World.” Jason’s one of the top sticksmen in hardcore and the drumming really powers things along. (harshwordsathens.bandcamp.com)

HUGE-s/t (681 Productions, 7" EP)
Melodic punk from this Jersey band that has Underdog/Murphy's Law bassist Russ Iglay on vocals and guitar work by Matt Dolan from American Standard (any of you remember them?). In fact, musically, this reminds me of AS, who incorporated driving rock 'n roll into the punk framework. Russ's vocals are gruff but mesh well with the music. On lovely white splattered vinyl. (sauce138@optonline.net)

LIBYANS

LIBYANS-Expired Language (Sorry State, LP)
The first new Libyans album since 2010’s A Common Place and they haven’t been the most-active band, period, since its members are spread out around the country, from Chicago to New York to Western Mass. to Providence. The band’s hallmarks remain in place—surging hardcore delivered with a lot of melody and strong playing from all parties involved. Gebo’s guitar lines weave in an abundance of tuneful trills to go along with the punchier elements and the bass-playing and drumming are solid throughout. Liz’s melodious-but-not-too-sweet vocals have presence, as always. Whether it’s the bracing speed of “Nowhere,” “Wrong Profession/Same Results” (the album’s standout) and “False Starts” or moderately-paced “Desperate Plea” or “Forget Who You Are,” the songs have an inherent catchiness. Worth waiting for. (www.sorrystaterecords.com)

LOS MONJO-La Vida Que Todos Envidian (Discos MMM/Trabuc, LP)
Melodic punk by this Mexican band, which also makes me think of the classic SoCal sound as well. Young Wasteners did this thing many years ago and Los Monjo have been successfully plying it for awhile, themselves. The guitar line for the last song, "Malas Noticias," plucks the lead guitar line from the Adolescents' "Amoeba." The vocals are a tad off-key, albeit appealingly raspy. The songs are energetic and tuneful, full of bubbling bass lines, subtle drumming and buzzing guitars. (discosmmm.com/www.musikaze.com/trabucrecords)

NORMS-s/t (Permaculture, 7" EP)
Some crazed, off-kilter hardcore on this Hungarian band's 5 song EP. An ugly, noise-drenched cacophony that grabs my attention but not always in a positive way. They also massacre Beat Happening’s “Hey Day” and I’m afraid that Viktor’s crooning is scaring the neighborhood dogs. Or probably would if they ever heard it. Come to think of it, maybe that’s a good way to keep one of ‘em, Kingston, from pooping on the front lawn. (permaculture.bandcamp.com)

NUNHEX-Disruptive Deception (Suburban White Rage, 7" EP)
Hammering and blistering thrash/hardcore/mayhem powered by scampering drums and a meat-cleaver twin guitar attack. Relentless, raw and ugly and the vocals are appropriately bellicose. And maybe it's my imagination but the main guitar riff for "Take Control" reminds me Blue Öyster Cult's "Godzilla." Usual beef--the speed for speed's sake doesn't always work but they don't dominate the proceedings, either. A good and loud pummeling. (PO Box 270594, Fort Collins, CO 80527-0594, suburbanwhitetrashrecords.com)

PALACE BEAUTIFUL-s/t (Bad Hair Life, 7" EP)
The Jam sang about a private hell many years ago--the lyrics were about the empty life of a middle aged woman. Palace Beautiful's lyrics also reveal a private hell of anguished memories, or so it would seem, with a line like "I never chose to be even born" on "Being In Nothingness." From a musical standpoint, it's a propulsive but dour tandem of anarcho punk and riot grrrl minimalism. While the musicianship is on the rudimentary side, the two more upbeat (relatively speaking) songs that start each side have a certain burn and fire that clicks. (badhairliferecords.blogspot.com)

PERMANENT MAKEUP-Gibbering (New Granada/No Clear, 7" EP)
This band had a pretty good album last year and, while I'm not as enamored with the three songs here as on that album, the positive attributes remain. Nervy post-punk with fuzzy, almost jazzbo guitar. "Suggestion" has a sneak-attack lead-in, before the bash kicks in, concluding with a cloud of atonality. And when that piece of shit Henry Kissinger croaks (hopefully sooner than later), the song "Die Kissinger" will be on the radio show playlist, along with MDC's "Henry Kissmyassinger" and Suicide File's "Kissinger." (PO Box 360276, Tampa, FL 33673-0276, www.newgranada.com)

PERMANENT RUIN

PERMANENT RUIN-Más Allá La Muerte (Warthog Speak, 7" EP)/San Jose (Not Normal, 7" EP)
A new-ish band with Mariam from Condenada joining up with some people from In Disgust. On these two EPs, the modus-operandi is throttling hardcore punk laced with feedback and manic drumming that sometimes comes close to overpowering the proceedings but then they’ll kick into a brutal breakdown and the transition is gut-punching. Mariam’s vocals and lyrics are harsh and in-your-face. Tobia from Look Back and Laugh adds some nasty emanations of her own for “Back Your Shit" on the Más Allá EP. Sample lyric: “Run your mouth and roll your eyes/Might end with a fist in your mouth.” Not too subtle and neither is this band’s boiling-over ferocity. They're a live monster, too--these guys can play their asses off. The tracks from this pair of records were recorded at the same time. (Warthog Speak, 2745 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103, warthogspeak.com/Not Normal: notnormaltapes.bandcamp.com).

POWERBLESSINGS-Quick Guide To Heart Attacks (Manhattan Chemical and Electronic, LP)
Surging and melodic punk from this Western Mass. band, their first full-length after a good 7" a few years ago. Jon Bartlett's vocals are reminiscent of Vic Bondi from Articles Of Faith and there's some inspiration drawn from the early DC and early 90s emo-core sound, to an extent. Strong hooks delivered with plenty of volume and sting. The guitar line on a song like "SSS" sticks in the brain long after it's over. Same for "Creep Frost," a brief blast that's the best song on the album. The lyrics attempt to be poetic and/or oblique, like something you'd read in a high school or college literary publication. I was never much for poetry and a little profundity goes a long way but when it's fused with the ear-grabbing musical contents here, I'm quickly won over. (111 East 14th St., #519, NY, NY 10003, powerblessings.bandcamp.com)

RITUAL CONTROL-No Affinity (Residue, 7" EP) 
Another one of those loud ‘n raw hardcore bands from the Bay Area, with bass-duties handled by the ubiquitous Robert Collins (No Statik, Vaccuum and a million others). On their debut 7” (following a demo), Ritual Control start the proceedings with a stomping intro before getting down to serious Scandinavian-inspired business. A thick, relentless sound that’s unleashed over these four songs and Ethan’s vocals have the same sort of throat-ripping howl as Ruby from No Statik. (2028 W. Estes Ave., Chicago, IL 60645, www.residue-records.com)

SAVAGE AMUSED-Mind Cure (Mind Cure, LP)
Awhile back, this label did a vinyl pressing of a demo from 80s-era Pittsburgh hardcore band The Real Enemy and they’re doing the same for this band. These guys were around for 8 months ca. 1985 and their 22 song demo has been given the vinyl treatment, complete with a fold-out insert that tells the tale, as they say, and also includes lyrics, photos and flyers. Straight-ahead hardcore punk with metallic flourishes, with the drumming faltering in spots but having its moments. Some of the guitar leads are excessive and it’s definitely got an “of-its-time” quality. Sound quality is pretty good, considering that it was mastered from a cassette. Their bass-player Alan Peters went on to play in Agnostic Front. (3138 Dobson St., Pittsburgh, PA 15219, mindcurerecords.com)

SECRET PROSTITUTES-Welcome To Punk... Viva La Evolucion... We Can Do Whatever We Want (Bad Hair Life, LP)
In case you don't know the deal with the Prostitutes by now, they're from Houston but their vocalist Adit sings in Indonesian and his voice has a fast-paced cadence that sounds as though it's at about 38 RPM while the music is at 33 1/3. Short and catchy songs--not overtly poppy but toe-tapping and working themselves into a state of near-delirium, although "Live In Pankow" comes close to pure pop/punk song while maintaining the band's stamp. There are also a few songs veering into hardcore territory. You can probably lift the needle for the concluding "Secret Prostitutes Theme," which is a Latin music piss-take but it's a fun ride. And I laugh every time I hear the false start for "Tak Bisa Tahan," which stops and Adit goes "what the FUCK?," before the song starts again. Snappy and irresistible, as always. (badhairliferecords.blogspot.com)

SPLASHIN' SAFARI-2077 Demo (tape)
PUBERTY WOUNDS-Strange Edge (tape)
My original reviews of these demos were lost in Tragic File Deletion of early 2014. Anyway, I got them from a gentleman named Patrick in Columbus, OH, and these bands have at least one shared member but I misplaced the letter he sent me. Anyway, Splashin' Safari offer up some hot rockin’ thrash, punk and garage all mix-mastered together and done in fun and reckless fashion. I guess they’re from Planet Telder (by way of Columbus, apparently) and this was recorded in 2077. Comforting to know punk will still exist by then. Puberty Wounds have been around for awhile but they're spread out around the country so don’t get together that often. Their demo is an edgy, loud-as-fuck beast driven by big guitar riffs and some mesmerizing bass-lines adding an unsettled air, along with razor-wire vocals. Two very different-sounding demos and both well-worth hearing. (splashinsafari.bandcamp.com/pubertywounds.bandcamp.com)

ST. RIPPER

ST. RIPPER-Agony of the Mind (self-released, 7" EP)
A nasty-sounding vinyl debut from this Boston band and that comes, first and foremost, from Amanda’s harsh vocals—she’s a menacing front-woman and that comes across quite well here. If you’re expecting some kind of crusty attack, given the studded gloves and mace on a chain pictured on the cover, that’s not exactly true. It’s full-on, fast-paced punk but they also mix death rock and garage touches, as well. Keyboards add a near-sinister vibe, especially for “Losing It.” More weaponry and fire are featured on the big poster that accompanies it. St. Ripper are a band not be trifled with, in more ways than one. They even sell switchblade combs on their site! (www.saintripper666.com)

UHRIT-s/t (Tuska &Ahdistus/Nunchakupunk, 7" EP)
Uhrit are a Helsinki band playing crusty hardcore with slightly melodic underpinnings. The riffs are strong and the vocals harshly passionate. Not much changes from track to track and it doesn't leave that strong an impression, but can't be completely dismissed, either. Stuck in the middle somewhere. I could see them being a live powerhouse and the lyrics (in Finnish) deal with some harsh and specific realities, such as the theme of homelessness and addiction on "Rantojen Miehet." (tuskajaahdistus.blogspot.fi/nunchakupunk@gmail.com)

VARIOUS-Defend Hamilton, Eat Shit (Schizophrenic/Hammer City, 7" EP)

The cover of this comp is a parody of a Crass Records release but there ain’t no peace punk here. Instead, it’s violence, mayhem and murder and I’m not referring to the musical contents but the lyrical matter—the lyric booklet reads like a true crime magazine accompanied by a thorny soundtrack. All 8 bands operate in a loud and agrgessive vein, from the straight-on thrash of At What Cost  to the d-beat charge of Dismantle to the crustier emanations of Laid To Rest to the bathed in feedback sounds of Debt'd to the heavier sounds of Born Wrong and veterans Left For Dead. (17 W. 4th St., Hamilton, ON L9C 3M2, CANADA, schizophrenicrex.com)

VENKMAN-s/t (Cow Catcher, 7" EP)
LONG overdue on reviewing this 7" and, for that, I apologize. Over 20 songs crammed onto this one and, as one might surmise, these guys dip their toes into powerviolence but there's also conventional thrash and build-ups--a raw 'n scrappy punk-infused approach. They also don't take themselves too seriously. No blood 'n guts, although the animal rights activists might look a bit askance at the lyrics to "Throw Rocks At Cats." Nope, the main obsessions are food, beer and TV. Fun stuff and there's even a Macho Man Savage sample. One of these guys played in Mad Cow Dizeaze many years ago. (2937 26th St., Apt. 3, SF, CA 94110, venkmanrips@gmail.com, venkmanburninhell.bandcamp.com)
 

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