Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Suburban Voice blog #48

CIVIC PROGRESS at the Ratscellar

Last week, the Ratscellar began having shows. It’s actually a warehouse space somewhere in Boston (sorry—can’t dilvulge the address here but if you ever need to know where it is, drop me an email). I’m hoping it’ll last awhile because they set this place up right. The residents soundproofed the room, built a small stage, put in a PA and it’s a good sized space. My guess is it could hold 100 people—maybe more. The sound is loud, probably due to the concrete walls but that’s what earplugs were invented for. The décor is rather interesting—tie-dye walls. You read that right. It was apparently recommended by a guy who lives there, when he was in a drunken state. I won’t reveal his identity to protect the guilty. It’s a bit different from the graffiti décor at Baby Safe Haven. The picture above, of St. Louis band Civic Progress, gives you an idea of the interior decorating. Those guys played an absolutely raging set of pissed-off hardcore punk. They were joined on the show by thrash/grinders Mecchanibal, Positive Reinforcement and Sgt. Slaughter, who played one of the worst sets I’ve seen all year. They’re a good band but had equipment problems, were hopelessly out of tune and only played a few songs. One of the more entertaining moments came when their vocalist Aaron showed his displeasure with guitar player Nelson and you can see a very brief video clip here:

In all fairness, they were a lot better the following Saturday up at Welfare Records, when they played with Guilty Faces (see demo review below), Fruit Salad and a few other bands who I missed.

I’m still going to do a zine review section—hopefully in the next blog. I don’t want it to come out half-assed and also wanted to get this blog out in a timely fashion…


ANGLEWORM-Ruin Your Scene (Triumph of Life, CD)
It’s town vs. gown! These kids are from New Haven and not going to take any more shit from those Yale assholes. Punk, ska and reggae—or is it a punkish take on ska and reggae? Something like that. An anti-authoritarian streak in the lyrics and a desire to escape their surroundings. Who can blame ‘em? I’d go nuts if I lived in Connecticut, too. In any case, while the words express anger, the music comes up lacking in that department as they seem happier operating in a more laid back groove than go-for-the-throat punk burn. (30 Wildem Rd., Berlin, CT 06037,

ANTELOPE-Reflector (Dischord, CD)
Minimalist post-punk rock, for want of a better term. Intertwining guitar/bass/drums with a melodic pulse and high-timbred singing that softens the edges—maybe more than I’d like and that’s the weak link here. Some songs, in fact, eschew the guitar for just bass and drums. Even with that softening, there’s still tension in the sound. There’s definitely a nod to the Minutemen and Gang of Four and even early Cure in the rhythmic nature and sparseness of the compositions. Something as hypnotic and hook-laden as “The Demon” is hard to resist. (3819 Beecher St., NW, Washington, DC 20007,


Vinyl debut for two Boston-area bands. Apeshit, fronted by Boston’s most enthusiastic punk rock dancer Circle Pat, favor double-speed thrash ala Siege on some of these songs and it occasionally sputters. The recording sounds a bit muffled, too. Interesting lyrics for “Gender-Cide,” which takes issue with the negative viewpoint that some women have towards all men; that they’re “brutish pigs,” to paraphrase Pat’s words. A friend has told me that I need to understand why some women do have that attitude and (to simplify it more than I should) I see the point but that doesn’t mean it’s not bothersome to me and these words reflect that, as well. Has its moments but there’s room for improvement.Civil Crisis have a raw, ranty hardcore punk approach. The high-pitched vocals (from one of ‘em) and speedy thrash bring 9 Shocks to mind, albeit without the rock ‘n roll impulse. An effective pissed off sound from these young men. (58 River St., Haverhill, MA 01832,

DEATH SENTENCE-Until The End Of The Sentence (Burrito, CD)
This is the Aussie Death Sentence and the recordings date from the mid to late 80s. A complete anthology and including a number of unissued/rare recordings. This band traded in ultra-fast hardcore, sometimes coming across as disjointed but never flagging in energy. Death Sentence did show some evolution, even as the band had a number of personnel changes and endured the death of one of their drummers. Reading the liner notes, written by their manager Maureen, it’s obvious this was one bad-ass band, especially their vocalist Peter McGrath. He’s lived a self-abusive punk rock life and has apparently paid the price for it. There are some punkier sounding songs in later batches—“My Love” and “Bitchin’,” for instance. The sound quality is spotty at times, especially the unreleased ’85 recording and rehearsal tape from ‘86, both of which sound like a later generation tape copy. We’re talking about hardcore, though, and pristine sound quality isn’t mandatory and there aren’t problems elsewhere. This was one raw-sounding band. These guys were doing something similar to what Heresy were doing in the UK. Looking towards the States and adding a more extreme speed element. An intense whirlwind of cacophony. (PO Box 3204, Brandon, FL 33509-3204,

DEGENERICS-Generic Record Collection (Soulrebel, CD)
Just what it says, collecting this Jersey band’s vinyl releases, comp songs, a few unreleased songs, a demo track and live stuff. A strong, often dramatic sound that blended hardcore ferocity, including some Die Kreuzen-ish touches, metal (“Rising Sun Experience,” for instance), reggae and ska. The latter adds to a song such as “What’ll You Do.” The main emphasis, though, is burn and sting. Craig’s vocals were ranty but also exuding an impassioned purposefulness. There’s a clear evolution from their 7”s to the album although, even in their embryonic days, the full-tilt hardcore was already incorporating diverse influences. An occasional misfire, such as the straight reggae (only a few songs) but far overshadowed by the power of the vast majority of songs here. And some good news—they’ve started playing again. (

DOA-Smash The State: The Raw Original DOA 1978-81 (MVD, DVD)
Oh hell yeah—a collection of DOA performances during their early years, when they were at their best. I never got to see the lineup that included Randy Rampage and Chuck Biscuits and, along with Joey Shithead and Dave Gregg (for most of the songs), and they were absolutely smokin’. Their stage presence and slam-bang, catchy punk ranks among the best that time period offered and these clips perfectly bridge the original punk era and birth of hardcore. Biscuits, in particular, is incredible to watch. He was 15 when he joined the band in ’78, according to Joey’s book “I, Shithead” and is a powerhouse of brawn and finesse. Goddamn I wish I could have seen this lineup—even had a chance in ’81. I had just picked up their “Something Better Change” and “Hardcore ‘81” albums and was stoked to see they’d be playing at the Paradise. That show got canceled because of low ticket sales and, unknown to me, it got moved to a smaller club down the street. So Ellen and I went to see GG Allin and the Jabbers instead. Still an unforgettable experience, I suppose—this was GG in his snot-punk days before he’d shit on stage. I didn’t see them until ’82, when Brian Goble and Dimwit had replace Rampage and Biscuits.

Back to the review: the live stuff consists of single camera shots, varying in quality but watchable. The best performance, I think, is from the On Broadway in SF, where they were opening for another band (DK’s?). The opener “New Age” sounds a clarion call and there's no let-up. There’s also a TV studio performance of “The Enemy” that has Simon “Stubby Pecker” Wilde on bass, doing his best to mimic Rampage’s bounce around exploits though not quite nailing it. The earliest stuff is from a show they played at the Anarchist Anti-Canada Day in July of ’78. Joey is interviewed and doesn’t exactly articulate himself well, although he does act punk as fuck by shoving a butt up his nose. The audience looks silly and the “norms” and cops are amused. They almost didn’t get to play but the authorities relented. Even at that point, DOA were fairly solid although they’d improve dramatically in the next few years. Finally, there’s a conceptual video of “World War 3” with that lots-of-white background, live in the studio feel and a TV report about the punk scene in Vancouver. No extras and this isn’t a documentary, it’s just them playing live. Fine with me. Any video that gives you the “wish I was there” feeling doesn’t need anything else. If anything, it’d just detract. (PO Box 280, Oaks, PA 19456,

DOWNHILL FAST-s/t (Rock Vegas/Eating Rats, CD)
Being a parochial Bostonian (who lives in the ‘burbs), it always does my heart good to see Boston references on a CD cover—in this case, a “T” train—public transit to you outsidahs. Vocalist Jimmy Flynn is an aficionado of the heavier/metallier Boston hardcore sound that took root in the city in the late 80s/early 90s. They even appropriate the “BHC” logo that was in use back then. Most of that music hasn’t held up too well but this isn’t bad. Not really the style of hardcore I’m into but well-played. “Trolley Dodger” conjures up Wrecking Crew and Leeway. And it avoids the mournful/more spiritual bent of some of the bands from that era. Some chugarama along the way and, when they stay away from that, the results are better. At least there’s not that echo-laden, bombastic production that hindered the recordings from that era. (


Two guys from Rat Byte are in this band and they’re off to a fine start with this demo. Rockin’ mid-tempo punk and a few hardcore songs. Tommy spits out the vocals with a snotty cadence and the songs are punchy and drip with a bad attitude. Hatin’ life, hatin’ the burbs, longing to get the fuck out, much like Angleworm, who were reviewed above. If I lived in Connecticut, I’d want to get out too! Sorry—I won’t disparage my wife’s home state anymore. Bands such as Guilty Faces justify its continued existence. (3 Clearview Ave., Bethel, CT 06801,

Two brutal-sounding bands—Sanctum, from Seattle and Bay Area-ites Stormcrow. Both bands trade in metallic crust and each vocalist exercises (exorcises?) their inner demon—gutteral and necessitating the lyric sheet, which ain’t that easy to read either. They’re printed on the inside of the colorful gatefold sleeve that pictures some kind of medieval battle and maybe that’s the concept here. It’s obviously not cheerful material—it’s doom and bombast to accompany the heavy sounds. Sanctum have a speedier, rampaging attack and make the stronger impression. Their songs have a more-than-effective ravenousness. Stormcrow largely stake out lumbering terrain, an aural decay that gets bogged down under the weight, especially after Sanctum’s obliterative apporoach. Out of their three songs on this split, “Beneath The Earth” is the one that shows the most signs of life, pummeling ahead in authoritative style, making me wish the other songs were in that vein. (PO Box 22285, Oakland, CA 94623,

STREET TRASH-Into The Wasteland (No Class, LP)
This was recorded awhile ago and was apparently supposed to come out on My War Records. It doesn’t matter, really. All that matters is this is one scorcher of an LP—well, if 15 or so minutes is considered an LP. The modus punkerandi (sorry) remains the same—phlegmy vocals and a no bullshit tandem of punk and hardcore. The bass-playing is particularly sick-sounding—towards the end of “Five Dirty Fingers,” there’s some dirty-ass Lemmy-isms. Hell, it’s all cool—a wreckless, relentless rush of power and adrenalin. And the yellow/red splattered vinyl makes a bold artistic statement as well. (PO Box 40158, Long Beach, CA 90804,

TARRAKIAN-The Swarm (No Options, 12” EP)
Three long, heavy songs—well, four if you consider “Surman Suukun 1 & 2” two separate songs, although one flows into the other. Part 1 is actually quite catchy, more of a traditional hard rock/metal tune with an early Sub Pop vibe and, although a lot of that stuff has aged badly, this is a solid song. Some of it is too sprightly to completely fall into a stoner metal category but that’s still the overall vibe, especially for “S.S. Part 2.” I’d like to hear more songs like “S.S. Part 1.” (PO Box 22285, Oakland, CA 94623,

TRANZMITORS-s/t (Deranged, CD)
A full-length album for the Tranzmitors and, with “Genocide,” introducing itself with a snappy burst straight out of a late 70s power-pop mold. A balance of force and fluff—you’ve got your noo-wave keyboards, jabbing guitar lines, Brit-affected vocals, angelic harmonizing, the works. They could be kin to old-school British Columbians the Pointed Sticks. Sometimes, I’ll find a little too cutesy but then a song like “Is Your Head Hollow” will come bursting through the speakers and shake things up. Shake it up nicely, in fact. (2700 Lower Road, Roberts Creek, BC V0N 2W4, CANADA,

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Suburban Voice blog #47


I’ve managed to fall way behind on shit, once again. Story of my life. I was hoping to have a section devoted to the cool zines I’ve been getting in recent months. I’ll try to get that in the next blog, which won’t take as long. In the meantime, it’s been too long a gap since I last posted one of these so I wanted to get something up this weekend.

So, over this past weekend, I attended a crazy-ass show at the Baby Safe Haven house in Somerville. Not a fancy venue. Not in the least and this show had it all. Drunk punk rockers, weed, a couple of fights, allegedly a dead cat in a bucket, which I did NOT see and a puddle of sewerage in a corner of the basement floor and it was making a steady advance but, fortunately, things wrapped up before it moved too far. That didn’t stop someone from falling into the puddle around the end of the show. I also saw people outside hosing down their feet between sets. My sneakers are a rather clay-ish color right now. Basement show dirt. But I don’t think it’s anything more than that. I hope…

Who played, you asked? I’m getting to it. Patience. The show featured the Cola Freaks, from Denmark, plus locals Praxis, Fruit Salad and Unholy Goatfucker. Quite a diverse bill. As usual, the show was on punk rock time. I figured showing up two hours after the time listed on the flyer would suffice but, when I got there, they were still waiting for microphones. I think I should keep a microphone in my bag for situations such as these. No matter—I marched into the living room, announced I was going to be watching baseball and demanded to know where the giant remote was. This remote is around 12 x 18 inches. Fucking huge. The games was Sox/Yankees—do you think I’m going to miss the end of that? Not on your life. I figure who’s going to stop the cranky old guy from getting his way. And when one local punk rock artiste made a bit of a wisecrack about it, I told him that the fact he was wearing a Mickey Mouse t-shirt and was over the age of 12 disqualified him from commenting on it. I don’t think he heard me since he was already just about out of the room but others got a chuckle from it. So, the bottom line was I didn’t mind waiting, especially since the Red Sox were crushing the Yankees at that particular moment. As I told the others, life doesn’t get much better—baseball and punk rock in the same space.

A quick story before I finally get to the review here. In 2004, when the Red Sox were in the American League Championship Series against those same Yankees, there was a huge show at a Polish hall in Dorchester with Hammer, from Japan, Caustic Christ, Signal Lost and Mind Eraser. That happened to be the night of Game 5 of that series. So Jeff, one of the guys involved with the show and a huge Sox fan, brought a TV and set it up in the back of the room in case anyone wanted to keep tabs on the game. As the night progressed and the game went into extra innings, some people were staying in the back and watching the game and not paying attention to some of the bands. I kept going back and forth and didn’t miss any of the bands’ sets. This annoyed the wife of one of Jeff’s bandmates at the time and she attempted to unplug the TV. It set off a bit of an altercation, but peace was restored and the TV remained on. This situation also irked some of the out-of-town people playing or accompanying some of the bands. Not being from Boston, they just didn’t understand the passion for the Red Sox, especially since, the night before, in a win or go home game, the Sox pulled off a 12th inning win. Same for this game—as I said, it went into extra frames and lasted 14 innings, stretching into when Hammer were playing. At that point, David Ortiz of the Red Sox got the game winning hit and, in a moment of euphoric jubilation, about 20 die-hard Sox fans charged the dance floor and set off one motherfucker of a pit. So the moral of the story is there’s room for both!


Back to the show—Unholy Goatfucker began with some truly evil, tongue-in-cheek death metal. All made up in Gene Simmons-goes-to-hell fashion and more musical than your metallic mayhem unit. And yes, those really are two goats’ heads in the picture. Lovely, eh? Next up, Fruit Salad did the thrash and grind thing to an enthusiastic response, ending with a cover of Youth of Today’s “Put It Aside” that created a nice youth crew mosh. As I’ve said in previous reviews, they’ve really evolved as a band over time. I passed on Praxis, since I needed a bit of a breather and just saw them a couple of weeks ago. Finally, the Danes took the stage, uh, floor. Some tall guys in that band, especially their vocalist, who has to go around 6’5”. A jittery, nervy, tuneful punk mix that fits in with the bands who proudly exhibit an affinity for those vintage sounds. People were worked into delirium and, as I said, the sewerage was mainly held at bay until they were done.

One hell of a good time… a real punk rock show, to quote Craig, who put this together.

BANDANOS-We Crush Your Mind With The Thrash Inside (625, CD)

Thrash? Don’t mind if I do. Where have I heard that before?* I’ve certainly heard bands like Bandanos and Destruction’s End before. Bandanos are from Brasil and have the retro crossover sound down pat. A rough ‘n tumble Bay Area thrash influence, stripped down and throwing in a touch of early COC. The strangled vocals have some Mike Dean in ‘em, tag-teamed with Blaine Accüsed. Another throwback is the photo collage in the centerfold for “We Crush Your Mind.” Oddly, the songs on the split, which was released before the full-length, have fuller-sounding production and it creates more impact. Either way, it’s throat-grabbing fodder. As for Destruction’s End, it’s a good fit with Bandanos. Another band blurring metal and hardcore with a straight-forward speed attack. Hell, they make the 80s tribute more complete by including a sample from the Rambo “First Blood” movie and that’s the title of the leadoff song, as well. This band have gotten quite a bit better since their ’04 album on Mike Fitzgerald Records. It’s tighter, and has better drumming and recording quality. Viva la crossover! (*the answer is Municipal Waste, in case you didn’t know) (

CLUSTERFUCK-How The West Was Won (Vital Center, LP)
Rip-roarin’ hardcore punk with a rowdy spirit. Short songs that seamlessly blend into each other without missing a beat. It’s not just simple thrash, either—busy bass and guitar lines and stop-on-a-dime tightness. Donn has a memorable voice in much the same way Jello does. A higher pitched snotty yelp-croon that drips with sarcasm. That sarcasm is coupled with a sense of anger, a sense of numbness as mentioned on “I’m Fine, Thank You,” followed by “OK, Now I’m Unhappy,” expanding the numbness into hopelessness. The notes on the inner sleeve call it an “exercise in American protest music.” Even with those feelings, the songs are imbued with an irresistible liveliness. Only 300 of these suckers so you best not sit still. (38 Wall St., Valhalla, NY 10595,

CULT RITUAL-s/t (Burrito, 7” EP)
Boiling over hardcore—a forceful clatter of white hot guitar, thick, bulldozing bass-lines and wild drumming. Lurching savagery interspersed with thrash and more straight-forward riffing. The vocals are buried in the mix a bit and Dan does his damnedest to cut through the din. Some mighty intense and crazed sounds emanating from the purplish-brown grooves of this record. That may seem hyperbolic and reminiscent of an old Pushead MRR review but it’s the truth. (PO Box 3204, Brandon, FL 33509-3204,

DEADLINE-8/2/82 (Peterbilt, CD)
Deadline appeared on the “Flex Your Head” compilation and, after those songs were released, recorded 11 more. Those sat in the can until ’89, when Peterbilt records released a one-time pressing of 1000 copies and that’s been scarce as hell, ever since. So, finally, here’s a long-overdue reissue. Deadline very much kept in the HarDCore sound—rough hardcore punk played with youthful agitation and aggression, mixing up fast and slower tempos. In fact, several of those songs fall into the latter category. I’d have to say, out of all the other bands from that era, they came closest to the Faith, sound-wise. Maybe a notch below their better-known brethren but still a worthy artifact. (distr. by Dischord, 3819 Beecher St. NW, Washington, DC 20007,

DEATH TOKEN-4 Track Attack (Even Worse, 7” EP)
A primitive D-Beat or Dis-attack, more accurately. The reverb on some of the vocals is a combination of cheesy and cool. They address the recording method on the title track, calling their sound “a busted ear tape salad to go” and they also endorse their “exclusively crap equipment.” The last track, “Eye Hardly Exist,” is a moody instrumental with guitar and ocean effects—there will be quiet after the storm? Oops—wrong band. Otherwise, Death Token keep things in a purely pillaging mode, definitely busting eardrums along the way if you hold ‘em too close to the speakers. (

DISNIHIL-s/t (Chainsaw Safety, CD)
A strong debut album for this Swedish hardcore-inspired band from New York. Dark, dramatic riffing and a heavy, powerful approach. Hell, they even offer a Sabbathy tip of metallic hat during the bridge of “Markings Consistent With Butchery.” Speedy, stun-kill fodder with the occasional somber passage, although the latter isn’t a dominant characteristic. In other words, you’re not going to hear me bandying about terms like “epic.” Besides, only two songs top the three minute mark. A chip off the From Ashes Rise block and those are winning qualities. (PO Box 260318, Bellerose, NY 11426,

Two mayhem-oriented bands—grind is part of the deal for both of ‘em. The Endless Blockade start and end their side with dirge-like compositions, with the opener “Abraxas” sounding like a walk to the entrance of hell and then the listener is forced through the door and immediately savaged with brutal blasting. Hatred Surge’s side was created by two people—Alex and Amy, both contributing vocals and Alex handling all the instruments (they have a full band for live performances). As with the Endless Blockade, the final song is a slow piece that takes up nearly half the side. Actually, the coolest moment is their over-the-top cover of Agnostic Front’s “Society Sucker.” Both bands have the modus operandi of blastbeats, thrash, heaviness and harsh vocals. This style continues to remain an acquired taste and I still haven’t really acquired it. (17 W 4th Street, Hamilton, ON Canada L9C,

Three bands, two of ‘em Japanese, one of ‘em German (Burial) and two songs apiece. This is ostensibly their tour CD and each band contributes powerful material. Nightmare trade in lengthy songs and somehow hold the flailing attack together. With Burial (who have some other solid releases), if I was going to take a blindfold test, I’d guess that they were a Japanese band, stylistically. A relentless aggression. Crude’s songs have a stripped-down roughness and it works to their advantage. Each band have their own sound and, taken together, it’s a strong lineup. I wish this tour was coming my way. (

NIPPLE VIOLATOR-Double Suck (Bloody Stump, LP)
What hath Maine wrought? I’ve heard and seen some weird and/or fucked up bands from that state over the years. In any case, this was recorded in 1993, unleashed on the record-buying public in 2007 and it showed up in my mailbox on a nice sunny day this summer. I imagine you could say what GG Allin was to New Hampshire, Nipple Violator are to Maine. Well, maybe not quite as extreme as that and I don’t think these guys will ever reach that level of infamy but Nipple Violator hold their own with the scatological content. The music is snotty, semi-competent punk rock—and, once again, the GG comparison is inevitable. They get by on attitude and it provides the backdrop for such tender songs as “You’re My Fuck Toy,” “Feces Addict” and their ode to the lord, “Jesus Wants To Fuck You.” Share it with that special someone. Hmm… if you want them to remain special, maybe that’s not such a good idea. (distr. by Foreign Frequency,

SOCIALCIDE-Burn In Hell, Bundy (Kangaroo/Even Worse, 7” EP)Slam-bang hardcore, following a rip-snortin’ demo that Even Worse pressed on vinyl. One interesting thing is the new recording sounds rougher than the demo. In any case, Socialcide’s calling card is raw, old-school hardcore, established ca. 1982, although their cover of Wolfpack NYC’s “Suicide” dates from the later part of the decade. In fact, there’s an early Revelation Records feeling, as well, with the fuzzed-out guitar and breakdown style. And those bands were trying to bring back an older feel, as well. These guys do justice to those influences. ( or


UNDER PRESSURE-Black Bile (Fashionable Idiots, LP)
Under Pressure continue with their dark blend of hardcore and fired-up rock ‘n roll. Maybe rock ‘n roll is a misnomer since that will sometimes conjure up visions of guys in clichéd poses but, well, this is pretty rockin’. The lead licks are worked into the arrangements instead of dominating them. It should be noted that their guitar player does come on like Angus Young live but it’s more like Angus in the midst of a caffeine jag. Cam’s hoarse, strangled vocals sound like Celtic Frost’s Tom G. Warrior with a bad cold—kind of. So there are some heady tunes here, especially the speedy “Whip and Rein” and the charged-up title track. Unfortunately, the momentum comes to a screeching halt with the snail’s pace, endless “The Last.” This song painfully drones on for over half of the second side and is a tedious exercise, intense effect aside. Otherwise, it’s another strong release for this Winnipeg band. If it had been a one sided 12”, without “The Last,” it would have been 100% killer. (PO Box 580131, Minneapolis, MN 55458,

WATCH IT BURN-How America Motherfucking Works (Trigger On The Dutendoo, 12”)
The cover for this record weighs a ton—it consists of two pieces of black and white vinyl tile with stickers slapped on the front and back with the track list and the like. And I like the cover a bit more than the record itself. Recorded in ’98 (Oct 30-32? Huh?) and they indulge in some heavy jams. Not hippie stuff and it’s structured—guitar/bass/drums with the first side featuring shorter compositions and the flip a lethargic, extended exercise. Metallized riffage, howling vocals and a solid rhythmic foundation. These muck-monsters do have the right idea on occasion and the playing skill to pull it off, but the songs don’t really go anywhere. (