Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Suburban Voice blog #80

I wanted to try to get another blog published by the end of the month and here it is. Realize that as I type this, my arm is in a sling and I'm on painkillers, due to shoulder surgery last week. That means you have to forgive any sort of incoherence, even though most of this was written over the course of the month!

Show-wise, kind of slow for yours truly. I made it to the Midway a couple of times, the first to see Sista Sekunden from Sweden and the second show featured Bring Down The Hammer, Chad from Brother Inferior's latest band. Photos and reviews of the shows can be seen at my Flickr page.



ACEPHALIX-s/t (Prank, 7" EP)
A crushing amalgam of metal and crust with a riveting, thick sound and gut-punched vocalizing. In fact, the latter could be likened to Cronos of Venom being gut-punched. The opening song, "Nothing," is dirty, fast and nasty with some tasty wah-wah guitar punctuation and that continues with the careen of "Embodied In Skin." "Patricide" is in more of a pounding vein and things wrap up another speedy blast, "Confession." Thunderous. (PO Box 410892, SF, CA 94141,

ANS-Pressure Cracks (Tankcrimes, LP)

With "Pressure Cracks," ANS move even closer to the metallic realm. At the outset, there's a clip asking if they're going "a little slow heavy metal" and the reply is "a little bit zany, a little bit wastey." That could be name-checking a certain zany Waste-oid band from Richmond but this definitely isn't a carbon copy of 1987. They embrace a sprightly heaviness, if that's not a contradiction, while maintaining the Bl'ast-Flag inspirations, especially the first part of the hybrid. That applies to the words, taking a search inside and finding painful questions to deal with and express but also leaving time to "party with bros," as stated on ("If You Don't Get It Now) You Never Will." That's the only song that mentions their passion for skating, incidentally. Most of these songs here have a fired-up, rocking fervor reinforced with scorching guitar riffs and leads and wailing drumming. The last pair of songs take chances but aren't quite as successful. "Instru-Monu-Mental" uses the same modus operandi as "Walk Down My Way" from the last album, with spoken word over an instrumental vamp. It's kind of like combining the spoken word and instrumnetal sides of Black Flag's "The Process Of Weeding Out." "Bleeding Out" goes through an excruciating passage of purgatorial emanations (huh?) before finding a groove. Still, those songs aren't complete disasters, just a bit tough to get through. That's definitely not the case the rest of the time. (PO Box 3495, Oakland, CA 94609,

ANTIBODIES-... Are Here (Patac, 7" EP)
The head honcho at Patac told me these are older guys who felt the urge to get together and start a punk rock band to work through the midlife crisis--well, I surmised the latter. And that they've done--started a punk rock band, that is. A drunken, loutish, obnoxious one. That description definitely applies to the vocalist. Meanwhile, his musical compatriots batter the snot out of their equally loutish and obnoxious compositions. Maybe they're trying a bit too hard but it takes something--though I'm not sure what that something is--to come up with a song as inspiringly stoopid as "Penis Intravenus." You wonder if their kids would tell THEM to turn down the racket. I say turn it up even louder. (

BUNNY SKULLS-18 Song EP (Punks Before Profits, 7" EP)

Formerly a duo, now a trio and I neglected to review their first 7". Distored, raw hardcore in short, sharp installments. I mean, you're not going to find any three minute epics here. It's not all blinding thrash either. "Daily War" actually has something of a melody. Pretty tongue-in-cheek and particularly contemptuous of crusties, suicide punx, youth crew-ers and people who wear Hooters shirts. What's funny is this sounds like it was recorded on a boombox or four-track but it was actually recorded by Steve Albini at his studio. And he does a great job of making it sound like a boombox recording. I just went back and listened to their first, one-sided EP and that was recorded on a four-track and is sonically similar. Maybe you can still score one. Go to (PO Box 1148, Grand Rapids, MI 49501,

First US pressing for ECSR's 2006 debut and if you haven't heard these Aussies yet, what the heck are you waiting for. This is one of the cooler bands to come along in the past five or so years. The individual who introduced me to these guys (and it spurred me to lay out a pretty good amount of money for the import pressing of this album) said they sounded "old" as in having something of a vintage sound. They certainly use the Australian band X as a starting point, along with early Wire but this isn't a museum excursion. ECSR favor a gnashing, gnarled sound with jabbing guitars reinforced by in-the-pocket bass and drums. Vocalist Brendan Suppression has a knack for sounding both self-assured and nervous. Repitition is a not-so-secret weapon--a song like "Having A Hard Time" gradually builds to a manic crescendo. "Insufficient Funds" replaces the guitar with organ and has the same kind of mind-numbing effect and if the sharp, catchy "It's All Square" doesn't bring on some sort of blissful sensation then it might be good idea to get thyself a stethoscope and check ye pulse. That applies to this album taken as a whole and the follow-up, "Primary Colors," is nearly as great. (2152 Young Ave., Memphis, TN 38104,

LEWD ACTS-Black Eye Blues (Deathwish, CD)

Hardcore of an eruptive and powerful nature. Bursts of blazing speed, pummeling crunch and a dramatic metallic coating. The latter element brings early Voivod to mind, believe it or not, at least in the jarring guitar lines. Things get plodding at times, particularly the laborious closer, "Nowhere To Go" and that makes "Black Eye Blues" frustrating at times but when they unleash the full-bore fusillade of sonic terror (a pretentious way of saying when they play it faster), watch the fuck out. (

LIPKICK-s/t (Kink, 7" EP)

Bashing, thrashy punk by four German women. The musicianship is on the primitive side (the drumming isn't too sharp, to be honest) and sounds as though it's going to fall apart at times. Their anger and aggression gets them through to a point but there's definitely room for improvement. (

LOGIC PROBLEM-s/t (Abuse, 12")

A pile-driving attack of hardcore punk, the best material yet from this NC band. Well, the discography isn't that extensive yet, just a previous 7" and demo but this is high quality rage. Speedy songs that do follow a slightly similar rhythmic pattern as early COC or Double Negative (yeah, inevitable touchpoints from my lazy keyboard) but this is more blown-out sounding, as the guitar blasts out a sound akin to a nettled hornets nest. Cameron's vocals, with a tinge of distortion, cut through the raw mayhem with raspy authority. And they turn Gang Of Four's "5.45" into the type of bloody violence that appears on the "18 inch screen" in the lyrics, falling apart into a sputtering mess and battered beyond recognition. I imagine there's no room in there for the melodica used on the original. Nothing held back here. (

NIGHT BIRDS-s/t (demo)

Psyched To Die drummer Brian Gorsegner is the vocalist for this NJ band. The four songs each have a distinct approach--an echo of the Descendents for "Send Me Home," a little bit of Buzzcocks crossed Agent Orange for "Paranoid Times," some garage on "Can't Get Clean." This is sharp, jumpy punk fusing melody with the instrumental jab. Not a bad debut. (
6 Clydesdale Ct. Tinton Falls NJ 07701,

PINHEAD GUNPOWDER-Kick Over The Tracks (Recess, CD)

There's someone named Billie in this band and I think he might be the singer for some huge band but that's not really relevant here. Well, it's relevant in the fact that this kind of tuneful punk wears a lot better. Enough sly joking--Pinhead Gunpowder was another musical vehicle for Aaron Cometbus, who played drums and penned the lyrics. Three new songs continuing in the same snappy and catchy vein and the balance of the material is a "greatest hits" compendium from a band that didn't have any hits so to speak. If there was ever a classic Lookout Records sound, these guys fit the bill. And Aaron's lyrics are sharply observational and self-referential. Perhaps a bit sugary at times, especially the acoustic "On The Ave.," one of the new songs--and I was a lot more into this kind of sound in the early 90s before catching the hardcore bug again--but some of the songs remain engaging. I'm just not sure that it's enough to come off the shelf all that often. (

PISSED JEANS-King of Jeans (Sub Pop, CD)

With Pissed Jeans, up to now, it's been more about the live show than the recordings. Each of their previous albums had their moments of sonic crush but this is their strongest effort to date or perhaps most consistent. For want of a better term, "King Of Jeans" has a bit more accessibility. Accessible in the sense that the songs seem to have a sharper focus--NOT accessible in the sense that they're writing catchy pop ditties.
Not to put too fine a point or box things in but they conjure up Scratch Acid (Matt Korvette has more than a little David Yow in him), Laughing Hyenas and the Melvins mix-mastered together in different permutations. And speaking of the latter, look no further than "Spent," crushing away for over 7 minutes. This song provides a musical approximation of dragging your ass out of bed, sleeping for 8 hours but still waking up tired. Talking about how drinking water didn't satisfy. I imagine, though, that a caffeine jolt could have been an inspirational spark for the furious blast of "False Jesii Part 2" "She Is Science Fiction" and "Human Upskirt"--the latter is particularly explosive. Raucous and dangerous-sounding. (2013 4th Ave., 3rd Floor, Seattle, WA 98121,

THE POGO-Police War EP (Loud Punk, 7" EP)

The ranting vocals here might be coming from Jorge of the Casualties' cousin or clone or whatever. And while the two, speedy songs on the flip take on a few of that band's properties, there's something subtly different in interplay between the guitar and bass. It's almost like early 80s anarcho punk on speed along with the "punx" trappings. And the whole thing sounds sped up as it is--it plays on 33 but sounds like it's on 45. Effectively flailing. (PO Box 3067, Albany, NY 12203,

POINTBLANK-s/t (demo)

An Albany band with Joe (ex-Jury) on vocals and another demo I neglected for a bit, although it's had a good amount of airplay on the radio show. They were originally called Reagan's Still Dead and maybe they should have kept in since there have been a ton of bands called Pointblank over the years. No matter--this is full-bore hardcore punk that isn't the most original-sounding stuff but it more than gets the job done. Cranked up, fast and Joe's vocals bear a resemblance to Mr. Tony Erba from Gordon Solie Motherfuckers, Face Value et al. (


RAMMING SPEED-Always Disgusted, Never Surprised (Punks Before Profits, 7" EP)

Boston's metallic hellions Ramming Speed are back with four new tracks. The main muse is straight-up thrash metal with some blowtorch leads. That's particularly true for "Too Close To Almost," the best song here and almost close to catchy (sorry). Given to blasting on occasional and Jonah Livingston has the sticksmanship to pull it off but they're at their best when sticking to the traditional trappings. The lyrics deal with economic collapse and putting too much faith in political leaders i.e. the current occupant of the White House to make things better for the underclass ("No Hope"). Pretty good but you really need to see them in their live, hair-flying fury. (PO Box 1148, Grand Rapids, MI 49501,

RELIGIOUS SS DISORDER-Prey (Punks Before Profit, 7" EP)
Dark and churning punk with tribal-like rhythms, buzzing guitar and bass, plus vocals with a whole lotta reverb on them.
The title track begins with collage of clips repeating the word "terrorism" ad infinitum leading into the musical fray. The more aggressive punk side comes up for "Critically Think" and "People Not Property," but there are other times where there's an anarcho punk vibe and that adds a distinctive flair. One of the better recent releases from this label and well-packaged with a hand screened cover and poster. (PO Box 1148, Grand Rapids, MI 49501,

REPORTS-Bill Wyman Metal Detector/Attleboro Trailers (Ride The Snake, 7")
Yet another record that came out awhile ago. Two engaging songs with a skewed, primitive and chaotic beauty. In other words, poppy without being obvious about it. "Bill Wyman..." pulls one hell of a vocal hook out of the chorus and it all builds to a fever pitch with a gnashing, feisty determination. "Attleboro Trailers" favors a garage-style bash with searing guitar leads. The recording is perfect--it'd probably lose something in the traslation with cleaner production although calling it lo-fi is something of a misnomer. (

REVILERS-Stand Or Fall (Patac, 7")

Another fine dose of hearty 'n tuneful punk rock. As with the first EP, they favor punchy arrangements and endearinly gruff vocals, a '77-era meets No Future Records sound. "Road Rage" aims for a Motorhead style and sounds more like Motorhead-lite but that's the only misstep here. They're not changing the world but it's still decent. (

SHITTY LIMITS-Beware The Limits (Sorry State, LP)

Beware, indeed. There's a newer crop of UK punk bands playing with a rough 'n jarring sound that incorporates post-punk and garage into the aural mixer. This year has brought stellar 7"s from Fashion and Hygiene and the Shitty Limits come from the same region (London and surrounding regions) and a similar muse, that being a penchant for shaking things up. After a slew of earlier 7"s, some of which have been re-released, "Beware The Limits" is their first bigger-sized release and it uncorks a delirious, jittery sound. "Transitions" has a Fall-like tinge to it and if their vocalist Louis doesn't parrot Mark E. Smith, he still has a sing/speak/shout cadence. He practically drove himself into convulsions when they performed here over the summer and I wondered if he was going to
have an aneurysm from shaking his noggin too hard. The same thing might happen to you once the needle hits the vinyl. (1102 N. Greensboro St., Carrboro, NC 25710,

STATE-Wuste dtld EP (Gossenwelt, 7")

The State's second German and English languages EP (the title means "Dregs 'o Detroit") with two songs apiece in each tongue and taken from recordings ca. late '07/early '08. "You Against The World" is a solid change of pace for these guys, taking a rockin' punk turn with some blowtorch guitar. The other three songs run the gamut from a mid-speed wind-up ("Emo-X") to hammering hardcore ("Wuste Deutschland") to the no bullshit rager "Pop Tart." Not the greatest record ever by these stalwarts but the "You Against The World" and "Pop Tart" are definite keepers. (

TASTE THE FLOOR-s/t (Rising Riot, CD)

Cleanly-produced fast hardcore respecting the roots but having the modern twist. Maybe a little too clean for my liking since hardcore, at its best, needs some roughness but it's not a deal-breaker. The songs bristle with an urgency, both musically and in the vocals. These Italians eschew the chug and don't sweeten things up too much, either. Overall, nothing all that out of the ordinary--just songs that are well-played and energetic. (

WHORES OF WAR-s/t (self-released, 7" EP)
Due to my now-standard tardiness, the Bay Area band Whores of War have broken up before this review gets published. Ranting, thrashy hardcore from these three ladies/one gentleman and they would have fit in well on the early 80s Northern Cal. comp "Not So Quiet On The Western Front." Kat's vocals are murderous and the songs equally-nettled sounding. Not anything real distinctive about this crew (i.e. a tad generic) but it sounds good coming out of the speakers. 300 copies. (1033 Rosewood Ave., San Carlos, CA 94070,

Friday, October 02, 2009

Suburban Voice blog #79


Hi! Remember me? While Suburban Voice has been lagging in the print arena for, oh, six years, I've been trying to keep the blog running on a regular basis. And not successfully of late. I'm REALLY going to try to have another one of these posted in the next week or so since I have a backlog of record reviews. I do appreciate all the fine music sent my way and, even if I somehow fail to publish a review here, I try to get it on the radio show at least. So, with that in mind...

... the last three shows I went to, during the span of 17 days in September, featured what one would call "heritage" acts i.e. bands who have reunited or been around a wicked long time, as we say in MassLingo. One of 'em, Youth Brigade, were only broken up for a few years anyway. Their show and the one featuring Naked Raygun were both at the larger downstairs room of the Middle East and it was the first time I'd been there in a number of years. I was trying to remember when it was but it could have been 2002, when I saw the Rezillos. I did get to the upstairs room for the first time in perhaps five years in August to see another reunited band, Chronic Sick but that wasn't particularly good so I think I'll move on. The other show was at the ICC in Brighton with Rorschach, reunited for their first shows since '93.

People I talked to after the Naked Raygun show were telling me how they thought it was awesome, incredible etc. I wasn't nearly as overwhelmed. It was definitely great to hear the likes of "Treason," "Home of the Brave" (the opener), "I Don't Know" (yes, I was singing "what poor gods we do make" like everyone else) and especially the killer "Rat Patrol" and "Surf Combat." But it wasn't all that energetic. I know that Jeff Pezzati hasn't been in the best health but the playing was still on the tame side. I still don't think that Bill Stephens was ever an adequate replacement for John Haggerty. Incidentally, Haggerty's own "heritage" band, Pegboy opened for Face to Face at the House of Blues the following week but I refuse to patronize that corporate club with oppressive security unless it's the show of a lifetime or something. Getting back to this show, though perhaps it's something being lost in the large club environment. I've become accustomed to the intimacy of basements and smaller venues. Whatever the case, hardly a mindblowing performance.

That was pretty much the same case for Youth Brigade. They're out for a 25th anniversary tour, a couple of years late actually, to promote the "Let Them Know" project--a package with a book, DVD that tell the story of the band and BYO Records and either a double LP and CD or a smaller version with the CD. The musical portion features bands covering songs from the BYO catalog. I got the DVD and CD discs sans book and haven't had an opportunity to check out either one yet.

The Brigade did a career-spanning set and, truth be told, I haven't listened to much after "Sound and Fury" in recent years. It was fairly enjoyable and, yes, I sang along to "Sink With California" like everyone else! Just like with Raygun's songs. And like Raygun, the songs are strong on melody and this lineup has plenty of instrumental dexterity, particulary their newer bass-player Joey, who also contributes strong backing vocals.

Rorschach, on the other hand, did deliver the goods and then some. Hell, the usually-abysmal sound at the ICC was tolerable for once. Still plenty of echo due to the high ceilings but you were able to hear the vocals and that's a rare occurrence. I'm pretty sure the last time they were here was in '92 with Econochrist and Face Value at a church basement near Harvard Square. A heavy, lurching sound given to spasms of speed and Charles Maggio's throat-shredding timbre hasn't been dulled by the passage of time. This was also likely the first time I've ever heard both King Crimson ("21st Century Schizoid Man") and Black Flag ("My War") covered in the same set. Lots of old faces came out of the woodwork for this one and it was great to see one-time Suburban Voice photographer Justine DeMetrick for the first time in years.

REVIEWS OF RECORDS, TAPES, CDs (but no 8-tracks):

(taken from their MySpace page/pic: Simon Faulkner)

BATTLE RUINS-s/t (Rock'n'Roll Disgrace, tape)

New Mass. band with Brendan Radigan (XFilesX, Mind Eraser) on vocals and the ubiquitous Justin DeTore on drums. A sturdy rock-core sound with lyrics about the ravages and glory of various battles, with "traitors stomped out," to quote one of the song titles. Imagine Criminal Damage without the blatant No Future Records-isms and you're on the right track. Brendan's vocals soar with authority and the volume-drenched sound wears well. (

DAMAGE-Our World (self-released, 12")

There have been any number of bands called Damage over the years. These four lads are Swedish and have a decidedly old-school hardcore sound. Or, rather, taking those influences and playing them with the non-distorted guitar attack utilized by the likes of Smart Cops, Amdi Petersens Arme, et al. The drumming is a little bit one-dimensional but, otherwise, I have few complaints about their no-bullshit style. I got a nice note with the record talking about how it was co-released with a "DIY human resource bank called Eldsjal" (hope I spelled it correctly) that provides info on releasing records and printed matter, booking shows, etc. Anyway, this band has a winning scrappiness. (

EQUALITIES-On The Street! (Loud Punk, LP)

The view on the back cover is facing the stage and you see people in leather jackets festooned with the logos of Abrasive Wheels, Special Duties and Adicts and hair spiked or mohawked (?) and getting ready to sing along with the Equalities. There are plenty of boisterous singalongs on thie LP from this Japanese band. Hearty UK-82 inspired punk that also dips into the '77 yearbook for the Pistols-ish "The Spring Of "Haruko," with the "Holidays In The Sun" guitar sweep. This sound kind of played itself out for me some years back but, every once in awhile, it's fun to hear this sort of "up the punx" fodder and the production is booming instead of slick. (PO Box 3067, Albany, NY 12202,

IN DEFENCE-Into The Sewer (Learning Curve, CD)

The Minneapolis band who have their name spelled wrong, claims to contrary on “In Defense Is Our Name Spelled Wrong” (maybe they think they’re from the UK), go over the metallic cliff here and welcome the collision I’d imagine. This is some fired up riffa-thrash-a-rama starting with the opening chords of “Lessons In Headbanging.” Crunchy bits of NYHC slip in there, as well. Ben Crew barks out the vocals with conviction as he emotes about such pressing issues as the lameness of pizza (“The Only Good Thing About Pizza Is The Crust”), a dearth of circle pits (“Don’t Call Me A Moshist”) and even throws in an anti-Reagan sentiment or two (“Total Filler No Killer”). Yeah, it’s kind of silly and one wonders how much of it is wise-assery and how much is serious. I used to wonder the same about Good Clean Fun but In Defence are WAY better than those guys and these songs throttle nicely. (PO Box 18378, Minneapolis, MN 55418,

MURDER-SUICIDE PACT-Summer 2009 demo (CD)
This Florida band, fronted by the one and only Bob Suren (of Sound Idea/Burrito Records fame), are back from the dead and come back with a vengeance. Fourteen songs of damage-core played in a deliberate and full-bore fashion. A Black Flag/Bl'ast inclination has always been part of the band's sound and they harness it in a somewhat similar fashion as a band like Annihilation Time but with only a smidgen of the metalisms of the former. While a good chunk is at a medium clip, they'll occasionally bring on the thrash, such as for "Get Bored And Die." For a "laptop" recording, the sound isn't bad at all--good and punchy, not overly slick. I also think they're better now than 'back in the day.' Dark aggression and that darkness extends to the lyrics. Well, sometimes there's a self-improvement, keep forging ahead theme, as with the fiery "Full Time." Bob has a sinister, close to murderous (sorry) timbre in his voice, matched very well by the music. Good to have them back. (PO Box 3204, Brandon, FL 33509,

PAINTBOX-Trip, Trance & Travelling (HG Fact, CD)
As I wrote about the "Gemstone" EP earlier this year (I referred to it as "Raw Ore" but that was one of the songs), Paintbox follow a musical everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach. In that particular song--re-recorded for this album--you've got 70s-style rock guitar, female harmony vocals and a thrash break with sax bleating. In one song. Quite a few of the 16 songs here are mini-epics and you hear everything from traditional Japanese hardcore to balladry to metal to a reggae take on a traditional Japanese dance. Some of the songs are re-recordings of earlier material accompanying the new compositions. At their crazed best, the riffs have a ferocious attack as the late great Chelsea juggles power-chords and soaring metallic leads. That's the attraction, along with Mune's inaniac vocals and the pummel often has an inherent hookiness. And weird references come to mind--the opening guitar line for "Cry Of The Sheeps" has me thinking of "Laughing" by the Guess Who, the horn charts echo Chicago, the harmonica on "Save The Ground" conjures Blues Traveler and THAT's not good but made up for by the rampage and Ziggy Stardust guitar strum. It's a lot to get through and pretty overwhelming in one sitting but it's also an album you're not likely to forget, be it good or bad and that's definitely the case here. For instance, I don't think I need to hear the jazzy ballad "A Field In The Moonlight," even with the heavier takeover in the midsection, again. But, man, I can't stop singing "Cry Of The Sheeps." If you're adventurous, this is one thrilling ride.
It's something of a cliche but I can't think of another band that sound quite like this. I should mention that the packaging is stellar, with a colorful gatefold sleeve and lyric booklet. (

RAKKAUS-Jokainen Paiva On Taistelua (Tuska & Ahditus, LP)

A blending (sheesh, sounds like I'm talking about coffee) of different styles but this is a melodic sound with elements of Swedish and Japanese hardcore and the occasionally epic propensity. The guitars aren't tuned that low so things don't collapse under their own weight. When the compositions are kept brief and throttling, it's the best display of this Finnish band's power. Katri has a commanding vocal presence--sandpaper rough but not one dimensional. There's the occasional instance of dreaded snare slam taking a shortcut to speed things up but that hinders more than helps. Definitely not a light-hearted affair--the lyrical translations mention daily struggles, pain "within me that cuts deep," etc. "The sky is filled with dark clouds" from the song with the English title "Rain" kind of sums thing up. Nothing really bogs down to a crawl and the band's inherent power is effectively conveyed. Might be a little somber for fans of the raw/aggressive Scandi-core. (Kannaksenkatu 6 as.7, 33250 Tampere, FINLAND,

RF7-Hatred On The Rise (Just 4 Fun, CD)

Kind of a round-robin deal here or maybe showdown, if a band can have a showdown against itself. The deal is there are two lineups of RF7 on this disc--the original lineup from the 80s play on the odd-numbered songs and the newer lineup on the evens and they're all current recordings. Vocalist Felix Alanis and guitarist Nick Lamagna are the only performers in both of them. Differences? To these ears, the '00s version has a tad more sprightliness in the playing. In both cases, it's the same sort of straight-forward fast west coast punk they've always plied and Felix's vocals remain some of the gruffest in the business, without degenerating into indecipherable growls. Read closely and there's a religious element to a few songs, particularly "Witness," basically offering a warning of a "burning fire/gnashing teeth" fate for the non-believer. Hmmm... In any case, RF7 have always been a decent but not outstanding band, with the occasionally killer song and that's the case for this album. In other words, fairly average. (

ROT IN HELL-Hallways Of The Always (Grot, CD)

Metal, hardcore and crust merging together. I’m tiring of having to compartmentalize everything but that’s the broad description. The riffing is hot and heavy and Rot In Hell utilize a few familiar riffs here and there, be it the Celtic Frost-isms of “Final Word” or the even-more-brazen appropriation of Slayer’s “Angel of Death” for their own “Black Omega." It does falter towards the end, with the lengthy “Psionic Annihilation” and “Now, Today, Tomorrow and Always,” more of an experimental piece with acoustic guitar fading into some sort of sonic collage with a religious sermon underneath it. I’m sure there’s some kind of grand statement being attempted but it’s not worth spending the 8 minutes to wade through it. Otherwise, a more than adequate amount of ragingness. (

SLAP THE CULTURE-s/t (Cock Suck, CD)
This came out awhile ago (as in last year) but just landed in my mailbox recently and it's been landing on my CD player quite frequently. It also made its way into my iPod, which doesn't happen that much for newer albums. This Japanese band have a snotty early 80s-inspired thrash sound along the lines of Street Trash or Total Fury and the vocal delivery is similar to those bands' vocalists Josh and Kenji . Brief catchy-but-flailing songs following each other in quick succession. The three bonus songs--adding up to a total of 16 in around 12 minutes--are rougher and a tad more chaotic, especially "I Wana (sic) Skate." Lyrics are in English and aren't exactly poetic but convey a middle-finger attitude quite effectively. Inspiring wrecklessness. (

SPITS-The Spits (Recess, CD)
The Spits release their fourth self-titled album, their first for Recess. It's unofficially called "IV," much like Led Zeppelin's fourth album was called the same thing. And they get through about 7 of the 10 songs in the time it'd take you to listen to "Stairway To Heaven." The closest thing to an epic here is "Flags," timing out at 2 1/2 minutes. This is punk minimalism possessing a crude '77-era catchiness but they let wavier/nervier chunks in the mix--synth lines and washes and plenty of distortion effects on the instruments and vocals. "Flags," mentioned earlier, is the roughest song here, driven by muffled guitar and prominent bass and the chorus "wooah" perfectly played.
You might be thinking of accusing them of "d-u-m-b" schtick but it's very clever, dark schtick that'll have 'ya pogoing around. And "School's Out," with the line "we're gonna burn the teacher's car tonight" is way cooler than "Rock 'n Roll High School." (

TIMEBOMBS-Belong In Hell (Cowabunga, LP)

Hell? Hellacious! A cataclysmic barrage of pure energy music from the feedback-laden intro to "Safe For The Whole Family" to the bombastic conclusion of the final pair of songs, "I Belong In Hell" and "Not Safe." That's for sure! The instruments sputter and squeal in an eruption of pure craziness while vocals fight to rise over the clatter. You won't be humming the songs but you'll certainly feel the impact. This is the same sort of heady noise that's been plied by Sex Vid the past few years and I could see this band being a violent force of nature in the live setting. It's a pretty formidable force right here in the listening room. (

WITCH HUNT-Burning Bridges To Nowhere (Alternative Tentacles, CD)

So I've been watching all this back and forth about the health care debate, how it fosters socialism, a takeover of the government and so on. It's time for a musical respite but that doesn't mean it's time to stop thinking about those issues and Witch Hunt's "Sick Industry" puts it into an angry lyrical focus. "Burning Bridges To Nowhere" continues the move to a more tuneful sound while maintaining the energetic hardcore emphasis. There are moments that bring late 80s DC 'core like Gray Matter to mind (as with the aforementioned "Sick Industry" and "Counting Down The Days") and the warm guitar textures channel a Leatherface influence. There's also a sense of dramatic intensity for "Void" and parts of "Counting Down The Days." One change is Rob Fitzpatrick handling an increasing amount of the vocals although Nicole and Janine are hardly silent here. The progression continues and nothing's diluted. (PO Box 419192, SF, CA 94141,