Thursday, December 26, 2013

Suburban Voice blog #107


I know, I know... about fucking time! The next post will be my Best of 2013 roundup. As always, records and CDs are welcome for review. I don't get to cassettes all that much anymore, unfortunately. And "digital promos" will NEVER, EVER be reviewed but might get some radio airplay (however, I still mainly play vinyl and CDs because MP3s are still something of a pain in the ass to deal with when recording the show).

I love you all. Happy holidays and all that...


ABOLITIONIST-The Growing Disconnect (1859/multi-label, LP)
I'm very selective about the punk w/melody thing these days. It has to have punch and it has to burn the hooks into your subconsciousness. Vocals need to be assertive without coming across as overly-emotional or whiny-sounding. Abolitionist get it done, here. Some great riffs and melody lines and there's plenty of burn, plenty of passion in the lyrics and playing. Also, this is way grittier and harder-edged than their previous album, "It Used To Rain."  There's a theme that runs through the songs--disconnect, discontent, dissent... Fighting back in the face of an oppressive system, the "United States of Endless Struggle," to quote one of the songs' titles. There's definitely a raise-your-fist and sing along aspect and I've seen/heard a lot of that over the years. One grows cynical but I'd rather hear this than some right-wing, libertarian claptrap, even when it ends up merely preaching to the converted. (


Bad Daddies don't mess around--four quick songs in rapid succession with nary a chance to catch your breath. Scrappy punk with feedback-laden guitar, although "The Flood" turns down the distortion for some minimalist, Rough Trade Records-type punk, while "Bad Year" has a catchy chorus. Fun, as always. Meanwhile, the band with the unpronouncable name, Lognhalsmottagningen (I apologize if I spelled it wrong) once again connect with their goofball charm--even have some handclaps. Minimalist, KBD-style punk meets hardcore from two gentlemen, one of whom lives in Arizona and one in Sweden and the lyrics are in Swedish. (

BAD PEOPLE-Pearls Before Swine (Feral Kid/Ut, 7" EP)
Biff from Brown Sugar plays in this band--in fact, his rumbling bass starts the proceedings, and this band share sonic similarities. A frenetic punk sound but opting for a treblier approach. Along with the thrashy songs, there are some garagey excursions, as well, particularly for "Weird One," which adds organ to the fray. A solid debut. Looking forward to hearing more. (;

CITIZENS PATROL/REPROACH-Split (Spastic Fantastic/Way Back When, 7" EP)
Two veteran bands--one Dutch (C.P.) and one Belgian (Reproach) and they remain damned good at hammering out pissed-off old school hardcore. An international thrash annihilation, as Reproach exclaim on "Kanpai!," which is actually about their affection for Japanese hardcore bands. Citizens Patrol is a bit more in a traditional thrashing vein, while Reproach add hammering and double-speed touches. "'92" is an ode to adolescence--it's funny hearing someone musing about being 13 and obsessed with skateboarding that year. The best I could do was ride one of those chopper-type bicycles and I went over the handlebars one time. Probably got fucked up more than any time in the pit, too. Enough about that. Both of these bands connect with lean, aggressive sounds. (

CRIATURAS-Espiritu De Libertad (Residue, LP)
Is there such a thing as melodic d-beat? I'm not sure if that's the right description but Criaturas fit it. Their second album has the rampaging riffs but Victor's guitar riffs aren't just straight buzzsaw chording. Dru's vocals are distinctive as usual, varying between visceral ranting and singing--not sweetly, but in more of a soothing (?) fashion.  Lyrics are in Spanish, with no English translations but, even though my Spanish is very limited, I can hear the passion and urgency in Dru's delivery and it's not hard to pick up the anti-authoritarian themes expressed in the songs, as well as the dramatic cover artwork. That's while being bowled-over by this band's driving sounds. The band can flat-out play and it adds dimension and depth to the attack. Definitely one of my favorite bands these days and a lock for my top 10 of 2013. (

CRIMINAL DAMAGE-Call of Death (Feral Ward, LP)
Not exactly new recordings--it was done piecemeal from 2008-2012 but Criminal Damage are back with their third album of tuneful, No Future Records-inspired punk. And maybe I never noticed it before, but the rhythm guitar/drums tandem have some striking Ramones similarities. Nothing d-u-m-b about it. The title track is one of the best they've ever done--nearly four minutes of blissful warmth, driven great guitar hooks and introduced with an ear grabbing bassline. A total fucking knockout to wrap up this strong disc. (

DESTRUCTIVE NEW AGE-DNA Demo 2011 (Kangaroo/Way Back When, 7" EP)
A ripper of a 7" by this Maine band--yes, there's good hardcore punk in Maine, apparently. Fast and thrashing with a tougher, harder edge to it, but not falling into the beatdown core camp. This has an old school, chug-free sound. From their demo (duh) and there was a 2012 EP, which is also worthwhile (and something I still need to get). (

E.A.T.E.R.-Doomsday Troops (Loud Punk, 7" EP)
A reissue of E.A.T.E.R.'s 1983 EP. This isn't the the UK band but a Swedish band whose full name was Ernst and the Edsholm Rebels. The record starts with a pisstake pop intro that leads into the full-tilt thrash attack. This band had the traditional Swedish elements but there was also a ramshackle Riot City Records flavor in these songs. E.A.T.E.R. weren't always the tightest band--the drumming sometimes lags behind and the vocals also don't always sync with the music. But there's something to the whole sum being greater than its parts description when you're talking about this band because this one's a rager, well-worthy of a re-press. Nice packaging, with a lyric booklet included. (PO Box 6115, Albany, NY 12203,

GAS RAG-6 Track EP (Even Worse, 7" EP)
Vinyl press of a recent demo, which was recorded after their Human Rights 7" and it's another dose of boiling-over, thrashy high energy hardcore. Old-school 80s-inspired wreckage and favoring a trebly sound. Hell, they even touch on an 80s political topic ("Chernobyl"). And, being the wiseasses they are, you have to get up and move the needle to play the last song on side one, which is a bonus track and a cover of the Fix's "Vengeance." (

THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY-Crunch On! Demo 1984 (Radio Raheem, 7" EP)
After Drew Stone (from The Mighty C.O.'s) moved back to NYC from Boston after going to Emerson College, he ended up in this hardcore combo. Raw, loud and fast, coming on in a similar vein as early Agnostic Front and Urban Waste (albeit without the hornets nest guitar sound). "The Road Warrior," a crowd favorite (well, it went over well when I saw them) is a mid-tempo, rock 'n roll ode to... you can probably guess it. This is a vinyl pressing of the High and the Mighty's demo, which was previously released on the Grand Theft Audio anthology that combined these songs with live material from the Stone-fronted Antidote lineup, recorded in 1984. Nicely packaged in a 12 page booklet with lyrics, flyers and photos. (


HOAX-s/t (self released, LP)
There's a song on Hoax's eponymous debut LP called "Sick Punk" and, yeah, I guess that fits the description of this band and it's "aesthetic," if I could use such a pretentious term. A somewhat hyped band that's worth the hype. Visceral, edgy and soul-rending hardcore, from Jesse's gutteral emanations to the mid-to-fast paced buzz 'n burn (hey, more pretentious word-flinging!). This is an incredible visual package, as well. Instead of a lyric sheet, there are six two-sided, fold out posters that have the words accompanied by visually-striking (and often-disturbing) imagery. I have labels trying to send me digital downloads to review. Fuck that--sure, you get plenty from the band's churning, heavy, build up-and-release tenseness but this just adds to the effect. The page for "Drive" shows a sharp-toothed beast no-doubt letting out some kind of primal scream. Primal scream therapy is actually an apt description. (

IMPALERS-s/t (540/Todo Destruido, LP)
VAASKA/IMPALERS-Split (Beach Impediment, 7" EP)'
A couple of raging records from Impalers--their debut album and a split with fellow Austin-ians Vaaska. Both bands feature guitarist Victor Gutierrez, who is one of the best axe-slingers in punk these days. His lead breaks are searing without being excessive. Impalers' sound is a bit cleaner than in the past. No echo on the vocals and not quite as blown-out but don't take that to mean it's slick or over-produced. It's Swedish-inspired and they go back and forth between thrash and pounding rockers, the latter of which were some of the standout songs when I saw them play live. Vaaska's latest pair of tracks continue in the same wrecking-ball style they've always plied, although they've eschewed the "glow" or cloud-like ambiance (not sure how you'd describe it) of their first pair of albums on this EP and their last 7". I saw these two bands together over the summer and it was a killer show and the aggressiveness translates well to vinyl. (

JOINT D≠-Satan Is Real Again, Again... (Sorry State, LP)
Joint D≠'s first LP was my album of the year in 2012 so expectations were high, of course. On their second longplayer, there's not the knockout punch of a song like "(I'm) Haunted" but plenty of raucous, full-on punk that maintains a thundercloud ambiance--that's particularly true for the intro and bridge for "E.R.V." A stirring mesh of fury and speed and there's an echo of Die Kreuzen-ish guitar haunt at times, such as for "False Flag," a pointed indictment of the Confederate flag "heritage" bullshit (these guys are from North Carolina). Incidentally, the title is a play on the old Louvin Brothers album "Satan Is Real Again" and the full name of the album is "Satan Is Real Again, Again, Or: Feeling Good About Feeling Good About Bad Thoughts." The Louvins' album peddled a strongly religious theme but I won't be so lame or trite as to say that Joint D≠'s music is a religious experience. A spiritual uplift perhaps, something soul stirring but not a religious experience. I'll stop now. (

KONTRASEKT-End of Destruction (MCR/Vex, 12")
Not that I want to give away anyone's age, but Kontrasekt's guitarist/vocalist Bob has a few years on me and he's never lost his urge to throttle, with URBN DK some years back and now in Kontrasekt. Not exactly the end of destruction, this is a relentless, near out-of-control attack of buzzed-out speedcore. Sometimes, it sounds on the verge of falling apart during the speedier parts but the hammer comes down hard on tracks like "Indomitus" and "Consumed," which closes out this 12". All the subtlety of a 2x4 across the skull. (

LONG KNIFE-Wilderness (Feral Ward, LP)
Pretty brazen Poison Idea worship here--mid-period PI, to narrow it down a bit, plus their vocalist Colin sounds rather like Jerry A. and they're from Portland, to boot. That stated, it's quite credible Poison Idea worship and these guys can play their asses off. A smokin' tandem of thrash with metallic leads, nimble bass-lines and strong drumming (Joe Schuerger, formerly with ANS, is behind the kit). The production does have some slickness but it doesn't diminish the power of these songs. (

THE LOVE TRIANGLE-Clever Clever (Static Shock/Sorry State, LP)
Tim and Louis from the late, great Shitty Limits are in this band (Love Triangle actually started before Shitty Limits' demise). These guys carry over the jittery guitar sound but it's got a poppier bent, as opposed to the garage-meets-hardcore flavor of that band. Caffeine-rush, jabbing compositions that pack the hooks. The album was recorded and mixed by Daniel Husayn from Red Dons and there's definitely a little of that band's stamp here, particularly for "Be Old Soon" and "Swift Exit," although the songs are sprightlier, punchier and shorter and I also here some late 70s mod punk and even an early Orange Juice inspiration coming out in the bright compositions. Melodic but also possessing a sharp edge. (

MAJOR DAMAGE-Sheer Mayhem EP (Even Worse/Way Back When, 7" EP)
Raw 'n rough hardcore punk, courtesy of Brandon Ferrell (Direct Control, Government Warning, etc). As I've mentioned before, Major Damage is one of Brandon's solo projects and it comes on like a cross-breeding of early Boston and NYC hardcore. "Can't Fight Back" even starts with the kind of rant that Vile's "5 to 10" did. Tons of distortion hanging in the air, hammering drums (let's not forget that Mr. Farrell is one of the best sticksman in the business), while he conjures up his inner Choke. One mean-sounding disc, just the way I like it. (

MELT-BANANA (photo stolen from another blog)

"Fetch" is  Japanese band Melt-Banana's first studio album in six years. A collision of manic, noisy hardcore, experimental elements and adding sublime melody at times.The synth/keyboards and programming create a ear-enveloping mesh, a sound that washes over the senses in nearly an otherworldly fashion. And there's there Yasuko's peppy sing-yelp that acts as the punctuation mark. The sequencer-gone-amok segment of "Hive" is one those mind-melting moments. "Infective Defective" has a danceable thump to go with the tuneful cacophony, as well as "Zero" (which veers way too close to dance music for me). Melt-Banana have been around since the early 90s and this album falls on the more-accessible side of the spectrum of their recordings I've heard over the years. Don't take that to mean this is a sedate effort by any stretch--they challenge and provoke but there's still beauty in chaos. By the way, if you happen to go on YouTube, you should check out their cover of the Damned's "Neat Neat Neat." It's pretty fucking cool. (


MERCY KILLINGS-s/t (Beach Impediment, 7" EP)
A new band with Mark Shubert from Wasted Time and Mike Scibetta from Direct Control, among other Virginia hardcore luminaries. Some of these guys were recently in Violent Outburst and at least one song ("Force of Fusion") was in that band's repertoire. There ain't no mercy here. Just hardcore--loud and aggressive hardcore, influenced by Poison Idea and with some d-beat thump. Not blinding thrash--these songs are mainly delivered at a measured, mid-to-fast pace. Mark sounds as bellicose as always and the music comes on full-tilt, enhanced by the band's two-guitar attack. Great start. (

NEGATIVE PRESS-Long Haul (Inimical, LP)
I was told there were members of other Seattle bands, such as Criminal Code, but this is something of a throwback to the aggro-driven sounds associated with labels like Amphetamine Reptile in the early 90s or maybe some of the non-suck Sub Pop bands (and, in retrospect, there was plenty of suck associated with that label but I digress...). It's not the whole story, either. Negative Press rock hard but without the cheesiness often associated with that phrase and they also get noisier and jazzier (?). Sax is introduced into some songs and everything wraps up with the unholy, lumbering pigfuck (anyone remember that term?) of "Naked Idiot." A few similarities to Pissed Jeans, Jesus Lizard (the David Wm. Sims bass-lurch of "The Smoker") and even Bl'ast ("Stillborn"). An inviting racket, indeed, but also possessing nuance and subtlety. (PO Box 2803, Seattle, WA 98111,

NUDES-Sister EP (Inimical, 7")
Inimical is cranking out some killer records lately. Nudes play nasty, acidic (not acid rock--I mean acidic in attitude) punk. After the speedy gnarl of "Fiend," Nudes slip into a noisy, pounding sound for "Sickfucker." The two songs on the flip are delivered at a medium tempo with driving bass and seething, molten guitar licks. Vocals are spat out with a petulant snottiness. This band loves to abrade and they don't even make the lyrics accessible. You have to hold the sleeve apart to view the lyrics and info printed on the back side of each panel. Not that those words are all-that legible. I can't make out more than "stay away you junkie fuck." To quote a song title, sick fuckers, indeed and that's meant as a compliment. (PO Box 2803, Seattle, WA 98111,

OBLITERATION-War Is Our Destiny (Beach Impediment, 7" EP)
The title track is a cover (albeit truncated) of the Saint Vitus song and Obliteration--with Jon Westbrook from Knife Fight and members of various Boston bands--Mind Eraser, Waste Management, etc--play raw, occasionally metal-tinged hardcore that also has a Swedish aura at times. Throat-rending vocals from Mr. Westbrook and a full-tilt musical assault possessing speed and crush. Loud and ugly-sounding, punctuated by scorching guitar riffs and leads. The Vitus song is handled well, given a good pummeling. Just good 'n loud. (

OPPOSITION RISING-Get Off Your Ass, Get Off Your Knees (Opposition/multi-label, 10" EP)
Bill Damon (Toxic Narcotic/Mouth Sewn Shut) is just as pissed off now as he was 25 years ago when he started his long punk journey and it comes out in his agitated lyrics and vocals. Musically, Opposition Rising have a hard-charging hardcore punk attack. Most of the songs are delivered at a mid-to-fast crush, although "Get Off Your Ass" adds a reggae guitar jab and that comes out fully for "Opposition Dub," a reggae re-working of "The Rich Are Killing The Poor" from their first album. Still kicking ass. (PO Box 1143, Allston, MA 02134,


OUT COLD-A Heated Display (Painkiller, LP)
A posthumous album, due to the fact that Out Cold quietly called it a day in 2009 and also due to the death of vocalist Mark Sheehan in 2010. The story is that Mark and drummer John Evicci laid down some basic tracks in 2005 (with Mark playing rhythm guitar, as he did on other recordings). After Mark passed away, it was decided to complete the recordings. Additional tracks were recorded with bassist Mikey Flynn and guitarist Mike "Deuce" Stauffer, and the vocals were handled by Out Cold's first singer Kevin Mertens. The end result is this 14 song ripper. Kevin handles the vocals with agitated aplomb and the band tear through their songs in clockwork-like fashion, a good mix of pure thrash and medium-speed ragers. Nothing half-assed, up to the level of their previous albums and the recording quality is sharp without being slick. I miss this band and I really miss Mark. A fitting epitaph. Out Cold never did anything fancy, never gave a crap as to whether or not they were part of any trend or scene. They were a no-nonsense hardcore punk band and a damned great one at that. By the way, there were 14 other songs recorded and those will eventually see the light of day, as well. (

RAW NERVES-Futile Efforts (Man In Decline, LP)
The first release with Raw Nerves' new vocalist Mike Dubose, who replaced Matt Svendsen. There's a bit of a back story there, but I won't go into it and focus on reviewing the record instead. Mike's vocal style is harsher and gutteral and it meshes pretty well with the band's heavy crust-inspired attack. Tempos are slackened more than in the past although the pace is picked up on tracks like "Reproduced," "Always Forget," and "Limitless," which all go right for the throat with a speed-driven tumult. Lyrics rail against societal injustices but feelings of futility are exhorted for "Not Getting Better." The title track, meanwhile, turns inward for its critique. Brad Boatright from From Ashes Rise mastered the album and Raw Nerves sound certainly has a kinship with that band, as well as fellow Portlandians Tragedy (probably moreso). A sense of sameness settles in for the plodding final trio of tracks and that drags the album to its conclusion. I miss the raw/fast elements that they've cut back on, although this album has its moments. (

RULETA RUSA-Aqui No Es (Trabuc/Sorry State, LP)
First full-length for this Bay Area band, whose vocalist Jose used to be in Peligro Social. Super-catchy songs that have some decided UK-82 influences crossed with melodic Spanish punk and Jose's vocals have an engaging quality--just enough of a rasp to give them increased presence. Some real rousers here, especially "Me Dan Asco," with singalong "ah-ahs" on the chorus. Hot guitar licks and a punchy emphasis make this a treat from start to finish. (

SICK THOUGHTS-Need No One (Can't Stand 'Ya!, 7" EP)
A one-man or, more accurately, one-teenager "band." Drew Owen, the 16 year old mastermind behind this project, apparent don't need no one. Rough, snotty punk done on a four-track so the sound is quite primitive and it's all the better for it. Blown out-sounding KBD/garage-style fodder making one hell of an enjoyable racket. Drew is quite prolific already and he's only been at it since early 2013. No doubt this kid has a bright future. (

SPACE WOLVES-Space Wolves IV (Ut, tape)
A side-project for one of the guys in Bad People (see review above). Short (sometimes well under a minute) power-pop compositions although there's not always a lot of power. Sometimes, it sounds like something you'd hear at a sock hop, especially "Ethel." That's not a good thing. One of the songs is a cover by late 70s band New Math and the original version (which I looked up on YouTube) has a bit more punch. You can also hear that the near-chiming guitar playing is heavily influenced by that band. I like a well-crafted power pop song but it has to have some "oomph" to it. That's absent here. (

THE STOPS-s/t (Residue, 7")
Melodic punk by these five women from Portland (their bass-player Cissie played in the late, great Pedestrians) that has a darker hue but doesn't delve into the gloomy post-punk realm that's permeated that city (and other areas) over the past few years. Stefania's vocals sound like a female counterpart to Doug Buns from Red Dons, right down to the phrasing. The four songs are punchy, two of them at a mid-paced clip and a pair of faster ones. Not bad. (

TOXIC HOLOCAUST-Chemistry of Consciousness (Relapse, CD)
Toxic Holocaust have come a long way since I saw them play in a basement space in scenic Allston in 2005. A ravenous, thrash-metal machine with meat cleaver riffing and non-excessive leads and down 'n dirty, growling vocals. 80s-inspired rage but without the party-hearty atmosphere. This is head-down, no-nonsense, punk-inspired material. Sure, there are a few pages taken from the Book of Slayer and some  rock 'n roll moves and Swedish hardcore touches show up, as well, but I'm overanalyzing. Just turn it up loud and prepare to have your skull rattled. (

TV FREAKS-Two (Schizophrenic, LP)
The Freaks' first album was in my top 10 of 2012. While their second longplayer didn't grab me at first, that didn't last long. "Two" really sank in after a few listenings and the single-word titled compositions have a whole lotta punch. As mentioned before, they sometimes drink from the same well as Eddy Current Suppression with the jittery guitar and big bass-lines but there's a fieriness, as well. A gnarled mesh, a repetitive throb that will work its way into your brain. "Game" is whirling, jabbing head-messer with some wah-wah pyrotechnics. A few of the tracks brought Nirvana to mind, believe it or not--"Salvation," for instance, rides a similar riff as that band's "Mr. Moustache" and "Friend" is also rockin' in a 90s sort of way--and that's not meant to be a pan, either. No mope, just muscle and it's a volume-drenched journey. (17 W. 4th St., Hamilton, ON L9C 3M2, CANADA,

VARIOUS-Drop The Needle--Boston Punk Anthology (Trev, CD)
A collection of various bands that the Stilphen brothers--Chuck and Glen--played guitar and bass in respectively from the early 80s to early 90s. The real find here is the five tracks by Smegma and the Nunz, fronted by the late Alec "Smegma" Steere. Smegma was in what was arguably Boston's first hardcore punk band, Leper, in 1980-81 and I hope someone will eventually do a release of their sick demos. They only had one officially-released song, "Mums," on the Wicked Good Time Volume 2 compilation. That's not here but the Nunz are and they played snotty punk and thrash. "Napalm Sticks To Kids" (great title, eh?), with its ominous opening guitar peal, connects with a winning scabrousness. "Insanity," which has a rockier feel, eventually ended up in the Freeze's repertoire. The Nunz more or less morphed into the second lineup of Gang Green, with Smegma out and Chris Doherty in. They're represented with the fun and raucous "Let's Drink Some Beer," this version of which originally appeared on the Mr. Beautiful Presents All Hard comp (and that was one of the best tracks). After that, the Stilphens went in a rock direction with Scratch, Mallet-Head and Celebrity Death Certificate. Hard rock material that probably would have been at home on Sub Pop and the like (Mallet-Head were actually signed to a major label subsidiary) and, while it's listenable from a musical standpoint, a little of the vocals for these bands goes a long way.  What I probably would have been furiously rockin'-out to in the late 80s/early 90s hasn't aged particularly well. The furious ""El Monstro" by Scratch is an exception. The Smegma tracks would have made for one hell of an EP. They're definitely worth hearing in any format. (PO Box 66104, Auburndale, MA 02466,

WORMS-s/t (Last Watt/Darkworld, LP)
Worms are a Western Mass. band who most-certainly spent a lot of time listening to Dinosaur, Jr--the Mascis-inspired guitar leads that pop up from the time to time make that an inescapable conclusion. This isn't a mere copy, though.  Engaging, hooky melody lines and with subtle shadings but always accompanied by a brute forcefulness that never wavers. These guys started life under the name Whirl but changed their name earlier this year (another Whirl threatened legal action if they didn't) and this is their second full-length album. It's dense thundercloud of heavy riffage and plowing bass that would have fit in well with the early 90s Amphetamine Reptile bands--yes, there's that comparison again but it's accurate, particularly for "Gun," driven by a relentless bass line and then overlaid with howling vocals and noise-stun guitar. "Ice Skater" draws the album to a more sedate close, both musically and vocally, quiet after the storm, I suppose. Even with the slightly-less electrifying conclusion, this is still a formidable, ear-grabbing and head-messing effort. (57 Amherst Road, Pelham, MA 01002,

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Suburban Voice blog #106


No excuses... I have none. Here's a new blog (finally!) And, yes, there's still a backlog so if you were nice enough to send a record and don't see the review here, you might see it next time. The next one won't take over four months. How long will it be? I'll let you know as soon as I do.


Every once in awhile, I make an effort to review the pile of cassette demos that threaten to take over my review rack (I think I get more cassettes than CDs, these days). So here are some that have caught my ear, lately. Until recently, I had a tape deck in my car but finally traded in the 2000 Corolla for something a little newer and, alas, there isn't a tape deck. But rest assured that I still have a few functioning decks in the house so I'll still try to review them on occasion. By the way, I do play demos on the radio show but need them in digital form to do that.


The Brood are a Philly band with members of Lost Cause, Endless Nightmare,Witch Hunt and others and, as you'd expect, this is aggressive, energetic hardcore punk that's not all that different than their previous aggregations. Bruising guitar riffs, driving bass-lines and walloping drums, topped off with Ned's gruff vocals, given strong backup by Janine. A sense of despair emerges from the lyrics--the timeless laments about power and corruption, mindless religiosity, although they express a glimmer of hopefulness (wishfulness?) for "One Day." A potent musical display. (

Fuck You Pay Me is Cleveland legend Tony Erba's latest band and their debut demo is the five track Enhancement Talent. Given Erba's involvement, as well as how awesome their name is (it comes from a line in Goodfellas) , hopes were high and I'm not disappointed. Loud and fast hardcore with the occasional rock 'n roll twist ("Scab City"). The last track is "I Dig Pain," which you might remember from the infamous punk rock C.H.I.P.S. episode. Maybe the next recording will including "Choke" from the Quincy punk episode. (

Along with the Punch In The Face album you'll see reviewed later in this installment, their vocalist Ebro sent me a pair of demos from more recent projects, Pitfall and Pillage. Pitfall has 3/4 of PITF's lineup, and Ebro handles both drums and vocals. Oi-tinged punk with a bare-knuckled brawny approach. Meanwhile, Pillage play with a relentless intensity. Fast and hammering and also tight, more along the lines of his bandmates' units, which include MK UItra and Sick/Tired. Cool cover of Siege's "Starvation." They play fast without veering into one-dimensional powerviolence. (

Savageheads includes members of Male Nurses, Bloodkrow Butcher and No Sir I Won't playing punk in an early 80s UK vein--Partisans and Abrasive Wheels come to mind. Played a fast clip and both feisty and catchy. And I don't have to worry about getting poked by a sharp stud on someone's leather jacket while listening to this. A strong debut. (  

I loved Plates's album Salvation Morning, which came out last year (or maybe it was late 2011--no matter). It was a dense and mesmerizing effort and they've decided to release their final EP, Four Horsemen of Beauty, on a tape and append it with the tracks from their 7"s, a few unreleased songs and some live radio recordings. There's a haunting tunefulness in their sound but, instead of gothy shimmer, they keep the guitars loud and fuzzy. The older songs have more punk oomph on occasion ("Romanian Rich," for instance) and, while I was originally lukewarm to some of those recordings, hearing them again indicates I might have been hasty in my appraisal--they're better than I remember them being. A track like "Oh The Marching" comes screaming out of the speakers. (Drug Party,



BAD AMERICAN-Bruises (1124, 7" EP)
Bruises, eh? Appropriate title for this Bethlehem, PA band's latest EP. As with their previous releases, the songs bash away in mid-tempo fashion and Ray's vocals are nightmarish as he barks out the bile-filled, fragmentary lyrics. And he seems to like it--"Gratified by pain/Satisfied by pain/Completion by pain..." Or maybe it's just an observation on how people go through their lives accepting their plight. Whatever the case, the rage comes through in every respect. (

BAD SKIN-s/t (Bad Vibrations, 7" EP)

From the label that brought you the School Jerks, as well as the Kremlin 12" reviewed below comes another nettled-sounding Toronto band who, unfortunately, seem to have packed it in. Raw, bile-filled hardcore punk that revels in ugliness but I get the feeling they've listened to their share of KBD punk, as "Scabs" has that kind of a feel. The biography that accompanies the record is hilarious. The author admits it's largely "complete and utter bullshit" but he has a colorful way with words and when he says they were the "closest thing this city has seen to real, honest raw punk in decades," I'm somewhat skeptical, I'll bet these guys were a holy terror to watch. You can hear it in the four songs here. (

BIG EYES-Almost Famous (Grave Mistake, CD)

Loud, mid-paced power-poppy rock that sounds, at times, like a more-assertive Fastbacks. The guitar riffs are melodious but have a jabbing presence and Kate Eldridge's vocals exude both confidence and sweetness. The CD includes one of the best singles of last year, "Back From The Moon," which will sink its hooks in by the time the chorus is reached for the first time. That song is a lot better than anything else on the album, a complete knockout of a track. Nothing else comes all that close although it's still enjoyable. (PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241,


BILL BONDSMEN-Peasant Under Glass/Dead (Fourteegee, 7")
The third two song 7" culled from the Bondsmen's late 2011 recording session and well-worth your attention. Nightmarish guitar lines that are textured and slashing and an overall dark ambiance, as usual, with Tony's maniacal vocals at the core. It's a fucking crime they had so much difficulty getting a Boston show (it's who 'ya know, I guess, or if you're on the pre-approved cool list) and had to play with two shit indy rock bands in front of a handful of people. These guys are the real deal and creating hardcore that stretches the parameters while not losing one iota of intensity. (

BORN WRONG-s/t (Schizophrenic, 7" EP)

The first song is called "Torch The Place," there's a burning building on the front cover and that could apply to this four song 7"s contents. (yes, I know...) Dirty, nasty 'n ugly hardcore in every aspect. Butcher-block riffs, pounding bass and drums and throat-rending vocals. The thickness in sound approaches crust territory or Swedish hardcore, especially with the guitar trills for "Always Here To Help." A good amount of aggro and you'd better make sure you lift the stylus before it gets ruined by the lock groove exhortation of "FUCK" that wraps things up. (17 W. 4th St., Hamilton, ON Canada, L9C 3M2,

BRAIN ATTACK-s/t (Dirt Cult, 7" EP)
This one's been logging a fair amount of turntable time on Sonic Overload. Spirited, throbbing hardcore punk with hints of melody (particularly on "Markets" and "Trainwreck"). Shouted female vocals with occasional male accompaniment and they sound like they might be on a bit of a caffeine jag. In fact, that's the general feel of the music here. There's a warmth in the production to give it some bottom-end punch, as well. (

BROWN SUGAR-Luvly (Cowabunga, 7" EP)

As with most Brown Sugar discs I've reviewed, it's been out for a long-ass time. It's nearly a year old at this point and they're long broken up but it's definitely worth writing about. Same approach--a stew of hardcore, rock and garage that kicks ass but they carved out their own niche. A lot of that is due to Brandon's skillful guitar playing and Eddie's slightly skewed vocals. I could probably do without the doo-wop fade of "Choir Boy" but Brown Sugar were one of the best bands out of western New York in recent memory and they'll be missed. (

BUNNY SKULLS-Your Life EP (Knot, 7")
Nine songs on a one-sided seven inch and only one of 'em breaking a minute. Manic hardcore, just as they've plied in the past. No grind, no blastbeats--this is straight-on, tight thrash somewhere in the vicinity of Deep Wound and Spazz, in their non-powerviolence moments. Stop 'n start on a dime, never letting up. (PO Box 501, South Haven, MI 49090-0501)

BURIAL-Renegade (Hardware, LP)

Burial recently toured the US but didn't get to play Boston. They stayed with me, I got the t-shirt, I got the back catalog and I got this new 12" and, after hearing it, I wish to hell I could have seen them play. Their first full-length in many years is a throttling, power-packed disc. A strong Japanese influence although that's not the only element--there are Swedish touches and even a Die Kreuzen-by-way-of Voivod guitar line for "Swines." I suppose I could go into deeper analysis over the various strains of worldwide hardcore and punk that pop up on these compositions but I think I'll just tell you this is an ass-kicker and shows them in fine form after a decade as a band. Burial's 2005 album was called "Never Give Up... Never Give In" and they appear to be following that creed. (

CADAVER EM TRANSE-s/t (Nada Nada, flexi) 

Early 80s post-punk/goth by this Brazilian band. It's a style that’s come into favor of late, although their approach embraces some anarcho punk, as well. Shimmery guitar, doomy bass create the obligatory dour ambiance. Hampered slightly by flat-sounding vocals. (

CAGED ANIMAL-EP (Warthog Speak, 7" EP)

Got a short attention span? Caged Animal will fit the bill. After a hip-hop intro (which is the longest track here!), there are seven quick volleys of rage, veering from thrash to blinding speed to stomp-worthy fodder ala Mind Eraser, etc. Mean-sounding, just the way it should be. (2475 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103,

CONCRETE CROSS-s/t (Man In Decline, LP)
It was Artie Phillie's birthday recently and, when sending him birthday wishes, I also said that the Concrete Cross album is really good. His reply? Not thank you but, "isn't it?" Such humility but Artie's always been a wiseass and his newest band is quite good. He used to be the vocalist in such bands as Celebrity Murders and the garage rock pranksters the Shemps. A blistering hardcore sound with some metallic touches topped off by Artie's raspy howl. The drum pedal is up a little more in the mix than I like (pet peeve of mine) but this is a fast and raging effort from start to finish. (

LOS CRUDOS-Cobrades (Nada Nada, flexi)

Crudos recently did some shows in Brazil and Nada Nada released a one-sided, four track flexi for the tour. Three songs that were on compilations and one that was never on vinyl, all of it recorded at the same session around 1998 (15 years—yikes!). Timeless, urgent hardcore with Martin’s high-pitched bark and a buzzsaw attack. (

CULO-My Life Sucks and I Could Care Less (Deranged, LP)
I was having a conversation with Ryan from Punks Before Profits the first time I saw these guys and said I thought they had bit of garage in their hardcore sound. Ryan scoffed and said he HATED garage punk. Maybe I was a tad off--what I probably meant was they had some good 'ol punk rock elements mixed into the hardcore assault and that's still the case here. I still stand by my opinion that this band could use a bass player but I imagine that would add an element of conventionality they choose to eschew. In any case, such songs as the title track, "On The Nod" "Don't Care Part III" and "Adult Life Ain't No Fun" (ain't THAT the truth) do have the punk rock pound down perfectly. Plenty of don't-give-a-fuck attitude and you wonder if it's eventually going to result in a downward spiral but it's one hell of a ride. (

DEATH AFTER DECAY-s/t (Cowabunga, 7" EP)
Rattle your goddman head. No, this ain't a Megadeth tribute, it's some feisty crust-thrash-metal, more or less in that order, I suppose. Fast and spirited, with the harsh, echo-laden vocals matched with quick-handed drumming, rumbling bass and guitar scorch. Well-tread ground but with a winning looseness. (

DESPERAT-Början På Slutet (Hardcöre Victim, 7" EP)
The latest from Desperat doesn't represent any departure from their raw, fast and loud sound. The production is perhaps a little brighter but far from slick. In case you didn’t know, three of the guys are/were in Mob 47 and they’re one of the better bands plying this classic Swedish style these days. Let’s hear it for the old-timers! (; distributed in US by Havoc,


Dishonorable Discharge are from Norway and Peacebastard are German. DD hammer ahead with a d-beat/early Swedish emphasis, although the drumming lumbers a bit, at times. I noticed I gave pretty much the same review for  their 12” that was released on Vex in the US and it still applies here. Peacebastard have rabid male/female vocal tradeoffs and also trade in d-beat inspired hardcore, although they also have a bit of an issue with the drumming, making things sound somewhat disjointed. Hard to deny the energy level and the guitar riffs are mighty. I wouldn’t call it essential, though. (Landsbergr Str. 146a, 80339 Müchen, GERMANY,

DISSENSION-The Crude Wars (Bad Idea Music, 7")
A name from the past. Dissension were around in the mid-to-late 80s and released a couple of albums, both of which were compiled on a CD awhile back. Three out of the four people in the current lineup are original members and they have a new vocalist, Eric Salazar. As with their older material, there's a slight metal tinge to their west coast-styled hardcore compositions. Lyrically, it essentially deals with the geopolitical issues surrounding big oil interests (hence the title of the record), to simplify things a bit. A triumphant return? Not quite on that level but they don't embarrass themselves, either. Download includes an extra song, in addition to the two on the record. (PO Box 6052, Huntington Beach, CA 92615,

FAMILY CURSE-Twilight Language (Doormat, LP)
Finally, a full-length from this band--edgy post-punk with sturdy bass, a whomping rhythm and fluid guitar lines. Sometimes accessible, sometimes less-so but they've got an invitingly jarring approach. Opening song, the lengthy "No Return," had me thinking of the underrated 80s band Breaking Circus, a Minneapolis band who crossed the angular stuff with a punkish drive and that's definitely the case here and several other tracks. "NY NY NY" is a paean to or, more accurately, a pan of their home city--well, the increasing number of assholes populating it, for one thing, and it has a real down 'n dirty feel. On "Trench Warfare," Erick Bradshaw's vocals are a combination of agitated and sarcastic and the music pounds the point home with authority. Challenging and unsettling--both of which are assets, in my jaded opinion. (14 East 4th Street, #823, New York, NY 10012,

GAG-40 oz. Rule '90 (Warthog Speak, 7" EP)
Plenty of feedback, reverb on the vocals (which are indecipherable) and an opening song called "Ha Ha Ha" that makes Flipper's song of the same title sound like power pop. Yep, this is one nasty-sounding band. They have a bundle of releases out but this is the first time I've heard them. Raw, chaotic buzz stomping through most of it before unleashing the speed for the finale of "Warm Milk." I could see these guys fitting well on a bill with Hoax. Unsettling and ready to burst. By the way, this label got its name from a Hatchet Face song. That's pretty damned cool. (2475 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103,


GAS RAG-Human Rights (Beach Impediment, 7" EP)
A relatively new Chicago band, with former Acid Reflux guitarist Zach London on vocals and this is a full-on D-beat-meets-old school US hardcore sound. No wall of sound--there's a rough 'n tumble ambiance and a trebliness in the guitar lines and a little bit of echo on the vocals. I recently saw them play a ripper of a set in Boston and this EP captures the essence of their raw, aggressive nature. (

HARABALL-Sleep Tall (Fysisk Format, LP)

Awhile back, I made and posted a video of Showcase Showdown's legendary (?) song "Fuck You Norway." It didn't go over too well with some people who thought Showcase genuinely hated Norwegians and/or were being racist. I posted out that I like Norway and how some good bands have come from that country. Haraball are an example. High energy hardcore punk by this Oslo band, embracing straight ahead thrash with rockin' elements. They also throw in the occasional melodic curve, such as the DC/Dag pulse of "Meat n Spirit." Hardly youngsters, Haraball play with a ticked-off mettle (that's mettle, not metal) and the lyrics indicate they don't want to suffer fools but don't take themselves all that seriously. Admitting "I'm a cynical bastard now, I guess" and exhorting, "get a clue, I'm older than you." There's more than just that but, even with the lyrical barbs, there's a passion that comes out through their playing and I imagine this remains an important outlet for them. (

HEAVY NUKES-s/t (Static Age, 7" EP)
This is a German band but this is pure early 80s Swedish brutality, covering Anti-Cimex, in case you missed the point. Raw and distorted, delivered in rapid-fire succession, 10 songs in all and if you'd told me this was a reissue of some obscure band, I might have believed you. It's a decent-enough replication although I think listening to this for an extended period of time could cause ear damage. Some people like that, of course. (Burknerstr. 6, 12047 Berlin, GERMANY,

KREMLIN-s/t (Beach Impediment/Bad Vibrations, 12")/Will You Feed Me? (Grave Mistake, 7")

A Toronto band with a member of the School Jerks playing rough-sounding thrash, Discharge-inspired mania and occasionally Motör-ized hardcore/punk/rock. It's a combination of those influences although "Duped," from the 12", is about as blatant a reworking at "Protest and Survive" as you'll ever hear. The recording is demo quality, with a stripped-down ambiance and that works in their favor and some of the guitar lines are scorching. The 7" actually pre-dates the 12", originally released on Hardware in Europe and given a US pressing by Grave Mistake. Same blueprint, punctuated by guitar sputter and feedback and echo on the vocals, leading out with the head-messing "Forced March." (Beach Impediment, PO Box 8335, Virginia Beach, VA 23450, Mistake, PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241,

KROMOSOM-Nuclear Reich (Distort Reality, LP)

Total aural terrorism on this band's second 12". White sheets of guitar mayhem, gutteral howling but there are distinct songs here and it's not all indecipherable noise, either. "Culture Degeneration" is an anthemic stomper that intersperses blinding speed with a singalong chorus and is that a No Future Records guitar lick I hear at the start of "Media Control"? In the main, though, these songs are delivered in full-destruction mode, as Yeap howls and shrieks will all the rage he can muster. Best experienced live but this will still get the blood boiling. (


MANIPULATION-s/t (Sorry State, LP)
Finally, the long-overdue 12" debut by these guys and it's a stirring dose of their patented hardcore mayhem. Manipulation have been blasting out the rage for a few years now, with a pair of 7”s and a demo to their credit. The modus operandi remains the same. A full-bore two guitar attack, a relentless bottom end and Jordan’s anguished emanations. Treading the line of Swedish hardcore and mid-period Poison Idea blaze. And the lyrics, as usual, convey a hell of a lot discontent about the miseries of life. The opening line of “Withdrawn” mentions the “death knell of the common man” and that could be a running theme through these songs. To steal the title of the first song, it’s a crisis indeed and one can’t avoid feeling helpless. Cheerful, I know. But it’s appropriate for the band’s intensity. (

NAPALM-It's A Warning--Singles & Live (Static Age, LP)

As you probably figured out, this is a compilation of late 70s/early 80s Hamburg punk band Napalm's two 7" EPs on one side of the disc and four live songs on the flip. They clearly improved over time--the first song, "Tolle," is an old-time rock 'n roll type song with faux-Elvis vocals and the other two punkier tracks don't make a strong impression. However, for the four song "It's A Warning," they really came into their own, with a catchy 'n tuneful punk sound that was full of attitude and buzz. The live recordings aren't all that great-sounding although there are a couple of non-studio tracks that might have sounded good if done in a studio. Ultimately, this band is more or less a footnote and, while good in spots, I'd hardly call this essential. (Burknerstr. 6, 12047 Berlin, GERMANY,

NEGATIVE DEGREE-s/t (Deranged, 7" EP)

From the land of the Broncos and Focus on the Family (i.e. Colorado) comes the second EP from this hardcore unit. The sound of agitation with a stripped-down old-school approach. Every day feels like a gun to my head/every day feels like a knife to throat" should give you an idea of the state of mind right away, just in case you missed the title "Get Fucked I & 2" And "Punch Out," a timeless lament about the soul-sicking workaday world, is a song I should add to the playlist for my Labor Day show. No nonsense, not a second wasted. (

NIGHT BIRDS-Born To Die In Suburbia (Grave Mistake, LP)

This band is better-experienced live but their second full-length, the first one with new guitarist PJ Russo, is another energetic dose of melodic west-coast inspired punk. PJ's guitar style eschews the East Bay Ray-isms of his predecessor Mike Hunchback and, although there's the occasional surfy bit, it's not a contant. Songs like "Golden Opportunity," "Domestic Dispute" and the brief "No Spoilers" connect with driving tunefulness. They take a different route with the brooding, lengthy "Nazi Gold" and "Less The Merrier" slows things down, as well. A change of pace although I'm only slowly warming to them. A good, if not mindblowing album. (PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241,

NO MISTAKE-Connect The Dots... Complete The Puzzle (Suburban White Trash/multi label, 7" EP)

A vinyl pressing of a good chunk of the songs from last year's demo. In case you missed it, this band includes Mike Bullshit from Go! and SFA on guitar (and occasional vocals) and it's hardcore in a tightly-delivered old-school vein. Lyrics are serious and not so serious--"We Stole Hawai'i" is about the US takeover of those islands, "Unlucky You" deals with the destruction of wildlife, while "Unibrower" concerns the scourge of... well, I'll leave that to you to figure out. (PO Box 270594, Ft. Collins, CO 80527,

PIG//CONTROL-s/t (HeartFirst, 7" EP)

Knotty, agitated sounding hardcore by this German band. The tracks connected by squalls of feedback and it makes me think of Hero Dishonest, with the tightness and ability to navigate various stops and starts. 3 quickies on side one and turn it over and it’s a four minute-plus track that starts an extended amount of feedback before a crushing stomp gives way to a thrash outburst. Incidentally, this band shares its vocalist with Mulltute, who have a pair of fine 7”s you should also seek out. (Landsbergr Str. 146a, 80339 Müchen, GERMANY,

POOR LILY-Vuxola (self-released, CD)

Working the same territory as always--frantic, aggressive, jarring rock with strong musicianship. Adam Wisnleski's vocals are more abrasive than in the past, starting at the outset with a flesh-curdling "GO ONNNNNN... GO ONNNNN." He sometimes knows when to turn it down a notch so it doesn't overpower everything although a few more notches wouldn't hurt, at times. What we have are brain-busting guitar lines interacting with a rhythm section that keeps things moving along with muscular, yet subtle aplomb, whether going for straight hardcore aggro or something with jazzier (for want of a better term) inclinations. The lyrics have a point, if you will, but the approach is more sarcastic. I appreciate the timeliness of the song "Justice Kennedy Has A Cold," about the "swing" vote on the Supreme Court, Reagan appointee Anthony Kennedy, who they describe as a jellyfish with no backbone. I'd say that's accurate, given some of his shitty decisions in recent years.   If you want to see the obligatory musical comparisons, see my previous reviews and even that doesn't completely tell the story. Even without them, you'll know pretty quickly where they're coming from and if your definition of punk moves beyond basic three chord, verse-chorus-verse structures, you'll probably like this. Not a lot of hooks but plenty intense. (

PUNCH IN THE FACE-Live On K Radio (Counterfeit Garbage, LP)

PITF were an enjoyable band throughout the ‘00s. Fronted by Los Crudos/Charles Bronson/etc drummer Ebro, they began as more or less a Pick Your King-era Poison Idea tribute band but eventually forged a slightly different path by the time they got to their only 12” release, At War With Everybody. Before that, they had a pair of 7”s and a number of compilation releases, plus a 2001 demo and a live set on “Radio K” at the University of Minnesota in 2004, which was released as CD-R. The latter two have been pressed onto a 12” On the demo, they also paid tribute to early Chicago hardcore with Articles of Faith and Life Sentence covers. The live side introduces songs that ended up on the album (which came out in 2007) and “At War With Everybody” remains a cornerstone track, with a mid-tempo pound driven along by a sturdy bass-line and Ebro’s angry vocals. The old-school revival thing got tired very quickly but here’s a band who did it right. (Some of the other bands who also “got it” were Violent Minds, Amdi Petersens Arme, Direct Control and 86 Mentality) Keeping that raw, no bullshit essence alive. Includes a zine-type booklet with photos, flyers, etc. (Matt Rolland , 1948 1/2 N Spaulding Apt 3AChicago IL 60647,

RETOX-YPLL (Epitaph, CD)
I know it ain't saying much but this is by far my favorite release from Epitaph in eons. The second album from Retox is a head-spinning, relentless effort. Any band involving Justin Pearson (ex-Locust, Some Girls etc etc) is going to grab you by the the throat with a dizzying, chaotic nature and that's no exception here. Loud and heart-racing but there are subtleties and they sometimes allow breathing room, whether the darkly hued post-punk flavor of "Congratulations, You're Good Enough" or strong tribal drumming and alternately spare and slashing guitar lines on "I've Had It Up To Here, I'm Going To Prison." The more I listen, the more I hear the echo of Voivod hovering in the gloaming, with an abundance of nightmarish guitar sizzle-whizzle and you also hear the occasional Jesus Lizard-ish trill ("Don't Fall In Love With Yourself," for instance). This is a cut above garden-variety frantic hardcore, as other elements come into play. Plenty at work here. Album of the issue... or, in this case, blog entry. (

SECTARIAN VIOLENCE-Upward Hostility (Grave Mistake, LP)

Skull-splitting hardcore for this international band fronted by Nick from Coke Bust and, as I've mentioned before, I find this project's straight-forward style somewhat more appealing than Nick's other band. Along with the thrash, there are some tough breakdowns, but it's chug-free. Smart lyrics, as well--writing as someone who has zero tolerance for the three-plus decades of cruel supply-side/trickle-down economic theories, I welcome the sentiments on "Reactionary Illusions," which talks about the demonization of the poor. Well-recorded, without being slick and sounding mean and throttling. (

SHARING MASS GRAVES-Evil Death (Blind Spot, LP)

Recorded in 2009, SMG play hammering hardcore leaning towards crossover at times. Rabid vocals, tempos varying from fast to blinding and lyrics exploring darker realms. Songs about John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer (the sensitively-titled “Kill ‘Em, Fuck ‘Em, Eat ‘Em”) and one of the characters in Silence of the Lambs, Buffalo Bill. Raw and nasty. This apparently will be the final release on Blind Spot Records, since label honcho Tucker claims he wanted to devote his interests to other hobbies, like collecting Hot Wheels. That’s what he says, anyway. (PO Box 40064, Portland, OR 97240,


SHAVED CHRIST-Bad Mind (Bakery Outlet, 7" EP)
Shaved Christ, with the bass-player and drummer from the late, great American Cheeseburger, have an unpredictable sound that changes tempos with precision and mixes up thrash and more damaged-sounding elements. There's something of a loopy vibe to this band--mainly in the vocal delivery, as Clancy spouts out the words in a manner that goes against the grain, bending his vowels around the riffs. Not following a straight blueprint and that works in their favor. (

SICKOIDS-No Home (Grave Mistake/Sorry State, 12")

New six-songer and with a slightly more direct sound than on the last record. They've largely eschewed any sort of melodic nuance, although the guitar lines maintain the Voivod-channeling-Die Kreuzen properties. Rob sounds as harsh as ever and the playing is nimble and dynamic, especially Vince's drumming. Once again, there aren't any inherently catchy songs but the overall effect is power-packed. (

SWEET TOOTH-Blister Music EP (Cowabunga, flexi)

Raw hardcore awash in feedback that batters away without mercy. This one-sided flexi is occasionally mono-rhythmic but, to these bludgeoned ears (historic SV reference that some of you long-time readers will know), you can hear Japanese influences and even some Siege-like moves on occasion. Flat-out nasty. You've got to be in the mood. There are times when this wanton aggro hits the spot. I just don't make a habit of it. (

THINK AGAIN-s/t (Way Back When, LP)
Way Back When had to remaster this album after the original pressings came out sounding like absolute shit and it was worth waiting for because this is a fucking corker. Blistering Japanese hardcore embracing both the old-school sound and some of the harder rocking and melodic impulses of the "Burning Spirit" bands but maintaining an appealing rawness. An overpowering effort that leaves little in its path and ends with a raucously rocking track called "With The Pride In The Heart." All three of the members contribute vocals and it creates a hearty verbal assault to go with the musical one. (

VAGINORS-Total Nonsense (Video Disease)
These guys seem to be a polarizing band, at least with some of the people I discuss such things with. I love ‘em and they put on a great show. The title of this three song EP lives us to the billing. Pure punknoxiousness™ with Rat Boy’s helium-filled vocals and a wonderful, bass-driven mesh of clattering drums and plenty of guitar noise. In fact, one of ‘em just played guitar pedals when I saw them live. I’ve heard them compared to the Wankys and there’s some truth there. Cross that with the noise of Disorder or Chaos UK and you’ve got some inspired lunacy. (

VARIOUS-Ground Zero (Toxic State)
Toxic State Records know how to package their releases and the Ground Zero compilation is no exception. Housed in a heavy stock, gatefold sleeve, with a booklet and poster that presents a somewhat abstract train station scene. The record itself is on lavender vinyl and the band’s names are etched into the dead-wax. It took a bit of an effort to figure out the names of some of the songs (I do a radio show—such info is useful). A collection of bands who, while they may have stylistic differences, offer a raw, gritty and noisy-as-fuck take on things. That’s sometimes good, sometimes not so good as the songs are reduced to an indecipherable racket (I imagine that’s the intent) and, by the end, your ears feel trashed (also the intent, I imagine). That especially applies to the d-beat frenzy of Perdition and Nomad, both of whom are better-heard elsewhere. As I hinted at earlier, even with the similarity in sonics for these recordings, there are various shades of noise-wreckery. La Misma, for instance, come down somewhere between garage and riot grrrrl punk and Deformity, Murderer and the infamous Hank Wood and The Hammerheads also embrace the garage aesthetic. Anasazi, with one of the best songs here, have the dark ‘n doomy sound and Crazy Spirit, as always, sound like a rodeo trainwreck, if such a thing exists. Goosebumps are pure hardcore ugliness. A little can go a long way at times and it’s become increasingly difficult listening over time but it’ll hopefully provide the impetus to check out some of the killer acts on here. (

VIIMEINEN KOLONNA-Totuuden Kitkera Siemen (Havoc, 7" EP)

On the latest EP by Finns Viimeinen Kolonna, they take elements of that country’s classic sound and add a modern veneer to it. Loud ‘n fast fodder, except when they slow it down for “Raha On Jumala,” which possesses a sick lead break. You’ve heard it before, of course, but there’s a vibrancy in their attack. (PO Box 8585, Minneapolis, MN 55408,

ZERO ZERO-Back To Basics (self-released, 7" EP)
I reviewed this Brazilian band's demo awhile back and my one complaint was the vocals overpowered everything. Maybe they've grown on me but it's not a problem this time. Part of the reason is they're buried a bit in the mix so the focus turns to Zero Zero's jabbing music. They've got some of the stripped-down garage punk feel of a band like Dean Dirg and the playing is sharp throughout, especially the bass lines--they really stand out on the title track. Back to basics, indeed. (

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Suburban Voice blog #105


Hi again (FINALLY!)... Going to start this installment off with label specific reviews, since a few of them sent large packages and I figured it'd make more sense to group 'em together...

The long-time Canadian label has sent along a batch of quality vinyl. First is the latest 12" by Spectres, Nothing To Nowhere. A somber ambiance, with an early 80s aura--the usual post-punk gloom 'n doom references apply--but it's got a warmth and an edgy presence. These songs don't wallow off into nothingness although they'll occasionally go for something a little more atmospheric, such as the percolating "Return To The Sea." Tracks like "Decompensation" and "Remote Viewing" have a sturdy drive.

The latest 7" by Neo Cons, Idiot Circus, was actually given to me by that band's vocalist Jason Halal when I saw them play a rip-roaring set at the Firehouse space in Worcester. He once got irked when I referred to his band as "garage" and I can kind of see his point. This is just good, thumping punk rock, veering into speedier territory at times, with plenty of snot 'n snarl and sarcastic lyrics that still have a message. Making fun of economic Darwinists, warmongerers and NIMBY ("not in my backyard) snobs and it's done without heavy-handedness. Their best stuff to date.

More 7"s: some nervous, manic-sounding hardcore from Wild Child. A vocalist who sounds as though he's on the edge of a breakdown, with huffing 'n puffing and words coming out a mile a minute. With the clean-sounding guitar, this is in something of a modern-day Danish punk vein. Casanovas In Heat, from Boston, include Dave and Con from the Male Nurses and offer up a more melodic punk take with plenty of drive and hooks. Dave's vocals are soaring and emotional and the songs sharp throughout, especially the lead-off track "Calling Bluffs." Pregnancy Scares, from Ottawa, are noisy and ugly-sounding, with a raw, low-fidelity punk sound. It's drenched with feedback and nightmarish vocals and arrangements. There's something downright sinister-sounding on a song like "Cross-Eyed Man," with its snaky guitar line. Finally, Criminal Code, who have a pretty good 12" that I've heard but don't own yet, have a three song EP full of angst and melody. There's a hint of that early 80s darkness, as you hear with other Northwest bands--the textured guitar tone, in particular, but it's a thornier take on it, mainly due to the vocals. (



Mr. Ken Prank himself was nice enough to send along a care package of some of his releases over the past several months and I'm starting with a pair of Forward discs. This veteran Japanese band have a long and storied career, dating back to the mid-90s and the two selections are their 2001 album Just Go Forward To Death and their latest longplayer, War Nuke and Death Sentence. Overpowering, aggressive music that steamrolls anything in its path. A whirlwind of hardcore, punk and even hard-rockin' boogie, particularly for JGFTD, which is the punkier of the pair. "What Are You Gonna Get?" rocks like a motherfucker! WNADS operates in a harder 'n heavier vein, probably due to the band's twin guitar arsenal. One thing that remains constant is Ishiya's gutteral bellow--sometimes, a little goes a long way--but the final track, "AAARRGGHH..." lives up to its name.

Reality Crisis are also a long-standing Japanese band and also trade in fast and throttling hardcore. Two vocalists, three guitarists, bass and drums generate a piledriving attack on their latest album, Not Bound By The Past, We Live In The Present. They might not be living in the past but they adhere to Japanese hardcore traditions. Harsh vocals by both Katsuhisa and Daisuke and all of the songs are delivered at a rampaging clip.

Finally, No Statik are a Bay Area wrecking unit, including people from Scrotum Grinder, Look Back and Laugh, Artimus Pyle and many others. Their second 12" release is divided up into 9 relatively short ragers on one side and a 14-or-so minute piece ("Unclarified"), which is actually the first side. An ambient, mainly instrumental haze of feedback and piano until a tribal drum pattern emerges about ten minutes in and then erupts into a pounding conclusion, with nightmarish howling from Ruby, before fading out. Truth be told, I've listened to it a couple of times for review purposes and can't see playing it again. Kind of like I haven't listened to "Reoccurring Dreams," the 14 minute track that takes up most of side 4 of Husker Du's Zen Arcade. The other tracks provide a non-stop assault, which you'd expect if you took note of bands mentioned at the top. It all falls into place--blazing powerchords, hard-hitting drumming and Ruby's hellion-like emanations. (PO Box 410892, SF, CA 94141-0892,  



ASTRAL TRAVEL-Body Melt/Povos (Vertex, 7")
Melodic sounds that have (seems as though I keep repeating myself) an early 80s influence. What we have are soothing vocals, along with the supple bass-lines and gentle guitar propelling the melody. The b-side, "Povos," has a slightly edgier pulse and is the stronger of the two songs. This Australian band would have fit in well with some of the 80s-era Boston artier, post punk bands--Dangerous Birds, Busted Statues, etc. (13 Bamlett St, Mount Nasura, WA 6112, Australia,

BAD DADDIES-Bad Year EP (Central District, 7" EP)
I loved this band's first 7" and split with White Fang and this one's just as great. On the first side, it's five quick punk songs with lots of buzz, burn and guitar feedback and vocals that are both sweet-sounding and tough-as-nails. "Short Sale" is the epic, nearly two minutes long, with a bass/drums intro flowing into catchy punk and then into a noisy morass. There's only one song on the flip and it's a cover of "If I Gave You A Party" by Sexual Harrassment who, in all honesty, I hadn't heard before. Turns out they were an early 80s group from Cleveland and YouTube reveals a quirky, near-novelty tune consisting of vocals, rhythm machine and synth. The Daddies do a short version of it and punctuate it with plenty of feedback and it's one of those doggone earworms I can't shake off right now. 137 copies this time so don't dawdle. (

BRAIN KILLER-The Complete Punk Recordings (Framework, tape)
Top choice, prime-D-beat by this now defunct Boston wrecking machine. This cassette includes all three of their 7"s, their ultra-limited 8" release and a live radio set. Raw and rampaging fodder full of feedback and harsh vocals. Marcus Benamati handled them on his own at first but was later joined by Dan Joseph. No track list for the live recording but one of the tracks (pretty sure it's "Controlled Reality," extends the white noise portion of the song probably beyond 10 minutes. Packaged in plastic case with a giant button, small booklet and postcard replica of the flyer for their last show (which is where this was sold). Not many left, I'm told. (

BROKEN PRAYER-s/t (Sorry State, LP)
After all these years, it's tough to find an innovative, fresh approach to hardcore and Broken Prayer have achieved just that. This Chicago band, with members of Civic Progress, Cardiac Arrest, Daylight Robbery, Libyans and others, have a relentless sound with a chaotic nature similar to Double Negative, at times, but they take other turns, as well. For one thing, in addition to the standard guitar/bass/drums setup, they have synth as part of the sound, which is mainly used as an atmospheric element and it's often buried in the mix. But, in addition to the faster material, they have darker, doomier, cold wave touches on "What Did You Expect," "Settle For Less" and a few others--on those songs, the synth has a slightly more prominent role and actual melodies emerge from the fray. What a fray, though--and vocalist Scott Plant sounds mighty pissed off, beginning with the opening salvo, "Sick of the scum on this planet." That pretty much sums up the world view--pure, unmitigated bile, largely borne from alienation. (

CHRON TURBINE-Skull Necklace For You (Peterwalkee, LP)
No info on the record but this band includes people from some 90s-era NJ stalwarts like Rye Coalition and Merel and, if you were expecting some guitar-driven rock, that's what you get. A beefy, thick sound that does, indeed, have a heavy 90s flavor to it but there's a strong melodic sensibility as well. There's a warmth and fullness in the guitar and bass tone. And while I wouldn't call these songs epics, they're on the lengthy side, with only two songs under four minutes. A throbbing repetitiveness from the robust pound of "PTSD" and "This Ocean Sucks" to the Girls Against Boys simmer of "Sidewalk Pudding" to methodical crush of "The Ballad of Larry LaLonde"--yes, about the Primus guitarist. Hypnotic and gripping. (

DEAD ENDING-DE II (Alternative Tentacles, 12")
Vic Bondi is still going strong after all these years. He's gone back to his roots, so to speak, in the past decade with a reunion EP by his best-known band Articles of Faith, as well as Report Suspicious Activity and now Dead Ending. This is the band's second 12". And while his some of his fellow Dead Enders have toiled in bands I really don't like--Alkaline Trio and Rise Against--this is a convincing bit of hardcore aggro. Lyrics are politically-tinged, painting with broad strokes, and they've come up with a clever title in "Ayn Rand Chicken Sandwich," The strongest track is actually the slower, moody "Speed Of Lies." I know it's odd to say but I think it'd be more effective if the production was rougher. Hardcore punk doesn't need to be slick-sounding. (PO Box 419092, SF, CA 94141,

FATHER FIGURES-All About Everything (AZPX, CD)
The Fah-thah, uh, Father Figures have a former JFA member in their ranks (Michael Cornelius) but this is pretty far from skate-punk. Instead, it's some jabbingly tuneful post-punk rock. It's a great-sounding recording, too--bringing out the instruments with a slap-in-the-face boldness. Hell, there's even a nod to Kiss with the "Detroit Rock City" riff-pilfer for "Crosstown." There's a sarcastic bent to some of the lyrics, such as "How To Succeed," encapsulating the soul-sucking conformity of the office. It doesn't matter how old you are to feel that one. And this band's vibrancy proves that age ain't nothing but a number. (


GREEN BERET-Violence Is Their Currency (Side Two, 12")
Green Beret is a collaboration between Matt Smith (Social Circkle) and Ryan Abbott (Social Circkle, Confines, Bloody Gears, No Tolerance and others) and they play all the instruments on this 12", although they have a live lineup for their sporadic shows. They rip out short, succinct blasts of hardcore inspired by Discharge and the Varukers, along with such Swedish purveyors of this sound as Totalitar. In other words, it's loud and thumping fodder delivered at a mainly fast clip, although they occasionally slow it down to a galloping tempo. As I always say, it's a well-worn approach and only a handful of bands really get it right. These gentlemen fall into that group. Blazing. (6 Wadleigh Place, Boston, MA 02127,

HASSLER-Amorality EP (Beach Impediment, 7")
I just reviewed this Ontario band's 7" on Schizophrenic Records in the last blog post and here another 7" platter of unfettered hardcore rage with a hint of Poison Idea in the mix. Same hallmarks--gutteral vocals and a full-bore old school attack. About five years ago, the underrated west coast band Nightstick Justice had something of a similar vibe, especially on their song "Control,"  where their vocalist Jeff bellowed "get the FUCK out of my way!" Sounds like a good idea when this pain train is coming at you. (

HERO DISHONEST-Alle Lujaa (Peterwalkee, LP)
Let's face facts--a lot of bands start to run out of new ideas after a few records. Hero Dishonest are a notable exception. They've always taken the parameters of hardcore punk and stretched them without any sort of dilution. And while the two songs that comprise the entire second side, timing in at 7:31 and 4:41, test the patience, the first side has a ferocious, kinetic energy. One of my buddies called what they do "math core." I don't think he really meant it as a compliment but, to me, it's a semi-adequate description for Hero Dishonest's balancing pure force with complex, unpredictable elements. There's speed and burn and the band's chops lift it above the ordinary. To put it in cruder terms, they can play their asses off. 11 tracks on side one, including a cover of Die Kreuzen's "Hope" (the Finnish title is "Kipu"). As for the lengthier compositions, "I'm Hitting Myself To Make Sure This Isn't A Dream As Well" (English translation--think I'm typing out the Finnish title?) starts off with a narrative accompanied by a brooding vamp, transitions into explosive hardcore and then noisy atmospherics. "Same Train" exudes some Side 2-of-My War pain. As I said, stretching the parameters but I think I'll be sticking to the first side. (

ICEAGE-You're Nothing (Matador, CD)
Some acquaintances of mine have been somewhat dismissive of Iceage, one saying it's hardcore for hipsters and that the novelty is the age of the members--I guess they're teenagers or were on their first album, "New Brigade." Ah, yes, the inevitable backlash. Well, I'm not buying it. The backlash, that is. I heard "New Brigade" before I even saw a picture of them and found it an enjoyable album with a few complete knockout tracks ("You're Blessed," "Collapse") and a passel of good ones. So here's "You're Nothing" (I guess some of us are blessed, some of us not so much) and it's mainly a success. They have a winning way of fusing charging punk with a sublime guitar tone--sliding and shoegazerish in a way that would make both Kevin Shields and J Mascis smile (or at least come close to it)--and this album blows away Mr. Shield's "did we really wait 22 years for that?" opus "m b v." Back to Iceage, though--they're not predictable, with a piano-laced ballad, "Morals," smack dab in the middle of the album. I'm calling it a noble failure and it could end up being a skip-over track but it's the only one. The album is bookended by two complete killers--the gripping surge of "Ecstasy" and brief 94 second blast of the title track. "Coalition" and "It Might Hit First" hammer so hard, with brain-grabbing guitar lines and explosive drumming. "Wounded Heart," "Awake" and "In Haze" subtly take a bit from mid-to-late 80s emo-core fodder but make it brasher. Loud and spirited and sonically superior to the debut. (304 Hudson, 7th Floor, NY, NY 10013,

MISSION FOR CHRIST-The Complete Sessions (Ektro, CD)
There were what could be called "outsider" bands that were tangentially related to the legendary HarDCore scene in the 80s but never fit in with those bands. In fact, it might be more accurate to say they never wanted to be part of that as it was. No Trend were one of them, United Mutation to a lesser extent and then there was Mission For Christ. They only released one 7" during their existence, on their pals No Trend's label and that was taken from a demo entitled "2 Jews, A Black, A Woman and a Criple" (that comes from a rather unfortunate statement by Reagan-era interior secretary James Watt). There was also a second batch of recordings with a revamped lineup that was never released. All of that output is included on this disc. Mission For Christ didn't follow a set formula--even the hardcore songs had an artier twist and it seemed rather tongue-in-cheek. So, along with thrashers like "Psycho," "Poseur" and "Stay The Course," there's the funkier "Pennies From Hell" (one of the tracks for the single--the other was the dub version that follows it), the PIL-ish vibe of "Blunt Instrument" and the abrasive drone of "Nancy Reagan," which might be sincere, taking the piss or both. Not a 100% success rate by any rate. Except for "Blunt Instrument," the other songs by the later lineup are dispensable and some of it sounds almost like make-it-up-as-you-go-along. It depends on how much art you can take (ouch!). I can take some, I can leave some. ( 

PERMANENT MAKEUP-The Void... It Creeps (New Granada, CD)
Another band playing in what could be called a post-punk vein. Roger Miller/Mission Of Burma-ish squalls, vocals with a D. Boon cadence at times, a few Fall touches. These should be viewed as influences because they all gel together into a tight, fresh-sounding amalgam. A warm 'n thorny guitar tone--it has a fuzzy quality and it's paired with in-the-pocket bass and drums. It all adds up to something that's both edgy and melodic. (

PISSED JEANS-Honeys (Sub Pop, CD)
Hard to believe it's been nearly four years since the last Pissed Jeans album--where does the time go? But here they are after a decade, still kicking out some hard 'n heavy, head-messing rock and the songs have a sharp, succinct focus. Yes, you could say more accessible than in the past but don't confuse that for any sort of settling down, not with the painful lurch of "Chain Worker" and that's the perfect ambiance for the theme of a soul-ripping existence. The Jeans know their way around a riff and unleash a fusillade of volume, whether it's the Jesus Lizard-tinged "(You're Different) In Person," the bluesy strut of "Male Gaze" or Nirvana-esque "Health Plan," complete with the Grohl-roll drumming. "Cat House" and the opener "Bathroom Laughter" flat-out rock. If there's a running theme, it's coming to terms with a life of alienation--balancing outrage and pragmatism.  It's a world where bosses suck and human interaction often isn't the same as on-line (the aforementioned "You're Different In Person"). Still, "Teenage Adult" wags a finger at those still suffering from Peter Pan syndrome. You always see blurbs that say "this is their best album yet!" Well, this is their best album yet or at least their most consistent. The pre-order version comes with a 7" vinyl pressing of their 2003 demo. Thorny and against the grain, a sound that's darkly enticing and not without a twisted wit, expressed with titles like "Ashamed Of My Own Cum" and "Throbbing Organ." And, with Honeys, that remains the case after ten years. (

RAD-Loud & Fast (Sacramento/Phono Select, 12")
Loud and fast, indeed--relentless thrashy hardcore with nary a break between songs and precision musicianship. They somehow manage to keep up the breathless clip without it turning into a tuneless cacophony. Angry sentiments, for sure, but there's still a joyousness in how they do it--it comes across as a release, a way of coping with daily life and general assholedom. The title track is actually a cover, originally by the Worst, and they nail it. Rad, indeed. (

RATSAK-s/t (12XU, 7" EP)
Loud 'n raucous Aussies with a muscular, guitar-driven approach and beefy vocals. Thorny, coming on like a cross between west coast punk and early Fucked Up. Fiery and driving but without the bombast. Nearly catchy, dare I say. Four songs and I'm looking forward to hearing more. (3005 S. Lamar Blvd., D109-403, Austin, TX 78704,

REAL ENEMY-Life With The Real Enemy (Mind Cure, LP)
Pittsburgh hardcore from 1983, with a couple of guys who went on to be in Half Life, Mike LaVella and Vince Curtis. The songs come from their demo and there are four live tracks recorded at CBGB, as well. It comes with a foldout poster that includes photos, flyers and a history of the band. Despite the fact they were only around for about half a year, Real Enemy seem to have been the go-to opener for all the bigger bands that came though. Not top-level stuff by any stretch but pretty energetic and it and some of it does sound like the early Half Life recordings. This brings back pleasant memories of sitting in my one room apartment, listening to these types of demos and reading the latest issue of Maxiumum Rocknroll and making notes of bands and zines to trade with. No hopping on the internet to check out MP3s--you tooks your chances and sometimes you were pleasantly surprised. I like this now and that no doubt would have been the case back then. (3138 Dobson St, Floor #2, Pittsburgh, PA 15219,

ROUGH KIDS-The State I'm In (Sorry State, LP)
Snappy 'n sharp pop/punk/rock by this LA band. It has the same sort of vibe as Red Dons, Marked Men, and even The Boys, with the piano plinking on some of the songs, especially "Cyanide." "This Techonology" even segues from a Stones-ish intro into irresistibly catchy terrain. There's lots of that here--irresistible catchiness, I mean. Even though this is on Sorry State, it sounds like quite a few of the bands on Dirtnap. Big 'ol hooks, strong harmonies and tight arrangements make this quite enjoyable. (

SACK-Punk Is Not Dead (self-released)

Old punks never die and don't have to fade away, either. Damn, that's trite but what I'm trying to say is Chris Barrows, who you might know from Florida legends the Pink Lincolns, is still involved in this thing we called punk and his new band provides a bashing good time. Rough, loud fodder that comes across as more aggressive than the Lincolns (although they were hardly a soft rock band). The bass sound is particularly pulverizing and it toughens up the sound. Simple and straight-forward and that's all 'ya need sometimes. (

SECRET PROSTITUTES/COLA FREAKS-Split (Bad Hair Life, LP) You might think that a band from Houston with a vocalist who sings in Indonesian and a band from Denmark who sing in, well, Danish might not have a lot in common but that's not really true. Both the Secret Prostitutes and the Cola Freaks (who recently called it quits) have a jittery sound inspired by '77 punk but they each add their own warped elements to it. The production on the Prostitutes' tracks sounds a bit cleaner than in the past but it's certainly not slick (thankfully). Short, simple, succinct (and catchy) songs. Cola Freaks have always had a jumpy, minimalist sound and the keyboards add to that nervousness. The final track, the lengthy "Had for Had," has a numbing and repetitive arrangement that comes across like Krautrock gone punk, with more dominance on the keyboards. Something like that. Killer material by both bands (

THE SHIRKS-s/t (Grave Mistake, 12")
After a number of decent-if-not-mindblowing 7"s, the Shirks make their 12" bow and it's quite good. It flat-out fucking rocks, in fact. Slammin' bangin' punk rock with a semi blown-out sound that makes the speakers shake if you play it loud enough--and I've been doing just that. The one-two punch that starts this disc, "Motherhood Of The Wolf" and "Sex Gear," don't allow you to take a breath. They occasionally opt for a poppier emphasis ("I Don't Want To Work It," ""Bad Area") and the rough production prevents it from getting wimpy. Nice chiming guitar solo on "I Don't...," as well. (PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241,

SOKEA PISTE-Väliksi (Ektro, CD)
Uplifting sounds from Sokea Piste on their second album. OK, not so uplifting. In fact, if you read the English translations of the songs, it paints quite the bleak picture. The ravages of a "market-based" economy and how it results in not viewing those victimized by such systems as human beings. And that's just on the first song although it's a running theme throughout this album. Dark is an overused term for musical descriptions but the musical mood is certainly overcast. Sokea Piste don't choose to create a moribund ambiance, though. Strong and sturdy songs with a Killing Joke-ish flair mixed with punk and hardcore where necessary. "Samassa Veneessä" ("In The Same Boat") stands out, with a fired-up riffing and pounding tribal drum patterns for part of the song and that recurs throughout. Dragging on occasion but this band's moodiness is mainly an asset. The CD tacks on their first album and 7", as well. (

SOVIET VALVES-Death Trumps Romance (Vertex, 12")
Recorded in 2005 and just seeing the light of day now. Why, I have no idea but I'm pleased they decided to finally take it out of the closet or wherever the tape has been hiding. Two guitarists and a drummer making a heady racket to go along with Milos's sometimes mannered, always emotion-laden vocals. Jittery and gnashing, but equal attention is paid to poppy and melodic strains, coming out nicely for "Carrion Luggage" (clever) and "Crossover Angst." "Zip" merges those elements with a garagey drive. The guitars intertwine and fill up enough space that you don't miss the bass. Fresh and ear-grabbing. (13 Bamlett St, Mount Nasura, WA 6112, Australia,

TRAUMA-10 Song EP (Bulkhead, 7" EP)
Vinyl pressing of this Portland band's 2009 demo. Trauma includes Billy and Todd from Tragedy (and a million other bands) and Jeff Paul from '80s hardcore band Final Warning. Tragically, Jeff was killed in a motorcycle accident earlier this year. This was his first band since the 80s and he still sounded as bellicose as ever, accompanied by the full-on, d-beat hardcore blitz. Short, simple songs packing unfettered rage with nothing complicated to mess things up. A complete ripper. I might like this better than the 12" that came out last year on Feral Ward, although that's definitely worth hearing as well. R.I.P. Jeff. (6376 N. Vancouver Ave., Portland, OR 97217,

VANDAL X-God Knows (Fons/Rough Trade, CD)
Naming your band after the Unsane's best song--I'm guessing that's the source anyway--is a good way to pique my interest and it was worth piquing. This a heavy-duty post-punk/industrial clobbering that's closer to the sonic savagery of Ministry and some of the harder-edged, guitar-oriented Wax Trax bands whose records I used to listen to in the late 80s/early 90s. They even give fellow Belgians Front 242's "No Shuttle" a good pummeling. And they'd fit in with some of the AmRep roster, as well, on a track like "One Shot In the Head." This duo aren't newcomers, having been active since the mid-90s but this is their first album since 2008. An earlier album was called "13 Basic Hate Tracks." There are 12 of 'em here but there's no shortchanging. Inspiring abrasiveness. (

VARIOUS-Land Of Nod: Atlanta Punk & Hardcore Omnibus (Scavenger Of Death, LP)
A scene comp of high energy bands put out by Greg (GG) King and Ryan Bell, both of whom have played in a number of bands over the years. While there are few completely mindblowing moments, just about every band on this comp has something worthwhile to offer, except for the noisy grind of God's Balls. But there's quality hardcore from Ryan's now-former band Bukkake Boys, GG King, Manic and Shaved Christ (with a couple of guys from American Cheeseburger). Wymyns Prysyn, Acid Freaks and GHB have a darker punk sound, while Vincas have a harder-rocking Detroit approach. Some compilations suffer from inconsistency but that's not the case here. (


VARIOUS-R.I. X-CORE '84-'86 (Atomic Action, LP)
VARIOUS-You Can't Kill Me... I'm Already Dead (Atomic Action, LP)
Old Rhode Island hardcore/new Rhode Island hardcore. The three bands represented on the '84-'86 volume were actually from Newport and I made many road trips to see them play in their home town and Providence quite frequently. Only Verbal Assault ever really got out of the state and the other two bands only had demos to document their existence. So here they are, 30 years later, and they definitely show their age, although there are some enjoyable, peppy performances. Verbal Assualt's tracks come from a radio broadcast and their songs have an urgent, melodic sound. If Chris Jones occasionally sounds a bit too earnest, the band is tight and energetic. Vicious Circle had something of an early 7 Seconds inspiration, with fast 'n thrashy arrangements, adeptly executed. Their anthem of sorts was "Skate Death" and, live, they'd bring out a cross made of boards. The sound quality is probably the weakest for the three bands. Positive Outlook had some excessive metallic leads and a somewhat melodic thrash sound. The vocals were one-dimensional and, truth be told, these songs don't hold up all that well. The digital download comes with an extra song apiece. It ain't "Boston Not LA," that's for sure, but it brings back some fond memories.

You Can't Kill Me... has a pair of songs each by 8 bands, although one song by Barnswallow is excised from the vinyl pressing (but on the digital release). Not all of these bands really fall into what you could call a hardcore realm--the aforementioned Barnswallow have a shoegazer sound. Holy Night start the album off with some maniacal laughter and a nightmarish sound that sounds like a cross between Bl'ast and Laughing Hyenas for the second song (they're both untitled). Neon Bitches, with people from Dropdead and Straight to Hell, rip out the sort of aggressive hardcore you'd expect, given their pedigree. Idiot Vehicle were the only other band who really grabbed me, with some churning early AmRep-ish aggro. One of Fucking Invicible's songs is pretty raging but Convul, Raindance and Weak Teeth's screamier emanations are less-enticing. (

XADDAX-Counterclockwork (Skin Graft, LP)
Here's a label I haven't heard from all that much in over a decade, although a perusal of Discogs shows they've been active all along. Skin Graft's bands always went against the grain, creating unsettling sounds and that's the case with Xaddax. A two-piece band with vocalist/gutarist Nick Sakes (ex-Dazzling Killmen, Colossamite and others) and his wife Chrissy Rossettie (ex-My Name Is Rar Rar) on drums and electronics. Heavy, rhythmic post-punk rock with hammering drumming accompanied by slash 'n jab guitar lines and drill-like synth noises used to add an ear-piercing effect. There isn't anything all that accessible, here, but they do achieve a power-packed effect and they get it done in under half an hour. Good thing, because it's the kind of sound better experienced in a shorter time frame. (