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. (