Saturday, November 24, 2018

Suburban Voice blog #133



The Uncommited's self-titled demo features thrashy hardcore with super-gruff vocals and a pedal steel guitar to go along with the more traditional electric six string. In addition to their five original tracks, there's an updated version of the Fugs' (via Sun City Girls) "CIA Man," retitled as "See Aye." A wild 'n wooly hardcore hoedown. (

Next, we have tapes from two North Carolina bands. Vittna  have released a teaser tape for their upcoming 7" EP on Bunker Punks--two of the EP songs, plus three live songs, one of which is a cover of Sacrilege's "Dig Your Own Grave." Scalding vocals and a rampaging attack that also adds some textured tones in the guitar playing. The live tracks are rough but don't sound like they were recorded on a boombox. Jeff from Vittna also plays in Scarecrow and Daniel from Sorry State Records is their bass player. Straight-up Swedish-style hardcore driven by thumping drumming and full-bore guitar crunch/sizzle, with vocals buried a bit in the mix. No surprises, just blaze. (

The two most recent releases from More Power Tapes are by Science Man and Cyber Bullies. Science Man is a solo project masterminded by John Toohill from Alpha Hopper and Radiation Risks and the insert says it was recorded mostly inside a moving van. That's a tour van, not one you use to move furniture and it was moving. I hope he wasn't driving, too. Bashing, synth and guitar-driven compositions with an angry edge, a bit along the lines of Destruction Unit. There's nothing quirky-cute or mechanized-sounding about it. This comes from a darker impulse. "Science Monster," in particular, is plenty skull-smashing. The one exception is the semi-ambient instrumental "Airport Underground" that won't be mistaken for Eno's "Music For Airports" anytime soon. John's put together a live incarnation and apparently does science experiments while they play. Science gone too far? Let's hope so. (


Lawman's On Patrol demo provides some mean 'n ornery punk/rock 'n roll. Dave Shay (ex-Fast Death/Purgatory) belts out the words with a tonsil-shredding growl and the band exhibit solid high-powered chops. Two mid-tempo crushers, as well as the Motörcharged fury of "Manslaughter." Bare-knuckled pillage. (

Sick Burn includes 3/4 of Sacramento ragers RAD (different guitarist), and, to borrow one of the song titles, it's a demonstration of the joy of thrashing. Loud-fast slam-bang hardcore punk destined to get everyone into a frenzy. "O.P.I.G."
("Old Punks Is Grumpies") is about old punks talking about the good 'ol days while putting down people keeping things alive. All I have to say is #NotAllOldPunks! See you in the pit. (

Barricaded Suspects mix up driving hardcore with edgier elements on their latest demo, Enough. There's the nervy, mid-tempo burn of "Usurp" and the jarring "You've Got A Beard," as well as the mid-tempo thump of "Pyramid" deviating from the thrash formula. High energy material. (

Biff and Nicky from Radiation Risks moonlight in Cyber Bullies and their Leather and Lazers demo is a wise-assed, snot-nosed 80s keyboard-laced new wave/garage/punk throwback full of manic energy. These ain't Devo clones--if anything, it's probably closer to Dow Jones & The Industrials' wilder moments. Funny '80s-oriented lyrics about Gorbachev and the Reagan assassination attempt written by people who were born in the 80s, not the mid to late 60's as they claim on the opening song. (

A few years ago, More Power released a pretty good demo by the Hattiesburg, MS band Big Bleach and there's been a merger of member(s) of that band and another Hattiesburg band Baghead for Judy and the Jerks, who have just released their fourth tape, Roll On Summer Holidays. Fun, spirited hardcore punk with a rambunctious attitude and sharp musicianship. That comes out for the bass and guitar runs on "Dog." "Goblin Reprise" is the tour-de-force, starting with a lumbering bass/drums/feedback tandem that sounds a lot like Gang Green's "Selfish," and, along the way, Judy gives a narrative about one day killing all the people making her life miserable, especially at work. There's a noisy free-form freakout in the middle of the song before settling back into the main riff. A total blast. (

Chicago band Slaughter Rule's modus operandi is raw and angry hardcore whose intent is expressed rather succinctly with "Kill Him," ending with what sounds like a power-tool coming to a stop. Distortion on the vocals and coming from the same dark realm that a band like Hoax populated, especially for "Never Better" and the opening duo of tracks, "The Dream/What's Real." Distorted vocals just add to the menacing ambiance. (


COLLATE (photo: Charlie Zaillian)

ABOLITIONIST-The Instant (1859, LP)
More charging, urgent-sounding melodic punk from this Portland band. There's a bit of a Propagandhi feel at times, although with a rougher edge than that band has plied in years. It all sounds pretty damned upbeat, even as the world crumbles around us. That's what's gleaned from the lyrics. The timeless sentiment of feeling out of step with the world (where have I heard that before?), and striving for some sort of movement to fix it all. I'm not all that optimistic about that happening but I'm a cynical old fuck. What can you do? Anyway, it's another enjoyable effort burning with an energetic passion. (

AGAINST-Welcome To The Aftermath (Radio Raheem/Coladicto, LP)
Against were a somewhat more obscure SoCal hardcore punk band in the early to mid-80s and this is a worthwhile unearthing. It's actually the second time these recordings--a 1984 unreleased album and 1983 demo--have been unearthed. The first time around was on the Grand Theft Audio CD No Arms that came out sometime in the 90s. But this is the first time on vinyl and it's beautifully packaged, with a fold-out poster that has lyrics and liner notes. This is manic hardcore drawing from Discharge school, adding hoarse vocals and shredding guitar leads to the velocity-driven onslaught. This was at a time where the US wasn't overrun with Dis-inspired bands and Against didn't really fit into the old school US hardcore mold. The demo sounds rougher than the subsequent recording and I actually prefer the former's lack of polish, although both hit hard. (

BEYOND PEACE-What's There To Be So Proud Of? (Slugsalt, 7")
Blistering, nearly out-of-control hardcore from Iowa City. A bit sloppy but boiling over with pure anger. There's a white supremacist named Steve King is a Congressman in their state (though not in their district) who just got reelected. The title track takes dead aim at the type of people who support him i.e. what's there to be proud of just because you have white skin?  Unfettered protest music (


BLOOD PRESSURE-Surrounded (Beach Impediment, LP)
Your blood pressure will be sky high after listening to this... the return of one of the best hardcore bands in the US. Just as relentlessly raging as Blood Pressure's Need To Control album. Fast and burning with Adam Thomas' angry-as-fuck vocals and one blazer going straight into the other. The execution is perfect and the anti-social attitude remains as in-your-face as ever. "Misanthropy," "Useless," "Hate"... you get the idea. "Exposed" is about people who act all politically righteous but use it as a front for sexual conquest. Suffering no fools. This is the real shit, accept no substitute. (PO Box 26348, Richmond, VA 23260,

BOUND-Lost Songs (Warthog Speak/Figure Four, 7")
Central Mass. band from the 90s who more or less morphed into Hatchetface (track down their killer 12" if you get the chance). What we have here are two unreleased songs from their 7" session plus a song off a compilation 7". Frayed, intense, heavy hardcore riding an emotional crest and lashing out with speedier blasts on occasion, accompanied by scream from the soul vocals. And there's a download with a shit-ton of material--demos, an original and remixed version of the 7"and a folder of photos. (

CASUAL BURN-Tomorrow Problem (Slugsalt, 7")
Chaotic punk with gothy overtones. An echoey ambiance and vocals that could best be described as Siouxsie Styrene. Hard-edged but also overcooked and overbearing at times. An ugly morass of sound and that's sometimes good and sometimes not so good. (


C.H.E.W.-Feeding Frenzy (Iron Lung, LP)
Damaged, off-kilter sounds on C.H.E.W.'s first 12" release. With nary a break between songs, it's fusillade of feedback and bash possessing an abrasive intensity and culminating in a six minute noise dirge. Some of the sputtering guitar fray brings Die Kreuzen to mind on occasion, but this is from a much less-accessible region. And the lyrics express a pointed agitation and disgust. "Open Secret" is about turning a blind eye or blaming the victim for sexual assault. Savage sounds from a bruised, yet defiant soul. (

CHILLER-s/t (self-released, 7")
Another raging hardcore punk band from Pittsburgh. From the opening strains of guitar feedback and rumbling bass, Chiller's sound is dead-on. The longest of the six tracks clocks in at 1:13 but this isn't blur-core. A few songs pick up the pace but they operate in a mid-to-fast vein guaranteed to generate some furious circle pits. Not far removed from what a band like Blood Pressure are doing. There must be something in the Allegheny River fueling this sort of anger. (

COLLATE-Liminal Concerns (self-released, LP)
If you've ever read Collate's bass player Erika's column in Maximum Rocknroll, which mainly focuses on post-punk, this band's musical approach should come as no surprise. Unreconstructed late 70s UK sounds, starting with the Au Pairs tribute of "Who Cares About Tradition?" "Occurences" takes a page from the Fire Engines. Straight-forward, nervy, in-the-pocket playing, with snaky 'n sputtering guitar interlocking perfectly with the supple bass and minimalist drumming. They're damned good at what they do. (

KINGPIN-s/t (Atomic Action, 7")
Kingpin were a band from Holliston, MA (about 30 miles southwest of Boston) and yours truly released their debut 7" Holding Tomorrow in 1991. After that, they recorded an EP that was originally supposed to be released on Redemption Records but it sat in the can for over 25 years. Heavy, melodic hardcore that took over part of the Boston area scene in the early 90s (see also: Eye For An Eye, Said and Done, Third Degree) and much of it hasn't held up particularly well. The four songs here show a lot of instrumental skill and finesse but it's the kind of hardcore that was far removed from any sort of punk influence. Instead, the songs are laborious and overwrought sounding. I hate to say it, but this is an era in Boston's hardcore history I'd kind of like to forget about. (

LAMOUR-Look To The Artist: 1978-1981 (Beach Impediment, LP)
Lamour--or L'Amour as it's spelled in the liner notes--were an early Richmond punk band who released one three song 7" in 1979. Those songs are here, along with demos that were recorded about a month before the 7" tracks and there's also a side of live material from 1984. This wasn't really a KBD-sounding band. Lamour's songs have more of a pub rock 'n roll sound and the demo songs have slightly more edge than their 7" counterparts.There's a snappy catchiness to "Sunglass Party." Still, this was more bar rock than punk. The live songs have them expanding the song lengths--three of them top the four minute mark--but there's not a lot of excitement, just something rather pedestrian that doesn't have a whole lot of grit. The album has its moments but I wouldn't say this falls into the "necessary reissue" category. (PO Box 26348, Richmond, VA 23260,

MARBLED EYE-Leisure (Digital Regress, LP)
Marbled Eye operate in a similar realm as Institute in that there's an air of melancholy and detachment, both lyrically and vocally. One difference, though, is the enunciation is sharper i.e. neither vocalist sounds as though they're slurring their words. The songs are built on sublime chord progressions and changes that often add a subtle, sneaky hookiness. It's not somber music, though. The songs are sharp and energetic, melodic and muscular. Everything meshes perfectly, twin guitar lines swirling around each other, supported by a hard-hitting, rhythmic versatility. Some jarring post-punk moves here and there, particularly on "Isle," riding a Minutemen-meets-Burma crest. But, for the most part, the songs aren't herky-jerky. They have a steadier flow and will burn into your brain. A stellar album. (

MODERN CONVENIENCE-So So Modern (What's For Breakfast?, LP)
One of those bands that don't fit into any easy pigeonhole. In fact, it's not really a band but a one man project by a guy named Mikey Bibbs. There are elements of post-punk but they're submerged into surging, gnashing art-punk arrangements. Not overpowering but providing a steady, tuneful kick. "Run To The Mirror and Look!" is the strongest track here, a hard-edged mesh of guitar sting and thumping rhythm. "No Strings On Me" has a similarly assertive flavor. Mac Blackout did the cover art and Modern Convenience do occasionally sound like a slightly less manic version of his old band Functional Blackouts. Truth be told, earlier recordings I've heard from him had a rougher edge. especially his 2014 demo Reckless Dreamer. Still, So So Modern is hard to dismiss and it's an album that grows on you. (

MÜLLTÜTE-s/t (self-released, LP)
This German duo's second album, although they have some help from friends on synth and vocals. The emphasis remains scrappy, stripped-down hardcore punk ala Amdi Petersens Arme, although there are other wrinkles. Opening song "Halbschlaf" begins with a new wavish synth mixing in with the staccato attack. "Argnhgst"is definitely full of the angst mentioned in the lyrics, achieved with a jarring, sometimes atonal breakdown--that's as in brief blasts of free noise. The final two songs that follow that one also incorporate a slight sense of melancholy into a fired-up framework, with some of the harshest vocals on the album. The simplicity is deceptive--there's plenty going on in here. (


NEGATIV-Projections (Mirthless Laughter, 12")
Walloping, power-packed punk from this Oslo band on their debut 12", following a few demos and a 7". A twisted concoction of UK anarcho punk, Rudimentary Peni in particular, infused with bursts of hardcore adrenaline. Vocalist Ken Doll has a throaty yowl that sounds as though it emanates from a dark part of the soul. On many songs, the cadence is similar to Mike Brown from United Mutation and there are some musical similarities. On the short side but quite ass-kicking. Quality vs. quantity, right? (

PUBLIC ACID-Easy Weapons (self-relased, LP)
Burning, buzzing d-beat/raw punk. You know the drill--distortion on the guitars, thick bass-lines and held down with thumping drums. And it's not completely blown-out noise and the tempos are at a fast-but-not-too-fast clip. It's been done thousands of times already, it'll be done thousands more but Public Acid have enough energy and rage to keep you listening. (1110 Lexington Ave., Greensboro, NC 27403,


RAT CAGE-Blood On Your Boots (La Vida Es Un Mus, 7")
Raging hardcore punk perfection by this one man wrecking machine, Bryan Suddaby. Throat shredding vocals and full-bore blaze, save the slower, boot-stomping "Ain't Got A Clue."  His previous 7", Caged Like Rats, is also worth hunting down. And he's also put together a devastating live lineup who I was lucky enough to see recently. The four songs here will leave blood on your turntable. (

SCHIACH-s/t (Phantom, LP)
Get out your bilingual Schiach hymnal that comes with this record and bow your head. It's time for a daily affirmation or, more accurately, a protest against the "right and proper" that bores you, against a life populated by annoying, ignorant people. After all, Schiach means ugly or nasty. And now for the hymns. You'll hear a gnarled post-punk concoction driven by jabbing guitar lines but with melodic underpinnings provided by throbbing, fluid bass lines. Echoes of Warsaw (Joy Division in their early days) and Swell Maps at times, only with an angrier edge. After you're done listening, finish the Soduko puzzle in the back of the booklet and please leave your donation on the way out. Bless you. Damn everyone else. (

SCHOOL DRUGS-Relative Suffering (Hell Minded, 7")
A lot of suffering--all of the songs by this New Jersey band deal with mental anguish and suicidal thoughts and those words are delivered with Josh's vocals sounding like he's on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Musically compatible, they play a dark, nervy and edgy style of hardcore with dramatic double-barreled guitar riffs and sturdy rhythms along the lines of the Nerve Agents (if anyone remembers them). Soul-rending. (

SILVER SCREAMS-Alive In The Afterlife (Voodoo, CD)
Three new songs by this Mass. band. The title track is one of their toughest-sounding recordings to date, a boisterous, driving and catchy punk tune. "Stiches Up" is a fairly tuneful rocker and they wrap things up with a fairly good cover of Goverment Issue's "Understand." Not bad at all. (

SLOKS-Holy Motor (Voodoo Rhythm, CD)
Holy shit! This is some raw, dark, nasty, bloozy garage punk primitivism. Real fucking primitive. Guitar, drums and snarly, whooping vocals. Sloks, who are from Italy, revel in a fuzzy, clattering attack, hammering away in repetitive fashion. The minute-long "Killer" is about as close to pop as they get, although the wailing vocals means it won't be in Top 40 rotation anytime soon. Nor any other song on this album. (

SPEED BABES-Orangetape (What's For Breakfast?, tape)
Primitive garage punk rock'n roll type muzak with not-so-high fidelity and having a bedroom feel to it. A winning simplicity and it also eschews any sort of cutesy new wavey overtones. It's just the rock, except for the closing pop song "Nothing Will Ever Be The Same," which seems a bit out of place. Otherwise, this is a spirited no-muss no-fuss joyride. (

STIGMATISM-s/t (Beach Impediment, 7")
A vinyl pressing of Stigmatism's 2017 demo. A two man studio project, stretched out to a five piece for live performances and the one of  the (guilty) parties are Marc Grillo (Vagra, Pleasure Industry, Olde Ghost) both drumming and bellowing the words of hate and Kevin "Spoiler" Alen (Omegas, Proxy) taking care of the string section. Hammering hardcore with a strong early Agnostic Front influence, along with some boot-stomping passages. "Your Demise" and "Death Sentence" have a total United Blood vibe, although the production is a lot less primitive-sounding. No lyric sheet but there's a strong anti-war message to "Bloodshed." Real mean-sounding (PO Box 26348, Richmond, VA 23260,

TRASH KNIFE/DUMB VISION-Split (Kitschy Spirit, 7")
Philly meets Madison (Wisconsin, that is) on this enjoyable split. Trash Knife continue to dish out scrappy, snotty and catchy punk with a trashy spirit (pun intended). Dumb Vision also have a tuneful bent, wrapped up in a buzzy guitar cocoon and it's not too saccharine-sounding although it's nothing mind-blowing, either. To be honest, I'll be listening to the Trash Knife side a lot more. (

VERBAL ASSAULT-Trial (Atomic Action, LP)
Three decades since this album came out? And the members are now in their 50s? Say it ain't so! This was Newport, RI band Verbal Assault's debut long-player (and their second 12"), on the short-lived Giant Records label and it's been out of print on vinyl for a long-ass time. Verbal Assault started as a pretty straight-forward, uptempo hardcore band inspired by 7 Seconds and the like. By the time this record came out, they'd evolved into a more "mature," melodically-inclined band with longer, intricate compositions that were still capable of packing a punch, especially the lead-off title track, the best song they ever wrote. Chris Jones' emotive vocals were delivered in a MacKaye-ish tone and the band were certainly inspired by what was going on in DC in the mid-to-late 80s. They could also hold their own musically with any of those bands. It may not hit me same it did thirty years ago but it does still strike something of a chord. Given a good-sounding remix and packaged in a much better-looking cover. Three decades??!! (


VITAMIN X-Age Of Paranoia (Southern Lord, LP)
More than two decades in, Vitamin X's debut for Southern Lord, their first album in six years, see the Amsterdam four piece continuing to bash out fast and furious hardcore punk with metallic touches. While there's plenty of speed and burn, the rock 'n roll fervor comes to fore a bit more than in the past, as Marc Emmerik dishes out an array of tasty guitar riffs and leads. The title track's intro is quite Iommi-esque before kicking into a vintage Raw Power feel. Executed like a well-oiled machine at this point and always a fun excursion. (

WAY OUT-Age Of Descent (Atomic Action, LP)
Gothy post-punk with vocals that sound like an overly melodramatic Peter Murphy. To be honest, that detracts a bit as it can overwhelm everything. If you can get past that, the music is gripping and surging. This isn't wallow in the muck material played at a snail's pace. The echo-laden arrangements have a gritty power, while also using various 80s touchstones. The guitar tone echoes the Cure's early days and you can also hear strains of the Chameleons. (

WIRMS-Ain't Gonna Find Me (What's For Breakfast?, LP)
Hell-raising garage/blooze/slop from a guitar 'n drums two piece. I'd really like to hear these songs with a bass player because I think it'd sound fuller but they do a good job at making an unhinged racket. Sometimes a bit too unhinged, if that's possible, but it'll probably scare the bejesus out of your average White Stripes fan. Closing song, the leering "Merry Christmas," certainly beats the snot out of any of the standards, including punk takes on them. Certain to wreck any party, holiday or otherwise. (