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IRON REAGAN “THE CROSSOVER MINISTRY”
(Relapse Records, Release Date February 3, 2017)
DON’T FALL – TO YOUR KNEES – STAND UP – THE CROSSOVER MINISTRY! Iron Reagan has been in my regular rotation since about summer 2014, when the press for “The Tyranny Of Will” started buzzing about. Now, if you are a die-hard fan of Iron Reagan, you’re probably saying to yourself “they’ve been around since 2012 you dork!” Well, to that, I retort with: “Suck off jag-wad!” I openly admit, I was stubborn about IR from the jump. As a huge Municipal Waste fan I had ignored any side bands Tony and company had to offer, which in retrospect is a silly notion. It’s not as if these bands were in competition with each other. And the lesson here is, if dudes from a band you really really like are in another band, odds are YOU’RE PROBABLY GOING TO REALLY REALLY LIKE THAT BAND AS WELL!
So after ignoring them for the better part of two years, when the promo video for “Miserable Failure” dropped I was hooked! It’s now been just about 2 and a half years since “The Tyranny Of Will” and these Richmond VA thrash-punk stalwarts bring us “Crossover Ministry”. Wasting absolutely no time “Crossover Ministry” picks right up where “Tyranny” left off, and is a frantic kick to our collective figurative nuts. The absolute precision these guys operate with is the stuff of legend! Every riff is delivered with spine snapping speed, every line is yelled with a frenzied urgency that will make your ears bleed, but make you want more with every short song. Don’t let the tongue in cheek pun-addled song titles fool you, there’s plenty of dark introspection with these lyrics. Songs like “Dead With My Friends”, “Dying World” & “More War” display a tasteful evolution from the party thrash of early Municipal Waste. Musically, “Ministry” is pretty much on par with “Tyranny”. Just as you’d expect, this is a pretty densely packed mama-jama, boasting 18 tracks in just about a half an hour. “Crossover Ministry” in 2017 is an important record! Crossover in general is an important niche! Metal, punk, & hardcore have always co-existed in the underground with the occasional blending. So few bands over the years have actually been able to do it well. And when a band like Iron Reagan comes along, with consistently true to form bangers, we need to celebrate them for preserving this crucial element of our scene. 7 thumbs up!
-Dan Piro 2017
SCARBORO "HERE COMES THE HANGOVER" CD
(WTF Records, Release Date February 3, 2017)
Scarboro? Never heard of 'em punk? Me either until this popped up in the inbox with a short bio which states that this 3 piece got started in 2012 and are based out of NYC. Back in 2014 they released the "The Safeword is YES" EP on their own and this time around they team up with WTF Records out of Europe. Scarboro has good influences. They got a list of ‘em that includes all bands that I dig. Agnostic Front, Bad Religion, 7 Seconds and H2O amongst others and I hear a little bit of all of them within these 14 tracks. When you get new music quite often it's a situation where you play it a few times and you know if your gonna end up liking it or not pretty quickly. After a few listens I knew I was in on Scarboro and after a few more rides I was pretty much hooked. 14 songs is a lot for most punk and hardcore releases as we've all pretty much all become conditioned to short blast EP's that run around 10 minutes with maybe 5 songs. What makes this 27 minute album (and I stress that this is a full length) flow and kick your ass is as basic as the songwriting which is really fucking good. Scarboro mixes shit up and doesn't settle in on one good song type, style or whatever you want to call it. They got hooks and grooves out the ass and they show that they got some more edgy hardcore in their back pocket as well. Songs like "One Night Last Stand", "Life Like Any Other" and "Archangels" bring in elements that will have you humming this shit in your head on the ride in to work, all day at work and then save some for the ride home, while other tracks like "Scarboro", "Disassociate", and "Relentless" mix in more of a raw style more in line with some of their NYHC influences. Shit, even up to the last track which is the title track they got you kind of guessing with a track that could be off a Get Up Kids album with some acoustic parts intertwined with some crunch. To sum it all up... we got a winner here folks as Scarboro show a knack for excellent songwriting and diversity within their songs making this thing fly by and give you that urge to hit that play button again and again.
DOWN TO NOTHING “LIVE ON THE JAMES”
(Revelation Records, Released January 2017)
Richmond VA’s own Down To Nothing come at us with a bit of a twist in a brand new live album recorded on home soil at The Broadberry in October of 2015. You don’t see a ton of live hardcore albums out there nowadays and over the years I can count the number of them that I actually really liked on one hand as there is just something about seeing hardcore bands in person that does not translate to vinyl/cassette or CD in my book. The opening track here is “Life On The James” which was the title track off of their last studio album from 2013. The sound they got here is clear and crisp and makes for a good listen overall. The track listing is a good representation of the bands catalog mixing stuff up from their latest album as well as older stuff from 2003’s “Save It For The Birds”, 2005’s “Splitting Headache”, and 2007’s “The Most”. In all we get 17 tracks here in a little over 30 minutes. I wish there would have been more between song chatter/crowd interaction from frontman David Wood here as most of the songs start off with a “this song is called…” and then the title yelled out. Little things like that can give you a better feel for what the band or their songs are about and represent. Down To Nothing are one of my favorite current day hardcore bands who I still have not seen live and on a recording like this I would have loved to pick up a little tidbit or nugget of information to make me like them even more. But still with all that said this is a good effort which is being strictly reviewed off of a digital download. There are varied vinyl editions available and with the right inserts/photos and packaging I could see this being a good keepsake for fans of this band that I am sure many of you (like myself) wish would make the rounds more often than they do at this time.
ALTERED BEAST S/T 7”
(Blak Skul Records, Released January 2017)
Out of Kansas City Missouri (or Mizer-uh depending on who ‘ya talk to) we have Altered Beast! This group of Mid-Western heavy hitters are offering up their first piece of vinyl, a self-titled 7” on Blak Skul Records (not to be confused with Black Skull, a death metal label out of Germany). In carrying with the tradition of most hardcore bands from the region, Altered Beast’s heaviness is only surpassed by their darkness. In their aesthetic alone I see a lot of influence from Integrity; the bleak imagery is a perfect complement to their punishing heavy riffs. Something about the water in the Midwest, every band has a tough as nails metallic edge, and Altered Beast remain faithfully in line with the sound of their forefathers, while offering up enough personality to set them apart. Heavy guitars, pensive lyrics, plenty of mosh, this record has all the makings of a banger. 5 thumbs up!
-Dan Piro 2017
STALE PHISH "POLE JAMS" LP
(Not Like You Records, Released November 2016)
Stale Phish are a 4 piece out of Detroit, Michigan and "Pole Jams" is their sophomore release which is delivered to us by the fine folks over at the Not Like You Laboratories who deliver zines and music on the regular. As a "writer" I like it when bands write their own review or description and Stale Phish summed themselves up quite properly here when they say "not reinventing the wheel, just taking it on a hellride". On the music side of things Stale Phish have a basic punk rock and roll style that has an Agnostic Front "Victim In Pain" era feel with a few of the tracks here starting off with choppy drum blasts that get followed by a nice bass line and there is nothing wrong with that in my book. The 13 songs here clock in at a little less than a half hour with track 10... "I Can't Remember" being the lone stand out crusher of a track with an awesome fast pace and groove that got stuck in my head and I still can't get out. I pretty much have worn this track out it is so good but at the same time I wish they had more tracks like this one. The other stuff is good, but this track absolutely rips.
With the cover artwork by Bobby Draws Skulls (look him up on IG) and titles like "Summer Of Sk8", "Sk8 Date", "Sk8 For Allah" and "Live By The Board" (amongst others) it's is quite obvious that the band is entrenched in the skateboarding world and should appeal to others of the same ilk. "Pole Jams" is a nice release of well-played basic punk rock that isn't reinventing the wheel (as previously stated) but nonetheless a record you can still get down with. Probably a hoot to see live as well.
ACHE “FADE AWAY” LP
(Dead City Records, Released December, 2016)
Ache deal in some of the most aggressive and in your face hardcore out there at the moment and on their new album “Fade Away” prove that they are not only out for blood but also have the songs to back up their furious attitude. The band wastes no time in introducing the world to their manic take on hardcore. Punishing grooves interlocked with razor sharp riffs are the order of the day here with opening track “The Blood” exploding like a huge circle pit and the vivacity that they convey here doesn't let up at all throughout “Fade Away” with tracks like the aptly named “Razor” and the bass led groove of “Panic Kills” upping the energy levels to a breaking point until you can literally feel the surge of anger breaking its way out of your speakers.
“Hounds Of Hate” initially reveals a different side to the band with a classical guitar intro that is as menacing as it is beautifully played starting the song off before the most unhinged and violent song on the album kicks off. The song is a total blur and will be a total blast to see this played live. Truly cathartic stuff here from Ache and this is possibly the best track on the album and is followed up supremely by the sublime instrumental following track “Disillusioned” which acts as a calming influence to the heady mania that has preceded it and will kick off again and shows just how good the musicians in this band are. When it does kick off again with that harsh exuberance, it continues with “Movement Of Fear” and the album’s title track which are both as murderous as the albums vicious beginnings before “98.6” and “Nothing” finish things off nicely with a barbaric touch of hardcore beatdowns.
While Ache are primarily a hardcore band, they also have a big metal and grindcore influence on their music and this is evident in some of the riffs, vocals and drumbeats with bands like Trap Them and Napalm Death seeming like kindred spirits to the New Yorkers as well as the huge influence of hometown heroes like Burn, Cro Mags and Raw Deal/Killing Time. There is a sample of a subway train at the end of “Disillusioned” and this is fitting as the music of Ache is similar to a train hurtling under the streets of New York City taking down anything that gets in its way, which is exactly what Ache’s music does. “Fade Away” is a brilliant album and is not only a lesson in total ferocity but also a great example of the vibrancy and eclecticism of hardcore music and I can't wait to hear more from this up and coming band.
FRAGMENTED “12 BROKEN PIECES”
(Released August, 2016)
In today’s Twitterverse society, getting to the point is key. If there was a hardcore version of that example it would be Fragmented from NYC. Short, hard and fast (no, not a self-reference.) was what I was looking for and this three piece band didn’t disappoint. “12 Broken Pieces” has 12 vicious cuts with the longest timing out at 2:39. Fragmented uses a multi vocal approach in their onslaught which works well for them. As for the musical feel of this album, I felt more of a lean toward thrash reminiscent of S.O.D. and hardcore similar to Crown of Thrornz/Skarhead (from vocals). It’s easy to find similarities and make comparisons but more difficult to find uniqueness in bands but Fragmented is simply themselves with lyrics and style. Reviewing albums is easy, making the albums and putting the work out for people to love, hate or ignore is hard.
I try and use a three point approach to reviews of: 1: Did I get a sincere feel from the music? Definitely. Fragmented is a band who love music and producing music the scene would appreciate. 2: How would this album/band translate to a live show and would I see them? Yeah, I would see these guys knowing that I would get a good show and, most likely, a bill of other good bands. Win. Win. 3:Is the album something I would recommend to other people? Definitely. “12 Broken Pieces” is for any metal or hardcore fan. As always, support your scene. Get out from behind the keyboard and see some bands.
ABSOLUTION “JUXTAPOSITION” EP
(Wardance Records, Released January 2017)
Another blast from the past for this review go around. The new....err... old....err.... 30 years in the making, EP from the nearly mythical beast known as Absolution. This is actually an EP that was recorded in 2011 but is being re-released by Wardance. This EP includes two songs from their "demo" along with a song that was a longtime staple of their live set yet never captured on a recording. Finally there is one golden nugget redone from the New Breed Compilation that pretty much could have been the ONLY thing that they ever recorded and they'd still be one of my all-time favorite NYHC bands.
Now, if you just said, "What is the New Breed Compilation?", then please, promptly remove your head from your ass, turn in your hardcore gold card, and put the Google to good use. Seriously, what's your fucking damage? So, Absolution kind of burst onto the scene in the late 80's with a flavor all their own and made an immediate impact on anyone who saw them. The ultra-charismatic singer Djinji Brown and the NYHC stalwart hammer master, Gavin Van Vlack combined with two other fellas, (This ain’t a history piece bitches look ‘em up) and began to make their mark on anyone fortunate enough to see them. I was one such fortunate soul a handful of times, so nanny nanny boo boo, stick your head in doo doo. I won hardcore! My hardcore card is platinum. I kid....I kid... On this recording Djinji and Gavin are accompanied by two other very seasoned and capable core type fellas, Dan Cav on bass and Andy Guida on skins. Absolution never had a proper demo release but that didn't stop the music from being widely circulated in various forms. There are rehearsals out there, a poorly recorded 7", and cut and paste hodgepodge of a discography yet nothing really ever captured their essence. A few songs came close, the New Breed tune comes to mind as well as a version of "Fall Of A Nation" that made the rounds as part of a "session", but overall the band that could've dominated the scene was never properly captured and by 1989 they were done, cementing their legendary status albeit, unbeknownst to them.
Finally the music...the glorious music! Finally… recorded properly. The first song up is "As We Were" @ 1:14. A clean, crisp Absolution song!!! Holy fucking shit. I can't believe my ears. It's a hardcore rager. This is one of the updated "demo" songs mentioned above. The second song is the other "demo" song "Risk". "Risk" is a galloping hardcore tune clocking in at 1:42. About halfway through there is a nice switch in tempo/breakdown that has a cool original structure. Next up is "Never Ending Game" @ 3:04. This is a song that immediately causes me to circle pit and smash shit as soon as I hear it. Here it is in a nice clean recording and it will still have you stage diving off your front porch and you may just punch a tree or two or kick over your mailbox. It's a fantastic song. The only difference is Djinji's vocals are now of a mature adult rather than a screaming kid so it comes off slightly more subdued than the original, but in no way lesser. You should already be familiar with those three songs at least, as they have all been out there in varying forms and if you’re not then ‘ya slippin'. The final song is the one that never was recorded before 2011 and anyone who saw them back in the day will get that nostalgia feeling for a song they haven't heard in a long ass time. "In Thought" starts off in that NYHC "lurking" kinda way, where I could see some of the crowd doing that hands behind the back creepy walking thing. The song then gets to galloping but has many tempo changes and again a clever song structure which is what made Absolution stand out. The musicianship really stands out on this song and Gavin is his usual monster self on the guitar. Overall, the musicianship is fantastic and Djinji's vocals are as strong as ever. This is awesome, plain and simple. If you liked Absolution then here is your chance again to see them in a newer light. I have been rockin’ this over and over, so to Djinji, Gavin, Dan, and Andy I say, thanks, nice job gentlemen, I think we are finally hearing what we were meant to hear. Soooo, how about you go back into the studio and record the rest of it....ALL OF IT. Come on guys....why the fuck not? Redo that entire discography. I'm dying to hear an update of "Fall Of A Nation", I did the best cleaning of the copy I had but it is still a calamity of a recording....a calamity that I listen to on the regular.
MADBALL, WISDOM IN CHAINS, BRICK BY BRICK, OUT LIVE DEATH
@Revolution, Amityville, NY Jan. 5, 2017
Madball finished off 2016 by opening up for Korn and Limp Bizkit on some huge UK arena shows and now start off 2017 back home with a short run of East Coast dates which included this stop at Revolution out on Long Island. Opening things up were locals OUT LIVE DEATH who we here at In Effect have backed ever since they disbanded as Live Fast Die Fast and were reborn with some new blood under their current name. I gotta say that I feel for these guys here because they landed on this stacked bill but being the opener at a hardcore show isn’t always what it might be cracked up to be. Whatever the reason people often stand back for the openers and even more aren’t even in the building yet when you go on first but I guess that is all part of paying your dues, right? To their credit O.L.D. put on pretty much the same set that I have seen them put on a few times now playing for close to 30 minutes. They put the energy out there and the songs speak for themselves. “Free CD’s at our table” which were scooped up after their set hopefully wrangled them in some new fans. Check these guys out.
BRICK BY BRICK: PHOTO BY: STEVEN J. MESSINA
Albany’s BRICK BY BRICK followed and this was my first live check in with them. Back in 2014 they put out one of my all-time favorite hardcore videos in the 7 plus minute epic “Suffer In Silence” which you can check out HERE. Upstate NYHC bands usually bring that smash you in the face metallic style and Brick By Brick live up to that reputation quite well. Having been at this for a few years now it wasn’t a surprise to see the crowd start to get into their set a little and their tightness as a unit was noticeable as well. Vocally, Mr. Ray Mazolla (also of Full Blown Chaos) brings that from the gut deep (and I mean deep) vocal style that you either love or don’t love (I am of the latter) but to each their own. Things ended with the heaviest rendition of Pennywise’s “Bro Hymn” you’re ever gonna hear.
WISDOM IN CHAINS: PHOTO BY: STEVEN J. MESSINA
As WISDOM IN CHAINS were setting up their equipment Revolution was now completely jammed. For a Thursday night on Long Island in 2017 that is saying something, especially after seeing many bands (that Wisdom In Chains have probably played with) not draw diddly in this same club and up the road at the AMH. “We’re Not Helping” off of their 2005 “Die Young” album started things off and when frontman Mad Joe hit that “FUCK THE WORLD” lyric early on in the track things jumped off as this crowd came to life in a big way. “When We Were Young” followed and is off of their last album “The God Rhythm” which came out in 2015. The fact that Wisdom’s current day material is as hard hitting and lyrically potent as their early work speaks volumes as to this bands place in the hardcore music scene. Each one of their albums adds another layer to an already solid foundation of songs and as the years go on and the albums start to pile up it is hard to deny the fact that Wisdom In Chains are already an all-time great hardcore band. Their set list on this night was a mix of everything from their oldest and newest albums to the ones in the middle like “Class War” (2007), “Everything You Know” (2009) and “The Missing Links” (2012) with “Cap City” probably getting the best crowd reaction of the evening. Easy to get lost in the mix could be guitarist Chris Mavromatis who usually sets up deeper on the stage in front of the drum set but when it is time to drop a solo or lead he steps forward and lets his talents shine. The Long Island crowd completely went off for WIC from start to finish with their 12 song set including a cover of “The KKK Took My Baby Away” by The Ramones and ended with one of their best in “Chasing The Dragon”.
MADBALL: PHOTO BY: STEVEN J. MESSINA
The crowd here tonight though was here to see some MADBALL and an action packed Madball set is what they got. “Hardcore Lives” is the title track to their last album which came out in June of ’14 and set the tone nicely with its mid-paced bouncy beat. LOVE the lyrics to this song which mix in a ton of old and new hardcore band names and references. Right from the first notes the crowd was after it and never let up. Older tracks like “Smell The Bacon” and “Get Out” were up early on in the set mixed in with more of the new like “DNA” off of “Hardcore Lives”. Madball’s energy flows through their frontman Freddy Madball who still jumps all over the stage from start to finish and can whip the crowd up into a frenzy as if he was still a 16 year old kid. Backing Freddy up are his bandmates who are performing on some seriously high levels. The years upon years of playing these songs on countless tours is obvious as they are hitting on all cylinders, almost machine like and it is a great thing to watch in a small club. “Set It Off” as you could guess was one of the highlights of their set which everyone and their mom seems to know. Always liked hearing this one live over the original recording. “Infiltrate The System”, “It’s My Life”, and “Pride” kept the good vibes going later on in their set and during “Pride” Hoya handed his bass off to one of their crew and did dual vocals with Freddy making for some good moments. Closing out the night was “Doc Marten Stomp” which is right up there with some of Madball’s greatest. Hopefully the new album they mentioned for 2017 will include more tracks like this one and continue this juggernaut type of roll that this band has been on for the past few years.
AIM HIGHER “HOMEMADE” EP
(Rise Records, Released December, 2016)
Alright you hardcore historians, you punk pioneers, you underground OG's, and YOU! Yeah you, you just plain old, old dudes. You may want to check out the latest by a hardcore icon. Oh shit...the kids too. Can't forget the kids. My daughter happens to enjoy this fellas work as well. My review this go around is for the latest musical venture by the one and only Mr. Kevin Seconds. I consider Kevin Seconds in the very small group of folks I would label as an idol. I use the word idol completely devoid of the implication of any form of worship, yet chock full of admiration for and inspiration from a guy who has made music for decades, spanning genres, within over 25 releases, in the form of over 25 releases, in a band called 7 Seconds. Now, that is just with the band 7 Seconds.....then there are also projects like Go National, Ghetto Moments, Drop Acid, Seed, Kevin Seconds & The Altruistics, Positively Ventilate plus 7 or 8 solo albums, plus acoustic, plus spoken word, plus painting, plus broadcasting live on Facebook while Uber"ing" or whichever of those it is he does. I am pretty sure the guy eats, drinks, and shits creativity. If you don't believe me, fuck you.
This time around Mr. Seconds has decided to dabble once again in the underground hardcore punk thing with the release of his "Homemade" EP under the moniker Aim Higher. From what I understand this is Kevin's home recording of the four songs upon which he would like to build a band and maybe do a little sumthin-sumthin, you know, tourin', recordin', rockin and rollin' and what not. Future developments not withstanding, we get to hear what he is currently up to and whether or not anything grows from we shall wait and see. This is a quick four song offering that clocks in at a little over four minutes. Perfect for any band looking to introduce themselves and perhaps whet the appetites of underground gourmandizers, everwhere. So let's let the ass kissing cease and the nitpicking begin. So I read some reviews and this has been labelled as new 7 Seconds and in one instance Dead Milkmen-esque. I think labelling this new 7 Seconds is selling it short and selling the mighty 7 Seconds way short. And by that I mean, 7 Seconds is a genuine, bonafide, hardcore punk rock establishment. It's a honed craft. At this point in the game it's professional in all the good ways. Aim Higher is clearly an infant by comparison, with basic production and that homemade style, hence the title of the EP. As for the Dead Milkmen? I don't think so punk rock girl, we only have it iced. Anyhow, Kevin's vocal delivery on this sounds more subdued or maybe less urgent. It may be a little more nasal. The music is stripped down. This has a real garage rock feel to it. While it is fast paced and has many of punks calling cards, I wouldn't label this hardcore punk necessarily although it does approach those speeds at times. This is punk rock and roll but leaning heavy on the rock. If I had to draw comparisons I'd go for more of a bouquet of Electric Frankenstein fell minus the solos with hints of Hellacopters here and there. "Mouth of Stranger" could easily be a Ramones tunes, and any time the name Ramones pops up you are doing something right. The lead off song "Stain On Your Generation" starts off with a quick double musical click that sound like the turning of the dial on an old school TV. Yes kids they had dials, we got up and turned them. It sounds like two turns of the dial which on the third, lands on something good...the song, which immediately kicks in. It proceeds to take aim and fire off a disgruntled tirade at someone. I know who it's about for me, not sure who Kevin is talking to, but that's not the point. 48 seconds and done. Boom. Next up is "For A Reason" @ 1:21. This has some of that Kevin Seconds positivity running through it and is about getting together and getting shit done. "Homemade" @ :47 and "Mouth Of A Stranger" 1:30 seemingly come from a more personal place lyrically and are my favorite two tunes musically.
So there you have it ladies and germs. This is what I would consider catchy and melodic garage rock....punk...maybe? If you like things Mr. Seconds has done in the past, I am reasonably certain you will want to rock this. If you haven't really given a flying fuck, you may still enjoy this because I feel it is certainly stands on its own. It's not 7 Seconds, it's its own beast. Now, will these songs be swallowed by the goliath that is 7 Seconds and become a part of that repertoire? That remains to be seen, but I am very doubtful, creatively, that is not Mr. Seconds style. Like I said, he is like an X-Man whose power is creativity. Aim Higher is just one manifestation of said power. And with that I exclaim, EXCELSIOR!!! See you in one of Kevin's Uber chats and until then always aim higher you cunts.....and rock out with your cock out, I know a good 4 song soundtrack.
CRUEL HAND “YOUR WORLD WON’T LISTEN” LP (Hopeless Records, Released September, 2016)
I've enjoyed seeing Cruel Hand a couple of times and have listened to them sporadically over the past few years, but never kept them in heavy rotation. Not because I didn't like their music – I did (and do). Rather, as with many bands on my playlist, I constantly cycle past band names I'm familiar with because I feel pressure to listen to as much new music as I can. This means that many times I don't dive as deep into a band as I should, and unfortunately for me, Cruel Hand was one of these bands. Not anymore. Their second release on Hopeless Records, “Your World Won't Listen” has pushed me into CH so that I've gone back to listen to their older records just to hear their musical progression, which is easy to recognize. The first thing I noticed about this album is that it's not as uniformly “hardcore” as I expected or hoped it would be. That said, not getting what I expect can sometimes be a good thing. If you listen to their Bridge 9 releases and the 2 albums since their jump to Hopeless Records, there is a noticeable shift in the direction of the music itself. I don't know if there is a direct correlation, but where there was a straight link to metal before, there is now an undertone of the signature punk sound that has become synonymous with Hopeless throughout the years. There are tracks such as “Decompose” that start off sounding like old Metallica, but somehow take a turn and end up with an almost Oi sound. Stylistically “Your World Won't Listen” tackles a lot of things at once by laying hardcore style over top street-punk drums while adding guitar riffs that are distinctly metal - which could get messy quick, but I feel works for this record.
There is plenty to get down to here, and I always enjoy when a band is comfortable enough to switch it up a bit! That said, if you are looking for a sequel to 2010's “Lock And Key”, this is not it; this record is definitely on the same path as “The Negatives” from 2014, albeit with a slightly heavier tone. Overall I think this record is a solid release, and it certainly fits as the next step for Cruel Hand.
POOR LILY “DIRT ON EVERYONE” LP
(TV Mayor Records, Released October, 2016)
I hold within my little, chubby, sweaty, greedy, hands the third release by one of New York and Connecticut's' most hidden of gems, Poor Lily, entitled “Dirt On Everyone”. For those of you who don't know, Poor Lily is a three piece punk rock and roll outfit with roots in the hardcore scene we all know and love. They are a unique band whose sound has shifted while remaining true punk rock. I really enjoy the two other LP's and the EP but for me they are almost unrelated. Each fits a certain mood....for me that is, like, I'm not jamming the "Three Song " EP on into "Vuxola" in one sitting, but I digress. Really good stuff though so check it out on the quick. I threw this LP on and gave it a listen through without reading any of the information contained therein. I got the feeling a common thread was running through it. I then consulted the information and came to find that the lads categorize this as "a punk rock opera about the NSA, mass surveillance, and the battle over privacy". It was inspired by the entire Edward Snowden debacle and the information that arose about how our government unlawfully collects data on its law abiding citizens. This is a concept album that tells a story, and it is intended as one piece of music. 30 minutes and 38 seconds of a single track separated into 14 parts. The guys even went into Exeter Studios and recorded the album in a single take from start to stop. The result is a great piece of work in my opinion. It plays very much like a rock opera and I could see this being the soundtrack to the first hardcore musical with a play and instead of an orchestra, just Poor Lily in the pit slamming through the musical bits. The music runs a real gamut of styles but is firmly rooted in punk. My favorite track or rather "part" is "No Wires". "No Wires" has an almost hardcore experimental jazz feel, and do not let that scare you, it is a quality tune. Poor Lily are flexing their musical chops and influences all over this record and it makes for an interesting ride. For the people who like the similarities games, I get a strong Dead Kennedys vibe at times, sometimes I feel a bit of Circle Jerks thingy going on. I even get the occasional wiff of surf rock which harkens in modern terms, to the Night Birds and those that came before them. I have a sweet vinyl copy which came with a nice booklet and a sheet explaining in more detail what I mentioned above regarding the theme of the album. Every inch of this release is influenced by the Snowden/NSA story right down to the art work which is comprised of said documents cut up to create all of the artwork contained in the package. Adam, Max, and Dom have made a very intriguing statement in the form of their chosen art. I am sure the creation of this statement was not easy, but I am glad they decided to share it us. Even if you could give a flipping shit about their statement, you still get a kick ass LP that won’t leave you bored.
REALITY SLAP “LIMITLESS” EP
(War Records, Release Date January 13, 2017)
Coming out swinging from Lisbon, Portugal, Reality Slap deal in short, sharp blasts of hardcore and the band’s new effort “Limitless” is eight tracks of condensed fury enhanced by some powerful riffs and an iron clad attitude. An empowering sample sets things up on opening track “Beyond” with its "believe in yourself, live or love without restrain" refrain before the album’s title is defiantly stated and a crunching and tense rhythm explodes from the speakers while a screeching guitar riff powers over the top. This sets off a grooving rhythm in a similar style to “Age Of Quarrels” opening track “We Gotta Know” which is particularly telling seeing as how big an influence the Cro Mags are on Reality Slap and this sets up the albums tone in fine style.
From then on “Limitless” doesn't let up for a second with its wholly inspiring vibe and vibrant hardcore grooves that take in a number of styles, each as passionately done as the last with tracks like the Madball-esque title track, the furious energy of “Liberate”, the Nightmare On Elm Street sampling fury of “Escapist”, “Haymaker” (which feels like a punch to the face!) and the chant along aural bruising of “Lone Wolf”. All the tracks fly by in no time and you have barely time to catch your breath before “Limitless” ends with the breakneck “Berserk”, a song that is aptly titled and one that embodies the short, sharp shock nature of Reality Slap to the fullest and ends this in a way that as with the rest of the EP, sums up the band, their sound and their message.
The passion that the band have for both their music and hardcore is palpable and classic bands like Breakdown, Bad Brains and Cro Mags as well as newer bands like First Blood and Turnstile are obviously a big influence on their sound and style and with “Limitless”, Reality Slap can look to the influence that those bands have and take their brand of hardcore and spread their message worldwide. The opening samples on “Beyond” states halfway through that "defeat is yesterday, today's victory is clear" and with “Limitless” they have a winning album and outlook without a doubt and with this statement of intent will be putting their mark on hardcore for years to come.
CLITERATI- “CLITERATI” EP
(Released December 9, 2016)
Hailing from Portland Oregon, female fronted 4 piece hardcore punk band Cliterati step into the ring with their first self-titled EP. Filthy bass tones, choppy D-Beats, and doubled female vocals highlight this solid 5 song effort from the band. Riffage that is at times reminiscent of both Integrity and Negative Approach scattered spastically throughout the album are just well done hardcore punk songs with a dark feel. If you like Discharge, Spazz, or Negative Approach I would give ‘em a whirl.
H2O, WISDOM IN CHAINS, VISION, NATION OF WOLVES, REASON TO FIGHT @ UNDERGROUND ARTS, PHILADELPHIA, PA NOVEMBER 20, 2016. WORDS BY: JOSH DERR. PHOTOS BY: ANNE SPINA
One of the greatest parts of hardcore for me is how special it is to all of us; how individually we form intimate bonds with songs and bands, then at a show we get to share that excitement and passion with everyone around us. Whether it means grabbing a stranger by the shoulders and screaming a chorus into their face, working things out in the pit, or stepping on someone's face and high-fiving them after – we share these experiences, and it means the world to all of us. The vibe in the Underground Arts on 11/20/2016 was a unified electricity as hardcore kids of all ages shuffled into the dimly lit basement venue in Center City Philadelphia. Multiple generations of hardcore were represented in anticipation to celebrate the genesis of one of the greatest and most recognizable bands in the scene.
As one of few bands able to gather fans from all corners of the hardcore scene, H2O have played countless shows in all sorts of venues, but a hot basement on the East Coast is definitely their home turf, and this promised to be an evening well spent. I had never heard of Reason To Fight from Providence RI, but I have to say that I'm stoked they were chosen to open the show, because now I have a new band to check out. With a classic hardcore sound and solid presence on stage, they were a great pick to kick things off. The crowd (which was still trickling in) seemed to warm up to them quickly and the response I saw was definitely positive. You can check out their full length “Dedicated to Nothing” on Fastbreak Records, and I recommend you do so – it's a good listen!
NATION OF WOLVES @ UNDERGROUND ARTS 11/20/16. PHOTO BY: ANNE SPINA
The 1 year old local heroes Nation Of Wolves were up second. With a recent lineup change which puts Vince Spina (of Edgewise and Harvcore Records) on drums, they played a solid set to a growing crowd. One thing I always like about Nation of Wolves is watching vocalist Jordan Clarius prowl the stage like a hungry predator while they smash through their set list. I have to admit though, that during the song “Do Your Worst” I took a run at the stage to grab the mic, but couldn't hear the vocals well enough to stay on track and fumbled the words – I felt like a silly goose. They barreled through their songs, sparking some movement in the crowd and lending a new burst of energy in time for New Jersey legends Vision to hit the stage. Big shout out to Vince for playing his first set on drums with Nation of Wolves! Go to Nationofwolves.Bandcamp.com for more from these guys! OK, so Vision played. I have no words to really set this one up. 4 shows in 3 days after a 15 year hiatus; this was the last of the 4, they didn't look tired, they sounded awesome, they even yanked Tim Glomb on stage to stand in on guitar for a song or 2, and played a Stiff Little Fingers cover, need I say more? No. No I don't. If you missed it, you blew it.
WISDOM IN CHAINS @UNDERGROUND ARTS 11/20/16. PHOTO BY: ANNE SPINA
The pairing of Wisdom In Chains and H2O on a basement show in Philly hits deep, resonating with a kind of fresh nostalgia, and pulls a lot of people out – even on a Sunday. I can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon. Of course whenever they play a show in their home state, Wisdom In Chains are a crowd favorite, reveling in sing along parts and stage dives. This show was no exception for the PAHC kingpins - and respect to Matt Gray for standing in and killing it while Wisdom's full time drummer Luke Rota kicked back in Mexico for a bit! With most of their time gone, the crowd refused to lose steam as Wisdom thundered through their set, playing songs off each of their albums. With enough energy built up to make the room explode, and the show getting ready to cap off with the 20 year celebration of H2O's first album, Wisdom dropped into their quintessential PAHC anthem "Land Of Kings" and ended with a strong reminder of where exactly we were!
H2O @ UNDERGROUND ARTS 11/20/16. PHOTO BY: ANNE SPINA
The static feedback of guitars being tuned cleared as the crowd surged forward and clenched fists rose toward the ceiling as the venue filled with the powerful words “MY FRIENDS LOOK OUT FOR ME LIKE FAMILY!!” H2O had taken the stage. Playing their first record front to back, including the iconic recorded segments between songs, the crowd sang every song word for word, recited each studio recording, and laughed along as the band made faces and cracked up while hearing their earlier selves joking around in a studio 20 years prior. It was a really cool thing to see. I have seen H2O a number of times, but this was something special. To see a band that staked their claim on the value of “friends, family, forever” walking that road 2 decades later is a testament to the resolve and honesty of not just this one band, but of our scene. To say they sounded good is an understatement. At this point the chemistry in the band isn't even a factor; they're totally dialed into each other while connecting with their fans on a level rarely seen in any genre. H2O is a band that is responsible for bringing so many of us to the scene. With their melodic sound and positive, welcoming message, they have carved out a place between worlds where the music holds a timeless quality that means so much to so many. This show was the raw embodiment of just that. No words are without action for H2O, and the steadfast dedication of their fans who have been with them since the mid 90's are the proof. What's more is the inclusion of Toby's son Max, who sat in on drums for "Nothing To Prove", and who usually takes over Freddy Madball's part in "Guilty By Association", though at this show it was Jordan from Nation of Wolves who had that honor. They set up for their encore by playing the Rocky theme song and walking off stage. A good portion of the crowd broke out and headed home. Unfortunately I had to be among them, having an all too early work day staring me in the face; but thanks to the magic of hate5six.com, I was able to catch the encore a mere few days later. I can't wait til the 30 year show, and this time I'll be there til the bitter end! -Josh Derr
SICK OF IT ALL “WHEN THE SMOKE CLEARS” EP (Century Media Records, Released November, 2016)
Christmas must have come early....awww snap. For my brain was awoken from a long winter's nap. When my inbox alert went off with a clatter. I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. When what to my wondering eyes should appear??? New Sick Of It All called, “When The Smoke Clears”. Away to the turntable I flew in a flash. Tore open the cover to play my new stash. Well, actually.....Santa may be watching... so.....in the interest of truth and presents, maybe I downloaded the EP..... and maybe I listened to it on my computer. It was definitely mid-day and I wasn't sleeping, but fuck me man, it certainly wouldn't have sounded so damn pretty that way, and that shit sounded pretty. Seriously, read it again, I'll wait here. Yeah, yeah, it's no Clement Moore, but what the fuck is the "down of a thistle" anyways?
So yes, new SOIA. What can you say about these guys? 30 years in hardcore, STRONG. No on again off again. No quitting for 20 years and coming back. No bullshit. These maniacs have been doing it all along. I'll say it again, no bullshit. I got their demo shortly after it came out and have been along for the ride ever since. I haven't blindly liked all of their stuff, and some stuff made me slightly cringe (that recent Bronx tune), but overall a great and expansive body of work and I give them MAXIMUM RESPECT!
Now let's see what these jabronies are currently up to and rip their hard work a new asshole, shall we? The first cut up on the block today is the titular "When The Smoke Clears" running 1:55. It starts out with a choppy Metallica-esque riff and I am waiting for the OH WEE OH’s...but then Lou starts a chant and I get a little worried we are heading into a slightly parmesan territory.....but have no fear ye faithless for then the galloping tune begins and you are running around in circles punching shit acting like it is 1986 all over again. Excellent opening. The men have not let me down and of course not lost a step. Next up is "Black Venom" at 2:23. This is a relentless, pulsating tune full of piss and vinegar...or rather venom if you will. About a minute and a half in the song changes pace a bit allowing for some of you aggressive types to show off your killer moves in the pit. The third cut is topically entitled "Doomed Campaign". This one has more of a street punk sound and it is a rocker. "No one here can speak for us. No one here can earn our trust.None of them can speak for us. None of them can relate to us". This one could be the theme for 2016 in general. Well done. SOIA have their fingers on the pulse. The fourth jammy jam is "Blood and Steel" at 2:11 and it starts with a lonely quiet riff before kicking into a pounding tune. Another very topical tune from these legends in true Sick Of It All fashion. The final song on the EP is called "Fortress" clocking in at 2:39. This one starts with a sweet riff and then some gang vocals before launching into a speed of light galloping hardcore rager. Lou sounds as angry as ever. This one culminates in a nice sing along that I can see bringing down the house at the end of a show. A definite for the 35th anniversary tour in a few. So there you have it. You are going to get 5 unmistakable SOIA songs. There is no doubt when you hear them, who it is you are listening to and in this case that is a good thing. These are five great new songs from the guys. They sound as tight and vibrant as ever and as stated, Lou may sound even a bit more pissed. Other bands should take note that releasing five strong tunes is plenty for us out here in consumer land. It's just enough to leave you wanting to run through them again...and maybe again (in my case). There is no burn out. These diehards have given us thirty years of music and mayhem, so the least we can do is give them eleven and a half or so minutes to see what they are doing now. You won't be disappointed, especially in light of the fact that many of us this year are more sick of it all than we have ever been.
ACTIVATE “FUCK THE MAN” EP (Released October, 2016)
Alright thrashers, pay attention! Here we have Activate from Philly, a super group ensemble of hardcore vets playing a brand of throwback thrash that is comparable to the big white Nike & denim vest era. Activate boasts a power house roster of ex members of Underdog, Bad Brains, Reign Supreme and Punishment, featuring “Stress The White Boy” on vocals; (for the uninformed, that’s the tattooed DJ guy who’s on stage taking pictures at every Black ‘N Blue Bowl). “Fuck The Man”, their debut EP is technically their 5th output, as there have a been a slew of online Bandcamp releases of demo tracks and covers. This recording is 3 new tracks, re-recordings of their 2014 demo, and 2 cover tunes. The 2 covers are indicative of the span of influences of this band; The first being a solid tackling of Suicidal’s “War Inside My Head”, and the 2nd an interesting take on Black Flag’s “TV Party”… re-vamped for the edge as “Pizza Party IIII”. The new tunes on this EP are my favorite part; the instrumental intro has a great doomy vibe which is a really cool setup for the whole thing. “Fuck The Man” has a couple of cameo appearances from The mighty Freddy Madball, and the infamous Joe Hardcore, and if you’re in the market for some well-played vintage thrash, and you’re a fan of Anthrax, skateboarding, The Ninja Turtles, and Municipal Waste, This band is for you! 5 thumbs up!
FULL SCALE RIOT- “EMPOWER” LP
(Eulogy Recordings, Released November, 2016)
With Thanksgiving weekend upon us, I know I'm not alone in being thankful for all the bands who continue to make hardcore music, Doing these reviews is a great way of learning about bands whose music and lyrics provide a release, hope and education. Full Scale Riot (great name for a hardcore band by the way) is one of these bands. Formed in 2006, FSR are a NY/NJ based hardcore band with members Tim McMurtie (M.O.D/Rhythm Trip/Self Destruct) on guitar, Bernard Allen (GTK/GHIRODAH) on vocals; Jeff Wood (M.O.D/The Dillinger Escape Plan/SHAT) on bass and Evan Rossiter-drums. The band has two prior EP’s and their first full length album “Empower” was released on Black Friday 11/25/16 and should immediately be put on your early shopping list. “Empower” contains 9 songs with a total playing time of around 30 minutes; with lyrics tackling political oppression in songs like “Rising Tide”, legalizing marijuana in “Eighty Two Hundred”, remaining positive in “Pick It Up” and facing betrayal in “Hold You To The Fire”. The guest list that FSR recruited on this album includes Jimmy Gestapo (Murphy’s Law) providing spoken word on “Eighty Two Hundred Drop”; Chris Rivers, Ben Harper, Marc Rizzo (Soulfly) and a young talented lady Tsarina Romanoff adding her beautiful voice to “Hold You To The Fire”. Although FSR are a hardcore band, musically they are able to effortlessly transition into the thrash realm. This talent is showcased in the track “PMA All Day”, which blends hardcore, funk and has a thrash element which immediately brought Slayer to mind. Allen's vocals on “Empower” and his live stage presence should put him in the conversation when it comes to great hardcore front men. The history and experience that both McMurtie and Wood bring, along with Rossiter's energetic drumming are what makes “Empower” a contender for album of the year and Full Scale Riot a band that is headed for great things.
BRAIN SLUG “LIVE IN POWER” LP
(Released October, 2016)
When I was asked to review NY's Brain Slug's upcoming album I was very excited. This was another band I first heard on the Black ‘N Blue Takeover radio Show and enjoyed what I heard. Their music leans towards a more brutal style of hardcore, which reminded me a little of great bands such as Darkside NYC and All Out War. I was also excited to see them live at the 2014 Black ‘N Blue Bowl at an outdoor setting in Brooklyn. The band's live energy that day matched the same energy of their previous recordings. With three releases under their belt, “Live In Power” is the band's first full length, with 15 songs totaling a little over 30 minutes of audiological carnage. The music is aggressive, has a heavy punk influence, and the lyrics are deep rooted in societal ills and personal struggles. The album's lyrics are not just thrown together, they are thought out and full of anger. My favorite tracks ended up being “Year Of The Rat”, “Mortar & Brick” and “Time Has Come/ Written In Blood”. Without a social media presence Brain Slug are a band that is somewhat of a mystery to me but the only thing you need to really know about them is that they're pissed off and aren't going away anytime soon. To quote a line from the title track "Gotta live in power or you'll die like a fool”. Their Bandcamp page currently has this up as a “name your price” download (along with their previous releases) and for you vinyl junkies Just A Audial will be releasing this on 12” wax soon enough. Keep your eyes and ears peeled or whatever else it is you do to find new music… oh yeah, keep reading In Effect!
VINNY HOOLIGANZ “LATE NIGHTS” EP
(Released March, 2016)
Do you every listen to new music that just gives you a moment of dread thinking it is just a rehash of a rehash of the same old, same old? When Chris asked me to listen to Vinny Hooliganz, I thought it may be the typical mess of hardcore riffs with basic lyrics and forced energy. Instead I got the opposite. It is definitely NOT your standard NYHC but if you listen, you can hear the influence of not only hardcore but street-punk, Oi and straight up rock and roll.Think H2O with less sing along choruses and breakdowns and more rock oriented songs. The five song album, “Late Nights”, is a solid effort by this four piece from NYC focusing on life and the struggles of relationships. Usually the tired stories of breaking up or getting cheated on all sound the same. While the same theme, Vinny's lyrics are strong and truly work with the music. The only gripe I have with the album is the length of the last song, “Winter”. It is too long. At 5:54, I had to look a couple times to see if I had the song on replay or something. Too long by a couple of minutes. However, if that is the main complaint I have then I would say that isn't anything to not pick this up for a listen.
I am looking forward to see if they put out more music as good as this EP effort. Definitely look them up if you are looking for that quality street rock and roll. Enjoy and, as always, support your local scene.
RAKE-OFF “IN TWENTY SIXTEEN”
(Released October, 2016)
Boasting nine quick, well written songs and a solid production value, “In Twenty Sixteen” by Italy’s own Rake Off is a solid exercise in excellent hardcore punk. Kicking off with an instrumental track called “Rake Stomp” it carries a heavy Rival Mob vibe, but very quickly shifts to a more Sick Of It All type vibe with the next few tracks. Littered with tom centered breakdowns, loads of group vocals, and screeching guitar leads this is really just a fantastic representation of the early 2000’s East Coast style of hardcore. My personal favorite track is the final track entitled “Get Fat”. Give ‘em a whirl if you’re into that fast hardcore punk stuff. Hey, it’s even available as a “name your price” on their Bandcamp page so what do ‘ya got to lose?
“THE EXTERMINATION VOLUME 3” COMPILATION (Flatspot Records, Released November 11, 2016)
With the first two volumes of “The Extermination” series having been so well received and showcasing the likes of Turnstile, Angel Du$t, Power Trip and Backtrack, Flatspot Records return with the eagerly awaited third volume of blistering hardcore featuring tracks from up and coming bands as well as tried and tested favourites.
It is a band that could be described as the latter as well as one of the most popular bands in modern hardcore that kicks off the third volume. LA’s Terror waste no time in giving you an aural kick to the head with the blistering “Other Worlds”. The track features a bouncing riff that lifts the song and a grooving breakdown towards the end. That’s just how good the band are and if this is a taste of what to expect with new material then the next Terror album will be a stormer; getting this compilation off to a great start. Following Terror whether on wax or onstage could never be described as an easy task but it's one that the following band takes in stride. New York and Boston based Countdown burst forth with “Average Man” and show their considerable power with a sound that is influenced by classic Cro-Mags with the bands vocalist reaching John Joseph levels of power on a track that combines a speedy energy, a gnarly groove and a killer guitar solo on the songs conclusion to great effect. Southern Californian’s Disgrace have a Merauder vibe going on and show this off to great effect with the bulldozing “Hunt/Reprise”, a song that combines hardcore brutality with metal tendencies in a stunning show of musical venom while Manipulate follow this with the blistering “Shadow Walker”, a song that only slows down to let a thuggish groove take hold before the speed takes over again. The bands guitar sound echoes prime Suicidal Tendencies and what you have is a hardcore bomb ready to explode. Piece By Piece offer the short but sweet and self explanatory “Hating You”, a track that is a ball of swaggering fury and a fine addition to this comp and the bands powerful Negative Approach feel is immediately effective.
Take Offense are up next and you are immediately drawn to the bands immersive guitar sound that offers some crushing metallized riffs and a ferocious groove rolling through their offering “Enter The Center”. Just listen to the songs closing section that features some phenomenal drumming (think Dave Lombardo when he was in Slayer or even guesting with the reunited Misfits recently, it's that good), passionate vocals and that impressive groove to hear the band at full power. The UKs Higher Power continue the groove with “World Gone Mad”, a track that vocally sounds like a cross between Janes Addictions Perry Farrell and punk icon John Lydon gone hardcore, and as weird as that sounds it definitely works. Add these vocals over some prime hardcore such as a Madball groove and it just elevates the track even more. A shout out of "What Up, Higher Power motherfucker" followed by some nifty guitar work and a solid rhythm is definitely reminiscent of early Biohazard and signals a bruising conclusion to the track.
Friend Or Foe contribute the savage “Invincible”, a track that brings to mind thePoison Ideas classic “The Badge” and while Poison Idea are a good reference point for the Friend Ot Foe sound, the band have their own thing going on and “Invincible” shows it off in full. D.C Disorder finish things off with the anthemic “Naive To A World”, a song that looks back to a simpler time with a hardcore edge to it and is a great way to conclude an extensive collection of songs with each one demonstrating how much variety, energy and pride there is in hardcore music. With all of the tracks here exclusive to this release, you will want to waste no time and get a copy as soon as you can. Every band on here demonstrates the best and varied sounds and styles that hardcore has to offer and the folks at Flatspot Records have done it again with an excellent release. Bring on Volume 4!
OUT LIVE DEATH, HANGMAN, BORN LOW, MAXIMUM PENALTY
@ AMITYVILLE MUSIC HALL, AMITYVILLE, NY NOVEMBER 13, 2016
Apologies off the bat to openers A Breed Apart and Examine who I missed. I heard that None Above All’s singer Hilary (no… not that one… the hardcore one) filled in on vocals as Examine’s regular singer was on a planned trip or something. On a semi-related note the last time I can recall a replacement singer was in Hudson, NY back in the day when Fit Of Anger’s singer was arrested for being drunk and putting a lawn statue into the back of his truck across the street from the venue. They got one of their friends to sing the entire set and used the money to bail him out. True story boys and girls.
Locals Out Live Death went on around 3pm at this afternoon matinee which truly is an oddity these days. For those who don’t know the name they are still fairly new and grew out of Live Fast Die Fast who this website was keen on. Their sound leans on 80’s and 90’s hardcore influences and isn’t too far off from what their previous band was doing. Considering they have the majority of the same members as LFDF that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The turnout here was lacking but I feel like Out Live Death put on a nice set regardless. Look for some more info on these guys in an upcoming Fresh Blood feature.
Up next… more locals. This time in the form of the much younger and on the rise unit known as Hangman. They came out on fire with a really sick intro that caused a flurry of mosh up front but the wind came out of the sails just as fast as an apparent bass malfunction caused them to immediately stop playing. After a few minutes of tinkering with the thing-a-ma-jigs they jumped right back into the song they were doing. Nicely done. Their singer wore a winter coat the entire set (on a 60 degree day) and had a really good hardcore angry face with a ton of intensity. Hangman put out an 8 song EP back in August which features a ton of mosh. I like what these guys are doing and hopefully where they are headed.
Albany veterans Born Low were up next. This was my first time seeing them live and they put on a nice set. Like many of the upstate NY hardcore bands Born Low leans heavily on that metallic hardcore sound but they got whatever it is to them that makes their tunes stand out. Their songs got a lot of choppy drum beats to them and their singer’s vocal style fits them nicely making for a good mix. Outside of their singer the band didn’t really move around all that much probably making it easier for the crowd to be on the dormant side for their set. SBC Bookings who put on this show has shown a tendency for booking bands from outside of the Long Island bubble and having these guys drive 3 or 4 hours down from Albany was a nice change of pace. Caught up with their singer Kyle afterwards who told me they are working on a new album after almost a 3 year gap since their last release.
Maximum Penalty headlined to about 50 people but still were machine like playing with a ton of enthusiasm and had some bursts of crowd activity throughout their set. I don’t know about the rest of you who know this band but I have really grown to appreciate what they do more and more each time I see them. What’s that saying about fine wines? Their style is one of the most diverse within the NYHC genre going from songs with a ton of bop like the opener “Life And Times” to more traditional hardcore jams like their closer “Hate” which is one of their signature songs that I could never not see being a part of their setlist. You gotta love it when bands bring that same energy level for all their shows. The last time I caught MP was at the Dr. Know Bad Brains Benefit show in NYC over the summer where they played in front of a couple of thousand people in a public park. I am not saying they were just as pumped for this smaller setting with a sparse crowd but they were definitely close and if they don’t think they were they did a helluva good job selling it. This show on a whole lacked life due to a weak turnout. Blame football Sunday, the awesome weather on this day or the fact that people are literally fried after a week of political turmoil in this country.
CHILLER THAN MOST FANZINE
(Issue #4, Released October, 2016)
Chiller Than Most is proof that the world is a smaller place than it was say 15, or 20 years back. The reason I say this is that this fanzine comes to us via Hungary and is ripe with an old school NYHC feel to it to the point where if there was no address attached to Atilla’s work you would think he was just some kid from one of the 5 boroughs who has been around the scene forever. Without the internet and social media this zine would have taken years to be put together is what I’m getting at and it is for the most part a pretty cool tool to have. The cover artwork by Chun One jumps out at us here and covers the meat and potatoes of this issue which centers around the old WNYU Crucial Chaos Radio Show which was a mainstay in the1980’s in NYC. Marlene Goldman AKA “Spermacide” was the voice behind this show which played records, demos, gave timely scene info out as well as doing interviews and having bands play live on the air every week. Anyway… Atilla found Spermacide and did a pretty kick ass interview with her for this issue talking about the shows beginnings as well as some awesome stories along the way. An old Warzone interview conducted on air is transcribed and printed here as well. In it Warzone frontman Raybeez asks Spermacide if she will go “out on a date with us before this song plays?”
Atilla also hunted down people from bands like Fit Of Anger, Stand Proud, Krakdown, Our Gang, Uppercut, Supertouch, Beyond and more to get their takes on their experiences with this show. Some people were glued to their radios at home where they would record each episode and others tell cool stories of actually going down to the WNYU studios and all the stuff that went on there. There are about 12 pages in total here covering WNYU stuff and if you remember this show this is a MUST read. The rest of this issue has interviews with The Flex, Combatant, Might, and Nathan Simpson and Matt LaForge from Ancient Heads who are interviewed about their love and admiration of Bold. This one confused me initially as it looks like a Bold interview at first and since there is no introduction I am reading through it and saying when are dudes from Bold gonna start talking here and they don’t. Kind of weird/different to have an interview covering a specific band and the people from the actual band are not involved. Cover to cover CTM # 4 is 36 pages on microscopic sized print that was a lot of fun to read. Follow the link below to get info on how to cop one of these before they are all gone.
TEAR THEM DOWN “ABIDE” 7” EP
(Morning Wood Records, Released September, 2016)
Dredged up from the banks of the Gothia River in beautiful Gothenburg, Sweden, home to the likes of In Flames, At The Gates, The Haunted, Ace of Base, Volvo, and Alicia Vikander (She's hot and won an Oscar, you pathetic fools), comes Tear Them Down. Tear Them Down is a band who have absolutely zippy in common with any of the aforementioned groups or people, unless they drive Volvos. I'm also willing to wager one or all of them own the Ace of Base release. Hey, no harm, no foul, we ALL saw the signs, and they opened up our minds, and we are happy now...no? I think so, but digress, I will. SOOooooo, Tear Them Down are a punk band and very catchy. I would say pop punk, but I don't like that term very much. This is like drinking music for me with echoes of Dropkick Murphy's, Bouncing Souls, Face To Face or perhaps some later Bad Religion. It is solid musically and vocally with everyone doing their part without anything standing out in a negative way. That being said, nothing really sinks its hooks into me and stands out in that way either. This is probably because I am currently not in this musical phase, I mean, it is a good EP and when my musical circle swings me back around to this type of rock, as it does and as it will, I will keep this on the back burner to revisit because I am certain I will be ga-ga over it. However, I don't want to turn anyone off to this. My favorite tune here is probably the first track, "Take A Walk In My Shoes", a quick burst of punk clocking in at 1:37 that makes me want to drink Guinness for some reason. I am also liking the fourth cut "Take Me Back" also at a stealthy 1:51 (like my rum). The lyrics to this say, "Take me back to '94", well, if giant pants and stupid beads are your thing then by all means, go for it, but maybe '94 in Sweden was a bit different...I hope. Either way, it's a good song...except for those JNCO visions dancing in my head. If you want to add some solid catchy punk, Swedish style, to your collection, then this is an excellent place to start. Even if you don't want to, this release is only 5 songs at around ten minutes and we all can take the time out of our crazy schedules of posting our every waking moment to social media to have a listen and decide for ourselves. It flows really well and it ends before you know it. Seriously though,....don't listen to me, get it and form your own opinion, I just almost burned my house down making hard boiled eggs for Odin's sake...yes you read that right.
“HARDCORE- LIFE OF MY OWN” (BY: Harley Flanagan, Released September, 2016)
“Hardcore- Life Of My Own” is the new book by Cro-Mags founder Harley Flanagan which contains a total of 434 pages telling his life story starting from his birth in1967 all the way up to the infamous stabbing incident at Webster Hall in NYC in 2012 and then beyond as the epilogue carries on to 2015 where Harley describes in detail the last days of his mother’s life.
If I had to sum up these 400 plus pages in a single word that word would be blunt with a capital B. Outside of a few topics (that are more along the lines of intimate relationships) there is almost nothing off limits as Harley starts off with a tough childhood upbringing that saw him bounce from the US to Europe with his mother and then finally back to an ultra-violent era NYC. Wherever you are in this book it always seems like the guy is on the move either on tour with bands or breaking away from NYC for stints of time as almost a way to recharge the batteries, get away from trouble or just a way to get by for the time being. The one constant being that he always found trouble (or trouble found him) at what seems like every turn. Being a white punk rock kid in the heart of Puerto Rican gangland territory got young Harley used to getting into fights and or jumped on a regular basis and as the punk rock scene of the time faded Harley was there as one the pioneers that ushered in the start of the NYHC scene and eventually his band the Cro-Mags.
This book goes into great detail on the formation of this iconic hardcore band from the earliest of days where he struggled to put a lineup around him to all of the albums that came after “The Age Of Quarrel” including what seems like an army of people that played with the band and other bands associated with some of the core members.
A standout moment in this book is when Harley pinpoints the time in Europe with guitarist Doug Holland and manager Chris Williamson where he feels that things started to unravel for that classic lineup that gave us “The Age Of Quarrel”. The story goes along the lines of Doug “finding” Chris’ wallet which had a lot of money in it, Doug telling Harley about it and offering him some of the money and then later finding out that the wallet was actually tucked inside Chris’ jacket and that the money was actually for the band. Harley’s relationships with his fellow band members (especially the earlier lineups) have the highest of highs and the lowest of lows with brother like relationships turning sour and all the drama that goes along with it.
There is some extremely damaging material within these pages that questions people’s integrity, motives, sexual preferences, street toughness and basically who is fake and who is real within many aspects of the older NYHC scene and the scene of the last few years. The people being called out here do not have a voice within these pages to refute these claims but it would make one helluva talk show if you ask me.
I read this over the course of a week and after a little bit of a slow build up this thing really takes off and by the time you hit “The Age of Quarrel” era and beyond this book became really hard to put down. These days Harley seems to be fully ingrained in the world of mixed martial arts as well as being dedicated to his two sons. No matter what side of the Cro-Mags fence you stand on the one thing that most should be able to agree on is that Harley Flanagan is a hard as nails throwback old-school New Yorker who marches to the beat of his own drum. “Life Of My Own” is part biography, part history lesson and part life lesson. Find yours where books are sold and at the link below.
TRUTH & RIGHTS "LIES & SLIGHTS"
(My Reality Entertainment, Released October, 2016)
Truth & Rights may be a new name to some of you out there reading this but the release of “Lies & Slights” is just a continuation from where they started off and later left off back in 2010. Six Feet Under Records released their 3 track "Green Light" EP in 2010 and shortly afterwards the band kind of got tucked away nice and neat in the corner for various reasons with this rebirth ready to get started here in the later part of 2016.
The lineup put together here is impressive with Leeway's Eddie Sutton on vocals and a backing unit made up on NYHC vets that sport such names as Maximum Penalty, Crown Of Thornz, Coldfront, Stillsuit, Agents Of Man and Bulldoze to their resumes and surprisingly all of these members were a part of that 2010 EP.
My version of "Lies & Slights" kicks off with a track titled "Games" which is one of the tracks the band had been pushing as a teaser of sorts leading up to the release. This track clocks in just shy of 3 minutes and exemplifies what this band is capable of pulling off with a mid-paced bouncy beat that makes you nod your head for a few minutes before the last 30 plus seconds kicks in to full on thrash mode as the intensity gets ratcheted up to 11. Eddie Sutton behind the microphone still has his signature vocal sound and style which adds an additional element to an already refreshing sound.
"Tommy Karate" is up next and is more in line with what most would expect from this group of musicians but don't get too used to it as T&R is not all about just reliving hardcore days gone by with their style of music. This track is one of the more straight up hardcore jams on here with a fast beat and then a nice break a little more than half way through to open up the dance floor. The repeated chorus of "Don't you wish you could be like Tommy Karate" leaves you scratching your head as to who TK is or was and why I want to be like him.
"Pick It Up" gives us another speed burst, melodic lead and backup vocals throughout and ends with more choppy drum beats. We are 3 tracks in at this point and it's fairly obvious that these are some well written tracks that just have a good flow to them as these first 3 just flew on by.
"Sociopath" follows and is one of the harder tracks on display with a killer riff and a catchy sing-a-long type chorus. "Green Light" and "Chopped Up" follow and give us the first looks at the redone tracks from their 2010 EP. These 2 tracks are formidable and worthy of inclusion but have not set my I-Pod on fire like the 3rd redone track from that 2010 EP titled "BOLO" which is the next to last track on this release. The opening line to "BOLO" is “Be on the lookout for bullshit lies" which tips us off to this songs odd title. "BOLO" is one of the strongest if not the strongest track here with its insanely catchy beat and sing-a-long chorus spelling out B.OL.O. If a video is in the plans at some point this is the first track they should be considering. We jumped around a little there skipping over tracks 7 and 8 which are “Wonderland” and “All In” respectively. “Wonderland” is a nice track sporting another hard ass riff and in some ways is more of a hard rock song and “All In” is one of the hottest tracks on the whole damn album. We finally get to the closer titled “Diamond In The Rough” which sends this album off on a high note with maybe the most melodic track here but all the while still having an “edge” to it. In an upcoming interview we have with frontman Eddie Sutton he explains that this track more than likely will only be played out live in an acoustic setting which could/should sound amazing. I have listened to “Lies & Sleights” maybe 2 dozen times since getting an advanced copy from the band and this album has really sucked me in at times with its overall fresh feel. It is definitely not the same old, same old. There are undoubtedly aspects of the other bands these members have been a part in the past but they also bring fresh ideas to the table as well. There were times I felt like I was listening to a 5th Leeway album that would have built on from what “Adult Crash” and “Open Mouth Kiss” started and other times I felt like I was listening to Maximum Penalty with Eddie Sutton on vocals. Both references are meant in the upmost positive way. Truth & Rights spent what they probably feel like was an eternity putting this album together and their hard work pays off in a big way with this ultra-refreshing debut full length. A few of these tracks ae available through their Bandcamp page for stream/purchase with an eco-wallet CD version containing ALL the tracks available through the band. Hit 'em up!
SUICIDAL TENDENCIES "WORLD GONE MAD" LP (Suicidal Records, Released September, 2016)
One would think that the majority of people into punk, hardcore, or metal would all have some ties to this long running iconic band that got started way back in 1980 with this being their 12th studio album. "World Gone Mad" is the follow up to their "13" album which came out 3 years back and contains 11 songs clocking in at an insanely long 57 minutes. Although I hold their debut release in the highest of regards I must admit that each album that followed didn't have the same kind of impact and as time went on I checked out with this being my first check back in with ST in quite some time.
"Clap Like Ozzy" is a raging opening track that does show signs of Suicidal's earlier (but not earliest) days even though the chorus of "Clap Like Ozzy, Slam Like A Beast" is just the start of some real cornball titles and lyrics. At first I laughed it off as just one song with some not so serious lyrics but as time went on and the music grew on me it became more obvious that the titles, lyrics, (and in one case a soundbite) really take away from fully embracing this album which is really fucking good. If you look up the track listing on paper it doesn't seem so obvious but when you start feeling these songs and the chorus is something along the lines of "Wave your finger in the air, wave it like you just don't care" ("One Finger Salute") you start wondering what the thought process was behind a chunk of the tracks here.
Now that I got my bitching and moaning out of the way this record musically is amazing. This is big boy music performed by big boy musicians including ex-Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo behind the drum kit. Epic songs that stretch out as long 7 and a half minutes in one case containing layers upon layers of precision performing with Mike Muir's distinguishable voice front and center throughout. For a guy closing in on 4 decades since starting this band he sounds excellent. Suicidal throws so many things at us musically on this album it is hard to keep track. Songs like "Get Your Fight On" start off in full power ballad mode before speeding up midway through with some absolute face melting guitar solos thrown in that lead to an absolute epic jam towards the end and they really pull this one off well.
"Still Dying To Live" is that 7 and a half minute song previously mentioned. The first 5 and a half minutes is this slow bluesy jam that is just so fucking catchy before the entire band joins in on the last 2 minutes. Another track where they showcase their talents, take some chances... and knock it outta the park.
The title track is another example of ST's genius with a track that slowly builds and builds with a choppy beat into the chorus that you could see a stadium of say 20, 30, or 50 thousand people all jumping in unison to. Let’s not kid ourselves though as Suicidal has put in their time and paid their dues over the years and are now (and for a while now) more of a rock arena band rather than some band that is gonna play the bar down the block on Saturday night. If you can get past that fact (and a few Junior High School lyrics) you can really appreciate what a well played album this is. There are plans for a new EP to follow this in mid-January to coincide with the inauguration of the next US president and then Suicidal's future is possibly up in the air with OG frontman Mike Muir saying he is unsure if these will be the bands last releases. Time obviously will tell but if this is the case "World Gone Mad" is not a bad way to start the winding down process.
BORROWED TIME “POISONOUS GRACE” EP (Surface Records, Released October, 2016)
It seems Borrowed Time have been around forever, ironic when you consider their name. The long-standing Rochester, NY five-piece have been around since 2004 yet after a raft of line-up changes they ceased playing shows in 2009. They have been back a while and knocking out really solid slabs of metallic hardcore.
Their latest effort is six tracks of smash-your-head-in-a-car-door brutality. Opener "Final Curtain Call" evokes memories of Merauder's classic “Master Killer” with its locomotive drumming and muted riff patterns. As if it couldn't get much heavier enter Brick By Brick and Full Blown Chaos growler Ray Mazzola for a late cameo. There is more of a Cro-Mags feel to “21 Grams” before the unmistakable sound of Earth Crisis singer Karl Buechner kicks off “Judas Kiss”, a largely mid-paced head-nodder with a neat turn of tempo to satisfy the two-step brigade.
Vocalist James really comes to the fore on “Poisonous Grace”. Whilst it would be easy to compare his raspy style to Sheer Terror's Paul Bearer the Borrowed Time frontman's delivery is a bit more refined, soulful even, and every word can be heard crystal clear.
Borrowed Time's cover of SOD's “United Forces” is, for my money, not as fun as Skarhead's attempt but it certainly packs a meaty punch - the production here is HUGE.
Closing with “Ashes Of Man” Borrowed Time have shown they are far from ready to count down the hours to their next hiatus. Colossal.
NONE ABOVE ALL “BEYOND THE FRAME” EP (Released August, 2016)
NYHC in effect (pun intended). We have the latest release by NYC's own None Above All entitled "Beyond The Frame". You get 7 beefy cuts of prime core. This release clocks in at a nice 20:15 which put the songs at around 3 minutes or so on the average which are not epics but robust for the genre. I have listened to this several times now and it is good NYHC played at a wide range of tempos. There is some funky bits and plenty of mosh which will surely cause many a pit melee. You can hear aspects of many types of core on display as well as a touch of the blessed metal. I think the elephant in the room....inside of my head...is the recording itself. I think here it is a bit muddy and/or bass heavy. I don't like to criticize recordings because it is really no fault of the band and half the time you don't know if the end result is the way they intended to present their sound. SO!, I'm going to go on the assumption that this is the way they like it to sound.....and to be honest after listening several times, as I already stated dammit, I think the recording kinda makes this more distinct sounding, like the good old days when the recording itself was part of the personality. It kind of gives it a groove or a hum...like a living breathing collective hive beast looms just over your shoulder ready to eviscerate you at a moments notice. I can hear hints of Awkward Thought and Downlow on the opening ripper "Take a Hike", one of my favorite tracks. "A.F.C. Champ is a pounding song and that collective hive beast I mentioned earlier is really felt on this one (just go with it). I can also hear light traces of Billy Club Sandwich and Burn on "Helm" and the titular track "Beyond The Frame". The two longest jams, both of which are surely to cause a pit casualty or three. I love the guitar intro into "Hope", my favorite track on this release. This is the driving song but also the song that will have you stomping around your kitchen and diving off your dinner table whilst you await your Eggos to spring from the toaster. The band is tight and the vocals are strong. I can see these guys fitting on just about any kind of hardcore bill as they cover a lot of bases here. While writing this review, I listened to this several more times and now I can't imagine it recorded any other way. So check out None Above All. It's NYHC..... but kinda like that "other" NYHC that you discover when you dig beyond the big guns and find the golden nuggets scattered around the boroughs that are doing their own thing. Can you dig it bitches?