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PAPER TRAIL "DEVIL IN DISGUISE” LP (Innerstrength Records, Release Date Oct. 28, 2016)
Brute force riffs, intimidating vocals and an infectious energy are the main ingredients that make up “Devil In Disguise”, the latest from Virginia’s Paper Trail. Opener “Torment Of The Inhumane” is a melding of the best aspects of hardcore and metal with chugging riffs aplenty mixing it up with a huge breakdown raising the vivacity of their music and gets the album off to a high energy start. The following track “Carpe Diem” is more straight ahead hardcore and the album is personified by these different styles of both hardcore and metal, often mixed up in the same song. There is a definite groove that the band have going on too and this is typified by tracks like “It Won't Last” and “Cycle Of Light”, two pummeling examples of the strength of Paper Trail’s music.
A brief instrumental interlude halfway through the album initially lets you catch your breath for a very brief period before a circle pit inducing rhythm knocks you sideways. This interlude then paves the way for the mid-paced heaviness of the album’s title track which steamrolls its way into your consciousness, knocking down all in its path.
The albums greatest track “A Lesson In Blood” follows and boasts a pure thrash metal influence sounding like a harder version of Testament and Exodus while “Born Of Violence” comes on like a hardcore version of Sepultura and further demonstrates that the band are influenced by both hardcore and metal.
Hatebreed seem to be the biggest influence on Paper Trail too most of all and there is also a mixture of a Negative Approach and early Pro-Pain feel to the bands vibe and music too which manifests itself in the aggressive nature of their music and outlook.
“Devil In Disguise” ends with the catchy riffing of soon to be pit anthem of “Never Stops” and ensures that Paper Trail end the album on a high. The bands mixture of styles and energetic nature ensures that the album and marks them out as a band to watch for in the future.
NOFX “FIRST DITCH EFFORT” LP
(Fat Wreck Chords, Released October, 2016)
I’ve had a pretty on again off again relationship with NOFX since getting into them years ago. I was all about it in middle school, then through high school I went through a phase where I fancied myself too punk, read: too cool, for some West Coast melodic punk bands (funny enough I still loved Rancid), and then went on to re-discover them in college with a newfound appreciation for Fat Mike’s stellar song writing. Say what you will about this band, but the musicianship, style and songwriting is undeniable. Not sure if “technical punk” is a true niche, but NOFX are undoubtedly the Godfathers of the concept. Also, let’s take a moment to appreciate the longevity of this band. 33 years! 33 years of consistently being a band, never once breaking up or taking a break from touring. The only other band that comes to mind with a close enough streak is Sick Of It All, who this year celebrated 30 years, falling 3 years short of NOFX.
It’s to be expected that a band’s sound, style, and outlook can obviously evolve over so much time, and NOFX has quite the diverse catalogue as a testament to that. It’s now 2016 and we have “First Ditch Effort”, their thirteenth studio album. This album more or less serves as a compliment to the book these guys recently put out; “The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories”, which if I may, is a great read. I breezed through it in a few days when it came out and the stories these guys have, the catastrophes they’ve experienced, and the lives they’ve lead outside of the band will really make you wonder how they’ve managed to keep it going for over 3 decades. Their tales are equal parts interesting, gross, heart wrenchingly sad, unbelievable, and hysterically funny. A lot of the topics touched on in the book are given songs on this record; Prescription drug use & abuse, divorce, self-realization, depression, beginning to feel one’s age, cross dressing, and Mike’s rocky relationship with his father. The overarching theme here on most of the songs seems to be sadness, and boy is it sad. No, no I don’t mean sad like pathetic, I very much enjoy what I’m hearing. I mean sad in the way that when you reach the end, you’ll find yourself trying not to cry. The whole record is a depressing kick to the gut with a size 12 melancholy boot. The final 2 songs of this record in particular are a real 1-2 punch of dismal heartbreak; The 2nd to last song “I’m So Sorry Tony” is a sorrowful tribute/epilogue of sorts to the late Tony Sly, long standing guitarist and vocalist for No Use For A Name. Fat Mike laments the passing of his dear friend: “I'm sorry that I wasn't there for you when you needed me in the end/I was there to give your eulogy but not when you needed a friend/I looked but I can't find any photographs of us because it's weird to take photos with your best friends/because you never think you won't see them again” *chokes back tears*. Then you’re slammed with the last track, “Generation Z”, another eulogy of sorts, but not for anyone in particular, more for the entire human race and for what the future holds for our children if things keep going the way they are. The first half of the song seems pretty standard fare, but about 2 minutes in the tone changes and you’re listening to what sounds like “The Decline” revisited. I’m not sure if this was intentional or not, but the latter half of the song sounds like it’s vaguely meant to reflect the main ominous melody from “The Decline”, with poetry about the end of the world being recited over it, along with a young female voice (presumably Mike’s daughter) singing: “it’s sad I’m gonna see/the end of history/we don’t wanna be/generation Z”. I do not advise that you listen to these 2 songs back to back whilst standing near a bridge. Musically, NOFX has been pretty consistent since 2003’s “War On Errorism”. I think the subtlety in the difference in their albums comes from production value, which makes sense since this is their first record since 2006 that wasn’t produced by Descendent’s drummer Bill Stevenson. This is a band whose career has been defined by “We’ve got nothing to prove”, they’ve stood on their own 2 feet since ’83, and have a catalogue of music that holds up steadfast when compared to even the biggest stadium rock acts. “First Ditch Effort “is a beautiful piece of very personal, auto biographical art that WILL make you feel something. Whatever you thought about NOFX before, leave it behind, because these songs are going to at the very least give you a renewed appreciation for the art of storytelling and self-reflection through song. 8 thumbs up!
LIVE SET DISASTER "Curbside Ministries Vol 1" (Released August, 2016)
Although a new name to me Philadelphia's Live Set Disaster are not new to the game with previous releases in 2008, 2009 and 2011. Where they've been the last 5 years you can take up with them. Haha! "Curbside Ministries Vol 1" contains 5 fresh faced songs that combine varying aspects of primarily punk, hardcore and I will go out on a limb and through Oi! in to the pot as well. And to clarify fresh faced... meaning "shit that doesn't sound regurgitated 10 times over"... because who even likes that?
Ok, so we got "Philly Skyline" starting us off with an ass kicking mid-paced intro that speeds up some just before the vocals come in. This is the type of track that you can see a band lead off a set with and fully get the crowd going to. The chorus of "Philly Skyline… This Is Our Home" is catchy and should/could stir up some hometown pride much in the way that Wisdom In Chains' "Land Of Kings" does. "Destroy To Create" follows suit with another catchy track and again another fun sing-a-long chorus of "Let's Rock... Let's Roll... Forget About the World.. Forget About It All". "Rise Up" is track 3 and gets a little more serious lyrically talking about rising up and saying what you believe in. The track has a nice guitar solo towards the end of it and it was at this point that I realized how much I enjoyed the vocal approach of frontman Doug Life who has a clean delivery where you can make out the majority of what he is singing. “Tell Me A Story” is the 4th track and follows the trend here of catchy songs leaning on the punk side of things with definite hardcore influences thrown into the mix providing for a nice overall blend.
“Live Like Lions" closes this out and is interesting in that it is a cover song which lists Lenny Lashley (Lenny Lashley’s Gang Of One) as the writer and the song was originally released in 2015. Live Set are a fun band who I would imagine will thrive in hometown live settings. “Curbside Ministries Vol 1” is not a super polished and glossy/pristine effort. It has some bumps and blemishes but overall is a solid DIY effort from a band that we should all hope keeps at this thing they have put together.
HOTHEADS “2016 DEMO/EP”
(Just A Audial, Released August, 2016)
New five-song demo tape by NYC's Hotheads. From what I gather, this five piece are no strangers to the scene and have all played in or are currently playing in several other bands. This tape starts with the instrumental “Make It Hotro” ala Warzone’s classic “Intro Bust”, and from there it's a 10-minute blast of old-school 80's style hardcore. Makes me wanna skate or bike or drive real fast. Production is good. The guitars have an instantly appealing dual buzzsaw sound happenning. Rhythm section is tight and the singer is putting it down about truth and clarity without pulling any punches. All the good stuff. At times, it reminds me of Warzone and others SOD (without the silly humor). Overall, this is a solid debut release and I'm stoked to see what they will become over the next year or so. After more playing out and recording, this band could become something special. Definitely worth keeping an eye on. Like it says in their promo pic on their Bandcamp page…“The Real Deal”. Check it.
TURNSTILE “MOVE THRU ME” EP
(Pop Wig Records, Released September, 2016)
I have really been slacking on listening to new music; there is so much out there, and it can get overwhelming. But when I heard that Turnstile was pushing out a 7 inch called “Move Thru Me” for Pop Wig Records, I was stoked. That stokage doubled when I was told I would have the chance to write the review on it!
Turnstile have criss-crossed the US (and the world really) for the past 3 years almost non-stop, cultivating fans the globe over, and branding themselves as young pioneers; having produced their own style while being able to keep the kids interested and impressing the old heads at the same time – not an easy task.
Like many, I was sold on the Baltimore quintet with their “Step 2 Rhythm” LP, stoked on “Nonstop Feeling” and waiting (somewhat) patiently for new music since. Well, here we have it. “Move Thru Me” certainly stays in line with their current reputation; high energy, in your face, and easy to move around to, so it will certainly be a must have for fans, and is sure to leave them looking forward to the next full length album. This was 4 tracks (3 originals, and a Give cover), where at first listen I immediately thought “Yeah, that's Turnstile all right.” Their patented energy and unique brand of groovy “pop-core” is unmistakeable. The 3 original songs have a great flow and sound to them, and the cover of Give's “Fuck Me Blind” on the B side was a really cool addition to this record! I am glad to hear these guys pay homage to a great band. If you're wondering – they crushed it. Side A brings “Come Back For More” and “Harder On You”, I blasted these 2 songs out my car speakers while I skated at the local skatepark, and they were perfect songs for it! Solid riffs and speed kept me hyped during the session. I have to say that I was not disappointed with this EP at all, though the overall sound is so similar to past releases that it seems the band hasn't progressed musically much, if at all. Though with a rigorous touring schedule such as theirs it's not hard to understand. For a young band like this, it's great to see that they are getting back into the studio, and not simply resting on the laurels of their early success, as many would be (and are) tempted to do. I can't wait to hear what else these guys are working on. I suggest you check this record out for sure, and catch them live when and where you can – you'll be glad you did!
RAGE CAGE “FEEL THE WRATH” EP, CASSETTE (Street Survival Records, Released Sept, 2016)
Out of Italy we have Rage Cage! I’m actually hard pressed to find any info about these guys; usually when I do a review I try to do a little investigative reporting and detail as much information as possible about the band, locale, history etc, but I got nothin’ this time around. Nothing, that is of course except for the music, which would probably make for a better review as I’m not side-tracked by silly factoids. Anyways – what we have here is “Feel The Wrath”, the newest tape from these strapping Italian fellows, put out on Street Survival Records; a Euro label with a fairly impressive roster. “Feel The Wrath” is Rage Cage’s 2nd official release, but their 3rd output if you count the digital single they put out in April. These tracks rip pretty hard, plenty of good groove, and just enough old school influence to tide over the purist, but not so much that it’s pandering. I’m having a hard time understanding the lyrics so I can’t comment on the lyrical content, but from what I can gather he is singing in English. I personally would have appreciated a band to sing in their native language as it exudes a kind of prideful authenticity, but as I was informed by Martjin of the almighty No Turning Back, the only way for a Euro band to truly cross over to a wider audience is to sing in English. The language of business and hardcore. Ha! Go figure. If the English lyrics are an indicator of anything, it’s that the guys in Rage Cage take their band seriously, and probably have big touring plans. Right on! Favorite moment: The ending of “Boneless”, that’s a killer mosh riff. Stray Thought: I wonder if the name Rage Cage is a Tenacious D reference? Anybody can confirm or deny, let me know. Good straight ahead hardcore. 5 thumbs up.
EXPIRE “WITH REGRET” LP
(Bridge 9, Release Date September 23, 2016)
Milwaukee's hometown hardcore heroes Expire are getting ready to release their third full length this Friday, titled “With Regret”. Unfortunately this release is the band's swan-song as Expire have decided that after some upcoming tours they will call it quits in the front end of 2017. Having formed in 2009, the band, which consists of Josh Kelting-vocals; Zach Dean-guitar; Marcus Boldt-drums and Caleb Murphy-bass have lots to be proud of. Besides lasting as long as they have in a genre that sees bands come and go in a blink of an eye, this release will be the band's ninth overall and they are going out with guns blazing. “With Regrets” has 13 songs which are composed of non-stop aggressive energy (which is why most fans turn to hardcore punk in the first place) but it also exhibits a musical tightness from a band of veteran's that take their music seriously. Narrowing down a favorite track off this album was a hard task that took a few listens to and I ended up choosing two: “Vultures” and “Fear In Control”. It's almost a shame really, if Expire had just made this a sub-par album it might be easier to accept that the band is calling it a day but that's not the case. “With Regret” is a great album with the ferociousness of a newer band with something to prove, not one ending a successful career. I've never seen Expire live but listening to this album, one can only imagine how insane this last tour will be.
ENEMY OF THE STATE “2016 EP”
(Released April, 2016)
Occasionally you listen to something that leaves you scratching your head. Sometimes in disbelief (Machine Head – “The Burning Red”), sometimes in utter bewilderment (Metallica doing that thing with Lou Reed) and sometimes in confusion. Enemy of the State caused the latter after listening to the seven tracks on offer, mostly in a good way though. Opening track “Find Your Place” is a bit of an assault on the senses - is it hardcore? Is it thrash? Did I just hear a 90’s metalcore riff thrown in for good measure? If that's not enough then wait until you hear the vocals - Jesse embraces black metal- Satyricon in particular - vibes galore.
Originating from Riverhead, New York the band ramps things up a notch on “Chemical Masturbation”, with brothers Jon and Ricky Rizzo (rhythm guitar and drums respectively) laying the foundation for a tight sound. It veers briefly into Suicidal Tendencies territory, which is no bad thing before it fizzles out at the end. The “all your eggs in one basket” approach these guys have gone for continues on “The Great Taste” - there is just so much going on that sometimes it is hard to digest. Thrash almost gives way to death metal before the Rocky George-esque guitar solo kick-flips you back to the skate park. The title track is back to basics, stripped back thrash before the EP highlight arrives in the form of “Colony Of Ants”. A catchy opening explodes into carnage - imagine DRI locking horns with a youthful Sepultura. All in all, Enemy Of The State are an interesting proposition - they could fit nicely on the bill of the New England Deathfest or This Is Hardcore. The crossover appeal is there and I expect them to iron out the few rough edges here on the next release.
SPILL YOUR GUTS “FULL BLAST” EP
(Released August, 2016)
When I think about China, the first thing I think of is definitely not the hardcore and punk music coming out of there. And for good reason too, as the scene there is pretty small from what I’ve heard. The only bands I actually know from the entire region off the top of my head are King Ly Chee (Hong Kong), who I saw earlier this year in NYC, and Sand. Sand are from Japan though, so not technically the same thing. So when Chris Wynne asked me to review the latest EP from Shanghai’s Spill Your Guts, I was pretty curious to see what it sounded like. My first reaction to listening to it was a bit of a surprise when I found that they were singing in English. Sporting 5 songs, released on cassette, and entitled “Full Blast”, this third EP from SYG is a pretty solid effort from the band. It’s short and to the point with odd rhythmic elements to it that keep the whole thing interesting from beginning to end. It’s a little chaotic at times, jumping from straight ahead classic hardcore punk into tremolo picking and blast beats. To be honest, it reminds me of early hardcore records where bands were just starting to adopt different styles of music into their song writing, which is pretty refreshing to hear. I’m hoping in the future to hear more from these guys and see how they work on smoothing out the transitions into the different parts of their songs. I’m not the biggest fan of the guitar tone, as it’s quite dry and digital sounding but I’m also a bit of a snob when it comes to guitar tone, so my opinion is super biased from the get-go. The drums are super consistent and sound great, and the vocals are set into the mix perfectly. Overall this is a solid effort from a band that is part of a freshly budding scene. Keep up the good work boys, and come hang out in NYC sometime.
DEAD END LANE “BRING OUT YOUR KNIVES” (Released June 2016)
Well, well, well, looky at what just landed in my mailbox at the In Effect corporate headquarters penthouse suite, high atop the Chrysler Building....and just in time for fall....y’all. It is the new CD by the Baltimore/Northern Virginia based horror punk/core band Dead End Lane entitled “Bring Out Your Knives”. Now to label this band horrorpunk is to really do them a disservice. While they do have many of the earmarks of said genre; the imagery, the lyrical content, the catchy as fuck melodies, they also include so much more. There's straight up fast-core goin on, there's rock, there's greaser-ish type stuff, there's even some 50's stylin' doo-wop kinda shit going on here...and none of it to an annoying degree. Did I mention that this is a female fronted band? The only reason I mention this fact is that there is simply not enough of them, although, there are more and more poppin' up each day it seems. The other reason I mention it is because I love the ladies....and they love me. Actually, full disclosure, not even my wife is that fond of me, but a man can dream, right?
This CD opens up with a ripper entitled "Duckface" @ 2:06. A blistering and angry rant against all things college and stupid. Erin belts out "Alpha Delta Masterbater, I don't give a Greek fuck", and I don't think she does, I believe her, and I am laughing as this song melts my face. There is even a quasi-breakdown in this number. It shreds. Next up is "Some Fun" @ 2:05. This has more of that 50's feel but maybe more Ramones-ish. It's a woman on the prowl, looking to make a connection during her evening, maybe a dance, maybe more? maybe less? Nobody ever sang a song like this about me, so I'll pretend she is singing this one to me, then I'll pretend get arrested because I'm probably old enough to be her father. So, anyhow, onto the next jam, "Enemies" @ 2:02. This one has solid melody and harkens a bit to the Misfits, who I believe Erin has done a song with. This is like your typical hardcore friendship tune with the exception that it is told from a woman's point of view which is something I hadn't heard before. It is unique and I think.....GASP.... I think I may have learned something about the opposite sex. Better late than never. So "Enemies" is the perfect lead in for the next song "Cat Fight" @ 2:25. Chronological perfection. Well played DEL. (That's what we insider cool guys call Dead End Lane. Get hip nerds and noobz). "Bring out your knives, bring out your guns. I give slashings with my tongue" so sayeth DEL. "Cat Fight" is a hardcore rager and it left me feeling like I was in one myself. Oh yes, I can get catty. "Fallen Behind" @ 1:52 is an insecurity song delivered with quick melody. The second shortest tune in the bunch. A solid rockin' song. "Thanks I'm Fine' @ 2:29 is a song I can relate to. There is so much fear mongering out there and lyrics like "Can't even watch the Price Is Right without nightmares of medical blights" hit it on the head and sound like something an 80's hardcore band from Cali would say, but it's true, you are trying to watch the GODDAMN showcase showdown or the big fucking wheel spin, and they cut to commercial and you are told you are gonna die from a med you took so you might as well join this class action suit. It's nuts. This is followed up by "Undone" @ 3:39 the lamenting track. The long slow number. The break in the action. The song starts with a riff that gave me a Joy Division vibe but overall has that 50's feel and it is quite sad. I like it, but bring on more speed and mayhem! "Charlotte" clocks in @ 2:05. This is a sweet quick song about Charlotte. Charlotte sounds like good people. I want to meet this Charlotte. Me thinks everyone needs a Charlotte in their life. Conversely, I certainly do not want to meet the titular "Lorelei" from the next and shortest running track at a very brisk 1:08. I certainly don't need any German mermaids in my life right now, or ever, but the song is short, fast, and loud, aka, perfect. The second to last tune is "Bulimia" @ 2:29. Nothing funny about bulimia, no jokes here. A really depressing yet up tempo song. The final cut is "From Hell (I Cut Her Throat)". This is DEL at their Misfits finest. This could easily have been a Misfits tune in fact. It is told from the perspective of Jack The Ripper and it's a rocking tune complete with whoah-ph-ohs. Nice.
So that is it. 11 punk rock tunes in around 23 minutes. This is good stuff. The band has skills and Ms.Erin has some nice pipes. If I have a complaint it is with the mix. As stated Erin has pipes, but she is almost drowned out at points in the songs. She needed to be amped up a bit, more in front of the mix, so I used my EQ to remedy it, and it's much better with the lady prominently out front with the band rockin’ out behind her. That would be my only issue. Don't let the name and imagery fool you, there is a lot more to this band than I thought there was going to be. The first song dispells all the myths and punches you right in the yap. It's hardcore punk with a little creep and a little soul. Since they are local I will now make it my duty to get out to see them. I hear they are opening for Michael Graves soon. Check out some DEL true believers, I think you'll like it.
EATEN ALIVE “DEMO” (Released February 2016)
Since I started reviewing for In Effect, there have been a few times that I've been so compelled by a release that wasn't assigned to me that I had to drop everything and start a review. This time the motivating artist was Eaten Alive. Their Bandcamp describes them as "fast and angry hardcore from Philadelphia" but they are also heavy as fuck. And even if you are primarily just listening for the riffs, the final product is far more than a moshy romp: the sense of lyrical alienation, of remaining an outsider while everyone else is growing up, is also an essential component of the demo.
“Degenerate Society”, the leadoff track, starts off with a possibly unintentional nod to Leeway – “Kingpin”, though I wouldn’t put the reference past them since these dudes/gal appear to have excellent musical influences. Davin’s deep and badass vocals fit seamlessly with their elusive combo of fast and heavy, and while I have yet to catch them live, in pictures she looks like an energetic frontwoman. The first song is by far the longest on the demo and sets the tone lyrically for what is to come: “born of rage, raised in hate, never gonna take the bait. Outcast by choice, forging our own way.” “Lifers”, the first of the shorter songs, is similarly abrasive and is no less complete-sounding than the longer opener.
While “Degenerate Society” and “Lifers” are enjoyable, I think the eponymous third song may be the best of all. “Eaten Alive” the song is a bit slower than the others and contains one of my favorite stanzas on the demo, quoted here in full. “No patience for the tribulations of the undead’s mass disintegration, naw. Your world is small and I don’t care at all.” This immediately puts it in the “top 5 songs to mention tribulations” with Maximum Penalty – “Tribulations”, though off the top of my head I can’t think of any others. “You Ain't Shit” closes the demo with a great pre-mosh exclamation and an interesting chord change during the actual mosh.
Recorded by Len Carmichael in my favorite part of New Jersey, to where I would gladly venture to see them if they don’t make it to New York sometime soon, the Eaten Alive demo showcases a band from whom I am hungry for additional material.
ENEMY OF THE STATE, TAKE MY CHANCES, ZERO RIGHTS, M-13, LEEWAY @ Amityville Music Hall, Amityville, NY August 27, 2016
I have been to a lot of shows at the AMH over the years and the one constant is that the number of people who will show up to a given show seems to be a crap shoot. I have seen big name bands play to the crickets and smaller bands pack the place out and vice versa a few times over. Although this bill was not lined with the superstars of the underground it did have bands spanning over different eras as well as genres kicked off with local thrash upstarts Enemy Of The State. Enemy went on a little late due to one of their band members either getting lost on the way or whatever the reason was which caused them to have a shortened set of only about 15 minutes. Those 15 minutes however were impressive with these 20-something's belting out 80's style thrash metal complete with a lot of head banging, guitar solos, hair whipping but most importantly some nice breakdown mosh parts that hit hard even though there were maybe 5 people up close watching them. I dug their short set. If your one of those types that has 17 different Power Trip shirts and beach towels you probably would have liked them too.
Up next was the return of locals Take My Chances who outside of one off reunion shows every so often have not been an active band since the mid-2000's. I never saw them during their initial run and after checking out their tunes on Bandcamp (hint, hint... name your price) I was kind of pumped to see them. With still a pretty much non-existent crowd their singer took to the dancefloor and jumped around like a lunatic for the better part of their 30 minute set. I love when bands go all out even when their isn't a big crowd on hand or not much of a reaction outside of some clapping after each song. Word is this is not just another one off reunion show as they have new songs in the tank ready to record and plans of playing out again more regularly.
Zero Rights from various parts of NYC and Long Island were up next. This was the CD release show for their new one titled "Our World" which is a cool blend of Dead Kennedy's style punk and some more traditional NYHC. ZR belted through their CD, a new track and a DK's cover (which they told us "you won't know this song" before they played it). We all have our own ideas of what makes up a good or a great live concert experience and for many of us into punk and hardcore that includes visions of a maniacal crowd sweating along with the band, singing every lyric and stage dives all over the place. This show was anything but that and after seeing the first 3 bands go up and just give it their all solidified the fact that you don't always need a riot on the dancefloor to have a good show. All 3 bands to this point did at least something that had me look for their music the day after this show which brings us to M-13 with members based in NYC and Connecticut.
M-13 hit the stage and just fucking blew me away. Loud, fast and tight are 3 things that came to mind instantly when they started playing. They are an older, rough looking bunch who probably have a ton of cool stories to go along with their intense style of old school hardcore. Their singer is part HR, part Sid Sludge from Mental Abuse and part guy you don't want to run into in a dark alley. During songs he has this almost herky jerky style of moving his body to the music and between songs he was even better with weird stories delivered in a mostly monotone way that added to the whole M-13 experience. It must also be noted that their drummer was an absolute beast pummeling his drum kit from start to finish ending up in a hairy sweaty mess. Look up their tracks "Thin Line" and “I Belong” for starters if your new to them like myself… you won't be let down.
The band formerly known as The Eddie Leeway Show was tonight's main attraction and when they took the stage you could finally sense that the crowd was going to come to life. They started off with a heavy dose of "Desperate Measures" with "Make Me An Offer" kicking things off followed by "All About Dope", "Stand For" and "Kingpin" before we even got a whiff of "Born To Expire" tracks. Having 2 all time classic NYHC albums in your arsenal makes for can't miss set lists as the "Born To Expire" tracks slowly got mixed in starting with "Rise And Fall". Eddie Sutton who is now on the other side of 50 years of age shows he still has that knack to perform these tracks both with his vocals and with his on stage personality. Whether he is singing while standing on his drummer’s bass drum while belting out song lyrics or lying flat on his back with a towel over his face he shows that he still has that frontman ability to work a crowd and put on a good show. During longer instrumental parts he would even dip out to the side of the stage, take a sip of his beverage and just take in the show with the rest of us before going back on stage to finish out songs.
The band backing Eddie up these days is led in part by Dim-Roc on drums who has been in tons of NYHC bands over the years including Crown Of Thornz, Matty from Sub-Zero on guitars, Rey from upstarts Ache on bass and Mark Thousands on second guitar. This lineup is a cohesive unit more than capable of pulling these songs off in a proper way as they deserve. Guitar solos are nailed as well as the bass intro to "Rise And Fall" which were and still are intricate parts to this bands catalog of music. After about 10 songs in it looked like their set was done as their drummer started breaking down his equipment but Eddie asked to do "On The Outside" as a closer even though he said they had not practiced it. Eddie kept warning us that they might fuck this up but even this track was done up right. Earlier in the set it was mentioned that they were recording their set to be possibly be used as a future release so keep an eye out for that if it develops. Overall a good night of music with every band bringing their A game despite not doing it in front of a crowd that some had expected.
BENT LIFE “NEVER ASKED FOR HEAVEN” LP (Bridge Nine Records,Released August, 2016)
Omaha, Nebraska’s Bent Life unleash the fury on their debut album “Never Ask For Heaven” with their blend of the might of Pantera’s power and hardcore’s primal rage. With metal riffs and breakdowns aplenty, the band are on a mission to destroy anything that gets in their way, something they achieve with this new offering.
A simple but effective Pantera-esque riff kicks the intro off before “Never Asked For Heaven” explodes with the furious “Lock” and the screaming metal riffs of “Thanks For Nothing”. The riffs are heavy enough as are the grooving rhythms , but add to this the powerful roar of vocalist Andy Vorhees and you have a sure fire recipe for heaviness.
The one-two punch of “Thanks For Nothing” (check out the Dimebag stomp towards the end of the track!) and “Hands Of Lead” deliver a knockout blow early on before the likes of the intense hardcore of “Stab Me”, the bass led “Kick” and breakneck speed of “Painless” rain down strikes on whatever's left in a maelstrom of audio fury.
The slower “Cheat Death” allows for a change of pace and is just as heavy as anything else on the album and the same goes for the riffy dirge of “War” and shows that Bent Life have variation amongst their heaviness. This variation is also in full evidence on the albums closing track, “Permanence”, a song that is akin to the legendary Suicidal Tendencies circa “How Will I Laugh Tomorrow” in its intro before the furious metallized bomb is detonated later in the track ala Pantera;s “I'm Broken” and ends the album on a real high note.
Obviously Pantera are a big influence on Bent Life as are Hatebreed and Terror (whose drummer Nick Jett recorded the album with the band) but the band have enough originality of their own to take things much further as they have the attitude, they have the sound and most importantly they have the songs all of their own to make many new fans and “Never Asked For Heaven” is a great start for the band. As Vorhees bellows on Permanence "You Can't Stop This" and only a fool would disagree with him.
xTIXONx “BANG!” & “+VIOLENCE/+MINDS” SINGLES (Released July/August 2016)
Berlin straight edge metallic hardcore band xTIXONx made waves with their demo “Off” when it was released last year. The demo was packed full of NYHC-esque hard riffs and bruising breakdowns with lyrics that highlighted the full horror of needless animal slaughter, something the band feelsvery strongly about and are proudly making a stand about by making listeners aware of that plight.
The band follows up that demo with a new pair of singles and both of these tracks up the ante of the promise shown on “Off” and as well as being heavy as concrete, they showcase a new found groove in the xTIXONx sound.
First off is “Bang!”, an explosive track that starts off with a furious grunt before the riffs kick in and the groove gets going and that groove doesn't let go until the song commences. The punishing riffs also don't subside and the whole experience is as energetic as hardcore gets and shows the promise the band made in their demo has been acted on and ultimately escalated.
The next single “+Violence/+Minds” starts off with a melodic metallic intro before exploding into a beatdown heavy hardcore storm. The track which lyrically deals with needless violence on the dancefloor at shows and the need for hardcore dancing to be a positive and not negative experience is another exercise in groove laden fury. The track is full of pummeling breakdowns that would be perfect for pit fun, good old friendly and violent but positive fun though. It's good to see xTIXONx back and both of these singles only whet the appetite for a full xTIXONx release which will be hopefully upcoming this year.
Down For Life Magazine
(Issue #1, Released, Summer 2016)
A magazine that covers all things hardcore, punk and crossover infiltrating shelves at High Street outlets?! Surely not! Well, you better rub your eyes in disbelief again - Down For Life (DFL) magazine has arrived and not before time. In decades gone by hardcore fans were reduced to scouring the likes of Metal Hammer and Kerrang! for mere snippets of articles about the bands they held dear. How times have changed. Hardcore is bigger and arguably better than it has ever been and DFL is seizing the moment. Borne from the remnants of celebrated punk, metal and ska bible Big Cheese Magazine DFL reads as good as it looks. As “cover stars” go a mid-flight Pete Koller from Sick Of It All is ideal to grace issue 1 - it sums up the energy bursting from the 100 pages on offer. Not bad for the princely sum of £4.99!
After flicking through a few pages of advertisements DFL whets the reader's appetite with a selection of recommended hardcore festivals to check out over the summer. Alongside it is a column penned by the founder of In Effect Hardcore, Chris Wynne who waxes lyrical about all things NYHC. The “Ill Blood” section is up next, profiling several bands you should check out whether old or new. Canada punks Career Suicide are one of those featured ahead of the release of their new album. The first big feature article sees Paul Hagen catch up with Ignite bassist Brett Rasmussen about the Orange County band's first album in a decade, before good reads with Twitching Tongues and London stalwarts Knuckledust follow. Readers are the treated to a six page Q&A with Descendents founding member Bill Stevenson before Scott Vogel tells Louise Brown why new old kids on the block World Be Free have already turned down an offer of a U.S tour.
DFL editor Miles Hackett bagged the biggie - an articulate eight-page spread with Pete Koller, who reveals what keeps the NYHC legends tick and why they are stronger than ever. "You have to give your all", says Koller about SOIA's incendiary live shows. Even if there's 30 people. Even if your back is killing you." The feature is complimented by some archive material from In Effect. Walls Of Jericho singer Candace discusses motherhood, lifting and their new album before a gripping article with Harley Flanagan makes you want to keep reading from cover to cover. It is not all just about the healthy U.S hardcore scene though - Broken Teeth are heading up the UKHC scene right now and have their say not long after releasing their impressive new album on Nuclear Blast. A brief encounter with Nails (how apt!) is sandwiched between articles with H20 and Dag Nasty before eight pages of bite-sized album reviews hold court.
DFL get the editorial/pictorial balance spot on with the live show reviews, rightly giving more space to action shots and keeping the copy to a premium. Gig-listings and an enjoyable tête-à-tête with Flag's Keith Morris bring an impressive debut issue to an end. The next issue will be out on November 21 and can be ordered from…
HANGMAN “HANGMAN II” (Released August, 2016)
Hangman: Young up and comers from Lawn Guy Land come at us with the aptly titled Hangman II, as it is their 2nd recording. I had remarked in my last review that I tend to notice an abundance of bands appearing out of nowhere, but somehow being nationally known. I feel like I've seen the organic growth of Hangman, albeit via social media. I seem to remember seeing a flyer advertising their first show, and then subsequently them getting opening slots on a lot of great shows in a row. While their sound isn't particularly unique, it has a pretty all-encompassing approach. I can hear a tasteful sprinkling of a handful of influences. My main beef (read: nit pick) of these songs, and the generous display of influence herein is that I feel like I'm listening to Backtrack junior: the guitar tone, the quality of the production, even down to the rhythmic delivery of the vocals sound like it's a tribute to BT's '08 demo, but with tinges of beatdown tagging along. Side note: I think the kids are calling that "slam" now? I mean, I'm pushing 30, and I'm on the verge of being out of touch, but I'm pretty sure I'm hearing a "slam" quality. Anyways, back to the review; the comparison to other LI bands is not meant to be a jab, nor is it necessarily a bad thing. In most cases a forced reinvention of the wheel can lead downhill. I just hope these guys work to develop more personality. Highlights: 1.) Quality musicianship. The tightness of this band is going to carry them a long way. 2.) Lyrical content. A lot of sincere words about the downsides of human nature, and dealing with loss and death, never easy subjects to broach. 3.) The Intro being the 4th track. Not sure why, but I love that! Reminds me of Bold. The defiant irony of putting a banger mosh-instrumental mid record is an under utilized gimmick. The final verdict: I like this band, I like this record, and I would like to hear more from them in the future. “Hangman II” features quality song writing, quality performances, and plenty of groovy headbang moments. I think if these guys work on painting a little more individual personality in their sound, they have the potential to put out a killer full length. 6 thumbs up!
-Dan Piro 2016
“TO MAKE MATTERS WORSE”
(Audiobook, Released July, 2016)
Chris asked me to try something new for In Effect and me being me, I was up for anything. So when he asked for me to listen to an audio book I was a little surprised and somewhat skeptical since the focus was not directly on hardcore music but a memoir. When I found it was done by Danny Marianino, I was intrigued. Why? Let’s start with a little background info first…
Danny Marianino is known for two things; being in hardcore bands Cause for Alarm and North Side Kings but most infamously for the video of him clocking Glenn Danzig in the grill backstage at a show they were both performing. Google it. I go back to it every once in a while for giggles. Now an audio book? Not about music per se but his childhood and read by the author? I had read some excerpts from his first book and thought it was funny and also read some interviews Danny had done and thought, “This guy is funny. Let me check this out.”
From the first chapter through the rest of the book, there was an immediate and obvious theme: shit. Not as in describing the book (because it was good) but in describing the action of crapping. Crapping in the pants, crapping in public facilities, crapping in book bags…..you get the picture. It threw me off at first and I got a little squeamish but I saw what Danny was doing; setting up the reader/listener to understanding his childhood and, no shit (pun intended), I could relate. Who enjoys using public facilities when they really gotta go? Who hasn’t had a time when they were about to explode or couldn’t make it to the bathroom? Anyway, those stories were classic and having Danny read them was hilarious. I won’t give too much away because you need to experience these stories on your own. One of the many that I remember clearly was when some jackass crapped IN HIS GYMBAG while he was in the shower! Who the fuck does that? And then he had to deal with wearing smelly ass gym clothes the rest of the day? All I could do was wait for the next chapter because I kept thinking was how could a dude be so “normal” now after being the farting, stinky kid in school. If that had been me, I would have been even more fucked up as an adult than I already am.
What I really liked from this book was Danny’s ease with telling these stories and that he had just come to terms with being able to laugh at the situation versus dwelling on it and feeling sorry for himself. Aside from the crapping on walls and clothes and such, he details other events in his life that really gave you an idea of his childhood and teen years and I could relate to many similar events while growing up. Danny spoke on his tours in Europe and finding himself in strange situations but also people he grew up with and experiences most people can relate with or appreciate the ridiculousness. One such experience was the running and hiding from cops while doing dumb ass shit as teens. I felt the anxiety of hiding and waiting out the searching cops and then having to keep a straight face denying any involvement.
Should you check this out? Absolutely. I am happy Chris asked me to do this. It was interesting and hilarious but even better that Danny was the narrator. This gave the feeling as if you were sitting and listening to him telling the story in person. I listened to this while driving and I warn you in advance you might start laughing which could lead to you looking insane or swerving. Drive with caution if you do.
WASS PHOTOGRAPHY ZINE
(Issue #2, Released Summer, 2016)
Rachel Wass who puts out this zine is... in my opinion... one of the best photographers on the hardcore scene today. Her shots always have this incredible clarity to them and with this issue she focuses on "Bane's Swan Song To Philly". Bane's last two Philadelphia shows were held May 6th and 7th at the First Unitarian Church and many of the shots Wass took at those shows have turned up in this 36 page half sized photo zine which contains a total of 74 photos done up the right way with a nice print job. The photos are all in black and white and vary from page to page with some taking up a whole page while others have 8 shots on a single page. A perfect (and rare) addition to your Bane fan boy (or girl) collection with only 100 copies made. I picked this up at a table at This Is Hardcore for 5 bucks. Get in touch with them to see how you can grab yours...
FRIEND OR FOE "FOE" EP
(Flatspot Records, Release Date August 26, 2016)
In baseball the San Francisco Giants got this thing going on where they just happen to win the World Series every 2 years. (2010, 2012, 2014). In Richmond, VA Friend Or Foe work on dropping EP's along a similar time line... (2012 "Know Your Rights", 2014 "Outsider", and now this chunk of hardcore goodness here for '16).
Things start off with "Foe- Paid The Price". This song starts up with some sound bites that center around selling out, being fake and having heart before a sonic explosion comes through your speakers announcing with authority that the "Foe" EP has arrived in your ear buds. This song is straight up raw and angry packing a hardcore chop to your jugular with those intro soundbites building the listeners anticipation before the walls come crumbling down on you.
"Never Loosen Your Grip" is track 2 and continues the assault in just a little over a minute. The songs here are all on the short side clocking in at anywhere from a minute and 13 seconds to 2 minutes and 47 seconds. In a burglary sense they are a smash and grab unit and these songs just ooze with a raw passion. Friend Or Foe is not reinventing hardcore with their sound but they do what many others in the hardcore scene can't and that is bring large doses of energy and excitement to a studio recording. The influences they list are obvious with Killing Time, Breakdown, Sick Of It All and Agnostic Front heading the list of NYHC greats which have all rubbed off on them in a good way. Throughout this EP FOF sticks to a thrash and bash blueprint playing pretty much straight up without much deviation. Track 4 titled "True" is the lone track that really deviates as they brought in Maximum Penalty's Jimmy Williams to drop some melodic vocals into this songs chorus and "Earn It" wraps things up as the closer. "Foe" is an intense 10 minute ride where FOF lays it all out there, take it or leave it. I doubt I would be as excited over a full length if the majority of the songs had the same style but for a quick hit like this... I'm all in. This is listed as having an August 26th release date but a 2 song cassette promo version is actually out there now with "True" and a non-EP track titled "Invincible". Check in with Flatspot for more info.
FAZE “DEMO CASSETTE”
(Moshers Delight, Released March, 2016)
Faze are a band I had not heard of before but when I read that they had an Absolution and Burn vibe to them, it peaked my interest. I was sent their four song demo that was released this past March and I gave it a listen. The music is raw and angry which definitely fits the definition of what hardcore music is at its core. While the lyrics are well written and discuss both personal and worldly issues we all face. The track list includes:
1. “Disillusion”- Which is about someone who has hurt others but is disillusioned by the thought that they are untouchable for their actions.
2. “Burn”- simply put.. karma's going to come back to "burn" you.
3. “Dead Wrong”- is a song talking about being "dead wrong" for believing we have made a difference in the world when in reality hate has won.
4. “Time”- Living a defeated life. "This was your life, tossed away with nothing to show for it".
When I heard the opening track, I immediately pictured Faze playing a show in either a basement or VFW Hall and bringing the crowd to a frenzy. I have to admit that I was unable to find out much about Faze except that they are from Florida and three of the band members are named Justin, Yoon and Cori -vocals. I also don't know where they have toured or with who they have played with, however I do see good things for them down the road. Not being able to find out much about the band sort of brings back the old school element before there was internet where you saw the band play and you introduced yourself face to face and not through Instant Messenger. I like that. Look for this on cassette or you can download it via the link below for a buck. Let’s hear more!
D.R.I. "BUT WAIT... THERE'S MORE"
(Our Own Music, Released June, 2016)
D.R.I. return with a short EP with some new tracks and some re-recorded classics from yesteryear. D.R.I.'s earliest releases helped me jump deeper into punk and hardcore with their "Dirty Rotten LP" and "Dealing With It" albums being mainstays in my record collection as a teen. I checked out after their 1987 release "Crossover" and am now checking back in like what... 29 years later? For the record my addition and subtraction game is on point.
This EP is titled "But Wait... There's More" and at first glance the cover is kind of goofy as they go for an "As Seen On TV" vibe (which also happens to be one of the song titles) with the character on the cover having products that are all song titles on this EP. First up is "Against Me" which is the best new track out of the 3 newbies on display clocking in at a little over 2 minutes. Kurt who is now in his mid-50's still has that ultra-distinguishable voice and Spike Cassidy's guitar sound here brought me right back to those earlier releases although not as raw, unpolished, and gritty overall. This is a serviceable track that catches your attention but doesn't blow your doors off either. "Anonymity" follows clocking in at just under 3 minutes and the last of the new ones "As Seen On TV" is about a minute and a half which is worth noting since a lot of their earliest work had tracks that were way shorter than a minute. Although tracks 2 and 3 have the type of sound that you would expect from D.R.I. they didn't have much substance or staying power behind them and are pretty much filler type tracks although I hate to say it. The re-recordings of "Mad Man" and "Couch Slouch" are cool to hear with some slight updates and a proper recording but when it comes down to it if I want to put on some D.R.I. I am going to pop on one of the previously mentioned releases from way back. Credit is due for not sitting back and just touring around off of the "hits" although unfortunately no new hits will be found on this release.
SPIT IT OUT “DEMO 2016”
(Released July, 2016)
Spit It Out (not to be confused with the Latvian hardcore band of the same name) are a NYHC band from the Long Island area and this, their first release is a furious slice of raw hardcore. The band explodes with their energetic take on hardcore and from the get go, Spit It Out are taking no prisoners. Just the bass led crawl of the intro moves into a creeping beat. The guitars and drums crash in and morph into a powerful groove before things speed up and it explodes in a crescendo of prime Cro-Mags-esque fury. The quality continues with “Weak Knees”, in which another bass led intro transforms into muscular riffs and ultimately into a full on hardcore blast. The energy of “Low Life”, a track full of focused anger with an element of classic hip hop style follows. The mid paced but full on stomp of “Soul Case” (which culminates in an awesome breakdown) and the closing “Fear Control” (with its unexpected but well done outro) finish things off in style. For a demo, this is as well produced as some bands proper albums with the band putting in a blinding performance and the vocals are spot on although there is still a rawness that definitely benefits the band and is packed full of great songs and confirms the fact that Spit It Out are definitely a band to keep an eye on for the future.
FULL CIRCLE “DEMO 2016”
(Released February, 2016)
This 7 song demo from Full Circle is a good indicator of their style and energy. Like many demos, it’s not a totally polished or unified product, but I like what they’re doing so far. The intro sounds heavier and more menacing than the subsequent tracks, which are more along the lines of straightforward “Shore Style” hardcore. The intro is a separate track from second song “Full Circle”, and a pretty seamless transition despite the difference in style from the intro to the regular tunes. As a perpetual outsider I can get behind the “not like you” motif repeated throughout the demo, from the “not like you, not one with the world” line in their namesake second track, to the final song “Not Like You”. (Which is a pretty ballsy way to entitle a song if you are a shore band, but is a totally different style from the Underdog tune.)
“Full Circle” is followed by “Worthless”, which features a great mosh part at 1:04, and “Break The Chain”, another song that almost feels incomplete but has a good dance part. This is a recurring theme on the demo, where pockets of good songwriting jump out from short songs. Though the next few songs feel a bit more complete: “Not Coming Back”, the longest song on the demo, clocks in next at 2:08. It’s also one of my favorite and best constructed songs on this recording, with an easy flow to the verse, appropriately contrasted chorus and then slightly slower mosh part. The groove continues with “Get Away” up next. “Not Like You” closes out the demo and fades out at 1:15.
Overall, this demo could have possibly been a few songs shorter in order to showcase their best material, but it's still an enjoyable listen. I like my demos how I like the careers of my Yankee outfielders: either really powerful or no longer than they need to be (am I doomed to drop a Shane Spencer reference in every subsequent In Effect review?)
One thing that intrigues me about Full Circle is that they only have 3 members listed on their Bandcamp, with Jason Eccles on guitar/vocals and John Heulitt on bass/vocals (and Jeff Lewis on drums rounding out the lineup.) I am curious about how this works live, as they seem like an energetic band that I would have envisioned featuring a singer with a long mic cord running around during their set. I guess the only solution would be to check these guys out live to see how it translates to an in-person performance.
AKANI “THROUGH MY DARKEST INFERNAL”
(Demons Run Amok, Released July, 2016)
Akani started out as a project in 2012 by veteran musicians coming from two different parts of the world (Brooklyn, NY and Sweden) brought together by a common love for heavy music. The band combined heavier forms of metal with a New York Hard Core influence and put out a four song 7inch titled “Santa Muerte” in 2014. Akani's current lineup consists of Jorge Rosado (Merauder, Ragmen, ILL Nino) on vocals, Daniel Antonsson (Soilwork, Dark Tranquility) guitar, Daniel Cederborg (Path Of No Return) guitar and Anders Lowren (Dead Reprise) drums… with past members Anders Bjorler (At The Gates, The Haunted) guitar and Victor Brandt (Entombed, Satyricon) bass. It's safe to assume that with this diversity between its members that Akani's music is nothing short of auditory brutality.
The band's newest release “Through My Darkest Infernal” is their full length debut and in my opinion should be a contender for the album of the year. All of the album’s 14 songs showcase each member's style but at the same time keeps the music fresh and not sounding like a carbon copy from their other bands. An example, Jorge comes from the legendary New York City Hardcore/Metal Core band Merauder, but when listening to the vocals, which remain aggressive, did not make me think I was listening to another Merauder album. The lyrics talk about reality, a reality that many choose to either ignore or are forced to deal with everyday; such as life in the ghetto or the negative effects of a "New World". The music echos these lyrics with dark melodies, heavy riffs and thunderous drumming. “Through My Darkest Infernal” took a few listens before I could solidify my favorite tracks; which ended up being three: the title track which is an instrumental; “Pure & Free” and “New World”. With so many genres and sub genres in heavy music I think at times trying to label a band's music can be a waste of time. Akani's music is hard, it's aggressive, it's real and it brings forth a well diverse, blended sound that each member brings forth from their respected bands. Look for this band to continue putting out great music for a long time to come.
G.L.O.S.S. “TRANS DAY OF REVENGE” EP (Released June, 2016)
Punk and hardcore are naturally political, angry and violent. This is an obvious statement. Every classic band has had their own political statement of protest to the injustices faced in their time. There’s no Justice, There’s Just Us... God Save The Queen... I’m a member of the Right Brigade… Bash, Bash The Fash…. People Are Not Expendable, Government Is…. this list could go on forever, just like the sentiment it carries will go on forever. At times, the message can seem trite and overly repetitive coming from every band, everywhere at every show. Until you hear G.L.O.S.S.. Hailing from Olympia, Washington, G.L.O.S.S. is one of the bands that creates music made from pure rage and anger. And justifiably so, considering the band is comprised of members of the trans community and the music is an outward and violent expression of the unbelievable amount of shit thrown at them and their community day in and day out by the bigots, racists, and homophobes all over the world… Whether it be online, on the television, or just standing in line to get a fucking cup of coffee, the prejudice shown towards the LGBT community is undeniable and constant. Their second EP to come out in as many years, “Trans Day Of Revenge” is a raw and explosive call for violent and direct action against anybody and everybody opposed to them. Literally. The first track is entitled “Give Violence A Chance” which is a statement and feeling I completely agree with. Plus it’s a pretty dope track. Let me tell you something… While I appreciate and respect the struggle and degradation that the members live with everyday, I can’t help but feel like they’ve breathed fresh air into the hardcore punk genre when I hear the amazing job they’ve done capturing the sentiment with this EP. Genuine fury, raw production, and pure aggression in a purely authentic way. This an absolutely fantastic effort from the band in a quick 5 song EP. Listen to it, and then go punch a homophobe in the face.
GREAT REVRSALS “MERE MORTALS”
(Released May, 2016)
Great Reversals “Mere Mortals” is channeling 90’s hardcore stalwarts such as Integrity and Trial; but, adding even more metallic elements. It makes sense for a hardcore band hailing from Detroit to take the banner of heavy and brutal literally. The city has famously seemed to be the shining example of a place that’s hit seriously hard times. However, Detroit has never been a place that’s taken music for granted. We’re talking about the city that produced: The MC5, Negative Approach, Destroy All Monsters, The Dirtbombs and yes, The White Stripes, as well as Bob Seger and The Nuge. (For better or worse on that last one) Detroit produces solid bands like it once did metal machines and muscle cars that would carve out America’s highways; and Great Reversals has all the potential to live up to that lineage. It’s been said that you can’t play Detroit if you don’t bring you’re “A” game, and I would imagine that Great Reversals must be a riot to see live. It’s tough, brutal metallic hardcore with all the breakdowns, noodling and chugga, chugga anybody could need to effectively pummel skulls and dog pile each other. “Mere Mortals” surprisingly has enough diverse elements making up the record to never go fully in one direction over another. Just when it seems like the ship is going to tip too much into the metal territory, the course is corrected and were back over to the hardcore side of the boat. Novelty has a generally negative connotation, but in the world of extreme music it means that people are trying something different. What’s wrong with flexing one’s muscles and trying out new things? As long as the output is good and all cylinders are firing at 100% there’s no reason not to dig it, right? As long as Great Reversals continues to channel the music of its city and incorporate elements from Detroit’s past they will effectively continue to re-shape its future; or, at least play a little part in changing the stamp Detroit has made on punk and hardcore. Which is a pretty cool thing to do on its own.
FURY “PARAMOUNT” LP
(Triple B Records, Released August, 2016)
THE MOTHERFUCKING FURY! OK, I don’t know about you, but for me, hardcore in the 2010’s is basically epitomized by the surprise out of left-field bands that seem to appear out of thin air. It’s a fascinating phenomenon. Example: I’m spending my evening lying in bed cruising the Instagram explore page, and an image of a seemingly random band’s demo will pop up. A band that for all intents and purposes has no true connection to my local scene, has a complete lack of social media, and hasn’t really played out that often (IE: Clear, Countdown, Red Death, Hounds of Hate, etc), and then like clockwork, about a month later, almost everyone I know is rockin’ their merch, and they’re apart of the latest big summer tour package. OK, cool. I’m not a curmudgeonly bitter old coot, I can get on board with newer bands, even if they don’t come around so often.
Fury has arguably been of the top tier of the grouping of aforementioned “out of nowhere” bands. AND DESERVEDLY SO! One doesn’t need to have witnessed Fury’s rise to power to know that it is well warranted. As I mused earlier, Fury had crossed my path around early 2015 by way of my friends passing around their “Kingdom Come” 7” on Triple B Records. So I took the bait, and was not let down. The bands very name reflects exactly what they seek to deliver; absolutely furious aggression, bundled neatly in hard hitting, fast paced, good old fashioned hardcore punk. Which brings me to “Paramount”, the latest LP from this powerhouse California band.
Pulling no punches right out of the gate, the first track, “Danse”, starts fast and furious (heh), and keeps you hooked straight through the groovy chorus, and will have you banging your head through the mid-tempo dance part so vigorously that you won’t even notice how abruptly the song ends. Then before you know it, you’re already into the rapid bass intro of the 2nd track. I gotta say, this is this albums greatest quality; the songs are so well constructed, and paced together so perfectly, that it’s almost as if it was a live set captured in a studio setting. Fury is one of those rare bands that focuses and articulates the fast parts of their songs, as well as the slow moshy parts. How many bands have you seen where kids stand still not knowing what to do during the fast part, but then they go nuts for the *shudder* breakdowns? Anyone who’s experienced The Fury knows, the kids do not stand still for a moment, embracing the fast bits to move as much as possible, and scream along to every syllable.
Not to say “Paramount” doesn’t have some great mid-tempo bangers: “In Extremis”, being the halfway point of the record, is a slow head-banger that brings to mind more Black Sabbath than Warzone. The production on this record is a far cry from their previous 7 inch; “Kingdom Come”. Where “Kingdom Come” had a very “bed-room” quality sound, especially in the thin guitar and snare tones, “Paramount” has a much bigger sound, with a reverberant quality reminiscent of Killing Time’s “Brightside”. Two favorite tracks in no particular order: “Damage Is Done”, a ripping fast track with a chorus that’s ripped straight from the Agnostic Front playbook, and a chanty “dance part” that makes me want to punch holes in my drywall. And “The Feeling” which is the closer here. “The Feeling” stands out to me for two reasons: 1 - it’s the longest track clocking in at 4:11, and 2 – stripped down, it’s basically a hard rock song, which adds a pretty cool dynamic element to close this bad boy out. And of course a sentiment we can all get behind: “If it got no soul, it ain’t got that feeling!” Right on fellas. Odds are if you’re reading this review, you’re probably already well familiar with who Fury is. But if this band is new to you, you will not be let down by “Paramount” as your entry point. 7 thumbs up!
HIGH CARD “GENERATION Y” LP
(Reconsider Records Released April, 2016)
High Card’s new release, “Generation Y”, is definitely a throwback to an old school hardcore flavor. When listening to a new band knowing that a band is trying to focus on a genre/era/style of music is helpful but can also be deceiving. The band being from Long Island, I honestly expected a generic hardcore sound replicating the classic sound. I listened several times to the album and couldn’t place what I was listening to. Slapshot? Warzone? Maybe Underdog? Different bands came to mind fast and furiously but I realized they took the best of many bands to create their own mark.
The album on a whole is hard and rough and I mean that in a good, wholesome, hardcore way. There aren’t a lot of breakdowns or sing along choruses, just solid songs. I really dug the vocals. Quinn sings with passion that echoes the dark lyrics of frustration and anger towards society, government and apathy. Eddie’s and Andy’s guitar and bass with drums by Matt chug out a harsh sound to create a band I would love to see live. This is a band that I could see continuing to improve musically and keep building fans. Definitely a band worth checking out and supporting if they come through your scene. As always, support your scene.
ZERO RIGHTS "OUR WORLD" EP
(Release Date July 15, 2016)
NYC's Zero Rights impress on this short and (somewhat) sweet self-released EP that's got 8 songs in 15 minutes. They got a pedigree of sorts with members from bands like Refuse Resist, Caught In A Trap, Gangway, and Live Fast Die Fast. They are part punk, part hardcore and partially wrote their own review here when they nailed their own FFO (For Fans Of) right on the fucking head when they listed Black Flag, DK's, and Kill Your Idols. Shawn Refuse's vocals here are one of Zero Rights' most distinguishable traits with his rough and raspy voice leading the charge. On multiple occasions here though Shawn switches things up and does one helluva great Jello Biaffra impersonation which actually led to me emailing the band to ask if they actually got the Dead Kennedy's frontman on this EP for guest vocals. The varied vocal styles add to their sound which can be unpredictable as the weather. The opener "Our World" is a thrashing hardcore track followed by "Shutdown" which is a more mid-paced track with a nice sing-a-long chorus. "Fund A Mental" also sports a nice sing-a-long. "Dishes Are Done" skanks it's way to punk rock greatness and is my favorite track of the bunch and "Zero Rights" is their anthem of sorts with the chorus breakdown of "we areeeee Zero Rights"... They add some surf punk style guitars in the background for further effect and uniqueness. Everything here just hits dead on. If your one of those "all this shit sounds the same these days" type of folks here is your new favorite band... Zero Rights. Digital version drops July 15th followed by a CD release party out on Long Island August 27th.
BURN “…FROM THE ASHES” 7”
(Bridge 9 Records, To Be Released August, 2016)
In late 1989, my friend Chaka invited me to check out his new band's first practice at a rehearsal studio. All the time I'd known him, I wasn't aware he could sing or even had frontman aspirations but with the outfit he'd assembled, pulled from Absolution/Life's Blood/Pressure Release members; I knew the sound would be unique and worthwhile. Hearing embryonic versions of what became their signature tunes left me astounded that day and the rehearsal was recorded on a rickety boombox, as the band had no name yet. I remember labeling the resulting cassette as the "Chaka Malik Experience". Fast forward to 2016 and several lifetimes later, Chaka is back with original guitarist Gavin Van Vlack plus two talented new members and the end result for this sonic resurgence can only be summed up by one word: Burn.
It's pretty incredible to me that a band who never put out a full length, just 3 EP's, came to define and inspire the 1990's hardcore sound as it evolved. Burn managed to incorporate dissonant dynamics that while rooted in hardcore punk, they simultaneously expanded and updated the essence of the music.
This new EP dropping July 15 on Bridge 9 Records feels like deja vu all over again. It helps that 2 of the 3 tunes on the EP are old favorites from their live set that never got a proper recording. That would be "You Can't Stop Me" and "We Don't Stand Chance". These two have the same vibe as the songs on their classic debut EP from 1990. The third track "Novelist” (Drums Of War) harkens to the sound they were going for on the "Cleanse" EP from 2001, a mid-tempo multi-layered, rhythmically complex affair. The passage of time has done nothing to diminish the urgency of their music and the crisp spacious production compliments the proceedings. I of course am extremely biased but you don't have to take my word for it, as anyone has witnessed them on tour recently in the US and Europe. They played as if every note was their last, putting heart and soul into something that's bigger than themselves. It took them a while to figure that out but once convinced, hardcore and all that implies, is still an extremely viable medium for self-expression. Some would say one of the only real ones left for us young and young at heart until we all run out of time. NOTE: At time of posting (July 13) Bridge 9 has not given an official release date but it appears imminent. Revelation Records will also have an exclusive variant of this release as well. Stay tuned!
KING LY CHEE “BE WATER” EP
(Released June 2016)
Hong Kong band King Ly Chee have been stalwarts of the Asian hardcore scene for the past 17 years and in addition to their singer running UniteAsia.org (a website dedicated to the Asian hardcore and punk scene), the band have put out some extremely strong music. King Ly Chee’s new EP is short, sharp, punchy and mixed with more than enough riffs, strong singalongs and attitude to satisfy any fan of hardcore.
The EP opens with an intro that was made in conjunction with Hong Kong hip hop legend Mastamic and as the voice of Hong Kong’s most famous son, the iconic Bruce Lee spills through the speakers over an anthemic beat you can feel the pride the band have in their homeland and this is their tribute to it and starts the EP off nicely.
After this suitably heroic start, “Be Water” (named after a famous quote from Lee) kicks off with the EP’s title track and this track is a stomping chunk of hardcore that tips its hat to Sick Of It All (who the band have brought to Hong Kong in the past and in turn have supported on their first ever US shows) and is packed full of hearty riffs, boisterous breakdowns and chant along vocals.
The catchier “Embrace It All” follows and is an upbeat celebration of life, both the good and the band and is an energetic and enthusiastic storm of a track that reminded me of some early The Vandals or at points Roger Miret & The Disasters more upbeat songs and is a welcome addition here in all its life affirming glory. The only disappointment is that is the fact that there is only three tracks on here because as soon as you hear those three tracks, you are desperate for more so hopefully a follow up will soon be forthcoming. All in all though, “Be Water” is a superb and ultimately very positive release, a worthy addition to the King Ly Chee repertoire and a set of songs that are begging to be played in a live setting where they will undoubtedly cause the right kind of chaos.
CONVERGE & QUICKSAND @ House Of Vans, Brooklyn, NY June 6, 2016
WORDS & PHOTOS BY: JC CAREY/JC PHOTO MEDIA
The House of Vans hosted an incredible night of not-quite-hardcore on a sweltering Wednesday night with math core pioneers Converge opening a two band bill with post-hardcore supergroup Quicksand. The line for the show stretched farther than I could see from the front of the club for a free show with two bands that would both have sold out the venue at 20 bucks a ticket. I hadn’t seen either band in forever and was very excited to see them both.
Here is my disclaimer - I have never been a fan of Converge’s recordings. I love the riffs, the musicianship, the virtuosity of the playing but I’m a lyrics guy and have never been able to wrap my head around Jacob’s vocal delivery. Reading his lyrics is unfortunate for me because I think he has some of the most gorgeous lyrics in the heavy genres. That being said the times that I saw them in the early 2000’s before they hit larger success playing metal fests left me with a respect for their musicianship and especially their performance. They didn’t disappoint on that front. The band was tight and frontman Jacob Bannon was in a frenzy for the entire set. The crowd somehow sang along and fist pumped with the guttural screams coming from Bannon’s lips from the opening cacophony of “Dark Horse” until the closing strains of “Jane Doe” the band did not stop. Cool moment when Stephen Brodsky of Cave In and Mutoid Man joined for the haunting squeals toward the end of “Jane Doe”.
After the noise and fury of Converge you would think the audience would be ready to chill with Quicksand but instead from the opening drum roll of “Fazer” and the syncopated rhythm of the guitars the crowd grooved, moved, and sang. The set-list was a perfect blend of 17 songs that covered the entire library plus The Smiths cover “How Soon Is Now”
Quicksand has been amongst my favorite bands for as long as they have been in existence. Walter and Tom were in bands I loved when I was forming my hardcore identity as a teen and with the additions of Sergio and Alan Cage they had a super group of musicians that grew up as I did going from the fury of Youth Of Today and Beyond to the more melodious Gorilla Biscuits to Burn’s evolution. When all those parts were put together to form Quicksand it could have been a whole scene screaming “Sell-Out!” - instead it was perfection. It still is. Walter has changed some of his vocal delivery and Tom and Sergio aren’t quite the jumping beasts they were 20 years ago - don’t worry they both own the stage just in a different way - but the band is just perfect. Alan and Sergio groove in a way very few bands of any genre ever will and the interplay of Walter and Tom’s guitars makes a sonic landscape that defies genre and welcomes even those that it makes temporarily uncomfortable.
ENRAGE "GATEWAYS VOLUME II"
(Released June, 2016)
Staten Island NY's Enrage are a band who I have been ignoring for the better part of 2 decades now. I say this in a tongue and cheek kind of way but truth be told there have only been a few times when our paths have crossed but the hardcore stars have now aligned for this review which I am sure all of you have been sitting on pins and needles awaiting. "Gateways Volume II" is the new 3 song single and is Part 2 in a series of 3 new EP's from Enrage.
"Crucifiring Squad" starts us off and a different (by today's standards) blend of hardcore meets metal awaits. You mean metalcore then, right? Well, not exactly as Enrage brings elements of both to the table but doesn't fully commit to either at the same time. Metalcore often is mid-paced, growled vocals, with lots of chugga-chugga guitar parts and can sometimes make you want to put a gun in your mouth after a few songs. Not the case here. Enrage though is more in a Carnivore "Retaliation" mode and Jeff's vocals (especially on this track) got a little Petrus T. Steele to them. A good thrash track to open this up with a pretty psychotic breakdown around the 2 minute mark. "I Survive" which is up next is more punk inspired and starts off with a choppy drum beat and the band chanting "HEY" 16 times before the first line of vocals kick in. This track is insanely catchy and my favorite track here. Whether you like to head bang, fist bang, or just do some classic NY style dancing this track can accommodate your needs. Imagine cranking this tune out your window while cruising down Father Capodanno Boulevard on Staten Island. Ayyyyyyyy, ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh! "This Is Sacred" wraps things up with a mid-paced track that gets the head nodding and sends this short EP off well leaving a solid impression. I am now familiar with Enrage, sorry it took so damn long guys… but before I go if you were wondering what ever happened to Triumph The Insult Comic Dog he is alive and well, has stopped smoking cigars, toughened up his image a little and has started doing modeling work for underground acts like Enrage…. I kid, I kiddddddd.
MIZERY "ABSOLUTE LIGHT" LP
(Flatspot Records, Release Date July 22, 2016)
The In Effect email inbox is one that is often flooded with pop punk, alternative rock, and death metal releases that requires a steady set of fingers to keep up with all the deleting we have to do. One slip up on the keyboard and we have to call in a 2319 and the hazmat team shows up and you all don't even want to know what happens then... But just a few days back the new Mizery "Absolute Light" popped up in there, a release we have been looking forward to since we did an interview with these cats from Southern California back in January. Just a month later in February Mizery stepped into The Pit Studios in Van Nuys, CA and started work on this which is their debut full length and backed by Flatspot Records here in the states with Reality Records taking care of business over in Europe.
They enlisted some friends like David Wood from Terror and Down To Nothing, Dave Weinraub of Downpresser and Anthony Herrera of Take Offense to do some guest vocals and shipped the product off to Arthur Rizk in Philly to be mixed and mastered. Rizk having previously done the same with other heavier bands including Power Trip. Although just their debut full length Mizery is not new to the hardcore game having members who have toured with multiple other bands as well as having put some time in with tours of their own as well. Madball, Turnstile, Power Trip, Crown Of Thornz, Backtrack, and Bane is a sampling of just some of the bigger names they have hit the road with. With said time under their belts I was expecting something more than a rookie debut, something that brought a little more to the table and with these 10 songs it looks like they have accomplished just that.
"Paramatman" opens things up here with an odd vibe with a slow guitar lead in and build. The thick guitars deliver a nice riff more than half way through this short semi-intro styled track that has some lyrics towards its end. Not the perfect track to open this up but if I had never heard of these guys before it definitely would have gotten my attention. Track two is "One Kiss" and ahhhhh... now that's more like it Mizery. Here we get what I first found on their "Survive The Vibe Live" cassette, and that is some groove styled hardcore with some heart and soul. They got a definite Crown Of Thornz influence with a dash of some Leeway thrown in there as well. The song structures seem to be well thought out with a lot in the way of choppy almost old school hip-hop like beats in the mix. The vocals here fit like a glove and don't try too hard to be something that they are not. "Mizery" is next up and dives even deeper into the previously mentioned hip-hop influences. Take out the guitars on this track and what we would be left with is a hip-hop track at its core. I know reading this could be a reason for some of you to jump ship at this point as mixing hip-hop and hardcore has mostly failed in the past but don't sweat it, Mizery's got this and they DON’T take out the guitars on this track so, relax already. The fact that there are only one set of vocals on this track along with some nice guitar work providing a head nodding catchy chorus helps pull this one off well.
The title track which follows provides us with some diversity at this juncture with the first real thrash burst of the album kicking this track off. Diversity on full lengths obviously is crucial to not having everything sound the same and with tracks like "The Bvtcher" (yeah, I spelled it right) we get some of that in the form of a 45 second acoustic guitar fill. Dare I say this is a beautiful fucking track? Yeah, it is but less than a minute later it is back to some thrash and bash time with "Execution Style" which kind of follows the title tracks lead with fast parts that break into some nice break downs. Fast/then slow and choppy is the law of the land on the vast majority of "Absolute Light". I often go long stretches of listening to an album before breaking it down in a review but with Mizery's debut full length I kind of got "it" right away as these songs were extremely easy to absorb and I immediately found myself getting some of the hooks caught in my head with "Power Of Peace" immediately coming to mind as one of the main culprits. "The power of peace, is greater than the power of the gun"... Great track. Although not without its flaws (slightly hazey/fuzzy production in my opinion) "Absolute Light" is a real winner that should draw some attention and with some recent tours in the books and another two week run towards the end of August with Merauder on tap this could be the start of a big breakout for Mizery.
BRAIN WAVES FANZINE
(Issue #2, Released June 2016)
Brain Waves Zine out of the Netherlands returns with another great looking issue in full color printed on some fancy pants shiny paper that just gives it a bad ass look. The fact that they use a cut and paste layout within is almost an afterthought with the way they present their layout often having photos span over two pages and the text strategically placed around the photos. DIY 101 but with a more high-fi look.
Issue #2 has some nice reading here via interviews with the likes of Eddie Sutton of The Eddie Leeway Show, Terror, Bitter End, and a studio report with the band Cornered from the Netherlands as they talk about the recording process with their new EP "Hate Mantras". This just in... Cornered are really good. Give them a look. The Eddie Sutton interview is the best of the lot here and when asked the right questions Eddie will give a really good interview with the evidence lying within. The rest of the 32 pages is wrapped up with standard zine fodder with zine reviews, record reviews and a (not so standard) and really cool centerfold that maximizes the full color look with a full blown collage of all old NYHC album covers.
“LOS PUNKS: WE ARE ALL WE HAVE” DOCUMENTARY
(Released January, 2016)
If you grew up listening to music as your release, escape or simply, your life, then you may have had that small group of like-minded friends to share that with. That group meshed into a larger group, or “scene”, of even more of the same at shows, parties or wherever. For many this wasn’t just a scene but a community that often replaced family.
“Los Punks: We Are All We Have” is the documentary of the DIY punk scene in Los Angeles but specifically of Hispanic punks putting on shows in backyards, parking lots and free spaces in East LA and South Central neighborhoods in the city.
From the beginning, you got this idea of community from the youth who were putting on these shows and the bands that were performing. For just a few bucks you got a show, people you wanted to be around with just the door person checking off handstamps and the only, but overall implied, rule, “Don’t fuck it up for everyone.” There are no bouncers, merch tables or even bathrooms. Bands, electricity and a space are all that is provided, pits are created wherever the crowd sees fit and tall cans or forties are the BYOB of choice. As one of the main DIY promoters, Nacho, said, “It’s raw.” I really, really wanted to be there.
This documentary is a Vans shoes sponsored film by Angela Boatwright. If you think, “how can a corporate sponsored film represent a DIY scene and people?” then the answer would be, accurately and colorfully. The cameras didn’t just film from afar but they got into the pit, alongside with the bands and into the crowd. Not sure what tapes (yeah, VHS, sucka!) you watched back in the day but they were probably homemade, grainy and usually shitty sound and quality but they got you to re-live the show experience or feel the show if you couldn’t be there. The first more “produced” tape that made me feel that way was the Minor Threat Live tape. That made me feel a sort of way and “Los Punks” made me feel the same way, the feel of wanting to be there and have that raw, organic experience. Boatwright and her crew obviously made a connection with the LA punks to be allowed such close and intimate access. Probably not everyone, as one scene did relate that someone at a show threw a bottle at the camera operator but if bottle throwing didn’t happen at a punk show or party was it really that punk rock?
The people being followed through the documentary were either promoters, band members or both. The film crew was given access straight into the homes of several of the people and you see the mix of blue collar, dirt poor and suburban families. Pretty much the similar makeup of any punk or hardcore scene around the world. If I was to name the difference between this scene in LA now compared to a hardcore punk scene back in the 80’s or 90’s is that punk is more “mainstream” and accepted in society BUT if you compare that to the norm of the Hispanic community it could be similar to back then because only the committed really stay punk when it’s not popular or easy. Families in the film were accepting of their kids life and style (except the suburban, conservative dad’s contempt of Mohawks in his house) and the cast were generally successful and had plans for their immediate future. This documentary not only built on the community of punk but the growth of a scene not fully built on nihilism and anarchy. Would this scene be as strong without the assist from the internet and social media? Possibly but maybe not as large.
The way the shows are set up are sometimes spontaneous but usually they are given permission to use a driveway and backyard to fit as many people in before the neighbors come out and threaten to “make people disappear” or the cops come to break it up. From the infamous stories of Black Flag shows in LA, the cops are expected to beat and cuff all punks but the ones that did show up were pretty apathetic and just didn’t look interested except to move on to their next crime. Of course, you did have the hard ass cop that was only interested in giving orders to everyone… but who doesn’t have that douche at work? Again, kudos to the film crew to getting these scenes shown as they were with no bullshit from the cops for filming them in action.
Watching a punk documentary is to see some crazy shit other people do in other cities but most importantly it is the MUSIC. Like I said earlier, I wanted to be there and see all of these bands. The reason to me became clear when I started to see how much every single band loved to play and their enthusiasm to play with so little. They played for the love of punk and their people. Those are the shows we remember. Those are the memories of WHY we continue to be hardcore or punk or metal or whatever. It is the music and the people we share it with. This film helped relay those feelings to me and really miss the weekends when I could leave work, get beer, find my friends and go see a band in a basement or club and lose myself. The bands are committed and want to move up to bigger and better venues but most are happy doing what they do. It was stated several times that the promoters only make a few bucks to take away, bands get a little (if any) and sometimes the promotors have to come out of pocket for expenses. Honestly, I will give props to all the bands they showed (Corrupted Youth, PsykWard and Rhythmic Asylum were the main bands) but special shout to my dude who was vocals and played guitar bare ass naked in a family’s backyard. He was not the first or last to do that but he owned it and it was creepily awesome. What truly won me over was the credit given to some of the first Latino punk bands to play in particular South Central Riot Squad. I immediately thought of them before watching this and when I heard “SC Drunk Punks” in the film, I almost got out of my chair to dance.
“Los Punk” was an excellent representation of the Latino punk scene in LA showing the life and energy of a thriving scene. As with anything that grows in popularity, it outgrows its original surroundings. From all the hype and press on this film, my hope is that the scene continues and grows and stays as close to home as possible. Many would argue that will not happen but it will get infiltrated with the posers and hipsters to become a mimic of itself. This documentary runs 1 hour and 19 minutes and is available on i-Tunes for both purchase or rental. Watch and enjoy.
CORRECTIVE MEASURE S/T 7”
(Atomic Action Records, Released June, 2016)
Just like my main man Ric Flair might say, WHOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!! Corrective Measure drops some no thrills straight up blistering straight edge hardcore punk rock and roll on this self-titled slab of 7" vinyl on Atomic Action Records. Six tracks in under six minutes...need I say more?? I really don't need to, but if I am anything I am verbose, so I will. I have read an interview with Braden Sinclair of CM which states that this band was started shortly after he moved back to Maine from DC and that this is an homage to the DCHC scene and the folks he met here in DC which clearly left quite an impression on him if his music is any indication. I live in DC but alas, I am not one of those folks, but I fear I missed out because this kid is onto some good shit with this band. You are not going to get a DCHC feel on this, but what you will get is an amalgam of early 80’s Boston mixed with mid to late 80’s NYHC...think Straight Ahead and SSD. It's hard, it's tight, and it's to the point, but most of all it is fast....like fast, fast. There are your breakdowns and plenty of opportunities to show off your sick dance moves too. The EP contains 6 kickass songs. Track 2 "Break You Off' is my current favorite. I don't think I've heard a song this fast, at least not one that I can understand, and that speed preps you for a sick breakdown that had my china cabinet rockin as my fat ass stomped around my dining room. I chipped some odd piece of Lenox crystal I got for my wedding back in the day...so...you guys owe me, that shit ain’t cheap, in fact I don't even know what it is it's been in there for 18 years collecting dust. I should sell the lot and by more hardcore records and shirts. Maine has made some quality hardcore bands over the years and Corrective Measure is another one in that line. These guys should have a good reach outside of their local scene. I hear they have an East Coast tour going one right now with Life Of Reilly, so get out there and support them. Fast and furious isn't just some shitty movie starring Vin "the hardcore bouncer" Diesel, it is also an excellent way to describe Corrective Measure. Get that shit.
STATE OF AFFAIRS FANZINE
(Issue #6, Summer 2016)
State Of Affairs is a zine out of New Jersey that I found recently for free at a local show and I am really glad I found it. What I liked most about this issue is the lineup of bands they put together who all seem to fall into the category of up and coming young bands who in some cases have little to no social media presence to speak of. The lineup here consists of Countdown (NY, MA), Full Circle (NJ), Faze (FL), and High Card (NY). Having nothing out there on social media turns bands into real life bigfoots, chupacabras, and abominable snowmen which makes finding info on them more satisfying when you actually do and State Of Affairs really did a great job here.
It was really refreshing to actually get some info about the bands listed above instead of just hearing their music on say Bandcamp and then trying to find out more about them through the tags that they use. The interviews were short and basic but I absorbed everything like a sponge having nothing to go on from these bands prior to this (outside of High Card). Other items within issue 6 are an introduction, a United Blood Fest recap, and "Real Life Reality" which is a short piece by Regulate's frontman about his dislike for a whole wide range of things in the world. Being only 14 pages long I blew through this thing in a matter of minutes but I also felt like I got a lot out of it at the same time.
Contact them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
COUNTER ATTACK, BLIND JUSTICE, CEASE 2 RESIST, BREAK AWAY, REGULATE
@ Theater 294, Farmingdale, NY June 24, 2016
Alright Long Island, we got a new spot here in Theater 294 right next to a small airport with nothing but businesses nearby so this is a possible good spot to put on a show with a couple of hundred of your closest friends. When I first walked in here the confines didn't exactly scream "hardcore venue" especially with its short 2 level stage. Most of the bands suffered from a microphone that was in and out the whole night making lead singers jobs stressful the whole way. Theater 294 appears to be used primarily for small theater productions with some cool photographs hanging from the wall... one in particular that caught my eye was one of Rodney Dangerfield and Red Foxx laughing it up. Made me think what they would say if they were alive and at this show.
I missed Counter Attack who were on first at 7pm which was probably a mistake on my part since they look like they are a lot of fun live. They are a local band who apparently don't show their faces and in photos I saw from this show afterwards they all seemed to be wearing pantyhose over their heads like old school bank robbers. They got a Bandcamp with a lone track so go look 'em up.
BLIND JUSTICE JUNE 24, 2016. PHOTO BY: BRETT SWEENEY @brettsweeney_
Blind Justice who just headlined a tour with Regulate were up next due to late arriving bands and just went fucking off. Their singer Mike Botti is one of the craziest frontmen in hardcore these days and just really brings it from the first song to the last with blast after blast of pure aggression. I have seen Blind Justice maybe 4 times now and each time it's like a repeat performance with the band doing their thing and Mike just being a freaking animal. Blind Justice plays straight forward hardcore, not breaking much in the way of new ground but what they do they do very well. It is very easy to understand why they have built up the fan base they have. The crowd fed off the energy and some real hard dancing ensued for Blind Justice. During some of those microphone issues the crowd was singing along so loud that it didn't even matter.
CEASE 2 RESIST JUNE 24, 2016. PHOTO BY: PN PHOTOGRAPHY @nut_neton
Cease 2 Resist from Richmond, VA were up next, arriving late after being stuck in traffic for "the last 3 hours". Welcome to NY boys. I was thinking that they might have a hard time following up Blind Justice after their set but they took it right to the crowd from song number one. This show had a great vibe and one thing I noticed is a lot of the people from bands playing this show stood up front and in some cases went totally off for each other's sets. The other thing is that the majority of the crowd would shuffle outside during each between band break but when it was time for whoever the next band was it seemed like everyone or just about everyone was back in by the first song. Cease 2 Resist are a good young band... again playing mostly straight forward, straight up hardcore with some heart. They snuck in a Minor Threat cover without announcing "If you don't know this song you suck" or whatever most bands say before they play a cover song that people are "supposed to know". They got a 7" now out on Edgewood Records so look 'em up. Check them out more HERE.
BREAK AWAY JUNE 24, 2016. PHOTO BY: PN PHOTOGRAPHY @nut_neton
Break Away who are also from Richmond were up next with the middle 3 bands on this bill all swapping out spots. Break Away is a super active band. I have posted their flyers, info about their band, photos etc dozens of times here on this site but this was the first time I actually caught them live. The microphone issues bit them the hardest as there was maybe a 2 song gap where the microphone was totally fubar'd and I was thinking "damn this is a really long instrumental". Regardless of that Break Away has a good game and they were on that game this night. They look to be no strangers to getting in a van, driving for hours on end, playing a show and then sleeping on someone's floor. Real in your face hardcore, some shout outs to those who still hold the straight edge near and dear and they were done after about 25 minutes or so. Every band's set felt like they were on the short side and as the night went on time seemed to be becoming a factor.
REGULATE JUNE 24, 2016. PHOTO BY: BRETT SWEENEY @brettsweeney_
This was the record release show for Regulate who just got back from that month long tour out to the West Coast and back. The new one is called "Years Of Rage" and you can get a 7" version of it on Edgewood or download it for a few bucks as well. I bought a shirt cause they got a bad ass logo, money well spent. That new record is one of my favorite records so far this year drawing influences from mostly 90's era hardcore, bands like District 9 come to mind first. There did seem to be a small spike in the number of people who were inside just before they went on as hip-hop music blasted through the PA. A few minutes later they were busting into "Regulate ll" which is just a sick instrumental if you have never heard it. As you could have guessed the crowd went bananas and things were underway, although for only a short set of about 20 minutes. Regulate played their entire new record and threw in a cover of "New York City" by Madball in the middle of it all. "Living here you gotta learn, you gotta fight back, when someone tries to take your life from you…" YEAH! Frontman Sebastian got a little choked up at one point and with his voice cracking said that without hardcore he's got nothing and thanked the crowd for all their support. This was a genuine moment and not one you see often out of your average hardcore band and Regulate has definitely elevated themselves to way above the average hardcore band level.
Although the importance and significance of this show had to rank high in Regulate's short history the short set did leave myself and I guess others wanting some more Regulate as the show ended. Over the last year they have really built up this momentum with high profile shows, touring and great new music which hopefully will lead them to being viewed and treated as one of the better up and comers in the NYHC scene. Time will tell but it's safe to say that they are already on their way.
THE WILDING INCIDENT “PREY FOR THE WOLFPACK” EP
(Reaper Records, Released April, 2016)
Super group is a term maybe thrown around a little too easily these days but The Wilding Incident have taken it to a whole different realm that will set the bar higher than most other musicians will reach. The Wilding Incident gave me no such worry when I saw the lineup: Danny Diablo AKA Lord Ezec, Sacha Jenkins, Chris Fist, Noah Rubin and Jimmy Williams. All have played and/or been associated with NYHC for years. The lead up to the EP, “Prey for the Wolfpack”, got me excited and I started passing on the clips to my friends all over the country and they had the same response…….”YO!!!! When the fuck is that coming out????” I am a big fan of Ezec as a front man in all his genres. Seeing him on tour in the Midwest and out in the Bay Area could take up a whole other column with stories.
Quick NYC history lesson, “The Wilding Incident” refers to an incident also known as “The Central Park Jogger Case” in 1989 and was making national news headlines. The basics were that teens that were incarcerated were involved in “Wilding” (AKA anarchy on the street against innocent victims) but were locked up for rape. In 2002, the real rapist copped to the rape and the teens, now adults, were released from prison. It basically hit upon the common theme of police injustice with teens of color. Do yourself a favor and look it up for more info.
Knowing this also carried some real weight as a message on the event the band named themselves and them being a diverse ethnic mix, I was ready to see what they would say and how it would sound. Would it be Danny Diablo rapping or a White Mandingos cover band? Would it be a Skarhead clone? Maybe some Maximum Penalty thrown in?
Fuck no. This is probably one of the most original sounds I have heard in a long, fucking time. Yeah, it definitely pulls from all of these bands and more BUT they play tight and hard with that Ezec growl that is unmistakable.
The songs themselves focused on a hot but an old and consistent issue: Police.
Anyone that has been to punk, hardcore, metal or even hip hop shows know that the blue suiters don’t show a lot of love for the fans. They hit that theme in these four songs.
“Prey for the Wolfpack”: Something I picked up right away on this song of being labeled for being different was the shout out to NYHC classics throughout (“Victim In Pain”, Cavity Creeps, we never sleep, etc.) and, of course, my man, Schooly D. This also has a video out so check it.
“That Cell”: Old school intro with a raw and biting sound that slammed the cell door on my ears. Guilty until proven innocent. Or is that the other way around?
“Stop And Frisk”: I was digging this song and really couldn’t place what I was hearing and what it reminded me of. I felt Ezec was channeling that early Roger Miret sound on vocals but also the music reminded me of that early Agnostic Front, too.
“Billy Club”: The Oi! was strong with this one. Not sure if that was the intent but I felt I was listening to some classic Business or Cockney Rejects. Fast and it hit hard. Like a Billy Club… It’s not really needed to say that I loved this shit. Get it. You won’t be disappointed. I truly hope they make more music and continue to play. Go see them if you can but if you can’t and, as everyone should, support your local scene.
- J Spec
THE AGGRAVATED “FIRST TO DIE”
(Released May, 2016)
Reminiscent of the mid to late 90’s and early 2000’s PunkCore Records bands like Lower Class Brats, Cheap Sex, and Defiance, The Aggravated out of Atlanta, Georgia sport a familiar form of street punk. Their debut full length entitled “First To Die” is 13 songs of a dated style of punk rock about drinking and smoking weed with your friends, not caring about what people think and semi committed political statements. The production quality is pretty on point and the whole thing sounds pretty good. If you’re into mohawks and spiked jacket style punk rock then give “First To Die” a listen.
ANGEL DU$T “ROCK THE FUCK ON FOREVER” LP
(Pop Wig Records, Released May, 2016)
If you are looking for a high energy, yet not too aggressive summer jam to blare out open windows on a drive down the shore, look no further than Angel Du$t's newest release “Rock The Fuck On Forever.” I'm not sure if “pop punk-core” is a genre yet, but it should be, and this record will be the lighthouse guiding the rest. With high energy pieces buttoned up against their mellower counter parts, Angel Du$t certainly showcases their ability to create cohesive but different sounds throughout a single record; which is a rarity these days with many bands sticking to one formula per record. This album has really grown on me the more I listen to it. Combining elements of the new school Turnstile-y vibe and the edgy bounce of a mid-90s pop punk band, “Rock The Fuck On Forever” certainly stands out as a record that will please hardcore fans looking for something a little different, as well as a crossover that could serve as a stepping stone (yes, this is a shout out to their last record) for anyone looking to dip their toes into the sometimes too cold hardcore music pool. If you want a good taste of the record, check out “Bad Thing” and “Somebody Else”, these two tracks will satiate both heavier and lighter listening appetites. So fill the cooler, grab your snorkel, pop a copy of “Rock The Fuck On Forever” into the tape deck, and rock the fuck on this summer!
ONE LAST ROUND "WE LIVE AMONG YOU"
(Released May, 2016)
It wasn't that long ago that we reviewed the debut 7" from Greece's One Last Round which was a solid debut coming from a place in the world that you may not exactly be expecting hardcore music to be coming out of, but just like that... it did.
The new one is titled "We Live Among You" with a total of 10 tracks in all. With just over a year passing since that last release you get the feel that One Last Round is working hard, putting the time in and from hearing these new tracks.. getting better at what they do. I mean most hardcore bands just don't pull 10 new songs out of their ass a year later unless the work is put in.
Like many hardcore albums the first track here is titled "Intro". We get some air raid sirens leading into a nice choppy beat backed with a nice raw and crunchy guitar sound. This instrumental track only runs about 90 seconds but you can guess that when this gets played at one of their hometown gigs that the crowd is gonna move up and get their moshing shoes on. "Enemy" is up next and is a short blast at just 45 seconds. One Last Round as mentioned in the review of their 7" has some old school NYHC type influences and it is on display again here with that choppy drum beat creeping in.
Two tracks in and I'm really liking what I am hearing to this point. "Shit For Brains" (about people that you just need to get away from you) continues the momentum and leads us in to the best track here in "War" which kicks off with the drums and bass doing the heavy lifting as the distortion of the guitar slowly creeps in. The shouted chorus of "Warrrrrrr!" set to yet another choppy/catchy beat is a no doubter to get a crowd whipped up into a frenzy. A great song but also a telltale one as this track's punk rock vibe gives away more of the bands influences. "Don't Belong" finishes up the tracks sung in English as this release is sliced in half sharing songs sung both in English and Greek. I liked how at this point the display on my car stereo just gave up when the Greek titles with Greek letters popped up. Everything just became "One Last Round" on my display. #Quitter
The Greek stuff is just as hard, and whatever the first track is dove even deeper into the influences pool with a track that could have been ripped off of AF's "United Blood" EP. The rest of the way through this shows that same mix of early hardcore/punk and I guess if you break it down some Oi! influences as well all coming together for a solid blend. The fact that I have no idea what they are singing about on the second half makes no difference as the tracks done in Greek sound great with a good, not forced flow to them. Hardcore in its purest form on display here. Overall, One Last Round deliver another solid effort as they draw from multiple areas in the world of punk and hardcore and keep things (for the most part) fresh as this album unfolds. Some momentum has been built up here with these last two releases, now let's see what they can do with it!
OUTSKIRTS “2016 DEMO”
(Released March, 2016)
To start with, I have to apologize for taking me more than 2 months to review this. Being busy yet lazy in my free time is not the best combination for a hardcore/punk reviewer. Since Chris hasn’t fired me yet, here we are with the first demo by Outskirts, straight out of New York City!
Outskirts is a brand new band featuring members of bands like Brain Slug, Fatal Erection, Death First & Zombie Dogs. In their first attempt to expose their music to the world they deliver 6 songs in almost 10 minutes of ultra-raging and blasting heavy hardcore/punk with female aggressive and passionate vocals. I have no lyrics or any other info so. to be honest, I dunno what they are singing about but song titles like “You Assholes”, “Wrong Side” and “Drown Out” can definitely feed my imagination and probably yours, too. If this band plays anywhere around you, don’t be stupid and join the pit; I bet they are better destroying your ears on stage than via their MP3’s I own. So, if you are into fast yet groovy hardcore/punk, don’t sleep on this.
CORNERED “HATE MANTRAS” CD
(Strength Records, Released April, 2016)
Self-proclaimed "Holland's Hardest since 2009", the band Cornered have just put out their eighth release, a six song EP titled “Hate Mantras”. Forming in 2009, Cornered hail from Leeuwarden, Netherlands; the band consists of Niels-vocals, Rudie-guitar, Jonne-bass, Joel-guitar and Daan-drums. Cornered does a great job living up to their claim, blending hardcore and metal in a successful formula that has allowed them to continue going strong for nine years. Released on April 10, 2016 through Strength Records "Hate Mantras" is a short and to the point EP, lasting just shy of 10 minutes but that's enough time for the listener to realize that this band is very pissed off. And if the music doesn't convince you, the lyrics definitely will.
Track 1: “GTFO”- May be one of the shortest songs I can recall hearing, clocking in at 5 seconds. Message is simple...Get The Fuck Out.
Track 2: “Love Is Pain”- an agonizing song about wanting to disclose hatred for someone. The ending line "hate is love, love is pain" sums up the song.
Track 3: “Wasting My Time”- a song talking about a vicious cycle of making the same mistakes and "wasting" time being caught up in the past. Due to some of the lyrics, this song may not appeal to the straight edge crowd but it’s one that I can relate to.
Track 4: “Chosen Few”- A perfect election time song, focusing on how the "Chosen Few" rule the world and are destroying it and most people are falling for the lies. "Were given the chance to save our world together. Humanity is forced to burn forever".
Track 5: “Pressure”- "Pressure building up inside, pressure. Keep on swallowing my pride". Pretty self-explanatory.
Track 6: “Hate Mantra”- Instrumental
Listening to Cornered, it is easy to see why they have toured through Europe with some great hardcore bands such as Merauder, Stout, Backtrack, Take Offense, World Eater and Born From Pain. You can checkout the band's other releases on their Bandcamp page as well.
ETERNAL SLEEP “THE EMPTINESS OF” LP
(Closed Casket Activities, Released May, 2016)
An ominous and self-titled dirge of an intro creeps in announcing the new album from Pittsburgh hardcore metal mob Eternal Sleep before the first track proper “Last Kind Words” erupts and this signals that their debut album “The Emptiness Of” has exploded into life. This opening tracks grinding riff flows with venomous intent and takes center stage for Eternal Sleep to work around and sets the tone for the entire album with its grooving mixture of hardcore, metal and focused anger and spite and when the following track “Red Herring” kicks in, you are left without a doubt that this is going to be one heavy head fucking and body scarring musical journey.
On tracks like “Fresh Blood” and “Parlor Tricks” the band add a grungy vibe, sounding not unlike if Alice In Chains had gone on a binge of listening to some prime NYHC, the gang vocals still intact but with a melodic catchiness to them that works wonders and it is this diversity that allows Eternal Sleep to create a much more varied sound than your average hardcore band and they sound all the better for it. There are tracks on “The Emptiness Of” that are more straight ahead hardcore such as the pulverizing “Revisionist” and closing track “Never Again A Harder Goodbye” and they fit in perfectly with the rest of the songs and this makes for an album that is a pleasure to listen to, varied of course (check out the menacing “Kenosis” for a track unlike anything else on the album), but never letting their initial focus run away from them and that focus is prime aural aggression executed in the heaviest way possible.
Eternal Sleep first and foremost play the type of metal infused hardcore (“Straw Man” from the album definitely best exemplifies this) that the likes of Ringworm and Integrity are known for but far from being mere copyists, the band have their own vibe going on and the sludgy nature of their music makes them stand out tremendously, “Typical Broken Heart” for instance sounds like an unholy mashup of sludge legends Melvins, Eyehategod, Buzzov-en and Acid Bath with that all important hardcore noise and that and the sheer hate that spews from the speakers whilst you are listening to “The Emptiness Of” is definitely inspiring. Anger is an energy as Public Image Ltd once sang on the classic song “Rise”, and this is certainly the case for Eternal Sleep and this brilliant debut album and this is a band who are definitely on the rise, now go and watch their ascendance.
DAG NASTY "COLD HEART" EP
(Dischord Records, Released May, 2016)
New Dag Nasty? Original lineup? Ian MacKaye in on the recording process? Dagggg son. I won't go as far as to call myself a Dag Fan Boy as I don't know all the intimate details of all their releases or members but I will tell you all this. I used to have the "Can I Say", "Wig Out At Denkos" combo CD with both albums on it and I literally played that thing into dust in my old 1996 Toyota Tacoma beater. I loved that CD and for whatever reason is still the only Dag music I have on my i-Pod... until yesterday. Ok, so as mentioned there is a lot of OG stuff going on here and I had some anticipation as this thing was downloading thinking to myself "will this be an awesome comeback or an absolute train wreck?"
"Cold Heart!" is the very first thing you hear as vocalist Shawn Brown yells out the first tracks title followed by a real catchy bass line that repeats throughout most of this track. After only a few seconds in you get the feel that the old guys still got it as this is vintage style Dag. Fast, melodic, and just as important... memorable… it is going to stick in your head and won’t get out. About mid-way through the song comes to a standstill before roaring back at us with an awesome 10 second or so guitar solo with the rest of the band just cranking behind it. Wow, great start. There are only two tracks here and not a lot of promises beyond that with the band doing some high profile gigs this summer and no apparent definite plans announced after that.
Track two is "Wanting Nothing", which is more of a mid-paced track that is solid and gets the job done but comes nowhere near the magic of the opener. "Cold Heart" is being pushed as a "single" and when I think back to being a kid bands in all kinds of music would put out singles with the "hit" on the A side and more of a throw away song on the flip side. Not saying "Wanting Nothing" is a throw away by any means but just saying. I ditched vinyl for CD’s way back when the compact disc was introduced and have not gone back so I don’t know if this is still common practice or not. Dag Nasty returning for some summer shows is great news. Where it goes after that is still up in the air but if it does continue beyond that can they string together more songs like "Cold Heart"? Time will tell.
HATEBREED “THE CONCRETE CONFESSIONAL”
(Nuclear Blast Records, Released May, 2016)
HATEBREED! In this day and age, one of those “if you don’t know now, then you never will” bands. Also, one of the more divisive bands to come from the hardcore scene. Depending on who you ask,
crossing over and touring with huge metal acts could either be the best or worst thing that could happen to a band, and this has come to be one of the major factors that underlies Hatebreed’s entire
career. I myself am a long-time fan, and if I had to put a timeline on it, I’d say “The Rise Of Brutality” was my entry era. 13 years and 3 albums later, we have “The Concrete Confessional”. I
have a “confession” of sorts; I lazily skipped over the last 2 albums. I got really into the covers album from 2009 (“For The Lions”), but for some reason I just fell off. Fast forward to last
winter, and I find myself getting really into podcasts, I’m gonna bring this tangent full circle, I swear, just gimme a minute. Jasta’s podcast, “The Jasta Show”, found itself into my regular
rotation, and he has been talking about this new album in the works for almost a year. The way he spoke about this record with such fervor, and the enthusiasm that lead to its release, it really
resonated with me as a fan, and as someone who’s passionate about his own projects. So when it came out, I without hesitation, drove straight to the mall to buy a hardcopy and indulge. I was not
disappointed one bit! Not meaning to debase Hatebreed’s style to petty comparisons, but 2009’s self titled, and 2013’s “The Divinity Of Purpose” seemed to me to be leaning in a more Slipknot/Ozzfest
direction. “The Concrete Confessional” is an almost complete abandonment of that massive nu-metal tour package aesthetic, whereas I hear more Slayer than anything else. There’s a warm embrace of
modern heavy hardcore, as illustrated on the 3rd track “Seven Enemies”. This song sounds like it comes from 2006 Long Island; Beat-Down as fuck! The band is pretty much as on point as they’ve ever
been, Jasta’s undeniable bark is the center of Hatebreed’s personality and style. The lyrics on this record straddle the line between really cool, and borderline cheese; “It’s time to rethink this
dream that they call American! Corrupt system of beliefs some would call their heritage!” When I’m speeding down 95, I scream that line at the top of my lungs as if it’s the most profound thing I’ve
ever heard. But if I pause and think about it, I kinda think “Huh?”. I do give Jasta credit though for making an effort to pen unique lyrics. Anybody who also regularly listens to his podcast is
familiar with his “lyric police” concept. He actively tries to not re-hash lines, or spout the same clichés he’s heard on other records, so I dig that he takes his writing seriously. I think this is
an excellent record for die-hards and newcomers alike. If you’re a fan, you won’t be disappointed, and if this is your first go at getting into Hatebreed, I promise you will be hooked. I can say with
utmost confidence this is one of my favorite records of 2016 so far! 8 thumbs up!
RED VISION S/T EP
(Edgewood Records, Released April, 2016)
This 6 song debut EP from Red Vision clocks in at just over 7 minutes, but still comes off as a complete release that is worth your time/purchase. Red Vision hails from Richmond VA and plays straightforward, no frills hardcore that is just the right amount of fast. (Like Floorpunch fast vs. bands I don’t listen to.) They fit in well with the RVA hardcore canon while still putting their own stamp on a style commonly played in that area.
I actually turned off Stigmata to review this, which is another testament to the quality of this 7”. The intro itself, which is just called “Intro”, consumes one full minute of this release, and starts off fast up until the slinky part at 0:46. “Intro” leads us into the first track with vocals, “The Other Side”, not to be confused with the Strength 691 tune. This is the first example of Red Vision’s ability to produce complete songs in a short timeframe, as they complete 2 verses and 2 choruses in approximately 40 seconds before moving onto the breakdown. “The Other Side” is followed by “Spoon Fed”, which starts off with a drum part reminiscent of the start of the Outburst 7”. Yet the rest of the song is more Floorpunch than Outburst, followed by a breakdown at 0:47 (Shane Spencer style) that is one of my favorite moments on this record.
“No Question” is less memorable than some of the others featured here, but this record recovers quickly with the menacing opening riffs of “Die Hard”. This one is where I finally also noticed the strength of their drummer along with the riffs and vocals. The slow part with “I don’t give a damn about your social life” reminds me, yet not overtly so, of “I don’t give a fuck about your skinhead pride.” “End It” is a sufficient closer and similar in style to the other songs presented here. Overall this is an energetic and cohesive record for fans of straight-up hardcore. NOTE: This was released online for streaming in April with 7" vinyl to follow in June.
DYSNEA BOYS “FORGOT HOW TO READ” LP
(Take It Back Records, Released April, 2016)
We will never return to the uniqueness and newness of anyone’s scene but we are seeing the growth and development that, hopefully, will also include the same attitude and rawness we came to love this music for. Dysnea Boys album “Forgot How to Read” really started to get me thinking about this. They have a crisp, hard album that shows that “old school” doesn’t need to change who or what they are to keep the sound and attitude. The album plays a lot like what you would expect of musicians creating new music with the ideals of the scene from where they came up. Knowing that the lead singer, Jason Hosnea, comes from Cali group, Social Unrest, I didn’t want to assume they were going to be the older version of the Dead Kennedys or Bad Religion but they smartly moved through those influences with fast and loud songs like “Christian Bail” and “Finding Water”. They also moved into some slower, more melodic songs like “Here She Comes” that I felt were a testament to a band that takes influence from many different genres and makes it their own.
All in all, the Dysnea Boys have a great sound that can appeal to the older punk but also attract the ears of the younger crowd. Guitars by CC Voltage and Chris Frey were on point with drums by Tom Fanore on “Bucket Of Gas” to show their strong musicianship on this album. This is an album that I can see being an example of punks who are still rocking but continuing to develop and grow without becoming a pop punk band with only Warped Tour aspirations. Pick this up if you are ready for not giving up on your 17 year old punk self with your (insert age) year old. Fuck it. Never give up that punk self-identity. Rock out.
GIVE YOU NOTHING "YOUR REVOLUTION"
(Released March, 2016)
Give You Nothing are a 5 piece punk band out of Santa Cruz, California who got their start just last year. On offer here is their debut CD titled "Your Revolution" which contains 8 tracks in all, running just under 20 minutes. While reading their band info I noticed the "ex-members of" part which included Downpresser, Uzi Suicide, and At Risk. Downpresser I recall being on the heavier side of the hardcore fence and after looking up Uzi Suicide and At Risk it made this release a little more interesting because GYN doesn't necessarily sound like any of their previous bands opting for a more skate punk/melodic hardcore style. If you are a Fat Wreck-Chords kinda guy or gal take notice as this is a very well polished disc for a band who only played their first show about 5 months ago. "Severed" starts us off and blazes right past us in only about a minute complete with clear, precise vocals, some ooooh's and ahhhh's, and a nice little guitar lick that immediately made me want to hear more and not hit the eject button. Up next is the strongest all around track in "Simple Words". Strongest because of the combination of solid music and lyrics that give you the "these dudes got their heads screwed on straight" kinda feel. "Simple Words" quite simply touches on the topic of bands who are in it for the paycheck and not the passion of playing music. "Their revolution is just a t-shirt away" is their first jab at the phonies which is followed up with "Their ideals used as commodity, Something to be bought and sold with no integrity" delivering the kill shot. Be real or go home being the message. Over the course of the final 6 tracks we get more of the same feel musically with the band veering off slightly on a few tracks (track 4 "The Trip") and (track 6 "Refuse To Fade") in particular. Although I applaud GYN for switching up the formula and not giving us 8 identical tracks these two tracks get a little too soft for my liking. I ain't here to tell you I am all tough guy where I sprinkle nuts and bolts on my cereal for more crunchiness but my feeling is that this style of skate punk would already be better served with a little more heaviness and not less of it. Putting those two blips aside this is an impressive debut from a band who on a whole really hasn't been together all that long and one that appears to have a drive and purpose behind them that oddly enough you don't get a whole lot of these days. Interested to see what lies ahead for Give You Nothing.