WAR BABIES “SHAMELESS IMBALANCE”
(Hellminded Records, Release Date July 6, 2022)
Great thing about getting digital music files to review is you can listen to it anywhere. That’s it. Sorry, but nothing beats a physical copy in hand and with War Babies “Shameless Imbalance” I wanted nothing more than to get my hands on the lyrics for the 23 song power violence onslaught that it is. At 56 my multi-tasking skills are somewhat diminished so I find myself enjoying the short, powerful and old school hardcore (1986-ish) hardcore. What’s insane about this record is that it was created by only two people in Mike D. (Kill Your Idols/Sheer Terror) guitar and bass and Darren Nanos (Headhunters, Brain Slug, more) on drums and vocals. Influenced by bands like NYC Mayhem, Straight Ahead, Spazz, Crossed Out, War Babies also remind me of classic Poison Idea circa “Kings Of Punk” not only because of the speed, production and impact, but also because the vocals remind me of Jerry A ever so slightly. Melodic at times, powerful and fast and to the point “Shameless Imbalance” is a great throwback to the hardcore I grew up on in the 80’s. Adding to the package is the great artwork by Juan Machado. The only thing I’d change is the reference to calling this “Quarantine Core”. Due out on July 6th, follow this Bandcamp link which has the tracks “March Of The Mindless” and “Life After The Boom”. Pre-orders are also available through Hellminded Records.
RAW BRIGADE “AGGRESSIVE CITY”
(Cash Only Records, Released June, 2022)
Raw Brigade release their first full length album, “Aggressive City”, on Cash Only Records. This up and coming label is run in part by members of Ekulu and with previous releases from Combust and Ekulu it is safe to say that Cash Only is on the right track. The new Raw Brigade album consists of nine tracks and clocks in at a little over thirteen minutes long. The band formed at the end of 2016 as a straight edge band and hail from Bogota, Colombia, with some seemingly interchangable pieces that help them tour often within the US and they are known for their energetic and intense live shows. The band wastes no time in grabbing your attention, as they blast through the all-out opening track, “Latinos”. It doesn’t take long to realize that these four guys play for their love of hardcore music. They play tough and uncompromising hardcore, reminiscent of the 80’s hardcore sound. Songs like “RFH (Runaway from Hell)”, “Each Other” and “The Job” take you back to the early days, when hardcore was making its impact known. Raw Brigade has a raw and gritty old style sound that can be heard throughout the entire record. The music is persevering and fueled with a fierce energy. I had a difficult time sitting still writing this review while listening to this record. Each time a new song started up, I wanted to jump out of my chair and circle pit around my small office. If you are a fan of eighties straight edge hardcore, then grab this record. Currently streaming via Bandcamp and Spotify but for vinyl versions you are going to have to wait until the Fall. Click HERE to pre-order a copy through Cash Only Records.
SPEED “GANG CALLED SPEED”
(Flatspot Records, Released June, 2022)
If you were to ask a band how they would describe “success” you most likely would get slightly different answers from the members. If you are in the Australian band Speed one answer to this question that you may get from members: Jem Siow- vocals, Josh Clayton- guitar, Dennis Vechidvongsa- guitar, Aaron Siow- bass and Kane Vardon- drums is their being asked to play this year’s Sound & Fury Festival in Los Angeles. This Sydney, Australia hardcore band are on their way to show the states next month what they have been proving in other parts of the world since their inception in 2019. Following up from their 2019 demo and a 2020 two song EP, Speed have just released a hard driving 6 song EP titled “Gang Called Speed”, which is a heavy blend of beatdown style hardcore drawing from such influences as Biohazard, Trapped Under Ice, Merauder and I would even throw in a touch of LA’s Countime. This release is not for the weak of heart and if your style of hardcore tends to be in the really “hard” category then you will truly appreciate this EP as I do. Being a predominately Asian band, Speed have and continue to sing about standing up against hate crimes toward their communities as well as encouraging other Asians to embrace the hardcore scene and to also start bands. The song titles and lyrics are reflective of this as well as speaking on other topics of life. The track list is: “Not That Nice”, “Another Toy”, “Move”, “Big Bite”, “Every Man For Themself”, and “Know Your Foe”. I didn’t bother trying to pick a favorite track since there is not one I needed to skip and I’ve listened to it quite a few times already. “Gang Called Speed” is a suburb release and the band deserves high recognition for putting out such an outstanding EP so early into their existence. The sky is the limit for these gentlemen and it is safe to say that when Speed finish their set in LA on July 29th they will have gained a lot more fans. Stream this on Bandcamp and click HERE for a ton of info on the band including live sets, tickets to upcoming shows and how to buy the vinyl version (and merch) of this new release.
INJURY TIME “WE CAN’T BE STOPPED” (Then And Now: Essex Hardcore Records, Released June, 2022)
Injury Time come to us from London and are veterans of bands such as Cold Hard Truth, Last Orders, Nine Bar and other punk bands. Along with their new 7”, “We Can’t Be Stopped”, the band has also released a full length record entitled, “The Vex”, on Rucktion Records. The band plays old school punk rock and they play it fast and loud with conviction. Injury Time take you back to the good old days when bands like GBH, Discharge and Chaos UK assaulted our ears with the British punk invasion. Listening to “We Can’t Be Stopped” takes you back to that era. The band keeps it real with their message, focusing on being your own person and standing up for what you believe in, instead of being part of the flock. Songs like “Backbone” and “Shallow Grave” are two good examples of what I’m talking about. “You’re all the same and not the same as me”, the last line in the opening versus of “Shallow Grave”, is such a simple, yet powerful lyric and will hit home for any punk rocker. Listening to this record brings back good memories of a time when punk was about making a change and standing up for what you believe in. Injury Time bring those good memories back to life with “We Can’t Be Stopped”. If you’re a fan of early 80’s British punk, than these guys are worth checking out. They have definitely scored a fan in me on this record. This Bandcamp link will lead you to the streaming of this EP as well as how to buy a vinyl copy through Then And Now Essex Hardcore.
OUTRIGHT "KEEP YOU WARM"
(Reason And Rage Records, Release Date July 15, 2022)
Who doesn't love getting blindsided by a solid new record (and in this case... band) you previously had no clue about? Formed in 2010 Australia's Outright can be deemed as grinders as everything on their resume that accompanied this 10 song/35 plus minute album points to a band that is determined to get their music out to all corners of the heavy music universe. From forming their own label (Reason And Rage in 2012), to tours in Japan, New Zealand, a 3 month DIY tour of their homeland and tour support for Rise Against, Refused and Propagandhi... Outright have shown that perseverance will eventually pay dividends.
"Truth Teller" is the leadoff batter for "Keep You Warm" and immediately I was hit with a very tight and polished sounding product that gave off a vibe that this band has been around for some time and are very capable in their abilities. This multi-layered opener is just the start to an album that attempts and succeeds at not falling into writing the same song over and over trap as Outright's combination of speed, heaviness and melody prove to be a winning formula. Jelena Goluza's vocal style that arguably runs the gamut between tranquility and screamo can be considered Outright's fifth instrument and with a crystal clear production and an extremely tight performance this 5 piece hits on so many fronts. Track two… "The Hammer" starts out with a different type of feel showcasing some thrashy guitar shredding before things go more in a hardcore direction complete with a nice breakdown midway through the track. "Linchpin" at track three is another standout track along with "Tyrants Vultures" and "Silent Spring" that are tracks 9 and 10 respectively... "Silent Spring" at a 5:33 running time is an epic closer that sees Outright push their own boundaries with an extremely original sounding song that bounces between calmness and rage. To further push the narrative that Outright is hard to slap a label on there is "The Call" which is a 7:31 slow paced track that has stoner rock feels all over it. The song carries the same speed throughout its duration and I honestly can't explain how this became one of my favorite tracks on this album. Outright are straight up unique and have a lot of influences going on here with parts that will make you think this is straight up hardcore, others that show more of a thrash feel while others stray off into more of a rock n roll vibe. Not everything on this long album straight up gunned me down but with such a long running time that can be expected with almost any band. On the strength of "Keep You Warm" Outright should rattle some cages and increase their fan base beyond their home continent as this album will appeal to a wide range of open minded listeners. Sample some for yourself with music videos for "Burn" and "The Hammer" with full streams available on this album’s July 15th release date. For more info including pre-orders check in with this nifty little link tree which will start you on your journey down the Outright rabbit hole.
MALE PATTERNS/UNDER ATTACK SPLIT 7”
(Released June, 2022)
For the record, I’ve never been a fan of either 7”s or split 7”s. I know that there’s nothing more hardcore than putting out a 7”. Don’t ask me why because I can’t tell ‘ya. Maybe it’s the getting up after 5 minutes to flip it… varied production qualities with each band….? Anyway, thanks to modern technology I don’t have to worry about flipping nothing! MALE PATTERNS are a band from one of my favorite cities, Albany! Lots of great music has always come out of Albany and these guys are bringing the speed core with three songs each coming in at just over one minute. Lyrics deal with frats (“Greek Life”), society (“Out Of The Box”) and the third, I have no idea (“Circling”). Lyrics aside… like most hardcore bands the music is what you are here for anyways. Fast, raw and with enough tempo changes to keep it fresh… all three songs hit hard and thankfully don’t sound too much like each other. The gruff vocals take a few seconds to get used to but after that its smove sailing the rest of the way with Male Patterns.
Not to be outdone, Richmond VA’s UNDER ATTACK bring their own brand of intense speed core. “I Suffer” is like their “Stairway To Heaven” clocking in at over 2 minutes but then it’s short and to the point like it was done in the 80’s (see DRI when they were good). Vocals attack right along with the music with “Life Is Killing Me” making it the best 26 seconds of my day. If bands keep putting out great splits like this I might have to change my mind on this whole 7” and split record thang. Nice cover artwork by Sean Pryor too! To find this digitally (or to buy a 7” version of this release) click HERE.
MUTUALLY ASSURED DESTRUCTION "ASCENSION"
(Triple B Records, Released May, 2022)
Mutually Assured Destruction is a band based out of Richmond, Virginia whose members hail from classic RVA hardcore bands such as Break Away, Down To Nothing and Fire & Ice among others, however the band itself has a sound more influenced by old school heavy metal and 90’s alternative metal. I had first become aware of them by checking out their previous two records because their vocalist, Ace Stallings, had previously fronted Break Away, which was one of my favorite straight edge bands from when I was in college. I did enjoy M.A.D. though I felt they wore their influences on their sleeve very heavily, to the point where I thought they sounded like Life Of Agony records. I did have more fun however seeing them live at Saint Vitus last year as they have a great presence and a great stage energy. So I was definitely interested in checking out this new album.
The real head turner on this album is definitely the lead single, “Spirit Liberation,” a song which features a guest vocalist and RVA legend Randy Blythe of Lamb of God fame! This song is easily the best song on the album, with its chanted lead vocals that remind me of Gwar’s group vocal stylings, the thrashy guitars and of course Randy Blythe’s absolutely brutal vocal contribution, this song sees the band building on their roots in a way that feels honest and original. This is definitely a song that you should use to get your metalhead friend to listen to more hardcore and be okay with karate moshing.
There’s other standout tracks like the opener “Seven Crowns,” which cycles between ominous sludgy Crowbar riffs and blistering hardcore fury, it kicks off the record on a foreboding note! The follow-up, “Got A Light?” is definitely the song that would appeal to hardcore kids most on the record, starting as a speedy hardcore punk banger that builds to some crushing mosh riffs, I also like the Gregorian chant sample that leads into this song, it’s short, punchy and leaves maximum impact! “Gates Close At Dark” also provides another hard hitting track with a galloping beat that throws back to the metal days of old, it even ends in a big explosive section of instrumental noise that ends every great old school hard rock jam! Surprisingly, “Haint Blue” was also a highlight for me on the album. It’s very rare for a hardcore act to pull off an acoustic ballad, but Ace’s mournful vocals shine brilliantly on this lonely and minimalistic song. It also adds in a droney guitar solo that makes even the instrument sound sad! The song’s lyrics and instrumentals really capture this feeling of missing someone and feeling like you can’t face some imminent trials without them. It’s absolutely something most bands in the hardcore scene are unable to pull off and M.A.D. has impressed me beyond words with this track!
The later moments of the record I do think leave a little bit to be desired. I love the speed metal inspired riffing on “The Struggler” which feels like a clever punk twist on Maiden or Priest, but the way the vocals are mixed on this track unfortunately sounds a little too close to some of the played out “yarling” sounds of the late 90’s grunge wannabes for my taste. I also love the bluesy hard rock riffing of “Sorcerer’s Ride/The Siege” and “Scroll Of Doom” but I feel like they go on a little longer than necessary. Almost contradictorily, I feel like the record also needed another song or two. There seems to be these intriguing fantasy motifs throughout, the record is clearly telling me a story, but I wish it was a bit more fleshed out and I think another track or two could’ve created some more breathing room for it. Maybe one more grand finale track that starts out really quiet and ballad-esque but builds into something louder and more aggressive. It feels like the kind of thing this record begs for. But that just might be me and my opinion, maybe I listen to too much Converge or something.
Overall, I still have to give this album a solid recommendation. Even if I expressed a few issues with it, I don’t want that to obfuscate the fact that I think this record shows a lot of talent and growth from M.A.D. It has lots of great songs and it’s something the band should be very proud of! I think repurposing some of these old hard rock and speed metal sounds for a hardcore audience is definitely a risk but one that is paying off reasonably well for M.A.D. They also showed remarkable success with ideas hardcore bands are not typically known to attempt, let alone pull off with any kind of grace. I look forward to potentially seeing them live again and hearing these songs in that context, because they sound phenomenal live! They’ve got something going and they should definitely stick with it, because they’re only gonna refine their sound and get better at it! Find this on Bandcamp or Spotify with CD and vinyl versions available through Triple B Records.
GRATITUDE FANZINE ISSUE #4, GUTTER GROOVE FANZINE ISSUE #4 (Released February/March 2022)
"Yo, get my voice, get the clarity" … so begins the Cannibal Ox song “Slow Blues.” Clarity and unique voices are both prioritized in GRATITUDE AND GUTTER GROOVE fanzines, two of my favorite “slow zines” where you can expect a new issue every few years due to the real-life responsibilities of the creators. In a fortuitous confluence, Gratitude #4 dropped within weeks of Gutter Groove #4. Besides the numeric and alliterative synchronicity, there were enough similarities to review them together.
Along with the standard interviews and reviews, Fred and Nico at Gutter Groove always concoct high-quality features. As Paul states in the Reserving Dirtnaps interview, "Fred, if we were all as insightful and intelligent as you, the world would be a better place.” Issue 4 standouts include an extensive Troycore feature, interviews with Reserving Dirtnaps and Heavy Runner, and an LA Hardcore retrospective that recounts the improbable Internal Affairs show in the streets of Paris. Every GG perusal results in a list of bands I either want to check out or revisit. It’s also the only zine where you’re likely to find The LOX and Cranial Abuse mentioned on consecutive pages.
While Gutter Groove is a product of two creative brains, Gratitude is helmed by AJ McGuire and features a prodigious roster of contributors, both text and visual. Along with interviews and ingenious features, there are four comics and at least four types of reviews: records, zines, show reviews by people named Dave, and a section detailing every book about hardcore ever written. The books are listed alphabetically and categorized by handy icons, followed by more in-depth critiques organized by topic. Besides the books, another major component of issue 4 is items remembering Riley from Power Trip, including a priceless Slayer hat comic.
Both zines are cohesive and complete, featuring their own style of humor and recurring themes. It’s a treat that they both exist and that the new issues were released almost simultaneously. Conveniently for international zine readers, both are available through the Gutter Groove distro. Gratitude #4 is 40 pages long and can be ordered in the US or Europe by clicking the blue hyperlinks while Gutter Groove #4 is 36 pages and can be found HERE.
BLACK GUY FAWKES “LIFE, LOVE & THE BOMB”
(Released June, 2022)
Black Guy Fawkes’ new LP “Life, Love, And the Bomb” just came out a few weeks back on all major streaming services. I was lucky enough to stumble upon BGF when I attended Nathan Gray and the Iron Roses at Knitting Factory in Brooklyn and he (Ian) was opening up for them. A folk punk outfit out of Maryland, BGF had me at, "New York City Traffic is the worst! and Samoa's are better than Thin Mints" Although I know that last part could start a war. I kinda agree with him on both! California is up there with the traffic… but BGF isn't wrong. Anyway, back to the record. With a poppy/punk vibe Ian comes back to us with something to cuddle up to and just chill with or even rage in your car, with the windows down, and the volume maxed. Ian's work not only has a powerful innocence about it, but he also sings about things that are current. He touches on many things that many of us go through. Love and loss, good times and the bad, rock bottom to climbing to the top shaking your fist at the top 1%. He also challenges us to find our road to our own happiness by finding what we fear most... life, love, or the bomb? I truly enjoyed this record as it was a nice change from my normal pace. I've always had a soft spot for emo, pop punk, and a musician and his instrument. Find more info on BGF including how to stream/download this new album, Euro tour dates and more by following this link tree.
SPILL YOUR GUTS “THE WRATH IT TAKES”
(Released April, 2022)
Spill Your Guts comes to us from Shanghai, China and consist of four members from around the world; Russia, Scotland and two from Canada. The band has gone through numerous changes in members since forming in 2012. The band has released two live EP’s in the early stages of their career, two EP’s and a full length album. This is their second full release and is being offered on five different colored records via three different labels that hail from Russia (Perm City Punk), the UK (Trepanation Recordings) and China (Graboid Of The Ground Records).
The band states they are a D.I.Y. hardcore band, but I found the opening track, “Die Untied”, fell more into the metal genre. The beginning of the track had me thinking I was listening to a doom metal band, before changing directions a couple more times throughout the track. “Reaper’s Toll” follows up with a death metal feel to it, accompanied by screaming vocals. By the third and fourth songs, the band begins to progress into sounding more like a hardcore band. “Lift The Curse” is the strongest track, with its catchy opening that hooks you and has you singing along to the chorus. “Prey On Death” follows suit, but I found the vocals take away from the music. I’m not a big fan of screeching vocals, especially when I can’t make out a word they are saying. I found this to be an issue throughout the rest of the songs, and the fact the band kept straying back to a doom/death metal sound in different parts of songs. “Hollow Carcass” is a decent effort, but offers the listener nothing they haven’t heard before. The last track, “Let This Body Rot”, like the first track, seemed oddly out of place on this record. I felt I was listening to three different bands in one song.
I was confused listening to this album. The band states they are a D.I.Y. hardcore band, yet come off sounding like something completely different. The vocals were tough to listen to and there wasn’t much musically that grabs your attention and makes you want to listen closer to this band. Click HERE for more info on “The Wrath It Takes”.
POWERHOUSE OBHC “RENEGADES” EP
(Upstate Records/Pitchfork Released June, 2022)
Out of all of the old bands reuniting these days, Oakland’s Powerhouse have come back to deliver an EP that simply crushes! Produced by Lars Frederiksen of Rancid fame and featuring, longtime members Cris, Eddie, Walter, and Abe as well as the addition of graffiti legend Casey Watson “Renegades” picks up where they left off almost 20 years ago with six lethal tracks that combine amazing old school songs done right and from the heart. “Old-school” being a nice mix of speed, breakdowns, melody and lyrics worth listening to. Not too many bands can check off all of those boxes (Sub-Zero comes to mind). “Stand By Me” has great hints of Minor Threat, and on “Back In The Day” I can hear some Sick Of It All influences and “Outlast” just puts it all together with melody, guitar noodling/dive bombs that don’t seem out of place because they are understated and add so much. Every song just delivers on every level and the track “Resistance” contains some of the best lyrics coming in a time when society, sadly including those who pride themselves on being “hardcore’ or “underground” should listen and take heed to. Hardcore done right! Take my money! Find this on Bandcamp or Spotify with a ton of other info (including on how to buy a vinyl version) HERE.
PRAISE, STAND STILL, RULE THEM ALL, TAKE MY CHANCES, SLOW MARROW
@MASSAPEQUA VFW, MASSAPEQUA, NY JUNE 11, 2022
Doors we're listed for 2pm on the flyer for this one which was definitely different considering this had "Saturday night show" feels all over it. In addition to Praise trucking in from the Baltimore area New Yorkers had other entertainment choices on this date with the Belmont Stakes, home Yankee game, Rangers playoff game, and the Governors Ball at Citi Field all being options depending on what floats your boat. Me? I love hardcore music and chose the VFW in Massapequa where the most shouted out man on Long Island (promoter John Scanlon) tacked on another show to the long list of ones he has done over the years.
First up were SLOW MARROW who are a bunch of hardcore punk kids playing alt-rock that was surprisingly good. They didn't hide the fact that they were not a hardcore band but asked if they could get some of that hardcore show energy. Their set was tight and at times made me think I was in some dusty southwest saloon with my horse "parked" out front. Find their music by clicking HERE.
The reborn and revitalized TAKE MY CHANCES followed at around 315pm. For those without a scorecard they are a LIHC band that had been put to bed for quite some time but are back into the swing of things more recently having played a few local shows and are just about to drop new tunes. Expect old-school, fast hardcore with catchy hooks, a hyper singer and plenty of whacky song titles when you are headed out to a TMC show. Their singer Ben Gallup makes good use of a very long microphone chord while "getting his steps in" and is often singing pretty far away from the rest of his band. They did a cover of Civ's "Do Something" which gets style points for being a lesser covered (has anyone else actually covered this?) tune as well as the newer 8 second "Sister Act 3" tune which Gallup makes perfectly clear that he wrote all the lyrics and music to. Take My Chances are a fun band. Find some of their older material HERE.
RULE THEM ALL were the draw of the day having the bulk of the 150 or so attendees up close for the start of their set. I think this was the 3rd time I saw them play and each time they get noticeably tighter and more precision like. Their "Dreams About..." EP made up the bulk of their 20 minute set as it should as it is just that damn good... but they did play one newer one from their recent split EP with Kill Your Idols. In between their songs RTA kept things loose as their singer Jon Gusman introduced the band and when he got to their bassist (who had a wrapped/bandaged wrist) he told the crowd he got the injury while "jacking off backwards using the back of his hand". When he later asked for some water the promoter walked up and threw an entire case of bottled water at them which got the reply "Now I'm gonna be hydrated as shit" from Gusman. Aside from the hijinks if Rule Them All isn't on your radar yet you are selling yourself short on a really good band that should appeal to a wide range of hardcore fans.
STAND STILL PHOTO BY MICHELLE MENNONA
The parade of locals continued with STAND STILL, a band who has made a ton of noise on Long Island over the last year and who have also scratched the surface on a national level based off the strength of their "A Practice In Patience" EP which came out last June. Stand Still are ramping up for their next step opening with a new track titled "With All My Love". Their singer mentioned new music coming out on Daze and Triple B so be on your toes for upcoming announcements. Stand Still definitely had a home court advantage here with a bunch of the people in the audience packed up front and signing along to their lyrics as the microphone made the rounds with various people becoming the lead singer for Stand Still albeit for just a few short moments. If you have been into hardcore punk for some time chances are you have been to a DIY hardcore show at a VFW more than a few times and I am pretty sure you can relate to the good time vibes that were here on this day.
PRAISE PHOTO BY: MATT VIEL
PRAISE were the lone out of towners on this bill and quite honestly I wish that most of the people who moved up close for both Rule Them All and Stand Still would have stuck around to see their set. Praise have been around since 2009 and have a new album out on Revelation titled "All In A Dream". Good news was that those who stayed around till the end gave them a really good reception as there were multiple people singing along for most of their set. Praise play very melodic hardcore that can at times can border into alt-rock territory and I was really interested to see how the songs off of their new album would translate live. Daniel Fang from Turnstile is also Praise's drummer but he did not make this trip due to personal reasons and singer Andy Norton had some really cool pants that I wish I had the guts to wear out in public. Overall Praise translated the cool laid back feelings of "All In A Dream" perfectly into a live situation and were everything I had hoped for going into this show.
CHANGE, PERFECT WORLD, BERTHOLD CITY, DEATH SPIRAL @ GOLD SOUNDS, BROOKLYN, NY MAY 21, 2022
Up until this show Brooklyn's Gold Sounds was always a spot that I would see photos from and think I was missing out on as I had never been there and from some of the photos I had seen from previous shows (Method Of Doubt taken by Carl Gunhouse in particular) I was a little envious to check this hole in the wall type venue off the bucket list. So I went into this one pretty sure I was going to have a good time mostly because of the fresh lineup made up entirely of bands I had never seen before (including two who traveled thousands of miles to be here). Overall the place is grimey has a good sound system, decent stage, at times played 80’s music in between sets and neighborhood locals seemed to flock to the front area to order from their kitchen. Gold Sounds is pretty laid back and cool.
Opening band LOCKED INSIDE had to cancel last minute due to health issues and were not replaced on the bill making Long Island/NYC's DEATH SPIRAL the opener. If I had to categorize this show I would call it a "ain't nobody here but still having a great time" type of show. Including the bands my guess would be there were about 30 to 40 people in attendance who all seemed to be there from the opener to headliners Change. Death Spiral formed less than a year ago and have scene vets from Long Island and NYC amongst their ranks including Travis from This Is Hell on vocals. When Death Spiral went on they mentioned this was only their second show but it sure didn't feel like a second show as they really had their shit together. What was more surprising was the fact that they already have an EP out titled "Tyranny Of Tradition" on Safe Inside Records. I was not surprised that they played a short set for about 20 minutes which made me want to investigate that EP I just mentioned and I was not disappointed. Look for more on Death Spiral in an upcoming Fresh Blood Long Island Hardcore article coming out in the near future here on In Effect.
DEATH SPIRAL @ GOLD SOUNDS, BROOKLYN, NY. PHOTO BY: MICHELLE MENNONA
Up next was BERTHOLD CITY from California. They (along with Change) were on a 4 date East Coast run that saw them play in Asbury Park, NJ, Philly, Brooklyn and Middletown, CT over the May 19th-22nd weekend. They have a brand new album out titled "When Words Are Not Enough" on WAR Records. They started their set by paying their respects to three members of Warzone who have passed on in Raybeez, Vinnie Value and Todd Youth before busting into the opening 30 seconds of "Will You Ever Come Back" from Warzone's 7” that turns 35 this year. From there BC played the majority (and quite possibly all) of the songs off their new one and were tight and super energetic the whole way. Bands who give everything they got even when there are not many people at a show deserve a ton of respect and that's exactly what happened here with each member simply going off for each and every song including their singer who sang the entire set from the dancefloor. I was already all in on their new album before this show and have had many of their new ones buried in my head since seeing this set as they really made a great first impression.
BERTHOLD CITY @ GOLD SOUNDS, BROOKLYN, NY. PHOTOS BY: MICHELLE MENNONA
Next up was PERFECT WORLD, a band we first became familiar with from their 2018 demo which led us to do a Fresh Blood interview with them as well. Their singer Chad came out on the stage frustrated and angry about the current state of the world and went on to tell us that on April 12th he was one of the people responding to 10 people being shot in a NYC subway less than 8 miles from the very stage he was standing on. When not singing in Perfect World Chad is a NYC firefighter and was traveling on the train to an appointment when he encountered the life threatening situation that fortunately ended up having zero fatalities. Like the other acts on this night Perfect World played a clean set for about 20-25 mins showing off their 90's era take on NYHC. Check out their 2020 "War Culture" album to hear what they are all about and then drop them a message on their very own hotline at 833-SICK-NYC!
Before CHANGE started their set their singer Aram told us to enjoy the next 20 to 30 minutes that they would be playing... doing whatever it is that made us happy and then went on to list some of the usual things people would do to enjoy live music but he also added "sitting in the back eating a sandwich" to his list which was kind of a funny way to start things off. Change have members from the Pacific Northwest as well as California and they put out an incredible record called "Closer Still" back in 2020. What makes Change a great band in my eyes is the fact that they do not reinvent the youth crew style of hardcore but they revitalize it with "Reason" and "Beyond" being two great examples of the energy they bring. Aram is obviously passionate about hardcore music, his band and his lyrics and gave a lot of insight to all of them in between songs with some of his between song banter easily going in the 90 second to 2 minute range... something you rarely see from a hardcore band these days. Change's set ran close to 30 minutes with some of the Berthold City members keeping this show going by yelling at Change to keep playing more after they had already finished what they said would be their last song. It's also worth mentioning that the members of Change went bananas during their entire set, playing as if it were a packed out room and quite honestly I don't think they know any other way. The passion was obviously there from all the bands on this night and Change played their part in making what could have been an average show into something quite memorable.
CHANGE @ GOLD SOUNDS, BROOKLYN, NY. PHOTOS BY: MICHELLE MENNONA
DISCOURAGE “DISASTER FATIGUE”
(Patient Zero Records, Released May, 2022)
Discourage, a band out of Oakland California have a new LP “Disaster Fatigue” out now on Patient Zero Records. After recently having it drop into my inbox I feel like it is 1997 all over again! Honestly, I think this is yet another band that we really need to be paying attention to. California has been putting out some killer bands and this band has just made it to my list. You’ve got Eric Pocock (vocals), Richard Angeles (guitar), Alex Lord (bass), and Matt Tyler (drums) that make up this powerhouse of a band. This new LP Is a great mix of today's hardcore and the more classic youth crew that started to fade out in the early 2000's here on the East Coast. It's like they basically picked up where we left off, they took it, and ran with it. It's a marathon of riffs and killer breakdowns that have you wanting to start two steppin’, picking up change, and if you've ever been to The Che’ Cafe in San Diego, I'll add in rafter hangs too. I hear a lot of influence from bands like early Floorpunch, Ensign, Carry on, and Internal Affairs to name a few. And at one point in the middle of the record we get to this song “Tread” and it flips the script and I get total Stretch Armstrong vibes! This record is another great banger that shouldn’t be skipped out on and this should be in your collection along with your playlist. Do not skip on this band! Stream this on Bandcamp or Spotify with CD and 12” vinyl copies available through Patient Zero Records.
ONE STEP CLOSER, GEL, BROKEN VOW, SPACED, ENNUI, @MASSAPEQUA VFW, MASSAPEQUA, NY MAY 20, 2022
A (mostly) out of town new school showcase brought to us by the fine folks over at LIHC SHOWS. The lone local band were 5 piece ENNUI who I missed. They are fresh outta the box new having played their first show back in December. You can check out their "Two Songs" which came out on May 4th by going HERE.
Up second were Buffalo's SPACED who were straight up a ball of energy led by Lexi on the mic but credit has to be given all around as the whole band brought a fire that just lit up the room and sets things off for their 2 step mosh inducing style. Their latest is "Two New Joints" which came out back in November on cassette by our friends over at New Morality Zine. The second press of said cassette currently has only 4 remaining so if you are a tape collector type the time to take action is now.
SPACED @ MASSAPEQUA VFW MAY 20, 2022. PHOTO BY: STEVE LEVY
BROKEN VOW who have members from various Northeast states were up next. They are also a New Morality Zine band having put out the 4 track "Sane Minds End" EP back in December. Broken Vow's style is not all blazing fast and has a ton of groove. The killer riff on "Illusion" is a prime example of the groove and when it hit around the 45 second mark of the track it really got the crowd moving.
BROKEN VOW @ MASSAPEQUA VFW MAY 20, 2022. PHOTO BY: STEVE LEVY
New Jersey's GEL followed. Cool to see female fronted hardcore in the house again on this night as Sami orchestrated the mayhem for her band’s set which got the best response of the night. Gel's style is straight forward and raw with a ton of bounce to it which I am usually a sucker for and that was definitely the case here. This show had such a fast pace to it with Spaced, Broken Vow as well as Gel doing 15 minute sets each. The setup for each band was pretty fast as well as I ended up watching 4 sets in just about 2 hours time. Find Gel's music by going HERE.
GEL @ MASSAPEQUA VFW MAY 20, 2022. PHOTO BY: MARISSA CACIOPPO
Headlining this night was ONE STEP CLOSER from Wilkes Barre, PA. They have really been putting themselves out there since the release of their "This Place You Know" album that came out last September. They just got done doing a 6 week US tour with Drug Church in April and this show was night two of a little Northeast run that also had stops in Massachusetts, New Jersey as well as their home town. OSC’s new album is amazing but at the same time is not straight up traditional mosh heavy ‘core and I was really interested to see how these songs would translate to a live setting. Their set did not disappoint as they went heavy on the new album playing most of their new songs in a short and sweet 25 minute romp. With no stage it was cool to see frontman Ryan Savitski sing from on top of an amp for a bit while bassist Brian Talipan is deserving of some kind of award for playing the entire set with his hooded sweatshirt’s hood pulled over his head in a room that had to be in the 80 degree plus range. All around this was a great live experience from a band that is bringing some different types of vibes to the hardcore scene and are hopefully destined for bigger and better things as they grow as musicians and performers. If you have not checked out One Step Closer as of yet what the hell are you waiting for? Overall this was a really cool "new-school" flavor show with the majority of the bands having members in their teens/early 20's with all delivering a quality product showing that the future of hardcore music is in good hands. Click those blue hyperlinks to find out more about each band!
ONE STEP CLOSER @ MASSAPEQUA VFW MAY 20, 2022. PHOTO BY: STEVE LEVY
MADBALL, MURPHY’S LAW, CRO-MAGS JM, BURN, WISDOM IN CHAINS, THE CAPTURERS
TOMPKINS SQUARE PARK, NYC APRIL 23, 2022. ALL WORDS & PHOTOS BY STEVEN J. MESSINA
A year ago the NYHC community gathered at Tompkins Square Park in support of one another, and defiance of the pandemic. Thousands of friends and family came out to reclaim the music that had been stolen from us. It was an epic, unforgettable day in not only hardcore, but live concert history altogether.
Cut to a year later. Cousin Joe and Black N’ Blue Productions, having weathered the storm that followed 2021, and emerged victorious, decided the best way to celebrate was to do it all over again. With the very bands that put their necks on the line twelve months earlier. Madball, Murphy’s Law, Wisdom In Chains & The Capturers would return. This time joined by Burn & Cro-Mags “JM” (John Joseph performed previously with Bloodclot). The stage was set.
THE CAPTURERS kicked things off once again with their infectious reggae flavored grooves. Amazing vocals and energy immediately set a tone of celebration.
Next up came the mighty WISDOM IN CHAINS from PA. Easily, one of the fiercest bands alive. After last year’s searing performance, I was eager to see them tear it up again. And they did not disappoint. I tip my hat to any bands brave enough to follow them.
WISDOM IN CHAINS
John Joseph fearlessly took the stage with CRO-MAGS “JM” as he always does. Armed with boundless energy and a collection of songs that are a part of the very DNA of New York Hardcore. Joined by Craig Ahead, AJ Novello and Darren Morgenthaler, they gave the hungry crowd exactly what they wanted.
Three bands into proving that NYHC lightning could indeed strike twice, it was time for a band that hadn’t played the previous park show. That band was BURN, and they delivered a crushing set. Moving through the massive crowd an all-star cast of fans, friends and hardcore heroes, all I could see was smiles. My own nearly took up my whole head when I ran into legendary Minor Threat/Bad Religion guitarist Brian Baker. A man whose band Dag Nasty was the first hardcore show I ever saw way back when.
If ever one band epitomized the definition of celebration, it was, and will always be MURPHY'S LAW. Jimmy G. stepped up, raised his bottle and made a toast, in full hippie wig mode. Jaeger was sipped and a familiar scent filled the air. It was the scent of victory. I don’t have to tell you how great their set was. I’m pretty sure you already know.
And finally, MADBALL took the stage. Closing out an amazing day two years in a row. This time Brenden from Sheer Terror stepped in for the absent Hoya on bass and as always, they delivered a crushing set of pure NYHC. As a fan, musician and photographer, I was again inspired and honored to be standing amongst such incredible people in our beloved park. Surrounded by friends, fans and heroes, we were all blessed with yet another unforgettable day.