RED DONS, NIGHT BIRDS, LIVIDS, FOSTER CARE @ Cake Shop, NYC July 25th 2013
Having just the week before seen Night Birds play a clearly hardcore bill, it was fascinating to see them on a show that was a little bit more on the rock side of their early 80’s hardcore stylings. The lineup was almost a case study on the hardcore genre. Opening up the show was Foster Care, who played a fast, straightforward hardcore music that was a little bit more D.O.A. than Negative Approach but all in all a short enjoyable set that checked in at less than 15min. After a little bit of a wait, Livids went on and were clearly the most rocking band of the bill, and by rock I mean either proto-punk New York Dolls or post-punk Nation Of Ulysses, but a lot more good-natured and goofy than either of the formentioned bands. The Livids even did a Judy Garland cover, and the singer, who seemed to be in perpetual motion, managed to turn up the collar of my shirt, pull my beard and forcibly grind his ass into my crotch during the set. It all seemed to be in good fun, and besides my mild embarrassed, it was a good time. If you could combine Foster Care and the Livids into one band, you’d get Night Birds, who seemed to come off as the most hardcore of all the bands on the bill and certainly got the most hardcore reaction with Andy from Forward To Death clearing out the front of the stage. Again, if you are not listening to Night Birds, then you are clearly listening to way too much metal and need to stop.
They are excellent and despite the more rocking bill, they still brought it and were hard and fast, with Brian, their singer, transforming from the nice posi singer of The Survivors into a snarling menace with a propensity to treat the mic like an extension of his manhood. Their set was cut short with the power going out and some technical difficulties, but it was still rad. Really, this is good hardcore, being played by a band that hasn’t broken up and reformed yet, and it is a good chance aren’t older than you. It’s what you should be listening to. Stop being old. Red Dons headlined and weren’t bad. They were very tight, lots of guitars definitely in keeping with classic post-punk. Halfway through their set it occurred to me that Gang Of Four and U2 have more in common than you’d necessarily think.
TEXAS IS THE REASON @ Maxwell’s, Hoboken, NJ. July 22nd 2013
Final week of shows at Maxwell’s, and the last US show for Texas Is The Reason, a pretty momentous night. Because man, do I love Texas Is The Reason. When I was a kid, I wrote a long fan letter to Norm of Texas Is The Reason, because I was touched by an interview he did of Rob Fish of Resurrection in his fanzine, which focused on Rob’s mother dying. My mother had passed the year before, and the interview meant a lot to me. Norm’s double-sided, handwritten reply meant even more. So I have a huge soft spot for Norm, as I do for Texas Is The Reason’s drummer Chris Daly who, I am just gonna say it, is the best hardcore drummer ever. Sorry, Mackie, and sorry, Sammy Siegler, but not only did Daly produce some of the most insane and heavy drumming for 108 and Resurrection, he could also slow down and provide an almost moshable backbone for Texas Is The Reason and Jets To Brazil. Just gonna throw down, Chris Daly, best hardcore drummer. All that aside, the Texas Is The Reason 7” is killer. I loved it when it came out, played it religiously, but when the LP came out and they broke up soon after, I never really got around to listening to the LP all that much. Then they got back together, and in their not-being-a-band, they went from an opener/maybe headlining Brownies, to headlining multiple nights at Irving Plaza. And like Lifetime, who had a similar arch, it was weird. They weren’t bad, they were even better than they had been before they broke up, but with that quality came the loss of a little bit of edge. It was no longer Norm of Shelter and being in a borderline religion. It was now Norm from the mellow rock of New End Originals, and they no longer felt like they were gonna break up mid-song and for sure their professionalism seemed to rob some of the underlining hardcore vibe that was the foundation of many of their best songs. That and seeing them play Coney Island High, with Jimmy Gestapo DJ-ing Misfits songs as the set up, was certainly a huge change in environments to Irving Plaza.
So I was so-so on going to their secret last show at Maxwell’s, but I had spent lots of nights there: Murphy’s Law the night Raybeez passed away, with big scary dudes in tears; Mudhoney covering Rise Above with Ira from Yo La Tango singing along; Rival Schools the night Obama was first elected, watching his acceptance speech in the front room, or just simply killing time at the bar. So I wanted to go to a show before Maxwell’s closed. And man, I am glad I did. Texas Is The Reason was killer, and I swear, if you listen closely, for a soft ass emo band they have some very quiet but choice stop and go mosh parts. Hell, Norm was doing youth crew jumps, Garret seemed happy and affable, maybe they played better than the Irving Plaza shows or maybe it was just being in a small room again or some combination of both, but I found myself rocking out with my backpack on. It was so good I gave up my tix for Lee Ranaldo the night before Maxwell’s closed, because this is how I would like to remember Maxwell’s, and I am more than happy for this to be the last time I see Texas Is The Reason. That being said, I am still waiting for a Shift reunion.
FUCKED UP, TITLE FIGHT, HOPALONG @ House Of Vans, Brooklyn, NY. June 27th 2013
Hopalong are better than Lemuria but still only ok. During slow points in their set, they sounded like Necko Case but without any of her edge. At times, the singing raised to a pace and intensity that approached screaming, which inspired some finger pointing, and the rhythm section approached some heaviness, but for the most part they felt like a soft Necko Case wallowing in some unchallenging 90's indie rock.
The kids seem to love the Title Fight (who were clearly more of a draw than Fucked UP). The bassist was rocking a Give shirt, so I have to give them that, but even so I don't get it. With the shaggy hair and the crowd being packed in but only singing along to the faster songs that were very much outnumbered by slower songs, I am guessing they’re in their artsy phase. And it’s as awkward as their long hair. They sound like a band that took Saves The Day seriously and recently bought some Mineral records resulting in overly earnest, meandering and mellow noise mixed with Warp Tour pop punk.
Fucked Up on the other hand remains on top of their game. This is a band that has yet to slow down. In fact, I think Damien is getting even tighter on vocals or maybe there was a huge barricade to keep him from wandering through the crowd as much as usual. Really nothing bad to say, they seem tight, a little faster and harder than last time and are still setting the bar for how far you can push hardcore as a genre without becoming Title Fight. Damien also shared that despite his best efforts he was not able to befriend the straight edge superstar and former WWE Heavyweight Champion CM Punk when he interviewed him for Canadian TV, which is a bummer because I love both Fucked Up and the best in the world CM Punk.
OVERTHROWN “UNBROKEN” EP (Insurgence Records, Released July 2013)
#Breaking. There are hardcore bands in countries besides the USA, Germany and the UK. I know this is big news but deal with it. Singapore's Overthrown follow up their 2012 release “As It Is” with 6 new tracks going under the title of “Unbroken”. Much like their last effort the boys go about their business delivering straight up hardcore a-la Madball, Sick Of It All and Terror and they deliver it well. Things start off with a nice minute and a half intro which has a nice hip hop like bouncy beat to it followed by “No End In Sight” which has an opening bass line reminiscent of the Cro Mags track ”World Peace” which raised an eyebrow but in no way other than that am I comparing them to the Cro-Mags. A video for “No End In Sight” came out just ahead of this EP and I have to admit the visuals from the video along with the music did their job of getting me interested in what Overthrown is up to. Reinventing what hardcore sounds like is not on their agenda but at the same time Overthrown brings enough to the table to get you interested in the 13 or so minutes this EP runs. This band was just featured on this site with a lengthy interview with their guitarist Jai who is right in the middle of things when it comes to promoting hardcore music in Southeast Asia. The band and this EP hold their own with bands from any corner of the globe and these 6 songs are worth a check.
BROLOAF “BUSINESS IN THE FRONT, PARTY IN THE BACK” EP (Stomping Ground Records, Released April, 2013)
After being sent a link for the Bandcamp for BroLoaf, seeing that one of their songs is “Skyping with Your Mom” and that their stated interests on their Facebook page are “drugs, booze and nudity,” I wasn’t sure what to think. I suppose that fits the “Bro” part of their band name. I try to go into every review with an open mind, though. BroLoaf is a punk band from Scottsdale, Arizona, on Stomping Ground Records. The 6-song EP, “Business in the Front, Party in the Back,” starts off with a sound clip which transitions into a fast, thrashy song, “Executive Decision.” It is a reaction to the sound clip of someone getting fired by their boss. The lyrics discuss the banality of working a regular 9-5 job and corrupt companies their CEOs, how punk-esque. Another sound clip, titled “Interview,” follows “Executive Decision” to carry on the theme of being anti-corporate America. “My Name is...” follows the clip. It is a more upbeat, street punk song making fun of college fraternities and their members. It’s something for fans of NOFX, Rancid and Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards. The second to last song, “Skyping with Your Mom,” is about being attracted to your girlfriend’s mom. While the song lyrics made me roll my eyes and giggle to myself, it’s so darn catchy that you can’t help but enjoy it. It brought me back to the early 2000s with songs such as Fountains of Wayne’s “Stacy’s Mom” and anything off of Blink 182’s “Enema of the State” (for its lyrical content, not so much the style of music). The last song on “Business in the Front, Party in the Back” brings in another thrash song with “Rave Riot.” The lyrics are about rave parties with their drugs, obnoxious clothes and bad music and the experience of being on acid or LSD. I suppose all in all, this EP is about living life in an unconventional way. If you want an album to bring you back to 90s/early 2000s punk and radio punk (for lack of better terms), this is a good album for you.
TURNSTILE “STEP 2 RHYTHM” EP (Reaper Records, Release Date February 7, 2013)
“I’m not your average, I’m not your ordinary.” Words sung by Turnstile vocalist Brendan Yates on their first EP that are still in place when referring to the band’s second coming “Step 2 Rhythm”. Cause it’s far above average and definitely not ordinary. If one had to put Turnstile into a specific category I guess they would end up in the New York Hard Core style, the moshy one with hard breakdowns but there’s a whole lot more going on with this band. While bands like Madball and Leeway are some obvious influences, Turnstile has made a trademark sound of their own that in its foundation is all about The Ultimate Groove. This band just flows, I’m sure the band members must have a strong love for hip-hop also. At least the singer, as his vocal patterns definitely take this approach. To top it off there are some melodic choruses that will not leave your mind until days after spinning this record. Brendan also plays drums for Trapped Under Ice, another one of my current favorites, but boy am I happy they are on a hiatus right now, so that Turnstile could bust out this new EP and come to full blossom. Besides 5 killer new songs there is a very uplifting, Killing Time like intro, an instrumental intermezzo and a funky outro, which makes for great variation, but also makes it just a little less coherent than the former 7”. Still, this is one hot piece of a platter that will make it to many year end lists.
-Daan Hashtag Hardcore
PUIG DESTROYER- s/t 7” (Released July 2013)
Yasiel Puig (pronounced pweeg) is a rookie baseball phenom who plays for the Los Angeles Dodgers… Puig Destroyer is a brutal grindcore/powerviolence/whatever you call it band that combines two seemingly opposite worlds. On a normal day this would not be my thing but damn they reeled me in with the baseball angle. The combo of the over the top insane riffs and gut wrenching vocals combined with lyrics like…” don't need no PEDs, don't need no Adderall, I got the strength of my legs, and a violent approach, destroyer of baseballs” is goofy/funny….but works for the 6 minutes that this EP runs. Every one of the tracks is baseball/Puig related including “One Man Five Tools”, “Basebrawl”, and “Stop Fucking Bunting”. Could I take let’s say a 30 minute/30 song full length of this? Probably not… but for only 6 minutes I am going in there guns blazing and gonna tear shit up until I run out of bullets. On a few occasions while listening to this I have thought about how awesome Puig Destroyer would have sounded at CBGB’s with the superior sound system that they had. Everyone blows a gasket at some point during their day or week and I couldn’t think of a better way of letting off some steam from that asshole boss, neighbor, significant other or local douche bag than blasting this on like 12 and just letting loose. FREE on Bandcamp with pre-orders (ships September) available now via The Ghost Is Clear Records.
# HARDCORE ZINE (Issue #2, Released Summer 2013)
The return of # (Hashtag) Hardcore (aka Poundsign Hardcore for some) is upon us and Daan picks up right where he left off last time while adding some more opinionated Europeans to the mix. What I loved about issue #1 was that if a record sucked in the eyes of the reviewer they were gonna say it without any sugar on top and the same holds true in issue #2. There are over 60 reviews in all and hurt feelings may or may not be dished out along the way. Citizens Patrol from the Netherlands, Mike Dijan of many a NYHC band, Darkside NYC, Kickback, and a Bad Brains interview from 1982 via Ripper Zine #7 are your interview highlights in issue 2 along with a hilarious stage banter piece from a Merauder show at CBGB’s in 1992. Daan took his old VHS tape and transcribed what Minus (Merauder’s singer at the time) said in between each song and when written down and printed into this issue it makes for a hilarious read. Hashtag’s layout is total old-school cut and paste style with bits of humor sprinkled in for good measure. The 60 pages here crams in tons of opinions and editorials along the way and takes some time to complete. Found myself going back and scavenging through sections I passed over on my first attempts a few times. May be a hard find for those in the states but worth seeking out nonetheless. Soon to be available through Grave Mistake Records.
OFIGHT8 “NO MORE COMPASSION” EP
(Released May 20, 2013)
The Netherlands never fail to satisfy.... at least when it comes to pumping out excellent hardcore bands. They could definitely put more vowels in their words cause that shit is a bit silly.... but I digress.....Just about every band from that area that I've listened to totally shreds and hailing from Leeuwarden, 0FIGHT8 doesn’t break the pattern. Reminiscent of early Helmet, Motorhead, and later Exploited records, these dudes fucking rip. Chris Wynne sent me this bands 6 song album “No More Compassion” about a week and a half ago and I gotta say this band has some seriously solid tunes. I've been blasting this shit in my work truck ever since I got it. Crazy pissed off vocal styles really compliment the lyrics. This dude just sounds fed up with the state of things. The bass guitar is super thick and dirty sounding, with ridiculously fat guitars belting out some pretty serious riffage. One of the songs had a breakdown at the end that reminded me of the Zelda theme song.... nuff said. Give these dudes a spin. You won’t regret it.
YOUTH OF TODAY, OVERTHROWN, PILEDRIVER, MONUMENT X @ BOUND BY HONOR FEST, SINGAPORE JULY 8, 2013
The 8th of July 2013 was a memorable day for many of us in the Lion City Hardcore scene for after years of failed attempts the legendary NYHC band Youth Of Today finally was playing our shores! What made this show even more interesting was there were bands from around the region playing at our show...Piledriver from the Phillipines and Monument X from Thailand. I couldn't get there on time so I had to miss some of the opening bands (my bad). When i got into the venue, Monument X was playing and they wasted no time playing their charged up youth crew style straight edge hardcore. They had quite a few friends tagging along with them so it was fun to watch the Thai kids get down with the local kids in the pit. Next up was Overthrown. These guys are my friends and they've been together for a while now. They already have a couple of releases and are in the process of putting out their latest release anytime now, followed by a 2 week European tour so be sure to catch them if they're playing anywhere near you. Overthrown have been playing quite a lot of shows so it's no surprise that they sound tight. They ran through a few tracks from their old releases as well as some from their upcoming record...As a part of their usual sets, they always throw in a few covers to spice things up a little and this time they played "Effect Of The Age" by Worlds Collide and called up ex-LCHC band Voiceout/Recover singer Izhar on stage to sing along...They also covered "Too Deep Till Now" by Chain Of Strength and invited me to come up on stage to sing with them. It was definitely fun being on stage with my friends!Finally Youth Of Today took the stage. Having seen them in recent years in the US, I knew exactly what to expect. The band has been playing with the lineup of Ray, Porcell, Ken Olden and Vinny for a while now so they definitely sound on point.
YOT opened their set with "Make A Change" followed by "Flame Still Burns". The crowd went nuts...Even the older dudes like myself who had come from the early 90's scene were in full effect. After all… this is the band a lot of us grew up listening to in our teens and they were instrumental in changing alot of peoples' lives in a positive way so there was no way anyone was going stand around...Ray Cappo definitely has a lot of charisma onstage and there's no denying that he's one of the best frontmen in hardcore. Lots of positive energy and there was no lack of stagedives, singalongs and pileups. Everyone in the band back to the crowd seemed to have a lot of fun. They played selected songs from all their releases. Things got a little weak in the middle when Ken had some technical problems with his bass so Ray went to tell some old NYHC stories which was definitely rad. After some delays ,the band was back to full on adrenaline pumping, finger pointing hardcore they're known for...The best part of the night was when they ended the last 3 songs with "Break Down The Walls" and 2 covers of 7 Seconds and Minor Threat back to back! The place just exploded and you could barely see the band on stage due to everyone getting up there to sing along. It was definitely fun to watch them and hang out with them again. They still have what it takes as a band and I'm only hoping they would record some new songs in the near future.
ALPHA & OMEGA “NO REST, NO PEACE (Bridge 9 Records, Release Date July 23, 2013
I decided not to bother with a gushing intro telling you how good this band is. Instead, I am starting this review in the same way this ten-track offering begins - diving straight into the deep end with no thought for anyone else. Produced and recorded by Chad Gilbert and Kyle Black respectively, “NRNP” opens in crushing fashion. The riff to “Sink” bludgeons your ears - think of a less dragged out version of the opening bars to “Hell Awaits” and you'll not be far off. Vocalist Luis Hernandez - blessed with a distinctive voice - a rare gift in hardcore - barks: "hiding behind my own eyes, sinking faster in my own mind" as the intensity ramps up a notch. The title track is next and the first 90 seconds or so would fit seamlessly on “Age of Quarrel” - speed, brutality and lyrical hooks : "no rest, no peace, no more room for fools." Hernandez shows he's not just a one-dimensional, snarling frontman when he sings the chorus on “Burning Rope”, the first of several melodic moments weaved neatly into the album. “Underworld” steams along dangerously like a derailed freight train before the bass-led intro of “Counterfeit” steps aside for waves of serrated riffs that are fast becoming part of Alpha & Omega's armory. They also throw in a guitar solo and a dirty riff usually trademarked by the likes of Euro heavyweights Heaven Shall Burn and Born From Pain. The mid-tempo, mid-album “Downfall” allows for an intake of breath before the Marauder-esque “Chains of Hate” will have you stalking your personal pit space like a demented, disenchanted worker who has just brought down Wall Street with a reckless trade. And so to the album's stand-out highlight. If Alpha & Omega are to have a “hit” then “Questions & Devils” is surely it. “Lost control in the dark corners of my mind” pre-warns Hernandez before he opens up his lungs for a chorus so infectious you'll be humming it for months. “It takes everything in me, it takes everything I have not to turn into the beast that's inside" is imprinted on your frontal lobe before a top-string ending reminiscent of early Throwdown. “Lost My Way” and “Choking Tongue” close in style a record which is the result of their two previous releases, 2010's “Soul Swallower” and their debut “Devil's Bed” EP having a bare-knuckle fight. - brutal, uncompromising and gaining new respect from an ever-growing fan-base.
GET IT IN THE SET: “Sink”, “No Rest, No Peace”, “Chains of Life”, “Questions and Devils”, “Lost My Way”.
VEXED DEMO 2013 (Released June 13, 2013)
The current NYHC and punk underbelly is sprouting up new bands like a chia pet on steroids and next up to the mic is Vexed out of Queens, NY. You may or may not recognize Vexed singer Joe Ramos who pulls guitar duties over at No Dice who also fall into that budding bunch of new bands on their way up the ladder. Things here kick off with a nice instrumental intro which runs a little over a minute and makes me think back to when it seemed like every band had some kind of cool intro. “Twenty Six” is the next track and we get introduced to Mr Ramos’ vocal style along with an almost stop and go rhythm within the song and although a little unorthodox shows that Vexed is not here merely to photocopy those that came before them. “Let Go” follows and runs about 4 minutes in length which for this genre is almost like the equivalent of Iron Maiden’s “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner” which ran something like 14 minutes. Again Vexed shows the ability to change things up somewhat with their choppy more mid 90’s hardcore style minus the tough guy vocals. The 3 tracks that follow flow well with the previous tracks and ends with the catchy chorused “Knights”. Like a demo should be there are some things that are still rough around the edges but all in all Vexed has thrown their hat into the ring well and showed what they are here to deliver. It may not be the straight up or old school style some crave but diversity makes the world (and scene) go round and round. Time will tell if Vexed makes a splash or sputters out and I hope for the splash because with some fine tuning and time under their belts these songs would really make for a great live setting.
CHEECH “BEAST FROM THE EAST” (WTF Records, Released May 1, 2013)
Cheech don't rush. That's for certain. Despite being just three years shy of their 20th anniversary the Boston quintet have only cut four full length albums including this, their first since 2008's “Ante Up”. However, the wait has just about been worth it for these Jägermeister-swilling heavyweights have released arguably their best work to date. “Everyone Dies” centers around a memorable guitar hook that brings to mind Suicidal Tendencies, but only if Mike Muir had donned a leather jacket and bullet belt instead of skate wear and that bandana. It's probably up there as the catchiest riff since Backtrack's face-breaking “Darker Half”. There are shades of Iron Maiden-esque guitar harmonies on “The Charles Is In Charge” before the frenzied sub-two minute ditty “Living Proof” stops dead on your stereo whilst you are mid-mosh in your bedroom. It always warms my heart when I come across a band who don't take themselves too seriously, those who are not interested in projecting a tough guy image to match the ferocity of their music. Cheech have their tongues firmly in cheeks and after just one spin of this record I instantly picked up on that “here for a good time, not a long time” vibe. The effects of getting high on the most messed-up weed is documented in sarcastic tone on “Headbanger Boogie” which, say the band, is "not for the rookie". You can't help but smile. “Working Stiff” is about sticking it to the man, namely the one who employs you and treats you like something they've just stepped in. "Where's my check? Fuck you, I fucking quit" barks singer Brad Caney. Pay the man already... Cheech pack everything into the album-closing title track - gang vocals, riffs Down's Pepper Keenan wish he'd written and a ground-and-pound ending that will leave you hungry for more. For fans of Fury of Five, Strength For A Reason, 100 Demons, Suicidal Tendencies and Agnostic front, “Beast...” is essential listening.
LIVING LASER/GOD MODE SPLIT 7” (Glacial Records & FDH Records, Released June 11, 2013 (digital) and July 30, 2013 (Vinyl)
You know a band is onto a winner when they turn your frown upside down within a split second of hearing them. That's exactly what happened when the shades of Cro-Mags intro at the start of Living Laser's latest offering gave way to “Life Is Fragile”. My facial expression went from Dredd gurn (accompanied by a relentless headbang) to a wide-eyed smile as this quartet burn the speakers for 12 seconds before Jason Anthony's voice comes to the fore. Soulful, searing and frantic, the livewire frontman's delivery is breathless as the Bad Brains comparisons become obvious. Not that will ever be a hindrance. “Hard As Hell” continues in the same vein, possessing enough fast bits for the old-skool lot, enough melody for those who still consider Green Day to be punk and a breakdown to satisfy the most hardened floorpunchers. I've yet to see LL live yet, largely because they are still in their infancy, but the YouTube videos of them suggest this is a band that has the sort of boundless energy and watchable stage presence the likes of which hasn't been seen - not by me anyway - since the Koller brothers started electrifying venues with creepy crawlies way back in the day. Their NYHC contemporaries God Mode are also in good form with their three tracks here. Coming across like The Blood Brothers piggybacking Backtrack, GM stick to the formula of pedal to the metal before easing off the gas for a slamming ending, however, they flip this on its head for the last and best track, “Vile Weed”. Micah's raspy voice has a touch of the Davy Havok's about it whilst their sound also reminds me of early Refused - raw and fearless. All in all, a well-suited split release.
ONLY FUMES & CORPSES “SELFISH ACT II” (Released March 6, 2013)
Imagine that there is a United Nations for punk and hardcore bands. Every year they meet up in a big ass building and take up all the parking in NYC, get chauffeured around in unnecessarily large vehicles, and basically do nothing but talk to each other about things the other should do and make non-committal pledges to stop war. All of the crust bands sit on one side of the room smelling bad in dirty clothes and growling about anarchy, while all of the street punk bands sit somewhat nearby applying hair spray to their mohawks and screaming about fuck society while they drink 40's. The SXE hardcore bands are posturing in the back of the room and drawing X's on their hands, while the youth crew and heavier hardcore bands are wearing camo shorts and hoodies near the front of the room trying to take the microphone from whoever is speaking so they can yell "UNITY!" "FAMILY!" or "BROTHERHOOD!" into the mic. At some point in the meeting the metal core bands show up and then it gets really loud as some people yell that they aren't hardcore and have to leave, while others say, "Eh, They're not so bad". If this was a real thing and you recorded the sound of everything going on in the room, I imagine it would sound like “Selfish Act II” by Ireland's Only Fumes And Corpses. With the only song on the EP clocking in at 17 minutes long, this is definitely one of the longer songs I've heard from a hardcore band. But for all that it doesn't drag on or lose my interest. Not a bad effort at all by the Galway natives. Very intricate guitar parts, excellent drumming and complex vocals from 2 separate singers keep it pretty enticing through all 17 minutes. A little bit metal, a little bit crusty, a little bit post hardcore, a little bit punk “Selfish Act II” by Only Fumes And Corpses is definitely worth a spin or two.
STRENGTH APPROACH “ROMA HARDCORE STATE OF MIND” 7”EP (Destroy Your World Inc, Released May 2013)
Almost hard to believe that these guys have been around 17 years now but facts are facts and Italy's Strength Approach have been the face of Italian hardcore for some time now. With this new EP Strength Approach sound like a well oiled machine hitting on all cylinders. Influnces like Madball and Sick Of It All are infused right into this EP in a few ways but not only with their sound but with Madball’s Brian “Mitts” Daniels acting as the EP’s producer and also with Sick Of It All’s Craig Setari contributing some guest vocals on “It’s Our Time”. Craig gets bi-lingual on his effort doing the first part of his 20 or so seconds in English and then busting into some Italian. Having names such as Madball and Sick Of It All attached to this release is a nice selling point and catches the public’s attention but SA’s 3 original tunes and their cover of Growing Concern’s “Hood Crew” without a doubt hold their own. If you were to flip the script sorta speak and these were new SOIA or Madball songs they would be getting equally good feedback. The bands hard work over the years is paying dividends having recently played the BNB Bowl in NYC and with an upcoming tour in South America and let’s not forget to mention following up last years “With Or Without You” LP so quickly. Also comes as a very limited edition picture disc as well.
HIGH CARD “DEMO ‘13” (Released June 15, 2013)
Outside of this being a digital review almost everything about High Cards' 5 song demo has that look and feel of a hardcore demo from daze gone by. All we need is this to be put out on cassette (which I am sure is a possibility). Without having played their first show as of yet there is not much known about them...no photos, a hand drawn cover, and no mentions of former bands they've been in or really much else which leads one to believe that High Card is brand spanking new. What we do know is that they are from Long Island, NY, a 4 piece and their 5 songs clock in at about 10 minutes in length. They list Minor Threat, Kill Your Idols and Outburst as influences (not a bad bunch, right?) and true to form the music is in that vein and at the same time does not show many signs of a new band. Song structures have a clear direction and all in all everything is tight. Their singer Quinn reminds me of Backtrack's Vitalo a bit and the pre or post guitar feedback on every song gives each track a live feel almost. The recording isn't a high tech polished masterpiece but does the job nonetheless with its 1989 like light bass sound capturing what I hope High Card will sound like live. The third track titled High Card is the clear winner with a minute plus long intro leading into a fast and catchy tune clocking in at just under 3 minutes. Now I am not anointing High Card as the next AF, Cro-Mags or the saviors of modern day hardcore just yet but overall this demo has a freshness and vibe that is not only a throwback in many ways but also has its feet firmly planted in 2013.
CRIPPLER LBU EP (Rucktion Records, Released May 2013)
Up until receiving this Crippler LBU 7 song EP from Rucktion Records Crippler LBU was just another name being batted around in the seemingly crowded London HC scene. Rucktion is the hometown label out that way and this is one of their newer releases that showed up at the post office recently. The first track is the intro and I like what I am hearing off the bat with some heavy, choppy style sounds with big sounding backup vocals. The double bass drums start off early and is something I wish more bands would get away from as it is rarely done well within the hardcore music realm. “Paranoia” is up next and is where Crippler LBU show their true colors which is basically straight up beatdown style hardcore by the numbers. Fast forwarding to the fourth track we run into the tune “Crippler LBU” which transforms midway through into a hip-hop flavored track with the band delivering a nice backline. Points well earned here for incorporating the hip-hop which ties in with an overall “street” feel that the band projects. The front and back cover of the CD are photos of transit trains covered in “LBU” tags and all the song titles within the booklet are all graffiti style logos. The band lists two vocalists which is interesting and probably works well live but on here they sound quite similar and I do not notice much contrast at all. There are also times when the band bursts into some faster sections of their songs where things almost sound not all together as a unit. Overall Crippler LBU has some nice parts where I can see a crowd getting fucking loose to their songs but there are probably more negatives than positives for me to get fully into what they are doing. The beatdown style is something that has been done over and over and although there is a demand for this, it is not something I can see myself going back to for more listens.
96 “CAUGHT IN THE GRIPS” (Released Feb. 2013)
I've listened to a lot of bands albums, demos, EPs, LPs, whatever you can think of and it's not very often you hear something that sounds fresh. Hailing from northern New Jersey, 96 and their debut full length "Caught In The Grips" has a pretty pretty fresh sound, and I gotta say alot of it has to do with the vocals and the guitar tones for me. The tunes are fast, angry and to the point old school style hardcore, but I really enjoy that the vox aren't contrived. Alotta the time when a band that plays this style of hardcore, you know the style... it's the one where Comeback Kid, Madball, and Floorpunch met up for a back alley rumble..... alotta the time the vocals come across as forcibly tough sounding. This kid is just yelling his ass off, and it really sets the whole sound off. Not to mention that the guitars have a really old school crunchy distortion sound that most bands pass over for a darker sound. It's nice to hear that type of tone again. I've heard the name of this band and seen them on fliers plenty of times, but I've never taken the time to listen to them, and now I'm regretting sleeping on them for so long. For a measly $5 on their Bandcamp page, “Caught In The Grips” by 96 is 13 songs of old school hardcore rage that make up a solid purchase and an excellent effort put forth from the band. Give ‘em a spin.
NO SECOND CHANCE “FACE REALITY” (Rucktion Records, Released March 2013)
London-based band No Second Chance’s “Face Reality” starts slow, but heavy with their intro. It is a short song with simple lyrics about being fed up and wanting to give up. It sets you up for the rest of the album with brash songs about discontent and disgust. No Second Chance is a heavy, beatdown hardcore band that would appeal to fans of similar bands such as Hatebreed, First Blood, and Providence. The next three songs, “Can’t Bring Me Down,” “Worthless,” and “Liar” are all about the frustration and hatred towards others, specifically liars. “Liar,” in particular, is the faster song of the three that has a strong two-step beat that transitions into a breakdown sure to stir carnal fury. “Sick and Tired,” the fifth track on the album, has a driving beat that pushes you through the song, coupled with powerful vocals, including a guest spot with Carl Schwartz of First Blood, whom effortlessly fits the style of the band. This song takes a different lyrical route by reflecting on inner, more personal struggles as opposed the other song’s favoring the hatred of others. “Reality” is yet another heavy song that continues the lyrics of self-struggle featured in the previous song. It features another catchy two-step beat followed by another breakdown which carries through to the end of the song. “Time’s Up” ends the album with more lyrics about hating others. It is, in my opinion, the best written song on the album for its more melodic guitars as opposed to the rhythmical guitars featured in the previous six songs. The breakdown features a two-step beat that you can’t help but bang your head to. All in all, “Face Reality,” put out by Rucktion Records, is hard, heavy, simple hardcore. It takes out all of the fluff put in by bands with more of a melodic, metal-based style. What’s left is driving two-step beats and breakdowns, something to appeal to the fans of traditional, beatdown hardcore.
TRAGEDY, TRENCHGRINDER, SHOXX, ALTERED BOYS @ 285 Kent, Brooklyn, NY May 27, 2013
I just love Altered Boys’ fast, straightforward hardcore with a decent amount of mosh mixed in. Not unlike listening to Floorpunch on the wrong speed. My only worry is being from NJ and being good means they are bound to break up any day now, but in the meantime, I’ve been very much enjoying them. I’d also like to say, my hats of to Ian Dickson in booking Altered Boys for the show. Tragedy is a great hardcore band, but they clearly appeal to crusty metal types, and it was nice to have some good old-fashion hardcore opening up the show.
I am not sure I had all that much interest in Shoxx and Trenchgrinder. Shoxx had an occasional burst of energy and freakouts, but mostly it was just loud unformed drone ala Flipper or a less metal Anal Cunt the kind of thing that applauding for seems misplaced. Trenchgrinder was not unlike Shoxx but more metal and played by dudes in band shirts with incomprehensible fonts. With a set list that read “War, Trial, Judge, Peace.” They are so metal that it really makes me appreciate early Metalica. Also when did the fashion of crusty punks and metal kids converge? I’d also like to say that playing on a smart phone really undermines the dressing as a crusty punk, just saying.
Tragedy was solid. I saw them years ago and remember them being a little faster and crustier and less rock, but I was more than happy to see they’ve shifted to a more heavy rockin’ hardcore like Motorhead, even working in some solid melody in the guitar work. A lot more polished then I remember, but as good as it was, I think all things being equal Coliseum kind of does the same thing for me but better. But again, I can’t hate too much on the epic heaviness of Tragedy.
LAY IT ON THE LINE/ARIZONA SPLIT EP (Released April 22, 2013)
The four-song split with Lay It On The Line and Arizona is short, but packed with emotional punch. Lay It On the Line kicks off this EP with the first two songs, “Therapia Lane” and “...And Now I Own His Washing Machine.” The song is about their friend Ben Gardner, whom was murdered while protecting his girlfriend. There is a lot of emotion behind the screamo/post-hardcore songs, for obvious reasons. Faster more rhythmical parts of the songs transition into slower, more melodic sections. There are moments of highs and lows in the songs, which can reflect the emotions felt during the grieving process. The lyrics of “And Now I Own His Washing Machine” exemplify that further. The first song, “Therapia Lane” transitions well into “...And Now I Own His Washing Machine,” which has the same tone and timbre. I had reviewed Lay It On the Line’s album “Crowhurst” and I must say that I like these two songs more than that album. They seem to have more emotion behind them, which is something that I always appreciate. Lay It On the Line is a band for fans of bands such as Alexisonfire, Poison The Well, and a little bit of Life Long Tragedy. The second half of the split features Arizona’s different, more melodic style, which is for fans such as A Day to Remember and Armor for Sleep. The first song by Arizona brings a more upbeat feeling to the split, a nice contrast to Lay It On the Line’s heavy subject matter and emotional melodies. “I Knew A Girl At School Called Pandora, Never Got to See Her Box Though,” the third song on the split, has multiple layers, featuring more poppy sections that break into screamo parts, which turn into something more melodic. The varying background vocals in each section creates an interesting texture. The next and last song, “I’m Not A Superhero, I’m A Latter Day Saint” is an acoustic version, which mellows out the listener. It’s hard not to enjoy the harmonic vocals paired with the gut-wrenching lyrics. The emotion behind the vocals and lyrics counterweights Lay It On the Line’s songs on the split and ends the short split beautifully.
YO! SCUNT, CAUGHT IN A TRAP, SEIZURE CRYPT, ON THE LOOSE @ PARKSIDE PUB, WHITESTONE, QUEENS NY MAY 31, 2013
Originally this show was set to be at the Wild Turkey in Sunnyside Queens and got moved last minute to the Parkside in Whitestone. Upside was the door price went from 5 bucks to free but downside was that some people didn’t get word and went to the original venue… On The Loose were up first and if they look familiar it is because they are 3 quarters of the band Shell Shock now going under On The Loose with new guitarist Justin on board. When their old guitarist Scoot left recently the remaining members decided to get a fresh start with the new name and they already have a bunch of new songs along with a rejuvenated feel to their live act. I only heard the new tunes once going in so I don’t know them well but the energy they gave off was enough to entertain. New tracks include “Not Worth It”, “Fuck Yourself”, and “I Was Born Free” with a nice cover of Gorilla Biscuits’ “High Hopes” towards the end of their set.
You can’t get more local than the next band, Seizure Crypt whose members literally could have gone home in between bands for a sandwich if they felt inclined to do so. Behind the drum kit for Seizure Crypt is Doug who was once part of the underappreciated NYHC act Terminal Confusion. SC who are usually a 5 piece went at this show down a man with their second singer Mike SOS handling both guitar and vocal duties alongside their main singer “The Madness” who really lived up to his name moving nonstop. This makeshift sports bar had the pool table covered over for the show and The Madness used it on a few occasions as his platform jumping on and off it a few times and getting the small crowd into it. I applaud bands who still bring it when you get a small crowd and these guys did. Musically SC will never be pigeon holed into any one category as they basically are all over the place with hardcore and thrash influences abound. Definitely one of a kind.
Caught In A Trap rolled in next and probably had the best crowd response of the night with the most people moving up close to the band. They mixed in old stuff off of their 2007 “Rats Get Fat” CD (damn, its 6 years since that came out!?!) and newer stuff that included a track or two off of their upcoming “Goodnight New York” album which will be coming this fall on Dead City Records. The newer material was fast and catchy. Usually I take a few listens to get into newer stuff but there were some obvious good hooks in there that simply stood out. Ramones “Rockaway Beach” and Warzone’s “In The Mirror” were two solid covers and they finished off with a quick mash up/jam using some Grand Master Flash with “The Message”. “It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under” fused with their heavy guitars, bass and drums sounded awesome and I hope they extend this into a longer version in the future.
I initially found Yo! Scunt awhile back buying their 2007 EP “Yo! Yo! Yo! on Interpunk and kinda forgot about them until about a year a year ago when their drummer came up to me at a show and gave me their “Damaged Goods & Gravy Sweat” CD. (The studio tracks on this CD are amazing). These guys have been at it since ’04 as a band and when it comes to Queens punk and hardcore shows these guys are usually right in the middle of things with their singer booking shows at the Hilltap Tavern and in turn Yo! playing many of them as well. It was after midnight when they went on starting off with the super catchy “Doing Lotsa Fucking Drugs” to the small but faithful crowd. Much like the bands before them they got into it despite the small turnout with their singer taking the mic and bringing it out to those who wanted to sing along. I would describe their set as sloppy at times but never boring as these guys flat out have some really good tunes playing more of an old school punk flavor with their drummer being a key piece to the puzzle really wailing away behind his kit throughout. Why this band doesn’t have more material out after being together for almost a decade is a bit of a crime but something we will try to find out more about in an upcoming interview on this site.
DOWNPRESSER “DON’T NEED A REASON”LP/CD (6131 Records, Released May 28, 2013)
How I would describe Downpresser’s first full-length “Don’t Need a Reason” is: a well-written, mosh-inducing, collection of songs that make you want to punch the next person you see in the face (that’s a good thing). It’s definitely an album for fans of Terror, Leeway, Buried Alive, and Trapped Under Ice. The album begins with the intro instrumental track that transitions well into “Dirt Cheap,” which is has catchy riffs and beats with multiple layers. Can I get a hallelujah for a guitar solo?! Several of the songs, including “Dirt Cheap,” “Don’t Need a Reason,” and “Lion’s Share” have direct metal influences infused with hardcore. The rest of the songs are pretty much straight hardcore. Throughout the album, tempos fluctuate and create a good rhythm from song to song, which doesn’t leave the listener bored. Fast, rhythmical vocal delivery pairs well with the rhythm created by the drums and guitars. Songs such as “Bloodline” and “Mercy on Judgment” are so hard-hitting that it’s hard not to bang your head to them. All in all, the album is pretty much flawless from start to finish. Taylor Young (Xibalba, Rotting Out, Twitching Tongues) did an impeccable job at recording this record. Definitely one of the better releases to come out of 2013 so far, in my opinion. Side note: they killed it at Black and Blue Bowl. This is a band to watch out for.
MINORITY DOWN “PISSED OFF” DEMO (Released April 27, 2013)
Netherlands-based Minority Down’s 5-song demo “Pissed Off” is a simple, anger-filled hardcore punk album. The songs and lyrics have no fluff about them, which is a great contrast compared to the overworked, digitized garbage that most of us know so well. It seems a lot more honest. The first and third songs, “Sell Out” and “Unrighteous Aggression,” have prominent bass and feature lyrics about the frustrations of dealing with leeches. The whole demo actually seems to have a theme of frustrations with different kinds of people who have a negative impact on you, including a deadbeat dad in the song “Pissed Off!” and hypocritical so-called friends in “Selfish Ways,” which has a faster tempo than the other songs and guitars with more angst compared to the others. “Pissed Off!” is the one song on the demo that will appeal to the moshers out there for its two-step beat in the beginning of the song and the breakdown 3/4 of the way through. The track that downright confuses me is the last one, “Outro- Pennies From Heaven,” which is a hip hop loop beat reminiscent of a much simpler version of a Jedi Mind Tricks beat. It doesn’t fit the demo whatsoever in my opinion. The bit being sampled has too cheery of a voice/melody to fit the angst present in the four songs prior. Maybe it’s meant as a buffer? All in all, the demo “Pissed Off” is simplistic hardcore punk with lyrics about people who suck and is for fans of Sheer Terror and Next Step Up (maybe?).
BULLET TREATMENT “EX-BREATHERS” EP (Basement Records, Released April 30, 2013)
Probably one of the most confusing bands in the hardcore punk world to follow as this band seems to pride themselves on making things… confusing. Why you ask? For starters they have a constant rotating schedule of band members which is done on purpose with their guitarist (as well as Basement Records’) Chuck Dietrich being the foundation. Over their 6 plus years in existence they have put out records with over 40 members without using the same lineup twice! WTF, right? Previous recordings have featured the same music to a song with different singers for each version of the same song with each singer not being able to hear the other versions done by the other singers. Take that American Idol! For “Ex-Breathers” things are “slightly” more conventional with 6 tracks all sung by Vultures United’s Jordan, Dave (Social Distortion) on drums, Vince (Mariachi El Bronx/The Bronx) on bass and the previously mentioned Mr. Dietrich on guitar. The CD is done before you know it with the 40 second title track leading the charge. They made a video for this song as well if you can believe it but I kinda dig the fact that everything Bullet Treatment does is against the grain sorta speak. “The Escapist” is up second and has such a fucking catchy bouncy beat to it you can’t help but love it. “Everyone Looks Better Under Arrest” gets best title and “The Last Time I Prayed” also is crazy catchy although short like everything else here with none of the 6 originals going beyond 1:28 in running time. I just popped this into my CD player without looking at the titles and when the first bonus track (which is Kill Your Idols’ “Can’t Take It Away From Me”) came through my speakers I bugged out because it is a great version and dare I say they got a much better recording than the classic original. If you are looking for a sound or a label to slap on Bullet Treatment they are too hardcore for punk and too punk for hardcore if that makes any sense. West Coast hardcore can be a very welcomed change at times to the beatdown/metalized style of hardcore played with regularity on the East Coast. If I have a complaint it is that this is too short but other than that this is a no brainer to ADD TO CART.
WALK THE PLANK/SUPREME COMMANDER SPLIT 7” (No Less Records/Say 10 Records, Released March 12, 2013)
A nice little double dose of what the Washington DC area hardcore scene has going on right now with Walk The Plank and Supreme Commander. The latter scoring the #7 release of 2012 on this site with their under the radar full length titled “Paper Tigers”. Let’s start off with side 2 first and SC who have really have a lot to offer if you are looking for a band with a shitload of melody and don’t get all wussy with it at the same time. Straight forward, fast and thrashy at times and leadman Boo Dixon having probably the perfect vocal chords to compliment what these guys are doing. “Petty Problems” and “Your Best Days” would have fit in nicely with their previous effort and show that these guys are in their prime as a band. Nice little surprise as their third track here is a cover of the Go-Go’s “We Got The Beat” AKA “The Beat” for this version. If you know this song you just know this is a great cover song and basically a punk rock song disguised as a pop classic from the 1980’s with a bunch of bands doing this track over the years. Also from DC and on the flip side is Walk The Plank who I have never heard before this. Their sound is a little hard to pinpoint as the music leans in the direction of a more pop style (could easily see them on a bill with Grey Area) with their lead singer going for more of a gruff but not harsh vocal style. On the first track “Settling” the vocals switch off between the lead vocals and their bass player whose vocals are more fitting with the musical style being played. “Oxana” is the second track and does not have the switching off on the vocals like the previous track. Good stuff from WTP but at the same time I noticed the more I would listen to them for this half of the review the more I lost interest as these two tracks didn’t have much in the way of staying power. Would like to hear more though.
CONCRETE “DEADLOCK” (Inner Strength Records, Released May 14, 2013)
Let’s just say that when it comes to the heavier side of hardcore I tolerate it more than I embrace it. When I say the heavier side I am referring to sub-genres sometimes called metalcore or beatdown or whatever you want to call it. I have some favorites mixed in there, don’t get me wrong…I grew up listening to Sheer Terror and I see the kind of mayhem a band like Hatebreed can inflict. Concrete’s “Deadlock” CD showed up a few days back and they fit the criteria for the previously mentioned styles but DAMN there is just something about these dudes that stood out from the first track “No Way Out”. A stellar production combined with a fast thrashy attack and just pinpoint fucking precision with the execution of these songs. The all out speed attack on the majority of these tracks is something that dragged me in as well. The vocal style is rough and tough and works well with what this Albany 4 piece are doing but if taken down just a notch I think I would have liked this more. After a bunch of listens I noticed I get through about 3 or 4 songs and I reach my limit, and pick up where I left off later on. Fans of the heavier side of hardcore should go apeshit crazy for this 8 song debut album from a band that shows a lot of promise. Had a bad day at work? Here is your release for the way home. Simply brutal.
BLACK N BLUE BOWL 2013 (DAY 1) @ WEBSTER HALL NYC MAY 18, 2013
The days leading up to the BNB Bowl are like being a kid at Christmas all over again. Ho Ho Ho sez the BNB crew as they lure Judge out of retirement and a huge buzz ensues leading up to this day which was only Day 1 out of what is now a 2 day event. In the world of hardcore in NYC this is THE premier event without a doubt, hands down, no exceptions. The amount of people who make their way to the Big Apple for BNB reflects the shows importance and hardcore’s relevance in the year 2013. Long Island’s No One Rules, CA’s Downpresser, and Cuba’s Arrabio kicked things off with VA’s Fire & Ice being the first band I caught. The first visuals you get when walking upstairs towards the stage area are the huge monitors that display the current bands logo as well as the insane amount of merch tables that line the outer walls of Webster Hall. Fire & Ice were mid-set when I got in and were ripping through a bunch of tracks off of last year’s solid “Not Of This Earth” album. I like F&I but by judging by the crowd going off for these guys some people LOVE F&I. A good quick set which is expected for the fourth band and a good recovery by them as well during some equipment problems which they patched up pretty quickly.
The Old Firm Casuals were up next and feature Lars from Rancid front and center taking care of guitar and lead vocal duties. The 3 piece San Fran unit rely heavily on their streetpunk/Oi! Influences which definitely is a sound that stood out even amongst this diverse lineup of bands. Crowd response was minimal with some applause between each song. Old Firm having formed in 2010 are still somewhat new but having Lars in the mix should open some doors quickly for them as they press forward with a traditional sound and style that seems will never die. Altercation were next and for many were the band you just didn’t know what you were gonna get mainly because they didn’t have a ton to go on during their first go around as a band. In the late 80’s they put out a demo that wasn’t widely circulated but was held in high regards as many considered them to be “the next big thing” back then. Crazy Jay Skin who went on to play guitar in Warzone fronted Altercation and fellow band members include Dan Cav on bass and Andy Guida on drums… both of which you can catch playing in the current version of Absolution. The crowd really moved up and in for the start of their set, one which Jay went on to say was their first one at this venue in 26 years. While Altercation busted out their set I couldn’t help but think back to times gone by as they had that classic late 80’s NYHC style. Some Records, people selling zines outside of shows, demos for 3 bucks on Maxell cassette tapes, and most or all shows not costing more than 5 bucks. The band represented the old songs well and should be proud that at least for this day they resurrected what was their contribution to NYHC history.
Chula Vista CA’s Take Offense were to follow and started off with “Power In Our Hands” off of their “Tables Will Turn” album. It is no secret that I love this band and what they are doing and in no way did they disappoint as they came out like a band possessed with lead singer Anthony leading the way thrashing about the stage. They are currently on a month long cross country tour with Downpresser and were just so damn tight sounding like a band that has pretty much played every single night for the last 3 weeks. Highlights included the breakdown to “No Tomorrow” which had the crowd up for grabs as well as a new one off of their upcoming full length later this year. Great band, great set, my first time seeing them and if you haven’t checked them out yet… wake up! Up next was District 9, another band who I love but at the same time can frustrate the hell out of me because they could be the kings of hardcore. Over the years they have been broken up and have gotten back together a bunch of times but with that said when this band is plugged in and “ON” they are explosive. The room embraced D9 showing their love for songs like “Payback”, “Think About It” and more with the biggest crowd response of the day up to this point. At one point during D9’s set the pit nearly reached the bar located dead center towards the back of the huge room…Crazy shit, electric, memorable…District 9.
CA’s Strife kept that energy going ripping through “Witness A Rebirth” tracks one after another. They were yet another out of town band that I have never caught before today and I was not disappointed. I kept thinking damn this band is intense just in the way they go about performing and yes that crazy ass beard on their frontman Rick Rodney is the real deal. No excessive bleeding from the forehead either as far as I could tell from my vantage point as I have seen a few pics of Rick covered in blood like he just went through a 1970’s steel cage match in the past. During Strife’s initial run in the mid-90’s I didn’t pay them much mind liking a few of their songs but never really embracing the band’s music. Last year’s “Witness A Rebirth” as well as this set now has me sold on Strife. When you get the old scorecard out and start tallying up the heavy hitters in the So-Cal scene including the previously mentioned Take Offense, along with bands like Rotting Out and Terror you gotta admit that the US has some good things cooking on both sides of the country. Black Train Jack hit the stage around 730pm and kinda flew under the radar leading up to the show. This was a reunion for the NY based band who are far from the style of hardcore played by the previous 3 bands but did have their supporters spread out amongst the crowd. On stage they give off a good positive vibe with their more poppy punk style but have to say they seemed to be a little out of place. “Handouts” is the track by them that I really like and they nailed it but not much else during their set left a lasting impression on me. You can’t please everyone I guess but I did talk to some people afterwards that really got into their reunion set which you will also be able to catch at the This Is Hardcore Fest in August.
Bane was up around 845pm and all I could think was how awesome is this band live? I own a total of zero Bane albums (which hopefully will now change… promo copy? Hint hint…PO Box 1201 Massapequa, NY 11758) but what I do have is two memorable live experiences to go on now with this being the best and last year’s This Is Hardcore set being a close second. I got up real close for them and they had one of the best crowd responses of the day with major sing-a-long and stage diving action throughout their set. Most bands feed off a crowds energy but with Bane it seems like a two way street as the crowd got amped as they stomped and jumped their way to one of the best sets of the night. I felt the floor shake at one point during Bane’s set towards the end. Their singer hit home with some things he said about people who still make hardcore music a big part of their lives regardless of family obligations and outside factors that may keep you from being as involved as you want to be. Good stuff
An almost electric like atmosphere got turned up even further upon Breakdown’s entrance. Yes, the lineup that produced their legendary demo back in 1987 has been back for almost a year now but we haven’t seen that one “BIG” show in NYC from them until now. Back in December they played Public Assembly in Brooklyn which is a much smaller venue than Webster Hall so for many in the NY area this was their first getting to know you again show. The ’87 demo is played almost exclusively with “All I Ask” being one of the more notable non demo tracks and as was the case in the past is still a fan favorite. Decked out in a classic Motorhead shirt lead singer Jeff Perlin is still that imposing figure at probably 6 foot 4 or taller, still holding the microphone with his distinct left handed style and still bringing the noise all these years after I initially saw them with Uniform Choice at a CBGB’s matinee which pretty much solidified my love affair with this music.
The marathon carried on with headliners Judge hitting the stage a few minutes before 10pm belting out a 50 minute set. It seems that the longer this band went without playing a reunion show the more iconic they became. They will now also be known for being the band that turned the BNB Bowl into a 2 day event after the initial ticket blitz that occurred shortly after this shows tickets went up online for sale. I was a big fan of their 7” with tracks like “Fed Up”, the cover of “Warriors” initially done by Blitz and of course the title track which still gets the hairs on my neck to stand on end when they hit the “we have seen the backstab blood…” line towards the end but I am far from the Judge fanatic that many of their supporters seem to be. Even with that said I have to say that Judge really brought their A game and killed it for a band that has not been on a stage in ages. Civ from Gorilla Biscuits came out to sing the finale which was appropriately the previously mentioned “New York Crew”… a fitting end with the stage being absolutely mobbed to the point where you couldn’t see the band with people piling on people on stage. A fitting end and another success story of a show which just keeps growing year after year showing that hardcore music in 2013 is alive and kicking.
RUMOUR MILL “THUNDER AND ENLIGHTENING” (Self Released, May 13, 2013)
You knew he'd be back. It was just a matter of time when. And the release of Rumour Mill's debut full-length album could not have been better, certainly not from George Noble's point of view. His very public spat with his former Your Demise band-mates went viral. Now, with the UK mob having recently called it quits it is Noble's turn to step back in the spotlight, this time for all the right reasons. His guttural vocals were an integral part of his old band's potency during their formative years. Indeed, many fans will argue they lost their edge when he was given the bullet. His availability was always going to be someone else's gain. He hooked up with some long-standing friends and Rumour Mill was born. After laying the foundations with their solid “Negativity/Negligence” EP the ten tracks on offer here follow in the same vein - raging, no-frills hardcore punk that is wonderfully ragged around the edges. If you want breakdowns, bouncy riffs and flowery choruses you are at the wrong listening post. You won't find any of that amongst the 22 minutes here. Coming across like Black Flag pistol-whipping The Bronx and Winnebago Deal, RM are a whirling dervish of ferocity. Opening with the title track (the video of which is here: http://youtu.be/W_lRdpCLDK4 Noble barks out "double fucking standards" over a shit-kicking rock 'n' roll riff, whilst “Awake” has more of an Oi! feel to it with potential for a crowd sing-a-long. String bends and tongue-in-cheek girlie shrieks sandwich the chaos in the middle of “The Virus” whilst “Everybody Dies” is simply frantic, clocking in at 91 seconds. Whilst the majority of the ten songs here follow the same formula “Thunder And Enlightening”, whilst not very, very frightening is definitely worth checking out.
HATEBREED @ MANCHESTER ACADEMY 2 (UK)
APRIL 30, 2013
I was undecided whether to press ahead with writing this review. After all, what can I tell you about a live Hatebreed show that you do not already know? Unless you have lived under a rock for over a decade or spit at the floor in disgust at the mere mention of “metalcore”, you will have certainly witnessed Jamey Jasta's five-man wrecking ball at some point. However just a few songs into their set at this, one of several UK tour dates, I felt compelled to document it. The essence of a Hatebreed show has always been the same - honest, brutal, uncompromising metallic hardcore laden with riff after catchy riff, chorus after resounding chorus. Their crowd, on the other hand, has altered over time. Whereas once it was shaven headed, vest-wearing hardcore kids, Hatebreed now attract fans from across the metal spectrum. Hardcore always bangs on about unity, etc, and I got a warm feeling seeing floorpunching pit veterans moshing with traditional headbangers and punkers as the band tore through opening song “To The Threshold”. Several tracks off their new album, “The Divinity of Purpose”, are warmly received, especially the circle pit-inducing “Indivisible”. There is something for everybody, fans old and new, from the bludgeoning rawness of “Smash Your Enemies” and the anthemic “This Is Now” to the neck-breaking “Doomsayer”. Irrepressible.
“To The Threshold”…”Honor Never Dies”…”Dead Man Breathing”…”Everybody Bleeds Now”... “In Ashes They Shall Reap”…”Indivisible”…”Burial For The Living”…”Empty Promises”…”Smash Your Enemies”…”As Diehard As They Come”…”Perseverance”…”Defeatist”…”Last Breath”…”This Is Now”…”Driven By Suffering”…”Tear It Down”…”Doomsayer”…”Before Dishonor”…”Burn The Lies”…”The Language”…”Live For This”…”Destroy Everything”…”I Will Be Heard”.
MISFITS, SHEER TERROR, 100 DEMONS, THE UNSEEN, CODE ORANGE KIDS, MAKE AMENDS, INCENDIARY, RUDE AWAKENING, TWO FISTED LAW, EMPTY VESSELS @ TUXEDO JUNCTION, DANBURY CT APRIL 27, 2013 . Review and all photos by: Scoot Horton.
This wasn’t just your average show. There was a reason behind this show. There was struggle, pain, sorrow and worry behind this show, but most importantly there was also love and hope. This day was masterminded by Lou Di Bella (Subzero lead singer) for his girlfriend Trista Vaughn. Trista is a loving mother of three who is in the literal battle for her life. Trista was diagnosed with cancer and she is putting up a good fight but it is taking its toll on her and her family and friends. She is standing strong in this fight but unfortunately you cannot win this fight on will alone. It also takes money and that is what this day was about. This day was about people and bands, punk and hardcore kids, family and friends, and people that don’t know Trista coming together to donate their time and money and to give her the positive energy that she needs to help her keep fighting. Besides the bands that played this show bands like the Gorilla Biscuits and Hatebreed (I know I’m forgetting some bands here…sorry about that.) donated merchandise to sell at the show to help the cause. The Misfits were also raffling off signed items to help and there was a table selling cupcakes set up by two women, all to help the cause. As for the show itself, there was a diverse line up of up and coming bands as well as established ones.
Empty Vessels started the show. Though the crowd was just getting there they put on a lively show. I don’t think the singer stood still the entire set. The drummer had a lot of energy and his arms were flying all around but he was always on the beat. He was pretty cool to watch. They had a good heavy sound with growling vocals. An impressive way to start the show.
Two Fisted Law went on second. Before they went on the singer said to me he was a little nervous because Two Fisted Law are a more melodic hardcore band and he wasn’t sure how they would go over. I had never heard them before so I didn’t know what to expect but after hearing them he had no reason to worry. They were somewhat more melodic but I think that was just the Oi influence I heard in the songs. I thought they were really good and a couple of people I talked to after they played were impressed also.
The first band to really get the crowd moving was Rude Awakening. This wasn’t because the first two bands were bad but I just think the crowd wasn’t familiar with them. I have seen the name Rude Awakening on plenty of flyers in the past but this was the first time I got to see them play. One of the first things I noticed was that one of the guitarists feet were never on the ground. He spent most of his time in the air while still managing to play. The whole band had energy and the crowd was into them from the start. Good heavy modern hardcore.
Incendiary was next. I have seen these guys before and they have not disappointed. If you like heavy metallic hardcore this band is for you. Again they had a lot of energy and they also had a guitarist that spent most of his time in the air. How they can do that and play the songs is something I never mastered. The crowd was singing along and constantly moving. The energy was definitely way up at this point.
For the next band, Make Amends, this had to be a special show for them. Their singer, Brenton, and the drummer Aaron are Trista’s brothers and watching their sister’s battle has to be very emotional. As they set up the crowd was moving in and as soon as they started there was movement. Brenton had some nice things to say about his sister, Trista, and her fight. People were dancing the whole time and they ended the set with the crowd singing along to their version of a Pennywise cover of “Bro Hymn Tribute” but I guess for this it should be called “Trista Tribute”. Most of the crowd was singing along to it and Trista was there to see it.
Now truthfully this next band’s music isn’t really my cup of tea but the Code Orange Kids helped bring in the brutality with some tight heavy dark metal. I don’t mean metal in the traditional sense like Iron Maiden but dark, nuclear explosion metal with vocals rising from the internal hell of their gut. The crowd was definitely digging it and again the musicians were moving all over the stage. One thing I like to see is women in bands. We could always use more women around and one of the guitarists in Code Orange Kids is Reba and can play like mad and her head was banging like crazy. (Empty Vessels also has a female guitarist named Allison who killed it also.) The women in these bands are not a novelty but are there to rip your guts out.
This was the first show that The Unseen had played in over a year. I was kind of curious how they would go over playing with more hardcore metal type bands but they were loved also. For those that don’t know the Unseen, they are a Boston punk band that has been together for about 20 years now and has traveled the world. I hadn’t seen them in years and they are still just as good. Great catchy sing along punk screaming about the injustices of the world. There was definitely a nice mix of bands at this show.
Following the Unseen were Connecticut’s own 100 Demons. Some people were waiting for these guys to play all day. They came out with their riff heavy, metal and the kickboxing ensued. Brutal music, brutal vocals, and a brutal pit was what was happening. I haven’t seen these guys in years and it was good to see them again.
Before Sheer Terror played Lou Sub Zero came up on stage to thank everyone for coming out and for all the support that has been given to Trista. You could tell it meant a lot to Lou and to Trista and her family. Then Sheer Terror promptly took the stage and made it their own. Paul was his usual cranky/funny self. Paul did have a lot of kind words for Lou and for Trista but you know that didn’t last because he “Just Can’t Hate Enough”. I personally love Sheer Terror and I was not disappointed here. They played all the classics and a Sham 69 cover. There were pile ons and sing-a-longs during their whole set. There is one song that they do that I don’t know the name of that I’ve seen them play a few times recently that I get the impression is an emotional song for Paul. Just by the way he sings it and the look he gets. This is the second benefit that I have seen Sheer Terror play in the last few months. The last one was in Staten Island for a Hurricane Sandy Benefit. So if you were just listening to Sheer Terror you may get the impression that Paul is a angry bastard which maybe he is but he has a big heart and he does care. He also raises money for Autism every year by getting sponsors to support his walk. This cause is close to my heart because I have a son with Asbergers (a form of autism) that after years of therapy is doing amazing. So if you see the drive this year to help Paul raise money for this cause please help out.
Now that I am done with my tangent there I will get back to the music. The Misfits closed the show. Unfortunately “Uncle” Dez (as Jerry Only called him) couldn’t be there because he was in Europe on tour with Flag but they had a capable replacement for him. Someone told me it was Jerry’s son but I’m not sure of that. I haven’t seen the Misfits since Michael Graves and Doyle left the band so I wasn’t sure how they would sound with Jerry singing. Jerry did a really good job and they played all the crowd favorites. The crowd was thinning out during their set but that had nothing to do with their music. At this point it was almost 2am and the show had started at about 5pm so it was a long day for those that had gotten there early. Everyone was getting exhausted by this time. I got to meet Jerry at this show and I have to say he was very friendly and seems down to earth and he was taking pictures with anyone who asked. So this was a fitting end to a good night.
I have to say it was really nice to see the hardcore and punk communities come together and show support in the time of need. From the outside this scene could look like a cold and hard place but in reality the people are willing to lend a helping hand and they can and do care when it comes down to it. So in the end fun was had, good music was played and money and support went to where it was needed. It was a great job by Lou and all who donated time, effort, and whatever they could to make this show possible. If you would still like to donate to the cause it’s not too late. You can donate or buy a “Fight Like a Girl” T-shirt by going to www.lionheartedpride.webs.com and the money will be greatly appreciated. And don’t forget the PMA.