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In Effect Hardcore has always been a DIY operation run by a small group of friends who are passionate about the underground hardcore punk scene. We strive to get as many reviews on to the site as we can while balancing the other sections to put out regular updates. Over the past year the amount of submissions for review has become very hard to keep up with. This “REVIEWS” section of In Effect Hardcore will continue to have reviews posted like we always have but we will now also be including a “Quick Hits” style profile on certain releases that are sent in for review to try and maximize exposure for more bands. We apologize to the bands and labels who have sent in submissions in the past and were not responded to. With that said to submit a new release digitally (put out within the last 6 months) or to join the In Effect hardcore staff of writers please get in touch via email: InEffectHC@aol.com
DECIMATE THE LIVING NYC “FUELED BY HATE”
(Released November, 2018)
South Bronx's Decimate The Living NYC have just released a new demo titled “Fueled By Hate” and it is nothing short of amazing! The band has been unleashing their fan's primordial aggression with their fusion of hardcore, punk and metal since 2012 and this demo is all about anger, energy and kick ass music. If this type of music appeals to you then I'll bet you will love it as much as I do. “Fueled By Hate” has lyrical content that is more along the lines of death metal and the cover artwork, which to me looks like Michael Jackson with a machete in his head, also adds to the horror aspect of the band. On a side note, band member Anthony Ramos did the sick artwork. ”Fueled By Hate” (which fittingly was released right around Halloween) contains 5 songs and honestly I gave up trying to pick a favorite.
The track listing is:
“Grey”- a song about a "sadistic bastard", “Injustice”- a tale of an innocent man's thoughts right before he faces execution, “Onslaught”- ZOMBIES!!!!, “Fuck The MTA”- a self-explanatory song that regardless of what type of music you listen to, if you live in the 5 boroughs of NYC you can relate to it and “Fueled By Hate”- intense hatred that results in a killing spree… with a machete no less.
“Fueled By Hate” has a strong hardcore element that even the most purest fan should enjoy and for those that may doubt Decimate The Living's hardcore credibility because they may be too "crossover", well sharing the stage over the years with the likes of Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags and Brick By Brick should be convincing enough that these boys from the Bronx are for real and on the rise. Check out DTL live on February 23, 2019 playing with a solid line up in Brooklyn NY as well!
MINDFORCE “EXCALIBUR” LP
(Triple B Records, Release Date November 16, 2018)
Hudson Valley stalwarts Mindforce are comin’ at us with their latest and greatest offering to date. “Excalibur”, 11 tracks of groove-city mosh. For the uninitiated, Mindforce was the phoenix that rose from the ashes of the brief but legendary Living Laser, and “Excalibur” is their latest LP, following a demo, a split, and an EP. An impressive output for a band that’s been active for a little over 2 years. I have been quivering with excitement waiting to hear this sucker because the MF guys somehow manage to keep the momentum ever moving forward. With every release they manage to top themselves leaving me wanting more! And finally this anticipation explodes with “Excalibur”. This record is a 25 minute top to bottom rager, with nary a moment for one to catch ones breath. In the past I have heard people compare these guys to Leeway, and I definitely see that, but there’s another subtle unexplainable element to the urgency behind these songs. In this reviewers humble opinion it can only be described as Bad Brains worship as articulated by Leeway performed by guys that crew up on Earth Crisis. The influences are represented, but overshadowed by personality. It’s classic without being derivative, and familiar while still feeling fresh. Mindforce is an all-around impressive band, their live show is nonstop energy and their recordings have never fallen short of that standard, serving as a blueprint for what to expect live. As opposed to some bands who usually have only 1 to offer over the other. “Excalibur” really is a remarkable offering from an already stellar band, so much so that it’ unfair to call it a “pinnacle”, because that would imply they would have nothing left to offer. With this release, I can’t see Mindforce petering out any time soon. “Excalibur” was recorded and mixed by Will Hirst of Maniac fame, and is out on Triple B Records real soon, and will rock your ass through the winter and coast you into 2019 – which is sure to be the year of Mindforce. 8 thumbs up.
SICK OF IT ALL “WAKE THE SLEEPING DRAGON” LP
(Fat Wreck-Chords, Release Date November, 2, 2018)
HOT DIGGETY DAWG!!!! I get to review the new Sick Of It All LP entitled "Wake The Sleeping Dragon". First things first, I don't believe the title of this LP refers to the band as a friend postulated over drinks one evening. Not a chance. That would be the misnomer of the century. We all know that of all the bands out of that NYHC scene that we all love, SOIA has never been asleep. They haven't even napped. In fact, they have been going strong for just shy of 33 years now and counting. I'm about the same age as these cats and have been a fan since I got the demo. It makes me proud that they are still out there doing it, and doing it well, without the 20 year "hiatus" like so many others. SOIA are constantly setting the bar to which all other bands strive. As for the dragon, well, that could be us, it's time we did wake up, or it could be those far flinging segments of society that seem to have crawled out from under their rocks and back to the forefront of our daily lives. Maybe that dragon is SOIA after all because let's face it, in 1985 and thru the early 90's these guys had a lot of juicy shit to gripe about. Then we all had some fat years and even SOIA had some Fat years, and their music showed it. Don't get me wrong, I love the music, but there was considerably less bite about it... about everything. Everyone was kinda happy. Sadly, that is no longer the case and SOIA have a lot to cover on this new LP. We have entered dark times and their bite is back. Personally I need these guys as part of my therapy. I pop on my headphones and exorcise some demons sonically as I try to wrap my head around the world we live in today. There was literally a massacre in Mr. Roger’s neighborhood a few days ago.
So what did the boys deliver on this LP? A whole bunch of fucking music. Seventeen tracks to be exact, ... so it's clear the fellas have a lot on their minds too. I won't go track for track here as nobody has the kind of time it would take to read all my drivel. I'll share my favorites with you boys and girls, is that OK? If it ain't, I got two words for ya. I'll start where they start. Cut one, "Inner Vision" at 1:54. Some odd futuristic noise plays and suddenly every band member is simultaneously going 90 miles an hour. They are pounding it out and you know within 3 seconds who the fuck you are listening to. Damn man, this one is a rager complete with a sick breakdown. It's got power, it got melody, it's got pissed off SOIA written all over it. It all starts in you... in us. An excellent introduction for the new record. My next choice cut is oddly "Bulls Anthem" running 2:02. I say oddly because this is SOIA at their utmost Dropkick Murphy's only these guys do it better IMO. This is a street rock song about animal cruelty with some guest vocals by Tim from Rise Against. It's a sing along, so sing along you dicks. At first I was turned off but several runs through the LP and it is a nice break in the action. I'm a sucker for the short ones, so the :58 second knockout punch to the selfie generation is definitely my next choice cut in "Self Important Shithead". Millennials and Gen Z kids everywhere will cry. "Work the System" at 1:46, is a harsh indictment of the uncaring 1% and the modern state of capitalism. This is a NYHC stomper and while the boys shout "just one drop would improve so many lives/just one drop from that fucking one percent", you'll be karate kicking and floor punching your ass off. The album culminates in the 2:38 epic "The New Slavery". Craig's always magnificent bass starts off a galloping as well as heartbreaking hardcore tune. I honestly got choked up when Lou shouts "How can I be proud of this? This is my home", and that line hits home like a ten ton hammer. It's no surprise they left this one for last as it a mic drop of a song.
We were the disenfranchised youth. We were supposed to grow up and have the next wave be disenfranchised with us as we all rode off into the sunset, fat and happy. Who knew we'd be the disenfranchised adults and that Sick Of It All would once again write a soundtrack for our anger. They put out and incredibly timely and topical, well thought out LP here. It's not all doom and gloom either. SOIA remain optimistic. This one has everything any SOIA fan is gonna look for, spanning all of their years. There is plenty of politics as mentioned above and also heard on the bombastic "Deep State" with it refrain of "false flag, false flag , and the scathing rebuke of Don Don's wall on "Bad Hombres" which has a breakdown that will have you tearing down the walls in your mamma's house if not at the border itself. The dudes did not shy away from melody either and there's plenty like on the inner demon battling, "The Snake (Break Free)" and the brotherhood hymnal for our fallen comrades "Always With Us", which brought tears to my eyes only one day removed from hearing about the passing of NYHC icon Todd Youth. Another brother gone way too soon. There are also rapid blasts like "To The Wolves" and "Hardcore Horseshoe" that come in for quick attacks. You'll even find that there is a bit of groove as witnessed on the machine gun set off homage to the Bad Brains, "Crazy White Boy Shit" and the metallic "Beef Between Vegans". Believe it or not there are still songs on here that I haven't even mentioned and that will be up to your lazy asses to investigate because they all rock. Every single one, with a special shout out to "Robert Moses Was A Racist". A song that hits me directly in my New York heart.
These guys are complete and utter pros at this point and the band functions like the most well oiled of machines. Each member a hardcore virtuoso. I can't believe these guys put out this record in 2018. I got to bring my oldest kid to see them a month ago. She fucking loved them and was especially mesmerized by Pete. When I told her his age she about fell over. The man is a force. They all are. That night she took my SOIA windbreaker and I haven't seen it since, I'm also missing some LPs. This LP brought me two tears twice you ungrateful punk pricks. I'm a very sensitive boy. I'm also sensitive to the fact that these guys have been giving us 100% for decades. They may have even upped their game here a bit, if possible. The least you fucking dimly lit bulbs can do is grab this and support them. Without them, none of your precious little "acts" would exist. So take your thumbs out your assholes and go buy this, because, FUCK YOU, that's why. Plus sick Ernie art on the cover!!!!
LUICIDAL "BORN IN VENICE"
(Cleopatra Records, Released October, 2018)
Luicidal formed in 2012 and is the brainchild of Louiche Mayorga, former bass player of Suicidal Tendencies. During the early days of ST he helped write some of the songs that became punk rock classics including "Institutionalized" which helped a young Suicidal Tendencies get noticed well beyond the punk rock scene. Now 55 years of age Mr. Mayorga is back with a semi-new band that in part bears his name... still repping Venice Beach, CA and showing on this new effort that he has some great tunes left in the tank.
So first off you may be asking, what exactly is Luicidal? A tribute/cover band? Why after 30 years away from playing this type of music is this guy coming back up for another go at it? But most importantly you may be wondering... is this shit even any good? I can answer the 3rd part of that round of questions with a resounding yes as Luicidal comes at the listener from different angles, sticking to the early ST vibe but also branching out to bring about an extremely well rounded album that in many ways resembles a hardcore punk record that would have come out in the mid-80's.
The title track leads off with a burst of power and speed with an obvious early ST sound while also packing some really good hooks to reel us in. The lyrics pridefully sing about staying true to the hood with the lines of "this neighborhood is where I'm from... the barrio by the sea, still packing a gun... I was born and raised in Venice Beach, still kicking up dust, never missing a beat". I get the feel that if this song could talk it might sound like one of the dudes in the 1988 cop/gang banger movie Colors and just might say something along the lines of... "You were doubting us ese?" This track is just one of a slew of tracks that have that old Suicidal vibe that go either in the direction of their classic 1983 debut like on "You Are Forgiven", "Sick Society", "Work Related Terrror Attack", and "Surfin' Tsunamis" while others have more of a "Join The Army" (1987) feel like on "I Win, You Lose", “Tears Of A Psycho Clown", and "Wrecking Crew".
The aspect that brings a heart and soul to this album though are the tracks that don't really fall into one of the two previously mentioned categories. A clever remake of "Institutionalized" sung in Spanish by former Tijuana No! singer Ceci Bastida will be a track that will draw many to check out Luicidal. Ceci crushes her vocals here basically mimicking the original idea of the family thinking their kid is a whack job that needs to be put away. Rocky George (another ex-Suicidal dude) plays guest guitar on this track as well. Check out the video! "Punk Chick" is a great reworked ST song with a strong ska vibe. "Fuck You" is a jam type track that takes direct aim at the current administration in power here in the USA while "ST Posse" digs up more ska vibes with guest vocals from Chris Abbott of Horny Toad and is a definite keeper.
These "other" tracks that I elude to bring a strong balance to this album making it the well rounded piece of work that it is. If done right the use of these tracks in their live set could make them a pretty fun band to see out live as well. The grand finale sendoff here is a track called "One Steel Soldier". This song is over 20 years old, has been reworked for this release and was originally in the arsenal of the ska/punk band Horny Toad which Louiche has been a part of for many many years. This almost 5 minute song is hard to categorize with an almost country music/power metal ballad from the 80's feel to it and will probably be most people's favorite or least favorite track on this 13 song effort. The band feels strongly enough about this song that they are currently in the process of making a music video for it. Dale Henderson from Beowulf (yet another band that dates back in punk rock lore with ST) is yet another guest on this album. Louiche was dumped by Suicidal Tendencies in the late 80's and in some ways him getting a bunch of his old homies in the mix on this new record must have a cleansing feel. In an upcoming interview we did it is very clear that there is no love lost between Luicidal and Mike Muir.
"Born In Venice" was a really nice surprise. Admittedly when I first heard about this band I did have my doubts but this has turned into one of the better records we've had submitted for review the entire year. If you are a die-hard early ST fan there are enough tracks here for you to get excited about, and if you expand your listening horizons just a little you may just end up with much much more.
SCHOOL DRUGS – “RELATIVE SUFFERING” 7" EP
(Released August, 2018)
Holy Santa Claus shit! There is definitely something in the water in New Jersey. I grew up in New York but have always felt that the most densely populated state in the nation is also the most densely populated with great bands. Our friends at the new label, Hell Minded Records, out of Trenton, have issued their first release and it is keeping with the long standing tradition of Jersey bands that do their own thing, and do it exceedingly well. This here is the review of the new School Drugs – “Relative Suffering” 7" available now. Let's check the tunes shall we?
"Not Alone" kicks the EP off clocking in at a brisk 1:21. An audio clip gets interrupted by some feedback and a lo-fi guitar intro kicks it off. This song is short but very strong and just as deep if you've ever been affected by suicide or suicidal thoughts. Somehow they cram in some nice melody. Excellent introduction. Nice to meet you School Drugs. The next song is "Side FX" at 1:26 which doesn't start as much as get bled into from the first track via some feedback. This one has a stompy almost street punk feel to it. The vocals are also more gruff and I'm not sure if it's the same singer or maybe one of the other dudes. This is another personal song that will have you saying "Side effects don't bother me, I like it more than the disease", over and over to yourself....alone...in a dark, damp, musky room. Okay, maybe just me. The third track "Burn" also jump starts much like the previous one. This one is a very slim 1:12. This one is played at blistering speeds and maybe sung even faster. Just when you are about to have a heart attack they break it down at the end and give you a soft......nah......hard landing. Next up is "Black Tongue" running 2:03. This one has some Misfits overtones especially the intro. I was half expecting Glenzig to croon "Who came along for the ride”. I think it's great… intended or not.... maybe these dudes hate the Misfits and I just insulted them. This is my pizzeria. That was a nice way to end side A. SD flashing their more rock and roll side.
Side two contains the two epics. It kicks off with "Life Overrated/Press On" a twofer song that runs 3:36. The "Life Overrated" portion of the song is like... if you go off your meds and steal a car....and go for a death ride. This is what the soundtrack would be. It kicks ass. Then at around 1:15, you remember that adderall you had stashed in your condom pocket, you take it, and the "Press On" portion of the song begins. This one is pissed and laser focused. "The future's here so press on, press on". This two "parter" is my standout track. The last song is "Relentless" at 2:40. This one really is the "off your meds" tune.....or at the very least the "I skipped a few doses" tune. The thing that won't relent in the song is paranoia and the song itself makes you feel it. A well crafted tune that kinda kicked off in a "Teenage Lobotomy" way, but maybe I am just getting caught up in the whole mental illness thing.
This EP is great, but as stated, I expect nothing less from Dirty Jersey. Don't get me wrong Jersey has produced some cheese, especially when you get into the 90’s and 00’s straight edge stuff, but School Drugs has nothing to do with that. The band is tight. This EP is lo-fi. It is grimey. The vocals are slightly fuzzy in all the right ways. It is gloriously sloppy in its precision, and you can quote me on that bag of douches. These are all compliments. I'll put School Drugs right in there with some Jersey greatness like Night Birds, Tear It Up, Full Speed Ahead, Vision,......Mental Abuse, ...... Hogan's Heroes,.....American Standard,......Adrenalin O.D,.....Misfits,......Chronic Sick,....No Refund, I think I'm just naming Jersey bands now. Either way, check out the first release from Hell Minded Records, there's a tape version, some sweet vinyls, alt-covers, etc. A top notch job from those guys. So wipe your ass now and go buy it or click on it and buy it or whatever you lazy sacks of shit do.
POINTBREAK "POINTBREAK/FORGIVER" CASSETTE SINGLE (Coin Toss Records, Released September, 2018)
Pointbreak are some real new blood from Phoenix, AZ who have only been a band for just a little over 6 months now. They put out the track "Pointbreak" online in July and then the track "Forgiver" in September. Enter Coin Toss Records with a limited run cassette version of these two songs with only 100 made, but you can still stream this online by hitting the link at the end of this review. Pointbreak the song is up first leading in with an audio sample of Patrick Swayze from the 1991 movie of the same name. Swayze talks about "us against the system" before this smooth as fuck bass line and then drums enter the fray to simply fuck shit up. Around the 50 second mark lead singer Martin drops a simple yet effective "POINT BREAK!" yell as this song really takes hold and I dare you to not nod your head as it continues on. I double dare you! The vocals are raw and tight and I absolutely love the guitar tone they got on these two tracks. "Pointbreak” is a mid-paced track throughout that kind of gives me some vibes of Outburst (for an older reference) and Regulate (for a newer one). Check out the video for this track HERE. Like the first track, "Forgiver" is another mid-paced jam that relies heavily on a tight riff with those choppy drum beats that again gets that head nodding along. Lyrically this is a dark track with the idea that they are already living in hell on a daily basis and whatever awaits them after death won't be all that much different. Although only 4 minutes in length Pointbreak leave an impression that they are going to do big things if they stick to the course they are already on. It is almost hard to fathom that a band that has been around for as short a time as they have been can sound this well polished as these two tracks simply rip. A 4 song concept 7"/cassette titled "Forsaken" is up next and currently in the works. Can't wait.
ANTAGONIZE "PROMO 2018" (Released September 2018)
Antagonize are a 5 piece band out of Boston who feature ex-Bane singer Aaron Bedard on vocals. We first found out about them via their 5 song demo that came out back in April, and now they return with 2 new songs that will be a part of an upcoming full length. "Land Of Dreams" starts off with a mid-paced 90's type of chugga-chugga groove that sets up the impending mayhem that happens around the 45 second mark where this song really takes it to the listener with what seems like layers of groove, a much faster pace and Bedard's signature voice out front leading the charge. Although this song seems to talk about the current political climate and the dire straits our world seems to be in Bedard sings the curious line of "You could not ask for a better time to be alive". "Transona 6" has a similar makeup with a song that builds up a bit before hitting the gas with some speed then taking it all back down to a mid-paced and crushing mid-90's type of breakdown. Antagonize give off this controlled chaos type of feel on these tracks and the use of guitar feedback to lead in or lead out of a song adds to that feel for me. Antagonize are on to something here with some creative songs that have a fresh feel to them, Bedard shines as you would expect him to and we are left with the anticipation of a killer LP that is hopefully not too far away.
PUMMEL “PROMO 2018” (Released October, 2018)
I was introduced to the Boston hardcore outfit Pummel in May of 2017 when I did a review for the band's demo that was released in October 2016. Now 2 years later I'm very excited to be writing a review for their latest release “Promo 18”. When I wrote about that demo my only complaint (actually it was more of a wish) was that I wanted the songs to be a little longer. Well apparently the band, which still consists of Matt-vocals, Steve-guitar, John-bass and Steve-drums listened to me. However there are only 3 songs on this short promo and to me 3 songs totaling a little over 7 minutes is a straight up tease! In my opinion, this release demonstrates a maturity from the other releases but in no way does it alter the aggressive hardcore style these boys from Boston have mastered since forming a few years ago. Track titles are: “Ideal World”, “26” and “Hope Diminished” and with only 3 songs you would think it would be easy to select a favorite song. Not the case here. It was very difficult to make a choice but I went with “26”, a tale of one going through a painful self-reflection as my top pick. In my last review I stated that if not due to my tardiness in writing, I would've given Pummel's demo an honorable mention in my top releases for 2016. I won’t make the same mistake twice since I've kept these guys on my radar and without a doubt “Promo 2018” will be on that list come December. Click that link below and judge for yourselves.
PIECE OF MIND “TRILOGY”
(Trip Machine Labs, Released October, 2018)
A Midwest tornado is currently hitting the East Coast. It started on October 21st and is expectedto last until November 4th. But don't start raiding your local store for supplies, this storm doesn't contain a mixture of rain and heavy winds but rather a mix of emotionally charged vocals , heavy riffs, thunderous bass lines and pulsating drums. This "musical tornado" better known as Piece Of Mind, is a hardcore band from Tulsa, Oklahoma who are currently tearing up the East Coast for a two week run in support of their current release “Trilogy”. Put out on the Trip Machine Lab label (based in my hometown of Nyack NY) “Trilogy” contains 12 tracks from Piece Of Mind’s 3 out of 4 earlier releases that were only previously available on either cassette or digitally. “Trilogy” has a run time of just shy of 30 minutes and the songs are longer than typical hardcore songs but that's not a bad thing since every song is a well crafted, hybrid of the band's heavy, spine rattling style and "90's inspired hardcore". With track titles like “Harsh Reality”, “Unjust Society” and “Nation Of Fear”, band members Drew, Jacob, Skyler, Duston and Luis have never shied away from writing a sound track for a screwed up world. My choice for the best track on the LP is “Judas In Your Eye” but there are many close seconds. Piece of Mind began their conquest in 2015, three years later with the release of this LP expect the band's popularity to rise, along with a trail of destruction wherever they play.
BETTER DAYS "AWAY TEAM" 7" EP
(Coin Toss Records, Released September 2018)
Saint Louis 5 piece that play fast melodic hardcore in the vein of Kill Your Idols, Gorilla Biscuits and let's say some Fat Wreck styled stuff that we all have at least one release by. I've read that comparison before about Better Days but its dead fucking on. 4 new songs here, 8 minutes running time. Back in 2017 they had an overhaul within the band with member changes and they scrapped all of their previous work that dated back to 2010-ish. The newer songs are better but honestly I don't hear a ton of changes in the approach. Good tunes are good tunes and these fit the bill. "Intro/Red Scorpion" has a sick mosh it up type intro and the tail end of the song is super catchy with some nice sing-a-long opportunities to get the crowd awake and on their feet. "The Last Boy Scout" follows with more speed and groove, followed by "Raw Deal" which will thrash and bash you over the head with more lightning speed riffs. The last quarter of this song really builds up into a nice ending. Things close out with "State Property" which again is all about the speed and groove. Better Days bring basic hardcore punk fundamentals to the table and turn out a really fine effort. Speed, hooks, sing-a-longs, and no death metal cookie monster style vocals. Me like. Bucket list band to see live as well. Interview with their guitarist Kevin Carter coming soon to In Effect Hardcore. Coin Toss Records really coming into their own with finding new bands that still may be under people's radar and "Away Team" is just the latest example of this.
SCARBORO "WOLVES ON THE RADIO"
(WTF Records, Released October 2018)
One of NYC's hidden punk rock gems return with a new 5 song EP titled "Wolves On The Radio" which is out now on CD from Europe's WTF Records. We found out about this local 3 piece in 2017 when they were pushing their debut full length which was one of my favorite releases of last year. Scarboro play a high energy brand of punk rock that always seems to drop some killer hook, groove or melody at just the right time in a song. "Fight To Live" opens things up shredding away for a minute and a half with the catchy chorus of "I refuse to die, fight to stay alive" that eventually breaks down into a NYHC inspired mosh towards its end. I love the guitar sound here and the vocals are raw but clear enough to follow along to. The title track is up next and again delivers a great chorus that is really easy to get into. Maybe it's because it has the word "wolves" in the title but whenever I hear this song coming on I think of Rancid and their “And Out Come The Wolves” record. "Samsara" is track 3 and continues the run of shorter songs coming in at just over a minute and a half and has another sick breakdown part mid-way that shows more signs of their hardcore influences. "Eyes Of The Enemy" is the 4th track and to me sums up exactly what Scarboro is all about. This is also their best track on this short EP starting off with a fuzzy bass line as singer Shi sings "I stare into the eyes of the enemy, and they look a lot like mine, I've seen into the heart of the enemy, and it beats a lot like mine" before this track takes us off on a wild ride. Tons of groove on the chorus here and just an all-out great track. "Another Day" closes out this impressive release with a mid-paced track that sorta trods along before it finishes off strong with more hooks to send us home. Overall… wow! This band plays a lot of smaller shows in the NYC area and have now released 2 solid releases in the last two years. Hopefully people out there start noticing this still unsung band and help Scarboro graduate out of their "hidden gem" status and into more of the underground scene's spotlight because they sure as shit deserve it.
BYSTANDER s/t 7" (Safe Inside Records, Released October 2018)
The debut Bystander 7" on Safe Inside Records (Goodwill Records in Europe) is out now showcasing some good old fashioned Youth Crew style hardcore that is sure to bring a smile to many who hold this style of the core near and dear. Double dipped in extra savory Youth Of Today sauce with added organic youth crew flavors is the recipe that is not reinventing that proverbial wheel by any means but brings an energy and fire that makes this recording worth coming back to for more listens. The opening track "Bystander" is probably my favorite here as it is accompanied by a live rehearsal room video that is fun to watch with the band and their friends going off in a small room. The little kid wearing the earmuff hearing protection is a nice touch as well! There is nothing like watching a hardcore band playing in an optimum live setting. Check that video out HERE. The remaining 4 songs clock in at around 7 minutes in all and are not far behind in quality while capturing the same spirit as the opener. This release screams "2018 Hardcore Band" in a few ways; firstly with it being a short EP from a band that started not too long ago (late 2017 in this case) but more so for the fact that this 5 piece unit is made up of members who live in Chicago, Kentucky, Seattle and Los Angeles. The fact that they have already played a short run of West Coast dates with more already booked strongly hints at the fact that this will not be just a recording studio project that fades away after the initial hoopala is over so should Bystander members start looking for their frequent flyer cards? Only time will tell though but for now Bystander comes out for round 1 swinging hard and repping the xxxStraightEdgexxx well. If given the chance I am sure Ray and Porcell would smash the stuffing out of their like button. 4 hoods up!
NOTHING IS OVER s/t CD EP (Released August, 2018)
I had never heard of Nothing Is Over until I was asked to do a review of their self-titled EP. I quickly dove into my usual routine of looking into a Bandcamp page... but there isn't one. Facebook page... nope. Instagram page… yes but it didn't give me as much info as I had hoped. So, although my normal method for writing had been compromised I adapted and wrote what I knew about. This Long Island hardcore band is made up of Doug, Ed, Matt, Chris and Dave and Nothing Is Over contains a great blend of heaviness drawn from hardcore and metal, very comparable to the legendary NY band Merauder. Let’s run down each of the 4 tracks… Up first is “Carrie”… a homage to the classic horror/revenge movie, track 2 is “Egypt” which is a harsh plea to a friend to give up drugs before becoming another neighborhood statistic, track 3 is “Vigilant” which is about doing what you can to survive with “Executioner” the finale being about not being able to correct your evil ways when it’s time to face your fate. I like all the tracks equally on this EP and not only does the band capture the often missed elements to make a release of this type successful, check them out live and be prepared to get all that aggression out on the dance floor. Catch them at a show or contact them through their IG page below to find out more!
COMPULSE “FORGED BY STRUGGLE” DEMO
(Released July, 2018)
Compulse is a new hardcore band based out of Star City of the South, sandwiched somewhere between Lynchburg and Blacksburg , called Roanoke, Virginia. You can read into those city names on your own time SJW's. Roanoke is like Richmond's little cousin when it comes to hardcore scenes. They have their own little thing going on but often fall in the shadows of their larger neighboring scenes like Virginia Beach, DC, and the aforementioned Fist City. Compulse aims to change that with this 4 song offering, and upon initial listen, I'd say they are well on their way. So, on with the show.
First song is "O.C.D." clocking in at 2:39. The intro begins with a dive bomb. Ahhh... these guys know how to tug on the heart strings. The dive leads into a quasi-chugga riff that will have you stomping around your room and starting your own mini circle pit as the tempo speeds up. Then the song kicks into full gear and we get a rapid galloping hardcore tune that breaks down and winds up with interesting guitar work intertwined with the riff culminating in a send off dive bomb for good measure. Next up is "Tough Love" at 1:50. This one starts off at 100 mph and slows down leaving plenty of room for destructive moshing. Yes, I hear more dive bombing.... like the cowbell in some circles, you can never have enough dive bombing. Solid tune. The third track is "Disgrace" also clocking in at 1:50....conspiracy? This one starts off with some feedback into a bass line. It has a head bopping element to it. This one is full of rage and my choice cut of the demo. It is very angry yet restrained like someone who is about to lose their fucking mind and you happened to walk in right at that moment before they do. "Bridges Burned" is the final cut on the demo running 2:09. This one starts in a generic hardcore way before it puts the hammer on the gas and takes off. This is the one that will have the kids beating the shit out of each other with a breakdown very reminiscent of Judge. This one also has some nice guest vocals by a chap named Sacha from a band called Faded. You will mosh.
There you have it. These kids are trying to keep their small Roanoke scene going so help them out and support. This is some good core right here. You can hear influences from NY to California and of course Richmond. Bands like Outburst and Bracewar come to mind. The music is tight. I especially love that bully bass sound. The vocals are muddy but in a good way that works with the music and sets it apart from similar bands. Roanoke is also known as Magic City, and while magical might not really be a way to describe Compulse, the fact that they can get their demo into the hands of an aged punk who has seen it all, and enjoys their stuff enough to write about it, is pretty magical.....and I, like Doug Henning (RIP) live in the world of illusions, bitches. Google him. See how old I am and how weird we were... now fuck off!
TRUE SELF "SUMMER PROMO 2018" (Released July 2018)
"False Self" and "Phaedrus' Knife" are two promo tracks offered up by Springfield, MO's True Self who have previous releases that date back to January of last year. These two songs caught my attention right away with "False Self" being the better of the two with some nice posi-lyrics talking about "taking a look inside" and "what you dwell upon you will become". Smart stuff. Heads screwed on right. Possibly quality people that I wouldn't mind living next door to me even. Haha. Musically True Self show themselves to be throwbacks of sorts but not necessarily an old-school style hardcore band as I would guess that these guys are well versed with their hardcore record collections. I guess what I am really trying to say here is that this 2 song sampler draws influences from various backgrounds. They got some decent hooks in their songs and have parts that are conducive to getting a crowd amped up as well. Recording is average though and doesn't do these two songs any favors and the vocals are better in their tamer parts as the parts where their singer really lets loose and gets all screamo have a nails across the blackboard type of feel. I like this brief check in with True Self, don't love it but with some minor tweaks they could probably flip me right around.
THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES, SHEER TERROR, KILLING TIME, COMBUST
@TOMPKINS SQUARE PARK, NYC SEPTEMBER 29, 2018
Jimmy G, Gestapo, Drescher, the singer from Murphy’s Law! Recently he got sick, went into the hospital and had some complications of epic proportions while there and this show was put together to help him foot some of those costly medical bills. This was the 3rd year in a row that Black ‘N Blue Productions has put on a summer or fall show in Tompkins Square Park with impressive turnouts to each one. As stated in previous reviews for these shows Tompkins Square Park holds a ton of not only New York City history but also New York Hardcore history and having these shows in this very location is very important to the many who represent that NYHC logo with pride.
COMBUST. PHOTO BY: RICH ZOELLER
Kicking things off were upstarts COMBUST from Staten Island who went on around 2pm. In late 2017 they put out a 6 song demo and have been making the rounds since that time popping up on some high profile shows opening up for Terror, Incendiary as well as this year’s BNB Bowl in May. Their lead singer Andrew Vacante has always hustled with his previous bands Impact and VICE and I expected no less from him with his latest band which I also think is the best of the lot. Their 4th song in was a cover of “Quest For Herb” by Murphy’s Law; acknowledging why we were here on this day and also probably grabbing the attention of those who may have been on the fringe of fully paying attention to what this young band was doing. Combust bring the “BUST” with tons of NYHC flavor, breakdowns, and as their set carried on more and more people dancing. Highly impressed by what they delivered here ending on a high note with their “Intro” leading into the track “Combust”. In all a total of 7 songs in just over 20 minutes, pretty much a perfect way to get up there, bust your shit out and leave them wanting more. Back in July they dropped two new ones which you can check out HERE.
KILLING BTIME. PHOTO BY: STEVEN MESSINA
KILLING TIME has reached a point as a band where they dust off their gear only a few times a year popping up on mostly bigger shows and picking their spots wisely. This one had to be a no brainer when asked considering the cause. They hit the stage with “Telltale” less than 15 minutes after Combust left the stage leaving me hustling back from the bodega with my bag of chips and Snapple in hand. The crowd really filled in at this point on what seemed to be a perfect weather day at around 70 degrees. As expected, tracks off their “Brightside” album from ’89 were what set the crowd off and a nice surprise in a cover of a cover with KT covering “I Got A Right” (a popular Murphy’s Law cover) by Iggy and the Stooges which dates all the way back to the 1970’s. Their set was just short of 30 minutes and finished up with one of their best in “Backtrack”. KT picks their spots well, not putting themselves out there too much making it special when they do come back around to play a show. A good formula that I hope they stick with going forward.
SHEER TERROR. PHOTO BY: KEN BUGLIONE
Got to hand it to those running the stage here as they had SHEER TERROR up and running in less than 20 minutes following KT. We have all been to shows where we are like “just fucking play already” but NOT the case here. The Reverend Paul Bearer came out as only he can asking us to buy a shirt, make a donation… cause we’re here to “FIX JIMMY’S COCK!” as a lead in to their opener “Here To Stay” which also came out in the great year of 1989. Sheer Terror played a long set (close to an hour) filled with enough Paul Bearer banter to fill up another CD’s worth of extras if they ever chose to do so. Check out Dead City Records’ “Drop Dead And Go To Hell” CD from 2004 if you want some of Paul’s previous classics on a compact disc. The set list here was very well mixed showing off older stuff all the way back to “Twisting And Turning” to the newest of the new in “The Moon’s Gone Out” off of their latest “Pall In The Family” which came out in August. Paul’s recent online dustup with The Proud Boys group came into play as well with his rebuttal offering no apologies while describing his own songs to be about “depression, cocaine, and pussy”. Sheer Terror fired on all cylinders with a super tight set and as previously described Paul in full Paul mode when it came to giving his opinions. Like it or not they are here to stay.
THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES. PHOTO BY: JC PHOTO MEDIA
The ska-punk sounds of THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES were probably not most people’s first guess to headline this event when the idea to have a benefit show for Jimmy came up but his longtime friendship with the Boston band came into play as frontman Dickey Barrett explained from the stage that once they were asked to play this show they immediately accepted. Dickey went on to give Jimmy a ton of credit with helping a young Bosstones band get their feet under them way back when as Jimmy came up during their set to thank the crowd for coming out and then join in on the more mellow track “A Little Bit Ugly”. The size of the crowd swelled to its biggest showing of the day as they busted into about an hours worth of material which included the track “The Impression That I Get” which brought them commercial success in the late 1990’s that spilled into the early 2000’s. Although not a big ska fan myself, I have to give these guys credit as they have the look and feel of a band that has been around the block a few times and really knew how to send everyone home on the right note. Another fun day in the park was had and there is already talk of more down the line. Let’s hope! -CW
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SCARBORO, THE CAR BOMB PARADE, CRAZY EDDIE, GOOD NEIGHBOR
@SHILLELAGH TAVERN, ASTORIA, NY SEPTEMBER 28, 2018
Apologies to Long Island young-ins GOOD NEIGHBOR for my late arrival at the Shill causing me to miss your set. This was my first time at this venue which is a local watering hole and sports bar in Astoria Queens. Yes, the same Astoria, Queens that has pumped out dozens of New York Hard Core heavy hitters over the years so when you cross that town line into Astoria you are entering some pretty hallowed ground my friend. First up for me tonight was CRAZY EDDIE; an up and comer in the NYHC scene made up of old faces in new places with the majority of their lineup having a pretty good NYHC rap sheet. They play straight up mosh inducing NYHC and have been paying their dues sort of speak going on about a year now opening up on a bunch of local area shows and just getting their name out there. They got free music in the form of the “Eddie Drops Out Of College” 15 song full length that came out this past May which is recommended listening. Their singer wears a wrestling mask at all their shows, I am hoping he gets it dry cleaned from time to time. Crazy Eddie played for about a half hour and seemed to get the best crowd response of the night from what I saw. A band on the right track, look out for them!
Up next was THE CAR BOMB PARADE, a helluva name if you break it down and think about it. Let me give you a second to ponder that thought… Another local band claiming NYC and NJ as their home base who definitely caught my attention with their wide array/range of what they were playing. Some songs were more along the lines of Misfit’s/Rancid inspired punk shit with sing-a-long type choruses and others were more metal influenced, some more in the vein of NYHC. I love me some diversity and The CBP were serving it right up. They got a good frontman and the rest of the band really got into their set as well. Bands who give their all when the crowd isn’t exactly going off get my respect. The Shillelagh Tavern is not a venue that will remind you of CBGB’s, The Wetlands, Coney Island High or other great venues from yesteryear… in any way, but… the small crowd assembled here got into all of the bands as there was a lot of applause/appreciation and even screaming after some of the songs from an audience that had a lot in the way of youth. Some looked like they were here with their parents and others obviously were still in the early stages of finding out about punk rock/hardcore and this is a very encouraging sign for the future of this music. Welcome motherfuckers! With Crazy Eddie and then Car Bomb they got two good bands to get their feet wet with.
Last up were more NYC locals with the highly underrated SCARBORO, a 3 piece where their singer is also their guitarist. With hardcore punk it is so common to see the lead singer running around and handing the microphone off to a pile of people all grabbing to sing-a-long. I was skeptical on how Scarboro would bring that energy with a guy pulling double duty and am happy to report that one of my favorite newer bands can bring it live as well as they had this intensity to them. They got a new EP out called “Wolves On The Radio” which is 5 songs and is more on the punk rock side of the fence than hardcore but knee deep in both pools if that makes any sense. “Wolves” is fast, and catchy, just like their 2017 full length “Here Comes The Hangover”. Scarboro played 12 songs in about 30 minutes with a big portion of the crowd sticking around till the end. This show had more of a “let’s go see our friends jam down at the studio” feel rather than a “big show” feel and sometimes these types of shows can be more enjoyable than the big ones. This show had a good vibe and some good music was played on this night and I am really glad I turned out for it.
NIGHT BIRDS “ROLL CREDITS”
(Fat Wreck-Chords, Released September, 2018)
Night Birds! Alright, I’m gonna do away with pleasantries and dramatic wordy intros, and I’ll just say this: I’ve never listened to Night Birds before, and with “Roll Credits” as my introduction to this band, I am HYPED! 2018 is NB’s 10 year anniversary, and they are celebrating with the release of this “mini-album” as well as welcoming back ex-guitarist Mike Hunchback into the fold, rounding out the lineup to a hefty 5-piece surf-punk shore-core powerhouse. The first 3 tracks of this record have got to be my favorite first chunk of a record that I’ve heard in a while. Opening with a whirlwind Ventures-esque surf ripper intro, then sliding into the 1-2 gut punch of “Onward To Obscurity” (featuring a cameo appearance from the king of punk himself Poison Idea’s Jerry A) followed by my fav track “My Dad Is The BTK”. As stated earlier, having never listened to NB before I really dig what they’re putting down with this newly realized 2 guitar attack. I now can’t imagine this band having a fraction of the intensity with just 1 axe-man, but my sources tell me they’ve been pulling it off for quite some time. For me, the true standouts on “Roll Credits” are the instrumentals; the whole ordeal is book-ended by 2 of them, the opener tearing your face off, and the closer being a little more subdued. I think I like the instrumental cuts because they are a fresh take on a way to open and close an album. That, and they remind me of The Kids In The Hall theme song! Of the 4 other tracks on this record I’d say only 2 of them manage to keep my attention, but I’m also factoring in being a new Night Bird fiend, so maybe after a peruse through their back catalogue I’ll grow to appreciate the context of these songs in contrast to the other ones I like. So in a very roundabout way what I’m saying is, Night Birds rip, “Roll Credits” rips, Fat Wreck rips, In Effect rips, and everything is gnarly. Just listen to the first 3 tracks on this record and try and tell me you don’t feel an urge to bomb a Jersey shore boardwalk on a Powell Peralta deck! 7 thumbs up!
GLOVES OFF “BORN BROKEN” EP
(Fast Break! Records, Released September, 2018)
Since their inception in early 2017, Gloves Off has been turning heads with their raw, unapologetic style; playing shows with NYHC legends Madball, and Pennsylvania hardcore ambassadors Wisdom in Chains. “Born Broken” is their latest release, and first with PA's Fastbreak! Records. Since signing with Fastbreak! in March of this year, Gloves Off has expanded their presence and doubled down on their uber-heavy brand of hardcore. Opening with a clip from HBO's “The Wire”; the self proclaimed “Goon Squad” of Pennsylvania hardcore set it off right from the jump on “Born Broken”. With head banging speed riffs and clenched fist, slow, super heavy breakdowns, Gloves Off offer a delicious blend of metallic technicality and hardcore spirit which will appeal equally to the new and old school alike. In just 5 songs “Born Broken” touches on several aspects that keep the PAHC scene fresh and relevant. The ability for a new band to step forward like this and seem so comfortable in the studio and on the road is a really rad thing to watch. Having just come off a quick run through Texas with fellow PA based acts Departed and Dissent, as well as the East Coast Tsunami Fest in Reading, PA Gloves Off have made it clear that they are here to crush. And with Halloween right around the corner make sure to check out the slasher video they recently put out for the track “Roanoke”.
SICK OT IT ALL, SKARHEAD @ ABOARD THE LIBERTY BELLE, NYC SEPTEMBER 22, 2018
PHOTOS BY: TIM DALEY @MusicDaley
Rocks Off has been doing these boat shows in NYC for quite some time, not always involving hardcore bands from what I have seen but the whole idea of having a hardcore show on a boat floating around the Statue Of Liberty is pretty damn ingenious! The Liberty Belle is an old-school type of boat with 4 floors and overall a pretty cool way to accommodate an old-school hardcore band like Sick Of It All along with openers Skarhead. There were a bunch of funny headlines and jokes made leading up to this including the G.O.A.T. on a BOAT (G.O.A.T. referring to SOIA as the Greatest Of All Time), the question of would SOIA keep playing if the ship started to sink like in Titanic, and the fact that this was a 3 hour boat tour much like the Minnow was scheduled for in the old TV show Gilligan’s Island.
The Belle set off at 7pm and by 735pm scene vets Lord Ezec and Puerto Rican Myke were up on stage along with the rest of SKARHEAD ripping into “Kings At Crime”, the title track from their ’98 full length that came out on Victory Records back when Victory was a force and not a farce like they are 20 years later. “K.A.C.” is one of Skarhead’s better tracks in their vault and for your Queens history factoid of the day you should know they (KAC) were also a force in the world of NYC graffiti as far back as the early 90’s where they had some pretty bad beefs with another Queens graffiti crew TMR. Pick up that Urban Styles book by our dude Freddy Alva to get more immersed in the graffiti/hardcore connection if you choose.
SKARHEAD PHOTO BY: TIM DALEY
Other oldies by Skarhead that I recall hearing were “Hardcore”, “Punk Rock Fantasy”, “Dogs Of War”, and “Drugs, Money, & Sex”. As we have come to expect Skarhead frontman Lord Ezec was at the front and center while the music is playing, his raspy voice being one of the most recognizable in the world of hardcore. In between songs he brings a fun element playing off the things his bandmates may say or do and just brings a true entertainment value which made this set really enjoyable for me. Before they signed off though they got Mike Dijan (previously of Skarhead and many many others) to join them on stage for a cover of Outburst’s “The Hardway”. The ceiling above the stage was very low, and with Mike being maybe 6 foot 4 or so his head was coming within inches of smashing through the dropdown ceiling on a bunch of his leaps. A great way to kick off this night!
SICK OF IT ALL PHOTO BY: TIM DALEY
When they are building a boat I am pretty sure one of the last things they think of when building a stage is how it will hold up for hardcore shows. The stage on the Liberty Belle is awkward with a short run of stairs on one side and then a solid metal bar running straight across the stage, maybe 2 and a half feet high. The room was absolutely jammed and one of my first thoughts was someone is going to need an ambulance back at the dock. SICK OF IT ALL went on just after 830pm and the room literally exploded with what seemed like an army of lunatics that could give a rats ass about that bar as people continually flew OVER it during their set. The area in front of the stage was packed in so tight that there was little chance of someone not catching you. The stage also didn’t get filled with stage potatoes taking cell phone video which was great as the SOIA guys had a ton of room to move around and to take that crowd energy and produce it into an amazing set.
SICK OF IT ALL PHOTO BY: TIM DALEY
What I love about this band is that their live sets never get stale. They have a huge catalog of songs to pick from already and now with their new album coming out on November 3rd they have even more to draw from when thinking up their set list. New titles that I caught were “Inner Vision” (which many have already heard from the lyric video they put out), “Waking The Sleeping Dragon” (the title track), and “Crazy White Boy Shit” (which I remember having a catchy chorus). “Step Down” closed out their set with frontman Lou Koller thanking the captain for “not killing us” which was a nice touch as the boat pulled back into the dock. This show was also drummer Armand’s 51st birthday party. We know this because there was a store bought “HAPPY 50TH BIRTHDAY” sign above the stage with the number 50 covered with a 51. Sick Of It All shows NO signs of slowing down as they head into their 50’s, continue to play insanely energetic shows and apparently are about to smack us up with even more great new music in just over a month. G.O.A.T. on a BOAT tour 2018! -CW
MAN DESTROYS “EVERYTHING” 7” EP
(Not Like You Records, Released July 2018)
Snotty punk rock from the streets of Long Beach, CA that features Jeff Harp on guitar who is/was the founding member of Final Conflict. This 6 song release originally was put out at some time in 2017 under the title of “6 Song Demo” but Not Like You Records has revived it under the title “Everything” which just sorta flows with the band’s name. Straight forward with a gritty recording that captures a real dirty sound and style. The pink vinyl that that this is pressed on is a total mind fuck as it probably would have been best pressed on to a beer soaked leather jacket with a ripped Black Flag or Misfits patch instead. Can they even do that? At times this reminded me of the now defunct (and supremely underrated) Awkward Thought out of NY. Not Like You Records has a knack for finding solid releases like this one and transforming them on to limited edition vinyl… Man Destroys is just another example of this. Wish either the vinyl version or the online version (Bandcamp) included the lyrics so I could be mad after reading them. Ordering info can be found HERE or listen below.
xTIXONx/ROPNEY PRODUKT “HOME=EARTH” SPLIT (Released July, 2018)
German straight edge firebrands xTixonx make a long awaited and welcome return after a couple of years since their last release with the blistering “Home = Earth”, a split release with longtime Czech hardcore heroes Ropney Produkt (a band with over 25 years of blood, sweat and no tears on the Czech underground music scene). Despite the long wait for new music, it is more than worth the long wait for a new set of material from the band. From the off it is clear that xTixonxs powerful and positive straight edge message is stronger than ever and the two songs that they produce here are a very strong indication that the band are going from strength to strength. Ropney Produkt deliver the goods as well with their two tracks showing their unique take on hardcore to full effect. xTixonx deliver the first two blows with the powerful message delivered in a frantic way with first track “Save The Earth With Us” and they follow that up with the catchier but no less intense “Tolerance Without X”, a song with a killer punk/oi styled chorus that is ready made to be shouted back at the band from the pit. It is inspiring to hear that the bands strong straight edge message is still at the forefront of their agenda and the positivity that emits from the speakers is intense.
Following that onslaught is no mean feat but Ropney Produkt prove they are more than up to the task with their two numbers. The first, entitled “Dalia Lama” is a song that combines a more instrumental beat down colliding with the sound of maniacal laughter that sounds more and more unsettling as the song goes on and is as unexpected as it is menacing. The bands second offering “Den C 3”, is a slice of more traditional metal tinged hardcore but no less formidable than what preceded it. The finale shows both bands linking up for a cover of “The Weapon They Fear” by German metallic hardcore heroes Heaven Shall Burn that ends the split on a triumphant note with both bands coming together and showing they are definitely kindred spirits when it comes to the metallic influences of their hardcore power and this choice of cover fits well. This is a split release that shows the formidable power of these two bands and hopefully we will be getting more new material from them both in the future. It’s great to have xTixonx back and to have Ropney Produkt alongside them, ushering in a selection of great and furious European hardcore music.
CHEMICAL FIX “LEISURE FEAR” EP
(Released August, 2018)
If you happen to see smoke coming from Philadelphia it just might be due to the band CHEMICAL FIX practicing or playing a show. This hardcore/punk quintet have released a new EP titled “Leisure Fear” and it is fire! Chemical Fix have been around for two years but were called Caffeine until recently when they changed their name. They also added a new guitarist and as they state "are playing more shows". “Leisure Fear” is actually the band's third EP but the first under the new name. It contains 5 songs with a short play time of around 8 minutes, track listing: 1. “Quench”, 2. “Stockholm”, 3. “Greys”, 4. “Feign”, 5. “S.T.A.B.S.”.
From the first chord, this EP whips the listener into a musical frenzy made up of pure violence and energy, the perfect mix to get out one's aggression on the dance floor. The vocals go just as hard and I'm curious if the singer needed to take oxygen breaks between recording the songs? I can only imagine the intensity Chemical Fix put on during their live shows. This EP is one that I enjoyed from start to finish. With the band playing more and wanting to be more committed as seen through their recent changes, I imagine it won't be long before Chemical Fix take off.
REGULATE "IN THE PROMISE OF ANOTHER TOMORROW"
(Street Survival Records, Released July, 2018)
Back in June of 2016 Regulate had a coming out party of sorts with their "Years Of Rage" release that propelled them beyond their earlier efforts displaying leaps and bounds of growth in all areas of their game. "Years Of Rage" was well accepted within the hardcore scene and some high profile shows ensued further pushing this Long Island/Jersey Shore group into the scene's spotlight. I am happy to report that almost 2 years later that they once again return flexing even harder with this excellent 11 song release titled "In The Promise Of Another Tomorrow". For the uninitiated Regulate are a younger band who would have been a perfect fit at a 1990's Wetlands or Coney Island High show in NYC opening for the likes of Crown Of Thornz, District 9 or Madball. They got the 90’s era NYHC thing going on with the guitar crunch, some slower beatdown parts but in the end they undeniably display that NYHC influence. Just put on "11:13", the opener for say 30 seconds and if you are not completely losing your mind within that 30 seconds please check in to your nearest emergency room so they can check you for a pulse cause you are more than likely deceased.
"11:13" is just the start as the whole first half of this record is absolutely savage. What I love about this record is that it takes chances and does not follow a script. Track two "Manos De Oro" is sung in English and Spanish, has some speed to it and a great groove. "MindCrime" and "48" keep the line moving at tracks 3 and 4 respectively as the momentum and charge behind everything here just builds and builds before "Unfinished Abandonment Of Self", a nearly 2 and a half minute instrumental totally drops the intensity level from a 10 to a 1. This song is essentially a trance like jam and placed absolutely in the perfect spot on this album. "Character Arc" is next and is the second track here that steps out of the traditional hardcore role with a mid-paced beat backed by a more smooth vocal approach before that anger gets ratcheted up towards the tracks end. These two tracks are about 5 and a half minutes combined and put Regulate on another level creatively showing they are much more than 30 second bursts of energy followed by a mosh/beatdown part. Back in 2016 they released a cover of "She's Calling You" by the Bad Brains and I can't help but think that these kinds of tracks are influenced by stuff like that cover. Can tracks like these be the start of seeing Turnstile's influence rubbing off on the younger crop of bands? It's not a bad question to ask if you think about it. "Wishful Thinking" is track 7 and things return to the more traditional hardcore style which they do so well. With repeated listens I did find myself coasting through tracks 8..."KTC" through 11... "Indifference & Defiance". These final 4 tracks are good, more than adequate but probably not on the level of the opening 7 which I absolutely loved. Hype and who gets that hype within the hardcore music scene is so hard to figure out. One would figure the bands with the best music and message would get it but that is not always the case. Regulate deserve it though based off this release, their previous effort and a high energy live show. They have elements within their songwriting that can appeal to the old-school hardcore fan as well as a heaviness and approach that can reel in the younger ones as well. One of 2018's best releases as well as a beacon of hope that hardcore music will not only carry on for years to come but also incorporate new ideas while still keeping that hard edge. Great job Regulate!
RAW BRIGADE “KICKING YOUR FACE” EP
(Released May 2018)
From high atop the plateau known as the Bogotá Savanna, in the lovely city once known as the New Kingdom of Granada, this week’s musical offering is from none other than Colombia's own, Raw Brigade. I guess you could say Washington, D.C. is covering Bogota D.C. You would be clever if you did. So.... I just saw Raw Brigade (at least the last two songs), and I really loved their vibe and raw hardcore sound and presentation. If you are thinking these boys may hook you with some of that quality booger sugar.. forget it. These are edgmin. Also, if you are looking for a reinvention of the wheel, then pick another genre of music to follow. We know what we want and we get it. What we have here is quality hardcore, punk rock and roll, from our brothers.....ahem...de nuestros hermanos de América del Sur.
Y ahora por la música....pendejos. I'll go back to English with apologies to Raw Brigade, but trust me Brigade, U.S. Americans....aka 'Muricans are real fucking lazy and think everyone should speak English and won't buy your records if I don't switch back. This six song EP, entitled “Kicking Your Face”....kicks off...(yeah I know) with "Open Your Eyes"...No not a Warzone cover, but a kick ass back and forth tune with nice tempo changes. This 47 second wonder contains good quality grunting a la Rival Mob, and quality musicianship without over production. Next up is the 43 second "Violence". Short, raw, do not mess with the Brigade. “Stomp/Kicking Your Face” comes up next clocking in at 1:22 in total. The intro portion is not so much a "stomp" as it is a shredding guitar attack with wailing solos. Pretty sweet. The second half of the song is definitely for kicking in a face. Me like. My choice cut of the EP. "Terrorist" is the epic of the EP clocking in at around 1:40. This is the feel good song with lyrics like "nobody cares, nobody cries, everybody dies, everybody is gone". It starts off like a good driving tune but devolves into a pit clearing anger mosh. NICE. "Nothing” is a quick 49 seconds that starts off at a blistering pace but then has a sweet breakdown before going full throttle to finish it out. Second favorite tune. The final cut is "Straight and Proud". These guys are not throwing that edge in your face but every edge band needs an anthem and this is theirs. It clocks in at 1:30 and rounds out this EP nicely.
Ahí lo tienes damas y animales, the latest offering from Raw Brigade. Some quality, no frills, straightedge, hardcore punk. Check these guys out if they make it to your neck of the woods because they are really fun live. Add a little real southern flavor to your growing music collection and check out their other releases because they are all good. Ahora vete a la mierda, punks.
SHEER TERROR “PALL IN THE FAMILY” 7” EP
(Reaper Records, Released August, 2018)
In a world that loves superheroes, fairy tales, and happy endings the sounds of Sheer Terror are a welcome respite. Not because wallowing in self-pity does any good but because sometimes we all need a break from the “just be positive” attitudes that tend to prevail both within and outside of the hardcore scene. Nonetheless, Sheer Terror has always stood out as a leader amongst the pack because they give voice to the tragic anti-hero best represented and articulated by legendary front man Paul Bearer. Their latest effort “Pall In The Family” continues that legacy. An ode to one of the greatest shows to ever air on television seems fitting for a band whose front man has been referred to as the Archie Bunker of hardcore. The cover itself says it all; an empty apartment bespeaking loss. In essence, the music of this EP serves as its soundtrack and it does not disappoint.
With their first track “The Moon’s Gone Out” no time is wasted in getting to the point and these guys show that, yet again, they are as powerful as ever. Right away the listener knows that they are getting their money’s worth with fast grinding hardcore. The song eventually gives way to a great breakdown which serves as a great parallel to the lyrics of the song which deals with the breakdown of a marriage. The fast pace continues with “Bohack’s, Wetsons, Tung-Bo, & Me” another excellent track with another great solo and Paul yelling, “Hey Ma! Don’t cry for your sonny boy, just because he never found any joy!” The third track “North Shore Love Affair” is a welcome change of tempo from the first two tracks. Dark, slow, and morbid; the sound serves as an excellent backdrop to Paul’s lyrical narration which really comes to the fore on this track as well as the musicianship of the band. The EP closes on a strong point with “Get Me Off This Rock” which returns to the faster pace of the first two tracks with a fun call and response. This last track is expressive of the frustrations of life on Staten Island that any working class homeowner should be able to relate to. In the end, fans of Sheer Terror will not be disappointed by “Pall In The Family”. Paul and Co. sound as strong and as good as ever having, yet again, given voice to the darker and dysfunctional aspects of life. Whether you can identify with what Paul says or not this is just good music, it is just good hardcore and, dare I say, good art.
FIXATION "MARKED" 7” EP
(War Records, Released August 2018)
Fixation are a new hardcore band from Philly who has wasted no time at all it seems. Formed only in 2017, Fixation had 2 demos leading up to their debut EP "Marked" out now on the War Records label, ran by Strife's own Andrew Kline. 8 short blasts of very solid core that immediately brought to mind two of this reviewers favorite hardcore bands of the last decade, The Rival Mob and No Tolerance as well as a harder version of the much missed late 90's/early 00's greats The Nerve Agents. This style of more traditional (old school....I kinda hate that term though) hardcore is always refreshing to hear to me in a time when everyone is so metal so often. While Fixation are nothing new stylistically, sometimes that is not needed - you just need to be good and these guys are quite good. I highly recommend checking this band out and I look forward to seeing them live at some point. Standout tracks – “Intro/Fix”, “Record Of Sin”, “Marked” and well, all of it!
THE F.A. “HOW RIOTS START” EP
(Release Date August 24, 2018)
A nice punk rock/old-school hardcore surprise out of Florida’s Treasure Coast area from The F.A. aka The Final Anthem. “Last Man Standing” opens up with a sound clip from the 1960’s of an obvious irate solider yelling into a microphone talking about how the medals he was awarded “doesn’t mean a thing” as he laments the passing of the soldiers he fought alongside who all died. This song’s lyrics were written by singer Brian Espitia’s wife whose father fought in the Vietnam War and was “the last man standing” as his entire platoon were all killed in battle. A lyrically and musically potent way to start things off with a long mosh/stomp intro that leads into a very catchy tune with both a hardness to it as well as melody. An almost right down the middle punk rock/hardcore track that has a great hook to it which we quickly find out is the norm with The F.A. These 6 tracks all seem to have a good mix of good old punk rock ooooh’s and ahhhh’s to sing along too while dropping in a nice mosh part just at the right time. As for influences I can’t help but think that Warzone’s “Don’t Forget The Struggle, Don’t Forget The Streets” album played a major factor in this bands song writing. “Just Might Snap” and “We Won’t Back Down’ are two other standouts on a solid EP that I feel has no throwaway tracks within it and overall a very solid 15 plus minute debut by some scene veterans who are getting a fresh start. Started about a year back, they have played about a dozen shows to date and are self-releasing this on CD and digitally in just a few days time. Give them a shot by hitting that link below and if you like what you hear click on their EP’s cover (above) to give them a follow as well.
TIME & PRESSURE "DEMO TWENTY EIGHTEEN"
(Released August 2018)
Time & Pressure are a brand new 4 piece out of Saint Louis who play a really fucking fast brand of hardcore. What hardcore is supposed to sound like can get really distorted these days and for a new band to come out bashing away at warp speed is a big check on the positive side for me. T&P get their cardio in on each and every one of these 5 songs with no slowing down basically from start to finish. "Crimson Pig", "Love+Trash", "At The Climax" and "Annihilation" are tracks one through four respectively. "Demo Twenty Eighteen" is what you want out of a brand new band with well played songs that might not be setting the world on fire just yet but are a nice "demonstration" of what they have in store. The keeper here though is track 5... the finale.. in "This Is Not An Exit" which is also the longest track here at 2 minutes and change. "Exit" starts off with a nice groove which leads into the money shot of this demo which is this tracks ultra-catchy chorus which gets repeated a few times throughout. With STL scene vets on board from bands like Perfect People (now broken up) and Better Days T&P have laid the groundwork for something new which hopefully will not stunt the growth of the underrated Better Days. With Safe Inside Records on board to release this as a cassette and a bunch of Midwest dates scheduled through September it appears that Time & Pressure are setting up to make a run with this new venture. After repeated listens I got reminded of the old Oakland hardcore band Powerhouse as well as NY's Shutdown and in some ways Out Live Death from Long Island who recently put out a full length. A solid start here from some familiar faces.
DRK BLU “WHAT IT IS” (Released July, 2018)
DRK BLU! From the ashes of the late Rotting Out, and bouncing back from time served, Wally rips through these heavy introspective lyrics with a Ray Cappo style growl. Delivered with the aggression of a man who still has more to say, the stories told in these songs may be the standout character of the “What It Is” EP. Fast and hard at times, devilishly groovy at others, some of the slower parts can only be described as absolutely primal. Caveman hardcore. “What It Is” has that elusive perfect length, where it’s clear this new band has almost perfectly tailored their song writing to leave the listener begging for more. DRK BLU has a much more filthy Discharge vibe opposed to the polished production of Rotting Out, also somehow displaying about 10 times the anger. An 8 on the mosh scale, and a 10 on the singability scale, “What It Is” is a solid banger that slaps from top to bottom. Would definitely recommend. 6 thumbs up!
BUILT TO SURVIVE "L.A.X." DEMO (Released May 2018)
Not much is known about these Built To Survive cats out of Los Angeles. Their lone online presence is a Bandcamp page with their 4 song demo that came out in May. In Effect's West Coast surveillance team tells us Rotting Out's Walter Delgado plays bass here and his brother Austin is the frontman. With just under 8 minutes of music it is hard to get a great read on Built To Survive as this is just a small sampling to get the name out there. "L.A.X." opens up with "Intro" which is a hard as nails stomper, the kind that can open up a pit and set a show off on the right foot. I really like this as the opening track as it sets a good tone where you are balling up your fist while listening along. "Quickstrike" follows and when the vocals come in you get a better feel of the whole thing which to me seems like it is shaping up to be a sharper, edgier and slightly more metallic version of Rotting Out with fast rhythms and a solid vocal performance. "Mental Scar Tissue" and "Hate4You" round things out as tracks 3 and 4. Built To Survive show very little signs of being a new band as these tracks are thought out well and executed like a band that has already gotten passed the beginning stages of playing together and gelling as a cohesive unit. Hopefully this is not a short lived venture and more is still to come.
THE GREAT LIE “ALL ROADS LEAD TO WHERE YOU STAND” EP (Released July 2018)
Long Island NY definitely has had its fair share of hardcore bands over the years and adding to that list is The Great Lie. The band which consists of Kerry Merkle-vocals; John Lafata-drums; Mike Scarola-guitar/vocals; Scott Martin-bass and Gerry Giacalone-guitar have been around for a few years and have shared the stage with such legendary bands as Beyond, TSOL and fellow Islanders Kill Your Idols. The Great Lie have released an EP titled “All Roads Lead To Where You Stand” and it is a nice blend of punk rock, hardcore and metal, which is exactly what the band states they play on their Facebook page. But don't let my description "nice" fool you, The Great Lie are all about playing hard, fast and aggressive which is evident on this EP. “All Roads…” has a play time of just over 10 minutes and contains 5 songs: 1. “Boston Jugular”, 2. “Progressive Aggression”, 3. “Lie Where You Stand”, 4. “Closer To The Grave”, 5. “Do More, Say Less”. All songs have well scripted lyrics which is always refreshing to hear and Kerry's vocals mesh well with the band's sound. My favorite track is “Do More Say Less”, a lesson that many should follow. These guys have done their job in keeping Long Island on the map and I expect the follow up to this recording to be even harder. Good EP, good band and that's no lie.
RESTRAINING ORDER s/t EP
(New Age Records, Released August 2018)
Here at In Effect we get a lot of things sent in for review (thank you) and one thing that is pretty consistent is the flow of badly written press releases that accompany new albums/EP's and even some demos. Some bands hire PR companies to push their record to websites/zines like us and it is often obvious that there is no heart or soul behind what is written as the descriptions borderline on "just make some shit up to make them sound more interesting". New Age Records has been at it for decades and obviously aren't having any of that booshit as the presser that accompanied the new self-titled Restraining Order EP is chock full of great info on this newly formed band from the states of CT and MA. If you suck at geography the states border one another so it's not like the members have to book flights to make it to practices. Anyway, the Restraining Order story started in early 2017 when the members made a New Year's Resolution to start a "1982 style" hardcore band, played their first show at a pizzeria a few weeks later without a band name or even a demo and later went on to self-record their first demo. Cool story bro! At this point you may be wondering if after this lead up if Restraining Order are even any good and the answer to that is hell yes! 6 songs that range in length from under a minute to 2 minutes and change. It is short, yeah... and I am honestly getting tired by the barrage of releases these days that come in at around 5 to 8 minutes in length BUT.... this is a really good effort that really does capture that "1982 style" without being a copy of a copy or coming in like a stale cracker. "Better Luck Next Time" is a damn catchy tune that hints at Negative Approach and is my favorite track here. "Check Off The List" is a blazing fast thrasher with a nice dance part to wrap the track up... same thing with "Upper Class Bum" the opener. "Pointing At The Mirror" is this EP's long play epic at 2:19 and has a Kill Your Idols vibe going on. The vocals really make this whole thing work as they are not trying too hard and just go with the flow. At the same time the production is not too low-fi (to try and capture that '82 feel) nor is it too clean and in the end they just really nailed what they set out to do. Backed by the reigning press release of the year Restraining Order drops a nice surprise on us as well as word that a full length is currently in the works for 2019.
THE LAST STAND, DREW STONE HIT SQUAD, DARKSIDE NYC, SILENCE EQUALS DEATH, RAW BRIGADE, CRAZY EDDIE @ The Hideout, Brooklyn, NY July 22, 2018
WORDS BY: BECKY MCAULEY. PHOTOS BY: MICHELLE MENONA & RICH ZOELLER
First off, shoutout to Mike Scondotto (The Last Stand) for booking a free show in honor of his birthday, and a Sunday matinee at that. Doors at 4, show at 5, at the Hideout, which is a venue that I hope will see more action. I swore that Mickeys Crew had played here at its prior incarnation in 2008, but that was apparently a similar venue ten blocks south on 5th Ave.
CRAZY EDDIE was billed as playing at 5pm sharp, so we booked it to Bay Ridge, arriving in less than an hour from the great city of Mount Vernon, NY and securing parking with surprising alacrity, only to find the show was running slightly late. Since their debut opening for Outburst in January, Crazy Eddie has played a number of shows in assorted outer boroughs, but today was only the second time I have caught them due to scheduling conflicts. Their style is unexpectedly straightforward, based on what you might expect from a band with multiple members of Fahrenheit 451, with a preponderance of creepy crawl parts. I'm a little surprised that there was not more crowd participation now that their full length has been out for a few months. They opened with “Fucked Up”, arguably their best track, as featured on the tape comp that accompanies the Urban Styles book. Check out some of CE’s set HERE.
CRAZY EDDIE. PHOTO BY: MICHELLE MENONA
RAW BRIGADE was up next and absolutely killed it. Going into the show, all I knew was that they were on tour from Colombia and that for their Perth Amboy show, someone had made a flyer featuring the Rest in Pieces dude. Involuntary bopping soon devolved into involuntary side to side mosh as Raw Brigade’s infectious energy ensnared the attention of the assembled. They play straightforward hardcore that I have since described to friends not in attendance as “Straight Ahead for people who don’t even like Straight Ahead.” Many bands of this subgenre just seem like a copy of a copy, but there is nothing recycled about these dudes, except the beginning of “Terrorist” sounding a lot like the beginning of Warzone’s “As One”.
Covers, which seem to have fallen out of favor in the modern era, were plentiful this afternoon, as befitting a Sunday matinee. Raw Brigade covered Straight Ahead – “My Problem” and closed out their set with Agnostic Front – “Last Warning”. After their set, their merch table received some well-deserved traffic. We particularly enjoyed the myriad of pastel shirt options (light pink, light blue and yellow.) Is this a trend among youth crew kids? In South America? Or just their own proclivity? Either way, they brought these unusual hues to the right place. The self-released 7” was $10, which would have given me pause if it wasn’t to support an international touring band. All their material is also available for purchase on Bandcamp.
Raw Brigade was followed by SILENCE EQUALS DEATH out of New Jersey. They play hardcore in the structure of fast verse, 2-step chorus, and subsequent breakdown that was popular in the early 2000’s. If you are disheartened by the more experimental flavors of hardcore in 2018, definitely check them out. I also like that they enthusiastically rep my ancestral home of New Jersey and have a variety of nice merch. Silence Equals Death wrapped up their set with a cover of Inside Out – “Burning Fight”, which is the second best Inside Out song to cover, in my not so humble opinion.
DARKSIDE. PHOTO BY: MICHELLE MENONA
DARKSIDE NYC … the moment that many of us had been waiting for, and the cherry on top of this diverse lineup. (Seriously, when was the last time you saw an East Coast Assault Volume 1 band share a bill with someone who covered Straight Ahead?) Their set list of classics and banter did not disappoint, though both were slightly curtailed by time constraints. Somewhere just after “Forgiven But Not Forgotten”, Rich had just embarked on a speech about how it’s OK not to drink, it’s ok to be straight edge…
(Is interrupted by a knock on the door)
“Don’t let him in, he’s probably straight edge!”
After some initial confusion, the back door opens and it's special guest Drew Stone with his guitar, arriving for his set that would follow Darkside. Other notable moments included a poem involving the 1-800-Got-Junk truck, a reference to a potential cover that did not transpire, and the assertion that bongos deserve to be in hardcore just as much as big business.
DREW STONE HIT SQUAD was the bridge between DARKSIDE NYC and THE LAST STAND. As befitting a late edition to the lineup, they played a short acoustic set, which included a cover of Sham 69 – “If the Kids Are United”.
THE LAST STAND. PHOTO BY: RICH ZOELLER
THE LAST STAND closed things out and got the best response of the evening. I would love to see more shows here and have them effectively become the house band. These dudes sound kind of like Sick Of It All, with similarly inclusive energy. And not only is their general style welcoming to new converts, but Mike is also good about identifying the upcoming song and on which of their records it can be found. My favorite was probably “The Ride”, which appears on their most recent EP and was dedicated to Joe Affe of Maximum Penalty. The Last Stand wrapped things up with covers of Warzone – “In the Mirror” (apparently Scondotto’s favorite Warzone song - mine too - which was how he exhorted the others to perform it for his birthday), and Gorilla Biscuits – “Big Mouth”, which they also recorded for “This is Real.” All around good vibes though my only beef is that they missed a prime opportunity to cover Token Entry – “Birthday”. Overall this was probably the most fun birthday show since I saw Kool Keith at the Grand Victory on my birthday in 2016. Keep your eyes peeled for hopefully more shows here this fall.
BEACH RATS “WASTED TIME” EP
(Bridge 9 Records, Released July, 2018)
Alright! Beach Rats is yet another all-star super group of familiar names and faces; We got from The Bouncing Souls, Pete Steinkopf and Bryan Kienlen on guitar and bass, from Lifetime we got Ari Katz on vocals, from the very understated street rock project Joe Coffee we got Danny Windas on drums, and most notably (in this writer’s opinion), we got the immortal Brian Baker on guitar. Let’s cut to the chase on this one, it pretty much sounds like a West Coast version of Dag Nasty with a slightly whinier singer. The structuring of the songs are mostly formulaic and the production is pretty tame. I’m not sure if these were throw away songs on Brian Baker’s hard drive that he wanted to put out or something but after many play-throughs I’m left un-moved. The songs are in this weird purgatory where they’re not bad, but not memorable. They’re not particularly catchy or hooky, but I don’t mind them being on in the background. The lack of personality on these tracks almost supersedes the nearly 4 decades of punk/hardcore stardom backing them up. Final summation: If Brian Baker wasn’t involved, it would be hard to justify this coming out on B9 and I can’t imagine this project getting much attention or traction. Is it awful? No. Is it something I’m going to actively listen to throughout the summer? Also no. Maybe a follow up LP will come around and blow me away and make me eat my words, in fact, I hope that does happen. But for now, these 5 songs? Nah. 4 thumbs up.
LAST ORDERS DEMO 2018 (Released May, 2018)
England's influence on punk and hardcore continues with Last Orders, a newer band hailing from London whose music brings about the feeling and energy that the London street culture has always represented. The members of Last Orders have combined resumes from current and past hardcore bands and their recent release “Demo 18” showcases a fast and loud formula that makes this definitely worth listening to. “Demo 18” contains only 4 songs and lasts just over 6 minutes, again proving that short can be sweet.
Track 1 is the standard “Intro” track.
Track 2 “Fuck Off” is a dedication to hipsters. Clearly a group that is despised by many on both sides of the "pond".
Track 3 “Out Me Nut” is a song about a serious decision regarding to drink or not to drink. I was educated on two terms while reading the lyrics, "out me nut" and "dry January."
Track 4: “Found Our Home” is a song that everyone in the hardcore scene should be able to relate to. "And that’s why I will never turn my back on this hardcore music that was there for me when I needed it most in trying times."
Last Orders state on their Facebook page that their music is "for the working class", well let's see if “Demo 18” meets the criteria. It has: music you can stomp your boots to, hatred of hipsters, drinking with friends and a hardcore is life type of mentality. I would say this demo indeed captures what the working class is and has always been about. These boys are the real deal and I'm excited to hear more from them. Clearly I'm not the only one that feels this way as they have an upcoming show next month in London with Wisdom In Chains and Knuckledust.
SUCIDIAL TENDENCIES, KILLING TIME, CHUD @ House Of Vans, Brooklyn, NY July 14, 2018
Words and Photos by: JC Carey of JC Photo Media
Let’s get one thing straight right out of the box and this won’t be an original thought – barricades at hardcore shows, punk rock shows, or any other show are bullshit. It destroys a big part of what makes hardcore/punk special. The intimacy shared between the bands and the crowd…the feeling of “they are us” is pushed right up to the brink of ruin when you put that space and the bouncers between the band and the audience. I know it’s not the bands fault and I know in my heart it’s insurance companies getting involved and I know it’s parents and kids that sue that cause it but it just kills it for me. And the funnier part as a guy that takes his photos from the pit, the photo pit just kills it for me also. I’m close but there is no sense of urgency, no sense that I am part of it. Now that I bitched I can get to what you wanted to know. Did Mike get his Pepsi? And the answer is yes. Anthony brought him his Pepsi during the Killing Time set. Jokes aside the show was a blast. The sound at House of Vans can be tough, the lights are pretty awful, the waiting in line (I am beyond thankful to Killing Time for bringing me in and letting me shoot this) without knowing you are getting in…can all be tough. But it’s FREE. House of Vans might not be my favorite venue music wise, but they know how to put on a party. Free music, free shirts, free beer (if you are into that kind of thing) all make for a fun evening each and every time I’ve been there. It’ll be a shame when the venue is gone (my understanding is that this year is it) and I wish I’d have caught more shows there.
CHUD: I missed most of the set. I was trying to get some behind the scenes stuff and next thing I knew they were almost done. From what I did hear they were tight. The guys were super cool and I’m disappointed I didn’t get some images of them.
KILLING TIME PHOTO BY: JC PHOTO MEDIA
KILLING TIME: One of my favorite bands. Some of my favorite guys. One of the best NYHC records of all time in “Brightside”. A bunch of other music that should have been much better known that it is. They deserved better than to be far away from the crowd with mic’s breaking down. Drago and Chris kept the rhythm section tight while Carl and Rich played the KT riffs and leads just the way you’d want to hear. Anthony seemed to really struggle with being so far away from the crowd. This isn’t a knock on Anthony as much as the venue’s barricade that kept him from really connecting the way he has for over 30 years. At any age Anthony is one of my all-time favorite front men and generally he gets into the mix with the crowd – unfortunately that was more difficult with the set up. As mentioned the sound at House of Vans can be tough in large part to the sheer size of the venue mixed with a large open door to stage left. Having shot images from the photo pit, the real pit, and the stage I can say the sound was completely different in each place with the best sound to be found in the middle of the crowd center which would be great if the place was situated long instead of wide. One way or the other the Killing Time faithful went off – the pit was fun but the bouncers did their job effectively (and peaceably) and stopped most of the moments that help make a Killing Time show so good….
SUICIDAL TENDENCIES PHOTO BY: JC PHOTO MEDIA
SUICIDAL TENDENCIES: After a short wait the band hit the stage and broke into a great intro that let us get a good look at both Dave Lombardo on drums and Ben Weinman on guitar. Ben killed it as you’d expect from the driving force behind the Dillinger Escape Plan after only having the sound check to practice with the band. Dean Pleasants and Ra Diaz were exactly what you’d expect. Tight and energetic. Diaz especially lets it go and moved like a whirlwind for most of the set…at some point Mitts (ex-Madball) stepped in for some guitar and the band didn’t miss a beat. For a band that moves so much they are super tight. Then came Mike Muir and a bunch of howling cackles that were familiar to anyone that has ever listened to the classic self-titled as the opening to “Suicides An Alternative” – from there the band was on fire and Mike never stopped moving….back and forth and even when he stopped he was a ball of pent up energy doing all the classic Mike Muir moves you’d expect. As advertised the band played the whole first record and none of it disappointed. “Possessed To Skate” and “Freedumb” were on the set list but didn’t get played. As expected “I Saw Your Mommy” and “Institutionalized” got the biggest responses but the crowd was a whirling circle pit for the majority of the set. I would have killed to see them at a smaller venue or even this venue without the barrier. I was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t a longer set with at least a small number of the “hits” from the other records but…FREE. You can’t argue with that or with a band that puts on a great show 35 years plus into their existence.
For more of JC Photo Medias photos visit their website: http://www.jcphotomedia.net
WISDOM IN CHAINS
“NOTHING IN NATURE RESPECTS WEAKNESS”
(Fast Break! Records, Release Date July 20, 2018)
Lightning in a bottle is the only way I can describe whatever the creative process is behind each Wisdom in Chains release. I really wanted to stay away from terms like “PAHC Kings” which have become almost cliché when talking about this band, yet here we are. It's rarely seen in any genre where one artist or band is able to come through with multiple albums in a row that can hold up to each other on both a clinical and creative scale. With the release of “Nothing In Nature Respects Weakness”, it seems Wisdom in Chains have done just that.
After the release of “The God Rhythm”, I was sure that we had seen the swan song from PA's favorite sons. I'm happy to report that I was wrong. “Nothing in Nature...” falls into step with their previous works while staying in its own lane musically. With rock-type power ballad intros on several songs and Mad Joe's distinct vocals, this album is rife with that awesome breakfast blend of intellectual, dynamic, and authentic hardcore that has earned Wisdom in Chains much of their reputation. Before we even heard a title for the new record, there was a sense that it would be another solid release from WIC. The release of the “Family Biz” 2 song split with Madball housed the track “Someday”, a catchy and thought provoking single; and a window to the direction Wisdom was headed with the highly anticipated future release. It was exactly the right song to dangle to the masses as a first taste, as it touches on self-reflection, wonder, and questing for answers - all strong themes throughout the rest of this record.
With 2015's “The God Rhythm”, Wisdom in Chains really dove into the heavily cerebral topics of life and death, religion, and human purpose - not exactly the lowest hanging fruit in terms of hardcore music. “Nothing In Nature...” follows this up with a renewed urgency. There is no denying the level of honesty in the song writing on this album. Where the current state of hardcore seems reactive to the social/political climate in our society today, Wisdom in Chains doesn't shy away from attacking the deeper issues which bind us all at the root. When you have a hardcore vocalist openly bargaining with God on one track, and asking quite literally “what happened to my wonderment?” a few tracks later, you can be certain that the message or emotion is raw and real. Where a lot of bands are careful to curate and posture, WIC refines and exposes; offering a real look into the people behind the music, not just another beatdown riff or 2 step.
Something that really struck me about this release is that it stands up as much on its own as it does in its place within the library of their work as a whole. The pacing on this record is just right and I would love to know what the process behind ordering the songs was. The music ebbs and flows as the record progresses; taking a few dips into deeper waters, and pulling the listener around some unexpected bends. Specifically track 8, titled “Slow Drown” - starting with a slow metal-type intro, this song rockets to full throttle in no time. With some guest vocals from Davin Bernard of Philly's Eaten Alive, this track seems to hit the refresh button on the album just over halfway through. From front to back we've got ourselves another solid Wisdom in Chains release kiddos, so grab a copy from Fast Break! Records, find a back road, roll the windows down and get to it!
FENCE CUTTER "SUMMER '18"
(Released July, 2018, Pyschotic Break Records)
Perth Amboy NJ's Fence Cutter deliver a 2 song "Summer 18" promo with their songs "Trackside" followed up by "No Room For Peace" that clock in just short of 4 minutes. Granted there is not a lot to go on here with a lack of length but damn these Fence Cutter dudes are really bringing it with a throwback NYHC vibe that falls into the Outburst/Killing Time category but not necessarily sounding like either of those great bands. The opener sports a nice 40 or so second lead in before frontman "J Money" kicks in with his vocals which are clear/hard and nearly perfect for the mosh inducing beats his bandmates are backing him with. "No Room For Peace" is more of a bouncy/choppy track laced with even more of a NYHC influence than the opener. Imagining people beating the ever living shit out of one another to this song is not hard to do. Hit that play button and try it for yourself... I can sit here and wait if you want. The beat here is addictive and has the head nodding along. Now before we go I wanted to check back to their previous work from last year to see how much (if any) progress has been made overall and I can report back to you that some drastic improvement has been made. Now whether it was a deal with the devil or just plain old hard work it is clear that Fence Cutter has arrived and are ready to do some damage to the hardcore scene. I won’t jump too far ahead though and anoint thee as the next kings of hardcore but.... this is a really solid foundation to build off of. The hard part lies with stringing tracks and releases together and just moving forward. Does Fence Cutter have it in them? Only time will tell but we here at In Effect are definitely pulling for them. Cover art looks like this is out there in cassette form but no mention of it on their Bandcamp page.
DEVIATED STATE "NO WAY OUT" (Released July 2018)
Deviated State popped up on our website back in 2015 as part of a Southern California scene report. Their 2014 "No Control" release was about a year old at the time and that was their last release until this here new jam. "No Way Out" is 12 songs in 14 minutes, fast hardcore style, lotsa breakdowns, a fuzzy bass sound and raw vocals. Reminds me a helluva lot like an old school NYHC demo from the late 80's. No thrills, not smashing down any barriers or changing the genre and definitely not saving hardcore from the evils of the universe but I like it! Unpolished and low-fi, like a wrinkled t-shirt and that is part of the allure here as it's easy to close your eyes and imagine Deviated State playing these tunes to 20 kids in someone's basement, garage, or backyard. Real deal shit from a band who may have been off the grid for a bit but are back for another swing at the fences. Can't go wrong with that "Name Your Price" option on the Bandcamp so get with it if this all sounds like your cup of tea.
THE FIGHT “THE MASTER IS CALLING” EP
(Released June, 2018)
Hailing from Long Island, New York The Fight delivers with their new EP “The Master Is Calling.” It is a very well done record from start to finish and, in my opinion, gets better with each listen. Their sound very much reminds me of early Discharge combined with the vocals of both early Madball and early Sheer Terror. It’s hardcore punk with the right amount of straight forward negativity and cynicism that is expressed best through Kyle’s grinding in your face vocals. The record opens with a sort of downward feel, that one is about to enter into a dark journey of existential angst. “The Master is Calling!” growls Kyle and off we go!
All seven songs on this EP deliver. “Nuke Long Island” has a fun bouncy feel with a great chorus, “Everyday is the fucking same. Everyday! Everyday! Everyday!” “Health Scare” comes speeding in and takes on the injustice of the system that we find ourselves in, “People are dying on the streets, system only works for the elite.” “Different Faces, Same Evil” has a slower muddier feel giving great expression to the line, “Cops, lawyers, dirty politicians, different faces, same evil!” “Generations Lost” shows the more melodic abilities of the band and “So What’s the Verdict?” closes out the record with a sluggish then fast angry feel and breakdown. All in all, this is a fun angry record and as I said earlier it gets better with each listen. Long Island has a tradition of producing solid hardcore bands. That tradition has continued with The Fight. Available to buy or stream now on Bandcamp with a 12” vinyl version coming in late August.
GOOD TOUCH s/t (Coin Toss Records, Released June, 2018)
If one was to take a skate board, a dash of DCHC, rain, some pop punk (without the suck), a sick hill, a pinch of youth-crew, coffee, some sweet carvable terrain, pizza, a pinch of NYC hardcore before it was NYHC, and a dollop of speed... of your choice (meth, adderall etc.), and a throw it all into a blender, what would one have? One incredibly chunky, yet kick-ass milkshake, that's what, you dicks. However, if you were to press that mixture onto a piece of sweet vinyl, you may approach something sounding like Good Touch.
Good Touch are a skate punk/melodic fast core band out of Seattle. They are delivering us an eight song, self-titled LP on Coin Toss Records. You can apply any of those cool skate-centric adjectives to describe this, i.e. shredding or ripping. They all fit because this shit fucking shreds so hard it rips. On the real, I wanted to blow the dust off my Zorlac and immediately break my neck, which is definitely what would happen. One song after the next hits you like an adrenaline rush for one more run....one more attempt. My favorite tune is the chameleon like "Times Past Spent", clocking in at 3:08. There is an intro, then a turbo infused jam, some drum action, a sick guitar solo....it has it all. It even culminates in a round of "whoah oh ohs". "Falling Upward" is the epic of the LP at 3:35. This one would be perfect for a long downhill run. It opens with interesting guitar work and then settles into a break neck galloping burner. Another favorite is the self-titled song from the self-titled LP (which actually opens a portal to another dimension btw....) "Good Touch" running at 2:34. This is a machine gun blast of a song that kicks off in the vein of the "Degenerated" cover by fictional band The Lone Rangers in Airheads, the movie. I just lost all of you. All six of you. Either way… it's a killer song, and to be honest, there is not one on here that I do not like. These guys are well adept at their instruments. They play at a blinding speed with precision as evident on the stop and start of "All Together"… the shortest at 1:52. Vocally they remind me a little bit of Strike Anywhere with a touch of “Blood Days” era Unity thrown in.
So, check out this slab from the good men of Good Touch. It is raging skate-core of the highest caliber. Seriously, I shut all the lights, popped on my headphones, jumped up onto my coffee table and I was once again making those wheels blaze, those trucks bark and yes indeed I was once again one of the wild riders of boards. Now go out or use the Google and buy this shit and have your own fucking fantasies you sorry lot of deplorables.
OLDE TIGERS "BUILD AN ILLUSION OF SAFETY"
(Violated Records, Released April 2018)
4 piece outfit straight outta South Central Pennsylvania who have been at it since at least 2011 when they dropped their 4 song demo. This 13 song banger is my first taste of what these olde cats are all about and after a few listens I was not considering it a banger much but for some reason felt compelled to stay with it and am damn glad I did. So yeah, it took a few runs through this bad boy to buy in but now I'm there. They really nail their own self-description by claiming "East Bay Punk meets East Coast Hardcore" which I definitely agree with as you get a street punk vibe as well as some NYHC influences melded into one with great results. Poison Idea and Cro-Mags are just two names that just pop into my head while listening although PI were just a tad north of the East Bay in CA. Tracks 1 ("Codo Yopa") and 2 ("Willful Compliance") are probably my favorite tracks but I look at this album more along the lines of one of those that you put on and play straight through to the end as it has a good flow from start to finish. The more I listen the more I like "Build An Illusion Of Safety". It is tough and grimey, with smart lyrics that tackle topics like gentrification, child welfare, politics (from neither a left or right stance) and the inevitable (for many of us) of getting older in a music scene that is a young man/womans game. Olde Tigers from York, PA... Build An Illusion Of Safety... out now, smash the shit out of that link below to give it a shot.
SLAPSHOT “MAKE AMERICA HATE AGAIN”
(Bridge Nine Records, Released June, 2018)
Boston's Slapshot return with their latest full length "Make America Hate Again", returning to the Bridge 9 Records fold. Following up their fantastic self-titled 2014 LP release on the Brass City Boss Sounds label, the band has been on a very solid streak since the addition of Craig Silverman (currently of Agnostic Front, formerly Blood For Blood and Only Living Witness) on guitar, who has been with Slapshot for nearly a decade now. There are RIFFS a plenty here and it is so great to hear some leads in hardcore songs again. Jack "Choke" Kelly is firing on all cylinders with some venomous vocals and angry, yet often very witty lyrics in standout tracks like "Trainwreck", "It's All About You", "Hypocrite" and the LP’s closing track "One Last Chance". "MAHA" is 11 tracks of 100% in your face, pissed, old school hardcore by one of the longest running and most consistent bands in the genre.
PUNK ISLAND 2018 RANDALL'S ISLAND, NEW YORK CITY. JUNE 23, 2018
In the 1979 movie "The Warriors" the Brooklyn based gang of the same name heads up to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx for a gang summit before chaos erupts. Over the past 11 years the Punk Island show/fest has been putting on punk rock summits in various park settings showcasing the diversity that lies within this unique subculture. The 2018 edition was held on June 23rd on Randall's Island which is located between the Queens and Manhattan land masses and is actually part of Manhattan. Over 70 bands were spread across 6 stage areas with things kicking off around 1130am and running through 8pm. Arriving on the island you don't get much of a punk rock vibe whatsoever as the island is made up of dozens of soccer fields, baseball fields and even has a small stadium. Not so long ago the Warped Tour would have its NYC stops here as well. In Effect popped our heads in for a few hours to check out what the 2018 version had to offer.
The first band that made an impression was the NYC based 3 piece HOPELESS OTIS who broke a guitar string midway through their first song, were a little bit on the sloppy side but I still really enjoyed what they were doing. No thrills punk rock with a pulse, a soul, they just seem to get "it". Good shit. They have a new album out on July 6th on Knuckle Down Records which I plan on checking in on when it comes out. Their singer gets extra punk points for wearing a Warzone tank top.
HEKLA were another standout as they put a lot of energy into their set and their music sounded equally as good. Their singer had what looked like a cast on her hand and apparently is their regular guitarist but she busted her hand up and could only do vocals at this show. Get well soon. Will be watching their page for new music when it comes out as well.
Towards the end of Hekla's set you could see Japan's SEPPUKU PISTOLS setting up and a large gathering in front of the stage they were about to perform in front of. Their look was totally unique to this setting as they were maybe a 15 or 20 piece unit mostly decked out in traditional "Edo period" Japanese attire with an arrangement of instruments that ranged from bamboo flutes, to bass drums each worn with a harness to a 3 string traditional Japanese instrument known as a shamisen. There was this feeling of anticipation building as the group basically stood silently in their places for a few minutes before they started to make some noise. When they started their set the initial reaction from the crowd seemed to be one of "what the fuck is this" as without guitars and bass what they were doing didn't sound or appear to be very punk rock in nature but it was still very loud... and noisey... and after a few songs it quickly sank in and the crowd responded in a big way with mayhem breaking out throughout their set. Seppuku Pistols did not shy away from mosh pit activity and in actuality pretty much incited it as their drummers were screaming their heads off and got right up in your face if you were up close. The band is currently the focus of an upcoming documentary and cameramen were right in the middle of this chaotic scene with maybe 150 or so people absolutely losing their fucking minds all around them. After talking with these guys afterwards they have been around 7 years and have no recorded albums as they feel their live performance would not translate well to a recording. Shortly after their set they were seen at the bus stop taking public transportation to Times Square in the heart of NYC where they were scheduled to perform again at 5pm. Crazy shit indeed. Check out some clips we got of them by clicking on the blue image above as well as HERE.
ENZIGURI @ PUNK ISLAND 2018
After a brief intermission ENZIGURI had the task of following up Seppuku Pistols and they handled it like long time Punk Island pros. Their lead singer came out with a plastic milk crate to stand on and move around as he chose so he could be seen by the people up front and also by the people in the back. Enziguri is a punk/NYHC hybrid of sorts with some really catchy tunes and although their last album "Uptown Boogie Down" did not get a lot of love here at In Effect they are still a favorite when seen live as their singer Davey Hooligan creates a fun atmosphere when they play and exudes a lot of confidence and positive vibes while doing so. In turn they got a nice crowd reaction with people singing along and maintaining the crowd that assembled throughout their set. With so much music being thrown at you at once it can be easy to just dip out on one band, check out another and come back to the first one. Didn't seem to be the case though with Enziguri. They play often in the NYC area so catch 'em out some time if you dare.
As stated at the start we admittedly just popped our heads in here for a few hours and these are the things/bands that stood out while we were here but before we go we have to mention the band WINTERWOLF who got a few shout outs from the bands we saw. "2 piece punk rock band from Harlem" is their self-description and they got a track out called "Dead Body Fuck Party" on Bandcamp. Check them out! More good shit that already went down by the time we found out about them. Punk Island is a free as well as no thrills event that should be attended at some point if you are a NYC area resident or are in the area when it happens each June. Out of the 70 or so bands that performed I had heard of maybe 5 of them beforehand and found a couple of new ones along the way. Didn't matter though as Punk Island to me is more about being there and taking in new shit, different bands, view points etc. Most of the bands had merch set up, there were some food vendors and if you got really bored you could watch the Circle Line float by on the Harlem River every so often. Putting a show like this on can't be easy so thank you to the organizers as well. Hopefully see you all in a year.
BLIND JUSTICE "NO MATTER THE COST"
(Flatspot Records/Edgewood Records, Release Date June 29)
Shore Style! Just had to get that outta the way cause most things written about these guys from New Jersey mention Shore Style. Jersey shore... get it? Alright then. 2nd album here and it’s a split effort with Flatspot and Edgewood Records tag teaming. 10 songs, 20 minutes and highly influenced by the great Down To Nothing from Richmond, VA. "Cast You Out" is the opener and my fav track. Nice guitar tone here and solid vocals from one of the best live performance frontmen you are gonna run into these days in Mike Botti who also doubles as the guitarist for Regulate. Guy is a legit madman when he gets a microphone and a stage to run around on and his voice fits the 90's style of hardcore that his bandmates churn out very well. As the first song ends... track 2... "My Will" almost gets flagged for a 5 yard false start penalty as there is less than the usual time between songs. I would guess there is usually a two second gap between songs and here it seems like a millisecond but what do I know? I must have listened to "My Will" five times before I realized that they were indeed two songs and not just one long ass opening track. My point being that it sounded like one song and as you move along on "No Matter The Cost" that feel of everything blending together and having that "one big song" vibe unfortunately becomes more apparent and the norm. With the exception of "Burn You Down" which has a nice mid-paced intro the songs are too predictable with what seems like the same pace on every track. With that said Blind Justice still has a great sound, play their shit tight, have a legit frontman and got a killer recording out of Dean B up at Wild Artic in New Hampshire. I really wanted to like "No Matter The Cost" more than I did. Blind Justice get a B+ for their effort here with diversification in future songs my lone request. More tempo changes, more hooks, and keep at it. Blind Justice's best days still lie ahead of them.
POWER TRIP “OPENING FIRE 2008-2014”
(Dark Operative, Released April, 2018)
With my discovery of Power Trip this past January (I know I’m late to the game but I’ve got a 2 and 4 year old) they have quickly become my new favorite band. Their second album “Nightmare Logic” has been on constant play whether in my car, on a run, in the office, or in the evenings before bed. So you can imagine my happiness when they asked me to review their most recent release: “Opening Fire: 2008-2014” which isn’t so much a new release as a re-release of their “earliest non-LP output.”
One of the things that I enjoy about Power Trip is their ability to straddle the line between hardcore and metal in a way that doesn’t give way to caricatures that are found in either genre. There’s a socio-political depth to their lyrics as well as excellent musicianship that keeps the message on track while providing fun breakdowns, solos and no double bass pedals. “Opening Fire” provides a window into their development as a band and how that potential has blossomed into where they are now. All of the songs on this are good, tight and varied in their own ways. For example, “Suffer No Fool” begins like a pile driver that makes you want to punch anything in sight but then slows down only to open up into an amazing breakdown that requires the yelling of the song’s title along with lyrics apropos to our time: “We cannot hide, the danger is real, We find the strength to suffer no fool!” Then there’s “Armageddon Blues” which is just bad-ass in its “battle uphill” feel that is reflective of the existential angst being communicated in the lyrics. “Progression has ceased, We've doomed ourselves, Armageddon blues cause I can't fool myself” Riley screams. This eventually gives way to a great solo displaying the bands’ skill with another great breakdown that makes me want to go round and round stomping in circles. I can go on in similar ways about many of the other songs but at this point would simply encourage you to check it out yourself as you won’t be disappointed.
If you’re like me, coming late to the Power Trip party, “Opening Fire” provides an easy way to access their earlier releases in one place. Their music simply serves as a soundtrack to and release from the times we find ourselves in and for this I am grateful. Go check ‘em out, you won't be disappointed.
LIFE BETRAYS US "PROMO 2018" (Released April, 2018)
For me the heavier and more metal influenced side of hardcore usually falls into the "respect it but not my thing" category. Bands that could get my attention often ruin the experience by utilizing a growling/grunting/death metal Cookie Monster style of vocals which totally gets lost on me. London's Life Betrays Us play a rough and tough style of hardcore that doesn’t shy away from their metal influences but also brings plenty in the way of traditional hardcore vibes to have me backing this. "First Mistake", "Judgement" and "Darkness" piledrive your ass into the canvass for the 3 count and are outtie in a mere 7 minutes. There seems to be this fine line that can get crossed that can make this style "too metal" and Life Betrays Us seems to get as close as possible to that line without going over it. A nice guitar tone, choppy/bouncy drumming and most importantly raw but not overdone vocals all work here in conjunction for a winning product. A little more raw, rough around the edges and less melodic than say Wisdom In Chains and Madball but definitely a band you could see sharing a bill with those heavyweights. The recent departure of their drummer slowed down a busy live schedule but with the next guy now in place that seems to be sorted out as work begins soon on their debut full length. Looks forward to whatever is next.
BAYONET “TOTAL MASSACRE” EP (Released April, 2018)
Bayonet out of San Diego CA is comin’ at us fast and hard with their “Total Massacre” EP. There’s a handful of Bayonet’s floatin’ around out there in the hardcore social media boneyard, but San Diego’s Bayonet is the most recently active. “Total Massacre” is nothing short of an assault of the senses; as quickly and abrasively as it starts, it’s over, leaving you stunned because your neck still hurts from the punch in the gut that is the opener “Shiftless Wish List”. The longest track on this record clocks in at 1 minute 48 seconds, and that’s only because the blisteringly frantic “Half Mast” begins and ends with the same instrumental interlude, closing with a feedback laden fadeout. The thing I like most about these short bursts of musical battery is the fact that these guys never really give you what you want. Just when you think you’ve got a song figured out, and are locking into a decent mosh groove, they slap you with a blast beat. I’m not super well versed on what the kids out there call “power violence”, but if I understand it properly, I believe Bayonet is a proper representation of modern power violence. A really cool Trash Talk meets Coke Bust vibe off this record. Brutally fast, and so enticingly abrupt, you’ll find yourself playing it over and over again. 7 thumbs up!
CHILLER THAN MOST FANZINE ISSUE #6
(Released Summer 2018)
We got a worldwide hardcore connection here folks with Hungary's Chiller Than Most Zine issue 6 out now with interviews with hardcore folks from all over the globe and eye catching art from Thailand's Chun One. 28 pages... cut and paste... DIY... yeah, yeah, yeah, you get the picture here. CTM always grabs your eye with their cool covers but time and time again they show us why they are one of the realest of the real when it comes to knowing about modern day hardcore bands as they literally get right up in that ass crack when it comes to their line of questioning. This issue has interviews with the UK'S Big Cheese, Freedom, Motor City Madness, and Unified Right from the US and Hypocrite who are kinda from the US and kinda from Europe. The 2 reads I liked the best though were with photographer Meline Gharibyan from Florida via way of Armenia (seems to have a good head on her shoulders and well versed in the current day scene in Florida) and JoJo Songco from Outburst with a typical CTM "think outside the box" piece where they took old pics of Outburst and friends just hanging out and got explanations and back stories to each one. A clever layout with AF and Vinnie Stigma references abound as Attila himself is very well versed in the history of hardcore music. Check out his "side project" which comes in website form called DO YOU KNOW HARDCORE if you don't believe us. No record reviews, no introductions, just straight to the interviews and if you are a fan of the lineup they put together this is pure gold. If you only like or casually know some of these bands this is still a good read. If you've never heard of any of these bands then what the fuck can I tell you? Get yours for 2 pounds and whatever they charge for shipping by clicking HERE.
RAZORBLADE HANDGRENADE “TILL THE CASKET DROPS” CD (Released May, 2018)
“I’m working so hard. I can’t get ahead. I don’t get no recognition. Will I slave ‘til I’m dead?” So begins the third album from Razorblade Handgrenade, their first since “Tales From The Bricks” in 2011. Work is a dominant theme on this 12 song effort, particularly how it affects and inhibits one’s ability to create, play music and have fun, a subject that is sure to resonate with much of RBHG’s fan base, including your reviewer.
RBHG always stood out for a variety of factors: their clever lyrical feints, sound melodies and apropos mosh parts, almost like a groovier Warzone. They’ve always have been a band of realists, as evinced in early songs like “The Right Decision.” But the earlier stuff was also marked by playful boasts in songs like “Skinned and Stuffed” and “Beer, Beef and Gold Teef.” “Till The Casket Drops,” their new full length, tackles more down to earth material as they grapple with the obstacles of everyday life. This new effort is similar in style to RBHG’s two prior releases, but a touch more punk rock. The pacing is slightly different from the classic grooves associated with their earlier work, though as the album gets going it picks up speed and starts delivering the hits. “Not Enough Time” is reminiscent of their earlier style re: deft tempo changes and a plethora of lyrics packed into a short space. “Feeling Blessed” delivers a charmed chorus and guitar lead. “Gotta Do It” is a catchy cut mid-album, and “Still Positive” touches on the “And I Try To Stay Positive” theme from their first album. The positivity aspect sets them apart from the more typical NYHC and NJHC flavors, where positivity is usually relegated to the realm of bands that sound nothing like RBHG. “Lost Control” is a gem at the 2/3 mark, particularly the chorus, and is followed by the ripper that is “Is It Really This?” “Can’t Stop Moving”, the penultimate track, features Danny Diablo on guest vox and is a slower and stompier change of pace.
“Working Man” is substantially heavier than the iconic Wretched Ones tune of the same name. Lookout, Ken Singleton style, for that mosh part/tempo change at 1:33! RBHG and the Wretched Ones might occupy sonically disparate corners of the New Jersey punk rock universe, but after all, the first time I saw Razorblade was with the Wretched Ones at Club Deep. Three of the twelve songs found here specifically address working life, but out of these three, the sleeper hit is the final acoustic tune “Find a Way”. Thematically a hybrid of Wisdom in Chains’ – “Time To Play” and Inspecter 7’s “They Say,” it also fills the role of being that last song that is completely different from the rest of the album, like Boxcutter – “Get Up” sounding like a lost Wisdom in Chains cut. “It ain’t easy like yesterday, work work work no time to play.” I haven’t seen RBHG in way too long, so I have no idea if they play this one live, but am hoping to encounter it in an upcoming setlist. In the end, hardcore belongs to those who are able to make time in between real life commitments, and the theme of the album perhaps hints at the gap between this new full length and their last release, “Tales From The Bricks”. Props to Razorblade Handgrenade for getting this album out (and to Wes for balancing hardcore with his rap project… Wes Nihil) and providing some everyday anthems for those in the same situation. For the working man (or woman) and fans of: Wisdom in Chains, Bulldog Courage, No Redeeming Social Value, and of course Warzone.
MADBALL “FOR THE CAUSE”
(Nuclear Blast Records, Released June 15, 2018)
This album's name is all you need to know; “For The Cause”. Madball hasn't gone anywhere and continue to maintain their title as one of the realest, most consistent and well respected bands in hardcore; thanks in no small part to their hard work ethic and honest song writing. Both of these qualities are on display throughout the 35 plus minute “For The Cause”. This album charges out of the gate with that familiar Madball style as you get that choppy bounce, rolling drums and heavy guitars right away on the opener “Smile Now, Pay Later”. “For The Cause” has a couple of levels to it – on one hand it’s a perfect case study in the classic Madball sound, which is sure to appeal to longtime fans; the other hand holds a newer chapter for one of hardcore's longest working bands. With a few songs popping well away from that “vintage Madball” sound and a recent lineup change manifested through the exit of Brian “Mitts” Daniels on guitar and the (studio recording) return of Matt Henderson – who last played with the band on “Hold It Down”- Madball has seemingly found a new footing as they climb further into their career. One of the most distinct examples of this growth is the song “The Fog” featuring Rancid frontman Tim “Timebomb” Armstrong. Worlds collide on this track – a clear Madball backbone with Tim's unmistakable vocals leading an almost “mashup” style track that has the body of punk rock and the balls of a hardcore song. It'd also be a real mistake not to mention “Evil Ways” with guest vocals from Ice T as well; a heavy groove driven song with a solid 2 step tempo and contains Ice T saying the words “unleash the evil, now you have breathed your last breath!” - *I know, right?!” To round it out, as any Madball fan worth their weight will tell you; whenever Freddy starts singing in Spanish on a track you know it's on – this holds true on track 10 titled “Es Tu Vida” - anyone looking for a new favorite heavy jam, you got it! Again, this album proves that even after decades of being on the grind of touring and playing shows, Madball hasn't been ground down yet, and they are still progressing and making the music they want to. One thing that keeps any band fresh stylistically is their ability to write songs that resonate not just with the band, but their audience as well. Whether or not it's been an intentional metric to use in the recording process, “Hardcore Lives” and “For the Cause” each have felt like a truth telling session for a specific place and time. Vocalist Freddy Cricien recently released an open letter to hardcore via Discovered Magazine where he said of being introduced to the burgeoning NYHC scene, “Like when someone introduces you to your soon to be... “first girlfriend” or something. There’s nerves, there’s excitement, there’s the love!” It bears noting that this sentiment still hasn't been lost on him, and it comes through with the words and feel on this record. Another solid release from one of hardcore's seminal bands, “For The Cause” is definitely going to satiate the appetites of long-time fans and turn some new (and even skeptical) heads! Also, if you get the chance to see Madball on tour - do it, they haven't slowed down at all!
SHELTER, DON’T SLEEP, MINDFORCE, ACTIVATE, SEARCH @Voltage Lounge, Philadelphia, PA. June 1st, 2018. WRITTEN BY: JOSH DERR. PHOTOS BY: ANNE SPINA
I've only seen Shelter twice now, and admittedly they were never a band in heavy rotation for me – their music popped up on a couple compilation records here and there, but beyond that, my exposure to them and the Krishna based segment of hardcore as a whole has been very limited. That said, the opportunity to see a band with so much history play a small venue like the Voltage Lounge in Philly was one I didn't want to pass up, and since I had some friends coming in from out of town for it there was no excuse not to go!
SEARCH punched through their set while the crowd still trickled in. There was some movement throughout their set, and the edge kids were out early for them in decent numbers (which I guess is what happens when you aren't doing post-work whiskey shots). With members of Mouthpiece and Floorpunch, the addition of Search to the lineup was a great go-to for kicking off a fun Friday night! They played a killer set, kept it moving and set a solid tempo for how the night was gonna go.
Next up were local thrashcore rippers, ACTIVATE. I won't lie, during Activate I got caught up outside chatting with some friends so I didn't see much of their set, but what I saw was golden. I really dig the vibe of this band, they're all about having a good time and they always exude tons of energy! Not to mention that any band which affiliates itself with the skate scene gets serious bonus points in my book!
MINDFORCE @ VOLTAGE LOUNGE, JUNE 1, 2018. PHOTO BY: ANNE SPINA
MINDFORCE crushed. I don't know what's going on out in the Hudson Valley of NY but it can stay like that. This band is still yet to cross their second year mark and they've created quite a stir by tapping into the old-school NY sound and bringing it into the present with a fresh twist. This was my first time seeing them, and I'm super stoked to see them again at Philly’s This Is Hardcore Fest in July.
DON'T SLEEP @ VOLTAGE LOUNGE, JUNE 1, 2018. PHOTO BY: ANNE SPINA
DON’T SLEEP is a new-ish project brought to you by former members of The Commercials and Junction with Dave Smalley on mic. I mentioned history in the opening, and here we go again! Beyond being fronted by such a recognizable voice/face in the hardcore/punk rock world, Don't Sleep seem to be on a quest to embody the “Young Til I Die” mentality that so many of us strive for. 3 generations of hardcore smushed into each other at the Voltage Lounge to watch Don't Sleep slay their own songs and sing along to a Dag Nasty song or 2!
SHELTER @ VOLTAGE LONGE, JUNE 1, 2018. PHOTO BY: ANNE SPINA
As I mentioned before, this was only my second time seeing SHELTER live. The first was at the This Is Hardcore Fest last year, so I knew a bit more on what to expect this time around. A Hare Krishna chant started and the incense filled the brick room as the lights went down. Everyone got quiet in a mixture of respect, anticipation, or perhaps minor confusion and intrigue. As the chant rolled on for a few minutes I realized how hyped this Krishna mantra was getting me, and decided to give the album “Mantra” a few listens over the coming days. Once Porcell and Ray (or Paramananda and Raghunath respectively if you want to call ‘em by their Krishna names) stepped on stage, the crowd immediately erupted and then it was right into “Message of the Bhagavat”. Shelter is a band whose members have influenced whole movements in our scene through their music and message for so many years that it is hard to calculate where hardcore might (or might not) be without them. When you take a step back and think about the resume of just one member here, it is an amazing thing. Take Sam Siegler on drums… he's played on so many records that defined moments in time for hardcore music! To me, it gets to the point where it can be almost a surreal thing, being in that small room with these musicians and realizing the legacy that is and will be the history of hardcore. Think about it like this… as the future presses on, if hardcore exists in 200 years, bands like Youth of Today, Agnostic Front, Gorilla Biscuits, etc will forever be canonized as the founders of our chosen social out-cropping. Maybe it’s the residual Krishna incense talking, but this means that we can still enjoy first hand the experience of fucking singing along to our favorite songs with our own Ben Franklins! Pretty rad if you ask me. Since the show, I've actually been listening to each of these bands more steadily and I'm stoked on that. It was a great night with great hangs, though I feel that letting the Krishna congregation set up at the top of the stairs on the only path to the merch tables can only be classified as entrapment...Haha!
2 MINUTE MINOR "BLOOD ON OUR FRONT STOOP"
(Released May, 2018)
Brand new DIY release from this Chicago 6 piece who bring a bunch of influences and ideologies to the table. Included amongst them is the obvious hockey theme from their name as well as the opening track "Victory Is Ours" and "Probert" which is about the late Bob Probert who was best known for kicking much ass as an NHL enforcer for both the Red Wings and Blackhawks. In the song they vison standing side by side with Mr. Probert and punching nazis in the face. Anti-racist skinhead culture, hardcore, punk, oi, a positive mental attitude, and acceptance of others is preached throughout the 12 songs we are given. (14 if you add in the extras). 2MM can come at us more lighthearted like on "Soda Tax" which is about LaCroix sparkling water or in a more serious fashion like on "Tried And True" where the lyric of "labeled a subculture of racism and hate, the media fed you a line and you took the bait" defends the core against some misconceptions people outside of our scene may have about us. "Unite The Crew" is their sing-a-long anthem and stand out track here with multiple guest singers, each adding their own touch to a track that sums up a lot of their previously mentioned ideologies. The songwriting is simple but catchy with somewhat of an old-school NYHC meets punk rock flavor and although I agree with their stances lyrically it is the vocals that I had a hard time digesting. The effort is there unfortunately I am just not feeling Mr. Wiley Willis’ delivery as it is more of an acquired taste. Maybe you will like it though as 2MM are a fun, positive band that would be hard to see not being a ton 'o fun if you were to catch them live. Give them a shot on the house with that “Name Your Price” option at the link below or choose to donate some hard earned shekels to the cause.