******** CLICK ON RECORD COVERS FOR ORDERING/BAND INFO ********
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
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.