***** CLICK ON ALBUM COVERS FOR EACH BAND'S SOCIAL MEDIA *****
CRAZY EDDIE "EDDIE PUTS OUT A 7 INCH"
(Rockin' Rex Records, Released October, 2023)
NYC's Crazy Eddie are at it again serving up their fourth official release with their timeline dating back to 2018 when they dropped their debut titled "Eddie Drops Out Of College". As with previous releases their mascot Eddie is worked into the title and in this case the title straight up states facts with this being the band's first ever release on vinyl courtesy of Rockin' Rex Records which was also a Yonkers, NY based brick and mortar store that served the Westchester community between the years 1990 through 1995. On the merch front this is a nice collectible pressed on to white vinyl with a clean look. The gatefold design folds out with the lyrics and band photos within and on the back. This latest Crazy Eddie drop continues their upward trajectory as a band while also staying true to what they have been doing since day 1 with a blend of NYHC mosh meets traditional yet modern sounding punk rawk. The 5 tracks on display here are well balanced with healthy doses of speed intertwined with some mid-paced grooves.
"Love Letter" opens things up strong and is the first of the three "love songs from the hood" that lie within. "Don't Make a Fool Out Of Me" gets the blood flowing again with another speedy track before things slow down a little for "Let's Start Over". "We Put Out A 7 Inch is a 58 second blast of fun and sorta self-explanatory song about this band having to wait four years before they finally got something out that wasn't a streaming only release. "The Only One For Me" bounces this 8 plus minute release off into the sunset and that's a wrap on the latest from Crazy Eddie who you can catch live around the NY area on a frequent basis. Some Crazy Eddie factoids that may appeal to NYHC historian types include… members of this band have been in Fahrenheit 451, Abject! and Down Low, this record was produced by former Supertouch drummer Andy Guida and due to a health issue bass tracks for this release were performed by Lou Medina who has played drums for Breakdown, Coldfront, All Out War and District 9. Click HERE to stream or HERE to grab some of that vinyl action through Rockin' Rex Records.
COA "TRAUMA DUMP"
(Triple B Records. Released October, 2023)
"Trauma Dump" is COA's (formerly Colin Of Arabia) first new music in over 10 years delivering 5 new songs in just over 7 minutes time. "15 Seconds Of Fame" is the aptly titled mini-tornado of an opener that comes in at (you guessed it) a mere 15 seconds. They say first impressions are everything and the "wait, what, was that the first song, and is it already over?" feelings were still running through my head while a straight up rager in "Final Boss" took over my speakers. It was on this track that I took notice of the awesome guitar tone that lies within this record that kept bringing "DFTSDFTS" era Warzone to mind. After digging a little deeper into the bio here I see this release was recorded direct to analog tape with "no studio magic" which may or may not have contributed to that guitar sound ('cause I couldn't tell you the first thing about recording music) but regardless the overall feel is here is rough rugged and raw Northeast style hardcore out of Boston. "Lovers, Muggers And Thieves" features Death Before Dishonor's Bryan Harris and tells a dark opioid crisis story backed with some amazing guitar chug making for this short EP's catchiest track. "Please Don't Tell The Boys" and "Tired Of Shit" close things out on a high note while continuing the run of choppy mosh inducing hardcore with the slightest dose of melody to keep things fresh. I respect COA for putting this out with almost no build-up as it just came out on October 27th minus any preview tracks or hype machines before that date. They also put the lyrics up on their Instagram account as well, something you don't see often and from a streamers perspective we 'preciate you COA for doing this. Lastly, this is one of the thickest 7 minute hardcore EP's you are gonna come across as this just feels longer than it actually is. Find this on Bandcamp or hit up Triple B Records to grab a 7" vinyl copy.
HOLD MY OWN “IN MY WAY” (DAZE, Released October, 2023)
What do you get when some guys from Chicago get together with some New Jersey boys? You get Hold My Own, an authentic, tough sounding hardcore band who distributes face smashing old school music, along the lines of Biohazard and Sheer Terror. Coming to existence in 2021, this is the band’s second EP, as well as a split with Carried By Six. The EP contains six tracks of ruthless hardcore done right. I always love when a band includes the lyrics. It gives me a better sense of what the music and message the band is trying to get across and let me tell you, Hold My Own write some badass songs. “In My Way”, the opener is a realistic look through the eyes of the band on how they view life and live it on their own terms. The lyrics, “All the love, all the people, all gone. But I gotta still do it my own way. You’re in my fucking way. If it’s all just a play, I’ll do it my way” shows the intensity and solidity this band projects. “Entitlement” is another great example of Hold My Own’s first-rate song writing. “Tell me the truth, cause no one does it now, only fake smiles and agendas, people wanting what they think that their owed” are some of the most down-to-earth lyrics in today’s world. I could literally write an entire review based on the band’s lyrics, they are that good. And if the lyric’s aren’t enough for you, they are sustained by a backdrop of expeditiously played hardcore, complete with the necessary breakdowns one would expect in authentic hardcore music. Just check out “Forever True” and “Time Ticks” for further proof. Hold My Own are a band you don’t want to bypass. These guys are serious about putting out refined old school hardcore music and backing it up with effective lyrics any true music lover would be proud to own. Find this on Bandcamp with 12” vinyl and CD available through DAZE.
VALUES HERE “TAKE YOUR TIME, I’LL BE WAITING”
(End Hits Records, Released September, 2023)
What I love about the music, bands, and musicians that I have followed for 30+ years is that so many of them do not stop creating. It is like that youth mindset that drives many of us has never left them. They can’t stop creating. We are lucky to have people like that in our scene. Whether you love the new music they make or not, it is amazing that they keep doing it.
How many artists from other genres of music continue a pathetic cycle of playing the same songs from the beginning of their careers all summer to apathetic crowds who busily munch on fried corn dogs and cotton candy while swaying back and forth to lame, top 40 songs. In between trips to the pharmacy for their “help me take a shit” medicine these bands play the Bumblefuck County fair and vomit their tired, old hits all over these vapid crowds trapped in uncultured wastelands. These "fans" smile while reliving the first time they got all hot and sweaty to Sugar Ray’s “Fly” in the back of mom’s station wagon back in high school. Then maybe, just maybe, they have some moment of introspection but then quickly remind themselves that high school football season is fast approaching and everything will be alright. Lame.
Values Here is not that, not by a longshot. The band’s roster boasts Porcell (Youth of Today, Shelter), Tim Brooks (Bold), Vinny Panza, and Chui. What you get from these four is not any sort of redux of their old bands but a fresh and vibrant hardcore-punk based (almost) pop record. The production team has an interesting mix of bedfellows which must have been very deliberate. The team includes Tom Soares as producer, whose credits include Judge and Bold, and Dave Kutch as engineer, who has worked with Billie English and The Weeknd.
The record starts out with two fast songs, “Will Be Tomorrow”and "Bring Me The PMA”, that could be the opening tracks on any hardcore record from the last 30 years. On these tracks, as well as most of Values Here songs, the band’s lyrical subject matter mainly centers around having a positive mindset and looking forward and not back. Great messages for all ages. Better than the drivel we were subjected to on popular radio (when that was still ubiquitous).
I think Values Here’s sound really shines through on their third track “Feeling Down”. Chui’s vocals come to the forefront on this track and the music is the perfect mix of fast beats, hardcore riffage, and complimentary bass lines. “It’s Your Business Not Mine” is a bad ass rager that has a great choppy intro that morphs into a straight up punk song with some great “whoa whoas” and a super catchy chorus.
Values Here does not disappoint with their mid-tempo hardcore tracks like “Don’t Dig It Up” and “No One’s Left Behind” either. These tracks are chockful of gang vocals and driving percussion. And again these choruses get stuck in your cranium as well. One thing that really stuck with me after a few listens to this 14 song album was how much I was humming them at work without thinking about it afterwards.
The curveballs on this record come with songs like “Do You Know Why?”, “We Get Stronger” (why do I get Queen vibes from this one?), and “Lift Your Head”. These songs show the more mainstream side of the band’s sound. These are the tracks that will pull in more than your average YOT fan. (For instance, my 7 year old loves “We Get Stronger” and has been asking for it in the car all week.) The slick production is very evident on these tracks. And that would be one of my few criticisms of this record. The vocals definitely have an effect on them and the overall sound is very polished. When you have someone who has worked on music by some of the most popular contemporary artists it has to be expected.
“Take Your Time, I’ll Be Waiting” by Values Here and put out by End Hits Records is a well-rounded record that is more eclectic than most albums from the hardcore genre but still sticks to the members’ roots. There are enough songs to get the circle pits going but also a few tunes that will get grandma to raise the devil horns and headbang at least until her sciatica kicks in. One thing is for sure, you can bet that grandma will not be standing idly by enjoying a strawberry lemonade while nibbling on tasty chips hoping her dentures don’t fall out. Find streaming/purchase (vinyl/CD) options through this convenient one stop link.
YEAR OF THE KNIFE “NO LOVE LOST”
(Pure Noise Records, Released October, 2023)
Year Of The Knife came to light in 2015 out of Delaware and play straight edge hardcore/metal that will melt your eardrums. Starting out as a five piece outfit, original singer Tyler Mullen left the band and bassist Madison Watkins took over on vocal duties. “No Love Lost” is their first full length album with her at the helm and the band administer nine tracks of brain crushing metalcore. What struck me first were the guttural vocals. “Sometimes”, the opening track demonstrates her crushing vocal style. The opening riff builds the listener up in anticipation of her screaming out the first words of the song. I literally got goose bumps when I heard the opening lyrics. This carries throughout the entire record, gaining your attention and admiration for what this band delivers. Not only do they have an executioner at the helm, but the band’s tight metallic playing style only solidifies the band’s hardcore/metal sound. Look no further than tracks such as “Mourning The Living”, “Return The Agony” and the title track, “No Love Lost” to support what I am saying. The track which stood out for me would have to be “Last Laugh”, the shortest song on the album at 48 seconds. It is unique in that it merges hardcore with grind core. Imagine if early Napalm Death collaborated with Walls of Jericho. This song would be the outcome. This is the kind of record you want to throw on after a bad day and discharge all your anger at a piercing volume. Madison’s vocals remind me of a young Candace Kucsulain from Walls Of Jericho, and who happens to be my favorite female hardcore singer. This is an impressive first full length album and I can only hope the band continues on, after the tragic story that follows. I always like to end my reviews on a high note, but not this time as there is some sad news out of the Year Of The Knife camp. On the way to a show in Colorado Springs earlier in the year, the band was involved in a terrible accident, when their van collided with an 18 wheeler. Their van was crushed underneath the 18 wheeler with the band still inside. This resulted in severe injuries to the band members. Singer Madison Watkins suffered the worst of the accident, sustaining not just multiple fractures, but also a traumatic brain injury, which put her in a medically-induced coma. Four months after the accident, Madison is back at home with her husband and guitarist Brandon. She is a long way from fully recovered and will need constant care and rehabilitation for a long period of time, before she is back to form. All proceeds from this record go to recovery costs from the accident, so please do your part and buy it. Not only is it for a great cause, but you are also adding some remarkable music to your collection. Streaming options can be found HERE with merch and vinyl options available through Pure Noise.
PAINT IT BLACK “FAMINE”
(Revelation Records, Released November, 2023)
Full Disclosure: I am a huge fan of Paint It Black and any project Dan Yemin is part of. Hopefully I do not sound too biased but I think this record is pretty badass. That being said…
Paint It Black’s newest record “Famine” on Revelation Records is the best thing I have listened to this year. The songs are urgent and unapologetic and they leave you emotionally drained but still wanting more. I recently read an interview with lead singer and main songwriter Dan Yemin. He stressed how honest this recording is. Whether it be in the writing or the production, what you see is what you get and Paint It Black gives you a lot in just 8 songs.
The record’s opening track “Famine” is a mid-tempo plodding number in the classic hardcore style with aggressive vocals that somewhat follow the music but then at about the one minute mark, the triumphant ending begins. Yemin screams throughout the last half of the song with such intensity that is not often matched by other hardcore vocalists. His vocals are in no way perfunctory, they are real and the emotions behind them pull you in and don’t let you go. He sounds legitimately pissed and, lucky you, you are the one who is going to hear about it. The second track, “Dominion” has an awesome anthemic breakdown about halfway through. Lots of bands do that but what is great about Paint It Black is that their anthemic fist pumping parts always seem to have these random minor chords thrown in that some guitar players would think are wrong notes. They would be wrong. These “random” (not random at all) minor parts add to the texture in all the songs on the record and really make these songs stand out from a lot of other stuff that comes across your ear holes. Coming in at number three is “Safe” which has a really catchy outro chorus that makes you want to turn that shit up to 11. Additionally, the interplay between Andy Nelson on bass (by the way the bass sounds amazing on this) and Josh Agran on guitar is great on all the songs but it really shines on this track. Halfway through Paint It Black make a sharp left turn with “Exploitation Period”. It changes the sound up a lot at the halfway point of this 8 song EP. There is a sort of ambient guitar part that plays intermittently over the bass and vocals. Yemin more or less shouts un-rhythmically over the stripped down song structure. It is a little bit of a breather from the previous three tracks that all had a more or less similar song structure. The song ends in a crescendo with the drums and guitar coming in to finish it off. “Serf City” is next but don’t blink or breathe cause you will miss this 34 second scorcher. The chorus is great! “It’s lonely at the top? Try the fucking bottom!” You may find yourself wondering how this can get any better at this point in the record but then the Fugazi-influenced “Unreasonable Silence” busts in like a bull looking for a fucking china shop. This is my personal favorite but it is tough competition. “Namesake”, the penultimate track, is a thrasher that pulls you in and then spits you out into the mid-tempo breakdown outro. “City Of The Dead” is the last song on the record and the drums are perfect on this one. Jared Shavelson really sets the mood in the intro and throughout this track. This song is the perfect way to end the record. Dan Yemin shouts “Convention is Stagnation”. So true! Find this on various streaming services HERE with 12” and merch options available through Revelation Records.
CONSERVATIVE MILITARY IMAGE "CASUAL VIOLENCE" (Lionheart Records, Released May 2023)
Released back in May, found this in the late summer and it's been pretty hard to stop playing "Casual Violence" since that time. CMI have previous releases dating back to only 2022 and like those previous releases "Casual Violence" was the work of one Adam Voss who literally took the Do It Yourself mantra and flat out did it himself. Since this release Adam has assembled a full band with "some of my favorite people and closest friends" according to American-Oi.com. One thing that I have come to know from doing this zine/website thing is that there can be long stretches of time where new bands I come across just don't stand out, especially while trying to stay within the traditional parameters of hardcore/punk and in this case Oi! Championing (non-racist) skinhead culture and delivering their message with absolutely no fucks given of your opinion CMI deliver a 10 song/23 minute rager that delivers a little of everything on the hardcore/punk/Oi! front. The Rival Mob comes to mind while listening to this for the way they would deliver memorable hardcore without trying to change what hardcore is while Wisdom In Chains also come to mind for their blue collar attitude.
Old-school wise I will throw in Negative Approach as a comparable band and over the last few years if you have fucked with the UK's Violent Reaction or The Chisel you are probably gonna dig the CMI beat. From the long intro on opener "Burberry Hat" to the minute long fade out on "Conduct Unbecoming", the instrumental "Post Cycle Blues", the chorus to "Casual Violence" and literally every nook and cranny in between CMI have put together one helluva memorable album with Adam's hard but not overdone vocal delivery being another layer of the things I really like about this album. Lyrically some of the songs are written almost in an open to interpretation type of way where it may mean one thing to you and another to someone else. Those who miss the days of your music scene being a bit more dangerous, maybe a bit less PC while also being able to deliver quality hardcore punk minus the Slayer riffs should be smashing the following links to CMI's Spotify to check out what the fuss is all about.
BROKEN VOW “ANTHROPOCENE”
(Triple B Records, Released September, 2023)
Massachusetts has produced some top quality punk and hardcore bands over the years, such as Gang Green, Blood For Blood, Have Heart and Death Before Dishonor, to name a few. New England based Broken Vow continue the tradition with a vengeance by dispensing “Anthropocene”, their first full length record on Triple B Records. The band’s influences, lyrically speaking, stem from bands they respect such as Strife, Earth Crisis and politically charged bands on Bridge Nine Records, which care about the environment. The majority of the songs on this album deal with humanity’s relationship with the earth and are dispensed with purpose and force. From the opening guitar feedback of “Burning Your Throne” and the singer roaring out the title, the band strike hard and fast and don’t let up until the last song ends. What jumped out at me first was the singer’s killer voice. This guy can sing and has so much range in those vocal chords. You compliment this with exceptional musicians and what you get is the hardcore total package. Tracks such as “Shift Tactics”, “Function” or “Evil Armies” back up this claim. Who am I kidding? All nine tracks back it up. If you like your hardcore fast and heavy, the song, “Reversal” has what you need. This one got me fired up in a positive way. I loved the last track, “No More Air” for its diversity. There is a little of everything thrown into this song, making it a unique and interesting end to the record. Without a doubt, this band would be intense to see live. Broken Vow sound more like a veteran hardcore band and deserve props for putting out a strong and well-produced debut record. This is one band you should keep on your radar and buy the record, so they can keep making more impressive hardcore albums. Stream this on Bandcamp or grab a CD or 12” vinyl copy through Triple B Records.
HARD FEELINGS “THE DEVIL YOU KNOW”
(Heroes & Martyrs Records, Released September, 2023)
Out of Connecticut, Hard Feelings know how to bring the mosh. Putting out a demo in 2020 and then the “Fight To Survive” EP in 2021 (both of which are on the CD version of “The Devil You Know”). To say Hard Feelings is just angry does not quite do them justice. It feels more like unforgiving and out for revenge. The verses are fast and the songs have at least two or more ranging from a two-step style to various levels of brutality. They do a nice job with buildup parts, whether it goes to just a blast beat drum part like on the title track or guitar squeal and bendy part on “Living Hell”. The 7” is four songs… the record is solid… the cover art is very cool and the vocals really stand out for me as they are very unhinged and pissed. There are also a few almost talking parts that set up a gnarly mosh call. The way they pick and choose the gang vocals parts stands out as well. There are vocal parts in the songs that other bands might throw in the group shout but Hard Feelings lets the singer belt out the line and it sounds awesome. This record has some Hatebreed “Satisfaction” vibes on some of the breakdowns, and some Internal Affairs in your face, pissed off attitude. If you like your hardcore fast and angry with some serious mosh this is for you. It’s easy to envision a good old Cali circle pit during the fast parts and then the floor opening up into a CTHC pit of mayhem as these songs progress. Find this on various streaming platforms HERE or on 7” vinyl or compact disc through Heroes & Martyrs.
VENDETTA “DEATH GRIP”
(Indecision Records, Released August, 2023)
Vendetta is one of Oxnard CA’s finest. Forming around 2002 they put out a demo and played a ton of shows. In 2004 they put out a self-titled CD on Scott McGrath’s of Maggot Stomp Records early label Takeover Records. They established themselves as the Nardcore torch bearers. 2007 saw them release “Time Will Tell” on Nick Jett of Terror’s New View Records. Over the years Vendetta played shows but became less active as members started families and careers. Some of the members play in Retaliate “da best Oxnard band and The Warriors from Tehachapi, CA. But both those bands slowed down and Vendetta finally checked their email and saw all the fan mail asking them to write a new record. So after 15 years “Death Grip” drops on Indecision Records, and it is well worth the wait. Vendetta have always played heavy style hardcore in the vein of Madball and Death Threat. This record is 10 songs in 19 minutes so they do not mess about. Andrew’s vocals never sounded better. He’s pissed and still has that gnarly growl. The lyrics are to the point, showing maturity and life experience. Almost every song has a cool sing-a-long part which is great for the live set. While “Death Grip” delivers the fast verses, build ups, two step parts and break downs, the little touches of melody scattered throughout really set this record apart from most bands doing this style. Those parts compliment or set up the moshy, angry parts making them more powerful. The songs “TWBL” and “Abandoned” showcase those parts. The NYHC influence and bounce shows up a lot thoughout the record giving me some “Hold It Down” vibes. My favorite track is “This Is Life” as the lyrics flat out rule and the build up to the first pit part gets me riled and ready to get myself hurt moshing, then they end it with a spin kick mosh part. I love everything about this LP. I am psyched Vendetta is back and better than ever as this one has it all with killer songs, top notch recording, ill art and a rad label putting it out. The art and layout by Donny Phillips is a very cool collage type thing. Record was recorded and mixed by Oxnard legend and musical genius Roger Camero. Click HERE to find “Death Grip” on Bandcamp or HERE to grab a 12” vinyl version through Indecision Records.
LAST GASP “WHO WANTS TO DIE TONIGHT?”
(WAR Records, Released October, 2023)
I love being surprised. It can be a call from an old friend, a great meal or hearing great music for the first time. I love when I am doing a review of a hardcore band and the sound is so good and on point that I can't tell if they are old or new school. Not that the time frame of the band matters to me as much as how they sound and the lyrical content. Last Gasp from Cleveland, Ohio is a prime example. I had never heard of them until recently and was surprised to find they have only been around as a band for a few years. As with a lot of bands, the members have been involved in their local scene and been in other bands. Listening to their new LP titled “Who Wants To Die Tonight?” which was released on Halloween on L.A. based WAR Records, I only got about 2 songs in and said out loud "this band is amazing!” And I am so excited to bring this band into the light for those of you who haven't heard them before. Following up from their 2022 EP, the current lineup consists of Ryan Hardwick- vocals, Dave Kuhlman- guitar, Joe Kepich- bass and Tony Robinson- drums. They have done an amazing job with creating 12 minutes of pure hardcore bliss. Last Gasp's sound has a familiarity to it, capturing elements from different eras of hardcore/punk but with a brand that is all their own. The fast guitar, heavy breakdowns, clean vocals and a refreshing energy never wane throughout the 10 tracks. All great titles for the songs and I honestly don't have a favorite one. It is worth noting that track # 4 “Seizure The Day” has special guest vocals from Dan Foose from another Cleveland band The Spudmonsters. I love hardcore music, I love writing about it and I love helping spread the word on bands people may not know. And although I get to hear some really good music, once in a while I get to hear something that blows me away and Last Gasp's new release did just that. I have predicted many bands over the years will do big things and if I was right or not is a debate for another time. But this band I'll put money on. Stream this on Bandcamp or grab a 12” vinyl version through WAR Records before they are all gone!
LUXURY TEETH “MIGHT JOIN A CULT”
(Released September, 2023)
Fuck yes! The In Effect brass have again rewarded me with a nugget to review this go around. The nugget in question is the new EP from Baltimore's own Luxury Teeth entitled "Might Join A Cult". Now, I make no secret of my love for Balmer. I am in Baltimore quite often for shows as I live between there and DC so I jump at the chance to check out and/or review bands from Charm City. I have seen Luxury Teeth and they are a dirty, degenerate punk rock and roll band with hardcore tendencies.
Baltimore has always had an amazing underground music scene and Luxury Teeth fit right in there. This offering contains two new songs and a cover of "Goofy Concern" by the Butthole Surfers. "Might Join A Cult" is the first track and it runs 1:51. This is a real stomper of a tune and is heavy on the bass. It reminds me a bit of Bloody Sods out of Georgia who I reviewed for this very zine when it was an actual physical thing. The song is from the point of view of someone who has looked for answers but has found nothing but nonsense and can see through all of the bullshit. They decide that perhaps all of the perceived negatives might be a positive in a cult, so, why not join? It's a driving tune and it rocks. Next up is "Type Of Friend" running 2:26. This is the epic cut and what I'd like to refer to as a degenerate friendship anthem. A nice drum beat kicks in before this one puts the bassline out front to set things off. A nice guitar lick ensues and the song is off. I keep singing the line "Type of friend you go to war with. Type of friend you’re breakin’ laws with"… Yup, we all got them… or we are them. This is a gritty number and not your typical youth crew friend song, crying about your friend breaking your heart because he sucked a cork from a wine bottle while in France. This is like actual friendship. The final song is an excellent cover of the Butthole Surfers song "Goofy Concern". Google who that is, Gen Z wankers.
There you have ladies and gentle people… and them, they, those, etc, etc,etc. Baltimore keeps churning out quality bands making quality music of all genres, shapes, and sizes. Luxury Teeth is a fine collection of punk rockers making quality punk rock with hints of Meatmen and Circle Jerks. The heavy bass up front thing reminds me of old school out West bands a bit and the dual guitar attack keeps things interesting. This is gritty, greasy, hard knocks punk rock as can only be made in a city like Baltimore. I look forward to hearing more from this band. This was a nice appetizer but I need more of a meal, so I will keep my eyes and ears open. So check Luxury Teeth out you fools, you won't be disappointed. Not like the disappointments I feel you all are. You are a sad lot. Now get the fuck off my ever loving lawn! Stream or buy the 7” vinyl version through the Luxury Teeth Bandcamp page.
THE GIVEUPS “WORKING CLASS WAR” (Released August 2023)
Long Island’s The Giveups may be a new band but the four members of the band have certainly paid their dues over the years as they have served time in the likes of Tension, Contagious Drip, Lost In Thought and Calamine, so they definitely have the experience when it comes to playing quality hardcore punk and this is true without a doubt in the band’s debut EP “Working Class War”. Playing honest and passionate hardcore with a strong working class outlook is what The Giveups do, and they do it very well with the three songs that make up the perfectly titled “Working Class War” acting as perfect anthems for the underdogs. Those three songs consist of the title track of the EP, “So Sick” and a cover of Negative Approach’s “Nothing”.
What we get is some hardcore anger combined with elements of anthemic punk and some Oi! energy thrown in there for good measure and the results are utterly infectious from beginning to end on these anthems for the downtrodden, but who refuse to give up, and this seems to celebrate the bands name in a contrary fashion. Even though, The Giveups have been around the block a bit, this works in their favor when it come to their music and they definitely have a bright future on the evidence of “Working Class War”. Find this on Bandcamp.
MOLOTOV MUCHACHO “COMING UP SHORT”
(Released July, 2023)
New Jersey’s Molotov Muchacho combine thrashy punk rock with weighty hardcore and metal elements to create an energetic blast on their latest EP “Coming Up Short”. The immediacy of opening track “Sacrosanct” is evident as soon as the first riff kicks in and as soon as the dual vocals of Ian Egloff (who also handles bass guitar duties) and Alex Ziegler (also on guitar) roar into play, then it is very game on and from start to finish as Molotov Muchacho do not let up. “Burning Flesh” follows and is a non-stop riot of a track that adds in a low slung groove alongside some crucial melodic parts to create an atmospheric stomp that lets the heavy parts breath when they need to. “Headlock” combines grooving hardcore with thrashing punk to create a song that is reminiscent of Suicidal Tendencies and keeps the brutally eclectic nature flowing before “To The Brim” finishes things off brilliantly (especially its raging conclusion that sees the band let fly with reckless abandon) and it’s all over in just over ten minutes of eclectically furious hardcore punk. Molotov Muchacho definitely deliver the goods on “Coming Up Short” and hopefully a full length album will follow next, and will retain the same energy and heaviness that is executed on this EP. Click HERE to give it a listen.
MY PUNK ROCK LIFE: THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF MARLA WATSON (Earth Island Books, Released September, 2023)
Being a photographer myself, I love getting new photo books to review because like how a band creates a record, a photographer creates a book. The design, layout and photo sequencing all have a huge impact on the final product. Some photo books are just that, the photos, while others will add the stories behind the photos or a story that ties in with the time, place etc that the photo was taken. Marla Watson’s collection of photographs spans the “golden age” of punk in the 1980’s featuring the heavy hitters like Dead Kennedys, Suicidal Tendencies, Descendents and some of the lesser known bands like The Lewd and Toy Dolls all within a 254 page book featuring over 300 photos. What I like about “My Punk Rock Life” is that it documents all aspects of the punk scene back then. You have the pit, the legends of the scene, the great bands of course, the crowds and everyone’s favorite, the police, along with some nice stories from those who were there. This book is a great photographic time capsule of the 80’s California punk scene and some of the greatest bands of the era. A must have! Click HERE to grab one!
SKATE RATZ VOL 1 V/A (Not Like You Records, Released 2023)
Ok, I’ll say it now. I’ve never been a fan of comps, of any genre. EVER! Is it old age? Shorter attention span? Or perhaps a comp record that has a great mix of quality bands and songs. Bands like Too Many Voices, Fastplants, Since We Were Kids, Good Touch, The Hacks, Slashers, Rabid Assault, Disco Assault, and Bing Krosby come from all over the show but come together seamlessly to make an amazing comp that doesn’t lose momentum at any point. This comp also doesn’t suffer from the age-old problem of songs recorded at varying volumes that ruin any real flow and also makes some bands sound better just for the fact they had the cash to make a better recording. Various styles, sounds make this record a pleasure to listen to, yes, I even loved hearing a drum machine on top of all of the great bands/songs. The artwork by Bobbydrawsskullz and 12 page booklet make this an excellent comp to pick up! Click HERE to grab a copy from Not Like You.
CHAIN BLOCK “DEMO 2023” (Released May, 2023)
If you went back in time and told 20-year-old me that there was a band that sounded more like Outburst live and Think I Care on their demo, I would have been like cool, where the hell can I hear them? It would take almost two decades for this exact band to exist, but they are the mighty Chain Block from Montreal. The watch-on-repeat live set from their first show last December opens with the Final Word intro, signaling the tone for the rest of the set, but this demo is one step further into their own unique sound.
Single word song names complement the spare monochrome aesthetic on this five song demo. The first few tracks remind me the most of Think I Care, kicking off with “Stuck” and “Bridges” and peaking with “Lies” midway through. We continue back in time to a darker ‘90s tone on “Blade” complete with a speaking part and a Terror Zone feel. Powerful closer "Knot" features an abrupt conclusion that, in another TZ comparison, feels akin to the final lines of the Self Realization 7".
To the chagrin of my household, I often overplay new releases, but this one was immediately adopted into regular rotation by my worse half. For your local discerning connoisseur of the heaviest demos of ’23. Listen on Spotify or via free Bandcamp download.
RINGWORM “SEEING THROUGH FIRE”
(Nuclear Blast, Released August, 2023)
Just when I thought the Furnace and the ‘Worm couldn’t take this band into heavier territory they released this absolute rager! I was talking with a friend after I heard this new record, and we both agreed, Ringworm have NEVER released a weak record. Period. Furnace has one, if not, THEE most intense and powerful and recognizable voices in hardcore/metal. I was a fan way back in their more hardcore days with their insane release “The Promise” when they brought the metal side of hardcore into the scene along with fellow Clevo legends Integrity. Decades later and the band, despite numerous lineup changes, still sound like Ringworm and still bring it every song. The biggest and most noticeable improvement on this new record is the production. Not over produced, not “too metal” but the whole band can be heard and feels more balanced than previous releases which gives it more intensity and one rager flows into the other. Crazy breakdowns and equally killer soloing that will make the metal/guitar nerds pretty damn happy too. It's really just Ringworm produced to sound their very best, which should get these guys the attention they damn well deserve after decades of just continuously putting out amazing metal/ hardcore. “Death Hoax” is my go to right now to get me moving in the morning and through the day. Absolutely fucking killer! Click HERE to find out more.
CORPORATE CITIZEN "YEAH BUDDY"
(Released September, 2023)
Formed back in 2017 this is the 4th release sent in to us by San Diego's Corporate Citizen. With "Yeah Buddy" CC continues their consistent flow of West Coast punk vibes with 5 tracks coming in at about 15 minutes. Blueprint wise CC has not strayed much from the path of their earlier releases as there is still plenty of melodic punk rock with a smattering of hardcore grit tossed in along the way. To me, CorpCit are at their best during their fast parts as this is when they display their highest points of intensity that can make me ball up by fist with the opening parts to "Follow Me" and "Ventricle" immediately coming to mind (while also being my two overall fav tracks here). Core-folk who are sensitive to more poppier punk may want to read the warning label before taking "Yeah Buddy" as there are enough 90's era Fat-Wreck vibes here to put an average cavecore Neanderthal in the ER but for those more melodic punk types out there this is refreshing especially if you may feel weighted down by the same 'ol same 'ol. Click HERE to check "Yeah Buddy" out on Spotify.
NORTHERN HIT SQUAD “VIOLENCE IS GOLDEN”
(1054 Records, Released September, 2023)
Canada’s Northern Hit Squad is back with a new 6 song EP following up their 2019 split EP with Born Without Hope (Upstate Records) that reminds me of Agnostic Front’s “One Voice” era of hardcore with their metallic, but not metal sound. That NYHC guitar sound comes straight from Guitarist AK Ray who spent time in legendary NYHC bands Skarhead and Vietnom back in the day. Psycho Dave’s vocals mesh perfectly whether it’s the traditional hardcore sound or when they switch into Oi! mode for the great singalong “Isabella” which documents a street in Toronto where all of the skins used to hang and occasionally get into scuffles with their mohawked counterparts. Lyrically, the songs are what you’d expect from a hardcore band, but unlike too many bands these days, these guys not only talk the talk, but they definitely walk the walk. Former Monster Voodoo machine guitarist DQ plays on the EP but has now been replaced by former Chokehold guitarist Sandy, Oleg and Frankie Malta both of Always Die Fighting, round out the lineup. Production is great and the songs clock in at just under 4 minutes on average making them not too short or not too long and have some nice lean guitar leads and a good amount of breakdowns. NHS recently opened up for Madball in Toronto and they killed these songs live. Looking forward to more music from these guys! Click HERE to stream/download or to grab a CD version from 1054 Records.
KOYO “WOULD YOU MISS IT?”
(Pure Noise Records, Released September, 2023)
This is an interesting time for hardcore. In the past three years or so hardcore bands have increasingly been taking some risks and changing their sounds. These bands are incorporating different styles into their song writing. Now some hardcore fans may take umbrage with that. Are these bands still considered hardcore if they add harmonies, keyboards, or even (more) cowbell??? I couldn’t definitively say one way or the other. I do know music changes because it is often written by creative people who are constantly being influenced and inspired by different forms of music, art, etc. Also to play or listen to the same thing, record after record, could certainly become boring. Then again how many of you reading this could throw on “Start Today” and listen to it for the hundredth time all the way through?
It is a riddle wrapped in an enigma trapped inside a paradox. Can hardcore bands write music that is outside the bounds of what is traditionally known as hardcore and still be considered hardcore? Do all hardcore bands have to sound like a derivative of Youth Of Today or Sick Of It All to be considered part of the club? Can we just enjoy a band without expecting them to live up to a label?
It seems that since Turnstile’s breakout success a couple years ago these questions are coming up more and more. But one thing is just a fact; hardcore bands, or at least those bands that consider themselves hardcore, are coming up. Whether it is End It or Scowl, Drain or Hanabie, more of these types of bands are filling venues and streaming some impressive numbers on the apps. One of those bands that is blowing up is Long Island’s own, Koyo.
Koyo’s star has risen dramatically in just three short years since their formation in 2020. They have toured with Stick To Your Guns, Knocked Loose, and Silverstein, just to name a few, while consistently putting out new music. Their newest release on Pure Noise Records is titled “Would You MIss It?” It is a collection of 11 tracks that lean on the more melodic side of things while still holding on to their Long Island hardcore roots. Almost any of these songs could be considered in the parlance of a coked out 1990’s record executive a “hit single”. The hooks are definitely there especially on “You’re On The List (Minus One)” and “Life’s A Pill”. They have mastered the art of writing poppier, ear pleasing choruses and then dropping into hardcore-tinged verses. They seem like the kind of band whose fans are equally comfortable mixing it up in the pit or on the periphery happily singing along. Additionally, they are really good at that anthemic sound, maybe too good because they seem to go to that well really often.
The band takes its Long Island musical influences like Taking Back Sunday and Crime In Stereo to heart on this record. They even enlisted the help of Vinnie Caruana from The MovieLife and Darren Palumbo of Glassjaw on a couple tracks. It is pretty rad seeing these guys showing respect to those that came before and paved the way for a band like Koyo to be able to thrive. Admittedly, I would not necessarily say that Koyo’s music brings back memories of the P.W.A.C. or anything like that but when you listen to them you can hear the Long Island hardcore scene influence. Sidebar: I definitely got some Set Your Goals vibes from this (not the Civ record but the Bay Area band) especially when other members of the band jump in on the vocals like in “You’re On The List (Minus One)”.
Some people are going to love Koyo because they write catchy shit and have a maturity in their songwriting that really shines through. Others may dislike them because they don’t sound like Token Entry. Are they poised to be the next Turnstile? Who knows? Will hardcore music cease to exist because of bands like Koyo? Absolutely not. As my mother always said, “You can’t make everybody happy so why try?” Click HERE to find out more.
RBNX “NOTHING HERE IS YOURS”
(Patient Zero Records, Released September, 2023)
Listening to RBNX brings back memories of going into NYC in the late 90’s to places like ABC No Rio. For a suburban kid, hanging out in a squat where there was food being served to whoever showed up, people listening to music upstairs, and touring bands playing in the basement was an eye opener for sure. I distinctly remember taking a piss in the upstairs bathroom and being able to see the band playing downstairs. It was awesome and I wish I had gone more often. But I digress…
RBNX brings that playing in a squat or your friend’s basement energy and grittiness and then some. I’ll admit, on first listen I was not stoked on this band. But then while I was at work, I kept singing something in my head and I was like, “what fucking song is this?” It was RBNX’s song “Fight Back”. I had to listen to their new one “Nothing Here Is Yours” during my lunch. Then I had to listen to it again when I got home and walked my dog. And then… well you get the idea.
RBNX’s music is infectious and addictive. It gets in your head and, like an unwelcomed houseguest, does not leave. But this is meant in the best way. It’s raw, no doubt. If you like slick production then this may not be for you. But the chances they take with their songwriting are awesome. They do not stick to any formulas. They write how they want and what they want regardless of what their influences may be (I’m going to guess Against All Authority, Operation Ivy (most notably on S.K.U.F.F.L.), and any number of Gilman Street bands). Along with the big ska influence, RBNX throws in plenty of hardcore breakdown parts that round out the sound nicely. In my opinion, some standout tracks are “Fight Back”, “S.K.U.F.F.L.”, “Jah Is Dead”, and “Stars At Night”.
“Nothing Here Is Yours” came out on Patient Zero Records on September 29th and deserves your attention. Especially if you are a fan of the bands mentioned early or if you want to check out a band that is bringing a new twist to the ska punk and hardcore sound this is for you. Give this upstate NY trio a listen. They are worth a few spins. Check this out on Bandcamp or Spotify and make sure to check out RBNX’s dedicated website where you can find upcoming show info, merch and links to the two songs from this record that the band has made music videos for.
THE PATH “PRISON PLANET”
(State Of Mind/No Time Records, Released August, 2023)
Hailing from the land of Bernie, ski mountains, and maple syrup, The Path have been churning out a mess of solid Vermont hardcore releases for quite a few years now. I believe since 2015 if I may be the amazing music journalist we all know me to be. Ripping, shredding, blistering, are all words that can be used to describe what you are in for with the new record. This is hardcore the way it should be done. The Kill Your Idols and Black Flag comparisons floating about are flattering and not far off from the truth at all, maybe a little more chaos than KYI but a little less than Flag. That's how The Path brings it. And what is it that they bring? What The Path has submitted here is a full length record entitled “Prison Planet”. There are twelve songs running somewhere around twenty minutes. There's something on here for everyone, but enough of that shit, on to my choice tunes… the ones that had me hitting repeat.
Now there is some definite thought provoking music on this release, but my first pick or rather the first song that picked me is "Don't Feed The Spiderbears" running 2:13. I love the unique riff that starts this song off and then it morphs into a galloping hardcore tune before getting a little more funky. Excellent drumming grabs me on this one with moments that sound like machine gun blasts as it is going so fast. No webs, no eggs, and no fucking beasts. Hell yeah, but full disclosure, my family shot me some classic, dad is batshit crazy looks when they heard me singing it with my headphones on. "Waterworld" clocks in at a stealthy 1:24. I love when hardcore bands surprise me. This song surprised me. It's a helluva ditty. It starts off at 140mph then kinda jams out for a minute and slows down before going out in a blaze. This is good song writing or structure or some of that type of shit. It stuck in my head, that much I know. My third and final pick is definitely the final cut, "Retirement Party" running a beefy 3:00. This is like an epic sci-fi adventure replete with lunar strandings and Kessler syndromes. I am gonna be honest this may be some deep song or about a movie I missed, but to me it's just fun so I don't really give two shits or a fudge. This one starts off cool and then runs red hot, faster than fast. Then it kicks into an almost old school thrash type breakdown-ish which rules. I can see a nice circle pit. I can see dead people, I digress. I always pick my three but I'd like to give shout outs to "Army Of One", “Isn't It Ironic?" and "My Funeral", great tunes that stuck with me for various reasons. However, nothing on here blows, so you other six songs relax, I am sure you'll be someone's favorite too.
There it is. I'll tell you this, if you pop this record on, it will roll thru and be over and you'll be like wait… that was 12 songs? I say this because it flows extremely well. Several times I would start the first song and the next time I looked it was song six in a blink. It would be great for a run down a double diamond at Stowe or Killington or Stratton. All places I was too PO to afford to ever go, but my douchey rich high school pals did. That's Vermont skiing shit you potato heads. DuckDuckGo that shit. At this juncture, I will advise you asshats to tap into the punk rock tree and add some of that sweet sweet Green Mountain state hardcore punk rock nectar to your collection. Leading me to another teachable moment, Vermont is derived from the words verts monts, which is French for green mountains, so now you can dazzle your mommies at dinner tomorrow and maybe earn an extra helping of nashed taters and Adderall. Adieu cockmasters, it's been real, and as always..... foutez le camp de ma pelouse verte! That's right bitches. Click HERE to find streaming options, 12” vinyl (State Of Mind), cassettes (No Time Records), merch, videos and more!
MILES BEHIND “MALA FIDE” (Released September, 2023)
Miles Behind comes to us from Gallivare, Sweden and “Mala Fide” is their second EP behind their debut which came out in April of last year. Sandwiched between the two EP’s is a single called “Safe And Sound” which came out in June of ’22 so it is safe to say that Miles Behind have been somewhat busy with writing and recording in their brief history. Unfortunately, no bio came with the EP and the band never got back to me, so not much else is known about them. Miles Behind delivers four sustainable tracks of punk and hardcore in just fewer than 6 minutes, with a durable 90’s feel to it. “The Call”, the opening track, demonstrates the band’s flair for playing quick and fast paced songs along the lines of Champion and Carry On. “Before You Know”, in my opinion is the best song on the EP. It’s got high-speed energy, combined with that 90’s punk/hardcore angst that will have you pressing repeat again and again, as I did. “Personal Best” is the shortest track, but packs a lot of punch in only 49 seconds. Starting with a cool crossover riff, you feel the build-up and sense something is about to go off. Then, without warning, your intuition is confirmed when the song goes from zero to sixty in a flash, before winding down and coming to an end. “Overflow” finishes things off with a classic example of true 90’s hardcore music. This song has it all; great build-up, well-timed breakdowns, played at breakneck speeds and furious vocals to compliment the total package. If you are a fan of 90’s hardcore punk, then grab this EP and enjoy. Check it out on Bandcamp.
"A ROADIES TALE"
(Author: CIV, Unterwelt Books, Released September. 2023)
Back in 1987 a straight edge hardcore band out of NYC called Youth Of Today decided to do a cross country tour in a van to support their "Break Down The Walls" album which came out the previous year on Wishingwell Records. Anthony "Civ" Civarelli who many of you know as "Civ from Gorilla Biscuits" was one of two roadies along on that tour and he kept a VERY detailed journal which he has now turned into a 164 page book which you can order now through Unterwelt Books.
This softcover book has the feel of a huge fanzine and is very easy to read literally breaking down each stop along the tour. Early on here we get some insight into Civ's world, pre-tour as a young hardcore kid from Queens with a girlfriend that really didn't want him to go on this trip... but it was something he knew he had to do. A short intro and mugshot of all 5 YOT band members, Civ and fellow roadie RJ lead us into this adventure. Having every person from this tour give a little "looking back" intro was a really cool way to start things off.
July and August of 1987 saw Youth Of Today basically make a giant circle around the USA touring down the East Coast and then out West and eventually back East. The everyday stories where you could see yourself in these very same situations are what made this book so appealing to me from packing for the tour, hiding spending money in a sock, learning how to "tetris" all the gear into the van, sometimes sleeping in a real bed and sometimes in dog piss. There were days where everything in the world was right with swimming pools, trips to the beach, milk and donuts and a great show while others saw hard labor to pay off mid-tour vehicle repairs or facing off with racist skinheads.
Besides the wealth of stories are tons of photos including live ones from the shows they played, hangout pics, flyers, calendars with hand scribbled notes and phone numbers to the people that were booking these do it yourself shows. There even is a photo of Civ's blue Nike's that were deemed not cool by members of the band and were thrown out of the van window on a highway somewhere in Virginia. Civ writes from the heart here and it is pretty apparent that these two months spent on the road helped shape his future as well as the future of Gorilla Biscuits who undoubtedly benefitted from this tour as their 7” would come out just a year later. “A Roadies Tale” is a trip back in time where bands essentially would load up the van, head out on the road and just hope for the best and the stories within these pages will resonate with not only old-school NYHC heads but with any hardcore/punk band that has set out on their own DIY tour at any point. Kudos to Mr. Civ for sharing these stories and keeping them alive.
SPELL IT OUT “DRAW A LINE” (Released August, 2023)
Picture this; in an alternate universe the band Lifetime decided to leave the swamps of New Jersey in 1992 and moved to the lower east side of NYC. They filled their time by going to Sunday Matinees at CBGB’s and listening to Judge and Killing Time. If this scenario actually happened I think the sound would be a lot like the new six song EP by Spell It Out titled “Draw A Line”.
Spell It Out hail from New York and New Jersey and write super catchy melodic hardcore that alternates between crunchy hardcore goodness and more anthemic emo tinged parts. “Draw A Line” is a follow up to their 14 song record called “Out Of Chaos” released in 2022 and it is apparent that they have continued raising the bar for themselves which is always great to see from a band. After doing a little research on the band it looks like they are older gentlemen (aren’t we all) who have been in the hardcore arena for a long time. They were able to put their first record together through demos and a few practices after the pandemic. For this go around it looks like they were able to gel even more. Let’s delve into the songs.
“Chain Breaker” starts things off with a mid-tempo part that harkens back to Lifetime and then blasts into a fast chorus that is like honey to a hardcore circle pit. Next up is “PR Box” which is an anthem-laden banger. It kind of follows a similar song structure to “Chain Breaker” but why fix something when it isn’t broken? The song is my personal favorite. Batting third is “Breathless”. It comes out of the gate like a horse at Belmont raceway on fire but soon gives the listener the hardcore bridge/outro that smacks you right in the face. “I’m Not Awake” is the slow song, the one that gives the listener a breather and maybe the drummer a short break. “By A Thread” is the penultimate track and another personal favorite. The opening riff is really catchy and has some Dag Nasty influences and some cool unsuspected changes that are really pleasing to the ear. Finally, there is “Draw A Line”. The chorus “Draw a line with a baseball bat” conjures images of a hardcore mosh pit with flailing limbs and bloody chins.
What I really like about this band is that they have a style that they are damn good at. They are absolutely solid at what they do and do not stray too much from that formula. It would be cool to see them step out of their comfort zone and try some different things but for what it is worth they bring it and that can’t be denied. Find this on Bandcamp as well as other streaming services.
NUGGETS “INNER PEACE” (Released August, 2023)
Wait! I was always taught that dudes who smoked a lot of weed were super mellow people. They chilled on the couch, indulged in 30 person drum circles, and avoided conflict at all costs. That does not describe Nuggets. Nuggets is fast-paced. Nuggets is brutal. Nuggets is part of the “Cannabis Positive Hardcore Crew” and don’t you forget it.
This Swedish outfit, coming straight out of Gothenburg, sounds like a mix between Sick Of It All, Leftover Crack, 59 Times The Pain, and Minor Threat. Their music is super interesting. You do not get bored listening to them! Just when you think they have settled into a groove, be it fast or slow they switch things up on you. They have the chugga chugga thing down as well as the thrash style that gets the heart beating at 250 bpm’s. They even have elements of rock sprinkled in as well and don’t forget the 808/video game beats.
The vocals and lyrics are the highlight of the record to me though. They are delivered aggressively but with an ear towards melody no matter how buried it may be. The vocals are catchy as fuck and the lyrics are most definitely from the heart. There are a good amount of references to weed, telling the cops to go fuck themselves, and just being in the scene and being proud of it. Punk and hardcore can always use more of that to even out the crying in your beer lyrics about unrequited love.
There are some bands that when you hear them for the first time you wish you could go see them. I am sure Nuggets’ shows absolutely go off. Good thing they have free healthcare in Sweden because I would not be surprised if people are making a stop at the emergency room on their way from a Nuggets gig. Big ups to Nuggets! Find this on Bandcamp and other streaming services.
MAGNITUDE "OF DAYS RENEWED..."
(Triple B Records, Released September, 2023)
Magnitude is a straight edge metallic hardcore band from North Carolina that continues the tradition of many great bands in the same vein such as Indecision, One King Down, and Earth Crisis. I actually reviewed their previous album "To Whatever Fateful End" for In Effect back when it came out in 2019. I remember I was a bit lukewarm at the time, but Magnitude has definitely grown on me quite a bit. The instrumentals and lyrics were great, but I just didn’t like how the vocalist sounded on record and he ended up sounding much more raw at the live shows. The hype and the positive reception around Magnitude has not died down after 4 years and this has led to the release of their new album "Of Days Renewed..."
Like many great hardcore records, "Of Days Renewed..." is short and to the point, with 8 tracks clocking in at just under 20 minutes. It definitely doubles down on the 90's vegan straight edge sounds of bouncy metallic mosh parts and screechy harmonic based leads in the vein of Snapcase. "Deliverance" starts the record off with a bang! Throttling two-step parts and crushing mosh riffs drive the track forward and make it hard for any mosher to sit still while it’s playing! "Built On Lies" might have the best opening riff of any song I’ve heard all year, taking the approach that most great early metalcore bands took to guitar riffs by writing a great Slayer riff and playing it 33 ½ RPM instead of 45 RPM, though I did feel the track faded out too early and still had some steam left in it. Songs like "Beyond Despair", "Echoes" and the title track fuse the heavy metallic mosh riffs with the fast parts of the old guard of hardcore in a way that reminds me of bands like Strife and The Promise. I really enjoy hardcore that sounds like this probably more than any other style of hardcore songwriting. "Rectify" was our introduction to this record being the single and it’s a really good encapsulation of what Magnitude is all about, short punchy 2 minute songs, solid mosh parts and thoughtful lyrics. I also feel that the vocals sound a little better on this record, a little angrier and a bit more raw. I do think he still sounds better live, but this is a step up from the last record.
Of course the ultimate test for any straight edge band is the lyrics. To me, thoughtful socially conscious lyricism and pure unbridled hate for a conformist and self-destructive society is what makes or breaks straight edge bands. From the posi (Youth Of Today) to the militant (Judge) to the introspective (Have Heart), this is where the genre shines. Many would think that not doing drugs and not eating meat wouldn’t provide interesting lyrical content, but those are takes from people who’ve never listened to Gorilla Biscuits. In fact, when a straight edge band fails to deliver that for me, that usually makes me not like them very much (One Life Crew). I’m happy to report that Magnitude delivers. Tracks such as "Deliverance" and "Beyond Despair" bring your standard sort of Hatebreed-esque themes about battling the demons in your life, while "Through Trials" feels like something of a renewal of the straight edge vows and "Built On Lies" brings that classic hardcore rage against society. That’s all fun stuff, but the real shining achievements are songs like "Echoes", which appears to be a pro-vegan song with references to being born in captivity and the consumption of innocent life. It’s a very well done vegan rage anthem! "Burn To Ashes" is a particularly dark forecast of our constant environmental destruction and call to arms to protect our home. The way the lyrics flow adds to the urgency of the message in a really cool way. But my favorite lyrical gem comes from the closer, the title track. The song starts off recalling times where more people cared about changing the world and then progresses into a somber tale of how our society crushes these people into apathy and then calls for the listener to fight through it and reignite their desire to change things! The sentiments expressed in this song connect with me more than any other hardcore record has this year. I too often find that many of the older bands in the scene did lots of cool things to challenge the system, educate themselves and change society for the better, and many still are (Catharsis for example) and it feels like that spirit has been lacking in the scene lately and has definitely been lacking outside of it.
Overall, I really enjoyed the new Magnitude record. I thought it was a really good straight edge metallic hardcore record. If you’re not interested in 90's style straight edge, this one might not be for you. But if you’ve been dying to X up and dropkick some drunk jerkoff in the pit, this record may be your album of the year. Especially with the recent infiltration of the scene by alcohol companies such as PBR and seeming backlash against straight edge on social media, it’s nice to see a band carry the torch for this stuff. The record gets dark at times but there’s always a ray of hope with Magnitude. It’s never completely cynical and it’s always urgent. Plus, there’s plenty of fun riffs for the moshers and stage divers! Just good hardcore! Stream this on Bandcamp and Spotify with CD and 12" versions available through Triple B Records.
PURE HEEL "FREEDOM FROM YOU"
(Irish Voodoo Records, Released May, 2023)
If you have ever been a fan of wrestling (the sports entertainment kind) then you are familiar with the term heel. For those that don't know, it refers to the bad guy in the match, with such notables as Rowdy Roddy Piper and Triple H. If you are also a fan of hardcore music then this band is for you. Pure Heel are a hardcore band from Buffalo NY, who have adopted wrestling into their lyrics and live shows. Just like a match that is both entertaining and energetic, so is their latest release "Freedom From You". With 10 songs coming at you like a boot to the midsection, members Jay, Jesse, Eric and Joey are veterans from such Buffalo area bands as Slugfest and Buried Alive and have delivered an album that is amazing. Lyrics talking about a distrust of our government, foreign policy, war and of course wrestling are accompanied with a well timed and crisp musical style. Each instrument is heard and the vocals are clear and this doesn't take away from the aggressiveness which I enjoy. "Freedom From You" is a must have for fans of hardcore both new and old and Pure Hell is another band bringing it hard from Western NY. Stream this on Bandcamp or Spotify or grab a CD or cassette hard copy from Irish Voodoo Records.
PAIN OF TRUTH “NOT THROUGH BLOOD”
(DAZE, Released September, 2023)
I’m not sure what they are putting in the water in Long Island these days, but it seems to be a hotbed for great hardcore bands as of late. Pain Of Truth out of Long Island, NY, is another example of straight up, genuine hardcore. “Not Through Blood”, the band’s first full length release on Daze Records injects you with eleven tracks of classic and new breed hardcore you can sink your teeth into. What is unique about this record is ten of the eleven tracks feature guest vocalists. When you have Scott Vogel of Terror and Freddy Cricien of Madball, among other notable hardcore voices contributing their vocal talents, you just know you are about to be schooled with some impressive music. I would have liked to review each and every song, but if I did there would be no room for the rest of the reviews. This record is that good. The best I can do is my stand out picks, but like I said, there are no bad tracks on this record. “Lifeless On The Ground”, the opening track will have you clenching your fists, as the menacing bass and drums intro make you aware that you are about to be drop-kicked across the floor. This song has great lyrics, sick riffs and some of the best hard vocals, courtesy of Anthony Didio and Jon Lhaubouet of Vein. This could easily get my vote for best hardcore song of the year. “In Your Heart” features Scott Vogel of Terror and as soon as the song begins, you can hear the Terror influence throughout the track. I never get tired of Scott’s contribution to the hardcore scene, whether it’s with Terror, his side projects, or when he lends out his vocals to new and inspiring hardcore bands, never forgetting his roots. “You And Me” features Freddy of Madball and is another strong track on the record. It unites old school and new school, paying homage to NYHC. The two trade off well, spitting powerful lyrics, with a staple Madball riff and full-on NY sound, making this another notable song on the record. Other significant highlights are “Too Late” featuring Justice Tripp of Trapped Under Ice and the title track, “Not Through Blood” featuring Brendan Garrone of Incendiary and Corin of Last Wishes. Check out Pain Of Truth for yourself and tell me this isn’t an outstanding record. Click HERE for streaming options and HERE for LP’s, CD’s, cassettes, new merch and more through DAZE.
LIGHTS OUT "DECONSTRUCTED" (Released July, 2023)
The four lifelong friends who make up Lights Out have been kicking around the idea for this band for 7 years. In early July they released their first EP called "Deconstructed" which provides us with a little over 12 minutes of new music straight outta da sandbar known as Long Island, NY. Prior to Lights Out this band had members involved with the likes of Pledge Of Resistance, The Suspicion, Last Call Brawl and Bottom Out. "Hot Trouble", "Deconstructed", "Generic", "Hell Bent" and "The Closer" are your song titles (in order) on this refreshing debut which should appeal to open minded ears as Lights Out take their initial leap with a baseline of melodic punk rock with some dashes of hardcore grit along the way.
"Deconstructed" has shimmied its way into the late summer drive/windows down rotation around these parts with its upbeat feel that at times can feel like 90's era Fat-Wreck material while current day bands like Stand Still and Don't Sleep also come to mind while thinking of comparisons. After dozens of listens I continued to gravitate to the first three tracks while the last two tracks (although solid) kind of lost a little of their initial shine. The vocals are clean and there is tons of groove with punky oooh's and ahhhh's sprinkled in along the way. Overall a nice surprise submission as I had seen this bands name on a flyer or two but didn't know anything else before they sent this in. You can find “Deconstructed” on multiple streaming platforms by clicking HERE.
LEEWAY "THE FORGOTTEN ONES"
(Documentary, Released August 2023)
"The Forgotten Ones" is a new documentary covering one of the greatest NYHC/crossover bands to ever do it in the mighty Leeway. Being that this is available for viewing on Amazon there are certain quality expectations despite a very reasonable $1.99 rental cost for this 53 minute affair. After watching "The Forgotten Ones" start to finish twice now I can say with certainty those expectations were not met.
Guitarist Michael Gibbons is the main spokesman for Leeway within this doc with a recurring (and justified) theme that their record label and management were A: scumbags and B: greatly hindered the bands success with Gibbons at one point proclaiming "Our career was killed by Profile Records". Gibbons is often shown being interviewed on a backyard deck and shown at a less than advantageous side angle with additional footage of him lifted from the Cocktails and Conversations You Tube channel; an interview that came out over 3 years ago. Lead singer Eddie Sutton's stamp on this doc comes via previously aired footage from the NYHC Chronicles Live! from October of 2021 where he is interviewed by Drew Stone. What he says throughout is relevant to the doc's theme but the fact remains that Leeway's most recognizable member should have been given a proper platform or maybe this entire project should have not been done at all. In addition founding member and guitarist AJ Novello is not included at all which is probably this docs biggest sin. On a more positive note drummer Pokey Mo gives a great first hand take on how the Bad Brains took Leeway under their wing on a cross country US tour and another where David Bowie attended a Leeway show at the old Ritz in NYC where an interesting encounter happened between the Zigster and frontman Sutton.
As with most documentaries fans and people close to the band are often brought in to give different perspectives and even here things fall flat outside of some very good (but short) takes from respected scene veterans in Bob Riley of Stigmata and Howie Abrams from In Effect Records. And lest we forget that Leeway went on to put out 2 more albums in "Adult Crash" in '94 and "Open Mouth Kiss" in '95, neither of which were important enough to talk about... and neither of which featured Gibbons who is listed as the executive producer of this poorly put together effort. Find this on Amazon Prime Video.
THE GREAT LIE “VERTIGO” EP
(Lemmis Records, Released July, 2023)
Long Island’s The Great Lie follow up last year’s “Burners” EP with another EP entitled “Vertigo” and it sounds just as hard and anthemic as its predecessor and it is safe to say that The Great Lies punked up hardcore is in full effect on this release. With each release The Great Lie get more confident with their sound and this is certainly evident on “Vertigo”.
The band kick things off with the furious ball of energy that is opening track “Everything Ends”, which starts things off as it means to go on with an uplifting hardcore energy complete with a great melodic gang chorus and that vibe carries on over throughout this 16 minute plus release. The groove laden “Viet Cong” and the speedier clattering punk of “Tactful Choices” follow and show off different sides of The Great Lie sound, all of which are effortlessly great and full of hardcore energy and passion. “Look Into The Sky” summons up a huge groove before the chaotic hardcore detonates with aplomb and has a great shout along feel to it (which should also hit hard in a live situation). The perfectly titled “Southern Drawl” and the closing noise assault of “All This Weight”, again, show different facets to The Great Lie but despite different vibes popping up, it all sounds like The Great Lie and it all adds up to an ecstatic listening experience.
With “Vertigo”, The Great Lie have made an EP that sees them stay true to their roots but also that they are not scared of experimenting with their music (there are shades of bands like Janes Addiction and Danzig on certain songs here alongside sounds that give off more of a Gorilla Biscuits/Youth Of Today hardcore vivacity) and long may that continue, especially when the music is as storming as it is here. Find this on Bandcamp or Spotify with pre-orders for vinyl available through Lemmis Records out of Lindenhurst, NY.
SILENT MAJORITY, TAKE MY CHANCES, HEAVY HEX @ AMH, AMITYVILLE, NY AUGUST 6, 2023
This was a last minute show announced the night before Silent Majority returned home from their This Is Hardcore appearance in Philly. The line of about 50 people that snaked around the corner of AMH 30 minutes before the doors would open (some even with their kids in tow) is your telltale that SM's importance in Long Island Hardcore history is not fading despite not having been a regularly active band for years.
HEAVY HEX were the recipients of a rare early arriving crowd (especially for a 1pm matinee) and more than likely gained a bunch of new fans with their brief 15 minute set that featured a hard melodic style that can be best described as post hardcore or hardcore adjacent with bands like Verse and Broken Vow coming to mind as slight comparisons. "Memory" (about one of their friends that passed away) was just one of their tracks that stood out that day and has continued to get stuck in my head days later. Check it out along with the rest of their 2022 EP "Stare" by clicking HERE. The fact that they mentioned they were working on a full length is just more positive news for a Long Island scene that is really on a roll as of late with pumping out newer bands with fresh flavors.
HEAVY HEX @ AMH AUGUST 6, 2023. PHOTO BY: MATT VIEL
TAKE MY CHANCES have been an extremely easy band to catch on Long Island in the past 12-18 months while also making a case for being one of the most productive "reunion bands" in recent memory when you factor in their "Fostex Fever" EP that came out in January. TMC's set on this day seemed a bit more straight forward and business like compared to recent shows where there is usually a lot of between song banter amongst the band members which usually proves to be highly entertaining. For the uninitiated TMC feature a blend of styles that sees their old-school NYHC influences come to the forefront. When you factor in the clean vocal style and tight rhythm section it's easy for me to say that this band should be getting more attention. Their 25 minute set benefited from having a packed out audience up front as this was easily the best I have seen them since they reignited back in late 2021. On a side note their track “Fire Hydrant Full Of Piranha” gets the award for this shows most interesting song title.
TAKE MY CHANCES @ AMH AUGUST 6, 2023. PHOTO BY: RICH ZOELLER
My long wait to see SILENT MAJORITY ended on August 6th in the year 2023. Having found this band essentially as they were breaking up and around the time the print version of In Effect Zine was coming to a close put them into this unique zone where they became one of my all-time favorite hardcore bands that I never got to see live. In the past few years I swung and missed again with tickets to some of their reunion gigs getting swiped up superfast and others where I had prior commitments. When I was scrolling through Instagram the night before and saw they had posted this shows info my head nearly exploded. With their guitarist Rich Jacovina passing this spring and their previous day appearance at one of the country’s biggest hardcore festivals it was easy to conclude that getting a local show in on this weekend was important to the band.
A 5 foot tall photo of Rich wearing neon green 3D glasses surrounded by flowers was placed on the stage for the entire show and when Silent Majority took the stage a little after 3pm the place erupted as the opening lyrics to "Arthur Trevor" were initially shouted so loud by the crowd that frontman Tommy Corrigan just put the microphone aside and joined the 200 or so people in singing along. Silent Majority were tight while belting out choice cuts from their 1997 album "Life Of A Spectator" like "Top 40", "Spoken Words", "Taming The L Word", and "Polar Bear Club" while "Party At Rich's" and "Amityville Horror" off of their final release in 2000 also made appearances. In between songs Corrigan gave us some stories to remember mentioning that Civ from Gorilla Biscuits came up to the band in Philadelphia the previous day to offer his condolences on Rich's passing before dedicating a song to him during their set. A more comical one was when he mentioned that his daughter and nieces think hardcore is "whack" and said that they mimic Papa Roach's "Last Resort" chorus whenever they hear that dad or "Uncle Tom" is going to be playing a show. After about 40 minutes things started winding down as Corrigan said "let's leave this place depressed as fuck" as the ominous first notes of "Cross Crowded Rooms" started before the still packed room started screaming out the words as they had done for the entire set. Writing this a week after experiencing a personal hardcore bucket list item sort of feels like when a sports team you follow wins a championship. Kind of like the ride or chase was part of the appeal. Silent Majority are one of the absolute best hardcore bands I have ever come across who could blend emo like melody with some tough guy crunch. It's been two plus decades since finding this band and it feels good knowing that almost all of their songs still hit me like a Milhouse truck and with whispers that there could be new songs in the works who knows where this ride actually ends.
SILENT MAJORITY @ AMH, AUGUST 6, 2023. PHOTO BY: RICH ZOELLER
SUNAMI s/t (Triple B Records, Released June, 2023
San Jose’s Sunami gained immediate attention back in 2020 with their self-titled release, which was a raw and riotous beatdown of hardcore over four relentless tracks. Since then, the band have put out a split release with Gulch but have now swiftly unleashed their debut album and it sounds as pissed off and unhinged as when they first emerged. Sunami has featured members past and present of many hardcore bands like Drain, Gulch, Field Of Flames, Spinebreaker, Big Boy, Hands Of God and Lead Dream so they have plenty of experience when it comes to many different styles of hardcore but it seems like they have left all the nastiest, most brutal beatdown elements to Sunami and it all gets let loose on this record.
As opening track “Y.S.A.B.” chaotically gets things started, it is clear that Sunami are pulling no punches and their guttural grooves will get things started on the dancefloor when they unleash these songs live, but sound just as vital when you play them at home as they blast out of your speakers. Tracks like “Dirty Work”, “10 Toes Down” and “Six” are full of the cathartic vivacity that Sunami do so well and the bands sheer hatred and defiance of law enforcement surges through this album like an electric charge, (just one look at the cover artwork for the album tells you all you need to know) but it is most blatant on the aptly titled “Contempt Of Cop”, with its incendiary “187 on a P.I.G” lyrics and the hatred that comes from vocalist Josef Alfonso as he blasts out the lyrics is intense to say the least. It is undeniably clear that Sunami are a band who defiantly wear their hearts on their sleeves with the music they make.
This LP ends with the frenetic “Defraud” and as the last notes ring out from the carnage they have created, you can’t help but feel exhilaration at the intensity that Sunami have just brought. Sunami are definitely a band that bring the pain with their titanium heavy beatdown hardcore and this is delivered in spades on this debut album. This is a lesson in violence from the San Jose purveyors of brutality and it sounds as sublimely triumphant as it does beautifully chaotic. Triple B Records is sold out of the 1200 12” variants they produced for this release but there are still CD versions available HERE. For streaming options check out Bandcamp or Spotify.
FORCED HUMILITY “TRI-CITY WEREWOLVES ‘23”
(Released March 2023)
I first found Forced Humility via a video of their Warzone- “In the Mirror” cover, which fortuitously pointed me towards this demo. Due to the release date being reversed on Bandcamp via European convention, it originally appeared to be released in the future (on July 3 rather than March 7.) We have since passed the date that transformed it from one of the best demos of the future to one of the best demos of the present, but it’s no less worth a listen.
Forced Humility represents three cities in Finland (Helsinki, Tampere and Turku) but their sound is reminiscent of another Wolfpack, the one from New York. Instead of NY Wolfpack’s mid-album “Bustin’ Out,” Forced Humility breaks into this six-song demo with “Intro (Breaking Out).” The earth may have stopped spinning in the following track “Day The Earth Stood Still,” but the demo keeps things moving by ingeniously weaving together a variety of song constructions. From the head-nodding mosh part in “Opportunist” to a real stomper in “Buried Paths,” each song makes you want to move around in a different way.
Flawless influences continue throughout this demo, from Breakdown to Outburst to Altercation, but I also hear some Sick Of It All in “Ultimate Concern.” Most of these songs clock in at under two minutes, but at 2:45, this is a bit longer and possibly the strongest overall track. Forced Humility closes things out with “Had Enough,” though I haven’t had enough after this demo and look forward to hearing more from these tri-city werewolves. Check out the demo on Bandcamp HERE.
RESTRAINING ORDER "LOCKED IN TIME"
(Triple B Records, Released July, 2023)
With their recently released second full length album Restraining Order continue their accession within the world of underground hardcore music. Their modern day take on an old-school hardcore style is fresh and delivers some super catchy moments throughout this 12 song/21 minute affair. For the uninitiated think Negative Approach, Kill Your Idols or The Chisel as a baseline for comparisons with songs running in the 41 second ("On The Run") to 3:41 range ("Painted World"). In addition Restraining Order’s relentless touring regiment has helped them grow legions of new fans outside of their Western Mass/CT homebase.
The festivities here open up with the mid-paced head-nodder "Addicted/Reprise" which leads into a thrashy trio of tracks in "Left Unsaid", "Inmates" and "Should've Known". It is this opening 4 song salvo of aggression that will let you will know if "Locked In Time" is an album that is gonna give you the feels or not… and it didn’t take more than a few listens for me to get roped in. Soon after we are introduced to "Fight Back" and "Another Better Day"; two songs that got stuck in the head quickly and also had me questioning if Restraining Order spends a lot of their downtime in the UK as these two standouts definitely have a bangers and mash type of vibe to them (and they aren't the only ones to be honest). Moving right along the title track has a folky feel to it with the guitars dropping in and out among verses making this a nice change of pace track before "Breakout" hits hard buried deep down at track 11. "Painted World" closes out the show with a slightly psychedelic feel accompanied by some cool posi-lyrics that go a little something like... "Open up my eyes and I’m changing my view... Now everything’s mine and everything new... I'm doing what I want and I’m doing it right... Create my own world gonna paint it how I’d like".
Some notes on "Locked In Time"... writing and recording for this album started in the Fall of 2019 and ran through the end of 2022 with their own drummer Will Hirst heading the recording and production process. The abstract cover art was done by New Zealand artist Callum Rooney. The slow-mo music video for "Another Better Day" was shot and directed by Ben Clinton in Holyoke, MA this past spring. The album lists three guitarists with Kyle Beaudreault and Jake Miller getting credit for playing on this new album with Dylan Tobia listed as "touring guitarist". For the band's Sound And Fury set this weekend in Los Angeles all three guitarists will be performing. Patrick Cozens (vocals), Keith Freeman (bass) and Will Hirst (drums) round out the lineup for "Locked In Time". Find this on Bandcamp and Spotify with physical copies (CD’s/LP’s) available through Triple B Records.
THE TAKE “LIVE FOR TONIGHT” (Patient Zero Records Demons Run Amok, Release Date August 11, 2023)
Every once in a while a record comes along that is not only a great record, but it’s fun too. The Take’s “Live For Tonight” is just that kind of record. This punk rock trinity is the brain child of the legendary Will Shepler of Agnostic Front fame and includes Scott Roberts, who replaced Evan Seinfeld in Biohazard and Eric Klinger of Bloodclot!, Spudmonsters and Built Upon Frustration. The three create a chemistry that was meant to make great records together. As soon as “Comfort Crisis”, the opening track starts, you know nothing is going to ruin the good mood you will be in for the remainder of this EP. The music is raw, energetic and you can’t help but get fired up by this song. “Live For Tonight” carry’s on that good feeling with an upbeat and catchy song you will be singing along to. Robert’s bluesy sounding vocals capture the essence of this song and it is played with pure heart and soul. I dare you to sit still in your seat while you listen to it. “F.U.” is a short and straight to the point song. The bass driven opening powers you up for this quick and well said sentiment. “We’ll Never Say Die” is a blast back to the early days of old-school. The band showcases their punk roots on this stand out song that will have you slamming everyone in the pit. And what better way to go out on a high note then a remarkable rendition of Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s, “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting”? Not something you would expect these guys to cover, but they pull it off with flying colors. They manage to keep the 70’s feel to it and give it a swift kick in the ass to make it relevant again. You could offer me a large sum of money to say something bad about this record, but I wouldn’t be able to take the money because there isn’t anything bad to say about it. The Take deliver one of the best records I have heard all year. This is one of those rare gems that come along only once in awhile, so don’t sleep on this record. Buy it and then write the band and beg them to release a full length record next! Due out in mid-August on Patient Zero (USA) and Demons Run Amok (EU), you can check out the lead single “Comfort Crisis” now by clicking HERE.
END REIGN “THE WAY OF ALL FLESH IS DECAY”
(Relapse Records, Released July, 2023)
At last the debut full length from End Reign on Relapse Records has arrived… in promo form… a bit early… and just for me. Don't hate. I must have done something right to be given this responsibility. Thank you In Effect brass for being the tits and trusting your bastard son to handle business! Now I shall rain down some wisdom as I take the reins of this End Reign review. Check the homonyms in that last bit you wankers. You even get a grammar lesson for free with this review. Homonyms… again, use the Google. End Reign is the brainchild of underground maestro, Baltimore's own (via the Great White North) Domenic Romeo (Father, label runner and member of every band ever), and his cohorts grindcore drumming madman, Adam Jarvis (Pig Destroyer/Misery Index), metalcore frontmaniac, Mike Score (All Out War), metal/sludgecore bass basher Arthur Legere, and last but not least deathgrind axeman extraordinaire, Sebastian Philips.
With these ingredients you have yourself one hell of a band capable of creating the soundtrack for the end of times and they kind of do that here. I am gonna call this “Armageddoncore”. You are getting ten apocalyptic jams on this slab, eight of which are new and two of which were released earlier but have been given a bit of an update. Granted there is a lot of metal being drawn on here but these guys have a great and varied cache of influences and you can hear them on this release. Now, I'll stammer on about a few of my favorites but I have been going through some shit and this entire album has been my soundtrack on repeat for several days now. It's therapeutic… and away we go.
"House Of Thieves" runs 3:05 and of course I am attracted to the second shortest song. Old coremin habits die hard. This one starts with feedback, dive-bombs and noise, then a drum blast and some creepy howling lead into a buzz saw guitar lick at which point the song takes right the fuck off. Thus begins the quintessential galloping hardcore tune mixed with the bones and guts of thrash and grind. This song has incredible, no, stellar shredding. Let's not forget the dive bombs… I FUCKING LOVE DIVE BOMBS. This is an excellent aggressive track. I love it. "When Death Comes Crawling" clocking in at 3:37 kicks off in a most NWOBHM way. The harmonizing guitars remind me of Maiden. This takes all those best elements and mixes them with thrash, hardcore and a splash of black metal. There are George Lynch-esque guitar solos if George ate a box of Adderall and snorted some crank. This one is blistering. Then it winds down with some more of that Maiden melody until it flames out. Great tune. At 3:17 "Chaos Masked As Order" is another song on the shorter side. This is by far the most schizophrenic of the songs. This one starts off with a drum blast and then wears its Cleveland hardcore influence on its sleeve for the first 30 seconds then it dive bombs into another galloping fastcore tune until the excellent addition of the death metal groans courtesy of Full Of Hell's, Dylan Walker takes it in another direction. Suddenly the black metal creeps in and before you know it Dom and Sebastian are waging a solo war from the left and right sides of your mind. If that were not enough there is a great big, destroy some shit breakdown thrown in for good measure and a creepy read by the Legendary Pink Dots own Ed Ka-Spel. Shit man, what a track. I need some Xanax. Those are the three I am currently stuck on, but there is nothing but good stuff offered on this release.
The opening and very black "Desolate Fog" could've been written in Baltimore or the Norwegian woods. It brings to my mind Satyricon. I can hear vague Metallica riffs on "The Hunger" which also has some NWOBHM influenced soloing or maybe it's George Lynch again this time not as methed out. "Divine Abysmal End" reminds me of early Integrity meets Slayer with killer dive bombing. Speaking of Integrity, Dom's one time band leader Dwid Hellion lends his silky crooner stylings to "Give Life To Tragedy" with its NWOBHM melodic guitars and epic song writing. This one was top of my list as well. This one is a journey to hell. "Chasing Divinity" is the shortest of the songs but packs a killer punk metal vibe with echoes of Baltimore hardcore… and another sick solo sounding a bit Yngwie. "The Night Creeps Upon Me" is a straight rocker that has a very traditional metal intro into a jackhammer of a song which wraps up the LP.
There you have it bootlickers. End Reign might be a poor choice of a name because if these guys keep churning out records like this motherfucker right here, their reign has certainly only just begun. I can only imagine where they would go from here. These guys are all masters of their trade. The record sounds flawless and the mix is excellent. This is the soundtrack for the end of days. So now my little cullions, run out and support End Reign. You will not be disappointed. This I can assure you… uh… on second thought… fuck you, I don't need to assure shit, get the fuck off my lawn! Find this on multiple streaming platforms HERE or grab the 12” vinyl or compact disc through Relapse HERE.
NOWHERES “LAST DANCE FIRST” (Released April, 2023)
Nowheres come crawling out from beneath the streets of the National Travel Advisory Board's "Level 4" ranked city… aka a "Do Not Travel To" city. The post-apocalyptic Southern Swedish city of Linköping. Now the Euro kids with proper education and knowledge of geography and of other cultures who are reading this are like… WTF? Do not fret my Euro brethren. I am simply trying to give Nowheres some tough street cred since dweebs on this side of the pond clamor for that street tough, hard guy nonsense, and they will believe just about anything they are told because their knowledge of any other place other than where they currently are, and any other culture other than their own, is fleeting at best. However, here's the thing I've learned. These fucking Nowheres don't need any fictitious background story or any embellishment whatsoever. First off, the members all have black belts in the discipline of past bands. Secondly, the city of Linköping is by all reports quite a lovely place to live. I hope someday to visit. No bullshit. Thirdly, and most important, this LP kicks copious amounts of ass from beginning to end and if you are too stupid to realize that, not I nor any creative origin story I produce is going to help you. Nowheres have dropped this new release, “Last Dance First” and it contains seven tunes in around 13 minutes. So what has grabbed my ear you ask? Let's check it.
There are seven songs here and I honestly cannot pick three that I like more than the others as I usually do per my usual nonsense. So I will just comment on most or all or whatever the fuck I feel like doing, punk. The first song is "Stumbling In The Dark" running 2:09. Tight guitar, bass and drums kick of this fast melodic number in which the music perfectly captures the manic feelings of the words. I am pretty sure we have all felt this way at some point and can totally relate, and if you haven't, get out and live a little punk. The second song is "Don't Look Down" at 1:48. This is a melodic head bobber. It has a message of pushing forward and being positive. Love the use of the 80’s"ish" guitar tone throughout. The band is very tight. "Breathe In/Bleed Out" clocks in a 2:29 and is Nowheres dipping into a more political message but with the same catchy as fuck hooks. "In the dead of night I'm still around". There is something about this line, the words, the delivery… that resonates with me. I dig it. "Gravity" is 14 seconds and it is heavy man, weighty, no pun intended. The fifth song is "Kindness" at 1:44. Hey, wait a minute, this song isn't about kindness at all. I've been duped! For real though, another blistering melodic burst of venom. I love the drumming and again the guitar tone. The penultimate song (ask your mom), is the titular "Last Dance First" running 2:20. This is my favorite song on the LP. I love the bass line kicking it off. I love the drumming throughout. I like the images it conjures in my noggin when I read the words. A kick ass tune. The ultimate song on the album is also the longest aka the epic cut. "Breaking" is 2:32 long. This was a close second for my favorite tune. I really dig Mattias' vocals on this one and again I love the choice of guitar tones throughout the whole LP. It's a great way to wrap up the album.
There you have it you cretins. This is some quality melodic hardcore punk brought to us by Nowheres. This is not your bubblegum flavor of melodic core either. There are some heavier topics here and it's obvious these guys are a little jaded by age, which we all certainly are. I like my core with a dash of cantankerous. The players here are all on point. The recording is clean and perfect for the sound. If you are into bands like later Unity, Dag Nasty, Rites Of Spring, maybe a scoop of some Kid Dynamite and Crime In Stereo, Nowheres are definitely a band to be added to your rotation. Actually all you dicks add it to your Applefy or whatever stupid shit you kids use for music regardless, because you will all enjoy it, that's a fact. Now get on the Google Earth and go check out Linköping and as usual kindly get the fuck off my lawn! Find this on 13 various streaming platforms by clicking HERE.
CHUMHUFFER “ORGY OF HATE” (Released April, 2023)
I am very excited to share this review of the new ChumHuffer EP with you. Sure the band has a pretty funny name and the title of their newest release “Orgy Of Hate” is pretty witty and honestly if I hadn’t been asked to check this out I probably would have never known what I was missing. For those like me who are new to this band, here is a brief history and you may just know some of the key players and their other bands. Forming in 2021 from three NYHC hotspots which include Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island, ChumHuffer have a punk/hardcore sound that they have been told is a “mix of the Dead Kennedys, TSOL, Black Flag and more”, which is spot on. So if any or all of these bands are on your playlist then ChumHuffer needs to be as well. Current line up consists of scene vets: Shawn Refuse (Refuse Resist) - vocals; Blackout Matt (Blackout Shoppers) - guitar; Joe Dorane (Hopeless Otis) - guitar; Ryan Paige (J-RAD and the Saxophones) - bass and Jimmy Duke (Ghostbound) - drums. Following up from 2022’s EP “Blood In The Water” (and band member changes as well) comes “Orgy Of Hate” which is 11 minutes of old fashioned, sing along and often sprinkled with satire punk rock. With only 7 tracks on the EP, I’m going to give a quick breakdown of each either through a lyric(s) that stuck out or with a brief synopsis.
Track 1: “Orgy Of Hate” - “It’s time we imagined, a world not full of lies, future can be open, just like a child’s eyes”…
Track 2: “Technophobe” - Technology addiction…
Track 3: “Wasting Away” - “Somehow we made it through all the misery, another wasted night”…
Track 4: “Cancel Me” - Hypocrites and cancel culture…
Track 5: “Struffoli” - A very interesting tale that requires reading the lyrics yourself…
Track 6: “Frank Turner” - Apparently Frank Turner plays all of his songs live..
Track 7: “Blackfish” - A song about animal cruelty and Tilikum an Orca that was in captivity for over 30 years and within that time killed 3 people…
Three tracks really stood out to me and they are: the title track, “Technophobe” and “Blackfish”. I can’t write or say enough about how much I enjoy “Orgy Of Hate” and I found myself listening to it several times throughout the day on Bandcamp. I love Shawn’s vocal style which is clear enough to understand and truly embrace the lyrics and the rest of the band just does a great job tying the sound together. The songs, as you may have learned from my breakdown, are a blend of mostly serious topics but also a couple that are funny and entertaining. It definitely appears that the band had a lot of fun making this EP and I would bet their live shows are just as exciting. Find this digitally on Bandcamp with compact disc versions available through the bands official website.
HARD TARGET “THE SHIELD”
(Static Era Records, Released June, 2023)
Out of central Massachusetts comes a new force in metalcore. Hard Target assaults your senses with “The Shield”, their new EP and dispenses six songs of hardcore pandemonium that will have you hitting the repeat button on your stereo. Hard Target wastes no time grabbing your attention with the hard and heavy track “Worn Out”. It hits you like a sucker punch thrown in a bar, setting the tone for the rest of the record. Right from the opening riff, you are pulled into the band’s intensity for playing hardcore the way it is meant to be played. I had to force myself to move on with reviewing the rest of the EP, it’s that good of a song. “Built To Fail” gives you a second to regain your composure with a slower intro, but it doesn’t take long before you are pulled back in by the forceful vocals and hit with breakdowns worthy of any mosh pit. “The Tallest Mountain” opens with a fist pumping build-up, before the crushing guitar kicks in and you hear that familiar aggressive Massachusetts sound. “Crystal Clear” is another example of the band’s propensity for dispensing true hardcore with sheer heaviness. The title track, “The Shield” has a great build-up before tearing into the song with venomous rage. It has that Madball feel to it and showcases the band’s musical talents. I would love to see them play this live and watch the crowd’s reactions. “10.26” is a darker song and finishes off the record nicely. The vocals are what stand out on this track. They are sung with a lot of emotion and give more weight to the song. Hard Target hit the mark with “The Shield” and should get the recognition they deserve with this EP. Find this streaming on Spotify and Apple Music by clicking HERE.
ROLLIN COFFIN “PRODUCT OF DEMISE”
(Static Era Records, Released April, 2023)
Tim Williams has fronted some pretty amazing bands in his time (Vision Of Disorder, Bloodsimple) and his new band Rollin’ Coffin is yet another example of how talent can cross musical genres. His vocal style on the first VOD record was so influential that copycat bands began sprouting up worldwide trying to cash in on the s/t records’ success. The issue is, if you don’t have the vocal talent to pull it off perhaps you shouldn’t bother trying.
Williams has returned with a new band Rollin Coffin which takes his talents to a more rock based style of music. His vocals and lyrics are still as amazing as usual but now there’s a nice mix of melody that isn’t really that far removed from his hardcore roots. Recorded at an animal rescue (Animal Farm) with Jon Markson (Drug Church) on the board. “Product Of Demise” consists of 5 great songs clocking in at just under 20 minutes that has as many great hooks as it does great grooves. I’m damn excited for a band like this and hope that Williams and RC can garner the success that his previous bands somehow didn’t achieve. Find this digitally on Spotify with 12” vinyl and compact discs available through Static Era Records.
TOUCH “DELIVERANCE” EP (Released April, 2023)
Wow! Here’s some old school hXc that doesn’t cater to the typical formula of hardcore bands today. While borrowing from the past in terms of groove oriented hardcore with a nice, simple production and nice gang style vocals they have made their music stand up against any bands from the classic 80’s era of hardcore. While there’s 4 songs in 10 minutes, they don’t skimp on the music by making it so stripped down that it doesn’t have any longevity. There’s a lot of meat in those 10 minutes making this one of the best records I’ve heard this year and for a long time for this style of hardcore. Looking forward to hearing more from this band from Budapest, Hungary. Stream “Deliverance” on multiple platforms including Bandcamp and Spotify.
FLORES Y FUEGO “ALTER”
(Pirates Press Records, Released May, 2023)
Hailing from Guadalajara, Mexico this female fronted band combines UK old-school punk with some “alternative” Sonic Youth-ish guitar vibes and an overall nice collection of mid-tempo punk. They aren’t re-inventing the wheel here but they bring a nice mish-mash of genres that work well. I’m always keen on bands that perform in their native language as it allows them to deliver their music with the proper emotion instead of trying to satisfy the English speakers. The only real downside to the record is that the production could have really been a lot better. This band no doubt delivers the mail live, you can hear it, but the production lacks that punch that brings the energy and emotion to the listener. Definitely a good band that I’d happily be checking out if they come to town as they probably rock these songs a bit faster and harder live. Nice! Originally released in 2021, Pirates Press brings this release back to life with the recently released reboot on 12” vinyl. You can also stream this on multiple platforms including Bandcamp and Spotify.
POOR LILY “TOXIC ENVELOPE” (Released May, 2023)
Awe shit, my favorite three piece, critically under-appreciated punk rock band, Poor Lily, has dropped a sweet 4 song EP entitled “Toxic Envelope”. Now we all know Susan died because George cheaped out on his wedding invitations and the inferior glue made the envelopes toxic. I have no idea if this has anything to do with the EP title? I just wanted to flex a little Seinfeld knowledge for all my like-minded friends out there. I digress. If you've read past reviews of the band you know that these are not new jack hustlers. These three gents hailing from New York and Connecticut, have been at it a long time and finally with this project I feel they have hit that sweet spot. They are making good tunes. They are having fun, and I don't think they are sweating it all that much. I get the impression this is all out of love for the music that drives us. Poor Lily are three adults with lives so they aren't cranking out LP after LP chasing some dream. So, we wait a bit between releases as the guys allow things to happen organically. “Toxic Envelope” contains four tracks and runs about nine or so minutes. I'm stoked, so onto the tunes we go, faster than a rolling O.
First up is the apocalyptic vision via Kevin Costner entitled "Here Come The Waves" running 2:16. This song kicks off in a very interesting way, with an almost scream out of the guitar. The song quickly finds a groove and stays in that pocket. I get a bit of a Dead Kennedys vibe on this one. A solid starter to the EP. "Police Take Notice" clocks in at 2:41. Here's the message; “Police take notice, ease up on the people”. This is not your average "Fuck Tha Police" jam. This one is more like, hey, it's a job, lighten up Francis. I love the progression of the guitar and the beat. This one stuck in my head. Song three, "Concealed Carry" at 3:14, starts off with tribal-like drumming which actually continues throughout. This is Poor Lilly stepping outside of the box and experimenting with a cool sound until about the 2:15 mark when shit gets funky. The drumming on this cut is impeccable. I really enjoy these guys showing off a bit. “Golden Age of Idiocy" running 2:58 is pretty self-explanatory. This song rules because I completely concur with its sentiments and anyone with half a brain would as well. Musically this one has a lot to offer, a little funky and a little heavy, and again Poor Lily is outside of the box. Awesome song to wrap things up.
So, there ya go you meat whistles. Poor Lily seems to be enjoying what they do and they also seem to be taking all of their influences and trying out some new shit on this EP. I appreciate it. This is four quality tunes and while I did get a vague Dead Kennedys vibe on the one song, by the end I am starting to feel the Poor Lily vibe… especially with the last two songs. It's almost as if this was two distinct, two song EP's. The first two are more old school Poor Lily, the latter two they are doing something a little different. They seem to be carving out their own thing here. So head on down to your local Sam Goody and buy… I mean surf over to Bandcamp or wherever you get your downloads and add more Poor Lily to your life and by all means, get the fuck off my lawn.
DOUBLE FIST “FACE THE FEAR” (Released June, 2023)
Double Fist come to us from Zywiec, Poland and have an interesting backdrop to this EP. In 2016, Double Fist was started by Maciek (guitar, bass, backing vocals and music) and Dominik Beczata (vocals and song writer) who wanted to craft a musical project targeting 90’s hardcore music. The two recorded a few songs and made some videos to further the project. In 2018, they released a CD with twelve tracks and became a full band by adding Josh on guitar and Talli on drums, while Maciek took over as the bassist. Unfortunately, the band went through some personal problems and the project was put on hold until 2021. With a new line-up, Double Fist gives us “Face The Fear”, their new EP. The opening bass riff lays the foundation for “We’re One”, before the gruff and heavy vocals blast through your speakers, capturing your attention immediately. It has a nice mix of hardcore and metal, as do most of the tracks. The title song, “Face The Fear” keeps things moving forward with another dose of hardcore heaviness. The music does have a 90’s hardcore feel to it, yet doesn’t sound dated. “Poem Of The Weak” shakes things up when the singer of Six Steps Forward’s does guest vocals. The band turns up the speed and does a nice job trading off on vocals. “Pictures Of War” continues the onslaught with hard vocals and machine gun like drumming, coupled with slamming riffs, pushing the VU needles into the red on your stereo. The band finishes up with “Shattered”, a more metal sounding song, but still heavy and intense nonetheless. Double Fist certainly delivers as a band and hopefully they decide to give us a full length album next time out. Available digitally through Bandcamp where you can also find compact disc versions as well.
SPELL IT OUT “OUT OF CHAOS”
(Lets Trade Records, Released 2022)
If your style of hardcore falls into the melodic 90’s style then Spell It Out is a band you definitely need to check out. This NY/NJ quintet came together to record their debut album titled “Out Of Chaos” during the Covid chaos. Being in bands together and knowing each other from the scene, Spell It Out have taken their musical experiences along with influences from the Hudson Valley Hardcore scene (shout out to my Rockland County peeps) as well as various NY and NJ hardcore bands and have created an impressive release. Musically I caught a CIV/ H2O/Youth Of Today vibe with relatable personal lyrics. Some topics focused on fighting against racism, unaccepted apologies and having to turn your back on someone. My favorite two tracks off of “Out Of Chaos” are “Stand Up” and “BK2JRZY”. Although the more melodic sound that the band has captured on this album is not necessarily my “go to” hardcore, I find the band’s sound very refreshing and worth an add to your playlist. Stream this on Bandcamp or Spotify with 12" vinyl and more merch available through Spell It Out's Big Cartel page.
BULLSHIT MONTHLY FANZINE ANTHOLOGY
(Shining Life Press, Released March, 2023)
The following are liner notes I did for the monumental anthology of Bullshit Monthly’s collected issues from 1984 to 1991…
“Psst, hey you wanna buy a zine? Only 40 cents…”So it was with these words, from Mike Bullshit, that I was introduced to the wonderful world of handmade, individually done hardcore/punk zines. It was late 1985 and I was standing in line at a CBGB’s Sunday matinee; I was familiar with RocknRoll magazines but this was a totally different mode of expression with its handwritten pages, intensely personal and direct chronicle of the NYHC scene at the time. Bullshit Monthly truly lived up to the magazine made by a (super) fan moniker as his enthusiastic coverage and inclusive personality pulled you into his world not just as a casual observer, but made you feel like yeah, you’re a part of this too and can contribute by voicing your opinion. Sure enough I was planning my own zine the following year and it’s thanks to Mike’s effort and other crucial local ones that inspired me to do my own thing. It’s so wonderful so see this anthology come to life; newer generations can revel in this amazing microcosm that was NYC Hardcore youth culture in the 1980’s. Mike’s hieroglyphical scrawl is rightfully now available in book form as it should be as it holds a very important place in the history of DIY publishing. 260 pages printed in its original 8.5” x 14.00” format. Click HERE for more info on how to grab one!
AGGROS, KINGS NEVER DIE, POINT BLANK @ST. VITUS, BROOKLYN, NY JULY 5, 2023
Trekked into Greenpoint Brooklyn on a Wednesday night to catch the first ever Aggros show and was not disappointed. Aggros; if you haven't heard are the new band put together by Parris Mayhew of
Cro-Mags fame. What started off a few years ago as a studio project with Parris playing bass and guitar with a drummer named Cobz has developed into a full on live experience and this was the first
show of a 9 date run that sees Aggros go north of the border for 2 shows each in Quebec and Ontario before wrapping things up in DC and Philly on July 14th/15th with additional stops along the
POINT BLANK @ ST. VITUS JULY 5, 2023. PHOTO BY: STEVEN J. MESSINA
Strong support was provided first by POINT BLANK who are led by their energetic frontman Ken "KWE" Wagner and guitarist Danny Derella who was one of the founding members of Underdog. A little over a year ago Point Blank's drummer Keith Malonis unexpectedly passed away coupled with their bassist position needing to be filled. Point Blank didn't let these major events derail what they have been doing for close to 10 years now as they sounded like a well running machine while blasting through a set that displayed their old-school hardcore/punk meld. They also played a song called "Wonder" which is a new, not yet recorded track that is dedicated to their fallen drummer Keith. A solid set from Point Blank.
KINGS NEVER DIE @ ST. VITUS JULY 5, 2023. PHOTO BY: STEVEN J. MESSINA
Up next was KINGS NEVER DIE who are fresh off of releasing their debut full length titled "All The Rats". I really liked the energy they brought right from their first song; "Stand For It All" right through to closer "The Juice" with a total of 8 songs played in all. In a recent interview we did with KND guitarist Dan Nastasi he told us about seeing his singer Dylan Gadino in the band Robots And Monsters and how he felt he would be a great fit for KND because he "used every ounce of his soul and energy in every word he spoke". This was my first time seeing KND and I have to agree that Dylan is a really good fit for this band who are a little hard to slap a label on. Within KND's arsenal are some key vocal parts sung by guitarist Nastasi and with him also being talkative in between songs it's kind of like having vocalist 1 and 1A during and between songs which creates this cool dynamic which you don't see everyday in hardcore. Aggros weren't the only band on this bill playing instrumental tracks as KND played the instrumental title track to their latest that led right into "Never In My Eyes" which is exactly how it's laid out on that new album. Regular drummer Danny Schuler was not in action on this night and was replaced by Robots And Monsters drummer Kevin Powers for those keeping score at home. I was really impressed with what I saw in the second slot on this night.
AGGROS @ ST. VITUS JULY 5, 2023. PHOTO BY: STEVEN J. MESSINA
Besides Parris Mayhew (guitar) and Cobz (drums) AGGROS currently consists of Chuck Lenihan (also on guitar) with Dierk Peters on the keyboards. There are a few backstories to go along with this review with Mayhew obviously being a huge part of the Cro-Mags including studio albums "The Age Of Quarrel", "Best Wishes" and "Revenge", Lenihan being a huge part of what the Crumbsuckers did in the late 80's and Peters being a jazz musician with the vibraphone being his main weapon of choice. Did we mention that this band has NO singer or any lyrics to any of their songs? So yeah, this set definitely brought about some feelings of anticipation as the moments led up to those first chords.
"Chaos Magic" opened things up. The 6 plus minute extended video from a few years back was my introduction to this band and it's still my favorite track. This one hit hard live and was the obvious choice to lead things off as it's probably their most recognizable song. "Skateboard Fight" and "Fear View Mirror" off of the recently released "Rise Of The Aggros" were next. With no vocals within their setlist I guess a mic wasn't a high end priority and although one was on stage it was super low and hard to hear anything that was said in between songs although there wasn't a whole lot of between song chatter from Aggros. I did hear mention of a new song or two and later found their setlist which included new titles such as "Puzzle Of Bones" and "Cellulite Earthquake". One would assume that titling songs without lyrics will make good use of the authors’ imagination. "Malfunction" off of "The Age Of Quarrel" wrapped things up with the crowd yelling and screaming the lyrics along to the music. An interesting bit of info came after "Malfunction" was played with Parris making mention that the song was written in his mom's kitchen...
Some takeaways a few days after this show have me thinking to how well this first show came off. Going in I had concerns how a hardcore band would go over in a live setting without having a singer and how keyboards would be integrated into their live set. Aggros get passing grades on both of these fronts as the crowd burst into big rounds of applause after each song and they stayed right through to the end of this nearly hour long set. The keyboards were there just enough to be noticed without being overdone. Going back and listening to the recorded version of "Rise Of The Aggros" again gave me more appreciation for the keyboard aspect of this band as there are various times where they are used for effect ("Chaos Magic" being a prime example) more than the traditional way a keyboard may be used in a song (although there are some straight up keyboard parts too). Overall Aggros bring something unique and fresh to the table and have all-star quality musicians within their ranks. This also didn't seem like a band playing their first show as they sounded tight and very close to the material on "Rise Of The Aggros". A really good start on opening night... it will be interesting to see what lies ahead for the Aggros crew.