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In Effect Hardcore has always been a DIY operation run by a small group of friends who are passionate about the underground hardcore punk scene. We strive to get as many reviews on to the site as we can while balancing the other sections to put out regular updates. Over the past year the amount of submissions for review has become very hard to keep up with. This “REVIEWS” section of In Effect Hardcore will continue to have reviews posted like we always have but we will now also be including a “Quick Hits” style profile on certain releases that are sent in for review to try and maximize exposure for more bands. We apologize to the bands and labels who have sent in submissions in the past and were not responded to. With that said to submit a new release digitally (put out within the last 6 months) or to join the In Effect hardcore staff of writers please get in touch via email: InEffectHC@aol.com
BREWS, GRAFFITI & NYHC. URBAN STYLES BOOK PANEL DISCUSSION & CRAZY EDDIE LIVE SET
@ BRIDGE & TUNNEL BREWERY, QUEENS, NY. MARCH 2, 2019
“Urban Styles: Graffiti In New York Hardcore” is a book by Freddy Alva that was originally released in November of 2017. The book brilliantly covers the topic that many of the band members and fans of NYHC music were (and in many cases still are) straight up fucking vandals that get down with the spray can as well as in the mosh pit. Upon the release of the book in 2017 there were a bunch of these panel discussions where the author and writers featured in the book would talk about the connection between these two underground subcultures.
With the first edition sold out and an expanded second edition now available (click HERE to order) it was time for Mr. Alva to get out there and push this fine piece of reading once again. The Bridge and Tunnel Brewery in Ridgewood, Queens was the location, a small brewery on a graffiti covered block that is a bar in the front with a fenced off section towards the back where one would assume they brew up their magic. A special edition Urban Styles Milkshake IPA with the coolest imagery I've ever seen on a beer can made its debut at this event as well. The panel on this night included the author, Freddy Alva along with writers featured or mentioned in the book... SMOG, NEMO, FCEE, and EZEC… obviously not their birth names. Ezec was probably the most recognizable name/face on this panel from the numerous bands he has been in over the years... Crown Of Thornz and Skarhead just to name two. He and Smog (who served as the moderator) work well together as they and the rest of the panel told war stories while busting each others chops and giving some great insights along the way. The discussion went on for close to 90 minutes with what I would guess was close to 100 people crammed into the small space. The panel took some questions from the audience before Crazy Eddie came on to bust out about a 30 minute set.
PANEL DISCUSSION PHOTO BY: MICHELLE MENNONA
CRAZY EDDIE are one of the newer names on the NYHC scene as well as one of the better ones. Their style incorporates various elements of the old hardcore punk way of doing things. Grooves, sing-a-longs, breakdowns and a fast style of playing would probably have made them a hit if you time machined them back into NYC's A7 club circa 1983. (Side note: they will be playing where A7 once stood on May 5th). I saw their first ever show in Brooklyn roughly 14 months earlier and felt then that they were already a solid act. Fast forward to this show and they have really gelled as a unit with their songs being super tight and their frontman Chucky Brown coming into his own as the man with the mic. The wrestling mask that he once wore in their early shows is now gone and the confidence and swagger of a good frontman is starting to show its face.
PHOTO BY: MICHELLE MENNONA
Sometimes falling down on his back and just screaming at the ceiling and other times jumping up on the small benches where people sat to get the room more alive. Drew Stone from Antidote joined the band in covering the AF classic "Victim In Pain" about half way through as well. The highlight by far though was the closing track "Running" as those milkshake IPA's that they were selling must have hit everyone at the same time. The last minute and change of this track has a gnarly breakdown and chaos ensued during it with a mini pit breaking out and people flying everywhere. Crazy Eddie guitarist Lenny B was right in the middle of it while continuing to play and knocking down most things in his path including his own amp and part of the drum kit. Fcee who earlier was part of the Q&A discussion was seen doing some breakdancing moves right in the middle of this melee. Credit Crazy Eddie for bringing that energy to a room without any opening bands as well. They just went up and played and brought it. Afterwards I met up with 68 year old David Brown who is the father of one of our In Effect staff, Gavin Brown visiting NYC from the UK. He sat near the bar drinking his beer during Crazy Eddie's set and told me about experiencing a lot of rock n roll in his day. He went on to say that although hardcore music wasn't necessarily his thing that he definitely "got" what they were doing and also was into the energy that Crazy Eddie brought to the small room. Cool shit. Crazy Eddie's "Eddie Drops Out Of College" is a 15 song free downloadable full length that came out in May of 2018. Check it out HERE.
PHOTO BY: MICHELLE MENNONA
HEROES 2 NONE “VILLANS 2 ALL”
(Oi! The Nische Records, Released October, 2018)
Heroes 2 None are an oi! outfit from Denmark, plain and simple. They are proud of their direct musical style and boast members who have been playing in various bands for 35+ years. With the help of legendary Danish producer Tue Madsen, their debut 6 song “mini-album” “Villains 2 All” has wrapped the traditional street punk sound with a new school energy, creating a solid release for this time tested quartet of punk rockers! I was really stoked to get the chance to review the album because I've been on a Cock Sparrer kick recently and was digging around trying to find newer bands with a more classic oi! sound – so when I hit play on Heroes 2 None, I was immediately on-board. Their style is classic, matching steady drums and strings with lively yet raspy vocals. H2N have delivered 6 tight and catchy oi! tunes on this self-proclaimed “mini-album”; a great start for a new band! The sound of the album definitely benefits from having Tue Madsen's ear producing. Having worked with bands like Sick Of It All, Dark Tranquility, Knuckledust, and August Burns Red among many others, Madsen certainly knows how to handle a spectrum of artists, and is well versed in searching out the best path for an album to take. The 6 song offering from German Oi! The Nische Records (released on cassette and 10” vinyl) is solid throughout, and I can't wait to hear what these guys have in store for their next record – I just hope it'll be a full length this time!
AGNOSTIC FRONT, COLDSIDE, FIGHT 2 DEATH @ CHURCHILL'S PUB, MIAMI, FL FEBRUARY 23, 2019
Review by: Brian Espitia
Last month it was announced that Agnostic Front were doing a 3-day mini tour of Florida to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the classic “Victim In Pain” album. I managed to catch the final stop of this tour at the legendary Churchill’s Pub in Miami, FL. Now, when you hear of South Florida locals talking about it being the CBGB’s of the South, that is 100% correct. From the shitty neighborhood with “street valet” parking to the dilapidated bathroom (if you want to call it one) that was leaking some sort of nastiness from the ceiling while I was trying to take a leak. But nevertheless, I love that place. Always down for a good show at Churchill’s.
So, AF comes to town to celebrate “Victim In Pain”, and what a celebration it was. South Florida metalcore act, FIGHT 2 DEATH, kicked the night off with their interesting brand of technical style metal. I don’t know much about them, but I was impressed, as was the rest of the room. A lot of times I see at shows that most of the crowd is hanging around outside while opening bands are playing, but that wasn’t the case with these guys. They held it down against a predominantly hardcore-punk crowd and came out on top.
Next up was, Melbourne, Florida hardcore OG’s, COLDSIDE. Featuring former members of Vietnom. This Central Florida hardcore act provides the Sunshine State with the proper beatdown it deserves. They hit the stage, skipped all the small talk, and launched into the crushing opener off their latest 2017 release “Fuck Your System”. They immediately launched into “Forever” and since AF frontman Roger Miret sings on the studio recording of this track I was hoping to catch him doing it with Coldside live but that was not to be on this night. Coldside was in full on beast mode as they belted out “Ready for War”, “Street Warriors” and “United States of Regression” back to back to back. They then ripped through a few more songs before ending their set with “Paid Our Dues”. After a brutal set like that, you can see that they have damn well paid ‘em.
And then, for the grand finale’, AGNOSTIC FRONT hits the stage. They immediately charge into a 4-song onslaught of tracks right off the glorious “Victim In Pain” record, starting with the title track. Without hesitation, they follow up with “Your Mistake” and “Blind Justice”, which properly kept the pace of an old school AF set list from ’84. Now, staying true to an old school Agnostic show, Roger hands over the vocal duties to, none other than, Mark Scondotto from Shutdown who comes out and CRUSHES “Last Warning”. You could see the pride on Roger’s face when this was going down and if someone has video of this incident, please send it to me! The band shifts gears into singalong mode for a solid run through of “For My Family”, the most popular track off the “Warriors” album, which had the crowd singing and whoahing the whole time. Expecting to hear a few more new songs, which is always fine with me, they dig back even further and crank out “Friend Or Foe” and then “United Blood” back to back in full 1983 style and sound just as loud, fast and angry as when they first recorded them. As to not tire the whole crowd out in the first 20 minutes, good placement of “Old New York” from 2015’s “The American Dream Died” gave us a small break from the old school thrash and let us put “the hardcore finger-point” to good use. With the crowd now thirsting for more classics, they go right back to the raw power of the old school classic, “Cause For Alarm” album cranking out “Eliminator”, “Public Assistance”, and “Toxic Shock”. “United And Strong” followed and after a short break they brought the heaviness of the song “Peace” off the “Another Voice” record. As one of my favorite AF songs ever, I was blown away by Mike Gallo’s thunderous bass sound and powerful backup vocals. Definitely, a highlight of the night for me. Another 4 classic songs like “Crucified”, “Power”, “Fascist Attitudes” and “Society Sucker” keep you wondering how these guys are still able to keep up such a pace.
Now we all know; any AF show cannot be complete without some proper Stigma antics. On top of the high energy and personality he brings everywhere he goes, he always keeps the crowd properly entertained. He sang an extremely entertaining version of “Power” and another Stigma highlight of the night was when he pulled Becca Polak, wife of Coldside guitarist Rob Polak, onstage for everyone to sing her “Happy Birthday”. Becca and her husband are co-owners of Traditionals, Cuts, Shaves & Brews in Melbourne. (which happens to be the coolest new venue in Florida, but that’s beside the point). The vibe that Vinnie and Craig Silverman bring together solidified the AF live sound while drummer Pokey Mo didn’t miss a beat. As the show wound down, they played “Something’s Gotta Give” and “Police State” before having another onstage jam session of The Ramones “Blitzkrieg Bop.” It was a great end to a classic show as AF never disappoints. With a hit Showtime documentary that everyone is talking about, and a new album in the works, Agnostic Front shows zero signs of slowing down and they remain here in the hardcore scene to prove to us all, that age is just a number.
BRICK BY BRICK “HIVE MENTALITY”
(Upstate Records, Released February 2019)
Brick By Brick return with all guns blazing on their storming new album “Hive Mentality”. This new record sees their muscular and precise hardcore rhythms aided and abetted with an abundance of metal riffage that they have demonstrated on previous albums but these shredding riffs complement the hardcore grooves even more this time than they have in the past and the results are devastating. “Hive Mentality” lets loose some special guests and ends with a couple of cover versions to add a bit of mischief and fun that goes hand in hand with the hardcore bloodshed of their brutal sound.
The low slung groove of the album’s title track gets the album off to a confident start. This is a band who take control with their music, with the commanding vocals of frontman Ray Mazzola taking charge from the word go. His incendiary roar is a call to arms for the rest of the band to let loose, something they don't let up on for the remainder of “Hive Mentality”. This opening salvo also features Alkaline Gun vocalist and Orange Is The New Black actress Jessica Pimentel who adds some furious words to the track. “Bad Sign” follows and follows the same blueprint as the opener with the same ferocious results. Things gather pace with the blistering “Toe To Toe” with its war cry of "Actions Speak Louder Than Words". This is a sure fire future live favorite as the frenzied music lets rip from start to finish. Another potential live favorite follows in the aptly named “Battleground”, a full on metal assault complete with some berserk soloing that erupts into a full blown dancefloor destroyer. Municipal Waste and Iron Regan frontman Tony Forresta pops up to lend his inimitable voice to the ode to party starting that is “Bar Is Open”, a song that starts off with a timeless hardcore groove before exploding into an alcohol appreciating thrash-fest with Mazolla and Forresta going toe to toe on the vocal front, the Brick By Brick man roaring the rum loving lyrics with pride while Forresta channels his inner Lou Koller with a killer cameo and ensures that the bar is definitely open and the party's here!
The guttural “Never To Wake” keeps the energy levels raised before “In The Ruin” levels the place with guests vocals by Vincent Bennet of The Acacia Strain (this song is actually a re-recording of an earlier version of the track with Bennet on a split but hits even harder this time around). “Hive Mentality” ends with a pair of covers in “Slave To The Grind” by Skid Row and “Iron Fist” by Motorhead and while both versions are faithful to the originals, they definitely are abetted by Brick By Brick’s energetic lust for heaviness and end the album on a high. “Hive Mentality” is a record that proudly wears its heart on its sleeve and defiantly shows off the power of Brick By Brick and their killer hardcore and metal mixture. One listen to this album and you'll certainly want to hit the pit and raise a glass to the band after.
AMERICAN WAR MACHINE “UNHOLY WAR”
(Bridge 9 Records, Release Date April 12, 2019)
If 2019 is already kicking you below the belt and your pissed off and looking for some new music to go along with your attitude or perhaps you're looking for some new tunes to maximize your workout, well look no further than the upcoming release from American War Machine. If you are not already familiar with this band, first off: shame on you and secondly: they are from Boston, Massachusetts and are a side project made up of veterans of the hardcore scene: Big Truth (Intent To Injure) -vocals, Craig Silverman (Agnostic Front, Slapshot, Only Living Witness) -guitar, Ryan Packer (Slapshot, Stars & Stripes) -bass and Corey Koniz (Slapshot) –drums. Honestly that should be enough info to get you pumped for this album coming this April. Titled “Unholy War”, it is AWM's debut full length which I am truly honored to review since I reviewed their first EP in 2017 and it became my favorite release of that year. “Unholy War” brings forth 12 tracks of pure auditory destruction (three of the tracks carried over from that previously mentioned 2017 EP) starting with the minute long “Intro” -a recording of a violent air raid which perfectly sets the album's tone. But even before you hear one note, just seeing track titles like: “Bullet In The Head”, “Beautiful Death” and “Hammer Down” it's safe to assume you're about to hear something serious. My favorite is the title track but figuring this out was not an easy task. The whole release is amazing and already I can see this being a main contender for my favorite of 2019. “Unholy War” is 25 minutes of explosive and raw hardcore, displaying the well-crafted expertise and dedication that each member brought to the studio. Sure I could sit here and list some fancy terms to describe each member's stylish contribution to the album but honestly to quote a fellow Bay Stater Mr. Joe Perry (Aerosmith) "let the music do the talking!” And the music is loud, it's fast, it will raise your blood pressure and most importantly it is an instant hardcore classic. It seems like an eternity since I became turned on to AWM back in 2017 and I admit I was left craving more than just the 3 songs they put out. But now that I've heard “Unholy War”, not only was the wait worth it but when the public hears it, watch how quickly this band reaches the status they're destined to achieve.
DEMYSTIFICATION ZINE #1 & STREETS OF HATE/DEAD AT BIRTH ZINE ISSUE #1
(Released November 2018 and January 2019)
Damn, is it possible that In Effect has only reviewed four zines in the past year? This review will single-handedly increase that number by 50%, with a review of Demystification #1 and then the joint issue of Streets of Hate/Dead at Birth #1. While I initially expected little common ground between these projects, Ekulu is the most evident tie between the two (interview in Demystification, peppered throughout the scene report in Streets of Hate/Dead at Birth) and each zine proves witty and engaging in its own way.
First, Demystification. When I heard that Ambrose and Paula were doing a zine, I knew it was going to be entertaining and original, as both have unimpeachable taste in hardcore and a variety of interests outside the core. This comes through in the zine, which is heavy on the art related content, and also includes interviews with skateboarders, artists and zinemakers alongside the music-related items. Though there's nothing traditional about the Confusion interview - it's one question! Is this emblematic of the style of humor presented in Demystification? Is it I Hate You – “Conviction” but in zine form? (Update: it's one question on purpose, but they hope to do a longer sequel.) If you're looking for additional traditional HC content, the Ekulu interview also fits the bill, and is accompanied by the full lyrics of the demo. Question 1, "Is Ekulu an extension of Countdown?" was all I needed as a catalyst to check them out. Anyway, this zine has something for everyone, including a Lila Tubin discourse on wrestling. "My preference for the art of the squared circle is met by friends, relatives, coworkers and half the publishers of this very magazine with empty faces and a change of subject.” Isn’t that the spirit of what zines are all about, a platform from which to expound upon one’s (often rare) enthusiasms? Also, how goddamn refreshing is it to see someone use the correct version of pique?
Onward to Streets of Hate/Dead at Birth. This was an impulse purchase when I was ordering my Mindforce/Streets of Hate benefit shirt. Unfortunately I was unfamiliar with either individual zine before experiencing them in conjoined form. Ignore the initial warning that forecasts “plenty of spelling errors, a disregard for editing practices, and coarse language abound” as there were far fewer foibles than in most hardcore publications and lyric sheets. Though the introduction and the 100 Demons picture on the flyleaf set the tone for the zine to come! The first interview is with Rule Them All, “the best band from an island” and includes a number of pithy editor’s interjections. Never Ending Game from Detroit follows and drops the first of two separate Next Step Up references in this issue, the other in the interview with Lumpy from Sanction. I am heartened by this evidence that kids are still down with Next Step Up.
The centerfold is a joint homage to All Out War and Death Threat. In a true case of hardcore serendipity, I was just listening to the Over the Edge 7” while writing this, aka the least hyped record you will probably ever see referenced on this venerated site, originally to confirm that “demystification” was not one of the rhymes present in the “Disintegration” title track. When what to my wondering eyes did appear but a reproduction of the original ad from when Death Threat was seeking its original lineup, complete with reference to “featuring members of Mindset, Search, Over the Edge!!” I didn’t even know there was a CT Mindset too, but per one of the creators of that flyer, “Aaron sang for the OG CT Mindset, which was a very short-lived predecessor to Higher Force, which later morphed into 100 Demons.” So here we are again, in a room full of friends, back to 100 Demons. CT love is for sure strong in this zine.
Speaking of CT, the reference to “Long Boston” in the Scene Report is evocative of NEWJONNETICUT in “Everybody’s Scene,” the book about the history of The Anthrax. Other highlights include the Regulate story: “I poured a smoothie on this bitch who called me the n-word and kicked her friend in the face in a Whole Foods parking lot.” Streets of Hate/Dead at Birth closes with a reprinted One Life Crew interview. In the words of the back cover, “until next time …” and I am definitely hoping for additional material from both zines or zine conglomerates. Demystification is 36 pages, full color and Streets of Hate/Dead at Birth is 20 pages, black & white (NY Wolfpack demo style)
SECTION H8 "PHASE 1" EP
(Flatspot Records, Released January 2019)
Los Angeles based Section H8 formed in early 2018 and after initially putting this out themselves Flatspot Records has stepped in to A: re-release this digitally (out now) and B: put it out on 7" wax (March 29th). 5 songs, 8 minutes and change. Look at that cover art. Grabs the eyeballs and makes an impression on you much like the angry music that spews out of your speakers while listening to "Phase 1". The members of Section H8 are not new to the hardcore scene as members of this unit are also associated with Downpresser, Minus, Product Of Waste amongst others. Sound wise I can hear a Madball vibe, one of the bands they list as an inspiration as well as Cold As Life, Carnivore, Driller Killer and more including Japanese hardcore bands Judgement and Death Side. I can't speak to the latter part of that list but what I can say is that this EP has a very unique feel to it. The use of synthesizers and/or short sound bite samples in all of the songs creates this eerie almost horror movie like vibe in some cases, something I would bet the band is happy that people writing about it are picking up on. After repeated listens I found this hard to say I liked it or didn't like it. The songs are obviously short and the lead ins to each song sort of break up any flow to the madness but at the same time the songs themselves all have redeeming qualities that I look for in a band while relying heavily on fast tracks that incorporate some nice breakdowns. Seeing Section H8 live would probably push me to one side of the fence or the other with me guessing they would pull it all off. Section H8's buzz builds as they seem to be steadily popping up on So-Cal shows with a recent short run into Mexico. With new hardcore bands and releases coming out by what seems like the dozens each week it is really hard to stand out these days in a crowded scene and standing out is something Section H8 just did with this writer.
THE OLD FIRM CASUALS “HOLGER DANSKE”
(Pirates Press Records, Demons Run Amok, Released February 2019)
Damn, let me throw on my Stone Island jumper, lace up my Adidas trainers, head over to the pub to meet the boys, then make our way to the terraces to cause terror and wreak havoc on the opposing firm. In another life I could have easily been that guy. Shit....I've always wanted to be him. In either life, regular guy or pretend hooligan, this would be my soundtrack. The latest release from the Bay Area's own Old Firm Casuals, “Holger Danske”, is a gem of a record. The OFC is fronted by Lars Frederiksen and if you need to ask who that is, then you need to remove your head from your ass and go punch your father in the nuts. Lars is joined by bassist Casey Watson and drummer Paul Rivas, as well as the newest addition guitarist Gabe Gavriloff, with whom the OFC has taken that next step in sound and power while also freeing Lars a little in the process. The sound is not Oi! The sound is not street punk. This sound is casual rock and roll motherfuckers, and I'm pretty sure these four blokes just coined that term because they embody that term and are set to spread that shit world-wide, whether or not they intended to do so. Make no mistake, the basic building blocks here are the aforementioned Oi! and street punk, but sprinkle in some straight hardcore punk and a healthy dose of straight up rock and roll and you'll approach the sound. The result is like taking The Business, The Cockney Rejects and Poison Idea and throwing them in a blender with early AC/DC and very early Kiss or Accept, with maybe a pinch of Slade. How about them tunes?
“Holger Danske” offers up 12 new tracks from the boys on Pirates Press Records in the states and Demons Run Amok in the EU. The first track is "Get Out Of Our Way" and it’s a ripper that starts off with the sound of a Viking horn and is the perfect way to kick off the album. The surprise here is that bassist, Casey Watson takes the vocal reigns on this tune with his gruff and gravely vocal style in a song that at times reminds me of Sheer Terror’s "Here To Stay". It also echoes the sentiment of that song. You can either join us or get the fuck out of our way… a message to all the shit talkers and haters. This one shreds and is one of my favorite cuts on the LP. An amazing introduction to the album. Up next is the powerful "Motherland", a rocking sing along which is an ode to Denmark, the homeland of Lars' mother. Danish themes recur throughout the LP as Lars explores his heritage through song. Catchy guitars and a killer hook will drag you in to this one and keep you there. While Lars does explore his roots on the record, there are also plenty of good old homegrown topics to cover like what can be found on the next song, "Pendulum". A nice fuck you to extremists of all varieties as well as a damning commentary on society in general. Excellent lead guitar works as well as a Goops "esque" riff make this another one that sticks in the noggin. "De Ensomme Ulve", loosely translated to The Lone Wolves, is an instrumental cut with heavy fretwork coupled with an occasional; militaristic drum best. I am not sure if it serves as an intro for the next song or as a quick breather from the first three monster tracks we just heard. Either way, it works well where it is. I get to catch my breath and ponder the previous tracks. The titular "Holger Danske" aka the eponymous hero of our album, is up next. Holger Danske is a historical defender of Denmark of fable and lore but more importantly, it was the name of the resistance movement to which Lars' uncle belonged to and fought the Nazis along-side. This epic song contains a guitar intro that switches over to acoustic before the song gets rolling. This is a song you can climb into and go along for the ride, and it's a hell of a ride. A ride to war. Just when you think the ride is over, the acoustic kicks back in along with some piano and a nice lead guitar, and the song picks back up. All the while you have whoah-oh- oh’s going on. Did I mention this song is epic? My favorite cut by far.
The song that will launch 1000 bands comes up next. "Casual Rock ‘n Roll" kicks off with the most AC/DC of all the riffs and launches into a back and forth clap along rocker that is going to inspire young casuals everywhere to pick up an instrument and start a band....or maybe just go to the pub, have a few pints and bust some heads. I can already see the history books now pinpointing this exact moment that “Casual R-n-R” became a thing and bands like Giuda were assigned to its ranks. This is another of my top songs. I totally dig it. "Traitor" is a straight up fast hardcore punk rock song. It takes direct aim at the current administration and does not hold back, in fact, they unload on it and decimate it. This one will have the approval of the hardcore purists and will have the punks circle pitting their little anarchistic hearts out. It's a ripper. "The Golden Fall Pt. 1" is a short musical interlude that would be right at home on one of those early OI compilations, Like “Oi OI That's Yer Lot” or “Strength Through Oi”. It leads into "Thunderbolt" the heaviest and hardest track on the album. The story goes that Lars would play the riff for his son to drum to because his son digs thrash etc. They enjoyed it so much that Lars brought it to the band, and the band dug it too. This can now be identified as the first song written by Lars and his boy (my review, my rules), and it kicks ass. The kids got a bright future. Manic drum beats followed by a frantic bass line and subsequently some serious guitar shredding bring in "Overdose On Sin"… a personal lament set to warp speed. The instrumental work on this song is incredible with each member going off at a break neck pace. This is another tune that will be a hit with the hardcore purists as it is short, fast and loud. A mellow guitar lick and a slow build up make way for a chugging beat (no, not chugga-chugga beat you lunkheads) and "Nation On Fire" , another indictment of the current state of our society is off and running. You'll be bobbing your head along with this one. This is the driving song of the LP. Crank it up and hit the gas, drive across a desert or drive into an abutment, I don't care. The final song of the album is "Zombie". What more fitting way to end the album than with a song about the end of the world. An armageddon rocker.The vocals on this one sound as if you crossbred Lemmy with Keith Morris....weird right? That's what I hear anyways. Just another good song to add to the heap on offer here.
There you have it boys and girls. These guys are DIY all the way. Lars is a genuine old school punk rock star, but they do it on their own terms, as the band's philosophy is to earn their stripes, even though with Lars' clout they probably don't need to. Maximum respect. I would not hesitate to run out and get this album or run in the other room and download it, or click a button, or waive a wand, or whine to your mommy, or whatever the fuck it is you people do to get music nowadays. This is just the second full length for these guys but they do have a shit ton of splits and EPs. There is no sophomore slump here and in fact I think this is a considerable step forward for this band. The band is amazing, tight and precise. I read one review in reference to Lars that said that you can't teach an old dog new tricks I think the ass-clown who wrote that review, didn't really listen to this album and/or at the very least they didn't hear it. I even learned some shit. Up til now, my knowledge of Denmark was basically Peter Schmeichel, King Diamond, Artillery and Hamlet. My brother worked there for a minute and I know a guy who moved there for school (shout out to Parsons! A true DC hooligan, Ultras REPRESENT!). Now I know some Danish words and fables and also about resistance movements that fought Nazi scum. Who doesn't like to fight Nazi scum? So get some culture you punk rock shit stains, but better yet get a healthy dose of the casual rock and roll and be ahead of the curve for once in your miserable, pathetic lives. Get off my fucking lawn pricks. Click HERE for streaming options with vinyl versions due out March 15th.
SHORT FUSE “SINK OR SWIM” (Released January 2019)
When I think of hardcore bands from Rome, one immediately comes to mind: Strength Approach, who if you are not familiar with have been going strong since 1996. Now fast forward 18 years to 2014 when a couple of guys also from Rome decided to take their experiences from previous local bands and put together Short Fuse, not to be confused with NYC's Short Fuse. The band's line up has changed slightly since inception, members consist of: Andrea-vocals; Andrea-lead guitar; Jacapo- guitar; Francesco-bass and Gianluca drums. They have just released their first full length album. Meeting the typical hardcore standard, the release which is titled “Sink or Swim” contains aggressive vocals, raw energy, good breakdowns and the tightness and sound on this release in my opinion reminds me a lot of Los Angeles' Terror. When a band states so many great hardcore bands as influences they are bound to bring some of those influences into their own sound. “Sink Or Swim” contains 8 tracks with a play time of 23 minutes and out of those songs, three really stood out for me: Track #2 which is the title track. Track #3 “Losing You” and track #7 “Being In Pain”. I'll be honest, I prefer listening to hardcore bands whose lyrics are easily decipherable, so I found the need to read the lyrics while I was listening to the songs but I'm glad I did. One of the main reasons I choose these three songs as my favorites was due to the lyrics bringing me back to experiences in my life that I had long forgotten about. Proving again why so many people turned from heavy metal to hardcore/punk because of the lyrically content being so relatable. I also loved the sound of the water at the end of the last track. It was the perfect eeriness to finish off an album called “Sink Or Swim”. Short Fuse should be very proud of their work on such an all-around, well put together release. I look forward to the possibility of seeing them play some shows in the states. Possibly opening for their "big brothers" in Strength Approach? One could only hope! ROMA HARDCORE LIVES.
CHERRY POP, JOHN WILKES BOOTH, END OF HOPE, NO LIVES @ Mr. Beery's Bethpage, NY February 9, 2019
My favorite types of shows are often the ones where there is not a lot of build-up or hype leading up to them. Small dive bars with maybe 100 people, the bands play, people enjoy the music, clap after each song, no fights, no drama, and then you all go home thinking, shit that was fun! That was pretty much my experience at this Saturday night show at Mr. Beery's located on Hempstead Turnpike in the Long Island town of Bethpage.
NO LIVES were up first but before they started their set their singer got up on the small stage by himself to bust into some human beatboxing for a few seconds. After that he introduced the band as No Lives from California as they went into their first song (they are actually from nearby Smithtown). I had never seen No Lives previous to this and they were a nice surprise as the opener playing a set of punky shit with a lot of comedy from their singer who shouted out the song "Violent Side" to his wife (who was in attendance) and then another about heroine abuse (again to his wife). Must have been a fun ride home for him. Standouts to their set were the Ramones-ish "Rosie" which has some great hooks and a cover of Buddy Holly's "Oh Boy" (with some Oi! Oi! Oi's! thrown in to the chorus). A fun band with easy to get into music. After doing some homework I found their "Violent Side" EP from last March and also found out that they start work on a new EP in April.
The Brooklyn/Queens 4 piece known as END OF HOPE were up next making their first Long Island appearance. Their singer is Davey Gunner who helped plant the early seeds of the NYHC movement with Kraut back in the early 80’s. Backing him up is a solid lineup of experienced musicians from 3 separate bands that use doom and sludge as band descriptions so you know this is going to be interesting. From the first song you could just tell that this was going to be a great set as they played super tight and dare I say they played like a well oiled machine ripping through a full set without coming up for air much. When I interviewed them after they played they said they were going for a Motorhead meets Black Flag type of vibe and I could totally hear those influences in their music. They played a bunch of songs off an upcoming full length as well as "Guilt Trip" and "Last Night" from their 2018 demo. I liked that demo and those songs but experiencing them live was an entirely different animal as the demo songs just seemed to pop more and the new ones were equally and if not more impressive. This band is not on everyone's radar just yet but give it a little time as there are good things brewing in the End Of Hope camp.
JOHN WILKES BOOTH were next. Named after the guy who busted a cap in Abe Lincoln's ass back in the day. They came out with an oldie in the song "Dense" that originally came out in either 2007 or 2008. Much like No Lives this was my first interaction with the band and from the very start the originality they play with just oozed out of their equipment. "Dense" has a choppy/bouncy, almost hip-hop like feel but with a rock band laying down this insanely catchy rhythm accompanied with some gritty vocals. "Family Crest" followed and was some hot ass shit as well. This one is a long track with what seems like a million things going on. Tempo changes, slick guitar work, and that underlying beat again that made my head nod along. Their singer had about a dozen pedals at his feet that created some crazy effects that added to their strong songs without overdoing it. "Six One" was next and went more in an arena rock ballad direction but they stamped their own brand of coolness to it. JWB impressed me with a lot of diversity, and most importantly originality. I really don't know what to call the music that they are playing except for Rock N Roll. It's far from punk or hardcore and could win open minded rockers over no matter what genre they call their own. Find their music HERE.
Throughout the years Long Island has always seemed to have its share of punk bands that may not be getting national attention but make some noize in da hood and are well worth your time in the process. CHERRY POP look to be another in that lineage with a simple and catchy punk style with a ton of hooks and groove. They are a 4 piece with Ms. Cherry Bee on vocals. They announced they had just put out a single titled "Garbage" and will have their debut EP called "Sue Me" out on Valentine's Day. "Garbage" caught my ear and when I looked it up while writing this review sounds great as a recorded track. Looking forward to that EP. Oh, and they did an Amy Winehouse cover. Don't ask me what song as I don't recall them giving the title and since all I do in my free time is review debut demos of hardcore bands from Montana and Eastern Europe (sarcasm) I don't have much of a Winehouse collection to go off of. Good times at Beery's once again. It says it right on their sign outside their bar… "If you can't have fun with us, you can't have fun". I guess they really mean it! -CW
DEAD FRIENDS 46 “WELCOME TO FULLERTON” CD
(Released December 2018)
Dead Friends hail from Fullerton, California and if I had to guess where they were from based on their sound I would’ve thought somewhere in the Northeast U.S. but, please, don’t read that as a put down of where they are from or the general sound of bands that hail from their parts. After all, Southern California has provided us with a steady stream of solid hardcore bands throughout the years. Dead Friends are simply carrying on that tradition, albeit with a more straightforward hardcore punk sound than many of the others. In fact, there’s a very strong Oi! influence that is easily detected in the gritty vocals and the bouncy sound. Also, the bounce in their sound, whether intended or not, reminds me of Motorhead and early Cro-Mags which I take to be a good thing. All in all there’s a catchiness to their sound that also retains a hard edge which walks the line well between straight up hardcore and straight up Oi! I’m not sure if I want to drink a pint of beer and bob my head to them or run around in circles stomping my feet. Maybe I’ll just do both, nothing wrong with that, right? I like that uncertainty of sound and think that serves as a strength. These guys are doing more with less and their tightness shines through because of it. Often what metalheads miss is that technicality can overshadow good simple song writing. These are good simple songs with fun solos sprinkled in throughout. Highlight songs for me include “Rise Up” which serves as a call to action in regards to these frustrating times we find ourselves in; a cover of the classic Peter and the Test Tube Babies’ song “Banned From the Pubs”; “The Letter” which is fast and bumpy with a great quick repeating chorus, “maybe I’m not fit for society”; “Blood Clot” which comes in fast and explosive and “Lady Doom” which has a fun breakdown. The last song “Dead Friends” serves as a good closing song for a band that describes its purpose as being “to play aggressive music with a focus on true life experiences and the hardcore ethos of family, friendship, and surviving hardship.” Go check out these guys who hail from the Northern reaches of Orange County, California especially if you love Oi! sounding hardcore or hardcore sounding Oi!
MANIAC “WAR & INSANITY” (Released June, 2018)
Although Maniac has been a band since 2010, "War and Insanity" is their first full length LP and it is a BEAST! The Western Massachusetts maniacs (see what I did there) will appeal to fans of Discharge, GBH, and Integrity, which is right up my alley as I found myself digging this right off the bat. Maniac have 2 members of another solid new hardcore band Restraining Order in their ranks, but this is quite different from that band. Though the LP has been out a little while on Bandcamp, New Age Records will be handling the cassette and vinyl release coming this summer. Standout tracks? All of them! This clocks in at around 22 minutes or so and no time is wasted. Check these guys out.
DON GATTO "SAWDOWN" EP (Released November 2018)
Chainsaw hardcore straight outta Szekszard, Hungary. Don Gatto's history dates back to 2009 and in their time together as a band they have 5 releases and have played close to 600 shows. "Sawdown" was released as a CD that accompanied a recent edition of Hammerworld Magazine with 10,000 copies. Pretty impressive for a band that I am guessing many of you (and myself) have never heard of before reading this. "Head Buried In The Sand", "Sink Without A Trace", "Welcome To Ferocity" and "Tomorrow Is Another Day" are the 4 songs offered up that reminded me in some ways of the more punkier songs that Agnostic Front drops from time to time with lots of oooooh's and ahhhhh's and a shitload of melody. Riff wise and with Budavari's vocal approach there is a definite NYHC influence going on with hints of Madball in the fray. A good mix of the hard stuff intertwined with melody is created with the closer "Tomorrow Is Another Day" being far and away the standout track. This closing track has a captivating chorus that is repeated over and over until it acoustically fades out. A real banger/anthem of a sing-a-long that will really get caught in your ear if you give it the chance too! Overall, 11 minutes of well written and executed tracks by a band that shows their experience level with this nice release. Click their cover to stream the EP in its entirety.
PAIN STRIKES “AS DAYS PASS”
(Safe Inside Records, Released 2019)
Northeast PA hardcore crew Pain Strikes return and unleash hell with their latest EP “As Days Pass”. The band count members of Jesus Piece, Struck Nerve and Outer Heaven amongst their ranks and with Pain Strikes, can act as another musical highlight that stands shoulder to shoulder with any of those bands. “As Days Pass” takes the ethos of the Pain Strikes 2013 demo and adds a higher standard of production but retains that same level of raw hardcore. Although half a decade has passed between them (time enough for those other projects to flourish), the band is still on top when it comes to creating killer music and still sound as pissed off and ready to do something about it.
A creepy crawling intro announces the bands intentions from the get go on opening track “Blizzard Of ‘06” and from them on, you can tell that the band means nothing other than business. This opening salvo is a focused ball of fury, initially a tad slower paced and retaining a heavy groove but detonates at pivotal points, unleashing a sonic beatdown with ease. Following track “Find My Way” ups the pace with a concentrated rhythm that makes the sound even more powerful with a berserk ending to the track ensuring things are finished off superbly while “What I Am” is a simple but very effectively brutal anthem that stomps through in less than a minute. “As Days Pass” continues with the EPs title track, one that is packed with commanding, barked vocals that collide with a hypnotizing groove and one that mixes in with a speedier sound that made me think of a Sheer Terror/Killing Time mix for some reason. This EP ends with the guttural vibe of “Exhale”, a straight talking Youth Of Today-esque blast that ends things off well and with that, Pain Strikes have delivered their message with style. At less than ten minutes, “As Days Pass” completely flies by and the energy that the songs are played with makes it seem like only half that although that ensures that repeated plays are a must. With the quality that this EP shows, it surely won't be another half decade before Pain Strikes return with another quality release. Originally released digitally in 2018 Safe Inside Records has now rebooted this on 7” vinyl with a couple of cool color variants.
THE ICE COLD KILLERS “LAUGHIN’ WITH SINNERS… CRYIN’ WITH SAINTS” (Released September, 2018)
Check out this new full length from the Ice Cold Killers, hailing from Shirley, Long Island, as referenced in track 10. These dudes have hardcore roots (ex-members of Tension*) and you may have caught them opening for Outburst and Killing Time in fall 2017, but they play more of a hard driving Rock ‘n Roll style in the 14 songs showcased here. The album opens with “Finish What You Started,” perhaps a nod to the Gorilla Biscuits title-wise, if not stylistically or thematically, as this one rhymes with “broken hearted.” Track 3, “Rhythm of War,” is catchy in a different way than the first two and a sleeper pick for the best song on the record. It’s got a slower punk rock vibe that reminded me of Agnostic Front - “Sickness.”
America is a frequent theme throughout the album, along with being one’s authentic self and conversely, a condemnation of the falsehoods of internet personality. “Fight For Freedom” is the catchiest of the patriotic offerings and is suggested listening for the birthday of noted American great (and Yankee radio announcer) John Sterling. There are also a number of quality tracks clustered near the end of the CD, particularly “Broken Bones,” which is a perfect fit for a guest vocal appearance from Killing Time’s Anthony Comunale. The Ice Cold Killers wrap things up with a cover of Cock Sparrer – “Watch Your Back.” Apparently Long Island has good taste in Cock Sparrer songs, as I once saw Pledge of Resistance cover this very tune back at Club Deep. Shoutout to these dudes for sending over a physical copy of the CD, a relative rarity in the modern age of reviewing, though damn, the lyrics are tiny. For fans of the Hudson Falcons, the Ducky Boys, the Blue Bloods, and later era up-tempo Bruisers jams.
BORN FROM PAIN “TRUE LOVE”
(BDHW Records, Release Date February 15, 2019)
Born From Pain have kicked off the new year with a new album and it's guaranteed to quench your appetite if you're a fan of a more extreme blend of hardcore and metal. There's a great chance you have probably heard of these dudes from the Netherlands since they have been going hard since 1997; touring Europe, the United States, Mexico and Japan. What’s even more impressive than where Born From Pain have played is who they have played with, which includes legendary acts as: Agnostic Front, Hatebreed, Madball, Six Feet Under and Slayer as well as taking the stage at many major European Festivals and the 2012 Black N Blue Bowl in New York City.
Their new album is titled “True Love” and is a crushing blend of metallic, hardcore heaviness with pit inducing breakdowns and sing along anthems. The stellar combination of Rob-vocals, Stefan-guitar, Dominik-guitar, Max-drums and Tommie-bass proves the band has not lost a step or strayed off the path that has brought them so much success. The album clearly exhibits influences from the metal, hardcore and crossover bands that paved the way before them, but make no mistake Born From Pain are no copy cats and the 12 tracks on “True Love” are well constructed with the band's own brutal style. My favorite tracks are: the title track, the instrumental: “Marching To The Beat Of Death” and “Bombs Away” featuring Freddy Madball. With a play time of around thirty minutes, “True Love” marks another achievement for the band that already has an impressive career. Being together as a band for 22 years is a great feat especially in underground music where so many attempt and unfortunately fail or fade away for various reasons. Born From Pain have endured the trenches and never quit. Even numerous line-up changes didn't stop them and when their original singer Che left the band in 2007 they recruited Carl from First Blood and Scott from Terror to help fill in on vocal duties until a permanent replacement was found. Born From Pain command respect for their "can't stop won"t stop" attitude and for putting out kick ass music like “True Love”. CD’s and digital versions of this new release come out on February 16th with a limited vinyl run coming on March 1st.
ONE STEP CLOSER "FROM ME TO YOU"
(Triple B Records, Released January 2019)
Nice surprise here out of Northeast PA with the new One Step Closer called "From Me To You" out now on Triple B Records on extremely limited 12" vinyl or to download on the Bandcamp for just 6 beans. My first impressions here were positive. They have this big melodic sound with a ton of hooks and groove... almost like this was time machined in from the late 90's with 1.21 giggawatts. Verse came to mind pretty quick while getting introduced to One Step Closer’s material. I can make an argument that there is a Bane feel as well as these songs just have this deep type of feel with their own life and character and if you want a more current comparison think of CA’s Fury. Naming a standout track/tracks proved to be a tough call here however as this 6 song/17 minute effort just sorta sails along with songs pretty much blending into one another; something I would usually dislike in a band/album but for some reason I appreciate it here with "From Me To You" not being too long or too short. I also really liked checking out the cover artwork while listening along to this. It's blue and white color scheme catches the eye and the artwork itself gives off a Keith Haring vibe. Look him up if you’ve never heard of him. I gotta say though the name One Step Closer was a killer to try and remember after buying this as 4 other hardcore bands in my music catalog had the name "One" as the first word of their name. When I wanted to listen to this I found myself (on multiple occasions) searching my past Bandcamp purchases to find it. First world problems I know… but just saying. Definitely worth the 6 bucks for a download and if you act fast you may still be able to snag one of the 295 pieces of vinyl that were pressed. As I write this there are 7 left. Get yours (hopefully) by clicking that link below.
STRENGTH APPROACH “REVENGE IS MINE” EP
(Released January 2019)
So, I throw on this new EP from Strength Approach and right off the bat, I’m thinking “The return of rapcore??” Luckily, that’s not the case. A record scratch boots you in the face with some pure hardcore aggression. With a track length of less than a minute, “Feeding the Fire” tells you exactly what kind of pace I am talking about. Basically, it’s a loud, fast song about playing a loud, fast song. Plain and simple, and I like their style. They deliver exactly what they say they will and they have a take no prisoner attitude about it. “Here To Stay” proves to be a classic circle pitting song to shake things up a bit. With its fast verses and gang vocal choruses, this track will be here to stay in my playlist for sure. Now, don’t go and take off your circle-pitting shoes off just yet! “The Blame” takes right off in the same fashion as its predecessor. Only this track mixes it up with a heavy breakdown beginning with a slamming bass line that builds up again, back to that good old fast part, while the whole-time chanting lyrics of neglect and betrayal. If that isn’t hardcore, then I don’t know what is. Strength Approach closes off this effort with “My Rules”, a great anthem type song in vein of the great Sick Of It All. With a “Not Gonna’ Take it Anymore” approach this song really gives the EP the closure it deserves. Overall, you can see that 20+ years in the game hasn’t slowed these boys down any. Not that it should. They’re doing just fine. You can find this now on most major digital platforms to download.
V/A “UNDERDOGS II” COMPILATION
(Dog Years Records, Released December, 2018)
“Underdogs II” is a compilation tape of hardcore tunes by current bands that our friends at Dog Years Records think are worthy of our time and attention. Our friends at DYR are donating all proceeds from this collection to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network). That means you worthless pricks can feel good about yourselves when you purchase this, so go take some of that green paper stuff out of mommies wallet and send it to Dog Years. In return you will get 20 hardcore tunes from a variety of bands and in a variety of styles. When I was a wee lad, compilations were the one stop shop and gateway drug to discovering amazing music otherwise near impossible to track down. I come from the age of the dinosaur remember. Early compilations like the “Rodney on the Roq” series, “Hell Comes To Your House”, the “Big City” comps, the “Thrasher” comps, and “Flex Your Head” were incredibly important to exposing bands to far-away places. Who can deny "This is Boston Not L.A". or “NYHC The Way It Is" or "Where The Wild Things Are" are amazing records and vehicles used to deliver so many bands to so many people who never knew they even existed beforehand and might not have wanted to take a chance on a full EP or LP. Even later with comps like "Rebirth Of Hardcore 1999” and Youngblood's "Memories of Tomorrow" (shout out to Sean YB!). I was finding amazing bands that I would have otherwise missed. I am happy to report that “Underdogs” continues this tradition for me as I have found a few bands on here and I have already ordered some of their other releases. Let's check out some of the tastier tunes that tickled my tummy, alliteration not with-standing.
I will single out a few tracks I enjoyed. I will exclude covering bands who I have reviewed for In Effect in the past. So while I really dug the tracks by Spirits, Berthold City, and Raw Brigade, you can read more in depth opinions on them in my other reviews, so don't be lazy bitches and go read them. The first song is actually the first cut "Hiroshima Lovers" by Time and Pressure out of St. Louis, running 2:26. Not sure if these guys copped the name from a Mindset LP, but they play kick ass youth crew style hardcore done right. The song opens with a bass riff and flies from there. Kids will be lacing up their high tops and pulling on their hoods for this one. The second track I loved was "Under His Eye" by Dying For It at 2:06. DFI are a hardcore unit out of Northern California who play in more of an American Nightmare and Suicide File style and who have a killer female lead vocalist. This song is a fucking ripper jammed with melody. I played this one over and over and broke some shit. Track 14, "Flash In The Pan" by Terminal Nation running 1:37, kicks off with a slow drum beat before it speeds and slows in a unique fashion. There seems to be two vocalists here and one is clearly more pissed than the other. These cats are from Little Rock, Arkansas and by virtue of that alone I had to mention them. I dig their contribution here. The last track I'll cover is "Am I Wasting My Time?" by True Self out of Springfield , Missouri clocking in at 1:26. I really dig the vocalist here and the tune is great with a sweet breakdown. Some cool vocal echo is incorporated making the song a bit different. I think they have a unique sound but I've heard them compared to Turning Point which I don't hear on this tune but will certainly make me seek more from them.
You will find several other solid tracks here including some Bay Area tough girl hardcore delivered by the fantastic band Clueless, some blistering fastcore from Better Days, as well as great tunes by Burdened and Homesick. There are some great bands on here fronted by women of the core which I always want more of. There are some solid covers on here as well. The only thing I could do without was the live tracks. I mean it's hardcore, the live shows are rarely about precision playing and the recordings often confirm that, but other than that this is a great compilation that turned me on to a bunch of bands I had not yet heard of. This is largely a showcase of Missouri bands but there are bands from several other places as well. So do your civic duty you sniveling cunts and purchase this compilation, It's probably the only positive thing most of you will do this month and you can brag to your mommy all about it. Now get the fuck outta my face punk.
RUIN BY DESIGN “ASHES TO EMPOWERMENT”
(Released October, 2018)
This new full-length CD from Washington D.C.’s Ruin By Design is a heavy hitter right from the get go. “Incite” opens up with a big dirty bass line courtesy of Andrew Blitch and Brien Stewart coming straight in on the vocals. This song is likely to incite, at least, a fistfight. And who knows where things can go from there? The album cover itself speaks volumes with molotov cocktails flying around as any good riot scene should. Some of my favorite moments on this CD include “Arson”, with gang vocals and a thumping bass that keeps things at an excellent pace. “Seek No Favor” continues the trend, demanding a circle pit reminding you of the first time you heard The Circle Jerks. You get to take a step back and breathe from that circle pit you just walked away from when “Evidence” comes on. This song has an excellent Rival School/ Quicksand sound that fully demonstrates the range of this band’s musical capability, while “Resolution”, my favorite of the album with its noise-core intro and 4 chord breakdowns, gets your head bobbing and moving again. “Set The Pace” takes us back full circle pit and further promotes rebellion with it’s “We Will Not Cooperate!” gang-vocal choruses. And finally, “Crash Landing” is a great way to end this effort, with it’s in your face verses and chorus. If I were to have any criticism on this album, the singer could have let go and gone off the chain a bit more. I feel like artists are too critical of themselves, and that sometimes need a little more “Fuck it, it’s hardcore!” But, like my older brother got kicked out of third grade for saying “Opinions are like buttholes, everybody’s got one.” Anyways, the bottom line is if this band shows up in my area, I’m going to’ check them out. It’s just that simple.
HIILVIEW “THE LAW OF AVERAGES”
(Morning Wood Records, Released December, 2018)
When I first got the email to review this new release from the band Hillview, it peeked my interest. Not only because I would be stepping out of my “Hardcore Comfort Zone” a bit, but also because I heard that former member of the 90’s East LA punk band Union 13, guitar player Eddie Carasco, was playing guitar and doing vocals for this melodic punk act. The album kicks off with “The Law Of Averages” which starts with a guitar riff and drums that gives you an “Eye Of The Tiger” vibe. Then off to some fast pop punk reminiscent of Pennywise with some solid guitar soloing and a nice build-up toward the end. “Find The Way” is a good catchy tune that has cool bass lines and a melodic chorus. The best thing about this band, actually, is that they are somehow able to capture a taste of hardcore music along with some melodic pop punk without going All Out Emo! The band has some songs that have a Comeback Kid and Stretch Armstrong sound as well. Eddie’s voice has quite a bit of range and he has no problem demonstrating it. My favorite songs on this record are “No One Else to Blame” where the singer’s voice meshes well with the thumping bass sound leaving a hint of danger in the mix and “Why I Had To Leave” for the same reasons plus a cool “almost metal” guitar solo. The fastest and heaviest song, “Cages” gets a win from me because of its hardcore style gang vocals, chug parts and even a breakdown. The last song, “Cut Your Losses” cracked me up with the opening movie clip (Not giving it away!) and was a good way to end the record with a bouncy feel. Overall, this is much better than your average pop punk band. I can see myself throwing this record on when I’m in the car with my wife as a good happy medium. (She may not exactly be the fan of beatdown hardcore that I am) Hats off to this effort. It has many high points and I would recommend that people give it a listen.
ILL BLOOD “DEMO 2018” (Released November, 2018)
I was talking earlier with my eight year old about first impressions, specifically regarding him singing at his school's talent show. I told him of the importance of having a WOW factor to grab the audience's attention. Now two hours later as I'm writing this review, my words to my son have rang true. Austria's Ill Blood, a new hardcore/punk band have released their first demo simply titled “Demo 2018” and my first impression was how much it blew me away! I actually listened to it several times before starting to write just to absorb all its great energy. The first thing I noticed was the commanding and fast guitar work provided by duel guitarists Patrick and Vlad; along with the precise timing of Erik's bass, the amazing drumming skills of Yannick and the essential "in your face" vocals of Damien, which together made an impressive showing for a first release. The one issue I have with “Demo 2018” is that its way too short having only two songs and lasting less than 4 minutes which left me wishing there was more. However, the two tracks: “Ill Blood” and “Crossed The Line” were all it took to convince me that Ill Blood are the real deal and I will be eagerly awaiting some new music from these guys from Vienna hopefully sooner than later. I highly encourage those reading this to give this a listen and if you enjoy it as much as I do, help spread the word about them and once again prove to the doubters that hardcore is alive and well not only stateside but worldwide.
TORSO "BUILD AND BREAK" EP
(Revelation Records, Release Date January 11, 2019)
Torso from Oakland, CA are back with their latest... "Build And Break", a 4 song whirlwind of hardcore insanity... courtesy of everyone's old friend in Revelation Records. The last time we saw a new Torso release was in 2015 when they put out their lone full length in "Sono Pronta a Morire". I downloaded it and kind of forgot about it (my bad Torso) and (much) later while conducting a phone interview with the late great Todd "Youth" Schofield he went on in great length about how much he liked Torso after his own band (Fireburn) did a run of shows with them. The title track opens this EP up and hits hard. Torso have this gritty and grimy sound that if visualized would probably look like the graffiti covered dumpster out back overloaded with black trash bags and leaking of dumpster juice. It's fast and raw, has some nice breakdowns and has a ton of energy. Torso's sound is hard to nail down to a particular category as well which I applaud. They got the breakneck D Beat thing going on, the aforementioned breakdowns, some mid-paced stuff ("Repulsion") and Ethan's scratchy vocal approach which did take a few listens to get into. All of these aspects have them sounding quite original in a musical landscape that can at times feel like attack of the clones. "Grab A Shovel" and "Sick Of Fighting" round out the track listing here with everything coming in between 90 seconds and 2 minutes in length. "Build And Break" rocks, Revelation comes off looking cool here for staying in touch with the younger generation of hardcore and when the dust settles you are wondering what the **F** just happened as this hits and runs pretty damn fast in just a little under 8 minutes.
THIS MEANS WAR! "HEART STRINGS"
(Demons Run Amok, Release Date January 11, 2019)
While This Means War! may be a new name to some they are long in the tooth when it comes to being a part of successful hardcore punk bands in the Euro scene. "Punk from the Lowlands" aka Belgium and the Netherlands for the uninitiated. The idea for this band was started in 2016 while on tour with Agnostic Front where tour bus rides filled with street punk, Oi! and probably way too many beers laid the groundwork for what would become This Means War! Their debut EP was released in August of 2017 and provided a nice peak at what the old-timers were up to. With "Heart Strings" the band really lets their hair (or what's left of it) down with a full blown 11 song, almost 40 minute shot of punk rock adrenaline. From the opening track "Why We Fight" to the finale "Forever" they show their experience level with high quality punk tunes that show key elements of what makes a good punk band. Is it wrong to dub a punk rock band as "professional"?
Their songs are well played, have tons of hooks and sing-a-longs and a clear and steady vocal delivery is given by frontman Bert Van Dyck who you may remember from his days in Convict. "Pressure", "The Unseen", "What Are Friends For" and "Devil In Disguise" are standouts amongst a full album of solid tracks that had me revisiting "Heart Strings" repeatedly since getting my hands on it. With the relationships they have created throughout the years with their previous bands coupled with the strength of "Heart Strings" it would come as no surprise to see This Means War! catapult to prominence quickly within the hardcore punk ranks. For fans of Rancid, The Ramones, DKM, Street Dogs and just good old punk rock!
TOO MANY VOICES "CATCH ME IF YOU CAN"
(Released December 2018)
Long Island melodic 4 piece Too Many Voices return with 6 new songs and a cover of "Swan Street" by Dischord band 3. Melodic hardcore can mean different things to different ears. In this case think of Dischord Records, The Get Up Kids, Dag Nasty, and hardcore based tunes that have the right hook or groove that will get your head nodding. The last go around with these same 4 punks was 2015's "South Of Sunrise" and with "Catch Me If You Can" TMV add to an already growing set list of head nodders while adding even more diversity to their already diverse sound. "Can't Stop This Feeling" and "Head And Heart" are two extremely catchy songs that get things started with "Head And Heart" being the most blood pumping track of the 6 originals offered. Guitarist/singer Eric Svrida's voice ranges near and far to match the harder and softer feels TMV can employ. "Life On A Sandbar" has a slower more rock and roll vibe that I dubbed "the Quicksand song" before I fully grasped this record for what it is. This song reflects on life on their own personal sandbar which is Long Island complete with an intro of a LIRR train slowly creeping into a station as a fuzzy/eerie bass line leads into the track. A nice touch that will resonate with many Long Islanders who should automatically know the familiar sound when they hear it.
Track 5 "Solitary Man" is another standout track, again with an upbeat tempo and a catchy chorus which TMV seem to do time and time again. With 24 total minutes of music to absorb "Catch Me If You Can" is neither too short nor too long and plays nicely straight through with the cover song of "Swan Street" blending in nicely as they make it one of their own. Since this recording TMV has added vocalist D.J. Meisse to further their use of vocal harmonies that has become more a part of their sound since their last release back in 2015. With "Catch Me If You Can" Too Many Voices up their game delivering a quality product with a fresh sound that makes for a great change of pace if your muddled down with the same old same old hardcore sounds.
PERFECT WORLD "DEMO 2018" (Released August 2018)
"If I can make it there I'm gonna make it anywhere" is a well-known line from Frank Sinatra's famous "New York, New York" song and making it in NY is something these 5 transplants could very well be on their way to doing. Perfect World formed in 2018 and their members come to us from New Orleans, Memphis, Saint Louis, Jersey, Rhode Island and all call NYC home now.
4 tracks in a little over 5 minutes is what were served up. "Explaining Myself" is the opening track and also the longest at 2:02 in length. The first 45 seconds really did a great job at reeling me in with a classic NYHC style stomp intro before the vocals kick in and really ramp this song up. An impressive start. "Reaching Out" is up next and although only 59 seconds long is able to sneak in some nice mosh around the middle of the song. "Push" is another shorty coming in at just 50 seconds. Here we see Perfect World slow down from the break neck pace of the first two songs to deliver a mid-tempo banger that deals with the last moments of a loved ones life. "Breaking News" is the closer and comes out blazing as another fast paced track before things quickly slow down for a crushing mid-paced chorus that goes "Here's a truth you don't want to hear. We're living in a state of fear. I know it's sorry and it's not right. Hold your breath we're being buried alive". This song chugs along with a great choppy beat for the next 40 seconds before fading out to wrap this bad boy up.
I really liked this debut effort from Perfect World as they bring forth a lot of NYHC influences but also keep their sound fresh and distinctive. The guitar tone they got on here is razor sharp and there were some nice guitar parts that caught my ear as well... something I don't always catch on initial listens to a new demo/album. This is a really small sample size so anointing Perfect World the next big thing may be a bit premature but damn they are on the right track. Before I sign off here I also have to mention that Perfect World have a hotline!?! Call them at 1-833-SICK-NYC and hear a recorded message tell you their upcoming shows, listen to a song off of this demo or leave the band a message. Would love to hear some of the messages they are getting. An EP is up next, no time frame, label or much else is known yet but when it does get out there we will get you that info. For now dig into these 4 tracks and see if Perfect World is some new music for you to get down with. Available on cassette and also for “name your price” on Bandcamp, click below.
NOWHERE ROADS "TOIL EVERY SECOND" EP
(Coin Toss Records, Released December, 2018)
A late 2018 hardcore gem may have snuck under many people's radars and I am here to hopefully shed some light on the newly released "Toil Every Second", the first effort from PA/Jersey outfit Nowhere Roads. Sporting a strong "current and ex-members of" resume including names like Floorpunch, Edgewise, and Wisdom In Chains is nothing to just push aside so we get that out there and up front early on in this review.
"The Earth Is Still Flat" comes storming out of the gate with a fury and a message aimed at the online trolling community who take their shots anonymously and often pay no price for their actions. A stomping chorus of "Screen name your disguise, Trolling every line, Clickbait culture swine, Justify your lies" is delivered with such passion that you get the feeling that their lead singer Keats has a personal issue with some rando "anonymous" out there in cyberspace. Aside from the lyrics this song absolutely rips and is a great way to open this thing up. "Uncivilized" checks in next and there is no letup in the initial surge created on track one. Nowhere Roads keep the intensity level high on these 4 tracks playing a primarily fast style but are also very well suited to slow things down, show us some groove and melody while maintaining their hard edge. "Should we stay asleep? Because we're so tired, Remain on our backs, and give up living... come on!" is a memorable line in a track that seems to be a jaded look at current day society. "Time Stand Still" takes on the topic of missing someone that was close. The gang style vocals towards the end... "I don't want to waste my time"... fill your speakers and exemplify the overall "full" sound Nowhere Roads got on this recording. "Toil Every Second" has a big sound to it (while not being too polished) and this song in particular stood out to me showcasing that. "Dirt On A Grave" brings the message of "you're only dead if you want to be" by telling us not to live in the past. The last minute of this song has an absolutely devastating stomp and sing-a-long that is destined to be a crowd favorite.
This EP is only 9 minutes in length but has the feel of something much longer. There is a lot of substance here. The fullness of the recording, Keats' excellent vocal deliveries, well thought out lyrics and overall performance by the band. Trying to decipher what the cool cover artwork means adds to the overall attraction as well. This is some real deal new band shit to get behind ladies and gents. The last two tracks show a Bane influence and after that I am kind of lost in trying to pin band names to tie in with what Nowhere Roads is doing musically... and that's a great thing. Although they don't sound like them I can see fans of Chain Of Strength liking this and "Age Of Quarrel" era Cro-Mags people liking this as well. Nowhere Roads are virtually brand new having only started playing shows recently after about a year at the drawing board/laboratory or wherever it is they created these songs. "Toil Every Second" is a fantastic coming out party that shows they are here and open for business. Hopefully more good things like this await us in the near future as it appears they have a very bright future ahead of them.
HOPE THROUGH HOSTILITY “WHAT THIS MEANS TO ME” (Released November 2018)
Well, I don’t know what they are putting in the water over there in Europe but they need to bottle it up and send some over here! This new album from London, England’s Hope Through Hostility hits like someone stuffed a can of soda in a tube sock and cracked you with it like Sean Penn in Bad Boys. I’m hearing all kinds of musical influences coming from this record. “What This Means To Me” starts with a heavy guitar riff, right into some slow pit music. Then, it’s like Mark from Shutdown rapping over Death Before Dishonor with some Bloodlet and Razorblade Handgrenade thrown in there. It’s crazy! Some notable points that stood out for me when listening to this 8-song full length are “People Poacher”, whose heavy guitar intro and spoken word breakdown kick the rest of the song into high gear. The song “Chunky” is exactly as the title indicates with its guitar sound and double bass drumming. I get a hint of Sick Of It All’s “Sanctuary” while listening to parts of “Stimulus Package”, which also changes things up a bit with this record. And that’s what this band’s second full length is all about, mixing it up. “No Long Talk” features guest vocals from Louis of Ironed Out and Ammo from Life Betrays Us and has a mean stomp part at the end. And “Without A Fight” is just straight up pit music, my friend. Overall, this record is really frigging good. The back and forth vocals between George and Gee mix very well with this style of hardcore that touches on all genres. Go to their Bandcamp page (see link below) and download it immediately. You will thank me for it.
NOT LIKE YOU ZINE: Photo Issue #2
(Released November 2018)
Mike who does Not Like You Zine (as well as Not Like You Records) has a lengthy hardcore punk resume. He is an East Coast transplant that has lived in New Mexico for quite some time now. He also owns and runs a comic book store in Albuquerque called Astro Zombies. To date Not Like You has put out 7 regular issues of their zine with this being the second photo issue. Outside of a short introduction this is 40 pages of band and skate photos from Mike's own camera that date back to the early 90's through 2018. Bands include Madball (front cover), Youth Of Today, Fury, Judge, The Business, Fugazi, Avail, Cro-Mags, JFA, Dag Nasty, Murphy's Law, Agent Orange, Negative Approach, Gorilla Biscuits, Burn and more from shows Mike attended all over the US. Some pages have 4 photos per page and others are laid out full page where you could tear it out and hang it on your wall like a mini-poster. Nice print job with super clear black and white photos and good quality paper. What else can I say except that this is just a bunch of cool photos (close to 90 in all) crammed into a nice looking zine from a dude who has been supporting the DIY underground culture for decades. Send him 4 bucks and postage via PayPal (in the US) and he will send you a copy of his latest photo issue.
MEPHISKAPHELES, NO REDEEMING SOCIAL VALUE, URBAN WASTE, OUT LIVE DEATH, FLAK JACKET @AMITYVILLE MUSIC HALL, AMITYVILLE, NY DECEMBER 15th, 2018
PHOTOS BY: ALEX RUD
FLAK JACKET from nearby Huntington are a new name to me but have been around since the turn of the century and have a bunch of releases out in that time. They opened to a nearly empty club and gave a solid performance with their singer and then guitarist jumping down off the stage and just jamming out and jumping around where the crowd usually is. Always love seeing a band give their all when the crowd is either staring back at them or in this case not there. Overall their style draws from a few areas but a West Coast punk vibe was definitely evident in the short time they played. As their set moved along more people started to show up and pay attention to what they were doing. Their last song was called “Let’s Go Rangers!” and had a repeated “Let’s Go Rangers!” chant which caught the attention of the slowly growing crowd and was their best received song of their set.
More LI locals in OUT LIVE DEATH were up next. Earlier this year they put out a solid full length in "Has The Past Taught Us Nothing?". We haven't seen O.L.D. much in 2018 after that album's release probably due to at least one lineup change that I am aware of which is a shame because they are a really good live band which they showed from their very first song on this night. Their bassist who used to sing for Mutiny Abroad was a madman jumping all over during their set which helped set the tone and get some of the crowd going too. "We Ain't Dead Yet" off of the new one closed out their close to 30 minute set. Out Live Death are a nice band who like most hardcore bands are better live than they are on recordings which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. This night was without a doubt one of their more lively sets that I have seen out of them as well. If they would just be able to play more shows outside of their Long Island home area I could see people really getting into them.
URBAN WASTE: PHOTO BY: ALEX RUD
URBAN WASTE, the band whose history dates back to the early 1980's took the stage next. Their guitarist Johnny "Waste" Kelly is the lone member left from those old days. What makes UW unique from other “let’s get the old band back together” bands is that they have released new music since their reformation and it is pretty much dead on with their old style. Check out their “Waste Crew” EP from 2015 HERE for proof. It also seems like they are not afraid to take on any bill or most any spot on any bill as they can be closer to the opening band or as high as the headliner if you check out their flyers from the last couple of years. The current lineup is solid with Josh Waste on vocals who shows each and every time I've seen them that he can get a crowd juiced up. Stooley Kutchakokov (say that slow a few times and you will get it) on drums and Nonlee on bass bring a strong rhythm section with the live energy apparent as well. Tonight was no different than the handful of other times I have seen UW in recent years with each member simply going off and nailing song after song making them a really fun band to watch. The passion is obviously still there for the Waste Crew in 2018 and I have a lot of respect for this band and their current day lineup.
NO REDEEMING SOCIAL VALUE: PHOTO BY: ALEX RUD
This was only the second NO REDEEMING SOCIAL VALUE show of 2018 as they have spent a decent amount of their free time writing and recording for a new album due out in 2019. "Wasted For Life" is the title of the upcoming album as well as a great new song which they played here on this night along with another solid new one titled "Rat Bones". Mixed in were all the No Redeeming hits that you would expect like "More Tattoos" (inked up version), "No Regrets" (extended version), "Skinheads Rule" (skinhead version), "Still Drinking" (non-Olde English version), “Fabio” (I can’t believe it’s not butter version) and more like the closer "Microwave" (Hot Pocket version). NRSV rocked the party with a huge assist going to a mostly drunken crowd that went bananas for their entire set with people flying all over the small AMH dance floor. The Miller brothers (vocals and guitar) and crew have been at this now for 30 plus years and the one constant is that their live shows were always about the F.U.N. first and foremost and not a damn thing has changed in that regard.
MEPHISKAPHELES: PHOTO BY: ALEX RUD
MEPHISKAPHELES (Satan’s favorite ska band) were the third NY band in a row on this night to already have a long and solid career under their belts with their first release coming out way back in 1991. Visually they stand out with a bass player who plays a stand-up bass, two horn players and a charismatic frontman who goes by “Invidious aka the Nubian Nightmare” leading the way. Musically they really stand out bringing an upbeat ska vibe and went at it for close to an hour on this night. Their drummer is Wayne Dunton and this guy is an absolutely SICK drummer… sick to the point that I had to take one song off from watching anything but this guy wail away on his kit. After being tipped off that this guy is a professional drummer (thanks Seeweed) I found out that he has played in numerous Broadway shows including Lion King, Hairspray and Cats (meow). Not being a ska fan for usually more than a few songs I have to give credit here as Mephiskapheles simply brought the heat and opened my eyes and ears. Before this show if you would have said the name Mephiskaphelis to me the first thought that would come to mind was a house party I went to a million years ago in the Bronx hosted by their old keyboard player. When the party ran out of beer the majority of the attendees left to go get more but never returned as local law enforcement issues came into play. Now, all these years later I have a more positive memory to build off of!
NOTHNG NEW “DEMO 2018” (Released March, 18)
Chris sent me a few demos and told me to pick which one I wanted to review. I chose this one! Nothing New is, ironically, a relatively new band from Copenhagen, Denmark. However, their sound is just as their title indicates. It is nothing new at all. This thing sounds like I dug it up out of an old cassette rack next to some of my old Agnostic Front tapes.
The opening track, “Self-Sabotage”, opens with a riff that will have you creepy crawling and skankin’ old school like it’s ‘83 all over again, when suddenly the guitars drop out and leave you with a hard bass line. This band’s overall sound, especially the singer, can probably be best described as an Exploited meets Sheer Terror’s bastard son. “Violent Episode” jumps right in with a guitar riff that is just as brutal as the lyrics describing a person who has lost all control. The stomp feel of “Nothing New” (track) will give you flashbacks of the A7 days, even though you probably weren’t even born yet! “Still Standing” reminds me of something I would hear on the Misfits “Legacy Of Brutality” record, which is just fine with me. My personal favorite 2 tracks are “Isolated” and “Rearview Mentality”, which tells me they took the “save the best for last” approach, which could have backfired on them. To me that takes some balls. And that’s exactly what they bring to the table here. Instantly, a circle pit broke out in my head as soon as “Isolated” came on. Not to mention how “Rearview Mentality” opens up with a dirty ass bass line that sounds like it came out of Harley Flanagan’s rig itself and had me throwin’ some arms around for the rest of the song.
Overall, this “Demo 2018” gets an A! The quality was raw, but not muffled, and had good volume levels throughout. I feel they did a great job of fusing NY/LA/England early hardcore punk into one record. If this is just a taste of what’s to come, then Europe and the rest of us Yankees best be prepared!
THE NEW YORK HARDCORE CHRONICLES FILM 1.5 (Released December 2018)
NYC based director Drew Stone is back for another installment of his NYHC Chronicles Film. This is version 1.5 with the original having come out in May of 2017. Using the 1.5 in the title is appropriate here as this film is not a clean slate starting with new topics but more of a continuation of the same ideas brought up in the original film. New interviews and superbly shot live footage (mostly from the October 2017 Raybeez Memorial Show in NYC) is the reason you will be forking over your hard earned cash when it comes down to decision time on buying this or not. After some short on the street clips of people introducing the film Madball's "Hardcore Lives" starts coming out of your speakers while old photos and flyers randomly pan across your screen setting the viewer up for what to expect over the next 60 minutes. The blueprint for 1.5 is very similar to that of the original with various NY band members and scenesters recounting the old days with some splashes of some more current day events sprinkled in. Standouts in 1.5 include famed producer Don Fury, Louie Beato of Carnivore/Agnostic Front, Harley Flanagan, Bobby Hamel from Biohazard and Billy Milano (S.O.D.)... who tells an old story of saving members of Anthrax and Metallica from a possible beatdown at CBGB's. The crossover style of hardcore is once again looked at in depth and covers about 15 minutes in total. From there the film moves towards the topic of the streets of NYC which morphs into the connection between graffiti and the members of the hardcore scene with Ezec from Crown Of Thornz, renowned writer MQ and Gavin Van Vlack (Burn, Absolution and more) making the biggest impressions here.
Straight Edge is up next and gets close to 10 minutes in coverage with Civ, Walter, and Sammy (Gorilla Biscuits) giving their take along with Mike Judge, Porcell and Ray Of Today representing the edge as well. The story of how many of NYHC's icons turned to sobriety and clean living after being well known for the complete opposite is told well by Ray in this segment. Craig, Armand, and Lou from Sick Of It All are the last band interviewed in individual segments and are spliced together nicely. The question of "Is Hardcore Dead" closes out 1.5 nicely with quick sound bites of people's responses coming and going in an almost rapid fire type of way. I initially popped this on at 1am in the morning and figured I might watch the first 15 minutes before going to sleep but I couldn't turn it off and went all in for the full 63 minutes. My second run through this proved hard to turn off as well. With close to 3 hours of film laid out to us over the first two Chronicles installments Mr. Stone has built a solid foundation to build off of. Hopefully there will be more of these films that expand out to include more eras, topics, and fresh faces as well as the ones that have not gotten into the first two films. For the serious NYHC historian or fan this is a steal from either iTunes or Amazon at either the rental price of 5 bucks or the "buy it digitally" price of 10 bucks. Watch the trailer HERE.
MADBALL, FIGHTS & FIRES, BAR FIGHT, DEAD HANDS @ FROG & FIDDLE, CHELTENHAM, UK DEC 7, 2018 WRITTEN BY: GAVIN BROWN, PHOTOS BY: ADAM CHANDLER
When it was announced that NYHC legends Madball would be hitting the intimate confines of the Frog & Fiddle in the town of Cheltenham on the U.K. leg of their current European tour, fans rejoiced that such a revered hardcore band would be gracing the venue, which it turns out is the perfect place to host a hardcore gig with its intimate, up close vibe. The tour hit regular stop off cities in Britain such as Birmingham (for a gig with Napalm Death, Doom and Broken Teeth no less), Glasgow and London but the chance to see them in such a small venue in a town that doesn't host that many hardcore shows (shoutout to the promoters who put on the show), let alone Madball was too good to miss.
Starting the night off were Birmingham band DEAD HANDS who combined grindcore and complex metal riffing with an explosive hardcore energy in a way that was reminiscent of say Siege colliding with Dillinger Escape Plan with the bands frontman climbing over the barrier to stalk the front of the stage. He was soon joined by the bassist while the bands guitarist and drummer pummeled the audience that was growing with their riffs and pounding rhythms back up on the stage. The band blasted through their set with energetic glee and by the time they finished, it was safe to say that they had started the night off with a bang.
Swiftly following Dead Hands were local boys BAR FIGHT who seemed delighted to be playing a hometown show and took the opportunity playing to a now packed house, to show the crowd exactly what they are made of. With a raucous set they showed that they are named perfectly, with a healthy portion of the crowd going berserk at the front as soon as they started. That berserk nature carried on throughout the bands highly energetic set with vocalist Steve barely standing still as he barked out the bands lyrics. Songs like “Scum” and “Away Days” were played with a passion that can’t be beaten at a hardcore show and the energy of the band was palatable with the crowd acting in kind. Their songs and how they were delivered also contained an element of anthemic quality over a beatdown heavy groove and when their short, sharp set was over, the crowd considered themselves fully warmed up for what was to follow later.
FIGHTS & FIRES were up next and were the most melodically leaning band on the bill tonight. Their set more than packed a punch and they definitely hold their own against the heavier side of the rest of the bands. Cracking out songs from their latest album “Live Life Like A Tourist” alongside some choice older favourites, the band sizzled with a vivacity throughout their tight set. Fights & Fires play punky hardcore with a catchiness that will have their songs stick in your head for an age. Following Bar Fights explosive set was a difficult task but Fights & Fires definitely were up for the challenge and like Bar Fight, played with passion from start to finish with a strong singalong vibe. A brilliant set by a brilliant band, captured in their best environment live on stage.
MADBALL 12/7/18. PHOTO BY: ADAM CHANDLER
The soothing soul sounds of “My Girl” by The Temptations was played over the PA just before the headliners MADBALL took to the stage in what had an air of calm before the inevitable hardcore maelstrom. When that maelstrom arrived, Madball did what they do best and simply tore the place apart. As soon as their familiar intro music faded out it was clear that the energy level in the room increased tenfold as they blasted straight into “Rev Up” from their new album “For The Cause” with the hunger of a band who both live and love what they do. From then on, it was a nonstop barrage of hardcore anthems with “We The People”, “Can't Stop Won't Stop” and “Hold It Down” being early highlights. “Set It Off” was revisited to ecstatic cheers with the album’s title track, “Smell The Bacon”, “Across Your Face” and “Lockdown” delivered with the same vitality as when they first dropped to the obvious glee and roar of the crowd who never stopped all the time Madball played. It has to be said that Freddy Cricien still has the same vivacity as when I first saw Madball on the “Streets Of Hate” tour back in 1995. He was the perfect host at tonight’s show and a huge part of what makes a Madball show a joy to witness. He comments that it's "definitely Friday night" in response to the raucous crowd’s reaction and his love for the European fans at this second to last show of the tour.
Hoya Roc too gets a shout out and a deserved hero’s welcome. He demonstrated what a beast he is on the bass, laying down that groove with style. The groove that he and relentless drummer Mike Justian have is sublime. The band’s live guitarist (rocking a Napalm Death shirt) completed the tightness of the Madball live unit with a focused performance with all four members delivering flawless performances. “For My Enemies”, “Look My Way” and “Infiltrate The System” were all further highlights when they were played and the crowds enthusiasm never wavered which added to the fun. “Doc Marten Stomp” and a brilliantly rousing version of “Pride (Times Are Changing)” finished things off fantastically before Cricien bellowed "Hardcore Still Lives" to cheers and applause before leaving the stage and the audience completely battered. Suffice to say this was a gig that will live long in the memory for anyone in attendance and that is a testament to the power of a live Madball show, an experience that won't be forgotten in a hurry. As Cricien stated with an impassioned cry halfway through their set, "This is our culture, this is for the streets" and Madball definitely showed the power of hardcore to the Cheltenham faithful tonight.
GREAT REVERSALS “STALACTITE”
(Dropping Bombs, Released November, 2018)
Whatever musical tastes one may have, chances are they are a fan of an artist/band from Detroit, Michigan. I am happy to say I can add another to my list and I am very excited to be doing my first review of a band from this area. Great Reversals came together in 2009 with the sole purpose of "replicating the spirit of the 90"s hardcore that is the foundation of their sound". With the release of “Stalictite”, the band has successfully met that mission statement by bringing the listener back to an era of hardcore that seems like a lifetime ago. This release contains 6 solid songs and a play time of around 17 minutes, Track titles are: “No Mind”, “Blood And Bone”, “Stalactite”, “The Rattlesnake King”, “Shrine To Demons”, and “Little Did You Know”. “Stalactite” was crafted with a raw yet polished sound infusing the band's own hardcore elements of breakdowns, heavy riffs and in your face vocals. Where they differ from many bands in the genre is their masterful wordsmanship which is present in all 6 songs on this LP. If you are like me and like to read and dissect the lyrics, these definitely are thought provoking. For example, the lyrics to “Blood And Bone” make me visualize a medieval king writing in his memoirs after a battle. Song interpretation aside, what is most important is that Great Reversals have released a complete package with “Stalactite”. It's Detroit, it's hardcore and it's a fine release to round out the year. Available online to stream or on 12” single sided vinyl with a screen printed B side from Dropping Bombs in the US and Ugly & Proud Records in Europe.
COMBATANT “WITNESS TO DESTRUCTION”
(Released November, 2018)
Hailing from the great Northern state of Maine comes Combatant with their brand spanking new full length. I have only been to Maine twice but have read all of Stephen King's novels and I love me some lobster (lawb-stah), so I'd say I'm pretty much an expert on all things "Pine Tree State". Combatant is bringing us nine ripping tunes, none of which runs longer than 1:44. These tunes are politically tinged and socially critical without being alienating or too smart for their own good. Sonically, these fellas fall somewhere between the aforementioned, Vacationland, Agnostic Front, “Victim In Pain”, and the United Kingdom circa 1982. I hollered at my boys, The Walking Dude, Randall Flagg, hotel proprietor, Jack Torrance and dancing clown, Pennywise for a listening party (pick up a book you illiterate dicks). Now let's move on and single out some of our favorite cuts.
First songs usually set the tone for an album. This one starts off with "Sheer Hell" clocking in at a brisk and fantastic 1:10. Hard driving guitar and gruff vocal styling hammer this ripping tune home. It's short, it's fast, and it's pissed. The production is perfect for the core, aka, not overly polished. They even squeeze in a wicked guitar solo to add a spit shine to it. The tone has been set and I am ready to consume more of this core. "Blind Trust" at 1:20 kicks off with a guitar and drum beat that harkens back to that UK 82 thing I mentioned earlier. This is another machine gun paced tune with creative guitar work sprinkled throughout. This one will inspire those slam dancers out there to stir up the pit without any kick boxing or jiu jitsu maneuvers to dodge. An odd guitar tone which sounds like the beginning of Misfits, "American Nightmare" starts off "It's Too Late" running 1:08. This pounding ripper contains some killer bass riffage. It's a hardcore burst of fury firing on all cylinders. "It's too late for you...It's too late!!" Word. "Torture Games" at 1:18 is another melt your face off tune. It kicks off with that same guitar tone and I am expecting Danzig to jump in doing his best Elvis impersonation. Thank Odin that is not the case. Tyler is not about the pomp and circumstance. He is more the rip your throat out vocalist. This one is a back and forth song full of piss and vinegar. It sounds as if all the band members are simultaneously losing their minds but somehow coming together to form a song. These guys won't let you catch your breath.
This LP is all go, no slow. From the opening salvo, to the drive of the titular cut "Witness To Destruction" to the militaristic drum beat on the final cut "It Can Happen Here" these motherfuckers do not let up. They will beat your ass with straight up no thrills hardcore punk rock, the way it was meant to be played. There is no "beatdown" in this beat down and no spirit of ‘88 posturing and filler. If you want something that could fit in early 80’s NYHC , look no further. Combatant is carrying the torch for short, fast and loud and doing a great job in light of being from Maine which has historically been hit or miss with their music and their scene. Maine is popular for Acadia, antiquing and food shacks (if you don't know, you don't know), but Combatant is fixing to make it a hardcore hot spot. They have a few releases out there, so please check out some of their awesome contributions to the genre. Grab a lobster roll, kick the Maine coon out of the room and hardcore your lousy asses off ‘ya cunts. Available digitally on Bandcamp (link below), cassette from Chiller Than Most and soon to be 12” vinyl from Not Like You Records.
TERROR "TOTAL RETALIATION"
(Pure Noise Records. Released September. 2018)
Alongside Agnostic Front, Sick Of It All and Madball stands Terror as (arguably) the biggest names in American Hardcore. With "Total Retaliation", the bands 7th proper full length, Terror further cement their legacy. Since 2002, the band has toured and released music incessantly and have seemingly gotten bigger and better with each release. "Total Retaliation" does not re-invent the wheel, and it doesn't have to. With 13 tracks clocking in at 28 minutes there is no time wasted. A hardcore record that isn't looking for hits or singalongs – it is looking to move you! These are some of the strongest and most memorable songs from the band since 2010's landmark "Keepers Of The Faith" LP. Some of my favorite tracks are the opener "This World Never Wanted Me", the killer title track, "In Spite Of These Times" and the LP’s strong closer "Resistant To The Changes". This record has a fantastic recording to boot. Long live Terror.
RAGE BATARD s/t 12" LP (Released May, 2018)
If you have an angry skinhead egg on your album cover with fresh graffiti letters you better bet your ass In Effect Hardcore is gonna sit up and take notice! Lyon, France is the birthplace of 4 piece Rage Batard which translates to Rage Bastard (thanks Google). Before hitting the play button for the opening track "Bosse!" I just WANTED to like this offering so damn much as this had the look and feel of one of those old and obscure NYHC demos (or 7”s), the kind that was really fucking good, but for whatever reason didn't make the jump into the spotlight at the time. Look up the 1989 New Breed cassette comp for some examples of bands that fit this billing! Thankfully that opening track was just the beginning to an album that delivered just what I wanted as Rage Batard have an old-school hardcore sound with some Oi! and punk vibes dropped in as well to round things out some. The recording is not too polished and the rough around the edges sound adds to this 11 song full lengths allure. Rage Batard do have a basic formula that they stick to throughout and they aren't reinventing the hardcore punk wheel per say... it is what it is as they say, but we like what it is! Originally released in 2017 on vinyl, this made its Bandcamp debut earlier this year which hopefully means they are already working on whatever is next.
BLASTPOINT EP (Released April, 2018)
Blastpoint, the Portland, Oregon band who combine hardcore with more thrashier metal elements prove on their self-titled debut EP that they are aptly named. The quartet, feature members who have served time in bruising Boston bands Wrecking Crew and Ramallah so they definitely have the hardcore pedigree there and waste no time in creating aural violence across the EPs four tracks with a fast and furious approach to their songs and prove that Blastpoint are a force to be reckoned with and even more importantly aren't messing about with their sound.
Blastpoint starts off with “Untold Truths”, an opening track that begins with a statement of intent drum filled and piercing guitar riffing intro that is reminiscent of the brutal nature of the beginning of “Hammer Smashed Face” by Cannibal Corpse. Death metal though, this is not and the song immediately gains more traction and morphs into a raw, precise and bulldozing hardcore anthem very much in the vein of Agnostic Front and Warzone (particularly in the vocals of frontman Glenn) with added breakdown elements to the track mixing it up a bit with the pace and it certainly starts the EP off with a bang
“Tomorrow's Clown” continues this pace and adds more metallic riffing initially but again, the hardcore fury comes to the forefront early on, taking on anything that comes in its path as the track flies by in under two minutes. The next thing you know the track is quickly followed by the grooving “Swallowed Shards”, another fast paced stomp before the bruising hardcore of “Conquest” rounds things off brilliantly. This closing swing of the bat is the only track that passes the two minute mark (by a matter of seconds!) and is just as fast and energetic as what has preceded it and is the perfect choice to finish the EP off.
Blastpoint is definitely short but sweet and is over before you realize but this is perfect for putting the EP on again and again and it's definitely made for repeated listens. The band have made a positive start and the energy they give off is relentless and inspiring as their next output will be worth checking out for sure.
BOOZE & GLORY “CHAPTER IV”
(Pirates Press Records, Released November, 2018)
Let me first tell you what Booze & Glory are not. They are not a straight edge band. They are significantly less fucked up than the Anti-Heros. Their production is sleeker than that of the Templars. They are not overtly political, nor do their lyrics cover particularly iconoclastic topics. But with all of that out of the way, regarding what not to expect, you are left with a highly enjoyable 13 song effort from the UK stalwarts that are Booze & Glory.
If you didn’t catch these guys at the 2015 Black N’ Blue Bowl (it’s ok, I wasn’t there yet either), Booze & Glory has been consistently playing their brand of melodic punk rock, in the vein of Cock Sparrer, for the past ten years. They hail from England but have a significant international presence due to their extensive touring, hitting four continents in the past year. This album was originally released in Europe in 2017 but is now available in the US via Pirates Press. Preliminary listening indicated that “Days, Months, Years” and “Blood From A Stone” were the most obvious earworms. But once I was able to stop listening to the Gravediggaz long enough to give this thing a few back to back spins, I soon had most of the songs stuck in my head for days on end. None of these songs are shorter than three minutes, with at least one being over five. So if you appreciate traditional song structures with repeated verse and choruses, come along for the ride.
The album opens with "Days, Months, Years" which is an appropriate showcase for their style, and even features a key change at 3:05, almost like the one in Black Train Jack’s - “Handouts.” “Blood From A Stone” is perhaps the strongest track overall and features heart-stopping female guest vocals from Valasia. Her verse lends a bit of nuance to the theme of the tune, which celebrates weekend escapades as a distraction from a draining work week. But “it’s late Friday night, I’m stuck here pulling pint after pint, waiting for the last order’s bell to ring, I’d rather be anywhere but here,” is a subtle reminder that one working person’s venue for blowing off steam may be another’s job and chore. “Blood From A Stone” is immediately followed by “Fool’s Paradise,” creating what is probably the strongest 1-2 punch on the album.The overall feel is accessible, and I can see this album appealing to multitudes across genres. Per an interview with Dying Scene, Mark is also a big Northern Soul guy which I can see reflected in their melodic sensibilities. Booze & Glory is touring the US this spring with the Dropkick Murphy’s if you want to check them out live, though there are unfortunately no NYC dates and nothing closer than Poughkeepsie. For fans of Cock Sparrer, Discipline, the Vanilla Muffins and everything in between.
RAMOMS/DAD BRAINS "MERRY XMAS" SPLIT 7"
(Pirates Press Records, Release Date December 7, 2018)
Goofy fun split with Southern California's Dad Brains and Ramoms from Philly doing 4 Christmas inspired tracks just in time for the holidays. Dad Brains are up first with "Grinch" which is well thought out lyrically while comparing someone acting like a dick in the pit with the fabled green Mr. Grinch from the children's Christmas tale. Musically these dads shred with this track having a Youth Of Today feel before they tell the Grinch to "make a change" at the end of this song. "It's Christmas Time" is essentially a cover of Suicidal Tendencies' "Institutionalized" with the same music but lyrics that reflect a frustrated dad around Christmas time. In place of a Pepsi he is seeking out a La Croix sparkling water which his wife tells him they are out of. Again, well thought out lyrically, and played pretty much to a tee to the original.
The 4 piece all female Ramoms come at us with "Lego Blocks" and a Ramones cover of "Merry Christmas... I Don't Wanna Fight Tonight". On the "Dads" tracks they went for an old-school hardcore sound and true to the Ramoms name they have a definite Ramones vibe going on. "Lego Blocks" also caters to the punk rock parent with a chorus of "I'm building with Lego blocks, my methods are unorthodox". The cover song here is what you would expect and well done.
I have to admit that I went in to writing this review thinking this was going to be just some Weird Al type of silly parody that was timed out perfectly for some Christmas cashing in but after a couple of listens they flipped me as this is a pretty cool release, particularly on the Dads side as they put a lot of creativity into their lyrics that have all sorts of references to old-school hardcore.
UPSTATE RECORDS "VOLUME ll" CD
(Upstate Records, Released November 2018)
Upstate Records... the upstart label from Upstate New York hit us with their second CD compilation of 2018 with "Volume ll" featuring 26 songs from 26 bands that are primarily from the US East Coast but are also from as far away as places like France, Australia, Brazil, and even...Indiana! Straight up I love the idea of the CD comp making a comeback as it's a great way to get a sample of many bands all in one spot… one stop shopping if you will. If you like a band you look them up to find more and if not you just move along to the next band. In the 1990's the CD comp (along with its friends the cassette comp, the 7" comp, and the 12" comp) were staples in a pre-internet world where it was not as easy to find new music. ***End of half-assed history lesson***
The 26 songs here run well over an hour in length and are almost exclusive to the type of hardcore that has tuned down guitars, throaty, gruff, or gravely vocals and not a lot in the way of bursts of speed, although there are some spots sprinkled within. Translation: this is some rough and tough metalcore ladies and gentleman. Although this was mostly a tough listen for myself I would still recommend this for people who are more in tune with this style of hardcore. At only 10 bucks and a few extra bucks for shipping this would make a great stocking stuffer for any aspiring crowd killers in your family. Click that Bandcamp link below to get a full list of bands and tracks and click the CD cover above to find out how to order.
KING NINE “DEATH RATTLE”
(Closed Casket Activities, Released November 2018)
When your band forms and a few months later your first gig is in Brooklyn opening for Bane, Backtrack and several well established bands, it’s safe to assume you are going places. This was exactly the case for Long Island's King Nine who took the NYHC scene by storm in 2011. With a demo, a full length and an EP already under their belt, King Nine return with their newest full length titled “Death Rattle”. Packed with 11 powerhouse tracks fueled with savage breakdowns, a combination of beatdown infused drums and bass and finalized with angry vocals, fans will be happy that the four year wait since the band's last album was released is finally over. “Death Rattle” has a heaviness that will appeal to fans beyond the hardcore realm and into the metal world with a sound that has undoubtedly crossed over and blended great aspects of both. Several tracks really stand out for me: “Twisted Thoughts”; “Gift Of Life” and “No Dreams” but honestly all of them prove that King Nine are still at the top of their game.
For the latecomers this is a great introduction to one of the more fierce sounding hardcore bands out there today as one listen to “Death Rattle” and you'll figure out quickly why this band has played with some of the biggest names in heavy music as well as many festivals and shows over the last seven years.
THE VERDICT "HOTIS HUMANI GENERIS" DEMO
(Edgewood Records, Released October, 2018)
The Verdict are a new band out of Richmond, VA that at first catch the eye simply because there are so damn many of them! The cover of their new "Hotis Humani Generis" demo has a photo of 9 of the 12 members of The Verdict who come from all areas of the Virginia hardcore scene. Bands like Break Away, Red Vision, Downfall, Watchdogs, Shattered Xistence and Neuromancer are all represented in The Verdict who are playing a straight forward meat and potatoes type of hardcore that isn't too hard to tie to bands like Floorpunch, One Life Crew and In Cold Blood. After a few listens I would say this is good, well played hardcore but I was definitely not blown away or overly wowed by the 7 or so minutes that are served up here. What I do like is the idea of this being a fluid project where band members/singers can be moved in or out song to song, something Skarhead did well early on in their career. The Verdict are a band to keep an eye on. Will they be a local hit only in their home area because of all their connections to their other bands or will they grow outwards beyond their local scene? Time will tell but for now this is just a short demo and is really not a lot to go on but I can definitely see them becoming a band that will stand out and catch the attention of many. Cassette copies of this are out there and for digital downloaders find it on their Bandcamp page for 5 bucks.
BORN SINNER DEMO 2018 (Released September 2018)
There are certain bands that are really easy to get into and groove on. This is not always easy to find in a genre as visceral and abrasive as hardcore music. Born Sinner, while undeniably NYHC in its sound, is just one of those bands. Sometimes a band’s first release lacks in terms of quality; not as tight sounding, rather muffled. There’s none of that here… it’s tight and polished and full of fun listening moments that reveal that these guys can play and have something good to offer. There’s a groovy metallic sound here that never ventures too far into the realm of metal. Also, they steer clear of deep guttural vocals which enables them to retain that hardcore edge reminiscent of bands like Turnstile, Underdog and Bold. Born Sinner is just good clean hardcore coming out of NYC. All four songs are solid and interesting. “Jury Duty” gets things quickly started with plenty of groove and a nice breakdown towards the end. “All The Things” just moves things forward and has a nice pace that makes for good moshing, head bopping, and they even throw a nice solo in there for good measure. “Dying In The Streets” is another good song with good hardcore angst on display in their lyrics: “You ask me why I’m so angry, just take a look around and ask me again.” Lastly, things close out with “Perception Is Reality” which starts slow but builds up into a nice quick paced explosion which slows down and leads into a strong yelling chorus “Perceptiooooon is Reality!” This is just good hardcore. Go check these guys out! You won’t be disappointed.