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RESTRAINING ORDER "THIS WORLD IS TOO MUCH"
(Triple B Records, Released October, 2019)
Formed in 2017 to fulfill a New Year’s resolution to start a 1982 style hardcore band Restraining Order are at it again, offering up their longest effort to date with the 12 song/16 minute "This World Is Too Much". A simple but eye catching cover featuring Patrick Cozens (vocals) shown mid-jump with a microphone in hand is the lone visual on this albums cover. Not having the Restraining Order logo slapped across the top in say a bright red font is a bit of a head scratcher but also adds an element of mystery in a "who the hell are these guys" type of way when people see this record out in the wild.
Stylistically Restraining Order come at us with that raw hardcore feel ala Kill Your Idols, Negative Approach, Outburst... you get the idea... but with this new one they have become even better at doing what they have previously shown they are already good at. If you fired up the Delorean and dropped these guys off at the doorsteps of either A7 or CBGB's back in the sticks and stones days of hardcore they more than likely would have been met with open arms.
"Never" opens things here and blasts off with 41 seconds of hardcore angst and fury and it's off to the races from there. First impressions after a few more tunes go on by is the production which is simply fucking killer. What a great sound they got on this thing with the guitars sounding just dead on capturing that '82 type of sound. Second is Mr. Cozens' vocals which fit the music like a glove. Tracks like "What Will You Do", the title track, "Something For The Youth" and the closer "Addicted To This Life" are my favorites here although this is more of an album that you play straight through rather than just plucking out favorites to play.
What Restraining Order is doing in not overly innovative and projects like theirs can often fall victim to being a copy of a copy of a copy but not the case with this band. Restraining Order seem to put a lot of heart and soul into these tracks and I think that is the difference maker with this being an album with multiple tracks stuck in my head all day at work. The more I listen to "This World Is Too Much" the more drawn in I become. Beyond this record Restraining Order is a very easy band for me to get behind as they fly that DIY flag with pride playing out constantly and putting out new music on a pretty consistent basis, this being their fourth overall release since their demo came out in March of 2017. With great music and an obvious desire to get their band name out to every nook and cranny in the hardcore universe there is no telling how far Restraining Order can go.
KNOCKED LOOSE “A DIFFERENT SHADE OF BLUE”
(Pure Noise Records, Released August, 2019)
Knocked Loose is a band with an unusual history. It feels as if one morning we all woke up and a bunch of angry beatdown kids from Kentucky just took over the world! They were scooped up by the label Pure Noise Records, a label originally known more for pop punk, and promptly became one of their biggest successes upon dropping their debut full length “Laugh Tracks” in 2016. It signaled a shift in focus on that label towards promoting hardcore music. Knocked Loose hit the road and toured seemingly non-stop since “Laugh Tracks”, even getting on some huge festivals. The impact they had in their short time as a band is undeniable and they brought hardcore music to new audiences.
They’re certainly a divisive band, with some criticizing their music as corny and generic as it largely consists of 90’s Midwest metalcore riffs recontextualized in beatdown hardcore. Some dislike vocalist Bryan Garris’s high pitched screams and angsty lyrics labeling them as cheesy and over the top. Some complain of the audience at Knocked Loose shows. People outside of the hardcore scene view the audience as needlessly violent and full of “dudebros.” People inside the hardcore scene dislike the subsect of Knocked Loose’s fanbase that doesn’t come from the hardcore scene, doesn’t understand the culture and often fails to respect that culture. This all seems like a lot of set up for such a large and well known band, but it all provides context for the new album. Lots of bands get popular for a hot minute in hardcore but they eventually fade from memory due to a lack of staying power. Oftentimes, the band fails to evolve sonically and closes off to new audiences who aren’t “part of the club” so to speak, or they evolve too much into a different style of music, forget where they came from and don’t maintain that connection with their hardcore roots. These are some very common mistakes that hardcore bands make, and even some of the biggest hardcore bands of all time made them. With all the naysayers and the ever looming threat of becoming a forgotten hypecore band, Knocked Loose had to find a way to prove they have staying power.
One common complaint about “Laugh Tracks” was that it was pretty generic beatdown hardcore. On this new album, … “A Different Shade Of Blue”, Knocked Loose makes more of an effort to expand their sound a little bit. Those who enjoyed their previous output don’t have to worry about a massive stylistic change though. They still play heavy, metallic, moshable hardcore music. The changes are more subtle here. For example, they make more use of lead guitarist Isaac Hale’s low register guttural backing vocals and have him do some death growls to really accentuate the death metal influence in their sound, such as on the track “...And Still I Wander South” and “Misguided Son.” There’s more old school 80’s style fast parts on tracks such as “Belleville”, “Mistakes Like Fractures”, “A Serpent’s Touch”, “Road 23”, “Misguided Son”, and “Denied By Fate”. There’s also lots of shrieking guitar riffs that could be right out of a Martyr A.D. song, or hell even a Despised Icon song (if I wanted to stretch beyond hardcore), the nastiest of which is probably the breakdown on “In The Walls”, a song that will make you wanna punch holes in the walls! Many of the songs also feature the slightly nu-metal tinged Midwest metalcore riffing of Disembodied such as “Mistakes Like Fractures”, “In The Walls” and of course “Trapped In The Grasp of a Memory” (which almost sounds like a Slipknot or Korn song from the 90’s at points). The band also makes use of a few subdued sections to help build the tension on tracks such as “Mistakes Likes Fractures”, “... And Still I Wander South”, and “Belleville”. There’s even a few straight up slam riffs that pop up on this album, see “By The Grave,” and “In The Walls.” And most interestingly, there’s a few slow, sludgy parts on “Guided By The Moon” and “Misguided Son” that could come from a Crowbar song theoretically. As far as the composition is concerned, it’s a goldmine of hardcore and heavy metal riffs and parts and I could write a whole novel about their influences based on the songs alone, without even talking to the band or looking up a single interview and I can guarantee that they will all be correct when I do those things to confirm. The banger opening track “Belleville” sounds like it could’ve been an All Out War song with its thrashy metallic mosh riffs, the chugging breakdown on “Denied By Fate” almost sounds like they took a note right from the Candiria playbook (probably my favorite breakdown on this record), the opening fast part of “Road 23” sounds almost exactly like a Youth Of Today song and there’s also a few heavy moments on the tracks “By The Grave” and “Forget Your Name” that, and this may be blasphemy for some, I swear almost sound like a verse from an Irate song.
Now of course, any band can throw together a collection of riffs and angry kids will mosh to it. But Knocked Loose shines in the songwriting category here. Their songs have a cohesive sound and hooks for days. You can almost hear the band members saying “The kids are gonna pop off hard for this one!” as they’re writing the songs. Lots of catchy lyrics, tough as nails breakdowns and catchy riffs. Every song is cohesively written in a way that’s simultaneously cathartic for hardcore kids but accessible to other audiences in a way that probably hasn’t been seen since Hatebreed’s “Perseverance”. My favorite little hook on the album is probably the opening to “Forget Your Name” which is a chugga-chug mosh riff that has almost a bluesy swing to it with the end of each phrase being marked by 90’s death metal style tremolo picked riffs. It’s a standout moment on the album for sure! And the album also flows beautifully from track to track! It actually feels like a cohesive album and not just a collection of songs that they suddenly had the budget to record! Of course this is also partially because of the production of Will Putney (Fit For An Autopsy, END) who turns in some of his finest work yet on this album. Where I felt “Laugh Tracks” was a tad clean, I feel like something about this album just feels more organically heavy. It’s hard to explain what exactly but hit me back in a few years after I’ve had an epiphany about this and I’ll be happy to tell you. But vibes like that only come from a master of heaviness such as Putney. He really brought out how the band should sound when you listen to them: uncompromisingly heavy, extremely dynamic and unbearably tense! Listening to a good Knocked Loose song is like listening to the sonic equivalent of a nervous breakdown!
Naturally, every great hardcore band needs a great frontman, and Bryan Garris proves his worth here. He comes through with his best written lyrics yet which convey some true feelings of alienation and depression in a way that your friend’s crappy beatdown band unfortunately can’t. Bryan yells on one track that “I have a bone to pick with death,” and when I hear that, I sure as hell believe it. The band also brings on two vocal guests: Emma Boster from Dying Wish and Keith Buckley from Every Time I Die. I like the fact that they did this. They promoted an underground band that they liked and felt deserved more recognition (Bryan returned the favor and appeared on a Dying Wish song recently) and also took the opportunity to work with one of their biggest influences (You would too, admit it! I know I would!). Emma and Keith both knocked it outta the park! Their guest appearances are two of the best and most memorable moments on the album! The sheer passion these two put into their cameos is unrivaled on any hardcore release of the year!
My final verdict on this Knocked Loose album is that it’s one of the most brutal hardcore records I’ve listened to this year, right up there with Sanction, Sworn Enemy and that MH Chaos/Invoke split! Many of the older among us have heard many of the albums tricks before, but I feel that Knocked Loose put forth more effort into standing out and crafting a more distinct sound of screeching guitar leads, heart-poundingly energetic drumming and a dark moody aesthetic. It’s almost like listening to an Irate album in that it sounds like a bunch of crazy mosh anthems on the surface, but it rewards anyone who knows their shit about hardcore and metal music who’s willing to pick the songs apart more. There’s lots of people who are gonna hate on it, and that just comes with the territory when you’re the biggest hardcore band on the planet. I think Knocked Loose on “A Different Shades of Blue” is introducing hardcore music to a new audience and is at the forefront of what could be another golden age of hardcore. They manage to balance being accessible enough and being in tune with modern hardcore sensibilities with not compromising on the aggression and anger that you’d seek from this type of music. They’re hard to even classify anymore: They have too much chops to be beatdown, aren’t melodic enough to be metalcore, they’re too metal for hardcore and too hardcore for metal. But they don’t care! They’re a bunch of hardcore kids from Kentucky playing music that they wanna play on their terms!
SOUTH CLASS VETERANS “HELL TO PAY”
(Demons Run Amok, Released October, 2019)
There are so many great things that go along with doing music reviews. One of my favorite aspects though is finding out about bands that I may not have had a chance to hear about otherwise. Along the way I have reviewed some bands with that “it factor” which makes writing a review so much easier. For me, one of the bands who possess that “it factor” are South Class veterans who have a fresh new release in “Hell To Pay” which is out now on Demons Run Amok.
I had never heard of this New Jersey band until recently, then again they have only been together for 2 years but members Bosco, Dan, Scott, Greg and Jonathan have played in other bands prior to SCV that have covered the Tri-State area. “Hell ToPay” in my opinion has more of an Oi sound then hardcore or punk, however those two genres are well represented within the 10 tracks. Lasting just a little over 25 minutes the songs definitely capture some of the band's influences from such greats as Agnostic Front and Cock Sparrer. The release is one that you can listen to from start to finish and honestly there isn't a track I would skip. However I do have several that stick out above the rest: “Lies” (check out the video HERE); “The New Neighbors”; “Shortcomings” (the drumming is insane) and “Cape May Street”. South Class Veterans do a great job capturing that pub- going, pogo -provoking, punch your friend in the face, street punk which causes me to think back to great times of fun and camaraderie while hanging out and going to shows. Good music should do this and I definitely appreciate reliving those memories.
COLDSIDE “CALL FOR JUSTICE”
(Demons Run Amok, Released November, 2019)
When I opened the email from my editor and found out I would be reviewing the new Coldside 7” EP, you could say I was a little more than excited. I first heard of Coldside when I picked up their 2015 release “Outcasts, Thugs and Outsiders” which is a sick record and led me to pick up “Fuck Your System” as well. Coldside’s “Call For Justice” continues the band’s onslaught on the hardcore scene. This 7” EP is out now on Demons Run Amok Records out of Germany.
“Call For Justice” consists of three tracks of pure genuine hardcore that will appease to anyone who considers themselves a true hardcore connoisseur. The band stays true to their roots with this offering and gets you salivating for a future full length release. “Call For Justice”, the title track, kicks off this three song assault with a solid offering of true hardcore the way it was meant to be. With its Agnostic Front influenced sound and rally cry lyrics, “Call For Justice” sets the tone for this outing. “Backstab” kicks things into high gear with this straight up mosh generating track. The message is delivered with ferocious conviction and has the elements of being an anthem for the band. The EP finishes with “Guns Up”, a blast of blood pumping hardcore fury, capable of inciting pandemonium in the pit and my favorite track of the three songs.
Coldside only get better with each new release. The band shows no signs of slowing down and I find it hard to believe their roots aren’t in New York because they sound like some of the staples of the NYHC scene. This needs to be in every hardcore fan’s music collection.
BKS “DIY TNT” (No Time Records, Released August, 2019)
In my 46 years of existence, spending much of it nestled in the worlds of punk, hardcore, metal, hip hop, noise, indie, et al., I’ve tried to live by the mantra of never judging a book my its cover. Hell, I’m an English teacher for crying out loud, it’s what I'm not supposed to do. When the opportunity was presented to review the newest Baptist Killing Spree (B.K.S.) record, I must admit that I deviated from my rule. Full disclosure, I’ve listened to, and played in bands, with below average, or fucking awful band names. The band name is your calling card, your first chance at a first impression, an opportunity to set yourself apart from the crowd. It is with some bit of shame that I judged BKS based on their name alone. I am a big enough idiot to admit when I was wrong, at least when it comes to the music on “DIY TNT”, because this record rips.
Speed and precision are the foundations of BKS. The songs are tight, damn tight. The first impression machine in my head picks up on influences like Capitalist Casualties, Los Crudos, What Happens Next, and Ripcord (this concludes the influences list from the first impression machine located in my head). BKS are very skilled at their craft. They play with a clarity and intensity of great musicians. The songs are well written, they are fast, but they aren’t all fast (but most are), and when they are played fast, the changes are made on a dime.
“Boi” opens the onslaught with great guitar work and expert drumming. And the hits keep coming. The cover of “Hard Times” by the Cro-Mags (or is it Cro-Mags JM?) is the longest song, clocking in at 1:26. Which brings me to another point, short songs rule. Get in, get out. “6 kicks 1 kick” is a burner of a song, with plenty of dynamic and changes to appease most any fastcore/thrashcore fan.
“DIY TNT” has a great throwback feel to me, back to when Slap-A-Ham and 625 were kings, spitting out quality, fast, material. Now while I might think they could do better in the band name department, don’t let me being a doofus dissuade you from this record. Fast core, thrash core, hard core fans alike will be pleased with BKS.
GUT PUNCH “I WON’T LAY DOWN”
(Released October, 2019)
Coming from sunny San Diego are Gut Punch… hardcore veterans featuring members of No Innocent Victim, Born Blind, Take 'Em Out and Uprising A.D. And just like their band name their music certainly delivers a solid punch along with the help of a barn door (thick and wide) production on this four track release. This effort is also the follow up to Gut Punch’s 5 track self-titled release from back in January. Although neither release are close to being full lengths it is a rarity to see hardcore bands putting out multiple releases within a 9 month span like we have here. "Gatekeeper" opens with a mid-paced blinder, setting the pace with mood and aggression. The band sites influences such as Agnostic Front and Sick Of It All along with other traditional hardcore sounds and this release certainly demonstrates that these guys know their stuff. Title track "I Won't Lay Down" is full of shout-a-long's and hits like a thunderous slab of hate brewing like an imminent storm coming in. Kurt on drums creates a solid, well timed anvil, pounding at the listener’s ears. The longest song on this 4 track EP is "50 Shots", opening with some excellent guitar work from Nate Jarrell before descending into a full hardcore rage, up tempo monster, with vocalist Judd complementing the onslaught with some solid work. This song is very well structured and offers some nice twists and turns keeping the listener fully engaged. The last song is "Scene Diversity" which is an incredibly moody effort with no rush to hammer home their message. I would highly recommend this release and also check out the bands earlier release from this year as well.
AGNOSTIC FRONT “GET LOUD”
(Nuclear Blast Records, Release Date, November 8, 2019)
HOT DAMN HUMANOIDS! Christmas done come early this year! I opened my mailbox to find the latest from NYHC icons and stalwarts, the motherfucking GODFATHERS of hardcore themselves, Agnostic Front. Shit man, as far as I am concerned, at this point, Roger and Vinnie are national fucking treasures. Can I get an Amen? They are dropping a 14 track monster on you bitches and if you think age has slowed them down at all, you'd be dead wrong kid. Did I mention this is 14 tracks in 30 minutes and 8 seconds?
Hold onto your hats and buckle up kids… The first thing I notice is the Sean Taggart cover art. If you don't know who Sean is, well, shit dudes and dudettes, go fucking learn something. I immediately immerse myself in the cover and sit their staring at it for a good twenty minutes. It is an update of the “Cause For Alarm” cover from 1986. It is brought into the now, and it's brilliant. I'm sold on the album by the cover art alone.
Enough yammering!, let's get to the tuneage! First up is the track that was released as a teaser to get folks hyped on the new release. You've probably heard it, if not, it's time to come out from the rock beneath which you dwell. It's a metallic, galloping, and thrashing hardcore tune called "Spray Painted Walls" running 2:45. The tune is a fine welcome as it embraces and condenses all of Agnostic Front's sounds into one kick ass song. No matter which era of AF is your bag, this one touches them all. Next up is the thrasher "Anti-Social". Not it's not the shit toy Anthrax tune, but at a lightning quick 1:06, AF do something better than Anthrax has ever done. This is one for the old schoolers. It is pretty self-explanatory and goes by in a blink of an eye, leaving you wanting more. It runs right into the feedback which kicks off the titular track "Get Loud" running 2:22. That feedback leads into a menacing bass line that launches a punishing mid-tempo song which is all about taking control of your life and doing something with it. The proverbial take your thumb out of your ass, anthem. It makes the perfect companion piece to the politically motivated and "One Voice' inspired "Conquer and Divide" clocking in at a brutal 2:18. A musical thunderclap unleashes a galloping hardcore thrash beauty "Live free or die, fight to exist......", and I am fist pumping and head banging, with a little light stomping. Then the breakdown hits and holy shit, two of my kids are now at the hospital ER because I moshed the shit out of breakfast.
"I Remember" at 3:11 is the epic of this release. This is the one that will tug at your hardened hardcore heart strings. Alliteration not with-standing, it is a look back on the lives of the Godfathers complete with nods to several songs and some straight up whoah-oh-ohs. It comes off as a kind of letter from Roger to Vinnie and a beauty of a song that will hit home with the older guys in the crowd. "Dead Silence" running 2:23 is another galloping thrasher which deals with calling out bullshit. This one culminates in a pissed off breakdown "Let's be real!" will be heard in the pit while mayhem ensues. I am certain. Next up is the instrumental delight known as the "AF Stomp" running 1:29. Clear the dance floor as this one is right up there with the "Intro Busts" of the world. My only beef here is, why isn't this the first track?? I mean, it just seems like that is where it belongs, but I digress. This is why I write reviews for free and don't manage bands and their careers.
We are now at the mid-point of the record so I feel this is a good place to say that it is apparent that the band has put a shit ton of work into this album. Yes, a bona fide measurable metric shit ton. It is impeccable. The sound, the mix, Roger's voice, Vinnie and Craig's guitars, Mike's booming bass, and Pokey's bombastic drums, all on point. I appreciate the hard work you fellas put in so in thought I indulge myself in the middle of my review to tell you so. Back to the tunes!
"Urban Decay" running 1:57 showcases a slight punkier, street rock vibe. It’s a killer rock tune with shouted, gang style vocals of "urban, urban decay!" and "violence, violence". It is a statement on street life. Keeping in theme, the self-explanatory "Snitches Get Stitches" @ 1:47 is a hard hitter. Roger queries "First you talk shit, then you wonder why, there's violence on our minds?" and the song busts into a sweet and unique breakdown which I played over and over and which caused me to form a one man stomping, kicking, circle pit during lunch which sent a third child of mine to the ER.
Think this one may be my favorite. A buzz saw guitar introduces the 1:51 personal beef sounding "Isolated". This one concerns self-imposed isolation thru idiotic action. This is one you stay still and listen to, good news for my fourth and final child. A slide on down the fret board leads us into another fast galloping anthem entitled "In My Blood" running 2:32. An epic ode to all those things about being hardcore complete with some sweet stand out guitar work. Hardcore, it's in their blood, it's in my blood, it's in your blood if you are reading this. The punky gem "Attention" runs a brisk 1:49. This one is for all of you attention whores out there. This one contains yet another sick breakdown which culminates in a royal "FUCK YOU!" courtesy of Mr. Miret. Bad news for that fourth and final child of mine at dinner time. "Pull the Trigger" running 2:00 even is another of the songs which lean more towards the punk and straight hard rock sounds. This is a song of desperation. I've been waiting all album to finally hear Roger yell "STIGMA!!!" and he does it right here and sends Mr. Stigma into a kick ass little solo that made me wish there were a few more sprinkled here and there solely for my own selfish reasons. The final cut on this soon to be classic is "Devastated" clocked at 2:38. Perfect ending for the album as the album will leave you devastated. The song has a slightly different sound for AF which is perhaps a look to what is yet to come from these guys and another reason this a great way to end the LP.
As a young metal head, AF were a gateway band for me. A band that appealed to a lot of us, made apparent by their inclusion on that Bullets comp from back in the day alongside the likes of Megadeth, Dark Angel, and Impaler. However, from the moment I heard "Victim In Pain" I was hooked. They have gone thru many lineups and subsequent unavoidable sound changes over the years. Some loved, some liked, some bitched about, some moaned about, but AF has remained, and over the years have compiled an excellent discography. "Get Loud" only bolsters that and embraces all of those sounds with equal vigor on this new release. The band has never sounded tighter and Roger is as good as he was on day one. This is another great release by an OG NYHC band like their contemporaries and compatriots Sick Of It All, they are still getting shit done and done right. They are on the road so check them out as they never disappoint live. Stick around and thank them after their set as they are some of the nicest guys you'll meet. I am going to declare that November 8th be heretofore known as International Agnostic Front Day, as that is the day on which this LP drops, so you little fucks better buy it and support the Godfathers. This is some shit you don't want to miss. Merry fucking Christmas, assholes. GET OFF MY LAWN!
ILL BLOOD s/t EP
(Farewell Records, Released October, 2019)
Vienna, Austria’s Ill Blood combine a whole host of hardcore influences that include that classic NYHC sound, prime youth crew, some of the Lockin’ Out roster and more groove based hardcore with their own sense of energy to create a vibrant blast of hardcore. The bands self-titled debut EP blends all of those influences into six songs of focused fury with a big emphasis on positivity and ultimately, having fun while unleashing their anger.
A flurry of guitars that could have come straight out of “How Could I Laugh Tomorrow...” era Suicidal kicks off the opening track “Scraps” before the track explodes into life complete with commanding vocals courtesy of frontman Damien and doesn’t let up until the final notes of the song have faded out. The energy doesn’t stop there though and as the band fire their way through each song, it is clear that they have their own vibe and this short but sweet release is the perfect introduction to the music of Ill Blood.
The bands self-titled song comes on like a theme song for Ill Blood and is tailor made for causing chaos in the pit while the bass led groove of “Stick Tight” and the chant-a-long “No Sympathy” show a band going full pelt with their own sound while still finding time to salute their influences and the results are breathtaking.
Those killer Suicidal-esque riffs and intense solos are littered throughout this release and add an extra layer of intensity and goes hand in hand with the grooves and catchy riffs. This EP ends as quickly as it began with the berserk “Paved Bliss”, a song that ends with a cool breakdown followed by a wave of feedback that singles the end of this satisfying listen.
Ill Blood have made an impact with this EP and are undoubtedly making strides with their music and will continue to go from strength to strength as they go on with a full length debut album to come not too far in the future. Until that time, this EP more than stands up for a listening experience again and again.
DOWN FOR LIFE MAGAZINE ISSUE #8
(Released September, 2019)
Down For Life continues in its quest to bring you the best in hardcore, punk and crossover features, interviews and reviews and is now onto issue 8 and with it, it is definitely succeeding in doing just that. The past issues of this magazine have brought you cover stories on hardcore stalwarts from Sick Of It All to Bad Brains to Agnostic Front and this latest issue has an extensive feature on one of hardcores most revered bands Black Flag. With interview features with everyone both past and present who has played a major part in the Black Flag story, the latest DFL is a must for any Flag fan. There are also great features on SS Decontrol and Youth Of Today with great reflections on both bands’ career courtesy of Al Barille and Jaime Sciarappa And Porcell for the latter.
As with the previous editions of the magazine, there is a strong helping of NYHC in this issue with a eature on Cro Mags that includes Harley Flanagan talking about a new era for his incarnation of the band (there is also a review of the latest Cro-Mags EP (“Don’t Give In”), a great review of the brilliant new Agnostic Front album “Get Loud” and of course, the In Effect roundup (can’t wait to read the Sick Of It All book and always good to see Car Bomb Parade get love!)
As always there is a healthy report on newer bands to check out and this goes hand in hand with those of the legendary bands that were just mentioned as it all matters in helping to spread the message of hardcore worldwide. Add to that, features on Strife, Knocked Loose, Victims, Life Of Agony, Death Before Dishonor and more as well as an extensive reviews section (both albums and live events including reviews of albums by All Out War, Rykers and The Take and Ieperfest, Rebellion and Pitfest on the live front) and you have a magazine jam packed full of the music we love.
For any fan of hardcore, Down For Life is a must read with every issue and this particular one is packed full of great features of bands both past and present. In the words of this issues cover stars, “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme!”
DOIN’ GREAT “ON THE OUTSIDE”
(Released October, 2019)
Before hitting play on the debut release from PA's Doin' Great, I really had no clue what to expect. What I got was a solid dose of some catchy-but-not-corny punk rock. Ryan Ziegler, of Barricade, Animalhaus, Objection (and more), is on vocals for this new project. His style on this album pulls from both gritty hardcore and gruff Oi influences, mashing them together while creating an unapologetically refreshing sound that layers righteously honest song writing on top of punchy punk rock riffs. Detailing the transition into, through and out of some darker times in his life, Ziegler opens up on this record while successfully blending his words with the predominantly upbeat musicality his bandmates provide. After a few listens I learned that one reason Doin' Great sound so tight on their first record is that they've all played together before in the band Animalhaus! With that in mind, it's clear by the tone of the music itself that the band had a lot of fun recording this; the fact there are guitar “dive bombs” and “pig squeals” laced throughout a punk rock record is proof of a good time in the studio! The strings and drums get along really well throughout and the mix is solid.
The first song, "Far Too Long" hits with catchy guitars right away, and holds a tempo that's both fun and deliberate; a perfect lead for the rest of the album! Since in some way this record was a reunion of old friends, it isn't surprising to have group vocals which really resonate and compliment the vibe on some of the songs. The third track on the album titled "Come Home" is a shining example of just that. On that note, its rad to hear musicians in hardcore mix it up and release music that floats around the spectrum of what constitutes "hardcore" while avoiding getting pigeonholed into one type of sound or sub-genre.
Having 6 tracks packed with sing along choruses, killer gang vocals, catchy riffs, and words that actually mean something, Doin' Great are off to a strong start! This album is available to stream now, and they've got some shows coming up so be sure to check out Doin' Great!
NERVOUS WRECK s/t (Released October, 2019)
The proliferation of new hardcore bands from the Garden State continues with the emergence of a brand new name... Nervous Wreck. My initial reaction to the 4 songs on display here is that they definitely have something cooking on this... their debut effort. The fact that this band is only 6 or so months into their existence allows me to look beyond some of the rough edges and wrinkles and upon further listens I can hear the potential. The feels on this are undeniably late 80's NYHC... lots of bounce and opportunities to get your mosh on... but also with a slight crossover feel (as was par for the course in the late 80's NYHC universe). Chris Bacchus (making his lead vocal debut) also plays guitar with another NJ outfit who go by the name Player Hater who are more metallic stylistically but who also feature good use of the bounce in their song structures.
Members of both of these bands probably listen to a lot of old school hip-hop is my guess and it works well, the biggest difference between the two being that Nervous Wreck's approach is more punk rock. My main critique here lies with the vocal approach though as they seem too harsh/hard/rough (you pick a term) and if dialed back by even the smallest of margins I would have gotten into this more than I did. With this being Chris' first attempt at fronting a band I would rather cut some slack and hope that the style evolves more to my liking on whatever the next go around may be… but if it doesn’t… who the F am I to tell this guy how to sing his own songs, right?
"Division", "Nervous Wreck", "Conformist", and "Quotidian" are your titles... none of which will ever be accused of being of the PMA variety as Nervous Wreck go for more of the just can't hate enough approach. "Not a single thing for me to gain... so how much longer can I bare the pain" is just a sneak peek into their dark lyrical realm. A solid debut, but still raw. You can see the potential though and hopefully their next release starts that upward climb into the scenes spotlight. Click HERE to find the Nervous Wreck demo on Bandcamp.
BASTARD CLAN “THE ARROGANT DREAM”
(Released September, 2019)
Featuring members of The Krays and All Out War (amongst other NY notables), Bastard Clan are a new force to be reckoned with, coming from New York City. Founded 5 years ago, this 5 piece have put together their debut effort which is a 9 track album which has elements of punk and dare I say, hints of Iron Maiden! The opening song "Shed" takes no prisoners and blasts forth with a guitar intro which reminds me of Slayer’s "The Final Command" before the band launch into their style… which I can describe as an up tempo Rancid-ish sound before twisting into a hint of Maiden before launching back into the heart of the song again. This is catchy stuff and well produced. "Humanity" is slightly heavier with the guitars but flows melodically, Johnny Krays’ vocals are perfect… he actually sings rather than screams and once again the hook lines in this song stamp their authority making this song a real crowd favorite. "Point The Blame" is the shortest song on the album, at a fraction over 2 and a half minutes and is an absolute belter…great song structure combined with great musicianship, don't take my word on this, check it out! "Forward And Home" thunders into life… if this song doesn't get the pit into a frenzy then I don't know what will. It has the power and elegance of a sledgehammer with the ability to knock you off your feet.
"Ascension" opens with an interesting guitar part, very Maiden-esq, but don't be fooled by this as the band rip into what they do best and that is offer a solid slab of street punk. It is worth noting that Taras and Carlos are both very talented guitar players, not only in their playing ability but also with the diversity they inject into each song. Top stuff! "Bursting" is another nod for the guitarists to show off their talent but I don't want to forget the bass player in this too, John Strapp's bass tone on this album is fantastic and with that you can hear John beating his bass to a pulp in true punk fashion. I personally feel that "Bursting" will be on the bands live set list for a long time to come. "Folly Of Fame And War" thunderous drums lift this song, Brian Shonen really is solid in his style and is a real powerhouse… fucking hell, this band have got it! "Just Ignore" starts off with every bass players delight with some furious technical sounds… think “Maxwell Murder” by Rancid… that kind of vibe… I would love to see this one played live! Closing off this classic album is "Action" and that is just what it is… furious action, ending as soon as they have begun, making the listener think, I need to listen this all again. Fantastic stuff! This band have got an amazing future in front of them. I cannot recommend this album enough for those who want intelligent street punk with added twists.
SKATECRIME “UP YOUR CURB” EP
(Released June, 2019)
As a big fan of the resurgence of “old school” within punk and hardcore, Florida has been keeping up with the scene. Another band to add to the list is Skatecrime. This new band, formed a little over a year ago, has been all over the scene and released their debut CD, “Up Your Curb” back in June. Recorded and mixed at Thunderhouse Studios in Port St. Lucie, this CD rips! Kicking off the album, “Skatedge”, is a great song to set the tone of the record. Fast California style early 90’s punk is typically what you get with this record. Singer/guitarist, Nick Diiorio’s vocals are reminiscent of Guttermouth and even, Pennywise. Add a cool bass line and a good breakdown and the song is killer. The next track, “Sasquatch Kick Machine”, is another “fast riffs all day” kind of song. It starts off with a funny new report regarding a naked Sasquatch before going full force until the ending.
They hold their own with this next song, a cover of Agent Orange’s “Everything Turns Grey” before launching into “Shin Condition”. I really liked this song, as it had a Bouncing Souls vibe that was helped along by Billy Mauer, whose bass lines sounded great. Fast and steady drumming courtesy of Brian Rodriguez, who has been playing in the local punk scene on the Treasure Coast for many years. On top of keeping up with the drum kit, he also sings most of the band’s backup vocals on the record and live as well. Next up is the album’s title track, “Up Your Curb”. Sticking true to the old school fast punk formula, this song’s chorus is very catchy and has great whoahs as well. Before finishing off this EP they did justice to another cover song. This time, “Young ‘Til I Die” by 7 Seconds. Finally, they close out this release with the last track called, “Bombing The Hill”. Another catchy tune which could turn out to be the new “Breakin’ The Law” of punk rock. All in all, you should check out this record if you are a fan of skate punk. Maybe it’ll get you to dust off the old board and “Go Skate!”
BLVD OF DEATH “HELL IS FULL OF GOOD INTENTIONS” (Edgewood Records, Released September, 2019)
Blvd of Death from Italy is back at it with "Hell Is Full Of Good Intentions", the follow-up to "Swinging Sledgehammers", their four song debut last year, and their first for Edgewood Records. This six song EP features five full tunes following a Nick Woj intro, and while some of the same influences are present as last time (I still hear Breakdown and Backlash), the vibe often channels Queens greats like Cold Front and Everybody Gets Hurt, appropriate for the provenance of their name. The advent of a stable lineup/fourth member seems to have helped these dudes compose an elevated batch of material, as there was no bassist credited on "Swinging Sledgehammers" and they were effectively a 3-piece.
The intro as a standalone first track is followed by the pragmatic "It Is What It Is", but for me, song 3 "Choices" is where things got going and I was like damn these guys are really bringing it. “Choices” is the song I'd probably put on a mix tape, compelled by the power of that main riff during the verse. Of course it feels more like a 2 song than a 3 song, but everything is thrown off by the intro, in the opposite manner of the “Born To Expire” CD version from Profile. Speaking of “Born To Expire,” while Leeway did not immediately come to mind, I soon realized the propulsive riffing and compelling melody in “Choices” is analogous to the structure of “Mark Of The Squealer.” Later in the same tune, there’s also a transition that resembles the opening of “Kingpin,” before reverting to the delicious main riff.
While eighties Astoria is represented on the front half of this release, we head further into the nineties in the second portion. The first few songs are great, but are they solely emblematic of Blvd of Death's sound? The second set of tunes is somewhat darker and more intricate, almost like what Trapped Under Ice did on side B of “Stay Cold” and where the more Cold Front/EGH-inflected songs happen. How do bands decide to arrange songs on a record, even a short one like this? That is a whole topic to be explored another day.
It's hard to believe that half these tracks are under two minutes each, as there is so much happening in each song. There is a pure Queens moment in “Boys Do Cry”, which I would say gave me chills, but it may have already been cold on my Metro North train creeping past Uppercut’s old stomping grounds at Fordham. It is followed by the equally moshworthy “Poison” which took me back to Cold Front’s set at the 2007 Superbowl of Hardcore. “H.I.F.O.G.I.” the initialed title track is the last one and perhaps the most interesting. At first bouncier and more self-contained than some of the structures present here, there is a moment it could plausibly conclude, but fortuitously instead diverges into an unexpected transition, no Leeway pun intended. Essential October listening for fans of Breakdown, Everybody Gets Hurt, Cold Front, Backlash, Trapped Under Ice and Ekulu.
NONE ABOVE ALL/ENZIGURI
“MEANWHILE… IN NY” SPLIT EP
(Fuzz Therapy Records, Released October, 2019)
“Meanwhile…In NY” is a split EP between two New York hardcore bands looking to make their mark on the NYHC music scene. None Above All contribute four tracks while Enziguri provide the other three songs on this release (the debut) from Fuzz Therapy Records out of New York City. I’m going to start with None Above All’s contribution to this EP and finish with my take on Enziguri’s music. Let the reviews begin…
None Above All formed in the late summer of 2015 with former members of Step 2 Far, Zombie Fight and Silence Equals Death. The band has previously released two EP’s and is working on a full length record set for release in 2020. The four tracks the band offer on this outing are the strongest songs on the EP. The band captures the NYHC sound with their straight ahead, fast and angry music. Vocalist Hil is one hard and pissed off sounding dude and is the right choice to front this speed induced charge of furious hardcore.
“Make It” kicks off the EP with a hard slap to the face. From the opening scream of “A Chance”, you immediately know these guys are the real deal. This angry slab of fury holds a positive and relatable message in its lyrics that I could sink my teeth into and had me eager to hear their other three songs. “Pound of Flesh” is a standard, hard edged hardcore song dealing with an open wound, set to high-speed guitars, frantic drumming and enraged vocals. Mid-way through the track, the band slows it down but only for a few seconds before inciting a mosh pit building second half of the song.
“End in Sight” would be a song I would put on if I were going into battle (or into an insane mosh pit). It’s fast, violent and makes you want to punch the person standing next to you. This was my favorite track out of the four. “No One” is the last track and is a longer song that starts fast and finishes with a slow and eerie sounding conclusion. I couldn’t help but notice a number of early sounding 2000 hardcore bands on this track. Aside from that, the song finishes the band’s contribution to this split EP on a strong note.
Enziguri is a four piece out of the Bronx. They released a self-titled EP back in 2015. The band states their aim is to create their own brand of NYHC. I agree and disagree with this statement after listening to the three tracks they provide on this EP and let me elaborate on my point.
I could go on a rant and tell you my views on what constitutes as hardcore or not but I’ll spare you that speech (your welcome). Enziguri has some of the elements of hardcore but there is a formidable pop sound to their music which does not sit well with me. Hardcore is all about dealing with life’s shit storms we are all faced with on a regular basis, set to a furious and angry musical background soundtrack. I don’t hear this in their music or lyrics. “Pigeon On A Wire” and “The Wolves You Feed”, the first two songs from the band, start out with the traditional NYHC sound, then suddenly the songs kick into a poppy sounding style, combining two genres that (to me) just don’t go well together. Even the lyrics of both songs struck me as girlfriend centered problems and that topic does not belong in hardcore music. “Gag Order” is the third track of theirs and this song is definitely a hardcore song from start to finish. This is the direction the band should be steering towards. If they did, the band would earn their spot as a new contender in the NYHC music scene.
AGNOSTIC FRONT @KNOCKDOWN CENTER, QUEENS, NY OCTOBER 6, 2019.
PHOTOS BY: RICH ZOELLER
This certainly was one of those outside of the box types of shows which took place at the Knockdown Center in Maspeth, Queens with Agnostic Front providing direct support for Florida's Obituary. Before AF there were 8 openers scheduled that included Fuming Mouth, Krimewatch, Coke Bust, Fiddlehead, and Haram. When you have a band dubbed "The Godfathers Of Hardcore" playing right before Obituary who some consider "Pioneers Of Death Metal", mix in 8 openers of varied sounds and styles and then add in the skate scene element you have the makings for a potentially weird and wild night.
Thrasher and Vans were sponsors of this show which probably was at least part of the reason that there was a half-pipe placed smack dab in the middle of the sprawling 50,000 square foot warehouse that is the Knockdown Center. While the bands played dozens of skaters were doing their thing while many more watched. The backdrop of skaters, metalheads, punks, skins, and regular folk all mixed together definitely gave this show a unique feel. Admission was free and only required signing up for a ticket online.
Agnostic Front came on a little after 9pm and ambushed the crowd with a "Victim In Pain" assault that started with the title track from their 1984 classic followed by "Fascist Attitudes", "With Time" and "Blind Justice". Singer Roger Miret told the huge (but not sold out) crowd... "New York City, let's see if you remember this one" right before the start of the mid-paced "With Time". "For My Family" was one of the only newer era AF tracks played before they took it back to 1986 and '87 by playing "The Eliminator", "Toxic Shock", "Public Assistance" and "Strength". Before "Strength" Roger welcomed ex-guitarist Steve Martin out on to the stage who then joined the band in playing "Strength"... (a track off of “Liberty And Justice For”) the lone album that Steve performed on.
As Agnostic Front's set moved along we got more AF staples in "Power" (which was sung by guitarist Vinnie Stigma), the old Iron Cross cover of "Crucified", the now classic "Gotta Go", and "Blitzkrieg Bop" by the Ramones which has become a regular closing tune for the AF crew. The sound at the Knockdown Center was not very good with the vocals being way too low and hard to hear. In some instances I had a hard time following along to songs I have known for 30 years. The only time the sound level of the mic was not a problem seemed to be in between songs when Roger was introducing each song. The stage presence of the band though made up for some of this as these guys really gave it their all while performing which is always the case when you see AF play. The crowd went absolutely insane throughout their set with a huge pit that went off the whole time. Roger's calls and hand motions for "circle pit! circle pit!" were 100% acted upon at the start of each song where he asked.
One thing I will remember about this show for a very long time was how diverse the makeup of this crowd was. About mid-way through AF's set I looked around at the people near me and had a visual moment that pretty much summed up what I am trying to convey here. As I scanned the audience around me I saw a prototypical punk rocker with a studded out denim vest, a Jewish dude rocking out with a yamaka/kippah and the tzitzit/tassles (sorry if I didn't get the spelling of these right Jewish friends) and then some guy probably in his 50's with shoulder length white hair and a t-shirt. All there were rocking out to AF and songs that are in some cases 3 decades old. This was 1000% awesome in my book and represents how unifying this music can be. -CW
SKUM CITY “RISE OF THE SKUM”
(Released September, 2019)
Evoking an urban wild that shook its last death rattle somewhere in the middle of Nineteen Hundred and Ninety - SKUM CITY with their full length “Rise of the Skum” attack loud and fast with street punk material that conjures the violent bohemia that was once the geographical center for all NYC outsiders…Downtown Manhattan. Amid the Krishna devotees playing the Mridanga Drum…SK-8 Crews turning NYC architectures into death defying stages…the LGBTQ embracing Goth community who lived by night in the dingy Pyramid Club…3rd wave NYHC “kids” living and dying in the scenes 80’s swan song and 90’s post sound. The street genre of hardcore would fragment into sub-styles warping itself to the various NYC tribes in sound and philosophy. Whether avant-garde, straight edge, thrashing, Krishna inspired or anarcho, hardcore punk would adapt itself to all levels of street life and be used to communicate varying ideologies from the religious to the political to the personal.
Skum City like a nomadic urban squatter tribe scrounge through the underground music collective picking odds and ends pieces - breaks, beats, riffs, vocal attitudes - and Frankenstein them. From the hardcore punk rock out of East and West Coast sources as well as English bred sounds and demeanor.
“Diazepam” powers through with a NYHC metal crossover riff thrashing from the gutters of the L.E.S summoning no supernatural heavy metal demon for its next track but a punk rock anti-Christ paradoxically named Jesus Christ but known to the underworld of cult rock as G.G. Allin. “Stay Home and Fuck'” is a domestic sex song from the fuck files of G.G. during his “Scumfucs” era…the song pulls no punches as it delivers what it promises with the title sung on repeat as its chorus. “24x4” is a chaotic hardcore punk wild horse that shows the musical creativity of the group and adds a punk prowess at noisy levels with a thrash country riff and guitar bend that insinuates the breakdown of this catchy speed number that is a standout stampeding with energy. “Don’t Worry About Nothing” riots with the energy of an Oi! anthem with a punk riff that skanks with a reggae down stroke as both singers hammer the chorus “Don’t … Don’t … Don’t…Worry About Nothing!” with a vocal inflection that mimes a charging fist in the air fluidly transitioning at the 1:22 mark to a revised version of “Maggots”. A surf punk assault that made its first appearance on Skum City’s 2012 release “Don’t Forget My Balls”. This new take gives the song its justice with a great energy as drummer Gigi Smalls delivers catchy minimalist power house beats, she splices her own vibe to the “Maggots” ending with a first generational NYHC break beat creating a catchy mosh groove while guitarist Mike Moosehead pays homage to the DC hardcore guitar wizardry of Dr. Know with an early “Black Dots” feel - an electric bolt single note guitar attack that leaves you wanting more. Executed similarly on the 8th track “People You May Know” with a late 70’s metal string hopping riff that runs circles in your head until there’s a pentagram. With a healthy dose of vocals from both Christopher “Thee Wailing Siren” and bassist Xtene Skum City create an unpredictability to the songs in attitude and persona. Xtene’s vocal style and tone comes from the family tree of punk street core of Los Angeles and New York with nods to Exene Cervenka of the cowboy punk outfit X and the avant-garde urban bohemia of Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth. While in contrast, lyrists and vocalist Christopher “Thee Wailing Siren” gives us the gruff and snarl vocal approach that is a hardcore punk rock staple. For as heavy and loud the songs are it would have been more befitting to hear them through a lo-fi guttural recording to match an attitude and sound that takes us on a trip through an audio wasteland. “Rise Of The Skum” collides elements, influences and spirit like a city street in full psychotic mode - car honking, jack hammering, radio blasting, tire screeching, cursing, siren wailing - with monolith compositions of noise breaking through your window without warning or apology.
MINDFIELD S/T EP (Released September, 2019)
Eventually, I will finally get to see this band from Jacksonville, Florida that I have been hearing so much about. But until then, at least I got my hands on this brutal new EP of the same title called, “Mindfield”. The first track off this 3-song teaser, “Terminal Atonement”, is in your face from the first riff. The rest of the band release their fury shortly after. Vocalist, Nick Troupe, provides heavy growls before an abrupt ending leave you wanting more. A great way to set the tone.
“Sacrifice of The Skin” starts off with a slow, creepy guitar riff and a distorted spoken word part. This song is just loaded with insane riffs and chuggs, courtesy of Matt Tubman. The impressive guitar and vocals, again, were a perfect mix for this song as well.
Saving the best for last, “Violent Nature”, has all the chuggs we talked about earlier, a sick breakdown and a bass solo by Colby Bacon, whose brother, Trevor Bacon, also plays drums and completes this band’s rhythm section! This EP was a quick fix to an ongoing problem that I have. And that problem is not having seen this band yet. Hopefully, that problem will be solved soon, as well. They have been making a reputation for themselves in Northern Florida and this EP is a reminder of what heaviness awaits with this band.
“CANCER SUCKS. HARDCORE DOESN’T” V/A COMPILATION (Released August, 2019)
This is not only a factual statement but also the title of a new online/streaming compilation put out by Positive Militia and consists of a mix of hardcore, punk and metalcore bands. Before getting into the actual release and music let me fill you in on who Positive MIlitia are. They are a UK company from Leeds started in 2012 by Peter Beswick that has become a "clothing brand, record label, a lifestyle choice and whatever it needs to be at any given time". A definite shout out needs to be given to Peter for putting out this comp and it is noteworthy that 50% of the sales of “Cancer Sucks, Hardcore Doesn’t” goes directly to cancer research. The 12 bands that have taken part in this project come from many different locations across the globe such as Belgium, Australia, Upstate NY and Italy just to name a few. Besides the diverse geography, the bands also bring different styles of “hardcore” that fills up the almost 36 minutes of play time. The reason on my emphasis on the term hardcore remains solely up to the listener's perception of what they think hardcore should sound like. To clarify, in my opinion several of the bands and their tracks have a more definitive death metal sound while a few others are more crossover. This is not a shot at any of the bands who provided their talents to the compilation. I found many of the tracks I liked for different reasons but the three bands and their contributions that really caught my attention were: Time & Pressure – “Annihilation”, Violent By Design- “7 Trumpets”, Capital Enemy – “Bred Into Conflict” (unfortunately 2019 saw the end of this band). The bottom line is if you are a fan of heavy, underground music and believe that cancer does indeed suck, then purchasing “Cancer Sucks, Hardcore Doesn’t” is a win win situation.
SANCTION “BROKEN IN REFRACTION”
(Pure Noise Records, Released July, 2019)
Sanction is one of the most infamous Suffolk County bands of the decade! With a reputation for violent mosh pits, a scary sound and savage live shows, combined with a relentless touring schedule, Sanction seems set to be the next Long Island band that conquers the world! All they were missing was a debut full length album that solidifies their reputation and proves their staying power. The members of Sanction have been in many different types of bands on Long Island (and a few from off of Long Island) in the past decade with a palette that ranges everywhere from hardcore to metalcore to deathcore to post-hardcore to D-beat. Guitarist Lumpy even landed a stint in NYHC legends Merauder if you can believe it! I think that Sanction’s debut full length album, “Broken In Refraction”, (also their debut release on Pure Noise Records), is the sum of all these experiences.
If I could sum up this album in four words it would be dark, heavy, cold and scary. This album takes the angular, jagged grooves and earth shattering riffs that Sanction is known for and ups the scary factor on them. The album starts with “...An Empty Thought,” an ambient track with a breakdown that fades in towards the end. The song sets the stage for the album as it fades into the banger opening song, “The Final Fraction.” But the third track and second single, “Paralysis,” truly exemplifies the level of horror Sanction intends with the best moment on the album when the music dropping out, leaving a heart monitor to beep away for a few seconds before kicking in to the verses with lyrics delivering exactly what the title promises and some insanely heavy riffs backing it. “Answers From A Syringe,” “Infants In Plastic,” “Mirror Syndrome” and “Conscious In A Coma” all rank among my favorite tracks on the album with their anxiety inducing mosh riffs and horrifying lyrics. This entire album feels like it takes place in a hospital where you’re being chased by a psychopath wielding a surgical machete. And then of course there’s the heart pounding “Radial Lacerations” (possibly named after what you get from punching everyone and everything in the Sanction mosh pit), which is about as close to traditionally catchy as it gets on this record. Fittingly, the band released it as the first single, possibly because they too recognized it was the perfect single for this album.
Every track delivers intense riffs, punchy drumming and frontman David Blom’s throat shredding vocals! I suppose if I could level one criticism at the songwriting, it’s that Sanction is kind of a one trick pony. They do one thing: turn Midwest metalcore breakdowns and New Jersey mathcore riffs from the late 90’s/early 00’s into scary mosh music for hardcore kids. A lack of variety often turns people off from bands, but luckily, this pony does their one trick so damn well that it never gets old. “Broken In Refraction” clocks in at a brisk 23 minute run time and will never waste a second of it or leave you bored. In fact, they end it with a nice surprise, one of their most popular tracks (and possibly my favorite from them) “Sixhundredthirtyone” is hidden after the “Creation” interlude. The only genuine gripe I have with this album is really the production. For the most part, the production gives Sanction the dark, cold sound they aim for, but it feels like a slight downgrade from their previous effort, “The Infringement Of God’s Plan”, which seemed to have higher quality while still sounding cold and dark and scary. Particularly the snare drum sound. The snare sounds much thinner on this record and it really didn’t have to be. The snare drum sounds like a tin can hooked up to a reverb pedal and would sound more fitting on a deathcore demo from 2004. Then again, that might’ve been the point considering where some of the members got their start. Of course, lots of hardcore kids don’t care if the production sucks as long as the music rocks so maybe it won’t bother you, it’s just something I noticed. Some people might be turned off that they upped the old school deathcore influence on this record by adding a couple of riffs and breakdowns out of the “Despised Icon” playbook and one or two blast beats, but it doesn’t bother me at all. If anything, it makes the record sound darker, heavier and scarier! I’m not super elitist about genres, I love heavy shit! And besides, Sanction is a band by hardcore kids, for hardcore kids at the end of the day and to me, having that heart is more important. A band with the hardcore mentality that doesn’t sound like a hardcore band is more hardcore than a band that recycles old Madball and Bulldoze riffs and parrots old cliches about being betrayed but doesn’t understand what hardcore’s all about or where it came from or why bands like Madball and Bulldoze even formed.
Overall, Sanction continues their winning streak and pulls through with one of the scariest albums of the year! Ranking up there with Sworn Enemy and All Out War in terms of provoking mosh pit savagery! If you wanna hear music that sets a nice mood of utter terror, this is the must listen album of 2019 for you! This album is easily my personal favorite full length to come out of Long Island this year! Hard recommendation for fans of gnarly breakdowns, skronky Deadguy riffs, dark lyrics and dangerous mosh pits!
64 "SEVEN INCH EP"
(Building 93 Records, Released September 2019)
Long Island's 64 have members from some really recognizable hardcore bands. With Kill Your Idols, In Your Face, Madball and Mind Over Matter headlining the "bands we've been in before" tag it is hard not to take notice. After hearing these tracks inside out for a few months now it still kind of bugs me out that 64's sound is unique and has little to no connection to the sounds of the previously mentioned bands. The bottom line here is this is a clean slate type of deal and if you get caught up with the resumes you are going to be in for a bit of a surprise.
"I Wanna Float" opens up this 3 song 8 plus minute effort and immediately jumps into a melodic groove which is something 64 seems to have no problem duplicating throughout this short debut. The lyrics of "I wanna float through this life all the way" match the easy going vibe of the song with smooth and very clear vocals from Marc Adams who used to be the frontman of In Your Face who were a NYC/Long Island band that flew under most people's radar's back in the late 80's.
"Dead Ass Serious" starts off with more of a Tuesday night at the coffee house type of vibe with over a minute plus of acoustic guitar work overlapped by Mr Adams singing "when you hit a certain age your supposed to act a certain way, when you act a certain way you start to feel the rage, and you start seeing yourself like a fox inside a cage" before the crunch of the guitars take over at the 1:12 mark. The acoustic intro to this track dragged for me the first bunch of listens through this but since then it has grown to probably be my favorite track. Once I started paying closer attention to the lyrics of this song things started to click for me as this old "hardcore kid" is still very much in tune with his 21 year old self. I think the quasi "Young until I die" message here will speak to certain age groups as it did to me. The blend of melodic punk coupled with the crunch that 64 can bring hits hard on this one in an almost perfect chocolate meets peanut butter type of way. The short acoustic outro used at the end of this song brings everything full circle as well. Great track.
"This Is Fucking Magic" is the most thrashy and upbeat of the 3 songs with a breakdown thrown in just past the 2 minute mark showing that 64 can also be unpredictable as far as how they are going to come at us. The base of what they are doing lies in the melodic punk side of things kind of in a Ramones type of way but "Magic" brings more grit than the previous two tracks and adds a nice wrinkle to the overall feel. This track delivers more mature life perspectives from Adam's who seems to have his head and heart in the right places.
Before hitting the play button on any of these songs I was hoping that 64 would be some kind of blend of their previous bands but in hindsight I am just glad that 64 is who they are as this band brings a brand new, just taken out of the box feel. Cover artwork by Ernie Parada of Token Entry fame adds a bit of mystery as to its meaning too. A nice little EP here folks.
HANGMAN “ONE BY ONE”
(Flatspot Records, Release Date September 20, 2019)
Hangman is a five piece hardcore band from Long Island, New York and offers us their first full length album out on September 20th on Flatspot Records. The band formed five years ago and have been touring non-stop, playing with the likes of Death Threat, No Warning and Backtrack. The band combines hardcore with crunchy metal riffs to give us a record that will fit nicely in any hardcore fan’s collection. There are no weak or bad songs on this record. From start to end you are fully charged up by the music and the band’s intensity. The record is infused with so many great guitar riffs and wrathful vocals that you will have a hard time staying in your seat when listening to this record. Picking a few favorite tracks off of this was a difficult endeavor because I like every song. The band has created their own unique sound, taking notes from the old guard of NYHC bands and forming a fresh slab of hardcore madness.
The album’s opener, “One Mistake” sets the tone for what Hangman is all about. The slow moshable intro winds you up and gets the blood pumping before vocalist Dan Mulligan growls out the first words. You can feel yourself wanting to grab a group of friends and start a circle pit. Dan’s vocals are reminiscent of early Jamey Jasta and enhance the sound the band is going for. “One by One”, the title track, is a fast hardcore anthem with guest vocals by Aaron Butkus of Death Threat. This song is a testament to the band’s commitment to carve out their place in the hardcore scene and let us know they plan to become a fixture in the scene. “Intro” is a short moshing instrumental similar to S.O.D.’s, “March of the S.O.D.” and I found myself playing this track over and over. It is now the first track on my workout playlist to get me pumped up. Hangman is a band who deserves to be taken seriously. One listen to this record and you too will be convinced as I am that they offer a true sounding hardcore record that anyone would be proud to add to their collection. I only wish they would release it in CD format. Buy this record when it comes out on September 20th and spread the word that Hangman are the future of hardcore music and a force to be reckoned with.
CHAINS OF MISERY “DEMO 2019” (Released August 2019)
We've all heard of the expression "misery loves company" and it's often used to describe someone or a situation that is negative. Although this may be true it is not necessarily a bad thing. We've become fans of many hardcore bands and united as a family based on lyrics that we can all relate to. Unfortunately many of us can relate to band's singing about inner pain, life's struggles and anger. Continuing this trend is New York's Chains Of Misery who have just put out their debut demo which they simply called “Demo 2019”. Consisting of 4 tracks titled: “Façade”, “Demons Of The Past”; “Nothing Is Good Enough” and “Indifference” it's safe to assume that you will not be hearing about "sunshine, rainbows and lollipops” but you will hear 13 minutes of what draws so many to hardcore. The music is angry, aggressive and heavy with lyrics that are emotionally charged. Chains Of Misery's formula is a beat down style which reminds me of such bands as Neglect, Bulldoze and Setback. The band consists of Rance- vocals, Justin-guitar, Dan-guitar, Doug-drums and Ed-bass. A side note here is that the: bass on this recording was played by Jast Collum who also happens to have recorded the demo at his Freedom Soundworks Studio. I love the feeling I get from each track so I cannot chose a favorite however I do have one criticism and that is I feel like I've been teased because of how short this is. I can equate it to having a great meal and then after a few bites the plate is taken from me. I hope this demo is just the beginning because this band impresses me and as a new fan I want to see them grow. I admit that most of my favorite hardcore bands are older ones but there are great ones who have come out over the recent years. I, along with so many are constantly trying to convince those that believe hardcore is either dead or passed its "prime" that it is still alive. And for those who are just getting into hardcore it's great to inform them which newer bands to listen to. Well Chains of Misery are now proudly on my list of top bands to preach about. Give “Demo 2019” a listen to and be thankful that bands like this are around making sure the torch stays lit for our scene.
HAVE HEART JULY 2019 REUNION SHOWS (JULY 5th & 6th) WORCESTER, MA
WORDS BY: RILEY HOGAN, PHOTOS BY: DANIELLE DOMBROWSKI, DAN GONYEA & TODD POLLOCK
When people think of the 4th of July, they think of America! They think of barbecues, patriotism, beer, fireworks, sticking it to the British, and other grand old American traditions. I went with some friends on a road trip to Massachusetts, where the revolution began! What a perfect place to go on the grand ol’ US of A’s birthday! Sight-seeing, beer drinking, fireworks; so much history to see... Yeah, I didn’t do any of that. I went on a 4 hour road trip with my friends to see a straight edge hardcore band at a venue too big for a hardcore show (although we did drop by Boston Harbor for a little while to see if we could have a little tea party).
I woke up early on July 4th and packed up to go up to Worcester, MA. The trip went smoothly, only about 3 1/2 hours. Me and my friends (Both named Ben) schlepped up there blasting our favorite hardcore, punk rock and death metal jams. The excitement was building! As we got some burgers (I love my veggie burgers) and settled into the hotel room for the night (our hotel was a 10 minute walk from The Palladium where the show was held), we couldn’t wait to wake up to go to the show tomorrow! We were especially anxious because we’re all insomniac New Yorkers and everything in Worcester closes at 8pm so we had nothing else occupying us.
I’m new to show reviews, so I’m not 100% sure how to write this, to be honest. I’ve read a few to prepare for this and I feel like most go in chronological order of the sets. Forgive me if this method is more all over the place, but I’m not gonna do that. I’m gonna jump around a bit and hit the points I wanna hit instead just because there’s so much to talk about and if I just tell it like a story, we’re gonna have a whole novel.
The Palladium is a decent venue. It looks nice. I’m usually not into larger venues and larger shows myself. I only really go if I’m really stoked on the music itself and I have the money to spend. I do like my local shows at small venues like Amityville Music Hall or Shakers Pub (back home on Long Island) better. But The Palladium was nice, security didn’t give people a hard time, I’d say The Paramount is Long Island’s equivalent of a venue like this, but I liked The Palladium more because it doesn’t have barriers. I think if had to complain about one thing, it would be the sound. As an audio engineering student, I pay a lot of attention to the venue’s sound. The sound mix was kind of messy. The drums weren’t loud enough, the snare sound was really bad, the guitars drowned out everything else. I remarked to one of my friends at the show that it made every band sound like a 90’s hardcore demo. There was a lot of reverb, just from the size of the venue and the way it was built, and it felt like the mixing engineer didn’t quite account for it. The sound was significantly better on the second day. Since it was outside, my complaints about the overabundance of reverb were fixed as the place wasn’t surrounded by walls for the sound to bounce off of (the buildings were far enough apart that they didn’t cause issues). The mix was way more balanced this time, it was really on point and everything sounded great.
JULY 5, 2019 @ THE PALADIUM (INDOORS). PHOTO BY: TODD POLLOCK
I do have something to say about the line-up before we talk about how good the bands played. The first night saw ANXIOUS, ONE STEP CLOSER, BROTHER and ABUSE OF POWER opening while the Saturday matinee had AMMUNATION, VEIN, SHIPWRECK A.D. and DOWN TO NOTHING. I thought that it was odd that the first day was a Triple B Records fest. Brother was the only band not signed to that label that day. It’s not a dig at the label at all, the reason it was odd was that Have Heart only put out one EP on Triple B and it wasn’t even originally issued through them, it was a reissue of the “What Counts” EP, which originally came out on Think Fast! Records. Bridge Nine put out most of Have Heart’s discography. Not that I think it’s one specific label that should get to dictate the line-up or anything. My issue is that Have Heart made a big deal out of what the show meant to them, so I wanted to know what the bands meant to them too. Brother and most of the day 2 bands were from Massachusetts, representing the next generation of MAHC (Ammunation, Brother, Vein) or an older generation (Shipwreck A.D.). Down To Nothing played because DTN is one of the most badass straight edge bands ever! Their name on any lineup justifies itself. Most of the day 1 bands, I just shrugged and was like “because Patrick Flynn likes indie rock?”
Let’s get to the bands! It’s hard to pick the best band that played cause there were so many good bands! But, my favorite opening act from day 1 is obvious: BROTHER! They were the only band on day 1 I’d never heard of. I didn’t look into the music prior because for me, a good live show is what sells good hardcore bands. There’s plenty of times I listened to the demo and thought the band wasn’t very good but my opinion did a 180 when I saw them live. Brother was from Have Heart’s hometown of New Bedford so there must’ve been some real pressure to make this one for the books. It was a passing of the torch of sorts. Brother killed it on stage! They brought that intense energy that you get from a good powerviolence band! They got the pit going side to side non-stop during their set. Their presence on stage commanded immediate respect, and it was well deserved! They also covered “Something Must Be Done” by Antidote, and anyone who knows me can tell you how much I love “Thou Shalt Not Kill”. They nailed that cover! Probably the best part was that the band talked about political causes during their set. They were the only band that did. The other bands were all talking about “It’s so cool to be playing here with Have Heart!” and there’s nothing wrong with that I guess, but Brother’s dialogue was very much in the spirit of what Have Heart was doing and I had more appreciation for that. I’m sure there are some people out there who don’t wanna hear it cause they wanna get drunk and party and mosh and all that but hardcore has political roots and it was nice to have a band acknowledge that for once. Brother just blew my mind on multiple levels and I felt compelled to download their music when I got back to the hotel room.
ABUSE OF POWER from Atlanta, GA was probably my next favorite from that night. They played a nice mix of their older material and songs from their new album. They played all the songs I wanted to hear from them and I had a good time with their set. They kept a good energy going throughout.
ANXIOUS from Connecticut also was solid. I feel like no one knew what to do during their set cause they were more melodic and had more of an emo aesthetic than the other bands, (y’know, the type of emo that’s okay for hardcore kids to listen to?). But those kids put their best foot forward and tried to impress the crowd. I felt bad for them that they got stuck being the opening band over a hardcore band that would’ve hyped up the crowd for them. But they had fans, it’s not like the crowd was dead.
My least favorite band that night was easily ONE STEP CLOSER from Wilkes-Barre, PA. Going into their set, I didn’t like their music. I thought they were another generic post-hardcore revivalist band that brought nothing new to the table. Wilkes-Barre has produced a lot of my favorite hardcore bands (Dead End Path anyone?), so maybe their live show would explain to me why they were so popular. I’ll give them some credit, they tried their best to bring some on-stage energy and a lot of people were into it. But I wasn’t. Their playing sounded kind of sloppy to me, even getting past the terrible sound. Normally I expect a bit of sloppiness from a punk band, but this was more than I’m usually willing to cut slack for. Their set just bored me a lot. The thing that got my attention was that they covered “Burning Fight” by Inside Out. Inside Out is one of my favorite hardcore bands of all time so usually a band can get my attention by covering them. And they did an okay job. Call this the first negative review I’ve put on this site but that set is gonna be a no from me chief.
HAVE HEART PERFORMING ON JULY 5TH. PHOTO BY: DAN GONYEA
HAVE HEART went on after Abuse Of Power and they were crazy! The venue was packed so tight that I almost got crushed and suffocated from the stampede of people running towards the stage the moment the snare from “The Machinist” started and the raining hardcore kids diving off the stage. I had to step out of the pit and breathe. Even some of my tough guy beatdown buddies from New York had to leave the pit a few songs in because they were being starved of oxygen. Have Heart themselves put on a fun show. They opened with someone explaining what the purpose of the show was: To raise money for a women’s shelter in New Bedford (owned by Patrick Flynn’s mother). A very good cause if you ask me. Domestic violence and sexual violence are issues that are still very swept under the rug in our country and seeing Have Heart do something about it was very validating. Especially since sexual violence has been a big problem in the hardcore scene the past few years. It was really cool that they made a big statement against it. They also talked a lot about the recent migrant crisis a lot. They had a sign on stage that said that “Separating Migrant Children From Their Parents Is A Human Rights Violation.” As a child of an immigrant family, I was especially validated by this. There’s a lot of hardcore bands who write songs spewing the same ignorant cliches about “stop stealing my job” and what not so hearing one of my favorite bands tell people like that off was awesome. And a lot of you might be wondering why I’m talking about this. Well, this sign on the stage represented everything I love about Have Heart. They were out to piss off all the dude bros in hardcore that completely miss the point of why people literally dedicate their lives to this music and this scene while also not caving into the same cliches of a band turning into a post-hardcore band that hates moshing and doesn’t like hardcore anymore and all that jazz. Have Heart embodies what straight edge hardcore should be! Making an actual positive change in the world regardless of what people thought about them! They played most of the hits in their set. I heard all of my favorite songs by them except for one: “What Counts”. That’s my favorite Have Heart song and I was shocked they didn’t play it! I figured “well, maybe tomorrow.” Either way, Have Heart made it rain hardcore kids and reminded everyone why they were such legends 10 years later.
I’m gonna be upfront, I liked the second day better. I was really stoked that I caught Have Heart sound checking with “Watch Me Sink” while I was out record shopping (I got Dropdead by Siege and In/Casino/Out by At The Drive In and had a nice conversation with the owner of Joe’s Albums and Brad from Roseblood). I was excited! I didn’t anticipate, however, that the line to get in for ticket holders would be four blocks long! That was the craziest thing I’d ever seen! According to guitarist Kei Yasui, 8,560 people went to the second day. I believe it! That was the biggest hardcore show I’ve ever seen! It was bigger than This Is Hardcore Fest, one of the largest hardcore festivals in the country, when I went last year! Bear in mind that Have Heart’s farewell show in 2009 brought in 2,000 people according to Bridge Nine Records and that’s huge for a hardcore band! 8,500 plus in a parking lot is impressive! I don’t think even Hatebreed pulls numbers like that!
I was definitely more stoked on the lineup for day 2 as well. My buddy Keith’s band AMMUNATION opened up the show! Unfortunately, I was stuck on line while they played, but they played so loud that I could hear their set from the line. When I told him that, it seemed to fill him with pride. They knew that they needed to bring that energy today more than any other day and they pulled through. Anxious and One Step Closer did surprise sets after. They were okay. It didn’t do much for me but it wasn’t the worst idea in the world. I was just glad that it bought time for me to get in and not miss Vein.
Then the next three bands hit: VEIN, SHIPWRECK A.D. and DOWN TO NOTHING! Those three bands got the pit going hard! Vein played a great set that didn’t let up in energy throughout! My one gripe would have to be that I wish that they played a few cuts off of “Terror’s Realm” instead of “Doomtech.” Personally I find the longer songs from the B Side of Errorzone a little bit boring, but that’s just my personal preference. It’s very spacey and Deftones-esque nu metal inspired and I’m not into that kinda thing. The crowd was really into it and I think that’s what really mattered for them. They played most of my favorite cuts from “Errorzone” and their split with .Gif From God so I walked away pretty satisfied. Shipwreck A.D. brought that heavy Boston hardcore sound with riffs for days. I hadn’t seen them before and they killed it! But Down To Nothing was a force to be reckoned with! DTN had the craziest pit of any of the bands! They outdid the infamous Vein’s pit! DTN is a commanding presence on stage and just the way they walk out fills you with an intense wave of excitement!
These four bands, AmmuNation, Vein, Shipwreck A.D. and Down To Nothing made more sense as a lineup for Have Heart. It was them tipping their hats to both past and present generations of Massachusetts hardcore and, in Down To Nothing’s case, straight edge, reuniting with bands that were old scene buddies and bringing on the new breed hardcore simultaneously. I think it worked even better, I think, outside where, even though there were more people, there was much more room to breathe. It felt more open and free like a show like this should be.
HAVE HEART PERFORMING ON JULY 6TH. PHOTO BY: DANIELLE DOMBROWSKI
HAVE HEART went on last of course. They played the same set but in a different order, with only one addition: They covered “Salad Days” by Minor Threat! Minor Threat is a hardcore band that I think the entire scene can agree is truly timeless and classic. Minor Threat covers are a great way to get the crowd going. I was extra stoked because “Salad Days” is one of my favorite Minor Threat songs! Have Heart did a pretty good job with it I thought! Have Heart sounded better outside, partially because of the sound being better and partially because the open air with the abundance of buildings for the sound to bounce off of had far less reverb compared to an enclosed space like the indoor venue on the previous night. Have Heart played great and reinforced everything I loved about them. There was more room to breathe and, more importantly, room to mosh and, as such, I didn’t get crowd crushed again! The energy was just right! Even the security guards loosened up and started tossing free water bottles at the audience. But I think my favorite part is when Patrick explained the meaning of their song “The Lion and The Lamb.” The song is him venting his frustrations with hardcore, that lots of people talk a big game about opposing the system, they do a lotta shit-talkin’ online, but many are hesitant to take the steps and do something meaningful. He grabbed the sign that said “Separating Migrant Children From Their Parents Is A Human Rights Violation” and yelled “You wanna change the world?! Then figure out how to fix THIS! PLEASE! GOD! Cause I don’t know how! All I know is that this makes me SICK!” His words there really struck a chord with me. I already agreed with him on the issue at hand, that’s not really what got me. What got me was his confusion and inability to fix this sickening problem on his own. I’ve been in so many situations where something was happening that I knew in my heart was wrong but I had no idea how to even begin to fix the problem. It was a feeling all too familiar and a feeling that I shared with him that day. It’s okay to not have all the answers. It’s not okay to not try to find them. I think that’s the most important lesson to be learned here.
Overall, Have Heart was an emotional rollercoaster of a weekend. The shows were a life affirming experience for me in many ways. It gave me a lot to think about, and that’s why I love this band so much! The shows themselves were an experience I wouldn’t trade. Unfortunately, there were a few bands that failed to impress me, and the sound on the first night was terrible, not to mention the uncomfortable crowdedness and being a little out of my element (though that usually comes with being in a different city, I guess that’s the point). Outside of a few minor issues, I had a great time overall and the trip was well worth it! Me and my friends had a lot to reflect on throughout the next 5 hours while we drove back through the NY metropolitan area and got stuck in Bronx traffic.
Y.D. SICK TIMES, NECROTIC SOCIETY, THE MINUTES
SPLIT 12” (Released July, 2019)
Four bands, old school punk hardcore split, all things fast: Let's go! (Per my discretion, I am intentionally reviewing these bands out of order).
I am a man of a certain age to remember making third, fourth and fifth generation copies of cassettes. In the late 70's, we would rest one Radio Shack tape player on top of another, pointing the speaker near the microphone. Press play on one machine, record on the other, then close the bedroom door so that there would be minimal outside noise. Inevitably, the recording would be, not so great. The source material is there, the quality isn't.
Y.D. kicks off this four-way split with a raucous barrage of fast paced punk hardcore. Most songs clock in just over one minute, with the longest piece a whopping 2:28. The guitars and drums work well together, pretty much locked in at one speed throughout their contribution. "Not My Fault/Your Fault" is a stand out song where the singer taps into his own version of Darby Crash. Y.D has some similarities to the Germs, where the songs are sloppy, but tight in the same way. Speed is the main theme for their songs, most often reminding me of bands like Ill Repute, Urban Waste and in some spots Negative Approach.
NECROTIC SOCIETY is of the same cloth. Fast paced, and primitive (in a good way). The guitar and vocals are similar to Ripcord, but the tempo might be as consistently fast. Necrotic Society still has flashes of West Coast Nardcore bands, like the aforementioned Ill Repute, and Dr. Know. There is a tinge of RKL thrown in with their music, and some guitar work, just not as melodic.
But why the opening paragraph of cassette culture nostalgia? Both Y.D. and Necrotic Society's songs have a low production quality to their songs, which instantly reminded me of collecting local demo tapes that were all recorded on boom boxes because of necessity. I would like to think that technology has advanced enough where recordings can be made relatively well on a small amount of money. Hell, some bands record straight to their phones with surprising results. The downfall of Y.D. and Necrotic Society is the quality of the recording is less than stellar. Early hardcore records had a charm because of their low quality. Perhaps this is the vibe that both bands wanted. The quality of the songs are there. Both bands are probably great live. I just wish that the quality was a bit better.
SICK TIMES bring a more traditional NY styled brand to this split Their opening song "Get Me Out" has a great early 80's, Cause For Alarm ring. "Pull The Plug" has a great sing along quality that keeps up with their Cause for Alarm and Urban Waste vibe. While not an imitation of Warzone, their final song "Two Words/One Finger" reminds me of "Fuck Your Attitude" from Warzone. Sick Times show some quality effort here, and their influences show well on these three songs.
Some bands jump off the page (or vinyl) right away. The sum of the parts hit the listeners upon the first drop of the needle. THE MINUTES have that vibe. The opening track of "Pendejo" and the second song of "Take The Money" are great openers, with an intensity of Los Crudos and Limp Wrist. Those influences stand out because of the vocals having the same effect of Martin Sorrondeguy. Throughout the five songs from The Minutes, I was completely impressed by the musicianship and craftsmanship of the songs.
Overall this split has some great bands, and an outstanding feel of early 80's releases. From the pit inspired, black and white cover to the speed and aggressiveness of the bands, this is a great throw back, inspired release. I would rather have each band provide an equal number of songs, just to balance out the listening, but the enjoyment level of the split is still there.
NOXIOUS PROFIT “A1-A HOLES” EP (Released July, 2019)
Just a few months ago, I was at a festival show down in Vero Beach, FL. I caught this cool new hardcore band with a female vocalist that ripped up the stage and blew the early crowd away. I had never heard of them before, as I’m quite familiar with the bands in this area. Fast forward a few months later, and this band has quickly become a big frigging deal around the Central Florida hardcore scene. Now, aside from already having a tour of the Northeast booked and set to go they have just released a new three song EP called “A1A-Holes”, which is what brings me to my laptop this evening.
Noxious Profit from Melbourne, FL is who I’m talking about, and they are unleashing their sound, full force. A quick guitar solo riff from Carlos Santana (of Noxious Profit, not the “Black Magic Woman” guy), opens the record before the music quickly joins in, on the first track, “Instruments Of War”. Vocalist, Nicole Bowers shows off her gritty vocals with each chorus. “Instruments of war… dead bodies, dead bodies, dead bodies!” rings through your ears, while the fast, raw, yet slightly melodic music crushes behind it. The second track, “Support The Scene”, is another solid one as well. Starting off slow and erupting into a tremendous circle-pit instigator, this song will impress. It was very impressive to hear Nicole hold a scream throughout the entire choruses of the song. Solid drumming by Bob Pennone was also notable throughout this track as well as the rest of this short EP.
They close things out with the title track, “A1A-Holes”. It was very cool to finally see a local hardcore band address the current water crisis in Florida. In a nutshell, “Big Sugar” has a system that diverts all the excess water that floods the sugar fields into the rivers that lead into the ocean causing red tide (look it up!) and other hazards to our waterways and oceans. It has been a consistent, growing problem for years and is finally at an alarming level. So, aside from Colin Harper on second guitar and Brendan Harley on bass holding down the rhythm section, these guys are getting political on a mofo, as well! This was a great effort and you should check them out next time they come around your way. Mad props to this band!
ONLY ATTITUDE COUNTS “ALMOST THE END” CD
(WTF! Records, Released August, 2019)
My initial impression of Only Attitude Counts was shaped by the undeniable energy of the "Pick Your Side" intro, 6 songs into their new full length effort, "Almost the End." Somehow I had started this new 16 song effort midway through, kind of like the first time I unwittingly dropped the needle on side B first on my purple LP copy of Stigmata – “Do Unto Others”. While Only Attitude Counts have been referred to as the "European Madball", due to their overall style and longevity, their sound may also appeal to fans of the purple LP in question.
As I’ve never seen Only Attitude Counts in the flesh, I am speculating based on this new full length that if encountered live, I’d be compelled to move closer to the stage by their energy and live show. While this new effort doesn’t break ground stylistically, it’s an enjoyable mix of side to side grooves and solid songwriting, with some of the best tracks clustered toward the end. High points include “The Sickness Of Our Times” and “Weather The Storm”, which has a bit of a No Redeeming Social Value style breakdown. And “Worship The Truth” is one of the best constructed songs on the album, and functionally the closer, as final track “Resilience” clocks in under a minute (and was written on the spot in the studio per the OAC interview with Old Skull Zine.)
Only Attitude Counts have been doing their thing since 1993 and have left a truly global footprint, releasing a split with Indonesian band West Side Hoodz a few years back and recruiting Indonesian artist Tommy Domeh for the cover art on “Almost The End”. While this new effort primarily channels old school sounds, the themes and reach are fresh for 2019. For fans of Agnostic Front, Where Fear and Weapons Meet, Faction Zero, and “Do Unto Others” era Stigmata. Check out the video for "No Justice No Peace" off this new album by clicking HERE.
MINUS YOUTH “NO GENERATION”
(Release Date October 11, 2019)
Minus Youth is a five piece hardcore outfit who hail from Stuttgart, Germany. The band formed in 2016 out of the ashes of four other bands and has already shared the stage with the likes of Blacklisted, Cro-Mags and Deez Nuts. This is the band’s first full length release and is set for release this October. This nine track outing is available on album as well as in download form. The band plans to do a small tour at the end of October to promote their record. Now, on with the review.
I love this record! From the opening track until the last song, I can’t say anything bad about it. There is not a weak track on this record. The band is predominantly hardcore but incorporates some funky grooves, some psychedelic sounds and even a slow number to give us a diversified slab of what this group has to offer. Minus Youth state “not being a part of the generation that others falsely assign you to” and I couldn’t agree more. This is old school hardcore and metal with the band’s own twist on the music. The first thing I picked up on when listening to it was this record has a strong 90’s hardcore feel to it. I could hear the influences of Madball, Sworn Enemy, Integrity and Sick of It All in the music and vocals. If I didn’t know any better, I’d of thought this band hailed from New York.
“No Generation”, the title track, kicks this record off at full speed and sets the pace for the remainder of the album. The Lou Koller vocal style gives you the impression you are listening to a new NYHC band. This strong opener hooks you in and takes you for an intense ride. “Blue Light” follows the title track and is another testament to the band’s strong New York hardcore sound. It starts fast and then breaks into a sludgy metal groove which displays their diversity. Standouts on this endeavor are “Homeaway”, which is my personal favorite and “Free Again”. “Homeaway” combines hardcore with metal and has forceful vocals which are all over the map. The eerie ending closes this song off perfectly. “Free Again” is a raging piece of angst with great metal guitar riffs which will have you angry at the world for the rest of the day.
Minus Youth have hit the mark when it comes to edgy hardcore/metal music. The band isn’t afraid to break the rules by giving a fresh spin on things by incorporating non-traditional styles into their music and creating their own unique sound. I see this band having a long shelf life. Buy this one!
INHERENCE “THE ENTRAILS OF HUMAN DESIRE” EP (1054 Records, Released July, 2019)
While hardcore in Brazil has never been a massive proposition, there have still been a number of bands who have been very influential such as Ratos De Porao and Garotos Podres and even though they are a metal band, Sepultura always had a big hardcore influence (they even covered Cro-Mags songs and took Strife out on tour) so hardcore and Brazil have always had a strong and tight relationship. With their mixture of riff laden hardcore and a more death metal style mixed in, Sao Paulo’s Inherence certainly follow in that strong musical lineage.
My take on the Brazil heavy music scene (all the way from over here in the UK) is that things have been bubbling under for a while now with things getting stronger and stronger with bands like Questions making their mark as well as Marca De Honra and the brilliantly named Fucking Violence. Inherence are more than likely going to be the next ones to make their impact felt. The band follows up their debut album “Dogma” with their latest EP, “The Entrails Of Human Desire” and sees the band making leaps and bounds when it comes to their songs and sound. The four tracks on this EP sound slicker than those on their debut but they thankfully do not lose any of the heaviness as Inherence sounds more pissed off than ever.
“God Of Nothing” starts the brutality off with a killer groove and morphs into an unholy mix of Terror and Morbid Angel as the track progresses. It is swiftly followed by “Phantom Eye Syndrome” which is a non-stop whirlwind of riffs and formidable vocals. The pummeling “Vile But Devine” combines hardcore energy with a more technical death metal style complete with blastbeats and discordant bass to create a vicious noise before “Chapter Of Human Carnage” finishes “The Entrails Of Human Desire” on a high with a straight ahead hardcore stomp complete with some awesome deathly growls. With this EP, Inherence have produced a statement of intent and their next full length will undoubtedly see their hardcore and death metal hybrid crushing heads just as “The Entrails Of Human Desire” has done.