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In Effect Hardcore has always been a DIY operation run by a small group of friends who are passionate about the underground hardcore punk scene. We strive to get as many reviews on to the site as we can while balancing the other sections to put out regular updates. Over the past year the amount of submissions for review has become very hard to keep up with. This “REVIEWS” section of In Effect Hardcore will continue to have reviews posted like we always have but we will now also be including a “Quick Hits” style profile on certain releases that are sent in for review to try and maximize exposure for more bands. We apologize to the bands and labels who have sent in submissions in the past and were not responded to. With that said to submit a new release digitally (put out within the last 6 months) or to join the In Effect hardcore staff of writers please get in touch via email: InEffectHC@aol.com
WISDOM IN CHAINS
“NOTHING IN NATURE RESPECTS WEAKNESS”
(Fast Break! Records, Release Date July 20, 2018)
Lightning in a bottle is the only way I can describe whatever the creative process is behind each Wisdom in Chains release. I really wanted to stay away from terms like “PAHC Kings” which have become almost cliché when talking about this band, yet here we are. It's rarely seen in any genre where one artist or band is able to come through with multiple albums in a row that can hold up to each other on both a clinical and creative scale. With the release of “Nothing In Nature Respects Weakness”, it seems Wisdom in Chains have done just that.
After the release of “The God Rhythm”, I was sure that we had seen the swan song from PA's favorite sons. I'm happy to report that I was wrong. “Nothing in Nature...” falls into step with their previous works while staying in its own lane musically. With rock-type power ballad intros on several songs and Mad Joe's distinct vocals, this album is rife with that awesome breakfast blend of intellectual, dynamic, and authentic hardcore that has earned Wisdom in Chains much of their reputation. Before we even heard a title for the new record, there was a sense that it would be another solid release from WIC. The release of the “Family Biz” 2 song split with Madball housed the track “Someday”, a catchy and thought provoking single; and a window to the direction Wisdom was headed with the highly anticipated future release. It was exactly the right song to dangle to the masses as a first taste, as it touches on self-reflection, wonder, and questing for answers - all strong themes throughout the rest of this record.
With 2015's “The God Rhythm”, Wisdom in Chains really dove into the heavily cerebral topics of life and death, religion, and human purpose - not exactly the lowest hanging fruit in terms of hardcore music. “Nothing In Nature...” follows this up with a renewed urgency. There is no denying the level of honesty in the song writing on this album. Where the current state of hardcore seems reactive to the social/political climate in our society today, Wisdom in Chains doesn't shy away from attacking the deeper issues which bind us all at the root. When you have a hardcore vocalist openly bargaining with God on one track, and asking quite literally “what happened to my wonderment?” a few tracks later, you can be certain that the message or emotion is raw and real. Where a lot of bands are careful to curate and posture, WIC refines and exposes; offering a real look into the people behind the music, not just another beatdown riff or 2 step.
Something that really struck me about this release is that it stands up as much on its own as it does in its place within the library of their work as a whole. The pacing on this record is just right and I would love to know what the process behind ordering the songs was. The music ebbs and flows as the record progresses; taking a few dips into deeper waters, and pulling the listener around some unexpected bends. Specifically track 8, titled “Slow Drown” - starting with a slow metal-type intro, this song rockets to full throttle in no time. With some guest vocals from Davin Bernard of Philly's Eaten Alive, this track seems to hit the refresh button on the album just over halfway through. From front to back we've got ourselves another solid Wisdom in Chains release kiddos, so grab a copy from Fast Break! Records, find a back road, roll the windows down and get to it!
FENCE CUTTER "SUMMER '18"
(Released July, 2018, Pyschotic Break Records)
Perth Amboy NJ's Fence Cutter deliver a 2 song "Summer 18" promo with their songs "Trackside" followed up by "No Room For Peace" that clock in just short of 4 minutes. Granted there is not a lot to go on here with a lack of length but damn these Fence Cutter dudes are really bringing it with a throwback NYHC vibe that falls into the Outburst/Killing Time category but not necessarily sounding like either of those great bands. The opener sports a nice 40 or so second lead in before frontman "J Money" kicks in with his vocals which are clear/hard and nearly perfect for the mosh inducing beats his bandmates are backing him with. "No Room For Peace" is more of a bouncy/choppy track laced with even more of a NYHC influence than the opener. Imagining people beating the ever living shit out of one another to this song is not hard to do. Hit that play button and try it for yourself... I can sit here and wait if you want. The beat here is addictive and has the head nodding along. Now before we go I wanted to check back to their previous work from last year to see how much (if any) progress has been made overall and I can report back to you that some drastic improvement has been made. Now whether it was a deal with the devil or just plain old hard work it is clear that Fence Cutter has arrived and are ready to do some damage to the hardcore scene. I won’t jump too far ahead though and anoint thee as the next kings of hardcore but.... this is a really solid foundation to build off of. The hard part lies with stringing tracks and releases together and just moving forward. Does Fence Cutter have it in them? Only time will tell but we here at In Effect are definitely pulling for them. Cover art looks like this is out there in cassette form but no mention of it on their Bandcamp page.
DEVIATED STATE "NO WAY OUT" (Released July 2018)
Deviated State popped up on our website back in 2015 as part of a Southern California scene report. Their 2014 "No Control" release was about a year old at the time and that was their last release until this here new jam. "No Way Out" is 12 songs in 14 minutes, fast hardcore style, lotsa breakdowns, a fuzzy bass sound and raw vocals. Reminds me a helluva lot like an old school NYHC demo from the late 80's. No thrills, not smashing down any barriers or changing the genre and definitely not saving hardcore from the evils of the universe but I like it! Unpolished and low-fi, like a wrinkled t-shirt and that is part of the allure here as it's easy to close your eyes and imagine Deviated State playing these tunes to 20 kids in someone's basement, garage, or backyard. Real deal shit from a band who may have been off the grid for a bit but are back for another swing at the fences. Can't go wrong with that "Name Your Price" option on the Bandcamp so get with it if this all sounds like your cup of tea.
THE FIGHT “THE MASTER IS CALLING” EP
(Released June, 2018)
Hailing from Long Island, New York The Fight delivers with their new EP “The Master Is Calling.” It is a very well done record from start to finish and, in my opinion, gets better with each listen. Their sound very much reminds me of early Discharge combined with the vocals of both early Madball and early Sheer Terror. It’s hardcore punk with the right amount of straight forward negativity and cynicism that is expressed best through Kyle’s grinding in your face vocals. The record opens with a sort of downward feel, that one is about to enter into a dark journey of existential angst. “The Master is Calling!” growls Kyle and off we go!
All seven songs on this EP deliver. “Nuke Long Island” has a fun bouncy feel with a great chorus, “Everyday is the fucking same. Everyday! Everyday! Everyday!” “Health Scare” comes speeding in and takes on the injustice of the system that we find ourselves in, “People are dying on the streets, system only works for the elite.” “Different Faces, Same Evil” has a slower muddier feel giving great expression to the line, “Cops, lawyers, dirty politicians, different faces, same evil!” “Generations Lost” shows the more melodic abilities of the band and “So What’s the Verdict?” closes out the record with a sluggish then fast angry feel and breakdown. All in all, this is a fun angry record and as I said earlier it gets better with each listen. Long Island has a tradition of producing solid hardcore bands. That tradition has continued with The Fight. Available to buy or stream now on Bandcamp with a 12” vinyl version coming in late August.
GOOD TOUCH s/t (Coin Toss Records, Released June, 2018)
If one was to take a skate board, a dash of DCHC, rain, some pop punk (without the suck), a sick hill, a pinch of youth-crew, coffee, some sweet carvable terrain, pizza, a pinch of NYC hardcore before it was NYHC, and a dollop of speed... of your choice (meth, adderall etc.), and a throw it all into a blender, what would one have? One incredibly chunky, yet kick-ass milkshake, that's what, you dicks. However, if you were to press that mixture onto a piece of sweet vinyl, you may approach something sounding like Good Touch.
Good Touch are a skate punk/melodic fast core band out of Seattle. They are delivering us an eight song, self-titled LP on Coin Toss Records. You can apply any of those cool skate-centric adjectives to describe this, i.e. shredding or ripping. They all fit because this shit fucking shreds so hard it rips. On the real, I wanted to blow the dust off my Zorlac and immediately break my neck, which is definitely what would happen. One song after the next hits you like an adrenaline rush for one more run....one more attempt. My favorite tune is the chameleon like "Times Past Spent", clocking in at 3:08. There is an intro, then a turbo infused jam, some drum action, a sick guitar solo....it has it all. It even culminates in a round of "whoah oh ohs". "Falling Upward" is the epic of the LP at 3:35. This one would be perfect for a long downhill run. It opens with interesting guitar work and then settles into a break neck galloping burner. Another favorite is the self-titled song from the self-titled LP (which actually opens a portal to another dimension btw....) "Good Touch" running at 2:34. This is a machine gun blast of a song that kicks off in the vein of the "Degenerated" cover by fictional band The Lone Rangers in Airheads, the movie. I just lost all of you. All six of you. Either way… it's a killer song, and to be honest, there is not one on here that I do not like. These guys are well adept at their instruments. They play at a blinding speed with precision as evident on the stop and start of "All Together"… the shortest at 1:52. Vocally they remind me a little bit of Strike Anywhere with a touch of “Blood Days” era Unity thrown in.
So, check out this slab from the good men of Good Touch. It is raging skate-core of the highest caliber. Seriously, I shut all the lights, popped on my headphones, jumped up onto my coffee table and I was once again making those wheels blaze, those trucks bark and yes indeed I was once again one of the wild riders of boards. Now go out or use the Google and buy this shit and have your own fucking fantasies you sorry lot of deplorables.
OLDE TIGERS "BUILD AN ILLUSION OF SAFETY"
(Violated Records, Released April 2018)
4 piece outfit straight outta South Central Pennsylvania who have been at it since at least 2011 when they dropped their 4 song demo. This 13 song banger is my first taste of what these olde cats are all about and after a few listens I was not considering it a banger much but for some reason felt compelled to stay with it and am damn glad I did. So yeah, it took a few runs through this bad boy to buy in but now I'm there. They really nail their own self-description by claiming "East Bay Punk meets East Coast Hardcore" which I definitely agree with as you get a street punk vibe as well as some NYHC influences melded into one with great results. Poison Idea and Cro-Mags are just two names that just pop into my head while listening although PI were just a tad north of the East Bay in CA. Tracks 1 ("Codo Yopa") and 2 ("Willful Compliance") are probably my favorite tracks but I look at this album more along the lines of one of those that you put on and play straight through to the end as it has a good flow from start to finish. The more I listen the more I like "Build An Illusion Of Safety". It is tough and grimey, with smart lyrics that tackle topics like gentrification, child welfare, politics (from neither a left or right stance) and the inevitable (for many of us) of getting older in a music scene that is a young man/womans game. Olde Tigers from York, PA... Build An Illusion Of Safety... out now, smash the shit out of that link below to give it a shot.
SLAPSHOT “MAKE AMERICA HATE AGAIN”
(Bridge Nine Records, Released June, 2018)
Boston's Slapshot return with their latest full length "Make America Hate Again", returning to the Bridge 9 Records fold. Following up their fantastic self-titled 2014 LP release on the Brass City Boss Sounds label, the band has been on a very solid streak since the addition of Craig Silverman (currently of Agnostic Front, formerly Blood For Blood and Only Living Witness) on guitar, who has been with Slapshot for nearly a decade now. There are RIFFS a plenty here and it is so great to hear some leads in hardcore songs again. Jack "Choke" Kelly is firing on all cylinders with some venomous vocals and angry, yet often very witty lyrics in standout tracks like "Trainwreck", "It's All About You", "Hypocrite" and the LP’s closing track "One Last Chance". "MAHA" is 11 tracks of 100% in your face, pissed, old school hardcore by one of the longest running and most consistent bands in the genre.
PUNK ISLAND 2018 RANDALL'S ISLAND, NEW YORK CITY. JUNE 23, 2018
In the 1979 movie "The Warriors" the Brooklyn based gang of the same name heads up to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx for a gang summit before chaos erupts. Over the past 11 years the Punk Island show/fest has been putting on punk rock summits in various park settings showcasing the diversity that lies within this unique subculture. The 2018 edition was held on June 23rd on Randall's Island which is located between the Queens and Manhattan land masses and is actually part of Manhattan. Over 70 bands were spread across 6 stage areas with things kicking off around 1130am and running through 8pm. Arriving on the island you don't get much of a punk rock vibe whatsoever as the island is made up of dozens of soccer fields, baseball fields and even has a small stadium. Not so long ago the Warped Tour would have its NYC stops here as well. In Effect popped our heads in for a few hours to check out what the 2018 version had to offer.
The first band that made an impression was the NYC based 3 piece HOPELESS OTIS who broke a guitar string midway through their first song, were a little bit on the sloppy side but I still really enjoyed what they were doing. No thrills punk rock with a pulse, a soul, they just seem to get "it". Good shit. They have a new album out on July 6th on Knuckle Down Records which I plan on checking in on when it comes out. Their singer gets extra punk points for wearing a Warzone tank top.
HEKLA were another standout as they put a lot of energy into their set and their music sounded equally as good. Their singer had what looked like a cast on her hand and apparently is their regular guitarist but she busted her hand up and could only do vocals at this show. Get well soon. Will be watching their page for new music when it comes out as well.
Towards the end of Hekla's set you could see Japan's SEPPUKU PISTOLS setting up and a large gathering in front of the stage they were about to perform in front of. Their look was totally unique to this setting as they were maybe a 15 or 20 piece unit mostly decked out in traditional "Edo period" Japanese attire with an arrangement of instruments that ranged from bamboo flutes, to bass drums each worn with a harness to a 3 string traditional Japanese instrument known as a shamisen. There was this feeling of anticipation building as the group basically stood silently in their places for a few minutes before they started to make some noise. When they started their set the initial reaction from the crowd seemed to be one of "what the fuck is this" as without guitars and bass what they were doing didn't sound or appear to be very punk rock in nature but it was still very loud... and noisey... and after a few songs it quickly sank in and the crowd responded in a big way with mayhem breaking out throughout their set. Seppuku Pistols did not shy away from mosh pit activity and in actuality pretty much incited it as their drummers were screaming their heads off and got right up in your face if you were up close. The band is currently the focus of an upcoming documentary and cameramen were right in the middle of this chaotic scene with maybe 150 or so people absolutely losing their fucking minds all around them. After talking with these guys afterwards they have been around 7 years and have no recorded albums as they feel their live performance would not translate well to a recording. Shortly after their set they were seen at the bus stop taking public transportation to Times Square in the heart of NYC where they were scheduled to perform again at 5pm. Crazy shit indeed. Check out some clips we got of them by clicking on the blue image above as well as HERE.
ENZIGURI @ PUNK ISLAND 2018
After a brief intermission ENZIGURI had the task of following up Seppuku Pistols and they handled it like long time Punk Island pros. Their lead singer came out with a plastic milk crate to stand on and move around as he chose so he could be seen by the people up front and also by the people in the back. Enziguri is a punk/NYHC hybrid of sorts with some really catchy tunes and although their last album "Uptown Boogie Down" did not get a lot of love here at In Effect they are still a favorite when seen live as their singer Davey Hooligan creates a fun atmosphere when they play and exudes a lot of confidence and positive vibes while doing so. In turn they got a nice crowd reaction with people singing along and maintaining the crowd that assembled throughout their set. With so much music being thrown at you at once it can be easy to just dip out on one band, check out another and come back to the first one. Didn't seem to be the case though with Enziguri. They play often in the NYC area so catch 'em out some time if you dare.
As stated at the start we admittedly just popped our heads in here for a few hours and these are the things/bands that stood out while we were here but before we go we have to mention the band WINTERWOLF who got a few shout outs from the bands we saw. "2 piece punk rock band from Harlem" is their self-description and they got a track out called "Dead Body Fuck Party" on Bandcamp. Check them out! More good shit that already went down by the time we found out about them. Punk Island is a free as well as no thrills event that should be attended at some point if you are a NYC area resident or are in the area when it happens each June. Out of the 70 or so bands that performed I had heard of maybe 5 of them beforehand and found a couple of new ones along the way. Didn't matter though as Punk Island to me is more about being there and taking in new shit, different bands, view points etc. Most of the bands had merch set up, there were some food vendors and if you got really bored you could watch the Circle Line float by on the Harlem River every so often. Putting a show like this on can't be easy so thank you to the organizers as well. Hopefully see you all in a year.
BLIND JUSTICE "NO MATTER THE COST"
(Flatspot Records/Edgewood Records, Release Date June 29)
Shore Style! Just had to get that outta the way cause most things written about these guys from New Jersey mention Shore Style. Jersey shore... get it? Alright then. 2nd album here and it’s a split effort with Flatspot and Edgewood Records tag teaming. 10 songs, 20 minutes and highly influenced by the great Down To Nothing from Richmond, VA. "Cast You Out" is the opener and my fav track. Nice guitar tone here and solid vocals from one of the best live performance frontmen you are gonna run into these days in Mike Botti who also doubles as the guitarist for Regulate. Guy is a legit madman when he gets a microphone and a stage to run around on and his voice fits the 90's style of hardcore that his bandmates churn out very well. As the first song ends... track 2... "My Will" almost gets flagged for a 5 yard false start penalty as there is less than the usual time between songs. I would guess there is usually a two second gap between songs and here it seems like a millisecond but what do I know? I must have listened to "My Will" five times before I realized that they were indeed two songs and not just one long ass opening track. My point being that it sounded like one song and as you move along on "No Matter The Cost" that feel of everything blending together and having that "one big song" vibe unfortunately becomes more apparent and the norm. With the exception of "Burn You Down" which has a nice mid-paced intro the songs are too predictable with what seems like the same pace on every track. With that said Blind Justice still has a great sound, play their shit tight, have a legit frontman and got a killer recording out of Dean B up at Wild Artic in New Hampshire. I really wanted to like "No Matter The Cost" more than I did. Blind Justice get a B+ for their effort here with diversification in future songs my lone request. More tempo changes, more hooks, and keep at it. Blind Justice's best days still lie ahead of them.
POWER TRIP “OPENING FIRE 2008-2014”
(Dark Operative, Released April, 2018)
With my discovery of Power Trip this past January (I know I’m late to the game but I’ve got a 2 and 4 year old) they have quickly become my new favorite band. Their second album “Nightmare Logic” has been on constant play whether in my car, on a run, in the office, or in the evenings before bed. So you can imagine my happiness when they asked me to review their most recent release: “Opening Fire: 2008-2014” which isn’t so much a new release as a re-release of their “earliest non-LP output.”
One of the things that I enjoy about Power Trip is their ability to straddle the line between hardcore and metal in a way that doesn’t give way to caricatures that are found in either genre. There’s a socio-political depth to their lyrics as well as excellent musicianship that keeps the message on track while providing fun breakdowns, solos and no double bass pedals. “Opening Fire” provides a window into their development as a band and how that potential has blossomed into where they are now. All of the songs on this are good, tight and varied in their own ways. For example, “Suffer No Fool” begins like a pile driver that makes you want to punch anything in sight but then slows down only to open up into an amazing breakdown that requires the yelling of the song’s title along with lyrics apropos to our time: “We cannot hide, the danger is real, We find the strength to suffer no fool!” Then there’s “Armageddon Blues” which is just bad-ass in its “battle uphill” feel that is reflective of the existential angst being communicated in the lyrics. “Progression has ceased, We've doomed ourselves, Armageddon blues cause I can't fool myself” Riley screams. This eventually gives way to a great solo displaying the bands’ skill with another great breakdown that makes me want to go round and round stomping in circles. I can go on in similar ways about many of the other songs but at this point would simply encourage you to check it out yourself as you won’t be disappointed.
If you’re like me, coming late to the Power Trip party, “Opening Fire” provides an easy way to access their earlier releases in one place. Their music simply serves as a soundtrack to and release from the times we find ourselves in and for this I am grateful. Go check ‘em out, you won't be disappointed.
LIFE BETRAYS US "PROMO 2018" (Released April, 2018)
For me the heavier and more metal influenced side of hardcore usually falls into the "respect it but not my thing" category. Bands that could get my attention often ruin the experience by utilizing a growling/grunting/death metal Cookie Monster style of vocals which totally gets lost on me. London's Life Betrays Us play a rough and tough style of hardcore that doesn’t shy away from their metal influences but also brings plenty in the way of traditional hardcore vibes to have me backing this. "First Mistake", "Judgement" and "Darkness" piledrive your ass into the canvass for the 3 count and are outtie in a mere 7 minutes. There seems to be this fine line that can get crossed that can make this style "too metal" and Life Betrays Us seems to get as close as possible to that line without going over it. A nice guitar tone, choppy/bouncy drumming and most importantly raw but not overdone vocals all work here in conjunction for a winning product. A little more raw, rough around the edges and less melodic than say Wisdom In Chains and Madball but definitely a band you could see sharing a bill with those heavyweights. The recent departure of their drummer slowed down a busy live schedule but with the next guy now in place that seems to be sorted out as work begins soon on their debut full length. Looks forward to whatever is next.
BAYONET “TOTAL MASSACRE” EP (Released April, 2018)
Bayonet out of San Diego CA is comin’ at us fast and hard with their “Total Massacre” EP. There’s a handful of Bayonet’s floatin’ around out there in the hardcore social media boneyard, but San Diego’s Bayonet is the most recently active. “Total Massacre” is nothing short of an assault of the senses; as quickly and abrasively as it starts, it’s over, leaving you stunned because your neck still hurts from the punch in the gut that is the opener “Shiftless Wish List”. The longest track on this record clocks in at 1 minute 48 seconds, and that’s only because the blisteringly frantic “Half Mast” begins and ends with the same instrumental interlude, closing with a feedback laden fadeout. The thing I like most about these short bursts of musical battery is the fact that these guys never really give you what you want. Just when you think you’ve got a song figured out, and are locking into a decent mosh groove, they slap you with a blast beat. I’m not super well versed on what the kids out there call “power violence”, but if I understand it properly, I believe Bayonet is a proper representation of modern power violence. A really cool Trash Talk meets Coke Bust vibe off this record. Brutally fast, and so enticingly abrupt, you’ll find yourself playing it over and over again. 7 thumbs up!
CHILLER THAN MOST FANZINE ISSUE #6
(Released Summer 2018)
We got a worldwide hardcore connection here folks with Hungary's Chiller Than Most Zine issue 6 out now with interviews with hardcore folks from all over the globe and eye catching art from Thailand's Chun One. 28 pages... cut and paste... DIY... yeah, yeah, yeah, you get the picture here. CTM always grabs your eye with their cool covers but time and time again they show us why they are one of the realest of the real when it comes to knowing about modern day hardcore bands as they literally get right up in that ass crack when it comes to their line of questioning. This issue has interviews with the UK'S Big Cheese, Freedom, Motor City Madness, and Unified Right from the US and Hypocrite who are kinda from the US and kinda from Europe. The 2 reads I liked the best though were with photographer Meline Gharibyan from Florida via way of Armenia (seems to have a good head on her shoulders and well versed in the current day scene in Florida) and JoJo Songco from Outburst with a typical CTM "think outside the box" piece where they took old pics of Outburst and friends just hanging out and got explanations and back stories to each one. A clever layout with AF and Vinnie Stigma references abound as Attila himself is very well versed in the history of hardcore music. Check out his "side project" which comes in website form called DO YOU KNOW HARDCORE if you don't believe us. No record reviews, no introductions, just straight to the interviews and if you are a fan of the lineup they put together this is pure gold. If you only like or casually know some of these bands this is still a good read. If you've never heard of any of these bands then what the fuck can I tell you? Get yours for 2 pounds and whatever they charge for shipping by clicking HERE.
RAZORBLADE HANDGRENADE “TILL THE CASKET DROPS” CD (Released May, 2018)
“I’m working so hard. I can’t get ahead. I don’t get no recognition. Will I slave ‘til I’m dead?” So begins the third album from Razorblade Handgrenade, their first since “Tales From The Bricks” in 2011. Work is a dominant theme on this 12 song effort, particularly how it affects and inhibits one’s ability to create, play music and have fun, a subject that is sure to resonate with much of RBHG’s fan base, including your reviewer.
RBHG always stood out for a variety of factors: their clever lyrical feints, sound melodies and apropos mosh parts, almost like a groovier Warzone. They’ve always have been a band of realists, as evinced in early songs like “The Right Decision.” But the earlier stuff was also marked by playful boasts in songs like “Skinned and Stuffed” and “Beer, Beef and Gold Teef.” “Till The Casket Drops,” their new full length, tackles more down to earth material as they grapple with the obstacles of everyday life. This new effort is similar in style to RBHG’s two prior releases, but a touch more punk rock. The pacing is slightly different from the classic grooves associated with their earlier work, though as the album gets going it picks up speed and starts delivering the hits. “Not Enough Time” is reminiscent of their earlier style re: deft tempo changes and a plethora of lyrics packed into a short space. “Feeling Blessed” delivers a charmed chorus and guitar lead. “Gotta Do It” is a catchy cut mid-album, and “Still Positive” touches on the “And I Try To Stay Positive” theme from their first album. The positivity aspect sets them apart from the more typical NYHC and NJHC flavors, where positivity is usually relegated to the realm of bands that sound nothing like RBHG. “Lost Control” is a gem at the 2/3 mark, particularly the chorus, and is followed by the ripper that is “Is It Really This?” “Can’t Stop Moving”, the penultimate track, features Danny Diablo on guest vox and is a slower and stompier change of pace.
“Working Man” is substantially heavier than the iconic Wretched Ones tune of the same name. Lookout, Ken Singleton style, for that mosh part/tempo change at 1:33! RBHG and the Wretched Ones might occupy sonically disparate corners of the New Jersey punk rock universe, but after all, the first time I saw Razorblade was with the Wretched Ones at Club Deep. Three of the twelve songs found here specifically address working life, but out of these three, the sleeper hit is the final acoustic tune “Find a Way”. Thematically a hybrid of Wisdom in Chains’ – “Time To Play” and Inspecter 7’s “They Say,” it also fills the role of being that last song that is completely different from the rest of the album, like Boxcutter – “Get Up” sounding like a lost Wisdom in Chains cut. “It ain’t easy like yesterday, work work work no time to play.” I haven’t seen RBHG in way too long, so I have no idea if they play this one live, but am hoping to encounter it in an upcoming setlist. In the end, hardcore belongs to those who are able to make time in between real life commitments, and the theme of the album perhaps hints at the gap between this new full length and their last release, “Tales From The Bricks”. Props to Razorblade Handgrenade for getting this album out (and to Wes for balancing hardcore with his rap project… Wes Nihil) and providing some everyday anthems for those in the same situation. For the working man (or woman) and fans of: Wisdom in Chains, Bulldog Courage, No Redeeming Social Value, and of course Warzone.
MADBALL “FOR THE CAUSE”
(Nuclear Blast Records, Released June 15, 2018)
This album's name is all you need to know; “For The Cause”. Madball hasn't gone anywhere and continue to maintain their title as one of the realest, most consistent and well respected bands in hardcore; thanks in no small part to their hard work ethic and honest song writing. Both of these qualities are on display throughout the 35 plus minute “For The Cause”. This album charges out of the gate with that familiar Madball style as you get that choppy bounce, rolling drums and heavy guitars right away on the opener “Smile Now, Pay Later”. “For The Cause” has a couple of levels to it – on one hand it’s a perfect case study in the classic Madball sound, which is sure to appeal to longtime fans; the other hand holds a newer chapter for one of hardcore's longest working bands. With a few songs popping well away from that “vintage Madball” sound and a recent lineup change manifested through the exit of Brian “Mitts” Daniels on guitar and the (studio recording) return of Matt Henderson – who last played with the band on “Hold It Down”- Madball has seemingly found a new footing as they climb further into their career. One of the most distinct examples of this growth is the song “The Fog” featuring Rancid frontman Tim “Timebomb” Armstrong. Worlds collide on this track – a clear Madball backbone with Tim's unmistakable vocals leading an almost “mashup” style track that has the body of punk rock and the balls of a hardcore song. It'd also be a real mistake not to mention “Evil Ways” with guest vocals from Ice T as well; a heavy groove driven song with a solid 2 step tempo and contains Ice T saying the words “unleash the evil, now you have breathed your last breath!” - *I know, right?!” To round it out, as any Madball fan worth their weight will tell you; whenever Freddy starts singing in Spanish on a track you know it's on – this holds true on track 10 titled “Es Tu Vida” - anyone looking for a new favorite heavy jam, you got it! Again, this album proves that even after decades of being on the grind of touring and playing shows, Madball hasn't been ground down yet, and they are still progressing and making the music they want to. One thing that keeps any band fresh stylistically is their ability to write songs that resonate not just with the band, but their audience as well. Whether or not it's been an intentional metric to use in the recording process, “Hardcore Lives” and “For the Cause” each have felt like a truth telling session for a specific place and time. Vocalist Freddy Cricien recently released an open letter to hardcore via Discovered Magazine where he said of being introduced to the burgeoning NYHC scene, “Like when someone introduces you to your soon to be... “first girlfriend” or something. There’s nerves, there’s excitement, there’s the love!” It bears noting that this sentiment still hasn't been lost on him, and it comes through with the words and feel on this record. Another solid release from one of hardcore's seminal bands, “For The Cause” is definitely going to satiate the appetites of long-time fans and turn some new (and even skeptical) heads! Also, if you get the chance to see Madball on tour - do it, they haven't slowed down at all!
SHELTER, DON’T SLEEP, MINDFORCE, ACTIVATE, SEARCH @Voltage Lounge, Philadelphia, PA. June 1st, 2018. WRITTEN BY: JOSH DERR. PHOTOS BY: ANNE SPINA
I've only seen Shelter twice now, and admittedly they were never a band in heavy rotation for me – their music popped up on a couple compilation records here and there, but beyond that, my exposure to them and the Krishna based segment of hardcore as a whole has been very limited. That said, the opportunity to see a band with so much history play a small venue like the Voltage Lounge in Philly was one I didn't want to pass up, and since I had some friends coming in from out of town for it there was no excuse not to go!
SEARCH punched through their set while the crowd still trickled in. There was some movement throughout their set, and the edge kids were out early for them in decent numbers (which I guess is what happens when you aren't doing post-work whiskey shots). With members of Mouthpiece and Floorpunch, the addition of Search to the lineup was a great go-to for kicking off a fun Friday night! They played a killer set, kept it moving and set a solid tempo for how the night was gonna go.
Next up were local thrashcore rippers, ACTIVATE. I won't lie, during Activate I got caught up outside chatting with some friends so I didn't see much of their set, but what I saw was golden. I really dig the vibe of this band, they're all about having a good time and they always exude tons of energy! Not to mention that any band which affiliates itself with the skate scene gets serious bonus points in my book!
MINDFORCE @ VOLTAGE LOUNGE, JUNE 1, 2018. PHOTO BY: ANNE SPINA
MINDFORCE crushed. I don't know what's going on out in the Hudson Valley of NY but it can stay like that. This band is still yet to cross their second year mark and they've created quite a stir by tapping into the old-school NY sound and bringing it into the present with a fresh twist. This was my first time seeing them, and I'm super stoked to see them again at Philly’s This Is Hardcore Fest in July.
DON'T SLEEP @ VOLTAGE LOUNGE, JUNE 1, 2018. PHOTO BY: ANNE SPINA
DON’T SLEEP is a new-ish project brought to you by former members of The Commercials and Junction with Dave Smalley on mic. I mentioned history in the opening, and here we go again! Beyond being fronted by such a recognizable voice/face in the hardcore/punk rock world, Don't Sleep seem to be on a quest to embody the “Young Til I Die” mentality that so many of us strive for. 3 generations of hardcore smushed into each other at the Voltage Lounge to watch Don't Sleep slay their own songs and sing along to a Dag Nasty song or 2!
SHELTER @ VOLTAGE LONGE, JUNE 1, 2018. PHOTO BY: ANNE SPINA
As I mentioned before, this was only my second time seeing SHELTER live. The first was at the This Is Hardcore Fest last year, so I knew a bit more on what to expect this time around. A Hare Krishna chant started and the incense filled the brick room as the lights went down. Everyone got quiet in a mixture of respect, anticipation, or perhaps minor confusion and intrigue. As the chant rolled on for a few minutes I realized how hyped this Krishna mantra was getting me, and decided to give the album “Mantra” a few listens over the coming days. Once Porcell and Ray (or Paramananda and Raghunath respectively if you want to call ‘em by their Krishna names) stepped on stage, the crowd immediately erupted and then it was right into “Message of the Bhagavat”. Shelter is a band whose members have influenced whole movements in our scene through their music and message for so many years that it is hard to calculate where hardcore might (or might not) be without them. When you take a step back and think about the resume of just one member here, it is an amazing thing. Take Sam Siegler on drums… he's played on so many records that defined moments in time for hardcore music! To me, it gets to the point where it can be almost a surreal thing, being in that small room with these musicians and realizing the legacy that is and will be the history of hardcore. Think about it like this… as the future presses on, if hardcore exists in 200 years, bands like Youth of Today, Agnostic Front, Gorilla Biscuits, etc will forever be canonized as the founders of our chosen social out-cropping. Maybe it’s the residual Krishna incense talking, but this means that we can still enjoy first hand the experience of fucking singing along to our favorite songs with our own Ben Franklins! Pretty rad if you ask me. Since the show, I've actually been listening to each of these bands more steadily and I'm stoked on that. It was a great night with great hangs, though I feel that letting the Krishna congregation set up at the top of the stairs on the only path to the merch tables can only be classified as entrapment...Haha!
2 MINUTE MINOR "BLOOD ON OUR FRONT STOOP"
(Released May, 2018)
Brand new DIY release from this Chicago 6 piece who bring a bunch of influences and ideologies to the table. Included amongst them is the obvious hockey theme from their name as well as the opening track "Victory Is Ours" and "Probert" which is about the late Bob Probert who was best known for kicking much ass as an NHL enforcer for both the Red Wings and Blackhawks. In the song they vison standing side by side with Mr. Probert and punching nazis in the face. Anti-racist skinhead culture, hardcore, punk, oi, a positive mental attitude, and acceptance of others is preached throughout the 12 songs we are given. (14 if you add in the extras). 2MM can come at us more lighthearted like on "Soda Tax" which is about LaCroix sparkling water or in a more serious fashion like on "Tried And True" where the lyric of "labeled a subculture of racism and hate, the media fed you a line and you took the bait" defends the core against some misconceptions people outside of our scene may have about us. "Unite The Crew" is their sing-a-long anthem and stand out track here with multiple guest singers, each adding their own touch to a track that sums up a lot of their previously mentioned ideologies. The songwriting is simple but catchy with somewhat of an old-school NYHC meets punk rock flavor and although I agree with their stances lyrically it is the vocals that I had a hard time digesting. The effort is there unfortunately I am just not feeling Mr. Wiley Willis’ delivery as it is more of an acquired taste. Maybe you will like it though as 2MM are a fun, positive band that would be hard to see not being a ton 'o fun if you were to catch them live. Give them a shot on the house with that “Name Your Price” option at the link below or choose to donate some hard earned shekels to the cause.