“WHAT AWAITS US, A BEYOND STORY” DOCUMENTARY (Released December, 2020)
Way back in 1988 I stumbled upon the Beyond "Dew It" demo and immediately took a liking to the band who lived way out in Holbrook on Long Island. Hardcore wise Beyond were fresh and unique mixing in heavy metal influences to their blistering fast style of hardcore without sounding like some down tuned cavemen. Thinking back it seemed like their rise through the scene ranks was fast and when they made fans out of bands like Project X and Bold things got even better while playing opening slots for some of the biggest bands of the time.
"What Awaits Us" is a new 1 hour and 4 minute documentary written, directed and edited by singer Kevin Egan that tells "A Beyond Story". Leading up to "What Awaits Us" Kevin had 20 plus years of production work under his belt yet this is the first film he has done for himself. Much like the band, the Beyond doc has a uniqueness to it with a personal feel as well as great editing and graphic work and if you pay close enough attention you will see what I mean. The film is narrated by Kevin and early on we see him sitting on his bed thinking about the old Beyond days when his guitarist Tom Capone calls to tell him that they got invited to play a reunion show in California (Rev-Fest 2017).
From there Kevin heads on out to his old stomping grounds of Holbrook to talk to original members of the band who tell a story of a high school battle of the bands that featured a young Tom Capone who then sang for a metal band called Third Planet. Shortly after Third Planet broke up Kevin and Tom started putting plans together for Beyond with Kevin singing along to Uniform Choice's "Screaming For Change" as his quasi-vocal tryout to skeptic Tom who was now immersing himself in all things hardcore at the time. The interviews yield great stories and in some cases visuals as at one point the car they are driving in passes by a house that still has the old backyard shed that Beyond used to rehearse in. Other old stories include one of a chimpanzee in a car adjacent to theirs wearing the same shirt as their bass player, tour vans packed with gear and people sliding all about (which of course eventually includes an accident) and Kevin climbing out of his parents second floor window to play a show in Buffalo after his parents forbid him to go.
The film has a good flow and at just over an hour is not too long or short… getting the original members as well as later ones like Vic Dicara and Alan Cage gives everything a complete no stone left unturned feel that wraps up with footage of Beyond playing that Rev-Fest reunion show in Riverside, CA. Interviews with Matt Pincus from Judge, Walter Schreifels of Gorilla Biscuits/Quicksand, Sammy Siegler (every youth crew band ever), Porcell from Youth Of Today/Project X), Matt Warnke from Bold and Gavin Van Vlack from Burn give this film some hardcore star power with each giving some well earned praise for Beyond's contributions to the music scene.
Currently available in streaming format (4.99 to rent/9.99 to buy) with plans for a DVD release at some point in 2021... in addition there is talk of a possible flexi disc release that would have older versions/variants of previously released Beyond material. Stay tuned folks! In the meantime this is 10 bucks well spent for anyone who knew and liked (or loved) this band. Click HERE to find out how to watch this crucial film.
THE SLIME "COMING SOON TO AN ALLEY NEAR YOU" (Released December, 2020)
Some good hardcore noise has been coming from North of the border lately with The Slime being the latest to pop up on the In Effect HC radar. "Coming Soon To An Alley Near You" is the second 2020 release from The Slime who already dropped the 10 song "Bitter Dream" EP back in January. Before we even get to the music it has to be noted that The Slime have created this horror film type of feel here with some killer artwork and title. Upon hitting play to this 7 song EP The Slime's sound falls in line with what you would expect from the cover art, title and band name with a crossover style that throws a lot of different ingredients into the pot. With two members from Canada, one from Poland and another from Switzerland bringing elements of old-school hardcore, thrash, grind, and crust to the table they seem to have found a nice happy zone amongst their diverse influences. When I hear this EP I think of bands like Poison Idea and Iron Reagan and before even seeing a band photo thought I'd end up seeing at least one dude in a black leather jacket covered in band patches, a bullet belt and maybe some white Nike high tops with the pant leg tucked into the tongue... The Slime play raw and fast hardcore giving off this feeling that you probably have to wash your hands or at least put some sanitizer on a body part after listening to this.
The 54 second "Flesh And Blood" is by far my favorite song that highlights the killer bass and buzzsaw like guitar sound that they got on this EP. "Look And See", "The Day The Earth Stood Still" and the title track also are standouts as they deliver fast, thrashy types of feels that walk a close line between a street punk type of sound and more of a rough around the edges hardcore vibe. "Life Of Agony" and "Circling" show that The Slime can throw some mid-paced parts into the mix keeping things away from the dreaded "one big song" feel as each song is almost like its own chapter in a cool 10 minute audio book. With Toronto pumping out fresh new hardcore punk from bands like The Slime, Dragged In and Choices Made it's about time to give this city some current day love. Hopefully these new finds are just the tip of the iceberg with more to follow. Stay tuned boys and girls. Find this on Bandcamp & Spotify.
HATEBREED “WEIGHT OF THE FALSE SELF”
(Nuclear Blast Records, Released, November, 2020)
I have to admit, when I think “Hatebreed” my mind goes straight back to the 90’s and their masterpiece “Satisfaction Is The Death of Desire” That record became the benchmark of what 90’s hardcore should be. Fast, angry, great breakdowns and the ability to make that fuse in your head blow at gigs. Hell, they toured off of that record for what seemed like 5 years! Then came “Perseverance”. Not bad, but gone were the short bursts of anger and more metal themes seemed to take over. I’ll be honest, after “The Rise Of Brutality” I checked out on them. Was I expecting or hoping to hear a return to the formula of “Satisfaction”? I dunno but I can’t imagine how hard it would be for a band to top what was easily a perfect record without changing and evolving.
It’s now 12 years later and I get “Weight Of The False Self” to review. Going into this I was prepared to be, let’s call it, “underwhelmed.” However this puppy starts off on the right foot. "Instinctive (Slaughterlust)” gets the show going and right off the hop I’m hearing an old-school Hatebreed breakdown! Right out of that comes a fast diddy in “Let Them All Rot” that has a great pace, nice breakdowns and some great grooves. “Let Them All Rot” is one of the few songs that doesn’t have an overlying great/positive lyrical message to it. “Set It Right” and “Dig Your Way Out” continue the theme of meaningful lyrics that not only keep them relevant as a hardcore band, but judging by comments from their fans, are a huge reason for their popularity outside of being a heavy band . Jasta’s vocal approach, his change in cadence, keep the vocals fresh without having to sacrifice any of the power or resort to the dreaded “clean” vocal trap that other bands have fallen victim to.
Throw in a truckload of gang vocals, a few nice melodic guitar parts and the odd solo and you have a keeper. In the end Hatebreed have brought their “A” game to this record with a nice change of pace that will please both the hardcore kids as well as the metalheads. Find out more via the Hatebreed official website or stream it on Spotify.
TOXIC YOUTH “BACK TO YOU-TH”
(WTF Records, Released November, 2020)
From Milano, Italy, comes the long awaited new release from Toxic Youth. The band are punk veterans, forming in 1990 who released their first demo in 1993 on cassette. This led to opening for the likes of D.O.A. and the Beastie Boys among others and soon the band carved their niche in the scene. In 1996, they released their first full length record entitled “Real Attitudes…Not Words” which has become a renowned DIY release. After a long recording hiatus and a new drummer in 2018, Toxic Youth are back and stronger than ever with twelve tracks of blistering punk rock on this release from the good people at WTF Records in the Netherlands.
From start to finish, this record has it all. You have the early roots of punk rock, the British influenced sounds as well as the classic American punk riffs all rolled into one. There is not a bad track on this. “Walkin’ Free” opens with a fast, punchy punk song done right in the old school tradition. “Milano Rendez-Vous” follows up with a more metal sounding track, combining the two genres to create an anthem worthy song S.O.D. would be impressed by. “Toxic Airlines” kicks things back into high gear with a straight ahead punk, sing-a-long that will have you hitting the repeat button more than once. “The Beast” keeps things moving with a mix of punk styles, played with breakneck speed and sung with ferocious intensity. The next two tracks, “Burn Your Mind” and “Do It Again” have a more metal sound to them but vocally keep the punk feel to the music. “Double Ice Cream” is a quirky, fast and fun catchy song that will no doubt get stuck in your head. The next songs, “Realize”, “Light And Gold” and “Be A Man” are three examples of notable punk songs played fast and furious and show why this band deserves their place in the punk scene. “Body Core” is a newer style of punk with a commercial feel to it but still a solid fit on this record. “Do It” ends things on a high note with a searing mix of old and new school with a touch of NYHC thrown in.
Toxic Youth have showed no signs of slowing down with the layoff. The band delivers a substantial collection of authentic punk songs for any true fan. This is a CD for any occasion; whether it be driving to work, working out at the gym or slamming your friends in a homemade mosh pit. The music has an old school feel to it with metal overtones yet sounds fresh and current in today’s punk scene. This is the kind of punk I look forward to discovering and if you are like me, you’ll order this and enjoy it as much as I do. Check out WTF Records and discover some new and established punk and hardcore bands. You won’t be sorry. Find it online on Spotify & You Tube with CD versions available through WTF Records.
LOVE LETTERS TO GROSSO
(Not Like You, Released December 2020)
Love Letters To Grosso is a brand new 80 page (half sized) full color zine/mini-book dedicated to legendary skateboarder Jeff Grosso who passed away earlier this year at the age of 51. Not Like You Zine/Records are responsible for this one of a kind tribute which takes its name from Grosso's decade plus long interview show called "Love Letters To Skateboarding" which you can find on the Van's You Tube channel. Within the pages of this special issue you will find dozens of candid photos and fan drawn art of Jeff Grosso along with a shit ton of stories about Grosso written by fans, friends and peers that paint a great picture of the man’s passion for skateboarding. As a lifelong "hardcore kid" who never skated I always viewed the skateboarding scene and dudes like Grosso with admiration as both factions seem to have this toughness and grit instilled in the DNA. As is always the case with Not Like You releases you get a quality product here as the photos and vibrant artwork within literally pop off each page. 9 bucks (which includes postage in the USA) snags you one of the 500 copies that were printed up that are apparently almost sold out. Click HERE to find out how to get a copy.
TERROR “SINK TO THE HELL” EP
(WAR Records, Released November, 2020)
There are just some bands that when you hear that they have put out something new you immediately have to check it out. One such band for me is Los Angeles heavy hitters Terror. And If for some reason you have not already heard of these hardcore veterans, please go out and try to absorb as much of their material as you can as they have been doing what they do now for over 18 years.
Having a desire to stay connected with their fans during this pandemic, Terror have released an EP in 7” form (as well as digital) of songs that are "lost and forgotten" and are being dubbed as "previously unreleased", although they were originally put out as individual limited lathe cut 7 inches. These 4 tracks have now been compiled onto one release for the first time, with two of the songs receiving some updates this year. Taken from the “Live By The Code” sessions are track 1: “Sink To The Hell” and track 3: “The New Beginning”. Track 2: “Don't Need Your Time” comes from the “Keepers Of The Faith” sessions and has updated vocals with guest vocals by Jesse Barnett of Stick To Your Guns, and track 4: “You Lost All Respect” also comes from the “KOTF” sessions: which has updated vocals, drums and additional guitars. “Sink To The Hell” has the fierce, energetic sound that has kept Terror at the top of the game since their inception in the early 00’s. This release will make a perfect holiday gift for that hardcore lunatic in your life or to quote Uncle Eddie "something really nice" for yourself. Find this on Bandcamp & Spotify and at the time of this post WAR Records still has a few physical copies left on 7” vinyl.
AGAINST ALL ODDS “WOLFPACK” (Released Sept, 2020)
While reviewing the “New Wave Of Hardcore” mixtape for In Effect, I was particularly captivated by a song on side B – which turned out to be “Hard Way”, by Against All Odds, who hail from Greece like the comp itself. “Wolfpack”, their 5 song EP that contained the track in question, had seen a soft launch on Spotify in September, but hadn’t even been officially released. Mid-pandemic, I can understand why bands would hold back on officially releasing new material. Nevertheless, with “Wolfpack” now available on both Spotify and Bandcamp, I wanted to draw attention to these guys if your interest has already been piqued by the comp.
This new effort from Against All Odds features 5 songs in 9 minutes and displays the catchier side of NYHC. They jump right in with opening track “How It Goes”, which at first seems like more of a mid-album song before bursting into a sing-a-long chorus. This opener is followed by two more solid tunes, “Resist” and title track “Wolfpack”, before getting to “Hard Way” which you may already know from the comp. This is the one that will get you dancing at your desk, which invariably occurs while playing the comp or EP and it pops up. Track 5 closes things out with “Ghostdog”, a fully formed song at just under a minute.
Against All Odds is a good example of the bands I frequently applaud for not over-emulating one style, but instead concocting their own signature sound. “Ghostdog” sounds a bit like Our Gang, but otherwise their sound is difficult to pinpoint, and is in fact more interesting and nuanced than the broad list of influences in their Spotify bio: “in the vein of Agnostic Front, Warzone, Blood For Blood, Slapshot and the likes.” The unifying factor here is songs that would get you moving around and singing along, and I can see Against All Odds right at home on a Niagara/A7 show. I hope these dudes have a chance to play live again in 2021 and eventually make it the New York stage. In the meantime, check out “Wolfpack” on Spotify or Bandcamp.
BIG LAUGH “MANIC REVISION” EP
(11PM Records, Released May, 2020)
Milwaukee’s Big Laugh’s blending of blistering hardcore with a punk groove reaches peaks of fevered energy on their first record “Manic Revision” and the band take no prisoners as they power through from start to finish.
The band features members of bands such as Beggar, Mister, Forced Impact and Gangstalker and they play no nonsense hardcore in the vein of SSD and Uniform Choice with a hint of punk and even grind with elements of bands like Heresy, Gauze and Infest in there too. In keeping with the tradition of the blistering nature of their influences, the four tracks that are featured on “Manic Revision” clock in at a blistering seven minutes and while it is a case of blink and you’ll miss it in terms of the furious energy on this release, Big Laugh pack a lot of interesting ideas in terms of their approach to hardcore.
The bulldozing “Imposter” gets things started and features an explosive groove throughout along with some thoroughly impressive drumming,
coming on in an almost tribal and hypnotic style. The next track, “Pillars Of Sand”, positively flies past in a blur before the SSD/DYS-esque maelstrom that is “No Embrace” blows away anything in its path. The anthemic “Fazed” finishes things off and it’s a hell of a way to go out, all power and groove, and with a short fadeout, it’s all over.
With the whole thing being so short though, the joy of playing “Manic Revision” again straightaway is there and with the music on here being so engaging it warrants repeated listens. Find “Manic Revision” digitally on Bandcamp & Spotify with 7” vinyl versions available through Richmond, VA’s 11 PM Records.
(Mission Two Entertainment, Released December 2020)
Since legally securing the Cro-Mag name in 2019 founding member Harley Flanagan has seemingly been on a mission to get new music released with "2020" being the fourth Cro-Mags release in the last 18 months as well as being the second Cro-Mags release of this year. "2020" contains 6 new tracks that are in a lot of ways a maturation of what June's "In The Beginning" was already brewing. Lineup wise Rocky George returns on guitar as does Garry "G-Man" Sullivan on drums with Maximum Penalty's Joe Affe replacing Gabby Abularach on second guitar with Harley obviously handling bass and vocal duties.
A hip-hop boom-boom bap drum sample from Mono En Stereo leads off the opening track; "Age Of Quarantine" before the bass, drums and guitars join in to create a very danceable "We Gotta Know" vibed intro. The vocals kick in around the 90 second mark and for many will serve as the biggest make or break factor with Harley’s gruff and guttural vocal style hard to ignore on an otherwise solid opener. The title track "2020" follows and is a mid-paced track with layers of guitars creating this eerie doomsday type vibe while the double bass drums and overall production solidify the more metal leanings of the current day Cro-Mags. The hard style approach of vocals on this particular track wipe out a potentially good song that has some nice riffs within its almost 3 minute run time. “Life On Earth” starts off with a catchy drum and bass lead in and has a cool sing-a-long type chorus making this the most hardcore track on this 20 minute effort. “Violence And Destruction” is up next and is essentially two tracks in one and leads off with a “Rally Round Jah Throne” Bad Brains/reggae feel that runs for the first minute and change before another 3 minutes follow with more of a thrash style attack that “2020” is going for. The last minute of this song shreds while showcasing the talents of this band across the board highlighted by some amazing guitar work. On this particular track the vocals are toned down which threw me off since the meat and potatoes of this song is stylistically close to almost everything else on this EP. “Chaos In The Streets” is a fast paced tune with a good sing-a-long type of chorus. At its nucleus this is a hardcore song that is fighting to break free of the uber-metal production that “2020” strives for. Things close out with a 5 minute instrumental called “Cro-Fusion” that has a Red Hot Chilli Peppers feel early on (particularly due to the bass playing) and quickly turns into an all-out jam that branches out stylistically in what seems like countless directions with an almost jazz meets hardcore feel. There is a lot of talent and experience in this lineup and “Cro-Fusion” showcases it in a unique and awesome track. "2020" is a mixed bag of crossover hardcore meets metal with the scales tipped in favor of the metal side of the fence. HC purists looking for remnants of "AOQ" won't find a second coming but those who prefer the heavier side of the hardcore spectrum could possibly get down with this. Visit Mission Two Entertainment to grab physical copies and merch.
(Indecision Records, Released December 2020)
Retaliate has been somewhat of a So-Cal best kept secret for the better part of two decades. Their last LP “Thorns Without A Rose” has been a personal favorite since its release in 2011. So, this record comes heavily anticipated. But “Thorns” was a record that had so much character part of me worried whether a new LP nine years later could bring that same charm. I won’t bury the lede, this is one of the best albums of 2020. Fans of heavy and hard should love it as equally as fans of fast and ferocious. "IV" draws inspiration from NYHC, Cleveland, Texas and Oakland with an attitude that is 100% Oxnard. And it absolutely has the character of “Thorns.”
The recording is as excellent as you’d expect with one member (Roger Camero) being a notable producer/engineer. The bass tone is particularly badass; especially evident when the guitars drop out and it’s just the bass and drums. But writing an LP is hard. You can’t just crank out a dozen or so great sounding tracks and call it good. A strong LP has to tell a story, and this record absolutely takes you on a journey. The songs are furious and hard as nails. The riffs are impressive, but where some skilled riffers err in overdoing a killer riff, these guys know not to beat around the bush. They give you just enough of a taste to get you on the hook then end the song just when you’re hungry for more. This keeps the LP moving; it never gets boring or stale. More often than not, when I finish this record I play it again because I just need more.
The opening intro-track “La Jenelle” comes hot out of the gates with an Integrity-style melody that is so brutally heavy and somehow devastatingly beautiful, with a vibe like the intro to “Armenian Persecution”. Track two, “Cages” takes that apocalyptic sound and delivers an appropriately heavy lyrical battery about living in a xenophobic country that locks kids in cages because they weren’t born on the right side of an arbitrary border. The song screams of disgust and powerless frustration asking, “where the fuck is our humanity?” But as noted earlier, this record takes you on a journey. And while it starts dark, with a seemingly bottomless exasperation, Retaliate covers a lot of ground musically, also delivering songs of self-awareness, thoughtful questioning of the impact of consumption, and songs of unity and friendship.
The record ultimately ends with an almost triumphant optimism that appropriately contrasts the end-of-days vibe of the opening tracks. “Dedicated To Episode 1” is a tribute to Oxnard HC. It’s packed with guest vocals from key So-Cal hardcore mainstays in a line-by-line style that almost makes this less a Retaliate song and more a Southern California shared hardcore scene anthem. The lyrics are nostalgic and reminiscing, but also acknowledging to the kids in the scene today who have taken the torch and how important they are for keeping that spirit alive. And while the penultimate song is a passing of the torch, the closing track, “Lifer” is a proclamation that says hold up though, I ain’t dead yet! I still love hardcore, I still believe in every word I’ve said, and I still got some more to scream! Find this on Bandcamp & Spotify and for physical copies head on over to the Indecision Records site.
DRAGGED IN “L.P.I”
(Cursed Blessings Records, Released November, 2020)
Listening to Toronto’s Dragged In’s latest musical offering reminds me of that old saying “what’s old is new again”. Having lived and loved the 1980’s punk/hardcore scene the musical formula of the 80’s began to become tired and predictable. It was at this time that metal began to find its way into the scene and crossover bands began to take over in the late 80’s and into the 90’s. Punk bands began to add second guitarists and add tons of chuggas to their songs. Then double kick. Then cookie monster vocals. By 2000 most hardcore had become more or less metal. Lots of great bands came out of those years, don’t get me wrong, but now in 2020 it’s refreshing to hear a band playing what I’d call old school punk/hardcore. To me, that includes melodies, some groove, lyrics that talk about things besides ones toughness etc. Right away “Unsinkable” has a great subtle Dead Kennedy’s surf guitar that pulls me back into 1983 and the ride through the 80’s continues. Fast paced, but with the classic tempo changes that made 80’s hardcore energetic and shows memorable. Dragged In gives you 13 songs of fun, well written, energetic and delivered hardcore that reminds you of how the music used to be made without merely being cut and paste parts stolen from the past. Anyone who was around in the 80’s and those who wish they were, will love this! I can honestly say there are “whoa, whoas!” on this record and I’m not mad. Originally released digitally back in April you can find this on Bandcamp or Spotify. Toronto’s Cursed Blessings Records has now released this on 12” vinyl… click HERE for more info.
NEW WAVE OF HARDCORE MIXTAPE (World’s Appreciated Kitsch Records, Release date December 15, 2020)
Big ups to Chris for assigning what I think is the first comp I've reviewed for In Effect: the “New Wave of Hardcore Mixtape” from World's Appreciated Kitsch Records. While it’s titled as a mixtape, it represents many of the best elements of the classic hardcore comp format. It’s currently free to stream on Bandcamp, and preorders for the limited edition tape end on December 15, so you best believe I hustled on this review in order to give you time to check it out before then.
The comp is uploaded on Bandcamp with one big track for side A and one for side B, with the track list available at a separate link where the tape is for sale. Those factors resulted in a true blind listen the first time I heard it, akin to 21 year old me riding the bus with a burned CD of the New Breed Comp. and no track list. This resulted in a truly objective first listen, and the fun of going back afterwards and identifying the songs I most enjoyed. It turned out that most of my favorite tracks were from international bands, on a comp. that represents 9 countries and 4 continents. Perhaps this is because the American contingent spans more subgenres, vs. most of the international acts who specialize in some of my favorite styles of hardcore. Either way, there is something here for everyone.
Side A opens with a track that should already be familiar: “Lifer” by End It. Though I am so used to hearing it in the middle of their 4 song EP that it stands out in a new way as the first song here. End It is followed by Blind Idol from Western MA/Albany area. I originally thought Track 3 might be two songs due to its structure, but it is one great song: “Elevate” by Lifeforce, a straight edge band from Texas and Oklahoma. It warms my heart as a 36 year old straight edge kid that there is at least one current straight edge band I actually like. Up next is Spirit Flaw, and then Fuse, who are from Singapore. Many of the bands on this tape, from Lifeforce to Fuse to End It, have been previously reviewed by In Effect, if you want to check the archives for more context.
Crush the Demoniac is pretty much what you’d expect from the name, and “Look Who It Ain’t” is an enjoyable sixth track. Up next is Going the Distance, which I hope might be a Social Disorder reference, who are singing in Greek. Their song title “Νιώθω το μίσος” translates to “I Feel Hatred” if you want an idea of what is going on on a track that would get me out on the floor if they played here live! There is a pervasive Cro-Mags influence throughout on this comp, and Choice to Make continue that theme with a live cover of “World Peace”. They are followed by Never Ending Game: while starkly different from the Absolution track of the same name, it is pretty meta that Never Ending Game is the opening track on one of our favorite comps (New Breed) and now here we are with a band called Never Ending Game on a newly bred comp. Side A wraps up with an intense and cool track from Arma X of Spain, and One Step Closer, one of the three Scranton-Wilkes Barre area bands present on this comp.
Side B opens up with Age of Apocalypse, heavy on the 90’s vibes, before Blvd of Death bursts in with “It Is What It is” which should always bring a grin of recognition and get you moving around! Berthold City comes third and Mastermind is in the 4 spot. After a promising intro, it's hard to hear the vocals but I appreciate the hard driving mosh energy and I did the involuntary head nod at the breakdown. I keep thinking that listening to this comp. is right now the closest thing to being at a live show or a fest, checking out bands that might ordinarily be out of your lane, or just hadn't yet crossed your path (like a black cat in a Son of Skam song).
3 more single word band names provide the fifth, sixth and seventh track (Worn, Brute, and Anxious) before we are hit with the surprise stars of the comp, at least for me: Against All Odds from Greece. The 8 song is traditionally one of the strongest points on an album and these guys do not disappoint with “Hardway”. What started as "I kind of like this song" has since degenerated into full blown repeat plays. If Spotify Wrapped hadn't already come out, I have no doubt the heavy plays of the past week may have launched it into consideration. Stolen Mind from Germany is 9th and continues the trend of quality bands with “mind” in their name, from Mastermind earlier on this comp, to Mind Piece and Mindforce. The comp is closed out by two metal-leaning bands in Blanket Hill from Luxembourg (possibly the first band I’ve heard from Luxembourg!) and Shred Bundy. Really my only constructive criticism is having these two songs of similar styles at the end, since otherwise the different subgenres of bands have been artfully mixed throughout the comp.
So while “New Wave Of Hardcode” has assorted highlights from bands I already knew, it also fulfills the classic point of a comp, with a plethora of bands that you end up going back to check out later that you might not have known otherwise. I’ve already sought out additional material from Mastermind, Lifeforce and Against All Odds, and look forward to getting more familiar with many of the others. Overall, repeated listenings resulted in much involuntary desk moshing and brought a giant smile to my face. Perhaps it’s the best replacement for live (indoor) shows in a time where we don’t have any. Order the tape by December 15th so you can replicate this experience, including getting old school and driving around with it in your tape deck if your car is as old as mine. Stream this on Bandcamp or visit the WAK Big Cartel page for an old-school cassette version.
DON'T STAND IN LINE DOCUMENTARY (Codec Projects, Released November 2020)
"Don't Stand In Line" is a new docu-series put out by Codec Projects which is headed up by former Ten Yard Fight frontman Anthony Moreschi. The first season is titled "Don't Stand In Line" and
contains 6 episodes that run about 20 minutes in length each with the exception of the last episode which is about 35 minutes long. This premier season focuses on 4 individuals who all have
businesses that have ties to the DIY/hardcore/punk scene. All 4 also operate their businesses in a way that embrace the do it yourself work ethic where the respect of peers and customers can often be
just as important as sales.
The 4 featured are: Chris Wrenn from Bridge 9 Records, Sunny Singh from Hate5Six, Steve Crandall from FBM Bikes and Greg Walsh from Wolf Brigade Gym. Each episode to season one has a theme and all 4 of the people mentioned above come and go within each episode with everyone getting about an equal amount of screen time. The stories within are mostly of dedication, failure, creativity, as well as success while staying true to what they all started out as. Interviews were done on location with (at times) Wrenn spray painting Death Before Dishonor stencils on to album covers outside of B9 headquarters, Singh outside of the Philadelphia Museum Of Art on his BMX bike, Crandall at various bike hangouts in Richmond, VA and upstate NY and Walsh at his gym in Rochester, NY. The series is sold in whole for about 12 bucks where in turn you are given access to download all 6 episodes. With Codec planning future seasons it seems like things are just getting started for this new venture which got started in 2019. Click HERE for more info.
SUDDEN IMPACT “FREAKED OUT” 7”
(Supreme Echo Records, Released November, 2020)
Every person has that one local band that, for them, were the scene’s best band that should seem destined to rock stardom but were barely known outside of their city. For me it was local Toronto punk/hardcore/skate band Sudden Impact. I can’t remember when/where the first time I saw them was, but I remember the energy and that the sets were great. Tight , fast hardcore that got the dancefloor moving (that was back when people actually paid attention to opening bands). I had missed the demo days of SI as I was still more involved in the metal scene but had heard amazing things about their “Freaked Out” demo that had the now legendary (in these parts) illustration by late guitarist Reid English. Their full length record “No Rest From The Wicked” is a great sample of Toronto hardcore done right and I played the fuck out of that record. I made a point to get to as many SI gigs as possible and as their popularity grew they seemed destined to become “big”. Trying to find the “Freaked Out” demo was a mission of mine and one day I came across a copy of it at a small record store on Queen Street owned by a guy who was in the rap/hardcore band Raggadeth (at least I think it was that store)… He was an English dude with dreads who had a sister (also with dreads) nicknamed “Onion”, cause she had an onion. Follow? Anyway… I was super pumped to have it and it sat in my collection until recently when I was offered some sweet dough for it. Seeing as I didn’t have a cassette player and quite honestly had zero intention of buying one, I sold it. Luckily for me Supreme Echo was working at re-releasing this gem as the most punk rock thing ever… a 7”!
Time goes by and sure enough I have this puppy in my hands. Reid’s iconic illustration is even bigger, the record has extra goodies, like a recent interview with the band, a reprint of their classic sticker (where’s my original one)? Needless to say, this 7” is going to get constant rotation on my turntable and I will be able to listen to a great demo from a band that really brought me into hardcore. Thinking about it reminds me of when a bunch of skaters came to a show and skated the pit, grinding the front of the stage. It was fucking amazing! For those of you not from Toronto or too young to have known about these guys, this is a must have as it represents a special time in Toronto’s hardcore history when there were full dance floors, great local talent, and some awesome skate inspired hardcore. Great job by the folks at Supreme Echo for getting this done! Stream or purchase this as a download off of the Supreme Echo Bandcamp page or visit the Supreme Echo Big Cartel page for a vinyl copy.
BOXKITE s/t EP (Crew Cuts Records, Released November, 2020)
Boxkite are four guys from Plymouth, UK who formed back in 2013 because of their love for the music and the DIY culture. They come from a tight knit community where punk, hardcore and metal fall under one banner. In the spring of 2013, the band released their first demo and toured through to 2014. They wrote and recorded their first 7” at the beginning of 2015 and a second EP that was released in the spring of 2016. The band had some down time for a while but is back with their new release on Crewcut Records.
This seven track EP opens with “Bloodletting”. It’s a slow, grinding song with a chugging guitar riff that hooks you from the start. The band wastes no time following up with “My Struggle”, a fast and strong song dealing with mental health. From the opening drum roll you know this track is going to kick ass with its choppy guitar riffs and enraged vocals. “Unholy Thirteen” is a short blast of pent-up fury played with intensity. I couldn’t help but notice this track sounded like something Slapshot would play. “Conduit” strays from the traditional sound the band is going for. It’s a slow and dismal track with vocals and guitar for the majority of the song. The lyrics are brooding and dreary giving the song a dark feel to it. “Dreamland” gets them back on track with a straight up hardcore number that will get you out of your seat and moshing in your living room. “Skinwalker” keeps the momentum going with a great sounding punk song. Its fast, it’s angry and it makes you want to inflict damage on your enemies. Finishing off the EP is “The Great Equaliser”. This is another unusual song in that it opens energetic and furious for the first thirty seconds, then its melodic break mid-song decelerates it to a slow and eerie crawl until the end.
Overall, this is a pretty decent effort. Boxkite manage to create a unique sound with their music. The vocals are raw and dark and backed by a solid rhythm section. I always have much respect for bands that take a DIY approach to their music and this band is a good example. Aside from the two slower tracks, this is a good slab of hardcore punk. Find this on Bandcamp & Spotify or hit up Crew Cuts for a vinyl version.
“SELF EMPUNISHMENT” (Book by Brian Walsby, Pelekinesis Press, Released October, 2020)
Artist Brian Walsby made a name for himself in the 80’s hardcore scene with his artwork as well as being a member of the bands Scared Straight and Snakenation. He even did a cover for the 80’s fanzine “Pirates Of Doom” but then seemed to fall off the earth for a few years. His presence on social media is a strong one and having followed his Facebook for a number of years I can honestly say he’s one, if not THE hardest working artists out there. The amount of work he produces is staggering. When on tour with the Melvins he creates numerous pieces of art a day. When I heard that he was writing a book about being a self-employed artist and interviewing the likes of Keith Morris, Mike Dean and Buzz Osborne, I was stoked.
I’ll admit that when I first got the book I was thinking it was going to be kind of like an artist’s resource book kind of like those Maximum RNR’s “Book Your Own Fucking Life” (which I loved BTW). What you get is more about each person’s personal story of the highs and lows of being a full time artist. Lots of the people interviewed I didn’t know about except from previous posts on Brian’s social media but the majority are people who are/were part of the early punk/hardcore scene. So many of the people interviewed for the book share the same work ethic in that they had jobs early on in life and were driven to succeed and grow their talents. For those who have stepped out on their own as an artist, publisher, promoter, musician you know the risk, fear and uncertainty that awaits you. These stories illustrate how people deal with these pitfalls of self-employment and how they dealt with them either with great success or not so much.
The term success for the self-employed means different things to different people and those who try to apply the general definition of success will learn that it doesn’t necessarily mean huge houses, fancy cars and lots of blow. While all of the interviews were great, the interviews with Steve McDonald, Michel “Away” Langevin, William Duvall and especially Buzz Osborne, were standouts although I’d really have liked to have had more with Keith Morris and Mike Dean. The great aspect of the books is the stories of each person are varied yet the underlying attitude and will to keep pushing forward is inspiring and eye opening. The concept for this book was a great idea pre-COVID19, but is even more relevant now. You can find this 276 page book through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or through the publisher Pelekinesis for just 20 bucks plus shipping.
WORLD BE FREE “ONE TIME FOR UNITY”
(Revelation Records, Released November, 2020)
It’s been 4 plus years since World Be Free dropped their debut full length “The Anti Circle”; and now with their sophomore release, this hardcore super group is showing that the young ‘til I die mentality is alive and well, even in 2020. With a laundry list of legendary hardcore bands on their collective resume, WBF have a deep pool of experience and influence to draw from and it shows. With such a concentration of talent and creative prowess, what really shines on this record is the seamless blending of styles that each band mate brings to the table.
Scott Vogel (Terror/Buried Alive) shows once again why he is one of the best hardcore vocalists walking right now; flexing a melodic, deliberate delivery while driving home topical yet sustainable lyrics that'll keep this record relevant for years to come. Vogel's words are musically reinforced by the raw yet melodic tone achieved by the rest of the band; which from the outside looking in really feels like a true collaboration. Utilizing input from each member - possibly at times even pushing each other out of established comfort zones, this record demonstrates a high level of trust and shared musical intuition amongst the band. Even while allowing each band member to stretch out in their own way, the natural sound on "One Time for Unity" stays grounded with an old school NYHC vibe.
With a band like this, there is always the tempting prospect of looking back and simply recounting each member's personal history while glossing over the new project. "One Time For Unity" won't allow for that; boasting a forward looking view through themes that seem to challenge the listener to consider the question of "what comes next?” My personal favorite on this release is "No Harmony". It is short, tough, and direct. The ideal song if you ask me with the music video for “Down & Beyond” being a good way for the uninitiated to get initiated. Being that I'm on the East Coast and it is currently mid-November, I am happy to report that this record pairs well with cold rain and bad traffic in the best way. Although not affecting the musical output of “One Time For Unity” one bit seeing that legendary skate photographer Atiba Jefferson was behind the promo shoot photos for this record added an additional layer of epic to an already stacked lineup. Find this now digitally on various platforms including Bandcamp and Spotify. 12” vinyl is due out December 11th …hit up Revelation Records for pre-order info and merch.
CHAIN REACTION "FIGUREHEAD"
(Control/Atomic Action Records, Released November, 2020)
Belgium's Chain Reaction check in with a late 2020 entry that should not be overlooked when compiling all of those trendy year end "best of" lists. "Disconnect" leads off and within 15 seconds of hitting play I am totally sucked into their 90's groove heavy style of hardcore. Imagining Chain Reaction playing alongside 90's era NYHC bands like Indecision, Crown Of Thornz, Leeway or Tripface at say the Wetlands or Coney Island High in NYC is pretty damn easy for me to do as they musically time warp me back 25 years. After being impressed by the opening track I am happy to report that "Certain Death" (track 2) hit just as hard as the opener and along the way there is no filler with 6 absolutely fabulous tracks spanning about 14 minutes... pretty much the perfect length for a release of this type.
Overall "Figurehead" has this feel of a complete effort with a lot of diversity within the song writing, more than enough tempo changes, some guitar leads and thoughtful lyrics with more of a world view approach. Vocally, frontman Bjorn Dossche shows off a hard vocal style that fits the music his bandmates made perfectly while adding additional layers on "Power Corrupts" while channeling his inner Eddie Sutton with the line "a diet of disinformation". Look it up and you might be surprised by the similarities. The bottom line here is Chain Reaction appears to have put in the time, the effort... the work in on this and it shows. Chain Reaction have a lot of experience within their ranks with members having been in some pretty successful European hardcore bands in the past. Having formed in 2016 they have already released a demo, an EP, a split with Spark and now "Figurehead" which is head and shoulders above their previous work from a writing and recording standpoint. Check out "Figurehead" on Bandcamp & Spotify, find 12” vinyl copies through Control Records (EU) or Atomic Action (US) OR cassettes through Life, Lair, Regret Records (AU). Be on the lookout for an In Effect Hardcore interview with Chain Reaction’s singer Bjorn and drummer Murph in the upcoming weeks as well.
SILENCE EQUALS DEATH “REVOLUTION RISING” (Upstate Records, Released November, 2020)
From New Jersey comes the hard hitting new release, “Revolution Rising” from Silence Equals Death. The band was formed in 2012 by vocalist Scott Earth who set out to do a musical project which later transpired into the tight, aggressive hardcore band they are today. They have released an EP in 2012 and a full length album in 2017. “Revolution Rising” is released on Upstate Records.
Wasting no time, the band kicks off with “Switch”, an amped up and heavy sounding song dealing with payback. The guitar riffs are intense and comparable to a Sworn Enemy riff which is not a bad thing. It gets your blood flowing and wanting more. “Revolution Rising”, the title track, continues the onslaught with an anthem worthy, politically driven, hard-edged outburst of frustration and wrath. The video does even more justice for the song. “No More Ashes” is a short burst of charged hatred done fast and heavy and has the feel of the old school hardcore sound to it. You can feel yourself wanting to find a mosh pit to go off in. “Plague” is one of the faster and harder tracks and is my personal favorite. The lyrics are strong and backed by some intense guitar riffs and drumming true to the hardcore sound. “Traitor” starts out slow and snowballs into a heavy hitting track reminiscent of early Hatebreed with its similar vocal style and crunchy guitars. Finishing up the EP is “Pass The Torch”, a hard driving war cry dealing with strength and unity and worthy of inciting a mosh pit.
Silence Equals Death is the real deal. From start to finish, there is not a weak song on this EP. What you get is six tracks of anger fueled, straight up hardcore done right. Scott has found the right musicians to create his vision and release an EP that will stand the test of time. If you are not a fan yet, I suggest you buy or steal this one and add it to your collection. Stream this online on Bandcamp or Spotify.
EYEHATEGOD/SHEER TERROR split 7" (Take As Needed Records/Chronic Death, Released November, 2020)
What we got here folks is a brand new 7" that sees New Orleans' EyeHateGod team up with NYHC vets Sheer Terror for a cool, limited edition pre-Thanksgiving stocking stuffer. Each band does 1 cover song with EHG doing Devo's "Gates Of Steel" and Sheer Terror covering Depeche Mode's "New Life". Cover songs from bands on opposite ends of the musical universe can be a lot of fun and often gives the covering band some creative freedom. Both originals (released in 1980 & '81 respectively) relied heavily on the use of keyboards and these much heavier versions create essentially brand new songs for each band. EHG chose to use a keyboard on their version of “Gates Of Steel” which is played much closer to the original than Sheer Terror’s take on “New Life” that is played without keyboards. Take As Needed Records is a new label run by the members of EHG and Chronic Death is run by Sheer Terror drummer Anthony Corallo. The fact that these versions are currently not available on the usual online streaming sites like Bandcamp and Spotify ups the ante on diehard fans needing to fork over some of their hard earned dough to hear this for themselves. Buy now or regret later. Find this through Take As Needed or Chronic Death with different variants available from each source.
DEAD BLOW HAMMER
“MANTIS LOVER/SHORTER CIRCUITS”
(Patient Zero Records, Released November, 2020)
This year has truly been a disaster for everyone, especially for the music industry across the globe. However, despite all the doom and gloom comes something new from New Jersey’s finest… Dead Blow Hammer. What better timing than to release new music which really does come across as a crushing release, something that packs a real punch and something that will lift spirits with their new EP/CD/Cassette, "Mantis Lover/Shorter Circuits". Dead Blow Hammer have matured into a force to be reckoned with across the hardcore punk genre and their latest effort demonstrates just that. Opening track "Shorter Circuits" is a continuation of their song "Polar Circuits" which appeared on their self-titled 7" back in 2015. "Shorter Circuits" grabs you from the word go… the song has depth, character, and (potentially) a real live charm that will make you want to get up and pogo. The next track is a throwback to when DBH was known as Against The Grain with the track "Force to Reckon". The production on this EP is truly in your face, loud and proud. The guitar work from both Gary and Carlito is razor sharp, demonstrating a sense of urgency throughout… without losing technique. The third song is a real treat, a cover song from the band Cause For Alarm "Stand as One" written by the man himself Rob Kabula. Not only did he play on the original song from ’83… but is here too losing none of his touch beating his bass to a pulp. And this now leads me into the final track on what has been a truly essential EP, "Mantis Lover". When I first heard the track, it didn't sound like Dead Blow Hammer at all. These guys have pushed the boundaries and delivered something different and what a monster it is. The opening notes are a real sing along, with Gary taking over the main vocals but not before the song bursts into life with AG taking control and singing better than ever. This should be in their live set without a doubt. Christian’s drumming is perfect and compliments the bands quality with his atomic delivery. This really is such a strong release and I cannot emphasis how critical this should be in your collection. If you get the CD version, the artwork by vocalist AG on the front is striking and distinctive. 2020 has just become a little brighter, thanks to the DBH crew! Perfect! Available to stream on Bandcamp with vinyl, CD and cassette versions due out on January 8th though Patient Zero. Find the pre-order info HERE.
PLASTICS “PLASTIC WORLD”
(Crew Cuts, Released October, 2020)
Brighton, UK hardcore punk band Plastics first released their latest EP “Plastics World” at the start of the year but are unleashing it again on 7”, their first release on vinyl so it is a great chance to expose yourself to Plastics fearsome and vibrant sound.
Following an intro track that is driven by a powerful rhythm, it quickly segues into the joyful noise of “Lovers”, and it’s a nonstop and straight to the point lesson in noisy punk with an abundance of hardcore energy. The following song, “Blue Mould”, in particular marries the abrasive nature of punk, particularly the vibe of anarcho-punk bands like Crass and Poison Girls with a hardcore vitality perfectly and this seems to sum up exactly where Plastics are coming from as a band. The jagged “Sitting And Stewing” comes next and it’s a discordant mix of catharsis and anger with the bands vocalist Oli showing off her formidable vocal range over an irresistibly heavy groove. “Bitter” is a definite call to arms for the Plastics sound and sets the scene for what the band are doing, sounding nothing other than vital throughout the tracks duration, and mixes both fast and slow styles with ease. The EPs closing track “Nerve Pusher” rounds things off nicely and is as heavy as it is anthemic and a great way to close this EP and with that “Plastics World” is over as quickly as it started but what you have listened to sounds defiant and vital.
With this release, Plastics have made an EP that oozes energy and a pissed off anger that can’t be faked. Plastics are the real deal and hopefully there will be more new music from them soon. The state that the world is in now needs more pissed off and angry music that will help people cope and with that in mind, you can’t go far wrong with Plastics. Find this online at the Crew Cuts Bandcamp page, for physical copies click HERE.
FASTPLANTS "GROSSO" 7"
(Not Like You Records, Released October, 2020)
Catchy ass skate punk from Waukegan, IL which is about half way between Chicago and Milwaukee. "Grosso" (side A) is a tribute to the late/great/legendary skater Jeff Grosso who passed away this past March at the age of 51. "Grosso" and "Super Stoked" (side B) are the types of songs that you can pretty much start singing along to after hearing just one verse of the chorus. "He's Jeff Grosso, He's Jeff Grosso... and you're NOT" got caught up in my head almost immediately and "Super Stoked" is not far behind in the catchinees department. The two songs here clock in at just under 4 minutes and all profits from sales will be donated to skate related charities. This was my first run in with Fastplants and I liked these (almost) 4 minutes so much that I went rootin’ around for more and found their 2017 “Spread The Stoke” full length which is pretty kick ass in its own right and recommend if you like the "Grosso" track. Fast, catchy, fun with some grit. Fastplants! Check ‘em out punk! Find “Grosso” online at the Fastplants Bandcamp page or for physical copies visit our friends over at Not Like You.
KHARMA “MOST DANGEROUS GAME”
(Flatspot Records, Released November, 2020)
Some say Karma is a bitch, but in the case of Chicago's metallic hardcore band Kharma, it's more like a cranium flattening assault from WWE's Paige, delivering her signature Paige-Turner to that hardboiled egg you call a head on a concrete floor. Kharma know how to throw down and they are going to punch your clock, moreover, if you still have any fight left in you afterward, they might just scalp you like a grizzly bear so that they have a souvenir to take home to the Mrs, dragging their teeth along the roof of your skull and peeling off the skin and hair like the rind of an over-ripe clementine. Their latest release is an EP titled “Most Dangerous Game”, which borrows from the themes of Richard Connell's short thriller about men being hunted for sport and repurposes it as an allegory for surviving on the cold streets of Chicago, a place so frigid it makes a morgue's freezer feel downright summery. The music is a fanatically well-oiled exhibition of Neglect-styled grooves delivered with the two-ton hammer impact of Bulldoze. It's fast, skull-fracturing fun that smuggles into your ears and unpacks in your mind a serious message about the mechanisms and horrors of racist violence and systemic oppression, and how capitalism, the state, and rich suburbanites conspire to turn certain neighborhoods into open-air prisons at best, and game preserves at worst. Kharma is coming, surging your way from the nightmare of our shared reality, and like it or not, when they catch up with you, they are going to mess up your day, one way or another. Find "Most Dangerous Game" on Bandcamp and Spotify.