GRUDGES, NIGHTFALL AND WOLFBIRGADE AT THE ACHERON, BROOKLYN, NY MAY 22, 2015
REVIEW BY: MATTAKINS WITH PHOTOS BY: JASON HOUSE & MATT
First up for the evening is GRUDGES, a three-piece grind band whose name I’ve heard and seen on flyers, but never actually witnessed live. I’m not the biggest grind fan out there but these guys are actually pretty good. Extremely tight drums with solid blast beats and a crazy distorted guitar behind screeching vocals…. it’s hard to not like that. Paul Delaney from Kill Your Idols, Black Anvil, and Manipulate came up and did guest vox on their last song, which coincidentally was there heaviest and my favorite. Also, the drummer has an Avail tattoo, and that deserves a mention, because... Avail.
Next on the agenda was NIGHTFALL, a three-piece crust/D-beat style band from Philly. The band is good, but the guitar tone was pretty shrill for my tastes. It seems like that’s by design because the guitarist keeps stepping on a pedal to get this screeching overdrive type sound that is just unpleasant on my ears. The bass meanwhile just sounds absolutely massive and I love it. All that aside though, the band is good. The songs are tight, fast and heavy. The bass player and the guitarist switch off with each other on vox and it adds an interesting dynamic to the songs. I would definitely see this band again, but hopefully when they aren’t using backline guitar amps, and instead their own gear.
There was supposed to be a “Special Guest” on this show. Originally Phobia was set to co-headline the bill with Wolfbrigade. They were apparently in contradiction of some sort of radius clause for a show they had earlier in the week at St. Vitus with Ghoul, and had to drop. I, like a lot of other people, thought that they were just not going to announce themselves and play as a surprise. Unfortunately, this was not the case and there was no special guest. Sad. Sad Panda. ;(
Anyways the real reason I came to the show was to see the Swedish D-beat monsters WOLFBRIGADE. And holy shit did they live up to the hype. The whole band just completely melted every last little bit of my face. The first song on their set was “Feed The Flames”, which is the first song off of their 2012 full length release entitled “Damned”. The first thing I noticed was how unbelievably similar the bands live sound is to their studio recording sound. Guitar and bass tone, not to mention the levels for each of them was immaculate. The set goes on and they play all of the best songs from Damned and my personal favorite, 2008’s full length “Comalive”. The whole place was absolutely exploding the entire time as well. I’ve seen a lot of bands play at Acheron, but Wolfbrigade was definitely the largest physically and demanded the most room on the stage, with two full guitar stacks and an 810 bass cab lining the back wall. Not to mention the tall Swedish dudes on the stage. An absolutely rock solid performance from one of my favorite d-beat bands ever. Would see again. And again. And again.
SONIC POISON EP (LifeLine Records, Release Date June 22, 2015)
Punks not dead, it’s old, cranky and ready to kick your snotty, puke ass. Currently, there’s a group of pissed off scene veterans joining forces with some indefatigable scene stalwarts who refuse to let hardcore punk be watered down. After 20 years of the Warped Tour dominating the popular consensus of what punk and hardcore should be, bands like the Obliterations and Sonic Poison are creeping out of the woodwork to tear down a reprehensible legacy. Sonic Poison isn’t exactly new to the scene (and for that matter neither are Obliterations) but, they have come together from different camps to coalesce as an iron fist to pummel lesser bands into putty. Sonic Poison is comprised of members of: Sheer Terror, the Casualties, Deathcycle, Disnihil and Concrete Cross, meaning you can switch off your bullshit detector. 4 songs that are equally influenced by D-beat and American Hardcore that converge to form some bastard version of Black Flag and Discharge with maybe a sprinkling of the Exploited in there. What else would you expect from this musical pedigree? It’s a mean spirited blast of fury that clocks in just less than 10 minutes and hits all the high marks of the aforementioned influences. Was it better back in the day? Probably not; the fact that punk and hardcore scenes were a tribe not a style is probably what keeps these guys going. When you have to work at something, it means more to succeed. I think my dad said some shit like that…I’m old.
HOT BLOOD “OVERCOME- PART 1”
(Basement Records, Released April 2015)
There certainly is something in the water in New Jersey, and seeing that Hot Blood hail from Red Bank and Asbury Park, it's probably best left up to the imagination just what exactly that "something" might be. Personally I'd start at rusty amusements, mobster parts, and toxic waste and go from there, but that's not important right now. What is important is this here 7", “Overcome Part 1”, by Hot Blood. I believe I read right here, at the most bestest hardcore website in all of Imagination Land,.....In Effect, a most excellent interview with this band in which they stated, that this is the first in a trilogy of 7 inches they plan to complete. Sweet. This offering clocks in at just over six minutes so hang on to your hats, this is fast, original, hardcore punk rock and roll......So let me break it down for you fellas, like I was Young MC or some shit.
First song "Rust" coming in at 1:51. First thing that grabs me is the machine gun snare beat. Guitars kick in and the song is moving at a nice fast pace. The next thing that grabs me is the vocals... Throaty, buzz saw"ish", sounds great. If I was to draw a comparison it would be someone along the lines of Anders from the Swedish metal band In Flames, “Soundtrack To Your Escape” era, when he is not crooning. Look it up. The next and most important thing is the lyrics. Smart writing. I can really dig somebody with something to say and a way to say it. I believe vocalist Mat Kiley writes the lyrics, and he is clearly an intelligent guy. This particular song is about the fragile nature of the economy and how fast and easy it is to go from top to bottom in the blink of an eye....but seriously it sounds way better when Mat says it and the band backs it. This song has a nice sung chorus that almost gives it a celtic punk feel the way it is structured. I could knock back a few Guiness' and knock a few heads with this as my soundtrack.
If "Rust" didn't get you pumped, then "Blood On My Hands" the second track coming in at 1:15 will certainly have you circle pitting around your grandmother's sweet dining room set. You're probably gonna kick her old dusty cat too, so be prepared. If you couldn't tell, this is my favorite track. Simple guitar intro launches you into the raw hardcore anger. If you see that title and think you know...you don't know. This Kiley guy is smarter than that. The music, the lyrics...perfect. "They tell me dig and dig and dig until you're out of this pit". This is one of those repeat songs you listen to over and over, like Rival Mob, "Boot Party". So good. This one's the rocker of the EP.
The smartest writing comes in the form of "Cop In A Tank" at a minute and a half. Very clever and timely lyrics accompany a straight fastcore tune. This is no frills hardcore at its best. I detect sweet notes of sarcasm accompanied by robust social commentary. I even surprised myself with that last bit. The music is at times tight and fast and at other times it's loose and fast, but it’s always fast. This leads us into the final song at 1:38 "Class Warfare". "THIS IS A WAR!!" is how this one rips open. Another straight blistering hardcore track accompanied by more biting social commentary. Short, fast, loud, and pissed. Shredding.
So.... Do you have 7 minutes to spare to listen to some excellent, smart hardcore punk rock and roll? You know that you fucking do... so stop frontin. Check out this EP by Hot Blood, it does not disappoint. If bands like Kill Your Idols, Op Ivy, or Poison Idea appeal to you....shit...even if Flo-Rida is your thang...check this out anyway. I love all types of core, but to me, this is my favorite kind. Not the most polished, sometimes almost sloppy, but completely devoid of bullshit. Hope that doesn't come off as a knock on the band because it is anything but. This whole package works which makes sense because I believe I also read in that excellent In Effect piece, that these guys already have a full length and an EP out...So I for one am going retroactive on that shit, and you should too. I'm old. What's your excuse?
GUILTY CONSCIENCE “NEGATIVE ATTENTION”
(Released March 2015)
Florida has never exactly been a hotbed for hardcore punk. A hotbed for weird crime headlines; sure. But Hardcore, not really. There was the early 2000’s straight edge stalwarts Casey Jones (RIP), or the Youth Crew savvy Truth Inside (RIP). If you’re an avid old-school record collector you’ll know Angry Youth, and more recently there is the Tallahassee powerhouse Point Blank (not to be confused with NYC’s Point Blank). But other than that, not too many other Florida bands have managed to surface nationally. And that’s why I’m pumped to check out any band coming from the sweaty swampy southernmost tip of this great nation. GUILTY CONSCIENCE hailing from Miami are the most recent addition to the ever elusive roster of Florida bands. Their EP “Negative Attention” dropped a few months back, and right out of the gate these guys get props from me for playing in E standard, which is strangely rare these days. It’s pretty exciting straight ahead hardcore that hits fast and hard without the crutch of down-tuned chugging. Not to turn my nose up at down-tuned chugging or anything, but as a semi-purist I appreciate a band that is hard without being gratuitously “heavy”. The opening track “Courtesy of Rats” is simultaneously attention grabbing and mosh inducing. It’s got the ol’ classic standby instrumental intro with a good creepy crawl bass line. The singer’s delivery is a standout quality; good rhythmic delivery, and a very upfront boldness. Every so often you hear a recorded performance so good that it practically lends itself to a great live performance. This guy exudes a unique confidence that screams “I’m even better live!”. Lyrically things are a little bit cryptic, to the point of poeticism. It can be sometimes off-putting when a bands lyrics are weirdly too specific, it leaves nothing to the imagination. But here, there is still just enough mystery behind these words that they’re ambiguous while still seeming relatable. If anything Negative Attention might lose a few points because it’s too straight ahead, it’s more or less just hardcore for hardcore’s sake, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but lack of innovation definitely leaves a bit to be desired. But then again hardcore bands aren’t exactly known for re-inventing the wheel. (Fav moment: The “MOSH!” call at the 1:22 mark in “New Granada”). I get a heavy Warzone vibe with the occasional use of octave chords as a tasteful nod to Have Heart. Overall Guilty Conscience is a really cool band with a lot of potential; a tight rhythm section, a great vocalist, and one killer release under their belt. Hopefully these guys come through the Northeast soon. Seven thumbs up!
DEATHWISH “OUT FOR BLOOD”
(Beer City Skateboards and Records
Released April 18, 2015)
You can't beat an impressive debut album, literally. Just ask Rage Against The Machine, Metallica, Terror and Life Of Agony, to name but a few. Wisconsin-based quartet Deathwish will certainly have a crack at doing so after penning a three album deal with Wisconsin's Beer City Records. And they will have to pull out all the stops because this, their debut LP, which was initially released on Record StoreDay is an absolute banger.
Taking their cues from the likes of The Exploited, GBH and Zeke to the treble-heavy mix favored by thrash-crossover kings Power Trip and Belgian audio terrorists Blind To Faith, Deathwish are a force to be reckoned with. The title track begins with a ballsy rock 'n roll riff before the cacophony of anarcho-punk and hardcore elements filter in to devastating effect, with bassist and vocalist Bitty leading the charge with intent.
The melody of “Balance Of Power” is quickly followed by the frenetic pace of “Flatline”, which reminded me of a amped up version of Minor Threat's “I Don't Wanna Hear It”. Yes many of the solos are similar in the nine tracks on offer but, to be honest, anything else more fiddly would have sounded out of place. This biggest compliment I can pay them is this - when the first chords of opening track “Population Zero” were struck I heard what I have long imagined and wished seminal UK crust punks Discharge would sound like if they were starting out now - gloriously vicious. Add the fact that they close the album with a song called “Unholy Bastards” and one of their guitarists goes by the name Guinea Pig Champion, what is not to like?
TRUE IDENTITY “Demo 2015”
(Released May 2015)
True Identity is one of the freshest bands I've heard in a while. When I listened to their demo on Bandcamp a week or so ago, I totally fell for it. A couple of days later, Chris (In Effect) asked me if I could review this and… hell yeah, here we are!
True Identity is a brand new band, based in Vancouver B.C., Canada. They consist of ex-members of bands like ON, Keep It Clear, Betrayed, Champion, Blue Monday, The First Step and more. They also feature Aram Arslanian (member of some of the above bands & “boss” of React! Records till 2013). True Identity play no frills - no fills hardcore music dedicated to the straight edge, to the hardcore scene and to real friendship. If you wanna draw comparisons, just take a look at the back catalogue of React! Records or the former bands of the TI members. This has nothing to do with today's hype or the new trend in hardcore…this is old school (2-step fueled) hardcore, reviving the youth crew movement and representing to me what is one of the most vital parts of the scene…the straight edge.
True Identity takes no prisoners and everyone should keep an eye on them. Their demo was just released in tape format, while React! Records plans to press a 7" hopefully very soon. The band played Rain Fest 2015 in Seattle this past weekend and it seems that they kicked it hard. By the way, “DTTD” is my favorite hardcore song for this month.
CROSS ME – “MIND PRISON/CONTENT” 2-SONG 7"
(Flatspot Records, Released March 2015)
Cross Me's 2014 “Paid In Full” EP was a solid slab of NY-infused old-skool hardcore, not dissimilar to the groove-laden appeal of Backtrack. However, this Milwaukee five-piece have stepped things up to the next level here, both in terms of production and song arrangement. The springy bass-opening to “Mind Prison” sounds as good as any post-90s produced Suicidal Tendencies album while the guitars leap out from the speakers.
Crucially, the vocal mix is far superior to anything they have done before, having opted to dispense with that “Jacob Bannon shouting down a transistor radio” approach. Marrying the sonic intensity of early Terror with transitions into chest-pounding, yet not overly-predictable breakdowns, Cross Me are a young band clearly honing their craft wisely. “Content” builds furiously to a nice crescendo, following a couple of opportunities for microphone sharing with the crowd. With a 7 inch EP due on Bridge Nine Records in the fall Cross Me are gathering a nice head of steam which will undoubtedly result in their best material yet with these tracks as their benchmark.
HITTIN’ RANDOM “WHERE’S YOUR RAGE” EP
(Released May 12, 2015)
The city of Venice Italy has long been known as a hub for art in all mediums, so to learn that it has a burgeoning hardcore scene should come as no surprise. When picturing Venice, most people admittedly tend to think of pristine canals strewn with gondolas captained by singing versions of the Super Mario Bros, or that first chase sequence from “The Italian Job.” As for the music scene, one might think it would be limited to accordions and Pavarotti. Enter Hittin' Random. This Venetian quartet will quickly shatter any preconceived notions you may have had about music in the City of Masks. Clearly inspired by their hardcore punk fore-bearers, their 4 song EP entitled “Where's Your Rage?” packs a real punch loaded with heavy bass riffs, fast guitar breaks, and 2 steps. If pressed, I'd peg their overall sound somewhere between No Turning Back and Floorpunch. Right away I was surprised and impressed that their lyrics are all in English, and well written at that. The common thread that I picked up through the record was a message of real defiance and rebellion. Despite having no label to represent them, Hittin' Random have put together a solid recording with “Where's Your Rage?”, having clearly grown and rounded out their sound since their 2013 demo (which is also worth a listen itself). The intro to the EP is a punchy bass and drum driven little ditty that'll get you pit mongers moving around for sure. My personal favorite out of the 4 songs on “Where's Your Rage?” was the third track titled “My Ground”. It’s a solid mix of the band's fast lyrics and drum fills, with an underlying in your face attitude that permeates through the entire EP. I had not heard this band before, and I'm glad that I was turned on to them for my first review here. I'll definitely be keeping an ear to the ground for more from these guys-and the rest of the Italian scene at that.
NUCLEAR ASSAULT- “POUNDER” EP
(Dry Heave Records/Sidipus Records,
Release Date June 22, 2015)
When I heard that Nuclear Assault was getting back together to celebrate their 30th Anniversary and would be embarking on the "Final Assault" Tour...... I was stoked. I figured they would get together, make the rounds and treat us to the hits on a quasi-nostalgia tour like so many others before them, not that there's anything wrong with that. I think it's just fine. Then I heard that Dan Lilker and John Connelly were once again doing the writing and that the band (rounded out by Glenn Evans on drums and Eric Burke on guitar) were going to record something to honor the anniversary..... their first new recordings in ten years. The last release was “Third World Genocide” in 2005. With this information I went from stoked to amped. Then I get the new "Pounder" EP with the 4 new tracks for review, and now I've gone to full on psyched! The band self-produced this new EP and recorded it up in Rochester, NY.
So... I pop this badboy on to see what up. First song is the titular track "Pounder" clocking in at 3:24. I hear some drumsticks click, a little feedback, perhaps someone in studio saying "ouch" and the guitar kicks in.........and its mid-tempo? Huh?? Hold up....hold up....About four seconds later the song shakes off the 10 years of ring rust and takes off into the thrash on adderall zone. Almost immediately my bald skinhead sprouts 3 odd foot of hair, a jean jacket materializes on my back and the sleeves immediately rip off, atop my new hair springs a trucker hat with the bill folded up, which promptly rotates 180 degrees on my head to the backward position, my track pants have turned into ripped faded jeans, and my Samba's are now New Balance high tops with my new jeans disappearing behind the enormous tongue, my beard has fallen out and a small cheesey mustache remains like a turd on my upper lip. All this from the first song. We have thrash here at its finest. "Pounder" is kinda Nuclear Assault's way of re-introducing themselves to the metal world. Well, hello there Nuclear Assault, where ya been? We missed you. So far the band has not missed a beat in their hiatus. A very nice surprise is that John's vocals sound the same as they did in 1986. Pretty incredible especially in light of how he sings.
The second track coming in at 3:02 is "The Blind Follow (AKA Lies)". Pretty self-explanatory. This one intro’s with an almost Madball "Set It Off" vibe. While the first song transformed me back into me circa 1985, this one got me circle pitting in my living room....but in that metal way, where you swing your arms over your head and down like you are hammering nails into your thighs all while you are banging your head. Another solid thrasher. I am impressed by how this sounds. It's like you could have told me these were outtakes from "The Plague" recordings, and I would know no better and have no reason to doubt you. The third track is the shortest at 2:41. This one is a bit tongue in cheek as evidenced by the title "Analog Man In A Digtal World". This is one of those hard driving tunes I am so fond of. The kind you want to be listening to in a high speed chase. It comes complete with blistering guitar solos, excellent sing a longs, and all around kick-ass musicianship.
The final track on this new EP is "Died In Your Arms" and at 4:18 it is the longest one. This is one of those great metal story songs. Near as I can tell it involves a break in at the narrator's home and the ensuing brawl for his life. It is not delivered in the typical Nuclear Assault screaming blistering way. John actually almost croons along with the music which sets the perfect mood. His voice reaching higher the more desperate the lyric he is delivering. This song reminds me of perhaps a "Cemetary Gates" in tone. Very good tune...maybe my favorite on the EP. When the song ended I noticed I reverted back to my normal self.
Overall I love this new EP by these OG thrashers. They have not missed a beat with this and it covers all of the bases. As a fan I take it as a gift and say a big thanks to them, because most bands would just get together, tour only the hits, and make a buck. I don't begrudge any band doing that, if you can, DO. You probably couldn't then, but you might be able to now so why not? To get some new material, and really good material at that, is a mega-bonus for sure. Please check out the new Nuclear Assault EP, I'm rather certain you won't be disappointed. I hear there will be some deluxe vinyl as well for all of us geeks. If you loved them then, you will love them now. GAME-NOT-OVER.
LIFE FOR A LIFE “SOUL ON ICE”
(Innerstrength Records, Released May 2015)
Life For A Life is from Lancaster California, which is about an hour north of Los Angeles. Saw these guys play Olympia, WA a few months back and they put on a good show. Really dug their singer Jabril’s stage vibe. Super nice dudes too.
“Soul On Ice” is five tracks of pure pit music. Lots of breakdowns, but they don’t forget about the roots and they definitely include the requisite fast breaks. The vocals are different than a lot of this style of heavy music. They’re more an angry-rapping versus a throaty scream; think somewhere between Biohazard and a less singy Leeway. The recording on this EP is pretty solid. Good round tone on the guitars and I like the reverb on the vocals; it works more for the rapping style than the cleaner vocals on the earlier recordings.
“Cuffs” is my favorite track on this record. It just has a real good hard groove like “Look My Way” era Madball, or again... not unlike Biohazard. And I’m always a sucker for a song kicking off with a reverse gate. If this band was around in 2001 they would have been huge in the Bay Area. I’m picturing a Life For A Life/Lowlife/Sacto Hoods/Sworn Vengeance show at Burnt Ramen with wall-to-wall California bear-clawing. Pretty solid EP. If you’re a fan of any of the bands mentioned above, give this a listen.
M.O.R.A. – “HALVEKSUNNAN AIKA” EP
(Released March 2015)
When I think of Finland, the first thing that comes to my mind is that I am not sure if it is part of Scandinavia. That's the truth. Everytime. Not sure why. Well, I just used the Google and guess what, Wikipedia isn't sure either...it's not, but it can be? I don't know, fuck learnin..... The next thing I think of is ice, then giant, fair haired, powerful people,......... ice, Russia, ice, and ice hockey, not necessarily in that order. Probably the same way MORA probably thinks loud, fat, and intrusive, when thinking of 'Merica. I'm the first to admit I'm pretty ignorant about the culture of Finland, so I was kinda psyched to get this for review, figuring there is no better way to find out the true nature of a place then to plug into its underground. M.O.R.A. are not super fair, nor are they giants, but they are a hardcore punk band from Helsinki, Finland with duel female vocals, a female bassist and some cock and balls thrown in for good measure to round out the band. They have been around since 2008 and have a self-titled, self-released CD which came out in 2011. The band has had some issues to deal with which delayed this new EP's release. They got their shit together to record in 2013, but just as they were preparing, Piia (vocals) and Katja (bass) announced they were pregnant and leaving the band. As a whole the band decided to do this final release as a unit, one last time, before the families began and new members sought. The band banged it out in 5 days. All seemed well until the computer holding the drum, bass and guitar tracks shit the bed, and the band had to re-record. The ladies had children and at the end of 2014 the mastered CD was finally in hand. The band was stoked until they realized they had zippy by way of art for the release. They used tons of photos to put together a really nice booklet and an all around good looking CD, containing lyrics and lots of words with lots and lots of A's in them...my Finnish is a mighty bit rusty. Luckily the band included a nice translated sheet for me, the rest of you can suck it. Nah....don't you cry little coremin, I'll tell you what the songs are about.
Remember when I said I was ignorant of all things Finland, well I lied a bit. I do own some choice oldschool hardcore by Finnish bands such as Riistetyt, Tampere SS, and Terveet Kädet among a few others, but these are all really old. I haven't kept up with the goings on, but I should have because this M.O.R.A. is solid. We get six chunks of hardcore life Finnish style on this offering. The first song “Nykayajan Narrit” (21st Century Court Jesters) 1:48, bursts out of the speakers with vocals and instruments simulatneously assaulting the listener with anger and volume. The first thing that grabs me is the vocals. I enjoy the back and forth that 2 singers afford a band, they can almost step on each others lines which actually makes the lyrics seem fast...like the music. The ladies have a high buzzsaw sound vocally, reminiscent of bands like Cryptic Slaughter, Leftover Crack and maybe “Game Over” era Nuclear Assault. The band is tight. The song concerns the information age and its effects on privacy, information, mis-information and things of that nature. It's about how this is all leading us right down the old Beemus (toilet brand). The song has a modern feel and I get a bit of a Cro-Mags "Best Wishes" vibe especially in the guitar work. The next song is “Iltasatu” (Bed Time Story) 2:04, it's about alcohol abuse and its effects on a family and friendships. It's a very damning testimonial which sounds very personal. This is a hard pounding song, like the subject matter. You can mosh and smash top shelf liquor out of your dad's cabinet to it. “Jaksaa Jaksaa” (Go On, Go On) 2:15, is the "lead the police on a high speed chase" song of this CD. Crank it up, commit a crime, call the cops on yourself, and GO!!! However the song is not about that..... other than sonically. It's more about working your life away for little to no reward...bustin’ your ass for the man. So I guess Finland is not all that different from the good old U.S. for many of us and many of them.
I'm three songs deep, three more to go. Really enjoying this blend of old school and new school. Next up is “Tänään, Tässä” (Right Here, Right Now) 3:06, the longest on the CD...and no, not a cover of that hippie dance bullshit by Jesus Jones. In fact this is like the anti-version of that song. This one starts with a little cymbal crash, then you get a slow pound which speeds up, slows down and then gets moving. This song will get you moving too. This is negative core at its finest. A song that smacks of desperation and self-loathing. It's all about running on that gerbil wheel and getting nowhere fast...doomed to fail. I've cranked this several times much to my neighbors enjoyment. Fuck them. The 5th song is entitled “Tyhjän Päällä” (On Top Of Emptiness) 2:47, and it rolls right out of the last song without a pause. This is another personal sounding song with a strong anti-drug stance, which seems to be directed at someone specific. It's pretty hardline which should get all you militant edgemin ripping off your shirts and pounding on your chests. The final song on this release is “Ajan Henki” (The Spirit Of Our Times) 2:04. M.O.R.A. keep the subject matter light on this one. It concerns reality TV and how it’s basically a sign of the apocalypse...well, that's probably more how I feel about the subject, but they aren't too far off from those sentiments. My favorite song on the release for sure. A real rocker.
So like that, it's over. 14 minutes and change. If you actually read this drivel, it probably took you longer than a listen would. This is some great Finnish hardcore. It has surprisingly hard driving riffs that tip a cap to NYHC. It's apparent that being in Helsinki or being in say, DC, is really not all that different. We share the same fears, rages, hopes and hates. This is a great swan song for this incarnation of M.O.R.A.. I hear new members have been found and I for one am stoked to see where they go from here. Check out M.O.R.A. and update your collection of hardcore punk from Finland. Now that things are settled, I hope this band takes their thumb out of their ass and cranks out some music a little faster....I mostly said that so somebody has to translate it into Finnish.
PURE DISGUST “ CHAINED” EP
(Released April 2015)
With a growing number of amazing bands followed by an awesome DIY fest known as Damaged City, it is impossible to argue that DC doesn't have one of the best punk scenes in America. Currently all of my favorites are located in DC such as Protester, Red Death, Javla and many, many more. These bands even decided to categorize themselves as ''The New Wave of DC Hardcore.'' A little ludicrous it may sound, they have the right to have this brand. To me, this current scene going on in DC is the continuation of the “Flex Your Head” era. Even if 99.9% of these bands fall in the ''members of'' category, I don't mind it considering that each band is unique from one another.
So with that being said let me explain about one of the bands from the NWDCH called Pure Disgust. They are strongly influenced by Oi and early 80’s hardcore which as many of you may know, is a trending subgenre. Ironically they were one of my least favorite bands from that scene at one point. They were never bad and were alright, but I always skipped them whenever I would look for something to listen to. The demo was kind of bland and got a little better with the 7'' but they still didn't appeal to me like I was hoping it would. There wasn't enough energy with both of those releases so when I heard about that they were going to release a new EP titled ''Chained'', I didn't really care. After hearing so many people talk about it, I gave it a chance to see what all the fuss was about. Now I can't help but listen to this record nonstop! Seriously talk about improvement! The energy those instruments carry and the pure anger being heard in those vocals. My favorite from this record is how catchy the drums are. As repetitive it can get, I can care less because all it makes me want to do is pogo. Seriously their music is completely flawless and really, what's there to nitpick? Just think of the Partisans taken over by John Brannon of Negative Approach.
The lyrics mainly cover one of the most important issues such as conformity and the unfortunate relevant issue that is racism. Even culture appropriation is brought up in the song ''Race War'' which is pretty rare for any band to write a song about. I think that's pretty badass because seriously, it's annoying seeing people trying to mock any culture. Even with every song being impeccable, I only have two favorites which are ''Caged Profit'' and the last track of the record, ''Chained.'' The riffs in these two are one of the catchiest I have heard in any band period. Also the lyrics in “Caged Profit” is brutally honest talking about the punishments to the people of color who most likely never deserved it by the authority. ''Chained'' has been heard before with its ''Fuck Conformity'' ideal, but seriously though, fuck that shit. Especially with the incidents going on, why should we feel dictated? So overall this record is straight to the point and more pissed off than the last two releases. Pure Disgust carries an important message and opposes any bullshit. ''Chained'' is just one of the many reasons to why DC is ''Back on the Map.''
DELUMINATOR- "ENEMY OF GOD"
(Choke Records, Released January 2015)
Deluminator, featuring members of Vengeance Today and Face Your Pain, founded in 2014 in Dresden, Germany come correctly with classic rock, metal, and hardcore influences. This 4 track EP has a wide variety of genre collaborations with their tracks “Occult Lights”, “Enemy Of God”, “Priest”, and “Foresight”.
The bands aptitude for suturing their adventurous bend to the greater body of metal proper is pretty much straight up a great mix of slow, fast, doom, rock, hardcore enhanced with killer guitar solos and what sounds like a bunch of universes having a falling apart competition. You'll hear how Deluminator stir the pot and keep things flowing naturally with at moments epic metalgaze getting tickled by grundge with classic rock/traditional metal guitar riffage holding down their melodic sound. Deluminator liquefies all the elements into a cohesive whole, not a linear fragmentation of thrash part, doom part, post metal part, grundge part, etc. Their skill at building layers filling space with attractive heaviness, fills and melodies and writing articulate material with good quality is unquestionable.
I look forward to hearing more from Deluminator in the future; be sure to check out their video on YouTube @ Hardcore Worldwide for the track "Enemy Of God" and you'll get a taste of what it's like at a live performance.
-Alex "The Past" Karp
THE BEAUTIFUL ONES “JADED LOVE”
(6131 Records, Released April 21, 2015)
Don't let the name of the band and their debut full-length fool you. For all the sweet nothings words like “love” and “beautiful” conjure up this Arizona five-piece are heavy enough to shatter hearts and win over the most cynical of souls. Maybe I am mellowing in my tender years - I like bands that are trying to bring something new to the table these days, even if it is barely noticeable.
I got hooked on The Beautiful Ones in 2012 - huge groove-driven hardcore with a guy who can really mix it up on the mic. More about that shortly. “Jaded Love” opens with the sort of dreamy soundscape Cave In would pen, a ditty written for stargazing and the past-time of people watching from the confines of a High Street coffee shop. The band then reminded me why I got hooked on their infectious EP “The Birth Of Desire” - swathes of riffs over a low-end bass rumble as vocalist Tevita showcases his range of styles, from outright venom on “Preface” to the haunting Mina Caputo-esque delivery on “Exhale”.
“Transcend” and “Lovers Stomp” are beefed up NYHC-fueled monsters that seasoned pit veterans will lap up, while Pity Sex singer Britty Drake heads up the acoustic charm of “The Morning”, a song that would easily fit on one of those “Sunday Chills” Spotify playlists. The dynamic works to perfection as “Flowercrown”, with its infectious opening guitar hook pushes the speakers to the maximum. Indeed, this song is my album highlight - it veers from a riff Backtrack forgot to write to brooding reverb-laden hooks from the book of Jerry Cantrell. "She's pulling me in, she's pulling me closer, with the way that she moves, she's pulling my will", barks Tevita, setting up the breakdown to close the song. The strength of the album diminishes slightly over the final, largely mellow four songs, apart from the ass-handed-to-you central riff in “Heart In A Jar”, with the overall intensity and pace dropping.
The word “accessible” is still seen as a dirty word in some quarters of the hardcore scene but this, along with Turnstile's addictive “Non-Stop Feeling” is exactly that -thoroughly enjoyable melodic hardcore which gives a few nods to everything from grunge to the scene from the city that never sleeps.
For fans of Incendiary, Alpha & Omega, Life Of Agony, Helmet, Cruel Hand.
FULL SCALE RIOT “DEPOPULATION”
(Released February 2015)
Full Scale Riot is all over the map. There are shades of mid-90’s Helmet, Inside Out and Sick of It All in their songs. This being a demo, it’s certainly demo quality; by that I mean I can hear the ideas and they aren't bad. I think these guys could use a grittier live sound to really get the intensity they’re going for. They probably put on an awesome, sweaty, stage dive-y live show, but the production is a little too clean for my blood. I like grime and NY HxC should always be teeming with the electricity of the city and community. I certainly wouldn't hold that against these dudes, again a demo with a lot of potential is better than a bunch of mop top millionaire muppets crooning or whining about chicks or whatever. Full Scale Riot don’t sound too concerned with getting laid; they’re more of the scorched Earth, soylent green variety of bands. Fuck it, kill ‘em all and start over; a new beginning. It certainly doesn't hurt that their pedigree includes ex-members of Dillinger Escape Plan, M.O.D and Shat. So, if you’re looking for something to spin while doing the dishes, punching a cop or whatever, you could certainly do worse than Full Scale Riot. Their pissed off odes to current events should keep us all occupied until they drop a new record that really encapsulates their true potential. (Editors note- this was sent in and called a demo from the press release although their Bandcamp page refers to it as an LP)
ANCHOR “DISTANCE & DEVOTION”
(Gaphals, Released April 10, 2015)
Are you ready for the next big blast of unforgettable hardcore? Wait, why am I even asking a question like that? And why am I asking the question you are reading right now? I don’t know either. Think about that.
It’s a rare thing to hear an album and instantly know it's gonna be revered, but I believe “Distance & Devotion” is one such rarity. This band has bollocks the size of bowling balls, and that’s not a reference to heaviness, because this record isn’t particularly brutal, but rather to the overall tone of the album which has got shades of the boldness of Comeback Kid’s “Wake The Dead”, Down To Nothing’s “The Most”, and a touch of Dead Swans’ “Sleepwalkers”, particularly in those addictive gang shouts in “SUR-VIVE!” which promise for fun shows. Hell, I’d go as far to say that it gives Turnstile’s new record a run for its money in relation to the genre-stretching both bands have exemplified. Littered with memorable tunes such as “Losing Faith” and “Upstream”, this album is energetic from the first track. Like Down To Nothing’s “Up River”, the opening track has that catchy intertwining of strong bleak chords and higher pitched twangling (a new phrase I just made up. An amalgamation of twiddling and twanging. See, writers can intertwine things same as musicians) that makes me wanna skank like a madman while yelling meaningful things at strangers.
Elsewhere the pace is slower but just as powerful in its own rite. “Roads Unknown” shows us softer acoustic-like melodies, bringing the headbang frequency down while introducing us to a more emotionally powered element, and instrumental tracks “Distance” and “Devotion” show us a…well, an instrumental element. And…shit, was that a piano?
Things pick back up with “Hope Dies Last”, which has more of that ‘fuck it all, I’m gonna go mental’ vibe before “Nightcaller” brings us that fury to a greater extent as the heaviest, most manic track on there. It’s great to see a band push the boundaries of the genre and mess with our perceptions. Don’t get me wrong, the album is undisputedly hardcore, but it’s got more to say than many. Pick this up and you won’t know where to turn.
WAR ON WOMEN S/T LP
(Bridge 9 Records, Released February 10, 2015)
From the first track, this didn’t sound like I expected it to. And yes, I know how ironic it is that I expected this to sound a certain way. Don’t get me wrong, the riot grrrl influences are definitely there though, most prevalently in the snotty, pissed off vocals and the occasional Olympia-style surf riffs. But some of these songs (particularly the first one) also have really melodic leads that border on Strike Anywhere territory. There are actually a lot of different influences on this record, but they all come together to form a cohesive musical vehicle for the rage behind these songs. I’m personally more a fan of the more straight-up melodic hardcore style songs than the more experimental tracks, but the record is an interesting listen.
I think War On Women can be an important band for this era. Misogyny, racism, and general ignorance are not things that our society has come close to outgrowing. Maybe we’re moving in the right direction, but social media certainly gives a platform for so-called “mennists” and every other category of idiotic creep to anonymously assault women and other racial, sexual and class minorities.
War On Women comes in a long line of bands in the punk rock scene that have been screaming against these oppressive tropes. Their name alone, is a statement. But I think it’s cool that this band put out an album on a label that doesn’t really have much in the way of overtly feminist artists. It’s not a completely different audience, per se, but they are moving their message at least a bit outside the choir. By no means am I disparaging the label. I love Bridge 9 and some of the bands on this label are among my favorite in this hardcore scene currently. But I also think that even the mainstream hardcore scene has some work to do, to further distance itself from some of the ignorance that is so present outside of our local basements and VFW halls.
Some of the lyrics on this record will certainly cause some uneasy squirms from some listeners. But they shouldn’t. These are topics that we in the punk scene should expect to hear bands screaming about. Lyrical topics take on subject like rape, abortion, human trafficking, gender wage gaps, etc.. If you’re happy to remain completely content with life, focusing on all the blissful things the world has to offer, this band is not for you. But if you’re willing to listen to music that makes you furious about some of the injustices and evils that are out there, so that you can help make even some small change, give this a listen... or better yet, make this the sound track of some deep Google searches.
SPIRITS- "DISCONTENT" LP
(State Of Mind Records/Reality Records
Release Date May 5, 2015)
My current item up on the reviewing block is the latest release and the debut full length, by a straightedge outfit out of Boston called Spirits entitled "Discontent”. Now, one of my favorite all time crunchy sxe records is the “Spirit” LP by Up Front (namedrop....um...I mean, shout out to John F. and Jeff T.) so they already have a big hill to climb. I first perused the literature about the band and notice that they have a full on tour of Europe already all planned and coming up. Now I'm suspect. I have a sort of nerd love of hardcore and youth crew stuff holds a special place, and I've never heard of this band. I check out Hate5Six and there are no videos and that guy films everything. I start to think the con is on. I poke around the intraweb for a minute and find out they have an EP and a split...maybe. I also learned that they used to be a band called Test Of Time that was on Bridge 9, and, long story short, singer spontaneously combusts and a few minor adjustments including moniker change later....new band. There are videos of that incarnation on Hate5Six...I feel better. Full disclosure, never heard of Test Of Time either, but that amounts to squat. Onto the tunes. I want to preface this with this simple fact; this is a positive review. I've already done the listening, I've read the lyrics, I am giving it a thumbs up. I say this in the event that I get snarky or try to be witty and it comes off in a negative way. It is all done from a loving place.
Track one is "Discontent". It's an intro. What would a sxe LP be without the intro? It would amount to a pile of suck, that's what. This intro kicks off with some nice pick harmonics and then busts a groove. It has odd time signatures. Definitely not what I expected. This shit is polished and the band is really tight. Hello, how are you Spirits, nice to meet you. At the tail end of that intro come "Days Of Light" at 1:47. This song is your awakening. This song is about that moment...the turning point (no pun). The vocals are more to the shredded side than what usually accompanies this type of music and for this song it seems a couple of dudes share the vocals and it works the way the lines crash into each other. It has some gang vocals and a nice breakdown. Good tune.
Next up is a quick :58 second "Life Of Fiction" it is a quick romping song with lines like "live a life of fiction you sell as fact. and I'm not buying it." ...So somebody is full of shit here. Then coming in at 1:52 we have "Time Got Lost". Chung, chung chung it starts. Here we go into that old, you started doing drugs and I remained true, color by numbers sxe tune, certain to appeal to angry edgemen worldwide. IMO, this tune is a little callous in its approach to the subject and maybe even a little juvenile, but it's a good fuckin tune. Definitely a favorite on the LP for me. These guys can play this music very well and add little nuances here and there to keep it fresh.
The fifth tune on the album is the very timely "Paid For Hate" at 2;16. This is an anti police song. Not that Sting, Andy, and Stewart da do do do - da da da da nonsense, but Po Po....5-0....you dig. I like to think this is an anti-police brutality song and not straight up anti-cop, but whatever. It’s about that fear of having to be in a situation with a cop when you don't know if you are going to escape with your life. I'm not certain Spirits is really doing a lot of suffering at the hands of rogue cops, but I get it, and they certainly feel it. This song is followed by 2 quick solid tunes; "Never Lose The Feeling" 1:03 self explanatory....but it's a never moving on/still rings true sxe song for the remedial, and "Searching For More" 1:35...the disillusionment song.
Then comes "The Pledge" 2:57. It sneaks in with a light almost acoustic set-up. Then the song kicks in with an almost militaristic snare beat. Then it starts to romp. These boys put the edge in pledge. This song is a love letter to straightedge. This song is gonna have all my clean brothers up front screaming their sharp minds off along with the band. It's an anthem is what it is, I suppose, and it's angry.....seriously fucking angry. It's got everything you could want in a sxe anthem and it rocks. This mega-tune is followed by "Inherent Greed" 1:14, and after that last song, I can't even understand this one.....seriously, I read it several times....I don't get it, I must be getting stupider.
Now is an odd time in the LP where Spirits decide to change it up topically and we enter what I refer to as the "fiscal" portion of the program. Up until now we were dealing with mostly personal issues, but that's dead, bust out your economics textbooks. Up first is "The Almighty Dollar" 2:03, solid fast tune, a little simplistic in its view, but we aren't here for microeconomic theory. This leads to a slow dirgy tune called "Displaced" about the machine and the human cost it bears. Excellent haunting guitar work on this song. Probably my favorite on the release. This song ends with the first line of "Their Class War" 1:51. It's like a two-fer. Rich vs. poor...homelessness, it's all in this one. The final song on the LP is "The Restless Ones", gang vocals and the refrain "...and I'm not ready for the suit and tie days"....Well, I gots news for ‘ya fellas, there's dudes who been wearing a suit and tie for 30 years that aren't ready for the suit and tie days either, but good song nonetheless.
There you have it, the new one from Spirits. It is a very good LP. It is going to appeal to people who like bands like Have Heart, Mindset, Verse ....maybe Foundation. I am not comparing Spirits to any of those bands though. This band seems to contain some skilled musicians and as mentioned earlier, they pack a lot of interesting things throughout so as to not get mired in the same old formula..... and even though I think a couple of tunes could have been saved for a next EP, the LP doesn't drag. Spirits is not really breaking any new ground. You simply cannot in this genre, so that point is essentially moot, but Spirits are covering hallowed ground in their own way, and it's interesting, and I think peeps will dig it. I could see them blowing up the stage at This Is Hardcore or something similar, bookers take note.
PRESSING ON- “DEMO 2015”
(Released April 12, 2015)
Dear Pressing On:
I hate to inform you, but this is no demo. The name is a lie. Its 8 bad ass songs with pretty damn decent production quality that should be titled “Wasteland” EP. I’m upset at you for lying to me, but it’s OK. I forgive you. Maybe you Portland, Oregon dudes have higher standards than I do. I really enjoyed the way the whole “Demo 2015” starts off with a very Discharge sounding d-beat type vibe with “Blocked By A Wall” and “What We Believe” and progressed on a bit from there. I really love the way the guitar leads are there but low in the background a bit which kinda forces you to listen harder to the tracks, but more in a “Yo, that shit sounds dope” and not a “is that a guitar solo I’m hearing?” kind of way. The group vocals in “Breaking Through” had me about to start moshing my computer screen at work, where I am paying attention to you and not my actual job. In my opinion, “Liberation” was the perfect way to end your “Demo 2015”. The vibe of the whole thing just got rounded out really well with the slower slightly more harmonized vibe that track brought to the whole thing. I also really dig the fact that it’s getting put onto a limited number of cassette tapes. I’m hoping that we can have a long and friendly relationship going forward from here, so please don’t try to pass off your bad ass EP’s as demos to me anymore. The false modesty is a bit unbecoming.
Seriously, this is a ripping set of tracks that you should be proud of. Solid effort, song writing and production. It doesn’t lose the raw punk as fuck vibe that most hardcore bands seem to have lost over the years. I look forward to hearing more from you guys in the future. The rest of you out there reading this would do well to check ‘em out.
ROTTING OUT"RECKONING" EP
(Pure Noise Records, Released March 10, 2015)
If the demise of this great LA hardcore band is actually indeed true they sure went out at the top of their game with "Reckoning" delivering 3 new tunes and 2 covers. The new tracks are "Born", (good) "Eyes Wide", (better) and "End Of The Road" (great) with this last one being an instant classic with one of the best sing-a-long choruses I've heard in a while. Rotting Out has/had a great knack for melding old school hardcore with the new and grabbed fans from both camps along the way. Tracks 4 and 5 are "I Don't Care" and "Live Fast Die Young" which are both Circle Jerk covers that they serve justice to with quality renditions. Leading up to this release there were a lot of press releases out there talking about this EP being an intro to a new LP which leads us to the question. .. what happens to those tracks if this really is the "End Of The Road" for RO? Time will tell and I am sure there are may be one or two (or like hundreds) of you out there that would be all over getting those new unreleased tracks if the whole recording process was already completed.
REKLEVANT ANGER- 2015 Promo Cassette
(Released March 8, 2015)
Cali's Relevant Anger follows up their July 2014 6 song EP with a new 3 song cassette that contains new tracks from an upcoming EP. The cassette version (which is limited to 20 copies) has 3 tracks with the online "free" download containing 2 tracks. The 2 tracks run a whopping 2 minutes and 17 seconds so this will be short and sweet... something RA is far from with their noisy balls out approach. "Criminal World" is up first and rough around the edges but me like. Around the 30 second mark the song completely slows down before the drums break back in... followed by some nice mosh to end the track. "Years Of Habit" follows and is more of a grind assault on your ears... more of a "noise" track as compared to the opener which was more to my liking. What RA does is deliver raw and fast hardcore with an emphasis on the raw. There are no thrills here with an average recording but a better than average recording probably would ruin the dirty mojo that they are cooking up. Relevant Anger is like that grimy dumpster out back. The one with the juice dripping out of the sides and a cat sized rat named Spike stopping by for an early brunch everyday around 4am. Still interested? I am. Hopefully these dudes stick around awhile and don't fall victim to the early band breakup before they reach full potential. Let's see what's next RA.
HARDWIRED- 7” EP
(Life To Live Records, Released February 2015)
A new 7” from Florida’s Hardwired, brought to you by Life To Live Records. I believe this band features members of Blistered, who are great, but this is actually a bit more up my alley musically. Straightforward hardcore, fast and pissed off with good breakdowns. Nine songs in just over 10 minutes; just the way good hardcore should be. No beating around the bush here. Musically this reminds me a bit of Product Of Waste, but with a touch of Youth Crew influence. The singer’s voice cracks at times, which may turn off some people, but I kinda dig it. Gives it an added element of intensity. While this 7” sounds better than the demo, some of the intensity from the demo is lost a bit in this mix. I also wish it had a bit more low end. But it’s still a pretty decent 7”. One of my favorite things about this record is the super tight stops and time changes. Really makes the songs punchy. Drums are solid too. The standout track for me is “Hardwired,” though maybe I’m just a sucker for theme songs. Check out the demo on Bandcamp and try to catch them live, I’d bet they put on a good show. All in all; not my favorite release of the year or anything, but a solid 7” and a band to keep an eye on going forward.
ONE LAST ROUND 7"
(Lonewolf Productions, Released April 9, 2015)
Hardcore straight outta South Central... Greece that is. One Last Round has been around for about 5 years and admittedly have not done much as a band to date. They claim to have regular office jobs by day and lead dangerous local gangs by night as well as abusing musical instruments and their livers. Who doesn't like a light hearted take on those tell you nothing bios that accompany most new releases? "Wannabe" kicks things off and after a rather odd soundbite intro from a 2014 movie called “The Hooligan Factory” we are introduced to OLR's style which grabbed me from the get go. "Wannabe" basically deals with posers and in this case someone who stole mommy's credit card and went to the mall to get all hardcored up on a shopping spree. No one pulls the wool over the eyes of a Gambini... or in this case One Last Round so give it up posers!
After a nice fast paced opener "Stupid Mistakes" is up next and starts off as a mid-paced head nodding jam that bursts into full speed ahead mode around the 30 second mark. Influence wise I would take a guess that OLR has listened to their share of old school NYHC of all flavors. If I had to come up with an FFO (for fans of) thing-a-ma-jig I would feel confident in saying if you liked what the Gorilla Biscuits were doing you will be on board with OLR's sound (vocals aside). Their sound is not a reinvention of the hardcore wheel per say but catchy with grooves and tempo changes that made me want to go back and throw this EP on.
What OLR does they do well and are particularly good at the mosh with all of these songs having definitive breakdowns or sing-a-long parts that seem tailor made to make a packed crowd go off. On "More Than This" and "Athens At Night" the lyrics paint a bleak picture of life in the big city in modern day Greece. So overall we get 5 songs in 11 minutes from this (sorta) new band that basically came out of nowhere with a nice debut surprise. Another reason to go out and seek new music. It doesn't always come knocking on your door introducing itself but when you find a good band like this it makes the search for the next one all the more fun.
POISON IDEA/ROVSVETT SPLIT EP
(Just 4 Fun Records, Release Date April 30, 2015)
I have, what always seemed to me, an irrational hatred for pop-punk. Then someone clued me into the fact that technically the Misfits fall under that category; an idea that I hate. I’ve realized that this disdain for melodic, dildos hopping around gleefully on stage stems from the fact that bands like Poison Idea exist. Poison Idea is here to fuck you up; pure and simple. They’re not interested in polishing up their act; for that you can go to Turbonegro whose seminal album “Apocalypse Dudes” is the Star Wars to P.I.’s Seven Samurai: “Feel The Darkness”. That is not a diss on Turbonegro in anyway, they know good shit and they took a swing at it. Poison Idea are the guys who are here because not being in a gnarly punk band is not an option for them, they’ve tried, and failed to walk away. “Something Better”, off this new split with Rovsvett is a lumbering beast with cold steely eyes; it jerks back and forth, swaying while eyeing its prey. It’s a drunken wildebeest that’s about to show the young cubs that it’s still the king of the pack. A lot of bands these days mistake snotty antics for attitude, but attitude is carved from granite, through trials and failures. Attitude puffs it’s chest and balls a fist in defiance of shitty little pip squeaks who Y.O.L.O. and have “swag”. P.I. follows up the original with a cover of the 13th Floor Elevators, “You’re Gonna Miss Me”; it’s a good cover, but coming off the new track, I could have used some more new P.I. in my life. Rovsvett come off as pretty good foil to Poison Idea on this split. I feel like they switch back and forth into English from whatever their native tongue is…or maybe it’s just me. Rosvett remind me of bands like Los Crudos; angry, fast and bi-lingual. “Die on your knees” is a bit of a misstep given the raw power of their first track, but they bring it back to a furious ode to what sounds like a serious hatred for Michael Bay and his shitty disaster porn movies (side note: that song may not be about that, but I have no couth and it sounds like their shouting something about Michael Bay). Slip this on your mat, lower the needle, close your eyes and for, like, 10 minutes: late 80’s early 90’s hardcore punk is on top of the dog pile in the pit.
AGNOSTIC FRONT “THE AMERICAN DREAM DIED"
(Nuclear Blast Records, Release Date April 7, 2015)
To say the new AF album was long overdue is an understatement considering it's been 4 years since we last saw them with a new studio album. At first look/listen the immediate things that jump out at you are the title, the album cover and the almost chilling intro that opens up this album melding together sound bites of what's wrong with America today (via various news soundbites) with an old school instrumental intro that hopefully will be incorporated into their live sets. The album’s artwork depicts one of America's most well known landmarks (the Statue Of Liberty) and twists it where Lady Liberty is shown with a skeleton face to obviously go along with the album’s title. Fellow NY-ers Sick Of It All took a turn for more political and current events styled lyrics with their “Last Act Of Defiance” album last year. Agnostic Front takes the baton and now runs with it in 2015. Things are not ok with the world around us and the lyrics and themes that are now being sung about on more recent hardcore albums to me is a welcomed change back. “The American Dream Died” for the most part has a message... a message with substance and one that I hope at least wakes up people up and at the very least creates awareness. Lyrics and song themes were huge parts of what drew me into this music and I think we have gotten away from that a little depending on what band you are listening to. Listening to music and learning something along the way, or having your eyes opened to something new is a combo like no other.
That opening 2 minute intro we mentioned bleeds right into the title track which itself only clocks in at about 90 seconds but within that first 3 minutes of this album you are already getting the vibe that this is going to be an album that crushes with some diversity that can flip styles from song to song. There are 4 songs here that are fast bursts of energy that don't even clock in at a minute and another 5 that don't reach the 2 minute mark. Many of these tracks are referred to as the "Sunday Matinee Sessions" by the band and superbly recapture their “United Blood” and (to a degree) “Victim In Pain” days that put Roger, Vinny and crew on the map many moons ago.
Other tracks like “Never Walk Alone”, “Old New York” and the closer “Just Like Yesterday” show some of that diversity. These 3 tracks follow more of the path laid down by later AF classics like "For My Family" and "Gotta Go" with catchy more punkish sing-a-longs and are easily my favorites with the band showing they got everything on lock down from their earliest stages to today. Over the years Agnostic front has given us different looks and sounds sometimes going more punk rock and sometimes leaning more metal. On a whole “The American Dream Died” is great. It reaches back more towards the band’s roots yet doesn’t limit their growth by dropping 3 more of those punkier “anthem” type of jams that they have shown they are really good at… a best of both worlds scenario within one of your favorite hardcore bands. This album comes out in less than a week if you are in the USA and if you have not heard any of the previews that are floating around out there get very excited because this is going to be taking over your music listening for the immediate future.
POISON IDEA – “CONFUSE & CONQUER”
(Southern Lord Recordings, Release Date April 7, 2015)
It's all fun and games doing these little reviews, listening to new tunes, spouting my bullshit to the tens of people who actually read my write-ups. Yes indeed, all fun and games, until I get the new Poison Idea to review. Poison Idea has been a big influence on me since “Pick Your King”......but to be totally honest, since the initial break up, the band has kinda started, stopped, sputtered, etc. With the passing of Pig Champion, it got even worse. There were releases in there, 7", splits, Pig's final LP, all of which I enjoyed, but not seeing the band and the hiatuses, subsequent line-up adjustments, kinda put them on a back burner for me The last LP came out in 2006, so it has been a minute. I'd still pop on “Feel The Darkness” and “Blank, Blackout, Vacant” for a blast of nostalgia, although those records never get old. So I had reservations about delving into this new record, but fuck ‘em.....what'd they ever do for me?
Track one clocks in at 2:33 and is called "Bog". It's fast, it's simple, it's a classic Poison Idea track. There's a blistering guitar solo and some interesting echo added to the vocals. Wash over me! Jerry screams...sounding as good as ever. The band is tight. So far so good.
Next up is "Me and J.D." Another classic sounding P.I. track. Fast and tight. The guitar reminds me a bit of The Hellacopters. At the 1:21 mark you get a cool low-fi"ish" bit giving the track a bit of flare. "Maybe I'm an angel, maybe I'm an asshole" is my favorite line on the LP. So I'm thinking that so far, these two songs could've been extra tracks on “Feel The Darkness”. Very similar vibe. In my opinion, a good thing.
As if on cue, the third track, "Psychic Wedlock" starts off with a piano intro...and I'm thinking, maybe I fucked up and accidentally put on “Fear The Darkness”. Happily, I did not because then comes the riff and harmonics, and then comes the speed, and this tunes is off and running. There is some cool, creepy, maybe weird, guttural death metal growls thrown in for the scary part, then the drums kick back in and brings it all full circle. All in 4:34, and epic by Poison Idea standards.
Now I'm locked in. I'm loving it. Good stuff, weird experimental stuff...only 3 songs in. The next song is the break in the action song. A well place "slow jam" called "Hypnotic (Alternate Version)", complete with "whoah-oh-oh" sing-along vocals. I'm going to step out on a limb here, but this song has a Cars meets Joe Jackson vibe and contains some excellent piano riffing. This is the P.I. song you can play for your mom or that elitist music snob friend you have who thumbs his nose at your crass nonsense.....just tell your mom to skip the trippin’ guy bit, she won't get it, unless your mom is really cool. 4:44 another epic.
"Trip Wire" shakes off that last song with another pissed off rager. The band returns to that aggressive sound we all love so much, not that I don't like it when they veer off the beaten path, but they do this so well, keep it coming. 3:47 for this one.
"I Never Heard Of You" kicks off with a nice bass intro. Here's a song I need some liner notes for...a back story...anything. With a chorus like "I never heard of you, big fucking star, I don't know you, I don't want to"...My interest is peaked, isn't yours? 3:46 on this intriguing number.
Then comes "Cold Black Afternoon" 3:03 and "Rhythms Of Insanity" 1:52. Two straight up hardcore punk rock tunes. Blistering guitars, frenetic solos, excellent. The album is paced exceptionally well. Which moseys us into the next song......."Dead Cowboy". Saddle up pardner! Can you hear that sweet geetar twang?? We have us here an acoustic campfire song,....... if you were camping on some post-apocalyptic nightmarescape on shrooms. The vocals are delivered in a Lou Reed meets Iggy Pop with a healthy dose of Mike Patton's vocal style on R.V. (Faith No More...look it up) thrown in the mix. I'd like to listen to this song driving across a desert alone in a convertible Caddy....strike that, a Caddy with the roof sawed off.....maybe with a body in the trunk, definitely with a sack of cash and a pistol next to me. A completely wack song, yet somehow, completely perfect, especially where it appears in the mix.
"Beautiful Disaster" follows that sojourn with another short fast burst of joy, coming in at 2:19. Short, fast, and loud. The albums raps up with a revisit to "Psychic Wedlock" with "Psychic Wedlock Reprise". Chanting, screaming, frightening sounds, guttural groans, screechy stuff.......all collapsing into a somber piano outro. It's over Johnny...............IT'S OVER! I have listened to this album several times now. It has some great musicianship. It has great songs. Personally I could not ask for more from this band. I think they kinda waited to see where the chips would fall for them as a band, and they waited to see who still had it and who did not, who wanted to and who did not. When they were ready they made this record. They nailed it.
DRUG CONTROL- 7” EP
(Coin Toss Records/Straight And Alert Records Joint Release. Released March, 2015)
If you kept up with my reviews, remember what I said during the Urgency review? Well Drug Control is one of the many examples of what I was talking about. Before I get into that, here's a summary of the band. Obviously named after the 7 Seconds song, Drug Control is based out of San Diego. They feature members of a bunch of ex-skate punk bands and an ex member of that Indianapolis band Social Damage. They started in 2014 and released a demo within the same year. Once the demo was heard all over the world, they blew right the fuck up just like every other straight edge band that revolves around X'ed up gardening gloves and militant joke lyrics. They have played countless shows and toured all over the West Coast during the winter. I think they even played in Canada. Keep in mind this all hapened in a years time.
So....you really want to know my thoughts on this don't you? Ahah yeah this is no different than all the gimmicky straight edge bands I've heard. Don't believe me? Then let's see if they fit the criteria. The plagiarized Brotherhood/Youth Of Today/Judge lyrics, check. The 80's Youth Crew breakdowns, check . The saturating dive bombs in 4/5 songs, check. Oh yeah people dive bombs is still a thing don't worry. That phase won't die out anytime soon. So far this is definitely one of those bands. But, I will say that their new EP is MUSICALLY better than the demo. The demo was ok and to this day I'm surprised that's what got everyone's attention. To be honest I sometimes found it a little boring for the most part. Unlike the demo, the EP is very energetic. The production is also very intense and I really like the excessive amount of reverb being used for the vocals. The vocals sounded very annoying and pretentious in the demo but on this EP, ignoring the questionable lyrics, he sounds genuinely angry and I like that. The breakdowns in ''Building Bridges'' is pretty damn hard hitting that brings those two steps. They seem to have gotten a lot faster too. ''Like Brothers'' oddly enough reminds me of No Comment. It instantly became my favorite song. The dive bombs throughout the EP, however, are being used unnecessarily making it really annoying, but everyone should know me well enough about dive bombs so why bother explaining further?
I would love to go over the lyrics to every song, but I can barely understand what he's saying with all that reverb being overused, but I like reverb so the jokes on me. From what I can tell, lines such as ''THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS'' and ''IT'S WORTH THE FIGHT'' are used in the EP so that's all I really needed to hear. The lyrics that legitimately upset me were on ''Enough is Enough.'' I was only able to understand that song because it was a slower song compared to the rest. Anyway how are you going to have a song that is anti-machismo when the album art for this EP practically represents those tough guys they oppose? I'm not buying into that unless the guy on the cover is Sloth from the Goonies. I know damn well that Sloth would never pick on weaker kids. Also with a song named ''Like Brothers'' can't be taken seriously. I can already take a wild guess what that song is about. I never liked the whole brotherhood mentality in straight edge. Yeah I'm a bit of a hypocrite since I'm a sucker for Brotherhood and DYS, but it's 2015, we don't need to chant the ''brotherhood'' pride. Oh and I think ''Because Of You'' is about people who ruin the hardcore scene or whatever. Oh yeah I forgot to check that on the list because topics like that are always said in the most generic way when it's straight edge bands like these.
The nitpick and harsh criticism aside, this EP is musically pretty good. It does make up for the lack of originality in whatever message they're trying to bring. But overall it's not something I'd repeatedly listen to. It's cool if bands want to pay homage to those late 80’s straight edge bands while wearing their captain straight edge costumes, but I'll just stick with bands like Noose. Welp, that's my take on the band. Their EP is on vinyl, so if you would like to purchase one, go on the Straight and Alert or Coin Toss webstores. They have like different colors to for those record collectors out there. They also have new shirts available. Or if you are a freeloading loser like me and want a digital download for free, then go on the Straight and Alert Bandcamp and just type the magic $0.00 button on the ''name your price.'' Enjoy and true till death or whatever.
VIOLENT REACTION “MARCHING ON”
(Revelation Records, Released March 31, 2015)
So I gotta say, I LOVE the fact that all the latest hardcore bands I've heard from the UK have kind of turned an about face and started making music in the vein of old school classic hardcore. Violent Reaction is probably the best one I've heard so far. Their new full length “Marching On” is the first album from a non-American band to be released on Revelation Records and for good reason. It oozes an old style skinhead sXe hardcore attitude. And it is fucking RAD. Lightning fast, twangy guitar riffs, gruff vocals, and an abundance of sing along parts blast you square in the face like a Doc Marten to the nose. All while never crossing over into the metal sound of the vast majority of todays “modern hardcore” bands. I don't know about you but that steel toe to the nose feels like a breath of fresh air to me. “Stand And Fight” and “War” are my two favorite tracks on the album, sporting some really excellent choppy breakdowns and awesome group vox. If you are a fan of Negative Approach, Kill Your Idols, 86 Mentality, or anything else in that vein then I would highly recommend picking up this record. Because goddamn, son. On a side note, I just saw that Violent Reaction and Arms Race (both of whom are from the UK, were reviewed by me and I loved) are playing a bad ass show at Cafe Saint -Ex in my home town, Washington DC, on March 31st to start their US tour together. For the first time in a long time I'm jealous of a show happening in DC.
MIND AWAKE “DEMO 2015”
(Released February, 2015)
Is it just me? Or has there been an excessive amount of demos released since the start of 2015? Like I know there's always a lot of demos released each year, but it seems to me that 2015 is the year of the demo. Well this demo by Mind Awake that came out on PPB Records is one of them. They are a five piece straight edge hardcore band from Paris, France. One of the members (Tieuma) writes for this pretty awesome web zine called Droid Rage, I suggest you all check that out!
So my thoughts? With a name like ''Mind Awake'' I was expecting the everyday ''Youth Crew'' formula that I can barely tolerate. However, it's not so much what I expected. They do have youth crew elements, but they tend to add metal touches giving it the ''modern'' hardcore sound. Kind of like what you'd hear from bands like Bleeding Through. Their thrashy riffs plus modern heavy breakdowns suit pretty well. The side to side moments in ''Katerina'' and ''Wrong Town'' are usually the ones that would get the whole crowd going nuts for. It's been done before, but it's not bad and it's pretty heavy. The lyrics are the best. I should mention that straight edge bands are the best when they talk about life experiences if it's not political issues. ''Katerina'' is a pretty deep song out of the 4 tracks from the demo. From my understanding, it's about a loss of a friend. Any straight edge song that goes over the loss of anyone is powerful in my book. ''Come and Go,'' the only song that is less than a minute, comes off a little prideful by calling out those who ''dropped out'' or whatever, but it's understandable if this is towards those who said ''true till death'' until the age of 21. My favorite which is ''Two Songs Left'' which is a big fuck you to all the egotistical douchebags that want to ruin hardcore with their elitism. Yeah this topic is pretty common to bring up in every hardcore band, but when it's only taken seriously when it's specific. That's what Mind Awake did right with this song. It gives me the harsh reality that California isn't the only state that deals with this kind of bullshit in this ''rebellious'' subculture. In fact, this sadly isn't the only country that deals with such horrendous assholes. When a band has a song like that and actually means it, it's refreshing. I always hear bands who sing about how ''bad'' the scene is when they're probably one of the biggest causes of all the bullshit. Honestly I can't really comprehend about the song ''Wrong Town.'' I want to say that it involves having fun with your friends until it's time to face reality the next day being saturated with responsibilities. I could be wrong, but I'll just take a guess.
My only complaint for this demo are the vocals. I don't know… they just seems so polished. However, I watched their live performances on YouTube and I must say that the vocals are way better live than recordings. He sounds so raw and really angry. Not to say that he doesn't in the demo, but actually seeing how pissed off he is impresses me. That is a compliment if you're being told that you sound better live than on record! Overall the demo is decent. I've heard many bands that sound like this so it's really nothing new to me. I take this band seriously for what it does. I still dig it musically and enjoy what the topics of the songs are. So check them out! I believe they have a tape for sale and have been exposed from Straight Edge World Wide. Enjoy fellas!
BUN DEM OUT “THE FEW THE DEEP”
(Rucktion Records, Re-issued 2014)
Featuring members of Knuckledust, 50 Caliber, BDF, Kremated, Flawless Victory, and Honor Amongst Thieves, Bun Dem Out will leave you with zero time for pleasantries, glad-handing, pussy-footing or asking yourself what just happened to your face; blink for one second and you'll miss it with this re-issue which originally came out in ’09. Want to talk about "mixed genre" bands? Well here you go ladies and gentleman. There's something for everyone (for the most part) for fans of heavy music, from blast beats, super hard breakdowns, intense vocals, and the pure sound of every instrument being played simultaneously played at mach-speed, every track is sure to have at least one part to please even the most hardest critics. Speaking of vocals, the band refers to them as written in "Spanglish", meaning some lyrics you can clearly identify and some well, not so much. For those who can musically pull it off creating an extreme mixed genre album that doesn't lack in quality and diversity, Bun Dem Out accomplishes just that. This band is a tad challenging to review for the reason being that all the tools to measure its merits indicate that it is in fact high quality heavy material...period. Now, if you are strictly a fan of old school traditional hardcore only, then my guess is that this band would not be to your liking. My advice as a fan of this band, keep an open mind while hearing these tracks and I'm sure you can appreciate what these guys do.
-Alex "The Past" Karp
THE WILDING INCIDENT, NO REDEEMING SOCIAL VALUE, ACHE, YUPPICIDE, THE EDDIE LEEWAY SHOW
@ The Grand Victory, Brooklyn, NY March 21, 2015
REVIEW BY: CHRIS WYNNE PHOTOS BY: RICH ZOELLER
THE WILDING INCIDENT
This night got started off with some old faces in new places as the Ezec led “The Wilding Incident” led off this show as a more than capable opener. How many times have you been to a show where the first band gets little to no interest from the crowd with some polite golf claps in between songs? Sad but true… but… not the case here with scene vets coming together with this group which gave the small club some juice early on. Maximum Penalty singer Jimmy Williams plays drums here and the rest of the lineup is rounded out with Sasha Jenkins on guitar and Noah Rubin on bass. Kind of hard to just run out there and slap a label on what these guys are doing with their music. I mean it's got strong elements of hardcore which their sound relies heavily on but there are other more rockish things going on here too. It's kind of difficult to digest 20 or so minutes of songs you never heard before in a live setting and say with certainty that you like it or hate it but I was definitely leaning towards the liking part from what I heard and saw. TWI has been around for less than a year and are working on releasing some material very soon. The last track “The Wilding Incident” was head and shoulders away the best track in their set. I got their frontman Ezec down as one of the top 5 guys in hardcore for between song banter with the crowd. We all know Paulie from Sheer Terror holds down the top spot when he is on his A game but Ezec has this quick wit about him where he can even put his own band members on the spot at one point asking his guitar player Sasha if it was true that he really hates white people. Obviously a joke but also not your typical “this next song is called”…. between song chatter. Good stuff.
NO REDEEMING SOCIAL VALUE
Next up was “a surprise guest”. Who could this be? Well, I kind of knew ahead of time as secrets are not always well kept but when I saw the members of No Redeeming Social Value in the crowd with their instruments during The Wilding Incident it served as confirmation. This show was a joint birthday bash for both Ryan of Ache and also Eddie Sutton from Leeway. Apparently Ryan has had birthday party shows every four or so years (maybe longer… I forget exactly what was said) on his birthday and NRSV has rocked his party each time. A short and sweet set from these grown ass men who have spilled and drank more Olde E Malt Liquor on stage during their run than anyone in the history of history. Ryan from Ache came out and did a few jams with NRSV and got loose in the crowd while running all over with his mic. I would guess about only 6 or 7 songs were played (including a Bad Brains cover of “Supertouch”) during this set and although short it is always nice to see a crowd show some love for old favorites like “Microwave” and “Skinheads Rule” which wrapped things up.
Next up was birthday boy Ryan Bland along with his band called Ache. These guys got started a little over a year ago and came together after a couple of bands broke up around the same time. (Dead Serious and Abject!). Shortly after they formed they had a 5 song demo out on the streets but not really a ton of shows under their belts since then. After a nice intro to a new track titled “Razor” they busted into a 25 or so minute set which to me was highlighted by their demo track “Pain Driven River” which just shreds. Behind most great bands is a great drummer and although I won’t say Ache is a great band (yet) they already have a great drummer. Drummers often get overlooked being in the back against the wall behind their bandmates but this guy was destroying his kit and his skills were obvious. Ache overall were tight and fun to watch. Ryan doesn’t need for it to be his birthday to go off but he did anyway and the guys behind him are more than capable of playing a tight set which they did. I look at Ache as a band on the rise where if they can get some time under their belts and stick together for a while that they will more than make a mark on the scene in NYC. We all know the iconic names like Madball and Sick Of It All, Cro-Mags etc but at some point newer bands have to step up and make their mark as well. Why not Ache is what I say!
Next up was Yuppicide who as a band… have outlived their own band name. How’s that you ask? Back when Yuppicide got their start in the late 80’s “yuppies” (young urban professionals) were looked upon as the ones tearing the heart and soul out of NYC by many different factions for mostly the same reasons. Here we are now in 2015 and the term yuppie has pretty much been put on the shelf (except for when referencing this band) and replaced by the much more douchey term of “hipster”. Maybe a name change to Hipsterside is in their future but don’t hold your breath. They kicked things off with one of their best tracks in “Fist Full Of Credit Cards” with its infectious bouncy beat and catchy chorus of ‘WE ARE YUPPICIDE”. Their frontman Jesse has been known for years for his off the wall stage gear and we got a somewhat conservative look with a green army jacket matched with some psychotic mask that would make for some awkward moments if you ran into him dressed like this in a dark alley. Where does this dude find all this stuff and when did I start including wardrobe analysis in reviews? Haha. As for their set all I have to say is how is Yuppicide not more well known and loved for the things they do? They have releases that date back to the late 80’s and some stuff as recent as 2012. They are a little hardcore, they are a little punk rock, they make you think a little with their lyrics, and they’re best material is spread out throughout their discography with 2012’s “American Oblivion” being one of my favorite tracks as it was on this night as well. A good band on record that is sooooo much better live.
THE EDDIE LEEWAY SHOW
And the reason most of us were here on this night was to see “The Eddie Leeway Show” featuring Eddie Sutton of Leeway fame. For whatever reasons the members of this greatly under-appreciated band have not seen eye to eye in more recent years making Leeway one of the few bands left who have not walked down that reunion aisle at your local hardcore festival. For this set Eddie recruited Ache members Matt and Rey on guitars and Ryan Seit on drums. On The Offense and Olde York’s bassist Mike Kaufman rounded things out with Mike leading the way with that cool as fuck bass intro to “Rise And Fall” off of Leeway’s debut album “Born To Expire” which came out well over 25 years ago. The crowd went fucking ballistic for the opener which led into “Mark Of The Squealer”, and “On The Outside” also from that ’89 debut. “Stand For”, “All About Dope” and “No Heroes” all off of 1991’s “Desperate Measures” followed with Eddie showing that he’s still got it when it comes to stage presence. He sang a bunch of the songs while standing on a shelf used to rest drinks and got the crowd really into what the band was doing. Between songs he was just as I remembered keeping the flow of their set going. Eddie is a little frail these days, not that it is a bad thing, but he did mention that he was just a few weeks shy of his 50th birthday along with having survived a broken neck and liver disease… more power to him. The band backing him up was tight considering this was their first time hitting the stage together and it will not be the last time either as there is already a one-off UK date scheduled for July 18th in Leeds. “Enforcer” came next and along with the two openers were the songs that got the biggest crowd responses with a rowdy crowd pushing the pit way to the back at some points but some obvious lulls at other points of their set. “Kingpin” was the finale to a successful return for Eddie and friends who have not made any promises as to what the future holds outside of that one UK date. Regardless of what may be said about a reunion lineup containing only 1 old member the fact here is that some old tracks were resuscitated and brought back to life for at least one night in NYC and the sold out packed crowd ate it up.
RED VISION- DEMO 2015 (Released March 2015)
Before I star the review, please take a look at the album art. Seriously take a look at it. Is this really the best they could come up with? Some guy who looks like Casper after 30 years in prison holding a decapitated head of a deformed X the Eliminator? This isn't even close to being intimidating. It looks really unsettling, but for some twisted reason, I like the simplicity. Something about it that stands out as the rest of those album arts with skinheads fighting racism. Yeah sure it looks like something that would belong in a Hanna Barbera VHS cover, but I'll take this over any art done by Chad Lawson. It's nothing personal, but I'm tired of seeing the same skinhead over and over. Ahhh well I got that out of my system so on to the review.
Red Vision is from Richmond Virginia and released a 4 track demo in the beginning of March. I have no idea if this band falls in the ''members of'' category, but I hope not. I would love to finally hear a band from a bunch of people I have no clue about. Anyway I found this demo off of the Straight On View blog from Europe. The "FFO'' description (Slapshot, One Life Crew, Breakdown) for Red Vision seemed pretty convincing, but I don't really trust anyone who uses ''Breakdown'' as an example anymore. So after listening to it I thought to myself ''has this guy ever listened to Sheer Terror? '' It actually should of said ''FFO: Sheer Terror and Mongrel era-Think I Care'' instead. I swear this Justin character (vocalist) must have taken singing lessons from the legendary Paul Bearer. It's also good to hear a band that actually sounds like Think I Care/Sheer Terror, especially Think I Care. I've grown tiresome of bands convincing themselves that they sound like TIC when they don't come close to it.
So what do I think of it? It's incredibly cheesy, but I like it. It's one of those bands I like to listen to while my brain is out the window getting some fresh air. The songs are very straight forward hardcore with those heavy breakdowns accompanied by lyrics that people of hardcore these days commonly sing about. Speaking of lyrics, it's nothing special. They just go over stuff that has been said to death like ''cut the act'' ''AINT NO FOOLS'' ''fighting the streets'' ahh we all heard it before. The guy grunts about the world being fucked up and fighting and wishing some kid dead. I'll just take a guess that ''P.C.B.S.'' is an acronym for ''Politically Correct Bull Shit.'' Was I close enough? Aside from the corny lyrics, it's musically good. Not great, but good. The breakdowns are pretty metallic and I swear those breakdowns during the chorus of ''Colour Blind Society'' attempts me to ''ignorant mosh'' if I were to ever attend their shows. I guess the only song that comes close to sounding like Breakdown is ''Ain't No Fools'', but is that really enough to include them in the ''FFO" description? I still can't get over the fact that this band wasn't compared to Sheer Terror/TIC. Oh and the first track ''Red Vision'' has an intro that has also been done to death. Once you hear the intro, please tell me that you haven't heard that same bass line before?
Overall it's a good demo. It slightly falls in the same category as Freedom and those other bands Triple B/ Lock N Out kids would slobber all over. But Red Vision seems to have a more ''fuck you'' attitude than any of those bands so that's why I say SLIGHTLY. I do give them credit for not having lyrics like ''the few and the proud'' or whatever regurgitating crap we're forced to sit through. I love negative lyrics, but that's probably because I'm a pessimistic asshole. The vocals are what really saves this demo from being really average. So it's nothing to sleep on and I'd give it a chance, I don't know where else you can find more from this band so their Bandcamp will do for now. Enjoy!
MALA VIDA “SNAKE KING” (Released January 2015)
Mala Vida’s new disc must be as deceptive as its title implies. On first listen I was head banging and getting hooked, and on the second I didn’t feel much at all. Now after a number of listens I can conclude that “Snake King”, for the most part, is an underwhelming, uninventive hardcore experience. The problem could be that it meanders through its first three tracks - all of which have predictable structures that bands like Forfeit have nailed to much greater and more powerful extents – only to deliver you more weak lyrics on the others. I mean, really?” Mo'fuckas wanna see me bleed?” Didn’t know anyone still wrote that shit. To the band’s credit, there are a few cool moments on the EP, for instance the open strings on “Familia” get me pumped, and “Rambo” I'm sure will have the crowds bouncing to the verses, and bouncing like fuck to the choruses whilst screaming “Fuck what’s at stake!”. The final seventeen seconds should get the circles swirling. Even the title track has a smasher of an intro, but once the verse riff kicks in, and the vocals join, it gets dragged back to a mediocre level. Sure, the breakdown while the vocalist yells “I am the Snake King!” is layered, but it doesn’t excite me much, and it isn’t long before the mundane verse comes back. Really, this is as basic as hardcore gets, and maybe that’s my problem. Perhaps I’m bored of basic hardcore bands, perhaps I’m searching for the next gem and maybe that’s the wrong attitude to scour the hardcore masses with. Or hell, maybe it just doesn’t sound crunchy enough. But in the end, this isn’t something I’ll return to in a hurry. If you feel like you’d enjoy watered down, less interesting versions of King Nine, Forfeit, Lionheart et al, then give it a shot.