MURPHYS LAW, MANALIVE, THE SIRS,
THE GROUCHO MARXISTS, 4444
@ Court Tavern, New Brunswick, NJ October 19, 2013
On the way to the show I stopped off at Vintage Vinyl in Menlo Park. I hadn’t been in there in almost a decade, and it is crazy how all the expensive 7-inches up on the wall now date from the 90’s. Apparently the first 25 Ta Life 7” goes for $50, and $40 gets you the Vision Of Disorder, (Brian Meehan fronted)-Loyal To None split 7” that Rick Ta Life put out. I would love to see how you confirm the pressing on something like that. Also ran into fanzine legend Brett Beach, and the man who put out the first Floorpunch 7”, who was just killing time after dinner. Got to love NJ.
Doors were at 7PM at the Court Tavern and I thought getting there at 9PM, I might miss some openers and get there in time for Manalive, but no luck. Got there after 9PM to find nothing had started. 4444 was so-so. They have high-pitched snotty vocals ala lots of pop punk, but the guitar work wasn’t melodic enough to make up for the vocals, and when the songs occasionally got a little heavy, the vocals made even less sense. Seemed like the singer and band weren’t on the same page.
The tone for the rest of the night was set by The Groucho Marxists, which to my surprise turned out to be one of the guys from Doc Hopper. If you’re not familiar with Doc Hopper, they were in the long line of mid to early 90’s bands that sounded like All, or a more rock or hardcore version of All. A song or two in I was psyched. They were a noticeable step up from 4444, with fast, melodic, well-executed hardcore punk rock in the purist sense of the genre. But halfway through their set, it occurred to me I never really liked Doc Hopper, and come to think of it I never liked All. I like melodic hardcore and I like fast punk rock, but after a certain point, I find All and the generations of bands that followed them pretty repetitive.
By the time The Sirs went on, I was just in a shitty mood. It was late, I had been up early to teach and had to sit in a gallery the next morning. I was starting to worry I was not gonna make it through the inevitably long Murphy’s Law set. So I spent most of The Sirs set resenting their existence, though they were fine, and in a different situation I might have even enjoyed them. They were rocking melodic punk hardcore via Dillinger Four or Murder City Devils, albeit not as good as either.
Just when I was ready to go home and get a good night’s sleep, oh my fucking god, Manalive was amazing. I had heard their 7” and demo and like it. It is solid late nineties post hardcore, lots of Quicksand, Unbroken, and Damnation, all mixed together in a heavy wall of metallic hardcore with Amit's gruff almost thuggish vocals on top, which grounds the music from being too esoteric and always declares this is music to kill each other by. But live, it was so much better. If you missed Manalive, it is Nate from Ensign and Vision, Chris Ross from Ensign and Nora, Brian Meehan from Kill Your Idols and Milhouse, and on vocals, Amit from Mother Night and Torchbearer. Needless to say, they are a band with some stellar 90’s hardcore pedigree. Live they were precise and heavy and so much cleaner sounding than I expected. I legitimately wanted to kill some people, but I am old, wussy and photographing. Unfortunately, seems that a lot of the crowd was there for the pop punk and did not appreciate a band that puts Indecision to shame.
And finally, starting after midnight, Murphy’s Law with a different lineup from the Judge show a week earlier. Gone was the electric banjo player, the guitarist and bassist from Skarhead. They now have a new bassist who was playing his first show with Murphy’s Law. The constant lineup changes have gone a long way to keep Murphy’s Law from reaching the same level of hero worship that kids dole out on Agnostic Front or Cro-Mags. That being said, they started off with a block of earlier hardcore songs, and I got to sing a chunk of “Quest For Herb” and was instantly sold. Say what you will about Murphy’s Law, they are fun and I find it almost impossible not to like Jimmy Gestapo. And all things considered, they put on a really solid set. I almost feel there is a real attempt on their part to keep the set tight and focused. We even got a reasonable length “Ska Song”. Then Jimmy learned it was a dude named Bruce’s birthday, and the improvised songs started. After two rounds of happy birthday, things started to come undone. But still it didn’t get too sloppy and silly, and once you commit to being there for an entire Murphy’s Law set, it is a good time, even for an aging straight-edge kid like myself. And even after consuming lots of alcohol, they still pulled out a killer version of “Sarasota” and “What Will The Neighbors Think”, ending the set with “Vicky Crown” and “Woke Up Tied Up”. I could still do for more songs off the last two records, even a “Maximum Lie”, but Jimmy mentioned they are hopefully gonna have a new record out in June which is awesome. Now if we can just get some more new songs into their live set.
DONE DYING “SHELF LIFE” EP (Reaper Records, Released October 29, 2013)
Done Dying refer to themselves as “O.C. hardcore by veterans of the craft” with band members previously being part of various acts like Carry Nation, Strife, Outspoken, Collateral Damage and Speak 714. Frontman Dan O’Mahony was also the voice behind No For An Answer who were part of that first Revelation Records wave of releases way back in 1988. With old school band reunions being all the rage these days it is a breath of fresh air to see a band filled with “old dudes” start up something new and not try to revive something that may not need reviving. “Shelf Life” comes at us quick and ends quick with just 4 songs in about 5 minutes time but those 5 minutes give us a great look into what this band can become. Done Dying play a fast, old school style of hardcore with just the right amount of melody AND grit to make them relevant to fans of their previous band efforts as well as to new fans who may never have heard of any of these guys…Done Dying does not sound like they are just here visiting here from a different decade, partially because of the sweet production/recording they got on this. If you dropped the “previous members of” tag from this release and you heard this you would be immediately saying “who the hell are these guys”. In somewhat of a weird twist this came out less than a month after Done Dying released a 3 song EP on Irish Voodoo Records titled “Dress For Distress”. A combo of these 2 releases would have had 7 songs and would have clocked in at around 11 minutes and would have made for a much meatier debut… so there is some head scratching as to why this happened but hey, there are more songs to go discover now. Reaper Records who is behind this release is pretty reliable with the bands they choose to put out. Between that and knowing who the band members were I was pretty sure this would be a winner and it definitely was although this might not be along the lines of the heavier sound that Reaper has become known for. Money well spent.
ANTITHOUGHT “LIFE’S TOO LONG” EP
(Released November 15, 2013)
Everybody has a different band or style of punk and hardcore that acted as a gateway drug for their introduction to the punk and hardcore scene. I had a lot of friends when I was a teenager that were really into the Chaos '82 style of European street punk and early hardcore. Some people were really into the more metal style of hardcore bands. Myself, I was into all the local DC bands, and street punk. I loved really fast street punk, and I still do. Think A Global Threat, Defiance, The Casualties, The Unseen. Well, had they been around when I was a teenager, I would have been adding St. Louis' Antithought to this list. Within 10 seconds of listening to their 5 song EP "Life's Too Long", I was already grinning from ear to ear. Full of that young rage and sing along parts this is a solid effort by the young band, especially for a completely DIY venture. Anybody that enjoys mid-90's to early 2000's era punkcore bands is sure to enjoy this band. God knows these songs will be stuck in my head for a while. Give em a listen.
KING NINE, CROWN OF THORNZ, THE WRONGSIDE NYC
@ Sayville Republican Club, Sayville, NY November 24, 2013
I had seen pictures of the Sayville Republican Club in the past and it always struck me as one of those spaces that is not really suited well for a good show. I got in during The Wrongside NYC… or should I rephrase that and say I entered the building during Wrongside and made it maybe 10 feet inside before running into the overflow crowd that couldn’t even fit into the main room. To their credit from my limited site line they were really ripping it up and the crowd was bouncing all over.
As people exited to get some air after their set I literally squeezed my way through and into the main room which holds maybe 150 comfortably but I would guess there had to be double that number as Crown Of Thornz set up. As Ezec and company busted into their opener “Icepick” off of their “Mentally Vexed” album the place went up for grabs with bodies flying everywhere. No stage meant that the band had to fight off the crowd surges during the hardest parts of songs like “Head Check”, “Mental Masquerade”, “Crown Of Thonrz” and Juggernaut” which was their whole set. From my standpoint I saw more than a couple of people either bloodied up and walking out to get cleaned up or bloodied up and standing their like it was a badge of honor from a pit of organized chaos. This was my first time catching C.O.T. since their resurgence minus all of their old members (except Ezec of course) and I gotta hand it to them as they took those old jams and really nailed them. Paul Bearer from Sheer Terror (who was in attendance) always gets attention for his between song banter back and forth with crowds but Ezec has to be taken into serious consideration as well as the guy is A: so full of energy it is ridiculous and B: is funny as fuck. This is our drummer “Aryan Nation” and this is our guitar player who won’t admit he is part Jewish. Fuck Connecticut, Staten Island, and white people…. (which got applause from the crowd who…yes was mostly white but also “gets” that it is all PC free chatter to get a laugh). Being thoroughly drained with political correctness these days made it sort of refreshing even though it was all jokingly said. PS: The microphone sounded horrible.
King Nine became the headliners for this show when Down To Nothing pulled out apparently to their singer getting sick. Bummer. Get well David Wood. At first K9 seemed to maybe be out of place going on after C.O.T. but after you got a taste of just their first song you knew this was a “home game” for them and the majority of the crowd was there to see them. Previous to this I had heard their demo and thought it was good but that was over 2 years ago and they are now back sporting the brand spanking new “Scared To Death” full length and this was their record release show. As the crowd pretty much beat the snot out of each other I kept thinking to myself I got to get my hands on this new album (which I am listening to now and is pretty brutal with breakdowns out the ass). Back in the 90’s I remember A LOT of Long Island shows being stale and sometimes lifeless with minimal crowd activity but DAMN have things changed with a brutal crowd feeding off of each other and the bands taking that energy and turning this into one sick show. I think if Down To Nothing had actually played after King Nine they might have had to have a few ambulances on standby. Crazy, intense, Long Island Hardcore…2013.
CLICK LINK TO WATCH KING NINE'S FULL MULTI-CAM SET. RUN TIME: 40:41
JUDGE, MURPHYS LAW, MANIPULATE @ St. Vitus, Brooklyn, NY October 11, 2013
Manipulate was ok, heavy mid-tempo hardcore that just wasn’t brutal enough for my liking. I had a hard time not wanting the mosh parts to be even more dramatic. They got a tempered but positive response. I can see where the same songs would have sounded better with a crazier crowd response but all in all not a bad start to the show.
Then the shocker of the unadvertised openers, Murphy’s Law, who were for most of my younger years by far my favorite band, and to me as a young straight-edge kid, Jimmy Gestapo over the years has been nothing but nice and supportive. Dude even came to my undergrad thesis show. Can’t say how much Murphy’s Law has meant to me over the years. Sadly it seems Todd Youth is out of the band again after a recent short-lived return. Jimmy was backed by Matty and the bassist from Skarhead; a drummer and guitar player, I didn’t recognize; an electric banjo player; a saxophonist who also backs Prince; and the other longest standing member of Murphy’s Law, good old Raven. They were tight, not mid-nineties tight, but better than I’ve seen them in years. Jimmy seemed to be in high spirits doing a large part of their set from the dance floor. They did a standard set of oldies, working in two songs from their last album, “Party’s Over”, which mind you was a while ago, but for a band who plays a set almost entirely from albums recorded, in the eighties, I still think there is a case to be made that the last two records were the best they ever recorded and it’s a shame they aren’t recording more regularly. The set closed with Civ coming out and joining Jimmy for “Beer Song” and “Straight Edge”. It was hard to watch and not get sentimental for Coney Island High and what in retrospect was a golden age for New York Hardcore in the mid-nineties.
Finally, Judge, playing a small venue with a low stage and no barricade, and if you thought Judge playing a small club or just playing was a possibility last year, I would have said you were nuts. I missed Judge the first time around, so I am assuming they aren’t what they were in their younger years, but man, it has been joyous having them back, Having seen all of their return dates on the east coast, this was by far the best of the bunch. Despite the crowd being a who’s who of old hardcore heads, there seemed to be more of a younger element than at some of the previous shows or at least it seemed people were more energized. There was a pretty steady stream of stage divers and a nonstop echo chamber of vocals from the crowd. Nothing but good times. It is also interesting that since they’ve been back, they’ve played almost exclusively Black ‘N Blue Production shows with New York hardcore bands as openers. Looking back, it seems obvious that Judge could have just as easily been on the “Where The Wild Things Are” comp. as they could have been on “The Way It Is” comp. Still wish there was a little more of an attempt to pair them with some younger, bands like Judge and, say, The Rival Mob, because since they’ve been back together, I’ve been downright shocked how many younger hardcore kids I’ve met who don’t know Judge or who are only vaguely familiar with what they sound like. And hell, I just like to see them with a crowd that’s going completely apeshit for them when they play.
FOR THE GLORY “LISBON BLUES” (Rastilho Records, Released September 2013)
Portugal's For The Glory is living proof that European Hardcore is still alive and well. Their recent release, "Lisbon Blues" is a killer record, both fast and heavy, nasty and in your face. If you've been fiending for something new to listen to, do not waste another second. This album is really well put together, featuring searing vocals and crisp guitars complemented perfectly by thundering drums and bass. For fans of Sworn Enemy, Buried Alive, and Bitter End, For the Glory are raw and grating in all the right places, but not so distorted or fast that the songs blend together. This album stays very true to hardcore but also goes off the beaten path and is incredibly refreshing compared to a lot of recent releases. I really hope this band makes it over to the US, because with an album this energetic, I can't imagine how a live show is. Be sure to check them out.
-Ali X Pope
THE RIVAL MOB @ Broomhall Centre, Sheffield, UK October 12, 2013
It was a blink and you'll miss it moment. One of hardcore's finest, primal, rawest bands finally made it to Blighty for the first time.
Usually it is London that gets the final show of a tour, but the capital's core commanders bore witness to the chaos TRM bring the night before they rolled into the Steel City of Sheffield.
Brendan's new wave of British heavy metal banshee shriek obliterated the speakers during “Intro Grunt” before it was pile-on time during “Be Somebody”. Yours truly contributed to the saliva-covered microphone during a raging “Boot Party” whilst other highlights included “Minefield” and “Raw Life”. My only gripe? No '”Hardcore for Hardcore”. Sacrilege!
Anyway, sometimes a review cannot do a show justice. Actions speak louder than words on this occasion. Watch and enjoy.
THE RIVAL MOB @ Broomhall Centre October 12, 2013. Photo by: Josh Rock Photography
CLICK IMAGE TO WATCH FULL SET BY: Jack Colvin. (Run time 29:05)
IN HER EYES 2014
(Calendar featuring the photos of Aga Hairesis, Released November 2013)
Another year, another calendar from one of our favorite DIY, photographers… Aga Hairesis who is based out of the UK. Following last year’s edition In Her Eyes follows up with NY’s Sub-Zero on the cover as well as representing team January. The rest of the lineup is as follows in order: Bum Dem Out, Skarhead, Sick Of It All, Judge, Nasty, Death Before Dishonor, E-Town Concrete, Strength For A Reason, First Blood, Knuckledust, and Louise Distras. Aga’s photos speak for themselves and the quality behind this brings it all home with glossy oversized pages that measure about 16 inches wide by 11 inches high. All of the photos used for this 2014 edition appear to have been taken in 2013 throughout Europe and the US. Each month focuses more on that month’s photo and less on being a calendar with a small font at the bottom of each page representing the days and weeks but behold the pull out gig planner which separates from the calendar and can be used for marking down birthdays, holidays and maybe even the next gig you will be attending. Granted a lot of us use our cell phones for calendars these days but regardless this is still pretty cool to have and for those calendar using types aren’t you sick by now of seeing cute kittens, hot-rods, and national parks by now? With the holiday season just around the corner I couldn’t think of a better DIY gift for your favorite skinhead, punk rocker, or head banger. Pick up In Her Eyes 2014 today before the limited run of 600 are all gone!
HELD HOSTAGE “ INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF HARDCORE- LOCAL 401 RIHC” (Released June 1, 2013)
This was released back in June but it seems Held Hostage have made another push on this which is their debut full length featuring 8 originals and a pretty sick cover of the Cro-Mags’ “Malfunction”. Hailing from Rhode Island this 5 piece have put together a sound and style that should please the old school as there are a lot of elements that point to these guys being fans of older NYHC. Having been in a few bands prior to Held Hostage the members seem to have a clear direction on where they want to go with their sound which to me can slide into either an 80’s or 90’s era matinee at the famed 3-1-5- Bowery address. Is Held Hostage re-inventing hardcore music? Not at all but the heart and soul they bring to the table is hard to match as these songs flat out shred and get caught in your ear for a while. To me the standout track here is “Held Hostage” and when front-man Fugi LaPlante screams out “walls come crashing down” I just want to smash shit into a million pieces (and no… I don’t have an anger problem)…Tracks like this and others like “We Will Rise” and “The Freedom Fighters” display an almost perfect blend of heaviness and melody. They are not too punk, not too metal… they are hardcore through and through. If you remotely like bands like Sick of It All, Agnostic Front or Madball this should suit your needs for a good sleeper album that I am sure you weren’t expecting especially if you don’t live in the US’ Northeast. The lesson learned here kids is it doesn’t have to be on the “cool” label or have a band page with 10K “likes” for it to be good. DIY is alive and well in 2013 so gimme some of that Held Hostage.
CBGB (Movie, Released October 11, 2013)
Probably the only reason this is getting some run here is the fact that CBGB’s, for me at least was one of those special things/places in my life that I will always hold fond memories of. For starters people expecting to see hardcore music represented in this 2013 film please look elsewhere as outside of a few band stickers on the wall in this film there is nothing to take notice of. I kind of understood that going in to this and was OK with it so no biggie. The movie obviously centers around owner Hilly Kristal and how he took a shithole of a bar on NYC’s Bowery and made it into one of the most recognizable clubs in the history of history. There is a good story buried here but there is also a reason why I was watching this a week ago “On Demand” for 5 bucks only a month after it hit theatres… and that is this is one of the worst made movies I have ever seen. The acting all around seems rigid and mostly lifeless and throughout the movie there are these goofy comic book like animations that lead into other scenes and it is just bad. We are all used to things being dramatized for movies but there are just too many dumb things that go on along the way that make you think “bullshit” as you’re watching. Talking Heads, Blondie, and The Ramones get a lot of the attention throughout but it was The Dead Boys story here that had the best chance to go places in delivering some action and for the most part was the most interesting part of the movie but how accurate or inaccurate were they portrayed? The movie’s makers seemed to like to play up the gross factor with plenty of scenes involving Hilly’s dog shitting all over the club, plenty of roaches getting stomped out with bare hands and the junkie cook who kept sneezing all over the chili in the kitchen and although I was not grossed out it just seemed like how not to make a movie. I don’t claim to be a historian of CBGB’s or punk rock, heck I was just a pimply faced teenager going to some matinees in the late 80’s but you just get the feel that this is plastic and lacking and are watching a poorly made movie. Props to Hilly (RIP) and to all the people that made CBGB’s the great club that it was in its heyday but unfortunately we all kind of knew this was gonna suck once the trailers started coming around a few months back. I kind of feel bad piling on after seeing everyone and their mom slam this and truth be told I really wanted to like this but it didn’t stand a chance.
TOUCHE’ AMORE’, UNITED NATIONS, SADDEST LANDSCAPE @ 285 Kent, Brooklyn, NY October 9, 2013
Man, when 285 Kent sells out, you cannot make it past the drape that separates the entrance from the rest of the space. I heard Saddest Landscape from back there, pretty standard, screamy emotional hardcore, felt fine not seeing them play. Managed to make it up front for the hardcore super group that is United Nations, featuring Geoff Rickly from Thursday on vocals and the drummer from Converge with other dudes from other bands from the early 2000’s. But a band featuring a dude from Converge and a dude from Thursday is clearly a super group. And to back up their street cred, they were sued over the name rights by the actual United Nations. As a hardcore band, you are doing something right when the UN has beef with you. They seem to have gotten even tighter since I saw them over the summer. They have progressed from a more hardcore version of Thursday into a really good version of early 90’s screamo-core bands like Merel or Frail but tighter and pleasantly more structured musically. Seems like they have stuff out on Deathwish and are playing out nowadays and getting a pretty good crowd response. Hopefully there is a full length in the works sometime soon.
So I was there for United Nations but was pretty curious about the kids’ favorite hardcore band Touché Amoré. I saw them or should I say didn’t pay attention to them a couple years ago at Krazy Fest, but it seems that the kids just love them and old dudes seem to find them very annoying, so I can now proudly say after seeing them for an entire set, I am in neither camp. Musically they were like Thursday if the band had started taking Zoloft. You can see the emotional turmoil they are shooting for, but all the dramatic builds in the song are smoothed out and even working in a little Kid Dynamite punk. Which wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t good either. But man, the crowd was ecstatic. Clearly Touché Amoré was speaking to the emotional needs of a bunch of young, white hardcore dudes. But something about the singer performing apparently very emotional songs with such a good-natured smile and in-between song banter just seemed odd to me. I mean the dude from Falling Forward would be curled up on the floor crying at the end of their set or hell, even Geoff Rickly opening the show seemed genuinely distressed while on stage. I guess emo just isn’t as emo as it was back in the day.
TRASH TALK, RATKING, SICK FEELING @ 285 Kent, Brooklyn, NY
September 28, 2013
Man either Sick Feeling has gotten way better in a month or I wasn’t listening that closely when they opened for Ceremony. They’re more musically complex than I remember them. Under their fast, noisy hardcore is a pretty complex jazzy rhythm section. It’s sounds like someone owns some Iceburn records. The crowd seemed to be into it, and in general I thought they were pretty fantastic. The lead singer made me ridiculously jealous by rockin’ what appeared to be a Goldman Sachs hockey jersey.
I don’t know much about Ratking, and being up against the speakers might not have been the best place to hear them. What I got was some very noisy rap, like the more experimental end of dubstep, but with dudes rapping, sort of. What I could make out through the volume, which was so high it made the treble feel like spikes driving through my head, was repetitive chants. Maybe it was the sound system and the ridiculous volume but it was so distorted it sounded more like Ministry and rap. Maybe it sounded better in the back of the room.
What hardcore heads have against Trash Talk I’ll never know. They sounded even harder and more aggressive in the small confines of 285 Kent than they did last month at the AfroPunk Fest. They might not sound like a young Madball anymore but they are certainly faster and heavier than the current Madball (and I enjoy the current Madball). But for whatever reason, the crowd seemed to be made up of indie rock kids more than hardcore kids, which is fine, but I am just amazed Trash Talk can get signed to a subsidiary of a major label run by rap’s cool kids Odd Future and be this hard and have its fan base become exclusively indie rock and rap kids. Making their lead singer the scariest dude in the room, not unlike seeing Madball in the early 90’s, I spent most of my time ducking the singer who kept flying off the stage. He even jumped off the high speakers on top of the stage, almost taking my head off and knocking out a well-dressed Asian woman standing next to me. He then climbed up to the high ceiling and finished Trash Talk’s set on his back from the center of the pit. Good stuff, how hardcore kids are sleeping on Trash Talk is beyond me. You can’t let a band getting popular keep you from enjoying some killer hardcore.
CHESTY MALONE & THE SLICE ‘EM UP’S “DESTROY ALL HUMANS” EP (Released October 31, 2013)
It’s really no surprise at all that Chesty Malone & The Slice ‘Em Up’s released their first ever digital release on Halloween. These are the same guys/gal who released a video for their track “Zombie Relief Fund” a few years back featuring band members dressed up as zombies eating human flesh on the streets of Brooklyn. “Destroy All Humans” opens up with a minute plus intro lead in that is very old-school NYHC inspired before lead front-woman Jaqueline Blownaparte takes over on vocals and leads us into 3 additional minutes walking a fine line between what is considered punk and hardcore with the catchy “Destroy All Humans” chorus. Good stuff that I could see being a live favorite. “Slay To Kill” is up next and has its moments but I am digging the title track much more. Look for this to be released with an additional track as 7” vinyl in the spring of 2014.
INSANITY “NO LIMIT” (Released September 6, 2013)
Insanity are a 5 piece out of Lucerne, Switzerland who caught my ear with their catchy “No Limit” title track which they also have a pretty cool video for as well. The band basically could have written their own review here as their band description that they have on their website pretty much sums them up pretty well. “Insanity combine hardcore and metal in an aggressive, transparent way with a lot of emphasis on groove.” Groove being the key word here and when you think metal don’t think that they are flinging rehashed metalcore at you either. The band blends the two styles almost seamlessly as they are more of a hardcore band with thrash metal elements thrown in when you least expect it. What Insanity does best though is the use of the melodic catchy chorus and they use it a lot with “woahhhhh ohhhhh ohhhh’s” all over this 42 minute debut full length. 42 minutes though is a lot to swallow all at once and I think that the length of this is a bit of a detriment because as you go along things start sounding the same giving everything that “one big long song” feel instead of 14 individual standouts. The band has been around for 7 plus years and this is only their debut album so it leads one to ask why haven’t they released something earlier and why drop so much material all at once? Overall a good start from these guys but shortening this up would have been more appealing and easier to swallow. Make sure to check out the video for the title track as well as the free stream and download for this entire album via their website. -CW
ZERO BOYS, NIGHT BIRDS, UGLY PARTS, EXECUTORS, STAG PARTY @ Court Tavern, New Brunswick, NJ August 28, 2013
Been on a pretty big Night Birds kick, they are just so good. Show opened with Stag Party who had some very familiar faces in the band (pretty sure they are fronted by the singer of Jersey’s own Staring Problem) and played a fast, occasionally punky hardcore. It wasn't bad. They seem to have their heart in the right place, but things were a little rough. If they are around long enough to get tight, they could be pretty killer. Even so, as an opener, Stag Party was more than enjoyable.
I love the Court Tavern. As a Jersey kid, I’ve spent lots of time there, but at times it can bring in an odd audience. Executors started playing to a pretty indifferent crowd. They play a fast (LA's) Youth Brigade punk hardcore. It was fine. I am not sure I love Youth Brigade and I wasn't here-or-there on the Executors, but halfway through their set, some young and not entirely bathed folks started dancing it up, catching me by surprise and awkwardly driving my leg into the knee-high speakers, which resulted in me waking up later that night in some real pain and feeling very much like an old person.
In the moment, I was fine, because Ugly Parts was up next and pulled off a great set, a noticeable step-up in quality from the previous bands. Something about a bassist rocking a Melvins shirt makes me think things are gonna be good. Ugly Parts sounded like a more punkish Rorschach or a little bit more accessible version of the fast, noisy hardcore that dominated ABC-NoRio in the early 90's, and I am always down for that.
Night Birds played yet another great set to the most amped response I've seen so far. They also sounded the closest to the albums that I remember. They didn't hurry anything, allowing the underlying melody to really shine. The crowd seemed to know every song they did, except for the new one, which sounded a lot like the rest of their set. Love those Night Birds, one of the best things going. Was set to see them again the next night until I woke up with my knee all swollen. I spent the day hobbling around and decided it was better to stay home and be old.
After a rather lengthy set-up came the Zero Boys, whom I haven't seen since seven or eight years ago, when they were awesome at CBGB's. And it seems the internet kids, who aren't
old record collectors or just big Leeway fans, now know who the Zero Boys are and know even more songs than I did, as an owner of the “Vicious Circle” LP. Before I say more, I'd like to point out
that when I am at shows, I am usually there to take pictures. It’s been part of going to shows for me since I was 16.
I always felt it was my way of giving back and being part of things. But the Zero Boys were the third band at shows I was at this summer to have issues with people shooting. At Le Poisson Rouge, the singer of the Hoax was attacking photographers during their set, opening for Limp Wrist, and apparently because Andy from Ceremony had a run-in with the in-house photo crew at This Is Hardcore, they didn't shoot Ceremony’s set. Paul Mayhem, the Zero Boys’ singer, was gesturing at a few people who were shooting during the first couple songs and then said, "cameras don't normally bother me, but there is something going on, the cameras are really starting to annoy me." I am not sure if there were more cameras than there used to be or are people just getting touchier, but as a hardcore photographer, I have a hard time not taking it a little personally. And with Zero Boys it did seem a little rock starrish, because there were maybe three cameras there, mine included, but whatever. They were okay, noticeably not as tight or energetic as 8 years ago, but they were old back then, so it’s to be expected. They also seemed to play some real straight-up rock tunes, some from a new 7" and maybe some from their later stuff that I am not that familiar with. “Civilizations Dying”, “Drug Free Youth”, and “Living In The 80's” were all pretty solid, but oddly they were all in the first half of what looked like a pretty long set. After they complained about the photographing, with my knee hurting and it being almost midnight and a drive back to the city ahead of me, I bailed after “Drug Free Youth”.
BAD ATTITUDE “BRAIN FREEZE” EP
(Released October 6, 2013)
Another month, another new band from The Netherlands, and well, apparently, the Leeuwarden, The Netherlands scene is just as incestuous as the scene in NYC, using multiple members of different bands to form a new one. Bad Attitude is members of Pantah, 0Fight8 (both of which I did reviews of), and Cornered. They have a 5 song demo/EP called “BrainFreeze” and it's pretty damn good. All of the bands I've heard from that area are pretty similar in sound. That late 80's/early 90s style of hardcore. Extremely reminiscent of The Exploited, Circle Jerks, and Floorpunch, I really enjoy this band. The songs are short, the bass is probably a little too loud, the guitars are sloppy and fast and it's exactly what it should be. You should listen to them.
STRIFE @ REVOLUTION, AMITYVILLE, NY SEPTEMBER 26, 2013
When I got out of work I knew I still had a shot at catching Strife out in Amityville so I hit the pedal to the metal and made it in about 20 minutes into their set according to some dude in the parking lot. Earlier in the night I missed a lineup consisting of No Face, Death Dealer, Manipulate and 1776. So Strife is already midway into their set when I get in and they simply sound amazing and super tight. I have seen a few bands at this club and have never heard this good of a sound from any of them, possibly from me going for a stage left spot instead of the usual stage right. Strife is a band that I think is always on maximum output whether they are playing the BNB Bowl in front of a few thousand people or in Amityville on a Thursday night in front of about 100. For me they are very much like Bane in that I don’t know their catalog of songs inside out but every time I see them it is another wow moment as both bands just know how to put on a good show. The small crowd showed their appreciation with some short bursts of energy especially when singer Rick Rodney took to the dance floor with microphone in hand resulting in a few pile ons along the way. The night finished up strong with some oldies in “Blistered” as well as “What Will Remain” off of the “Only The Strong” compilation which came out on Victory Records over 20 years ago in 1993 showing the bands longevity as well as their commitment to hardcore music. -CW
OUTSIDER MAGAZINE (Issue #26 Fall 2013)
Outsider Magazine comes to us from Newburgh NY and they are up to issue #26 which is pretty impressive considering the amount of material here as well as they're reach. Outsider is on full sized newsprint much like your grandfather's newspaper and they cram a lot into the 28 XXXL pages. Included in this (the Fall 2013) edition is Shai Halud, Paint It Black, Alpha & Omega, God Mode, Diamond Youth, Wrongway Flyers and more including zine staples like reviews, editorials, and the like. A heavy tattoo influence runs throughout within their ads and in an article titled The Tattooed World. A section called Zine Scene lets bands send a bio and a photo in and they run it. Pretty cool. Outsider is FREE within the US by just sending them your address and for those in the Orange County area of NY there is a good chance you can find this as they print up 4000 plus issues and leave them in many local record stores and shops. Outsider, I am glad I found you. -CW
MORBULTAD- “HBG HARDCORE” (Released September 18, 2013)
For fans of: Sick of it All, Agnostic Front, Incendiary, Madball…Mörbultad released their debut album last week from Helsingborg, Sweden. And yes, it is every bit as awesome as it sounds. With a runtime of just under 15 minutes, this album plays through with incredible tenacity and aggression from the first moment. Mörbultad stays true to hardcore and its roots and then enhancing it and revitalizing it for today’s listeners. The songs are absolutely awesome and don’t ever get campy or gimmicky or have a lot of overkill. They’re just the right blend of groove, grit, aggression, and passion. Beyond just the songwriting, the tone and recording of this album just sounds incredible. The bass tone is fantastic and supports the other instruments without overpowering them or making them sound insignificant, and the vocals are just the right balance of gnarly and polished. Though I thought initially there’d be a bit of a language barrier since Swedish isn’t a language I understand, I think it actually sounds better in Swedish. It really speaks to the musicianship of Mörbultad that they can still have a huge appeal to audiences of different cultures and languages. “HBG Hardcore” is just that-hardcore at it’s very finest. Seriously, do yourself a huge favor and give this album a listen. This band has the potential to really go places.
-Ali X Pope
THINGS WE SAY “TIME TO CHANGE” EP (Townhall Records, Released July 28, 2013)
Aside from their music South Korea’s Things We Say have a pretty interesting story as they initially started up in 2004 when their singer Victor lived in Canada. He sang, played guitar and bass and had a friend playing drums at the time. Later that year Victor moved back to Korea where things started to take shape as he recruited a full lineup which since has had some modifications. Victor is also an English teacher and Things We Say sound like they could be a band from any US city or town especially with his clear vocal style where you can make out every word he is singing into the microphone. The name of the band and this EP’s artwork scream of a Gorilla Biscuits influence and if you guessed that you were dead right. Toss in Side By Side and some Youth Of Today and you got the formula for what TWS are concocting. Keeping the youth crew sound and style alive often results in mirror images of bands gone by. On this EP I hear a well-played and tight finished product and although they walk the same path as their predecessors in some ways they also carve out their own niche largely in part to the previously mentioned clear vocals which without a doubt gives TWS their own uniqueness. Lyrically and musically “Seoul Hardcore” is the best track here with a great intro and then guitar lead that takes us into a song about how these guys get amped up for a show in their hood. “As We Grow” talks about growing up, having a family and responsibilities but also reminds us to take a breath and enjoy the ride. This EP has 8 songs, is done in under 15 minutes and is just intelligent and catchy like a motherfucker. Victor’s clear and precise vocal style is unique and works here but could also be slightly improved with a touch (and I mean just a dash) of grittiness. A lot of submissions come in here to this site and it is hard in 2013 to stand out from the pack and that is what Things We Say have accomplished… give ‘em a shot.
AGNOSTIC FRONT, TENSION*, TWO MAN ADVANTAGE, LIVE FAST DIE FAST, GANGWAY @ REVOLUTION, AMITYVILLE, NY SEPTEMBER 15, 2013
One thing that you notice when entering Revolution is that this is a rock club through and through. It is not a sports bar or an old man bar turned into a rock club on the weekends. The lighting inside is dim and everything seems to be painted black and there are tons of promo posters of upcoming shows everywhere. All the TV’s show the band playing on the stage as well and it just kind of gives me that L’Amours feel if your old enough to remember. I got in just as Gangway started and they were a good opener playing fast paced punk... I am sure they have been called street punk once or twice and they were good... not great... and pretty much straight up except for a few ska type parts which was a nice change up. Their drummer stood out to me as this dude was really wailing away behind his kit and is really good. Nice cover of “Warriors” by Judge...ummm I mean Blitz.
Next up to the stage were locals Live Fast Die Fast playing their home area for the second time since the release of their new album “Keep Your Fingers Crossed” came out. They opened with “From The Start” off of that new album followed by “Uncertain” also off of the new album. The new album is amazing and it was no surprise that their set consisted mostly of new tracks as if I was in this band I would want to show them off as well. The crowd ate it up with a bunch of pile ons.. sing-a-longs...people on the stage grabbing the mic from their singer Paul to sing the words... you know hardcore stuff. An overall very solid set as their energy performing their songs matches the energy IN their songs. With a few breaks I can see these guys taking off a bit as the quality is there right now... it’s just a case of getting the word out at this point.
Following up LFDF was the always fun, always entertaining, and always drunk out of their fucking skulls Two Man Advantage...another Long Island entry on this night. They started as always with the “2MA Intro” which is like hearing the national anthem before a baseball (or hockey) game in regards to tradition and this was followed by “Bastards Of The Ice” and then “Hot Rod GTO”. I have to say I was a little surprised that they did not play more off of their latest album “Dynasty” which came out in 2012 and has a slew of catchy tracks. Two Man played more of a mix which in a way had me asking myself if they were into their last album as much as I was. Not disappointed at all, just a little of a head scratcher of sorts and once again the Two Man proved that hockey and punk rock can co-exist side by side in harmony.
Tension* held court next and are one of those iconic Long Island bands that were known for rough and tumble shows and music back during the 90’s and this was another one of their more frequent reunion shows. These days the members of Tension* make up the bulk of the band 1776 who are more similar than different with their sound. The bands almost blend and become one as Tension* went into a 1776 song called “Binary Star” and there was no real noticeable difference with the angst and fury blaring out of their speakers. The music is angry and the pit reflected that angry style as it resembled something out of the Velebit NYHC documentary from the 1990’s with fists and karate kicks being flung around like an organized street fight. A very distinct difference from maybe 30 minutes earlier when Two Man Advantage was on the same stage in regards to how the crowd went about their business. Not surprisingly they ended things with a cover of the Go-Go’s “We Got The Beat” which couldn’t be any further from the sound they normally play but they Tension-ized* this track which is really an undercover hardcore song.
Not too long after was AF taking the stage with “Victim In Pain” followed by “Blind Justice” and “Last Warning” to kick their night off. Early on, their set list kind of had bits and pieces of different AF eras grouped together with stuff like “The Eliminator” and “Public Assistance” off of their 1986 “Cause For Alarm” album following the opening batch of songs. On the newer side of their 30 plus year history is “For My Family” which has become my all-time favorite AF track and was one of their sets highlights this night. Tracks like “Addiction” and “Peace” which also are more on the newer side of this bands history showed the different styles that AF has done over the years. AF’s career spans so long and they have gone from old school NYHC sounds to metal phases to street punk sounds like on “Something’s Gotta Give” and they have such a huge catalog of songs. Almost like a giant old tree with many rings each with its own bit of history. Roger shared some personal moments/stories during their set which got some laughs including telling us how his youngest daughter recently found out that he had been incarcerated earlier in his life and how he told his older daughter that if she kissed any boys that they would vomit in her mouth. Not your average between song banter but it got some good laughs. “Friend Or Foe”... “Crucified”. ..all played as well as a cover of The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” right after Roger dubbed The Ramones “the greatest rock n roll band in the world”. Agnostic Front 30 plus years after forming still has it whether they are playing festivals in Europe in front of what seems like a million people or in front of 300 or so of their closest friends on Long Island NY on a Sunday night.
Ieperfest 2013, Ieper, Belgium
By: Tim Edwards
Friday August 9, 2013
After sampling the delights of the town of Ypres itself I headed to the festival site to catch long-standing Cali punk rock legends TSOL. Lead singer Jack Grisham, sporting a fetching patterned skirt and suit jacket, was in jovial spirits as the band - influencers of many and name-dropped in GnR's “Sweet Child Of Mine” video - blasted through their set. “Superficial Love” and “Abolish Government” were particular favorites, not least because they were covered by Slayer, so it is always cool to hear the originals aired.
Given the amount of First Blood t-shirts and hoodies adored by festival goers it was a surprise that the pit was relatively sparse when Carl Schwartz and his crew took to the stage. The San Fran outfit pulverized their way through “Next Time I See You You're Dead”, “Enemy”, “First Blood”, “Victim” and an earth-shuddering rendition of “Suffocate”. Metallic hardcore at its most primal.
When Downset were announced for the festival I and several of my friends rubbed our hands with glee as it presented many of us with the chance to see the rap hardcore kings again for the first time since their mid-90s hey-day, when they leveled music venues with their unique fusion of hip-hop, funk and street hardcore. Alas, it was too good to be true. In the weeks preceding Ieperfest Downset revealed that attempts to get all original members on board had failed, including main man Rey Oropeza. It's like the Big Four without Hetfield, Mustaine, Araya and Belladonna/Bush: simply incomprehensible and utterly unworkable. And so it proved. Neil Roemer manfully tried his best on the mic but the likes of “Empower”, “Eyes Shut Tight”. “Take 'Em Out” and set closer “Anger” sounded hopelessly labored and lacked the sort of conviction Oropeza delivered his lines with. It's Downset Jim, but not as we know it.
I don't own a single thing by the Dead Kennedys. Shameful really. I know some of their songs and most of us affiliated to this scene of ours are aware of Jello Biafra and what he stands for. No 55-year-old fronting a “backing band” known as The Guantanamo School of Medicine has the right to be a show-stopper right? Wrong. This is Jello after all. DK classics “California Über Alles”, “Holiday In Cambodia” and “Nazi Punks Fuck Off!” are lapped up by a pumped up crowd, a sea of bodies clambering onto the stage only to be shoved off by centre-staged Biafra. The GSOM stuff is just as well received – “Barackstar O' Bummer”, “John Dillinger” and “Road Rage” are absolute gems - it's like listening to a Sylvester the Cat meltdown after being pushed to the breaking point by that Tweetie Pie tease. Genius.
As for the headliners Black Flag, perhaps they should have raised the white flag instead. The Greg Ginn incarnation got off to an ironically slow start against a backdrop of disharmony, what with lawsuits being made against the other incarnation, Flag. So much for Rise Above.
Saturday August 10, 2013
It's not every day a Argentinian “vegan straight edge blackened metalcore” band drags you from your pit of hangover despair, but on the strength of their “Our Anger” video Mostomalta managed to rise me from mine before midday. Imperiously brutal, this South American quintet reminded me of Zao arm-wrestling with Maroon with the contest being judged by Obituary. Check them out.
With Sectarian Violence pulling out it was left to homegrown talent to fill the void.
And with their brand of hell-tuned beatdown hardcore Vicious certainly got the pit gymnasts seeking perfect tens in the tent - the young straight edge crew received warm applause for their enthusiasm encased by Shattered Realm style '”hug chug” guitar riffs.
London's Ninebar battled through early sound issues and a broken string to stir up a fair bit of interest. The two Toms - Skinny and Fat, prowled the stage with menace and intent as they spat lyrics between them. From the broody opening bars of “Hate, Kill, Repeat” to the gang vocals of “Read These Boks”, Ninebar more than held their own on a day full of heavyweight names.
Death Before Dishonor earned the first major stage invasion of the weekend, with the band becoming obscured by those who transferred from pit to platform for set closer “Boston Belongs To Me”. Before that crescendo “Friends, Family, Forever”, “Peace And Quiet”, “Count Me In” and “Born From Misery” were warmly received.
There is not much anyone can add when trying to describe a Municipal Waste show. the hilarious thrashers tore through a memorable set including “Unleash The Bastards”, “You're Cut Off”, whilst “Born To Party” prompted boogie boarding and stage dives galore, including one guy dressed as a banana. Municipal Waste fucked him up.
E-Town Concrete succeeded where Downset failed by showing they can deliver rap-infused hardcore despite several long hiatuses since their finest hour.
“Time 2 Shine” and “Just Watcha Step” were slabs of meatiness in a set that also included “Mandibles” and “One Life To Live”. Solid.
In the mid-90s Goodlife Records built an enviable roster of evil-sounding straight edge hardcore bands. Culture were one of those that helped define the sound of that era. So, would they stand the test of time after so long in the shadows? The few that were in the know gave it everything they had down the front as the band opened up with “Born of You”. Singer Damien Moyal did his best to get more crowd interaction as the band ploughed through a solid-enough set that included “Deforestation” and “Oath”, the latter of which will probably never sound as good as it did on record. There were a few nerves in the Culture camp but a warm reception as they departed confirmed it was mission accomplished.
Napalm Death then did what they've done with military precision for eons - shake foundations and heads until both crumble. Barney - one of the most animated and passionate frontmen in metal - bounced around the stage like a man possessed as classics “Suffer The Children” and set closer “Siege of Power” sat seamlessly alongside newer tracks like “When All Is Said And Done” and “The Wolf I Feed”. Timeless and peerless.
The Cro-Mags brought the curtain down on Saturday night with a typical barnstorming set. The opening salvo of “We Gotta Know” saw scores of stage divers take flight before John Joseph had uttered a single word. The boundless energy continued through “World Peace” and “Show You No Mercy” before Joseph dedicates the "oldie but a goodie" “Street Justice” to an over-excited fan who had just bared his "sweet ass" on stage. The classics kept coming in the form of “Sign of the Times”, “Malfunction” and “Life Of My Own” before the now-customary final song of the final set as a stage invasion ensued during “Hard Times”.
Sunday August 11, 2013
Massachusetts mob Revenge were well worth braving a rare downpour early on the final day of the festival. Crushing hardcore in the vein of Until The End and Steel Nation with a few blast beats thrown in for good measure, Revenge would have undoubtedly gone down a storm had they been afforded a slot later in the afternoon. The organizers could do worse than invite them back next year.
My anticipation for Belgian metalcore legends Length of Time had reached fever pitch by the time they arrived onstage. “Do What Must Be Done” stopped those heading for the token exchange area in their tracks, such was its ferocity, whilst the end of “Loving Your Enemies” had me wishing I had James Hetfield hair circa 1995 as my head resembled a Catherine wheel at its climax. “Thoughts of the Enslaved” contains one of the best opening riffs ever written and sounded amazing but LOT then suffered a cruel blow when the power blew before the crescendo during “Shame To This Weakness Modern World”. They got going again after a lengthy delay (excuse the pun) but many in the restless crowd, thinking it was all over, had long dispersed.
With the technical problems sorted Integrity hit the stage. Dwid and the boys tore through “Rise”, “Hallow”, “Systems Overload”, “Micha”, “Incarnate 365” -the list goes on. Each song was delivered with vicious intent, raw power and with a live sound bettered by no other over the entire weekend despite a surreal moment when Dwid played harmonica.
The tent was rammed for old-skool Dutch heroes No Turning Back, who despite warranting a place on the main stage seem to excel in the sweaty confines of steel and canvas. From “Never Give Up” to “Stronger”, every word was sung with conviction and lapped up by those mopping their brows.
And so to festival closers Madball. Sporting shoulder-length hair, Freddie led the NYHC legends headlong into “Empire”, “Can't Stop, Won't Stop” and “We The People”, all well received despite a messy sound mix.
Thankfully it had cleared up for “Get Out”, “Set It Off”, “For My Enemies” and the stop-start amusement of “Smell The Bacon”. They weren't quite as energetic as their NY cohorts from the previous night but Madball left the crowd hungry for more, and that's all any band having long achieved legendary status can wish to do.
IMPULSE CV- “COLDSTART” (Released September 6, 2013)
Heavy, nasty, and in-your-face, Impulse’s “Coldstart” is blistering power-violence straight from Chula Vista, CA. This 7-track album is everything I love about this genre but with a more polished sound that makes it instantly more listenable to those who may be turned off by grittier recordings. “Coldstart” is impressive from the first second, grabbing a hold of the listener and not letting go until they’ve been beaten to a pulp and then some. The songwriting and sheer aggression will be immediately appealing to the hardened fans of old-school power-violence and punk but also has depth and definition that newer-generation fans will definitely appreciate. There’s clarity in the chaos of the “Coldstart”, and each instrument is definable and seems to support the weight of the music equally as opposed to leaning too heavily on the guitar or drums, an impressive feat for this style. Impulse is an unexpected revival and I definitely am going to keep my eye on them.
-Ali X Pope
VOLATILE SUBSTANCE “EMERGENCY EXIT” (Released September 7, 2013)
Aptly fucking named. Throwing a molotav your direction from Oakland California Volatile Substance is an explosive, disgusting, noisy mess of grind, punk, and hardcore. They remind me of Thulsa Doom, Infest, and Discharge. They have two EP's out on tape, which I personally love that kids are doing that again. Both tapes, "Soak My Body In Gasoline. Bathe Myself in Fire" and this new 3 song effort "Emergency Exit", sport that nasty black and white demented aesthetic that you can only find from DIY as fuck punk bands. And God bless it. If you're into really fast and noisy crust, then give Volatile Substance a whirl. You won’t be disappointed.
STILL ABOVE SNAKES “TWENTY THIRTEEN, YEAR OF THE SNAKE” (Released August 20, 2013)
I joined an already well-established punk band when I was 18 years old and living in DC. All the other members were already in their mid to late 30s (old dogs). It made for an interesting (frustratingly difficult) time writing music (new tricks) with the rest of the guys. However, the combination of years of experience writing and playing shows, and the young ideas I was churning out for new music every practice made for a very heartfelt combination of that classic hardcore punk sound and the energy of the angst behind it. That's pretty much what I hear when I listen to Vancouver's Still Above Snakes. Jumping into the ring with a 5 song demo/EP entitled "Twenty Thirteen Year Of The Snake" SAS spans three decades of Vancouver's punk and hardcore. And you can hear it. And that's fucking cool. It's pissed off and fast, it's melodic, it’s got sing along parts. When you've listened to enough demos and CD's of bands that you've never seen live, you kinda catch a feel for how they are on stage and I really wish I could catch these guys at a local show. The recording quality is on point, but I feel like it doesn't quite do justice to the energy behind the sound they're dishing out. You can definitely hear the younger influence and rage behind the solid tempered classic hardcore sound. Reminiscent of pretty much every hardcore band I've ever listened to Still Above Snakes promise to deliver in the years to come. Give 'em a whirl kiddies. On a sidenote, SAS bass player Dan Walters used to put out a zine in the 80's, called Terminally Stupid, that documented the punk and hardcore scene from in and around Vancouver. For you young cats reading this shit, that was before Al Gore invented the internet and you actually had to print this kinda shit up.... on, like... paper... and then bind it together.... weird. See if you can get your hands on one. I'm sure there’s some pretty rad stories in there. Cheers from In Effect buddy.
TEST OF TIME “THE PRICE” (Bridge 9 Records, Released September 10, 2013)
Boston’s Test Of Time who started just last year return with their latest release… a 6 song EP titled “The Price”. Before we get started with what this band is doing we have to give a few jabs to their label Bridge 9 who continue to send out promos without lyrics, and with downloads that may or may not be broken. The foundation of hardcore music is supposed to be about the message and although some bands write more from the heart than others it would be nice to see what each band has to say and take it from there. I don’t want to point the finger just at B9 as a lot of labels fall back on the company line of “we don’t send out promos” so what we are left with is email inboxes with links from here to Albuquerque with standard bio’s and information that pretty much tell you nothing of importance. There are 6 songs in about 7 minutes and I say about 7 minutes because on the 6th song about 50 seconds in the song just stops during a vocal part. Maybe the song continues on for another minute, maybe that is the end…if I had the lyrics I might be able to figure it out. OK, enough of that… Test Of Time is straight edge and they are on Bridge 9 so I guess right there this has a decent chance of selling a few units but if that sarcasm is true I have no idea why. At their very best Test Of Time is pretty much run of the mill posi-sounding straight edge. The second track “”Riptide” (which is also the longest at about 2 minutes) does have a nice groove/hook on the slower parts and this is probably the lone aspect of this EP that I enjoyed. I grew up on the posi-straight edge sound and feel that it still can be played with heart and conviction and a freshness (World War 4 as an example) but not here. I would not say that the music is bad but I will say that about the vocals which is the weakest link here and what makes this almost unlistenable. They are just bad and at times seem to not flow along with the music. I am still trying to figure out what is going on in the last 10 seconds of “Aperture”. I honestly was looking forward to getting this release and got caught up in the hype machine a little and ended up feeling let down in the end. Regardless of my earlier record label complaints this is still hard to listen to and flat out sub-par with or without a lyric sheet.
DOWN TO NOTHING “LIFE ON THE JAMES” (Revelation Records, Release Date: September 10, 2013)
The second half of 2013 continues its surge of high end quality hardcore releases and the new Down To Nothing could be the best of them all. Last seen (recording wise) in 2010 via their “All My Sons” EP and previous to that in 2008 with the “Unbreakable” full length. Frontman David Wood plays bass in Terror who are probably playing a show somewhere right now and DTN bassist Jared Carman had a lot of his time dedicated to the now on hiatus Trapped Under Ice so there lies at least one reason why the long wait between releases. Worth the wait you ask? Hellz yeah. “Life On The James” for me at least is an album that hit me on the very first listen. The kind of album that you know right away that you are gonna love and play into the ground. The title track, cover photo/art and the insert photos all center around the James River which runs through DTN’s home base of Richmond, VA. There is a lot of pride on display on this track which is preceded by “Dirty South” which also shows their love for Dixie and is (like everything here) well written, catchy, and just infectious. DTN’s style/sound follows a more traditional path (think Sick Of It All) and within that path they manage to keep things fresh with plenty of tempo changes, sing-a-longs, and great lead ins to some songs which makes everything uniquely identifiable and not just sounding like one big song. The lyrics mirror the music in that they touch on traditional hardcore subject matter in some cases (“Brothers Turned Strangers”- friendships gone wrong, “No Leash” –breaking away from what society thinks you should be) but written with a resourcefulness that makes you go back to read them a few more times. “Sheffield” is about life on the road in a band and missing home, and “3:24” which is lyrically short with just 5 lines, reaffirms the bands straight edge beliefs but is not in your face about it. My favorite has to be the title track because how many other hardcore bands out there can write a song about a damn river and make it sound cool? “Life On The James” is a quality product through and through which will appeal to many factions within the world of hardcore and should make them a name you will be hearing a lot in the upcoming weeks/months/year. With a head full of steam heading into the fall season the only thing I can see slowing this band down right now is their commitments to other projects. A 2013 MUST have.
THE SETUP “THIS THING OF OURS” (Beatdown Hardware Records, Released May 2013)
BDHW Records sent a package with a bunch of their new releases recently, one of them being “This Thing Of Ours” by Belgium’s The Setup. 2013 marks 10 years for The Setup who previously had put out a slew of releases including 3 full lengths prior to this. Upon first listen you can tell this band has their shit together and a sound that draws from a few different areas. Bands that can mix a heavy style of fast hardcore and good melodies don’t come along that often… you often see bands that are all about being heavy, crushing and basically metal and on the other end you got bands that are so addicted to the melodic parts that they are pretty much pansy ass radio punk rock. Although different in more ways than they are similar Wisdom In Chains is a band that I am referring to when I speak of this fine line of melding the two and I put The Setup into that category as well. Their sound is based in a more new school style but they mix in elements of old school hardcore as well and plenty of grooves. The first 4 songs on “This Thing Of Ours” hit and they hit hard. “Black Hearts” with its blistering opening where we get introduced to Kris’ scratchy vocal style, “Walking Blind” with a pretty much melodic gang style chorus that gets drilled into your head, “Trapped Under The Weight” that opens with a decimating sing-a-long chorus to “Burn” with its “BURN, BURN, BURN, to the ground” chorus… If this doesn’t get the blood pumping I don’t know what to tell you. It doesn’t stop after the first 4 as the remaining 7 tracks shred on with “To Die For” probably being the best of the rest. Bands that make it to the 10 year point aren’t always running on a full tank of gas and the strength of this album shows that The Setup have that will and desire to keep the engine on the tracks. Make sure to check out the videos page as they have 3 videos made for songs off of this album. For fans of Trapped Under Ice and Sick of It All as they are a good blend of old and new style hardcore.
MODERN LIFE IS WAR "FEVER HUNTING" (Deathwish Inc, Released September 3 2013
We have all seen comebacks in hardcore music and sometimes they leave us kind of wishing the band stayed broken up after seeing them try to chase down a past that is long gone. I will start this review not pretending to be an OG Modern Life Is War fan but from my vantage point after getting to know this album inside out I would have to question any old fan of this band who does not fall in love with this 11 song 32 minute album from this 5 piece from Marshalltown Iowa. Their return to the stage was on night 2 of the This Is Hardcore Festival in Philadelphia in early August and less than a month later they drop “Fever Hunting” with their full original lineup. So you have the original lineup, 11 new songs within a month of returning and an upfront disclaimer of sorts where they tell us there will not be extensive touring? Gotta love their commitment and that they have a game plan going into this. MLIW's style is one that strays from the path of traditional hardcore almost in a way that Quicksand brought to the table years back or to a degree what Verse has done more recently. Keeping the feel of hardcore, the formula to a degree but progressing into new territories and in this case it is less about the mosh part/breakdown and more about a PASSION that builds throughout the majority of these songs highlighted by Jeffrey Eaton’s scratchy vocal style which fits just right. There is a lot of substance within these tracks and it took a few spins to get here but I am sure glad I didn’t give up on this. Tracks that I go back to over and over include "Health, Wealth, And Peace", " Media Cunt”, and “Fever Hunting”. Personally I get into musical ruts from time to time (don’t we all?) and need a change of pace and this has been it. There have been times where I have played this straight through from start to finish and other times where I turned it off after just a song or two but in the end I am glad to see these guys make a return to the scene and do it the way they did. Extra credit points for the name Modern Life Is War… great name… and welcome back!
TAKE OFFENSE “UNITED STATES OF MIND” (Reaper Records, Release Date September 17, 2013)
For me, the most anticipated release of 2013 is this… “United States of Mind” by Take Offense. Last year the boys from Chula Vista, CA dropped a 4 song EP “Under The Same Shadow” and had many foaming at the mouth for more and here we go. The title track starts things off and sets things off nice. “”You may control the air I breath, you may control the news I read, but you can’t control the way I think. The United States Of Mind” …. is the catchy and thought provoking chorus belted out by frontman Anthony Herrera. The band went the same route as last time scooping up Terror’s drummer Nick Jett to produce this and a wise choice that was as he is the “in” guy to produce your hardcore bands album these days and for good reason. The sound they got is a little heavier or beefier but represents the band well with what they are doing. “Place Your Bet” is the second track on the album and may be the best delivering what TO is all about with a head nodding groove, some nice guitar work in the middle and an ending that will turn the dance floor into a war zone. Check out the last 30 or so seconds to this track and tell me you can’t see bodies flying all over during a live set. The album rolls along with other standouts like “I’ll Smoke You (One Step Ahead)”, “No Room”, and the amazing “Without You” which is the “Sanitarium/Master Of Puppets” track to this album starting off calm and building into a classic while showing a slightly lighter and more melodic side than the rest of the album. The changeup of styles where they go slightly more melodic while keeping their core sound is amazing and something that would be welcomed with future tracks. “When Death Comes Near” finishes things up and is a great sendoff with some good lyrics dealing with life and death. There are 10 tracks here, 7 of which I would classify as all out ragers with a few notable bumps in the road with the tracks “Criminals” and “Broke & Infamous” and in some regards “Ascended Master” (particularly the chorus) which are kind of average and are just there taking up space, nothing bad… but nothing great either. Overall though TO delivers AGAIN as their assault on hardcore music continues. Their NYHC meets Suicidal Tendencies style is something that I never grow tired of listening to and in the process they have given us another bunch of tracks to pile on to their building catalog of great music.
KID DYNAMITE, JOYCE MANOR, RED HARE / SWEARIN’ @ House Of Vans, Brooklyn, NY, August 14, 2013
Not sure what the deal was with Swearin’ and honestly was out back hanging out during their set. They seemed like some rocking emo pop punk genericness that I am guessing accounts for 90% of current Warped Tour lineups. Also spotted Lord Ezec in full DMS gear wandering around, and I like to believe he was there for Swearin'. I do remember him enjoying Copper in the 90’s so who knows. But my guess is the appearance of Danny Diablo and Eddie from Leeway was due to Red Hare aka Swiz, all grown up and not completely sucking like their previous reincarnation as Sweetbelly Freakdown. The new Red Hare record is pretty sweet, and if you like Swiz or, like me, just think Jason Farrell is a guitar god (word is there is a new Retisonic album on the way), it is well worth picking up the record from Dischord and when was the last current band that you purchased from Dischord? Now with all that said, and maybe it was the barricade and the five-foot space between it and the stage, but Red Hare live was very so-so. Musically they were pretty tight, and Farrell’s silky melodies really shone, but I’ve always been more of a Dave Smalley kind of guy. I love Swiz, I just never thought Shawn Brown’s vocals were the strongest part of the band. Live with Red Hare, the vocals were a little slowed and lacked some of the rage of the record. They became a little too spoken and growled. Still better than, say, Joyce Manor, who followed them. Again, during Joyce Manor’s set, I was outside hanging out, but from what I caught, the kids seemed to like them, and they were kinda emo hardcore via post Caution-era Hot Water Music via Kid Dynamite.
Which brings me to Kid Dynamite and a weird realization I had during their set: for lots of kids, Kid Dynamite is their great 80’s era hardcore band, their Gorilla Biscuits, or Judge, or whatever. I got into hardcore in the early 90’s, which means at the time hardcore was only ten years old, depending on when you want to argue hardcore started. Bands like Gorilla Biscuits, Judge or Youth Of Today, who broke up in the late 80’s, had only been gone for four or five years by that time, and they were like these distant gods who had once roamed the earth. Never mind a Bad Brains, Minor Threat or Black Flag, they were from the time before time, but in reality that first vanguard of bands had only broken up about ten years earlier, or about the same distance away that Kid Dynamite’s breakup is from today. I think it’s fair to say that there are a lot more popular hardcore bands made up of kids that sound more like Kid Dynamite than to Judge or Minor Threat. That being said the final show was fun, though the vocals seemed to suffer a tad from Jason doing the set from the barricade. Otherwise a solid set, but for Kid Dynamite’s final US show, it was a little anti-climactic compared to the craziness of their second to last show at This Is Hardcore.
WORLD EATER “WORMFEAST” (BeatDownhardWear Records, Released April 2013)
Formed in ’09 in southwest Germany the band World Eater should be popping up on your radars if they haven’t already. I have heard the name before, saw them on flyers for shows all over Europe but this was my first time taking in what they have to offer and quite frankly….dammmmmm! “Calling You Out” kick starts “Wormfeast” and it’s on right from the start with a sound that I keep thinking sounds like AF era “Victim In Pain” but updated in a way with a crystal clear perfect production. The songs are all pretty much blistering 2 minute and under attacks with enough diversity within the song structures to keep you wanting more song after song. There are a few well timed short guitar solos that fit their respective songs perfectly as well as songs that start off slow (“Cornered” and “Enough Is Enough” as examples) and then build up until they blast into thrash induced mayhem. Then you got stuff like “Distorted Minds” and “About To Fall” (which they made a video for) that hit you in the head and are done within a minute. Standout tracks include “Buried Convictions” and “Shadows” as well as the opening track with ZERO clunkers mixed in on this 14 song/20+ minute LP. Review wise there isn’t really much else I can say about this except that this was one of those “IPod hijack” releases that has been on constant rotation since it arrived and I can definitely see this ranking in the Top 10 for best releases of 2013. For my American friends I have to point out that Europe has some excellent hardcore going on right now that is going unnoticed in some circles and this simply has got to change. More please!
KID DYNAMITE, KILL YOUR IDOLS, BLACK TRAIN JACK @ TIHC FEST DAY 1 PHILADELPHIA, PA AUGUST 8, 2013
Thing about fests is they’re long. I got to This Is Hardcore just in time to slip out for a nice vegetarian Chinese dinner at New Harmony and miss some bands. Got back to the show in time to not watch Boy Sets Fire, didn’t like them in the 90’s, don’t like them now. On the upside, had some strawberry ice cream with peppercorns in it from Little Baby’s Ice Cream stand at This Is Hardcore. Next up was Black Train Jack, liked them in the 90’s, like them now. If you’re on the young end of the In Effect fan base, they make some of the catchiest New York Hardcore ever. A day later, I still have “No Reward” stuck in my head. Even better was the fact that people seemed to care. Unlike during their set at the Black ‘N Blue Bowl, kids danced, sang along and even had Robbie Redchecks running on peoples’ heads. Okay, maybe not that last part, but it’s still hard not to feel good about people being into Black Train Jack.
But the reason I trekked to Philly was Kill Your Idols and Kid Dynamite, who along with Ensign and Grey Area were on every show in the tri-state area in the late 90’s. Both Kill Your Idols and Kid Dynamite are home-team bands for me. I was there through the entire existence of both bands and they never got bad, never made a bad record and, in reuniting, they have both been fantastic. Despite having nothing to do with either band’s existence, I always felt an emotional connection to and in an abstract way part of them.
The most enjoyable part of Kill Your Idols’ return, in addition to them sounding exactly as I remember, is that they are two shows in, and their crew of Long Island kids are running around in Halloween costumes with pool toys, having fun. There was a time, when it was hard to go to a show without a dude in an inexplicable costume and things being a little silly…and downright fun. That is exactly what Kill Your Idols and Kid Dynamite were: fun, fast, aggressive, or the way hardcore should be.
I love Kid Dynamite. By the end of their run and the reunion at CBGB’s I do remember Jason’s voice was a little worn down and occasionally the band was a little loose, still good but a little worn and frayed. Well, they seemed tight as ever. And seeing them in Philly again was great. The place was electric. It was like seeing Springsteen, where the house lights were bright, and the entire place seemed to know every word. And just like Kill Your Idols, Kid Dynamite managed to be hard and danceable but left you feeling like hugging someone. That, and I’d like to put it out there that Kid Dynamite is a better Token Entry than Token Entry ever was, and this coming from the owner of a very worn cassette copy of the “Free For All Compilation” I got when I was 17. But seriously, Kid Dynamite’s fast parts are faster and their melodic parts catchier, just saying. So in conclusion, some damn fun hardcore, and there is no reason there shouldn’t be more fun in hardcore.
LIVE FAST DIE FAST “KEEP YOUR FINGERS CROSSED” LP (Full Circle Attack Records, Release Date September 2013)
Prior to the soon to be brand spanking new "Keep Your Fingers Crossed" my previous experiences with LFDF have all come at Sinclair’s Pub in West Babylon Long Island where they seem to play about once a month and have always put on a lively show. Full Circle Attack Records based out of Rochester, NY is the label behind this follow up to their 2011 full length "The End Of What We Know" and from the opener "The Definition" I knew they had a winner on their hands. This opener which is hard to describe but falls more into the role of an intro has lead singer Paul doing a spoken word lyric attack set with a cool distortion to his voice. The song basically is Live Fast's definition of hardcore with the instruments coming in and building and building until you are there shouting "this is the underground...and the underground is us!" along with him. This awesome start leads right into "Brothers United" which keeps the wheels on the "Keep Your Fingers Crossed" tank rolling along crushing all in its path. LFDF’s influences can be traced back to NYHC bands of yesteryear and they seem bent on bringing this style back to the forefront. Some have tried this in the past just to have end up sounding like cardboard cutouts of bands gone by but not the case here. The approach seems to have everything built on a strong foundation of well written songs which all seem to incorporate a certain amount of melody as this is one catchy mother fucker from start to finish. The 9 songs in 20 minutes here are balanced well with an overall healthy dose of straight up speedy hardcore punk with plenty of moshy breakdowns throughout, and of course those melodic hooks that just sucked me right in. I must have listened to this at least a dozen times in the first week of getting this in the mail and have had the majority of these songs trapped in my head for a good 2 weeks now. Favorite tracks include "From The Start", "Horror Stories" and the previously mentioned two opening tracks. Hardcore in the year 2013 is alive and well and can still be counted on to deliver music of relevance and conviction and then some because of bands like this injecting the scene with their take on what hardcore music is.
“OUTLAW EFFORTS” (Published 2013. Novel by Natalie Jacobson)
I always think of Natalie Jacobson as that well-spoken smartass that appeared on the Phil Donahue and Regis and Kathy Lee shows in 1986 and argued intelligently in defense of punk and hardcore, challenging misconceptions and putting the old folks in check. There’s a famous image of her outside CBGB’s with Jimmy Gestapo from Murphy’s Law, her boyfriend at the time, that appears on both the back cover of the New York City Hardcore Together 7” and the front cover of the photo book “Making A Scene”. She drew on her experience in the hardcore scene for her 1997 novel, “No Forwarding Address”, published by 2.13.61, Henry Rollins’ publishing company. She is highly regarded for her spoken word performances, having shared the stage with the likes of Patti Smith, Jim Carroll, and Jello Biafra.
This summer she published a new book, a graphic novel called “Outlaw Efforts”. Its main character, Maxi, is a girl who lives in the moment. Maxi does what she needs to do to survive. Nightclub worker by day, low-level pot dealer by night, Maxi is a hustler. And now she’s on the run. Some shit went down and she needs to make herself scarce—Canada will do. Maxi agrees to drive the van for a band called Hell Hath No Fury. The tour runs from LA to Vancouver. The cops are onto her for drugs. The thugs are onto her because she might have witnessed a murder. And the band is a bunch of drunks, potheads, and whores.
Outlaw Efforts is fast-moving with well-drawn characters and lots of action and lots of laughs. The artwork by Joey Maltese brings the characters to life in a way that feels very natural. I read it one sitting and am eagerly awaiting the next installment. Pick up a copy today! You won’t be disappointed.
POWERTRIP “MANIFEST DECIMATION” LP (Southern Lord Records, Released June 2013)
Good music is good music and although In Effect is a hardcore outfit we gotta give props to the Texas thrash outfit that goes by the name of Powertrip. Shit, many of you already probably know their name as they pretty much have been adopted by the hardcore community at large. At last week’s This Is Hardcore Fest I must have counted at least 25 people sporting their shirts just at the Saturday show alone but just ‘cause they got some cool t-shirts or are on the hype wagon isn’t gonna make me like their album. What made me like/love " Manifest..." is the sheer straight up no bullshit thrash attack much in the vein of stuff I grew up on before I discovered hardcore music. Bands that come to mind when listening to this are Whiplash, Testament, Exodus, and Death Angel to name a few. Fast, fast and fast is what I love with my music and in some ways Powertrip is more of a hardcore band than some out there playing second rate beatdown core. Powertrip seems to be proud that they are influenced by the Cro-Mags and other NYHC bands and it shows up with their unique style for 2013. Make no mistake as this album has an EPIC feel to it as its one of those that you got to listen to from start to finish. There are standout tracks like the title track, “Heretics Fork” and the amazing finale in “The Hammer Of Doubt” but I take this album as a start to finish listen each and every time. You just can’t pop on one or two tracks and walk away from this thing. The cover has a slight “Reign In Blood” vibe to it but overall I don’t see any pentagrams or upside down crosses which I always thought was the corniest part of metal. 8 songs, 35 minutes, just find it, buy it, download it, whatever… One of 2013’s must haves…”and when you’re down here…you’re on your own.”
NIGHT BIRDS, OMEGAS, GIVE, ALTERED BOYS, UNSPEAKABLE ACTS @ Asbury Lanes, Asbury, NJ. July 12, 2013
Got to Asbury Park early to hang with friends and eat pizza at Porta, which as it would turn out is located right behind the Stone Pony’s parking lot and their live outdoor stage. Which meant catching most of Pennywise’s set in the background while eating some damn good pizza. Got to Asbury Lanes during Pennywise’s cover of “Fight For Your Right To Party” with what certainly didn’t sound like Zoli from Ignite singing. Missed Unspeakable Acts because they played before the official start time for the show, so I feel okay about that. For those New Yorkers not originally from New Jersey and who don’t leave the city for shows, I can highly recommend the ambiance of Asbury Lanes, a small stage located on bowling lanes in a slightly run down/hipster bowling alley.
Oh, and clearly a lot of the early turnout for the show seems to have touched off some formative memories of Pennywise. I wandered out to my car before Altered Boys went on and found half the crowd on the steps singing along to Pennywise’s “Bro Hymn”. Then the killer and apparently breaking-up Altered Boys began a rad straightforward set of hardcore. Being a good band from NJ, they were bound to break up before getting to record an LP. Jeff Greene, their singer, is moving to Richmond for what I can only assume is an overwhelming love for Avail, and the band will only be playing a few more shows which is a shame because they are getting really good, even seem to be slowing down musically and becoming a little more punishing, but on the upside, like all NJ hardcore bands, the other members will end up in a new band soon, featuring either Chris Ross or Dan Brennan.
I really don’t know what to say any more about Give. They are just so fucking good. I am gonna put it out there that despite everyone and their brother referencing Swizz when talking about them, I think they’ve pushed past a lot of the Dischord references and are starting to sound very much like their own thing, which owes as much to southern rock as it does DC hardcore, which for me is pretty damn sweet. Also love that John Scharbach being an old youth crew kid, has progressed lyrically and certainly graphically into an equally posi hippy vibe or at least the hardcore equivalent. Another nice thing about the Asbury Lane shows like this is that they seem to turn into a 90’s New Jersey hardcore reunion where everyone you ever met from a show in Jersey seems to turn up.
Omegas were the only band on the bill that I wasn’t that familiar with. I caught a YouTube clip of them from Canada where the singer was introducing songs by tearing into Canadians for being lazy and on public assistance, but with a certain cheery and deadpan delivery that made it hard to gauge the seriousness of the insults. They started off their Jersey set with the lead singer rocking a Cat in the Hat-style American flag hat and an American flag blinged out necklace and sunglasses, and proceeded to cut a promo on the shore, Springsteen and his band completely destroyed. They sounded not unlike Rival Mob’s, kinda mid-paced, a tad moshy, but straight forward hardcore, and I am pretty sure the stage persona was an act or maybe the band really was going off after the show to go swimming down the street and jump guidos on the board walk, who knows.
Headlining the show was the almighty and seem-to-be-blowing-up Night Birds. The show was part of the record release weekend for their new LP, which was preceded by a 7” on Fat Wreck Chords, not bad for the lead singer of the late 90’s New Jersey hardcore stalwarts The Survivors and the bassist from the equally rad and unappreciated The Ergs. If you haven’t gotten around to loving the Night Birds, you’re missing out. The new record has a heavy, early 80’s west coast hardcore vibe with some surf rock via the Dead Kennedy’s mixed in along with a little Social Distortion and Bad Religion, or everything you might have liked if you had gotten into hardcore through alternative music in the early 90’s. LP and 7” features a brilliant bio song called “Maimed For The Masses”, about Mick Foley’s rise and current state. And live as wrestling fan, I can’t tell you how much it warms my heart to see kids singing along to a chorus of “Ms. Foley’s baby boy…” Anyway I believe them to be utterly awesome, and live they’re a tad faster and harder than on record. You should start loving them already.