YUPPICIDE “AMERICAN OBLIVION” (Dead City Records, Released September 4, 2012)
“From a musical standpoint, sometimes I like catchy melodic stuff that's still abrasive, and has a breakdown that is gnarly, but sticks in your ears for days”. New rule here at In Effect is from here on out we will be letting the artists review their own music. That is a joke, however this quote from Yuppicide’s recent interview on this site sums up ALOT about what “American Oblivion” is about. Quick history lesson… this is Yuppicide’s first studio release of new material in like a billion years and in my head I’m saying there is no way they rise from the ashes and match their previous efforts. Fuck that shit is this 6 song EP’s response. “Dead Inside”, the title track, and “Flies On” steal the show with the remaining 3 tracks more than holding their own with the previously mentioned catchy and abrasive style for the most part. Would a full length have held my attention like this 14 minute quickie does? Hard to say. What I can say is that there are bands that re-unite and live off of their old material, some never even producing new songs so for this band to pull this effort out of their rear ends puts my support behind them even more. Raw and powerful punk rock with potent lyrics. Check out the lyrics on “Flies On” which is about how ridiculously out of control celebrity worship can get and “American Oblivion” about selling out basic liberties to feel safe. If I can nit pick a little, the cover on the vinyl version of this looks 100 times better with the red tint compared to the more drab black and white CD version…there I said it. Bottom line is it is all about the music and the music won me over early and a few weeks into having “American Oblivion” it is still on heavy rotation on the old IPOD.
THIS IS HARDCORE (BOOK, COMPILED BY JOSEPH MCKAY, RELEASED AUGUST 2012)
One hundred and twelve pages dedicated to everyone’s favorite summer event: This Is Hardcore, a glossy photo tribute/historical document of Joe McKay’s (and crew’s) all consuming passion. The dedication of everyone from the bands to the fans is on display here, showcasing the photographic talent of Robby Redcheeks, Todd Pollack, Aaron Weber, Ken Penn, Anne Spina, Garret Field, Dan Gonyea and Danielle Parsons; the live energy of dozens of bands including Floorpunch, Ressurection, Cold World, Underdog, War Hungry and so many more. It’s not just photos either, there are multiple write-ups by people directly involved in the fest, from George Hirsch (Blacklisted, whose loving tribute to TIHC, Joe and hardcore in general is fantastic IMHO) to Sean Youngblood. If you’ve ever attended TIHC, or just wish you have, you should check this out. (Editors note: Picked this book up as well at the TIHC Fest for 20 bucks but have not been able to find it listed anywhere online….and the pages smell really good!)
ISOLATION FANZINE #1 (Released Summer 2012)
Let me start off by saying we need more of these. Matt Torres debuts his homegrown Isolation ‘Zine with short interviews with Ceremony, Boston Strangler, Zero Progress, Our Side, John Roa of End To End and Sam from Triple B Records. Cut and paste style, photocopied, no thrills and right to the point. Maybe 20 pages in all is what we get. It didn’t take very long to read this cover to cover but reading this and actually holding a hardcore fanzine in my hands brought me back to when I first started In Effect A few reviews, some opinions and waa-laa, it’s over. Matt questions in his intro if he will put out another issue and let’s hope he does because this is a nice start.
Isolation Zine PO BOX 79456 CORONA, CA 92877-0181.
RUCKUS- “OF MALICE AND MAN” (Harvcore Records, Released 2012)
Hailing from the “creative capital of the world”, Ruckus are certainly testament to that billing of their Los Angeles home. I anticipated a dull, meandering metal-core record with no inventiveness or originality, and what I actually got was the polar opposite. They signal their intent from the outset. “Human Pollution” is immense. Ripping guitars and back-up vocals that are reminiscent of former Biohazard kingpin Evan Seinfeld in his pomp. Singer Jacob Woodley warns "if the world don't get you then I swear I will", his voice reminiscent of Rey Oropeza from their LA homies Downset. It is only after three songs of pulverisation the listener is afforded a breather, albeit a brief one in the form of the acoustic guitar intro of “Destructive Criticism”. This showcases everything which is brilliant about Ruckus. Massive, sweeping riffs fall into wah-wah guitar licks and swathes of gang vocals led by guitarist Taylor Young. Whilst I may have mentioned two of the most renowned rap-core bands of all time in this review it must be pointed out that Ruckus are anything but. “Damn Age” sounds like Fury Of Five arm wrestling with Merauder, “Life's End” veers from Life of Agony-esque broodiness straight into the sort of menacing vocal Carcass's Jeff Walker would stand and applaud. Basically, there is such a shitload of influences in the mix here it really is hard to even contemplate pinning Ruckus down as merely just another heavy hardcore band. Whilst listening to this I could picture the band members smiling and having fun, such is the vibe this album gives off. It's easily one of the most enjoyable metallic hardcore albums I've listened to in many a year. More importantly, each track engages you rather than sounding like the previous one.
BOTTOM OUT- “MOURNING” (Harvcore Records, Released May 29, 2012)
Having already played at the 2011 Black ‘N Blue Bowl, Bottom Out, if anything, are certainly ambitious, especially given that this is their first recorded material. Taking their inspiration from slack E-stringed brutality purveyors Merauder, All Out War, and Shattered Realm, the Long Island quintet rattle through this five tracker in typical nasty fashion. Opener “Creator” plods along and it's not until their third cut, “No Heaven” that things are ramped up a notch. With a drum beat and note muting uncannily similar to Merauder's “Master Killer”,the song steams into some nice, albeit predictable two-step. Larry Schneider's vocals are an acquired taste, a raspy sometimes strained delivery that reminds me of a rawer Peachy from UK “murder-core” crew Six Ft Ditch. “Home” is the standout highlight here, a two minute slab of solid metal-core than starts off with a slamming intro before exploding into a riff that reminded me a little of Morning Again. This is an admirable first effort, well produced and, if you are a fan of heavy hardcore, is worth giving a few spins.
RIPFACE INVASION- “TO NOT GIVE IN” CD (Scorpion Records, Released July 17, 2012)
NJ’s Ripface Invasion are back almost exactly 1 year after releasing last year’s 5 song EP. The name and cover artwork might be giving you the feeling that Ripface is a straight up metal band but that is only half the story as they are a throwback of sorts. I get the feel from this of L’Amour…The Rock Capital Of Brooklyn circa the mid to late 80’s where I saw a lot of up and coming thrash, hardcore and crossover acts. Bands like Nuclear Assault, Whiplash, Carnivore and Biohazard were the heavy hitters back then and Ripface would have fit in well with their crossover/thrash style which is not really a big surprise considering members of this band have been around in hardcore and metal bands for the past 20 plus years. “The Dominator”, “To Not Give In” and “Armchair Politician” are the 3 tracks we get here which clocks in at a little under 9 minutes. Whether intentional or not an adequate production gives this EP kind of a raw live feel which I kinda like. If you could see the press package these guys sent along with the CD you would also get the feeling that Ripface is a determined bunch who you should be hearing more from in the upcoming months.
RUMPSHAKER FANZINE ISSUE #6 (Released Summer 2012)
I fucking love fanzines. Over the course of time their numbers have dwindled but within the hardcore/punk world they refuse to die although the number of current zines is way down from when I was a teen. I remember going into stores like See Hear in NYC and just being amazed at how almost every genre of just about anything had a zine. Rumpshaker had it’s start back in this period and Mr Eric Weiss has decided to make a comeback with this, his first issue in ages and he should be proud of this very well put together piece of work. 144 pages of interviews, opinions, and just a general “think outside of the box” mentality. Eric has a knack for interviewing. He is good at it. He can take a band I have never heard of or could care less about and make it an interesting read and that is why I recommend buying this even at what some may view as a steep asking price of $10 bucks plus shipping. Mike Judge, Chris Wrenn of Bridge Nine Records, Gorilla Biscuit Walter Schreifels and his mom interviewed together along with his stepdad? You bet. Chuck D from Public Enemy and his mom interviewed? Again, a yes. Not listed on the cover is a piece titled “A Doctor And A Cro-Mag On Veganism” which is a dual sit down interview with Dr Michael Greger and the Cro-Mags’ John Joseph. Basically a pro-vegan piece with Mr Joseph getting obviously irritated by some people out there who are against his vegan preaching ways. “New York Knives” is a piece Eric wrote about growing up in NYC and certain instances we have all run into growing up there with getting shaken down or ripped off on the street or on mass transit. I feel like I know this guy and can relate to him in a lot of ways just from reading this. With crystal clear photos and being printed on thick quality paper, this is basically a paperback book. The interviews are done over the course of the early 2000’s to 2011 but everything feels “new” if that makes sense. A lot of work went into the making of this and let’s hope Eric has some more of these in him down the road. Recommended hardcore reading.
BROLOAF- “PATRIOTIC FIGHT SONGS VOLUME 1” 7” EP (Stomping Ground Records, Released July 2012)
The Loaf returns with 2 solid songs to add to their resume which last saw them drop their “Champions On Parade” CD in 2011. “Champions...” showed Broloaf as masters of a tongue and cheek style that praised the jock/fraternity/and over the top party style. The 2 song “Patriotic Fight Songs” (which was released just in time for the 4th of July) shows the boys from Arizona displaying their red, white and blue side with the tracks “Freedom Lover” and “Uncle S.L.A.M.”. Side A’s “Freedom Lover” will have you thinking these guys are really funny and witty or possibly the biggest assholes out there today with lyrics like “home of the brave, land of the free, we don’t take shit and we’ll kill the commies, fuck with us and we’ll call in the marines, goddamn I fucking love this country”. “Uncle S.L.A.M. on side B is more of the same but a fact that should not be overlooked is that these songs simply shred with a nice mix of straight up hardcore punk with some melody, perfectly placed sound bites and some nice guitar leads. If you are reading about these guys for the first time this is a nice kick starter introduction to what they are about musically and lyrically but don’t forget about the previously mentioned CD from last year. Can’t wait to see what these guys got in store for us next.
STUCK IN A RUT - “RAW MENTALLITY” DEMO (Released March 5, 2012)
I got this demo from the UK a couple of months ago and damn if it doesn't remind me of bands I grew up with. If it wasn't for the Liverpool return address, I'd swear these guys were from Queens/Brooklyn circa 1988. This is meant as a compliment, you can tell that they heard Raw Deal/Breakdown and other NYHC demos from back then, internalized the sound and years later, when starting up a band; the inevitable pull of these influences can't help but be reflected in these solid tunes, classic mid to fast paced tempos and all. I prefer this approach, as opposed to newer bands nowadays checking out footage on YouTube and using a paint by numbers approach to shaping a particular sound. As their lead song indicates "It Means More", the love of raw HC comes through, regardless of fly by night trends. Kudos to the fly bubble letter Graf cover and the singer/band being credited for "Venom" & "Backing Venom". Would love to see an old school Sunday CBGB-like matinee with their fellow UK coremen in Inherit, Tremors, Iron Curtain, The Flex etc... All proof that quality HC is alive and well in the land of Beckham. Follow the link to get this demo.
VICE- “YOU MADE US THIS WAY” CD (Self Released April 20, 2012)
Hailing from NYC’s Staten Island this is the debut full length from VICE (Vague Intentions Cause Empathy). The disc starts off with “Teenage Nightmare” and lead singer Andrew’s screams of “These fucking kids, they just want shit, they just take shit”…leads into a tirade against the spoiled brats of today. Right off the bat you can hear that Vice is just straight up nasty, raw and pissed the fuck off. Andrew’s screamed vocal approach, a raw production, lots of guitar feedback (think Indecision’s “Unorthodox”), and A LOT of grind-core parts where they hit warp speed sums up what this band is about. 20 songs in 34 minutes? Do the math, these songs come and go like rapid fire leaving your head spinning and dizzy. There are a lot of grind-core style parts here which is not my thing but there is more on display here as well as Vice does a good job of meshing different styles together to come up with their sound. If you think back to the 90’s, NYHC had the Coney Island High bands that fit what was perceived to be the lone NYHC style and then there were the ABC No-Rio bands that were more out there, diverse and didn’t always fit in to any one style. Vice would have been a rarity in that they more than likely would have fit into both scenes. The dance parts that Vice have constructed within a lot of their songs are simply brutal and will leave many a pit-dweller bruised and battered. There are a couple of clever sound bites in between a few of the songs but the one that made me crack up was one of a guy saying “Being miserable and treating other people like dirt is every New Yorkers God given right”. No idea where this sound clip came from but many of you living here in NY will get a good laugh from reading that quote as there are a lot of people living here that basically think that way. A nice DIY effort… not perfect, but a disc worthy of your attention from a young band that is out there playing a lot of local shows and not afraid to roll their sleeves up and get their hands dirty. http://www.facebook.com/vice.hc.1
Refused @ Fieri Arena Milano, Italy June 4, 2012
Forward-thinking progressive hardcore mob, posturing overrated avant-garde rock outfit.
Whatever your opinion is of Refused the back-from-the-fucking-dead Swedish heroes continue to divide opinion and provoke debate.
Before I hit you up with this review, some background. For me, Refused went through three stages. In their infancy, quite literally, they were a fresh-faced positive hardcore band from Umea. They progressed into a solid live act with song writing ability which belied their still tender years, as heard on the “Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent” album. Then came the leap into the unknown. The band itself, let alone the hardcore scene, weren't prepared for “The Shape of Punk to Come” album. They, at the time, didn't rate it. Indeed, initial fan reaction was mixed. Were Refused trying to be clever by integrating sampling and a cleaner, yet still meaty guitar sound into the mix? In the end it mattered not. If you blow enough air onto a small lit fire it will eventually take hold and burn bright and that is exactly what happened with the 1998 classic.
No less than 14 years after the five-piece called it quits Refused have returned with a sense of unfinished business. The cynic will suggest it is nothing more than a money-spinning tour for the band. They are the minority. For their second coming Refused have played to huge arenas, established festivals and, on this occasion, an outdoor car park on the outskirts of Milan
One of my friends described them as one of the most overrated bands he's ever heard. My riposte is that they are one of the most understated. Way ahead of their time, Refused are watchable, even for those looking down their noses at them. Most of the crowd, here for headliners Soundgarden, didn't know what to make of Dennis Lyxzen and company, but they were certainly interested. Lyxzen is one of the most animated, uber-cool frontmen in rock, fact. He's Hardcore's version of Mick Jagger – the uncannily similar nimble frame and improvised, impromptu dance routines when mic-less makes him a tunnel vision subject. Not many guitarists can get away with wearing a turquoise suit but Jon Brannstrom can, pulsating spasmodically as he twisted and turned his way through each song.
The band culled most of their material, understandably, from the aforementioned “Shape Of...”, opening with “Worms of the Senses/Faculties of the Skull”, which stuns the crowd into jaw-dropped appreciation. They throw in a few older ditties including “Rather Be Dead”, “Hook, Line and Sinker” and “The Slayer”.
“New Noise” is greeted as you'd expect – with delirium by the few hundred die-hards here to see Refused and Refused only. Closing an epic set with “Tannhauser/Derive”, Lyxzen insists “Boredom won't get us tonight”. How right he was. Love them or hate them, Refused maybe, just maybe, might be here to stay. Lord knows they deserve their time in the sun after running for cover at the most inopportune moment.
-Tim Edwards @timtegrity
THE MOB “BACK TO QUEENS” (Weathermaker Records, Release date July 17, 2012)
The Mob? Weren’t they that hardcore band from NYC that started back in 1980? Hell yes and here we are in 2012 with the next installment from the Mob with this nice 2 song effort starting off with the title track. “That’s where I got my walk, that’s where I got my talk, going back to Queens, that’s where I belong” is the choppy and catchy chorus with a nice guitar solo thrown in for good measure. I saw them perform this song at this year’s BNB Bowl in NY and the test for me was how this song would blend in with their older stuff and it fit in nicely. Not an all out thrasher like a lot of their older stuff but it just has the feel of a Mob track getting the blood flowing. Being a Queens native probably sways me a little more in favor of this track which is the standout of the 2 here. Side B is “That’s It” which goes more along the lines of that thrashier Mob style that we have seen in the past. About mid-song the guitars drop out while the bass and drums take over for a couple of seconds leading into another nice solo. The deal when this is released publicly is there will be 1000 shrink wrapped copies of the 7” signed by the band and on black vinyl. People who purchase this on I-Tunes will get an additional track called “Zoo Crew” which is an old track that was never recorded until these sessions. Clocking in at under 5 minutes in length this is over before you know it, however, The Mob has plans for more releases for 2012 which sees them busier than most bands half their age. Bring it on! http://www.facebook.com/themob101
Stuck In A Rut, Hang The Bastard, Integrity @ Central Station, Wrexham, North Wales UK
June 21, 2012
It's not often you get legends landing on your doorstep, unless you are lucky enough to live in the likes of New York, Washington DC or London. So when it was announced Integrity were playing my modest home town I put everything on hold to enjoy my own mini Woodstock moment.
Having unfortunately missed opening band Esoteric Youth I strode into the venue to catch the opening song from Stuck In A Rut. These boys have barely been going a year but seem to go from strength-to-strength with every show. The quartet cull their influences from the breakneck speed old-school bands of the 80s, beefing up their sound with a dash of Slapshot directness and Sheer Terror-esque grooves. Their four-track demo, “Raw Mentality”, was well-received and the two stand out tracks on that, “Kicked In The Teeth” and “It Means More” are belted out in no-nonsense fashion. But fashion probably shouldn't be mentioned in a SIAR review...imposing vocalist Lee Hutton spews forth his hatred for the Brogue-wearing scensters in the aforementioned anti-hipster ditty “IMM”, and when he's not barking out his message he gets the sparsely-populated crowd to warm to his witty Liverpudlian charm. New track “Nothing In Common” is their best song to date, speed and intensity followed by a leg-sweeping groove which nobody saw coming. It also showcased Hutton's ability for a bit of melody and versatility in his voice. Keep an eye out for these guys as they're one of the freshest and fun UKHC bands on the scene right now. Check out their demo here: http://stuckinaruthc.bandcamp.com/album/raw-mentality-demo-2012
Hang The Bastard have been earning their dues for several years now and not even a seemingly endless change in personnel has stopped them from evolving into a well-oiled machine. The southern sludgemeisters recently departed ways with long-time singer Chris Barlow but have pulled off a masterstroke in recruiting former Deal With It head case Michael Carver. He applied more melody in his previous band, which unashamedly paid homage to the Cro Mags and Life Of Agony, and I had reservations as to whether his voice would fit in HTB, the best UK sludge band since the almighty Iron Monkey. Those reservations were soon smashed to smithereens when Carver, clad in an outlandish bright yellow Hawaiian shirt, announced the band's arrival on-stage. A snarling, dynamic presence, Carver stalked the front of the stage with intent and his screams slotted into the cacophony of noise behind him perfectly. The five-piece rattled through a solid, powerful set in next to no time. The only gripe I had, personally, is that they didn't play anything off their sheer brilliant “Raw Sorcery” EP. Maybe next time. In the meantime, check out their video for River's Edge here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7MOrYwNj5U
And so to the headliners. I've waited an eternity to see metalcore pioneers Integrity and it was certainly worth it. Not even a woeful turn out or the fact Integrity, given the revolving door policy issued to band members down the years, is essential singer Dwid Hellion failed to spoil the experience. Their sound, often imitated but never surpassed, remains one of the most distinctive in metallic hardcore. Dwid's voice even more so. Resembling a well-worn seafarer, the hulking singer stretches his arms out and bangs his head as his much youthful, yet talented band deliver that spine-tingling intro to “Incarnate 365”. After almost three minutes of pure sonic destruction the Clevo-masters dive head first into “Rise”. One thing I've always admired about Integrity is that they are consistent. Dwid and his cohorts blast out one recognizable tune after another, whether you know the words or not. The best of the rest are all included. “Hollow”, “No One”, “Psywarfare”, “Micha”, “Diseased Prey Within Casing”, “Armenian Persecution”, plus some choice cuts of 2010's underrated “The Blackest Curse”. The much-covered “Vocal Test” delivers an impending sense of doom but the highlight for me, surprise surprise, was “Systems Overload”. One of THE best hardcore tunes ever written, Dwid delivers his lyrics with as much conviction now as he did when laying them down in the studio 17 years ago. In what was probably their first and last visit to North Wales, Integrity came, saw, and while there were few people to conquer, they reaffirmed their status as one of the most powerful and influential bands our generation will witness.
-Tim Edwards @timtegrity
MADBALL “REBELLION” EP (Released June 12, 2012)
The second the eerie bass line came on for the opener “You Reap What You Sow” I just imagined a huge crowd standing around waiting for a Madball show to start and then erupting as the guitars and vocals came in. “You Reap…” is an instant Madball classic. I mean I have literally played this song into the ground the last few days. Starts off with that catchy bass line and when the chorus hits it hits hard with a rapid delivery of Freddy singing blended with the choppy backup’s and everything flows perfectly to cap off the song that you will probably listen to the most off of this. “The Beast” follows up and continues the assault starting off with that choppy Madball style and leading into a nice thrashy spot around the half way mark. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Madball being Madball once again as new fans will eat this up and old fans who have come to know what to expect from these hardcore veterans will not be disappointed. The title track represents well with the catchy chorus line of “I’m a rebel so I rebel” caught up in my head over and over as well as a breakdown at the end that will make crowds move. “My Blood” finishes off the new stuff and although formidable it is not as strong as the opening 3 tracks. “Rebellion” finishes off with a nice twist going old-school on us, all the way back to 1996 as they re-record “Get Out” and “It’s My Life” from their “Ball Of Destruction” days. Both oldies clock in at under a minute and remind you of the pure fucking energy that Madball had and still displays today. At $6 bucks off of ITunes you can’t go wrong and look for the vinyl version which appears to be on the way in the near future as well.
TERROR “NO REGRETS, NO SHAME: THE BRIDGE NINE YEARS” CD/DVD (Bridge Nine Records, Released April 2012)
In early 2003, having recently signed to Bridge Nine Records, Terror recorded one of their CA shows – and with the release of this DVD/CD pack “No Regrets, No Shame: The Bridge Nine Days” this footage finally sees the light of day. Having started in 2002, Terror amassed a strong and loyal following very quickly, and it shows here. Dark, grainy, fun, and a little dangerous – just what a show used to be like – this black and white footage shows what a Terror show used to be like before they blew up headlining all sorts of things. The on stage footage shows the band putting everything they have into the set, as well as the stage banter we’ve all come to know and love from Mr. Scott Vogel. Also included throughout the set, between a few songs, is an interview Scott does with Chris from B9, where he talks about the bands he likes, wishes at the time he could tour with, and just the way he feels about the state of hardcore at the time in general. Between the show and the interview, it’s a great 30 minutes or so of classic Terror. Also included in the bonus features are both an in-store performance from the same time period (another crazy thing to have gone on inside a record store), and the music video for the song “Push It Away”. Another great DVD put together by director Ian MacFarland of Killswitch Productions at the time and also Blood for Blood.
KILLING CALIFORNIA “NO PENTAGRAMS NO CROSSES” CD (Basement Records, Release Date June 19, 2012)
Just as much as the East Coast hardcore sounds gets stereotyped for having a lot of bands with a metal influence the West Coast gets it just the same with the pop-punk sound being the dominant force and what people have come to know. Killing California comes to us as stereotype busters with their new full length “No Pentagrams No Crosses” via Basement Records. Having a very unique sound that is hard to describe doesn’t make my job here easy but at the same time makes for an amazing listen. The basics are that Killing California have one of those rock-n-roll styles of punk/hardcore with hard, grainy vocals from Danny Craig who pulls double duty on vocals and guitar. The other half of the guitar duties are covered by Jerome Weightman and the duo come up with a buzz saw like sound that just shreds throughout this 10 song effort. At times I am reminded slightly of Verbal Abuse’s “Rocks Your Liver” from way back in the mid-80’s. KC has a freshness about them, seeming to be just about the music and not caring what the public perception might be. If I didn’t like this CD I doubt it would phase them one bit. The clothes they wear to go get gas or food shop are probably the same ones you see them in while playing on stage. No fuss, just a go out and play, blue collar attitude. Standout tracks are all over as it’s almost like you are looking for the throwaway ones and there really aren’t any to name. The title track takes the title as best song so far after about 10 days of playing this thing inside out. “Dirt” gets the nod for the most original basically being a 3 minute instrumental slow jam with a funky bass beat smothered with groove style solos…a total departure from the rest of this albums sound. The beauty of the internet these days is you take little to no risk buying music as you can get a sample of their sound with the title track as well as “Now I’m You” from this release at http://killingcalifornia.com/. Check those tracks out and if you like their sound just buy the damn thing as the rest follows up in good fashion. Check out the Basement Records website for more of their bands. http://www.basementrecords.com/
SAI NAM “CRUSH” CD (Reaper Records, Released May 8, 2012)
With a resume sporting Mike Dijan on guitar (Crown Of Thornz, Breakdown, Skarhead), Lou Medina on drums (District 9, Breakdown, Coldfront, All Out War), and Trapped Under Ice’s Justice Tripp on vocals you must take notice even if they put together a collection of jazz cover songs. Without a lot of fanfare or even shows (only 1 live set under their belts at the time of writing this) Sai Nam just kind of appeared out of nowhere with one helluva debut. For those who have followed Dijan through the Crown Of Thornz dayz you will not be disappointed as his unique and innovative guitar riff style is on display and better than ever. The first few listens through this took a little getting used to but once you get your feet wet it becomes a quick love affair with “Crush”. Justice Tripp’s distinguishable vocals fit nicely and in a few ways this feels like an updated and more mature C.O.T. One of the more surprising aspects of “Crush” is how effortlessly it seemed to all come together. I mean come on, they formed in early 2011, have 1 live set to go on, their singer lives in Baltimore (almost 200 miles from the rest of the band in NY) and recently got back from touring in Australia with T.U.I. With that all said everything here seems well polished and ready to rock as if the band were together for longer than a year. Let’s also mention the fine production work of Dean Baltulonis at Wild Artic Studios who also has worked with Trapped Under Ice in the past as well as a host of others. It seems that Dean is the man to see if you want a quality recorded product these days. (Dean also served as the bands bass player for these recordings). Tracks like “At The Mercy Of A Wicked World” (with Cro-Mag John Joseph lending guest vocals) and “Picked Clean” show Sai Nam has a fast thrashy style while others like “Left Behind” and the title track show more of a mid-tempo groove oriented style. “Eternal Love” is towards the end and has a slow chugging quality to it that you will either love or hate. Overall, I love the mixture of tempos as you are kept on your toes from song to song, most of which clock in at around 2 minutes. The finale is a cover of The Icemen’s “Take You Down” which has been Sai-Naminized with their own touch as I listened to it a few times before it hit me that it was a cover. A great debut which oddly enough is available only on CD/digital download at the moment in a time where vinyl has taken a huge bite out of the CD universe.
BACKFIRE! “MY BROKEN WORLD” CD (GSR Music, Released February 17, 2012)
After a 2009 breakup Holland’s Backfire! are back with 14 brand new songs to reclaim their status as one of Europe’s heavy hitters in the hardcore world. “Broke, Bruised, and Bitter” starts things off and is one of those songs that we all know and love that makes you grip your cars steering wheel a little tighter and without realizing it you’re driving down the road well over the speed limit. It’s not only the opening track but the majority of what is offered here that will have you loving what Backfire! does. No thrills, straight forward, aggressive, and fast with some killer breakdowns along the way. The majority of the songs clock in at around 2 minutes and come go like quick jabs to the chin before you know what even happened. I can see fans of Madball really getting into “My Broken World” as it just gushes with a heavy NYHC influence all around. Lyrically, just go down the list of song titles and you can see from titles like “Don’t Get Your Hopes Up”, “Does It Hurt”, “The Truth Is A Lie”, “Choke On Regret” and the title track that make these guys more of the glass half empty variety. I will say that the majority of my listens to this have been usually for about half of the album and then upon playing it the next time I pick up where I left off to finish. If there is a flaw it would be that most of the songs are structured similar to one another but never lacking that raw energy that plays throughout. The songs that go the slower route and try to mix things up are “Existence Is Punishment” (a Crowbar cover) and “I Don’t Want To Hear It” which are stacked back to back on the playlist. To me these 2 slower tunes show that the band also noticed the thrash away style on all the other tracks and wanted to incorporate something different which they did but for me these are 2 tracks that I usually would skip over on an otherwise solid comeback album. This review is for the CD version of “My Broken World” but GSR also offers this album along with their “In Harms’ Way” album as a double LP with a gatefold cover and digital download codes. Various other color vinyl versions were also mentioned on the press kit. http://gsrmusic.com/.
BORN FROM PAIN “THE NEW FUTURE” (Released as a free didgital
download April 20, 2012)
I have to be honest and admit I lost interest in these Dutch heavyweights when original singer Che Snelting quit the band for personal reasons in 2007. One of the reasons I loved Snelting-era BFP was that, in my opinion, they deservedly rose to the top of the European metalcore pile. The albums "Reclaiming The Crown" and "Sands of Time" rivaled anything Merauder, Earth Crisis and Hatebreed had released at that time, with Snelting's voice utterly ferocious. His successor, Rob Franssen completely changed the dynamic of the band and, try as they might, BFP have never recaptured the intensity that made them a formidable act both live and on record. BFP decided to make this, their sixth studio album, available free to download and it gets off to a very promising start. "Change Or Die" blazes along like BFP of old, suckerpunch gang vocals layered over powerful chord structures, whilst there is an air guitar-inducing solo to boot. However, it goes downhill thereafter. Franssen, who reminds me of Earth Crisis singer Karl Beuchner when they went all radio friendly on "Slither", sounds corny when harping on about "remember, remember, the fifth of November, gunpowder treason and plot" on "Reap The Storm". I mean, come on. "American Treason" sounds like something Hatebreed would have considered for a B side before an unforgivable weird trance/dubstep/Rammstein abomination in "Kampfbereit" had me reaching for the mute button. "Heartbeat" trundles along with, thankfully, some menace again before the title tracks meanders along beneath a repetitive drumbeat. The New Future? Give me BFP's glorious old past any day. Hopefully, as Earth Crisis did, they will revisit it and realize the error of their admittedly bold ways. You can download “The New Future” for free from www.facebook.com/BornFromPainOfficial.
-Tim Edwards (@timtegrity)
FREEBASE “FROM THE BASEMENT” EP (Dry Heave Records, Released May 2012)
When a friend of mine set up a Facebook page calling for the return of UKHC stalwarts Freebase some 18 months ago he, like me, probably accepted it was just a pipe dream.
However, after rounding up some friends with impressive hardcore pedigrees original members Mark (vocals) and Nick (guitar) are back on the map like they've never been away. Enlisting the services of former Stampin' Ground duo Ian Glasper (bass) and Ade Stokes (drums), and ex-Assert axeman Ryan, Freebase, the self-proclaimed 'goat metallers for Satan' have returned tighter, slicker and heavier than ever. For those that missed the band the first time around in the mid to late 90s the five-piece have re-recorded three tracks from their hard-as-nails debut album, “Nothing To Regret”. The re-boots of “Sympathy Vote”, “Run Me Down” and EP highlight “Respect” benefit from a grittier recording than those of the 'cleaner' originals, with Mark's barking more prevalent in the mix and not as drowned out. So, what of the two new tracks on offer? Well, it's Freebase but not quite as we know them. “Scars (Cut From Your Lies)” begins in the same vein as Freebase of old, straight-up frenetic metallic hardcore. However, the breakdown is uncannily similar to the brutal ending of Stampin' Ground favourite “Lesion”, which is no surprise given the new band recruits. “Welcome To Hell” is a more structured slab of brutality, incorporating some neat-time changes and gang vocals before another breakdown, underpinned by Ade's precision double-bass drumming, confirms a greater metal influence in the band's second coming. Their third full length, providing all goes to plan, should make for an interesting listen. Catch them before it's too late again. The EP is available as a digital download and 7” from http://dryheaverecords.limitedrun.com.
Freebase play Damage Control Festival in London on June 4 and Download Festival on June 9. www.freebase-ukhc.com.
-Tim Edwards (@timtegrity)
EXPIRE “PENDULUM SWINGS” (Bridge Nine Records, Release Date May 22, 2012)
Expire have made us wait and wait for this, their first full-length album since forming in 2009. And the only reason they have ramped up such anticipation amongst hardcore heads is because they are relentless tourers. The quartet, hailing from several Midwest states, have honed their energetic live performances and sound via countless shows, gracing the likes of This is Hardcore, Sound & Fury and United Blood festivals along the way. So, was it worth the wait? Most definitely. Carrying on where they left off with the 'blink and you'll miss it' “Suffer The Cycle” seven-inch Expire blitz through the 11 tracks here in next to no time. Opener “Just Fine” sets the tone – thrashy, pound-the-ground hardcore not dissimilar to Cruel Hand which grabs you by the goods and refuses to let go. With the treble settings on their amps ramped up to 12, the guitar distortion sometimes threaten to overcome Josh Kelting, but the frontman does an admirable job of keeping everything tight and in-check. Mastered by Defeater guitarist Jay Maas, all the songs here feel like a flurry of head shots – they come at you hard and fast and you've no time to react. It will need a few spins before you latch on to the bigger choruses and pavement-cracking breakdowns. The bouncy riff in “Anxiety” will have bodies moving in unison, whilst “The Abyss” trucks along nicely before Kelting delivers the line: “I never wanted this, I'm really sorry miss, I pulled you down with me into the abyss” before the band dive head-long into a breakdown. “Sleep Lost”, despite featuring on a previous recording, is a particular album highlight. Starting with a slamming drum intro under some meaty chords, it breaks into a huge wave of heaviness before Kelting spews forth vocals breathlessly as if he was in No Warning. Indeed, this tune would not have sounded out of place on a NW album, which is a compliment to Expire's musicianship and maturing sound. Whether intentional or not there are definite nods to Trapped Under Ice throughout, but none more obvious than on the title track album closer, where Kelting sounds uncannily like Justice Tripp. But Expire are far from a TUI imitation and whilst the influences of their peers, both present and past are obvious, “Pendulum Swings” is a worthy addition to your record collection whilst also serving as a solid platform for a band with a promising future. Expire are currently on tour in the States with Cold World. For dates, and to pre-order Pendulum Swings visit: www.bridge9.com.
-Tim Edwards (@timtegrity)
FIRE & ICE “NOT OF THIS EARTH” (Reaper Records, Released May 8, 2012)
RVA’s Fire & Ice, one of the heaviest hitters on the scene today, really got it right with their first full length “Not of This Earth”. The songs are the perfect length for hardcore; most clocking in between two and three minutes. The guitar work and sound is the real standout here, it sounds perfectly heavy, owing to the production of AJ Novello no doubt. It would be too simplistic to say this sounds like Leeway, which was my first thought. These guys have a groove all their own which I attribute to the singer; this guy’s voice sounds perfect for the music. My favorite cuts are “The Devil’s Side” and “Smash Your Crown”. The latter is a real rager, 48 seconds and you’re done. I can’t tell you good people much (anything) about the lyrics and layout. Labels, you better wise up and start sending copies of the layout with the music for review. Believe it or not, people are still interested in that sort of thing.
YO! SCUNT “DAMAGED GOODS AND GRAVY SWEAT” CD (Freakhouse Records. Released 2011)
Yo! Scunt proudly carry on the tradition of a particular subset of NYHC, like their forebears in Murphy's Law/Six & Violence/Bugout Society/No Commercial Value; all bands that come from NYC's lovely "outer borough" of Queens. A place that's not the suburbs, but not exactly the inner-city, where working class parents instill in their kids an unpretentious bullshit detector at an early age. That mindset is represented in the music, a tough no-frills Punk/HC assault that, at first, sounds relentless in its single-minded approach to pile driving tunes. Upon repeated listening, one hears tidbits that reference a wider musical palette. Like the ska-ish (in a good way) intro to "Angry #62" or the DK's surf-guitar parts sprinkled about. The sarcastic lyrics go hand in hand with the music. I really enjoyed this CD and was glad to see younger local borough bands not playing the, in vogue, Punch The Floor Core or Pseudo-Metal w/Cookie Monster vocals. There will always be alternatives to what's the norm, even in an "alternative" sub-culture as hardcore. Bonus points for recording in Flushing, my old stomping grounds.
GREAT REVERSALS “TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH” (Self Released 10” and on CD via Indelirium Records, Released April 2012)
When I imported this four-tracker from my e-mail iTunes informed me that the genre most suited to describe Great Reversal's music is “emotional hardcore.” Hmm, that is not strictly true, not in a musical sense anyway but is apt when you consider the band's subject matter. All the songs on offer here are about drummer Eric Scobie's struggle to raise his eight-year-old son Elijah, who is autistic, deaf and cognitively impaired. And this EP is a superb tribute to the youngster – hard-hitting, emotive, harrowing in parts and, musically at least, full of hope. Reminiscent of Foundation, Aftershock, Turmoil and, hell, even old-skool Poison The Well, Great Reversals do that marrying of staccato riffing with controlled vocal aggression magnificently. “Open Wounds” kicks off the EP in brutal fashion, massive riff upon massive riff doing justice to the sometimes uneasy listening. “My first born son still an empty shell, head in my hands seeking escape from this living hell” sums up Scobie's feelings of hopelessness and despair and is delivered with the correct tone by singer Aaron Whitfield. Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, Great Reversals showcase their tight musicianship on the rollercoaster ride that is “No Compass” before “Carrying the Fire” draws you in with its dreamy Cave In-esque soundscapes and powerful sole line: “I want to thrive, not just survive.” “In Hiding”, all five minutes-plus of it, closes the EP and they probably might have been just that had it not been for Indelirium Records. The Italian label picked up the band after the label which was originally going to release “TTEOTE”, American Enemy Records, imploded. They're in debt now but are indebted to Indelirium for showing some faith in them. You should have some too buy checking this out here: www.greatreversals.blogspot.co.uk and www.indeliriumrecords.com.
ZOMBIE FIGHT “ALIVE AND WELL” (Self-released April 10, 2012)
I really must get out more. As soon as this landed in my inbox and I saw Zombie Fight were from New York I immediately lumped them in with any New York Hardcore luminary you can name. However, for every Sick Of It All and Agnostic Front, there is a Vision of Disorder – a band who burst through the “normal” parameters of NYHC to embrace a more varied sound and style. This seven-track EP – their second since forming in November 2010 - doesn't necessarily pack the sort of hefty punch more associated with their peers, but it does pack in a lot of influences. Their motto is “if it sounds good, use it”, a mantra that hardcore bands the world over should adopt rather than looking for a few riffs that will “open up that fucking dance floor”.Opening tune “Reconnect” immediately reminds me of melodic, positive hardcore stalwarts Bane with a touch of Comeback Kid for good measure.As you'd expect from a band dealing in finger-pointing, anthemic choruses the vocal delivery is shouty rather than forced and plenty of back-up vocals add weight to an unflattering recording mix.“Celebrities Make the Best Role Models” showcases some nifty percussion and bass-lines beneath the sort of unconventional note selections more akin to noise-core pioneers Botch, whilst “We're Not Dead Yet” – is a nod to their Big Apple roots – fast and hard with a karate kick-inducing breakdown. The vast range of styles on show here are maybe an indication of a band still trying to settle on a definitive sound. It is far from a bunch of riffs cobbled together with a “that'll do” mindset, though. Keep an eye on Zombie Fight – they are a shot in the arm for people like me the world over who often forget there is much more to the NYHC scene than the DMS family.
ANIMAL INSTINCT “UNFINISHED BUSINESS” (Take It Back Records, Released April 1, 2012
What's in a name? Not much if you are Animal Instinct. In another era this could be the name of a glam-metal band. But jokes and my own shallowness aside this Swiss outfit are fucking hard as nails. I love it when bands dispense with any pretentiousness and wear their influences – and hearts – on their sleeves. The majority of the 11 tracks on offer unashamedly pay homage to New York Hardcore. Indeed, purists like me who enjoy hardcore fast, pissed off and in-yer-face will point to the fact that the longest song here is a mere 2:31, so you know what you are going to get. Taking their cues from the likes of Warzone, Killing Time, Straight Ahead and District 9, the Zurich-based quartet don't hold back from the outset. “What's Your Name Again?” sounds like Leeway arm-wrestling with The Promise, “Step Back” plunders the sort of storming groove Jorge and the Merauder boys have trademarked over the years, whilst “Time” confirms their European status as singer Andre's accent comes to the forefront.“Get Up” reminds me of No Warning, which is no bad thing, the back-up vocals on “Sooner or Later” will have you floor-punching with a shit-eating grin on your face and “The Bubble” could have been a Death Threat song-in-waiting. Not since Backfire! and Barcode ruined my eardrums have I been this excited and impressed by a European hardcore band. Animal Instinct are here to stay.
ALL THINGS END “HERE’S TO THOSE WHO WISH US WELL…ALL THE REST CAN GO TO HELL” 7” (Self released March 17, 2012)
So-Cal D.I.Y. pop punk with a bit of a fusion twist via Chris Giordano’s unique gruff vocal style is served up on this 4 song effort. “I Say” opens things up and looks to be going down the road of fluffy, radio friendly punk, but once Mr Giordano’s vocals hit your speakers the band’s sound automatically takes on a sound all their own as they seem more suited for a heavier more aggressive style of music. “Crashed” and “Shelf Life” are the second and third tracks respectively and follow the same pattern as the opening track but also show a bit of an edge to them in spots while maintaining that pop punk sound which is the base of what they are doing. “Here’s To Those” finishes things up with the title track which is a 2 minute plus acoustic track which would probably go over well in a live setting. Overall a good start for All Things End, nothing too ground breaking but a solid release nonetheless. Contact the band via Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/All-Things-End/110021019022927. Order the vinyl via their Bandcamp page for $5.00 or download the EP digitally for $3.00 at: http://allthingsend.bandcamp.com/.
TIRADE “LONDON HARDCORE DEMO 2011” (Self Released)
London hardcore outfit Tirade’s latest demo hits hard. This six song demo is very reminiscent of mid-90’s NYHC, and in the best possible way - fast, stripped down, and loud hardcore that would have fit in very well with the old Coney Island High and Castle Heights crowds. Hard beating drums over a very groove-style bass and guitar, and strong vocals make for a solid 6 song effort. Fans of District 9, Madball and Sub-Zero will definitely enjoy this.
Check out Tirade on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tirade/214433418644758
and download the demo here: http://www.stereokiller.com/Tirade.
1776 “ONE NATION UNDER ATTACK” CD (Self Released 2011)
Wake up sheep! - the message Long Island’s 1776 outfit is trying to get across to the hardcore scene at large and whoever else is out there listening. Growing out of previous bands Pitfight, Outrage, and Tension*, 1776 takes a serious political stance in a world of bands more apt to be less politically charged. I had heard a few of these songs previous to getting “One Nation…” and liked it, but now with the lyric sheet this takes on a totally new feel as this is not some adolescent attempt at being world changers. Heavy, metallic influenced hardcore with some killer sing-a-long choruses is the name of the game here. Those who know me know that is usually not my thing, and outside of the use of the double bass drum on a few songs 1776 somehow has me hooked in. Production is good, not great, but the songs shine through nonetheless. Politicians, bankers, and corporations catch the brunt of the angst lyrically along with the TSA on “Homeland Impurity,” probably the only song I disagree with lyrically having worked in NY airports both before and after the TSA existed. Agree or disagree with the message, it can’t be denied that 1776 is making a stand for what they believe in. They strike me as a band who can stir the pot with hard driving music and an equally balanced lyrical attack. Get this 7 song EP for free at: http://www.reverbnation.com/1776nyhc and check them out on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/1776lihc.
DEVIL IN ME “THE END” (GSR Music, Re-released February 24, 2012)
Originally released only in Portugal in 2011 on Rastilho Records, GSR Music brings this nice effort back around for us all in 2012. Already a force to be reckoned with on the other side of the Atlantic, this is the bands third full length. The buzz around this re-release was amped up when the video for “The End” dropped in late February. The video features a virtual hardcore All-Star team of friends and fellow bands singing the lyrics of “The End” right into the camera. A good start I thought, but I wanted to hear more. What has impressed me the most with this album is how heavy AND melodic DIM's style can be. Track after track delivers big sounding, catchy as fuck sing-along style tunes. “On My Own” is the third track and the combo of melody on the chorus and the crunch of the last 30 seconds is hard to match. Behind the microphone, lead singer Poli’s scratchy/scream style is extremely distinguishable and the intricate guitar work throughout is a cut above the hardcore standard. This album, and I stress the term “album,” is the type you put in, hit play, and listen straight through without skipping anything along the way. At 37 minutes running time, it seems like a virtual eternity from start to finish when you’re comparing this to shorter EPs, demos, and other full lengths, never losing steam along the way. Devil In Me knocks it out of the park with “The End,” another strong entry in what has been a very solid run lately of submitted releases for review here at this site.
ALL FOR NOTHING “TO LIVE AND DIE FOR” (GSR Music, Released March 23, 2012)
I had a good feeling about this album when it showed up about a month ago, and within that time it has fallen into the “IPod Hijack” category, having taken over the majority of my music listening in that time period. I keep waiting for that bubble to burst, you know, when an album you’re constantly playing finally hits the wall and gets put a little bit further back on the shelf? So far that hasn’t happened. Facts about AFN… they are a hardcore band from Holland, they have a female singer and this new album will kick your ass. 28 minutes with 13 songs that will sink into your skull fast and stick for awhile. I would gather here that they’re influences range from Sick Of It All to Agnostic Front and many in between. Although they are not trying to reinvent the wheel All For Nothing still brings a freshness to the table in their songwriting as well as with the lead vocals delivered by head screamer Cindy. There is NOTHING girly girl with Cindy’s vocal style as it comes from the gut and with conviction the whole way through. Back all of this up with some excellent production and you’re handed a no doubt about it top album of the year candidate. Craig “Ahead” Setari pops up for some guest vocals on “Without A Doubt” which is an album standout although clocking in at just under 2 minutes. Others include “Dead To Me” and “Twisted Tongues” which the band combined into one video which has something like 20,000 views in under a week on You Tube. That is not a typo… 20K in a week! Straight up, D.I.Y. style, this band has been plugging away for quite awhile and with “To Live And Die For” they seem to be reaching a new level.
M.O.R.A. - S/T CD (Released 2011)
M.O.R.A. is a 5 piece hardcore band from Helsinki, Finland featuring dual female vocals from Piia and Suvi as well as a 3rd female on bass in Katja. The band has been around since ’08 and overall this CD has a slight veil of secrecy over it with the dark CD artwork, not a lot in the way of band photos, and lyrics all in Finnish. (A lyric translation sheet was included). When the first screams of the instrumental “Intro” hit my speakers I wasn’t sure what to think as it was basically some really heavy riffs with horror movie screams blaring into my head but the song converts quickly into a very danceable hardcore style intro. “Feikki” hits next (translation=Fake) and it’s here where we discover what M.O.R.A. is all about which is a really good mix of old and new style hardcore. The dual vocals are pissed, angry and at times have a snotty punk rock feel to them. The music is super heavy, fast, and bouncy at times with almost a hip-hop feel to it as your head keeps nodding along with it. The vocals give the band a very unique sound that people will either love or hate right off the bat. I don’t see someone hating this initially and having the vocals grow on them over time. For me though this has been an amazing find as I am all over this. The energy in the songs just ooze out and no matter what the language is you can feel it. I would love to see M.O.R.A live on their home turf with an insane crowd backing them up. No record label info included but you can check them out on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mora09hc OR Stereokiller: http://stereokiller.com/mora09hc.
CITIZENS ARREST “SOAKED IN OTHERS BLOOD” 7” (Painkiller Records, Released 2012)
Originally a digital only release in 2011 by Coextinction Records, it was only a matter of time before these four new songs got a proper vinyl release. And it's fitting that the boys at Painkiller made it happen. CXA bridged the gap between the NYHC matinees and the early '90's ABC No Rio scene, and are seen by many as synonymous with ABC. CXA released arguably the best 7" of the '90's and their live shows were a sight to behold; thankfully I experienced this many times, so I am a biased reviewer. I have to admit that after multiple listenings this record doesn't grab me the way "A Light In the Darkness" did, and still does. But that is an impossible standard to achieve. I will say that this record is 100% CXA, and if I heard it unknowingly I would know who it is, not only because of Darryl's crazy vocals but Janis' buzzsaw guitar and Joe's crushing bass. Mine came on opaque red wax, but I do not know if other variations exist. If you don't have this yet do yourself a favor and get it ASAP.
- Brett Hardware
NY HOODS “NEUTRAL1986 NYHC DEMO” 7” (United Riot Records, Released March 2012)
Seemingly coming out of left field is this vinyl release of the NY Hoods "Neutral" demo recorded in 1986. For those unfamiliar, The NY Hoods were a NYHC band from Queens, sandwiched between the 1st wave and the late '80's explosion; proto matinee-core. They never had a proper record, but released two demos during their existence. "Neutral", pressed here, and "Built As One". Before checking out the vinyl I listened to my demo for comparison purposes. The sound is comparable; no better or worse, and all five songs are present in the original order. The information presented with the record is sparse, so I do not know if this was produced from the original masters or just a good copy of the demo. With any re-release I would like some information about the original product, maybe some liner notes and a picture of the original layout, as many, many people have never seen it. In any event I am sure the sound is an improvement over the dubbed copies and MP3s floating around for 25 years. The material is just what you would expect from the description above, moshable NYHC. My fav Hoods songs are "Mirrors of Reality" and "Relative Power". If I am not mistaken this demo was recorded relatively early in their existence. The same songs hit harder on their next demo. Comes on black, white and black/white swirl and includes a download code for MP3s. Let's hope "Built As One" is next.
HAUNTED HACIENDA, SHORT FUSE, LIVE FAST DIE FAST, SHELL SHOCK @ Sinclair’s in West Babylon, NY April 22, 2012
Got in to Sinclair’s and heard the last song by Haunted Hacienda who I have to say sounded good although I did not physically see them. Those who have never been to this small bar on Lawnguyland keep in mind that this has to be one of the most unique layouts for a show venue with no stage and a bar area where you practically can’t see the bands. Add to that that the bands backs are up against a partially covered window and if you were outside you could almost watch the show from the parking lot.
Young upstarts Short Fuse were next. I counted 19 of us in the area around the corner from the bar to watch these guys start off their set which was raw and energetic. They play a good old-school style of hardcore which brought a smile seeing that kids coming up now are discovering and going back to the ways of old with the fast and thrashy style. They had some equipment problems along the way with their bass and the microphone but they battled through it and got a good response during and after each song.
Home town boys Live Fast Die Fast were third and add on maybe another 15-20 people in to watch them at this point. Sinclair’s capacity is pretty small so 40 or so people starts to give this show some signs of life. The way LFDF played their set you could have taken away the crowd and placed them at a CBGB matinee circa 1988 or any “back in the day” setting you were used to going to or hearing about. All the members of the band pretty much went off and brought the small crowd to life through the energy that they gave off. The 30 or so minutes they played for was fun and the highlight of the night. Looking forward to seeing them more as they seem like a band that can fit into different types of venues and bills and still pull off a positive response no matter what the circumstances.
Westchester’s Shell Shock have been around for awhile with various lineup changes, and a breakup, but now after 2 plus years, this was their triumphant return. Again, I have to give credit where credit is due and the way these guys just went after it and played the fuck out of their instruments with maybe 20 people left in the crowd shows the passion these bands have for the music. Another thing I noticed was how similar all 3 of these bands here tonight were in regards to their music…. Fast, raw, old-school, real hardcore, more more more! Shell Shock still has copies of their 2005 CD “Born To Kill” on Puke N Vomit Records which they were selling afterwards which is worth a listen. Props to all the bands involved for taking what could have been a lifeless event and pumping some life in and making it a good night.
WISDOM IN CHAINS “THE MISSING LINKS” (I Scream Records, Released April 2012)
Wisdom in Chains is a band with a lot of heart and talent. Since the band’s last full length release of “Everything You Know” in 2009, they have played many many shows, toured with some of the biggest names in hardcore and it shows. Mad Joe and the gang really hit the nail on the head with this album. Front to back, it’s one of their strongest records to date. Strong vocals, over driving bass and drums, layered with some very strong and sometimes progressive and intricate guitar parts. They touch on a wide range of lyrical topics such as standing up for what you believe (“Defend Protect”), standing by your friends and family (“My Friend”, “In Case You Forgot”), and even loving man’s best friend/missing them when they’re gone (“Ghost of Buddy”). They’ve also brought something new to the table on this album with bringing in some hip-hop flavor with Slaine of La Coka Nostra for “Top of the World”. With Madball frontman Freddy Cricien behind the band producing this album, they were in good hands and it shows. There is really not one weak spot on this album anywhere. As a longtime fan of the band, this does not disappoint. I definitely would NOT sleep on this album, or the big things they’re doing for 2012. If you’re in the Long Island/NYC area look out for them on this year’s Long Island Punk Rock Barbeque July 8th in West Babylon along with Stigma and Murphy’s Law!
NO REDEEMING SOCIAL VALUE “AMERICA’S FAVORITE HARDCORE BAND” CD (Dead City Records, Released March 2012)
Does it come as a surprise to anyone that knows this band that the majority of this EP is centered around drinking, being drunk, and partying? While the title of this limited CD may cause some debate it is no secret that NRSV is comfortable in their role as a balls out, drunk, party machine. Previously all 5 of these tracks were only released in Japan with 3 of the 5 being originals. “Superfuntime Party Girl”, “U R Here Because U R Drunk”, and “Life Caught Up” are the originals and “Time To Drink” and “Drunk At The Youth Of Today Re-Union” are covers from The Slumlords who featured Breakdown’s Jeff Perlin on vocals during their run. The covers were initially done as a split 7” with The Slumlords where each band covered the others songs. The 5 songs roll on by pretty fast with this clocking in at under 10 minutes total. I must admit I found myself listening to this often over the past few weeks but it’s seemingly over before you know it. Folks already in the know with NRSV will be satisfied as the boys deliver the sound and energy that they have come to be known by over the years. “Superfuntime Party Girl” is a bit more on the fun/silly side of things but is also the best overall track here. (Look for the video on the Videos page) If you are new to the band you might want to start off with their live “High In Holland” CD (also on Dead City Records) as it covers a wide array of the bands material. Overall, a short yet very solid collectible with some catchy tunes to hold you over while the new material starts to build. I am looking forward to a new No Redeeming full length hopefully in the near future as it is now approaching long overdue status with each passing day. For more info visit: www.NRSV.com and www.DeadCityRecords.com
THE LAST STAND, ENSIGN, AGNOSTIC FRONT @ Asbury Lanes, Asbury Park, NJ March 31, 2012
I once visited a grocery store in Florida whose shopping cart wheels magically locked up when someone tried to take it outside of the parking lot. I have long assumed that something similar would happen if Mike Scondotto tried to leave the five boroughs of New York City. I have known this guy for over fifteen plus years now, and within that time I have heard a rumor of him leaving NYC once; never having witnessed it myself. I have been hearing the buzz about The Last Stand, Mike’s new band with the guys from Shutdown, and really was looking forward to checking them out this night. But I got that nagging feeling: “Will Mike actually be 35 miles from Brooklyn (as the crow flies)?” Well, the doubts were put to rest when I walked into Asbury Lanes just as The Last Stand were starting it up and I heard Mike’s voice blasting out a true NYHC number. Being woefully unfamiliar with their material I do know Mike well, so I knew exactly what to expect from the band. It was true NYHC with enough speed to keep me interested, and Mike sounds more like Lou Koller than Lou Koller. People, check these guys out because they are on the move.
It’s hard to believe that Ensign are still around sixteen years after we interviewed them for Hardware ‘Zine as one of the up and coming NJHC bands on the scene. I still recognized Nate and Tim, obviously, but the other slots have undergone some changes. They sounded tight and well-practiced, belting out a good fifteen songs or so including a Cro-Mags cover. These guys still have a solid following in NJ as some kids were going off. But it was obvious that most people were saving their energy for AF…
As soon as I heard that AF were playing The Lanes I jumped on a ticket. I can’t help but think back to packed AF shows at City Gardens, figuring this will be a mob scene. While it’s fun to see a “big show” every now and again us true hardcores relish seeing the great bands in small venues. Then I found out that they’re playing the “Live at CB’s” set as part of their 30th anniversary celebrations; now we’ve got something to really look forward to here. Without any question as to what was to come AF just blasted right into “Victim In Pain”; one of NYHC’s most punch-a-hole-in-the-wall, my-head-hurts-my-hand’s-on-fire, lose-your-damned-mind songs ever written. The whole band sounded on point, with Pokey being the most solid skinsman AF has seen since Will Shepler. The set highlight for me was “Blind Justice/Last Warning”; people, it does not get any more hardcore than that (even without Freddy on the mic). AF were positively on fire right thru “Eliminator” when I expected the set to end, but they continued on with “Gotta Go”, “New Jack” and a few more to an even more enthusiastic reaction as the young guns took the place of those of us gasping for breath and holding our backs. Hearing these classics played with full enthusiasm from hardcore lifers like Roger and Vinnie is what keeps us all coming back again and again.
ABJECT, 1776, BITTER END, FIRE & ICE, ANTIDOTE, AGNOSTIC FRONT @EHS Garden City NY April 1, 2012
I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon packed into tight quarters with a few hundred other smelly and sweaty humans at the EHS (Ethical Humanist Society) on Long Island. That is of course total sarcasm as this show had just about everything I have come to love about this music. A lineup of the new, the up-coming, and the veterans kicked off with Abject who seem to be on every show flyer this site has ever posted. The crowd was still on the small side as they went on shortly after the doors opened which is uncommon but they still delivered a quick and solid set. If a band feeds off of the crowds energy it must be very hard to get going in cases like this where you have between 100 and 200 people basically staring at you. I think they did well and got a copy of their CD after the show. “S.U.V. Tard” is a catchy sing-a-long and overall I like these guys and would like to see and hear more.
Next up was 1776 and as each band came and went the crowd grew as well as crowd movement. They have ex-members of Tension including their singer and I have heard them before on the BNB Radio Takeover. I thought they were good when hearing their recorded stuff but live they simply blew away what I had known. Like Abject before them, a short set, tight and the drummer noticeably was wailing away from behind the kit. 1776’s message is one of opening your eyes to BS the government is subjecting the people of America to, not a message you get everyday from hardcore street-kids. You could see and feel the passion behind the message in between songs as it is obvious these guys mean what they say and the music backing it up is pretty tight.
Bitter End are a 5 piece band from San Antonio, TX and were up third. Right from the first song they got the crowd moving as everything and everyone moved up close and tight to the stage. LOVE when a band from outside of their hometown area can come in to an “away game” and take over a crowd. I took a foot to the chest and I think my finger went in some dudes mouth who was about to hit the floor so I hope you appreciate the horrible photo I got of them! Fast, aggressive, and very hardcore is what Bitter End is, check them out.
Fire & Ice from Virginia were fourth and continued the momentum built up by Bitter End before them. Their singer pointed out that the rain outside forced everyone inside to see them as he gave a shout out to the weather but I really think the majority of people would have been inside for these guys anyway. Everything I have heard about these guys is that “they are a lot like Leeway”. I see it but it is not what defines them either. So far to this point we were 4 out of 4 with good performances and another out of town band that took charge and made the crowd move. Look out for “Not Of This Earth” by them on May 8th on Reaper.
Moving right along with the afternoon we ran into Antidote next. Their 1983 EP “Thou Shalt Not Kill” was 8 songs and 10 minutes of some of the best real hardcore to ever come out of NYC. I am actually happy to say that I was too YOUNG to catch them on their initial go around and was pretty amped up to catch them today. Singer Drew Stone came out as hardcore’s best dressed frontman with a suit and white hat and immediately ripped into their EP’s material. With that said I was curious to find out how they were going to fill in a full set as I wanted to hear some of the newer material they have been working on. We got a few new ones along with Minor Threat’s “Filler” and Black Flag’s “Rise Above” Again, the crowd responded and went nuts with a slight lull around the times of the non-EP songs which is understandable. Was listening for an announcement of when they could be putting out some new material but nothing as of yet. Good set.
Agnostic Front, 30 years strong and still keeping that flame going. It was no secret through social media outlets that tonight they would be playing the exact same set as they did for their 1989 live album “Live At CBGB”. As you could imagine in between bands less people are hanging around outside as everyone starts making their way to grab a “spot” closer to the action or away from the insanity that was about to start. “Victim In Pain” opened things up just as advertised, and from there it was about an hour and change of all out hardmotherfuckingcore mayhem. I really got into hearing them play songs off of their second album “Cause For Alarm” which at the time it was released wasn’t all that well received by all due to it’s “metal” sound. Fuck…. to call that album metal compared to some of the stuff that is out there now is just crazy talk. “The Eliminator” sounded awesome as did stuff off of their “Liberty And Justice For” album which I have to go show love for again. So at this point the “Live At CBGB” stuff is all wrapped up and you might be thinking the house lights go on but we also got about 5 more tunes in all. “Gotta Go”, “Something’s Gotta Give” and my all time AF fav “For My Family” all sounded great and sent the “kids” home happy. Great show, great vibe, done the RIGHT way. Hardcore lives……
TAKE OFFENSE- “UNDER THE SAME SHADOW” EP (Reaper Records, Release Date March 20, 2012)
For those wondering where the next wave of great hardcore bands will come from look no further than Chula Vista CA, a suburb of San Diego, and home to Take Offense for just one example. This vinyl only nugget of gold is a quick follow up to 2011’s “Tables Will Turn” which without a doubt rocked the party. T.O. is back a little over a year later (again on Reaper) with 4 songs (“My Sacrifice”, “(We All Live) Under The Same Shadow”, “Serving My Time”, and “T.O. Zone”). Immediately the first thing that smacked me in the face was the beefed up very pro style recording. Guitarist Greg Cerwonka talked about how happy the band was with the recording in an interview done on this site not too long ago and his talk is backed up. Nick Jett who drums for LA’s Terror is behind the production and this guy should be sought out again for future releases. Take Offense has a few elements to their sound that could get buried in a bad mix, most notably lead guitarist Greg’s solos and Anthony’s vocals, neither of which get buried, and all is right in the world, at least for now. For those unfamiliar with T.O.’s sound think of a NYHC tank crashing into a Suicidal West Coast armored truck on steroids. Bands like Excel, Suicidal Tendencies, Beowulf and other So-Cal greats were definitely being played in the houses of these guys growing up as were the NYHC greats. A great blend that (in my eyes) gives them a leg up on standing above the pack. The band has been roughing it since January of last year playing just about any show they can get their hands on, paying their dues during multiple tours and this will build their base for sure. They seem to be doing things the right way to ensure future success as well as current. If I gotta get on something with “Under The Same Shadow” it will have to be that it is only 4 songs, and there is no CD version but I will take it with a smile. The momentum is definitely building with these guys and I can see their next release making them hardcore household names. The only question is will you be in the T.O. Zone or will you be still be buried under your rock?
JOHATSU- “DEMOLITION” Demo Tape (Wardance Records, Released February 2011)
7” vinyl records? Cassette demo tapes? Are 8 tracks next? At least I didn’t throw out my boombox which helped me review the debut from JOHATSU which in Japanese means a few things including “one who abandons life in society”. Johatsu as presently constructed, are a 2 man operation featuring Aaron and Rich who were in bands like Hell No and the underrated All For One who were around a VERY long time ago. Aaron does all the vocals and Rich is on all instruments (presumably not all at the same time). Technically a demo tape but with a look of a professional cassette you would have bought at stores like Nobody Beats The Wiz back in the day. Not sure what to expect from this duo I popped the tape in and hit play and after a bunch of listens I am still not sure what I am getting here. The recording and mix are spotty and it is very hard to get a grip on everything going on. There are definite hardcore influences underneath the noisy production and with the cassette and throw back feel to this I have to wonder if some of this may have been done on purpose. When I don’t really focus on every note of the music it sometimes comes across as a wall of noisy distortion. However there are also times when really tuning into this there are some really good, catchy riffs. Supposedly the plan is to get a full lineup and for Johatsu to play out live in the near future. I can see myself dismissing this demo now and then catching them live down the road with a full lineup and being flipped around and liking them. We all have bands that we just don’t “get” until seeing them live, and for me, right now, the jury is still out on Johatsu. Only time will tell. You can order this through the mail for $5 bucks.
Contact info: WardanceRecords.com, P.O. BOX 770451, Woodside, NY 11377
BRAIN SLUG- "DISTORT NEW YORK" 7" (Hardware Records, Released 2011)
The Brooklyn DIY hardcore-loft scene, by way of Bushwick and South Williamsburg, is spawning some top-notch bands these days. Case in point is Brian Slug. Judging by the EP's title, I was expecting an all-out Japanese hardcore influenced thrash assault a-la Gauze/Outo/Lip Cream. What I got instead was something a 'lil closer to home; a mid-tempo tribal beat that owes a debt to classic creepy crawl masters like SSD and The Abused, along with current "revivalist" bands like Fucked Up & their ilk. The singer's voice, while buried a bit in the mix, reminds me of Jackal from the old Philly band YDI, who along with NA's John Brannon, had some of the meanest sounding vocals in hardcore ever. I read Brain Slug's interview with Tony Rettman for VICE and they come off sounding exactly like their music: pissed off, full of youthful indifference, loaded with a healthy bullshit detector and filled with choice quotes regarding their Long Island upbringing. A band that would have fit in perfectly at A7 or Boston in '82, at Abc No Rio in '91 or wherever the current crop of hardcore purists congregate these days. Hopefully in dimly-lit underground spaces, all the better to celebrate the timeless appeal of 3-chord skanking tunes, as exemplified by this top-notch release.
CRO-MAGS/D.R.I. Starland Ballroom, Sayreville NJ. March 24, 2012
Unfortunately Social Decay cancelled which is a shame because I was really looking forward to seeing them for the first time since graduating high school. Anyone who went to shows at the Jersey Shore in the ‘80’s has seen, and probably has stories about seeing, Social Decay. (Check their 7” lyric sheet. Yours truly is in the one of the pics sporting a Judge long sleeve over a white turtleneck.) Oh well, maybe next time.
I’ve been primed for the Cro-Mags for a few weeks and was glad to see the “A” line-up of AJ Novello, Craig Ahead, Mackie, and of course, JJ. Scanning the crowd I had to wonder how many people knew what was up when the lights went down and the Clockwork Orange intro music started playing. That familiar jolt of electricity started shooting thru me knowing it was time… and they came down like a ton of bricks with the predictable opener of “We Gotta Know” right into “World Peace”, followed by “Show You No Mercy” and “Malfunction”. Mackie was absolutely killing it, and AJ’s guitar sound was on point. He has been the key to the Cro-Mags crushing sound since he started playing with Bloodclot’s Cro-Mags incarnations back in the early ‘90’s. And what can you say about Craig? He’s an icon. I’m sure someone’s night was ruined next when Bloodclot put out “Street Justice” to Rat-Bones who was seen by this reviewer showing the young blood in and around the pit how it’s done. No “Crush the Demoniac” this night, but they threw in “Right Brigade” and “Attitude” and closed it out with “Hard Times”. And in between it was hard to contain myself during “Life Of My Own” and “It’s The Limit”, but such is life for a near 40 year old with a balky back and sore knee. Suffice it to say JJ has no such problems as he was all over the stage like back in the day.
Perhaps I’m not the best person to review DRI as I am not a fanatic, but I like them as much as the next guy. Admittedly, I only listen to “Dealing With It” and the 7” maybe once a year. But let’s face it, there are a handful of songs everyone wants to hear like “Who Am I”, “I’d Rather Be Sleeping”, “Yes Ma’am” and “I Don’t Need Society”. Well, we got those plus about 160 other songs. You think I am exaggerating? They played for almost two hours. How Kurt can keep up I’ll never know; he sounded great and so did Spike. And it was good to see Spike on stage considering his health issues. I have to assume there was a healthy dose of “Crossover” material, but I haven’t listened to that since it came in the mail from the Columbia House Record Club (Any 10 tapes for $1, buy 5 more at regular club prices.). The youngish crowd was eating it up as there was a constant flow of kids riding the crowd over the barrier only to be caught by the bouncers. The interaction between the crowd and the bouncers provided great entertainment for us as we had a great view from stage right.
PICK YOUR SIDE "LET ME SHOW YOU HOW DEMOCRACY WORKS" 12” LP (A389 Recordings, Release Date April 2, 2012)
A couple of years ago my friend Will Tarrant, from Chainsaw Safety Records, gave me a stack of his releases to check out. Within that pile were CD's by Cobra Noir, Disnihil, Pulling Teeth and The Horror (UK). This 16-song platter by Pick Your Side would fit in nicely with said roster. It's ultra-fast and aggressive hardcore that almost reaches power-violence speeds without sacrificing any clarity in the process. Raw, larynx-straining vocals screeching topical subject matter round out the quality recording by this (fairly) new band of Canadian scenesters that have kicked around in previous outfits. Most notably, Haymaker & Fuck The Facts, bands that I've yet to check out but will have to remedy soon due to the high caliber presented by PYS's LP. Kudos to the, intentional or not, nod to Wrecking Crew's classic "Balance of Terror" LP on the cover art.
THE ALLIGATORS “TIMES UP, YOU'RE DEAD” (Bridge 9 Records, Release Date March 26, 2012)
Imagine you are standing in line at CB’s, freezing your ass off, waiting to get into the Roger Miret benefit on January 2, 1989. The guy in front of you turns and says, “Hey, did you hear Roger is singing for Insted? And they’re writing old NYHC type stuff.” I can say that my head would have exploded then, but it doesn’t seem all that crazy in 2012. “Times Up, You’re Dead” includes 16 songs, most clocking in around a minute and change. Roger’s voice and delivery is so distinctive that comparisons to AF are inevitable. I’d describe it as AF before they went crossover. There’s no real crushing parts that make you lose your mind like “Victim in Pain”, but that is a high standard to be judged on. The key here seems to be manic early ‘80’s speed with some slowed down parts. No lyrics were supplied to this reviewer (nor a layout), but most seem to be in the disenchantment with the status quo vein. And there’s more “fucks” in there than a Floorpunch live set. Includes another version of one of hardcore’s most covered songs, “Ready to Fight”. Will there be live shows?
– Brett Hardware
LIVE FAST DIE FAST “THE END OF WHAT WE KNOW” CD (Terror Bomb Records, Released 2011)
The first thing you notice when you look at this CD is the cover, a photo of what is now 315 Bowery, the gravesite of the forever-famous NYC venue CBGB, with the classic banner overlay on top. Very fitting for the title of the album, “The End of What We Know”, which is their Terror Bomb Records debut.
This album, (produced by Mike Gallo of Agnostic Front/Stigma), shows that this is a band that respects the NYHC bands that came before them, but at the same time they are not afraid to add their own flavor to it. Right out of the gate is the song “Only The Strong Survive”, which is a statement that they’re here for the long run and features guest vocals by Vinnie Stigma of Agnostic Front and Rick Jimenez of Soldiers/This is Hell/Ice Age. Right after that follows “Call to Action”, a sort of battle cry that says we must all stick together if we want to get anything done. Then you have a song like “Kings and Coyotes”, that calls out for progress by any means and that there is no such thing as a bloodless revolution. Finishing up the album is a neat little Easter egg of a secret track - Black Flag’s “Depression”, sung with the help of friend Joe Mancuso from fellow Long Island band Out of Step.
Overall the 11 song album (12 with bonus track) clocks in with just under 30 minutes of true hardcore…fast, loud, and with something to say.
SECTARIAN VIOLENCE 7” EP (Grave Mistake Records, Release Date February 29, 2012)
Listening to this new hard-hitting 7", with members from the US/UK & Sweden, has hit me like the proverbial "deja vu all over again" refrain. I mean it as a compliment, but the band this record immediately reminded me of, is the mighty Ripcord from the UK. Ripcord's non-stop trash sound was heavily influenced by classic American hardcore, especially the Boston contingent of SSD/DYS/Negative FX etc... This fountain of inspiration proves to be the same in Sectarian Violence's case: short, fast and loud blasts of primeval rage that successfully split the difference between pent-up aggression & tuneless trash in the best possible fashion. After the past 3 decades of hardcore’s endless splintering into sub and micro genres like tough guy/youth crew/emo/melodic/street & what-have-you core. It is gratifying to hear the basic nuts and bolts style that I fell in love with initially, being played by a new generation that obviously admires the roots of the music but is not bent on reviving a nostalgia act for old time's sake. This shit is still angry/pissed off and contemporary, adding succinct social/political commentaries to the ennui of modern day life. All good elements to help release the overwhelming feeling of everyday tension felt by listeners at any age. These no-frills, mad blasts of chaos, none over a minute & a half long; are like a healing balm to soothe some of the excesses of the current hardcore scene. Spin this platter and you'll be instantly transported to the epicenter of this music that myself and others refuse to give up on. Play loud and often.
Punishment Due/Ice Age/H2O Broadway Bar, Amityville, NY February 24, 2012
Well, this is a show that was much needed on Long Island. Three great bands, lots of great people, and a venue that, while being small, was able to handle the show. Rarely these days will you get to see something like this in such an intimate setting, small bar, no barrier, no bouncers, it was a great night despite the Amityville town cops that came in to the show at the end.
First up were Punishment Due. These guys have been around since 2010, and they do not disappoint. They have a great blend of energy, heaviness, and groove to their songs, and it shows through in their live show. They may have been the first band of the show, but by no means were they the proverbial opening band that everyone seems to ignore. They had the attention of everyone in there, and kept it for the whole time they played… definitely a band to keep your eye on.
Next up was Ice Age. You might recognize some of these guys if you’ve been around the Long Island Hardcore scene for awhile. They’ve all been in different bands over the years (they have current and former members of: Soldiers, This is Hell, Subterfuge, Thieves and Assassins, Up the Fury, Center of Zero, and many many more), and each bring that experience to the table here. They pack so much energy into the time they’re up there and it’s so much fun to watch. They definitely have some old school influences in their sound, but bring a new school flavor to it. You can tell they love what they do, because they show how much fun they’re having on stage, and make sure everyone else does too.
And finally we had H2O. I’ve seen them more than a few times over the years, but this show was in a class of it’s own. Sing alongs, stage dives, and they played all the favorites, and even some of the new songs from “Don’t Forget Your Roots”, which is their latest effort and an album of them covering songs by all the bands that have influenced them, and a well done one at that. They played for around an hour, and it was go-time from the first second. It was pure fun, nothing less, and was a much needed show for Long Island, definitely one to remember.
Now, you’d expect the band to be done and for that to be the end of the night, right? Wellllll, not so much this time around. I mentioned before that the town cops came into the show at the end of the night, well, they happened to come in less than 5 minutes AFTER H2O had finished their set, due to “capacity issues”. (Keep in mind the precinct is no more than 500 feet from the back of the venue, and they could have come much earlier). It caught everyone off guard. I was in the back room speaking with a few of the guys from the band and friends, and we get a knock on the back room’s door from outside, it was the cops and they made EVERYONE leave out the front door only, keeping all the bands, employees, and crew for the show outside for close to half an hour while they sorted things out. Eventually, most of the people who’d come to watch the show went home and everyone else got to go back inside. I don’t know exactly how this affected the venue, but the majority of shows for the near future have been cancelled or moved. Despite that little snafu at the end, this was quite a night, and I look forward to seeing what else comes for this year.
TOM BARRY “BALANCE-EUROPEAN HARDCORE” (Book published by Mark Batty Publisher, Released November 2011)
A perfect book for your “hardcore coffee table”. The hardcover and overall look of this screams of quality and looks like it belongs back in your local library. Tom Barry is the main man behind “Balance…” and also the drummer for Kartel out of the U.K. Tom teams up with photographer Sophia Schorr-Kon who before this was an outsider to the world of hardcore music. The mission behind the book is to show the balance so many people in the Euro-scene make between juggling day jobs and their bands / hardcore music lifestyle. Sound familiar? Europe is obviously a huge area to cover and hitting every nook would be virtually impossible, however the five countries this book takes us through provides an informative and interesting ride. Tonr who is the singer for Paris hardcore band Providence is a computer guru for France’s largest reptile store and the cameras capture Tonr in the work place and on stage with his band. Loic is the guitarist for Rise Of The Northstar…but also a professional breakdancer. The countries visited are Portugal, Germany, Poland, England, and France and we run into characters who book shows and who play in various bands but who also are car salesman, Subway sandwich shop managers, English teachers, miners and a roof salesman. Again I must point out the very slick look this book has with almost an “artsy” feel to it with tons of color photos, flyers etc. In each instance Tom and Sophia visit the people first at work and then on to a show or hang out to get their stories and photos. I can see some outside of the Euro-scene being less compelled to read this due to not knowing the bands very well and to that I have to point out that I sat down and read this 160 pager pretty much straight through in 2 sittings. Was very interesting turning each page anticipating what kind of job the next guy would have. Available for $40 in the U.S. but have seen this on Amazon for less.
PLEAD THE FIFTH “LIFE SENTENCE” CD (Arrest Records, Released January 2012)
On the first couple of runs through this I almost pegged Plead The Fifth as average or mediocre but things have changed in a real good way having given this a few more listens. The most original hardcore band of all time will not be an award this band walks away with but what they do they do very well. Taking a page from early to mid-90’s NYHC “Life Sentence” reminds me a lot of different bands from that era. Their choppy drum style is reminiscent of Breakdown and you can add some Killing Time into the mix as well. If you want to narrow it down some more think Faction Zero who were from Jersey and Oakland’s Powerhouse. The opening track “Cast Away” is fast, angry and sets the tone for this 6 song disc (which is also out as a 4 song 7”). “Cast Away…from everyone…bridges burned…I am gone” leads into a short but sick rip shit up dance part. “Caught Up” shows they can slow it up a little and still keep your attention but the majority of the material here is more fast paced. “The Struggle” (especially the last minute or so) has sing-along/pile on written all over it in a live setting. Again, not ground breaking but a lot of energy… thumbs up.
DOWN LOW NYHC “DRINK, SMOKE, FIGHT, FUCK” CD (V-Wreckidds)
There are 27 songs here with recordings ranging from as early as 1994 and as late as 2004. Tracks 1-9 are studio tracks from 2004 with the song “The Pressure” being the standout although the recording itself is a little suspect. Tracks 10-16 are live from CBGB 1997. CB’s always produced great live recordings due to that killer sound system and these are good but not mind blowing. Nice cover of “USA” by Reagan Youth. Tracks 17-23 are a demo from ’94 and is hard to listen to…very bad recording and almost a different band altogether. Tracks 24-27 are live from The Right Track Inn on Long Island in ’95 and the sound here is actually worse than the demo on tracks 17-23… Fail. I do like this band and my advice is to skip this and go get their re-issue of “Wall Of Anger” on United Riot Records where Down Low is at their best. The majority of “Drink, Some, Fight, Fuck” are the kind of recordings that a band would share with each other, but not make public due mostly to the sub-par sound qualities.
OLDE YORK 7” EP (Lionheart Records, Release Date January 7, 2012)
Lionheart Records is a small DIY label from Germany who only printed up 100 copies of these Olde York 7”s which are now sold out. Too bad since this got an excellent recording courtesy of Mr. Mike Dijan who produced this bad boy. Mike is no stranger to the recording studio having been in bands like Crown Of Thornz and Breakdown among others. There are 5 songs here with 3 being originals (“Fall Of Man”, “On And On”, and “Liars”). The 3 originals are all standouts with “On And On” being the one that is completely entrenched in my head on the day I am writing this. Olde York can play fast at times, they got some groove in spots and the “On And On” guitar solo reminds me of “Don’t Forget The Struggle” era Warzone which is one of the bands they cover on the “B” side of this and it’s obviously they are an influence. The other cover on side “B” is Killing Time’s “Brightside”. 2 more originals over the cover songs would have been preferred but if a bands job is to keep making you come back for more Olde York definitely gets the job done. Time to start that letter campaign to get Lionheart to print up more of these. Lionheart Records: http://www.lionheart-records.de/
SICK OF IT ALL "NONSTOP" (Century Media Records. Release Date November 1, 2011)
Wouldn't be a stretch by any means to say that a good number of you reading this know the name, you know the songs and you have been around the block with the hardcore Godzilla that is Sick Of It All. What haven't they done over the last 25 years? Whenever asked what is hardcore by co-workers and friends not involved with this kind of music I always brought S.O.I.A. up as exhibit A.
Fast forward to late 2011 and "Nonstop" hits the streets as the essential S.O.I.A refresher for the old heads and the ultimate starter kit for the new. All the old hits are here, re-done ad all shiny and new once again. One knock on the band was the sound on the early recordings and "Nonstop" more than makes up for it with an absolutely amazing and almost perfect hardcore recording which was done at Antfarm Studios in Denmark. The CD's cover is a photo of the band and is also a do-over with S.O.I.A. hitting up the same spot as their 1987 self titled 7 inch and in my opinion is a great way to link their past to the present. For the first couple of weeks owning this it was like I had never heard these songs before and this never left my playlist. Essential listening which will be bouncing around in your head just like the titles says... "Nonstop".
"NONSTOP" Track Listing:
1. Clobberin' Time
7. Just Look Around
MY RIFLE 7” EP (Wardance Records 2011)
...and here comes My Rifle with their debut offering sporting quite the NYHC resume. You got ex members of Lifesblood (vocals), Our Gang (bass and guitar), and Supertouch (drums). That resume
alone should be enough to have your panties in a bunch but add on some cool cover art by Sean Taggart (Crumbsuckers "Life Of Dreams", and Agnostic Front's " Cause For Alarm" among others)... And
finally put out on Wardance Records which is NY hardcore/punk veteran Freddy Alva's label.
Ok, on to the music... This is short and sweet with 4 songs clocking in around 9 minutes, a good teaser hopefully of things to come. First few spins through this didn't get me too inspired but after more listens I started to come around. Once I got by the fact that My Rifle is not trying to replicate their previous endeavors I viewed this a bit differently. Out of their previous bands I would say My Rifle would resemble Lifesblood the most simply because of Jason's vocals but Lifesblood part 2 this is not. Actually it is quite hard to put a tag on My Rifle. The music is heavy, sometimes trodding moving along slowly on "By The Grave of God" and others like "Stars" are upbeat and fast with a breakdown at the end that will bring the crowd to a frenzy... that is if we are fortunate enough to see the day as singer Jason lives in Georgia and the rest of the band is in the NY area. Time will tell but in the meantime we have this to go on and a good start it is.
Contact Info: WardanceRecords.com, P.O. BOX 770451, Woodside, NY 11377
NEW BREED TAPE COMPILATION CD VERSION (Wardance Records 2011)
Where to even start with this keeper? Originally released as a cassette (what's a cassette?) back in 1989 with only 700 made. Like finding a time capsule of the NYHC scene at a time where everything was in full swing. CD version has 35 songs mostly from bands who were the backbone of the scene. They didn't get the same notoriety as the big boys but kicked it just as hard. Absolution, Breakdown, and Killing Time (known as Raw Deal at the time) are the biggest names here but other gems like "Try" by Pressure Release, "Seasons" by Beyond and "Am I Clear" by Uppercut stand out as well. Others like Outburst and Lifesblood should have been house hold names. Sentimental shout outs to my friends in Fit Of Anger and Stand Proud who pop up on here and do their thing. Keep in mind this is from the late 80's and a lot of the bands were on a budget so the recordings are to be taken with a grain of salt. CD version has liner notes and photo collage and LP version has a full sized booklet and extra tracks by All For One and even more Lifesblood as well as sound clips from Dennis the Bouncer from CBGBs who used to practically lose his mind when he lost control of his stage. Long time coming for this one but very happy to see this come out of the vaults and get some light shed on some well deserving bands from this era.
Contact Info: WardanceRecords.com, P.O. BOX 770451, Woodside, NY 11377
NEW BREED TAPE COMPILATION CD Track Listing:
Absolution “Never Ending Game”
Lifesblood “Youth Enrage” (Live)
Outburst “The Hardway”
Outburst “Thin Ice”
Outburst “Controlled” (Live)
Our Gang “”In Anger”
Our Gang “My Tomorrow”
Our Gang “Without A Home”
Pressure Release “Try”
Pressure Release “The Line”
Breakdown “Don’t Give Up”
Breakdown “What It Is”
True Colors “No Way To Live”
Show Of Force “Finding It Hard”
Direct Approach “True Vision”
Direct Approach “No Respect”
Raw Deal “Back Track”
Raw Deal “Wall Of Hate”
Abomb-A-Nation “Something Must Be Wrong”
Abomb-A-Nation “Not Kosher”
Direct “Reach Out”
Direct “One Life”
Uppercut “Down For The Count”
Uppercut “Am I Clear”
Fit Of Anger “The Oppressed”
Fit Of Anger “Revealing The Truth”
Discipline “We All Learn”
Bad Trip “Something More”
Under Pressure “Supremist”
Stand Proud “Dust”
THE LAST STAND 7” EP (1124 RECORDS 2011)
Originally released as a 4 song demo in late 2010 this fine debut now reappears in 7 inch vinyl form. The Last Stand is made up of members of Shutdown (guitarist,bassist,and drummer) and Mike from
Inhuman on vocals. Mike's brother Mark is the singer of Shutdown but Mark has relocated out of state putting Shutdown on hold with the exception of the occasional reunion show.
"Change" kicks things off and is a quick minute and a half burst packed with energy. Throughout this 5 song EP you get elements of a Madball influence ("Opportunities Lost and Found") a touch of H20 ("Find Out") among other influences. With that said I still find TLS to have a distinct sound all their own as this had me hooked in by the third or so listen and has been on my playlist for well over a month now with no signs of me getting bored. Excellent recording...especially for a demo turned 7 inch must be pointed out as well. 5 songs coming in at just around 10 minutes. Full length is in the works and will be a tall order to almost triple the output they produced here but I think TLS have plenty in the tank and will deliver. Gold vinyl? Blue? Grey? Clear??? Fuhgeddabouditttt! Get them all with the 1124 Records package deal because we all have a little Brett Favre in us.
Contact Info: 1124Records.com, 316 Lenape Trail, First Floor, Allentown, PA 18104
H20 “DON’T FORGET YOUR ROOTS” CD (Bridge 9 Records Release Date November 15, 2011)
Off the top of my head I can think of a couple of reasons why I shouldn’t like “Don’t Forget Your Roots”. For me at least cover songs are a good (and sometimes great) addition to a bands live act but not much more when in the studio. We get 15 songs in all here and if you go down the list it is easy to see why H20 is H20. An influential band of today showing off who influenced them into becoming one of the biggest names on the punk/hardcore scene. A few of the tracks caught my attention before actually listening to the music, most notably Madball’s “Pride” and Warzone’s “Don’t Forget The Struggle, Don’t Forget The Streets” and both turned into worthy renditions. Hearing the more melodic punk based H20 do a big heavy hitting hardcore anthem like “Pride” was probably their biggest stretch away from their natural sound and the boys pulled it off very well. “I Wanna Live” by The Ramones and “Someday I Suppose” by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones won’t leave my head and Dag Nasty’s “Safe” is an amazing song H20-ified and done very well. In the end “Don’t Forget Your Roots” will not be the first thing I grab for when going for some H20 but it won’t be collecting much dust either as I have easily listened to this about 10 times in just about a week of having this. In a friggin’ amazing marketing idea and to further peak collectors interest, the band has 3 additional 7”s that have 3 songs a piece. One 7” each for NY, DC, and California and each has a city/state themed cover. Each one of those 7’s has an exclusive track to that particular 7”. The NY version has “Hard Times” by the Cro-Mags, DC version has “Understand” by Government Issue, and California has “Beverly Hills” by the Circle Jerks. The remaining 2 songs on each of these 7”s are songs already on the CD version. Great artwork on all versions and if that wasn’t enough there is a limited cassette version (limited to 500) floating around out there as well.
Track Listing for "Don't Forget Your Roots" CD:
|1) Bad Brains – “Attitude”
2) 7 Seconds – “Satyagraha”
3) Madball – “Pride”
4) Descendents – “Get The Time”
5) Embrace – “Said Gun”
6) Ramones – “I Wanna Live”
7) Gorilla Biscuits – “Cats and Dogs”
|8) Mighty Mighty Bosstones – “Someday I Suppose”
9) Rancid – “Journey to the End”
10) Dag Nasty – “Safe”
11) Social Distortion – “Sick Boy”
12) Sick of it All – “Friends Like You”
13) The Clash – “Train in Vain”
14) Verbal Assault – “Scarred”
15) Warzone – “Don't Forget the Struggle, Don't Forget the Streets”
SHEER TERROR “SPITE” 7” EP (Reaper Records Released August 23, 2011)
Have been a fan of Sheer Terror since the “No Grounds For Pity” demo which came out well over a million years ago. This band was an extremely important cog in the history of NYHC. While the straight edge/youth crew movement was doing their thing and the Warzone’s and Cro-Mags of the world were doing theirs Sheer Terror flew in a little bit under the radar and made a sound and style all their own in NY. They did things their way which was the equivalent of a baseball bat to the face with a sound heavy and fierce with the Reverend Paul Bearer delivering lyrics and vocals far beyond angry and pissed off. “Just Can’t Hate Enough” was more than the title to their debut album, it was almost like their mission statement. So here we are in 2012, 20 years plus since that debut classic and Reaper Records brings us this 3 song effort which I grabbed off of ITunes. There are 2 originals and a cover of “Salome” by The Old 97’s. I love the fact that the band is going in the direction of writing new material and not just living off of their past. “Heresy On The Monkeybars” and “Blue Shadow Will Fall” are the 2 originals. This has been one helluva hard review to write as the band delivers their signature hard hitting sound and the production quality is off the charts good. The Sheer Terror formula from the past is here and both songs sport some good bursts of speed at times so what is wrong? I keep going back to the fact that I have had this for about 3 months now and I rarely find myself going back to it for a listen. Maybe because it is over before you know it with just 2 originals or it could be that the songs themselves are good but not sucking you in saying “play me again and again”. It’s almost like I am on a see-saw here with this one… the wind blows one way and I am digging it somewhat, and other times not. A steal at $2.97 off of ITunes either way.
FED UP! “LIVE AT WFMU” 7” (Punk Rock Distro/Welfare Records, Released 2011)
The Pat Duncan show on NJ’s WFMU has flown under the radar for what seems like an eternity. Playing underground hardcore/punk, hosting interviews of bands and ex fanzine editors (including yours truly) and in this case having bands play live on the air. On February 5, 2009 it was Fed Up on on the show and this 7” captures the nights festivities. For those unfamiliar with Fed Up they play straight up old style hardcore in the vein of early Warzone/Cause For Alarm with a dash of humor tossed in from time to time. Nothing fancy, just in your face, and most of their stuff is really catchy… just check out their “Sheer Poetry” CD from 2010 on United Riot Records for proof. Love the layout on this short 7” with a little intro paying homage to Pat Duncan and all the help he has given to bands plus a few candid shots of the band at the studio. Looks like they played 13 songs this night and you get 7 of them here and must say a pretty good recording for a live on the radio set. Worth noting the bands lighter/funnier side as the between song banter between songs had me cracking up with personal cheap shots aimed at friends/and or other band members. Worth a check.
“TO US IT WAS SO MUCH MORE-CHAIN OF STRENGTH COMPILATION” DOUBLE 7” (1124 Records, Released 2011)
Interesting concept here as this double 7” vinyl only EP pays homage to one of the most popular “back in the day” straight edge bands ever… Chain Of Strength. My green vinyl copy of “True Till Death” by Chain got worn the fuck out over and over as the band really produced a great sound loved by many. 1124 Records does a great job here as the packaging is simply amazing with photos of all the bands, notes from the bands talking about what Chain Of Strength meant to them and how they discovered this iconic band. The notes/photo sheet is big and folds out into a mini-sized glossy poster. Over the course of the two 7”s we get 10 Chain Of Strength covers from 10 different bands. Unfortunately outside of a few standouts like One Choice with “True Till Death” and Ambitions with “There Is A Difference” there isn’t much to write home about. The bulk of the remaining songs just get by…nothing bad by any stretch…but nothing that jumps out at you either. Some versions like Offsides with “The Space Between” and The Geeks with “Just How Much” just about made me cringe mostly due to their vocal styles which are an acquired taste. Bottom line here is that the original versions of these songs are classics and are a superior product and while I respect all the bands involved on this product I just can’t see myself listening to these over the originals.
BRI HURLEY "MAKING A SCENE NEW YORK HARDCORE IN PHOTOS, LYRICS, AND COMMENTARY REVISITED 1985-1988" (Book published by Butter Goose Press, Re-released October 2011)
What a great idea and in the end a very unique book time capsuling NYHC between the years 1985 and 1988. Originally released in 1989 by author/photographer Bri Hurley this is now the “revisited” version-2011 with Chris Daily (Smorgasbord Records and ‘Zine). I have not seen the original but this revisited edition is supposedly more “meaty” and chock full of pics and tales on NYHC’s golden era.
Freddy “Madball” Cricien writes a 2 page forward here and paints an excellent picture of what was going down in NYC through his eyes… which happened to be through the eyes of an 8 year old. I don’t think anyone could have gotten a better hardcore education than Freddy did at his young age and his insight here gets you amped up for the 150-something pages that lie ahead.
Bri Hurley is obviously a very talented photographer as seen here and captures way way more than just bands playing on a stage. Her pictures tell the story… from the regular average Joe guy standing outside a show or a Bowery bum sleeping on a garbage dumpster. The majority of this book is pictures and only took me about an hour to read cover to cover but there are insights as well from the players. Gavin Van Vlack (who was in Absolution at the time of their interviews) is not shy one bit in telling his side of the story as is Ralphy Boy from Disassociate. Diego Casalins who was the original bass player for Agnostic Front appears often in the mini interviews and the 2011 edition has a good piece by Breakdown’s Jeff Perlin. The bulk of the pictures focus on CBGB’s and it’s surroundings. If you look close at some of them you start to notice the little things like that band shirt you used to own or “that guy” who was at every show but you didn’t know who he was. For anyone who frequented CBGB’s during this time frame you are missing out if you don’t look into getting this. For fans of NYHC who may not have been around for this I can still see this book grabbing your attention as there is just too much here in the way of history to look past this gem of a book. Saw this on the books website for $16. Order through www.makingascenebook.com
CHRIS DAILY "EVERYBODY’S SCENE- THE STORY OF CONNECTICUT’S ANTHRAX CLUB" (Book published by Butter Goose Press 2009)
A book like this makes you step back and really appreciate all the work that went into a club that will never be duplicated. Brian and Shaun Sheridan were the founders of The Anthrax Club which started off in Stamford CT in 1982 with a move to a second Stamford location in 1983 and finally a move to Norwalk in 1986.
The club was almost everything kids into hardcore and punk needed and wanted out of a club up until it’s demise in 1990. An almost constant lineup of touring and local bands, owners who “got it” when it came to the scene and all it’s idiosyncrasies, and (in Norwalk) a great location right in between Boston and NYC off a major highway and in an industrial park hidden away from view to most.
The back stories here are amazing. A blue print for all that was right in this underground scene. There are tons, and I mean tons of photos, flyers, as well as insights from the many who were involved… from the sound guy, to the guy who made the flyers for the shows, the owners, the bands… you name it…200 plus pages in all. This club had a heart and a pulse and author Chris Daily brings it all out in this book.
Chapter 7 called “Changing the Makeup of a Scene” stands out and describes how the club and the scene in CT turned into a straight edge/youth crew hotbed with Youth of Today leading the charge in the mid to late 80’s. The club had it’s share of problems over it’s lifetime but the community always seemed to give back and knew it’s importance. Everything you ever needed to know about this club and then some is here including the last 12 pages which lists every show from the clubs beginning to it’s end. The amount of blood, sweat, and tears put into this club (as well as the book) is amazing and now the stories, the pictures, and everything else associated with it is sitting right here in this excellent tribute.
TOO MANY VOICES/SUPERTOUCH (Asbury Lanes, Asbury Park, NJ February 3, 2012)
I arrived at Asbury Lanes just in time to catch the first show from Too Many Voices. I recognized Andy from Kill Your Idols on vocals, Chris Daly from too-many-bands-to-list-here on drums and Scott Weingard on the bass. Considering they’ve been threatening to play a show for quite some time now, it’s no surprise that they had about 10 songs sounding really tight. Not that I’ve listened to Sleeper in about 20 years, but that’s kind of the vibe I got from them. Up tempo, modernized 7 Seconds type sound maybe. Considering the following of Kill Your Idols, and Andy’s voice sounding great, I can see this band going somewhere.
Ok… so… Supertouch were once upon a time my favorite band. I must have seen them 25 times from 1988 through 1994-ish. And the last couple times I saw them were not so great. But I was excited to see them now and was hoping for the best. Without much warning they started up the intro. No, not a new intro, but THE Supertouch intro. It took me about 30 seconds to figure out that they were ON. Biv’s guitar sounded great throughout the set, and the new rhythm section really had it going on. The bass player (sorry, don’t know who he is) sounded particularly good. I joked with my buddy standing next to me that this intro better lead into “Climbin’ Aboard”, not expecting them to actually play it (for some reason it was dropped from their sets back in the ‘90’s, and is arguably their best song). But, sure enough, right into “Climbin’ Aboard”. A couple people had that “no fucking way” look on their faces, and the first five seconds of that song was all it took to bring back thoughts of the Pipeline, Lismar Lounge and CB’s. You can’t deny the breakdown, and a few pairs of creaky limbs, mine included, were starting up lawnmowers and picking up change. “Just climb aboard…” I half expected to see Chaka’s foot connecting with my jaw it was so good. From there we got “Engine”, “Better”, “How Do You Feel?” (another favorite of mine), “What If?”, a few others off the LP and “Lost My Way” from the new 7” on Reaper Records. I can’t neglect to mention Mark delivering the goods with his trademark style and emotion. I always thought he was a great singer when he’d just let it go, and he seemed to have the fire as evidenced by him slamming the mic down at the conclusion of “Better”. They finished up with “Detectives” and “Searching For the Light”, which got the crowd in gear again. I was on the lookout for the Hawaiian Shirts (CB’s vets from the late ‘80’s know who I’m talking about here) out of sheer reflex during “Detectives”, but everyone was safe this time around. Maybe it’s the time gap talking, but I thought Supertouch were great in 2012. They always were better in the small venues, so those of you who might have been on the fence after the Black and Blue Bowl should hope the boys play some more shows like this one. It might just be enough to get me out of the house again.
– Brett Hardware
SILENCE EQUALS DEATH “RESURRECTION” EP (Scorpion Records, Released 2011)
Can’t judge a band by it’s cover fully applies in the case of New Jersey’s Silence Equals Death. Nothing about the packaging, band name, or title of this EP really stood out until I hit the play button. “Reparations” opens up this 4 song 14 minute EP and I am loving it instantly with it’s fast intro which leads into a song right outta 1988. Sound wise the bands Chain Of Strength and Vision come to mind when trying to describe their sound with a fast, clean style in the beginning of the first song and then the last 90 seconds kind of morphs into a newer chugga-chugga, more metallic style hardcore. This band has ex-members of In Search Of and Flat Earth Society which I know nothing about but makes me want to research them a little bit now. “Hero” is the third (and best) track and after a 90 second or so buildup intro you get smacked back into the 1988 time machine. The songs are super catchy with some awesome sing-a-long parts and at the same time Silence Equals Death keeps things fresh by blending in slower, heavier parts. I find it rare for a hardcore band of today to mesh in old and new styles together as well as Silence Equals Death does. The production is excellent, the songs super tight and this just comes off as if these guys are 10 year veterans with this project when in reality they are just over a year or so old. Listen for yourself as this is available as a total free-bee at www.yoursilenceisdeath.bandcamp.com.
Contact Info: Scorpion Records, 43 E. Clinton Ave., Tenafly, NJ 07670
TRAPPED UNDER ICE “BIG KISS GOODNIGHT”(Good Fight Music, Release Date October 11, 2011)
From that city with Charm who has brought us such bad asses as Ray Lewis, Next Step Up and Omar Little comes Trapped Under Ice and I would like to start off by thanking them for hi-jacking my IPod and basically putting most of my other music listening on hold for the past 2 weeks now. “Born To Die” opens things up followed by “Pleased To Meet You” and this one/two combo of the 2 best tracks on the CD is hard to recover from. Early on I found myself going back and replaying the first 2 tracks a few times before going on to the rest of the songs but found out quickly that everything here is a keeper. If the last minute or so of “Pleased To Meet You” doesn’t make you clench your fist and want to punch a wall out you might have to get someone to check if you still have a pulse. T.U.I. delivers straight up, heavy style hardcore and although not the most innovative band ever these songs are catchy and a vicious attack to your ear drums. I have read comparisons to Crown Of Thornz and to Vision of Disorder which I can hear a little bit of as well. Think heavy, think aggressive and singer Justice’s vocal style fits this music perfectly and compliments what the rest of the band is doing. Growling, gruff metal style vocals would have killed this for me but that is not what Justice is doing here, thank God. 13 songs in about 30 minutes with a bonus track at the very end called “Believe” which sounds like the return of 2 Live Crew. Overall….big…rough…and very tough and enough twists and turns to make this a must have. . HOMERUN.
BACKTRACK “DARKER HALF” CD (Reaper Records, Release Date October 15, 2011)
I wanted to like this, I tried to like this, but in the end it wasn’t to be. Backtrack from Long Island are not a bad band by any stretch as they obviously know how to play, I like the vocal style and the production on this CD is more than adequate. There are a total of 23 songs here in all and outside of a few eyebrow raises here and there the CD comes across almost as one long song. The CD consists of 12 new songs, the “Deal With The Devil” 7” and their ’08 demo. Songs titled “The Roots Of Evil”, “Deal With The Devil”, and “Soul Sucker” combined with the cover artwork make me scratch my head and ask if this is really a hardcore band or the new Exodus record. The band possesses some elements of more new school hardcore but if you gave me this as a blank CD with no photos, or other information I would put this more in the category of a late ‘80s thrash band which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I just wish Backtrack would have thrown in some more diversity within their song structures. I have seen this band play live awhile ago and I remember them giving out their demos for free and they seem to be working pretty hard out there but I can’t get behind this and tell you I’m loving it without lying to you.
NAYSAYER “LAID TO REST” CD (Reaper Records, Release Date September 13, 2011)
Following up two EP’s (“No Remorse in ’09, and “Down But Not Out” in 2011) Richmond VA’s Naysayer now drops an 11 song metal/core bomb on your ass. “Laid To Rest” brings you crazy heavy riffs, gruff and raw vocals and definitely a trip to the metal side of the hardcore genre. Not my style but I know there are plenty of you out there that will eat this up and ask for more. Worth noting that the recording on this captures the bands sound very well and… oh yeah… nice lyrics on “Labeled”…just saying. Thumbs down on the packaging with a cardboard fold over case with just lyrics, a thank you list, and 1 band photo on the back cover.
BROLOAF “CHAMPIONS ON PARADE” CD (Stomping Ground Records, Released 2011)
If you are like me right about now you are asking yourself “what the fuck is a Broloaf?” The answer is a Phoenix area band that lets it all hang out on their debut full length titled “Champions On Parade”. Think fun, think Murphy’s Law, think songs titled “Jock Juice”, “I’d Fuck Me”, “Bro, Don’t Call Me Bro”, “Haze Patrol” and “Beer Bong”. The band centers on themes like jocks, college, drinking, getting laid, and basically being an animal house like hardcore band. From what I have read the live version of Broloaf is a spectacle to behold with cheerleaders, referees, and nerds all gracing the stage and mayhem usually ensues but all we have to go by here is this 37 minute studio full length. The title track kicks things off and it is obvious immediately that Broloaf is not a gimmick as these dudes can really bring it with fast tempo hardcore/punk tunes, melodic in some spots and catchy all the way through. The in between, and in song sound bites/clips compliment the entire experience and in the end you should laugh, you should sing-a-long, and you may cry….You may pick up some new unwanted habits. Listening to “Champions On Parade” won’t make you any smarter or useful to society but at least you had a great time doing so and isn’t that why were listening to this music in the first place?
TRUTH IN NEEDLES “TURNING GRAY BLACK” CD (Pride Over Pain Records, Released 2011)
NY’s Truth In Needles delivers 12 straight forward, pissed off and angry hardcore tunes on this 25 minute release. The bands sound and style is formidable, but at the same time is also a little too basic and should incorporate some more diversity within the song structures. After a few songs I am feeling like I am hearing the same stuff repeated again and again. If “Turning Gray Black” was my first experience with a hardcore band I would probably be knocking shit over and going bat shit crazy while listening to this but as it stands this effort just gets by when it should be raising the bar. I am interested to see where this band goes from here as they obviously have their stuff together and with a few tweaks could be a band to watch out for. Contact them at: NYHC@truthinneedles.com