DISSENT, YEAR OF THE KNIFE, JESUS PIECE, DOUBLE DEALER, DEAD & BURIED, PUNISHMENT, LIFELESS @ THE HARMONY GRANGE, WILMINGTON, DE AUGUST 23, 2015
WRITTEN BY: JOSH DERR. PHOTOS BY: JOSH DERR & ANNE SPINA
If you are looking for a gossip article, this is not it. I have my thoughts on the situation but will cast no aspersions here. This article is about the community we are all a part of getting behind someone in their time of need and doing the right thing by helping out. All rumor, speculation, and finger pointing aside, Tom Alderson was laid up in the hospital as the result of being horribly beaten at a show. In the following days, the call to raise money in order to help with mounting medical costs went out. The hardcore scene answered that call. Benefits for Tom began getting organized almost immediately, with shows from Jersey down to Florida. Social media feeds filled with well wishes for Tom and his family coming in from across the world, and links to the GoFundMe, which currently sits just shy of $30,000 have been shared thousands of times! If anyone is ever wondering what the hardcore scene is capable of, just take a second and think about that.
I was fortunate enough to get to the benefit show for Tom at The Harmony Grange this past weekend in his home state of Delaware. I got to the venue while the first band, Dissent, was setting up, so I spent a few minutes outside talking to friends and acquaintances before heading inside to buy some raffle tickets. Once Dissent started playing, they set it off with an energy that got everyone inside, loose, and moving around. With the reason we were all there in the forefront of everybody's mind, Dissent certainly played with a purpose, and the kids responded.
The next band up was Year of the Knife, a local DE straight edge band who came out with the intent to destroy. They did just that. YOTK definitely kept the momentum of the show moving right along with a fury that opened the floor up and brought the mosh to the benefit.
Following YOTK was Philly's Jesus Piece. They came out and played with unrelenting intensity, they left it all on the stage. Heavy vocals backed by furious strings and drums were enough to clear the floor and keep the crowd moving. If you haven't heard them, I suggest you get on that.
JESUS PIECE @ The Harmony Grange. Photo by: Anne Spina
Double Dealer played next. A Delaware hardcore staple, Double Dealer came out strong and the crowd reacted appropriately, with pile-ons, and grabbing the mic for the first time of the night. Because they were sharing a slot on the show with Dead and Buried, Double Dealer's set was a short one. I'm sure that I'm not the only one who was hoping for one or two more.
With the heat inside rising, Dead and Buried took the stage. Although not the original lineup, they crushed the songs and reminded everyone why we were there. Heavy breakdowns punctuated their message as they moved through what could have been their last show ever.
PUNISHMENT @ The Harmony Grange. Photo by: Anne Spina
Punishment played second to last. First breakdown of the set the crowd was told “mosh or we go home.” They didn't have to leave. It had been a few years or more since the last time I saw Punishment play, and having borrowed some members from Lifeless, they brought the fury. Their frontman, Joe McKay, the man behind the curtain at This Is Hardcore, took time to explain the songs, make jokes, and explain how the internet has created a social rift in the scene, where we don't interact with each other in real life, but will follow each other online. The heavy handed brand of hardcore Punishment presents was a solid build to the closing band, Lifeless. The video of Punishment's set is now up on hate5six.com for your viewing pleasure.
The final band to play the benefit was Lifeless. They were one of the first bands I saw to publicly take issue with the events that unfolded which led to this benefit, and they played with a level of intensity that showed they were there for a reason. Although they had to stop playing twice to address an issue on the dance floor, they moved on and did an excellent job keeping the focus on the show and the benefit, encouraging show goers to purchase raffle tickets and merch to raise money for Tom's hospital bills. Lifeless always plays with ferocity, and with the energy in the Harmony Grange it felt more electric than usual.
The show ended on the highest note possible, Tom came on stage for a few seconds to see first hand the love and support he has from the scene that brings us all together. The fact that we had to attend a benefit show to raise money for hospital bills because someone got beat at a show sucks. The fact that there was a benefit to raise that money is amazing. Big shout out to Madi Matthews for putting the show together, anyone who donated to the raffles, and everyone who was there.
HOT BLOOD "OVERCOME PART 2"
(Basement Records, Release Date September 4, 2015)
"Overcome Part 2" is the latest installment of "Overcome" releases from NJ's Hot Blood. “Part 1” came out in April of this year and although only 7 minutes long really caught my attention with their balls out almost perfect blend of punk rock meets hardcore. “Part 2” is much of the same although this one gives us only another 4 minutes of new music, which I have to admit is a bit of a drawback as it is basically over before you really settle in. Piece it together though with their previous edition and you just might be on to something though. Hot Blood keeps things simple with their style. They are not the next overly innovative band that is going to rewrite the punk rock history books but their aggression and passion shine through the speakers making them a breath of fresh air and I bet they rip live as well. To sum it up they are genuine and you feel it. "Burn Down The Church", "Signs Of A Struggle" and "Chemical Solution" are the 3 tracks that range from about a minute to a minute and a half leaving you dizzy after each one. I really like what these guys are doing and hope more people out there take notice. There are a lot of bands that are coming along these days with much in the way of hype that don’t really live up to it. Give me some Hot Blood and a 6 pack and I’m good to go.
STRIFE “INCISION” EP
(War Records, Release Date, September 4, 2015)
Let's set things straight from the start. STRIFE was and probably still is one of my favorite hardcore bands. I grew up with records like “One Truth” and “In This Defiance” and I even enjoyed “Angermeans”, even though I always felt that something was missing out of that record. Strife's metallic hardcore always made me smash everything in my way, but one thing that separated Strife (and Earth Crisis and a bunch more of bands I couldn't stop listening to back in the day) was the fact that they were so outspoken concerning the straight edge movement. I could definitely say that Strife was one of the bands that pushed me to the edge, so you can understand how disappointed I was when Strife wasn't straight edge anymore… Fast forward years and years later… Strife got back with “Witness A Rebirth”, a record I REALLY liked, a record that made me forget that Strife “betrayed” me ethically speaking… haha!
So, enough with the prologue… When Chris asked me to review Strife's new record before it was even out, I couldn't resist. “Incision” includes 4 songs of heavier than heavy metallic hardcore, produced by Nick Jett (Terror's drummer and top producer for a ton of hardcore bands) and released by Andrew Kline's (Strife's guitarist and driving force) new label called WAR Records.
Strife recruited their old time friend, who also played on “Witness A Rebirth”, Igor Cavalera (of Sepultura/Cavalera Conspiracy fame) to play the drums, while they also invited Aaron Melnick from Integrity and In Cold Blood and Human Furnace from Ringworm for guest appearances. The new record includes 3 brand new songs plus a cover of Black Flag's “Police Story”. The interesting thing here is the 3 new songs that sound totally like Cleveland/ Holy Terror hardcore style and bands like Integrity and Ringworm (members of which are featured as guests, as I stated above) but with this Strife uniqueness thrown into the mix; you know the deal, dark and heavy metallic hardcore at its best. All in all this a great record and I wish there were more new songs inside, but I will patiently wait till Strife's next full length album. I'm glad to say that despite all the changes this band still makes me want to smash everything in my way... “Incision” will officially be released on September 4th.
CROWNED KINGS “FORKED ROAD”
(Released July, 2015)
Heavyweights Crowned Kings from Melbourne Australia have released their follow up record from 2012's "Wise Guy" release titled "Forked Road“. It's no surprise that this album comes correct with 12 tracks of hard hitting hardcore in the likes of Sworn Enemy, Terror, Madball, Sick Of It All, overloaded with old school metal influenced riffage that cuts right through you. Completely filled with angst and spirit. Crowned Kings aren't trying to reinvent the wheel here; keeping it simple, hard, fast, energetic, to the point and in your face is what they do.
For any person of the glory days of heavy hardcore, “Forked Road” is an album that sticks to the roots of where it all started, blending tons on NYHC Influences perfectly with Slayer style riffage into a Madball/Merauder style of song writing, slamming you with pure tough bottom heavy hardcore. “Forked Road” is a very solid album chock-full of breakdowns mixed with beefy/groovy chord progressions while keeping it true with their lyrical content and overall vocal style; this release will surely attract new fans of heavy hardcore as well as keeping a smile on the faces of the old heads. As mentioned above, Crowned Kings by no means are trying to reinvent the wheel. The obvious objective here was to produce a brutal heavy hardcore album that's from the heart, (as it should be) and without any question they did just that. This release might leave one pondering what other similar bands aren't doing correctly, completely crushing the competition with “Forked Road” in my opinion. This is a must have, and highly recommended! You can find them all over… try their Bandcamp and Facebook pages as well as the 10-54 Australian Hardcore and Metal page.
-Alex "OLS" Karp
WALK PROUD “TOO MUCH IS NEVER ENOUGH”
(Know Records, Released June, 2015)
I had to do a double take on this one. I saw the name Walk Proud and immediately thought some stupid kids didn't do their homework again and went and named their band without giving a thought or a shit about whether that name had already been used by a band that was way better than any shit they are attempting to play. This actually happens quite a bit. Then I kept reading and low and behold, it's THE Walk Proud from Southern California. A band that in my humbled asinine opinion, never got the proper exposure and respect they deserved. Their first EP "Be Yourself" on New Age Records and their first LP “RIP” on New Beginnings Records were both in heavy rotation on my turntable back in my salad days of the late 80's early 90's. Psyched about this.......I am. I did some intraweb sleuthing and had to go no further than the incredibly impressive IN EFFECT HARDCORE Website to find an interview with the band that covers what's been going on since. Please check it out HERE:
It appears as though it is the original guys who at this point in their lives are a tad bit more free to visit some old haunts and stomping grounds and to tread some familiar territory without life standing in the way. Being of a certain age, I can relate to where they are at, and I am amped that they are again creating music. They did release a few jams on a 4-way split in 2003 after a series of reunion shows got the juices flowin, but it sort of sputtered out again....life you know.... it has a funny way of keeping your dance card full.
So here we go 13 new songs to get you on the dancefloor or shredding it up at the skate park....or driving a truck...or stocking shelves. The first song is called "Crazy" and clocks in at 2:05. The quick drum and guitar intro grabs you, the only thing missing is Lalo doing his best Cappo and saying "WE'RE BACK!"...and he should have...seriously...it woulda sounded dope right there. So you get a raging back and forth hardcore tune. The boys.....uh, I mean, MEN, have not missed a step. Excellent guitar shredding, and the band is sounding great. Song 2 "Regret" @ 2:41, comes complete with Walk Proud's signature lo-fi vocal stylings and a nice "Whoah-oh-oh-oh" backing vocals. Some frenetic bass work on this one, and when you think you have it figure out the band changes pace and then changes again into a sweet guitar solo. "Damage" clocking in a 1:29 is a quick rocker that has a great beat that will have you boppin along until it steps on the gas and floors it. A different type of tune and really good. The 4th song is "Reverbed" @ 2:37. This one has dive bombs and sweet pick harmonics.......not to mention the gang vocals. This is the driving tune and one of my favorites on the album. "Pride" comes in at 1:46 and is a short punky tune on the snotty side of things. A punky-snotty tune. It's all about pride man, and at this point I think the guys should be proud of what they are doing here. They aren't reinventing the wheel but they are showing you some dope ass rims."Stand Up" is next @ 1:33. Another short blast of hardcore but in that Walk Proud shredding way. They have a certain sound, I don't know if it's Southern Cali, the Pacific Ocean, what they had for breakfast, but they certainly have their own dirty shred thing going on. They always had it, hopefully this time with the intraweb and such more people will be able to enjoy it.
"Ailment" 2:51 has a horror core"ish" type of intro which leads into a bass line and then the song takes off running. "Too much is never enough!" Lalo spits in desperation and then the song just stops. Good shit. A sweet bass line starts off the 3:03 epic, "Together". I can see this as one of those hardcore tunes in the vein of Vision's "Close Minded" or Sick Of It All's "Step Down". A song that becomes a corner stone or an identifier. I guess you might call it an anthem. Hopefully this song will have you doing the lawnmower, or windmill, or pizza maker. "Time in Hell" is next @ 2:34.This one has a Poison Idea vibe to my ears, and that is ALWAYS a good thing. Another song with tight licks, shredding, solos, and just the right amount of flare. Ok... flare may be a stretch, but I couldn't think of anything. Song ten is "Represent" running 2:39. This is a quick tempo chugger. A bit different than the other tunes, but this song has one of those fantastic NYHC solo's I am so fond of, that I mentioned in a different review. I think this one is my favorite based on the number of run-throughs I gave it. Dig the harmonics. Dig the groove. REPRESENT! "My Life" is a svelte 1:53. This is a straight stomping hardcore punk song. This one also has the sweet guitar solo. "It's not always just about me"... indeed. The last two offerings are "Categorized" @ 1:42 and "Tormented Children @ 1:48. The former is your Walk Proud statement song. This is as political as they get. This one stomps along with some great drum work that kinda changes the flow. This one (and a few others on here) have a Bloody Sods drive to them in the guitar work. Who are the Bloody Sods? Well pick up In Effect Zine #11 OR #12, yeah the one that was printed, and read my review of their LP, then track down that LP and familiarize yourself punk. The latter song starts with an odd guitar strum, but quickly starts pounding and stomping in that awesome angry hardcore way. It is capped off with yet another amazing solo, with just the right amount of echo and the refrain "tormented children". And that's all she wrote.
I have to admit I had some doubts about this record, but hardcore is on a roll right now, especially some of these older bands putting out some solid slabs. Walk Proud should do just that, walk proud, because the dudes put out a really good LP. 13 songs in about 28 minutes. If I was going to nitpick, I'd say why not save a couple three songs for an EP. That being said, none of the songs here lag or suck, so you are getting a quality product, it's just that in today’s ADD World, you don't need as much. Lalo sounds great with his muddy growl and Jim keeps a killer beat. Carlos sounds like a kid playing that bass, sometimes at breakneck speeds, and Karl and Steve shred up and down this release. I don't know who is who, but overall, the guitar work, really stands out on this release...........as guitar work normally does when it is done well, certainly not a knock on the rest of the band. Check out the latest Walk Proud bitches. I just listened to it several times and it got me all re-psyched on the band. Now I'm gonna drop on "Be Yourself" and run around the house and scare the kids.
AGGRESSIVE RESPONSE “SELF DESTROYER” LP
(Wax Deli Records, Released August, 2015)
Oi! Oi! Oi!...Oy Vey! I kid. But seriously folks, Oi-tinged hardcore punk seems to be making a very subtle, very cool comeback in the mid Twenty-teens; (see: Freedom from Detroit holdin’ it down for the youngins). In this vein, we have Aggressive Response from the great NY state capital city of Albany! Aggressive Response has apparently been in existence since 2012, and I gotta tell ‘ya I’m a bit disappointed in myself that me reviewing Self Destroyer (this record) is the first I’m hearing from them. These guys rip! And manage to do something that few bands do well: Make street rock interesting. Oi! Is a pretty difficult genre to do well (read: make not boring), most bands that go for the street rock angle tend to be throwbacks to the English bands, resulting in boring repetitive sing-songy choruses about drinking pints and shining boots. Yawn! Not here man! Self Destroyer is a relentless banger from top to bottom. A slow ramp up from the first track, which then leads to 20 minutes of unwavering, fast songs that manage to be catchy and memorable, but don’t overstay their welcome. The fast songs are a refreshing break from standard mosh-core fare, which also seems to be making a comeback recently. The singer sounds like a cross between Steve Clark of 86 Mentality, and a more cohesive John Brannon of Negative Approach fame. The release of this record seems to be followed by a bevy of upcoming gigs as revealed on their Facebook. If AR come through your area I would 100% recommend checking them out just based on the performance on “Self Destroyer” alone. A brief aside having nothing to do with the music, I just want to say how much I also appreciate the album artwork on this record. This is a thing I’ve appreciated pretty much from me first getting into music. Something about the super busy, detailed hand drawn album art, the concept is as enthralling as the record is good. It brings to mind NYHC classics boasting the stunningly fascinating artwork of Sean Taggart ala Agnostic Front, The Crumbsuckers etc. Sick artwork, killer songs, impressively hooky with a short run time, NYHC, all in all a fantastic offering. 7 thumbs up!
RELAVANT ANGER “2015 EP”
(Released June, 2015)
Plunging the more putrid depths of music is a joyful thing when you find the right well. Hell, I’m still getting over the amazement of every power violence album I’ve ever heard. With that said, it’s a thrill to hear that Relevant Anger’s debut EP has that distinct grindcore grittiness overriding any of the production issues the EP suffers from, and the power of the vocalist’s shouts override the overriding. I mean, don’t you just wanna fuck those decibels? The title track is full of them.
This EP has every playful grindcore trait, from the twelve seconds that make up “It’s A Brick” to the twelve thousand snare-hits a minute you hear in ear-smashers like “For Better Or Worse” and “Criminal World”. If you’re a fan of bands like Cave State, this is an up-and-comer to watch. That said, it doesn’t lack the hardcore edge of bands such as Forfeit. That angry, ranty atmosphere is more prominent than the “holy-shit-I’m-losing-my-shit” vibes you’ll find littered over Ultra//Negative’s vinyl releases.
For those of you who crave the dark, heavy speedfests, Relevant Anger are a band you’ll get a kick out of, and while there are moments when the instruments don’t quite gel – the drums and riffs at the more manic moments are so spontaneous that they sometimes go beyond control of even the band it seems – the spirit is there and not to mention, volume. Come here, decibels, I’m gonna go all Barry White on ‘ya.
TOO MANY VOICES, SICK OF TALK,
KILL YOUR IDOLS @ Amityville Music Hall, Amityville, NY August 14, 2015
Regret were a late scratch making Too Many Voices the opener here. TMV dropped their debut full length a few weeks back and if you scroll down on this page you will see how much I love it. They don’t have a mosh heavy type of style and it can sometimes be easy to judge a band in a less than positive light if the crowd is not going bananas for the majority of a set. To that I say poo poo. What I did see was the majority of the small crowd move up and get into their set although it being more in a head nodding type of way. Songs were tight and we got 2 new ones not on the new album which to me shows these guys are really putting some work in behind the scenes. Their ex-singer Andy West from Kill Your Idols jumped up on stage to close out their set with "Holding On Like Never Before".
Sick Of Talk were up next and busted into the Cro-Mags' "We Gotta Know" intro... great start... how could you not get into that? This was a reunion for SOT, a local LI band that had their heyday in the mid 2000's. Their sound is a mix of NYHC type MOSH mixed with some 10,000 mph blast beats making for an interesting mix. Some of it I liked, some was just ok. I liked their singer and his stage presence... especially between songs where he seemed real comfortable talking to the crowd and just basically chilling like you were in the park drinking some beers with the guy. Dude was relaxed and it made their set more enjoyable. Reunions these days never seem to be a one and done so let's see what lies ahead for Sick Of Talk.
This show was the pre-show for the Today's Mix Tape Festival and the first of back to back nights on Long Island for hometown favs Kill Your Idols. (Saturday night’s show was further out east at The Emporium in Patchogue and headlined by The Movielife). KYI made their return 2 years back in 2013 at the BNB Bowl and since then have played shows here and there but nothing on a consistent basis. The fact that they have not made any official announcements on their future going forward kind of brought some more urgency to get out and get my ass to this show.
KILL YOUR IDOLS AT AMH 8/14/15. PHOTO BY: ERIC MONTANA @ERICMONTANAPHOTO
They started off with the heaviest of the heavy in "Black Sabbath" by.... Black Sabbath. Nice intro that was the start of an hour long set of straight forward exactly what you would expect Kill Your Idols. Their energy level from start to finish is amazing with the band going all out with not much in the way of long winded breaks or breathers in between songs. The crowd didn’t let up either. Things that stood out were Ron Grimaldi from Deathcycle/Sonic Poison getting up to do a couple of songs including his part in "The Path" from their "12 Inch EP" or the "4 3/4 Inch" CD depending on what your format of choice is. Dude is INTENSE when he gets the mic in his hands. There was also their rendition of the Crumbsuckers classic "Shits Creek" and as things wound down towards the end we got "Epilogue" and "Can't Take It Away" which are two of my favorite KYI tracks. Their absolute raw, no thrills, "take us as we are" approach and style still resonates today as they are the epitome of what a hardcore band should be in my book. I am not a super fan... I don't own every one of their releases and I don't know all their lyrics but damn seeing them is still a great way to spend a Friday night. Can't forget to mention the Rollin Cubans food truck that was out back behind AMH as well. This show had no re-entry but AMH had a guy stationed at the back area to let you back in after you grabbed some grub from the truck which was literally parked up against the back fence. I'm not ashamed to say my midnight empenadas were my second go around with the Rollin Cubans in less than a 12 hour period. Look for 'em on Facebook and around Long Island. Tell them In Effect sent ya! -CW
MIZERY "SURVIVE THE VIBE LIVE" CASSETTE
(Flatspot Records, Released August, 2015)
Brilliant idea here with a nice go between before Mizery puts out their debut full length with Flatspot Records in early 2016. We get 6 live tracks here from Mizery's RainFest set in Seattle back in May. The fact that this is a cassette release will cause some moans and groans from the peanut gallery but not to worry citizens of Earth as this is also available through most of the usual digi-download spots like i-Tunes and the like (including Flatspot who released this… find the link at the end of this review). Everything except the first track "Absolute Intro/Absolute Light" is off of their "Survive The Vibe" EP which came out last September. With the amount of songs bands leak before new releases these days it would have been nice to sneak a couple of new ones in here but that's just a minor complaint on what is, on a whole a very solid live recording. Up till this I was on the fence about Mizery but I have been won over. "Seattle. ..get to steppin" shouts frontman Jose as they belt out the opening intro. The short between song chatter shows us a side of the band which you rarely see these days on official releases. With the work of sites like Hate 5 Six and everyone else riding behind them there doesn't seem to be a big outcry for live hardcore albums making this a unique find. Mizery's sound stems somewhat from their listed influences which includes the Cro-Mags, Leeway and Crown Of Thornz. They have a heavy sound but pop in these bouncy rhythms that definitely give them a fresh sound. I can see people who might be into Cruel Hand's "The Negatives" getting into this as well. I really like the guitar work Mizery shows here as they got some real catchy riffs and there are some nice leads thrown in to boot. For someone who is not a big fan of live recordings I gotta give this short recording it's due and say I'm now on board and look forward to that new Mizery full length coming around hopefully sooner than later in 2016.
FORCED ORDER “VANISHED CRUSADE” LP
(Revelation Records, Released August, 2015)
After two fantastic 7”s from the Southern California 5-piece this 12” slab of wax was much anticipated. It does not disappoint. If you haven’t heard Forced Order yet, hope you enjoyed your year-long slumber because the only way you could have possibly slept on them is if you've literally been in a coma. But if you haven’t, this band is made up of dudes from Harness, Soul Search, Twitching Tongues, Fury and other great bands from the area.
The internet tells me Taylor Young recorded this. He’s done some great sounding stuff. I’m not sure if he recorded their previous records, but this sounds pretty similar to the “Retribution” 7” which is a good thing, because that 7” rips and sounds awesome, but this LP is definitely a bit more crisp. It sounds great. Musically, this is exactly what you’ve come to expect from Forced Order. Hard as nails, angry as hell, with short and sweet songs that don’t beat around the bush… they just beat your ass. I love Nic’s voice. He sounds like he’s literally spitting the lyrics, they’re so pissed.
Again, if you haven’t heard them, Forced Order is heavily influenced by Cleveland hardcore. They sound like a modern Confront, or In Cold Blood. And there’s definitely some Integrity style Egyptian-sounding guitar solos thrown in for good measure. It’s really dark and heavy. Not really sure about the lyrical content, but the music is pretty apocalyptic sounding. If you’re a fan of fast, pissed-off hardcore with heavy breakdowns and huge gang backup vocals that sound like no less than 50 people barking them, make sure you check this out. And see Forced Order when they roll through your town. They’re awesome live too.
BLISTERED “THE POISON OF SELF CONFINEMENT” LP
(6131 Records, Release Date August 21, 2015)
You know those albums you listen to that cause sporadic head banging? Well, this is one of those albums that will have you moshing in the middle of the sidewalk while you are walking the dog. Trust me, my neighbors must think I'm nuts. Blistered come out of the gate swinging with “The Poison Of Self Confinement”. The first minute of their new full length album opens with the ferocity their fans have come to expect, and what follows solidifies their place as one of hardcore's new mainstay bands.
Last we heard from Blistered was their 2014 release “Soul Erosion” which showcased their raw talent and gave many their first look at the band. 2015's “The Poison Of Self Confinement” is a solid follow up, as the band has certainly grown with a tighter and more well rounded sound. Not for a number of years have we seen a band champion the sometimes enigmatic genre of metalcore as proudly or as well as this Tampa, FL based quintet. Rolling breakdowns and precise guitar riffs lead into fast breaks that let you know Blistered came to play. There has always been a characteristic and defining, almost sludge-y sound to many of the metal bands that come from the former Confederate states. Being that Blistered are one of a few bands helping to reclaim a name for the “forgotten panhandle” that is their home state, it is no surprise that you can hear the swampy Florida influence in this record on tracks such as “The Illusion Of Destiny” and “Death At Heaven's Doorstep.” In short, Blistered deliver a kill shot of metalcore accompanied by vocals that make my throat hurt without even opening my mouth. If you haven't heard them yet, check their Bandcamp, you have no excuse.
With a clear direction and the right mix of old school influence and new school style, this album is a definite must-listen for anyone looking for a new favorite band just in time for back to school. Know your history fun fact: Blistered take their name from a Strife song title. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle!!
TOO MANY VOICES "SOUTH OF SUNRISE"
(Released July, 2015)
Too Many Voices are a 4 piece melodic hardcore outfit based out of Long Island, NY. Having originally formed in mid-2010 it has been a long uphill climb to finally get this debut 12 song full length out of the box. Stumbling blocks seemed to be rooted in lineup changes with some health issues mixed in as well but TMV seems to have taken care of their woes. The car is tuned up, the tank is full and they look ready to roll as they head into their 5th year in existence.
"Body And Soul" (which made its debut on this site a few weeks back) kicks things off and is much like opening up your house windows on that first nice warm day in the spring. Their sound is crisp, the vocals clear as day as "Can I Say" era Dag Nasty immediately comes to mind. "Suns" and "Sea And Earth" are tracks two and three respectively and keep that positive vibe going as I hear a band that would fit in perfectly opening up for the likes of say Grey Area or even H2O. "Voices" keeps that posi-feel moving along while "Holding On Like Never Before" shows the bands soul both lyrically and musically and is clearly the best track of the bunch. This early cluster of keeper tracks won me over when I got this with later tracks like "Out Of Tune", "Internal Faction" and "Shine" proving that you don't necessarily have to play a big, rough and tough sound to make an impact while still staying "hardcore". Although a lot of "South Of Sunrise" sticks to a melodic formula there are definite hints of those NYHC roots that their members share from previous bands over the years. A couple of tracks do show their teeth and there is some good 'ol mosh introduced as well, most notably on "Outdated". Having kept an eye on TMV the last few years I already knew they were a good band and their debut full length solidifies that and actually went well beyond my expectations. Highly recommended to those who think that every new hardcore album that comes out these days sounds exactly the same... and I know a few of you that do! Available digitally for now with vinyl on the way in November.
SAND IN THE FACE "MUSIC MADE TO RIOT: NEW JERSEY HARDCORE 1982-1983"
(Mad At The World Records)
A nice re-issue from Mad At The World Records containing a bunch of early tracks from one of the earliest of NJ's hardcore bands. I'm not gonna front and say I knew these guys back in the day when me and Vinnie Stigma invented hardcore in our shared apartment on the Lower East Side of NYC... but in all honesty I don't think I had ever heard of Sand In The Face before this. SITF comes at us from a time where hardcore was never confused with heavy metal with the guitars having a very light and almost tinny type of sound that was prevalent back then... think early Urban Waste & Antidote as similar examples. There are 18 songs here running a little over 20 minutes in running time. Many times on these releases that contain rare tracks or hard to find tracks it seems to be for a reason... sometimes because the tracks weren't that great to start with but in this case I'm actually digging the SITF sound and some of these songs have sunk in after only a few listens. Some nuggets of hardcore trivia/factoids include that this was recorded in Boonton, New Jersey's Mix-O-Lydian Studios where the Misfits recorded "Walk Among Us" a short time earlier. Also that Mike from Judge went to the same high school as these guys and inspired him to get into playing in a band. They played some A7 and CBGB gigs as well so you know this bands history goes way back having played at A7. Overall a nice release. I'm not gonna say this is THE album that is going to make your collection the coolest on the block but definitely look into it. I only got a download but the actual vinyl (which is limited to 600) comes with extensive liner notes from their bass player Peter "Aaron" Negele making this a nice collectible. Ordering info below.
TERROR “THE TWENTY FIFTH HOUR” LP
(Victory Records, Release Date August 7, 2015)
I used to be a part of Malfunction Records until it became part of the Deathwish family. If you are familiar with Malfunction you know we had a soft spot for California Hardcore and maybe even a bit more for LA Hardcore. One of us even moved out there he liked it so much...what up Tru! So I have been a fan of Terror since their inception. I must admit over the years I was not a huge fan of some of their output here and there, although I'd see them live whenever I got the chance. I would do that just to hear Scott Vogel's stage banter alone. One of the top banter men and a great front man as well. He has that ability to get the crowd going and has a great in-sink-erator (Google it),core voice. I wasn't altogether thrilled when I heard they signed with Victory for "Live By The Code", mostly because I am an old school knucklehead and just the mention of the name for some reason, warranted or not, makes me cringe. I gave Terror the benefit of the doubt though, and they helped me re-learn that Victory is not such a bad word. "The Twenty Fifth Hour" is their second full-length offering on the label. I was a bit scared when I saw 14 songs offered on this platter, BUT!!!! this baby clocks in at just under 23 minutes… the way a hardcore record should be. I've read some reviews that take a bit of an issue with the brevity of the songs, but Terror proves again that they are a hardcore band through and through and they know not to linger too long........ Stick and move baby, stick and move. So let's do this. 13 plus years now Terror, can you still deliver?
The LP opens up with the title track "The Twenty Fifth Hour", but this track is more of an intro/track hybrid in that it has an excellent riff worthy of any intro, but then a short burst of lyrics, a kind of "welcome" to the 25th hour if you will. OK, you have my attention Terror, what ya got?
The LP then serves up the one-two punch of "No Time For Fools" 1:34, a galloping hardcore juggernaut that suddenly stops and changes direction a bit, slowing the pace and confronting the "fools" who try to bottle the spirit of hardcore, and then "Bad Signs" 1:12, which continues the slower style but in short order brings on the speed. "The dirty deeds keep calling me. The bad signs never kept me away", I am sure there are many of us who can relate to those sentiments as we often fail to heed the warnings. These songs complete a circle in my warped head, and so far I am digging the new Terror. I'm feeling it, as it were. "Feed The Rats" is the fourth song and a "reality check" as Scott states in the opening salvo. This is a straight hardcore bruiser, the instruments working together in perfect punishment, fast then slow then fast then slow, 1:08 BOOM, take that all you takers. Try giving once in a while.
It is break time as song 5, "The Solution" 1:52, starts off with an audio clip and the subject matter here is no light fair. This one is about the cycle of violence and how it needs to be broken or it is simply put on repeat. The music that accompanies this is as brutal as the subject matter. It is tight and hard and full of pain. The ironic bit is this is the first song so far where I can picture unaware macho knuckleheads using the hard as nails breakdown as an excuse to flex in the pit. Let's hope they can read and comprehend what is being said here, and yes, go out there and mosh the shit out each other, but just because your dad punched you, don't go and sucker punch the kid in the Atom and His Package t-shirt and throw the backwards elbow at the kid in the Atreyu shorts.... but I digress.
Track 6 is one of my favorites. "Blinded By The Lights" 2:28 is the longest song on offer here. Excellent guitar riffage, bass work, and of course the drumming of the world traveling rhythm maestro is spot on. Relationships are hit and miss, sometimes you think ya know a punk, but then you find out you never did. We all learn this shit unfortunately. This song builds it up and then dismantles it. You'll know when you hear it. Next up is the "Trust No Face" 1:05, featuring the guest vocals of No Warning's, Ben Cook. Nice fast tune with a great dancefloor chug-a-long. You can't trust anyone these days so trust yourself. "Why" 1:37, is your pre-requisite, clear the hardcore room of jackasses and their jackassery. Another of my favorites offered here. I love the intro which gives me a bit of an OBHC Powerhouse kinda vibe. The song begs WHY??????????? I don't know Scott, I don't know.
"Mind At War" 1:31, is the 9th track. Here is another song many of us can relate to. We are trapped in the war in our own heads most of the time. This tune starts with a quick drum beat and takes off racing...like my thoughts.... make it stop! I think I should try some TM....for real. I enjoyed the guitar solo in the middle which took me back to the old school NYHC days, and no it's not some blistering fret work thing...you'll know exactly what I mean when you hear it...that is if you know, you know? "Snap" 1:15, is another ripper concerning personal things that Scott has gone through. It is a solid and tight tune, with a cool guitar escalation at the end which again seemed a nod at the old days. A sweet bass riff kicks off "Sick and Tired" 1:08. This has that back and forth hardcore feel which leads into a galloping riff. This is another shot at the douchchips in the scene that really don't know what it is about and use it for the wrong reasons.
This leads into the final three songs on the LP, and the album has flown by. "Life Goes On" 2:22, starts with another audio clip and then launches into a unique riff which is accompanied by a long violent scream Scott produced somewhere between his throat and the 4th level of hell, which, coincidentally, is precisely where many relationships reside....and wouldn't ya know?, that's precisely what this song is about. You gotta know when to cut and run. It is an insanely hard thing, like the song. Then...HOLD THE PRESSES!!!, what is this??? What?? Wait...... What is this song 13?? "Both of You" 2:07, it starts off confused then gets as clean and precise as the sentiments it is bringing. This is not the subject matter I expect from Terror. I had to look this up to make sure, and this is, as Scott has stated, the most personal song he has written. This is as close as you are gonna get to an emo song from Terror. This song is heartbreaking, beautiful, hard as stone and cold as ice. Thanks for sharing that one Scott, I am sure it wasn't easy. The LP closes with "Deep Roots" 2:05, and excellent hardcore blast and a nod to its roots. I can relate being a couple of years older than Scott to his words here. Hardcore is part of my DNA at this point. Since I found it, I grabbed ahold as tight as I could and immersed myself in it. It has helped shape my values and built many friendships. Word.
In the 25th hour, can Terror step in and wake us up from our slumber? I think they are sounding a strong alarm here. Terror is laying down some knowledge on these tracks so take some notes. Maybe Victory can use this LP as the missile they fire over the bow of some of their other acts. A missile that explodes and screams, "THIS IS HOW IT'S DONE".....and no, you can't have a bowl of purple skittles and some Voss Water. (that last bit just popped into my head, it made me laugh, but I am just old and bitter and don't understand a lot of the new stuff kids dig...I can admit that) Back to Terror, the musicianship on this LP is stellar. The bass playing of David Wood is fantastic here. He is the meat of the LP. You have the two axe men, Martin and Jordan, who add seamless, interchanging riffage and lay down some tasty gravy. And who could forget the potatoes, the globe-trottin, booty gat shakin, drum machine, Mr. Nick Jett?....dude's an animal. The band is tighter than ever. Now have Mr. V slice thru it all with his stainless steel vocals and you have a meal. This is “The Twenty Fifth Hour” and this is hardcore motherfuckers. Dig in.
LOUD BOYZ “TOUGH LOVE, HARD FEELINGS”
(Cricket Cemetery, Released July, 2015)
As somebody that grew up in the DC and Baltimore punk and hardcore scenes I admittedly have a big soft spot for music coming out of that area. Specifically the hardcore punk out of the DC, Northern Virginia, Maryland area. There is an unbridled, youthful angst and aggression in it that comes across so whole hearted and genuine that it’s almost like it grabs you by the balls and screams “WAKE THE FUCK UP” in your face.
When I listen to the the Loud Boyz new full length “Tough Love, Hard Feelings” it takes me back to being 14 years old and going to shows at the U-Turn and the Kaffa House on U St in NW DC. I remember showing up every Friday at The Electric Maid in Takoma Park and not knowing who was playing but knowing that there would be a show and all my friends would be there. It feels almost nostalgic just sitting here in my office in the Freedom Tower in NYC looking out the window and blasting this album. I wonder whatever happened to the biker jacket I spent so much time painting and studding out… it’s gone forever now, but I would rock the shit out of it if I still had it.
The first thing that strikes me about the album is the guitars on the opening song “Knives”. They’re punchy as hell and very old school rock n roll sounding, and that is never ever a bad thing. The vocals kick in and have this almost Motorhead like gutteral, gruff and raw tone to them that just rips straight through you. A giant open booming drum sound really rounds out a very solid production to the whole thing.
About halfway through the album comes in my favorite song on here entitled “FYK” (which they also made a video for). It’s got some absolutely killer group vocals and sing along parts to it that just make me want to do a back flip off my desk on to my co-workers computer. I do not do this though, because as I have previously stated in another review, In Effect Hardcore does not support the unexpected moshing of co-workers.
Continuing on, the track “4 The Ladies” mixes it up with some more melodic and harmonized riffs, but comes right back with the same rage and speed with “I Am The Night” and closes with an awesome track entitled “Loud Boyz Anthem”. In summation, I have to give this album 4.5 stars out 5. A great album to sew Negative Approach patches onto your vest, or paint a biker jacket to.
TERMINAL NATION “WASTE” EP
(Released July, 2015)
Arkansas power violence, punk, hardcore Terminal Nation dropped this 8 track release in July 2015. The EP starts off with a 45 second track titled "Absent", then immediately the repetitive trend begins to unfold with the second track being only 50 seconds in length titled "Waste". I never understood the point of wasting time writing extremely short and pointless tracks, relative to the mighty S.O.D/ M.O.D style of writing in their earlier years. The longest track on this release clocks in at 3:21 titled "Life Suck". Terminal Nation definitely has the aggression, spouting out some pretty brutal slam/ beatdown riffage here and there however, if you're looking for well thought out, well written, non-repetitive dancing music this release probably won't cut the mustard for you. The vocals are difficult to translate at times behind the messy and off time execution of these tracks, proving yet again that upcoming bands shouldn't rush in to the recording studio before having their game tight. In my opinion the tightest track on this release is titled "Employee Of The Month" that begins with a bass guitar introduction with some guitar feedback behind it, then kicks in with a simplistic percussion groove beat after the one minute mark; just when you start to feel these tracks and find the groove they blind side you with off the wall lead guitar work, and speed that isn't very well executed. Once you get the first 10 to 15 listens of this release in the books, the tracks begin to display distinctive qualities. Overall this release is at best decent and shows promise. I would compare this release to DRI's 1983 "Dirty Rotten LP" as far as song writing is concerned. On a very positive note Terminal Nation is far from being yet another trendy new school band with generic breakdowns and over used choruses and for that they have my respect. Check them out on Facebook and Bandcamp. Although available on Bandcamp at the moment this will be released as a 7” in November on Deep Six Records.
Alex "The Past" Karp
SIDELINE “STRUGGLING TO ADJUST” EP
(Released June, 2015)
Ya’know when ya can’t get through the day without tearing through one particular disc? When there’s something about that album/EP you just love that you can’t put your finger on? Yeah you do. I’ve been looking for a new hardcore fixation lately, and I think Sideline are just that. “Struggling To Adjust” is an EP crammed with cool-as-fuck moments, so many I can barely zero in on one without needing to list five hundred others. Not only does the EP manage to be spontaneous but each song is nailed with a fine precision. This is the perfect storm. Crunchy distortion, controlled old-school punk chords, and a furious vocalist that expresses what’s on his mind with lyrics that strike home, such as that of the infectious EP opener “Not Ashamed” - So go ahead and take a walk in my shoes / so you can see the pain and sorrow I face / Everything that I said / Everything that I did / I did so I could fucking learn from! – Nothing beats a good ol’ hardcore rant. You don’t need to tie a bow on the structure of a track, ie make every last thing rhyme for it to be effective - Did you hear that, Soul Search? Putting head, bed, dread and red together isn’t artistic, it’s just weak. There’s another little rant.
Elsewhere the lyrics have more of a conventional structure, like in the speedy angry little monster that is “Weighed Down”. This is probably my favorite track, though choosing one of those out of the seven bangers is a difficult task. Hearing that breakdown in the aforementioned track for the first time was as joyous as if I’d just discovered that after all this time, humans do indeed have the ability to fly, and I’m the first one to do it.
The rants just get more ranty in “Next Page”, and the riffs cooler still, though the opening track takes first place for riffs. “Stay Afloat” is the live banger for sure, with that epic disjointed gang-shouted chorus – Damning me / to STAY AFLOAT - and the hella punky riff that follows and reappears later in the track in a much heavier breakdown form. Though speaking of punky, “Goodbye For Now” wins that contest hands down – Shut your mouth / You’re making me sick - Imagine T.S.O.L with Cruel Hand distortion and Backtrack-esque yells. Structurally there are even resemblances to Turnstile, which certainly is something to be Not Ashamed about (sorry). Long story short, check this out immediately. It’s worth every second of your time and then some.
CASTOFF "LINES AND PASSAGES"
(Morning Wood Records, Released April, 2015)
Castoff are a 4 piece outta San Diego playing some real nice "skate punk" sounding stuff not too far off from some of the bands they list as influences; Bad Religion, Pennywise, and Strung Out in this case. Although this website started as a fanzine deeply rooted in the NYHC scene I must admit that this style has definitely made a big impact on my music listening over the years whether you call it pop punk, skate punk or just plain old punk. I haven't really dug deeply into new bands in this genre in quite a while and with the first few listens to "Lines And Passages" I wasn't exactly sure if I was in some kind of trip down memory lane kind of trance or if Castoff was really this damn good. I took my time writing this review to give everything more time to sink in and one thing I noticed is that when I had free time to listen to some music I grabbed this more than a handful of times and came to the conclusion that yes... they are that damn good. At 17 minutes in length this is kind of a short LP or a long EP depending on how you look at it with all 6 songs being catchy as fuck and (that word I just LOVE to use in reviews)... infectious! Favorite tracks are "True Wealth", "Epilogue" (that last minute... damn!) and the closer "All Is Right" that at about the 2 minute mark continues on for about another minute and a half with this awesome jam that fades out to end this impressive EP... Technically their 3rd release overall. Castoff are tight, play fast and I love the guitar sound and guitar work that they got going on here. The vocals are a perfect fit as well. Look for an interview with these dudes down the line.
INTO ANOTHER LIVE @ GRAMERCY THEATRE, NYC JULY 17, 2015
WORDS: DAN PIRO. PHOTO: JAMMI YORK
What words can really be said about Into Another that would actually do this band the justice they deserve? Ahead of their time, criminally underrated, mind-blowingly out of the box! All of this and more. Into Another has got to be one of the most polarizing bands rooted from this little scene of ours; people either love them, or have never even given their music the time of day. If you find yourself in the latter category then I can only feel sorry for you. Last Friday July 17th at Gramercy Theatre in NYC the 11 pointed star rose again. After a handful of reunion shows, and a few small tours, Into Another has made an authoritative return, touring out to mark the release of a new EP: “Omens”, 5 songs of all brand-new material. This being my 4th time seeing IA since their initial comeback in 2012, I kind of had an idea of their usual set-list go to's, but I was excited to see them include new songs. The set was kicked off with “Crossed”, the first song from the new EP. “Omens” in and of itself is a supreme continuation in style for the band, practically picking up exactly where they left off with “Seemless” in '95. Pete Moses’s virtuosic style of playing will never fail to amaze me as he shreds through the staples: “Running Into Walls”, “The Other”, “Underlord”, complemented by Richie’s undeniable banshee-esque whale. The inclusion of an extended jam into “As It Were” from their self titled Rev debut show how these guys still have a knack and a passion for playing, and aren’t just lookin’ for one off gig dough. The band overall was on point, as usual, and the energy flowed nicely. The only 2 faults (if there were any) were the lackluster turn out, and the initially not so great sound. The house mix evened out about 3 songs in, and despite a relatively average crowd turn out, the energy in the room was still unmistakable. Must give credit to the new members; Brian Balchack and Reid Black on guitar and bass respectively. It takes a lot to fill the shoes of the late Tony Bono and keep up with the stellar playing of Pete Moses, but these guys do it well! It’s a revamped band for a new decade and I am ecstatic that I get the opportunity to see a rehabilitated version of this amazing hidden gem of a band. “Omens” is out now on Ghost Ship records, exclusively distributed by Revelation.
STRAY DOGS “DEMONSTRATION OF ANNIHILATION” DEMO
(Released March 2015)
The Stray Dogs' “Demonstration of Annihilation” is a veritable boot party of hardcore punk. An Ohio band with an unrelenting force of heavy, “in-your-face” attitude driven hardcore, Stray Dogs come through your speakers like a steamroller.
I am particularly stoked on reviewing a band from Cleveland right now because the trailer for “Destroy Cleveland”, a documentary about the roots of the Cleveland hardcore scene, dropped a few months ago, and though it's always thrived, the Ohio scene has been in the midst of a real re-awakening over the past few years.
Stray Dogs will definitely be a part of that awakening. With a strong working class attitude and musical grit, they pummel you with slow breaks that will have you stomping your Doc Martens and throwing haymakers while verbally brutalizing any and all frauds, phonies, and turncoats. Heavy bass lines and guitar riffs coat the rolling hostility of the drums and their unapologetic lyrics which convey deep-seeded hometown pride and shrug off anyone who isn't willing or able to remain true. I've listened to the whole thing about 7 times now, which isn't too tall of an order considering their longest song clocks in at a whopping 1 minute and 36 seconds, and I still like what I hear. I'm a big fan of the raw aggression and straight talk that permeates “Demonstration of Annihilation.” My personal choice for a must-hear song would be “Bucket List”, as I know a few of these bottom feeders myself, and musically it’s a solid taste of what Stray Dogs are all about.
If you like aggression driven music somewhere between SS Decontrol, Inmates, and Sheer Terror, then Stray Dogs will be right up your alley. If not, stay out of their way.
SOCIETY ABUSE 7”
(Mind Rot Records, Released March 2015)
It has been a little over a year since Florida's Society Abuse released that very rough, but solid demo called ''No Pleasure''. As good as the demo was, I never really paid that much attention to them. It wasn't until after they released a promo containing two tracks for the 7'' on Mind Rot Records. I was instantly hooked and patiently waited for the rest of this record to stream. Originally this promo was going to be part of my top picks of promos and demos (which the first part of it will be out very shortly). Buuuuut since I was just informed that the entire 7'' is out, I have decided to just review the whole thing instead.
So what's my take on this? It's a great release. There is absolutely no flaws for me to point out on this record. What more can I really say about it? The question I should be asking is what makes Society Abuse so great?
To me at least, this band stands out a lot in this current hardcore/punk scene. Probably because they're not one of those cookie cutter straight edge bands that all the kids get wild for. Maybe it's unintentional, but they come off very politicized when it comes to their message. From my understanding, they seem to focus a lot on the corruption that constantly occurs in authority (hence the album cover.....well also their name). They seem to hold nothing back to express hatred and frustration.
Just like how it is lyrically, it's musically awesome! It's fast and straight forward which is all I ever ask for a band like Society Abuse. Their breakdowns in between the songs are spot on as well. I hear a lot of influences from the first two Knife Fight records and if you know me personally, Knife Fight is one of my favorite bands from the 2000’s scene. That's probably also what makes them stick out like a sore thumb. The vocals also remind me Jon Westbrook (KF front man) Just like Knife Fight, they have that early 80’s sound with a slight modern twist. When I really think about it, I don't hear much of that style anymore. Seems like everyone's trending the late 80’s NYHC and Cleveland sound. However, Society Abuse doesn't seem to be an overlooked as a band so I'm more than happy to see that. So enough of me blabbering about this band, check them out! Order their self titled 7'' through Mind Rot Records. As for the East Coasters, make sure to catch their tour with another awesome band called Blind Authority!
H2O, BREAKDOWN, CRUEL HAND, CRIMINAL INSTINCT, FRIEND OR FOE, HIGH CARD, MANIPULATE
@ Revolution Bar, Amityville, NY June 26, 2015-
Review by JC Carey. Photos by JC Photo Media and PN Photography
Celebrating 20 years as a touring band H20 finished the current leg of their tour at Revolution Bar in Amityville on Friday June 26th. Cruel Hand continued to support them as they had for the rest of the tour with NYHC legends Breakdown also on the bill. Thanks to Friday night rush hour traffic on the George Washington Bridge and the shows earlier than “the usual” start (630pm) I did miss a few of the openers.
EDDIE SUTTON FROM LEEWAY PERFORMING "UNEXPECTED" WITH CRUEL HAND
Photo by: JC Photo Media
Maine’s Cruel Hand hit the stage with passion and managed to get the crowd moving a bit. Honestly they deserved better than the pockets of spinning kicks that accompanied them. For some reason the crowds at Revolution really seem to hold out for the headliner with the exception of a few diehard fans. Singer Chris Linkovich was a standout both at singing and later when playing guitar, bringing energy to the stage. The highlight of the set for me was when Eddie Sutton of Leeway fame joined the band to perform the old Leeway classic “Unexpected”. At 50 years of age Eddie still manages to put on a better show than many of the younger kids out there today. As always he was a non-stop dervish and still has a voice that you’d never believe could come from such a small guy. It was great to see him and I really wish that he and AJ could bring Leeway back to the stage in the wake of all the reunions the last bunch of years that have been successful.
JEFF PERLIN & BREAKDOWN. Photo by: JC Photo Media
NYHC legends Breakdown came to the stage with singer Jeff Perlin doing his usual amusing banter while a band that doesn’t look like any of the hardcore stereotypes played the riffs that made the ‘87 demo such a NHYC favorite nearly 30 years ago. The riffs were heavy and the band was tight finishing the set with “Sick People”. For the first time during the night the pit started to look like a hardcore show with people singing along, piling to the front and moving during the breakdowns. The band sounded tighter than ever with all the members remaining active in music during the years after the demo line-up (featured here) broke up. It was great to see these guys together live again for the first time in forever and I for one am going to put my name on the Killing Time/Breakdown tour petition.
TOBY & H2O. Photo by: JC Photo Media
H20 hit the stage the way they always do. Tons of energy. Positive lyrics shouted out by singer Toby Morse while the band killed it with tight riffs and backing vocals. This was the last show of the tour but you’d never know it. Playing a set that included songs from their 6 albums covering all 20 years of their existence they played non-stop only pausing for some banter about Long Island’s music history. Max Morse (singer Toby’s son who I think is like 10 years old) took the mic for a song and got a nice response from the crowd as well.
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ALL OUT WAR “DYING GODS”
(Organized Crime Records, Released June, 2015)
Some things can never be doubted. When metallic hardcore veterans All Out War levelled This Is Hardcore Fest and last year's A389 Records show with the reunited “For Those Who Were Crucified”-era line up it was inevitable that something special was re-emerging. Seventeen years after that jaw-dropping Victory Records masterpiece Mike Score (vocals), Erik Carrillo (bass), Taras Apuzzo (guitar), Andy Pietroloungo (guitar) and Jesse Sutherland (drums) have returned to melt faces and annihilate those who have feebly tried and failed to imitate their sound.
Those unmistakable dual freight train guitars burn the speakers on “Dying Gods”, which is essentially an intro which filters into a moment of acoustic melancholy. Seconds later and it is pit warfare - Mike's voice is still as powerful and terrifying as ever as “Vengeance Reigns Eternal” packs the sort of sonic intensity that spills blood and strips paint off walls. Frenetic riff patterns, whammy bar dive bombs, monolithic break-downs, trademark galloping percussion and pole-axing dynamics, the band still manage to make this sub-genre an art form despite the thrash/hardcore crossover sound having evolved over the years. This really is classic All Out War - Steve Evetts was the knob-twiddler behind “For Those...” and has stamped his mark all over this like he has somehow managed to transcend time.
The brooding start to “Nothing Left to Bleed” explodes after a minute, swiftly followed by a solo, breakdown and two-step rhythm that will result in more flying elbows at live shows than that ridiculous “surfing on the spot” thing so many hardcore kids prefer to do. The line "Unleash your own extinction" on “Servants To The Obsolete” is just crying out to be put on a t-shirt. The carnage continues on “Choking On Indifference”, a seething sub-five minute monster which marries the urgency of the Cro-Mags with early 80’s thrash robustness. Finishing up with two attritional covers - Amebix’s “Arise” and “God is Dead" by underground legends Carnivore, All Out War have just re-set the bar for metallic hardcore almost 25 years after they formed.
LOS MUCHACHOS “ HOLA BORE DA” EP
(Footloose Records, Released June 2015)
When I first received an invite for the EP release show of little-known Los Muchachos I thought the promoters must have deeper pockets than most small hardcore punk collectives. Surely the guys at Footloose Records and Frontline Promotions had not chartered a plane for a South American band to come and drop their knowledge on the people of a small town in rural North Wales, UK?
Turns out they hadn't. Describing themselves as a “Mexican Sludge Cartel”, the trio of Pedro, El Nacho and Black Death have been hiding in the shadows of North Wales for some considerable time following their upbringing in Tijuana. When these shady characters don their luchador wrestling masks they combine to make a racket not dissimilar to Nailbomb ('World Of Shit', etc) and the boisterousness of fellow mystery metal men Brujeria. “Drug Mule” draws minor comparisons to Sepultura's largely one-riff beast “We Who Are Not As Others” while “Sangria” follows similar suit as Pedro or El Nacho (they share vocal duties) regales a story of a "chica he once used to know, a long time ago in Tijuana, Mexico". The title track, a Spanish/Welsh mash-up translated as "Hello Good Morning' picks up the pace, set by a rumbling bass-line and one-line “share the microphone” moment. "Alone-A-Corona" is an ode to that connection between one man and his chosen alcoholic beverage, a Mexican beer in this case. What else? If light-hearted, play-by-numbers, d-beat hardcore is your thing then look no further than these hombres. Download the EP for free below:
WISDOM IN CHAINS "THE GOD RHYTHM"
(Fast Break! Records, Released June, 2015)
If there was a list of all the things that were right in the world of hardcore music in the year 2015 at the top of that list would be the band Wisdom In Chains who just put out their first full length since 2012's "The Missing Links". Since their start in the early 2000's they have put together quite the catalog of songs that are innovative, thought provoking and flat out crush while branching out musically at times while never delivering a stale product. Fans of WIC already know about their blend of influences that range from punk, metal, Oi!, and of course some good old hardcore. If I had a gun held to my head I would say they are influenced mostly by Sick Of It All but that statement can't even come close to describing exactly what the Wisdom crew has done up until now and is currently doing now with this new effort. This album has been very hard for me to actually write a review on simply because it has so many layers to it. In a scene where it is basically acceptable to photocopy sounds and styles of bands past and present WIC says hold the boat.
"People Die" opens things up and is track 1 out of 14 on an album that clocks in at just under 40 minutes in running time. This is a fast paced song that has all the WIC trademarks attached to it including a tight, fast beat that grooves into your head, great gang-style backup vocals, some killer breakdowns and that gruff but clear vocal style delivered only as Mad Joe can do. Joe is one of the best out there and does not get enough credit for both his vocal style and more importantly his choice of song topics that sometimes makes me think about stuff I generally would not think about. Hardcore was always about the message AND the music and although the message might not always be the type you want to hear about they are always delivered with a ton of conviction with Joe and crew. "When We Were Young" is a great follow up track as we start to hear that diversity creep in some. A bit of a mixed track with fast and then slower beats with more melody as this became an easy favorite when I first got this for review. Some nice guitar leads fill up your speakers for just a few seconds before the vocals come in as its small things like these that set this band apart. Tracks range in length from a minute and 3 seconds with one of the better tracks in "Resonate" to the 5 minute and 10 second jam like title track. Track 7 titled "Mathematics" starts off with some nice acoustics and builds and builds with Mad Joe showing he is not just some guy screaming into a microphone as he really nails this one vocally on one of WIC's deepest tracks. After that slow build the track speeds up just around the 3 minute mark and creates one of the albums best highlights for the remaining 90 or so seconds.
Amazingly enough with everything that "The God Rhythm" brings with switching things up, shorter songs, longer songs etc this album stays very cohesive and falls into the category of an album that you can't help but listen to straight through from track one right through to track 14 titled "Outro". "I like their earlier work" is a line that can fit with most bands in almost any genre of music. Bands come out of the box full of gusto and fire and generally wreck shit on their first album. Think Cro-Mags, think Agnostic Front, and Killing Time and many many more but I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that "The God Rhythm" is my favorite and in my eyes the most complete effort by these Pennsylvanian's to date. Hardcore lives in 2015 and if bands like Wisdom In Chains keep putting out albums like this they will further cement their legacy as one of the best real hardcore bands to ever take the stage.
BILLY CLUB SANDWICH
“JAPAN SUSPECTS TOUR” DVD
(Dead City Records, Released May 2015)
The BCS hasn’t been around for a little bit but this great new DVD put out by Dead City Records brings us back to the bands heyday, and in particular a 2009 Japan tour that went by the name “The Japan Suspects Tour’ which so happens to be the name of this DVD that runs approximately 70 minutes in length. The DVD is broken down into sub-categories much like any DVD with all sorts of extras which usually are the meat and potatoes and in this case that holds true. I got right into the actual live footage taken from that ’09 tour first and the actual quality of the footage is what grabbed me as it is like BCS is jumping right out of your screen… (a scary thought I know). The live footage runs about 25 or so minutes and is done up nice with short video clips of the band just walking around the streets of Japan and hanging with the locals who seemed to really show the band a good time as there was a lot of boozing going on. It is here where we find out from singer Martin Gonzalez why Japanese people do not have hemorrhoids. From there I checked out the “Bottom Of The Barrel” video which was a storyline video where the entire band and some friends are all working in an office setting and all wearing suits and ties. In the video singer Martin is basically picked and shit on by everyone in the office until he finally loses it and buck bucks the whole office before turning the gun on himself. A little bit on the harsh side towards the end but BCS were not particularly for the Sunday morning church going crowd to be honest. The outtakes from this video are hilarious and basically everything that is not the band actually playing on stage here has some kind of comical angle to it. From there we get a 7 or so minute run into the “Martin Gonzo Mega Mixx” video which is probably the funniest shit on here with just outtakes of Martin being drunk off his ass and the video camera capturing all the fun. Although the title may suggest otherwise there is a lot of footage taken from throughout the bands history. Here we see Martin face down passed out, Martin on the toilet naked, Martin dancing with Japanese girls with pink wigs, Martin wearing pink wigs while holding Japanese girls, Martin drunkenly apologizing to his fellow band members, Martin wrestling in the street with Japanese show goers, all set to various hip hop and chaotic beats. Also included are the “Narco Cabron” video, a ton of “Hangover” type photos from that infamous Japan tour and a 2004 interview where again the band makes you laugh your ass off as these dudes were and still are some of the realest and coolest people you will run into in the NYHC scene. I was not the biggest supporter of BCS when they were doing their thing but after taking this whole thing in they kind of won me over a little musically and solidified what I already mentioned in the previous sentence. BCS lives on through this solid effort which I would most definitely be proud of if I was a member of this band. A steal for only 10 bucks through Dead City Records!
LIFE TRAP “DEMO MMXV”
(Released March 2015)
The Netherlands; cool place! First of all it’s the only country in the European Union whose name is prefaced with “The”, kinda like “The Bronx”. I don’t know why but stuff like that was always so interesting to me. It’s not just a place but it’s THE place, makes it seem more exotic and wonderful. Anyways I digress. Here we have Dutch band Life Trap, more specifically they come from the city of Utrecht in the Namesake province: Utrecht. I’ve been blaring their most recent (and maybe first) offering: “Demo MMXV” (roughly translated as: Demo 2015). I speculate on whether or not this is their first recording because there seems to be little to no information about Life Trap on their various social media pages. Very cryptic, very mysterious. No photos, just first names of band members, and images of the demo artwork. Right away my ear is caught by the quality of the recording, it’s reminiscent of the promo tapes The Rival Mob puts out, which would make me think this is a DIY recording, very raw, and very very cool. These dudes LOVE break beats, there’s a danceable rhythmic sensibility to these tracks. Less speed and more groove, never a bad thing. Despite being Dutch their songs are in English which I appreciate for the sheer accessibility. Cool standout moments: 1.) Eerie ominous tonal intro. That’s something you rarely see from a hardcore band, at least not without feedback. It’s almost like a lead in to a Slayer album. 2.) The “Endtro”, which I think is a cool concept. Just an instrumental banger to close the whole thing out. 3.) The “Endtro” fadeout fake-out. Just as the music seems so be slowly disappearing, it re-appears full volume as a dub-esque rasta jam. Lyrically LT is very much on the fence. Most of the lyrical themes are trying to embrace the positive, but still battling all of the negative that may outweigh it. As illustrated on the demo artwork; an X with PMA in the top crease, and FTW on the bottom. 2 ideas very clearly in direct conflict with each other, realistically illustrating the common ying and yang of real life. Overall: good recording, great songs, groovy hardcore, cool band. 7 thumbs up. (Also, for anyone keeping score: This is the 3rd band in a row I’ve reviewed with a 2 word name.)
VICE “NO ONBE GETS BURIED WITH YOU” EP
(Frequency Deleted Records, Released May, 2015)
VICE (NY) have a new release. No not Vice (Ohio), though I’ll admit their name does sound similar. Anyone who followed the internet beef between the two bands over the ownership of the name knows what I mean… So no need to rape your keyboard with death threats, Dom of VICE. From the old school punk vibes of “Flawed’ to the mental hysterics of their new release, VICE have intensified a great deal of their sound. This one takes us back to the ear-bleeding feedback and distortion of “You Made Us This Way” except the band have riddled it with Nails-esque powerviolence and a vocal technique that at times would make Ryan McKenny (Trap Them) a happy, moshy man. Unlike previous efforts, the intensity does not slow down one iota. The speed too makes no apologies. If you can’t keep up, you’re fucked. It’s like a dirt truck speeding down a downhill track. Cling the fuck on or lose your head.
“Softcore” is brutal. The open-string opening reminds me of Cancer Bats’ “Satellites” for some reason. Then vocalist Andrew Vacante breaks in with a powerful ‘Yeaaah!’ and it all kicks off, by which I mean it blasts off, by which I mean it’s like the band are the rocket and we’re just beneath it as Thunderbirds are Go. “Shaolin Idols” I believe needs no introduction. You should all have heard this banger by now. It’s a vicious bastard with some powerful lines, most notably “Satisfied with a worthless life” screamed so hatefully you’d think the vocalist was in the room with you. “Fashion Victim” is the kinda track I meant when I made that dirt truck reference. I mean, fuck, this is such a beast. Like Bracewar’s “Wake Up” it has every drum speed in existence, and a vocal sound reminiscent of Alexi Laiho (Children of Bodom) to some extent, though that might be stretching too far into metal. After a long sample from some film, “Judgement” takes you to the valley. The high notes on the guitar really give you a kick. Then the title track brings you home.
The only downside is all those sampled soliloquies. Or whatever they are, I ain’t no film buff. Emotive as they might be, they go on way too long and take up too much track time. Something I thought a few times when I heard VICE’s full length. If I wanted a play I’d go to the damn theatre. It’s a minor thing. A nitpicky thing. To some, an inconsequential thing but to my ears, it fucks with the pacing and I could do without it. But as a guy who has listened to everything this band has put out (or at least everything that is available), I can say now that “No One Gets Buried With You” is a ride and a half. A short addictive one too. Pile into the truck, lads!
THE FLEX “DON’T BOTHER WITH THE
OUTSIDE WORLD” EP
(Lockin’ Out Records, Released March, 2015)
The first time I learned about the existence of The Flex (based out of Leeds, UK) was at Fluff Fest 2012 in Czech Republic when I saw a couple of older guys wearing The Flex back patches on their jackets, along with some straight edge symbols (great imagery, isn't it?!). Those guys were actually into my band, so they asked me what time we were on stage and I got the chance to talk a little bit with them but we didn't mention anything about The Flex. When I came back home, I searched online for this band, listened to their demo and immediately fell in love with them. 3 years after, The Flex signed to this great US label called Lockin' Out and just released their brand new 7" (this is already their …9th release, among flexi EPs, records and 7”s) that features 6 new tracks of their classic and unique style. If you want me to describe the band's music style, I would easily say mid 80’s US hardcore stuff mixed with a lot of oi!/punk influences; think something between early Agnostic Front, DYS, SSD and Blitz, and in the same vein as their countrymen Violent Reaction. If you want hardcore aggressive and intense yet passionate and danceable, this is the band you should check out. If you like your 2-step mixed with pogo, The Flex are for you.
TOO MANY VOICES, THE LAST STAND, BOOGIE BRAINS, TWO MAN ADVANTAGE
@ LARRY’S PUB, VALLEY STREAM, NY MAY 30, 2015
Ah, good old Valley Stream NY. Located just over the Queens border in Nassau County and one of the first towns that geographically make up “Lawnguyland”… Also once home to one of the best record stores in the NY area called Slipped Disc. Slayer once played down the road here as well. Larry’s Pub on Rockaway Avenue on a Saturday night is not your typical hardcore/punk hangout but on this particular Saturday night it was. This show was put together by “Vinny Value” who used to bang the drum kit for the mighty No Redeeming Social Value as well as Warzone and Grey Area to name just a few… This was Vin’s first crack at booking a hardcore show and he did a nice job gathering up local bands and friends to make for a good night which was kicked off by Too Many Voices. The last time I saw TMV they had Andy West from Kill Your Idols on vocals and he has since left the band leaving them now a 4 piece with guitarist Eric Svirida taking over on vocals while still maintaining his guitar duties. TMV really are a breath of fresh air to hear and see in that they take a more melodic route in their song writing style. The songs got a lot of groove to them and may not lead you to want to knock things over when you are listening but they do more than keep your attention throughout. Check out their track “Holding On Like Never Before” and you will see what I am talking about. Think Dag Nasty… think 7 Seconds and you will get an idea of what these guys are doing. If I had to do some nitpicking I’d like to see some of their future songs get a little more of an edge or get a little harder in spots to help make a really good product a great one. They are in the midst of recording their debut full length which is not too far away now so keep the antennas up for these guys.
Next up was The Last Stand who proudly declared “We are The Last Stand from Brooklyn NY”. These guys are one of the most underrated and overlooked bands on the NYHC scene right now. They put out a demo which was later pressed on to vinyl and in early 2013 they dropped their debut album “The Time Is Now’ which was put out on Eulogy Records. I have seen TLS play on a few occasions and they play the same set whether there are 500 people in the room or if there are 50 (which is probably a good estimate of the crowd when they played). Mike Scondotto leading the charge on vocals is a good fit to this band who play a hard style but can surprise you with some nice melodic hooks thrown in from time to time (“A Good Day To Die” is a perfect example of this). They played for approximately 30 minutes and went off even though the crowd was not as enthusiastic as they may have been. TLS as always brought their A game and if I was in this band I would have been proud of the performance I put on.
This was my first Boogie Brains experience and apparently they are as local as local gets as the crowd at Larry’s Pub probably doubled when they took to the stage…(Ummm… make that floor… no stage at Larry’s). Visually the Boogie’s sure do grab one’s attention as the first thing that you see is this giant standup Stray Cats era/style bass that their bass player was using. Their guitarist was wearing a Puerto Rico (Hooooooo!) basketball jersey with this pretty cool guitar that probably would fit more in line with Megadeth or your favorite 80’s thrash band than with a punk band. The rest of the band was rounded out by their singer Brittany and 2 dudes. Rarely do I make mention on what a band actually LOOKS like but I think the Boogie Brains had this really unique look about them whether they were trying to or not. I’ve seen my share of bands with 5 dudes with bald heads and tattoos wearing camo shorts and black t-shirts. (Wait… I was wearing a black t-shirt and camo shorts)… Ok, enough of that though. The Boogie’s definitely benefitted from having the first signs of real crowd participation as the place came alive for their set as opposed to folks mostly standing around for the previous two sets with polite claps after each song. That standup bass and the sound they get from it gives this band kind of a unique sound. The Boogie Brains were at the very least were FUN although I wouldn’t say I am going to run out and see them every time they play now. A nice band that also fit in well with the bill and the location.
And now on to the headliners.. The Two Man Advantage who I swear would be a great opener for almost anything. Need a warmup band for Anthony’s confirmation party? Call the Two Man… The town is having fireworks this year on the 4th and needs a band to go on 45 minutes prior? Call the Two Man…
The list of crazy ideas can go on and on and in most cases if the crowd had a little bit to drink they would probably eat up the fun that I have seen this band deliver time and time again. On record TMA is really good… their blend of melodic punk, booze and hockey is unique and contagious. In a live setting… and especially in live settings where the crowd knows their material… they are straight up amazing. This was one of the first shows with their original bass player Teemu Henieken back in the mix. After 14 years away he replaces Jeff Snapshot who moved to DC recently. Teemu came out with his face completely painted white with eye black smeared around his eyes and a full hockey helmet with visor. When they started playing he was jumping around like a total lunatic (and also looked like one). The next thing you know beer is flying around everywhere. The floor is soaked and people are sliding all over, wiping out in the process. The guitar player from the Boogie Brains at one point grabbed a mob to try and make the floor a little less treacherous but throughout this set more beer was thrown about by both the band and the audience. Can’t confirm it was the bar’s owner but there was this one guy who was standing there most of their set with a look of “these guys are never playing here again” and add the Nassau County cops showing up sometime after 1am to kind of put an end to what became a late show on the corner of a residential block. They belted out 14 tracks in about 45 minutes and sent the drunken mess of a crowd home with beer soaked clothes and smiles on their faces. The typical Two Man Advantage experience.
SLAPS ILLUSTRATED ZINE (Summer 2014 issue)
"Slaps" aka the stickers you see wallpapered to many street signs, light posts and basically anywhere with a flat smooth surface are pretty common here in NY. If you are paying attention as you walk down almost any random street you will find a whole "scene" going on right under your nose. There really aren't any rules as the subjects on these slaps can range from band stickers, to graffiti tags, to straight up artists or maybe even your favorite hardcore music website. Slaps Illustrated (Summer 2014 issue) is 56 pages mostly displaying the best of the best that they have come across and collected. (There is a big underground trade circuit much like your old tape trading days for these things as well). SI is printed in full color on glossy pages. High quality here kids. There is very little to read here as this is mostly a visual experience but issue 2 which is in the works apparently will work in more interaction with the people who create these pieces of art. In case you are wondering there is a tie in with the hardcore scene as SI's curator has been around for a while and might actually be on a recording that is in your collection. Mine came with a full color poster and some "slaps" (stickers) samples. Can't wait for the next issue as this was a nice surprise when it showed up in the mailbox.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about ordering
MODERN PROBLEMS “IDENTITY” EP
(Released April 2015)
First and foremost, any band whose name is potentially a reference to an underrated Chevy Chase gem is number one A-OK in my book! That being said, Modern Problems, the straight edge pile driver out of Buffalo has been kicking our collective asses for the past year or so. Boasting ex and current members of Every Time I Die and Malfunction respectively, these guys stray from the heavier themes of the aforementioned acts, delivering no thrills, fast, smart, punchy, yelly, straight-edge hardcore! Another supreme example of my favorite things; never dull, up-tempo standard tuning. Holy land speed record Batman! All of the time-honored straight edge lyrical themes here on the “Identity” EP are eloquently represented: Intelligence over ignorance, self-discovery and introspection, anti-violence, and of course the horrors of the slippery slope of drug use, as illustrated in “Dying On The Vine”. “Identity” is MP’s third release! Pretty impressive for a band that’s been active for a little over a year. But from what I can gather via the interwebs they aren’t much of a touring act. The flyers on their Facebook look mostly local, save for the one fest in Arizona they played back in April. I know that bands often don’t like to be compared to other acts, be they current or of the past, and understandably so; but overwhelmingly I hear a HUGE Uniform Choice influence coming from these guys. More specifically in the 3rd song “Dying On The Vine”, the line: “And I can’t help but feel sorry for you! Sorry for you!” sounds like a direct tribute to the Orange County staple. Another maybe not so obvious homage in the tune “Fight”; The subject of the lyrical lashing is offered a bit of wisdom: “NOW LET ME GIVE YOU A LITTLE INSIGHT!” More than likely a salute to CT’s Wide Awake. Modern Problems are strongly grounded in their influences and are not afraid to display it. I’m so glad that bands like this are still prevalent given the ebbs and flows of modern hardcore punk. This brand of brass tacks intelligent straight edge HAS to exist. It serves as a “poser exposer” of sorts, weeding out the hapless ignorant mosh & over indulgent big stage acts, while still serving as a tasteful window to the bands that laid the ground work. The “Identity” EP is solid as all hell! It was released as a cassette on Black Dots Records, but from what I can gather these guys use the age of the digital release to their advantage putting out rapid fire releases. Good for them! A band with this much cohesive energy needs the accelerated output. Eight thumbs up! Just as a brief aside, if you dig Modern Problems, check out: On The Loose from Westchester NY/CT, & Keep It Clear from Vancouver.