***** CLICK ON ALBUM COVERS FOR EACH BAND'S SOCIAL MEDIA *****
ROLL CALL “PERPETUATE”
(Bridge 9 Records, Released October, 2022)
Every so often, you come across a band that grabs your attention immediately. Roll Call is that band for me. New York’s Roll Call came to formation when guitarist, Brian Kemsley of Outbreak (and part-time crime fighter) and drummer, James Philip of Final Fight/Sea Haven, got together and wrote six songs, which eventually became the “Perpetuate” EP. The two recruited vocalist, Chad Leddy of Perfect World (as well as a NYC fire fighter) and bassist, Cornell Ward, to complete the band. Roll Call dispenses six tracks of ferocious hardcore that will light a fire under your ass and have you running to the nearest mosh pit.
Two things stood out to me right away, after listening to “Perpetuate” for the first time. First of all, there is not a weak track on this EP. From the opening high energy of “Reaper Inside Your Mind” and right up to the last song, “Bleed Blue”, you are pulled in right away. Roll Call explodes from the opening note of guitar feedback and establishes their presence, like a punch to the head. The band plays fast and frenzied hardcore worth getting excited about. Secondly, this band writes some of the best lyrics I’ve read and can relate to, in quite some time. Songs like “Contemplating” and “I Lose, You Lose”, are two good examples of what I’m talking about. “I Am The Truth” is a song with balls, taking on religion with a big middle finger in the air. I found myself playing this song over and over again. I have nothing but praise for this EP and only hope the band releases a full length album. Put Roll Call’s “Perpetuate” on your list of music to purchase. Available now via Bandcamp and Spotify with cassette versions available through Bridge 9 Records. (12” vinyl in 2023)
XCELERATE “BUSTIN OUT” EP
(K.O.T.P. Records, Released November, 2022)
Xcelerate are a newer hardcore band from South Florida, and prior to this debut EP, had only one demo out. The demo was solid so I had my eye out for something new from these guys if it popped up. I noticed a post from K.O.T.P. Records out of Tallahassee about a song premier off this upcoming EP that was available to listen to. The track that premiered was “When Does It End?” and it wasn’t what I expected to hear from Xcelerate based on their demo tracks. I was impressed enough with the song premier to reach out to Xcelerate for an interview and you can also check that out through In Effect Hardcore in the upcoming days.
“Bustin Out” was recorded and mixed at the K.O.T.P. studio by Tyler Denslow of K.O.T.P. Records. Tyler did a great job capturing the intensity of the band’s performance and message that Xcelerate seems to be trying to deliver with this release. The production on this is great but not “too great” as to lose any of the band’s grit with fancy studio tricks or effects. The production was simply spot on and nicely done leaving the tracks and songwriting to speak for themselves. Xcelerate don’t seem like the type of band trying to break new ground with their song writing here but they have managed to capture some cool-ass diversity nonetheless. The track that premiered ahead of the release date that I heard, “When Does It End?”, instantly reminded me of some of the modern Swedish (Kang) D-beat style hardcore bands like Katastrof or Rat Cage mixed with old skool NYHC, basically like Totalitar meets Token Entry. The rest of the EP seems more focused on the NYHC blueprint for song writing with a touch of power-violence reminiscent of what Spine is doing in the Midwest without sounding anything like anyone else though. This is definitely a “modern hardcore” release but Xcelerate’s flavor shows the homage being paid to the old skool styles which we’re all seeing more of lately around the scene in general. So if you’re diggin’ bands like Token Entry, Coke Bust, Killing Time, Rest In Pieces, Spine, Combust, and so on….here’s some recommended fresh meat for ‘ya. Find this streaming at Bandcamp or Spotify with cassette and 12” vinyl pre-orders available HERE.
HOLD MY OWN s/t EP (Released August 2022)
Members of the New Jersey and Chicago hardcore scenes join forces in new band Hold My Own and the results are extremely effective when it comes to huge sounding hardcore grooves. Guitarist Anchit Chhabra (MH Chaos/Sector/Shattered Realm) and vocalist Greg Falchetto (The Mongoloids/World Demise/Youth Collapse) form the nucleus of the band and prove just how well they work together is this new collective.
An ominous repeated police siren signals the start of the EP with “Holdin My Own” and it is immediately evident that the bands’ two vocalists’ voices work well off each other over the muscular bounce of Hold My Own’s music, and this continues throughout this EP’s remaining three tracks.
“Fist Balled Up” and “Nothin’ Left” follow a similar path but add variety in terms of mid-paced grooves and discordant riffs at different points in the proceedings before the muscular “Now I See” concludes things in an impressive manner as a Sheer Terror/Biohazard head on collision immediately comes to mind when listening to these skull crackin’ tunes.
Based on this EP, Hold My Own will go from strength to strength with their dual vocal led hardcore maelstrom and hopefully this is only the beginning. Stream this on Bandcamp and Spotify with cassette versions available through Coreuption Records.
“IF IT’S TUESDAY THIS MUST BE WALLA WALLA: THE WACKY HI-JINKS OF ADRENALIN O.D.” BY DAVE SCOTT SCWARTZMAN
(DiWulf Publishing, Released November, 2022)
“Paul’s Not Home, Paul’s Not Home, Paul’s Not Home” NJ’s Adrenalin OD somehow made these 3 words repeated at hyper speed a hardcore hit and launched themselves into hardcore history with their wacky hijinks, hilarious stage banter and great live shows. AOD drummer Dave Scott's book is part tour diary, part band biography, that documents the band’s formation in NJ until their demise after signing with a major label and their return with recent reunion gigs. Great tour stories as well as informative back stories that outline the bands high points as well as regrets and what could have been. A great read for fans of the band and the 80’s hardcore scene. Click HERE to grab yourself a copy from the fine folks over at DiWulf Publishing.
LAST ORDERS HC “CHICKEN NUGGETS, CHIPS ‘N BEANS” (Released September, 2022)
London hardcore unit Last Orders HC return with the brilliant “Chicken Nuggets, Chips ‘n’ Beans” and what a return it is. Having previously brought out a split release with Columbus, Ohio’s Postal and a live release (“Live & Loud in Kentish Town”) that demonstrated exactly what a formidable live band they are, it is a joy to see them bring out brand new music.
The band counts current and former members of prominent UK hardcore bands like Ironed Out, Hard Truth, Crippler LBU, Dropset, Goliath, Idle Hands and Proven among others amongst their ranks and this release demonstrates how close the London hardcore scene is. This new one features three bruising tracks that showcase exactly what makes Last Orders HC such a brilliant and well respected band.
The intense title track kicks things off and sees vocalist Louis Gino shouting out the British tea-time favourite with his formidable voice over a powerful groove that flies by and it sounds fantastic. A snippet from a disgruntled Londoner declaring “Listen, I’m a fucking Londoner, we always swear in London so shut the fuck up” acts as the intro to the berserk and brilliantly titled “Boring Cunt”, which is a definite hardcore anthem in waiting and manages to be both devastating and catchy. The intense ending is a certainty to make the pit explode when it is played live. The ode to London hardcore’s most fabled venue, “12 Bar Years” finishes things off and is a triumphant and poignant way to finish things off. “Chicken Nuggets, Chips ‘n’ Beans” is a welcome return from Last Orders HC and hopefully they will have more new material soon as this is a quality release that left me wanting more and not only because of the short four minute run time. Find this on Spotify.
THE SLIME “LIVING ON BORROWED SLIME”
(Cursed Blessings Records, Released May, 2022)
You know that old saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover”? Well fuck that saying right in the ear my friends because this cover is the visual of what the music sounds like. The Slime are single handedly taking the rather lackluster Toronto… hell, Canadian hardcore scene, and putting it on their shoulders and taking it into the promised land. I remember when bands in the 80’s had this type of intensity and rawness. Fast, thrashy songs that have nice drum, bass and guitar tradeoffs backing some serious throat ripping vocals that while don’t change in tone, cleverly change in cadence like in “Forest Walker'' and “Instinct”. Some added secondary vocals are used sparingly in “Death Champs” to add a nice boost and change of tone, while not being out of place. Can’t say enough great things about these guys as this record is a complete package from the music right down to the amazing cover artwork by Andrew Wright. Find this on Bandcamp and Spotify with 12” vinyl versions available through Cursed Blessings Records.
SAWCHUK “MODERN LOVE”
(Dropping Bombs, Released August, 2022)
Here's a fantastic release from Detroit based band Sawchuk. Just like the Slime record I reviewed before assaulting my eardrums to this, Sawchuk are bringing a well produced, tight and intense record. Unlike The Slime these guys are more about stops and starts and tempo changes than they are about just being fast. Track 10 of 14 (“Gasp”) starts with a nice drum intro that just leads into some pounding power violence type of carnage. “The Heart Has Drowned” has some great feedback, creeping rhythm section only just to go full speed into the title track “Modern Love”. Loving what these guys are doing! The tempo changes, stop and starts and switches from melodic, yet heavy to kill mode is just what the doctor ordered. The only “meh” thing about this release IMO, is the cover art. If I saw this at a record store chances are I’m not picking it up based on the cover alone. The cover simply doesn’t do the music justice. Great release! Link Tree your way to the music video for “Vice Grip”, streaming options as well as 12” vinyl through Dropping Bombs.
TODAY FOREVER FANZINE (Issue 1, Summer, 2022)
Zine scene 2022… saw a post on Instagram for a fresh looking fanzine from Los Angeles called Today Forever pushing their debut issue featuring, Spiritual Cramp, Dan O’ Mahony, Ill Communication, Jawbreaker, Berthold City, Powerhouse and Be Well that came out this past summer. Dropped my dough via PayPal and a few days later my postie delivered the goods and was immediately blown away by the insane quality within these 48 glossy pages. Upon further review (when I finally got to sit down and read this a few days later) I was just as impressed with the actual content as Nikki and crew knock their debut issue out of the park with a very well thought out project. This is a DIY zine limited to 300 copies but looks, feels and reads like a professional magazine you would find at any newsstand… but totally dedicated to the core.
Although West Coast leaning the lineup of bands interviewed is diverse musically. While reading the first couple of interviews it quickly became apparent that Today Forever are real deal supporters of the bands that they lined up as there are many thoughtful questions that turn out some excellent replies. My favorite quote from the entire issue was when Andy Franchere of Ill Communication said that their upcoming album “sounds like if Retaliate and Praise made a baby and it was born feet first wearing slip on Vans”. Epic! Zines are vehicles to teach and within these pages I found out about two really cool bands I had never heard of before in both Ill Communication and Spiritual Cramp who have a modern day take on 70’s style punk. Outside of the band interviews there was a short show reviews section titled “So, I Went To A Show” (would love to see this section expanded), a light-hearted “Top 3, Bottom 3” page and an interview with the guy who runs an Instagram page called @simpsonsxcore who does parodies mashing up classic hardcore punk album covers with characters from the classic “The Simpsons” television show. Issue #1 is sold out though Today Forever but distro copies are still available in limited numbers for around 10 bucks though Heartworm Press, Deathwish, RevHQ and Coretex. Click HERE to find out more.
STATE RUN RADIO (Lemmis Records, Released August 2022)
Long Island's new hardcore/punk band resurgence continues with State Run Radio being yet another new name to add to your scorecard. When we initially started writing this review it was for their 6 song self-titled EP but only a month later they came back with another 4 songs under the working title of "The Early Year" which contains a cover of Marginal Man's "Missing Rungs". The later release is actually State Run Radio's earlier material and was re-recorded for a 12" double vinyl EP which you can grab now from Lemmis Records.
SRR's style is punk driven rock 'n roll that the band says is "fueled by political disgust and media distrust". Songs like "Panic" and "A Thousand Crises" are standouts showcasing their catchy and easy to absorb style and are backed by the clean vocal style of frontman Joe Mazzeo. Although I won't go as far as to say that SRR sounds like Dead Kennedy's or Social Distortion I would say if you were into those bands you probably are going to like what these guys are doing. The one monkey wrench thrown in is the 43 second burst of thrash known as "Rat Bastard" which has a Misfits "Earth AD" type of feel and is a welcomed change of pace showing off the most edge and grit of any of these 10 tracks. For a band still in their early stages State Run Radio already seems to have their shit together. Looking forward to where things may lead. Click HERE for tons of links that will lead you deep into the heart of SRR land.
SCHOOL DRUGS “ABSOLUTION”
(Indecision Records, Released August, 2022)
I remember back in 2016 when School Drugs was just a newborn pup of a band. I believe back in the year of our Lord 2018 I reviewed the hell out of their first EP on Hellminded Records called "Relative Suffering". I raved about that release and not much is gonna change here as I have been spinning these three tunes quite a bit lately. The EP is called “Absolution”, the specs are three songs in under 5 minutes. The band is a little older, a little wiser and a little more seasoned. They're still from Dirty Jersey and they're still pissed.
The first cut is "No Taste" clocking in at 1:06. A killer bass line kicks off a dirty, filthy New Jersey style punk rock gem. The guitar work is excellent. The vocals are on point. This band is definitely tighter but by no means neat. It's hold on for dear life as this song rages… a stellar lead off track. Drum then bass start off "Broken" at 1:05. First off let me say this is my favorite cut. That aside, this is as close to a Faith No More song School Drugs will make, and I mean that as a compliment. It has mostly to do with the experimental sounds and vocal styles but make no mistake this is another ripping hardcore tune. The third and final track is "Cold Hearted" at a whopping and somewhat ginormous, 2:29. A few guitar bursts and this sick rocker rolls on down the road. This is a raging punk tune that makes me want to go and commit a crime and use this as my getaway song. Actually, truth be told, that can be said of any of School Drugs’ songs.
This band has mastered a sound that is shockingly catchy, blistering, hardcore punk that sounds as if it can and probably will go off the rails at any minute… but the more you listen, the more you realize nothing could be further from the truth. These players don't play, they play, ya dig? Once again, great stuff from these Jersey maniacs. I can't see how this band would fail to appeal to any of you rotten cunts out there. It hits all the marks with skill and hellfire. So run out ye sons of Karen’s and support School Drugs in any way possible, send me all of your Adderall and get the fuck off my lawn… take the leaves with you. Find this on Bandcamp or Spotify with 7” vinyl versions available through Indecision Records.
INCLINATION “UNALTERED PERSPECTIVE”
(Pure Noise/LDB Records, Released October, 2022)
After the promising 2017 “Midwest Straight Edge” demo and the phenomenal 2019 EP “When Fear Turns to Confidence,” Inclination has now dropped their heavily anticipated debut LP “Unaltered Perspective”. If you’re not familiar with Inclination by now, this is a Louisville-based 5 piece featuring ex and current members of a ton of other notable acts and people involved in a bunch of different aspects of hardcore. I won’t list them because this band stands on its own. But it’s worth noting that these aren’t passive hardcore fans making good music. These are people who are heavily involved in the very fabric of hardcore and doing things for the scene from playing in multiple bands, booking shows, running labels, putting on for other bands and just generally supporting the scene in every way/shape/form.
The first thing I noticed about this record is that it’s a bit less melodic than their previous EP and a bit more “ass-beater-y”. But it still has that distinct mid-90s hardcore influence done in a way that has that Inclination stamp on it. The guitars still have the harmonics, the pedaled effects, the discordant notes, the tight muted picking, and all those things that make the Inclination formula. Fans of the band still get the tortured, impassioned vocals over tempo changes that range from blazing fast to obscenely slow and everything in between. The bass tone is great and Caleb does some cool stuff including well-placed bass drops, up-beat hits in breaks and some other nifty things throughout. New drummer Chris Mills brings the heat without missing a beat from the departure of previous drummer Bryan Prosser. There’s something about the drums on this record that stands out even from the EP. The snare sounds really sharp and snappy, and it makes the songs sound super driving and powerful. There’s also still plenty of melody, but the recording is so burly that it feels atmospheric rather than “pretty” or “soft.” This is a HARD record. If you haven’t heard this band yet, think; One King Down with some Snapcase, some Unbroken and some Buried Alive with a fantastic modern production.
As you’ve come to expect from Inclination, the lyrics are thoughtful; inspirational at times, crushingly chilling at times, but always earnest, honest and urgent, imploring change both from a personal and a social perspective. Inclination is a straightedge band, but their poison-free message goes beyond self-reflecting on the poisons to the body, and explores the poisons to the soul and the broader poisons of society.
The sequencing on this is masterful and the lyrics flow really well topically from song to song. The opening track “Unaltered Perspective” is just an acoustic guitar with a spoken-word style mantra about questioning the status quo, acting contrary to systems set up to divide and distract people from making real change in the world. It’s a declaration about the next 28 minutes or so of fury you’re about to experience as feedback starts to roll in, exploding into track 2. After the introductory title track, “Epidemic” calls out lobbyists fighting against healthcare rights and the capitalist “pushers” creating and compounding the opioid epidemic. Track 3 “Thoughts And Prayers” points the finger at politicians who are too in-the-pocket of lobbyists, turning a blind eye to constituents they were elected to represent. Then “Predetermined” is about a loved one who died as a result of drug addiction. It’s a haunting real-world portrayal of someone who the politicians in “Thoughts And Prayers” let down, a specific example of the suffering that can stem from a system that deprioritizes citizens and prioritizes corporations (side note: LOVE the reference to the band Praise in this song). In track 5 “Bystander,” vocalist Tyler Short takes the finger of blame and turns it on himself for not being there—for too many years—for a friend in need. It’s an apology to this person and to himself for being too clouded by personal issues he wishes he was able to get past in retrospect. I won’t go through all 11 tracks, but you get the picture. The level of love and attention put into this record is off the charts.
You’ll catch a few familiar voices on this LP. Tom Sheehan from Indecision/Most Precious Blood lays down some guest vocals on “Epidemic” and Ryan Savitski from One Step Closer teams up with Russell Bussey from Magnitude for guest spots on “A Decision.”
This record is a journey, and it’s appropriate that the closing track is a microcosm of that. It’s such an opus in its own. The song even has its own interlude and an acoustic outro bringing it back to the opening track, while the lyrics also bring the message full circle. The previous songs cover the various poisons of this world, many that seem far beyond our ability to control, but “Commitment to Self” is about not being a bystander in your own life. It’s about making a promise to yourself to do more than just merely survive. Honestly this isn’t an LP, it’s a call to action… one with an incredible soundtrack. One of the best releases of 2022. Officially out on Friday, October 21st, check in HERE for various ways to stream or HERE to grab some merch including 12” vinyl, cassettes and CD’s.
REGULATE s/t (Flatspot Records Released September, 2022)
Regulate reeled me in as a fan back in 2016 with their second studio release in the “Years Of Rage” EP. I recall going to the record release show for “Years Of Rage” in Farmingdale on Long Island and seeing them at “Theatre 294” which was a performance art center which has since closed. The deli next door is still there though and for the record is pretty damn good. “In The Promise Of Another Tomorrow” was the follow up in 2018 and further solidified the fact that Regulate was one of the more solid newer school bands that could slot in on bills opening for the more traditional NYHC bands, street punk bands and almost anywhere in between. Across those two releases Regulate cemented the fact that they could bring hard edged mosh heavy hardcore backed with straight edge ethos and hints of wanting to do more than the standard 2-3 minute hardcore song over and over. With that foundation already in place Regulate also set out to travel hard hitting such far off places as Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Colombia setting themselves apart from the 3 day weekend bands who may cross state lines a few times a year. This latest Regulate release features 10 songs and comes in just North of 25 minutes in play time. The fact that they recorded this album at a real deal farm in Flemington, NJ is your Regulate fun fact of the day. On this new album we see this band really step out of the box that they have created over the first 9 years or so of their existence with an overall feel of melody layered across many of these songs. We got some clues on their last effort with the experimental instrumental “Unfinished Abandonment Of Self” as well as with “Character Arc” but on this new one Regulate kicks a hole in the pre-conceived notions of what they should sound like and after diving head first into this album I have to say they come away as a better band for their efforts. “In The Moment” is your lead off track and for longtime fans of this band kicks off how you would expect a Regulate song to kick off. Once the melodic chorus drops around the one minute mark you immediately notice the change before things switch back to “hard mode” and then back to melody before finishing up with an absolute boot to your ass stomp out to wrap things up. On first listen it was almost a situation where I had to hit “stop” before track 2 came on just to process what I just heard but at the same time I almost immediately knew I loved what I had just heard. “Why Can’t We” is another one of the standout tracks that has traditional hardcore vibes mixed with more melody while somehow keeping the “hard” in their hardcore. Some well thought out compassionate lyrics stand out on this one that many of us could learn from. “Ugata” at track 5 is another ridiculously creative instrumental that gives off old-school Iron Maiden vibes while “Hair” has Bad Brains “I Against I’ feels while being the most risky track in regards to stepping outside of the box. Add in “The Crime” at track two with its more straight up hardcore style and you got one helluva first half of an album here.
Tracks 6-10 have a little bit of a dropoff in regards to earworm tracks but they are no slouches either. It should be noted that the back half here also has much less in the way of the melody with “In This Life And The Next” really being the lone track in this grouping where melody comes to the forefront. Lyrically “Work” could be a Wisdom In Chains track with a pro-working class/pro-Union vibe with the line “The American Dream is reserved… no new members” being something that caught my eye while “New York Hates You” raised some eyebrows with its anti-transplant message. I almost always applaud hardcore bands who step out of the “fast part/mosh part/fast part” style of song writing and Regulate score big points on their latest for writing new music from the heart and not necessarily writing music that is expected of them based on previous efforts. Some may whine and say things changed too much while my guess is the majority who actually listen to this album a bunch of times will welcome the influx of their true influences and enjoy a solid effort by a solid band. Check out everything else you need to know about streaming or buying this album by clicking HERE.
MINDFORCE “NEW LORDS”
(Triple B Records, Released September, 2022)
Mindforce is back with a new album bringing their signature blend of hardcore and heavy metal. “New Lords” is the name of the album and it feels like Mindforce doubling down on their hardcore roots! It’s shorter than “Excalibur”, the songs are both faster and more breakdown driven, and the album overall feels more ferocious! I’ve been following Mindforce since I saw them open for H2O in 2017, when all they had out was their demo and watching them grow has been spectacular and while every release has blown me away, it feels like each new record is an improvement upon the last.
One of the highlights of Mindforce for me has always been the guitar work of Mike Shaw and it feels like he’s come up with some of his most creative material on this album. “Words Fail” and “Thirteen And Mean” take what sounds like Iron Maiden-esque power metal riffs and turns them into tough guy hardcore mosh riffs and the intro on the closing track “Rotten” sounds almost like a progressive metal riff, like the lead guitar part in a Periphery song or something. Of course, Mindforce isn’t turning into Helloween or anything, they’re still bringing their modernized interpretation of crossover thrash style New York Hardcore pioneered by bands like Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, Carnivore and Leeway with just as much hardcore attitude as ever! Songs like “Survival Is Vengeance”, “Outcasts Of The Empire” and “Goliath And The Runt” rush in with enough speed and intensity to leave D.R.I. out of breath and tracks like the opener “New Lords” continue to raise the bar for their well-known aptitude for writing pit fight riffs!
A lot of the lyrics continue many of their previous themes of survival and perseverance in a cruel and unjust world, most obviously on “Survival Is Vengeance.” But one track that really stood out to me was the song “Outcasts Of The Empire.” The song is about how the Hudson Valley has been passed over for so long in the hardcore scene in favor of New York City. I relate to this song being from Long Island as we had a similar experience of being looked down upon by the hardcore tastemakers of the Big Apple. It seems like Hudson Valley and Long Island are currently on top, and Mindforce was a huge part of that. Mindforce led the charge for their scene and now there are loads of bands like Age Of Apocalypse, Big Shot, Soul Blind and so many more that are putting eyes on the Hudson Valley region just North of the city that never sleeps. Mindforce continues to charge forward all guns blazing on this new record and it truly seems like the sky’s the limit for them! Find this on Bandcamp or Spotify with CD & vinyl versions available through
SPACED “SPACED JAMS”
(New Mortality Zine, Released July, 2022)
Buffalo, NY continues to be a hot spot for New York hardcore and just to clarify to those who say if it's not from the 5 boroughs of NYC it isn’t NYHC, well it is. The rich history of bands from the area have brought every type of hardcore to the table from melodic hardcore, beatdown style, metal infused hardcore and now "far out hardcore". The latter may be new to you as it was to me and the band members of Spaced who coined this seemingly out of place phrase have a style which they describe as traditional but with "an out of the box sound" and it is amazing, it's fresh and it's hard! This five piece made up of: Lexi Reyngouldt- vocals, Donny Arthur- guitar, Joe Morganti- lead guitar, John Vaughan- bass and Dan McCormick- drums were finally able to get things moving as the pandemic started to die down last year and have a great story on how they got together. Spaced have put out a compilation of 9 songs entitled “Spaced Jams”, which contains 6 songs from their two previous releases and 3 new songs: “Prove You Wrong”, “Tear It Away” and “Point Of View”. I really enjoyed ALL of these tracks and musically it is a very unique sound created by friends and veterans of the scene and I can't honestly think of a band I can compare them even slightly to. Lexi's commanding presence and passion on the microphone are a perfect representation of the lyrics the band has written about such topics as keeping strong, keeping true and about our rights, especially women's rights. I am very excited to now know about Spaced and “Spaced Jams” just blew me away. For a band who have been together for such a short time and have already shared the stage with such heavyweights as Sick Of It All and Madball in Italy, Buried Alive and New Found Glory clearly I am just late in finding out what many have already known about this kickass band who have an insanely bright future. Check this out on Bandcamp or Spotify with 12” vinyl versions available through New Morality Zine.
MAD PEACEFUL s/t (Released August, 2022)
When alerted to the existence of Mad Peaceful, my initial reaction was skepticism, as I generally subscribe to M.O.P.’s ethos of “what the fuck is all this peace?” And yet I was intrigued by a hardcore band whose lineup contains actual comedians, a welcome change from hardcore bands who have mistakenly concluded that they are comedians. Upon first listen, Mad Peaceful immediately won me over with their energy and unique blend of influences. Each song has a slightly different flavor and indicates potential directions the band could go once they have more material.
The EP leads off with “Control,” which has an Orange 9mm feel. “Same Energy,” up next, is the highlight of this release. It feels longer than its 1:15 run time and is the song you’d put on a mix for someone to be like hey check out this band! Also doesn’t hurt that the infectious chorus has a similar riff to Skarhead - “Kings at Crime.” Third and final track “Only Way” is the most traditional song on this release. It features a guest spot from Toby Morse of H20, which is immediately followed by the song’s best riff. I look forward to hearing more from Mad Peaceful on subsequent releases, and in the meantime, check this one out on Spotify or Apple Music.
DUSTERS “GUERRILLA” (Mister Face Records/Psychotic Break Records, Released July, 2022)
New Jersey has an undeniable tradition of punk rock and oi, and since forming in 2015, Dusters have added to that legacy. Their new 7”, “Guerrilla”, features 8 songs over 14 minutes and is a collaborative effort between Mister Face Records and Psychotic Break Records. The 7" kicks things off with a full intro track, "Gathering Dust,” which like any good intro builds a strong foundation for the remaining songs ahead. “FBI” and “Last Ones Standing” are followed by “Kalashnikov,” with the first great sing-a-long chorus present here: “all our problems, one solution: we need a workers' revolution!” That’s it for side A, and things pick back up on side B with “Siege Warfare.”
While appealingly under-produced, you can hear the nimble bass lines woven throughout the record, especially on “Kalashnikov” and “Wage Slave.” The latter, track 6, almost sounds like if the Lovely Lads were from New Jersey, and is a top contender for my favorite. It features a satisfying breakdown that starts like the cadence of Rest in Pieces - “Not Worth Shit” and concludes with maybe the most efficacious repeat use of “maybe” since the Gravediggaz.
If you're in the know, you can't unhear “Subzero - Ice Age” at the beginning of "Central Bookings (Derby Days pt. II)" though the rest of the song ventures in its own direction. Final track “Vanguard” is another highlight. It’s probably no coincidence that two of the strongest (and longest) tunes close out their respective sides of the 7”: “Kalashnikov” on side A and “Vanguard” on side B. The choruses on both these closers will stay with you in between the repeat listens demanded by these tunes. Available on Bandcamp and Spotify as well as on vinyl, where the handwritten lyric sheet lends charm and chaos to this enviable release.
STRANGE JOY "5 TRACKS"
(Coreuption Records, Released June, 2022)
Coreuption Records out of Texas recently got in touch with us dropping 3 new releases on us that included Houston's Strange Joy. Appropriately titled "5 Tracks" this 5 tracked EP should appeal to old school, new school and no school ears as Strange Joy bring a style that is not so easy to slap a label on with some spots being more grimey, straight outta the garage hardcore punk ("Deny You") while others drop in more rock 'n roll sensibilities ("Black Hole Love"). Opener "Leaves" is a mid-paced choppy ear worm of a track while "Deny You" delivers up-tempo mosh inducing vibes. The mid-paced "Tarantula" (track 4) is the lone track that I am sorta indifferent about but the others more than make up for it. Strange Joy's "5 Tracks" is a refreshing listen that strays away from cookie cutter hardcore by delivering both grit and melody in a non-forced, not overproduced type of way that scores big "realness" points. Ballpark comparisons would be PA's One Step Closer and the recently disbanded Method Of Doubt from FL/GA. Strange Joy are also grinders in the live scene so keep an eye on their socials to see when they will roll into your town. Some notables on their docket include a 12 date US run starting in late October with Scowl, Jivebomb and Restraining Order and the Act Like You Know Fest being held in Tulsa, OK between November 18th and the 20th. Coreuption Records initially released this as a cassette but it is now sold out. You can still find this on both Bandcamp and Spotify.
COLD VIEW “NO HEAVEN” (Released May, 2022)
Out of Southern California, home to greats like Black Flag, Fear and The Circle Jerks, comes Cold View, with their onslaught of venomous hardcore. The members, who are from bands such as Frost Bite, A Shark Among Us, Set Your Anchor and Differences, decided to do a project together and the result is the “No Heaven” EP. The band serves up six tracks of intense and ferocious hardcore that will leave you feeling beaten and bloodied. These guys spare no expense taking hardcore back to its roots, when it was raw, abrasive and aggressive. “Raw Slice Of Life” hits early on like a left hook to the head, stunning you and making you take notice this is no lightweight hardcore band you are listening to. They get right in your face and set the tone for the rest of this killer EP. “Ca$h Rulez” continues with a barrage of fury worthy of a violent mosh pit. “Loose Endz”’s opening guitar riff and sharp breakdowns, along with merciless vocals, further solidifies that these guys have what it takes to break out and get the recognition they deserve. They play with conviction and purpose; taking us back to the old school of hardcore. “Heater” is a darker song, but maintains the hard and heavy sound they deliver with each track. There is even a clip from “The Fire Sermon”, if you are familiar with Buddhism. “No Heaven”, the title track, is more of an instrumental and has a mid to late eighties metal resonance to it. Like its predecessor, this also has a darkened overtone throughout it, but sustains the same heaviness and anger as the rest of the previous songs. The band includes the bonus track, “Energy” (the download we were sent has this as the closer while it is the opener on Spotify/Apple versions) and a fitting song to go out on. By the end of it you will find yourself wanting more. If you like you’re hardcore along the lines of Breakdown, Cold As Life, or newcomers, Smash Your Enemies then you will want this EP in your collection. This is the kind of music that motivates me to keep moving forward. Click HERE to find this on Spotify or Apple Music.
SNUFFED “COPING HUMAN WASTE”
(Another City Records, Released May, 2022)
Snuffed originates out of Chicago, Illinois and brings their Midwest hardcore sound to light with their first full length, entitled “Coping Human Waste”. The band has already released the 6 song “Mind’s Eye” EP in late 2018 and a 2 song effort in late 2019. Like other bands, they used the pandemic to hone their skills and work on releasing this record. Clocking in at a little over 22 minutes long, Snuffed storms through ten songs of furious punk/hardcore without taking a pause to catch their breath. Fronted by the rabid vocals of Karly and backed by a dense and enduring rhythm section, Snuffed show they are no flash in the pan when it comes to hardcore bands. Tracks like “Circle Of Dust”, “Emotionally Infested”, “Grievances” and “Soft Moments” are great examples of the band’s sheer intensity and viciousness in delivering their message and music. The title track, “Coping Human Waste” is a two-part song chock full of frantic playing and coupled with fuming vocals that will have you raging at the world. “Coping Human Waste” sets Snuffed apart from the posers and flavor of the month hardcore bands. Find this on Bandcamp or Spotify with cassette and 12” vinyl versions available through Another City Records.
“CORPORATE ROCK SUCKS : THE RISE AND FALL OF SST RECORDS” (Book by: Jim Ruland, Published by: Hachette Books, Released April, 2022)
Jim Ruland follows up his amazing book collaboration with California punk rock legend Keith Morris with the story of SST Records and its founder Greg Ginn. SST’s fall from grace is tragic due to the fact that Ginn and SST created such an amazing body of work that they should be revered for, yet Ginn chooses to allow his and the labels reputation and legacy to be reduced to the “where are they now” files. This book is great as it documents, in great detail, the people behind the scenes at SST who helped make the label and the bands succeed and is an amazing account of how the label went from underdog to game changer. 432 pages… available in all the usual formats and from all the usual places. Click HERE to find out more.
BUTTHOLE SURFERS “WHAT DOES REGRET MEAN?” (Book by: Aaron Tanner, Published by: Melodic Virtue, Released March, 2022)
“What Does Regret Mean?” is a visual gem that reminds me of the groundbreaking book “Fucked Up And Photocopied” in that it is heavy on great visuals and design elements. Amazing flyer artwork combined with equally amazing photography is paired up with a collection of stories and testimonials from a who’s who of their peers such as Kim Thayil, Neko Case and Henry Rollins. Founded by Gibby Haynes and Paul Leary, there was never a band like them before nor has there been anyone like them since. These San Antonian’s were an example of a group that didn’t play by any rules and personified what the whole “punk” movement was about in the 80’s. Click HERE for more info.
PEMBROKE "ALL THE BRIGHTEST PICTURES"
(Handstand Records, Released June 2022)
Pembroke are a new name to add to your NYC underground scorecard having just released their debut album with the robust 13 song/34 plus minute "All The Brightest Pictures". The band (who formed in late 2020) is made up of scene vets Ron Treasure on vocals (from street punk band Guns Dont Run), Supertouch guitarist Jon "Biv" Biviano and Jamie Behar from Saetia and Off Minor on the (6 string) bass. Frankie Zerilli provides the drums on this release but recently left the band leaving this new project in search of his replacement.
Opener "I'll Be Free" gives us our first taste of the diversity that lies within the Pembroke DNA starting off with a tranquil 40 second intro before things ramp up toward the muscle and grit we would more likely associate with a NYHC act. Songs liked "Final Day" and "Bloodrats" deliver a well balanced attack of hardness as well as infectious groove while others like "Not Ok" and "Too Old" offer well thought out pieces that incorporate more laid back vibes that lead into bursts of hardcore making for some interesting dynamics. Track 10 "Wreckage" offers up a 2:20 minute instrumental jam that is straight up hard as fuck to describe which jokingly leads me to ask the question of could the dawn of Jazzcore finally be here? Two tracks later we get a cover of "Too Young To Die" by Agent Orange which originally came out in 1981.
The more I listened to "All The Brightest Pictures" the more I got caught up in its unpredictability. The album leans hardcore punk by all means but there is also a boatload of experimentation going on too. Jon's Supertouch style of song writing is in the mix while Ron Treasure delivers a vocal performance that at times reminds me of Crown Of Thornz/Skarhead frontman Lord Ezec. With over a half hour of material it would be asking a lot to have 13 straight up bangers on a debut but they come pretty close with a mature and well rounded take on NYHC. With all the positives I just laid out I also have to point out what I think is the lone negative which is the average recording which comes off sounding cloudy putting a slight damper on an otherwise solid debut. Check this out on Bandcamp and Spotify with 12" gold vinyl versions available through Handstand Records.
RYKERS “OURS WAS A NOBLE CAUSE”
(BDHW Records, Released August, 2022)
If you ever doubted the influence of NYHC on the worldwide hardcore scene, all you need to do is look to Europe in the 1990’s when there were a ton of bands coming out that were heavily influenced by bands like Agnostic Front, Sick Of It All and Madball. Not that it’s a bad thing… after all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, is it not? Now some of these bands took it to the limit to the point that they were almost NYHC cover bands by becoming Roger Miret EU at times. Rykers has been a player in the European hardcore scene since 1993 and while they definitely wear their influences on their sleeves, they also have expanded their sound to distance themselves from being merely a mixed bag of recycled NYHC riffs. There is definitely a “One Voice” era sound to some of these songs, which 30 years later, isn’t such a bad thing, in small doses. This release marks the return of original frontman Kid-D to the Rykers mix who replaces Dennis aka Sergeant D. from Brightside who spent the last 5 years as Rykers’ frontman. With truckloads of gang vocals, a guest appearance from Rich O'Brien of Darkside NYC and some welcomed Slayer influenced riffage makes “Ours Was a Noble Cause” a solid listen. “Mentally Unlocked’ is the standout with its intensity and speed metal dive bombs that adds a nice change of pace. A solid release overall. Find this on Bandcamp or Spotify with physical copies available through BDHW.
FIXATION “THE SECRETS WE KEEP”
(WAR Records, Released July, 2022)
Oh my stars and garters, Filthadelphia's own Fixation has released a new LP and I get to review it for the mothership… the standard bearer, the all-time greatest, often imitated but never duplicated… the top of the motherfucking mountain, IN EFFECT HARDCORE DOT COM. Fixation is a band I have seen a few times now and I can never tell if they are set to explode (shout out to Dave Byrd) or destined to implode. I hope it's the former and judging by this release, the current solid line-up, and a built in mix master, I believe they sure can if they so desire. This is a dark release and as I have read the principal lyricist Wyatt Oberholzer stated that he found himself with a lot of time during Covid and during that time wrote lyrics dealing with his own mental health issues. The result is a heartbreaking portrait of that battle set to ripping hardcore punk rock and roll. There are eleven songs in about 18 minutes give or take. So now let's delve into a few of the tunes that I have stuck in my head.
The first one would be the opening track "Lachrymose'' running 1:10. “Lachrymose” means tearful you impish sods. Full D, I had to look that one up myself. This song sets the tone for what is to follow. This song bursts open with guitar, drum, and bass simultaneously setting the pace. It's a galloping tune but makes me feel like I am running out of air and trying desperately to break the surface, which is appropriate given what the song is about. The song is a snapshot of one night in the mind of depression but also a metaphor for depression on the whole. Wyatt screams the lyrics with the heartfelt conviction of being the subject and author. Every line is a bold statement on the struggle. It's a song that will stick in your guts.
"Purgatory" runs 2:53 and is the epic cut of the LP. Odd, yet perfect guitar chords lead into a slower groove that would be the perfect soundtrack for a descent into hell. Then on a dime Wyatt changes the whole vibe and belts out a vicious indictment of combustibility of love combined with underlying mental health issues. Once again he nails the feeling as only one who has experienced it can. Then at the 2:03 mark a sweet bass line and a fret slide change the mood again and the song goes out on a more upbeat note.
An ominous bass line leading into Wyatt's venomous cry of "WHAT THE FUCK?" kicks off "Violence" which clocks in at 1:22. This is a "let the steam off" type of tune that people will connect with and rip each other apart to. It's relatively short and it's furious. I am unclear if one of the other guys also sings here but the change in vocal style works well. It's a sick, speedy cut.
Every song on this release is like a dagger. I connected most with the above three however, they all cut hard. This is a great release and the band sounds as tight as ever. The guys don't miss a beat as they carve out their own hardcore niche. Wyatt is the built in mix master I mentioned earlier and his skills are evident on this and on all releases he has worked on. Comparisons to American Nightmare will be made but Fixation is definitely developing their own lane with this LP.
Listen up you hardly core, yarble munchers, mental illness is no fucking joke. It is not a cliché’ or a thing one wears as a badge of honor. Writing, talking, and singing about it are huge steps in destigmatizing it. They are some of the best ways/tools for those of us who suffer from it, to deal with it. Don't ever be afraid to check on a friend or to ask someone how they are doing. You never know the impact you can have. So Wyatt, holler at an old man who has been there if you ever need because many of us care. For the rest of you overly self-confident cunts; support the band, practice compassion, go fuck yourselves, and get the fuck off my lawn. Check out “The Secrets We Keep” on Bandcamp or Spotify with physical releases and merch available through WAR Records.
BENT BLUE “WHERE DO RIPPLES GO?”
(WAR Records, Released July, 2022)
For me the one thing that is vitally important in being in a band today is to maintain your own approach and not copy someone else… which is easier said than done. It keeps the listener engaged and above all it makes you stand out from the rest of the pack. San Diego's Bent Blue have just delivered just that with their new album "Where Do Ripples Go?" Formed in 2020 this is the band's latest bone crushing release.
From an instant of the opening track dropping, which is just perfect to the closing notes, this really is outstanding stuff. If you love old-school stuff, this is tinged with it but has a modern feel. The title track kicks things off and it was literally stuck in my head after the first listen. Everything is so strong about this album, and I am going to make a prediction that this band will be up there with all the great hardcore punk bands that we have all been blessed with… watch this space! "Dissonance" is a short sharp fast blast of punk with a no-nonsense approach whilst "Chastity Of Mind" slows things down for a bit before a full-on rage of musical anger and bliss. "Halfway" has fantastic opening guitars before delivering a superb mid-tempo approach, with "Viewpoint" adding melody coupled with attitude blasting at a mid-tempo pace. Finally, "What Is It For" closes this epic release with an interesting opening but don't be fooled by the gentle approach as Bent Blue rages forward adding an excellent and well-timed twist to the song. I cannot recommend this band enough as this release led me back to their previous stuff which I also loved. The future is very bright for Bent Blue, trust me! Find this release on Bandcamp or Spotify with physical releases available through WAR Records.
ABSTAIN “INFIRM OF PURPOSE”
(WAR Records, Released June, 2022)
Abstain is a straight edge hardcore band out of San Diego, California that seemed to have popped up, like many new bands after the Covid19 lockdown began to rescind. It feels as if hardcore is having a true renaissance to me right now and I’ve been subjected to an avalanche of new bands, Abstain being one of them. That’s good news to me! I was familiar with Abstain’s demo and I had even bought it when it came out because I really enjoyed it. I myself am straight edge and am always looking for new straight edge bands to rock out to and signing to Andrew Kline of Strife’s WAR Records is usually a pretty good endorsement. Needless to say, I was excited when I was asked to cover Abstain’s new EP: “Infirm Of Purpose” (not gonna lie, even with my extensive vocabulary, I had to look up what that meant).
So how did this EP stack up to my expectations? Well, the music was fantastic! The band advertises influences from both classic metallic hardcore bands like Unbroken, Earth Crisis, Hatebreed and modern straight edge bands like Magnitude and Year Of The Knife. Those are certainly apparent when you listen to it. Their frontman’s voice does bear a passing resemblance to that of Magnitude’s frontman, but I would never confuse the Abstain for another band. Certainly, when I think of San Diego hardcore, despite the presence of bands like Mizery, Take Offense and Unbroken, I usually think of the Ebullition Records screamo scene (Downcast put out my favorite album of 2020) and Abstain more than stands out from that. The opening track, “A Straight Edge Hymn” comes out all guns blazing with a torrent of furious mosh riffs! The song “Lethal Dose” has an absolutely brilliant two step riff and plenty of righteous straight edge anger behind it to make it one of the standout tracks. “Dual Allegiance” is a song that I recall from the demo and it was my favorite track on that demo. I think the guitars and the drums benefit from the production upgrade on this EP as they sound much punchier compared to the demo which sounded a little heavy on the bass. The closing track “Reckoning” also has an absolutely spine chilling main guitar riff that I absolutely love! It reminds me a little bit of something from “Songs Of Separation” by 108.
The music on this record is great hardcore, you get four adrenaline pumping new tracks and a better re-recording of an older track. But there is one issue I have with this record; I think the vocals need some work. I know hardcore is not built on technical ability, but his voice cracks a lot on this record and it makes me concerned for the health of his throat. I try to look past these things since I know both the limitations and the aesthetics of hardcore; but at the same time, it was something that was so constant on the record that I couldn’t unhear it. He’s not a bad hardcore vocalist either, enough character, charisma and passion comes through in his voice that I think he could become really great! The engineer probably should’ve run another take on these tracks to get a more flattering performance out of him. Rick Rodney wasn’t a trained vocalist either and I hear minimal cracking on Strife records.
Overall, I think if you went to the California Takeover reunion shows (I went to one of the Philly dates myself) then this band is doing something that I think you’ll really love. They have lots of talent, they write some great hardcore songs, but there is a little room for improvement. Maybe if I saw them in a live setting, it may change my opinion on certain things. That often is the case in hardcore since, as a style of music, it usually is meant to be enjoyed in a live setting more than on a piece of wax. Since this band is based on the West Coast and I live on the East Coast, that day is unfortunately a while off. Find this on Bandcamp or Spotify with 12” vinyl versions available though WAR Records.
LESSER MINDS “FUTILE” EP
(Protagonist Music/Deathwish, Released May, 2022)
I continue to be been blessed doing these reviews and finding out about many great bands and at the same time continuing to fulfill my desire/goal to contribute to the growth of the hardcore/punk scene. With this goal in mind let me tell you about a newer band that I am very excited about. Lesser Minds from Sussex County NJ put out a total of 3 songs on two different releases in 2021 and recently they have dropped a mighty debut EP titled “Futile” on Protagonist Music/Deathwish Inc.
Drawing from influences such as Death Threat, Black Flag, Deadguy and Integrity, “Futile” is a musical whirlwind of aggression, composed of raw and simple hardcore, punk rock and in your face lyrics. The release contains 5 tracks with less than an 8 minute play time, causing me to listen to it over again several times because I like it that much. Track titles are: “Vatican Damage”; “Crush”; “All Pain (All The Time)”; “High Praise” and “Blunt Force Drama”. I like all of the tracks on the EP but my favorites are “High Praise” with its eerie intro and great line “Can’t avoid the wall when someone cuts your breaks” and “Blunt Force Drama”, which is also a great title. But you will find all the lyrics on “Futile” are well-crafted and straight from the heart which is to be expected from a band that won’t compromise on their views. This is another reason why I have become a fan of Lesser Minds. The music drew me in and when I read how they are against racism, stand with the LGBTQ community, encourage those with opioid abuse and mental health concerns to seek help and advocate for a healthy diet I became more of a fan and also gained much respect for them. Now obviously people may have different opinions and mindsets than the band members do but what is important here is that “Futile” is a release that pushes Lesser Minds high on the list of newer bands that really have something special. They follow in the footsteps of the countless, great bands preceding them that paved the way for the Garden State hardcore scene. Find this on Bandcamp or Spotify and go HERE to find out how to grab a copy on cassette or CD.
DOLORES "GUTTER GOSPEL" (Released July 2022)
Dolores are a 4 piece hardcore band out of San Jose, CA who started in 2015 and their latest; "Gutter Gospel" is their 4th overall release (all EP's). The band says they take inspiration from bands like Madball and Terror with an infusion of Bay Area Thrash and all of those sounds are evident on their latest. The song titles here are "Valley Of Def", "Caged World", "5Nake5" and "Gram". Going beyond their inspirations this EP is very bouncy in a hip-hop meets hardcore/Biohazard type of way with opener "Valley Of Def" being the strongest example of this. "Caged World" delivers on the thrash influences while "5Nake5" slows the pace down while delivering some ass beating stomp parts. "Gram" closes things out big, rough and tough with a mid-paced head nodder. The crystal clear production on "Gutter Gospel" only helps at bringing out the best in these songs. For this recording session the band laid down 8 tracks but decided to only release 4 at this time with the remaining 4 to be released later this year under the title "This Side Of The Dirt". Click HERE to find out more about the band including streaming options, merch and more.
PERMANENT MISTAKES “DEMO 2022”
(A389 Recordings, Released April 2022)
Q: What do you get when you take 4 of the most metalriffic Baltimore dudes, hand them their instruments, and lock them in a basement?
A: You get 4 of the most ripping tunes that are PUNK AS FUCK!
You see me flexin’ the witticism there? Indulge me or forgive me. Permanent Mistakes is the brainchild of guitarist "Lord" Dom Romeo (Integrity, Slumlords, Pulling Teeth, Day Of Mourning), bassist Chris Kuhn (Pulling Teeth, State Drugs), drummer Sebastian Phillips (Exhumed, Noisem), and vocalist Lucas Carscadden (Dead Mechanical). The guys got together and recorded 4 catchy as hell punk rock nuggets for all of us to enjoy. This comes as no surprise to me as I live between Baltimore and DC and know these guys embody the DIY punk rock ethic as well as a love for the genre itself. The band's eponymous first track runs a blistering punk rawk 52 seconds. Eponymous means named after a particular person or in this case group boys and girls. Eponymous is not a dead Scandinavian black metal guy who burned churches among other questionable choices. Sorry for using a big word. I digress… the song "Permanent Mistakes" lets you know the band's intention. It showcases excellent musicianship coupled with matching snotty punk rock vocals. It's fast, its catchy, it's stripped down, it's all you need for a good punk tune. "Anchor" runs 1:02 and is a rockin’ head bopper. This one is even more of an earworm than the first tune. You'll be boppin’ your head to the beat like the rest of us who've heard it. "Amateur Villain" clocks in at 1:19. This one opens with a vague Op Ivy feel at first then explodes into another dance worthy tune. "Everybody's got your number and nobody calls". True dat. The final cut and the demo's epic song is "35 Burnout" at 1:51. This song features the great Micket Erg making a guest appearance. I know this is getting old, but yes, yet another catchy punk rock song that you cannot help tappin’ or boppin’ along with.
There ya have it you infectious germs, around 5 minutes of total ear worm worthy punk rock by 4 dudes who are usually busy melting your faces off. They have the pop punk sensibilities of a band like Face To Face who do it in earnest without the shtick that goes with a lot of pop punk bands. You mix that with the likes of Kid Dynamite, Lifetime, Shook Ones, maybe a little Avail and you have the name of five bands. Rim shot. Now please go check out this Bawlmer punk rock for yourselves you wandering wankers then check dem O's or head down Dundalk and grab some Natty Bohs!. Now warsh your hands with some wooder, and as per usual, get the fuck off my lawn.....hon! A389 Recordings had these available on hand dubbed cassettes with Xeroxed covers (now sold out) but you can still find this on Bandcamp by clicking HERE.
WITHOUT LOVE “SURRENDER” EP (Released May, 2022)
UK melodic hardcore band Without Love go for glory with their emotive brand of hardcore and deliver outright as they passionately deliver on their debut EP “Surrender”. The band demonstrate an impressive knack for songs that pack a punch both sonically and emotionally as they race through the EP’s track listing. The immediate power of the title track; “Surrender” is evident and from then on, and over the course of these five tracks, Without Love mix emotional but fiery hardcore with a triumphant style of melody to create a quintet of quality hardcore tracks. The tracks are packed with passion and anger, and the sense of melody really elevates things especially on tracks like “Status Symbol” and “Aftermath”. While a series of lineup changes have tried to stop the momentum of Without Love, the core duo of guitarist Henry Reid and bassist John Scholefield didn’t even think of giving up and enlisted longtime friend Tobi, who is also the drummer of German punk band Chartreux to play drums on “Surrender” and the results sound brilliant throughout. What happens in the future of Without Love and whether they will become a full on band with a permanent lineup remains to be seen but they have definitely made an impact with this fine debut and hopefully more new music will materialize in the future. Click HERE for more info on how to stream or buy this release on cassette.
STAND STILL, THE FIGHT, MAXIMUM PENALTY, UPPERCUT, ALONE IN A CROWD,
BREAKDOWN, KILLING TIME @ THE BROOKLYN MONARCH, JULY 30, 2022
ALL PHOTOS BY: JC PHOTO MEDIA
Back in December of 2020 Rich McLoughlin who many of you know from his time in legendary NYHC bands Breakdown and Killing Time passed away and this memorial show in his honor was a long time in the making. The Breakdown ’87 demo, Raw Deal demo and Killing Time’s “Brightside” are classics that are loved around the world 30 plus years after they were created but as we found out on this day Rich was a fun, quirky and respected individual beyond his musical achievements and his memory will continue to live on through his friends who put on one helluva memorial.
Long Island upstarts STAND STILL and THE FIGHT were given opening slots on this day. I love that whoever put this lineup together saw the need to include younger, active bands because if you looked around there was a lot of gray, people standing to the side (guilty as charged) and others getting around with canes. Hardcore is a young man’s game but for what it’s worth the average 40-50 something NYHC fan that has been doing this shit for decades has to be applauded for their dedication as there are still a ton of people who still consider themselves “hardcore kids” despite father time doing his thing.
Outside of Stand Still and The Fight the rest of the bands on this bill had direct ties to Rich including the next band up in MAXIMUM PENALTY who delivered a set filled with their earliest demo songs up to later stuff like “Comin Home”, “Could You Love Me” and “Life And Times” which still feels like a new song despite it being released in 2009. “Acceptance”, “Hate”, “Nowhere To Turn To” and “Immaculate Conception” (all played on this day) are still classics that will NEVER get old. MP frontman Jimmy Williams had some good memories of Rich and asked for a moment of rage instead of silence asking for everyone to scream his name out in between songs. He also made mention to Killing Time’s “The Method” album and how the title of that record had a direct correlation to Rich but didn’t give more details… As always MP played with love for the music but also did a great job of conveying their love for a friend who obviously meant the world to them.
MAXIMUM PENALTY PHOTO BY: JC PHOTO MEDIA
UPPERCUT came out to “Down For The Count” which was one of their two cuts off of the “Where The Wild Things Are” compilation from 1989. For a band that seemingly hasn’t played in forever Uppercut sounded excellent although for a very short set that may have gone 15 minutes at the most. Things ended with “Am I Clear” which stirred a bit of “straight edge controversy” when it originally came out due to lyrical content but there were no obvious xxxHARDLINExxx boycotts or protests outside of the venue. Uppercut were one of those back in the day under the radar NYHC bands that didn’t have a long run or drop a ton of music but could have very easily been a household name within the genre as they played a style that lined right up with their contemporaries who they shared this bill with.
UPPERCUT PHOTO BY: JC PHOTO MEDIA
ALONE IN A CROWD who were next also fall into a “what could have been” category having put out a 5 song EP in 1989 and then pretty much “poofed” into thin air breaking up not too long after. This was their third show ever and according to their singer Jules Massey would be their last show ever as he gave us a lot of insight between songs and how he even contemplated not playing this show. Between songs Jules stated that he likes to talk and chopped it up with the crowd touching on subject matter like a recently released AIAC song that he felt was not well received by some factions, and how at first he felt playing this show as a 51 year old man seemed weird but then after contemplating recent world events that it was a perfectly sensible thing to do. I liked his openness of just coming out and saying stuff including asking for help before one of their songs because he said it was a hard song for him to sing. Much like Uppercut, AIAC sounded impressively sharp considering they play on average a show every 11 years. I am also happy to report that Howie Glen Wallen (guitarist on their ’89 EP) who had fallen seriously ill and was the reason why AIAC did a one-off benefit show in 2019 was in attendance and appeared to be in good health sending a wave to the crowd when he was introduced.
ALONE IN A CROWD PHOTO BY: JC PHOTO MEDIA
Like many in attendance I thought that BREAKDOWN would be up next followed by KILLING TIME to end the night but in a weird/cool twist I was wrong as Breakdown did go on first by playing “Safe In A Crowd” with its sick bass intro that set the crowd off into kill mode as things really erupted at this point after some minor tremors for both Uppercut and AIAC. “Vengeance” was up next and seeing frontman Jeff Perlin holding the mic in his left hand, arm bent, doing his patented “lean” as he screamed “you fucked with my friend, so now you gotta pay…” brought back so many damn memories from throughout the years. As “Vengeance” was wrapping up Jeff walked towards the back of the stage and handed the mic to Killing Time frontman Anthony Comunale which was at first a surprise until the band backing him busted into a Killing Time classic in “Telltale”. It was at this point that I realized that outside of the two singers the entire personnel behind them was exactly the same for both bands with Anthony Drago on drums, Carl Porcaro on guitar and Chris Skowronski also doubling up to play Rich’s bass parts in Breakdown. This play 2 songs and then hand the mic off system played out well in a Hardcore Jukebox type of way as both bands combined to play over 20 songs in total. Along the way (like the bands that played earlier) each band made sure to honor Rich’s memory with short stories of Rich’s legendary quirky ways which made him so likeable. There was a lot of love in the air on this night for a man that helped both the Breakdown and Killing Time machines move and who will be forever missed and never replaced. RIP Rich.
BREAKDOWN PHOTO BY: JC PHOTO MEDIA
Before we wrap this up I want to bring in a snippet of an interview we did with Anthony Drago in February of 2021, just a few months after Rich’s passing. We asked him for his earliest memories of Rich and this is what he had to say…
” I met Rich for the first time at the second Breakdown practice we had after I auditioned for the band. Rich couldn’t make the first practice at my parent’s place for some reason, so I was still not officially a member. Jeff, Carl and Don who I had auditioned for and had one practice with, told me that it wouldn’t be official until Rich met me and heard me play. So I was really psyched to meet him. I was pretty confident that I was a good fit for the band but I had heard that Rich was good friends with Lou Alfidi, who was the original drummer, so there was always the chance that something might go wrong for me.
A few songs in, Rich announces that he’s got to take a piss and asks me if he can use the bathroom in the house. Now, Rich had a full blown mohawk at the time and there was no bringing anyone into the house that didn’t first meet my father. My dad was an off-the-boat old school Sicilian. So when we walk in, my dad says “Holy shit! Wha happened your head?” Rich doesn’t miss a beat and says “Oh, it was a bad lawnmower accident. I still can’t do yard work”. This makes my dad laugh, which was a very hard thing to do. Rich joins in with his infectious giggle and I’m thinking, how fucking weird is this shit? As we were walking back to the garage, I couldn’t help myself and I asked Rich if he thought I might make it in the band. He said, “Everything is sounding real good, I’d say you’re in already.” I was so fucking psyched. First playing with the guys back then, I couldn’t help but feel like the outsider, Rich helped me out with that a lot. They all gave each other a rash of shit too. Rich usually took most of it, but always with a smile on his face. He could dish it out too. His impressions of Don cracked me up for decades”. Read the rest of this interview HERE.
KILLING TIME PHOTO BY: JC PHOTO MEDIA
CRAZY EDDIE "EDDIE RUINS FUN" (Released June, 2022)
NYC's Crazy Eddie have been pretty consistent putting out new music since releasing their "Eddie Drops Out Of College" debut in the spring of 2018. Their latest is the 3 song "Eddie Ruins Fun" EP which pushes their total online catalog of songs to 25. Add in a steady flow of local live gigs since that 2018 debut and it's safe to say that the band that is named after a shady 70's and 80's electronics chain OR a popular brand of angel dust sold on 116th street in Manhattan back in the day is putting in work.
Their newest one is short and sweet and will cost you 6 minutes and 9 seconds of your busy day starting off with opener "No Time To Waste". This one sees Crazy Eddie frontman Chucky Brown trade off vocals with Fahrenheit 451's Armando Bordas with the earworm chorus of "when did it get this way, thoughts and prayers were never binding..." Is this their best jam to date? Quite possibly. Since their start the Crazy Eddie blueprint has given us plenty in the way of NYHC vibes but also hefty doses of more punk leaning sounds and with "No Time To Waste" Crazy Eddie really nails a melding of the two with a killer raise your mug up punk rock chorus coupled up with the choppy 2 step beat that runs throughout the track.
"Just Walk Away" is up next and is one of the best 53 second songs I've heard in some time as it packs a lot into its short stay with a prime choice breakdown that surfaces around the mid-way point and rides on through to the final notes.
Closer "My Life" is another fun as well as easy as fuck Crazy Eddie song to get sucked into that utilizes choppy beats and a catchy chorus to create another standout. Chucky brings a bit of a public service announcement within his lyrics stating "Don't be a fool, stay in school" on a few occasions while he tells the story of how people have always told him how to live his life.
With "Eddie Ruins Fun" Crazy Eddie once again showcases a fun, well written and performed product that should appeal to a wide range of hardcore punk fans. All of their material is available for free download and if you have been to their shows you may have noticed how their buttons and stickers are just sort of laying around in inconspicuous spots there for the taking. Crazy Eddie is an easy band to like on a bunch of different levels with their music being a primary reason, and their overall fun vibes coming in not far behind. Check this new one out for yourself though by clicking HERE for their Bandcamp page or HERE for Spotify.
STAND STILL "IN A MOMENTS NOTICE"
(Daze/Triple B Records, Released July 2022)
The summer of 2021 saw a wave of quarantine born bands releasing their first offerings and Long Island, NY's Stand Still were one that really stood out with a refreshing melodic style that seemed to have just the right balance of "hard" and "soft" feels. Songs like "The Cave" and "Satellites" became essential (as well as daily) listens in the car and became synonymous with the feeling that Covid's clutch on everyday life was becoming a thing of the past. Since the release of their debut Stand Still kept the peddle pressed to the floor DIY-ing their way around the US with short stint tours that organically helped push their name beyond the borders of Nassau and Suffolk counties. In addition to life on the road Stand Still were also busy preparing "In A Moments Notice" which is the 6 song follow up to last year's impressive debut. The new EP is available now and is essentially broken down into two parts with 3 new studio tracks as well as 3 live tracks that all appeared on the 2021 debut.
"Loose Ends" starts off the "new" side and sees the band continue right where they left off with a summertime/good vibes type of track. The accompanying music video sees the band performing the song live in Lido Beach on Long Island with other parts showing their singer Gerry singing the song out of a car window as they drive over one of those low bridges that are pretty common in the area. A great kick off to this EP both musically as well as visually if you count in the video. "With All My Love" is a mid-paced 3 and a half minute jam that sees Stand Still turn things a bit more mellow while still keeping that “bouncability” that seems to run throughout all of their tracks. This is another one of those sneak up on you after a few listens and get stuck in your head types of songs. "Trading Places" finishes off the "new" side and features guest vocals from Ryan O'Rourke of Innerlove at the tail end of the track.
The live portion of this recording contains the tracks "There's No Autumn Here", "Id" and "Lockbox" and was recorded at Silver Bullet Studios in CT. These tracks have been on You Tube for a while where you can watch the band perform them in a small, horror themed house in the middle of the woods of Burlington, CT. The fact that I had already played these 3 songs into the ground last summer made me go into the live side with not a lot of enthusiasm but I have to say that the recording here is warm and brings a different dynamic than the originals as I have caught myself just letting the whole EP play straight through a whole lot more than I thought I would.
With their second drop Stand Still continue their ascent with strong song writing, execution and the right fit behind the microphone with frontman Gerry Windus delivering another standout performance that brings everything together. Proving there is no rest for the wicked Stand Still get back on the road for an 8 date tour with San Diego's Bent Blue on July 30th and then back home for some home cooking with the "In A Moments Notice" record release show at Amityville Music Hall on August 13th. Click HERE to find various ways to stream and download this release as well as buy merch, upcoming show tickets and physical copies.
(Revelation Records, Released June, 2022)
Do you ever lie awake at night wondering what 2022 hardcore from Sweden sounds like? Well rest easy my friend as those restless nights are a thing of your past. "Paradise"... the new 3 song EP from Stockholm's Speedway came out via Revelation Records on June 10th and it has been on blast on my listening devices ever since. I gave Speedway a quick look back in 2020 when they released their 5 song self-titled debut and was impressed. With "Paradise" though, everything I liked before is still there but sort of elevated to almost "holy shit" status as these 3 songs truly do bang. They kind of remind me of Vision (RIP Dave Franklin) in some ways with a clean and melodic type of style while still having that sorta "hard" element within them. The downside here is there is only 7 minutes worth of music... a hard pill to swallow when you have listened to "Paradise" multiple times in a row and just want more and are thinking "could they have pulled off a full length like this with no throw away tracks?" Hard to say for sure but I would lean towards answering with a cautious yes as "Balance", "Hands Of Time", and the title track showcase multiple layers of well written hardcore that does not rely solely on the fast part/mosh part/fast part style of song writing. Further proof that these Swede's are the real deal comes in their record labels as Triple B (debut 2020 EP) and now Revelation Records here in 2022 are not just scooping up any random punx with a demo tape just to put them out. Trust me on this one and smash those blue hyperlinks to their Bandcamp or Spotify to hear for yourself. Record release show is August 6th at Cyklopen in South Stockholm for those in the neighborhood or willing to go on a hardcore pilgrimage. Can't wait to hear what's next Speedway! Click HERE for all things Speedway including merch options.
(Academic Punk Records, Released July, 2022)
Winterwolf have been making the rounds in the NYC hardcore punk scene for about 5 years now. Although they play a fair amount of shows they have been a bit elusive with formal releases. On July 2nd Winterwolf released the 4 song 11 plus minute "Unwell" EP which is their first release as a 3 piece. To give a little history here this band was playing just as a 2 piece in their earlier stages while using just bass and drums (bassist Jehiel Winters also handled vocals). The 2022 Winterwolf lineup still has Mr. Winters in his usual spots with Nasty Nate now on drums and Tony $yxx adding additional vocals... (guitar tracks were laid down by the band in the studio for recording purposes).
To say Winterwolf is an interesting and unique band is an understatement. Their sound is rooted in punk rock but they like to keep listeners on their toes while introducing other elements into the mix, most notably the vocal stylings of Tony $yxx. "Intro" gets us started and is a sub-2 minute bouncy punk jam. The spoken word thrown into the mix gives the song a sense of urgency and the blood flowing. It doesn't take long to see that this is a light the fuse type of song to get the crowd moving.
"Eye Of The Wolf" starts off with a mid-paced and upbeat type of feel before slowing things down about half way through with Tony $yxx dropping some high pitched Axl Rose type of vocals in. This is the point where you as the listener are digging in deeper on Winterwolf or flailing away trying to hit whatever button you need to hit to get to the next track. $yxx's roots are planted deep within "Unwell" and took some time getting used to and although I look at him as a plus to this band right now I feel it will take some time to utilize his style where it is not a "too much" or "too little" situation.
"Creep" is track 3 and is the longest song here with a run time of 3:48. This is probably the least punk rock influenced song of the bunch with an almost hard rock feel. This one has an eerie vibe that has a slow build that will have you nodding along. On the first two tracks Winterwolf show they can write quality hardcore punk tunes but with "Creep" they show that they are a band that isn't scared to take some chances. "Blue Lights" closes things out strong with a fuzzy bass sound and more bouncy groove as WInterwolf's two singers' styles come together better than on any other "Unwell" track... Winters with his more straight up hardcore style and $yxx channeling his inner King Diamond. This track bops along and like earlier ones dives into slower grooves before a slow build... something Winterwolf does well making this EP have a good flow as well as a feeling of overall freshness. Find this on Bandcamp with CD and vinyl versions in the works from upstart label Academic Punk Records.
DROP OFF POINT s/t (Released June, 2022)
Drop Off Point are a hardcore band all the way from Hamilton, New Zealand and formed during the pandemic. The band members come from such bands as 21 Guns, Daredevil, Arkane, as well as other local New Zealand bands. The band claims there is a strong hardcore scene in their country, thanks to bands such as Madball, Sick of It All and others who came and helped revive the scene. On this self-titled EP, the band shows their passion for hardcore; especially NYHC. The band has a strong New York sound which is evident in the opening track, “Just For Tonight”. Everything about the song screams NYHC; including the similarity the singer has with Sick Of It All’s, Lou Koller, which isn’t a bad thing, considering they credit Sick Of It All as one of their influences. “Voices” follows up with a catchy, but tough sounding song that will surely get your day started on a high note. After listening to it a couple times, I found myself singing it in my head for the rest of the day. “For The Memories” is my personal favorite. It has all the makings of a great hardcore song; ample riffs, seething vocals and solid drumming make this the standout track on the EP. This is a song you would have on your playlist when hitting the gym. “By Your Side” veers off a little from the previous three tracks and has more of a pub sing-along feel to it. “Hardcore Pride” ends the EP on a high note. The band sums up the meaning of what hardcore stands for, setting it to an anthem sounding backdrop that will have you jumping around in your room. Drop Off Point deliver a genuine piece of hardcore on their first outing and have me wanting to check out other bands from New Zealand. Drop Off Point would be welcomed by the NYHC scene and if I didn’t know any better, I’d have guessed they were a New York band. Find this on Spotify.
KINGS NEVER DIE “GOOD TIMES AND THE BAD”
(Fastbreak! Records, Released July, 2022)
Composed of members of Biohazard, Murphy's Law, Sheer Terror and Dog Eat Dog, KND sound like none of these bands at all. Their bio says “musically they cross-breed the speed and aggression of classic hardcore, the raw melodicism of street-punk and occasional moments of metallic muscle in their riffage”. After listening to this the short way of saying that is they sound like White Trash Rob fronting the Dropkick Murphy’s. Ok, maybe not DKM, but honestly this is very melodic “street punk” with a few heavy bits and a literal dump truck load of gang vocals. Is it good? Sure, if melodic street punk is your thing…me, I was honestly hoping for a lot more from this band. Given that this is the first time I’m hearing KND I’ll look at it as a starting point and if you know Fastbreak! Records they like their bands to have that melodic aspect to their bands (Wisdom In Chains etc). I guess this EP left me underwhelmed in that nothing really jumped out at me that made me think “yeah, this band is onto something” but hey, these songs should still be good live. Keep in mind though that I thought Fireburn were hugely overrated, so yeah, there’s that to consider as well. Still looking forward to hearing more from these guys. Find this on Spotify with physical copies available through Fastbreak!
RKL “LIVE IN A DIVE” (Fat Wreck-Chords, Released June, 2022)
With the release of RKL’s “Live In A Dive”, the 10th in the series, Fat Wreck hits a home run with this 30 year old recording of Montecito, CA punks RKL. Recorded on May 12th 1989 in Eindhoven, Holland, the sound of this record is as it should be; raw, full of energy and captures a place in time when hardcore was fast, drug fueled and damn fun. 17 songs with lots from the 1987 “Rock ‘N Roll Nightmare” record, RKL rip through the set with the fury and precision that made the band skate punk icons. “Keep Laughing” was one of the first punk records I ever bought (and still have) and it was bands like RKL, Ill Repute and JFA, that got me into the West Coast punk/skate scene in the 80’s. The band would fall apart not long after this recording, but thankfully it was recorded to pay tribute to a great and unique band that should/could have really gone places if the punk lifestyle didn’t take its toll. A must! Click HERE to stream or HERE to buy a physical copy from Fat.
END IT “UNPLEASANT LIVING”
(Flatspot Records, Released July, 2022)
End It has long been one of the most relevant and exciting bands in hardcore, a status reinforced by their stellar new effort “Unpleasant Living.” After building momentum via two new singles and accompanying videos, the full six songs are finally available for your consumption. Six songs! Yes, this is the longest End It release yet. It’s the perfect complement to their existing catalog and includes all the elements essential to End It.
Like their last release “One Way Track,” “Unpleasant Living” opens with a clip of a country song, before the rest of the “BCHC” intro flows seamlessly into “New Wage Slavery". These songs are classic End It: incisive lyrics atop the hardest riffs, which are rarely repeated in a traditional verse/chorus structure. Track 3, “L’appel du Vide,” features a new twist with some Maximum Penalty-esque vocals at the outset, followed by a hard as hell mosh part 45 seconds in. In the best types of songs you can always visualize how and when people are going to mosh, and this is one of the most vivid mosh visuals on the album. End It diehards may next recognize “21” as “Rawdog” with updated lyrics, like how the Sheer Terror demo track “Everything and Nothing” later became “Just Can’t Hate Enough.”
Track 5, “Hatekeeper” was the first of the two singles released, both of which have over 30,000 plays on Spotify. From rhyming to timing to song construction, it’s tempting to label it the best song overall. But there’s a surprise up next: “The Comeback” is back after a new epic intro! It’s always been one of my favorites but was previously only available as a B-side, so I was overjoyed to find it included here. It’s the longest of the six songs, with the most traditional structure, and the ideal last song in the way of Leeway - “The Future (Ain’t What It Used To Be).” I can’t wait to see what the future holds for End It, but in the meantime, “Unpleasant Living” cements their place on the list of the year’s best releases and among the Baltimore canon. Check it out on Bandcamp and Spotify... or HERE to check in with Flatspot Records who are already sold out of the vinyl copies with CD’s and some hot merch still available at this time. Second pressings on the way? Let’s hope!
WAR BABIES “SHAMELESS IMBALANCE”
(Hellminded Records, Release Date July 6, 2022)
Great thing about getting digital music files to review is you can listen to it anywhere. That’s it. Sorry, but nothing beats a physical copy in hand and with War Babies “Shameless Imbalance” I wanted nothing more than to get my hands on the lyrics for the 23 song power violence onslaught that it is. At 56 my multi-tasking skills are somewhat diminished so I find myself enjoying the short, powerful and old school hardcore (1986-ish) hardcore. What’s insane about this record is that it was created by only two people in Mike D. (Kill Your Idols/Sheer Terror) guitar and bass and Darren Nanos (Headhunters, Brain Slug, more) on drums and vocals. Influenced by bands like NYC Mayhem, Straight Ahead, Spazz, Crossed Out, War Babies also remind me of classic Poison Idea circa “Kings Of Punk” not only because of the speed, production and impact, but also because the vocals remind me of Jerry A ever so slightly. Melodic at times, powerful and fast and to the point “Shameless Imbalance” is a great throwback to the hardcore I grew up on in the 80’s. Adding to the package is the great artwork by Juan Machado. The only thing I’d change is the reference to calling this “Quarantine Core”. Due out on July 6th, follow this Bandcamp link which has the tracks “March Of The Mindless” and “Life After The Boom”. Pre-orders are also available through Hellminded Records.
RAW BRIGADE “AGGRESSIVE CITY”
(Cash Only Records, Released June, 2022)
Raw Brigade release their first full length album, “Aggressive City”, on Cash Only Records. This up and coming label is run in part by members of Ekulu and with previous releases from Combust and Ekulu it is safe to say that Cash Only is on the right track. The new Raw Brigade album consists of nine tracks and clocks in at a little over thirteen minutes long. The band formed at the end of 2016 as a straight edge band and hail from Bogota, Colombia, with some seemingly interchangable pieces that help them tour often within the US and they are known for their energetic and intense live shows. The band wastes no time in grabbing your attention, as they blast through the all-out opening track, “Latinos”. It doesn’t take long to realize that these four guys play for their love of hardcore music. They play tough and uncompromising hardcore, reminiscent of the 80’s hardcore sound. Songs like “RFH (Runaway from Hell)”, “Each Other” and “The Job” take you back to the early days, when hardcore was making its impact known. Raw Brigade has a raw and gritty old style sound that can be heard throughout the entire record. The music is persevering and fueled with a fierce energy. I had a difficult time sitting still writing this review while listening to this record. Each time a new song started up, I wanted to jump out of my chair and circle pit around my small office. If you are a fan of eighties straight edge hardcore, then grab this record. Currently streaming via Bandcamp and Spotify but for vinyl versions you are going to have to wait until the Fall. Click HERE to pre-order a copy through Cash Only Records.
SPEED “GANG CALLED SPEED”
(Flatspot Records, Released June, 2022)
If you were to ask a band how they would describe “success” you most likely would get slightly different answers from the members. If you are in the Australian band Speed one answer to this question that you may get from members: Jem- vocals, Josh- guitar, Dennis- guitar, Aaron- bass and Kane- drums is their being asked to play this year’s Sound & Fury Festival in Los Angeles. This Sydney, Australia hardcore band are on their way to show the states next month what they have been proving in other parts of the world since their inception in 2019. Following up from their 2019 demo and a 2020 two song EP, Speed have just released a hard driving 6 song EP titled “Gang Called Speed”, which is a heavy blend of beatdown style hardcore drawing from such influences as Biohazard, Trapped Under Ice, Merauder and I would even throw in a touch of LA’s Countime. This release is not for the weak of heart and if your style of hardcore tends to be in the really “hard” category then you will truly appreciate this EP as I do. Being a predominately Asian band, Speed have and continue to sing about standing up against hate crimes toward their communities as well as encouraging other Asians to embrace the hardcore scene and to also start bands. The song titles and lyrics are reflective of this as well as speaking on other topics of life. The track list is: “Not That Nice”, “Another Toy”, “Move”, “Big Bite”, “Every Man For Themself”, and “Know Your Foe”. I didn’t bother trying to pick a favorite track since there is not one I needed to skip and I’ve listened to it quite a few times already. “Gang Called Speed” is a suburb release and the band deserves high recognition for putting out such an outstanding EP so early into their existence. The sky is the limit for these gentlemen and it is safe to say that when Speed finish their set in LA on July 29th they will have gained a lot more fans. Stream this on Bandcamp and click HERE for a ton of info on the band including live sets, tickets to upcoming shows and how to buy the vinyl version (and merch) of this new release.
INJURY TIME “WE CAN’T BE STOPPED” (Then And Now: Essex Hardcore Records, Released June, 2022)
Injury Time come to us from London and are veterans of bands such as Cold Hard Truth, Last Orders, Nine Bar and other punk bands. Along with their new 7”, “We Can’t Be Stopped”, the band has also released a full length record entitled, “The Vex”, on Rucktion Records. The band plays old school punk rock and they play it fast and loud with conviction. Injury Time take you back to the good old days when bands like GBH, Discharge and Chaos UK assaulted our ears with the British punk invasion. Listening to “We Can’t Be Stopped” takes you back to that era. The band keeps it real with their message, focusing on being your own person and standing up for what you believe in, instead of being part of the flock. Songs like “Backbone” and “Shallow Grave” are two good examples of what I’m talking about. “You’re all the same and not the same as me”, the last line in the opening versus of “Shallow Grave”, is such a simple, yet powerful lyric and will hit home for any punk rocker. Listening to this record brings back good memories of a time when punk was about making a change and standing up for what you believe in. Injury Time bring those good memories back to life with “We Can’t Be Stopped”. If you’re a fan of early 80’s British punk, than these guys are worth checking out. They have definitely scored a fan in me on this record. This Bandcamp link will lead you to the streaming of this EP as well as how to buy a vinyl copy through Then And Now Essex Hardcore.
OUTRIGHT "KEEP YOU WARM"
(Reason And Rage Records, Release Date July 15, 2022)
Who doesn't love getting blindsided by a solid new record (and in this case... band) you previously had no clue about? Formed in 2010 Australia's Outright can be deemed as grinders as everything on their resume that accompanied this 10 song/35 plus minute album points to a band that is determined to get their music out to all corners of the heavy music universe. From forming their own label (Reason And Rage in 2012), to tours in Japan, New Zealand, a 3 month DIY tour of their homeland and tour support for Rise Against, Refused and Propagandhi... Outright have shown that perseverance will eventually pay dividends.
"Truth Teller" is the leadoff batter for "Keep You Warm" and immediately I was hit with a very tight and polished sounding product that gave off a vibe that this band has been around for some time and are very capable in their abilities. This multi-layered opener is just the start to an album that attempts and succeeds at not falling into writing the same song over and over trap as Outright's combination of speed, heaviness and melody prove to be a winning formula. Jelena Goluza's vocal style that arguably runs the gamut between tranquility and screamo can be considered Outright's fifth instrument and with a crystal clear production and an extremely tight performance this 5 piece hits on so many fronts. Track two… "The Hammer" starts out with a different type of feel showcasing some thrashy guitar shredding before things go more in a hardcore direction complete with a nice breakdown midway through the track. "Linchpin" at track three is another standout track along with "Tyrants Vultures" and "Silent Spring" that are tracks 9 and 10 respectively... "Silent Spring" at a 5:33 running time is an epic closer that sees Outright push their own boundaries with an extremely original sounding song that bounces between calmness and rage. To further push the narrative that Outright is hard to slap a label on there is "The Call" which is a 7:31 slow paced track that has stoner rock feels all over it. The song carries the same speed throughout its duration and I honestly can't explain how this became one of my favorite tracks on this album. Outright are straight up unique and have a lot of influences going on here with parts that will make you think this is straight up hardcore, others that show more of a thrash feel while others stray off into more of a rock n roll vibe. Not everything on this long album straight up gunned me down but with such a long running time that can be expected with almost any band. On the strength of "Keep You Warm" Outright should rattle some cages and increase their fan base beyond their home continent as this album will appeal to a wide range of open minded listeners. Sample some for yourself with music videos for "Burn" and "The Hammer" with full streams available on this album’s July 15th release date. For more info including pre-orders check in with this nifty little link tree which will start you on your journey down the Outright rabbit hole.
MALE PATTERNS/UNDER ATTACK SPLIT 7”
(Released June, 2022)
For the record, I’ve never been a fan of either 7”s or split 7”s. I know that there’s nothing more hardcore than putting out a 7”. Don’t ask me why because I can’t tell ‘ya. Maybe it’s the getting up after 5 minutes to flip it… varied production qualities with each band….? Anyway, thanks to modern technology I don’t have to worry about flipping nothing! MALE PATTERNS are a band from one of my favorite cities, Albany! Lots of great music has always come out of Albany and these guys are bringing the speed core with three songs each coming in at just over one minute. Lyrics deal with frats (“Greek Life”), society (“Out Of The Box”) and the third, I have no idea (“Circling”). Lyrics aside… like most hardcore bands the music is what you are here for anyways. Fast, raw and with enough tempo changes to keep it fresh… all three songs hit hard and thankfully don’t sound too much like each other. The gruff vocals take a few seconds to get used to but after that its smove sailing the rest of the way with Male Patterns.
Not to be outdone, Richmond VA’s UNDER ATTACK bring their own brand of intense speed core. “I Suffer” is like their “Stairway To Heaven” clocking in at over 2 minutes but then it’s short and to the point like it was done in the 80’s (see DRI when they were good). Vocals attack right along with the music with “Life Is Killing Me” making it the best 26 seconds of my day. If bands keep putting out great splits like this I might have to change my mind on this whole 7” and split record thang. Nice cover artwork by Sean Pryor too! To find this digitally (or to buy a 7” version of this release) click HERE.
MUTUALLY ASSURED DESTRUCTION "ASCENSION"
(Triple B Records, Released May, 2022)
Mutually Assured Destruction is a band based out of Richmond, Virginia whose members hail from classic RVA hardcore bands such as Break Away, Down To Nothing and Fire & Ice among others, however the band itself has a sound more influenced by old school heavy metal and 90’s alternative metal. I had first become aware of them by checking out their previous two records because their vocalist, Ace Stallings, had previously fronted Break Away, which was one of my favorite straight edge bands from when I was in college. I did enjoy M.A.D. though I felt they wore their influences on their sleeve very heavily, to the point where I thought they sounded like Life Of Agony records. I did have more fun however seeing them live at Saint Vitus last year as they have a great presence and a great stage energy. So I was definitely interested in checking out this new album.
The real head turner on this album is definitely the lead single, “Spirit Liberation,” a song which features a guest vocalist and RVA legend Randy Blythe of Lamb of God fame! This song is easily the best song on the album, with its chanted lead vocals that remind me of Gwar’s group vocal stylings, the thrashy guitars and of course Randy Blythe’s absolutely brutal vocal contribution, this song sees the band building on their roots in a way that feels honest and original. This is definitely a song that you should use to get your metalhead friend to listen to more hardcore and be okay with karate moshing.
There’s other standout tracks like the opener “Seven Crowns,” which cycles between ominous sludgy Crowbar riffs and blistering hardcore fury, it kicks off the record on a foreboding note! The follow-up, “Got A Light?” is definitely the song that would appeal to hardcore kids most on the record, starting as a speedy hardcore punk banger that builds to some crushing mosh riffs, I also like the Gregorian chant sample that leads into this song, it’s short, punchy and leaves maximum impact! “Gates Close At Dark” also provides another hard hitting track with a galloping beat that throws back to the metal days of old, it even ends in a big explosive section of instrumental noise that ends every great old school hard rock jam! Surprisingly, “Haint Blue” was also a highlight for me on the album. It’s very rare for a hardcore act to pull off an acoustic ballad, but Ace’s mournful vocals shine brilliantly on this lonely and minimalistic song. It also adds in a droney guitar solo that makes even the instrument sound sad! The song’s lyrics and instrumentals really capture this feeling of missing someone and feeling like you can’t face some imminent trials without them. It’s absolutely something most bands in the hardcore scene are unable to pull off and M.A.D. has impressed me beyond words with this track!
The later moments of the record I do think leave a little bit to be desired. I love the speed metal inspired riffing on “The Struggler” which feels like a clever punk twist on Maiden or Priest, but the way the vocals are mixed on this track unfortunately sounds a little too close to some of the played out “yarling” sounds of the late 90’s grunge wannabes for my taste. I also love the bluesy hard rock riffing of “Sorcerer’s Ride/The Siege” and “Scroll Of Doom” but I feel like they go on a little longer than necessary. Almost contradictorily, I feel like the record also needed another song or two. There seems to be these intriguing fantasy motifs throughout, the record is clearly telling me a story, but I wish it was a bit more fleshed out and I think another track or two could’ve created some more breathing room for it. Maybe one more grand finale track that starts out really quiet and ballad-esque but builds into something louder and more aggressive. It feels like the kind of thing this record begs for. But that just might be me and my opinion, maybe I listen to too much Converge or something.
Overall, I still have to give this album a solid recommendation. Even if I expressed a few issues with it, I don’t want that to obfuscate the fact that I think this record shows a lot of talent and growth from M.A.D. It has lots of great songs and it’s something the band should be very proud of! I think repurposing some of these old hard rock and speed metal sounds for a hardcore audience is definitely a risk but one that is paying off reasonably well for M.A.D. They also showed remarkable success with ideas hardcore bands are not typically known to attempt, let alone pull off with any kind of grace. I look forward to potentially seeing them live again and hearing these songs in that context, because they sound phenomenal live! They’ve got something going and they should definitely stick with it, because they’re only gonna refine their sound and get better at it! Find this on Bandcamp or Spotify with CD and vinyl versions available through Triple B Records.
GRATITUDE FANZINE ISSUE #4, GUTTER GROOVE FANZINE ISSUE #4 (Released February/March 2022)
"Yo, get my voice, get the clarity" … so begins the Cannibal Ox song “Slow Blues.” Clarity and unique voices are both prioritized in GRATITUDE AND GUTTER GROOVE fanzines, two of my favorite “slow zines” where you can expect a new issue every few years due to the real-life responsibilities of the creators. In a fortuitous confluence, Gratitude #4 dropped within weeks of Gutter Groove #4. Besides the numeric and alliterative synchronicity, there were enough similarities to review them together.
Along with the standard interviews and reviews, Fred and Nico at Gutter Groove always concoct high-quality features. As Paul states in the Reserving Dirtnaps interview, "Fred, if we were all as insightful and intelligent as you, the world would be a better place.” Issue 4 standouts include an extensive Troycore feature, interviews with Reserving Dirtnaps and Heavy Runner, and an LA Hardcore retrospective that recounts the improbable Internal Affairs show in the streets of Paris. Every GG perusal results in a list of bands I either want to check out or revisit. It’s also the only zine where you’re likely to find The LOX and Cranial Abuse mentioned on consecutive pages.
While Gutter Groove is a product of two creative brains, Gratitude is helmed by AJ McGuire and features a prodigious roster of contributors, both text and visual. Along with interviews and ingenious features, there are four comics and at least four types of reviews: records, zines, show reviews by people named Dave, and a section detailing every book about hardcore ever written. The books are listed alphabetically and categorized by handy icons, followed by more in-depth critiques organized by topic. Besides the books, another major component of issue 4 is items remembering Riley from Power Trip, including a priceless Slayer hat comic.
Both zines are cohesive and complete, featuring their own style of humor and recurring themes. It’s a treat that they both exist and that the new issues were released almost simultaneously. Conveniently for international zine readers, both are available through the Gutter Groove distro. Gratitude #4 is 40 pages long and can be ordered in the US or Europe by clicking the blue hyperlinks while Gutter Groove #4 is 36 pages and can be found HERE.
BLACK GUY FAWKES “LIFE, LOVE & THE BOMB”
(Released June, 2022)
Black Guy Fawkes’ new LP “Life, Love, And the Bomb” just came out a few weeks back on all major streaming services. I was lucky enough to stumble upon BGF when I attended Nathan Gray and the Iron Roses at Knitting Factory in Brooklyn and he (Ian) was opening up for them. A folk punk outfit out of Maryland, BGF had me at, "New York City Traffic is the worst! and Samoa's are better than Thin Mints" Although I know that last part could start a war. I kinda agree with him on both! California is up there with the traffic… but BGF isn't wrong. Anyway, back to the record. With a poppy/punk vibe Ian comes back to us with something to cuddle up to and just chill with or even rage in your car, with the windows down, and the volume maxed. Ian's work not only has a powerful innocence about it, but he also sings about things that are current. He touches on many things that many of us go through. Love and loss, good times and the bad, rock bottom to climbing to the top shaking your fist at the top 1%. He also challenges us to find our road to our own happiness by finding what we fear most... life, love, or the bomb? I truly enjoyed this record as it was a nice change from my normal pace. I've always had a soft spot for emo, pop punk, and a musician and his instrument. Find more info on BGF including how to stream/download this new album, Euro tour dates and more by following this link tree.
SPILL YOUR GUTS “THE WRATH IT TAKES”
(Released April, 2022)
Spill Your Guts comes to us from Shanghai, China and consist of four members from around the world; Russia, Scotland and two from Canada. The band has gone through numerous changes in members since forming in 2012. The band has released two live EP’s in the early stages of their career, two EP’s and a full length album. This is their second full release and is being offered on five different colored records via three different labels that hail from Russia (Perm City Punk), the UK (Trepanation Recordings) and China (Graboid Of The Ground Records).
The band states they are a D.I.Y. hardcore band, but I found the opening track, “Die Untied”, fell more into the metal genre. The beginning of the track had me thinking I was listening to a doom metal band, before changing directions a couple more times throughout the track. “Reaper’s Toll” follows up with a death metal feel to it, accompanied by screaming vocals. By the third and fourth songs, the band begins to progress into sounding more like a hardcore band. “Lift The Curse” is the strongest track, with its catchy opening that hooks you and has you singing along to the chorus. “Prey On Death” follows suit, but I found the vocals take away from the music. I’m not a big fan of screeching vocals, especially when I can’t make out a word they are saying. I found this to be an issue throughout the rest of the songs, and the fact the band kept straying back to a doom/death metal sound in different parts of songs. “Hollow Carcass” is a decent effort, but offers the listener nothing they haven’t heard before. The last track, “Let This Body Rot”, like the first track, seemed oddly out of place on this record. I felt I was listening to three different bands in one song.
I was confused listening to this album. The band states they are a D.I.Y. hardcore band, yet come off sounding like something completely different. The vocals were tough to listen to and there wasn’t much musically that grabs your attention and makes you want to listen closer to this band. Click HERE for more info on “The Wrath It Takes”.
POWERHOUSE OBHC “RENEGADES” EP
(Upstate Records/Pitchfork Released June, 2022)
Out of all of the old bands reuniting these days, Oakland’s Powerhouse have come back to deliver an EP that simply crushes! Produced by Lars Frederiksen of Rancid fame and featuring, longtime members Cris, Eddie, Walter, and Abe as well as the addition of graffiti legend Casey Watson “Renegades” picks up where they left off almost 20 years ago with six lethal tracks that combine amazing old school songs done right and from the heart. “Old-school” being a nice mix of speed, breakdowns, melody and lyrics worth listening to. Not too many bands can check off all of those boxes (Sub-Zero comes to mind). “Stand By Me” has great hints of Minor Threat, and on “Back In The Day” I can hear some Sick Of It All influences and “Outlast” just puts it all together with melody, guitar noodling/dive bombs that don’t seem out of place because they are understated and add so much. Every song just delivers on every level and the track “Resistance” contains some of the best lyrics coming in a time when society, sadly including those who pride themselves on being “hardcore’ or “underground” should listen and take heed to. Hardcore done right! Take my money! Find this on Bandcamp or Spotify with a ton of other info (including on how to buy a vinyl version) HERE.
PRAISE, STAND STILL, RULE THEM ALL, TAKE MY CHANCES, SLOW MARROW
@MASSAPEQUA VFW, MASSAPEQUA, NY JUNE 11, 2022
Doors we're listed for 2pm on the flyer for this one which was definitely different considering this had "Saturday night show" feels all over it. In addition to Praise trucking in from the Baltimore area New Yorkers had other entertainment choices on this date with the Belmont Stakes, home Yankee game, Rangers playoff game, and the Governors Ball at Citi Field all being options depending on what floats your boat. Me? I love hardcore music and chose the VFW in Massapequa where the most shouted out man on Long Island (promoter John Scanlon) tacked on another show to the long list of ones he has done over the years.
First up were SLOW MARROW who are a bunch of hardcore punk kids playing alt-rock that was surprisingly good. They didn't hide the fact that they were not a hardcore band but asked if they could get some of that hardcore show energy. Their set was tight and at times made me think I was in some dusty southwest saloon with my horse "parked" out front. Find their music by clicking HERE.
The reborn and revitalized TAKE MY CHANCES followed at around 315pm. For those without a scorecard they are a LIHC band that had been put to bed for quite some time but are back into the swing of things more recently having played a few local shows and are just about to drop new tunes. Expect old-school, fast hardcore with catchy hooks, a hyper singer and plenty of whacky song titles when you are headed out to a TMC show. Their singer Ben Gallup makes good use of a very long microphone chord while "getting his steps in" and is often singing pretty far away from the rest of his band. They did a cover of Civ's "Do Something" which gets style points for being a lesser covered (has anyone else actually covered this?) tune as well as the newer 8 second "Sister Act 3" tune which Gallup makes perfectly clear that he wrote all the lyrics and music to. Take My Chances are a fun band. Find some of their older material HERE.
RULE THEM ALL were the draw of the day having the bulk of the 150 or so attendees up close for the start of their set. I think this was the 3rd time I saw them play and each time they get noticeably tighter and more precision like. Their "Dreams About..." EP made up the bulk of their 20 minute set as it should as it is just that damn good... but they did play one newer one from their recent split EP with Kill Your Idols. In between their songs RTA kept things loose as their singer Jon Gusman introduced the band and when he got to their bassist (who had a wrapped/bandaged wrist) he told the crowd he got the injury while "jacking off backwards using the back of his hand". When he later asked for some water the promoter walked up and threw an entire case of bottled water at them which got the reply "Now I'm gonna be hydrated as shit" from Gusman. Aside from the hijinks if Rule Them All isn't on your radar yet you are selling yourself short on a really good band that should appeal to a wide range of hardcore fans.
STAND STILL PHOTO BY MICHELLE MENNONA
The parade of locals continued with STAND STILL, a band who has made a ton of noise on Long Island over the last year and who have also scratched the surface on a national level based off the strength of their "A Practice In Patience" EP which came out last June. Stand Still are ramping up for their next step opening with a new track titled "With All My Love". Their singer mentioned new music coming out on Daze and Triple B so be on your toes for upcoming announcements. Stand Still definitely had a home court advantage here with a bunch of the people in the audience packed up front and signing along to their lyrics as the microphone made the rounds with various people becoming the lead singer for Stand Still albeit for just a few short moments. If you have been into hardcore punk for some time chances are you have been to a DIY hardcore show at a VFW more than a few times and I am pretty sure you can relate to the good time vibes that were here on this day.
PRAISE PHOTO BY: MATT VIEL
PRAISE were the lone out of towners on this bill and quite honestly I wish that most of the people who moved up close for both Rule Them All and Stand Still would have stuck around to see their set. Praise have been around since 2009 and have a new album out on Revelation titled "All In A Dream". Good news was that those who stayed around till the end gave them a really good reception as there were multiple people singing along for most of their set. Praise play very melodic hardcore that can at times can border into alt-rock territory and I was really interested to see how the songs off of their new album would translate live. Daniel Fang from Turnstile is also Praise's drummer but he did not make this trip due to personal reasons and singer Andy Norton had some really cool pants that I wish I had the guts to wear out in public. Overall Praise translated the cool laid back feelings of "All In A Dream" perfectly into a live situation and were everything I had hoped for going into this show.
CHANGE, PERFECT WORLD, BERTHOLD CITY, DEATH SPIRAL @ GOLD SOUNDS, BROOKLYN, NY MAY 21, 2022
Up until this show Brooklyn's Gold Sounds was always a spot that I would see photos from and think I was missing out on as I had never been there and from some of the photos I had seen from previous shows (Method Of Doubt taken by Carl Gunhouse in particular) I was a little envious to check this hole in the wall type venue off the bucket list. So I went into this one pretty sure I was going to have a good time mostly because of the fresh lineup made up entirely of bands I had never seen before (including two who traveled thousands of miles to be here). Overall the place is grimey has a good sound system, decent stage, at times played 80’s music in between sets and neighborhood locals seemed to flock to the front area to order from their kitchen. Gold Sounds is pretty laid back and cool.
Opening band LOCKED INSIDE had to cancel last minute due to health issues and were not replaced on the bill making Long Island/NYC's DEATH SPIRAL the opener. If I had to categorize this show I would call it a "ain't nobody here but still having a great time" type of show. Including the bands my guess would be there were about 30 to 40 people in attendance who all seemed to be there from the opener to headliners Change. Death Spiral formed less than a year ago and have scene vets from Long Island and NYC amongst their ranks including Travis from This Is Hell on vocals. When Death Spiral went on they mentioned this was only their second show but it sure didn't feel like a second show as they really had their shit together. What was more surprising was the fact that they already have an EP out titled "Tyranny Of Tradition" on Safe Inside Records. I was not surprised that they played a short set for about 20 minutes which made me want to investigate that EP I just mentioned and I was not disappointed. Look for more on Death Spiral in an upcoming Fresh Blood Long Island Hardcore article coming out in the near future here on In Effect.
DEATH SPIRAL @ GOLD SOUNDS, BROOKLYN, NY. PHOTO BY: MICHELLE MENNONA
Up next was BERTHOLD CITY from California. They (along with Change) were on a 4 date East Coast run that saw them play in Asbury Park, NJ, Philly, Brooklyn and Middletown, CT over the May 19th-22nd weekend. They have a brand new album out titled "When Words Are Not Enough" on WAR Records. They started their set by paying their respects to three members of Warzone who have passed on in Raybeez, Vinnie Value and Todd Youth before busting into the opening 30 seconds of "Will You Ever Come Back" from Warzone's 7” that turns 35 this year. From there BC played the majority (and quite possibly all) of the songs off their new one and were tight and super energetic the whole way. Bands who give everything they got even when there are not many people at a show deserve a ton of respect and that's exactly what happened here with each member simply going off for each and every song including their singer who sang the entire set from the dancefloor. I was already all in on their new album before this show and have had many of their new ones buried in my head since seeing this set as they really made a great first impression.
BERTHOLD CITY @ GOLD SOUNDS, BROOKLYN, NY. PHOTOS BY: MICHELLE MENNONA
Next up was PERFECT WORLD, a band we first became familiar with from their 2018 demo which led us to do a Fresh Blood interview with them as well. Their singer Chad came out on the stage frustrated and angry about the current state of the world and went on to tell us that on April 12th he was one of the people responding to 10 people being shot in a NYC subway less than 8 miles from the very stage he was standing on. When not singing in Perfect World Chad is a NYC firefighter and was traveling on the train to an appointment when he encountered the life threatening situation that fortunately ended up having zero fatalities. Like the other acts on this night Perfect World played a clean set for about 20-25 mins showing off their 90's era take on NYHC. Check out their 2020 "War Culture" album to hear what they are all about and then drop them a message on their very own hotline at 833-SICK-NYC!
Before CHANGE started their set their singer Aram told us to enjoy the next 20 to 30 minutes that they would be playing... doing whatever it is that made us happy and then went on to list some of the usual things people would do to enjoy live music but he also added "sitting in the back eating a sandwich" to his list which was kind of a funny way to start things off. Change have members from the Pacific Northwest as well as California and they put out an incredible record called "Closer Still" back in 2020. What makes Change a great band in my eyes is the fact that they do not reinvent the youth crew style of hardcore but they revitalize it with "Reason" and "Beyond" being two great examples of the energy they bring. Aram is obviously passionate about hardcore music, his band and his lyrics and gave a lot of insight to all of them in between songs with some of his between song banter easily going in the 90 second to 2 minute range... something you rarely see from a hardcore band these days. Change's set ran close to 30 minutes with some of the Berthold City members keeping this show going by yelling at Change to keep playing more after they had already finished what they said would be their last song. It's also worth mentioning that the members of Change went bananas during their entire set, playing as if it were a packed out room and quite honestly I don't think they know any other way. The passion was obviously there from all the bands on this night and Change played their part in making what could have been an average show into something quite memorable.
CHANGE @ GOLD SOUNDS, BROOKLYN, NY. PHOTOS BY: MICHELLE MENNONA
DISCOURAGE “DISASTER FATIGUE”
(Patient Zero Records, Released May, 2022)
Discourage, a band out of Oakland California have a new LP “Disaster Fatigue” out now on Patient Zero Records. After recently having it drop into my inbox I feel like it is 1997 all over again! Honestly, I think this is yet another band that we really need to be paying attention to. California has been putting out some killer bands and this band has just made it to my list. You’ve got Eric Pocock (vocals), Richard Angeles (guitar), Alex Lord (bass), and Matt Tyler (drums) that make up this powerhouse of a band. This new LP Is a great mix of today's hardcore and the more classic youth crew that started to fade out in the early 2000's here on the East Coast. It's like they basically picked up where we left off, they took it, and ran with it. It's a marathon of riffs and killer breakdowns that have you wanting to start two steppin’, picking up change, and if you've ever been to The Che’ Cafe in San Diego, I'll add in rafter hangs too. I hear a lot of influence from bands like early Floorpunch, Ensign, Carry on, and Internal Affairs to name a few. And at one point in the middle of the record we get to this song “Tread” and it flips the script and I get total Stretch Armstrong vibes! This record is another great banger that shouldn’t be skipped out on and this should be in your collection along with your playlist. Do not skip on this band! Stream this on Bandcamp or Spotify with CD and 12” vinyl copies available through Patient Zero Records.
ONE STEP CLOSER, GEL, BROKEN VOW, SPACED, ENNUI, @MASSAPEQUA VFW, MASSAPEQUA, NY MAY 20, 2022
A (mostly) out of town new school showcase brought to us by the fine folks over at LIHC SHOWS. The lone local band were 5 piece ENNUI who I missed. They are fresh outta the box new having played their first show back in December. You can check out their "Two Songs" which came out on May 4th by going HERE.
Up second were Buffalo's SPACED who were straight up a ball of energy led by Lexi on the mic but credit has to be given all around as the whole band brought a fire that just lit up the room and sets things off for their 2 step mosh inducing style. Their latest is "Two New Joints" which came out back in November on cassette by our friends over at New Morality Zine. The second press of said cassette currently has only 4 remaining so if you are a tape collector type the time to take action is now.
SPACED @ MASSAPEQUA VFW MAY 20, 2022. PHOTO BY: STEVE LEVY
BROKEN VOW who have members from various Northeast states were up next. They are also a New Morality Zine band having put out the 4 track "Sane Minds End" EP back in December. Broken Vow's style is not all blazing fast and has a ton of groove. The killer riff on "Illusion" is a prime example of the groove and when it hit around the 45 second mark of the track it really got the crowd moving.
BROKEN VOW @ MASSAPEQUA VFW MAY 20, 2022. PHOTO BY: STEVE LEVY
New Jersey's GEL followed. Cool to see female fronted hardcore in the house again on this night as Sami orchestrated the mayhem for her band’s set which got the best response of the night. Gel's style is straight forward and raw with a ton of bounce to it which I am usually a sucker for and that was definitely the case here. This show had such a fast pace to it with Spaced, Broken Vow as well as Gel doing 15 minute sets each. The setup for each band was pretty fast as well as I ended up watching 4 sets in just about 2 hours time. Find Gel's music by going HERE.
GEL @ MASSAPEQUA VFW MAY 20, 2022. PHOTO BY: MARISSA CACIOPPO
Headlining this night was ONE STEP CLOSER from Wilkes Barre, PA. They have really been putting themselves out there since the release of their "This Place You Know" album that came out last September. They just got done doing a 6 week US tour with Drug Church in April and this show was night two of a little Northeast run that also had stops in Massachusetts, New Jersey as well as their home town. OSC’s new album is amazing but at the same time is not straight up traditional mosh heavy ‘core and I was really interested to see how these songs would translate to a live setting. Their set did not disappoint as they went heavy on the new album playing most of their new songs in a short and sweet 25 minute romp. With no stage it was cool to see frontman Ryan Savitski sing from on top of an amp for a bit while bassist Brian Talipan is deserving of some kind of award for playing the entire set with his hooded sweatshirt’s hood pulled over his head in a room that had to be in the 80 degree plus range. All around this was a great live experience from a band that is bringing some different types of vibes to the hardcore scene and are hopefully destined for bigger and better things as they grow as musicians and performers. If you have not checked out One Step Closer as of yet what the hell are you waiting for? Overall this was a really cool "new-school" flavor show with the majority of the bands having members in their teens/early 20's with all delivering a quality product showing that the future of hardcore music is in good hands. Click those blue hyperlinks to find out more about each band!
ONE STEP CLOSER @ MASSAPEQUA VFW MAY 20, 2022. PHOTO BY: STEVE LEVY
MADBALL, MURPHY’S LAW, CRO-MAGS JM, BURN, WISDOM IN CHAINS, THE CAPTURERS
TOMPKINS SQUARE PARK, NYC APRIL 23, 2022. ALL WORDS & PHOTOS BY STEVEN J. MESSINA
A year ago the NYHC community gathered at Tompkins Square Park in support of one another, and defiance of the pandemic. Thousands of friends and family came out to reclaim the music that had been stolen from us. It was an epic, unforgettable day in not only hardcore, but live concert history altogether.
Cut to a year later. Cousin Joe and Black N’ Blue Productions, having weathered the storm that followed 2021, and emerged victorious, decided the best way to celebrate was to do it all over again. With the very bands that put their necks on the line twelve months earlier. Madball, Murphy’s Law, Wisdom In Chains & The Capturers would return. This time joined by Burn & Cro-Mags “JM” (John Joseph performed previously with Bloodclot). The stage was set.
THE CAPTURERS kicked things off once again with their infectious reggae flavored grooves. Amazing vocals and energy immediately set a tone of celebration.
Next up came the mighty WISDOM IN CHAINS from PA. Easily, one of the fiercest bands alive. After last year’s searing performance, I was eager to see them tear it up again. And they did not disappoint. I tip my hat to any bands brave enough to follow them.
WISDOM IN CHAINS
John Joseph fearlessly took the stage with CRO-MAGS “JM” as he always does. Armed with boundless energy and a collection of songs that are a part of the very DNA of New York Hardcore. Joined by Craig Ahead, AJ Novello and Darren Morgenthaler, they gave the hungry crowd exactly what they wanted.
Three bands into proving that NYHC lightning could indeed strike twice, it was time for a band that hadn’t played the previous park show. That band was BURN, and they delivered a crushing set. Moving through the massive crowd an all-star cast of fans, friends and hardcore heroes, all I could see was smiles. My own nearly took up my whole head when I ran into legendary Minor Threat/Bad Religion guitarist Brian Baker. A man whose band Dag Nasty was the first hardcore show I ever saw way back when.
If ever one band epitomized the definition of celebration, it was, and will always be MURPHY'S LAW. Jimmy G. stepped up, raised his bottle and made a toast, in full hippie wig mode. Jaeger was sipped and a familiar scent filled the air. It was the scent of victory. I don’t have to tell you how great their set was. I’m pretty sure you already know.
And finally, MADBALL took the stage. Closing out an amazing day two years in a row. This time Brenden from Sheer Terror stepped in for the absent Hoya on bass and as always, they delivered a crushing set of pure NYHC. As a fan, musician and photographer, I was again inspired and honored to be standing amongst such incredible people in our beloved park. Surrounded by friends, fans and heroes, we were all blessed with yet another unforgettable day.