PANTAH “DEMO 2013” Released April 1, 2013
Punk as fuck, pissed off, fast breaks, and motherfucking jungle cats. Pantah is a young hardcore band that started in late 2012 in the Netherlands with some pretty heavy late 80’s NYHC influences and it really comes out in their songs. Choppy, bouncy drum beats and thrashy guitars accompanied with some high pitched vocal gives the tunes a heavy Warzone-esque sound. Not too many bands really stay true to that old classic hardcore sound anymore but Pantah has definitely dug their feet in deep right there with that Youth of Today/7 Seconds type attitude. I wish there were a few more songs on the demo I could check out. Just as I was starting to get really into the tunes the whole thing was over. The demo was put out on cassette tape by a small DIY label called War Inside Records from Leeuwarden, Friesland which apparently puts out all their releases on cassette. I hope these dudes come out with some more tunes soon, because I definitely can't make it to one of their shows, but I'm diggin’ their sound here in Brooklyn. Keep it up kids!
ROTTING OUT “THE WRONG WAY” (6131 Records, Release Date May 7, 2013)
LA’s Rotting Out return with a brand new full length almost exactly two years after “Street Prowl” hit the streets back in 2011 (also on 6131 Records). When first introduced to “Street Prowl” it took a little warming up to, maybe 4 or 5 spins through the rotation before songs started to stick on to me. With “The Wrong Way” the same was true except the time from first hitting play to falling in love with the new effort was greatly reduced as RO totally knocked this one out of the park. I generally listen to new music in my car where the volume for some reason only goes up to 45 instead of 100. I mean, 45 cranks but why didn’t they space it out where 100 is the top level? No idea why and I am sure you don’t care but with that said “The Wrong Way” has been played at the 45 level constantly. Now when the first “woah-oh-oh woah-oh oh’s” on the title track blast through my speakers the hair on my neck stands on end. Rotting Out who pretty much gotta live out of suitcases with their constant touring schedule take the straight up hardcore sound and have molded and shaped their style to appease the old fart “hardcore isn’t what it used to be” mentality as well as the new breed of mosh enthusiasts. They got all out thrashy speed tracks (“A Question”,”Blade Of Rust”), melody, some slower parts mixed in here and there (“Stab”) and smart lyrics spit out by one of the best frontmen on the hardcore scene today. “Verbal Risk” although titled in English is sung entirely in Spanish. Also check out “Roots And Will” which pays homage to Warzone’s Raybeez who passed away over 15 years ago. “You made us feel like we were from New York City. LA kids screaming like you’re still hear with us. Decades apart and your words still ring from the Lower East Side to the LA streets”. Another standout “No Clue” starts off slow and builds up before unleashing into a 3000mph thrash part before slowing back down where singer Walter does some Suicidal style spoken word type of stuff as the music slowly picks up the pace before blasting back into a thrashy ending. Credit due to the band for taking their time and putting out a full length and taking their time to do it right… (The production on this is off the charts good). After two years I am sure there had to be some temptation to get new music out there and waiting to drop 11 new songs with this much substance over an EP had to be creeping into their thought process at some point. Rotting Out just seem to get it. They play hardcore music that stays true to the traditional hardcore sound. They give props to the people before them, while writing some smart lyrics that just brings everything together. Damn this is some good shit, so good in fact that I will go as far as to say that this is the best release submitted to this site for review since it started last February. Get a taste of “The Wrong Way” at the link below.
TERROR “LIVE BY THE CODE” (Reaper Records, Released April 9, 2013)
They defended our name because we kept the faith. But do the true believers remain? If you believe the Rev. Scott Vogel then you had better be about it - this is Terror returning to the peak of their powers, says the infectious frontman. He is on record touting this, Terror's sixth full length album, as the "dirtiest, rawest and most hardcore" since their jaw-dropping “Lowest of the Low”. It's certainly dirty and raw but the 11 songs here are nowhere near as brutal, powerful and memorable as those on the EP which earned Terror a seat at hardcore's top table. Opener “The Most High” sees Vogel professing his love for the hardcore scene over a crunching guitar riff. The chest-pounding chorus in “I’m Only Stronger” makes up for its out-of-place intro (think of a speeded-up White Zombie's “Thunderkiss 65”) before the album's highlight, the title track, injects some much-needed venom into proceedings just five songs in. Nick Jett's frantic drumming breaks into an instantly memorable chorus before a floorpunch-inducing riff harks back to Terror of old. The pace continues into “The Good Die Young” before the dour “Shot of Reality” gets redemption in the form of its pile-on, spit-a-long ending, as Vogel insists "life's not fair, no-one's gonna help you through, your friends are all fake, no-one gives a fuck about you". “Hard Lessons” still gets the foot tapping and the head nodding almost five months after the Los Angeles crew released it as a teaser of what was to come. “Invasion”, with its well-worked guitar solo goes from lightning quick to a snail’s pace in the blink of an eye before album closer “One Blood” reaches a crescendo of anger and urgency. It's just a shame those components did not appear more often over the course of the 27 minutes.
INCENDIARY “COST OF LIVING” (Closed Casket Activities, Released March 19, 2013)
“Causing or capable of causing fire” is the definition of this band's name. This Long Island quintet have been around for six years now and have released several 7" releases in and around their only previous full length, 2009's excellent “Crusade”. They lit the touch paper with that hateful and hard-hitting effort but, in the “Cost of Living” the fuse seems to have been extinguished somewhat. Coming across like an angrier, less angular Snapcase (one of the band's main influences) and a heavier Brothers Keeper, Incendiary have delivered an album that will appeal to those who love being caught in a mosh. It's solid if unspectacular, languid rather than lacerating. Frustratingly there are hardly any changes in tempo throughout the ten tracks on offer and that gives rise to some of the songs sounding all too similar in terms of their plodding, head-nodding pace. The brooding intro to “Zeitgeist” is chest-pounding, “Primitive Rage” pummels along thanks to some fierce drum work whilst the riff in the middle of “Burnt Sacrifice” veers into headbanging territory. Singer Brendan, who sounds not dissimilar to original Comeback Kid vocalist Scott Wade barks "I need so much more from myself" on “The Power Process”. He's definitely not talking about his band but you just hope the best is yet to come from these guys.
MENACE- “AGONY” (Released 2012)
There’s definitely something in the water in PA, here we have yet another record from a PA based outfit that I cannot stop listening to. Menace have it all, from song writing and lyrics, right through to production there is nothing I would change. Menace aren’t a Philly band, they aren’t from Wilkes-Barre, this is Williamsport style hardcore and in Williamsport THEY GO HARD! Any lull in the output of PA bands is well and truly over. With a style that has elements of 100 Demons, Death Threat, Buried Alive and Figure Four, Menace have their own slant on things, sewn up. From the first listen I was completely hooked, first track is “Infamous”, when you listen you will probably hear the same line as me stand out, “We are the outcast the infamous I run with the wolves of the wicked”, the dynamic of the vocals and back-ups has you hitting rewind like a young hardcore kid with his first copy of “Set It Off” or “Urban Discipline”. I don’t say this with a light heart, I’ve rewound that part like a motherfucker and bawled it other drivers as I drive to my shitty job.The drummer from Menace uses clever dynamics which only serve to bring already harsh riffs and vocals to the forefront. The vocals are honest and trustworthy which give the lyrics that genuine delivery. Amidst a sea of clone bands Menace stand out as a real unit with purpose and love for hardcore. This is yet another review from me where I could talk about the rest of this CD for an age. This band is THE SHIT! I know trust isn’t something we have in others opinions these days but have a word with yourself and BUY THIS RECORD! For my UK people hit up the legendary Rucktion records for a copy www.rucktion.com
ON THE OFFENSE “FRONTLINE” CD/DIGITAL (Dead City Records, Released April 9, 2013)
Probably not a household name in the world of hardcore music (yet) but their resume shows a long line of other NYHC bands that the members have been a part of or are still currently in (13 in all). Having gotten their start in 2011 things have moved along pretty steadily as “Frontline” debuts with 13 tracks of “straight up hardcore punk”. Straight up can mean different things to different people and in the case of On The Offense it leads myself to think back to late 80’s NYHC before the metal-crossover phase started to take root. Metal influences are everywhere these days but On The Offense don’t tap into it as much as most. In fact if you chopped this album down to 4 or 5 of its best tracks, threw it on a cassette and labeled it “Demo ‘88” you would probably fool more than a few people along the way. “Frontline” displays some nice dance parts in spots, some nice sing-a-longs in others. “Can’t Erase Regret” and “We’re All Good” which are tracks 2 and 3 respectively reel the listener in with their catchy choruses. “Four Hundred List” has some real good hooks as well mixed with a choppy drum beat which is sure to set off the dance floor. I won’t lie as a few tracks here are just kind of there and serve as filler in my eyes but overall I would say 8 of these are no doubt keepers. Recording wise this is good and above average but not great and I think it may have taken away a little with a slightly dull feel. It can also be a product of me getting spoiled with modern hardcore albums being so highly polished and free of any blemishes or wrinkles. Maybe that is how the band approached the recording and the sound they wanted, I am not sure. What I can say is that when I saw these guys live a few months back on their home turf it was like getting hit by a truck and I can’t say that this recording totally captures that same feel. On The Offense are a good band and part of a newer wave of throwbacks to look out for as they make the rounds in and around the NY area and beyond. This is not “Victim In Pain” or “Age Of Quarrel” Part 2 but yet a band making a name for themselves on their own and doing it the DIY way with Dead City Records handling the digital version of “Frontline” and the band releasing the CD’s by themselves. Look for these guys live if you get the chance as well as my first run in with them live was more than a memorable one with bodies flying all over the place and the band just going off in front of an insane crowd. I suspect that is standard operating procedure in the world of On The Offense which get a grade of B+ for this debut.
EUROPEAN HARDCORE PARTY, HAMME, BELGIUM, APRIL 6, 2013
It's often said that hardcore is more than just the music. It's the message, the solidarity and the positivity and the EHCP was certainly one of those occasions where the music merely became a soundtrack and a tribute to one of hardcore's fallen brothers. Onno Cromag, music journalist, Strength Records co-founder and respected by hardcore bands the world over for his tireless support, passed away in February aged just 49. This was all about him and there's no doubt he will have been windmilling angels off their clouds left, right and centre as the carnage in this sleepy Belgian town unfolded. Look My Way kicked off proceedings just after midday, their 100 Demons-esque heavy hardcore appreciated by a crowd light in numbers. They played new songs “Protect What's Mine” and “Backlash”, the latter featuring a harmonized Slayer-style intro, were particular highlights. New kids on the block Redemption Denied gave a solid showing but, bizarrely, didn't sound quite as vicious as they did when playing Hatebreed's “Burn The Lies” in sound check. The singer's voice, not dissimilar to Obituary snarler John Tardy, seemed to get lost in the mix during their energetic set where they came across like a heavier Backtrack. Definitely worth checking out.
Self-proclaimed “skinhead rock n roll band” 7er Jungs brought plenty of checked shirts, boot boy attitude, jab-you-in-the-eye riffs and gang vocals galore. The singer had a quintessential Oi! voice, if such a thing exists - raspy and slightly intimidating. Not my thing but, as I've already mentioned, this day belonged only to one person. A bigger crowd turned up to watch Violation of Trust's frenetic set. It's always great to see a band play with smiles on their faces, especially in a scene where frowns and dance prompts still exist. These Dutch veterans still pack a punch despite their shows being few and far between.The first pit action of the day was stirred by detuned mosh overlords Nasty. Navigated by rapid fire drumming and heavier than North Korea's lack of conscience, watching this super-tight four piece was the aural equivalent of getting stomped in the face by Optimus Prime's size nines - monstrously metallic with a growing reputation. Possessing more chug than a fleet of Ice Road Truckers, Nasty don't stray far from their tried and tested formula of top E-string muting and pinch squeals, but if it ain't broke don't fix it.
Punk veterans Menace followed but the UK trio, formed in 1977, struggled to engage a chin-scratching crowd with their slackly-performed ditties until a decent Specials cover prompted several outbreaks of skanking. Respect was given regardless and rightly so. It was then East London's Booze & Glory turn to entertain the sizeable smattering of skinheads with their old-skool terrace anthems. Whilst most of their songs profess their undying love for West Ham United football club, even those who detest the beautiful game cannot fail to find their songs catchy and, in the case of set closer, Bad Manners' “Skinhead Love Affair”, an appreciation of a good cover. I missed Tech 9 due to a desperate need to catch up on some sleep before London's Knuckledust hit the stage, but I was told there were a few tears shed due to to singer Hein's close friendship with Onno. As dusk set in the ferocity was upped by Knuckledust. Sporadic pitting broke out as the formidable quartet blasted through songs spanning several albums. However, try as they might, KD couldn't get everyone involved as the locals seemed intent on saving their energy for what was to come. Latest material “Spill The Hate”, the sping-tingling “Bluffs, Lies and Alibis” and “Barbed Wire Noose” were spat out in visceral fashion whilst “Dust To Dust” still remains one of the most brutal hardcore tunes of all time. It's not only longevity that holds KD in high esteem, it's their ability to consistently produce the goods.
Above photos: Nasty (left) Tech 9 (right). Taken April 6, 2013 by: Bas Spierings (Click to enlarge)
Next up was Hard Resistance. These guys don't mess about as their crust-punk tinged ferocious hardcore testified. I can't recall them playing a song with a laborious intro - each started like a bullet exiting the chamber. Their wide-eyed singer sounded somewhere between Dez Fafara of Devildriver fame and J.S Clayden of British industrial metallers Pitch Shifter. Not even a lack of explanation for the sight of a suited man wearing a gas mask onstage whilst a recording of an air raid siren played over the PA could distract from a truly blistering 45 minutes. The crowd really went for it when Backfire! hit the stage. This Maastricht mob have been doing the rounds since '94 and in vocalist Patrick have one of the scene's most recognizable voices. “My Broken World”, “Pushing My Failures Away” and their rendition of Negative Approach classic “Can't Tell No One” had bodies piled upon bodies. However, it was their timeless anthem “Still Dedicated” which saw the mic swamped by a sea of bellowing pitters. Brilliant stuff. There was plenty of pogo-ing going on for legendary London Oi! dons The Last Resort. Vocalist Roi was in typical commanding form, whipping the crowd up into a storm as they belted out loads of songs in an hour-long set. Like most of the bands on the bill TLR have nothing to prove because they've been there, done it and worn out the soles on many a Dr Marten boot.
And so to the headliners Subzero. I didn't think I would ever get the chance to see these New York Hardcore stalwarts. They rarely tour and have not recorded anything for over seven years. That is very frustrating for a band that, like Vision of Disorder for example, stand out amongst the rest of NYHC because they simply sound different. Debut full-length “Happiness Without Peace” fused metallic elements with furious Warzone-esque street punk, reverb-laden guitar work and singer Lou Di Bella's majestic voice. He told me before they played he was nervous and feared forgetting lyrics. He needn't have worried. Opener “Necropolis City of the Damned” steamrolled along before the mid-song breakdown prompted flailing arms and back-kick kung-foolery from all sides of this venue, a youth centre would you believe. “MRP”, “Fuck MTV...I Want My NYHC” , “Waiting”, “Karma Geddon”, “We All Fall Down”, “America The Ungrateful” and “Once and For All”, all taken from their best album, were nailed with precision, passion and panache as scores of fans shared the mic with Lou each time he kneeled down. “Dirty Needles” was crushing whilst the end of “Suffer, Squeal, Burn” was simple but devastatingly brutal. Ending with “Lionhearted” and the much-loved and much-covered “Boxed In”, every ounce of energy possessed by both band and crowd was squeezed out. They, like Onno, gave everything to the cause and will go down as legends in the worldwide hardcore pantheon.
EMPTY VESSELS “WAVES OF WAVES” (Released Dec 312013)
It’s hard to know what to say about Empty Vessels’ “Waves of Waves.” I don’t know if I was the right or wrong person to be reviewing it. I’d like to think it was a good choice. Empty Vessels is a newer band from New London, CT, having not been around for even a year yet. The 10-song album “Waves of Waves,” which was released Dec. 31 last year, appeals to my interest in a vast amount of genres and styles and appreciation for artfully crafted songs. I don’t think that Empty Vessels is everyone’s cup of tea. I must admit that at first I wasn’t too stoked on the vocals (sometimes a deal breaker for me), but they grew on me as I appreciate their clever use of dissonance and tension throughout the entire album. I came to realize that the rough vocals added to the tension and dissonance created by the bass and guitar. Touche. Another thing that I appreciate about the music is the different stylistic influences that shine through in some of the songs, including a “surfcore” undertone in the tracks “All Day” and “Court of Owls.” Horror and sci-fi themes comes through in their lyrics, which tie into the album artwork of a ghost (person standing under a sheet). Their merch also features classic horror movie characters on tee shirts and pins. Two of their instrumental tracks, “Abduction Sequence,” present in the middle of the album as a break and transition into the second half of the album, and “Waves of Sensual Waves,” which ends the album in a hauntingly way, remind me of some of the techniques used in horror and science fiction films as a way to build tension and suspense. Clever, clever. Also, I appreciated getting an actual CD in the mail to review as opposed to a link to a Bandcamp account. Maybe it’s just what I’ve been assigned by In Effect Hardcore, but do bands really just send links to publications for review? I understand that it is expensive to put out records, but as a reviewer, I appreciated receiving a physical CD to review. It lends the reviewer more to talk about than the tunes. In this instance, I was able to discuss the album artwork in conjunction with the music written by Empty Vessels. I don’t know, maybe since the digital age has kind of taken over that bands don’t put as much into album artwork, but it is something that I enjoy critiquing. Even though the photography is simple (and actually taken with a phone according to the band), it is still effective. By all means, if you’re really strapped for cash, I can understand the inability to send out CDs to every single publication you want to review your album. Just a thought. Back to the album. “Waves of Waves” by Empty Vessels is something you should pick up if you appreciate songs that play with dissonance and tension. If you’re craving a band with many different influences and style variances in one album, this is a good one for you. Not everyone will appreciate that aspect of it, though.
THIS MUSIC: PIECES ON HEAVY METAL, PUNK ROCK & HARDCORE PUNK (Book written by Lewis Dimmick to be released May 2013 via Wardance Records)
Author Lewis Dimmick is the same age as me (born in 1970), he started going to hardcore shows around the same time as me and he played guitar in Our Gang who were a short lived NYHC band who flew under most people’s radars. When I think about Our Gang my memory will always take me back to their 3 songs in about 3 minutes on the New Breed Tape Compilation that came out in 1989. The NYHC scene had literally tons of undiscovered bands with great foundations to move forward and get known but like others around them at the time Our Gang rode off into the sunset without the fanfare or hoopala of others that carried on. So here we are years later as grown ass adults with Lew teaming up again with old friend Freddy Alva. Freddy was responsible for that New Breed Tape and now runs Wardance Records with this being their first stab at book publishing. When I got my hands on this my first reaction was wow, what a great cover for a book as they enlisted Hall Of Fame artist Sean Taggart who has drawn album covers and logos going way way back. We all know there is no half of fame for hardcore artists but if there was one Sean would be on a slightly higher level than hall of fame just for the record. So Lew’s story starts off in Staten Island where he and his best friend Hobi (who later formed Our Gang with Lew) found music through Hobi’s dads extensive vinyl record collection. They would explore like most of us did when initially finding music but something about The Sex Pistols and Dead Kennedy’s shock value spoke to Lew and led him deeper and deeper towards underground music. The overall story shared here is similar to what my friends and I went through as we were shaped and molded by older kids, older family members and experiences in school. We all had different paths but we all kind of got to the same location, somehow, someway. Interesting tidbits include Lew getting beat up at CBGB’s, going to an Iron Maiden concert with his mom, waiting in a record store to actually see someone buy his bands demo tape, Our Gang’s live appearance on WNYU’s Crucial Chaos radio show and his mom asking him if he worshipped the devil after seeing his painted denim jacket with Venom’s devil head logo on the back. Overall good stuff and a good read that had me hanging on each story but I was left wanting more. There are only 66 pages here with a few of the pages containing only a few words, some left intentionally blank and I was done cover to cover in just over 30 minutes. I also would have loved to see some old photos of Lew as a teen, with Our Gang and some of the other characters that were mentioned along the way. A few of the pieces needed to be extended almost making me think aloud “tell me more!!!” Underground music in my eyes is not documented enough so something like this that documents a time in my life that was so special really intrigues the shit out of me. Although I see some short comings here I still embrace this and commend Lew along with Wardance on a job well done. Look for an interview with Lew on this site in the near future where we can hopefully dig into the stories some more! Pre-orders ship April 22nd with the pre-order link below.
TRACES OF YOU “BLEED THE TRUTH” (Destroy Your World, Released December 2012)
Destroy Your World is a new label out of Italy run by Alex from Italy’s Strength Approach and this is the labels second release. Traces Of You are from Milan Italy and this is their follow up to their 2010 debut “The Last Triumph”. If any of you have not seen the movie “Any Given Sunday” with Al Pacino he plays a football coach giving a pep talk to his team as they are getting their asses kicked at halftime. That speech is the backdrop for the opening intro “Make The Difference” and it really sets things off mixing the speech with the metallic and thrashy intro which leads into “Resurrect” which is another thrash assault which at times reminds me slightly of Portugal’s Devil In Me. Track 3 is “Through The Turbid” and starts off like the previous ones in energy level and around this time I start asking myself if the songs will start to sound similar to one another. This track also possesses a double bass drum part that pops up throughout the song that just sounds a little out of place and as if it can’t be done without some studio help. You have to hear it to be the judge but regardless it doesn’t fit the track well and the album starts to become paint by numbers mostly with each track sounding too similar to the next. There are some comebacks here and there getting my hopes up but I am pretty much shot after the fourth and fifth tracks as they simply don’t do enough to keep the wheels spinning forward. Traces Of You has a good core sound, they play tight and their singer has a good raspy voice that fits the music well but for now I have to pass on this mostly due to the lack of progression only after a few songs in.
MARK MY WORDS “INDICATORS” (Skull & Bones/Shock/Destroy Your World, Released 2012)
As a guitar player, I'm a pretty big sucker for any kind of riff based metal or hardcore. I mean, really, who the fuck doesn't enjoy some thrashy guitar riffage on top of some choppy hardcore beats? I know. It's the best. So when I got a CD in the mail from Chris asking me to review “Indicators” by Mark My Words, a hardcore band hailing from Central Coast, Australia I was pretty fucking stoked. Not just because this is my first time reviewing a band from the opposite side of the planet, but because this band just rips in general. The vocals sound like Terror, the guitars sound like Madball and Anthrax had a love child and I had to check online to make sure they didn't have Animal from The Muppets playing drums, because that’s the mental image I got listening to this dude rip it up. I hope these dudes make it to the states sometime in the future. Until then, “Indicators” by Mark My Words is definitely worth the purchase. Now I'm gonna finish this beer, turn up the stereo, strap on an empty back pack and some basketball shoes and start two stepping in the living room. Later kids. PS: This initially came out in September of 2012 on CD and digital and will be put out on vinyl by Italy’s Destroy Your World in September to coincide with their Italian tour.
STIGMA “FOR LOVE & GLORY” (Durty Mick Records, Released February 26, 2013)
Back as a teenager Agnostic Front influenced and shaped my hardcore landscape when I discovered their second album “Cause For Alarm” and then their debut “Victim In Pain”. I proudly had that “Cause For Alarm” Combat Core poster on my wall for years swearing it would never come down and all of us who hold AF near and dear have the line “STIGMA” from their track “Power” engrained in our skulls until we breath that last breath. Vinnie Stigma is of course who we are referring to. He of Agnostic Front fame, he who has played guitar with AF since the stone ages (well early 1980’s to be more precise) and he of course who was a driving force back when NYHC was just a wee lad. Who the hell knew that Stigma had it in him to be a great front man as well after all these years? If you really break it down it isn’t a far stretch as the man is a performer at heart always knowing how to work a crowd into a frenzy with his high energy. Stigma recruited a tight outfit to record this (their second album and follow up to 2008’s “New York Blood” album) including Mike Gallo who also plays bass alongside Vinnie in AF. Enough though of the introductions as we lead in to what “For Love & Glory” is all about. For those expecting AF with Vinnie on vocals you would be dead wrong as Stigma goes a more punk rock route opting for track after track of super catchy anthem type songs. Right off the bat “Average Man” displays what this album has throughout with more of a working class man’s take on the world lyrically, the previously mentioned catchiness in every song and the noticeably clear and understandable vocal delivery from Mr. Stigma. By the time I got to the third track “Don’t Lose Faith” my stereo was at max volume and I was moshing around my house like a nut. A video for “Don’t Lose Faith” is on the brink of being released having been partially filmed in Breezy Point, Queens which was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. I don’t know if the lyrics for this track were written with this natural disaster backdrop as the influence or if the idea for the video came afterwards. Either way this is the cream of the crop and albums best track. The fact that the band is shooting videos and playing numerous record release shows throughout the Northeast is hopefully a sign that this is not just some novelty act. “Heroes Of Our Times” is another album standout paying respect to the working man who doesn’t get his due. Really though, there are 12 tracks here and there are no clunkers mixed in. Just 30 plus minutes of catchy punk rock. The icing on the cake for me was catching them a few weeks ago at a small bar on Long Island and seeing how the songs translated to a live setting. The fact that the songs sounded so solid live showed me that “For Love & Glory” was not some studio Frankenstein crafted and manipulated with fancy schmancy equipment but rather an album with substance that I hope many out there pick up and get into. Without a doubt a top 10 of the year candidate.
ERIC WEISS & ANTHONY PAPPALARDO @ HEAVEN STREET RECORDS, BUSHWICK, NY MARCH 14, 2013
I‘ve recently gotten really into podcasts. I started off with Marc Maron’s "What The Fuck" podcast about stand-up comedy and that lead to listening to Colt Cabana’s "Art Of Wrestling" podcast about professional wrestling. Both have taken the place of WFAN and NPR in my life. Instead of hearing about things I might enjoy, like sports talk radio or political discourse, I listen to stuff I know I’ll enjoy like old stories about alt-comedy in the 90’s or independent pro-wrestling. That was kind of what it was like seeing Eric Weiss and Anthony Pappalardo talk. I go to art talks all the time, sometimes they’re good, sometimes terrible, and it can be hard to gauge if the general topics will be up my alley, but from here on out, I am just going to see dudes from the 90’s talk about hardcore, because I am sure as hell gonna enjoy that. Being a talk about hardcore, it started an hour late. On the upside, I wandered across the street to a bookstore to find half of the crowd also there killing time, which says a lot about people who go to talks about hardcore. The night, when it started, was led off by Anthony Pappalardo of Ten Yard Fight, In My Eyes and Get Down fame and more recently known for writing books about music and contributing to things like Vice. He gave a very pro-talk and slide show about the process of making his first book, Radio Silence, which, if you don’t have it, is a great documentation of hardcore and the visual esthetics of hardcore. The slide show was filled with stuff that didn’t make the book, like shots of hangin’ out with Jeff Nelson of Minor Threat’s giant rustic, mannequin-filled Ohio mansion, never used Pushead artwork for Dischord and alternate fonts for the Gorilla Biscuits logo accompanied by a bunch of stories about dealing with hardcore luminaries to get stuff for the book. Glen E. Friedman made Pappalardo change a light bulb to get a Minor Threat contact sheet, and Ian MacKaye almost busted his head skating in the Dischord house basement while showing him around. Highly entertaining and got me psyched enough to go re-read Radio Silence.
Anthony was followed by one of my favorite hardcore people Eric Weiss. Eric is a couple of years older than I am, but by the time I got into hardcore in the early 90’s, Eric was already Eric Rumpshaker, the publisher of one of my favorite fanzines. Rumpshaker always walked a perfect line for me, where he interviewed both wussy emo / post hardcore bands like Shift and The Promise Ring as well as having an obsessive love for the menacing end of the genre, like 25 Ta Life and Slayer. Not only was I into most of his musical taste, but the fanzine was goofy and sweet, with a choose-your-own-punk-rock-adventure section and interviews with the moms of hardcore luminaries, not the stuff you expect from a genre that is largely based on a degree of anger and aggression. I was already a fan of the fanzine and Eric, when I got asked to shoot for him in the mid 90’s for an interview with Scott Radinsky, singer for Scared Straight, Ten Foot Pole, and more importantly a reliever with the White Sox and Cardinals. After photographing the interview, we got to play wiffle ball with him in the old Roxy parking lot, where I laced a double in the right center gap. That’s right, a wiffle ball double off of major league pitcher Scott Radinsky, who swore he was in no way taking it easy on us. So yeah, I like Eric a great deal, and seeing him talk about hardcore and doing Rumpshaker Fanzine was a treat. He talked about getting jumped for his Ocean Pacific shorts as kid in Ridgewood, apologized for his early attempts at graphic design and he shared a story about breaking Ian MacKaye’s chair when interviewing him at the Dischord house. Good stuff, very much in keeping with the sweet and goofy tenure of one of the best zines of the 90’s, even if his old school vs. new school jokes went on a little too long.
OBJECTION “WINTER DEMO 2013”
I’ve been a fan of PA hardcore since I heard - “A Call For Unity – Eastcoast Hardcore Compilation” on Rick Healy’s Back To Basics Records. That record opened my ears to Krutch, Mushmouth and Feeble. What’s good about this Objection demo is it harks back to those days .... not because it sounds particularly like any of those older bands but because it stirs the same emotions, makes the blood boil and ultimately has me picturing extremely violent reactions at shows. The lyrics are on the button for how WE should be feeling in 2013. Get a copy and read them for yourself. Track one opens with a bone rattling tribal drum groove with one of the nastiest bass sounds I’ve ever heard captured on a record (and this is their fucking demo!!!) “OBJECTION”, is the first word barked at the listener and it feels like a welcome wake up call, kind of like the “FTW” slogan isn’t enough here, we know the world is fucked but we’re not going down without a fight to the death. I don’t have a lot of room to discuss every song on this demo, but trust me its 100% nails hard with quality lyrics. The last track “Already Dead”, features Jeremy Tingle (Lifeless), this track has it all for me ... great riffs, solid grooves and climaxing with a “bark along” that’ll result in a pile up like the Titanic just breached and tipped over .... “ so if it feels good to be alive, on the day you know you’re gonna die, when there’s nothing left to live for ... because you have no love for the world”. Fuck this puritan punk anti violent dancing at shows brigade, get onto Objection and kick your best friends face off his skull. Download this demo at all costs, pick up a shirt from their Big Cartel and you’ll get a copy of the demo sent with your purchase. Pick up this demo NOW!
HANDMADE ZINE ISSUE #1 (Released March 2013)
Handmade makes their debut with 16 crammed pages featuring interviews with Mike Scondotto of The Last Stand, artist Michael Owen, Phil of Sacred Love, Analise of BBC (Babe Brigade Collective) and a short write up of the upcoming PAHC Documentary. Handmade uses their noodle to come up with subject matter that makes you look at things a little differently. Mike of The Last Stand is asked about equality and diversity in hardcore while Analise of BBC talks about girl on girl problems with cattiness within the hardcore scene. Nice printing job as all of Kate’s photos come out crystal clear, something that I had a really hard time doing when In Effect was starting off as a print zine. This is a good start for Handmade but the strength and driving force right now is with the zine’s website which they are slowly trying to turn into a “must see” as it offers so much in the way of helping out bands, promoters etc via their pages “Classifieds”, “Tools For Bands”, “Links”, “DIY How To” and more. If you are in a band, run a zine, promote shows or anything like that you gotta check out their website. Already stocked with good contacts and always looking for more. I see bands on Facebook constantly looking to plug holes on their upcoming tour dates and this is another reference to look into. The site is all free so use the resource or kick yourself later. Get the zine for $2.00 plus postage through Stereo Killer.com and check out the site for free 24/7 at the address below.
SCREAMIN’ ZINE VOLUME #1, ISSUE #2 (Released 2012)
This caught my eye sitting on a merch table at a local show. There was no price to how much it was, just a small homemade coffin about the size of a shoebox sat next to it saying pay whatever you would like or something real close to that. I stole the coffin and bought crack (OK, I didn’t). I am so glad I picked this up cause Screamin’ simply screams of DIY zines of daze gone by. Handwritten from cover to cover packing in a lot to read in about 60 something pages. A short interview with Long Island’s Live Fast Die Fast (check them out) caught my attention as well as a nice piece called Craig Vs The World where Craig talks about “Pay To Play” and how he was against it and now he is for it with his own band Gangway. Pay To Play is a show promoters way of making an opening band buy tickets up front to get on a particular bill. Said band is then responsible to sell whatever the agreed amount of tickets is to their friends/fans or they end up eating the cost of the tickets they did not sell. Need a Spanish Chicken & Rice recipe? How about a Beef, Beer & Bacon Chili one? It’s in here. Some reviews, some DIY ads, more interviews, a cartoon… Screamin’ can’t be called out for not having variety. I didn’t see a mailing address or how to order this so contact them via their Facebook page.
STIGMA, LAST CALL BRAWL @ SINCLAIR’S, WEST BABYLON, NY MARCH 16, 2013
Aptly billed as the “Three Sixteen Fest” on none other than March 16th I thought there would be no chance this show was still going on when I got out of work at 10pm at night considering the flyer showed a 4pm start and at least one of the New England bands having backed out. Twitter to the rescue as I found out that the show was still going on and I rolled in shortly after 11pm just missing out on Live Fast Die Fast who must hold some kind of record for playing Sinclair’s in West Babylon. LFDF are always fun to catch live and have a new album on the way in the next couple of months as well.
The last time I saw Last Call Brawl was a few years back in Bayshore opening for Murphys Law and I thought they were good, entertaining and had potential to be that special punk party band that people seem to adopt and hold near and dear. Their album “Let’s Get Ready To Stumble” which came out last year was a great surprise and at the time they started playing their music I was finally for once glad that the majority of hardcore shows run late. Who hasn’t been to a hardcore show at some point where it seems like an eternity between bands? So this finally works to my advantage and LCB just kill it. Sinclair’s is not a big place at all but with 30-50 people crowded in close up to the band (with no stage mind you) it gives that real underground feel like you’re at a show in someone’s basement, living room or garage even and the crowd ate it up. Playing basically everything off the previously mentioned album plus Negative Approach’s “Can’t Tell No One” made for good times and a good vibe all around.
Next up was Stigma, who has none other than the Godfather of NYHC Vinnie Stigma behind the microphone as well as one helluva solid record titled “For Love And Glory” out now via Durty Mick Records. Stigma (the band) plays a tough punk style that is hard and catchy yet has a ton of groove all in one.
This past week this record has pretty much possessed my music listening world and probably was the sole reason why I was breaking speed limits and running red lights on the way to catch them. We usually see the charismatic Stigma with a guitar in his hands but who would have thought he would be this good fronting his own band as well? The songs were tight and the back and forth with the crowd (as well as with his own band) refreshing and downright funny at times. History lesson learned this night was that it was actually Hurricane Katrina that hit Long Island a few months ago. Sandy who? In all seriousness though Stigma really brought it tearing through a big chunk of the new album, the catchy “New York Blood” track from their previous album as well as a cover of AF’s “Power” sung courtesy of the Sinclair’s Bar patrons with Vinnie running around the crowd like an 18 year old kid. God bless this man for all he has done for the world of hardcore music and all the bands he has helped inspire along the way.
LAY IT ON THE LINE “CROWHURST” (Released March 12, 2013)
Lay It On The Line, a band from the U.K., recently released their nine-track album “Crowhurst” on Fire Engine Red Records. “Crowhurst” is a concept album “about Donald Crowhurst, who died in 1969, 243 days into a solo voyage around the world after going mad” according to the band. The album features rough vocals that hold a lot of emotion required to carry the well-written lyrics about a sad tale. Fans of old releases by Alexisonfire and Senses Fail (minus the singing) may enjoy “Crowhurst” for its catchy rhythm and melodies. The songs carry a consistency and all hint towards influences of different styles of metal while having a heavy post-hardcore undertone. Some negative criticism would be the excess of gang vocals.
THE RIVAL MOB “MOB JUSTICE” (Revelation Records, Released February 26, 2013)
If The Rival Mob were in the dictionary it would read “believe the hype”. The reputation of this Boston, Massachusetts crew has spread far and wide over the years, not least down to their incendiary live performances. So, with the hype believed have the five piece delivered the goods since signing up with scene label heavyweights Revelation? Well, kinda. TRM fans will already be familiar with several songs on this full length – “Intro Grunt”, “Mob Justice”, “Boot Party”, “Fake Big” and “Be Somebody” all appeared on the “Mob Justice” cassette, which was released last year as a taster. The rough edges from that demo are, as expected, tidied up here in a mix which is a touch more restrained than their unhinged previous releases. Of the aforementioned songs, “Boot Party” is particularly menacing, a bouncing riff gives way to loose rhythm and back again as frontman Brendan Radigan snarls his anger about those who spew forth hatred: "I just gotta be free of these PC’s and Nazis/Get out of this place/Or we just might party on your fucking face". As for the new tunes here, well it's a mixed bag. “It Must Be Nice” is a face ripper, “Life Or Death” is about making tough but strong decisions for the better whilst “Friendly Freaks” has that slow-fast-slow dynamic that TRM do so well. Melody surrounds “The Brutes of Force”, ironic when you consider the subject matter is about the human race in store for an arse/ass (delete as appropriate Yanks or Limeys!) kicking from their blood thirsty ancestors of the Ice Age. Radigan's raspy, aggressive vocals are captured perfectly on album highlight “Self Esteem”. Prowling drums, a dirty bass line and a promise that "I'm not gonna cut you any slack, Jack" to those who prey on the uncertainty of others to use to their own gain. There are elements of Jello Biafra on the brilliant “Cheapo Grosso”, a little ditty essentially about shitty food giving you the shits. Closer “Thought Control”, at 3:20 is the longest song of the dozen. Bass intro crashes into serrated-edged riffs before it breaks into two step/grab the mic territory, albeit without the chaotic ending you half expect. Whilst it doesn't have the wow factor of “Raw Life” or the glut of memorable riffs of “Hardcore For Hardcore”, “Mob Justice” should definitely occupy your record collection this year simply because TRM do this 80s-style hardcore homage better than anyone else whilst stamping their own shit-kicking steel toe capped boot all over it.
CHAINCHOMP DEMO (Released March 4, 2013)
Everybody that’s been actively attending punk and hardcore shows for as long as me can listen to a new band's demo and have an idea of how they would be live. Sometimes you get the feeling that the band is trying too hard to emulate another bands sound, sometimes it reminds you of an over staffed show at a bar with a douchebag owner charging way too much for drinks and taking advantage of the bands who he will ultimately refuse to pay. Every once in a while though you get a flashback... and, honestly, that flashback is why you keep on attending these shows. That's what happened to me when I gave a listen to the Chainchomp demo. I had a flashback to the scummy basement crusty punk and powerviolence shows I grew up attending in DC. I can smell the sweat and spilt beer on the cinderblock walls, I got a little warmer, and I looked to each side to make sure nobody was gonna slam into me. This band has a whole lot of pent up anger and energy and man do they let it out. The quality of the recording is kinda poor but the songs are solid fast hardcore and, to me at least, it sounds like they recorded it in that hot, sweat drenched basement with a whole group of kids going apeshit. Bearing the name of a Nintendo villain and being reminiscent of Discharge, Infest, and Conflict, Chainchomp definitely has alotta heart. I would love to see these guys play live and I would love to hear a more professionally done recording..... give ‘em a whirl.....
THE RIVAL MOB, STICK TOGETHER, GIVE, WASTE MANAGEMENT, WORLD WAR 4, PRISONER ABUSE, BRAIN SLUG @ 285 KENT, BROOKLYN, NY FEBRUARY 23, 2013
Chris Wynne advised me to write these quickly, because it gets harder to remember the show when you wait, and I am now writing about a seven-band bill from a week ago, and my memory is a little foggy. But in my defense, at times the bands on the bill sounded a little too similar. Now, this was a musical style that I am not opposed to per se, but as it was a bunch of bands that I was only vaguely familiar with, who all put on good sets, it did start to blend together after a while. That being said, as an old dude, you end up talking to a lot of other old dudes, often at shows featuring bands that have been around for a decade or more, often at some larger venue, complaining about how it’s not the same, and there are no good bands anymore. Well, to that I say, you’re old and just not trying hard enough. You need to go track stuff down. This entire show was a very nice testament to how lively things are in today’s hardcore scene. 285 Kent Ave was packed with young kids who were dancing and enthusiastic. There were no bouncers, the door price was reasonable, and the show was entirely made up of bands playing fast, straightforward hardcore. If this isn’t what you’re looking for in a scene, I don’t know what to tell you. Brain Slug is from New Jersey, so I felt compelled to get there early and represent, and when they went on, it was reasonably packed. They played a slightly slower and a little growlier version of the fast straightforward hardcore that made up the rest of the bill, but being they went on first, they stuck with me as one of the more enjoyable sets. They were also the only band to adjust for the slightly high stage by the lead singer taking to the floor for half the set and personally running around to get people moving.
Now the interchangeable style that ran through the bill also seemed to have something to do with the fact that every band except Brain Slugs shared members. Prison Abuse played fast straightforward hardcore, somewhere between Negative Approach and Youth Of Today. The one thing that did stick with me about Prisoner Abuse was the rather intricate and fast playing of their guitarist who was also dressed like he was in Suicidal Tendencies in the early 80’s. As an older dude, part of the appeal of the show for me was the return to hardcore of Porter and Bill Hanily from Floorpunch to playing with World War 4, which also featured the guitar wizard from Prisoner Abuse and the bassist of Give, who was also the guitarist of Rival Mob. Floorpunch breaking up was always one of those life moments as a hardcore kid where a little part of my youth died, and I started listening to a lot more indie rock. So I am officially psyched for World War 4, which not unsurprisingly sounds like Floorpunch. It’s fast youth-crew hardcore with maybe a little bit of "Best Wishes" metal thrown in. It was tight, kids danced and seemed to know the words. Oh, and by kids I really mean all of the band Altered Boys, who seemed to be camped out in front of the stage, while old people like Brett Beach hid off to the side. But it was great. They came on, people went off, they ran through their demo and left. No filler, no covers, just in and out, very impressive.
Which before I forget, hats off to Ian Dickson and Hardcore Volume Gig for continuing to do quality hardcore shows and for having everyone on the same drum rig and sharing equipment. For a seven-band bill, things flew by. Next up was Waste Management who had the bassist from Prisoner Abuse, so maybe the equipment sharing was more that every band had the same people in it. But again, Waste Management was solid, fast, straightforward hardcore that the crowd seemed into. Nothing to complain about except for the one noticeable difference between World War 4 and the majority of the other bands on the bill. That is, a noticeable lack of real mosh parts, which I got to say, if you listen, even Infest had some dancey parts. Not really a huge complaint, just saying I like a little mosh in my hardcore is all. But, yeah, Waste Management is solid, fast, straight ahead hardcore, and I mean that in the best of ways. But they suffered from being followed by my favorite band of the night, Give, who are amazing. Kids filed in for them, but also seemed mildly confused as what to do with them. Musically, each member of the band seems to be playing a set by a different late Discord band all at the same time, making this a crazy jumble of sound that is like Nation of Ulysses covering Shawn Brown era Swizz. Which for me was amazing. Of course, if you were there for the straight ahead hardcore, this certainly was not that. Not only did they seem to confuse the kids, they brought it, flying all over the place like Guy Picchotta on Ritalin. It was good times.
Five bands in and it was getting late, which dampened my enthusiasm. But Stick Together again played a set of fast straight ahead hardcore that seemed to have a little bit more New York hardcore in it, a little touch of the second Madball 7” but less dancey. Good, but after World War 4 and Give, I was a little tired. I was tempted to call it a night, but it seemed the kids were there for The Rival Mob, so I was curious to see Revelation’s latest attempt to put out existing bands. I heard them online and maybe it’s their Boston roots, but they just sounded like a lot of what was on Bridge 9 in the early 00’s so I didn’t have my hopes up. But then the lead singer came out shirtless except for a Darkman varsity jacket, and I was sold. Also, as I mentioned, they had World War 4 and Give’s bassist of on guitar, so how bad could they be? Live, I have to say, Rival Mob was impressive. They were heavy, fast, came off a little like they might fight you after the show, like Slapshot. They’re more like an early 00’s band on Bridge 9, which in my book is pretty rad. The kids seemed to really dig them, which makes things a little more fun. So old people, there is stuff out there. It just takes looking, like when you were 16 and culled fanzines and thank list for bands you hadn’t heard. You just have to cruise the internet. Stuff is out there. You just need to search it out.
BACKTRACK, TERROR, H2O @ 89 NORTH, PATCHOGUE, NY MARCH 1st, 2013
I missed out on Long Island’s Bottom Out and also Pittsburgh’s Code Orange Kids but with doors at 530pm I can’t be blamed all that much. This package tour of Code Orange Kids, Backtrack, Terror and H2O started circling the US back on February 1st and here we are a month later just about winding the tour down in Patchogue which is pronounced PATCH-OG for all the non Lawnguylanderz out there. First time at 89 North for myself and I have to say I was impressed with the layout of the place, the sound system, and the nice brown tiled walls in the bathroom which hid a lot of the fresh blood and piss that was splattered about as if there were a paint party held there. Being that I take public transportation often this made me feel right at home though. Backtrack was first for me and “Erase The Rat” which they have a nice video for was their opener. My first impression was damn this crowd is amped up for the hometown boys with a mosh pit that was simply fierce. If you want to see wild animals go the jungle, if you want to see hardcore on Long Island representing in a big way you should have been in the middle of this melee as the “mosh at your own risk” and “no stage diving” signs were simply there for show.
Lead singer Vitalo is one of the most energetic dudes with a mic in his hand in the world of hardcore today. The crowd simply feeds off his energy as he bounces around the stage like a pinball. He did the same at last year’s BNB Bowl pinch hitting for Outburst as their frontman that day. Their 2011 album “Darker Half” didn’t really do it for me but they held my attention throughout as the songs sound a shitload better live. Terror was next and could have easily been flip flopped as the headliner with H2O. The crew from LA has been around since the early 2000’s and this was my first run in with them and I was all ready for the Scott Vogel experience as their lead singer is known for his stage presence especially in between songs. Much like the start of the Backtrack set the start of Terror’s set off another mosh pit, stage dive, bombardment. This band is super tight and play like a machine pounding out tune after tune without coming up for air often. Not a ton in the way of Vogelism’s but when he did speak you knew it was from the heart and without a doubt they came off to me as a humble band playing this music for all the right reasons. In similar fashion to Backtrack although I am not Terror’s biggest fan I ate up their 45 plus minute set and was really impressed.
H2O and myself go back…way back. Unknowingly I saw their first show ever in Bayside, Queens in the mid 90’s. A few weeks (or months) later while trying to track down Rick Ta Life and Killing Time for interviews at a Connecticut show Toby (lead singer) approached me and said he wanted to be interviewed and when I told him they didn’t have enough to talk about yet he talked his way into issue #6 of In Effect doing a great job in the process. Those days seem like a lifetime ago yet H2O as a band in 2013 still bring it like it was that first show and first months when the band was in its infancy. Their live set these days ranges from stuff off of their ’96 self titled debut album to 2008’s “Nothing To Prove” and they mix in the newer stuff with the old very well. Toby is still Toby and will always be that charismatic frontman leading the charge for H2O and much like Terror’s Scott Vogel knows how to work the crowd. In this case changing up “Family Tree” lyrically a little bit to include the gone but not forgotten Silent Majority as well as naming a few other hometown favorites from the island. “Who’s at their first hardcore show?” prompted some kid who was only 14 to get the spotlight for a quick second. Little things like this are what sets hardcore apart from other genres of music and always will. As expected the crowd went ape shit throughout their approximate 60 minute set which was one most people at this show will agree they won’t forget for a long time to come. H2O are “strong like bull” in 2013 and just keep chugging along building upon an already great legacy. For video footage from this and other NY area shows visit Izzy's Music Is My Porn (MIMP) page below. For additional photos from this show visit both links below.
ALTERED BOYS, LUDE BOYS @ 538 JOHNSON AVENUE, BROOKLYN, NY FEBRUARY 16, 2013
A packed crowd at Johnson Ave., where throwing empty beer cans seems to have achieved the status of sport or band appreciation? I arrived just in time to see Lude Boys, who were decked out in outfits that meticulously match their early punk hardcore sound. Or a time when bands sounded more like the garage bands that had spawned them. Or when The Stooges still sounded like a sloppy, tweaked Doors cover band. Lude Boys are good and probably better than most of the bands they’re emulating, because unlike early Black Flag, they seem to know how to play their assigned instruments. They also started their set with a rockin’ instrumental, (during which) their singer shaved off most of his hair and some of his pubic hair before announcing drolly, “We’re a skinhead band.” They went through a fast set of early hardcore, which people seemed to dig, and if you can get past everyone dressing like they’re reenacting an early 80’s Flipside video, it was damn enjoyable. Hard not to like the dramatic gesture of shaving your head during the first song, not quite GG Allen but I appreciated the theatrics, and having your lead singer running around with a large self-imposed bald spot does create a very punk esthetic that fits their sound.
As a good as Lude Boys were, they were just priming the pump for the almighty Altered Boys from New Jersey. And being that they are a rad hardcore band from New Jersey, who formed in the last decade and released a 7”, they should be breaking up just about now. But I was psyched to catch them before the inevitable show in a basement in New Brunswick featuring a lineup of bands, each featuring ex-members of Altered Boys. If you have missed them, the Altered Boys play straight ahead fast hardcore but being that they’re from New Jersey and featuring the excellent guitar work of Ray Cheek, they have a decidedly late 80’s New York Hardcore undertone, where despite how fast and straight forward they’re playing, Altered Boys a la Floorpunch work in some killer breakdowns. They also dressed like normal hardcore kids, they weren’t trying to be punk, they just were, as it should be. Maybe it was their lack of period outfits or their insistence on mosh parts, but it seemed to take the crowd about half the set to really get into it, but New Jersey never gets the love it deserves. I was working through a fever so didn’t stick around for Crazy Spirit.
ENSIGN, I AM HERESY, BOTTOMFEEDER @ THE COURT TAVERN, NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ FEBRUARY 15, 2013
After a ridiculously large meal at the Menlo Park Diner, I mistakenly got to the newly reopened and remodeled Court Tavern (minus the mildly insensitive hippie mural behind the stage) in time to miss almost all of Bottomfeeder’s set. They were good from what I saw, fast, hard and complex like with a post-“Scratch the Surface”, Sick Of It All or even Ensign vibe though maybe this unfair being that almost half the band is currently in Ensign. After missing most of Bottomfeeder, I was even less thrilled for I Am Heresy, which features the lead singer of Boy Sets Fire. Despite making a Brother’s Keeper’s joke, I hated Boy Sets Fire’s earnest, screechy, metal-tinged hardcore. It is everything I would love to have forgotten about 90’s hardcore. But after writing a full-throated defense of Thursday in an earlier review, and then suffering through I Am Heresy, I can see how one man’s Thursday is another man’s Boy Sets Fire. Ugh. On the upside, the kids seemed into Bottomfeeder and significantly less so for I Am Heresy, so that made me feel good about the world. And speaking about the kids, as Ensign, which is easily one of my favorite bands, was setting up, a young blonde woman approached me, and this happened:
“Do you recognize me?”
“No… That’s okay, you were my teacher.”
“Yeah, what are you doing here?”
“um.. I like Ensign a lot”
“Oh… it’s okay if you don’t remember me. The only thing I remember about your class is you thought my pictures were all “Hot Topic”…..”
Nothing to make you feel old at a hardcore show like running into disgruntled undergrads. On the upside, Ensign continues to be resurgent, even playing a new song called “Warning Shots” and promising to have a 7” out by the end of the year. The addition of Dan Brennan on guitar seems to be paying off. He seems to be very enthused, matching Nate’s stage antics as well as providing a nice balance between sounding like Ensign does on record while still being able to go off on musical diversions that are a little more experimental. I am telling you they’re at the best they’ve been in years, and it seems like they’ll be playing out more. Also they ended their set with a very spirited Avail cover. All I am saying is that I love Ensign, and you should too.
IMPULSE CV “CHULA VIOLENCE” EP (Mind Disease Records, Released December 30, 2013)
The boys from Chula Vista, CA are back perfecting their all out thrash assault which I first came across via their June 2012 EP titled “Chicano Violence”. This time around we get more of the same which means 14 songs in way under 10 minutes. Think back to early DRI stuff with insane bursts of energy that come and knock you over the head and before you know what happened the next song is already playing. The opener “Externalize” is a mere 14 seconds long which is way too short to be taken seriously and their longest track “Just Because” clocks in at 1 minute even. Within these small time frames Impulse packs in some seriously sick dance parts that could undoubtedly make a crowd move but at the same time with the short lengths of each song you would like to hear what they would sound like if they stretchhhhhhhh things out a little. Each time I have listened to “Chula Violence” I have played it at least 2 times through and it usually leaves me wanting more. The energy here is so undoubtedly raw, angry, and pure all in one as this could quite possibly be the perfect soundtrack to lose your mind to. Reccomended
RELENTLESS – “TURN THE CURSE” LP (6131 Records, Released January
If someone had said “Sydney Hardcore” to me I would of instantly thought Massappeal – nobody likes a thinker, as that’s the ONLY Sydney HC record I have ever picked up. Seems I’ve been missing a trick, as Relentless “Turn The Curse” just has to be the work of a band who LOVE their own hardcore scene and quite probably hardcore scenes the world over. I approached this review with a design, I was going to listen to the record once and write the review, this was flawed as I hadn’t taken into account the fact that I just might not be able to avoid hitting repeat. Like any other hardcore kid who loves finding new bands to listen to I will be checking out the Australian hardcore scene which I am told is prolific, it’s obviously massively underrated as these guys KILL IT! They’ve been together since 2006 and have toured across Australia, New Zealand, and into nearby Southeast Asia, they also supported Trapped Under Ice on their 2012 Australian tour. Whilst on the subject of TUI, obvious comparisons will be made as Relentless have that groovy yet hard NYHC tinged style, throwing back to Crown of Thornz the dark grooves and precise playing will have people saying “they sound like TUI/Backtrack”, I don’t see it as a bad thing that bands are playing that style, that’s the hardcore I fell in love with. The record opener “With A Voice” is full of groove, hard backup vocals and atmospheric guitar work, it sets the pace and the scene for the remaining 11 tracks of catchy modern hardcore. I could go on and on about this band ... just go pick up a copy of “Turn The Curse” as it’s a banger! The band already has plans for tours in 2013 throughout Australia and Asia, with the likelihood of tours in North America and Europe later in the year as well. “Turn The Curse” is an album not to be missed, as it will undoubtedly set a new high point in Australian hardcore. Relentless are also confirmed to play the This Is Hardcore Fest in Philadelphia, PA in August 2013. I didn’t want to mention this BEFORE the review, but Terror’s Nick Jett (Terror, Strife, Backtrack, Down To Nothing) produced this record, you can tell this if you’ve heard his work before as it’s a flawless killer production. All in all, these guys are not paint by numbers hardcore, “Turn The Curse” is an Aussie masterpiece. Stream a sample track here:
RELENTLESS - "World I Despise"
THE LAST STAND, ENSIGN, BRICK BY BRICK, COVER YOUR IDOLS, NO DICE @ ST VITUS, BROOKLYN, NY JANUARY 26, 2013
Missed No Dice. I got to the club right in the middle of Cover Your Idols’ set. So in case you were wondering, it’s not a Kill Your Idols cover band, just a hardcore cover band. And who doesn’t like every bands’ cover song? Hell, H20 and Ensign did entire records of covers, so I was okay getting to the show in time for what I was promised was a set of 90’s hardcore covers, which sounded like a good enough time, but it just ended up making me sad. The band was fine, the songs were good as you would expect, but it did occur to me that every bar cover band is really knockin’ out the hits for someone. I felt officially un-punk being the desired audience for this kind of thing. Brick By Brick were thick menacing looking dudes, whose sound was not-unenjoyable for what it is, heavy metallic hardcore. Like an All Out War or in the long tradition of those post-Hatebreed bands, they are angry, like metal and can hurt you, and then there is a mosh part, not great, but if you don’t occasionally enjoy people killing each other to loud chugga-chugga guitar parts, you’re probably in the wrong genre.
Then there was Ensign. I am from New Jersey so by birth I am obligated to love the shore, Springsteen, soft serve, Vision and Ensign. It’s unavoidable and not unwarranted. If you were around for the late nineties, it was hard to ignore how fucking good Ensign was. There was a time before they signed to a major, that I think it is fair to say that if you were seeing them in New Jersey, they were as good, if not better than Sick Of It All. Precise, angry and, unlike most of bands in this thing of ours, musically inventive in the best of ways, where you wouldn’t mistake them for a metal or indie band, but they also didn’t sound like anyone else playing hardcore. They signed to a major and like all hardcore bands that sign to a major, things started to go downhill. There were some lineup changes, followed by a ridiculously long stretch where they haven’t recorded, leading into this weird existence where musically, and even in Tim’s vocals, they have progressed to an almost unrecognizable place where they’re looser, more experimental musically, with raspier more guttural vocals. All that sounds great but different, in comparison to their records.
Leaving Ensign in place where they aren’t the same for people reliving ten years ago and with out putting out new material to bring in young people less popular then they should be. That being said, like say a Vision or a Breakdown they’ve been enjoyable in the decade or so since they’ve recorded, and in that time they’ve birthed an entire generation of damn good New Jersey Hardcore bands. Word is, Ensign is working on new material, Dan from Mother Night / Torchbearer has been on guitar of late and has paired nicely with Nate on bass, and Tim Shaw seems to be less angry at everything, which has resulted in Ensign being the best I’ve seen them in years. Hopefully they will record, because they’re damn good and should be playing out more than just occasionally for the same bunch of old Jersey dudes at the Court Tavern. It was nice seeing both of the Mike Scondotto vehicles on back to back weekends. (Inhuman played previous week).
I feel it gives me a certain authority in my writing about The Last Stand, which, if I am not mistaken, is the Scondotto family version of Embrace, where Ian joined Faith after Alec left. But The Last Stand probably sounds a lot more like Shutdown than Embrace sounded like Faith. Which reminds me, man, I completely forgot how damn good Shutdown was. It is great to see those guys killing it again and rightfully so with Mike on vocals. It sounds exactly like that, Shutdown with Mike singing, for those of you who forgot Shutdown, they had youth crew hardcore vibe, only with more 90’s New York hardcore mixed in, like if Killing Time was covering a Bold song, although maybe not that good, because that would be pretty amazing, but either way you get the drift. The Last Stand seemed to have a decent crowd response, people were dancing and seemed to know the words to the songs. What can I say? The Last Stand was solid, and seems like things are starting to take off for them, and last I saw on the Facebook, Mark (brother of Mike and singer of Shutdown) seems to be doing rewarding adult-like things like having kids, so all is well with the world.
xREPENTANCEx “IN VIOLATION OF ASA” (Released December 2012)
Sometimes I actually sit up and take notice of what's happening on my Facebook timeline. In and around the utterly pointless Instagramming of food and “liking” a link in order to have a chance of winning some sort of gadget, there are a few posts which succeed in capturing my rather short attention span. So, when a lot of the UKHC fraternity are salivating over something I thought it was worth checking out. Thus, straight edge London quartet Repentance have produced a cathartic hate-filled four track EP which takes its cues from the likes of Morning Again, Congress, Regression, Slavearc and Breach. The title track smacks of Arkangel at the peak of their powers, although singer John Olley's style is more reminiscent of B'Hellmouth of the much-missed Zombiecore mob Send More Paramedics - screaming like he is stuck at the bottom of a well. “War of Attrition” has divebombs, harmonies, sledgehammer riffs and a sense of bleakness Immortal would be proud of. “Repentance” has that spoken word over a clean guitar bit that Culture did so well, breaking up the monstrous riffing to good effect. Heavier than Kirk Windstein bench pressing Oprah. Check it out.
TOO MANY VOICES @ SINCLAIR’S, WEST BABYLON, NY JANUARY 27, 2013
You know you’re at a hardcore show on Long Island when you can’t find the venue, because it’s an Irish bar wedged into a strip mall. Felt good being in the only place in the tri-state area where it’s safe for Jersey kids like me to make fun of stuff, but it was great. Two Man Advantage was headlining, so half the bar seemed to be rocking Two Man Advantage varsity jackets / hockey jersey’s. Vinnie from No Redeeming Social Value was selling candy bars for I am assuming his kid? The show had a very working class Long Island Hardcore vibe. Having plans to watch professional wrestling later in the evening, I was just there for the opener Too Many Voices, or the return of Andy from Kill Your Idols. Originally apparently, Too Many Voices also featured Chris Daly from Resurection, 108, Texas Is The Reason, Jets To Brazil and recently Supertouch on drums (Daly was the 90’s Sammy Siegler) and Garret from Texas Is The Reason on bass. But I guess with Texas Is The Reason, touring and maybe recording, Too Many Voices now features dudes backing Andy who were not in Texas Is The Reason. One of them was in 25 Ta Life but not who or which period 25 Ta Life they were in, but this means Andy has now fronted band with ex-Down Low and Ex-25 Ta Life. But nonetheless, Too Many Voices were rad. Andy is pushing a little more melody into the vocals than in his Kill Your Idols days, but it sure sounds a hell of a lot like Kill Your Idols to me, albeit a tad slower. Not much crowd response, which considering how much people, me included loved Kill Your Idols, strikes me as odd, there hasn’t been more of a to do about Andy fronting a band again. I guess there is still time to get on the bandwagon. In hopes of getting back to Brooklyn in time for the Royal Rumble, I left after Too Many Voices and missed Two Man Advantage, which was a shame because I do love their hockey-themed hardcore. Which reminds me I also overheard some really heavy hockey talk at the bar before the show. I feel only so many hardcore shows where you’re gonna get dudes talking passionately about hockey.