(Released June 26, 2014)
NY's Straphangers return with the follow up to their 2012 LP "Queens By All Means". "Contortionist" contains 11 tracks that are like a punk/hardcore/speed metal smoothie all blended together. Tracks like "One Direction", "Contortionist" and "Not Alone" are clear cut standouts on an overall solid album. I always thought of these guys/gals as a straight up punk band but after dissecting these tunes a bit more we hear a lot more in the way of metal riffs and song structures. Whether on purpose or not the fact is the recording they got on here doesn't accentuate the metal undertones making for a unique product by today's standards. The norm is bands go for that big beefed up guitar sound that can take a regular old hardcore band and make them sound something closer to Slayer. Not the case here. Emily's vocal delivery further teeters their sound towards the punk side of things as everything flows together nicely. In my eyes Straphangers are without a doubt a live band first and foremost with the majority of their shows being on home turf and usually in front of a loyal following that is ready to jump all over each other and have a good time. "Contortionist" for me adds another layer to an already fun band and gives their strong fan base (me included) something new to bring home and crank up loud in between gaps between shows.
SPILL YOUR GUTS “SLIP AND FALL” EP
(Released June 13, 2014)
Spill Your Guts' story is an interesting one as the band consists of 2 Canadians, an Australian, a dude from Denmark and a Russian all who live and work in Shanghai, China. Tired of not having anything to speak of as far as a local hardcore/heavy music scene the guys decided to form Spill Your Guts in early 2012. Each member seems to bring something different to the table with influences ranging from old school hardcore to metal to grindcore to punk rock. This almost impossible mix of people and sounds somehow has worked out as the 5 song “Slip And Fall” EP did something that many new bands have failed to do... and that is to stand out from the pack.
All of the aforementioned styles are on display throughout this recording which is also their second EP. Spill Your Guts plays with a certain amount of bounciness in their songs and although played often at breakneck speed they find spots to stick in some melodies... enough so that this is not an all out grindfest being played at 500mph. The much slower "Snakes" could possibly be the most catchy track here and also the slowest further showing SYG's diversity. The vocals are hoarse and scratchy and just fit everything perfectly. A great surprise from an area of the world that we usually don't associate with having a hardcore scene. If these guys have anything to say about that things will be changing soon.
SHEER TERROR – “STANDING UP FOR FALLING DOWN”
(Reaper Records, Release Date July 15, 2014)
I'm not going to bore you with the how, why, or "what the fuck?!" when I boldly declare I've never really got into Sheer Terror. Probably because I don't really know the answer.
What I do know is that they haven't written and released a full length record in ages - 18 years to be precise. So, let's not wait a moment longer. Was it worth the wait? Most definitely. “Heartburn In G” opens proceedings in raging fashion - Bearer's unmistakable “grarl” (a combination of a growl and a snarl) lays down the marker as he leads his bandmates into a warning shot chorus of "I'll burn this fucking bitch to the ground". It's pretty pissed off stuff ("My only wish/my one desire/set your fucking world on fire") throughout before gravelly-strains of a lesser-weathered Lemmy Kilmister are evident during “Ain't Alright” and then later in “Sandbox Tonka”. The wonderfully-titled “Weird, Jealous and Fat” reminded me of “Lowest Of The Low” era Terror trading billy club hits with Agnostic Front, while there are street punk vibes and gang vocals aplenty on “Boots, Braces and Alimony”.
The intensity dips during “Coffee, 5 Sugars” which, if you removed the lyrics, could pass for a more aggressive Dog Eat Dog song, complete with brass overtones of course.
I defy anyone not to listen to “Did You Just Meet Me?” and not feel the sort of level of positivity felt at a mid-90s H20 show. Played on a bouncy castle…in the Bahamas…or something like that. It's a catchy feel-good song, one with commercial potential (not in a sellout way of course, merely the sort of exposure such a track might deserve such as AF's “Gotta Go”) and demonstrates Bearer's sensitive side and talents as a versatile frontman during the longest track on offer (4:11 minutes).
It is back to the certified bangers with the chaotic “Love You Like A Leper” - surely written with the pit carnage it will inevitably cause set firmly in the band's creative minds.
One of the central riffs in old favorite “Broken” is reborn in the brooding misery of “The Revenge Of Mr Jiggs” before “Cigarettes & Farts” and “Singalongastupid” complete what is a formidable, enjoyable and welcome comeback album.
MODERN PAIN “SELF DECONSTRUCTION” EP
(Six Feet Under Records, Release Date July 15, 2014)
Modern FUCKING Pain! This EP has been done for some time and then the band took it out and went shopping for a label with Six Feet Under being the beneficiary of one of the best releases 2014 has shown us so far. Short and not so sweet with just 5 tracks (as was the case with their first 2 EP’s) is what “Self Deconstruction” offers with “Mind Grinder” leading things off. Noah’s distinct gruff vocals jump right out at you with the music sounding more pissed off than a prison yard brawl. Modern Pain draws on many influences and admittedly they all like different styles of punk and hardcore and metal which in turn has created (in my eyes) a sound all their own with the word RAW coming to mind as the main component behind everything. Within the tracks you can pick up traces of NYHC (I smell some Breakdown), some all out speed blitzes via someone’s love of grindcore, and also some experimental type stuff as is the case on the slower/brooding track “No Control (No Remorse)” where we get 3 and a half minutes of a quasi-instrumental led by a distorted bass sound being set over some spoken word from the 1998 flick “Belly” starring Nas and DMX. The movie dialog ties in with the “Self Deconstruction” title of this EP and kinda shows us that these cats are doing all the little things right. This clocks in at about 13 minutes overall but somehow has a feel of a much longer release. From the looks of the pre-orders I have seen for this the packaging looks tight with some dark artwork that mirrors the uniqueness of this amazing 4 piece band out of Dallas, Texas.
Angel Du$t “A.D.”
(Reaper Records, Released June 10, 2014)
Baltimore's Angel Du$t got their start in 2012 and this is the follow up to their "Xtra Raw" EP. Since Trapped Under Ice went on hiatus last year we have been seeing a lot more in the way of shows from these guys who have been touring extensively with Turnstile. The fact that TUI singer Justice Tripp fronts Angel Du$t and Turnstile drummer Daniel Fang is behind the skins here for Angel Du$t explains a lot behind those tours. Prior to "AD" I had limited exposure to Angel Du$t and my interest in this new one was mild at best. After just a few rotations through this short EP I was sold as this is a flat out killer 10 minutes of refreshing hardcore/punk/other as "AD" is a huge breath of fresh air to a music scene with more imitators than innovators. Their sound is kinda H20-ish based punk with Justice doing a really nice job with more of a singing style as opposed to the more hard style he uses with Trapped. In my eyes he already was one of the better frontmen in hardcore and this effort just shows how much more range he has. The songs are all catchy and also on the short side of things so don't let the fact that there are 12 songs fool you... this is a 12 minute EP at best and if you take away the ultra poppy "Squeeze" (which I just have to bypass each time…sorry guys.. this one sounds like an attempt at trying to get some radio airplay) you are looking at a 10 minute deal... but what a great 10 minute ride it is. Angel Du$t is not reinventing the wheel with what they are doing but they do mix things up here and there, take some chances, and show us that songs can have a ton of melody and still have some balls. More please!
CROSS ME “PAID IN FULL”
(Flatspot Records, Released June 13, 2014)
Cross Me caught my attention in late 2013 with their 5 song demo that was rough around the edges but showed a lot of promise displaying a sound that wasn't far off in my opinion from their hometown homies in Expire. “Paid In Full” comes to us as another 5 song effort and right away you notice a huge upgrade over the demo in the production as the sound here is leaps and bounds better. “Warrior Spirit” opens things up and Cross Me bursts back into what I came to expect from them off their demo with a fast style accompanied by an almost scratchy guitar sound which sounds great. The song hits a wall though with about a minute left as everything slows down to a mid-90's like mosh part that chugga chuggas along at a snails pace. I'm not happy with the end as it brings about old mental images of windmilling/karate chopping mosh pits of that era that led to a lot of bad metalcore but what ya gonna do? “No Throne” hits next and its back into the fast shit again before that last minute hits and the mosh part outro slows things down again much to my dismay. “Don't Cross Me” which was the best jam on the demo is up next and this song sounds 100 times better and so much tighter than the demo. This song thrashes and shreds and is the best song by far and is a flat out brutal beast. That choppy drum beat is hard not to get into. “Bad Company” is the 4th track and falls more in line with the aforementioned “Don't Cross Me” track while the closer and title track “Paid In Full” closes things out nicely despite a breakdown at the end that regresses back to that slow stuff once again. So overall I am torn by this new Cross Me effort as in parts they progress and show signs of advancing in what they did so well previously but a few songs get just an ok due to those slower parts that were not a big part of their demo. These guys have only been around a little over a year and have a bunch of good songs already under their belts so they get a pass here but I hope in the future they push the fast and thrashy styled songs more. Don’t get me wrong, “Paid In Full” is a nice EP, my expectations though may have been a little high… check these guys out on a tour near you as they seem to be a determined band that you will be hearing more about in the future.
EXPIRE “PRETTY LOW”
(Bridge 9 Records, Released June 17, 2014)
Boom! Woah, what an agonizing wait it was for this one. But here we go. More Expire goodness. Or rather, greatness. Or better yet, total awesomeness in the name of hardcore. Now I’m not one to talk about track time too much, but just look. Most of these eleven newly treasured tunes have a significant bump in length. Know what that tells ya? That this band are branching, and not out, but up (hmm, phallic), with “Second Face” their longest track to date. It’s a banger, too, with some of the coolest moments I’ve heard in hardcore all year. Essentially, and with a description that’s so uncomplicated that it’s actually stupid as fuck, Expire’s new album is a collection of intense heaviness garnished with dark albeit identifiable lyrics. The pinnacle of this band.
To ours, and certainly Bridge 9’s delight, these tracks are monsters. Angry, ugly beasts of destruction. It’s a joy to hear Josh Kelting’s vocals ripping and roaring into maniacal new levels, Zach Dear’s furious guitar distorted to all hell, and the raw drums thrashing garages into ash. It takes a few listens to get into, but that’s The Way It Is (Hello, Backtrack) with bands whose lyrics and messages mean so much to you. You don’t just dive in and plough through again and again like a madman, you take a just pounding from each song, and keep your crazy offhand opinions to yourself until they’ve morphed into grandly and expertly molded ones.
Opener “Pretty Low” swings you straight into hell, and before you’ve consciously realized it, you’re back inside Expire’s dark mindset. The song has highs and lows, both vocally and musically, and it’s over in a flash. “Just Don’t” follows with a startlingly steady opening, but that quickly changes as the drums kick in full force. A third in, that moment built purely out of bass, drum and vocals brings back that rawness that made tracks like “Anchor” so captivating. Kelting in particular grabs your attention in “Fiction”, those “Holy fu** I’m losing my mind!” vocals pulling you along with the song. It’s short and sweet too. Replay!
Next, “Dig Deep”! Wait, no. It’s just the opening with more fret complexity. I was a little disillusioned by the similarity at first ear glance, but when the main body kicked in I realized that this is something quite epic. “Old Habits” however, is the birth of something new. It retains the “Grim Rhythm” tone and yet the main riff threatens to step into that tiny cross section between hardcore and metal – but don’t fret, this band aren’t rocketing away from punk like how Cancer Bats did – it soon speeds up until you’re practically tasting the Midwest air. Next comes “Forgetting”. It’s badass. Enough said.
It’s never a bad time to hear more of what you love. “Pendulum Swings” was a dark, vicious beast, “Pretty Low” is a darker beast, more vicious still, with sharper claws, and a pointier hat. Things are heating up. Could “Pretty Low” be Expire’s signature? Only time will tell.
THE FLEX, VIOLENT REACTION,
ALTERED BOYS, MFP, CLOSET CASE
@ The Acheron, Brooklyn, NY May 24, 2014
After Sheer Terror the night before and Left For Dead earlier in the day, I almost passed on this show all together. I certainly lingered out front longer than usual and missed some of Closet Case. What I caught of their set was intense, fast, early 80’s style hardcore like Crazy Spirit or Creem. The singer spent the set running around the floor dancing into the stagnant crowd, his own band, and eventually jammed the mic into my teeth, then threw it at his bassist and ended the set. I like the effort and element of danger, but not entirely sure how much I enjoy the angst when it’s being directed at me. The Facebook announcement did describe them as more “hardqueer” than “queercore.” Not sure I know enough about “queercore” to delineate, but on some level I did appreciate the general chaos they brought to their set.
So I never got that into Oi outside of saying it a lot at NYHC shows in the 90’s. MFP play a fast traditional, rocking hardcore Oi-style. I definitely had friends who loved them, but I was a little bored. Granted, three shows in less than 24 hours could have played a part, but I found them a little too rocking and not enough mosh. It wasn’t my thing. It was also the second band in row to jam a mic in my face while I was in no way singing along, this time while MFP’s singer sang with his head pressed up to mine. I guess I had a cosmic bull’s-eye on me.
As much as I was indifferent to MFP, I was psyched to see Altered Boys twice in the same night. Love those guys, and the kids seem to be really getting into them. The response was even better than the Left For Dead show. They’re three 7” in, and I’m very much looking forward to them recording a LP of their fast hardcore with some real danceable intro/outros.
I was there for Altered Boys and was very tempted to call it a night at 11PM, but all day everyone kept saying how good the Violent Reaction was. They are Revelation’s newest signing, and since they’re from the UK, people seemed very excited to see them so I stuck it out. Well, they opened with AF’s “Victim In Pain,” and I was completely sold. They were described to me as youth crew hardcore with some Oi mixed in, and somewhere during their set, it occurred to me the youth crew plus Oi got you Straight Ahead-era hardcore, and bam, they cover Straight Ahead, Yup, I am a fan. Looking forward to their Revelation LP.
The singer from Violent Reaction got up after their set and went behind the drums for The Flex, who are fronted by the living incarnation of every drawing of a skinhead from a 80’s NYHC flyer. In a thick British accent, he explained that on the drive there, they had listening to nothing but NYHC and how psyched they were to be playing in the hometown of Straight Ahead and Breakdown. They then tore through a set of youth crew hardcore mixed with Oi and maybe a touch bit more “Where The Wild Things Are” hardcore than Violent Reaction. It was a thing of beauty. They covered Breakdown, Killing Time and The Abused. And why does it take two British bands to show more pride in NYHC than almost any NYHC band I’ve seen in the last ten to fifteen years? And why don’t bands do covers anymore? I think the UK is calling out NYHC or at least playing it a fitting tribute
ACHE “2014 DEMO” (Released June 7, 2014)
Isn't there that saying when one door closes another one opens? Ache grows out of the ashes of the recently departed Dead Serious and Abject...two promising NYHC bands that ended prematurely. Ryan Bland is on vocals and comes from Dead Serious... you may also remember him from Home 33 from back in the day. Matty Gelsomino was one half of the guitar team over at Abject! Ache got their start I'm guessing in mid-January and this is a pretty solid effort for a band that has been together less than 6 months featuring 5 songs in about a 12 minute span. Officially called a demo but looking more and sounding more like an EP due to the fact that it is available on compact disc and also for the fact that demos usually sound less advanced than where Ache seems to be in their progression as a band. "The Blood" is the opener and showcases Ache’s raw and gritty style that to me brings about some comparisons to Sheer Terror at times and at others I can easily picture these guys playing a Tompkins Square Park show with some crusty punk bands and fitting right in. Four of the five songs here are fast paced thrashers from the get go with the finale "98.6" having a slow build up into that fast style that Ache displays throughout. If you play an all out thrash style there is a good chance I'm gonna like it and that is what is going on here along with a grimy production that I really like... almost a dirty sound that makes you feel like these songs just crawled out of a lower east side dumpster circa 1995. Ryan's screamo styled vocals took a little bit of growing on me to get used to but I am coming around as of late. Had the lyrics been included this might not have been much of an issue but at this point I am nitpicking. Overall Ache really knocked this one outta the park making for a nice debut and assuming every band gets better with each release and with time I am really looking forward to what’s next. Look for these cats on the Fresh Blood page on this site in the upcoming weeks.
LEFT FOR DEAD, ALTERED BOYS, JUKAI
@ Saint Vitus, Brooklyn, NY May 24, 2014
Two shows in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, in 24 hours. Everything is just coming up Gunhouse! Got there in more than enough time for Ride The Fury Records’ Jukai. I generally like what RTF has put out, but I am not sure about Jukai. They play some very general metal hardcore like Darkside NYC, but less good, or more noisy and less moshy All Out War. They’re just not my bag. Kids seemed to dig them and danced all hard, even a little tussle during their set, which for a crowd that was on the crusty end was a bit strange. I even saw a dude in a Charles Bronson shirt dancing hard. Love Charles Bronson, but I don’t remember a lot dancing when they played, certainly nothing that could be described as hard.
But Jukai was followed one of my current favorites, Altered Boys, who are getting so good, like Kill Your Idols good. They’re fast, bursting hardcore that is within the confines of straight forward early 80’s hardcore without sounding like anyone else. I am a big fan, and it seems like kids knew the songs, and the people were dancing. Not bad for a Jersey band playing the city. I really hope they can keep it together, because they’re damn good and should be popular. They also have a new 7” out on Mad At The World Records. It's good. You should get it.
I heard the name Left For Dead, but that's about it. Well, I fucking dropped the ball. Apparently it's the dude from The Swarm, and The Cursed or gods of fast, heavy, metal-tinged hardcore. I somehow missed their existence entirely, but I had a dozen friends ask me during the preceding week if I was going to see them, and I am so glad I did. Apparently they’re back together and recording a bunch of 7”s. Halfway through their set, I realized why I didn’t like Jukai or a bunch of other metally hardcore bands I’ve seen of late. It’s Left For Dead. They are fast, heavy, but also have some killer grooving rhythm sections that are doing mosh parts just faster and smoother than most. It was impressive, and kids were going nuts for them. I was certainly glad I made it out, because there seemed to be some debate about whether they would ever play New York again.
LUDICHRIST “IMMACULATE DECEPTION” & “POWERTRIP”
(Double CD, Dead City Records, Released May 2014)
Props to Dead City Records for breathing new life into the old Ludichrist catalog with this re -issue of 2 albums that came out a really long time ago. First up is “Immaculate Deception” which came out in 1986 and was the follow up to a very strong demo from these Long Island heshers…(Google it). Looking back at “Deception” I have to say as a teen I truly didn't really appreciate the talent that Ludichrist possessed. What Ludichrist did and did so well was take a sound that blended hardcore and thrash (which was so prevalent during this era) and added elements of funk and jazz with these little intros and mid song breakdowns that were usually accompanied by some face melting guitar solos. “Green Eggs And Ham” is a half hardcore/half hip-hop diddy that still gets me singing along but also dates the music with slang words like def and fresh and references to Run DMC and LL Cool J who were two of the bigger names on the hip-hop scene at the time. For old farts who may have misplaced/lost or sold this classic “Immaculate Deception” is worth whatever the asking price is as this has stood the test of time and still shreds almost 30 years later. “Government Kids”, “Most People Are Dicks”, “Fire At The Firehouse”, “You Can’t Have Fun”, “God Is Everywhere”… and the list goes on…
Following up their debut was “Powertrip” (which is the second CD in this package) which came out in 1988 and was a big disappointment for myself but not a total loss as many out there did hold this release in high regards. The band went for a more thrash metal sound which was fine... I just didn't feel that the songs had much staying power with me as I gave it a few chances when it came out and again after getting this re-release. Dead City does this up nice with a ton of old flyers and lyrics inside the CD booklet making the trip down memory lane that much more enjoyable. To Ludichrist’s credit they were truly a one of a kind band and to this date I have not seen or heard a band that comes close to the across the board spectrum of styles that they incorporated into their sound while staying punk rock the whole time.
SHEER TERROR, AGITATOR, COP PROBLEM, ALL TORN UP, @ Brooklyn Night Bazaar, Brooklyn, NY, May 23, 2014
Love free shows I can walk to. I came in during All Torn Up, noisy hardcore with a little bit of Oi thrown in. I can’t imagine they don’t enjoy Life’s Blood. All Torn Up were a solid opener and a good start to the night. Having never been to Brooklyn Night Bazaar, I had no idea, Arancini Brothers have a booth and thanks to Joe Visconti for hooking me up with a food ticket, I got an excellent rice ball and a blood orange Pellegrino. If only all hardcore shows had such amenities.
As much as I was there for Sheer Terror, I was psyched finally getting to see Cop Problem and they did not disappoint. They feature gruff female vocals on top of fast angry Dissassociate style hardcore with surprisingly complex and pleasant Fugazi-esque intros. What more, they have a charmingly earnest emotional and political banter between songs that was a little surprising coming from a band opening for Sheer Terror. It was the kind of thing that I imagine that a lot of “Just Can’t Hate Enough” was written about, so I guess what I am saying is that Cop Problem is a modern day Nausea, but more enjoyable.
Now Agitator as it was explained to me, not the Philadelphia straight-edge Agitator that you might have heard of, but a female-fronted less heavy Poison Idea. Maybe it was the fact that it was getting late or (at the risk of losing hardcore cred) I was never that into Poison Idea and a less heavy version was in no way more appealing. I wasn’t that into Agitator. Also they seemed to have a huge set list that for me dragged, but they were the first band of the show that people really seemed to dance to, so what do I know?
The mighty Sheer Terror now features Mike D from Serpico on guitar and is apparently promoting a soon-to-be-released new LP on Reaper. They were tight as ever, the new songs sounded heavier and metally, more “Thanks Fer Nothin” than their recent punkier /oi 7”. Hopefully we can get a little less production of Paul Bearer’s vocals, because as he has aged, some of the faster parts seem to have slowed, but the melodic parts have gotten stronger and stronger. Just once I’d like to see Paul Bearer’s vocals recorded without distortion. Live, they seem to be as good as the last time I saw them a year or so ago. The crowd was into it, and Paul Bearer was in good form, with the man who wrote “I, Spoiler” giving Walking Dead spoilers on stage and this gem: "beards are push-up bras for men”. Maybe I am a straight-edge kid from suburbia, but with Paul pushing 50, his stage banter of casual cocaine use does make me worry a little for his long-term health. But I guess whatever gets you through the day, and with all the old hardcore bands floating around, Sheer Terror does hold up better than almost all of them. Just don’t want to be going to any Paul Bearer tribute shows anytime soon.
ZOMBIE FIGHT, MANALIVE, ON THE OFFENSE, VEXED, ACHE @ The Acheron, Brooklyn, NY. May 10, 2014
Two disclaimers before I start. This whole review must be read through the context of (A) I sang back-up’s on the Zombie Fight record, for which this show was a release party for (also why you should buy the record) and (B) when I walked in the door, I complained to Hil of Zombie Fight fame that no one was taking into account old grumpy people since the show started at 8:30pm and had five bands on the bill, which resulted in him keeping me supplied with Cokes the rest of the night.
When I was sixteen and declaring myself a hardcore kid, I went to Trash & Vaudeville and bought a pair of Doc Martin’s from Ryan, who currently sings for Ache. I thought the boots were ironically patriotic, since they featured red and white stripes with a white star on a blue field on the tips. In retrospect, judging from the number of Spanish-speaking strangers who came up to me, I think I ended up with Puerto Rican flag Doc Martin’s. I also was never a huge fan of Home 33 and missed Dead Serious entirely, but, man, Ache is good, more straightforward hardcore than I remember Home 33 being. And Ryan was always a pretty enjoyable front man, who during Ache got a lukewarm crowd going by moshing it up on the dance floor. Good stuff, a very pleasant surprise for an opener.
Not sure what to make of Vexed. Somewhere between youth crew and New York hardcore, the band reminds me of a less thrilling Wide Awake, and that is in no way a good thing. They certainly do seem to have an enthusiastic following.
Like going out of my way to see Cruel Hand, I was looking forward to On The Offense. I’ve heard a lot of good things, but never got to see them play. And I thoroughly enjoyed them, not sure it was the best thing I’ve ever seen, but they would make for a thoroughly enjoyable, mid level 90’s New York Hardcore band. A solid combination of Maximum Penalty and Crown of Thornz Hardcore, but maybe a sloppier version, but certainly tighter than, say Skarhead after their EP or current Crown Of Thornz. They have a nice underlying funk rhythm section mixed with some otherwise solid straightforward New York hardcore. Definitely the kind of thing that makes it enjoyable to get to a show on time, but probably not the kind of thing I would sit through openers to see. They did get arguably the best response of the night. People were certainly there to see them, and they seemed very comfortable working the amped crowd.
As I feel is often is the case, Manalive seemed to lend the bill a little bit of a change of pace. The On The Offense and Vexed crowd seemed to be a little still for Manalive. I even saw a kid sitting on the floor who had danced through most of the show. And I have to say, I had a small impulse to kick him. I’ve said it before, but Manalive is the best thing going hardcore wise. Maybe it takes being from NJ and loving 90’s heavy emo-ish stuff like Unbroken and Damnation AD, but goddamn they are heavy and tight and make me actually want to dance in a way, that say, Cruel Hand doesn’t. I also think Amit’s vocals have really matured. He’s gotten a hair faster and smoother. At times in the past, his vocals could be a little too spoken for my liking. But they are a force to be reckoned with. I wish they got to play more shows with mosh kids, because I think they are what, say, All Out War would sound like if they were at all a good band.
I like Zombie Fight, I like Hil, and it’s hard not to argue they are getting better and better. But I still feel the song “Brute Squad” doesn’t quite fit the rest of their set. (I mistakenly referred to “Brute Squad” as “Goon Squad” last time I reviewed them on In Effect, and for the record they have no connection to Everybody Gets Hurt.) They seem faster, more moshy, and Hil seems even angrier and most exciting for me. Kids seem to be digging it and singing along. Hell, they are headlining The Acheron. Zombie Fight display a clear musical ability and play a progressive, complex version of New York Hardcore without getting too crazy. They genuinely get me rocking back and forth and make me smile which at this point in my show-going is about as much as you are getting out of me. They have a new LP out, and people should buy it. I sing backups on it. What more do you want from a record?
GERONIMO, FORCE & FIRE, CONCRETE CROSS, NIGHTCRAWLER @ ABC-No Rio, NYC. May 10, 2014
Left a one-year old’s birthday party to catch Concrete Cross at ABC-NoRio, I am not sure what that says about me, but I suspect its not good. But none-the-less I got there on time for Nightcrawler who were solid heavy slow angry hardcore that you might assume would be opening a show at ABC-No Rio. After they played I did for the first time in of all the years of going to ABC-NoRio noticed the art on the wall and saw work by Martin & Phillip who run Arts & Sciences Projects who put out my first book.
After texting them, I caught Concrete Cross who were awesome. I am a complete fan of everything Artie Philly has done even The Shemps, which I think were much better than most people gave credit. If it involves Artie screaming and being funny and belligerent and even with him striped down to his underwear covered in sweat and what I felt was going out of his way to rub up on me while singing, I am down. Concrete Cross… if you aren’t onboard you should be, they’re Milhouse with more Madden based metal. Good stuff. Wasn’t completely sure I wanted to stay around after Concrete Cross but I was a little curious to see Bago from Indecision’s new band Force & Fire. It was ok, they weren’t bad… slow, droney hardcore that bordered on the Melvins playing stoner rock again not bad just a little dry for my liking and weirdly enough a little too noisy and droning on the base more than I would have expected, maybe it was seeing Cruel Hand the night before, but I wanted some more punch from the rhythm section, but again not really my thing. I passed on Geronimo because I still had another show to go to later that night and I am old god damn it.
NOT LIKE YOU ZINE (Issue #1, Released Spring 2014)
Not Like You issue 1 comes to us from Albuquerque NM via NJ transplant Mike who has a nice premier going on here that features separate interviews with Done Dying ' s Dan O'Mahony as well as Mike Hartsfield (yes, 2 separate interviews). Also interviewed are Tony Rettman and Fred Hammer who have both been involved with the underground music scene for a very long time and both make for good reads. The last interview is with Russ Iglay from Huge. You may also know him as Russ from Underdog but now also of Huge. I really enjoyed the last 3 Interviews mentioned as they all gave some good insight and Mike asks some good questions. Reviews, a gossip/news section. .. basically everything you would expect from a DIY hardcore/punk zine. Great start! Issue #2 is already in the works and will have a skate rock theme accompanied by a 7" compilation. (Zine cover showed is in color but Not Like You issue 1 is 100% in black and white).
BANE “DON’T WAIT UP”
(Equal Vision Records, Released May 13, 2014)
What is unique about this record that has nothing to do with the music is that Bane came out and said that this was going to be their last album before they even started recording it. I mean aren't bands supposed to go out on tour and have a huge meltdown and then realize they want to kill each other and break up?
All kidding aside “Don't Wait Up” is a great send off if this truly is the final call for a band that has been around since the mid 90’s with this being their 4th full length album. In true hardcore fashion the band has had a boatload of other releases via EP's, comps and the like but what a way to say goodbye as "Non-Negotiable" opens up with a big powerful and polished sound. Bane relies heavily on ear catching grooves with big backup vocals that really hit home and make their point musically. The credits on my CD list over 30 people for backing vocals and it seems like they were all used often. On “Calling Hours” the band utilizes an extensive backup vocal chant of sorts before breaking it down and in comes Reba Meyers of PA's Code Orange Kids to drop this nice little ending sung quite beautifully that totally stands out... and in a good way. Although cohesive this album strays from the norm and takes chances...I love that. It's something that more bands should take note of especially when you’re giving the listener more than a short EP. I have been wearing out this album for a few weeks now and on top of the opening track other winners include "All The Way Through" with its minute or so build up before one of those for mentioned choruses hits with "THEY WILL...TRY TO... TAKE THIS...FROM YOU" which just has to get your blood flowing if you have a pulse. “Hard To Find" is another keeper along with the slower “Wrong Planet” which has some notes before the lyrics start that tell a sad story of someone (I'm assuming singer Aaron Bedard) being molested along with other children in his family by his father's father. The family member was outed and died within a week of being outed and there is regret for not being able to get revenge.
The music and the message are deep and is highlighted by the closer “Final Backward Glance” which is the sendoff and final goodbye. The lyrics again hit hard as it’s almost a power struggle of lyrics versus music to see who comes out on top. The music for this track fits the finality of everything that is Bane and after 4 minutes that's it... as you almost let out a deep breath after going for that long ride that is “Don't Wait Up”. Up next I would guess there will be a bunch of shows/tours to support this fine release and in the back of my mind I know in hardcore music nothing is really officially done so I will hold out that hope that time will bring this group of friends back together to do something special down the road. In the meantime check out a great final album from a band that still has a lot to offer.
7 SECONDS “LEAVE A LIGHT ON”
(Rise Records, Released May 23, 2014)
“Leave A Light On” is the first new album from 7 Seconds in 9 years and comes to us 34 years after the band formed by members who are now in their 50's. That’s a lot of numbers to chew on. Punk rock bands are not like a fine wine where they get better with age...actually it’s usually quite the opposite. I would guess most of you can point to at least one example of a band you loved that hung around too long but that is absolutely NOT the case here as Kevin Seconds and crew drop 14 infectious tracks that have pretty much owned me over the last 3 weeks with no duds, filler or anything short of spectacular along the way. If after all this time they came out with a nice little EP with 4 new tracks that would have been totally acceptable in my book but to really bring it with 33 minutes of new tunes is something that should be applauded and dare I say could this be my favorite 7 Seconds record ever? I love me some “Walk Together…” but the hooks on tracks like “Slogan On A Shirt”, “Heads Are Bound To Roll”, “I Have Faith In You”, “Leave A Light On”, and “Empty Spots” are just so damn catchy. If you peek back to the bands’ early recordings “Leave A Light On” sounds like a natural progression and I will go out on a limb and say these guys as 20-somethings would be insanely proud of the work they have just finished here. Now with all that said if your favorite bands are named Hatebreed, Ringworm, King Nine, or Xibalba I don’t think these guys will be reeling you in with here as there are very few comparisons but if your one of those H2O, Too Many Voices, Grey Area types then here is something to get excited about. I didn’t see this one coming and if you just dismiss this as some over the hill gang release trying to hold on to days gone by you would be fooling yourself as this is probably one of the biggest breaths of fresh air I have gotten here for review since this website started.
CRUEL HAND, BLIND JUSTICE, ANGEL DU$T, STAG PARTY, THREAT 2 SOCIETY @ Warren American Legion, Warren, NJ. May 9, 2014
I went to see Cruel Hand, Blind Justice & Angel Dust at Warren American Legion because they were bands I’ve heard a lot about, and I was curious because they play a style of moshy hardcore that I don’t go to as much as I did in my younger years. And I was looking forward to photographing kids hurting each other. Well, things started off wonderfully with Threat 2 Society launching into the first song of the night with the singer loudly announcing “uuugghhh” into a moshy intro and kids apparently from the “E Street Posse” with no noticeable Springsteen reference moshing it up. One was even wearing an amazing t-shirt with a large picture of Monica Lewinsky being sworn in. It was all I could ask for and more. Musically, Threat 2 Society provided the complexity and musical depth one might expect from a band that uses numbers grammatically, which is to say moshy, a little metally and otherwise forgettable.
The show at one point featured World War 4 and Stick Together, so Stag Party’s fast, occasionally chaotic hardcore made a little more sense in that context. But, as the bill stood, they did feel a little out of place and seemed to draw the most lukewarm response of the night, with the majority of action on the dance floor coming from Stag Party’s singer Swank. But from the first time I saw them at The Court Tavern, where they were familiar looking NJ dudes playing an enthusiastic mishmash of hardcore styles that felt like an LP was jumping tracks inside of the song. But goddamn, they have gotten tight and impressive. The vocals are as solid as I remember them being but musically things have really jelled, and the divergent musical interests have created solid fast hardcore with some surprising musical depth and some unexpectedly fast jazzy rhythm work on top of the subtle melodies.
Angel Du$t is where things got weird for me. Now, I know the name and was curious to see them. The kids seemed to love them, but I found myself roundly confused why their cluster fuck of mosh-metal combined with rap and pop punk was an acceptable musical styling. I am old, and the kids went crazy, so clearly people are excited about them. I’ve never heard Tim from Rancid’s rap project Transplants, but I imagine Angel Du$t would be a best-case scenario as to what they might sound like. Also they had a song that was announced as “Slam” in which kids did on cue start killing each other, but there was no overt acknowledgement of Onyx or Biohazard. There again, I am old so what do I know?
As worried as I was after Angel Du$t that somehow early 90’s Studio One bands had more of a musical legacy than I would have imagined, fucking Blind Justice destroyed everything. Granted I am from NJ and have a certain affinity for shore bands, but fuck, this is what I wanted from this show. They were fast, the singer was spastic and mildly violent, and the songs were all kinds of moshy. And the kids seemed to love them, so I am1 for 2 in my affinity for bands kids love. But yeah, I am going to go out of my way to see Blind Justice again.
I know Cruel Hand mostly from t-shirts. They seem pretty ubiquitous at shows at least in the tri-state area, and my understanding was that they sounded like Madball. Well, yeah, they sound like Madball, and I might even go as far as to say they sound like Matt Henderson-era Madball. But sounding a lot like Madball does make them inherently a little less enjoyable than just seeing Madball. But again things got weird for me. Why is their singer who was energetic and proficient if not a little in a Freddy Madball-esque way working a surprising amount of melody into the vocals? It seemed a tad forced at times. It wasn’t the bombastic VOD new metal singing, just a little melody on top of otherwise angry aggressive music. I haven’t listened to that Hazen Street record in a while, but somehow I suspect Cruel Hand has. They’re not bad, and the kids clearly loved them, but the melodic parts just struck me as out of place. But now, I am only 1 for 3 in getting what the kids are into. Still, very enjoyable over all, good to be at a show with kids going crazy, including the singer from Blind Justice who did a handstand off a guy bent over on all fours which seemed to lead to a little tussle into the crowd during Cruel Hand’s set. Just saying that I go to lots of the old man hardcore shows, and I don’t find myself worried about getting hurt, and I miss that. And who knew how many kids were into that Hazen Street record.
ZOMBIE FIGHT “ECHOES OF THE PAST” (Released April 22, 2014)
“Echoes Of The Past”, is a pastiche of many different genres that could be considered niches of hardcore. There are pop-punk “whoas,” there’s a little bit of power violence screamy parts, tons of thrash guitar attack, chugging breakdowns and throaty yelling going on to pretty much rope in most aficionados of the genres diverse strengths. Zombie Fight is a pretty good name for these guys; I imagine they would be a great addition to the soundtrack of Return of the Living Dead, which if you don’t have…go get. Any zombie movie that has The Cramps, T.S.O.L, Roky Erickson and The Damned, deserves a spin and is only rivaled by the Repo Man soundtrack in punk rock pedigree. Why aren’t these guys scoring Troma films? This is not to say they aren’t a serious band, I’m sure they are; but with a name like Zombie Fight and a sound that is scatter gunning the listener, but anchored in N.Y.H.C clearly know how to have a good time. Can we talk about the scene in Peter Jackson’s Dead/Alive where the priest is taking out zombies in the churchyard/graveyard and utters the line, “I kick ass for the LORD!” while, literally, punching zombie heads clear off their bodies? That sample should be on this record! The fact that Zombie Fight obviously has diverse tastes hopefully means they will continue to grow and move beyond well placed hardcore staples. This is a pretty good record; I think it would pair nicely with copious and undignified amounts of beer, horror movies and perhaps breaking shit. Make sure it’s not your own shit though, coffee tables are expensive. This is experience talking.
BLACK ‘N BLUE BOWL 2014 @ THE WELL, BROOKLYN, NY. MAY 18, 2014 (DAY 2)
WORDS BY: CHRIS WYNNE. PHOTOS/VIDEOS: JAMMI YORK, MATT GELSOMINO, LEWIS DIMMICK, LISA SHARKEN
With having to choose one day over another for this year’s BNB Bowl I chose Day 2 as I just liked the lineup better. Sure it stung to miss Ludichrist on day 1 and I heard Biohazard’s set blew people’s heads off but being in your 40’s and not in your 20’s often makes you make some “priority” life choices. The Well in Brooklyn was the new spot for BNB Bowl 2014 and from all Day 1 accounts the place was amazing. When you walk through the entry doors you go back outside into this big court yard next to another yard that looks like they sell bricks and concrete supplies so there isn’t any problem with a bunch of hardcore bands playing on maximum volume for about 9 hours straight on consecutive days.
I made sure to get here early to catch Caught In A Trap who were up first at 145pm. I have liked these guys for a long time after buying their “Rats Get Fat” disc a few years back and since the last time I saw them their “Goodnight New York” album came out and won me over quickly. I had seen them previous to this playing the new songs but this would be the first time seeing them after really knowing the new stuff inside out. It must have felt good for the opening band to get such a good response as when CIAT went on they got a nice response from the crowd who all shuffled up when the first notes came through their speakers. “STFU” (Shut The Fuck Up) has a nice sing-a-long chorus and a few people did some pile on action as CIAT blasted quickly through a 20 minute or so set.
Caught In A Trap by: Matt Gelsomino
After Jersey’s Heavy Chains came Manipulate who made an impressive splash last year when they dropped an extremely high quality demo that featured a few people who have been in some established bands including Ricky Singh from Backtrack on guitar and Jonathan Buske on bass. On top of having been in a bunch of bands prior to this you may recognize Buske from the BNB Radio Takeover show so I guess he had a good hook up with getting on the BNB Bowl, right? Haha. Anyway, I have not seen Manipulate in action to date and I was impressed with their live set. With Backtrack up in Canada touring with Comeback Kid Paul Delaney (Kill Your Idols, Black Anvil) filled in on guitar and was rocking out in the hot sun dressed all in black with his hood up the entire time. The songs translated well live and the band has a good stage presence moving about and working the crowd well. Was kind of funny when they brought out a birthday cake for their singer as their other guitar player Corey started a roast of sorts ripping frontman Ivan telling everyone “he is the oldest 35 year old you will ever meet” and also how much he loves Oreo’s. They announced they will be putting out a 7” on Reaper so that is something to look out for as well. A really good band to keep an eye out for.
Manipulate by: Jammi York. Click photo for live footage
Against The Grain hit after Criminal Instinct and as with previous BNB Bowls the whole flow of the day just moves fassssssssst. If you think you are gonna go to the bathroom, grab some food and chit chat with some friends between bands you better be quick. ATG falls into the re-union band category and I was interested to see how they would go over as they were popular in their time when they were around but never a huge band. When ATG started playing I had a big smile on my face as I remembered that awesome fast old school NYHC style that they played with Rob Kabula’s signature bass sound that was really prevalent on Agnostic Front’s “Cause For Alarm” album. Originally formed in 1996 ATG was bringing back an old sound even then as in the late 90’s the metalcore style was so damn popular. These guys looked comfortable up on the stage moving around and rocking out for a solid set that was probably just a little shy of 30 minutes in length. Glad I caught these guys today.
Incendiary followed and probably got the hardest crowd response up to this point of the day. One thing about Incendiary is they seem to bring a crowd wherever they play in the NY area. They got a heavy new school style to them and I applaud their singer for not going for that gut wrenching vocal style which ruins a lot of the newer school bands for me.
Everyone’s favorite 80’s thrash metal band Power Trip were up next. It still bugs me out how the hardcore and punk community embraces these guys as times have changed. When I first started going to hardcore shows and some of my favorite metal bands were mixed in on a bill I would always notice the hardcore/punk crowd would either leave and go outside and sometimes stand right up in front of the stage and give the band the middle finger to their faces. With the more excepting world we live in now we CAN really all get along. Rodney King had that vision back in the day and now Power Trip makes that a reality. These guys just fucking shred, plain and simple. Before finding hardcore I started off with bands like Exodus, Testament and Death Angel and these guys bring me back to that time when thrash metal and hardcore were overlapping scenes that had much more in common than differences (although people didn’t always realize it). I love what these guys are doing and also how a band like them totally diversifies a shows lineup. NY loves Power Trip and it seems like the feeling is mutual as singer Riley Gale gave a lot of love back to the enthusiastic crowd.
Power Trip photos by: Jammi York. Click above image for video
After Suburban Scum was the return of Beyond who started way out in Suffolk County on Long Island in ‘87/’88 and put out that “Dew It” demo which helped burst them on to the NYHC scene. It wasn’t always easy for bands on Long Island back then to bust through and gain the affection of the sometimes hard to please NYHC crowd but that demo was that good and they became one of the bands that was a fixture in the NY as well as CT scenes due to their ties to Youth Crew bands like Youth Of Today, Gorilla Biscuits and others. Just when you think almost every reunion band idea has been dried up you get a nice surprise like this as Beyond came through nicely. The crowd who moved up front gave them a good response. The band announced they will be having a series of releases on Revelation Records releasing a lot of old material. Worst part of their set was without a doubt that shirt singer Kevin Egan decided to wear. I am no fashion expert here (if I was I would have tight fitting shorts and my hair parted on the side with a lumber jack beard like many in the crowd…wtf is up with that look by the way? haha) myself but it just hurt me to look at it for their entire set. All kidding aside this was a nice way to comeback and hopefully this is not the last we see of Beyond.
Beyond photos by: Lewis Dimmick. Click photo for Jammi York video
Take Offense is a touring machine and these guys are just fucking great at what they do. Singer Anthony Herrera is always packed with a ton of energy and literally bounces all over the stage every time I have seen them play and the fellas standing behind him are always tight and on point with their set. Basically all the touring under their belts till this point shows. Not bad for a group of guys who drove something like 10 hours straight from a show the night before in Kentucky. Can’t imagine them being any more energetic than they were and what band wouldn’t get up for a show when you walk out to a stage and see hundreds of people staring back at you and knowing your songs? A nice blend of newer stuff mixed in with some of the older tunes made for a killer set.
Take Offense by: Jammi York. Click photo for live footage
You can’t get much more old-school in NYHC history than Kraut. These guys got their shit together back in like ’81 and haven’t really been around since the mid-80’s so this is probably one of the biggest reaches back into that hardcore time machine for the BNB Crew. The thing that hit me from the start of their set while watching Kraut was that they seemed confident and acted and sounded like they belonged. The sound of hardcore music has without a doubt changed greatly over the years but to be almost transported back to a time when each band played fast without tuned down guitars was a breath of fresh air. With not being sure what to expect going in I think Kraut more than held their own and maybe gained a fan or two along the way.
Kraut by: Lisa Sharken. Click photo for live footage by: Jammi York
7 Seconds has a new album out just days away and depending on when you read this it is probably out already. It is called “Leave A Light On” and it if you like that 7 Seconds sound you will probably fall in love with it right away as it is just amazingly catchy. The fact that I am all juiced up over their new stuff just added to the fun of seeing them firing on all cylinders. At this point of the day the sun was starting to go down and the look of the stage and the bands was taking on a different look with the lighting rigs now being very obvious. When I think back to 7 Seconds’ set I immediately think how damn tight they sounded. New stuff and old stuff was absolutely super tight… “New Wind”, “Not Just Boys Fun”, “Young Until I Die”…. and even “99 Red Balloons” were mixed in with some new ones but did we miss “Walk Together Rock Together”??? or was I getting an overdose of hardcore where I wasn’t thinking straight? (YOT pun not intended) Kevin Seconds and the rest of the band put a lot of heart and soul into this set which to me was the highlight of the day (even with how much I love me some AF). Good between song banter (watch the video clip!) with the crowd and just good vibes from the ageless band who still play like their 21!
7 Seconds by: Jammi York. Click photo for live footage
The heavy hitters rolled on now as “Cause For Alarm” era Agnostic Front took the stage for the second night in a row. Roger explained that this special throwback lineup came about because Decibel Magazine inducted this 1986 release into their Hall Of Fame recently and it kind of brought the old members together. That ’86 release had this thunderous bass heavy sound to it and that same thunder was released out of the bands amps. As soon as guitarist Alex Kinon nailed the first solo I knew we had a special night on our hands as it sounded tighhhhhht. Alex was also in the BAND Cause For Alarm and the rest of the lineup was obviously Vinnie Stigma and Roger Miret along with Kabula on bass (also of Against The Grain) and Louie Beato on drums who was the man behind the drums for Carnivore back in the day. To say Carnivore and the late Pete Steele had some influence on AF during this time in their career is an understatement and Roger gave a shout out to the late frontman of the Brooklyn trio who were simply one of a kind. Roger was a little more chatty with the crowd than some of the more recent times I have seen them. Outside of him asking for circle pits he almost started a grass roots campaign while on stage to get Cause For Alarm (the band) to play BNB in 2015. Other than that there were some more extended breaks between songs and at times it almost felt like you were hanging with Roger and the boys shooting the shit between songs. AF’s career work is absolutely bananas having reinvented themselves many times over and almost being many bands in one with the different lineups and sounds they have produced. The “Cause For Alarm” era was the one that initially turned me on to AF and just being a part of this day/night brought back a lot of good memories.
AF "Cause For Alarm" era lineup from Day 1. Photo by: Jammi York
Agnostic Front by: Jammi York
I don’t know how many others that attended this show could say that they watched every single band on this day but I am one of them logging in 9 plus hours and I enjoyed most of my day at BNB 2014. Discharge were your Day 2 headliners and they did not disappoint. I did not grow up listening to them as they kind of slid through the cracks for me musically. I have always been NYHC first and doing a fanzine usually had me listening to music that was given to me by bands for reviews. Having said this I have missed the boat on certain bands and I often get “how the hell can you not like those guys???” Well, Discharge falls into this group but they totally won me over with this hour or so long set. The majority of the crowd stayed and for a bunch of old punks the band put on one helluva show. Discharge is damn heavy and they play fast and showed they have that fire in them. They started out in the late 1970’s so to be playing a show in 2014 makes these guys the Rolling Stones of punk rock I guess. God bless them and the BNB Crew for making this an amazing day to remember and for putting on another show that people fly in from all over the world to catch each and every year. For the first go around at a new venue the BNB Bowl 2014 was a huge success and with a little tinkering here and there I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings us. The Well’s layout is optimum for a show like this and the sound system was surprisingly very good which is so important for an outside show.
Discharge by: Jammi York. Click photo for live footage