NOISE COMPLAINT- 2015 EP
(Released March 18, 2015)
After following this band for almost 5 years, it's insane how much they progressed. To be fair, it is only because my friend and former guitarist of my band Relevant Anger is the frontman/guitarist of this band. As a matter of fact, I was the brainchild of the band. Long story short, I left due to musical differences. I've mentioned this band before on my So Cal piece so I'll make this very brief. Noise Complaint is a ska influenced hardcore band from Southern California. Yeah that's right, SKA INFLUENCED HARDCORE BAND. I know it's pretty common in the hardcore universe to forbid ska, but please have an open mind because you might miss out on something original. This band just streamed their self titled EP on Bandcamp. They should have physical releases out soon.
So what are my thoughts on this EP? Well I must say it's drastically different. Let me be more specific: unlike the last album "Parasite'', the metal riffs and death metal blast beats (which I thought was a buzzkill and completely unnecessary) are no longer used for this EP. It isn't even as heavy anymore and goes for a different approach. The drummer for ''Parasite" and the first EP, who by the way was heavily influenced by slam metal, left and was replaced instantly which opened the doors for many opportunities. This new EP has me surprised on how much this band changed. The vocals have progressed with its angry and mature tone. I remember when he used to sound like a little brat in that first EP. Even in ''Parasite'' he still sort of sounded like a kid. Not to say it's such a bad thing, but I really prefer his current vocals. This is also the best produced release they have ever done which is funny how they only took about 3 weeks to complete an EP. Keep in mind that ''Parasite'' took about 7 months and that was from files being corrupted and having to Frankenstein the album so it wasn't produced very well. But then again that was a full length and this new EP is only 6 songs (technically 5 if you don't count the intro)
The first track (“Back From The Dead)'' is an acoustic intro with some guy talking over saying a quote by Jack Chick.......random. I started to doubt a little after hearing the second track ''Faceless''. I don't know, the song just seemed so weak. It's definitely the direction they're going for which is very poppy with Lifetime influence riffs. Not a bad song, but it wasn't really my cup of tea. “Faceless” explains how people who preach about social justice are bunch of pretentious keyboard warriors who feel the need to put anyone down for whatever reason *cough* tumbler kids* cough*. Then I heard ''Burning Bridges'' and holy shit talk about unexpected. Call me crazy, but the beginning of the song reminds me A LOT like Breakdown's ''Don't Give Up.'' I compared a ska band to a NYHC band, just think about that. It throws a ska riff in the middle which I want to say it kills the momentum, but at the same time it works. The mosh riff and the chant at the end is kinda weak, but I still dig it. This song calls out the people behind the ''safe spaces'' community with their exclusiveness and having a fascist like mindset. That takes a lot of courage to be so blunt like that. Kudos to them. ''Carry the Torch'' has a strong melodic youth crew influence that can draw Bridge 9 fans or the label itself. Like seriously there's no other way to explain it. If you like Have Heart, Paint it Black, etc etc then I bet this will be your favorite track out of the bunch. This is the only song that suspends the ska riffs. ''Open Your Eyes'' was originally in the ''Parasite'' full length and was rerecorded in this EP. With such a great production quality, this is way and I mean WAAAAAYYYY better. This is also very melodic and reads Kid Dynamite all over. Good song, and the ska verse works very well. From my understanding, it's about jaded liars wanting things their way and will screw anyone over to make it happen. The 6th and final track ''Closed Doors'',which has a clever sample from Ren ‘N Stimpy, is very relaxing of the bunch....well for the most part. It's more easy listening ska that transitions to melodic hardcore the transitions back to being so relaxing. The moral of “Closed Doors” is to never be so close minded and judge people for who their race, attire, etc etc. It points out the brutal truth of how afraid people can be with the unwelcoming vibes they receive by people like that.
So overall it's a great EP and something fresh for people who follow the whole ska core genre. I can see this appeal to hardcore fans as well. It seems hard to blend in ska and hardcore and actually make it work. So forget that it's just a ska band because it's more than that. I may be going over the edge with this, but I see Noise Complaint as history in the making. So enough blabbering from me, just hear it yourself and get stoked on either a tape or vinyl release.
SICK MACHINE “MUZZLED” 7”
(Lethal Dose Records, Released October 2014)
God knows how long it's been since I have heard a good powerviolence band. Let's face it, 97% of this decade's powerviolence (especially from where I live) are just embarrassing knock offs of Infest and Crossed Out. Some even rip off Spazz which is worse. Not to say that Spazz is terrible because they're not, but that's just a band that no one should ever try to imitate. The only bands I can think of who can pull off the Crossed Out/No Comment formula perfectly is Barge and Cave State. Even with Cave State they're just a band I’d rather see than listen to their records. Other than that, most current bands that think they're powerviolence are just ear sodomizing garbage. Thankfully a friend of mine recommended Sick Machine from Melbourne, Australia which I assume they took the name from the Infest song off of the “No Man's Slave” LP. I was told to listen to this right after they released their new 7'' titled ''Muzzled'' about a month ago. Holy shit this needs more attention than it is given, especially here in the United States! Muzzled has 10 primitive tracks containing hate filled lyrics towards religious ideals and the cruel reality done by humanity. The front man's vocals are raw and hateful. He shows no shame expressing his opinion on the atrocities surrounding the world. The music is just as raw with its fast pacing riffs accompanied by heavy punishing breakdowns. It's really hard to say which song is my favorite or which song to describe how good it is. Why? Because every song is just so goddamn angry not to mention threatening. I don't even know what's there to nitpick, it's a flawless record. This is what every current powerviolence band should be: angry and primitive. This spits on bands who just think playing a chord for 10 seconds and screech random words is powerviolence. The 80’s brought Seige then Infest which gave birth to No Comment and Crossed out in the 90’s. Then in the 2000’s, Mind Eraser and Scapegoat picked up where it left off. Now this decade, along with Barge and Cave State, brings Sick Machine. Seriously check this band out if you haven't and purchase that 7''.
G.L.O.S.S. (Girls Living Outside Society's Shit) Demo
(Released January 16 2015)
I was up in New York visiting my familial abode, when I got a text from the commander asking if I wanted to take a crack at reviewing the latest release by G.L.O.S.S. (Girls Living Outside Society's Shit). My initial reaction was to have my mind wander back to my pubescent days and to a little show called G.L.O.W. (The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) Hold that thought. So I am without my intraweb and other things, I simply have the music which I proceed to listen to, as I would normally do, but this time sans any information regarding the group. What I heard was some excellent hardcore punk rock. So I tell my daughter I am reviewing this band G.L.O.S.S. from Washington State.....and I proceed to play it for her and she says "Isn't this a trans band?" What did I just hear??? So I proceed to reply "No I never owned a Trans Am...I'm not a fucking guido." She laughed at me, asked me what a guido was and said "No...trans BAND"...... Hearing ain’t what it used to be, thanks Anthrax, CBGB, Ritz, Safari, DC Space, 9:30 etc......... So um, yeah, they hail from Olympia, Washington and they are a proud band of, and I quote them here "...actual outcasts of society - queers, trans women, women of color, gender queer femmes, feminists, etc." So again, yeah the ass wipe reviewing your demo tape thought of searching for manhood through the wonders of G.L.O.W. when he was asked to do so. Probably a band like G.L.O.S.S.'s worst nightmare now realized.
Enough with my bullshit though. We are here for the tunes. What you get are 5 tight pissed off tracks of straight up hardcore punk clocking in at @ 7:24. First up is "G.L.O.S.S. (We're From The Future)". A nice way to be introduced to the band and what they are bringing to this table of punk rock. A very unique experience and viewpoint which carries with it some crazy weight, coming through loud and clear from both the lyrical and musical point of view. This song makes me want to start a circle pit. Great tune. A fine how do you do.
Next up is "Masculine Artifice". A swift galloping punk tune calling bullshit on cluelessness of the media and society in general when it comes to gender and trans gender issues. There is also something deeper here, issues I am not familiar with, but thanks to bands like G.L.O.S.S., that can now change. When Sadie yells, "GET OFF MY BACK...GET OFF MY BACK" you know she damn well means it, and this isn't some fucking gimmick, it’s as real as it gets.
So that excellent track rumbles right into the stand out track for the demo. "Outcast Stomp" which starts out with the call "THIS IS FOR THE OUTCASTS!!!", then proceeds to unfold into a romping anthem for all of the underground. I get hints of Ceremony on this tune, and I can definitely see the band launching into this tune and a bunch of meatheads bashing their way to the front of the stage missing the point completely. I myself destroyed half my living room on the third listen. This one gets ‘ya goin. "LOSING EVERY DAY, BUT WE'LL NEVER BE DEFEATED!" That's what I'm fuckin talking about right there. The freaks are coming.
"Lined Lips And Spike Bats".... Song number four is a direct message to straight America or "Merica as I prefer. Straight up fast hardcore, no pun intended. "LINED LIPS, SPIKE BATS, GOTTA TAKE FEMININITY BACK!"... Hell, I certainly am not getting in your way with a war cry like this song. Take that you straight assholes.
The final number is "Targets Of Men". A rager that is important for all women. A rally cry for all the bullshit you have to put up with when you are a female in society now compound that by adding trans or color or lesbian to the mix...yikes. A great song to wrap up the demo. All jokes aside about this demo, this is heartfelt real life heavy shit here, devoid of any gimmick, delivered via precision hardcore punk rock songs, by a more than capable band. They have created something here I can both back and listen to over and over, because it is that good. I won't pretend to understand all the things they speak about and go through, but I can talk all day about hardcore, and this is some bad ass core. They may be from the future...but they are right fucking now.
STAND GUARD “TWIST THE KNIFE” Demo/EP
(Released January 29, 2015)
To start with, I apologize for it taking me more than a month to complete the review of Stand Guard's latest release, which is also the 4th EP by this Southern California based hardcore band. Sometimes writing reviews for a hardcore website is not as easy as it seems that time is not always on our side, you know the deal. Anyway, enough with the prologue… Stand Guard's “Twist The Knife” EP includes 6 songs of youth crew - heavily - inspired hardcore, with the addition of lots of Boston hardcore and even crossover/thrash touches. Here you have your fast parts, your sing-along parts, the mid-tempo blasts, your 2-step and everything else you need for a good old school hardcore record. If you want me to state comparisons, then I can easily say that Stand Guard fall somewhere between Slapshot, Uniform Choice, Suicidal Tendencies & DRI. They also love Chain Of Strength, admire Slayer and dig the thrash era of Agnostic Front. Stand Guard are pretty active in the Los Angeles hardcore/punk scene, playing shows since 2013, even though they were initially named Scared X Straight. I definitely prefer the new name, by the way! Keep an eye on them if you like hardcore the old school way.
BUSTED OUTLOOK “SPITTING WIND” EP
(Release Date April 1, 2015)
I was going to wait until the physical copies of the 7'' came out so I can review it, but the whole EP is available to listen to on Bandcamp so why not, right? Here's a brief introduction of the band. Busted Outlook is a Northern California band fronted by Rich Gutierrez who plays/played drums in many great bands such as In Disgust, Hostile Takeover, Sourpatch and my personal favorite Permanent Ruin. It also contains members of Ex-Effluxus and the current heavy hardcore band Scalped. About a year ago, they released a demo titled ''Plague Hoarder'' containing four tracks that are obviously influenced by No Justice and many other late 90s/early 2000’s hardcore punk bands. As soon as I heard these tracks, it immediately became number 2 on my top five favorite demos of 2014. The band blew up pretty quick after the demo's release and remain one of the Bay Area's recommended openers for any touring band. So far, BO have done a SoCal Tour and are currently on a Northwest tour with PA's Hounds Of Hate. They also played Canada's Not Dead Yet Fest and was followed by a promo for the 7'' EP.
A few months after the promo's release, all 6 tracks streamed on Bandcamp for listening purposes only. So if you want to download this, it won't be available until they have physical copies for sale which will be in April according to their site. Be patient, it's literally a month away. So what are my thoughts on this EP? Well I must say it's pretty good. The music is great and if I were to pick my favorite track, it'd be ''Road Block.'' The ''BO Wrecking Crew'' introduction has us realizing that the riffs and breakdowns are going to be crunchier and heavier throughout the rest of the EP. I even like the dive bombs and for those who have read my past reviews, they know I cannot stand dive bombs. I also notice the songs are a tad bit slower and not so hyperactive, but that's definitely not a bad thing. They even have blast beats in songs such as ''It Takes A Billboard'' and funkier breakdowns in the conclusion to ''Spitting Wind'' (my second favorite). Within these small musical changes, you can still hear their past influences. How are the lyrics? I feel like they have gotten more powerful with strong subjects mentioned in ''Peeling'' and ''Rings of the Limb.'' To me, it has me thinking which is great that lyrics can do that. People should keep in mind that lyrics are important even if the music isn't so ''catchy'' so to speak. Whether it is personal or not, as long as a necessary message can get across, it will be good. So with that being said, the changes within the band have made it stronger. However, is it better than the demo? As much as I really hate to be that guy who says ''I like the demo better,'' I do prefer the “Plague Hoarder” Demo. This is due to only one reason and for me it's a huge one which are the vocals. The vocals in “Plague Hoarder” sounded so screechy and pissed off that I could feel the angst Rich had while recording. If he were to stick with that, the EP would have been perfect and I'd consider it the angriest record to exist in the Bay Area next to Replica and Permanent Ruin. The vocals for the EP, on the other hand, just seem so forced. What I mean by that is that he seems to be trying to go for a heavier direction since it's growing to be musically heavy. It doesn't seem so genuine and like he's just trying too hard. The lyrics and music do make up for it, however. Either way his vocals are not terrible and I can tolerate the change. I just really wish he didn't change the way he sounded. I see it as fixing something that wasn't broken. I also notice the amount of ''blehs'' he does, but now I'm just nitpicking. There is no more to say other than pick it up once it's out and take a listen on Bandcamp. In the meantime......BUST!
BETTER DAYS “NOPE” EP
(Encapsulated Records, Released January 21, 2015)
Love releases like this one where from the first notes your antennas go up and you basically stop what you are doing and take notice. Better Days out of St Louis have a really good sound... check that Better Days have an amazing fucking sound! If you want the blender reference imagine throwing some Gorilla Biscuits, NOFX, and maybe some old school Sacrilege BC ("Party With God" anyone?) into a blender and wa-lahh. After pondering their sound some more I came up with DC's Supreme Commander as a possible match as well... not a bad bunch to be associated with. All 4 of these tracks are played at a break neck fast pace with catchy hooks all over the place with some nice guitar work sprinkled on top for good measure. Better Days nails the melodic side of things while maintaining a "hard/heavy" vibe for a killer combo. If I had to pick out a flaw though it would be that there are only 4 songs here running 7 minutes and within that short span the songs start running into each other a bit and start sounding the same. With that small knock aside I feel that Better Days (with some minor tinkering) is poised to do some damage on upcoming releases. Can't wait to hear what's next!
FREEDOM “LP PROMO” CASSETTE (Released January 2015)
About a week ago my friend and I recently had a conversation about the newest trend in hardcore which was people trying to look AND sound like 86 Mentality. It's always the same aesthetic and style with bands like this. Same gimmick and same vocal tone. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that I hate the music or anything. I have a strong love/hate relationship for these bands because I can't take them seriously, but their music usually impresses me. When I think of this current trend, I think of Detroit's Freedom. I have always considered them as the prime example of the 86 Mentality trend. I remember I heard their demo a year later after it's release and it was actually pretty good and completely different than their later stuff. Sure the lyrics were laughably patriotic and redundant, but it was still pretty good. It definitely pulled off the Agnostic Front's “United Blood” rip off: each song no longer than 30 seconds, no filler and just in your face. I didn't think this band was going to receive the attention it currently does. It all started after their debut album ''Pay the Price'' came out from Back To Back Records in the fall of 2013. I looked at the cover and responded with more of an ''uh oh'' rather than with excitement. It surprised me seeing the vocalist going from looking like any average hardcore kid to a ''macho'' looking skinhead with his combat boots and army jacket. I knew right away what sound the EP was going to give us. I still gave this EP a try and was really disappointed with it. Everything about this record felt so forced that just made it soooooo bland. I even heard it again before writing this review because I haven't heard this since it first came out, but sadly I just had the same reaction. The last track ''Me and You'' was kind of catchy, but everything else was just a drag. Ironically this was the album that blew them up so I guess I'm just one of the minorities who didn't care for it. Still, good for them.
So in the fall of 2014, after many tours and playing countless fests, the well known current D.C. label Mosher's Delight announced a 4 track promo for their upcoming LP that will be released on Triple B Records. I was curious to hear the promo because I am a sucker for promos. The Mosher's Delight Bandcamp uploaded the songs and I decided to give it a listen even though I didn't expect much. I heard the whole promo and actually liked it! I liked it a lot! ''Anti-Poison'' is such a great way to start off with being full mid-tempo that'll cause the crowd to floor punch and pile on. It's definitely one of my favorite songs out of the 4. ''Tread on You'' and ''Debt Not Repaid'' are also very good with its mid paced riffs and crunching breakdowns. I guess my least favorite track would be the 4th and last track which is the Warzone cover ''It's Your Choice,'' but that's because I'm not really a big fan of Warzone. Sure the lyrics are still cheesy (it will never be as cheesy as the demo though), but it's still listenable and enjoyable. Yeah there are also some dive bombs which I have a huge a strong hate for, but I'm a little forgiving this time. What makes this so great is that it's more powerful and the songs are tighter than their previous ones. The more I listen to this promo, it starts to make me look at "Pay the Price'' as them experimenting with the ''86 Mentality sound.'' It was obvious that it wasn't that long ago that they decide to go with that sound while writing riffs for the EP. In the end, it did pay off and progressed as they kept playing which that will always happen to every band. Some bands will start with a mediocre at best EP (or demo) once they just started, but their next release will most likely show more progression and be even better. Sometimes a band progresses when they keep it more simple, that is not having any fillers. That's what I feel like this band did, they kept it simple by still being the same style. With that being said it was one of my favorite promos of 2014 and I am looking forward to the LP! Check it out and buy the tape on Mosher's Delight website if it's not sold out!
ARMS RACE “GOTTA GET OUT” 7”
(Released October 2014)
GODDAMMIT THIS IS FANTASTIC. Snotty as shit, punk as fuck, fast as hell and in your ugly face. These are just a few of the things I would say to describe London’s 5 piece Arms Race. They released a 7 inch titled “Gotta Get Out” in October of 2014. This EP is chock full of old school UK d-beat style punk with an overtly skinhead hardcore attitude that reminds me of bands like Discharge, 86 Mentality and Negative Approach. From beginning to end this thing hits like a barstool to the side of the head. Good job boys. Give ‘em a listen.
(Released December 22, 2014)
When new straight edge bands are being announced I do my very best to stay away from them unless they carry the same message like Blank Stare and Poison Planet did. Let's be realistic here, 85% of contemporary straight edge bands that are hyped just carry the same preachy bullshit message focusing on ''sticking together'' or ''be true to the crew.'' I usually go for the more political type bands like the two I just mentioned. It's most likely that straight edge bands who preach about unity are more exclusive than those who don't. Unless I personally know the band, I never buy into that crap. I feel like these bands write these lyrics because it's easier to write about and it's what people like hearing from what I notice. Sometimes I'll be guilty of listening to the band and liking them for musical reasons. I'm old enough to not let the lyrics inspire me or anything so meh. Now I'm not trying to be pessimistic or convince people that these bands are evil, because if you like it, that's okay. Just make sure they go by what they say. Food for thought I suppose. Alright on to the review.
I've noticed how much Urgency has been receiving a lot of attention lately. I guess it's because they're apparently the first straight edge band to come out of the Lower Central Valley in Northern California. The hype was something I didn't see coming at all, but good for them. I found out about them from their artwork for the demo and was truthfully annoyed by due to the Floorpunch rip. Okay people hate me all you want, but I really hate Floorpunch. Who in God's name finds them inspirational? It really baffles me, but I like Slapshot so I guess I shouldn't be the one to talk. Anyway I was actually intrigued by Urgency after watching a recent video of them playing at some small fest near my town. So, with an open mind, I listened to the demo (which was released before ending 2014 through Outlast Records) and I really liked it. I can't say it's ''best demo to end the year'' or ''straight edge band of 2014'' of the year, but it's pretty good. The intro is really catchy with its late 80's NYHC style breakdown toward the end. The rest of their songs are nothing like the intro, however. The rest contains blast beats and early 80’s east coast style breakdowns (the best in my opinion). My favorite song out of the bunch is ''Change Of Attitude.'' So time for me to nitpick. The flaws of this band are two main things: dive bombs and the lyrics. Even though there aren't as many dive bombs as expected, they're still very distracting and can throw me off. That's really all I have to say about that. As for the lyrics, it really has me rolling my eyes when I read the lyrics. They all follow the same hallow generic message that makes it hard for me to take this seriously. Especially with the song ''Urgency'' by having a line like ''BE TRUE TO YOUR URGENT CREW.'' But the song title that really left a bad taste in my mouth was ''One of Us.'' I don't know, it just came off very elitist, but I did read the lyrics and it's really whatever. It's about people and their ego or something. It's lyrics like this that has me thinking if they actually go by what they say. But I don't know them personally so I shouldn't judge. Aside from its redundant lyrics, it's still a good demo and I take it for what it is. I just look at it as a moshing band and nothing else. There will be a second demo out on United Voice Records so keep an eye on that. The members of this band are in many other bands like Reunion, Step4Change and Cool Side but they don't surpass Urgency. Check it out and buy a tape.
SLANDER “THE RUSH” EP
(Released October 2014)
This review was supposed to be done a while ago. My apologies to Slander for the 3 month delay. Slander is, in my opinion, one of the best names for any hardcore/punk band to give themselves. What makes the name more badass is when the band itself is good. In other words, this band from Venice, Italy made the perfect choice for the name. This band shows no boundaries by fusing thrash metal and hardcore making it a great crossover band. For me, it's been a while that I've heard a band use the same distortion as Nails and Mammoth Grinder and actually pull it off unlike 80% of the bands who use it. The first track ''SLNDR'' (haha get it?) which is just an intro with 12 seconds of silence until it starts building up little by little leaving you pumped for the next track. Three out of the five songs are nothing but fast thrashy songs running under the two minute mark while one (''Steep Slope”) goes a little over 2 minutes and has a sludge metal influence. The breakdowns in every song are something what I'd hear in every thrash metal song and that is cool in my book. Lyric wise is pretty good too. Some have me laughing with ''The Rush'' which talks about relaxing by partying with your friends. They even referenced Danny Trejo in this song so that's an A plus. Speaking of, I think they really like cannabis by looking at their album cover. For a party thrash/hardcore band, they do also have serious songs such as ''Empty Pod'' and ''Scars and Ashes.'' That's really all I can say about this band. Nothing flawless, but nothing perfect. I do, however recommend this if you're into crossover thrash. Don't sleep on this!
“WHEN PEOPLE GROW, PEOPLE GO” LP
(Deathwish Inc, Released February 2015)
Not gonna lie, I was stoked to get to review the latest Blacklisted release, the first full length in more than five years I believe. I really enjoyed the experimenting they did on their last album. Blacklisted is a very hard band to pigeonhole. I think its better that way. Some people don't. I am sure there are some diehards who hate some of the things they do, but the sincerity and hardcore pedigree is never in question.
This LP kicks off with "Insularized". You get an almost alt-rock-ish guitar tone,..a unique tone to start things off and then the drums and vocals kick in nicely. Here we have a song of self-affliction, self-reflection, and self-infliction. Deep personal stuff which is not your everyday fodder for hardcore bands. Sometimes when you read along with Blacklisted's material, you feel like you are peering into someone's personal journal. That is very much still the case on the new LP and that is a very good thing IMO. It's a good song to kick things off and it rams right into "Turn The Pike". "TTP" (yes I am that fuckin lazy) is a dark, pounding, nihilistic track that starts off a galloping and then settles into a groove. Now Blacklisted hit the chorus on this track in an interesting way...and by that...I mean the way it is sung/yelled. Just an odd little handling which I thought made it interesting and called my attention towards the words more.
"Riptide" rips open with a crunchy guitar...which then morphs into a groove as the vocals kick in. A song about a really shitty relationship near as I can tell...a woman...a friend...a drink...a pill...It doesn't really matter who or what...well it does, but only really to the one who is listening to it. At about the 30 second mark this one moves over to the speed lane and it rocks. While this is a very good song, there is a hint here of what I would bet would be a killer tune. When George (vocals) sings a couple of the lines, you get that short teaser of melody and you want more. You want to hear more of it...at least I did.
Feedback then takes us into "Deeper Kind" which gave me vague recollections of Ceremony but also the Cro-Mags. Yeah...figure that shit out. But it does. It's chock full of metaphors certain to keep hardcore nerds up late into the night trying to figure them out, only to eventually scribble them down on a school desk somewhere in homage to the band but mostly to hope someone will decode it for them in an act of sympathy vandalism....but I digress.
The feedback returns and we launch into "Gossamer". Now a gossamer, for all the kids playing along, is like a fine little silk web or the webs baby spiders float down on. Lesson over. Wait...I lied, Gossamer is also the name of that orange monster from the old school Bugs Bunny cartoon…the one where everyone gets high on ether...again I digress. Anyhow, the song is nothing like either of those things. It is a standard fast tempo hardcore rager regarding shitheads. Yes the band do a beautiful job as always being poetic and writing great lyrics, but I ain’t them, so it's a song about shitheads....and a good one at that, but what I like most is that this song doesn't find a
groove and end, it doesn't mosh out...it goes all rock...and we get another glimpse
of another version of Blacklisted I'd like to see more of.
Side one ends with "Burnt Palms". For me thus far this would be the most traditionally "Blacklisted" sounding song, if there is really anything that can be considered "Blacklisted" sounding since they love to kinda jump around at this point. But you know what I mean, a straight up dirty hardcore tune about an asshole (again, my eloquent interpretation) and this one even has the sweet breakdown so you can stomp around your kitchen and smash plates and throw cutlery. An excellent way to end the side.
Feedback greets us again and side two starts off with a slow to mid tempo song entitled "Foreign Observer". Once again the song is packed with deep metaphors mixed with seemingly actual specific personal references which lament perfectly in time with the music. This one has a haunting chorus...with an echoing effect on the vocals which ads a really nice touch. Again the band flexes some creativity and takes a song somewhere I wasn't expecting, and again I really enjoy it.
Now "Calendars" is a short blast of very personal writing. It gave me some chills and it dredged up some stuff, so I listened to it only once. Your gonna have to judge for yourself on this one...don't get me wrong it is fine musically. So I'll put down my tissues and go onto "Wooder Ice"…an almost militaristic drum cadence is in the forefront on this track leading to heavy stomping and back with a nice mix of angry vocals and a kinder mellower George. Sweet tune. Well no Blacklisted tune is "sweet" but you know what I meant.
The pounding continues into "Bottle Rockets"… now I am not sure just what the fuck kind bottle rockets these cats get, but this song is lobbing bombs, not no 5 buck a gross black cat with report bullshit. Again heavy ass stuff. This is a band who have lyrics that are heavier than their music...and they are fucking Blacklisted. Heavier than Heaven and all that.....
So the album comes full circle and the final song "When People Grow, People Go" starts off with another odd alt-rock"ish" guitar tone. Before it gets more core standard as the vocals and song get going. Again on this song towards the end you get some cool guitar sound and song experimentation. It made a song I would consider mediocre on this LP one of the ones I found I listened to more than some of the others.
So...you have the latest from Blacklisted. An LP that I think will appeal to the die-hards but also all the kids who just got into them because someone played them "Our Apartment's Always Empty" from the last LP...which admittedly is a great fucking song. There is a lot that you will expect and a lot you probably won't. The band is tight as usual, no complaints there at all. My only complaint which I guess is more of a request is more experimenting...but again, I am old...and I've heard it all, so I like it when a band is not afraid to say something in a new way, and Blacklisted definitely mixes those elements in but I would like a full song or two or just a rock burner with some melodic George vocals...these guys have the chops to pull it off. I hear a little Rollins in this LP... a touch of Quicksand...a pinch of some Supertouch groove, a smattering of Cro Mags.....but mostly Blacklisted....and that's a plus. Hey Blacklisted, I've grown, but I haven't gone. I'm still here............actually Blacklisted, full disclosure....it's debatable if I've grown. So......
NOT LIKE YOU FANZINE #3
(Released February 2015)
Not Like You is back with a quick turn around knocking out yet another issue stacked with quality. It seems like the last one came out last week practically. Interviews/features include Soul Search, a repost of an article called Beyond- Metalheads Gone Mad which looks at the pre-hardcore days of the members of Beyond. Also SNFU, The Loud Ones, Bl'ast and Ron Martinez of Final Conflict who gives them one darn good interview. Good questions generally get good answers and there are a lot of well thought out questions lying between the pages of Not Like You #3. NLY also has a news/gossip section, reviews, and a collectors corner of stuff they are looking to buy/swap to round things out. A zine that I enjoy getting my hands on each time it has come out does not disappoint once again. Look for issue 4 in about 20 minutes. -CW
RUN LIKE HELL “FORTUNATE SOULS/WRETCHED WORLD” EP
(Released February 2015)
Don’t you just love it when a familiar crash of ranting vocals, pummelling drums, rip-roaring riffs and gritty bass lines bring you back to a place you’ve been to before? Damn right you do. Those that heard Run Like Hell’s “Imprinted” will know what I mean when they blare this EP out. And blare it out you will, because this thing is LOUD. Hell yes.
“Fortunate Souls” is a powerful blast of conventional hardcore, stamped with crystal clear production and guitar lines that drill at your eardrums with fury and melody. But mainly fury. This band sure loves their open string slamming. Dun-dun! Maybe they love it a little too much at times, as there are moments when riffs blur and it’s difficult to distinguish which banging open string moment happened where. That said, there are other moments, like the chorus of “Kill the Messenger” that really pop. My favorite track on here has got to be “Justified”. The way it crashes in with such filth is satisfying as fuck, and the way things build on the initial idea is fucking delightful. That’s right, I said fucking delightful.
I can’t say that this EP will stick with me for that long. “Imprinted” didn’t either. It satisfied me for a short period and then I moved on, and I imagine it will be the same story here, but for the short time that it did, I felt like smashing the shit out of every breakable thing I would find, possessions included. Not to mention, tracks like “Remedy” are always therapeutic for those who disagree with every facet of life and society, that subversive element of “You’re all fucked, and I’m gonna tell you why” in the music always a liberating approach. Maybe the sincere desire to smash the shit out of things is related to that.
It would be cool to see more variety from this band in the future, as I must admit, the similarity in the riffs can wear you out quick, and while we’re on constructive criticism, track two could do without the vocalist powerlessly saying “The truth is within reach”, after all, the dude has quite a distinctive sound when he’s getting stuck into the rants, and to hear the speech come across so weakly is a little disappointing. But that’s a minor point. If you wanna blast out and headbang to heavy tracks with a familiar charm, this is an EP to get a hold of.
IMPACT NYHC- “Demo '15”
(Released January 2015)
When it comes to the modern hardcore scene, it seems that it's overwhelmed with bands playing the “right” music, wearing the “right” clothes and following the latest trends. Believe it or not, old school hardcore/youth crew and everything related to these terms is kinda outdated nowadays. X-watches, college fonts and Chain Of Strength hoodies are definitely not the hype.
So, it draws a smile to my face when I learn that bands like Impact still exist and play music because they love it, no matter if it's widely accepted or not. Impact come from Staten Island, New York and they have existed for only a few months now, and played their first show at the end of November. Since then they are pretty active, playing more shows, and releasing a demo EP a few weeks back.
The aforementioned demo includes 6 songs of old school, in your face youth crew hardcore like the good old days, reminding me a lot of the '88 revival and/or bands like Straight Ahead, Gorilla Biscuits, Youth Of Today, Warzone, Ten Yard Fight, Battery and the like. You know the deal and you know what to expect, nothing that special but still honest. Lyrics wise, Impact focus a lot on the hardcore punk scene and its aspects (the negative ones to be more precise). It's not that I disagree in what they write, I'd just prefer something a little fresher and more creative. Nice demo all in all, watch out, there's a lot of potential in these kids!
POINT BLANK “DEMO 2015”
(Released January 17, 2015)
NY's Point Blank are an interesting new band that features 2 guys who have been involved with NYHC for ages (Ken “KWE” Wagner on vocals... and Danny Derella on bass who was a founding member of Underdog). Mix in some young blood ("Shuffles" on drums who was previously in Abject! and currently in Close To The Edge and Matt Achstatter on guitar). This old school meets new school combo is not necessarily indicitive of their sound though as "No More" kicks things off with a definitive old school NYHC feel that rolls right on through all 8 of these tracks while keeping things fresh the whole time. The "clean" vocals are refreshing and fit the music well while the groove oriented bass breaks that pop up add to that old school sound they got going on. Track 3... "Point Blank" probably stands out the most for me as it is a slow jam with this infectious bass line that just gets drilled into your head accompanied by some choppy drum beats that just flat out works. Overall I am pretty impressed with this debut effort which can be had via download and also as a physical copy (compact disc) in limited quantities. 18 or so minutes is pretty long for a demo (How long is "Victim In Pain" again?) and Point Blank definitely let everything hang out with this fine debut. Good things in store for these guys if they keep this formula!
PRISCILLA FORD “THE BLACKOUT CLUB”
(Basement Records, Released January 27, 2015)
When a bands bio sheet that accompanies their new album states that their sound falls somewhere between Black Sabbath and early Black Flag it makes you take notice. Could this balls out statement have any credibility I thought? So as not to lead you along too far and to let you get back to whatever else you were doing in your day there is some truth in this advertising. Reno NV's Priscilla Ford (all dudes, no hot chick's here...sorry) play a rock ‘n roll style punk sound that is good and well played but at the same time not really reaching through my speakers to suck me in. The 10 songs in a little less than 30 minutes don't get too high or low and stick to a good and basic game plan. After a bunch of listens I gotta say I like "The Blackout Club" but don't love it mostly due to the album having a "one big song" feel with most of the tracks rolling along doing much of the same on repeat. Maybe a power ballad or two would have shook things up a little more but I digress. Overall, good stuff that (for me) is probably best suited for more of a background vibe kind of thing but not something that had me hitting repeat over and over.
NEVER-TRUST "BRAS DE FER"
(Released April 2014)
In the likes of: Cataract, Madball, early Anthrax,
Sworn Enemy, Exhorder.
Formed in 2010, Never-Trust are a hardcore/thrash band from Athens Greece. Mixed genre band's... What can I say, there's plenty out there as we are all aware however, its bands like this that harness it and really stand out from the pack without using choppy generic "mall metal" breakdowns. Utterly relentless heavyness, without overdoing it. This CD pounds hard right off the starting line with track 1 “Counter-Strike”, a very well written track blending it all together perfectly with two step beats, sing-alongs, and circle pit riffage that's properly executed.Track 4 "Seeking Redemption" is by far my personal favorite song on the album (yes, I did a guitar cover of this track) and hits hard with a Biohazard style bass intro and slams with a straight up hardcore groove. Outstanding musicianship is on display here as I have given this CD multiple listens, and do not see myself putting it away anytime soon! Sure, there are plenty of larger named mixed genre bands in the scene but Never-Trust surely earned a spot right next to them with this release. Chock full of accelerated power cords, brutal vocals, and extremely precise percussion, Never-Trust just rages with unadulterated thrashcore. Chugging out righteous, raw tonal assaults. Any fan of heavy music will no doubt enjoy this release. Check them out on their Facebook page and download their music off of Bandcamp.
Alex "The Past" Karp
SIEGE MENTALITY “ARREST DAYS”
(Witch Hunter Records, Released December 12, 2014)
Liverpool produced a pioneer of extreme metal in surgery enthusiasts Carcass, so it is refreshing that every now and then a band spawned from the same city take inspiration from their grind forefathers. Siege Mentality remind me more of Carcass's then-Earache Records label mates Napalm Death which, given their longevity is no bad thing.
The intro to the EP is reminiscent of early ND before the guttural vocals stab you straight in the eye in “Episode 2”, a hearty slab of Rise & Fall” -esque groove.
There are shades of Oi! And street-punk elements during the four-chord blast of "Dying Right" while the discordant guitar note bending gives way to an unexpected powerviolence moment on "See It There". It then veers into sludge territory with grooves straight out of the book of much-missed Nottingham noise terrorists Iron Monkey.
Siege Mentality harness their musicianship and power on “Serious Threat Display”, a bass-opening kick in the teeth at 1.28 short. “Mind Kicked Open” follows in similarly brutal fashion while the opening riff on “That Taste Again” borrows heavily from the central chords of Black Flag's “Thirsty And Miserable”, whether intentional or not.
The longest track, “Keep The Bracelets” is kept for last but it fizzles out after an ear-drum shattering start. A fierce debut.
NO TURNING BACK “NEVER GIVE UP”
(Take Control Records, Kick Out The Jam, Seven Eight Life, Released January 7, 2015)
No Turning Back have already achieved what so many hardcore bands strive for - recognition and respect. Play the opening 20 seconds of any of their songs and many hardcore fans - European at least - will instantly recognize it as NTB, largely due to Martijn's pretty distinctive voice. These Dutch destroyers have tirelessly worked the live circuit for years, ingraining themselves on your frontal lobe cortex whether you are a fan or not.
To their credit they have consistently put out solid albums packed with energy. They've stuck to a tried and tested formula rather than try and tweak the sound over time. The fact that “Never Give Up” sounds as fresh as their earlier material over a decade ago is testament to their writing ability and youthful maturity back then. The opening two songs flash by in under two minutes combined – “Deal With It” encompasses that thing they've done so well since the opening song of their 2004 album “Damage Done”, (also called “Never Give Up”) whereby they smash through 20 seconds of breakneck 80’s NYHC-style hardcore before tagging an almighty breakdown on the end.
“Destination Unknown”, featuring venomous guest vocals from Andrew Neufeld (Comeback Kid), “Fight To Survive”, “Toe To Toe” and “When Will It Stop” are highlights on a good album that finishes very strongly in “Not Afraid”.
Like an iPhone 4 NTB remain a formidable proposition that have not had to make significant improvements in order to win further critical acclaim.
TURNSTILE “NONSTOP FEELING” LP
(Reaper Records, Released January 13, 2015)
Surely one of the most anticipated albums to come along in a minute is Turnstile's "Nonstop Feeling" being delivered to us by upstate NY's Reaper Records. 2014 was a huge year for this band with what seemed like constant touring and an avalanche of new followers scooped up along the way.
The start of 2015 brings us this new 12 song 28 minute LP which far outweighs all of their previous EP and demo efforts just in length alone. Leading up to “Nonstop Feeling” the jury was still out for me when it came to a thumbs up or thumbs down for the boys from B-More. The lone time I caught them live was at 2013’s This Is Hardcore Fest and they were impressive and on point with a lunatic crowd jumping around like psychotic monkeys at a zoo to their high energy set. Their EP’s however didn't grab me as much but at the same time they weren't bad either. “Gravity” opens this thing up and I immediately get a Bad Brains "I Against I" vibe... production wise and just with the feel it gives off. Mix in some later Leeway (the more rock oriented stuff like “Adult Crash” and “Open Mouth Kiss”) and you might start getting a little bit of the big picture here. Turnstile shows that they have heart… and soul and the songs bounce and make you nod your head, almost in a hip-hop kind of way at times. People who cry out that everything these days sounds the same will have to eat a bag of shut the fuck up as “Nonstop Feeling” definitely pushes the boundaries of what a band coming out of the hardcore scene is supposed to sound like. We get a taste of that on that opening track “Gravity” with a spot in the chorus that is done in a real singing type of way and should raise some eyebrows when it hits. “Can't Deny It” is track 4 and this time the chorus goes full on cotton candy mode with more of that singing stuff but ‘ya know what? The more I listen, the more I like. Instrumental “Love Lasso” sounds like something that should have film credits scrolling up a screen as you walk out of a movie theater and “Blue By You” is another culprit of not playing by the rules and could have possibly popped up on something released by Angel Du$t who just happen to share members with the Turnstile guys.
Do not get the wrong impression here though as the majority of “Nonstop…” is mid to fast paced bouncy style hardcore that is infectiously catchy and if listened to with an open mind (and ear) can sneak up and surprise the snot out of you. PS: I really like the guitar sound they got going on here. If you go into this looking for the next “Age Of Quarrel” or “Victim In Pain” type of album your gonna hate it. If you go into this looking for something different that challenges preconceived notions you just might have found your new favorite record of the year. Is Turnstile playing what has been come to be known as traditional hardcore music? Nope. Their sound is based around it though and their members are entrenched in the hardcore scene and lifestyle having been big parts of other well known bands and are now doing something a little off center...a little “out of step” to coin a phrase and for me this just keeps getting better and better with each listen.
WEIRD AND PISSED OFF “BLACK VOMIT” EP
(Haunted Records, Released December, 2014)
Weird And Pissed Off who are owners of one of the best acronyms in punk rock (W.A.P.O.) are back after a 2 song demo not too long ago and an appearance on this websites Fresh Blood page for new bands which apparently didn't get them rich or famous by any means. All kidding aside though that 2 song demo was a nice introduction and this 5 song EP (with a 6th song being a D.O.A. cover) picks up where things ended last time kicked off by "Clear A Path" with a lyrical giant middle finger pointed in your face. For the uninitiated WAPO play a dirty, grimey punk/hardcore mix leaning more towards the hardcore side of things and "Clear A Path" is a great representation of what this band is all about lyrically and musically. Track 3 titled "409" (yeah it’s about Formula 409 bleach cleaner) is about a time when one of the band members yacked black vomit (this EP's title) all over someone's rug and contains the best breakdown/mosh part of the EP at the 45 second mark of the song. Go check for yourself. This track and especially that breakdown hits hard and shows us that you don't need an album with a squeaky clean production and super tight playing to make a solid record. To me at least listening to “Black Vomit” gives me the feeling like we just got a bunch of beers and are hanging out at the studio on a Friday night listening to our friends band jam. Intentional or not this works especially on "Shut Up" which would be my personal theme song... if I had a personal theme song. Another cranking tune where lead singer Brian says "Shut Up" 25 times in a little over 2 minutes. I know this because I counted and although a fairly simple song it works well like most of the material here. Weird And Pissed Off come up with a nice little EP here which might surprise a few of you if you give them a shot. Check em out!
VICES “WE’LL MAKE IT THROUGH THIS”
(Resist Records, Released November 14, 2014)
When the first bars of the opening track "Sustain" burst through my speakers I instantly got the feeling that I was not going to like this. Despite the sub-minute, eyebrow-raising blast I was immune to what I was hearing. I thought long and hard as to why I had come to such a rash, snap decision. And the reason was I had not heard this style of hardcore for quite some time, my ears shamefully whoring themselves out to album after album of super fast, super heavy hardcore bereft of much melody.
So, shame on me for being stuck in my ways for several months as after a few spins of this, Vices' sophomore album, I realized what a glorious breath of fresh air "We'll Make It Through This" is. Comprising shades of The Judas Factor and Dead Swans, the sound structures of Comeback Kid and the energy of Kids Insane, Vices have produced a cracker, albeit it is a grower. Some of the songs morph into one another but the Sydney-based quintet aren't afraid to mix it up - they make tragic subject matter on “Slavery” into a beautiful song, lavished with the sort of dreamy reverb Cave In perfected amongst their angular riffs.
Singer John McAleer's war cry of "a better man trying to change the world" is delivered with raw passion on "Cursed" before the title track has plenty of time changes to satisfy pogoing punks and those waiting for the opportune two-step moment. "Betrayal" is as uplifting as it is heavy - imagine Poison The Well in their prime slugging it out with Boysetsfire -whilst "Fields" showcases the frenetic Ben Koller-esque drumming of Marcus Tamp.
So, lesson learned. Just because I haven't heard a certain style for a while doesn't mean I should instantly denounce it as inferior. Vices have crafted a quite breathless album packed with emotion, jarring choruses and monolithic soundscapes.
THE EULOGY EP (Flatspot Records, Released January 6, 2015)
The Eulogy are a new 5 piece band out of SoCal featuring members of some very prominent hardcore acts, not the least of which include Agnostic Front, Madball and Mouthpiece. As you can probably guess, the sound is very derivative of the heavier, more metal influenced NYHC and East Coast bands that preceded this veritable super group. I am in no way disappointed by the bands self titled debut 3 song EP. A solid, heavy and in your face effort from a band of veterans, coming out swinging hard. Be on the lookout for these guys near you, and peep the EP on Bandcamp. It’s 3 short, sweet, and heavy songs. Dig it.
SBLC "BLEED OR LEAVE" EP
(Released May 30, 2014)
SBLC... which stands for Surviving Brothers of the Last Crusade are a Detroit based hardcore band that recently sent in their 4 song EP for a review. I really like finding music and bands that you know nothing about previously and then get a good surprise. SBLC fit that description and this 4 song effort from last May showcases a solid band that has releases that date back to the mid 90's.
After some time away it seems SBLC are back in the swing of things and are already working on their next record. On "Bleed Or Leave" the 4 songs we get are pretty much straight forward bangers that can cross over party lines in regards to who will get into it. If you are a fan of old school hardcore, street punk or even some Oi! stuff you might dig what SBLC is doing here. The lead singers raspy vocal delivery fits in nicely and after some head scratching and thinking real, real hard I kind of get reminded of “VA Rocks Your Liver” era Verbal Abuse... a band and album that you might also want to give a listen to circa 1985. Thanks to SBLC for sending this is and we look forward to what 2015 brings with their next release.
RAGECAGE – “SICK SONGS” Demo
(Released December 5, 2014)
Not much is known about the band Ragecage...other than they have a great band name, are from Italy, have a guy named Edoardo, and they worship at the alter of that era NYHC we all love. This is a six song demo offering from my paisanos somewhere over in that big boot that clocks in at about 9 and a half minutes. (The last song clocks in at 3:04 blowin’ the curve).
The demo opens with "Intro/The Stallion Slam". Right away I think it's too slow, but then suddenly, it pics up pace, then.......DIVEBOMB!!!, Holy shit grenade, a divebomb! A motherfucking divebomb! I love divebombs! Divebombs rule! Who doesn't love a gosh darn divebomb? Psst., did I mention I like divebombs? So yes, perfectly placed bomb and the” Intro/Stallion Slam” is off and galloping...wordless.. NYHC banner blowing in the breeze. Good intro to the band. Nice.
Next up we have "Real Enemy" a 57 second barnstormer of a cut that rocks a divebomb right into a breakdown. Awesome pace and a good length. So far so good. This leads into "Nightmares" another standard NYHC type of song. I do not have lyrics to read and it is kinda hard to decipher what is being said...but I am almost certain there are some nightmares going down. I guess this would be a good spot to say all the lyrics are in English. The band is really tight. The singer does his due dilligence very well. They have this shit down to a science. The demo goes on with "Mad Dog Killer" - Divebomb!, “Street Invaders” - Divebomb & a BUST! and finally "Revenge" - The long song. I hope it is not an insult to say that this demo is like a NYHC color by numbers. You will listen to this and kinda think you may have heard it somewhere a long time ago. It is all here; the fast bits, the breakdowns, a BUST, grunts, growls, and bombs....a lot of bombs... remember how into bombs I used to be? Now, not so much. Even the cliche song topics.at least judging by the titles and what I understood they are definitely not breaking any new ground in that department. Now all that being said, it's a really fun listen in the tradition of your Outbursts and your Altercations and your Fit of Angers. I rocked it a few times on my drive yesterday, and that actually says something in my pathetic world. I would really enjoy hearing this band take that musicianship, that anger, and that love of NYHC, and write a song in Italian, about some of the issues that piss them off about Italian life. I mean we all been stabbed in the back and want our revenge etc etc, but Ragecage the band plus relevant social commentary might just be a lethal hardcore concoction. Check ‘em out all you NYHC freaks like me.
GARDENS EP (Released October 18, 2014)
By my own admission it took me ages to get around to reviewing this. Sorry to all involved. Quite frankly, the wait was worth it. The beauty of being part of the In Effect team is getting turned on to bands you would not normally get to hear about. It's tape trading for the modern world.
I had absolutely no idea what Gardens would sound like. Turns out they draw inspiration from quite a few areas. “Young Hank” sounds like Black Flag teaching Trash Talk a painful lesson while “Jealous Of My Friends” marries pre-mainstream Nirvana sound with the grunge band's ear for a catchy melody. The subject matters veer from having an aversion to relationship commitment (I'm jealous of my friends and their lovers/but I don't ever wanna stop seeing others) to the effects of a figurehead who suffered with alcoholism during the sonic boom of “He Was A Writer”. (The sins of my father won't wash off my skin/the dirtiest of kin born
on bottles of gin/I'm getting worse everyday). “Delirium” is a two minute moody instrumental procession centered around a kick drum beat before 30 seconds of blissful chaos with the frontman repeatedly barking "living the liquid reality". An ode to liquor perhaps?
The reoccurring theme of love, specifically the emotions attached to it and how to spare hurt by keeping sex separate from emotional feelings for someone, is evident on EP closer “Old Hank”, a brooding tune that makes you concentrate more on the lyrics than the sound. For fans of Turmoil, Kids Insane, Napalm Death and all the above name-dropped, Gardens are a melting pot of all things awesome.
BLEST MESS “THE ALBUM”
(Street Urchin Records, Released April 2014)
Blest Mess are a female fronted three-piece punk band. They formed in 2011 in NY/NJ, released a demo in '12 and toured the UK a couple of times. “The Album” is their first full-length record released on Street Urchin Records (their demo was also released on this label and is run by their singer Chris Crash). They play fast and heavy punk with a hardcore twist that has catchy sing-alongs, but what I like best about them is the "Fuck you if you ain't one of us attitude." The stand out tracks for me are “The FU Song”, “Go-Go Hell”, “Trapped”, “Get Stripped”, and “1,000 Ways”. It's mentioned on their website that they're not new to this game and it sounds it. I really like their musicianship as a band. Check these guys/girl out.
- EAS--The E-Man
"OPTIMISM IS SELF DECEPTION: VOLS. 1&2"
(Satan Wears Suspenders Records, Released November 2014)
If you are over 30 years old and follow NYHC closely the name Darkside NYC might be a familiar one. Started by ex-Sheer Terror guitarist Alan Blake the band got rolling in the early 90's playing a Sheer Terror meets death metal meets NYHC meets Disassociate kind of style that was heavy, (sometimes) evil and had them fall into a black sheep kinda role as they basically did what they wanted musically whether or not anyone else liked it or not. The typical band member changes and long hiatus periods came and went and the recording for this insanely long album started in June of 2008.
Things open up literally with a wall of noise and at first I was wondering if I got a busted CD but not the case. Track one is "Kill All The New Jacks" and after you realize that the first 20 seconds was a noise effect and not a CD manufactured in a third world country you get into what DNYC is partially about. A balls out blazing fast track that has lyrics that will make many folks UNDER 30 probably hate their guts basically ripping the newer generation for over glorifying 2nd and 3rd rate run of the mill bands. By track 3 titled "A Mockery In My Eyes" you are starting to get the idea that DNYC will go in just about any heavy music direction sometimes even mixing up styles within a certain song.
Rich O'Brien's vocals can go from a more traditional punk style to a spoken word/almost rap style to a satanic 666 style growl from one song to the next. With the newer generation of hardcore fans being so influenced by metal I can't see this not being liked if given a chance. Track 4… "Battle For Eternal Souls As The Conquered Ride Conveyor Belts To The Furnaces" is another aspect of what these guys are doing with a minute plus of noises and oddities that just gives DNYC this overtly evil feel. If you are looking for some posi-core PMA flavor to pogo around your room to this is NOT your band. "Tossing Tomatoes At Your Hardcore Heroes" follows right after and busts into some straight up NYHC and at this juncture you start to really feel the seesaw effect from song to song as you really don't know what is coming next. Who doesn’t like a surprise or two? At the root of everything is a heavy hardcore band with everything from congas, violins, pianos, and power tools (WTF?!?) mixed in although they are done in a way that you might miss 'em if you aren’t paying attention closely as they are mixed in extremely well. Old favorites "Drained In Defeat", "Clawing And Tearing", and "Slipping Away" are redone and sound AWESOME while further adding to the pot.
Overall I really like what is being done here with this schizophrenic mix of styles that has you totally guessing what is coming next. Some of it hits really hard and some of it you just have to hit “skip” on (especially the noisy effects if you want to keep what is left of your personal sanity). On the first listen you are not sure if the next track is going to be a hardcore tune, have an acoustic part or be a 15 minute wall of insanity ("Driufracrullium") that could be used to flush terrorists out of caves. This is a deep album, one that you will find stuff that you may have overlooked on previous listens. Keep listening! If you want different and "out there" here you go... "Optimism..." is a CD like none I have ever heard before and probably never will again… until their follow up “Volumes 3 & 4” comes out. (Due out sometime this century).
CONCRETE/HAMMERFIST SPLIT EP
(Irish Voodoo Records, Released November 29, 2014)
Both bands need no introduction, and both have been in the hardcore scene for some time now; Concrete represents East Coast Hardcore from Albany NY and Hammerfist represents West Coast Hardcore from Orange County CA. Concrete and Hammerfist have both been through numerous lineup changes throughout the years, and continue to hit hard with serious aggressive pissed off mosh music.
Concrete on Inner Strength Records, Hammerfist on Ghost Town Records (Canada, U.S., Mexico), Caboose Recordings (Asia), Rucktion Records (Europe), State Of Mind Touring. This excellent collaboration split CD containing 4 tracks from each band released on Irish Voodoo records is the best of both worlds, East Coast meets West Coast, true hardcore unity and brotherhood shine through (as it should) on this split CD.
Concrete will be playing "Snowed In Fest" in February 2015 in Plattsburgh New York, as well as setting it off with Xibalba for a bit in Albany, so be sure to check them out if you are in the immediate area. New video for the song "Born Lost" (track 2 on this split) drops in a few weeks so keep your eyes wide open for that as well. Concrete also are currently focusing on writing new material for their next upcoming release and personally I am seriously looking forward to it.
In a nutshell, if you are a fan of older Hatebreed, My Own Victim, Full Blown Chaos, Merauder, Death Before Dishonor, Figure Four, Hoods. Madball, Terror, Sworn Enemy, then this split between will not disappoint, staying true to old-school hardcore roots receiving 2 thumbs up from me! Highly recommended to download this split off of Bandcamp or getting your paws on a hard copy CD, support!
-Alex "The Past" Karp
NO FACE “WORK WITHOUT HOPE” EP
(Released December 8, 2014)
Well, well, well. What have we here? Some LIHC coming by way of Lindenhurst. So when I got that chunk of information, I must admit I immediately pre-judged this band. Happy to report, unfairly so. This highly recommended EP opens with a ripper. "Dreaming" straight 88 style youth crew shredding ready to rip your face off. You'll be rockin’ out and waiting for that breakdown, and they will tease you with it, and just when you think you're gonna get it, they throw an excellent modern spin on the music and break it down in their own way. This is precisely what I enjoyed while listening to this EP. They skirted my expectations and went in directions I did not anticipate....BONUS POINTS. The second cut "Suffer" continues on that modern vibe but with this one you get a slower heavier representation complete with some scary black metal-ish backing screams. Again the band kinda mashes some elements carving out their own brand here. I can hear a tinge of Farenheit 451 and like minded bands going on. "Alone" starts out with a Rollins Band vibe but seemingly unable to be content with what's expected, the band adds in a wall of wailing guitar and some interesting time changes keeping it fresh, with the music echoing the desperation of the words. "Teeth" starts off with a rolling drum and bass and keeps the pace with a galloping hardcore number. This one is short, but it is great driving music...so recommended for those 1:48 car rides. Just go really fuckin fast. This EP wraps with "Cunning"… a heavy number, kinda what I expected every song to sound like, but it's welcome here and it doesn't last because halfway through the song they step on the gas, finally settling on a nice stompable conclusion to close it out.
I think everyone reading good old In Effect should check this out, it is some good shit, and it is currently restoring my faith in NYHC. Not that we all don't love the old guys, but I haven't gotten stoked on much outta my home state for a minute. You know I don't really care for the "ex members of" shit, because it seldom matters, but roots here are from Silent Majority and Halfway to Hell Club (never heard the latter).I can see these guys destroying venues coast to coast with, say, a band like Turnstile or Mindset. So...I notice these guys have some other releases, check them all out, but that makes me wonder why I have never heard of these guys before? I may have seen their name on a LI metal fest flyer or two, but that's it. If they put bands like this on those bloated NYHC bills, I'd start making that trek up there again for shows. This shit is exciting. East Coast bookers consider yourselves notified. BNB Bowlers, This Is Hardcoremin, Damaged City Boys, them cats in PA, spread some love to the LIHC underground...because like the band says "Thinking outside the box, is better than being buried in one", Oh.....wait...did I just threaten every hardcore heavyweight on the East Coast??? My bad boys...my bad... Maximum Respect...So I'll paraphrase the band because in this case it fits; Thinking outside the box is better than being placed inside one...Call off the goons!
LIFE OF AGONLY, Patronaat, Haarlem, Netherlands December 4, 2014
Review by: Tim Edwards. Photos by: Tim Tronckoe
It is sad we still live in a world where mainstream media demonize heavy music and lay it squarely to blame for so many tragedies, its lyrics and imagery easy pickings for lazy, ill-informed journalists.
Those sensationalist scribblers could offer some sense of balance by attending a present day LOA show and document how a frenzied crowd full of grizzled dye-in-the-wool metalheads can bare their heart and soul to a band fronted by a transgender woman. "Unconventional" they might say. That's us.
Heavy music, its musicians and fans have rarely tolerated bigotry or isms of any form and that is what makes it such a privilege to be a part of.
There was no rubbing of the eyes in disbelief on a freezing night west of Amsterdam. Mina, the artist formerly known as Keith, is in her element now more than ever. Her tongue-in-cheek riposte to a request bellowed from a fan mid-set to play "Let's Pretend" raised a heartwarming smile: "I don't pretend anymore", she said with a spring in her heels.
This show was one of three on a return jaunt to Europe following a handful of festival dates in the summer. Sandwiched in between was a sold out homecoming show in New York. During an interview with Mina earlier this year In Effect Hardcore was issued with a firm "no comment" to the question if LOA are to record a new album. Momentum to that is surely gathering pace if their 2015 tour itinerary is anything to go by.
Opening up proceedings with a typically crushing rendition of “River Runs Red”, Brooklyn's finest alt-hardcore band continued to whip up a storm with “This Time” and “Method Of Groove”.
Indeed, most of the set is culled from their landmark debut album and all of it delivered with power and passion.
Choice cuts from their “Ugly” album “Other Side Of The River”, “I Regret” and “Lost At 22” (or “Lost At 41” quipped birthday girl Mina) showcased the band's majestic and moody range, whilst “Love To Let You Down” and “Day He Died” are reminders that 2005's “Broken Valley” had punchy moments.
Mina, accompanied by guitarist Joey performed a hypnotic acoustic version of “My Mind Is Dangerous” before she sat atop a bar stool to play one of her own songs, “Over The Moon”.
Replenished beer glasses in hand, LOA's fans were then treated to the steamroller that is “Through and Through” before the quartet brought the house down with “Underground”. Every voice was heard.
Hardcore band or rock band, Life Of Agony are a timeless, relevant artist like no other and long may they continue.
NYC HEADHUNTERS DEMO 2014
(Released December 2014)
NYC Headhunters are a new band that has one member of Brain Slug, they've played one show and outside of that not much info on them except this 5-song demo. And in the vein of old school NYHC this demo kicks serious ass. The breakdowns are insane and the vocals are crisp and pissed. I'm not going to try to pick a standout track since all five tracks are killers. I really hope this band makes some noise in the hardcore scene and I do suggest that they get a Facebook page ASAP. Until then you can download the demo using the link below. You do not sleep on this!
ONE LESS SCUMBAG DEMO 2014
(Released December 6, 2014)
In the likes of: Pro Pain, Death Before Dishonor, First Blood,Badluck 13, Boxcutter.
One Less Scumbag from New Hampshire are Shawn (vocals), Randy (guitar), Travis (guitar), John (bass) Kevin(drums). Formed in 2002, OLS is made up of former members of Distrust and Cold Blooded with the 2 combining the forces of 2 great hardcore bands to form one super group of pure aggressiveness, brutal knock your teeth out hardcore.
OLS is without question on my top 2014 list of new hardcore releases. Tracks such as "Dead But Not Buried" melts faces off with intense punishing guitar riffage; the track intro with Kevin's mad skills on those double bass pedals along with Shawn's deep throaty growl seriously contend with an older traditional hardcore sound bringing forth a new breed of serious mosh music. Tracks such ad "Ode To Jack" are undeniably influenced with super melodic traditional metal harmonizing. OLS are obviously serious musicians who have been in the hardcore scene for some time now; this 2014 release proves that they mean businesses.
The track "Envenomed" is pure pissed off hatred, for the entire 2:17, perfectly executed destructiveness with a huge monstrous breakdown @ the 1:35 mark which is just ridiculous.; Download and support One Less Scumbag (if you aren't already).
-Alex "The Past" Karp
PERFECT PEOPLE “MIDWASTE” EP
(Released September 27, 2014)
Perfect People are 5 piece hardcore band out of St Louis, MO. They just put out a new EP in September called “Midwaste”. It’s got a heavy NYHC and youth crew flavor to it, but the whole thing has a punk as fuck energy to it; and that’s a good thing. It actually reminds me heavily of Awkward Thought. I dig that a lot of their lyrics are coming out extremely negative and self -deprecating, which is really highlighted in the song “Guts” with lines like ‘The only lesson that my old man taught me is how to kill myself slowly’. I think that lends a bit of credibility or creedence if you will to the sound of the music behind it. I’ve given the whole thing probably 6 or 7 listens at the this point and I actually really enjoy it. “Midwaste” by Perfect People is a solid hardcore punk album. Give ‘em a listen kids.
RANCID “HONOR IS ALL WE KNOW”
(Epitaph Records, Released October 24, 2014)
If you got a shred of punk rock love running through your veins I don't know how you could not love the new Rancid full length titled "Honor Is All We Know". This is their 8th studio album and their first new studio album since 2009 and to me at least this was well worth the wait. I grabbed the iTunes deluxe edition (yeah, I didn't steal it like the rest of you moochers) for a few extra bucks and it has 3 bonus tracks over the standard version which has this clock in at around 40 minutes with a total of 17 songs.
Right off the bat on the first listen I knew this was going to be a home run with "Back Where I Belong" leading things off. This is the kind of track that you throw on right at the start of a long road trip and it has you singing along within seconds and the type of track that gets implanted in your head and you can't get out. "Raise Your Fist" is up next and has another ear catching chorus and you are probably thinking that’s 2 awesome tracks in a row, we might have something cooking here. What Rancid does so well is stir the pot, mix things up, keep things fresh. "Evil's My Friend" is track 4 and has this nice grooving ska beat that has a totally different vibe than the openers but works so well because, well... these guys are fucking Rancid and have been doing this for a really long time and obviously know what they are doing.
Bonus tracks "Breakdown" and "Something To Believe In A World Gone Mad" follow along with change of pace type tracks that are by no means filler. These changes of pace and where the songs are seemingly strategically placed in the track listing go a long way in the vibe you get when you play this from start to finish. You can't help but stumble over quality track after track here with ones like "Diabolical", "Malfunction", "A Power Inside" and the title track being the best of the best. Longtime fans of Rancid should be pleasantly surprised with this new one and I am sure they will gain some new ones on the strength of this extremely solid and well put together piece of work.
DRY HEAVE RECORDS 4 WAY SPLIT w/FREEBASE, QUIET MAN, BLASTED, TEETH
(Dry Heave Records, Release Date December 1, 2014)
Chris drops the English 4-way split into my inbox.....I have never been into splits, so my mind simply cannot wrap itself around a 4-way. Do I get 4 paychecks? Come on now, we do this for the love of
the core, so I am glad I got to discover some good stuff reviewing this offering from Dry Heave Records. This split is not 12 songs about why you weren't strong enough and broke my heart, nor is it 12 songs that sound like one long ass song. They are serving you up 4 very different bands, 2 of which are debuting here, with very different styles and sounds...and besides its 15 songs assholes.
First up is Freebase hailing from Northampton. They offer up 3 cuts...well a 57 second intro jam and 2 regulation songs at least. Freebase have been doing it since around 1995 with an extended mix break
in there for around a decade starting in 2002. They are labelled a crossover band but have a bit more of a metalcore feel to them. Think early Hatebreed. These guys are very skilled musically and are not afraid to speed it up. It is a solid offering of hardcore tunage. This is the first I have heard and I shall seek out more. Standout track: Punishing "F.A.F.Y."
Next on the 4 way is Plymouth's own, Quiet Man. Offering up 4 choice debut cuts of prime whatever the fuck it is they do. That last bit was a compliment as QM are arguably the most interesting of the 4
based on their flexible style. One second they are going at a blistering pace, then slowing it down to a dirge, then adding melody, then playing a slowed down instrumental, then D beating the shit out of you. It's a bit crusty, slightly over the top, somewhat schizophrenic, but rock and fucking roll man. I likey. I want to hear more...mission accomplished. I have read the name Tragedy as a similar band.....OK...I get that, but don't let that sway you one way or another, check ‘em out. Standout track: A ripper "Carcosa"
Speaking of rock and roll....Next up hailing from somewhere within the bowels of jolly ol E, is Blasted. A goshdarn 3 piece! Take your favorite rock records and have them snort a line of meth and you'll end
up somewhere near Blasted. They offer up 4 choice selections of speed rock mayhem. Seriously though this is some kickass hardcore RnR with names like Hellacopters, Norman Bates and the Showerheads, Stooges, and Poison Idea, coming to mind. Definitely will seek out and hear more after this. Standout track: A Ramones invoking "Blasted"
Finally we have Teef from the Southeast, Brighton to be exact. Are these guys surf punks? They are from the coast, but if this is surf punk, I ain’t surfin in that water. This is some straight up pissed off,
angry,fast, hardcore punk. The songs stab you like a short sword, quick and to the point. No bullshit here folks, just 4 killer jabs to knock your dick in the dirt. You can catch whiffs of powerviolence, but not
enough to make you hold your nose. I believe this is the initial offering for these guys, so I am very much looking forward to hearing where they go with this. Compare them slightly to early COC and by
default perhaps Coke Bust. Standout Track: The reminds me of a good Ceremony tune "Soul Sucker".
STAY SCARED “VOLUME ONE” EP
(Released October 19, 2014)
A bad surprise is when you walk into your house and a pack of mutant zebras with lasers just shit all over your sofa. A good surprise is when a band like Oakland's Stay Scared send you their new EP out of nowhere and you realize you just found a golden nugget of a release that you want to run out and tell everyone you know about. "Skintro/Reality In Chains" starts off in a way reminiscent to the old Crown Of Thornz intro for "Juggernaut" where the song is set to a spoken word snippet... in this case an interview with a dude explaining what hardcore is all about apparently lifted from the 1995 Velebit NYHC Documentary. The bass line takes the lead in this intro and the rest of the instruments slowly join in along the way and when "Reality In Chains" hits the band is in full attack mode. Stay Scared mixes up a dirty punk sound with an obvious old school NYHC influence. On more than one occasion I thought to myself that these guys would have fit in nicely opening for a band like Lifesblood way back when as they both display similar traits. There are 6 tracks here in about 15 minutes and although Stay Scared don't reinvent the wheel they do mix things up enough to make you want to come back again and again. There are plenty of bands out there that have the formula down...you play their stuff and it's good, well played, the mosh is in the spot where the mosh is supposed to be and the song ends. You think, good stuff but do you go back and hit play the next time or do you look for the next new band that has put up a Bandcamp page 10 minutes ago? Stay Scared has made me go back more than a few times now and that's basically what I'm looking for. I want to have that new song stuck in my head experience and think "what fucking song is that" and then that moment of clarity hits. Fans of street punk shit and old school hardcore should eat this up and ask for seconds.
RESPONSE- 2014 DEMO
(Video Disease Records/Fineprint Records,
Released November 2014)
Response is a brand new straight edge hardcore band from California, US, featuring ex-members of Stoic Violence and In Control, plus current members of bands like Fury, Disapproval, Enough Said and Slammers. If, by any chance, you don't know ANY of the aforementioned bands, Response is probably not your thing, so either proceed to the next review or just check those bands and I'm sure that you are gonna love them… So, Response's fresh EP includes 4 songs of in your face, no fills/no thrills, old school straight edge hardcore in the vein of Youth Of Today and early Agnostic Front, with a huge Negative Approach touch. When it comes to modern bands, I think that Violent Reaction and The Flex (both from UK) are the closest ones music and lyric wise. The production is rough (it's a demo after all) and so are the vocals and the rhythm section. To be honest, I am really into this kind of sound production, raw and aggressive as hell. The EP was released in tape format, housed in a 6 panel fold out insert, by Video Disease and Fineprint Records. Get it now or download it via their Bandcamp. Dope band, dope music.
TEN TON HAMMER- 2014 DEMO
(Released October 16, 2014)
Busting out of Philadelphia PA, Jordan Berk (guitar), John Lowe (vocals), Will Schaffer (bass), and Jeff barow (drums) are hitting hard hence the band name. This 4 track demo from Ten Ton Hammer is ridiculously heavy, with members from Sunburster, Rock Bottom, and Cadet it it's really no surprise. Ten Ton Hammer pulls off some heavy hard hitting hardcore with damaging grooves, sweet off tone guitar chords, powerful vocals, and impressive percussion.
Track one titled “Snake Oil” explodes from start to finish with raw emotion. Track two “Dead Alive” busts out with a killer riff destroying with massive monster guitar tone, and at around the 1:26 mark this super power groove kicks in with gang vocals that'll have you punching anything in your line of sight! Track 3 “Losing Meaning” is where the real punk influence can be heard very clearly, no plastic generic choppy breakdowns going on here (mega bonus points for that!). Track four “Accept Reality” blasts out with those double bass skills, and plows right into a heavy beat down riff, serious mosh music done correct! I highly recommend the download of this demo, obviously the recording studio did a fantastic job mixing these tracks with outstanding sound quality, I'm no doubt a fan of Ten Ton Hammer and look forward to hearing more, mad respect!
-Alex "The Past" Karp
ROCK BOTTOM “MORAL DECAY” EP/CD
(Fast Break! Records, Released November, 2014)
Rock Bottom comes from Philadelphia, PA. This band have been touring rigorously and releasing music whenever they can for the past five years bringing their style of crossover/metal core to the forefront. “Moral Decay” is their new release and at first listen I was not that impressed with this release. I found this record to be a little too metal for me and not as ferocious as their previous releases. Since I do like their older stuff I gave this record a second listen and it did sound better. “Moral Decay” and “Set To Explode” are the stand-outs but outside of that nothing moved me, I wished they had more breakdowns in their songs. This record is not bad but I prefer their older stuff and perhaps that's why I'm not crazy about this release. You can buy their new record, and old ones, at Fast break! Records. The CD version of this release comes with an extra 9 live songs recorded at this years This Is Hardcore Fest.