MADBALL, SUBCULTURE THREAT, 430 STEPS, DAYS SPENT
@IRON OAK POST, MELBOURNE, FL MAY 16, 2021
WORDS BY: BRIAN ESPITIA, GRAPHICS: BAS SPIERINGS, MADBALL PHOTO: JOEL DOWLING
Well, I finally had a chance to go to a real show. And that first big show back after quarantine happened to be a MADBALL show. And the best part about it was that it totally lived up to how awesome I thought it would be, and then some! Aside from the musical aspect of the event, it was a great night of friendships and what our scene is about. Anyone who is into hardcore within 50-100 miles of the Iron Oak Post in Melbourne was there. Members of Coldside, Fortittude, Trust No One, Noxious Profit and others were all in attendance. I even ran into Drew Stone from The New York Hardcore Chronicles who took the trek from South Florida to hit this show. Before any bands even hit the stage the whole vibe of the place was exciting.
So first up is Days Spent. They are a new band from the Melbourne, FL area that formed right before quarantine lockdown happened and have been busy writing and practicing ever since. Singer Nancy Crozier’s vocals and presence converted a few new fans that night, as all eyes were on the stage when they started playing. I even ran into Hoya from Madball who was in the back checking them out and I gave him a quick hello. Days Spent have a recent EP called “Snakes And Ladders” that came out late last year and I will be checking it out ASAP.
Up next is 430 Steps. I can’t say enough about this band from Orlando. They are, in my opinion, the best hardcore band in Florida right now. Brothers, Nelson and Gustavo Porras have been making things happen lately with their unique style of hardcore and even played in a band together when they lived in Colombia, South America. The Latino influence is prevalent in their music and they have a ton of energy. You can check out their latest release, “Citizen Of Nothing”, which came out last year and you will see what I mean.
The next band to play after them was, Subculture Threat, another Melbourne based hardcore band. They did a really good job of getting the pit warmed up for Madball with their hardcore breakdowns and old school energy. They have released a few EPs in recent years including their latest, “No Comply”.
Finally, the band we were all waiting for, Madball, hits the stage. Opening the show with their classic, “Lockdown”, the place just went completely nuts. Freddy still has the energy of a 23-year-old on stage and the band sounded tighter than ever. People were jumping off the edge of the bar and the whole place was basically going apeshit! That led right into “Smell The Bacon” before launching into “Set It Off” which basically made the whole place erupt all over again like an aftershock. With the energy level at its peak, they just start cranking out classic song after classic song. “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop”, “Hold It Down”, and “Rev Up” off of their last album.
A short pause and the band is back at it. Taking us back to their 1994 release, “Set It Off”, with the classic Madball tracks “Across Your Face” and “Face To Face” before throwing out another classic in “For My Enemies”. Without losing any energy at all, they keep going old school on the crowd again with “Get Out”, “Demonstrating My Style” and “New York City” and the crowd is still loving every bit of it. More classic tracks like “It’s My Life”, “Look My Way” and “Streets Of Hate” were on the menu for us as well. The band then launches into my favorite Madball song, “Doc Marten Stomp” before going “Ball Of Destruction” on us with “Colossal Man” and then “Infiltrate The System”.
By now the room is 90 degrees and the pit is still in full effect. Winding the show down, they went into 100%, “Heavenhell” and finally closing the show with their classic, “Pride (Times Are Changing)”, where everyone was onstage singing along while the crowd threw their final fists in the pit. This was a great show on so many levels. Aside from Madball blowing our minds, it was just a great night for Florida Hardcore.
CHOICES MADE “REASON FOR CONFLICT”
(Cursed Blessings Records, Released May, 2021
Stardate: 27 July, 2021. Washington DC. Deep inside the In Effect satellite compound. NYHC is currently besieging Chocolate City. They have burned down Comet Ping Pong Pizza, tagged the Lincoln Memorial, stopped by Jinx Proof for a tat, and proceeded on to the Dischord House to dismember Ian MacKaye... and get a few choice early releases. They are currently marching on the White House with MacKaye's head on a pike. Pray for us…
Well, maybe not as dramatic, however, NYHC had a show… E..I..E..I..O. And to that show hardcore went in droves... E..I..E..I..O… with one mask here... and one mask there... here's no mask, there's no mask, everywhere there's no mask! Depending on where ‘ya sit, they either ended the world, or had a fun matinee. The answer lies between. Some even say their CHOICES MADE are REASON FOR CONFLICT, but I say worry about yourself and your family and make your choices based on that, if a hardcore show fits in there...salute! But HOLY SHEEP SHIT, did you see that masterful product placement? This is a review for Toronto's own Choices Made and their newest EP entitled "Reason For Conflict". The CEO of In Effect Enterprises recently did a fucking bang up, write up on several Toronto based Canucklecore bands entitled "Noise From The North", check that shit out right HERE. You will be hip to some great shit and much wiser for it… I mean, we ain’t newjacks spinin’ our fuckin wheels over here.
Without further ado, how about this EP? Well you will get yourself 4 tracks of Great White Northcore clocking in at just under the 9 minute mark. The first song up is the titular "Reason For Conflict" running 1:58. Crunchy guitars lead into a driving rhythmic beat and we have us a galloping hardcore tune. Right away you'll notice excellent production and musicianship. This shit is clean. The next thing you'll probably notice is the vocals of Josh. His vocal style is like the bastard child of Sam Kinison and Alexi Laiho of Children Of Bodom, may they both rest in peace. Seriously though, especially on the intro to the second song, "Greed", running 2:11. He sounds just like Alexi which is a compliment of the highest order. Great driving hardcore tune by the way… it rips. Next up is "Don't Waste My Time" running a stealthy 1:46. This song could be my anthem because me hates me some wasting of the time. The song dropkicks the whole notion in perfect music form. The final song on the EP is "Nothing Without" clocking in at 2:32. This is the most experimental song on offer and it's quite good. Vocal effects and some cool harmonizing and you can see a future trajectory for a band that has a lot of talent to build on. Cue the break up!
So there ‘ya have it you filthy infected lot. Four solid Canucklehead core tunes to rock your face off. Choices Made have made a lot of good choices... see that? And it shows in their tight and solid sound. Listen, if you get the digital jammy jams you get the inclusion of two extra cuts, both of which are rippers. "What's Your Plan" that clocks in at 1:56 and "Sideroads" at 1:54 are hertofore unreleased tracks by the boys and it was damn nice of them to bequeath them unto us hardcore brethren. So I hear that Jimmy G is still doing bong hits and NYHC survived after all. Springa has reboarded the mothership. I also just heard that the CDC said Covid is over and we don't need to wear a mask. That might make me want to put on a hazmat suit. So get out there, rejoin the rat race, and get you this release! Tear off the mask and shout "WE WANT OUR CHOICES MADE!... UHHH...THE BAND… NOT OUR ACTUAL CHOICES! and by all means stay the fuck off my lawn vermin. Check this out via Bandcamp or Spotify or grab a hardcopy off of Cursed Blessings.
RAW BRIGADE “HARDCORE LATINO”
(Six Feet Under Records, Released May, 2021)
Colombia’s Raw Brigade put their foot down as a band to watch for with their 2018 EP "Kicking Your Face" - and they've doubled down on that sentiment with their latest release titled "Hardcore Latino". The word "Raw" is in their name, and for good reason; this Brigade comes correct with power, passion, and unfiltered energy. "Hardcore Latino" is a quick listen (under 8 minutes), but it's got more topical messaging and real world insight than a lot of full lengths that are making the rounds. With members currently scattered around North and South America, it really stands out that in a year literally plagued by a pandemic and travel restrictions, RB was able to cut through the red tape and record some songs at a time when new music was certainly needed. You can feel the truth in what Raw Brigade is putting out, and "Hardcore Latino" is absolutely a testament that Bogota Hardcore has something to say, and they'll get their message across no matter what! Listen on Bandcamp or Spotify. Six Feet Under Records also has limited edition 7” vinyl, click HERE for more info.
INEPTITUDE “THE DEMO” (Released May 202)
I seem to have been getting lucky lately with local bands. There’s another demo out now that’s totally blown my mind. This band is called Ineptitude and they’re based in Nassau County, New York, where I currently reside. I first saw them back in 2019 I believe. They opened for G.F.Y. and Psycho Enhancer at Shakers Pub in Oakdale, NY and it was a great show. I remembered them sounding like a crossover thrash band like Leeway or S.O.D. but with breakdowns. I had actually known these guys for a while before they started a band. I had seen their vocalist Jamie at a lot of shows before and I hang out with their guitarist Skyler even outside of shows. As with any band that has friends in it, I have not told them that I’m writing this review as a measure to preserve objectivity, more recently I took the same measure with Beast From The East. We all wanna hype up our friends’ bands. But I can genuinely say I loved their demo, friends or not.
Either my memory deceived me or the songs evolved slightly because I do remember hearing these songs live but they sound different recorded. They are a lot darker, heavier and sludgier. They’re full of hard hitting guitar riffs that make you wanna mosh like a maniac like 100 Demons or Hatebreed but they have this dark atmosphere that reminds me of a 90’s metalcore band like Prayer For Cleansing, Catharsis or Day of Mourning. This demo finds a fantastic middle sonic middle ground between the artsier and more political sounds of old school metal core and the destructive force of some really good beatdown. They kick off the record with a 30 second mosh intro, a classic move for heavier hardcore bands, called “Assisted Suicide” and it is one of the scariest riffs you’ll hear all year. It gets you ready for the next track “Inept” where the drummer Josh rocks on some loose offbeat drum rhythms and fills. It’s very unique and doesn’t sound like your average hardcore song considering most bands fear to tread outside the fast D-beat and mid-tempo 4/4 grooves we all love to dance to. At the same time though, the track doesn’t have as much momentum as the rest of the demo because of it, which means if I had to pick a least favorite track, it’s this one. However Jamie delivers a fiery vocal performance that’s full of character and feeling! Not to mention, this song builds the tension so it can lead directly into the much more active third track, “Regain.” The dissonant minor riffs are guaranteed to get your blood pumping while Jamie delivers a pissed off diatribe about being subjected to racial profiling through these enraged growls that you can feel in your throat. The track launches into this metallic section featuring these menacing black metal or death metal inspired guitar licks and a fast old school hardcore drum section leading into something slower, more metallic and more double bass driven that sounds like something off of an Abnegation record. The track suddenly shifts into this bouncy riff and breakbeat style drum section and slows down gradually from there until it becomes a massive breakdown that’ll cause any venue owner to have a panic attack, it sounds like something you’d catch on a Bulldoze or Cold As Life record. The next track, “Control (S.T.D.)” starts off with this fast, technical sounding bit which sounds like a more sinister take on the 80’s thrash metal underground a la The Accused or Forced Entry, maybe even Exodus, before launching into this more mid-tempo section that sounds like a strange but tastefully executed fusion between evil black metal inspired guitar riffs and rap metal stylings. Jamie’s vocals really shine here as he delivers a growled rap verse that makes Scarlxrd sound calm with both speed and finesse. There are so many other bands that could’ve tried something like this and have it come out sounding cringeworthy, but Ineptitude sells you on it with a tight rhythm section, driving guitars and passionate vocals. The lyrics on this song dive into dark introspective territory discussing mental health poetically and terrifyingly. I encourage you to read the lyrics to this song because I think Jamie weaves some very effective existential imagery here. Solidifying this track as the most eclectic on record, we get this subdued section of softer clean guitars that one would associate more with an alternative rock band, some quieter rimshot and hi-hat oriented drum patterns, and Jamie delivering another rap verse but with much more subtlety this time, in an almost hushed tone of voice. This section gives us some room to breathe on a record that’s been otherwise obnoxiously heavy, blunt and in your face up to this point and it allows the ideas and themes of the lyrics to sink in a little bit. The closing track… “Memory Relapse”, is mostly some ominous guitar and bass lines with each string plucked individually in a way that oozes sinister atmosphere. These play over some ambient noise with an occasional ride cymbal clang ringing in the background before the band delivers one final breakdown. Jamie screams “Fuck You” over these sludgy chugs followed by dark arpeggiated chords. It sounds like something from a Sanction or Knocked Loose song, something that takes the panicked chords and sludgy riffs of Disembodied to a whole new level of terror! If this demo was bad, I would probably make a snide reviewer quip about how it’s such a perfectly fitting end to the record to have the band literally yell “fuck you” at the listener, but instead, it puts a sweet, delicious cherry on top of this cake of destruction.
This demo manages to outdo lots of hardcore bands on a technical front while still preserving the blunt simplicity and brute force that makes the genre so compelling. It brings in elements from beatdown, metalcore, death metal, black metal, trash metal and even hip hop and maintains a unified sound without fitting comfortably into one sub-genre. It has a DIY hardcore spirit at its heart and that’s all they need. It’s a very unique start for a band and it gives you a little bit of everything you ever wanted to hear on a heavy record. And while there is an impressive show that the band is capable of technical songwriting, it isn’t exactly tight like most bands. They have no issue playing a little loose to show some attitude like an old school punk band. I’ve been pretty burnt out on hearing endless deathcore, metalcore and djent bands deliver their heavy riffs with sterile production with sample replaced drums that sound so fake, they should’ve just used a drum machine in the first place. Recordings like this Ineptitude demo are a beautiful breath of fresh air from that. Not to mention the production sounds as raw as an open wound without being poorly mixed at all. In fact, the mixing is very good, with every instrument taking up the exact amount of space it should. Most producers would turn all the faders up to eleven so you’d be suffocated with a massive impenetrable wall of screaming and guitar distortion. This is brutally heavy without being suffocating. There’s a certain space in the mix that I kinda miss hearing on metallic hardcore records. This record was recorded at Shellshock Audio by Chris Rini. We’re very fortunate to have studios like Westfall, Shellshock and Freedom Soundworks among others on Long Island, studios that will record a band’s demo and make it sound genuinely good and even professional. Chris Rini is one of those names that I can see in the liner notes and breathe a sigh of relief that I won’t have to turn my car’s volume knob up to 35 to hear what the drums are doing.
At only five tracks clocking in at a brisk nine minutes, this demo is very short and goes by very fast, but it left a huge impression on me! It’s brutally heavy, well written, diverse and constantly engaging. This is everything I want in a metallic hardcore project, perhaps even just a hardcore project in general. This is the most exciting demo I’ve heard this year and there were a few strong contenders for that title! I feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins every time I put it on. Skyler impressed me a lot on this recording by carrying both guitar and bass duties and absolutely killing it, Jamie is an insane frontman with a commanding presence and a lot to say with it, Josh held it down on the drums and all three came together with a band that sounds like they’re a few records deep on their first project. Impressive is an understatement. This is a band that I’m gonna be watching like a hawk because I’m itching to hear them put out more music and to see them live again. You can listen to this in multiple ways including Bandcamp, Spotify as well as a cassette version through Street Fight Records, click HERE for more info.
CAPRA “IN TRANSMISSION”
(Metal Blade Records, Released April 2021)
Incendiary art shows its fangs when society finds itself behind the 8-ball and the youth who are coming of age in its toilet and the veterans who remember the last cultural wasteland pick up arms in protest whether literally or artistically. Underground scenes with nothing to lose draw from this well- spring chronicling the times and producing material that is just as searing as the moment...
CAPRA with their full length “In Transmission” whether by accident or design give us an audio document of the spiritual and physical chaos now in our timeline and DNA. The Southern Louisiana groups kinship to early and latter hardcore, industrial am-rep and metal make for songs that are chaotically morphing in the moment. After a brooding introduction that sounds like a spell from the black church of King Diamond – “Hollow Doll” cracks your slumber like a 900 pound jackhammer. With a nod to the street aesthetic that saw Raybeez going behind the drum kit for Agnostic Front and laying down his twisted equivalent of a fast gallop beat – “Hollow Doll” cranks this primitive pummeling rhythm with an industrial persona though the group keeps things very organic with the song breaking out of the A7 Barbieri punk groove into a “stop chugga” riff that early 90’s outfit Shift did so well with their cassette demos and “Pathos” album… Helmet inspired tight “slug” riffs used for mosh craziness. The scream-o violence Capra spit out in their material and performance rampages through the millennial underground with its rebellipunk attitude intact. The acidic vox of Crow Lotus gives the lyrics a depth beyond just angst. Her style is spoken-word that ties the microphone cable around your neck while destroyed screams speak a mortifying language for mortifying topics that range from the dark almost supernatural hallucinetic experience of sleep paralysis that sandwiches sleep and consciousness into a singular nightmare on “The Locus Preacher” to the trying relationships between blood (in this case mother and daughter) on “Paper Tongues”. Lotus’ poetry and delivery is raw giving the songs an exposed quality that lays Capra’s music bare like live wires dangerously animated. The production is loud with a monolithic tone keeping the bands performances sounding as one colossal beast.
“Medusa” is a perfect example of Capra’s contradictory style, controlled though savage in nature. Its structure is a machine gun of frantic blast beats, noise-mongering, complex spazz-outs and dissident heaviness. There are sections that confuse the listener in the best possible way with your mind trying to catch up to your body that is gyrating like an epileptic Elvis Presley on angel dust. Guitarist Tyler Harpers usage of single notes gives the song a blues dimension that keeps it from getting muddled - hardcore flags are planted throughout like the Cro Magish “Malfunction” tribal section that will call the wild to the dance floor.
A punishing record, Capra knot together sounds from the street underworld tightly with rhyme and reason even if it’s to illicit confusion and violence with riotous riffs and beats. Brutal fast song structures “Jekyll and Hyde” themselves into slow, ominous break grooves that let the songs come up for air before we travel into the deep end once more to see what’s at the bottom. Listen to “In Transmission” on Bandcamp and Spotify.
REGRET s/t EP (Released May, 2021)
Regret out of Hong Kong is representing hardcore the way it’s meant to be, and the way it needs to be in 2021… fast, energetic, loud, opinionated, and passionate. Their self-titled debut EP offers up a raw and honest helping of social discontent peppered with notes of political rebellion with a tasty side of "fuck you" attitude. For all the new music I missed while I had my head stuffed in the pandemic hole, I'm certainly glad this came out when it did. Not only is it a timely release - speaking to issues that plague the Honk Kong political landscape, but also hits on issues/sentiments that have become too familiar the world over with songs like "Can't Deny”. The choice for dual vocalists adds to the layered flavor of this record while it's quick riffs and powerful messaging serve as a reminder of how hardcore punk truly should not just sound, but also how it should feel. There is a stirring in the gut when you just KNOW that a band believes in their music, lives their words, and enjoys putting it together. This record absolutely has that feeling, that brazen confidence which screams, "this is what it is, it's either for you or it's not; period”. I'd like to make a personal observation, hopefully without going too far off the rails here, which is that I don't have any clue where in hell Riz Farooqi (guitar/vocals) finds the time to do the things he does! They say "ask the busy person for help, they'll be the one to get it done”. This must be true, because Riz is a dad, school teacher, political activist, the driving force behind Unite Asia.org, and is involved with multiple bands/the Asian music scene at large. The man is a machine! With all that said, do yourself a favor and check out Regret; or don’t, I am not your zoo keeper. Mosh hard or get out! Find this on Bandcamp or Spotify.
BUGGIN' "BRAINFREEZE" 7"
(Flatspot Records, Released January 2021)
The Flatspot Records scouting department is out there... lurking behind rehearsal room pillars, in unmarked cars... maybe doing some audio surveillance on your band as you read this. They do a good job of finding bands from all over God’s green Earth and their latest find is Chicago's Buggin' who are a four piece unit that got started about two years ago and seemed to be on a bit of a roll with playing shows and putting out music until that pesky global pandemic thing came calling.
This two song release starts off with "Brainfreeze"; a track that gives off a fresh feel with plenty of bounce behind it. Bryanna's vocals have a bit of a scratchy/raspy feel to them and are one of the aspects that hardens their overall sound. Buggin' seem to be well versed in bringing an overall fun vibe to their music without losing that hardcore "edge" and this track to me is a really good example of that. Around the half way mark there is a nice extended breakdown and when the vocals climb back into the track it definitely has one of those “Let’s open this motherluven pit up” vibes. Side B… or track two (depending if you are consuming your Buggin' via stream of flexi-7”) is a cover of "Gratitude" off of "Check Your Head" by the Beastie Boys. What I like the most about this selection is that "Gratitude" falls in line with the style that Buggin' is putting out there and almost feels like it belongs as one of their own.
The two tracks here only clock in at around 4 and a half minutes in length which was a bit deflating after getting hyped up off of the title track but this was more of a gateway release for me as it led me to other Buggin’ releases which are: the "Buggin' Out" EP that came out in February of 2020 as well as their 2019 demo that has a song called "Poser Bulldozer" which might be one of the greatest titled hardcore songs ever. The 2019 demo is raw and has that new band demo feel about it but definitely check in on that "Buggin' Out" EP as it shows a ton of progress over the demo which was not at all shabby. When I listen to Buggin’s music I hear a straight forward and aggressive style of hardcore minus a lot of the chugga-chugga metal influence that is out there these days. They are big on songs with choppy drum beats that make you nod your head while listening and I don’t think I am far off base by saying Turnstile’s more hardcore leaning tracks are an influence. Hopefully after a year off from playing shows their desire and drive is pent up and they come back swinging for the fences as live music starts to slowly come back to life. With the obvious progress that was made from year one to year two of their existence Buggin' are a young band that I'm keeping an eye on with hopes that they keep developing into a name known well beyond their hometown of Chicago. Hit up this here link tree to find their music on the worldwide web.
BLVD OF DEATH “HATE TOO MUCH TO LOVE”
(Daze Style, Released April, 2021)
Blvd of Death - Hate too Much to Love”... is their first release with no intro rapped or spoken, but it needs no introduction. After the demo and the EP, BOD is back with their first record for CT label Daze, which is possibly their best work yet. A natural progression from their prior material, it also branches out into different corners of NYHC, weaving everything together into one can't-miss release.
Opening track "Survive" sounds like Quicksand for under 10 seconds before pivoting to some classic Crown of Thornz style chords. Riffs that would be at home on both "Mentally Vexed" and "Train Yard Blues" are present at various points on this release. I keep wanting to call this an EP but is another four song 12", like Mindforce last year, a trend I'm not exactly on board with, but grudgingly understand due to supply chain issues and maximizing sound quality. And yet I look forward to a resurgence in 10"s to keep my Both Worlds 10” company.
Track 2, "Delusion", starts off heavy and features a real stomper of a mosh part which raises the question of when are these guys going to get to New York post-pandemic? "Stick Around" keeps things moving with a classic opening riff and is probably the best overall track, though it's damn hard to choose, and the titular fourth song is the most sonically complete. Am digging the increasing frequency of bands putting the title track last rather than first, like fellow New Wave of Hardcore Mixtape denizens End It, and less recently, Show Of Force.
Initial listens sent me back for more, trying to pick out which song was THAT mosh part in? Due to the varied structures throughout these 4 songs, it's not overly apparent which riffs were paired with which, and the only solution is to return for repeat listens. The interval between the release date of the new Blvd Of Death and their last EP is slightly shorter than the gap between that of the EP and the demo, but it feels longer due to the time warp aspect of the pandemic. It also feels like they've progressed even more as a band. Overall this was everything I was expecting and more from Blvd Of Death, and I can’t wait to see what they do next. Available on Spotify and Bandcamp or head on over to Daze for a copy of the 12” which is scheduled to ship out on May 21st.
BEAST FROM THE EAST “SNITCH HUNT”
(Released March, 2021)
Hardcore is good for nothing if not catharsis. Every once in a while a band comes through with a hardcore record that captures the sound of your inner rage and Beast From The East’s debut “Snitch Hunt” hits really hard on that front. I feel like I’ve been starved of great new local bands during quarantine as everyone sought to lighten the mood with non-serious one off joke side projects recorded in their bedrooms. And there’s nothing wrong with that, I certainly had fun with those. But with the return of live music around the corner, I feel like I haven’t had too many new projects to get really excited about seeing. And Beast From The East, I’m happy to say, has made the list of new projects I’m dying to see! With my vaccinations up to date, I’m planning on going to the first show I can catch these guys at because these songs are exactly what I like hearing from this style of hardcore!
One thing I always talk about when it comes to hardcore is guitar work, I’m a guitarist myself and it’s of course a guitar driven style of music. And the guitar work on this record is crushingly heavy! Such as the pit opening intro riff on the first track “Act Of Volition” or the sludgy chugs of “Crush All Fakes” or the death metal inspired tremolo riffs on “This Life”. The title track, “Snitch Hunt”, closes the record out with a massive breakdown guaranteed to cause pit violence! The drum playing on this record makes heavy use of double bass, even by metallic hardcore standards, which keeps a constant rumbling underneath the tracks like an earthquake.
The lyrics may not be anything new or special when it comes to this style of hardcore, but they’re themes that never seem to get old, with lyrics about crushing fake people and facing the hardships of everyday life. But I would like to highlight my favorite lyrical moment on this EP from the track “Chalkline” which features the incendiary refrain of “Chalk line for every single fucking cop!” It’s certainly not the first or last time hardcore has shown an acrimonious relationship with law enforcement, but this song channels that in a way that’s sure to ruffle some feathers and I love it. Their vocalist, Jack Beard, has this low register yell that reminds me a lot of Paul Bearer from Sheer Terror, which is not a bad influence to channel in this style of hardcore.
Overall, I think that this record won’t be for everyone. I think that people who don’t like beatdown or “tough guy hardcore” won’t get much out of this project. But if you don’t mind rough-housing at your local hardcore shows and you’re into bands like Shattered Realm, Bulldoze or Line Of Scrimmage, I think that Beast From The East is gonna give you exactly what you want in a hardcore band. I’m looking forward to seeing them sometime soon because I could use a good mosh after the past year of constant frustration! A link tree to all things “Beast” can be found HERE.
CORE CLIENTELE FANZINE ISSUE 2 (Released Spring, 2021)
Core Clientele #2 comes at us from New York with a 32 page full sized issue printed in black and white. What got my money here was the cover story; "In Memoriam Rich McLoughlin" which is a cool piece on the recently departed bassist/guitarist from Breakdown and Killing Time. Many already knew Rich was a fun and at times eccentric dude and his bandmates Carl Porcaro, Chris Skowronski, and Anthony Drago offer up 3 hilarious and unique Rich stories that I am sure will bring a smile to those who knew and loved Rich. Floorpunch's Mark Porter is also interviewed and I liked the way they approached this one. Floorpunch’s heyday was in the 90’s and they haven’t been an active band for quite a while and this interview is done where they ask him more about his current day life while sprinkling in some old school questions to make a nice balanced interview. Rayzor from the UK's Big Cheese and Chubby And The Gang is also interviewed to round out the hardcore interview side of this issue. Was cool to read/find out that Mr. Rayzor can handle himself in the kitchen while mentioning Italian, African and Middle Eastern dishes as some of his favorites. In the intro of this issue CC mentions their goal of melding the worlds of hardcore and hip-hop and the remaining features/interviews are with YL who is a NYC based MC as well as Zoomo who is also NYC based and is a producer. In addition Mindforce's Jay Peta has a little section where he reviews some current day hip-hop that he has been listening to. A very short reviews section and a shorter piece called "The Vault" round things out here; The Vault being a look at some personal hardcore keepsakes that include old-school shirts and a personalized copy of Warzone's "The Sound Of Revolution" from the late Vinny Value (RIP). The hardcore coverage here was tight offering some fresh ideas while the hip-hop coverage I simply passed over for lack of interest. Limited to 100 copies, check in HERE for more info.
GRAFF HOUSE FANZINE (ISSUE #2 (Released Spring 2021)
Although we are primarily a hardcore/punk read here over at In Effect we hold a special place in our hardcore hearts for all things graffiti, especially with so many fans and band members of this genre being either active participants or former vandals themselves. Graff House is a Long Island based fanzine that just so happens to have a slight hardcore connection within the pages of their second issue which is out now. Chris “Robots Will Kill” is a veteran NYC writer who is also a big fan of hardcore and is interviewed within the 44 pages that make up issue #2. Love zines that can teach you new things and finding out about TRENT was a cool aspect of this issue. TRENT has lived in Panama, Texas, North Dakota and is now based in Colorado… this guy started off at a young age making stencils with duct tape and he has become pretty damn good at his craft. Reading this short bio on him led me to his Graffiti Counter Culture You Tube channel which has twenty videos up with varying topics. BUKUE1 from California and RICKS ATT from Florida are also featured in some very short interviews that cover their basics. Although these are what Graff House lists as this issues “featured interviews” there are some other short shots with NYHC kid MILT IOK and TRIKES3 as well as another that features some work from the Art Closet Gallery in Chappaqua, NY that shows balance in this issues coverage. 24 of the 44 pages here feature full color flicks of throwies, wild styles and more from the NY area and beyond. I wish all of the photos in these pages would list the artist and their home city/town to help further the artists’ cache. Double the pages from their debut issue which didn’t come out all that long ago so it looks like the makers of Graff House are motivated to make their zine a difference maker. A quality product that was well worth the 10 bucks (minus shipping) that I dropped on this. Click HERE to find out more.
NOWHERES "THE WAY BACK HOME" DEMO
(Released January, 2021)
"The Way Back Home" is the debut demo from Nowheres... a five piece melodic hardcore band straight outta Linkoping, Sweden. This band is so new that they haven't even played a show yet although they did have one scheduled for this coming August in Stockholm with the Cro-Mags which has already been canceled. Breaking down sub-genres of hardcore music can be a slippery road as one person's idea of melodic HC can be can be seen as something completely different by the next person. With these three tracks Nowheres give us uplifting types of jams with a lot in the way of tempo changes and hooks. For an older school comparison I would say Nowheres will appeal to fans of Dag Nasty or American Standard and for a newer school comparison I will throw the names Be Well, Don't Sleep and Too Many Voices at you. "Looking For A Way Back Home" brings the most grit out of these three tracks with a fast paced track that literally slams on the breaks around the 1:15 mark. From that point the song is slowly built back up over the final 45 seconds with a great hook that will be caught in your head for the rest of your day. "Always On My Mind" (track two) is a smoother, mid-paced track that has the least in the way of tempo changes but got me hooked early on nonetheless. Some nice vocal work on this track as well. "Closing In" (track three) starts off with a slow intro before busting into another faster and uplifting type of track with even more in the way of hooks. The final thirty seconds has a great breakdown and sends you off on a real high note. I love finding bands/demos like this from far off places and often wonder if they really know how far their reach as a band is. Find this on Bandcamp and Spotify and if you want more check out an additional track; "Counting The Graves" that appears on a compilation titled "Greetings From Sweden" that features 13 current day Swedish hardcore bands.
STEEL NATION “THE BIG SLEEP” (Released March, 2021)
Steel Nation are a band who I have seen their name over the years but never gave them a listen until recently. After playing their newest release “The Big Sleep” a few times it began to take a hold of me and I realized that I have been missing out on something good. Starting in 2005; this Pennsylvania four piece currently consists of: Neil- vocals/guitar; Steve- vocals/bass; Alex- guitar and Ethan- drums. Their vision was to put out a hard style of music composed of "NYC and Cleveland hardcore". “The Big Sleep” is composed of 10 songs that capture a heavy and aggressive style along with slower melodic parts as well. Throughout the recording I found traces of a Terror/Hatebreed/Biohazard hybrid style which I enjoyed. The three tracks that stood out for me are: the title track; “The Depths” and “Be By Your Side”. This release captures components that hardcore fans especially those who like a mix of heavy and melodic sounds will enjoy. Now that I have heard this release… which is Steel Nation's third full length album I will be going back to their early catalog to see what I've been missing. Head on over to Bandcamp or Spotify to give it a listen with CD copies available through the Bandcamp link.
SKISM “2021” EP (Released February, 2021)
From New York comes Skism, a three piece band playing old school hardcore and Oi! in the vein of British punk/Oi! Formed in 1989, they released their first demo entitled “Pain And Pain”. The band broke up shortly afterwards and reformed in 2001 and went on to put out two more releases. In 2020, the band began recording “Skism 2021” and took a fast, hard-hitting approach to writing new material. The end result is nine songs of straight up hardcore/Oi! music. Although there is nothing new or ground breaking here, the EP is a blueprint for good old fashioned genuine punk and Oi! music.
Standout tracks like the remade “Pain And Pain” from the band’s original demo, as well as “U.S. Nazi’s Fuck Off And Die”, “In Control (Eyes Reprise)” and “Eyes” highlight their commitment to the street sound. Lyrically, the songs are well-written and focus on life’s everyday struggles. The vocals are gritty and raw, complimenting the aggressive musical backdrop. There are even a few catchy songs that will have you singing along with a pint in one hand and a fist in the air. Skism has delivered a solid EP full of old style sounding songs. You can hear the British influence of the old bands in the music. With so many street punk bands emerging on the scene, Skism stand out as one of the more authentic sounding bands with their genuine love for what they play. Find this on Bandcamp, Spotify & Apple.
DOWN FOR LIFE MAGAZINE ISSUE #11
(Released Spring, 2021)
Down For Life returns with its eleventh issue and features its usual whole host of hardcore and punk features, interviews and reviews which are more than enough to keep the most eager hardcore heads content during these still ongoing lockdown times. The latest issue celebrates the legacy of one of the most legendary and influential bands to come out of the NYHC scene and hardcore as a whole, the one and only Cro-Mags. The piece with Harley Flanagan tells all about how the band got together and the creation of one of the most revered and adored albums in hardcore “The Age Of Quarrel” thirty five years on. Flanagan goes deep into those days with insights into the making of the album, its influences and New York in those days. Alongside that, there is a piece on Cro-Mags guitarist Parris Mayhew’s new band, Aggro’s. Keeping things in NY there is also an extensive piece on a new documentary titled “What Awaits Us: A Beyond Story”, which covers the existence of the influential band Beyond who had members that would later branch out to do some pretty big things within the music industry while being a stellar band in their own right. There are also brilliant features on Bad Brains with Darryl Jennifer about the reissues of the bands seminal back catalogue and a history of UKHC heroes Knuckledust as the band celebrates their 25th anniversary alongside pieces on the likes of Hatebreed, Cruel Hand, Field Day, GBH and NOFX and the Ill Blood section focuses on new bands with features on Slope, Eternal Struggle and Terminal Bliss among others.Reviews of the latest Terror, Borstal, Kings Must Die, and Merauder releases are featured as well as loads more including essential DVDs, fanzines and book reviews too (including the Bane documentary “Holding These Moments”, Ian Glaspers latest tome “The Scene That Wouldn’t Die” which tells the story of UK punk over the last twenty years and Hans Verbekes’ story of Belgium’s H8000 hardcore scene from 1978-1999. This issue is rounded out with a flashback of gigs in the UK from Better Than A Thousand from 1999 and Gang Green from 1990 that makes you wish that the return of live gigs will happen even sooner. Salute to Down For Life for a another packed issue and showcasing the past, present and future of the music we love and live. Order it HERE.
SLANT “1집” (Iron Lung Records, Released February, 2021)
It’s taken me a while to write this review. This is my favorite record of the year so far but I’ve struggled with how to talk about the brilliance of this record coming out of Seoul, South Korea. Here is a band that does early 80’s hardcore so well without really expanding the genre and experimenting much. That may sound like a criticism… but there’s something to say for taking a formula that freaking rules and adhering to the principles of the equation with a mathematician’s precision and just doing it as faithfully and tastefully as humanly possible.
Slant are clearly students of the game and there’s such love and attention to the details. They make every aspect of this proven formula hum. There are no shortcuts or slacking off. The guitars are live and raging. The drums are frantic, but detailed. The vocals are savage and assaulting. The tones are dialed in. The paces change with purpose. The leads are tasteful and add dimensions. The instruments drop out at just the right time to let a lone guitar bring in the next part. There are pauses at the ideal times, and the vocals have hooks that will have you screaming right along.
The opening track “Enemy” is the stand out, though the rest of the songs aren’t far behind. There’s just something about the way this record kicks off with an intro and the guttural roar their vocalist teases you with before she comes in with actual words. She gives you a little taste of her vicious snarl just enough to let you know it’s on. And when you get to the catchy and ferocious “ENEMY!” chorus, that just cements the greatness of this song.
For comparison’s sake, I’d say it draws inspiration from both sides of the Faith/Void split, but with a more modern recording. Parts of it reminds me of Vacant State from Vancouver BC, with the Boston influence toned down just a bit. This Slant LP could easily fit in with the Dischord year one lineup. But really, it’s just great hardcore played right. It's damn near as perfect as you can play it. If you haven’t heard this yet, throw it on, crank up the volume and I dare you not to shave your head, slam the closest person to you and stage dive into the nearest bush. Streamers can find this release on Bandcamp or Spotify while those looking for a 12” vinyl copy can check in with Seattle’s Iron Lung Records.
THE WAY OF s/t (Released 2020)
Eager to get back into writing music reviews, I finally got the chance to fulfill a request to review a recent release from this New Jersey hardcore supergroup of sorts. Being an old school Jersey boy myself, I decided to give it a go. I must say, I was quite impressed with this band. The fact that this band has a crew of four vocalists, may explain the giant “wall of sound” that I was about to get hit with. Right from the first track, “Lone Wolves United”, I was into the flow of this record. The way this band ripped into this first song reminded me of a cross between Suicidal Tendencies meets Skarhead with their sludgy, old school sound. The next track, “Fighting Spirit”, made me want to dance it up in a vicious circle pit and made me miss going to shows again. Another great display of old school hardcore riffs and gang vocals. It seems with this album, each song is a great lead in to the next as is the case with the next track, “Chasing The Dragon”, which has a great message about being free and staying true! Next up is “The Journey Has Begun”, which has a great stomp part and some good “Oi” feels for your hardcore diet. “Paper Tiger” starts out with a nice thunderous bass line before the rest of the band and vocals kick in. Gang vocals, and heavy riffs all day with this band and the elements of their style blend well together. We all know a few of these phonies who talk shit online and do not get their asses kicked. But don’t worry, everyone gets their day, believe it! The next song, “War”, is one of my favorite songs on the record. It’s just a great hardcore song about tearing up the pit… sort of a modern day “Fourwinds” for me. (“Fourwinds” was a song from NJ Bloodline years ago about four New Jersey savages tearing up the pit!) Then comes “Brass Butterfly”. This song has a ton of hardcore feel utilizing this band’s usual signature of abrasive singing and gang vocal choruses and is one heavy hitter, no doubt. “Drunken Taoist” is a short little ditty about living your best life. At 30 seconds long, it adds a quick element of fun into the mix. They close out this record with the track, “One-Eyed Wishes”. This is a very solid track and a great way to end the record on a high note. As a recently divorced parent, I was able to identify with this song on so many levels after experiencing the loss of my family as I knew it and the daily struggle to survive amidst child support hell. “Still waiting for my time, still waiting for my day, but one-eyed wishes are all that remain”. Nevertheless, the overall tone of the record gives us hope that we can overcome our own struggles and live a balanced life that the great Bruce Lee would approve of. This record is a must check out if you like Skarhead style, old-school dance music so give it a listen on Bandcamp or Spotify.
BORSTAL "AT HER MAJESTY'S PLEASURE"
(4 Family Records, Released April, 2021)
Borstal are a UK band who take no prisoners with their hard hitting and highly energized hardcore. Their debut release "At Her Majesty’s Pleasure" is both a highly anticipated and brilliantly executed lesson in hardcore punk. The band members are no newcomers to the game though and have a long history in hardcore and extreme music. Borstal's members are Pierre “Pelbu” Mendivil from UKHC royalty Knuckledust on vocals, bassist Wez4 and guitarist Lee Kitchener from Dripback and Jamie Hunter from King Of Pigs on guitar with Nick Barker on drums.
Knuckledust, Dripback and King Of Pigs are three of the UK's finest bands so to have them combine forces here is amazing and when you add in in the formidable drumming talents of Nick Barker (who has played with everyone from Brujeria and Lock Up to Testament and Nuclear Assault) it means serious business. With a lineup like this coming together to create high energy and no nonsense hardcore, it does come with a degree of high expectation but Borstal smash it out of the park with this one.
A siren followed by snippets of dialogue regarding violent crime on opening track "Refuse To Lose" indicates the start of the EP and this gives way to Barker’s punishing drumbeat and a killer groove before the track explodes with vital hardcore accompanied by some great shoutalong parts. The energy that this track gives off is intense. This blistering start makes way for the berserk "Karma", a track that pulls off the feat of being both catchy and hard as nails. "We Stand As One" mixes a classic NYHC vibe with a UK Oi one to create an instantly memorable track that is ready made for the pit while "Vicious Circles" is a straight up UKHC anthem, relentless from start to finish, and contains a cracking breakdown section. When shows start happening again, it's going to go off for this one in particular!
"Worm Food" follows and mixes a slower pace with that energetic hardcore to bruising effect and the EP concludes with a cover of "King Of The Jungle" by UK Oi legends Last Resort that starts with the statement “No mess, no fuss, just pure impact. Fucking Borstal”... words that sum up the band and "At Her Majesty’s Pleasure" perfectly. Guesting on the song is Last Resorts Arthur Kitchener (who is the father of Borstal guitarist Lee) and it’s a faithful, anthemic and powerful version that salutes where the band’s music comes from and a great way to finish things off by connecting the past and the future of this music.
All of the band members are in top form throughout with Pierre Mendivil's vocals sounding as powerful as ever as he roars the lyrics with authority over those killer grooves and riffs courtesy of Wez4, Lee Kitchener and Jamie Hunter. It has to be said that it is a real treat to hear Nick Barker’s drumming on hardcore tracks as he is primarily known as a metal drummer and his hard hitting contribution is flawless throughout, pummeling his way through the tracks on this EP. "At Her Majesty’s Pleasure" mixes up the best of UK hardcore, punk and Oi with a New York Hardcore influence thrown in for good measure and it’s clear from start to finish that Borstal don’t mess around. This EP sounds like the soundtrack to a prison riot and the songs here hit as hard as a pool ball in a sock to the head and are just as vicious.
With "At Her Majesty’s Pleasure", Borstal have introduced themselves to the world in the best way possible, by playing straight to the point hardcore from the heart and in these tough times, this collection of songs will remind you not to give up. As things start to change for the better the anticipation of seeing Borstal play these songs live builds as well as the prospect of a full length album which was touched upon in an In Effect HC interview done with Borstal frontman Pierre Mendivil last November. Until then we have the power of "At Her Majesty’s Pleasure" to keep us going. Click the Borstal link tree to dig in deeper.
SILENCE EQUALS DEATH & POINT BLANK LIVE ON THE WORLDWIDE WEB, MARCH 27, 2021
Towards the end of the 1990 mob film "Good Fellas" Henry Hill (played by actor Ray Liotta) talks about his newly found average life after being put into the federal witness relocation program. "Right after I got here I ordered some spaghetti with marinara sauce and got egg noodles with ketchup. I'm an average nobody. I get to live the rest of my life like a schnook". Although I lead far from a gangster lifestyle I find parallels with Mr. Hill's situation of once having everything at his fingertips and then being relegated to schnook status. Living in NY there always seemed to be a hardcore show to attend and on many occasions you had to choose one over another. With NJ's SILENCE EQUALS DEATH and NY's POINT BLANK playing FREE live streaming sets simultaneously last Saturday night it helped take the edge off that "schnook status" many of us may be feeling caused by the lack of the mosh.
With both bands scheduled to go on at 9pm I made the decision to double box it and bounce back and forth between each bands Facebook page. Silence Equals Death were the first of the two bands that popped up on my screen at about 908pm. Their set was billed as a "deep cuts" session where they played songs they usually don't play live. "Weakness" off of their 2017 "End Times" release was the first title I recognized out of the bunch. SED's overall setup was well thought out as they had their logo in the top left hand corner of the screen as well as a scroll across the bottom that showed various SED bits of information and news. Outside of their singer the band was "masked up" with the number of viewers on their feed hovering around 40 for the duration of their set which ended around 945pm. "Hero" off of their 2011 "Resurrection" EP was a nice surprise and a song people should investigate if you don't already know it. SED's set had a surprisingly good sound in singer Scott Earth's home built studio and with viewers dropping in comments while they were playing the interaction aspect made things feel a little bit closer to normal.
Point Blank's pre-show promotions said they would be playing their upcoming album in it's entirety as well as having ex Kraut and Cro-Mags guitarist Doug Holland joining them as a special guest. I first caught Point Blank around 915pm where it seemed like they were already in full swing. "Respect", "Trapped In My Head", and "Prove Them Wrong" were some of the titles I caught them playing. Point Blank were in a much bigger room than SED, went maskless and hovered around the 50 viewers mark on their Facebook feed for those filling out scorecards. Technical difficulties surfaced around 945pm when their Facebook feed crapped out so I switched over to their Instagram feed which had a different camera angle and oddly enough a slightly better sound. Much like with SED the live comments added a touch of that live show feel and wait a damn second... is that Mike Judge who just joined the Instagram feed? After a short break things got rolling again with Doug Holland joining in on second guitar playing the intro to the Cro-Mags classic "We Gotta Know" before transitioning into Kraut's "Unemployed". The second guitar gave Point Blank a noticeably fuller sound, something they may want to consider in the future because it flat out made a difference. From there the now 5 piece broke out into this instrumental jam before another Kraut cover with "Kill For Cash". Mr. Holland exited for the final song which was "Point Blank" off of their debut 7" that came out in 2015. I credit both of these bands for playing these sets for free as the planning, setup, production and promotion for all of this takes valuable time and sounds like a bit of a headache with the possibility of losing your feed very real as Point Blank can attest to. With both SED and Point Blank announcing they have upcoming live, in person shows on the horizon hopefully we can put all this live stream show stuff in the rear view mirror and get back to business.
IMPACT STATEMENT "S/T OFFICIAL BOOTLEG"
(Inner City Uprising, Released December, 2020)
From Sydney, Australia comes the ripper that is Impact Statement's s/t full length (or "Official Bootleg"), featuring some of the best elements of both hardcore and punk. There is a bit of Awkward Thought in the swift and precise lyrical delivery, but the mid-paced tracks are more reminiscent of Bonecrusher, who are also noted as an influence by the band. Without officially counting, the 13 songs seem roughly evenly divided between these two styles. We get off to an energetic start with “Country Slips Down Under,” but the true earworms are the slower songs like “Generation X.” There are a variety of vocal stylings present here, all of which sound natural depending on the song in which they are deployed.
In their own words, Impact Statement is “influenced by the bleak world around us, the rising cost of living and the stupidity that’s closing in on society”. These themes are represented throughout this official bootleg, sometimes juxtaposing social awareness with traditionally crude punk rock phrasing. The wild cover art ties in with the legal aspect of Impact Statement’s name and features a courtroom where a bunch of children/babies are convicting a pedo-priest. While this release addresses some dark and serious topics, it also mixes in some humor in tracks like "My Girlfriend Is On The Smack" and "Die When You Die.” Besides Awkward Thought and Bonecrusher, I also hear some Poison Idea and even a little Crumbsuckers in the first part of “Shut Down Mode.” Overall this release represents much of what made hardcore exciting to 18-year-old me, and which still resonates at twice that age, halfway around the world from the stomping grounds of Impact Statement. Available for your listening pleasure on Bandcamp.
ANTAGONIZERS ATL "KINGS"
(Pirates Press Records, Released February, 2021)
Antagonizers ATL are not a new band. Members of the band have played with the likes of Anti-Heroes, Condemned 84 and HR to name a few. They released their debut LP "Working Class Street Punks" five years ago and have used the break between records to polish up their sound and lyrics while adding a sixth member to the mix. What they deliver is ten tracks of authentic street punk music sure to please any self-respecting punk rocker. They are an energetic Atlanta based band that plays music for their fans with catchy and likable songs.
The band wastes no time kicking things off with “Worries”, a sing-a-long with a Dictators vibe to it. Halfway through the track, I found myself singing along with the song and wishing I wasn’t at work so I could hoist a cold one. Song after song, you can’t help but feel your mood brightening, as the music takes you back to the good old days when street punk broke out while sounding relevant in today’s scene. Standout tracks such as "No Rest For The Wicked", "Problems", "Marching On" and the previously mentioned "Worries". This album is the prototype for street punk. You have great lyrics, a talented rhythm section and a solid production, all rolled into one to deliver us a classic street punk record. If you are a fan of this genre, then you have no excuse not to buy this record and add it to your collection. Check out the videos for “Kings” and “Hold On Hold Strong” off this release or check in with their Bandcamp or Spotify pages to listen to the whole album. If after all that you want even more check in with Pirates Press to grab a vinyl version, t-shirt, or more.
KINGS NEVER DIE “IT’S WHAT WE LIVE FOR”
(Upstate Records, Released March, 2021)
I've mentioned my10 year old in some reviews before and although he has not yet crossed into the hardcore/punk world he loves most types of music (his middle name is Rhoads) and we have great talks about music. He told me yesterday that he thinks the worst years for music are the 2000's, which I can’t really disagree with except for some hardcore and punk bands that continue to put out great music as well as some of the newer bands like Kings Never Die. Although forming in 2018 this NY/NJ band consisting of Dylan Gadino- vocals, Larry Nieroda- guitar, Dan Natasi- guitar, Jay Kalfin- bass and Steve Gallo- drums are scene veterans coming from such bands as Subzero, Robots & Monsters Murphy's Law, Dog Eat Dog and Agnostic Front just to name a few. The band have added John Milnes to share drum duties on their newest release titled: “It's What We Live For”.
This 5 song EP combines elements from all the aforementioned bands plus an originality that makes this release in my opinion one that will be in the conversation of one of the best releases of the year. Spoiler alert… KND are also working on a full length so stay tuned! There are three new tracks and two from their previous debut EP. Track titles are: 1: “Pure Gold”, which personifies this EP perfectly and is a dedication to Nastasi's father who recently passed away from Covid… RIP Mr. Nastasi. 2: “Minor Threats”; 3: “We Got Tonight To Fight”, with special guest vocals provided by NYHC pit legend Ratbones, 4: “Never Know What You Might Find”: this is the first remixed/remastered song, 5: “Raise A Glass”, which is the second remixed/remastered track coming off the previous EP of the same name. This song is still as catchy as the first few times I heard it with its Oi themed sing-a-long and message of respect for those that have passed on. If you haven't heard helping out on the vocals are the one and only Vinnie Stigma and bass player and artist extraordinaire Mike Gallo, both from Agnostic Front. “It's What We Live For” was produced and engineered by veterans Jerry Farley (Sick Of It All/Madball) and Laz Pina (Ill Nino). The fact that KND have such great talents helping out on both sides of the booth prove that they are respected in a scene that they have helped to maintain. It's like a sports team that everyone wants to be a part of because of the great things they are doing. I can give you all the analogies in the world but the selling point is the music. My favorite track is “Pure Gold” which is accompanied by a great tribute video which you can find on YouTube. I love bands like KND because they give me "ammunition" when I talk with people who believe that hardcore is dead, one listen to this EP and you'll see why. Find this on Bandcamp, Spotify and on Upstate Records for physical releases and merch.
NO ESCAPE “SELECTIVE PUNCHES: A COLLECTION OF BALLADS & BATTLE HYMNS” (Hellminded Records, Released March, 2021)
No Escape make a long awaited return after twenty seven long years with their new release entitled “Selective Punches: A Collection Of Ballads And Battle Hymns” and it sounds like they are back with a vengeance with this new material. Despite having been away for those twenty seven years, “Selective Punches” sees the band blast back with a collection of songs that defies the years and sounds so powerful from start to finish. When No Escape ended, Deadbuy, Kiss It Goodbye and Seven Gone came in their wake and that was great as we were given amazing albums like “Fixation On A Coworker”, “She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not” and a whole host of metallic hardcore gems but it is clear that there was unfinished business with No Escape and that’s where this new material comes into play and they are taking no prisoners with this comeback, As opening tracks go, “Insomniac” is up there with the best and is one that makes an impact from the very second it explodes and from then on in, this is an incendiary listening experience with the bands mixture of powerful hardcore grooves, the heaviest metal riffs and Tim Singers’ unhinged vocals creating a pure metallic hardcore onslaught. It has to be said that every song on “Selective Punches” is a gem with songs like “Don’t Poke The Bear”, “Lies On Your Sleeve” and the closing barrage of “Souvenirs, Novelties And Party Tricks” sounding absolutely immense.
There aren’t many bands who can come back after being away for such a long period of time and not only not tarnish their legacy but outright enhance it. Burn is one that immediately comes to mind and now No Escape come along and make it actually seem easy. This is a phenomenal comeback record, one that sounds passionate, real and above all, fresh with no retreading of their earlier work in sight. Apparently this was a pretty well anticipated release as Hellminded Records have sold out all of their vinyl. Hit up RevHQ for the 12” yellow variants while they last. For online streaming/downloads visit the No Escape Bandcamp or Spotify pages.
LAWMAKER "ALL WORK, NO CLASS" EP
(Released February 2021)
Interesting release here that melds parts of San Francisco's Bum City Saints with parts of Stockholm Sweden's The Judas Bunch on this... Lawmaker's 4 song debut. Lawmaker help write their own review here (thanks guys) by calling themselves "working class rock 'n roll" (won't argue with them there) and state that this band is "based on personal experience and brewed with equal parts hope and despair, “All Work, No Class” dissects the underbelly of the fading American dream and the struggles of the working class with unapologetic wit and honesty". Opening track "Working Poor" is a clear cut standout track that encapsulates their own words from the above quote. "Working Poor" is a catchy, mid-paced tune that quickly got caught in my ear while also laying the groundwork for the same to happen with the three tracks that would follow. Comparable bands would be The Old Firm Casuals that feature Lars Frederiksen from Rancid and Long Island, NY's The Ice Cold Killers. Actually the idea of combining all three of these bands has the makings of a pretty damn good show! The four songs that make up "All Work, No Class" clock in at just about 13 minutes in length but as a sort of bonus all four of these songs are also done "unplugged" (acoustic) which totally enhances the whole Lawmaker experience. Although they are essentially the same exact songs I have noticed that bouncing back and forth between the "plugged" and "unplugged" renditions give off more of a "whole" feel. Lawmaker made a video for the unplugged version of "Working Poor" which you can check out HERE as well as another one for the unplugged version of “You Cannot Stay” which you can view HERE. While doing some research on Lawmaker's "other bands"; Bum City Saints and The Judas Bunch, I found myself going down a You Tube rabbit hole with Bum City playing a more thrashy style of hardcore punk and Judas playing this honkeytonk style of punk with banjos, accordions, solid female vocals and more. All three names are worth some clicks when you find that free time to investigate new music. The spotlight here though is on Lawmaker and their fine debut which can be found now on Spotify as well as a few other popular streaming services.
BODY BLOW “MILLER DREAMS” EP
(Released September, 2020)
From Miami, Florida, comes Body Blow with their first EP outing. The band has released two previous demos in June and December of 2019. I listened to this EP a number of times over the span of a few days as I normally do when writing a review to get a feel for the band. Usually after a couple listens I know if this is something I’m going to like and buy. Even if it isn’t something I would normally buy, there is always a track or two I like or some great riffs that stick with me. After listening to this EP, I have to say there isn’t much to like on this record. I’m not sure what passes for hardcore in Florida but I would not consider Body Blow to fall under this category. Musically, they come off sounding like a cheap version of Skarhead. There is nothing fast or hard on here that gets you charged up like a hardcore record would. The lyrics are corny and confusing and the vocals seem out of place with the music. The band seems confused on what they are trying to achieve here. You only have to listen to the songs to see that the music is all over the map. Most of the songs are slower than what you would expect from a hardcore band. “Beyblade Style”, the opening track, is the only song that resembles something that may fall under the hardcore moniker. The opening for “Under The Hut” sounds note for note like the opening of the Cro-Mags “We Gotta Know” before turning into something along the lines of a poorly done Biohazard song. There is even an instrumental number entitled “Melancholy” that sounds completely out of place on here. I never feel good doing a negative review for a band because I want all the bands to do well and have an impact on the scene. This is just not the case with Body Blow. They are not a hardcore band in my opinion aside from the cool name. I’m going to take a pass on this one. Find “Miller Dreams” on Bandcamp and You Tube.
I QUESTION NOT ME FANZINE ISSUE #5
(Released March, 2021)
Your initial reaction to I Question Not Me issue #5 might be why is there a baseball player on the cover of a hardcore fanzine? If you have a decent knowledge of baseball you might also ask yourself what the F is Hall of Fame pitcher Rollie Fingers doing on the cover of I Question Not Me issue 5!!? The guy retired in 1985... a year before the Cro-Mags put out "The Age Of Quarrel" for crying out loud! The answer to this question is simply that IQNM continues their legacy of being the thinking person's HC zine. "The Five Fingers Of Death" were the bands Eye 2 Eye, Billy Club Sandwich, Sworn Enemy, Irate, and Everybody Gets Hurt... and if you add in the "6th witches finger"... 5 Minute Major, you complete the hand. These bands were a part of the rough and tumble 90's NYHC scene and did a lot of their damage out of the infamous Castle Heights bar located in Jackson Heights, Queens. The mash up cover of Rollie "Fingers" and the "5 Fingers of Death" is genius, especially when they subtlety mix in each bands logo. Within this issue the "5 Fingers of Death" bands are brought up numerous times with lists of the dates each played WNYU's "Crucial Chaos" radio show, a themed crossword puzzle and more. IQNM #5 brings us no formal interviews or reviews but different (and borderline hilarious) subject matter is brought up throughout including "Multifarious Mosh Forms" which dives into oddball types of moshing witnessed at hardcore shows... IQNM actually hosted an online poll to get these responses/results! Multifarious mosh forms investigated include: "aquatic moshing" which would be an outdoor show in someone's backyard with actual moshing in a pool! A reported 21% of IQNM pollsters responding said that they have indeed been to this type of show. Other types of "have you ever been to a show with" questions were shows on a boat, moshing on roller skates (roller rink shows), ice rink shows, moshing on snow (outdoor shows where it snowed), and more. This was a fun read as it was 1000% original, fun and with the poll results also came some of the backstories about some of these shows.
There is an article about bands where someone besides the singer wrote the lyrics with Merauder, Outburst and Killing Time being some of the bands that fit into this category, another about "secret tracks" at the end of albums, and yet another about mysterious hardcore supergroups (anyone remember UxB from the NY's Hardest compilation that was rumored to be Agnostic Front?) This issue has only 24 pages but it's literally crammed with these and multiple other articles that take hardcore history and whip, dip and flip 'em into these unique reads that are the very essence of what IQNM currently is and what it has been for a few years now. Issue 5 is priced to move with me grabbing a copy for the low low price of just $4.56 which included shipping but oddly enough no staples. Did someone in their mailroom swipe mines? Click HERE to get yourself a copy while they last.
ZERO AGAIN "OUT OF THE CROOKED TIMBER OF HUMANITY" (Sanctus Propaganda, Released January, 2021)
Featuring members of Warwound, Regret, Bring To Ruin and Grand Collapse, Zero Again create five great songs that combine classic fast hardcore with that bass heavy, gruff/dirty sound likened to bands like Amebix. The cover art by Olga Kisielewicz instantly reminded me of the classic Icons Of Filth records of the 80’s and hinted at what might be coming. Lyrically they cover the modern day world with topics on the media, fear mongering ("Tragedy Death Pain"), death ("No One To Mourn") and anti-police ("Hope You’re Proud?"). This is some great old school UK punk with contemporary lyrics that absolutely kicks ass! One of the aspects of 80’s UK punk I loved so much was it always had a ton of bass in the mix instead of being buried in the mix. Bands like Amebix and GBH always had a solid bass sound that really drove the music as much as the guitar pioneered by bands like Motorhead. Can’t wait for a full length! Find this on Bandcamp or through Sanctus Propaganda for a physical copy.
WAR CAMPS "DEMO 2020" (Released December 2020)
War Camps is yet another pandemic born project featuring Mr. Tim Chunks of Token Entry fame and guitarist Brian Meehan who has previously played in Loyal To None, Kill Your Idols and Milhouse. Their debut effort is raw, old-school styled hardcore that reminds me of the type of music The Abused, Negative Approach and Cause For Alarm put out a few decades earlier. With two of the five songs struggling to be a minute in length and the other three barely making it over the minute mark there is not a lot to base an insightful review on so what I'm left with here is "feel" and the overall feel here is that underneath an underwhelming recording War Camps have built a solid foundation with their first batch of tracks. "One More Time", "Hate You" and "War Camps" (which all happen to be the minute plus songs) are songs with a soul and if you close your eyes you can imagine the black and white photos of them playing in front of 30 or so scruffy punk rock kids at legendary venues from a bygone era.
As a two man unit on opposite coasts Chunks and Meehan decided to enlist some additional help to lay down these tracks so enter Amery Smith who might be a familiar name to fans of Suicidal Tendencies as he was the drummer on their classic debut LP that was released way back in 1983. Although War Camps show promise on their debut the wish list for future material should include lengthier tracks and a better recording. Apparently there are new tracks in the works so this could turn into something more than just a "pass the time during a pandemic" jamboree between old pals. With Chunks and Smith in CA and Meehan on the East Coast the sheer randomness of this lineup has to be brought up as well. Could CJ Ramone, Fat Mike or Darryl Jennifer be in play for the bassist position if War Camps takes that next step to forming a full lienup? Flea? Tom Araya? I say this in jest of course... and as the saying goes... time will tell. For now though you can check in with the War Camps demo on their Bandcamp page.
COFFIN PARTY "SOLIDARITY" (Released March, 2021)
Coffin Party out of Oakland are made up by the dudes Aesop (drums) and Jeff (everything else). In April of 2020 Coffin Party released the 4 song "Devolutionized" EP while Jeff was still flying solo but now Aesop is in the mix to form this dynamic duo. Stylistically Coffin Party is about stripped down, old-school, no-frills style hardcore. I couldn't put it in any simpler terms. Straight up Kill Your Idols, Poison Idea, Negative Approach realm here ladies and gents. "Solidarity" is a short listen coming in at under 10 minutes in length... and like many of these short digital releases we get sent in to us these days there is not a lot to go on for a more detailed review. I will admit there were runs through this where I felt everything was a little too generic/vanilla/basic and others where I got amped up and was feeling the aggression despite having that "heard this before" feel. Everything is backed by a lo-fi grimey production that creates a feel like you are listening to some obscure 7" from 1980-something. Good, but not ground breaking ‘core that I am glad is still being pumped out by new bands from coast to coast and around the world. Cover artwork looks like a good time as well as possible leg tattoos for 23% of the hardcore scene. Click HERE to find Coffin Party on Bandcamp.
HASHTAG HARDCORE FANZINE ISSUE #7
(Released Winter, 2021)
Dutch zine Hashtag Hardcore is always a fav whenever it drops in the mail slot and congrats to Daan for making it to issue 7 with its animal mosh themed cover. When I think of Hashtag HC two things that immediately come to mind are its uniqueness and fun as it is not always about who Daan is interviewing but more so what he is asking them. The classic cut and paste layout style may look a bit messy at first but when you sit down and examine this issue it is closer to a work of art. Not quite a Picasso but maybe the hardcore equivalent.
The Pressure Pact interview is a prime example of the uniqueness I just mentioned as each band member was sent a short questionnaire and their hand written responses to questions like "how do you mosh", "best Sheer Terror record", “when did you start tucking in your shirt” and "draw something" walk this fine line between a straight up interview and comedy routine. Hashtag's reviews section is as savage as ever with cut throat reviews that do not settle for hardcore mediocrity. If your band is really good Hashtag will reign down praise on you but if Hashtag thinks you're faking the funk... beware! Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, Higher Power, Change and Mindforce are a couple of brand names that take some knocks in this way too short reviews section that has 18 reviews in total. In the zine reviews section they even bash Hashtag Hardcore issue 6 which is kind of funny. It takes some guts to write some of the reviews that this zine has published over the years and this issue keeps up that not giving a shit attitude. Hashtag has taken some long vacations in the past but in the intro to issue 7 it seems like they may finally be packing it in for good as Daan explains that he finds himself listening to the classics more and more and has been less turned on by current day hardcore releases. I got into the interview with Ozone from Boston's C4 while the others with Chicago's Sector and Blind To Faith didn’t hit the mark. Make sure to check out Pressure Pact and their "Scared Off The Streets" release from last year as well if you haven’t already. If this is indeed the final Hashtag Hardcore issue we here at In Effect would like to thank our Dutch friends for their service. If not… get back to work! Ordering info is right below the issue 7 cover to your left.
"GODLIS STREETS" (Reel Art Press, Released 2020)
"Godlis Streets" is like the alter ego of David Godlis' previous book “History Is Made At Night” (2016). Unlike "History Is Made At Night”, Godlis spent his days walking the streets of New York City during the 70’s and 80’s capturing simply amazing photographs. Looking at these photos, one only wonders “how long did he wait for that person to walk into the frame and create this masterpiece!” Long before digital photography and photoshop, Godlis honed his skills of being able to somehow find the right person to be in the right place at the right time. Like my old university professor taught me to ask, "is it chance or choice?" Some might say chance because you can’t choose a person fitting the perfect look to magically appear in your viewfinder with the perfect background. However, any good street photographer spends so much time on the streets day in and day out documenting locations and perhaps the regulars who appear there every day. 1970’s NYC gave us great films like "Taxi Driver", amazing bands like the Ramones and backdrops like the Lower East Side and is the era that many New Yorkers (most that I know) consider the worst, yet the best time to have lived there.
Punk gave us portraits of people who became famous for what they were doing at the time. "Streets" gives us people who will be famous for where they were when they became part of Godlis’ body of amazing work. This book is a starting point for anyone who aspires to become a proper street photographer, a goal definitely easier said than done. I’ve tried my hand at street photography and I can say that it takes a special type of person to be able to approach and photograph absolute strangers on the street during their travels and come out with such amazing results. Click HERE for more info.
TERROR “TRAPPED IN A WORLD"
(WAR Records Released March, 2021)
Hey it's been a minute my hard of core familia. Old man Core Junkie missed you dickweeds. I was deep undercover doing some filthy In Effect business for the boss. It got right fucking ugly it did,..... but I'm baaaack. As a reward for my deviant work, the In Effect brass have bequeathed unto me one motherfucking gem of an easy peasy review for your reading pleasure. We are talking; Terror – “Trapped In A World”. NOW HOLD UP! You smarmy douche. Don't think you know...because you don't fucking know jack shit. So, sit your dumb ass back down on the toilet, balance your tablet or phone back on your chubby thighs, and read on ‘ya cunts. This is a special Terror release and this review can just about write itself so instead of yammering on tune by tune as I usually do, I will explain just what it is the Terror boys have dropped here. First things first. You guys know this Todd Jones cat? He of Nails? Stand Your Ground? Carry On? etc. etc. This guy is like our own musical genius, for the hardcore set. Music basically shoots outta this dude like a mutant power, and good music to boot. Well, Todd was one of the founding fathers of Terror way back in 2002 and he was part of their early stuff. Recently Todd reunited with his old pals, they started fuckin around a bit, and shit started to happen. Music started to happen. The writing of a new record started to happen. Now Mr. Jones is all in and has also been pegged to produce Terror’s next record, which no doubt means that it will indeed be insane. In the meantime, Todd and the Terror boys thought that during these quarantine Covid times it would be fit to revisit and gift to us some of their earlier works namely 2003’s “Lowest Of The Low” (Bridge 9) and 2004’s “One With The Underdogs” (Trustkill).
I love Terror. I have since they formed. I mean no disrespect when I say that they picked the twelve songs you wanted them to pick to revisit. Twelve songs in twenty four minutes if that gives you any clues as to what you should expect. OKAY, OKAY, you simps, I'll wet your appetite. How does, "Lowest Of The Low", "Outta My Face", "Overcome", and "One With The Underdogs" sound to you pricks? Does that tickle your taints? Well that's just a few of the nuggets you get on this release. Oh, by the way, the fellas recorded this "at once" which for all of us dodo heads means that the band played it together which gives it that killer hardcore feel we all love. That old school, cassette demo, we are poor so let's blast through this style. This is the raw shit right here, the blood and guts. The boys may have definitely matured.... but fuck they ain’t slowed down a step and time has just made them that much better at what they do. Don't think you already got this, because you don't, and don't you lazy shit stains sleep on this, because you will love it. Now I'm gonna pop back on my Bose headphones and crank this shit up, it's been on a loop since I got it. It will be for you pathetic incels too once you get the fuck off my lawn and go do that magic intraweb thing that you guys do and get this release. (Bose in no way endorses, acknowledges, or even wants Core Junkie to use their headphones). Find “Trapped In A World” on Bandcamp, Spotify, and through WAR Records for physical copies.
FALL SILENT "YOU KNEW I WAS POISON"
(Revelation Records, Released March, 2021)
Fall Silent come at us from Reno, NV and their latest is an 8 song full length titled "You Knew I Was Poison" on Revelation Records. Although Rev is well known for the many classic NYHC records they released starting in the late 80's they can't be accused of being stagnant as their roster and sounds have evolved over the decades. The current day Rev lineup flexes some metal crunch and muscle with heavy hitters like Primal Rite (2018), Drain (2020) and even to a degree the Torso 7" from earlier this year. Although Fall Silent are not new to Rev they keep that wildcard factor in play where you just can't automatically assume that a Rev release is going to sound like Gorilla Biscuits or Bold... or if you want a more 2020's reference, Constant Elevation or World Be Free (all bands that have had Revelation Records releases).
"As The Twig Is Bent" starts us off and sees the band continuing on with a unique style that they have been dealing out since 1994. The Soundcloud link that was sent to me by the band's press people says I have listened to this song 15 times now and even after 15 listens I am still kind of perplexed as Fall Silent are simply hard to slap a label on. As "Twig" gets going I hear dive bombs, double bass drums and just this huge wall of fury before Levi Watson's "clean" vocal style kicks in and throws me for a loop. For what it's worth Watson's style reminds me of Kurt Brecht of D.R.I. fame and I welcome that approach over "death metal cookie monster" style vocals which more times than not make me want to jab sharp objects in my ear.
After an impressive opener "The Clearing" enters and quickly became my favorite track with its ridiculously catchy "meet me in the clearing at the end of the path" chorus and unique lyrics that paint a picture of medieval warfare in blood soaked killing fields. "You Knew I Was Poison" will appeal to fans of 80's style thrash metal (raise your hand if you have ever yelled out “FUCKING SLAYER!” in a public setting) as well as lighting fast hardcore played with great precision. The almost perfect melding of the two is one of Fall Silent's biggest selling points and when you add in other positives like thought provoking lyrics, excellent musicianship and this album’s production it becomes clear that Fall Silent are hitting on all cylinders with their latest. Out of the eight tracks I am really feeling the two previously mentioned tracks as well as “Two Plus Two Is Five”, "The South Virginia Street Death March" and the title track. My general taste in hardcore music leans towards the traditional old-school style and when a release like this comes along it’s a fresh feeling to sort of break out of the mold and get sucked in by something as unique as Fall Silent’s “You Knew I Was Poison”. Find this online at Bandcamp & Spotify with physical copies available through Revelation Records.
COUNTIME “THE PANDEMIC EP”
(Hoodcore Records, Released February, 2021)
I'm a big fan of the game show Family Feud which I would bet most of you are familiar with. If you have ever watched the show, the host Steve Harvey usually begins by saying "folks, today we got a good one" and that is a perfect way to describe the release I have on deck, which happens to be the newest one from Los Angeles hardcore veterans Countime. Their new release titled “The Pandemic EP” is a musical powerhouse as hard as the Los Angeles streets where Countime come from. Members JR5150- vocals, Mikey- guitar, Liam- guitar, Rudy- bass and Chino- drums remain as tight as ever, maintaining their raw, heavy West Coast meets East Coast sound… just think of a Skarhead and Suicidal Tendencies fusion. The title of this EP may be misleading as there are only two references to the Coronavirus, one being mentioned in the lyrics and the girl on the cover is wearing a mask. I think the title may be more reflective of when it was recorded but what is important is how this release brings forth a perfect blend of music and lyrics to accompany the emotions many of us have been feeling over the last year or so. Here is a rundown of the track titles and a brief synopsis behind the lyrics.
Track 1: “All For One” is a song about unity, "In this crew we won't let you fall”.
Track 2: “Fig & 65th” is a summary of everything that can go wrong in a neighborhood. “The streets are watching, she has no remorse".
Track 3: “Heartless” is right to the point, "Of all the things I hate, I think I hate you the most".
Track 4: “Hoodcore” is a biography of the band's younger days growing up in the streets and in the scene. "Hoodcore a way of life, ghetto raised music and style".
Track 5: “Zero To 10” is a song many of us can definitely relate to dealing with anger issues. "Gotta find that balance from zero to 10".
I enjoyed every track and there is not one I skipped even after listening to them a dozen times but my favorite is “Zero To 10”. I chose this one as my favorite because personally it hits home as does “Heartless” to a lesser extent. The other 3 tracks, as much as I love them, are just fascinating stories of a life that I never lived as I was never in a crew as much as I wanted to be and honestly I grew up differently. But thanks to bands like Countime and forefathers like Agnostic Front and Cro-Mags many of us have learned what life is like on the "other side of the tracks". “The Pandemic EP” just further proves that Countime continue to just do it their way despite what the world may throw at them. Nearly 18 years after getting their start Countime show no signs of slowing down with a 17 song full length titled “No Apologies, No Regrets” (produced by Billy Bio) set to be released later this year. For a hardcore band to be together and putting out great music for that long is something worthy of respect. Find this online at Countime’s Bandcamp page with CD digipacks available from Hoodcore Records in the USA and Coretex Records in Germany.
PROJECT SELL OUT “SOUL DOUBT” CD/LP
(Irish Voodoo Records, Released January, 2021)
Project Sellout’s “Soul Doubt” reminds me for some odd reason of many departure records of 80’s bands. I say this because I picture them as once being a more old school skate/ str8 edge band that has added elements to their sound to reach a wider audience. Examples? How about the melodic backing vocals on “Where I Stand”, or the gooey love song “Quarantine Forever” or even the scratching in “Devils Tunnel”? I’ll admit these bits raised my eyebrows a little but damn, I can’t hate on a band for doing their thing and not playing it safe like bands do on departure records. They somehow mix influences like Verbal Assault, Strife, and Social D to create a nice mix of melodic 80’s style Cali-Core with enough variety to keep me interested. It helps that the vocals are total old school California style that remind me of all of those old Wishingwell bands from back in the day. I’m sure they draw a great mix of hardcore, sk8, youth crew and emo kids to their gigs because there is something in these songs for all of them. Find “Soul Doubt” on Bandcamp & Spotify with CD and vinyl versions available through Irish Voodoo Records.
R.A.T.S. “ANOTHER DAY IN HELVETE” EP
(Released February, 2021)
R.A.T.S. is a new band out of Soderhamn, Sweden and this is their first DIY release. The band anxiously awaits the chance to play live and promote their brand of hardcore. Aside from that, I could not find out much else about this band.
Although a decent first effort, the music has a generic sound with not much new to offer. I can think of at least three bands off the top of my head that they sound similar too. The music is all over the place as well. The first track, “Shit’s Fucked” starts off like a metal song before switching gears and steering towards a more hardcore based sound with solid lyrics. “B-B-B-Bullshit” follows up with something reminiscent of an old-school sound but also similar to a few other songs by established bands. “Fast, Fun And Full Of Heart” is a darker sounding song that mixes a number of different musical styles into one unusual track. “Deep In The Ditch” has a more metalcore feel to it and is the only track I found to be in the vein of hardcore. After this track is where the EP takes a turn and veers off in a whole different direction. The last three tracks have a sludgy industrial metal sound with traces of hardcore and metal mixed into the songs. They seem to lose track of their direction on the last few tracks.
I would be hard pressed to lump R.A.T.S. in the category of hardcore. The music is a combination of many genres, the least being hardcore. There is no one song on here that stands out or grabs your attention. I found the music confusing and the band seems unsure of what musical style they are going for. Although a decent effort on their first outing, I think R.A.T.S. need more time to work on their style and sound before they can become a contender in the hardcore scene. Find “Another Day In Helvete” on Bandcamp & Spotify.
HIGH COST “WHAT’S LIVING WORTH”
(Released January, 2021)
Now a part of the lexicon for commercialized buzz words - the slang term “hardcore” once upon a time was used only to characterize one of two things: Triple X films nasty enough to shake a plastic Jesus at and the other was what dispossessed street kids of the fading 70’s punk rock scene would re-christen themselves as they traded leather jackets and safety pins for shaved heads and Doc Martin boots.
NYHC - The graffiti shorthand and probably the most recognizable abbreviation of the street genre and its geographical location - would re-energize what some were already calling a dead genre…an outdated scene. As the music migrated from the illegal hauntings of the A7 Club to a Sunday slot at CBGB’s and a more arena setting at the Ritz Rock Hotel it would continue progressing into the 90’s period that early on saw some of the most experimental bands associated with hardcore punk. While the millennial era of hardcore and all its sub-genres makes its mark on culture it does so in the wake of unprecedented protest and revolt from all corners of the American psyche.
High Cost’s new six song EP throws itself like a molotov cocktail into the present fray of a still uncertain time. The title “What’s Living Worth?” resonates powerfully with a cruel poetry everyone can relate to on some level as the EP screeches and wails through six thrashers out to destroy. High Cost tap into the inherent violence, noise and reckless freedom in New York City that looms like a change in the weather…guitar feedback and exposed ripped electrical wires for a larynx stitches together a good portion of this EP with a spastic danger that doesn’t cease and sounds like a battle for noise in a civil war between the band and their art…
Instruments hit a full on machine gun staccato punch while vocalist Kiki pierces her screams in a stabbing motion for opener – “Left For Dead”…an appropriate title. The attack intro sets the song up for a nasty raucous bass line from the speed freak paranoid depths of Motörhead keeping it raw with a nod to the intermediate moment when rock began to metamorphosize into a heavier more metallic beast…utilizing a gallop fast beat as a frenetic break part “Waste Away” forgoes the generic and turns the table on a common hardcore structure into a fight song that runs like a psychotic blender without a top ready to take an eye out. High Cost are relentless in their pursuit for loudness and the different paths to it…a street punk riff chops away with a 1983 flavor for “Hate Machine” simple, cool and vicious while a mixture of brutal thrash metal and hardcore breaks is executed perfectly in a song sacrifice for “Blind Eye” as it stomps with a New York metal-groove. Efficiently using heavy source material High Cost economize their metal influences channeling them appropriately…the murder-core sounds of latter 90’s outfit DeadGuy come down in a bloody onslaught on “Isolation” as it descends into a chaotic free for all by 0:52 - the manic single note guitar frenzy and blast beats amid the song changes mirror a Samurai fight…the group beat the hell out of “Eternal Rest” in a final burst of seething power chords, nervy guitar noise and raw unhinged vocals. Killer double bass drum and strategically placed melodic string bends introduce this concrete slab of vitriol before the song violently jerks into a rhythm change that beneath the layers of noise is a grinding halt blues pattern leaving the guitar riff striking immediately and remaining open like a nasty wound. High Cost’s berserk thrash-rock serves up a lobotomy that is performed crudely through the ears with songs that have no rules to their structures other than loud and louder…a perfect audio procedure for these times. Find “What’s Living Worth?” online at Bandcamp & Spotify.
NOT LIKE YOU FANZINE ISSUE #9 (Released Winter 2021)
Each review I write covering Not Like You Zine seems to have the theme of "yet another issue" or "this guy is relentless" as they really seem to crank out new content at a really fast pace. This is already issue #9 and does not count the photo issues (4 in total) NLY has put out since 2013 or the Jeff Grosso tribute issue… OR the 30 some-odd vinyl releases NLY has put out under their label of the same name. Damn son!
NLY has always mixed in skaters and skate themed articles into their hardcore punk format but issue 9 goes all in on the skate rat theme with a bunch of "20 Questions With... " style interviews with: Pete Betti (NYC), Annie Guglia (Montreal), Sam Hart (Upstate NY), Dane Burman (Vista, CA), Maddie Collins (Portland OR), Corbin Harris (Chicago/Los Angeles), Amelia Brodka (Vista, CA), Mickey O'Keefe (Los Angeles) and Bryant Chapo (ABQ, NM). All 9 of these interviews are quick blasts that give a nice intro to each skater. More skate stuff within issue 9 includes reviews of 14 skate fanzines, and a few more "skate-centric" themed pieces including one called “Collectors Corner”.
On the punk side of things there is an interview with photographer Kevin Salk that runs pretty deep (a 12 page spread) that includes some of Kevin's photos of the Misfits, Black Flag and Minor Threat from way way back in the day. A very cool interview with Nancy Barile who recently dropped the "I'm Not Holding Your Coat" book and another with Brooklyn skate thrash punk lunatics Slashers were somewhat lengthy and served up both good questions and answers. Adding variety within these 80 pages is the amazing artwork within the "Bobby Draws Skulls" short comic as well as a compact yet knowledgeable scene report. NLY issue 9 is a half-sized solid read with glossy color photos making this both a “good looking zine” but also a “good readin’ zine”. Nine bucks scores you one within the US of A and includes shipping. Click HERE to snatch one up.
HEROES 2 NONE “MORE FAT VILLIANS 2 YOU ALL”
(Released October, 2020)
Heroes 2 None are a long-standing street punk/Oi! band who hail from Aarus, Denmark. The band has been playing the music they love since 2016 and collectively have been in bands for the past 35 plus years. This compilation is a collection of both their vinyl releases as well as tracks from various compilations. I had the pleasure of reviewing their “Fifty, Fat & Out” EP recently and was more than happy to do the review for this one.
We begin with the band’s first vinyl outing entitled “Villains 2 All’. It was released in October 2018 and produced by Tue Madsen, known for his work with Madball and Sick Of It All. The track “Heroes 2 None” kicks things off with a punchy punk song about staying true to the music they love no matter what obstacles they are faced with. The song is catchy and gives the listener an idea of what this band is about. “Home Is Where The Heart Is” is a simple and relatable song that you will surely be singing along to. “Do What You Wanna Do” is another great track about being yourself and not caring what others think. “Being There” hits home for me as it deals with brotherhood and the true meaning of friendship, something we can all relate to. “Hate Monger” touches on negative, opinionated people and how we have no use for them. “Expectations” finishes off the EP with a genuine punk anthem, giving a big middle finger to conformity.
The second half of this compilation is from their “50, Fat & Out” EP. As I said earlier, I reviewed this three song EP on its own not too long ago. From the title track “50, Fat & Out” a catchy stab at being an aging punk rocker to “A.D. 1880”, a tribute to their favorite football team and a true drinking song to the cover of the Sex Pistols, “Lonely Boy” a much better version than the original, this EP continues their dedication to the music they love and live by.
The last two tracks are taken from various compilations the band has appeared on. “The Flame Still Burns” is one of my personal favorites as it sums up myself when it comes to how this music has been a part of me since I was a young kid. “I Hate You” caps off this compilation with a raging, in your face punk track that will get you pumped up and ready to face the day.
If you like real street punk and Oi! in the vein of Cock Sparrer and Cockney Rejects than look no further than Heroes 2 None. These guys have never strayed from their roots and continue to keep true punk/Oi! music alive. They may be in their fifties but they sound as fresh as when the scene began back in the mid to late 70’s. Support true punks and give this a listen. Available on Spotify & Bandcamp (which also has a webstore where you can pick up a CD copy)
URBAN SPRAWL “CONCRETE ALTAR” EP
(Revelation Records, Released January, 2021)
As a fan of hardcore music for over 20 years, I still get excited about finding new bands and discovering new heavy music. So, I was excited to review the new EP from San Francisco, California’s Urban Sprawl. Fed up with the economic inequalities of their home city, they turned their frustrations out on their instruments and concocted the new “Concrete Altar” EP. Mixing old school and new, this band takes a fast, heavy sludge approach to the situation. Starting with the opening track, “Human Frailty”, the band wastes no time throwing their weight around. Fast, gritty and dirty is what you can expect from this track as well as a nice breakdown. Singer Taylor Todd has a mean distinctive growl that a lot of hardcore and metal kids will dig and knows how to use it. “Concrete Altar”, the title track is up next and is a straight up frenzy right from the go. Guitarists Kwame Korker and Ian Burris trade off fast riffs and sick breakdowns all day on this track and know how to keep the flow going with their guitar playing. A very cool beat by Kurt Walcher kicks off the third track, “Rabid Mind”. More heavy riffs, mean vocals and hard beats from this track, can be expected, and well enjoyed. The next track, “Slaughtered”, is another gem. A decent bass rattle from Jasmine Watson kicks this one off. This track has circle pit written all over it. The guitar overlays, bass, vocals, and drums really come together on this track which could be my favorite on the EP but then the next track, “Commodify”, comes on and causes me to rethink my decision. Sticking to the same “circle pit” formula, this song really wraps up this EP nicely. They did a nice job on this EP. I expect good things from this band, and I hope to catch them live one day. Check this out at Bandcamp or Spotify with 7” vinyl available through Revelation Records.
TORSO “HOME WRECKED” EP
(Revelation Records, Released January, 2021)
Torso formed in 2013 with Punch guitarist Ktru and Holy drummer Giacoma. Bassist Jasmine, formerly of Neo Cons and Everybody Row and vocalist Mae of Ritual Control complete the line-up. The band’s lyrics center on veganism, feminism and politics. They have toured Australia and Europe four times as well as toured both the East and West coasts of the United States. Torso has worked with Sorry State Records, Agipunk Records and Adagio830 Records. “Home Wrecked” is Torso’s debut with the iconic Revelation Records.
This three song EP kicks off with the title track “Home Wrecked”. Opening with a catchy groove, it quickly switches gears, blasting full speed ahead with intensity and conviction. Mae’s vocals are charged and pissed off as she belts out the lyrics, backed by a remarkable band. The riffs are simple but high energy making this a true punk classic. “Weightless” follows up with another frenzied punk anthem along the lines of 45 Grave. Mae wastes no time spewing out her rage and resentment towards a world that has done her wrong. The band members are tight, intense and add a refreshing change to the generic punk churned out these days. The band finishes on a high note with “You’re X’d” a Faith cover song. It’s a short and speedy song, played with a quickness and intensity that would make any punk rocker proud.
Clocking in at a little over five minutes long, Torso delivers an EP worthy of being in everyone’s record collection. If you like your punk high energy, fast and pissed off then you need to order this record. My only complaint is that it is too short. Torso need to get in the studio and record a full length record so we can appreciate and enjoy their brand of real punk rock. You can stream this on Bandcamp or Spotify with 7” vinyl copies available through Revelation Records.
RYKERS/THE EULOGY "CASSELFORNIA UBER ALLES" split 7" (Unity Worldwide Records, Release Date February 5, 2021)
Hardcore amigos Rykers and The Eulogy team up from nearly 7000 miles apart for this pretty cool split 7" that is being put out by Germany's Unity Worldwide Records on February 5th. Euro-scene vets Rykers come at us from Kassel, Germany and The Eulogy hail from So-Cal with the working title of this split being a variant of the old DK's song "California Uber Alles".
Rykers contributes two tracks in "Down The Drain" and "Idiocrazy"; both mid-paced head nodders that each clock in at about two and a half minutes in length. Rykers' tracks have a choppy 90's NYHC type of vibe about them and are good examples of what their current day lineup brings to the table while The Eulogy drop one original in "The Trilogy" and a cover of Agent Orange's "Bloodstains" which originally came out in 1980. "The Trilogy" is another straight up banger from The Eulogy who have not put out a ton of material in their 15 plus year history but when they do drop new songs they hit hard. With ex-Madball guitarist Matty Henderson on guitar and Kevin Norton (bass) from the old Boston band Eye For An Eye within their ranks quality tracks are almost expected and as in the past they deliver on their lone original that just comes at us with what seems like layer after layer of hard edged and catchy hardcore. With the "Bloodstains" cover things get "eulogized" as the band brings a nice crunchy and modern day feel to the plate that probably will set some senior punks' panties into a bunch if they ever come across this hard as nails rendition. A nice job here by both bands. US fans can grab this through Revelation and people in Europe can check in with Berlin’s Coretex.
CRUEL HAND "DARK SIDE OF THE CAGE" EP
Static Era/Dead Serious, Released January, 2021)
Pummeling hardcore and an array of metal grooves collide to great effect and one of the best at doing it are Cruel Hand who are able to straddle both hardcore and metal with ease, never letting the energy levels drop one bit. Considering they have been doing it since their formation in 2006, Cruel Hand sound just as fresh and even more focused as they did when they started. The bands new EP, "Dark Side Of The Cage", builds on Cruel Hand's previous material but there seems to be a more polished sheen to their sound with this release, not that it dulls the heaviness one bit, in fact it actually adds to the their power and shows in even more depth that Cruel Hand have the songs and ability to match their energy. "Dark Side Of The Cage" merges powerful hardcore ala Madball and Merauder with a just as frenetic crossover sound that wouldn’t sound out of place on a release by "Thrash Zone" era DRI or something more recent by Power Trip. Ripping straight into the EP's title track with a vengeance with an intro that builds up the tension before exploding with energy, Cruel Hand grab your attention with a powerful statement of intent that comes complete with more melodic but no less powerful elements that create a varied vibe and this sets the tone perfectly.
The next two tracks "Sink (And Swim Down)" and "Get Off The Cross" keep up that explosive start and demonstrate fully the power of Cruel Hand as both are energetic but with a few interesting twists and turns which keep this varied. This EP finishes up with a cover of "Weeds" by Life Of Agony which proves to be an inspired choice and fits both with what has gone in before on this release and where Cruel Hand are heading with their music. This cover stays faithful to the original but definitely has the Cruel Hand stamp on it. The anthemic qualities of this track is a great way to finish the EP off. With production duties handled by the mighty Zeuss, you know the quality you are getting on that front elevates the sound that Cruel Hand have mastered on this EP. A full on and energized collection of songs complete with varied elements makes this an intriguing and essential listen. One stop shopping for all things "Dark Side Of The Cage" can be found by clicking HERE.
NOTHING IS OVER “UNTITLED” EP (Released December, 2020)
Hardcore is of course not about how popular you get or how much clout you achieve. People who try to change that usually don’t stick around for very long. But sometimes, you encounter a band that you feel in your gut that more people should get into. You feel like they deserve to be more popular even if the band themselves probably don’t care one way or the other. This pretty accurately summarizes how I feel about Suffolk County hardcore stalwarts Nothing Is Over. Formed by several scene veterans of such bands as Psycho Enhancer, Ten On One and NFC, these guys have many years of experience with Long Island’s hardcore scene and I think that reflects in their music. I feel like they don’t get as much buzz as they deserve just on the strength of their songs alone. Of course that’s a subjective opinion and these guys would likely tell you they do this for the love of hardcore music and not for clout, but that’s what makes their music so good! It’s a pure love letter to songs that make you wanna do cartwheels in some dive bar on the side of a highway. Full disclosure here, I took a short hiatus from In Effect Hardcore and several other things I was involved with due to some personal issues that I needed to handle (which I won’t get into here). So when I came back and found out that I was gonna review this EP, I was very excited! I really enjoyed Nothing Is Over’s previous material and I enjoyed this record so much that I had actually bought it before I knew I was supposed to review it. If that’s not a glowing review, I don’t know what is, but it’d be pretty boring if we stopped there.
While Nothing Is Over still retains their basic heavy hardcore stylings with breakdowns and metal riffs and their overall style of songwriting, it feels like they advanced their sound a little bit. The guitar work is a bit more diverse, the drums have laser like precision, the bass work actually stands out to me here more than on your garden variety hardcore record. It starts off with the track “Snake Eyes” which kicks this record off with a bang! This song is fast, it’s furious, it’s pissed off, and it all builds up to this monumental breakdown that wouldn’t be out of place on the last Sanction record. I think the kids would love this song! The song “Vicious Cycle” continues the momentum, in fact I think it’s even faster! The drums sound like gunshots going off in this enormous warzone and it all culminates in a breakdown that would turn any pit into a warzone! The dueling vocals on this track are the most throat shredding on the record without a doubt as well! And the guitars have some dissonant and more melodic chords that bring an excellent contrast to the heavy riffs pummeling their way through the song. It goes directly into the next song “Falling Again” which is much slower and more riff heavy, featuring chunky chugging guitars and more tasteful and ominous metallic riffing. It kind of reminds me of an old Morning Again song, just primed for mosh pit violence! The vocals and the lyrics convey this level of anger that I think we’ve all felt in 2020. The song also ends with something that seems to be absent in most modern hardcore, a guitar solo! It’s short and sweet but it’s a very tasty guitar solo! It feels like a nice change of pace that I don’t hear enough in the genre anymore. The closing track on this short EP is also the longest at 5 minutes. Usually the obligatory longer closing track on every punk rock, hardcore and metalcore record loses me a bit. These genres are typically designed for short bursts of outrage, catharsis and sonic violence rather than long patient compositions. There are exceptions, but this track would normally sound like a desperate attempt at sounding like some grand finale. Nothing Is Over is better than that however and they give us something different. The song starts with my man Eddie laying down this groovy bassline over some angular drum patterns. Hardcore basslines are usually just a basic progression of the root of each chord in the song so when someone holds down a tight groove that doesn’t adhere to that formula, it always catches my attention. “Lost Cause” features more melodic guitar playing and the vocals find a happy medium between a mid-range wretch and singing. It’s a little bit like Counterparts or Skycamefalling but for dudes in Warzone hoodies. This song also ends in another cliche’ that I would normally find annoying, it has a fake out fade out in the coda. Most bands would drag this out with several minutes of silence, but Nothing Is Over has this go on for about 40 seconds. Long enough to be noticeable but not too long as to get annoying. It’s very cool to see this local band pulling off tropes better than most bands with a larger degree of professionalism, and isn’t that what good hardcore is all about in the end? Pissed off working class folks doing things in their garage better than most professional artists? The lyrics on this track caught my attention and they seem to be dealing with heroism, hero worship, wanting or not wanting to be looked up to, it made me realize that I don’t hear bands talk about this that much for some reason. I know Converge and Leeway both did songs about having “No Heroes” and there’s Comeback Kid’s “False Idols Fall”, but it’s still an under explored topic compared to how prevalent of a concept it is in our society.
Nothing Is Over’s “Untitled” EP clocks in at a brisk 14 minutes, short and sweet in the hardcore tradition. This EP also sounds like it had a major production upgrade. Once again Jast Collum of Freedom Soundworks and Sonix Collaborative did the recording and production for Nothing Is Over and it sounds very raw and dirty but very tight and punchy! I also love the high cranked woodblock snare sound that reminds me of an old Helmet or Snapcase record. The production choices definitely enhance what Nothing Is Over is doing on this EP. Overall this is a very strong effort! If for some reason you haven’t listened to Nothing Is Over, I highly recommend giving this EP a shot. They sound better than ever! It’s metallic hardcore in the context where that genre thrives the most in my opinion, on a fast and furious EP that’s all killer no filler and no holds barred from a band that does things for no other reason than they felt like it. The one stop streaming link for Nothing Is Over’s latest can be found HERE.
GHETTO GOSPEL “THE PRICE YOU PAY” EP
(Released January, 2021)
Straight from Greece, my new favorite corner of the hardcore world, we have Ghetto Gospel – “The Price You Pay” EP, which contains 9 formidable songs from members of the Volos hardcore and metal scenes. On vocals is Apostolis, the man behind the “New Wave Of Hardcore Mixtape”, as reviewed for In Effect late last year. My favorite thing about this EP is its unpredictable mosh parts and hybrid of styles. The songs are short and fast but there are also unexpected mosh parts that jump out at you periodically, which adds up to the sort of release that grabs your interest.
The EP is bracketed with clips from the 2pac song “Ghetto Gospel”, first at the beginning of the intro and then at the end of final track “Losin’ The Fight,” which is also the only song here over 2 minutes long. If you just search for this in Bandcamp and hit play, it might skip the intro track, as it did during my first two listens before I had added it to my collection. I’m not trying to say the intro is not exciting, but it’s more straightforward than the rest of the record, the opposite of how some bands start things off with a hard intro but their subsequent songs suffer in quality. Anyway, I was hooked immediately by “Scum”, which is track 2. It is followed by “Run Run Run”, the beginning of which reminds me of Agnostic Front – “Power,” along with the vocals reflecting a bit of Miret at various places on this release.
The whole thing almost adds up to a combination of early Agnostic Front and a more pared down version of Strength For A Reason, or comes off as the type of band I would have seen in Baltimore in the early 2000’s. I first got the Baltimore and SFAR vibes on “Side By Side”, a solid tune featuring some movie clips in Greek. Title track “The Price You Pay” has both my favorite bass line and mosh part, and the AF references continue with super short song “Last Warning.” Ghetto Gospel wraps things up with 3 last tracks, but overall this feels shorter than 9 songs, which perhaps they recognized by denoting it as an EP. So there you have it - the latest report from In Effect's new Greek bureau - check it out on Bandcamp.
THE MAD MULLIGANS "WHO ARE THE MAD MULLIGANS" (Released December 2020)
Mad Mulligans are a new NY based remote outfit playing music in the vein of early 80's punk rock and Oi like Sham 69, The Business and Cockney Rejects (their description, not mine but I ain’t gonna argue with them). Just within the last few months we have seen a rise in these newly formed remote bands that consist of talented (and often) frustrated musicians that need to get their ideas out there, recorded and into the public's ears for audial consumption.
Featuring original members of NYC punk icons The Krays; Mad Mulligans stylistically take us back a few decades with an old school punk approach that if you told me was in fact some obscure band from 1983 I would probably would buy in on that fact 100%. "Knock One Back" kicks things off with a mid-paced rock 'n roll type of feel while the follow up "Bricks And Batteries" delivers more in the way of grit with a big punk rock sing-a-long chorus. Mad Mulligans mix things up in more than a few ways throughout these 7 tracks with all 4 main members sharing lead vocals with additional backup vocals supplied by folks from Dead Crew, Faction Zero, Model Citizen, The Threats (UK based punk band formed in 1979) and more including a piano cameo by Brian Martin who some may already know from NY ska band Mephiskapheles.
With tracks like "Life Just Ain't Working Out Today" having surf punk vibes and the closer "Boop Boop Dittum Dattum Wattum Choo" being a frenzied classic punk styled track Mad Mulligans keep it fresh and unpredictable which I would guess is what the majority of music fans ask out of their favorite bands. Currently a remote project with a live lineup and future recordings already in the works... this probably will not be the last time you hear the name Mad Mulligans. Find their debut on Bandcamp & Spotify.
CORNERED “FAILURE” EP
(Blindsided Records, Released January, 2021)
I can't believe it's been almost 5 years since I reviewed Cornered's “Hate Mantras” EP from the spring of 2016. This is a true testament on how quickly time flies and judging by their brand new release, these boys have not lost a step. Coming out of Leeuwarden, Netherlands in late 2008 /early 2009 "Holland's Hardest ", have delivered the goods once again with this 4 track EP titled “Failure” which was produced by longtime producer JB van der Wal. Successfully utilizing the downtime associated with the world wide pandemic “Failure” is the band's 10th release which masterfully blends an aggressive NYHC sound with heavy breakdowns and metallic riffs. At times I catch a glimpse of a musical hybrid between Biohazard and Fahrenheit 451 (to keep things in a NY state of mind). The track titles “Burn”, “Jungle Law”, “Realm Of Misery” and “Self-Destruct” are a dead give-away to the messages the band wishes to convey, which are tales of personal battles, consequences and the results of a destructive society. This is definitely a hard album for hard times. Stream this through Spotify or You Tube and for hard copies and merch check in with Blindsided Records.
MANU ARMATA “INVICTUS”
(Useless Pride Records, Released November, 2020)
The Netherlands has produced some excellent hardcore recently and Manu Armata with their new 12 track album "Invictus" can be added to that list. If you love your hardcore loud and in your face, combined with lots of shout a long opportunities this album is for you. Kicking things off is the minute long “Intro” track that builds up perfectly for the explosive “Remain Radical” that follows. This album has the hallmarks of bands such as Hatebreed and Terror as this juggernaut, no-nonsense approach goes for the throat and does not let go. An early favorite for me is "Rise And Fall” (track 3 if you’re scoring from home); the tune has just some great songwriting that is easy to get into. The album has a perfect blend of putting on the speed and then knowing when to step off the throttle making it very engaging.
It sounds like this band could come from New York and unless you were told differently, the listener wouldn't even know, it's got that kind of vibe to it. "Warrior Mentality" & "Still Here" offer real snarl and bite, their lead singer spitting venom and hate into every word with the rest of the guys backing this up with some fantastic musicianship, Manu Armata certainly know how to deliver. Track 12 is the final song, well, not a song more a statement, spoken word, so technically this is a 10-song album if you exclude the first and last track, all under 30 minutes. This whole effort is well worth listening to, from start to finish. Manu Armata have been around for over 13 years and have a bunch of releases under their belts in that time, check out their latest “Invictus”, you are gonna like what you find. Stream this on Bandcamp or a host of other servers by clicking HERE. For CD’s, vinyl and merch visit their label Useless Pride Records out of France.
“I’M NOT HOLDING YOUR COAT”
(By Nancy Barile, Bazillion Points Publishing, Released 2020)
One of the great exports from those who were involved in the early punk/ hardcore scene is the amount of great documentaries, books and films. When I saw this book, for some reason I thought it was a photo book (since there’s so many coming out these days) but once I got it I saw it was a memoir of Nancy Barile. It’s not very often you see a memoir of a person who isn’t a household name, so I was very curious to see who this writer was and her connection to the hardcore scene. With a foreword written by Ian MacKaye you know it has to be legit. As would be expected, most of these projects tend to focus on the bands, the scene. With “Jacket” you are getting not only a great book about a person and their involvement in the scene, but you are getting it from the perspective of a female. Over the years women who were involved in the scene tended to get passed over unless they were able to catch everyone’s eye with their looks instead of their contributions. This book is great as it not only tells some great stories of the scene back in the early days, which are always great reads, but now you get the viewpoint of how it was like being a female in a male dominated scene. We all know how relevant the title is. How many guys walked into a gig and asked/told their girlfriend that exact thing (guilty as charged)?
Without getting into all of the details of this book let me just say that it’s refreshing to get a new perspective, one that sheds new light on the scene and what it was like to be part of the early days when shows, band members and the police could turn nasty in the blink of an eye. Memories of Black Flag, Bad Brains shows, the whole DIY show promoter experiences and following Andy Warhol are just a few of the great stories and experiences outlined in the book. This is the type of book you could read through 3 times and still be picking out great details and is must read material for those who either… A: were in the scene back in the early 80’s and want to get some great memories to reminisce about or B: are newer to the hardcore scene and want to get a great perspective of what things were like before cell phones, major labels and corporate punk fests. This book does a great job of putting a spotlight on the female involvement in the punk scene that has sadly been overlooked. Find out more HERE.
“WHAT AWAITS US, A BEYOND STORY” DOCUMENTARY (Released December, 2020)
Way back in 1988 I stumbled upon the Beyond "Dew It" demo and immediately took a liking to the band who lived way out in Holbrook on Long Island. Hardcore wise Beyond were fresh and unique mixing in heavy metal influences to their blistering fast style of hardcore without sounding like some down tuned cavemen. Thinking back it seemed like their rise through the scene ranks was fast and when they made fans out of bands like Project X and Bold things got even better while playing opening slots for some of the biggest bands of the time.
"What Awaits Us" is a new 1 hour and 4 minute documentary written, directed and edited by singer Kevin Egan that tells "A Beyond Story". Leading up to "What Awaits Us" Kevin had 20 plus years of production work under his belt yet this is the first film he has done for himself. Much like the band, the Beyond doc has a uniqueness to it with a personal feel as well as great editing and graphic work and if you pay close enough attention you will see what I mean. The film is narrated by Kevin and early on we see him sitting on his bed thinking about the old Beyond days when his guitarist Tom Capone calls to tell him that they got invited to play a reunion show in California (Rev-Fest 2017).
From there Kevin heads on out to his old stomping grounds of Holbrook to talk to original members of the band who tell a story of a high school battle of the bands that featured a young Tom Capone who then sang for a metal band called Third Planet. Shortly after Third Planet broke up Kevin and Tom started putting plans together for Beyond with Kevin singing along to Uniform Choice's "Screaming For Change" as his quasi-vocal tryout to skeptic Tom who was now immersing himself in all things hardcore at the time. The interviews yield great stories and in some cases visuals as at one point the car they are driving in passes by a house that still has the old backyard shed that Beyond used to rehearse in. Other old stories include one of a chimpanzee in a car adjacent to theirs wearing the same shirt as their bass player, tour vans packed with gear and people sliding all about (which of course eventually includes an accident) and Kevin climbing out of his parents second floor window to play a show in Buffalo after his parents forbid him to go.
The film has a good flow and at just over an hour is not too long or short… getting the original members as well as later ones like Vic Dicara and Alan Cage gives everything a complete no stone left unturned feel that wraps up with footage of Beyond playing that Rev-Fest reunion show in Riverside, CA. Interviews with Matt Pincus from Judge, Walter Schreifels of Gorilla Biscuits/Quicksand, Sammy Siegler (every youth crew band ever), Porcell from Youth Of Today/Project X), Matt Warnke from Bold and Gavin Van Vlack from Burn give this film some hardcore star power with each giving some well earned praise for Beyond's contributions to the music scene.
Currently available in streaming format (4.99 to rent/9.99 to buy) with plans for a DVD release at some point in 2021... in addition there is talk of a possible flexi disc release that would have older versions/variants of previously released Beyond material. Stay tuned folks! In the meantime this is 10 bucks well spent for anyone who knew and liked (or loved) this band. Click HERE to find out how to watch this crucial film.
THE SLIME "COMING SOON TO AN ALLEY NEAR YOU" (Released December, 2020)
Some good hardcore noise has been coming from North of the border lately with The Slime being the latest to pop up on the In Effect HC radar. "Coming Soon To An Alley Near You" is the second 2020 release from The Slime who already dropped the 10 song "Bitter Dream" EP back in January. Before we even get to the music it has to be noted that The Slime have created this horror film type of feel here with some killer artwork and title. Upon hitting play to this 7 song EP The Slime's sound falls in line with what you would expect from the cover art, title and band name with a crossover style that throws a lot of different ingredients into the pot. With two members from Canada, one from Poland and another from Switzerland bringing elements of old-school hardcore, thrash, grind, and crust to the table they seem to have found a nice happy zone amongst their diverse influences. When I hear this EP I think of bands like Poison Idea and Iron Reagan and before even seeing a band photo thought I'd end up seeing at least one dude in a black leather jacket covered in band patches, a bullet belt and maybe some white Nike high tops with the pant leg tucked into the tongue... The Slime play raw and fast hardcore giving off this feeling that you probably have to wash your hands or at least put some sanitizer on a body part after listening to this.
The 54 second "Flesh And Blood" is by far my favorite song that highlights the killer bass and buzzsaw like guitar sound that they got on this EP. "Look And See", "The Day The Earth Stood Still" and the title track also are standouts as they deliver fast, thrashy types of feels that walk a close line between a street punk type of sound and more of a rough around the edges hardcore vibe. "Life Of Agony" and "Circling" show that The Slime can throw some mid-paced parts into the mix keeping things away from the dreaded "one big song" feel as each song is almost like its own chapter in a cool 10 minute audio book. With Toronto pumping out fresh new hardcore punk from bands like The Slime, Dragged In and Choices Made it's about time to give this city some current day love. Hopefully these new finds are just the tip of the iceberg with more to follow. Stay tuned boys and girls. Find this on Bandcamp & Spotify.
HATEBREED “WEIGHT OF THE FALSE SELF”
(Nuclear Blast Records, Released, November, 2020)
I have to admit, when I think “Hatebreed” my mind goes straight back to the 90’s and their masterpiece “Satisfaction Is The Death of Desire” That record became the benchmark of what 90’s hardcore should be. Fast, angry, great breakdowns and the ability to make that fuse in your head blow at gigs. Hell, they toured off of that record for what seemed like 5 years! Then came “Perseverance”. Not bad, but gone were the short bursts of anger and more metal themes seemed to take over. I’ll be honest, after “The Rise Of Brutality” I checked out on them. Was I expecting or hoping to hear a return to the formula of “Satisfaction”? I dunno but I can’t imagine how hard it would be for a band to top what was easily a perfect record without changing and evolving.
It’s now 12 years later and I get “Weight Of The False Self” to review. Going into this I was prepared to be, let’s call it, “underwhelmed.” However this puppy starts off on the right foot. "Instinctive (Slaughterlust)” gets the show going and right off the hop I’m hearing an old-school Hatebreed breakdown! Right out of that comes a fast diddy in “Let Them All Rot” that has a great pace, nice breakdowns and some great grooves. “Let Them All Rot” is one of the few songs that doesn’t have an overlying great/positive lyrical message to it. “Set It Right” and “Dig Your Way Out” continue the theme of meaningful lyrics that not only keep them relevant as a hardcore band, but judging by comments from their fans, are a huge reason for their popularity outside of being a heavy band . Jasta’s vocal approach, his change in cadence, keep the vocals fresh without having to sacrifice any of the power or resort to the dreaded “clean” vocal trap that other bands have fallen victim to.
Throw in a truckload of gang vocals, a few nice melodic guitar parts and the odd solo and you have a keeper. In the end Hatebreed have brought their “A” game to this record with a nice change of pace that will please both the hardcore kids as well as the metalheads. Find out more via the Hatebreed official website or stream it on Spotify.
TOXIC YOUTH “BACK TO YOU-TH”
(WTF Records, Released November, 2020)
From Milano, Italy, comes the long awaited new release from Toxic Youth. The band are punk veterans, forming in 1990 who released their first demo in 1993 on cassette. This led to opening for the likes of D.O.A. and the Beastie Boys among others and soon the band carved their niche in the scene. In 1996, they released their first full length record entitled “Real Attitudes…Not Words” which has become a renowned DIY release. After a long recording hiatus and a new drummer in 2018, Toxic Youth are back and stronger than ever with twelve tracks of blistering punk rock on this release from the good people at WTF Records in the Netherlands.
From start to finish, this record has it all. You have the early roots of punk rock, the British influenced sounds as well as the classic American punk riffs all rolled into one. There is not a bad track on this. “Walkin’ Free” opens with a fast, punchy punk song done right in the old school tradition. “Milano Rendez-Vous” follows up with a more metal sounding track, combining the two genres to create an anthem worthy song S.O.D. would be impressed by. “Toxic Airlines” kicks things back into high gear with a straight ahead punk, sing-a-long that will have you hitting the repeat button more than once. “The Beast” keeps things moving with a mix of punk styles, played with breakneck speed and sung with ferocious intensity. The next two tracks, “Burn Your Mind” and “Do It Again” have a more metal sound to them but vocally keep the punk feel to the music. “Double Ice Cream” is a quirky, fast and fun catchy song that will no doubt get stuck in your head. The next songs, “Realize”, “Light And Gold” and “Be A Man” are three examples of notable punk songs played fast and furious and show why this band deserves their place in the punk scene. “Body Core” is a newer style of punk with a commercial feel to it but still a solid fit on this record. “Do It” ends things on a high note with a searing mix of old and new school with a touch of NYHC thrown in.
Toxic Youth have showed no signs of slowing down with the layoff. The band delivers a substantial collection of authentic punk songs for any true fan. This is a CD for any occasion; whether it be driving to work, working out at the gym or slamming your friends in a homemade mosh pit. The music has an old school feel to it with metal overtones yet sounds fresh and current in today’s punk scene. This is the kind of punk I look forward to discovering and if you are like me, you’ll order this and enjoy it as much as I do. Check out WTF Records and discover some new and established punk and hardcore bands. You won’t be sorry. Find it online on Spotify & You Tube with CD versions available through WTF Records.
LOVE LETTERS TO GROSSO
(Not Like You, Released December 2020)
Love Letters To Grosso is a brand new 80 page (half sized) full color zine/mini-book dedicated to legendary skateboarder Jeff Grosso who passed away earlier this year at the age of 51. Not Like You Zine/Records are responsible for this one of a kind tribute which takes its name from Grosso's decade plus long interview show called "Love Letters To Skateboarding" which you can find on the Van's You Tube channel. Within the pages of this special issue you will find dozens of candid photos and fan drawn art of Jeff Grosso along with a shit ton of stories about Grosso written by fans, friends and peers that paint a great picture of the man’s passion for skateboarding. As a lifelong "hardcore kid" who never skated I always viewed the skateboarding scene and dudes like Grosso with admiration as both factions seem to have this toughness and grit instilled in the DNA. As is always the case with Not Like You releases you get a quality product here as the photos and vibrant artwork within literally pop off each page. 9 bucks (which includes postage in the USA) snags you one of the 500 copies that were printed up that are apparently almost sold out. Click HERE to find out how to get a copy.
TERROR “SINK TO THE HELL” EP
(WAR Records, Released November, 2020)
There are just some bands that when you hear that they have put out something new you immediately have to check it out. One such band for me is Los Angeles heavy hitters Terror. And If for some reason you have not already heard of these hardcore veterans, please go out and try to absorb as much of their material as you can as they have been doing what they do now for over 18 years.
Having a desire to stay connected with their fans during this pandemic, Terror have released an EP in 7” form (as well as digital) of songs that are "lost and forgotten" and are being dubbed as "previously unreleased", although they were originally put out as individual limited lathe cut 7 inches. These 4 tracks have now been compiled onto one release for the first time, with two of the songs receiving some updates this year. Taken from the “Live By The Code” sessions are track 1: “Sink To The Hell” and track 3: “The New Beginning”. Track 2: “Don't Need Your Time” comes from the “Keepers Of The Faith” sessions and has updated vocals with guest vocals by Jesse Barnett of Stick To Your Guns, and track 4: “You Lost All Respect” also comes from the “KOTF” sessions: which has updated vocals, drums and additional guitars. “Sink To The Hell” has the fierce, energetic sound that has kept Terror at the top of the game since their inception in the early 00’s. This release will make a perfect holiday gift for that hardcore lunatic in your life or to quote Uncle Eddie "something really nice" for yourself. Find this on Bandcamp & Spotify and at the time of this post WAR Records still has a few physical copies left on 7” vinyl.
AGAINST ALL ODDS “WOLFPACK” (Released Sept, 2020)
While reviewing the “New Wave Of Hardcore” mixtape for In Effect, I was particularly captivated by a song on side B – which turned out to be “Hard Way”, by Against All Odds, who hail from Greece like the comp itself. “Wolfpack”, their 5 song EP that contained the track in question, had seen a soft launch on Spotify in September, but hadn’t even been officially released. Mid-pandemic, I can understand why bands would hold back on officially releasing new material. Nevertheless, with “Wolfpack” now available on both Spotify and Bandcamp, I wanted to draw attention to these guys if your interest has already been piqued by the comp.
This new effort from Against All Odds features 5 songs in 9 minutes and displays the catchier side of NYHC. They jump right in with opening track “How It Goes”, which at first seems like more of a mid-album song before bursting into a sing-a-long chorus. This opener is followed by two more solid tunes, “Resist” and title track “Wolfpack”, before getting to “Hard Way” which you may already know from the comp. This is the one that will get you dancing at your desk, which invariably occurs while playing the comp or EP and it pops up. Track 5 closes things out with “Ghostdog”, a fully formed song at just under a minute.
Against All Odds is a good example of the bands I frequently applaud for not over-emulating one style, but instead concocting their own signature sound. “Ghostdog” sounds a bit like Our Gang, but otherwise their sound is difficult to pinpoint, and is in fact more interesting and nuanced than the broad list of influences in their Spotify bio: “in the vein of Agnostic Front, Warzone, Blood For Blood, Slapshot and the likes.” The unifying factor here is songs that would get you moving around and singing along, and I can see Against All Odds right at home on a Niagara/A7 show. I hope these dudes have a chance to play live again in 2021 and eventually make it the New York stage. In the meantime, check out “Wolfpack” on Spotify or Bandcamp.
BIG LAUGH “MANIC REVISION” EP
(11PM Records, Released May, 2020)
Milwaukee’s Big Laugh’s blending of blistering hardcore with a punk groove reaches peaks of fevered energy on their first record “Manic Revision” and the band take no prisoners as they power through from start to finish.
The band features members of bands such as Beggar, Mister, Forced Impact and Gangstalker and they play no nonsense hardcore in the vein of SSD and Uniform Choice with a hint of punk and even grind with elements of bands like Heresy, Gauze and Infest in there too. In keeping with the tradition of the blistering nature of their influences, the four tracks that are featured on “Manic Revision” clock in at a blistering seven minutes and while it is a case of blink and you’ll miss it in terms of the furious energy on this release, Big Laugh pack a lot of interesting ideas in terms of their approach to hardcore.
The bulldozing “Imposter” gets things started and features an explosive groove throughout along with some thoroughly impressive drumming,
coming on in an almost tribal and hypnotic style. The next track, “Pillars Of Sand”, positively flies past in a blur before the SSD/DYS-esque maelstrom that is “No Embrace” blows away anything in its path. The anthemic “Fazed” finishes things off and it’s a hell of a way to go out, all power and groove, and with a short fadeout, it’s all over.
With the whole thing being so short though, the joy of playing “Manic Revision” again straightaway is there and with the music on here being so engaging it warrants repeated listens. Find “Manic Revision” digitally on Bandcamp & Spotify with 7” vinyl versions available through Richmond, VA’s 11 PM Records.
(Mission Two Entertainment, Released December 2020)
Since legally securing the Cro-Mag name in 2019 founding member Harley Flanagan has seemingly been on a mission to get new music released with "2020" being the fourth Cro-Mags release in the last 18 months as well as being the second Cro-Mags release of this year. "2020" contains 6 new tracks that are in a lot of ways a maturation of what June's "In The Beginning" was already brewing. Lineup wise Rocky George returns on guitar as does Garry "G-Man" Sullivan on drums with Maximum Penalty's Joe Affe replacing Gabby Abularach on second guitar with Harley obviously handling bass and vocal duties.
A hip-hop boom-boom bap drum sample from Mono En Stereo leads off the opening track; "Age Of Quarantine" before the bass, drums and guitars join in to create a very danceable "We Gotta Know" vibed intro. The vocals kick in around the 90 second mark and for many will serve as the biggest make or break factor with Harley’s gruff and guttural vocal style hard to ignore on an otherwise solid opener. The title track "2020" follows and is a mid-paced track with layers of guitars creating this eerie doomsday type vibe while the double bass drums and overall production solidify the more metal leanings of the current day Cro-Mags. The hard style approach of vocals on this particular track wipe out a potentially good song that has some nice riffs within its almost 3 minute run time. “Life On Earth” starts off with a catchy drum and bass lead in and has a cool sing-a-long type chorus making this the most hardcore track on this 20 minute effort. “Violence And Destruction” is up next and is essentially two tracks in one and leads off with a “Rally Round Jah Throne” Bad Brains/reggae feel that runs for the first minute and change before another 3 minutes follow with more of a thrash style attack that “2020” is going for. The last minute of this song shreds while showcasing the talents of this band across the board highlighted by some amazing guitar work. On this particular track the vocals are toned down which threw me off since the meat and potatoes of this song is stylistically close to almost everything else on this EP. “Chaos In The Streets” is a fast paced tune with a good sing-a-long type of chorus. At its nucleus this is a hardcore song that is fighting to break free of the uber-metal production that “2020” strives for. Things close out with a 5 minute instrumental called “Cro-Fusion” that has a Red Hot Chilli Peppers feel early on (particularly due to the bass playing) and quickly turns into an all-out jam that branches out stylistically in what seems like countless directions with an almost jazz meets hardcore feel. There is a lot of talent and experience in this lineup and “Cro-Fusion” showcases it in a unique and awesome track. "2020" is a mixed bag of crossover hardcore meets metal with the scales tipped in favor of the metal side of the fence. HC purists looking for remnants of "AOQ" won't find a second coming but those who prefer the heavier side of the hardcore spectrum could possibly get down with this. Visit Mission Two Entertainment to grab physical copies and merch.
(Indecision Records, Released December 2020)
Retaliate has been somewhat of a So-Cal best kept secret for the better part of two decades. Their last LP “Thorns Without A Rose” has been a personal favorite since its release in 2011. So, this record comes heavily anticipated. But “Thorns” was a record that had so much character part of me worried whether a new LP nine years later could bring that same charm. I won’t bury the lede, this is one of the best albums of 2020. Fans of heavy and hard should love it as equally as fans of fast and ferocious. "IV" draws inspiration from NYHC, Cleveland, Texas and Oakland with an attitude that is 100% Oxnard. And it absolutely has the character of “Thorns.”
The recording is as excellent as you’d expect with one member (Roger Camero) being a notable producer/engineer. The bass tone is particularly badass; especially evident when the guitars drop out and it’s just the bass and drums. But writing an LP is hard. You can’t just crank out a dozen or so great sounding tracks and call it good. A strong LP has to tell a story, and this record absolutely takes you on a journey. The songs are furious and hard as nails. The riffs are impressive, but where some skilled riffers err in overdoing a killer riff, these guys know not to beat around the bush. They give you just enough of a taste to get you on the hook then end the song just when you’re hungry for more. This keeps the LP moving; it never gets boring or stale. More often than not, when I finish this record I play it again because I just need more.
The opening intro-track “La Jenelle” comes hot out of the gates with an Integrity-style melody that is so brutally heavy and somehow devastatingly beautiful, with a vibe like the intro to “Armenian Persecution”. Track two, “Cages” takes that apocalyptic sound and delivers an appropriately heavy lyrical battery about living in a xenophobic country that locks kids in cages because they weren’t born on the right side of an arbitrary border. The song screams of disgust and powerless frustration asking, “where the fuck is our humanity?” But as noted earlier, this record takes you on a journey. And while it starts dark, with a seemingly bottomless exasperation, Retaliate covers a lot of ground musically, also delivering songs of self-awareness, thoughtful questioning of the impact of consumption, and songs of unity and friendship.
The record ultimately ends with an almost triumphant optimism that appropriately contrasts the end-of-days vibe of the opening tracks. “Dedicated To Episode 1” is a tribute to Oxnard HC. It’s packed with guest vocals from key So-Cal hardcore mainstays in a line-by-line style that almost makes this less a Retaliate song and more a Southern California shared hardcore scene anthem. The lyrics are nostalgic and reminiscing, but also acknowledging to the kids in the scene today who have taken the torch and how important they are for keeping that spirit alive. And while the penultimate song is a passing of the torch, the closing track, “Lifer” is a proclamation that says hold up though, I ain’t dead yet! I still love hardcore, I still believe in every word I’ve said, and I still got some more to scream! Find this on Bandcamp & Spotify and for physical copies head on over to the Indecision Records site.
DRAGGED IN “L.P.I”
(Cursed Blessings Records, Released November, 2020)
Listening to Toronto’s Dragged In’s latest musical offering reminds me of that old saying “what’s old is new again”. Having lived and loved the 1980’s punk/hardcore scene the musical formula of the 80’s began to become tired and predictable. It was at this time that metal began to find its way into the scene and crossover bands began to take over in the late 80’s and into the 90’s. Punk bands began to add second guitarists and add tons of chuggas to their songs. Then double kick. Then cookie monster vocals. By 2000 most hardcore had become more or less metal. Lots of great bands came out of those years, don’t get me wrong, but now in 2020 it’s refreshing to hear a band playing what I’d call old school punk/hardcore. To me, that includes melodies, some groove, lyrics that talk about things besides ones toughness etc. Right away “Unsinkable” has a great subtle Dead Kennedy’s surf guitar that pulls me back into 1983 and the ride through the 80’s continues. Fast paced, but with the classic tempo changes that made 80’s hardcore energetic and shows memorable. Dragged In gives you 13 songs of fun, well written, energetic and delivered hardcore that reminds you of how the music used to be made without merely being cut and paste parts stolen from the past. Anyone who was around in the 80’s and those who wish they were, will love this! I can honestly say there are “whoa, whoas!” on this record and I’m not mad. Originally released digitally back in April you can find this on Bandcamp or Spotify. Toronto’s Cursed Blessings Records has now released this on 12” vinyl… click HERE for more info.
NEW WAVE OF HARDCORE MIXTAPE (World’s Appreciated Kitsch Records, Release date December 15, 2020)
Big ups to Chris for assigning what I think is the first comp I've reviewed for In Effect: the “New Wave of Hardcore Mixtape” from World's Appreciated Kitsch Records. While it’s titled as a mixtape, it represents many of the best elements of the classic hardcore comp format. It’s currently free to stream on Bandcamp, and preorders for the limited edition tape end on December 15, so you best believe I hustled on this review in order to give you time to check it out before then.
The comp is uploaded on Bandcamp with one big track for side A and one for side B, with the track list available at a separate link where the tape is for sale. Those factors resulted in a true blind listen the first time I heard it, akin to 21 year old me riding the bus with a burned CD of the New Breed Comp. and no track list. This resulted in a truly objective first listen, and the fun of going back afterwards and identifying the songs I most enjoyed. It turned out that most of my favorite tracks were from international bands, on a comp. that represents 9 countries and 4 continents. Perhaps this is because the American contingent spans more subgenres, vs. most of the international acts who specialize in some of my favorite styles of hardcore. Either way, there is something here for everyone.
Side A opens with a track that should already be familiar: “Lifer” by End It. Though I am so used to hearing it in the middle of their 4 song EP that it stands out in a new way as the first song here. End It is followed by Blind Idol from Western MA/Albany area. I originally thought Track 3 might be two songs due to its structure, but it is one great song: “Elevate” by Lifeforce, a straight edge band from Texas and Oklahoma. It warms my heart as a 36 year old straight edge kid that there is at least one current straight edge band I actually like. Up next is Spirit Flaw, and then Fuse, who are from Singapore. Many of the bands on this tape, from Lifeforce to Fuse to End It, have been previously reviewed by In Effect, if you want to check the archives for more context.
Crush the Demoniac is pretty much what you’d expect from the name, and “Look Who It Ain’t” is an enjoyable sixth track. Up next is Going the Distance, which I hope might be a Social Disorder reference, who are singing in Greek. Their song title “Νιώθω το μίσος” translates to “I Feel Hatred” if you want an idea of what is going on on a track that would get me out on the floor if they played here live! There is a pervasive Cro-Mags influence throughout on this comp, and Choice to Make continue that theme with a live cover of “World Peace”. They are followed by Never Ending Game: while starkly different from the Absolution track of the same name, it is pretty meta that Never Ending Game is the opening track on one of our favorite comps (New Breed) and now here we are with a band called Never Ending Game on a newly bred comp. Side A wraps up with an intense and cool track from Arma X of Spain, and One Step Closer, one of the three Scranton-Wilkes Barre area bands present on this comp.
Side B opens up with Age of Apocalypse, heavy on the 90’s vibes, before Blvd of Death bursts in with “It Is What It is” which should always bring a grin of recognition and get you moving around! Berthold City comes third and Mastermind is in the 4 spot. After a promising intro, it's hard to hear the vocals but I appreciate the hard driving mosh energy and I did the involuntary head nod at the breakdown. I keep thinking that listening to this comp. is right now the closest thing to being at a live show or a fest, checking out bands that might ordinarily be out of your lane, or just hadn't yet crossed your path (like a black cat in a Son of Skam song).
3 more single word band names provide the fifth, sixth and seventh track (Worn, Brute, and Anxious) before we are hit with the surprise stars of the comp, at least for me: Against All Odds from Greece. The 8 song is traditionally one of the strongest points on an album and these guys do not disappoint with “Hardway”. What started as "I kind of like this song" has since degenerated into full blown repeat plays. If Spotify Wrapped hadn't already come out, I have no doubt the heavy plays of the past week may have launched it into consideration. Stolen Mind from Germany is 9th and continues the trend of quality bands with “mind” in their name, from Mastermind earlier on this comp, to Mind Piece and Mindforce. The comp is closed out by two metal-leaning bands in Blanket Hill from Luxembourg (possibly the first band I’ve heard from Luxembourg!) and Shred Bundy. Really my only constructive criticism is having these two songs of similar styles at the end, since otherwise the different subgenres of bands have been artfully mixed throughout the comp.
So while “New Wave Of Hardcode” has assorted highlights from bands I already knew, it also fulfills the classic point of a comp, with a plethora of bands that you end up going back to check out later that you might not have known otherwise. I’ve already sought out additional material from Mastermind, Lifeforce and Against All Odds, and look forward to getting more familiar with many of the others. Overall, repeated listenings resulted in much involuntary desk moshing and brought a giant smile to my face. Perhaps it’s the best replacement for live (indoor) shows in a time where we don’t have any. Order the tape by December 15th so you can replicate this experience, including getting old school and driving around with it in your tape deck if your car is as old as mine. Stream this on Bandcamp or visit the WAK Big Cartel page for an old-school cassette version.
DON'T STAND IN LINE DOCUMENTARY (Codec Projects, Released November 2020)
"Don't Stand In Line" is a new docu-series put out by Codec Projects which is headed up by former Ten Yard Fight frontman Anthony Moreschi. The first season is titled "Don't Stand In Line" and
contains 6 episodes that run about 20 minutes in length each with the exception of the last episode which is about 35 minutes long. This premier season focuses on 4 individuals who all have
businesses that have ties to the DIY/hardcore/punk scene. All 4 also operate their businesses in a way that embrace the do it yourself work ethic where the respect of peers and customers can often be
just as important as sales.
The 4 featured are: Chris Wrenn from Bridge 9 Records, Sunny Singh from Hate5Six, Steve Crandall from FBM Bikes and Greg Walsh from Wolf Brigade Gym. Each episode to season one has a theme and all 4 of the people mentioned above come and go within each episode with everyone getting about an equal amount of screen time. The stories within are mostly of dedication, failure, creativity, as well as success while staying true to what they all started out as. Interviews were done on location with (at times) Wrenn spray painting Death Before Dishonor stencils on to album covers outside of B9 headquarters, Singh outside of the Philadelphia Museum Of Art on his BMX bike, Crandall at various bike hangouts in Richmond, VA and upstate NY and Walsh at his gym in Rochester, NY. The series is sold in whole for about 12 bucks where in turn you are given access to download all 6 episodes. With Codec planning future seasons it seems like things are just getting started for this new venture which got started in 2019. Click HERE for more info.
SUDDEN IMPACT “FREAKED OUT” 7”
(Supreme Echo Records, Released November, 2020)
Every person has that one local band that, for them, were the scene’s best band that should seem destined to rock stardom but were barely known outside of their city. For me it was local Toronto punk/hardcore/skate band Sudden Impact. I can’t remember when/where the first time I saw them was, but I remember the energy and that the sets were great. Tight , fast hardcore that got the dancefloor moving (that was back when people actually paid attention to opening bands). I had missed the demo days of SI as I was still more involved in the metal scene but had heard amazing things about their “Freaked Out” demo that had the now legendary (in these parts) illustration by late guitarist Reid English. Their full length record “No Rest From The Wicked” is a great sample of Toronto hardcore done right and I played the fuck out of that record. I made a point to get to as many SI gigs as possible and as their popularity grew they seemed destined to become “big”. Trying to find the “Freaked Out” demo was a mission of mine and one day I came across a copy of it at a small record store on Queen Street owned by a guy who was in the rap/hardcore band Raggadeth (at least I think it was that store)… He was an English dude with dreads who had a sister (also with dreads) nicknamed “Onion”, cause she had an onion. Follow? Anyway… I was super pumped to have it and it sat in my collection until recently when I was offered some sweet dough for it. Seeing as I didn’t have a cassette player and quite honestly had zero intention of buying one, I sold it. Luckily for me Supreme Echo was working at re-releasing this gem as the most punk rock thing ever… a 7”!
Time goes by and sure enough I have this puppy in my hands. Reid’s iconic illustration is even bigger, the record has extra goodies, like a recent interview with the band, a reprint of their classic sticker (where’s my original one)? Needless to say, this 7” is going to get constant rotation on my turntable and I will be able to listen to a great demo from a band that really brought me into hardcore. Thinking about it reminds me of when a bunch of skaters came to a show and skated the pit, grinding the front of the stage. It was fucking amazing! For those of you not from Toronto or too young to have known about these guys, this is a must have as it represents a special time in Toronto’s hardcore history when there were full dance floors, great local talent, and some awesome skate inspired hardcore. Great job by the folks at Supreme Echo for getting this done! Stream or purchase this as a download off of the Supreme Echo Bandcamp page or visit the Supreme Echo Big Cartel page for a vinyl copy.
BOXKITE s/t EP (Crew Cuts Records, Released November, 2020)
Boxkite are four guys from Plymouth, UK who formed back in 2013 because of their love for the music and the DIY culture. They come from a tight knit community where punk, hardcore and metal fall under one banner. In the spring of 2013, the band released their first demo and toured through to 2014. They wrote and recorded their first 7” at the beginning of 2015 and a second EP that was released in the spring of 2016. The band had some down time for a while but is back with their new release on Crewcut Records.
This seven track EP opens with “Bloodletting”. It’s a slow, grinding song with a chugging guitar riff that hooks you from the start. The band wastes no time following up with “My Struggle”, a fast and strong song dealing with mental health. From the opening drum roll you know this track is going to kick ass with its choppy guitar riffs and enraged vocals. “Unholy Thirteen” is a short blast of pent-up fury played with intensity. I couldn’t help but notice this track sounded like something Slapshot would play. “Conduit” strays from the traditional sound the band is going for. It’s a slow and dismal track with vocals and guitar for the majority of the song. The lyrics are brooding and dreary giving the song a dark feel to it. “Dreamland” gets them back on track with a straight up hardcore number that will get you out of your seat and moshing in your living room. “Skinwalker” keeps the momentum going with a great sounding punk song. Its fast, it’s angry and it makes you want to inflict damage on your enemies. Finishing off the EP is “The Great Equaliser”. This is another unusual song in that it opens energetic and furious for the first thirty seconds, then its melodic break mid-song decelerates it to a slow and eerie crawl until the end.
Overall, this is a pretty decent effort. Boxkite manage to create a unique sound with their music. The vocals are raw and dark and backed by a solid rhythm section. I always have much respect for bands that take a DIY approach to their music and this band is a good example. Aside from the two slower tracks, this is a good slab of hardcore punk. Find this on Bandcamp & Spotify or hit up Crew Cuts for a vinyl version.
“SELF EMPUNISHMENT” (Book by Brian Walsby, Pelekinesis Press, Released October, 2020)
Artist Brian Walsby made a name for himself in the 80’s hardcore scene with his artwork as well as being a member of the bands Scared Straight and Snakenation. He even did a cover for the 80’s fanzine “Pirates Of Doom” but then seemed to fall off the earth for a few years. His presence on social media is a strong one and having followed his Facebook for a number of years I can honestly say he’s one, if not THE hardest working artists out there. The amount of work he produces is staggering. When on tour with the Melvins he creates numerous pieces of art a day. When I heard that he was writing a book about being a self-employed artist and interviewing the likes of Keith Morris, Mike Dean and Buzz Osborne, I was stoked.
I’ll admit that when I first got the book I was thinking it was going to be kind of like an artist’s resource book kind of like those Maximum RNR’s “Book Your Own Fucking Life” (which I loved BTW). What you get is more about each person’s personal story of the highs and lows of being a full time artist. Lots of the people interviewed I didn’t know about except from previous posts on Brian’s social media but the majority are people who are/were part of the early punk/hardcore scene. So many of the people interviewed for the book share the same work ethic in that they had jobs early on in life and were driven to succeed and grow their talents. For those who have stepped out on their own as an artist, publisher, promoter, musician you know the risk, fear and uncertainty that awaits you. These stories illustrate how people deal with these pitfalls of self-employment and how they dealt with them either with great success or not so much.
The term success for the self-employed means different things to different people and those who try to apply the general definition of success will learn that it doesn’t necessarily mean huge houses, fancy cars and lots of blow. While all of the interviews were great, the interviews with Steve McDonald, Michel “Away” Langevin, William Duvall and especially Buzz Osborne, were standouts although I’d really have liked to have had more with Keith Morris and Mike Dean. The great aspect of the books is the stories of each person are varied yet the underlying attitude and will to keep pushing forward is inspiring and eye opening. The concept for this book was a great idea pre-COVID19, but is even more relevant now. You can find this 276 page book through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or through the publisher Pelekinesis for just 20 bucks plus shipping.
WORLD BE FREE “ONE TIME FOR UNITY”
(Revelation Records, Released November, 2020)
It’s been 4 plus years since World Be Free dropped their debut full length “The Anti Circle”; and now with their sophomore release, this hardcore super group is showing that the young ‘til I die mentality is alive and well, even in 2020. With a laundry list of legendary hardcore bands on their collective resume, WBF have a deep pool of experience and influence to draw from and it shows. With such a concentration of talent and creative prowess, what really shines on this record is the seamless blending of styles that each band mate brings to the table.
Scott Vogel (Terror/Buried Alive) shows once again why he is one of the best hardcore vocalists walking right now; flexing a melodic, deliberate delivery while driving home topical yet sustainable lyrics that'll keep this record relevant for years to come. Vogel's words are musically reinforced by the raw yet melodic tone achieved by the rest of the band; which from the outside looking in really feels like a true collaboration. Utilizing input from each member - possibly at times even pushing each other out of established comfort zones, this record demonstrates a high level of trust and shared musical intuition amongst the band. Even while allowing each band member to stretch out in their own way, the natural sound on "One Time for Unity" stays grounded with an old school NYHC vibe.
With a band like this, there is always the tempting prospect of looking back and simply recounting each member's personal history while glossing over the new project. "One Time For Unity" won't allow for that; boasting a forward looking view through themes that seem to challenge the listener to consider the question of "what comes next?” My personal favorite on this release is "No Harmony". It is short, tough, and direct. The ideal song if you ask me with the music video for “Down & Beyond” being a good way for the uninitiated to get initiated. Being that I'm on the East Coast and it is currently mid-November, I am happy to report that this record pairs well with cold rain and bad traffic in the best way. Although not affecting the musical output of “One Time For Unity” one bit seeing that legendary skate photographer Atiba Jefferson was behind the promo shoot photos for this record added an additional layer of epic to an already stacked lineup. Find this now digitally on various platforms including Bandcamp and Spotify. 12” vinyl is due out December 11th …hit up Revelation Records for pre-order info and merch.
CHAIN REACTION "FIGUREHEAD"
(Control/Atomic Action Records, Released November, 2020)
Belgium's Chain Reaction check in with a late 2020 entry that should not be overlooked when compiling all of those trendy year end "best of" lists. "Disconnect" leads off and within 15 seconds of hitting play I am totally sucked into their 90's groove heavy style of hardcore. Imagining Chain Reaction playing alongside 90's era NYHC bands like Indecision, Crown Of Thornz, Leeway or Tripface at say the Wetlands or Coney Island High in NYC is pretty damn easy for me to do as they musically time warp me back 25 years. After being impressed by the opening track I am happy to report that "Certain Death" (track 2) hit just as hard as the opener and along the way there is no filler with 6 absolutely fabulous tracks spanning about 14 minutes... pretty much the perfect length for a release of this type.
Overall "Figurehead" has this feel of a complete effort with a lot of diversity within the song writing, more than enough tempo changes, some guitar leads and thoughtful lyrics with more of a world view approach. Vocally, frontman Bjorn Dossche shows off a hard vocal style that fits the music his bandmates made perfectly while adding additional layers on "Power Corrupts" while channeling his inner Eddie Sutton with the line "a diet of disinformation". Look it up and you might be surprised by the similarities. The bottom line here is Chain Reaction appears to have put in the time, the effort... the work in on this and it shows. Chain Reaction have a lot of experience within their ranks with members having been in some pretty successful European hardcore bands in the past. Having formed in 2016 they have already released a demo, an EP, a split with Spark and now "Figurehead" which is head and shoulders above their previous work from a writing and recording standpoint. Check out "Figurehead" on Bandcamp & Spotify, find 12” vinyl copies through Control Records (EU) or Atomic Action (US) OR cassettes through Life, Lair, Regret Records (AU). Be on the lookout for an In Effect Hardcore interview with Chain Reaction’s singer Bjorn and drummer Murph in the upcoming weeks as well.
SILENCE EQUALS DEATH “REVOLUTION RISING” (Upstate Records, Released November, 2020)
From New Jersey comes the hard hitting new release, “Revolution Rising” from Silence Equals Death. The band was formed in 2012 by vocalist Scott Earth who set out to do a musical project which later transpired into the tight, aggressive hardcore band they are today. They have released an EP in 2012 and a full length album in 2017. “Revolution Rising” is released on Upstate Records.
Wasting no time, the band kicks off with “Switch”, an amped up and heavy sounding song dealing with payback. The guitar riffs are intense and comparable to a Sworn Enemy riff which is not a bad thing. It gets your blood flowing and wanting more. “Revolution Rising”, the title track, continues the onslaught with an anthem worthy, politically driven, hard-edged outburst of frustration and wrath. The video does even more justice for the song. “No More Ashes” is a short burst of charged hatred done fast and heavy and has the feel of the old school hardcore sound to it. You can feel yourself wanting to find a mosh pit to go off in. “Plague” is one of the faster and harder tracks and is my personal favorite. The lyrics are strong and backed by some intense guitar riffs and drumming true to the hardcore sound. “Traitor” starts out slow and snowballs into a heavy hitting track reminiscent of early Hatebreed with its similar vocal style and crunchy guitars. Finishing up the EP is “Pass The Torch”, a hard driving war cry dealing with strength and unity and worthy of inciting a mosh pit.
Silence Equals Death is the real deal. From start to finish, there is not a weak song on this EP. What you get is six tracks of anger fueled, straight up hardcore done right. Scott has found the right musicians to create his vision and release an EP that will stand the test of time. If you are not a fan yet, I suggest you buy or steal this one and add it to your collection. Stream this online on Bandcamp or Spotify.
EYEHATEGOD/SHEER TERROR split 7" (Take As Needed Records/Chronic Death, Released November, 2020)
What we got here folks is a brand new 7" that sees New Orleans' EyeHateGod team up with NYHC vets Sheer Terror for a cool, limited edition pre-Thanksgiving stocking stuffer. Each band does 1 cover song with EHG doing Devo's "Gates Of Steel" and Sheer Terror covering Depeche Mode's "New Life". Cover songs from bands on opposite ends of the musical universe can be a lot of fun and often gives the covering band some creative freedom. Both originals (released in 1980 & '81 respectively) relied heavily on the use of keyboards and these much heavier versions create essentially brand new songs for each band. EHG chose to use a keyboard on their version of “Gates Of Steel” which is played much closer to the original than Sheer Terror’s take on “New Life” that is played without keyboards. Take As Needed Records is a new label run by the members of EHG and Chronic Death is run by Sheer Terror drummer Anthony Corallo. The fact that these versions are currently not available on the usual online streaming sites like Bandcamp and Spotify ups the ante on diehard fans needing to fork over some of their hard earned dough to hear this for themselves. Buy now or regret later. Find this through Take As Needed or Chronic Death with different variants available from each source.
DEAD BLOW HAMMER
“MANTIS LOVER/SHORTER CIRCUITS”
(Patient Zero Records, Released November, 2020)
This year has truly been a disaster for everyone, especially for the music industry across the globe. However, despite all the doom and gloom comes something new from New Jersey’s finest… Dead Blow Hammer. What better timing than to release new music which really does come across as a crushing release, something that packs a real punch and something that will lift spirits with their new EP/CD/Cassette, "Mantis Lover/Shorter Circuits". Dead Blow Hammer have matured into a force to be reckoned with across the hardcore punk genre and their latest effort demonstrates just that. Opening track "Shorter Circuits" is a continuation of their song "Polar Circuits" which appeared on their self-titled 7" back in 2015. "Shorter Circuits" grabs you from the word go… the song has depth, character, and (potentially) a real live charm that will make you want to get up and pogo. The next track is a throwback to when DBH was known as Against The Grain with the track "Force to Reckon". The production on this EP is truly in your face, loud and proud. The guitar work from both Gary and Carlito is razor sharp, demonstrating a sense of urgency throughout… without losing technique. The third song is a real treat, a cover song from the band Cause For Alarm "Stand as One" written by the man himself Rob Kabula. Not only did he play on the original song from ’83… but is here too losing none of his touch beating his bass to a pulp. And this now leads me into the final track on what has been a truly essential EP, "Mantis Lover". When I first heard the track, it didn't sound like Dead Blow Hammer at all. These guys have pushed the boundaries and delivered something different and what a monster it is. The opening notes are a real sing along, with Gary taking over the main vocals but not before the song bursts into life with AG taking control and singing better than ever. This should be in their live set without a doubt. Christian’s drumming is perfect and compliments the bands quality with his atomic delivery. This really is such a strong release and I cannot emphasis how critical this should be in your collection. If you get the CD version, the artwork by vocalist AG on the front is striking and distinctive. 2020 has just become a little brighter, thanks to the DBH crew! Perfect! Available to stream on Bandcamp with vinyl, CD and cassette versions due out on January 8th though Patient Zero. Find the pre-order info HERE.
PLASTICS “PLASTIC WORLD”
(Crew Cuts, Released October, 2020)
Brighton, UK hardcore punk band Plastics first released their latest EP “Plastics World” at the start of the year but are unleashing it again on 7”, their first release on vinyl so it is a great chance to expose yourself to Plastics fearsome and vibrant sound.
Following an intro track that is driven by a powerful rhythm, it quickly segues into the joyful noise of “Lovers”, and it’s a nonstop and straight to the point lesson in noisy punk with an abundance of hardcore energy. The following song, “Blue Mould”, in particular marries the abrasive nature of punk, particularly the vibe of anarcho-punk bands like Crass and Poison Girls with a hardcore vitality perfectly and this seems to sum up exactly where Plastics are coming from as a band. The jagged “Sitting And Stewing” comes next and it’s a discordant mix of catharsis and anger with the bands vocalist Oli showing off her formidable vocal range over an irresistibly heavy groove. “Bitter” is a definite call to arms for the Plastics sound and sets the scene for what the band are doing, sounding nothing other than vital throughout the tracks duration, and mixes both fast and slow styles with ease. The EPs closing track “Nerve Pusher” rounds things off nicely and is as heavy as it is anthemic and a great way to close this EP and with that “Plastics World” is over as quickly as it started but what you have listened to sounds defiant and vital.
With this release, Plastics have made an EP that oozes energy and a pissed off anger that can’t be faked. Plastics are the real deal and hopefully there will be more new music from them soon. The state that the world is in now needs more pissed off and angry music that will help people cope and with that in mind, you can’t go far wrong with Plastics. Find this online at the Crew Cuts Bandcamp page, for physical copies click HERE.
KHARMA “MOST DANGEROUS GAME”
(Flatspot Records, Released November, 2020)
Some say Karma is a bitch, but in the case of Chicago's metallic hardcore band Kharma, it's more like a cranium flattening assault from WWE's Paige, delivering her signature Paige-Turner to that hardboiled egg you call a head on a concrete floor. Kharma know how to throw down and they are going to punch your clock, moreover, if you still have any fight left in you afterward, they might just scalp you like a grizzly bear so that they have a souvenir to take home to the Mrs, dragging their teeth along the roof of your skull and peeling off the skin and hair like the rind of an over-ripe clementine. Their latest release is an EP titled “Most Dangerous Game”, which borrows from the themes of Richard Connell's short thriller about men being hunted for sport and repurposes it as an allegory for surviving on the cold streets of Chicago, a place so frigid it makes a morgue's freezer feel downright summery. The music is a fanatically well-oiled exhibition of Neglect-styled grooves delivered with the two-ton hammer impact of Bulldoze. It's fast, skull-fracturing fun that smuggles into your ears and unpacks in your mind a serious message about the mechanisms and horrors of racist violence and systemic oppression, and how capitalism, the state, and rich suburbanites conspire to turn certain neighborhoods into open-air prisons at best, and game preserves at worst. Kharma is coming, surging your way from the nightmare of our shared reality, and like it or not, when they catch up with you, they are going to mess up your day, one way or another. Find "Most Dangerous Game" on Bandcamp and Spotify.