HATEBREED “THE DIVINITY OF PURPOSE” (Razor & Tie Records, Released January 29, 2013)
The biggest challenge in reviewing the latest offering by the planet's biggest metalcore band lies not in deciding whether they've dared to produce a rubbish album but how it compares with their impressive back catalogue. Let's be honest, Hatebreed have never released an average album (I'm discounting the hideously produced “Under The Knife” EP), such is the strength of their songwriting talents and Jasta's voice. So, what of the band in their first release since 2009's self-titled effort? Well, this is streamlined Hatebreed, their ferocity perfectly captured by the best recording sound they've ever laid down. Gone are the predictable breakdowns set up by chord ring-outs. Well, there is one. But, more conspicuous by their absence are the rallying call choruses Hatebreed have become synonymous with.There are a few here but the band have gone for a much harder-edged, old-school feel - the back-up vocals, for instance, are huge. Opener “Put It To The Torch” is a statement of intent, a blistering wrecking ball which, at 2:12, is the shortest song on the album and harks back to the raw, primal sound of their breakthrough “Satisfaction is The Death of Desire”. Jasta's stirring lines are present in “Honor Never Dies” ("sometimes standing for what you believe means standing alone") and “Own The World” ("fists up, head high, we own the fucking world tonight"), which showcases some relentless drumming from Matt Byrne, “The Language” reminds me in parts of “Doomsayer”, sandwiched either side of a tidal wave of riffs, whilst Dana White could do worse than make the fist-pumping “Before The Fight Ends You” the new anthem of the UFC. We are treated to a rare drums and bass intro on the punk-tinged “Indivisable”, where Jasta's Kingdom of Sorrow hollering works well alongside his patented army drill bark. It's arguably one of the album's highlights. But then comes the lull. “Dead Man Breathing” is a brooding mid-tempo effort that allows you an unwanted breather (excuse the pun), whilst the album's title track lacks punch and seems to be a mish-mash of too many ideas thrown together, the end result being a part spoken-word, part re-hash of “This is Now”. The strange arrangement of “Nothing Scars Me” failed to hold my interest until the pace and intensity picks up towards the end. Jasta then, in the eyes of some diehards, commits the cardinal sin of “singing” on “Bitter Truth”, yet his change of tone for just seven words works well atop a scathing riff. He repeats the feat for a few lines in “Boundless”, the only track which possesses the predictable, yet by this stage, welcome breakdown. Closer “Idolized and Vilified” is the least memorable tune here, plodding along with no real conviction. I'm loathed to say this is a return to form, for Hatebreed as they've never really been off form. If the supposed weaker tracks here had been written by another band they would be lauded. But as Hatebreed set the bar so high on their first two full lengths it is almost as if we have come to expect every one of their songs to be of unparalleled quality. As it is, they've made their best album since “The Rise of Brutality”, although it is a grower. Persist with it.
UNITED NATIONS, PRIMITIVE WEAPONS, DESCENDER, BLACK CLOUDS @ ST. VITUS, BROOKLYN, NY JANUARY 18, 2013
Everyone I talked to at the show seemed to like Black Clouds a lot. But I wasn’t that into it. I never loved the whole heavy instrumental thing, having seen Don Caballero a bunch of times, and with my lack of interest in this format, I feel if you’re not gonna be as good as Don Cab, I can’t get that excited. Saint Vitus’ web page described Descender as four graphic designers from Brooklyn. They didn’t throw in “bearded,” but as you can guess, they were. I spent most of their set pondering how much of my social circle could be labeled with one or more of the descriptors “bearded,” “Brooklyn,” “hardcore,” “graphic designer.” Musically they were okay, heavy, noisy, a little bit more of a traditional hardcore band than Black Clouds, but not nearly as skilled. I live down the street from Saint Vitus and love the Mexican joint next door but never made it there because I am old and was a bit turned off by its description as a hipster metal bar seemed like a really bad time. Having come to hardcore from indie rock, not metal, I have no deep seated love of Maiden or fetishized, obscure Nordic metal bands
I like Slayer, Motorhead and Sabbath as much as the next hardcore kid, but I am not a metal fan, and somehow hipster metal sounded like a God awful idea, the musical equivalent to asymmetrical bangs. But I have to say Primitive Weapons were rad, like Municipal Waste minus the irony. They came out and just plain killed it, fast straight-ahead metal with a little hardcore and indie rock thrown in to keep things from getting too goofy. Good stuff. I was shocked how much I liked the hipster-metal. So I was at the show just to see United Nations, or Geoff Rickly of the band Thursday fame newish band. A band that for me makes the most sense in the context of Thursday’s popularity. If you have already forgotten the early 2000’s, they were a precursor of MTV bands like My Chemical Romance and worse bands like Paramore or whatever came after that. They had an MTV video in regular rotation, were featured in a New York Times Magazine piece about screamo.
Which resulted in a lot of criticalness from hardcore types. But I love Thursday. Their post 9/11, “War All The Time” album is one of my favorite records. There, I said it, hate on me and chuckle if you will, but it is a fantastic record and they’re a damn good band. Now full disclosure, I knew Geoff Rickly before there was a Thursday. We weren’t best friends, but he lived with a very good friend of mine, and he hung out with my little sister a bit, and ever since when I bump into him every once in a while, we catch up. But that said, when Thursday started, I was not into them at all. The demo, first record, all eh. It even took a while to really get into their first hit record “Full Collapse”. But man, the next record “War All The Time” hit me. And to really understand Thursday, I think it’s helpful to at least know where Rickly, as I knew him, was coming from pre-Thursday. Rickly was a hardcore kid who besides being the only person I ever met to be really into Home 33, liked a lot of the pre-Promise Ring / Get Up Kids emo hardcore bands. Not Rites Of Spring / Embrace, but that middle period where people forgot Embrace coined the term, yet before everything began to sound like watered-down indie rock. The halcyon days of Samiam, Split Lip, Endpoint, Falling Forward, Junction, hell, anything on Doghouse or Initial Records. When emo was still more hardcore and even metal, than indie rock, where you would have bands with hard metallic breakdowns and even a little singing while getting all emotional. Sure, there was a theatrics to the emotion that might not make sense to an adult, but as an angst-ridden teen, seeing the dude from Falling Forward freak out and start crying on the floor of a VFW was impactful
For me this is what Thursday was, a much more polished and accomplished version of an early 90’s emo band. Where the emotions were a tad over the top at times and hard parts were much more technical, but man, it’s what 90’s emo was meant to sound like. And “War All The Time”, which despite their claims to the contrary will always be about 9/11 for me, at the very least captures the mood of the time. And 9/11 was something that even at my more advanced age got me all emotional like an angsty teen, so the record’s emotional and even musical bombast really struck a nerve. Of course, Thursday had their Quicksand-esque rise with a big major label record (on MTV, gonna be huge) and then devolved into a series of less popular and no longer major label albums. It’s easy to see how getting big, in a musical style best experienced in an emotionally intimate setting like a basement, that same group can seem canned or calculated when on MTV. But Rickly’s post-Thursday band United Nations always struck me as a little bit of a frontal attack on the hardcore scene that on many levels excommunicated Thursday for being successful with a style of music that would very quickly get co-opted and turned into some pretty heinous bands like anything currently on Victory’s roster. United Nations is just straight up Ebullition Records-style hardcore. If it weren’t for Rickly’s remaining operatic flair for the dramatic, United Nations could easily be the other side of a Merel split and headlining ABC-NoRio in the 90’s. Fast, noisy, screaming and emotional which, despite the hate, was there with Thursday from day one.
BORN ANNOYING “LIVING HOW YOU’RE NOT” 7” (Reaper Records, Released January 2013)
Sometimes it's nice to slick back your hair, dust down that old Floorpunch T-shirt, read the revered “All Ages” book and regress back to a time when hardcore was indeed hardcore. So, it's always refreshing when you get your lugs around some old school hardcore, especially if it’s not been your preference of late. Born Annoying sound like Another Breath playing a breathless game of air hockey with Rotting Out referee’d by Craig Setari's Creep Division. “Space Monkeys” is done and dusted in just over a minute before “Forever” reminds me of the aforementioned Sick Of It All bassist's wailing. “Train Punks” is carried along by a Pennywise-esque bass line before singer Brett Jaeger hollers "full steam ahead just pull the lever" over a catchy hook delivered by Ensign guitarist Ryan Donoghue. It's six tracks of Jersey Shore hardcore that would be just at home providing the soundtrack of a bar-room brawl as it would a surfing competition.
THE ENEMY WITHIN – “AS LONG AS I CAN WALK I'll STEP OUT OF LINE” CD (Self released 2012)
When I realized these guys were from Boston I immediately formed the opinion I would probably like it. I mean, Boston hardcore has always been pretty healthy right? But, try as I might, I just couldn't get into this at all. That's not to say it is a bad album. A solid production captures the street hardcore vibe pretty well. Containing members of Boston bruisers Blood For Blood and Beware, those influences are crystal clear in TEW, especially that of the notorious Wasted Youth Crew. Joe Mageary's gravelly voice reminds me of Sheer Terror's Paul Bearer, whilst there seems to be plenty of nods to their peers in Agnostic Front (“No Escape” has shades of AF's “Eliminator”). Most of the songs here clock in at under two minutes but nothing stood out enough to warrant a place on your regular playlists. File under “will probably produce something better in the future”.
SHEER TERROR, ENRAGE, THE BLAME, INHUMAN, REASON ENOUGH @ FULL CUP, STATEN ISLAND, NY JANUARY 19, 2013
There was talk of the show selling out, and I wanted to get there in time to see Inhuman, so I arrived in time for lots of bands that weren’t Inhuman. The whole show had a very 90’s Studio One vibe. Lots of odd bands I’ve never heard of, plus a weird mix of people I’ve never seen before. I was just waiting for One 4 One to go on.
Missed all of Reason Enough except for them doing a cover of 25 Ta Life, doing a cover of Agnostic Front, doing a cover of Iron Cross’s “Skinhead Glory” better know as “Crucified.” Which reminds me, I am pretty sure I was once at a show at Spanky’s in PA where 4 out 5 bands without a hint of irony covered “Crucified”. Reason Enough sounds exactly like half the bill of any show featuring Fury Of V in the mid 90’s. The Blame were older people, and by older I mean older than me, like mid forties at least, playing a mishmash of old punk and hardcore. Not bad but nothing terribly exciting either, one of those things where after a couple of songs I was ready for it to be over. But an influx of kids showed up, and they seemed psyched, so The Blame have that going for them. I have to say I really like Inhuman. I have known Mike Scondotto from going to shows for at least long enough to remember when he used to write reviews. That being said, in the past I never loved Inhuman but never disliked them either. They were always a solid band that made for a good opener, they never made me regret getting to a show on time. Having now seen them for a decade plus, I can say they have gotten damn good and hold up a lot better than most bands from the mid 90’s. They are the Marc Maron to Indecision’s Louis CK, solid, likeable and getting pretty great, as they get older. After all these years, the slightly different versions of Inhuman, the early hardcore Inhuman has mixed with the album where Mike worked in some Misfits-esque melodies combined with their ever present solid metal undertones to make a pretty good band.
What was even more enjoyable was seeing the kids really take to them. They got a huge pop, as the professional wrestlers would say. It was really heartening to see people that into Inhuman, the kind of crowd reaction they should always have. Then Enrage played. I spent most of their set thinking about how Life Of Agony’s lead singer is now a woman, and there was a time when they were on hardcore bills, and how DMIZE hasn’t really aged well, or how I’ve never seen Enrage play anywhere but Staten Island, and when is Darkside NYC gonna play again, and mostly just tried to think about how much I don’t like Enrage except for the angry Staten Island guy patter between songs, which really doesn’t hold up when opening for Paul Bearer the Don Rickles of hardcore. I really liked the Joe Coffee records. They were just like Sheer Terror only a bit more musically evolved, which made me a little skeptical of Sheer Terror getting back together. There certainly are a lot of bands for whom getting back together has been weird, like Killing Time, a band that was so incredibly good for so long, even their post-“Brightside” output was solid, but at a certain point there is just an athleticism to playing hardcore that can be unforgiving to the old.
Or Murphy’s Law, whom I love dearly, who for my money recorded their best records way after their prime, but who are now in this odd state of suspended animation, where I am sure Jimmy is having a great time and people are enjoying them, but part of me wonders what could have been if Jimmy just stopped and did something new musically. I suspect that there is potential for it to be as good as Joe Coffee, giving Jimmy a new spark that playing “Panty Raid” for the thousandth time just can’t. But I digress. Sheer Terror did not disappoint in the least. I could be wrong but musically they sound sharper than their farewell shows at CBGB’s, and outside of Paul Bearer’s ever-enjoyable rants taking up about the same amount of time as the songs, he seems no worse for wear. Even better, the songs from the new seven-inch sound great. I am sold, and damn happy to have Sheer Terror playing shows. And let me say, if you haven’t seen them play Staten Island, you haven’t seen Bearer at his finest. “Swamp ginneys” ha. Good times, God, how I do love that band. Even weird seeing them the night after United Nations, because say what you will about emo bands, “Thanks Fer Nothin” is one whiny emotional train wreck lyrically, my favorite Sheer Terror record, just saying, you put tight pants on that sucker, and it’s on the shelves at Hot Topic.
THE WEIGHT WE CARRY “DOWNCAST” 7” (Full Circle Attack Records, Released October 4, 2012)
The Weight We Carry, are a band from Rochester, New York, with influences such as Pantera, Merauder, and Dead Milkmen, signed to Full Circle Attack Records, released an EP called “Downcast.” As a whole, the EP has a hardcore with metal influence kind of sound. I’m going to refrain from directly calling it “metalcore,” though. The sound is reminiscent of Hatebreed and is quite rhythmical with well-written melodies, although some may find them simple. The first song “War With the Elite” starts the EP out fast and hard with some in-your-face hardcore with strong metal influence. It is followed by “Fencewalkers” which has a driving two-step beat. Its title gives away its lyrical content. “Fandemonium” is next which features sliding guitar riffs that are catchy. The guest vocals in that song has a different style that contrasts the main vocals well. The song “Proletariat” calls back to early 2000 metalcore bands such as Since the Flood and Thick As Blood. “Working Class” has gang vocals and acts as an anthem for the working class (obviously). “Downcast” finishes out the EP as a song that has the same style as all of the others.
STUCK IN A RUT “NOTHING IN COMMON” Demo, Released January 29, 2013
This mob formed in April 2011 in the Northwest, UK. After a few personnel changes they recorded their first demo which has already been reviewed for In Effect. Nothing has really changed since that first demo and I myself am happy about that. This is “No frills, pissed off hardcore”, done well. Musically there are tinges of Slapshot, they stray into Uppercut territory and clearly all feel the vibe of Negative Approach. This is a straight up, 4 song punk rock hardcore assault. “Alone In My Head” has a Necros “reject” vibe lyrically but sounds more like Minor Threat playing the instruments. “Break Yer Neck” is a simple statement song that simply states “ Push me? I push you! ... Break yer fucking neck”. Dare I say “I’m not weak” is SIAR’s PMA anthem? It doesn’t sound posi at all, it sounds like a dozen hooligans playing Bad Brains, lyrically though, it’s positive and self affirming – “you’ll never see me stumble, you’ll never see me fail”. Then we get to the title track “Nothing In Common”, easily my favourite Stuck In A Rut song since I first put them on 2 years ago. Kicking off with an “Oi, Oi, Oi” you quickly get the lyrics because it’s something everyone can relate to, friendships that change or fizzle out, betrayals and lack of patience for dealing with other peoples crap “another bullshit friendship is through”, its jaded, pissed off and dismissive. There were 2 more tracks recorded during this session, one of which will appear on anti-facist label Iron Column Records sampler/comp later this year. All in all, check this band out if you like your hardcore with more punk than metal, with more snarls than posture and with a DIY ethic many could do worse than to emulate.
DEALBREAKER “REFLECTIONS” Demo (Released November 23, 2012)
Dealbreaker hail from Massachusetts and by the looks of their pics online...they seem to be a very young group of guys. That being said, I believe their age shows through in their music. I would say they're a bunch of guys who worship bands like Madball, Shipwreck AD, Unforgiven, Murder Weapon, Ringworm, etc. but can't quite pull off this style or keep it fresh enough to make it interesting and it comes off as a low-grade derivative of the bands mentioned above. The sound is a metallic and rough NYHC style with vocals that are not ballsy enough to accompany this music. When I got to the rap like vocal patterns in "Dead End", I knew they had lost me completely. I admire that they are young and doing their thing, I just think it needs quite a bit of work to hold my interest past one listen.
- Chris Trips
LIVING LASER “VERSUS PIGS” 7” (Trip Machine Laboratories, Released December 4, 2012)
Leading up to getting “Versus Pigs” I read that these guys have been compared to the Bad Brains, The Mob and the Dead Kennedy’s among other names from punk rock days gone by. What a disaster in the making I thought to myself as those are some big boots to fill. After an eerie intro which I think is from an old Twilight Zone episode the title track takes over and literally explodes through your speakers with a crisp sound which I would compare to “I Against I” era Bad Brains so they got that one comparison out of the way. Living Laser pretty much sound like no other band out there today though and although they may have hints of the Bad Brains or the DK’s (“Blown Away” has a slight Jello Biafra styled vocal part during the chorus) I have to give them credit here for a nice product which I am glad I didn’t give up on as this took a good 5 to 10 listens before it starting sinking in. For fans of _____ (fill in the blank) as I am not sure. Their fast, clean and unique style is all their own so let’s go with for fans of good aggressive, hardcore punk that may be tired of the same old rigmarole. A perfect opportunity for those in a music rut to find something different.
THE LAST STAND “THE TIME IS NOW” (Eulogy Records, Released January 22, 2013)
2013 is off to a great start for hardcore music and here is another great release to take note of… NY’s The Last Stand (Go!) and their 13 song debut full length “The Time Is Now”. You may have read that TLS has 3 ex-members of Shutdown and Mike (vocals) from Inhuman but I think it is time to take that factoid and put it on the back burner as TLS flat out shred and stand well on their own. Simply put this is a superior product to any of the previously mentioned bands. There I said it. The band builds on the foundation that was their demo (which turned into a 7” release as well) with new track after new track that in some cases blow the old ones away. “Good Day To Die” and “Lives Lost” have awesome hooks that get played over and over and don’t get me started with “TLS Go!” which is a minute and 42 seconds of mayhem that will make a mild mannered gentleman go out and commit a felony or two. The track is an instrumental that brings us back to a time where a lot of hardcore bands had intros which they usually opened up their live sets with. Think “Clobberin’ Time” or the Outburst intro and in my opinion this track stands shoulder to shoulder with those two classics. All 5 songs from their 7” are re-done and beefed up including a nice little guitar solo on “Find Out” complimented well with a nice production job by “The Jerry Farley”. The bands maturity impresses me a lot here. They were a nice little band with their 5 song demo/7” but this release catapults them way up the chain to another level with well written hardcore songs that show influences from Sick Of It All to Madball and more all the while adding their own flavor to the pot. When I hear the lyrics and especially the chorus to “Opportunities Lost And Found” I can’t help but think how well the line “The Time Is Now” applies to these guys as this truly is their time and this is the album that should get them noticed on more than a NYC level. #Creamrisingtothetop#
DISTRICT 9 “ SOUTH BRONX MEMOIRS” EP (Dignified Bastard, Released January 29, 2013)
A release that will have many foaming at the mouth indeed. Born in ‘Da Bronx in the mid-90’s D9 dropped a monster debut in the “Schoolahardknox” EP and had a solid run for a few years. Fast forward to 2013 and the core of this band returns for some unfinished biz. OG members Myke (vocals), Cesar (guitar) and Todd (bass) team up with long time friends and bandmates Lenny (Fahrenheit 451) on guitar and Lou (who has been in every NYHC band known to man) on drums. “The Letter” starts things off and right away I am thinking “OK, they got the recording down tight” and it’s basically off to the races for 12 plus minutes of D9 at their finest. “The Letter” is an old/new track that sorta floated around on the bands playlist but never made the cut previously. Why, I don’t know as this is a solid track. Long time fans remember “Fool” which is up next and is another oldie but this one suffered from just an average recording on an old compilation. “Think About It’ originally appeared on the previously mentioned “Schoolahardknox” EP and is probably the most suspect in that it had been released and had a previously good recording. Nonetheless this is a District 9 greatest hits track and sounds flat out awesome with this ass kickin’ recording they got. “Victim” closes things up and is another old track that never had a real studio version. Some might remember this track from the Velebit Productions NYHC Documentary which they appeared in in their heyday. Overall to call this a “new” release is debatable with all four tracks being from yesteryear but what is not debatable is that D9 delivers the goods and continues to push their name forward almost 20 years after their inception. Fans of Killing Time who are not familiar yet… this is all you. Great job guys, let’s get some new tunes up on deck soon. Currently available on ITunes with a vinyl version to follow in about a month.
FINAL WORDS DEMO (Released January 23, 2013)
I wasn’t sure what I was in store for with Final Words’, a band from Wales, UK, demo when I saw their listed wide-range of inspiration from Comeback Kid to AFI to Trapped Under Ice to Madball to Life of Agony. The five-song demo wasn’t too far of a stretch from some of the claimed influences, though. The song “Say Nothing” is a reflection about moving on after love: first being angry, then growing cold (their Trapped Under Ice influence coming out for sure). It features well-written transitions that are impressive for a demo. “Price to Pay” is a definite call to Comeback Kid’s gang vocal style and less choppy guitars. It features great syncopation halfway through the song that carries out through the rest of it with a slight metal feel. A lesson of treading too carefully as a result from living in the past can be learned from its lyrics. “Those Days Are Gone” has more of a metal influence than “Price to Pay,” which is a great song to put before it. The guitar melodies are catchy with fast, forceful drums that drive the song. Even some shredding guitar solos are thrown in there for good measure. The lyrics in a nutshell are “Carpe Diem” and “Stay true.” The song “Weight of the World” is another one with metal influences with catchy guitar riffs and a slight breakdown towards the end of the song to keep it hardcore. The last song “Stick With It” is similar to “Price to Pay” with its obvious Comeback Kid influence. It is about hanging in there, very motivational indeed. The only real breakdown of the entire demo is featured in this song as well. All in all, Final Words’ demo is a solid one.
ABOLITION “LANGUAGE OF VIOLENCE” EP (The Essence Records, Released December 1, 2012)
“Nineties metallic hardcore”, boldly proclaim Abolition as their main influence on their Facebook page. Bold indeed as that particular era spawned some classic bands, timeless albums and a primal sound that dared to cross the line into metal territory long before “metalcore” became a buzz word. So, it was with trepidation that I took on this review. I mean, could these guys really take me back to those days? It seems they can. The intro of the title track sounds similar to Machine Head's “A Thousand Lies” before it veers head on into territory previously frequented by the likes of Spirit of Youth, Regression and even early Poison The Well, with well-placed guitar harmonies breaking up the brutality. At almost four minutes in length the track sets the tone for the rest of an intriguing EP. “The Cleansing” is a frantic affair which blazes a trail without, refreshingly, a breakdown in sight. Nicholas' gruff vocals sit better amongst the faster stuff here - think a pacier Seventh Star being head-butted in the groin by Napalm Death and you won't be far off. There are nods to the precision muted riffing of Belgian behemoths Congress on “Alienation”, whilst “Burnt” shows this London straight edge quartet aren't afraid to mix melody with menace as some neat arrangements and a wah-wah pedal testify. This is definitely worth a few spins and, like their peers from the past, I've no doubt these guys are a bruising proposition on the stage.
LOSIN’ IT” NO APOLOGY” CD/LP (Life To Live Records, Released January 1, 2013)
Who knew the weather in FL gets cold enough to wear varsity jackets!? Hailing from Pembroke Pines, FL is a relatively unknown outfit called Losin' It and make no mistake these guys are trying to recapture that mid 90's Youth Crew hardcore sound…think Ten Yard Fight. After releasing a few demos and a split cassette with CA's Disapproval (on Dimlight Records), they now offer us up their debut full length, “No Apology”, on Life To Live Records. This release contains 10 songs of no frills, unapologetic hardcore. The recording itself sounds great, it's not too polished nor does it sound like they recorded it in their basement. These guy have a formula and they're not afraid to stick to it, which at times I think holds them back from having a really solid release on their hands. The strongest songs on this CD, in my opinion, are “Bitter Taste” and “Brainwashed Youth”. These two songs break free from the cookie cutter approach of start fast and end slow. They have dynamics to them and show the musicianship that the band possesses. It's not that the other songs are bad but they get repetitive in nature; half way thru I was screaming at my car stereo for them to pick up the pace on some of their breakdowns. We all love the chugga chug mosh parts but when every song has a breakdown at the same tempo, it can be a drag. I also was somewhat disappointed with the vocalist. He starts off the CD sounding great but then does nothing worth mentioning the rest of the way thru. The songs really get bogged down by the lack of personality in his voice. Please, sing something in a different cadence or phrasing. This problem is not specific to Losin' It as I think many HC bands suffer the same problem. The more and more I listen to this record, I am brought back to the early to mid 90s hardcore matinees at the Rat in Boston. This band would have fit perfect on bills with the likes of Right Brigade, In My Eyes and Floorpunch. I look forward to hearing more from them in the future as I think they have the early makings of being something special.
SCORPION RECORDS “SAMPLER TWO THOUSAND THIRTEEN” CD (Released 2013)
To start off I do not think this is for sale but was released rather to be a giveaway item at shows and for fanzines, other labels etc. Scorpion is a solid DIY label outta Jersey run in part by Scott from Silence Equals Death. 4 bands, 8 songs and Know Your Enemy starts things off with two songs off of their upcoming “Kill Them (With Kindness)” album which is due out in March. “Face Facts” and “Staying Up In A Down World” are the two tracks offered up and I’m soured right away with their metalcore by the numbers approach. Growled vocals, double bass drums, slow paced chugga chugga mid 90’s beatdown style which I thought had seen its day. There is an audience for this but unfortunately it sure isn’t me. Ripface Invasion are up next and these are two tracks lifted right off of their 2012 EP which Scorpion also put out. “The Dominator” and “To Not Give In” ride the metalcore wave again but more in a late 80’s thrash sense with speedy tracks that mix in some nice breakdowns. Could I see Ripface opening for Overkill at L’Amour in Brooklyn circa 1986? Yes. Same can be said for being an opener at many a CB’s matinee. They are diverse and don’t follow a set game plan which has me looking forward to their upcoming summer release. Turn It Up’s songs are taken from their upcoming debut titled “Stronger Than Machines”. “Machines” and “Skin To Skin” show that Scorpion is willing to mix things up as this is on the complete opposite spectrum from the first two bands. Radio friendly pop-punk from these guys which didn’t impress me much as this is another genre that you practically have to do cartwheels to get me into. Not bad at all. It just falls into a category where the song plays and it doesn’t really grab my attention much and then the next song comes and goes and I have that same empty feeling. Silence Equals Death finish things up with “Reparations” and “Hero” off of their “Resurrection” EP from 2011 and these are two hidden gems that more people need to find out about. I waved my arms and screamed on my soapbox with little response that SED was some good shit back then and I’m gonna do the same right now. Their EP was 4 songs and these were without a doubt the two standouts. “Hero” with its long minute plus intro is an amazing track that brings an old-school feel that reminds me a lot of Vision if they were infused with some more crunch to their guitar sound. It has been over a year now since SED initially dropped these two tracks on us and I keep waiting (and waiting patiently) as I really want to hear some follow up stuff. Scorpion is also a good source for bands looking to do distro so get in touch with some of the good guys who are out there doing this for all the right reasons.
MISFORTUNE “PAIN” DEMO (Self Released January 7, 2013)
Misfortune’s demo does something that I haven’t seen many demos do: tell a story, something typically reserved for a full-length. Emotions and themes build up to the climatic ending. It begins with “Fading,” a song with heavy build-ups that flow into heavier guitar riffs that’s about loss of hope, emptiness, and frustration with the world. “Fading” transitions into the second track, “Grievance,” which is another song about disgust, but more directed towards a specific person. It has a great two-step and is overall a catchy song, definitely one for the moshers. The next song “Solitary” continues the mood from “Grievance” by discussing the emotions felt when let down by someone. The song features fast, driven guitars, which are repetitive at first, but eventually turn into a different strumming patter to mix it up. “Solitary” is my least favorite song of the demo. “Heavy Crown” takes the emotion from the previous songs and blames the inner turmoil on the specific person being discussed. The fifth track, “Possessed” is a fast and angry song about unhappiness, being sick of everything, and wanting to give life away, which builds up the mood for the last song, “End of the Rope.” The final track brings all of the thoughts and emotions from the first five tracks to a conclusion with its lyrics about suicide. It is undoubtedly the darkest song of the album and my favorite for its riffs and transitions. The end of the song and end of the demo conclude with a haunting sound clip, as the demo began with. All in all, the demo is pretty good for the new band’s first shot. The songs are cohesive with their similarities in mood and tone. Fans of bands such as Foundation and Terror may enjoy this demo. It’ll be interesting to see where this new band, Misfortune from Western Massachusetts, will go from here.
PRAWN, ADVENTURES, SELF DEFENSE FAMILY, THE WORLD IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE & I AM NO LONGER AFRAID TO DIE @ SUBURBIA, BROOKLYN, NY JANUARY 11, 2013
You know you’re old when you walk into a show in a large basement apartment and your first thought is ugh, smoking, and your second is poor neighbors. Missed Prawn, hung out in the other room during Adventures, but god damn Self Defense Family is easily the best thing in hardcore right now. Seeing them is like the first time seeing Ink & Dagger or Fugazi or hardcore for the first time, just recognizing that this is something new and amazing and I am gonna be a fan forever. If you can imagine a much more polished Rites of Spring with the song content being nihilistic and about sex, you might be in the ball park on Self Defense Family, but I am not sure that even does them justice. They’ve done what Fucked Up, Ceremony and Trash Talk have all tried to do, create a more expansive version of hardcore, but a hell of a lot more successfully, while continuously sounding organic and inventive. And maybe it was playing in front of a packed house, but they were a lot more intense and angry-sounding than I remember from the last couple of times through. So to recap, Self Defense Family best thing ever. Oh, and a band with a long named played after them. I missed them.
TERROR “HARD LESSONS/ONLY THE DEVIL KNOWS” 7” (Reaper Records, Released December 18, 2012
They're back but whether they are better than ever remains to be seen. Terror have earned their reputation as one of the finest hardcore bands ever. They're too metal to be punk and too punk to be metal, some might argue. However, there comes a point in every band's lifecycle when the glass ceiling is reached. Biohazard, for example, peaked early with classic albums before running out of steam and ideas and only recently hit top form again after years of soul searching. For every “Uncivilization” there is “A Burning Red” “Life On The Ropes” and, ahem, “Load”. So, is it Terror's turn to experience suggestions they could be finally lacking ideas, or that their creative spark isn't what it was? Maybe. A stalking riff sets the first track off nicely but it remains largely a mid-tempo head-nodder. The pace and brutality is notched up when singer Scott Vogel insists "what's done is done" before a breakdown lacks the sort of grit and punch Terror revel in. It's decent but feels more like a bonus track that was left off “Keepers of the Faith” because it simply isn't as catchy or memorable as pretty much all the songs on that release. “Only The Devil Knows” is much more like it. Neat time changes, layered guitars on the chorus, well-placed gang vocals and Vogel sounding like he has just been beaten in an arm wrestling competition by The Ghost Inside - incandescent with rage. Featuring a cameo from Take Offense frontman Anthony Herrera, this is the stronger of the tracks and one can only hope the rest of their imminent album “Live By The Code” is along similar lines.
FORESEEN “STRUCTURAL OPPRESSION” 7” (Take It Back/Collision Records, Released January, 2013)
This year is already shaping up to be a great one for all things hardcore. Scene stalwarts like Terror have put out a taste of things to come on their imminent new album via the “Hard Lessons” EP (also reviewed by us fine folk here at In Effect). Now it's the turn of Finnish thrashers Foreseen to follow suit with a tantalizing offering ahead of their first full length record. It would be all too easy to compare them to DRI and thrash renaissance party mob Municipal Waste. The title track is somewhere in between Nuclear Assault and Obituary, whilst the reverb on Mirko's voice brings similarities to that of Cronos of British metal titans Venom. It's a frenzied affair for two minutes before a riff kicks in that's so good the band decide to drag it out for a further two minutes, whacking a solo in there and half timing it for good measure. “Absorb” begins with an industrial-esque sounding bass being pummeled over galloping percussion before the blink-and-you'll-miss-it thrash kicks in. Chuck in some gang vocals and another frenetic solo and you have a song that will sit comfortably amongst “We Gotta Know” and “Deathrider” on your iPod playlist. Pre-order the vinyl (comes with free download) here:
TECH 9 “BITE THE BULLET” CD/LP (GSR Music, Released December 2012)
I haven’t had a flashback this hard in awhile. Tech 9’s (most definitely not to be confused with the rapper Tech N9ne) release “Bite the Bullet” brings me back to the days that I used to blast Rancid, The Exploited, and Agnostic Front in my room when I first got into punk. They can easily be compared to bands like them for their aggressive thrashy hardcore punk and street punk songs found in this 15-song LP. “Bite the Bullet” starts off with an aggressive track with relatable lyrics called “Crazy,” that includes fast, driven riffs underneath lyrics discussing those moments of insanity that all of us suffer from time to time (you guys get those, too, right?...) The songs “Gotta Do It,” “Running Down” and “You’re Gonna Get It” pay homage to street punk while “You Know Me” and “Wasted” call back to a more thrashy hardcore punk sound. It all comes to a close with “Running Down,” which is what I think is one of the catchiest songs on the album for it’s old-school hardcore punk riffs. The album in its entirety has a balance of the thrash and the street. Those looking to have a real flashback to the hardcore punk from the 80’s and early 90’s should definitely pick this one up from GSR Music out of the Netherlands. Old-heads can appreciate it for its roots. “Bite the Bullet” would be a great album to get a younger generation into a genre that helped form the current hardcore and punk bands of today.
BLEST MESS “THE DEMO” CD (Released 2012)
Formed in 2011, Blest Mess is a 3 piece female fronted punk band out of NY and NJ. Ironically the first track is titled "New Jersey Sucks" with lyrics including "all my neighbors are full of shit, drunkin' lies-pill antics. So tired of their jealous talk, they hate me cause I'm from New York". Musically a very catchy opener whether you love or hate the Garden State. Blest Mess brings an old school hardcore/punk flavor to the table and the opener is a winner. "A Thousand Ways" and "Rest In Peace" are tracks two and three respectively and although they follow the same game plan these two songs end up kind of just being there with neither one really doing much for me. Not particularly bad or particularly catchy either all in one. So to sum this all up give me more tracks like the opener next time around and we cool. PS: Loved picking this up from my PO Box and seeing the old lady behind the counters face as she handed me the package which had a sticker of the CD's cover on it. #HolyawkwardmomentBatman.
FIRST BLOOD – “FBI VOL 1” RELEASED 2012
Cover albums certainly aren't what they used to be. Gone it seems, are the days where they were instantly dismissed as pointless, die-hard fan exploiting gap fillers whilst an artist took their time between “proper” studio albums. However, bands put a lot of effort into such a product these days, especially when paying genuine homage to their influences and contemporaries. First Blood have managed to trump Hatebreed's excellent “For The Lions” tribute with ten carefully selected tracks, many of which they have somehow managed to make their own. Hatebreed's “Before Dishonor” is slightly faster with THAT ending deconstructed into half-time for powerful effect. Straight edge flag bearers Earth Crisis (“The Wrath of Sanity”) and Path of Resistance (“Counter”) are given the “regimental” treatment while the band shows plenty of appreciation for the most famous hardcore scene of them all - NYHC. Sick Of It All (“Injustice System”), Agnostic Front (“Over The Edge”), Madball (“Hold It Down”), Cro-Mags (“We Gotta Know”) and Biohazard (a pummelling “Shades of Grey”) are all given respect. Metalcore monsters All Out War (“Soaked In Torment”) have their riffs enhanced in a monster production, whilst you will never listen to Suicidal Tendencies classic “Pledge Your Allegiance” in the same way again. Carl Schwartz, possessor of one of the most distinctive barks in hardcore, is on blistering form, as are those behind him. It's hard as nails and free, so what are you waiting for? Get it at:
SOUL SEARCH – NOTHING BUT A NIGHTMARE 7" EP (Back To Back Records, Release Date February 19, 2013)
These Southern California big hitters are back with a short but sharp EP that will have fans of down tuned hardcore licking their lips. Intro “Never See” sets out the band's stall - a warning shot underpinned by a battery of muted e-string riffs as singer Omar ends the sub-minute beating by bellowing "Remorse, I'll never show". “The Scapegoat” continues in the same vein - brutal uncompromising heavyweight hardcore akin to smashing someone's head through a car window...whilst it’s in motion. “Slow Burn” sounds like Alpha & Omega exchanging headbutts with one of Soul Search's prime influences…Breakdown - the overdriven dirge of the guitars really hits home. The pace changes in “Succumb” is welcome amid another slab of bleakness that closes the EP in the same way it starts - vicious. Soul Search don't proclaim to bring anything new to the table but this is worthy of a listen, especially when you have a date with the gym. Pre-order the EP here:
WAR CROSS- DEMO (Released January 2, 2013)
Well, these guys don't hang about having only formed in November of last year. War Cross, featuring members of Shoot To Kill and Revenge have found a bit of time to produce this ten minute, five track demo of raging old-school hardcore punk. Hailing from Springfield, MA, War Cross reminds me of straight-up hardcore bands like Backfire!, Altered Boys and Agnostic Front - during their more youthful days - mixing it up with the ferocity of Rise & Fall and Integrity. All the tracks on offer here are a little different from one another. “Consuming Fire” is fierce and fast, “We Are The Night” is all about the drums and the bassline, and rhythm carries “Enlightened” into a “Holy Terror” moment, “Everyone Walks” is a head nodder whilst the groove that precedes the end of “Cold Blooded” is straight out of Tony Iommi's riff bible. Decent.
DEGENERATE “GRUDGE OF THE WEAK” EP (Released 2012)
I love surprises. I knew nothing of this band until I heard them mentioned on a radio show. Their name might fit more accurately into the crust punk genre but Degenerate would melt the studs off the well-worn jackets of those who worship at the altar of Discharge and Co. The opening track of this amazing EP by this Dallas mob is worthy of your time alone. “Brain Deaf”' is an all-out thrash affair - frantic solo included as standard - precision riffing and windmilling of hair makes way for two-stepping and carefree stage diving. The full bloodedness of “Degenerate” will give you a sore neck after you have headbanged like Tom Araya prior to his doctor's warning, whilst the title track conjures up images of the DRI “Skanker Man” logo coming alive to mosh furiously. There is light relief in the form of the instrumental “Apparition”, but not for long. “Ender” steamrolls along with menace before “The Unseen” goes from mayhem to serenity in the blink of an eye. For fans of Power Trip, Municipal Waste, The Promise, H8 Inc, this is an absolute banger.
PARQUET FLOORS, NIGHT BIRDS, LEMURIA, FUCKED UP @ WARSAW BROOKLYN, NY 12/21/12
So being an old person, I got there on time, but missed all of Parquet Courts set while enjoying what is easily Warsaw’s best feature, the delicious perogies made by nice Polish ladies. I did venture out from the bar for Night Birds, whom I’ve been enjoying a great deal of on record but was seeing for the first time, because again I am old. Getting time and motivation to go to shows doesn’t always happen. But Night Birds were tight. The crowd seemed into them for an opener in this spacious venue. Musically they were awesome, the kind of thing I wish there had been more of when I was 16, straight up early CA hardcore, a little Bad Religion, a little Dead Kennedys but mostly just fast and melodic. My only complaint is a sense that there is something about them, especially the singer, that feels like watching a historical reenactment. The singer’s staged presence makes him seem way too well adjusted, so his stage antics (which borrow heavily from Jello Biafra and Keith Morris) feel hollow. Maybe it’s just being old, but there is an inherent genuinely crazy in good hardcore like the band might just hurt me, or so earnest that it make me uncomfortable (like Krishnacore or militant Vegans), but it feels unfair to hold the fact that the Night Birds’ singer seems to be a normal person against them.
I don’t know about Lemuria. They were better than two years ago when I saw them play Krazy Fest, but they feel like a band that is stuck in some terrible middling phase where they wanting to be
more than a hardcore band (but they aren’t good enough) and lacking the taste to be an interesting indie-rock band. And being that I have a penis (and am maybe a little bit of a dick), I have a hard
time not comparing them to other female fronted bands, and can’t help thinking they’re a very safe version of Rainer Maria.
Fucked Up were good. I still have a hard time not wanting them to go into a full-on later Flag, where they have a split 7” with a side of instrumental tracks and a side with just Damien being entertaining. Live they never really work so well for me. The band is crazy tight, but Damien as a lead singer just isn’t built for where they’ve progressed to. He doesn’t seem able to maintain his vocal range live and often seems to just lose the vocals entirely. Whether he covers the mike with his hand, excessively mikes the crowd (Rick Ta Life style), or is winded, he just doesn’t hold up to how fucking precise the rest of the band has become. And this isn’t to say Fucked Up isn’t one of the better things about hardcore nowadays, but unless Damien has a horde of kids on top of him singing along, which these days is a rarity, he is a little lacking live.
SHELL SHOCK, GET INVOLVED, THE LAST STAND, INCENDIARY, BREAKDOWN @ PUBLIC ASSEMBLY, BROOKLYN, NY DECEMBER 22, 2012
The fact that NYC is changing or has changed was clearly on display as I rolled up on Williamsburg’s Public Assembly. Growing up in Queens I don’t claim to know Brooklyn inside out but I do remember this area being closer to a shithole rather than the hipster safe haven it obviously has become. Going to hardcore and metal shows in Brooklyn as a teen always required saying a few prayers that you would come home alive. Waiting at the New Utrecht train station at 2am or going to Animal Hall were experiences more in line with the old gang movie The Warriors but with this Artic like weather I was more than happy to walk just 3 blocks from where I found a spot.
I got in early to catch Shell Shock who are a nice band out of Westchester and have my homeboy Scoot on guitar. Shell Shock play that fast paced old style hardcore and put out an overlooked CD a few years back. After some time off they got back in the swing this past summer with a short West Coast weekend tour and are now making the rounds in the NYC area. This kind of show has to be bitter sweet in a way for a band like this. On one hand they are opening for Breakdown who I am sure were huge influences on them…but at the same time they got the opening slot at 830pm which meant the club was pretty empty and at best they got a few polite golf claps as applause between songs. Shell Shock busted it and did their best for the situation and a few of the new tunes they blasted out sounded really good.
Get Involved were up next and some of the faces in this band looked familiar including Lars who used to be in Uppercut, Side By Side, Judge and some others as well. The singer mentioned this was their second show and there seemed to be some anticipation in the crowd to hear what these guys were gonna do musically. After two songs I kind of turned off my attention towards them and kind of zoned out as they were playing stuff that was more along the lines of regular rock and not really anything near hardcore. To their credit what they are doing they are doing well…. with their singer actually singing and the band behind him backing things up nicely. I do not listen to hardcore exclusively and do like a change here and there (Gaslight Anthem, Silversun Pickups to name two) but there was little doubt that Get Involved was the square peg in a round hole in this lineup.
Next up were The Last Stand who are an up and coming outfit who grew out of the bands Shutdown and Inhuman. Home turf advantage as well with lead singer Mike Scondotto reppin’ his boro proudly with his new Brooklyn Nets hat on stage (as well as his Double Cross shirt). After a moment of silence for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre TLS blasted into a blistering set filled with a slew of new ones like “Good Day To Die”, “Samurai”, “Lives Lost”, “Unleashed”, and “Conviction”. Also thrown in was a cover of AF’s “United Blood”. Their debut album is less than a month away from coming out and the previews we got on this night have me excited that it is going to be a big deal in 2013. Was a little disappointed in the showing the crowd gave them as there was minimal response throughout while the band themselves really busted it.
Up next was my first run in with Long Island’s Incendiary which always seems to turn into a tongue twister name of a band for me. In-cen-dee-ary…. There I got it now. Anyway these guys play more of a mid-90’s metallic influenced style which is usually a take it or leave it proposition for myself. They are really tight live and they had a small army of lunatics ripping up the pit throughout their set… not really for me but I get why people like them. Totally could see these guys opening for let’s say 25 Ta Life at Coney Island High or The Wetlands circa 1997.
And finally the reason 99.9% of the people at this show were here…the return of Breakdown (*1987 demo lineup). A quick history lesson in case you didn’t know…Breakdown put out the best NYHC demo ever in 1987 but band turmoil tore them apart not too long after. Lead singer Jeff put the band back together a few times over the years and put out some formidable efforts but that ’87 demo IS what changed NYHC forever. Whether directly or indirectly many a band has been influenced by that classic black, red and silver Maxell cassette. So here we all are, about 25 years later as this was almost a fan reunion as well as there were many faces in the crowd that were familiar.
Public Assembly was now jammed elbow to elbow as the crowd swelled towards the awkwardly high stage (with a small staircase leading up to stage right) as Breakdown broke into their set and the place went nuts. Tracks off of the demo as well as the “Where The Wild Things Are” compilation all were played with Jeff still holding on to his classic sense of humor and stage banter. “Labeled” was called “Dradled” for the night to commemorate the holidays and Jeff definitely had fun introducing his fellow band members including guitar player Don who is still known for his time spent at the Sons Of Italy Hall. Drago, Rich, and Carl all got ribbed in one way or another during their introductions to a crowd that took the bands energy and shot it right back towards the stage. In many ways this was classic Breakdown right down to the way Jeff holds the mic in his left hand almost in a fighting like stance and a sight many people probably remember. Absent however were new songs which they did mention earlier this year were in the works. At this point in time I would love to hear what they have cooking as far as new music goes. It will be really hard to match what they did a quarter of a century ago so they have their own big shoes to try and fill but for tonight this show was about the demo lineup and their first show in NYC in ages. Breakdown really brought it on this night and hopefully they keep the momentum going and fully revive this classic NY band which was so important and has the potential to be truly relevant once again.
TWO MAN ADVANTAGE “DYNASTY” LP/CD (Drug Front Records, Released Decemeber 4, 2012
I didn’t get this band at first having seen them at a few weird shows including at half time of a female roller derby bout in Bethpage, NY. The band doesn’t cater to tough guy audiences, straight edge crews or any other category really that would lump them into your typical group. I think these guys would be just as happy playing in their beat up basement rehearsal spot as they would in front of a hundred drunken friends and fans. Two Man Advantage just kinda went out on their own and did things their way… Created a hockey themed punk rock band that doesn’t bow down to rules and the end result is 15 years of being together and a brand new album that is likely their best work to date. “Rookie Season” is the opener and best tune here with close to 3 minutes of blistering and catchy Two Man styled sing-a-long melody. An organ “breakdown” smack dab in the middle of the chaos half way through the song screams of progressive song writing and totally fits in somehow, someway. The songs range from almost 5 minutes long with “You’re Gonna Miss Me (When I’m Gone)” to the minute and 12 second “Drink The Bar Dry”. In typical Two Man fashion pretty much every song and lyric revolves around hockey and or alcohol…what a surprise. Musically if you are not familiar with this band they walk a fine line between what is typically considered punk and what is hardcore. “Desirage” and it’s sing-a-long style chorus is easily caught in your head immediately and satisfies your inner punk rocker while “”Bullet To The Head” rages, smashes and destroys like a gritty hardcore tune all the while keeping the overall vibe of “Dynasty”. The finale is “Hosers” and is a close runner up to the opening track for best song on an extremely solid 4th album from one of the most entertaining bands on the scene today. In a perfect world I would tell the uninitiated future Two Man fan to catch one of their live sets first and pick up this CD on the way out the door as live is where these guys bring home the bacon. A well deserving ranking of #6 for 2012 releases on this site as well. Extremely limited vinyl is available through their label as is an extremely bland CD version which comes with basically a CD and a front and back cover.
“AMERICA’S HARDCORE VOLUME 2” LP (Triple B Records, Released October 22, 2012)
Comps these days suck. It’s either shitty label samplers or badly compiled promotional shit. In the rare occasion that songs are exclusive it’s mostly leftovers that didn’t make the bands main release for obvious reasons. Most various artist releases aren’t even available on a physical format anymore, just saying… Fortunately America’s Hardcore is an exception to all of this and proves that a compilation record can still be fun and exciting in 2012! Volume 2 contains a variety of new and current bands and includes a couple of household names too. It’s definitely all hardcore, but each band brings its own style. Still everything fits together just fine. Personal favorites are EXPIRE (their full length was a bit stale, but this song fuckin’ rules, a hard style sledgehammer), BOSTON MAYHEM (the fucked up sound really adds something to this somehow), INTENT (typical Boston sound, not unexpected as this is RIVAL MOB and FREE SPIRIT members), RING fuckin’ WORM (still on top of the metallic hardcore game) and SOUL SEARCH (everything this band puts out is so fuckin’ hard). The DEAD END PATH song is good too, a bit like later CRO-MAGS doing a SLAYER song. Furthermore you’ll find tracks by AXIS, OUT CROWD, BANE, SHIPWRECKED AD, SWEET JESUS, NEW BRIGADE, UNITED YOUTH and DISENGAGE. And BEWARE’s still holding true to their 200% CHAIN ripoff style, could have done without that one actually. But what makes this a definite winner is by far the last track which is SUPERTOUCH. I am a sucker for Mark Ryan’s vocals and the unique groove this band still brings, this track really kills. If you wanna get up to date with some of the best that the current US scene has to offer, then don’t sleep on it and get this.
-Daan- #Hashtag# Hardcore
“NEW YORK- CONNECTICUT HARDCORE CONNECTION CD (United Riot Records, Released November 2012)
A good old fashioned compilation (and on CD to boot) featuring various bands from around the NY and CT scenes. 13 bands in all busting out 25 tracks that range all over the place with everything from metalcore to punk to some Oi! influences as well. CT’s Drug Shock start things off nice with “On The Prowl” which is a balls out fast punk track and then follow up with a more Oi! Influenced track on “Burn The Bastards”. Two Man Advantage contribute some old tunes from their “South Of Canada” sessions including a cover of Fear’s “Gimme Some Action”. Side Swiped (CT/NY) who feature Dennis from Fed Up! on vocals make a debut of sorts with the short and sweet track “Hor”. Hooks and Sinkers from CT really caught my ear with the extremely catchy and punky “Who The Fuck Is John Varatos” (an ode to CBGB’s and a rip on the store that occupies the spot where the legendary club once stood). Their follow up track “Time Bridges The Gap Between Love And Hate” doesn’t have the same appeal on my ears but shows the diversity of this comp as a whole. The very underrated Everyday Dollars push your face in with “Suspect” and “20 Year Trail” and along with the first Hooks and Sinkers track were the tunes I went back to over and over. Overall a good effort compiling such a diverse bunch of bands but in the end I skipped over many of these tracks and kept going after the same 6 or 7 songs repeatedly. What makes a compilation pass or fail as a whole depends on your take. True, I liked less than a third of the tracks but at the same time I found some new bands who I will be following up on and looking to get more of their music. In my opinion that is a pass. Bands not previously mentioned who also appear on this comp are CT’s Broken, Iconicide from NY, Blastmat from CT, Fed Up! (NY), All For Spite (CT), NY’s Carnage Krew, Truth In Needles (NY), and Progress from CT. Each band has a small thumbnail photo and a list of band members included in the 4 panel insert. Order it here:
KIDS INSANE “ALL OVER” CD Third Time Lucky Records, Released August 1, 2012
It’s a small world after all as some of my UK connections caught this Israeli hardcore band while on tour in England in late September and told me not to miss out and now just a few weeks later I am telling you the same thing. The bands influences are on display everywhere from their Black Flag inspired t-shirt on the front cover of this CD to the Gorilla Biscuits sticker on the back of their cartoon get away van in their incredibly original video for the track “Same Shit Different Scene”. The subtle hints are everywhere and the sound that comes out of the bands speakers reflect the wide range of their influences and actually beyond. What you will not get is a straight up hardcore by the numbers effort. One of the stronger tracks “Love” is the opener and the amazing production and the big guitar sound smacks you in the face right off the bat. The next thing that grabbed me was how well polished everything sounds as this does not sound like a band that has been together for just a little over 2 years. To break down what Kids Insane are actually doing is it’s like a base… or foundation of a hardcore sound and adding layers of what I describe as “heavy melody” throughout. Front man Corey can be hitting an ear shattering scream one moment and then singing incredibly clear where you can hear every lyric the next. “Story Of A Lonely Street” starts off slow with this eerie distorted bass sound that is catchy as fuck as the song creeps along for almost a minute before the drums come in and build things up into a slow paced heavy hitter. I could do without some of the double bass drumming that is sprinkled in throughout but at the same time it is something that is not really overdone. These songs are heavy yet possess a melodic element that will have you hooked from the first couple of listens with 9 of the 10 tracks being keepers. Bottom line here is Kids Insane are undoubtedly hardcore but at the same time are so much more and if they keep putting out incredibly well written tracks with premium production like this then the sky is the limit for them since this will appeal to more than the average hardcore fan. A no doubter 2012 top 10 finalist. Buy the CD or stream it for free at the Bandcamp link below:
HOUNDS OF HATE- CASSETTE 2012 (Self Released)
God bless those Black ‘N Blue Takeover boys. I knew I had forgotten to review something and my memory was only jogged when Cousin Joe and company announced on Facebook that their studio guests on the latest of the greatest hardcore and punk radio shows around was Braddock PA's Hounds Of Hate. The straight edge quartet are a tasty proposition too. When opener ''Pound of Flesh' blasted through my headphones I immediately thought the vocals sounded similar to a youthful Lou Koller way back when “GI Joe Headstomp” was a staple of Sick Of It All's blink-and-you'll-miss-it set. The lyrics are delivered with unassuming menace - "hope you got what you came for" queries the singer before the song breaks for the two-stepping brigade to do their thing. “Clean Today” is all about drug addiction, and the struggle to stay on the straight and narrow, and has a punk as fuck solo thrown in for good measure. “Pride” mashes up old-skool Exploited-esque punk vibes with the sort of guitar hook Stigma would nod in approval to. Final track “Brotherhood of Night” has more of a oi! feel about it, which underlines HOH's appeal to the wider punk community. The Hounds have started to bear their teeth. Now we await a snarling full-length in the New Year. Shit puns aside, this is worthy of your aural pleasure. Go download it for free here:
xxx ALL AGES xxx THE BOSTON HARDCORE FILM DVD Gallery East Productions/Stone Films NYC, Released 2012
Having grown up entrenched in everything NYHC I didn’t spend too much time researching what happened up in Boston in the years 1981-1984 and after watching this extremely detailed and informative film shame on me. The film opens with crystal clear footage of DYS and Jerry’s Kids playing a 2010 reunion show in association with the film. One of the first things that caught my eye is the amount of young kids mixed in with the older folks which must have been a huge boost for the bands whose heyday was 30 years earlier. Imagine being in a band that was a huge part of your cities scene growing and to have kids that weren’t even born yet singing your songs and jumping off the stage. “All Ages” covers the infancy of Boston “HAWDCAW” inside out, upside down and any other angle you can possibly take. The interviews for the most part are real and from the heart and although I wasn’t there to experience this the story of how these kids found hardcore and how they lived hardcore its not too far off from a lot of people who I have come across. A lot of the kids back then found hard rock, then heavy metal and in the case of Boston…then found California's Black Flag as well as DC's Minor Threat. From the DIY ethic and using wheat paste to post homemade flyers that resembled “hostage notes” to the early days of straight edge to underground venues like Gallery East and Media Workshop this film has the complete info on how a scene started, thrived and died in a pre-internet world. Interview standouts include Gang Green, Choke from Slap Shot and SS Decontrol’s charismatic singer Springa who seems like a fun guy to go get a beer with and then end up in a bar fight shortly after. The running time of this is listed at 86 minutes but then you get into the extras/outtakes section which includes a “sport” that the Boston crew took part in called “Rat Hunting” where a bunch of people would rattle around garbage dumpsters with baseball bats and other objects in known rat locations until hundreds of rats would come running out to escape and be met with a bunch of hardcore kids with baseball bats, bricks, bottles and other “hunting” objects looking to smash rats. Another extra takes us to Springa’s sisters house where we go into his old room as well as basement which looks like it was hit by a tornado. In the rubble we find old punk records, pins, poster and more. Watching Springa teach us how to make a Negative Approach shirt with your dad’s white dress shirt and a can of orange spray paint is not to be missed. Ok, so a lot of the bands turned metal and maybe ruined their legacy a little towards the mid 80’s but fuck it… this scene had a lot of firsts and a lot of things to be proud of and weather you’re a fan of early Boston hardcore or not the story is a good one, and one that will now be shared and not forgotten. Directed by Antidote frontman Drew Stone who during the ’81-’84 years that this film covers was a student at Boston’s Emerson College and who also adds commentary to his role in the scene.
STRIFE “WITNESS A REBIRTH” 6131 Records, Released November 6, 2012
He said it was going to be good. But he never really insisted it was going to be good as this. When I spoke to Rick Rodney during their show in Manchester, UK last year, the Strife vocalist confirmed they were writing a new album and was confident of it being something to remember. To be honest, he had to be. After all, they have had long enough to mull over the past and forge something for the future. Before the band split Strife served up “Angermeans”, a poorly received, poorly promoted album that suffered from a weak production. No less than 12 years on and Strife are back and asking you to do exactly what it says on the cover. Produced by Terror drummer Nick Jett, “W.A.R.” has a similar crunchy sound to that of the Los Angeles Faithkeepers but this is still un-mistakable Strife – rapid fire riffs coming from all over the guitar neck and Rodney's voice of urgency sounding better than ever. Sound-wise it's somewhere in between their classic debut “One Truth” and not so difficult second album “In This Defiance”. Opener “Torn Apart” wastes no time ingraining itself upon your posi-hardcore frontal lobe. You know you have heard those riffs somewhere before, such is hardcore, but they belong to Strife. Swathes of riffs pour forward before the breakdown will have you punching holes in the floor. “Carry The Torch” is a stomper of an anthem, “Show No Mercy” is largely a mid-tempo number layered with spine-tingling gang vocals whilst “No Apologies” is the polar opposite - frenzied double bass drumming and machine gun riffing that pit veterans will lap up. Billy from Biohazard lends his distinctive menacing wail on the moody “Never Look Back”, whilst there are further guest spots from Soulfly shredder Mark Rizzo and Terror talisman Scott Vogel on “In This Defiance” and the 59 second slammer that is “Look Away” respectively. Elements of “The Burden” sound suspiciously like Strife classic “Blistered”, which is no bad thing, whilst “Face Your Failures” blasts along in next to no time. With Sepultura having given Strife their big break during their 1996 Roots tour, not to mention Igor Cavalera having laid down the drums on this album, the Brazilian thrash titans were always going to have homage paid. The opening line to the closing track “Life or Death” is "under a pale grey sky" - a line from Seps classic “Arise”, and it ends with the tribal drumming Cavalera has become known for. Clocking in at under 29 minutes, the 12 songs on show here are hardcore in the truest sense. Fast, furious, melodic and, more importantly, honest, “W.A.R.” is a fantastic return to form for a band still as relevant now as they ever were. Reborn and reinvigorated, Strife have delivered THE definitive hardcore of 2012 and a reminder to the young pretenders that sometimes the old ones certainly are the best.
ANTIDOTE "NO PEACE IN OUR TIME" Bridge 9 Records. Release Date November 13, 2012
In sports there are always comeback player of the year awards. I wonder how Antidote's situation would apply here with the release of this 10 song, 20 minute spark plug of energy. Their last formal release was over 20 years ago and their most noteworthy project dates back almost 30 years. They have made the rounds the past couple of years playing reunion gigs from time to time but that "new album" has eluded us until now. Out of all the tracks here "Conspiracy Of None" is the perfect kick starter to this and shows the band was hell bent on recapturing the style that made a name for themselves "back in the day". I totally can see pile ons with bodies flying in all directions as front man Drew Stone belts out the contagious chorus of "shut up...and put away your gun... shut the fuck up... conspiracy of none". Tracks like "Ignorance", "The Hate Machine" and the title track all start with that classic NYHC bass and drum roll before you get ambushed by that distinguishable guitar sound of guitarist Robb Nunzio. Some of these tracks are leftovers from the bands glory days but never made it to vinyl while the other half are new. I like the fact that I couldn't pick out which ones are new and which ones were the oldies as everything blends well into the "No Peace In Our Time" style. Black Flag's "Rise Above" is tossed into the mix for good measure with Agnostic Front's Roger Miret sharing the mic with Drew. Hopefully the masses embrace this release for what it is and aren't looking over their shoulders comparing this to an undoubtedly untoppable debut from a generation ago as "No Peace" stands strong on its own.
OLDE YORK- “SHALLOW WORLD” CD, WTF Records, Released September 21, 2012
We actually got a sneak peak at this earlier this year as Germany’s LionHeart Records put 3 of these songs out on a very limited edition (100 copies) 7”. Fast forward to September and we are presented with the rest of the tracks from that same recording session produced by Mike Dijan who has been in a slew of great hardcore bands from NY over the years. “Peeling Paint” kicks off this 11 song CD only release and right off the bat you can feel Olde York’s heavy bass groove style. Song structure wise you can tell these guys have probably worn their Killing Time albums down to dust from overuse but at the same time they put their own stamp on things as well. Ted Wohlsen’s clean and clear vocal style fits these songs like a glove although outside of “On And On” (about persevering) and “Front Line” (about priorities) I didn’t get too motivated by the lyrics which are just kind of there doing an adequate job but are not really breaking new ground either. That aside this is an excellent follow up to their 2009 full length “Empire State” and the previously mentioned 7” with eight out of the eleven songs being straight up bangers and the remaining three being solid. Standouts include “Once”, “Fall Of Man” (last 40 seconds or so flat out shreds) and the title track “Shallow World” with its catchy guitar work. Olde York shows you don’t have to always be playing at break neck speed to get hardcore right and in fact some of their best work is when they slow things down and get their groove on. Took some warming up to in the beginning but I stuck with “Shallow World” and really glad I did. Get this through WTF Distro, Rev HQ or Interpunk….
SUPREME COMMANDER- “PAPER TIGERS” Basement Records, Released July 17, 2012
Pleasant surprises in the mail are always appreciated here at In Effect and Supreme Commander’s latest release is just that. Originally formed in ’05 in Washington DC the band played their balls off up and down the East Coast releasing a split 7” with Two Man Advantage and also putting out an EP on A389 before slowing things down a bit. In 2011 things picked up again and this is their first full length which comes as a vinyl release with a digital download code. Being that I refuse to buy a record player again (thick headed I guess) I hit play and was blown away immediately by SC’s style which is still hard to wrap a label on to. First thoughts that come to mind are that their sound is old school, fast paced, melodic, and really fucking catchy as it didn’t take long before these tunes were caught in my ear. I can see fans of H2O, Dag Nasty, Grey Area and more along those lines loving this 10 song 20 something minute gem. The vocals blend perfectly with the band’s sound and the lyrics are on point. Check out “Another Day Without You” which will undoubtedly hit home with those who have dealt with a bad breakup, “Flip Flops” deals with “frat boy douche-bags” and “The Message” which delivers none other than a good “message” at the very end. If the track “The Woodshed” doesn’t move you with hook after hook you gotta go get your pulse checked brother. I understand that within the world of hardcore punk music there are sub-genres and the folks more into the hard and heavy stuff probably won’t like this so much but fans of anything close to the bands mentioned earlier… what are you waiting for? “Paper Tigers” the album wears a few different hats as all in one it is old-school styled, yet fresh and “new”. For me at least each song stands on its own and never do I get the “one big song” feeling where one song bleeds into the next and so on and so on. Great effort!
“THE YOUTH ARE GETTING RESTLESS…WELCOME TO MARYLAND VOLUME 1”
FREE Digitial Compilation, Released August 30, 2012
Mary(land) Christmass. This free compilation which features 23 hardcore/punk/indie bands from the large Maryland scene is brought to you in part by Carrying The Fire’s Matt Bennett in an attempt to bring back the punk and hardcore compilations of the 1990’s that were a big influence on him. I agree that a good comp is few and far between these days, but a mere digital release does not do the comp format that much justice either. Being able to flip through a well compiled booklet with lyrics/art/info on each band is something that I hold dear from those 90’s comps (or 80’s for that matter) and that’s something that’s missing here. Alright, on to the music. About a third of the bands can be considered hardcore, I’ll focus on those, cause that’s the main reason you visit In Effect, right? Bet The Devil deliver a strong metalcore song, well maybe just metal, but should watch out for a claim by Slayer as the similarities are just a bit too clear. Carrying The Fire’s song I don’t know what to compare to, it has a lot of different stuff in it. Heavy mainly, but it lacks catchy riffing. Pleasant Living reminds me a lot of Death Threat, both in music as well as the vocals…good song. Ballistic could have been on any of those mid-90’s comps for sure. Very heavy metallic hardcore not unlike Undertow or Earth Crisis or more recently Foundation. Give definitely go for that DC post hardcore sound, can’t say that I’m a big fan of that style, but they are one of the better bands doing it. You probably all know Trapped Under Ice by now. They contribute one of their better songs from their latest album, and immediately take this sampler to a whole other level…so good. Brick’s untitled song clocks in at 6 minutes, but it never gets dull. Got an evil vibe in it, a bit like Integrity, one of the nice surprises on here. XLooking ForwardX makes sure old-school hardcore is represented as well, the vocals are not for everyone though. Last song is a brand new and unreleased song by Mindset form their upcoming LP on React Records. Mindset are one of the few very strong youth crew outfits these days and this song really delivers. Raging riffing, positive outlook, great sounding vocals too. All in all I would say this comp is not a landmark in hardcore’s history, but as it’s free, be sure to check out that new Mindset song and explore the Maryland scene a bit at the same time.
-Daan- Hashtag Hardcore
NO WAY, DEAD SERIOUS, REJUVENATE, YUPPICIDE
AT ST. VITUS, BROOKLYN, NY SEPTEMBER 30, 2012
Not knowing what to expect from opening bands can be like going to see a movie you have read no reviews about or even heard of for that matter and that was the case for me as No Way took the stage first with a ton of energy. Blaring through a 20 or so minute set with not a lot of brakes in between songs it is like they came and went before you knew what was going on. Saint Vitus’ sound system was VERY loud up front and at times it was hard for me to follow along with the songs but what I got out of No Way was a good short set from a band that looks to be getting off to a very positive start. Dead Serious was next and again… knew nothing about them until I see them setting up on stage and I see their singer is Ryan from Home 33.
As soon as their bass player kicked things off with a really fast bass line I knew I was going to be into their sound and like No Way this set was a nice surprise for me. I think they said this was their first show or first Brooklyn show or first of something but either way they have a good fast sound that should please the masses and overall a really good start out of two newer bands. Can’t find much online about these guys so you know they are both brand spanking new.
Rejuvenate who originally started in the early 90’s are officially back as they were the third band. They were set up on stage earlier than their scheduled set time so their bassist and drummer kind of just jammed out a little bit before their singer Tommy Rat came on stage and asked the crowd for a moment of silence for his girlfriend who recently passed away and the crowd was respectful. After that they busted into “Rejuvenate” and played close to a 30 minute set finishing up with a cover of The Bad Brains “Pay To Cum” which was always a band favorite with “Dissed By You” being my personal fav of the night. I didn’t hear any new ones but that didn’t surprise me much as the band has just recently got back together over the summer and outside of a show at Tompkins Square Park there hasn’t been much mentioned of them as of yet. After some more shows under their belts and some tightening up let’s hope they start writing some new material. Rejuvenate has been viewed by some (myself included) as a band that never got the recognition that they deserved as they are a good band with members who really go far back with their involvement within the NYHC scene. Welcome back!
Before Yuppicide took the stage for what was their NYC record release show for “American Oblvion” there were a few things that caught my eye around the club. There was a cake with the cover of their new EP out on a table…(For those unfamiliar with “American Oblivion” it has a giant middle finger coming out of a skateboard). There was a fake shark on stage with a human arm coming out of it’s mouth (the arm also was giving the middle finger salute). Black balloons were spotted floating around and there was a guy on a skateboard dressed up in a giant middle finger costume…(I sense a theme here). Lead singer Jesse comes out in a fur vest, painted face, bright orange sneakers and a pair of shorts with a giant Jaws character on them… Yeah… Yuppicide is back alright. From the opening notes they took control of the crowd sounding extremely powerful as well as tight having just come off a short Euro-tour just two week earlier. Having a large catalog of old tunes made it easy for them to toss in new ones here and there and I was a bit surprised at how well the crowd new the majority of the new tracks. For the most part the three openers got polite applause after each song with minimal pit action but Yuppicide really took it to the crowd and the crowds energy came flying right back at them. I think they said “this is our last song” maybe three or four times towards the end of their set as apparently nobody wanted to see this set end. The band would be done with what they said was the last song and the crowd just kept hollering for more. In true hardcore fashion everyone was invited to the previously mentioned Yuppicake after the set finally ended.
ANTAGONIZERS ATL- “JUST MY LUCK” EP (Self Released 2012)
Hailing from Atlanta Georgia, Antagonizers ATL arrived in the mail without any pre-warning or in my case any prior knowledge to their existence on this planet. The term street punk band which they use in their bio is fitting to a degree but at the same time kind of sells their sound short. What I mean is that street punk can be almost anything and this 5 song EP really caught my ear with it’s fine combination of melodic hooks as well as it’s grit. The lineup for “Just My Luck” has a resume from all around the world including Mark Magee on guitar from England’s Condemned 84 and Atlanta’s Anti-Hero’s (Mark has since left the band due to family related issues). You have Bohdan Zacharyj from the 1990’s NYC Oi! Band Vibram 94 singing and their bass player has previously played keyboards and toured with HR. Straight up and tough and all along catchy as each time I listen to this I envision walking into a small smoke filled bar with these guys opening for a bigger act and stealing the crowd away. Fans of bands like the Misfits or Rancid check this out, you will not be let down.
KNUCKLEDUST- “BLUFFS, LIES & ALIBIES” (GSR Music, Released September 2012)
It feels a little bit strange writing this review. I mean, my job is to give an honest opinion of a band's latest offering. However, this is no ordinary band. Knuckledust, like their peers in Agnostic Front, for example, are hardcore legends and a band that, if we are honest, most hardcore fans love. Not all, but most. Recorded by Born From Pain drummer Igor Wouters, “Bluffs...” is, for me, a brilliant return to form for these widely respected hardcore veterans and UKHC flag bearers. Their last few albums on the whole, whilst solid and typically hard as nails, weren't as memorable as their earlier, albeit rougher round the edges material. But when has KD ever cared about being memorable? This time added to the usual mix of granite riffs and stripped back drumming are anthemic choruses, guitar solos and a clearer vocal delivery which, thankfully doesn't come at the expense of Pierre's "you just spilt my pint" aggro approach. “Barbed Wire Noose” harks back to Knuckledust of old: a frenzied 27 seconds of frenetic hardcore followed by their now-signature head-punching breakdown choruses. The end of “Inner City Life” has “windmill central” written all over it before the album's title track pricks up your ears. A chunky riff gives way to a punk-as-fuck gang vocals chorus which stands your neck hairs to attention before a simple but infectious guitar solo briefly puts the brakes on. More than 20,000 YouTube hits for the track's video - the band expected a few thousand - confirms this as KD's soon-to-be signature track. Guitarist Wema is stamping all over the waa-waa pedal again on “Ride The Storm” as Pierre urges the listener to "crush all your fears", whilst “Facecrook” is underpinned by a two-step riff and drum beat combo with the vocals duties shared between drummer Ray and guest spleen venter DBS, singer of Injury Time and Kartel. “Bluffs...” presents a more streamlined Knuckledust, who clearly have attuned themselves with a maturer sound and embraced bolder ideas whilst maintaining an unhinged sense of urgency. To quote the stand out line in “Spill The Hate”, “it isn't for the glory, it's for the spirit”. And Knuckledust have far too much spirit to be exorcised anytime soon.
LAST CALL BRAWL- “LETS GET READT TO STUMBLE” CD (New York Drunkcore Records, Released September 2012)
The name of this band and title to this album gives a clear indication that LCB is a fun party band much like Murphy’s Law who I had the pleasure of seeing them open for a few years back when this band was less polished. Fast forward a few years and after some disappointment with not finding a label to release this the LCB crew unleashes this the DIY way... on their own. I have to be completely honest and say that this did not hit me right off the bat. Wasn't feeling it all that much but one day I am minding my own business and I get a song off of this stuck in my head and then the next day another one is stuck there as well. This went on for a few days until I had to break down and admit that I was getting reeled in by catchy choruses on tracks like "Beer And Violence", "Mouth Shut", "The War Is On" and the list goes on. "Trance-I'll-Vein-Ya" is sure to stick in your ear for awhile as well. You get 18 tracks here as this runs something like 45 minutes long which is more than some bands discographies. The majority of the tracks are keepers. Think H2O's feel good hardcore punk style, think Rancid's "And Out Come The Wolves" album. Are you still thinking? Just checking. As I write this I'm trapped at work on a Saturday while this band plays their record release show. Having gone from not liking this at first to lamenting being away from the show is a big swing in opinions but a transformation that has taken place. Check out their video for "On The Up" (on the videos page) for a good sample of what to expect. Tough guy core fans, this probably isn't for you but for fans of the other bands mentioned earlier in this review go check the video and let your better judgement lead you to picking this up.
HASHTAG HARDCORE FANZINE ISSUE #1
Straight outta the Netherlands son.... Check out Daan's first issue with Rise and Fall, No Tolerance, State Of Mind, a Murphy's Law interview from 1996 and one with me... In Effect. Honest, refreshing, and packed with info, insight and just has an overall witty vibe. Back cover is plastered with 25 old AF flyers, also includes Raybeez' "Open Letter" to the scene which Warzone handed out before signing to Caroline Records, a Top 10 Youth Crew 7" list, and a look back at the history of hardcore 'zines past. 40 pages. Get in touch for distro info and for ordering info: