IGNITE "A WAR AGAINST YOU"
(Century Media Records, Released January 2016)
When I first got the new Ignite and popped it on I wasn't sure if the first 10 or seconds of "Begin Again" was actually lead singer Zoli Teglas or possibly Queen's Freddy Mercury coming back from the grave to do some guest vocals. "This is your chance to begin again, a brand new start to a different end, this is your life to look forward to, and now it's all on you"....is sung in such a big rock n roll type of way that you almost never hear on a hardcore or punk record. Clear, precise and totally unique for this genre and all in one captured my attention. I have to admit at first I did have a WTF moment but damn is this guy’s vocals big time. I knew this from previous releases but let's just say it's been a little while since we've had some new Ignite. From the opening bell Ignite grabbed me with their new one "A War Against You" and haven't let go. That opening track is a mid-paced type of track that straddles the borders of what could be played at a punk rock show and at the same time also on VH1, Fuse or other mainstream outlets. I am not complaining one bit as this track and the majority of the 13 that follow are truly melodic ass kickers that are just on another level. "Nothing Can Stop Me" is up next and is more of a fast track which I hear is about a friend of the bands battling cancer. Zoli's vocals are one of the main ingredients that make this album work but just as important are the depth of quality well written tracks with a start to finish barrage of tracks that just cling to your brain.
Favorite songs are all over... "This Is A War", "Alive", "You Saved Me", and "Where I'm From" which serves up substance in the lyrical department as well. Ignite show their depth not only musically but also lyrically. I say this without even having the lyrics to the album because with the vocal style being so clean and crisp the majority are easy to make out. After being steamrolled by this for the better part of 40 plus minutes the finale comes along in the track "Work" which is a friggin' ballad of all things. Again the lyrics hit and the fact that they end with a ballad shows the bands ability to drop in some diversity within the song structures. This is not 48 minutes of thrash and bash hardcore and may not be for folks who go all in only for the tough guy style of hardcore. Bottom line is if your open to a more melodic style of hardcore how could you not give this a chance? The last track "Work" looked to be almost 7 minutes long but it ends after just 3 minutes. After a short pause they actually sneak a hidden track in here. That track is "Where I'm From" but sung in what appears to be Hungarian as Zoli's family is from there and he has done a track or two in this language before. If you haven't caught my vibe yet, I absolutely love this from start to finish. If you are open to hardcore punk that may stray off and drop a few new ideas on what the genre can do then maybe you will do too.
OVERTHROWN “WALK THE TALK” EP
(Inner Strength Records, Release Date Early 2016)
The first time I learned about Overthrown was 2 and a half years ago, end of July 2013, when my band played a couple of shows together with them in the Czech Republic, the mighty Fluff Festival in Rokycany and the after-Fluff matinee in Prague. Overthrown not only delivered an amazing and super energetic show, but they were super cool dudes, too. Since then, I follow the band as much as I can, so when Chris sent me their new EP, I immediately fell for it, even though it took me (as always…!) a couple of months to write some words about it.
For those that are unaware with Overthrown they come from Lion City, Singapore and they’ve been around since 1996, celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. They’ve played tons of shows and they even toured Europe twice, establishing a name for themselves in the worldwide hardcore scene. Moreover, Jai (their guitarist) runs Reconstrux Booking, which is one of the biggest booking agencies in South East Asia, having organized shows or whole tours for bands like No Turning Back, All For Nothing, World Eater, A Strength Within, AYS and more.
So, let’s get back to “Walk The Talk” which is the latest EP from this band, coming out on cassette tape by Dangerous Goods Records (already available) and CD by Inner Strength Records (due out hopefully soon). Jai flew to New York and recorded everything by himself (bass, guitars and drums) at Don Fury’s legendary studio (who has produced bands like Youth Of Today, Agnostic Front, Underdog, Side By Side, Gorilla Biscuits, Inside Out and Burn, among others, shaping the sound of 80’s and 90’s NYHC), then Overthrown’s vocalist recorded the vocals in Singapore and sent them to Don Fury. The result is 5 songs of heavy hardcore in the vein of NYHC and bands like Madball and Agnostic Front. There are also heavier and more metallic parts that remind me of Hatebreed, Terror and maybe Strife or Earth Crisis. You know what to expect; heavy yet catchy riffs, breakdowns, in your face lyrics and danceable chugga chugga parts. Music to mosh to! Overthrown are not reinventing the wheel and, to be honest, there’s nothing groundbreaking in their music, but their dedication and love for hardcore is more than obvious. I definitely dig their new tunes and I’m pretty sure that every single hardcore kid that is into this heavy NYHC style will love them! Hope to see Overthrown in Europe again, already missed their insane shows!
-Apostolis World’s Appreciated Kitsch
CHROME OVER BRASS S/T
(Deathwish, Released November 2015)
When it comes to music that is undeniably eclectic but nothing less than hardcore at its heart, there aren't many labels that come close to Deathwish and it is this eclecticism that sums up Chrome Over Brass and their new self-titled album. Chrome Over Brass is the brainchild of Alex Garcia-Rivera (formerly of Give Up The Ghost and who has also played and worked on as records as a drum technician by the likes of 454 Big Block, Madball, Converge and 108 as well as being a touring drummer for Shelter and Better Than A Thousand so it's safe to say he knows what he's doing when it comes to drumming.
Chrome Over Brass is an instrumental album with all parts played by Garcia-Rivera that will take you on a musical journey, from frenetic hardcore drum rhythms to more out there jams, it's all here in Chrome Over Brass. Obviously the drums are the main focus on the album and are spliced with guitar and bass flourishes all played by the man himself, making Chrome Over Brass a true one man band and the whole of Chrome Over Brass is impressive stuff with the variety on show here something to marvel at. The album is one that never gets boring as some instrumental albums can be or self-indulgent either as there is a straightforward vibe akin to a hardcore album… no messing about, just straight ahead music with passion and attitude.
Taking each track as a separate entity, the album works on many levels with several standout tracks such as the frenetic “Here Come The Stukas”, the insane rhythms of album closer “One Night In St Regis”, the bruising hardcore patterns of “Black Rainbow”, the sheer groove of “Fighting With Tooth And Nailgun” and “Jeeps On Safari” and the initially aggressive dirge that transforms into a psychedelic jam of “Moogs For Moderns”, a song which shows off the eclecticism of the record and while these tracks are extremely impressive on their own, when you listen to the album as a whole it takes things to whole other level of musical brilliance. Garcia-Rivera is taking this project out on the road live and that will be a sight worth seeing and hearing in a live setting, the album is great enough just listening to it but to see it done live would be mind blowing (in the live setting all the percussion is played live by Garcia-Rivera with pre-recorded instrumentation, without breaks) so let this record take you and your mind over and don't miss the truly special live show, you won't regret it.
YUPPICIDE “REVENGE REGRET REPEAT”
(Dead City Records, Released December, 2015)
Cue the ridiculously fast drum roll please!....and the new LP by NYC's own Yuppicide is off and running, shot out of the gates at light speed... and it rarely if ever, lets off the gas and comes up for air. Yuppicide has hammered out their own style of music since 1988 and in my opinion are a much overlooked act within the scene. I honestly do not know why, but it seems people either love them or hate them. Maybe it's the name or maybe it's the way the wind was blowing but the fact is, they have put out some excellent hardcore punk over the years and "Revenge, Regret, Repeat" is no exception. I may go as far as to say that this is their best stuff yet, which is odd for this genre as longevity is hard to come by. Bands usually get all of their ya-ya's out early on, when they are young and dumb and full of piss and vinegar. Well, some of us still are I suppose and Yuppicide still has a lot of go in them.
This is their first full length since 1995. It has 11 songs and clocks in the neighborhood of 27 minutes. After the aformentioned blistering drum roll the first track "Spread The Infection" (2:43) kicks off with Jesse Jones shaking us awake with a booming "LET'S GO!!!" This is galloping fuzzy hardcore romp. This one will get the blood pumping and kicks the LP off to perfection. There is even a Yuppicide breakdown in here that will have you killing imaginary zombies in your basement. "Sabotage" (2:06) comes up next. This is another blistering punk rock song that rolls along nicely with spots here and there that slow down so you can smash something. It's got a little funk thrown in. The boys are pissed. They burned it down and buried it in the ground. Nice. "You're Gonna Get It" (2:15) continues the pace. Another rager with great backing vocals and a nice breakdown which morphs into a nice melodic grove before crashing out. The fourth song is "Hurts To Know" (2:24). A timely song concerning social media and all of its ills. Topicality is one of Yuppicide's strong suits. "Bad Blood" (2:12) kicks off with a nice guitar riff and then speeds off into the hardcore ether. "Where's my buy back?!?!?" Finally someone voicing some of my fucking concerns. This one makes me laugh and is one of my favorite tracks on the LP. It rips. A George Carlin clip intros the next song "Political Game" (2:57). This cut pretty much sums up my opinions on politics. Another smart song by Yuppicide that works on the intellectual and straight up punk rock and roll levels. Mega bonus points for the Carlin! Next up is "Obsolete" which is also introduced by a clip. This time from the excellent movie "Falling Down". You haven't seen it you say? Get your head out of your ass. This is a back and forth galloping hardcore tune coupled with smart lyrics that culminates in a sweet breakdown. Sweetness. "Another day of drudgery, turns your mind to sludge," is how the melodic nine to fiver "Insolence" (2:18) kicks off. This is Yuppicide's posi-core tune hidden inside of a caught in the cycle song. This is my 2nd favorite song on the LP as it covers so many bases and is very catchy. "Ghosts" (3:46) is the epic of the LP. It starts off with a dub, then rocks out only to head back to dub land. Very 80’s NYHC, combining many elements to craft a quality song. "King of the Dicks" (2:22) is pretty self explanatory. This is what I consider an up and down hardcore tune. "I'll bite the dog that bit me". I do believe he will too. The LP wraps up with "Destroyer" (3:02). My favorite song on the LP. This one combines a little metal with some hardcore punk but not to an obnoxious degree and by no way is it a metal song that someone decided to call hardcore. This is how it's supposed to be done... kinda like "The Eliminator" by AF. Great way to end the album.
So there you have it. Not bad for three dudes who met at school in Brooklyn back in '88. This has the three core members consisting of Joe Keefe on bass, Steve Karp on guitar, and the transplant Jesse Jones on vox. They added Jay Rogan on drums and the band has never sounded tighter. This is top notch stuff, nothing sloppy here. Each member hits his part with precision, like a well oiled machine. Yuppicide have many releases out there so get out there and gather them up. Buy this one and work your way backwards...... its fun, trust old Uncle Junkie. This was recorded by Glen "NRSV" Lorieo, who has done an outstanding job with it. Yuppicide is a smart, funny, and talented band who also tear it up live, so get on the bandwagon already. For Christ's sake punk, do I have to fuckin spell it out for ya?
BAPTIST KILLING SPREE “DEMO 2015”
(Released November, 2015)
When you get submitted a demo by a band called Baptist Killing Spree with a pretty demented cover you are not really sure what you’re gonna get but I gave the play button a hit and was surprised by what I heard. Their bio claims a love for old school hardcore like Gorilla Biscuits, Cro-Mags, and Sick Of It All to name a few but also made mention of their love for satan, naughty nuns, and burning churches which I hope is just a bad joke but with kids today who the fuck can tell?
With 4 songs clocking in at only 7 minutes this is a very small sample size to go on and the musical influences they mentioned are definitely in play as they kind of got that old NYHC thing down mixed with some punk rock melody sprinkled in too. Throw in a slight Poison Idea/Kill Your Idols influence with some thick accented British vocals that sneak through your speakers and you get a pretty good picture of what BKS is doing. The lyrics on their Bandcamp page are condensed on some songs and have a positive vibe for the most part, especially on "Live Long, Live Legendary"... "You have my hand, my heart, we're family! Live true, live long, live legendary!" This track has a catchy chorus that makes its appearance a few times on this demo's closing track which is my clear cut favorite.
Overall I think BKS have their shit together but might lose a few potential fans along the way as their name and demo cover may confuse the average person who isn’t going to dig too deep into this. The cover and name Baptist Killing Spree may be more in line with some psychotic cult or a band that may have opened for say GG Allin when in fact BKS is more of a CBGB Sunday Matinee type of band where they are throwing things back to a more clean hardcore style. I am here to tell ‘ya they are the latter. Hopefully whatever is next for BKS is longer than 7 minutes and can keep the same intensity that they were able to bottle up here on this fine debut.
MALFUNCTION “FEAR OF FAILURE” LP
(Bridge 9 Records, Released November 2015)
With so many new bands in hardcore, to go from the “hey let's start a band” phase to touring internationally with the likes of Bane in under 5 years, you've got to find the delicate balance between talent, material, and luck; all while booking as many shows as possible and recording new songs. Malfunction seem to have found that groove on the road and in the studio, somehow finding time amidst a ridiculous tour schedule to change labels and crank out a new album entitled “Fear Of Failure.”
This is Malfunction's first release since their switch from Reaper Records to the historic Bridge 9 record label, and can certainly be marked as a milestone in their career thus far. These young bucks from Buffalo have quickly solidified a spot for themselves as one of the new school's most dedicated bands. Past all the hype surrounding them, I have had limited exposure to Malfunction. I saw them in Philly last year with Backtrack, Bane, and Reign Supreme, and I didn't know what to expect. They were opening the show, and I had not heard their music before. They played a great set, even garnering praise from Aaron Bedard of Bane who later admitted that they have become one of his favorite bands, partially due to their work ethic and unrelenting drive while touring, quite the compliment from someone who hasn't taken a break in 20 years. Malfunction clearly found a sound to focus on with this record and did a great job creating a record with a consistently heavy sound, peppered with moshable breakdowns, 2 steps, and all that other good stuff the kids love.
That said, the first thing I noticed right from the drop was how different the vocals sound since their last release as well as from seeing them live. I'm not sure if this is the way the album was produced or if it’s just a vocal progression, but whether natural or not, it does work musically as far as matching the weight of the sound, and so does not detract from the record at all. Musically this record is a great step forward for Malfunction. They seem to have fallen into a real lock step as a band, most likely due to all the touring. Doing more than just keeping time, the drums stand out to me-the fills and breaks fast and calculated, played with a ferocity that translates really well. There are some real bangers on this album, with my top 2 songs to hear being “Cut Off” and “Final Thoughts”, although the whole record is worth a listen. I have no doubt that if they continue on this road, Malfunction will be a band that remains at the forefront of hardcore in the coming years.
FREE “DEMO 2015”
(Released November, 2015)
I remember in 2012, I saw Clear open for Chain of Strength, and I thought to myself: "Oh cool! Pat Flynn has a new band!" Then in 2014 I saw Sweet Jesus open for Into Another, and I thought to myself: "Oh cool! Pat Flynn has another new band!" So then the nice people at In Effect have me review this demo by a band called Free, and all I can think is: "CAN'T THIS GUY FOCUS ON ONE PROJECT!?" I jest, but seriously what a busy dude! It's a given that there's already a lot of hype around this demo, which is amazing to me given the sudden and also seemingly under the radar appearance of this band. In fact that seems to be a common thread with a lot of these Boston area bands; they manage to garner massive national followings while somehow avoiding social media like the plague. IE: The Rival Mob, Boston Strangler, Clear, Free Spirit, The Wrongside etc. all word-of-mouth bands. How do they do it? Email? Group text? The B9? Who knows!? Either way, Free; cool band, interesting name, great sound. I naturally hear a tinge of Have Heart in their style. I draw this conclusion/comparison because this lineup is 4/5 members of Have Heart, and these songs are (and I absolutely hate that I'm about to use this word) EPIC! They have that epic emotional vibe that HH was really good at setting forth. Please excuse the use of cringey idioms. The songs have an almost classic rock riffy quality that's like one third Mountain, and two thirds hardcore. Stray observation: their logo kinda looks like a hamburger. 4 sick songs, but demo of the year it is not. I will say I do dig it a lot though. It was on repeat for a few days straight and I never once got tired of the songs. The run time of the 4 songs was just enough to keep me satiated while leaving me curious to hear what a full length would sound like from these guys. 6 thumbs up. Also: if I managed to miss a Pat Flynn band, let me know. I feel like there's more.
IMPACT “WORLDS APART” DEMO
(Released October, 2015)
Straight outta the world's largest toxic waste dump...aka, Staten Island, come my next candidates up for review, Impact. In the interest of full disclosure I have only been to Staten Island ONE TIME in my whole long old man life......and I found it quite lovely. Since I get all my news from hardcore records that came out in the 80’s, I'll stick with the toxic dump thing.....and vote for Reagan come election time. If he can't do it, nobody can. America rules! Anyhow, these young fellas play some of that youthcrew style of hardcore, with a decidedly New York flavor. You get 8 songs clocking in at around twelve minutes or so. Perfect for the core. This release starts off with "Empty Words" clocking in at 1:28. It starts off kinda slow and dirgey in the intro but quickly picks up pace. These kids are pissed and they've added a sweet breakdown so you can exercise your demons in the pit with them. Next up is "Callous" at 1:55. This one kicks off with some bass and a slow groove but quickly does an about face and takes off eventually finding its way to a sick breakdown which sounds like it came straight from 1989. You barely have time to take a breath as "Callous" ends and, fittingly enough, "Breathe" kicks off. A tidy 1:30 seconds will have you screaming "I just want to fucking breathe". I hear ya fellas....I hear ya. I tell ya, I get winded going up the stairs nowadays...and the knees...the aches...man......
Damn, forgot where I was for a minute. "Breathe" ends with a sweet guitar solo. "Joke To Me" comes next at 1:46. This one is straight up fast and pissed. It sounds like there is shared or maybe guest vocals on this one and it sounds great. The tune devolves into some funky shit. Somebody is getting dissed hard here. Next up is "Cut And Dry" which starts off with the simple loving and gentle sentiment "FUCK YOUR JUDGEMENT!!!". This song is :56 seconds of hardcore goodness. The titular track, "Worlds Apart" is fast out of the gate and what I would consider to be the driving tune of this release. Not the inspirational or centerpiece song, but rather the one you play as you drive. It has that galloping hardcore style which I love and reminds me a little bit of Rival Mob. Solid tune. Blink and you'll miss the blistering and semi-schizoprenic "Stay Away" clocking in at :39 seconds. It's fast, it's slow, it's hardcore punk. This release ends on the epic....and by epic I mean 2:10 worth, which by Impact standards is epic, "Reality Check". This one has a good back and forth melodic quality to it. This one is a rocker and you'll shout "I just want to fuckin be free". There is even some musical space at the end where one might like to practice some karate in the pit. This song doesn't end but rather fades away in the kickass old school way. So there ya have it. Is Impact breaking any new ground or exploring uncharted hardcore territories? No, they are not. I don't think they really care to be though. Let's face it, nobody into youthcrew or playing youthcrew can really claim to be or wants to be. It is what it is and it ain’t broke and that's why we love it. They are simply playing what they love and playing it well. Bonus points for the KYI tats! Check out some Impact and I'll be sure to see them if they come around. I am curious to see if they glow in the dark.
RICOCHET “THE PIG THAT YOU ARE” EP
(Released October, 2015)
Times sure are exciting for hardcore, but the return of early nineties warriors Ricochet is a new high. Back when they started out their interviews were advertised alongside the likes of Ian MacKaye - listed above, in fact. I’ve seen the evidence. I mean, goddamn, that’s cool. This band was pretty damn heavy for the time back in ‘91, but listening to the two new EPs it’s clear that the band are keeping up with the times. But let’s just get this awkward moment out the way quick so we can get positive up in here, because despite what I’m about to say, “The Pig that You Are” is a solid bunch of tunes - the old stuff is a lot more impactful and memorable. In context, it was nuanced, groovy, and aggressive without needing to overstate the case. The new material somehow feels a lot more generic and commonplace, with less to make it stick out from the hundreds upon hundreds of hardcore bands that use the same formula. Don’t get me wrong, hardcore was never about reinventing the wheel, the band’s older stuff was just, well, better. Not as heavy, but heaviness is no deal breaker. Structure is.
Anyway, let’s delve into “TPTYA”. There’s hardcore stamped with PUNK, there’s metal-tinged hardcore, then there’s the obscure bands that sit awkwardly in between. Ricochet lean towards being such a band as this. This EP lends itself well with grooves and trudging paces, and even riffs that border on the Slayer-esque side of the music world, such as that of “The Fire”, which, placed right after the misanthropic anthem that is the title track, gives us positive vibes with lyrics such as “You never faltered / You gave all you had / You never tried / You stood by my side”. I’m one hundred percent not alone in believing that love and friendship are just as important as hate in this genre. And this little EP has both in abundance. Just like the range of speeds. The first three tracks of the disc bring us calculated doses of anger that bristle and burn away, then in the midst of it all sits the instrumental break that is “Streetsweeper”, which chills down with samples and steady paces before the madness kicks off with “Trapped”, which flits between quick angry speedfests, and downward spiraling riffs. Then “Breath To Breath” slamdunks us into a pit of mayhem, driving us further into the rage with some powerful leads. All in all, if this Ricochet fest exposed me to anything lasting, it’s the early days of the band. The new material is a blast, but not an experience you’ll repeat tirelessly.
COP PROBLEM “BURIED BENEATH WHITE NOISE”
(Released October, 2013)
I saw Cop Problem play at the Grand Victory at some point in time over the past year or two. I was drunk and don’t really remember too much about it other than that they played and had a crazy crowd and a female singer. I now wish I had paid more attention to their set because I just listened to their 4 song EP entitled “Buried Beneath White Noise” and it is fantastic. The overall production gives the entire thing a very dark feel. The drums are crazy fast with transitions from blast beats to fills. The singer, Deb Cohen, has a ridiculously thick and raspy voice that makes my throat hurt just listening to it. My favorite track on the whole thing is the third song entitled “Who Really Pays?”. Clocking in at just over a minute and a half the track really just delivers a heavy punch. If you’re into really dark post hardcore this is definitely for you. I now have to wait and wonder when Cop Problem is coming back to NYC so I can actually sit and appreciate them properly. Check ‘em out. (Editor’s note: Released in 2013 and somehow got buried in the mix here so yeah, it’s 2 plus years old, whatever!)
LEFTOVER CRACK “CONSTRUCTS OF THE STATE” LP
(Fat Wreck-Chords, Released November 2015)
Leftover Crack, I don't know about you, but for me this band is a blast from the past. These guys, among with pretty much every other band from that weirdly niche-specific, yet strangely abundant crust-ska-core sub-genre were on the top of my burned CD playlist. But then I kinda fell off back in 2005 when I went through my inevitable underground music transitional phase, shedding my Toxic Narcotic back patch for a Judge hoodie. I mean, now it's confirmed that I'll never be cool in any sense of the word, so it's ok to outwardly like whatever mish-mash of music I want, so this review brings a nice little full-circle for me.
Anyways, I'm just gonna cut to the chase here, LOC isn't exactly re-inventing the wheel with this album. In fact I wouldn't even say they're innovating the wheel, or even adding accessories to it. In 2001 we had “Mediocre Generica”; a slick, well produced record, mashing catchy sing-songy crusty borderline pop-punk, ska, and a little bit of death metal to a degree. In 2004 we had “Fuck World Trade”; a slick, well produced record, mashing catchy sing-songy crusty borderline pop-punk, ska, and a little bit of death metal to a degree. And now it's 2015 and we have “Constructs Of The State”; and guess what we have... Same shit, different day. Same anti-cop rhetoric, different decade. I'd say there's an improvement in song writing and general musicianship, with a few cool acoustic and or toned down interludy type parts. Also the tasteful utilization of horn-lines and mandolin add a nice flair of "we really tried here".
The one thing that always stuck out to me with LOC was the rhythmic cadence of certain lyrics. Stza's high banshee-esque screech yelling out in a rapid fire rhythm: "YOU REALLY KNOW ASSUREDLY YOU DON'T LIVE IN HELL? YOU REALLY KNOW ASSUREDLY YOU DON'T LIVE IN HELL? YOU REALLY NEED ASSURANCE THAT YOU WON'T GO TO HELL? THEN THROW YOUR FUCKIN' SCRIPTURE DOWN A WISHING WELL!" Awesome!
As usual the lyrical content is defiantly anti-politico, anti-capitalist, anti-military, & anti-patriarchal sexism. Good! Educate the youth! This is what we need! But at the same time this is that delicate thin line where one tries to educate, but ends up harshly alienating. And I swear this is not coming from a place of intellectual or societal regression; but how much can you harp on class division, drug addiction, and "the system locking you up" to the same crowd? What other alternatives are being offered? Are the young kids buying this record being encouraged to drop out and live in a squat? Does that seem irresponsible to anyone else? I don't know, I'm on a tangent here, maybe I'm over-thinking it. It takes me a while to collect my thoughts sometimes. Moving on!
Standout track: “Amenecer de los Muertos”. A fun hook-driven tune about playing a show on tour in east bum-fuck nowhere in a mall, and how being provided vegan meals by promoters usually means cold pasta every night. The vibe and energy of the song and chorus makes me feel like this their "Born To Die" of the 2010's. Final summation: Mehh. 5 and a half thumbs up.
GO DEEP “INFLUENCE” LP
(6131 Records, Released November 2015)
The term “hardcore music" is a subjective one; while some prefer straight up hardcore, others may prefer a more metal based hardcore sound. Then there are bands like Go Deep, who have a different style to them but still fall under the hardcore umbrella. Listening to their debut full length titled “Influence”, I admit it did take a while for me to warm up to because it's not a hardcore style I'm used to. The lyrics are basic hardcore themes and are simple and catchy; while the music has sort of a "mature" sound to it. Together both make a good combination and I can see myself on the side of the stage singing along with the harmonies and a second later being out on the dance floor when the songs get heavy. I also appreciate that there is a "friendly" vibe to Go Deep's music, meaning that I wouldn't expect a crazy, beatdown type of pit and by looking at the band photo, it confirms my thought that these are friendly dudes making music they love. I suggest giving “Influence” a listen, maybe even a second or third if needed before making judgement, it worked for me. I recommend track four entitled “Antidote”.
KILLING TIME @ HARDCORE STADIUM, CAMBRIDGE, MA NOVEMBER 14, 2015
WORDS & PHOTOS BY: JC PHOTO MEDIA
I've been blessed these last few years to connect with people that in my younger years before I had a camera in my hand were iconic members of the music scene that I grew up in. Yesterday I was able to go travel to Boston with the one of my all-time favorite hardcore bands - Killing Time. It was a great night in an old VFW style hall in Cambridge,MA complete with a deer head on the wall and it was deja vu to the days when this would be the norm outside of New York City for a hardcore show in my youth.
Killing Time took the stage at 10 on the dot and ripped through one of the best hardcore records ever written – “The Brightside”. 11 tracks and all bangers. The crowd was a mix of old school friends and kids not yet born when Killing Time was just another Raw Deal laying the foundation for the record that would become “Brightside”.
Anthony, Carl, Rich, Chris and Drago took the stage and showed the kids a thing or two about being heavy, passionate, and sounding great without resorting to overdriven guitars and vocals that can't be understood. Drago and Chris handled the bottom end laying down the groove for the sing-a-longs and mosh parts while Carl and Rich intertwined on the signature Killing Time sound that I've never heard replicated in my 27 years of going to shows. Last night seemed like two steps forward and no steps back.
CLICK PHOTO ABOVE OF KILLING TIME'S CARL PORCARO FOR MORE SHOTS FROM THIS SHOW
BL’AST “FOR THOSE WHO GRACE THE FIRE” EP (Rise Records, Released August, 2015)
I first got into Bl'ast when I picked up "Power Of Expression" in '86 or maybe early '87. These Santa Cruz icons have always fascinated me, partly because I never got to see them in their prime, mostly because they craft heavy kick ass hardcore tunes, but also because I had no idea where Santa Cruz was....still kinda don't. Come on....there are so many Santas and Sans in Cali, who can keep it straight? Either way, wherever it is, it's alright by me, because it spawned a great hardcore band. I was stoked when I saw their name on my latest review....a little less so when I found out it was a two song promo, BUT!!!!! A, we take what we can get, and B, promo means a full length will follow, and that is the case with these veterans. So a quick two songs are on the plate for review here today. The first song up is "For Those Who Grace The Fire"....a timely song. This one starts with a grand guitar intro that quickly devolves into a frentic fret wrecking wall of guitar noise, then it builds back, and then it drops again. Then the song kicks off and initially it has a mathcore kinda timing. Did I just invent mathcore? Well probably, but that's what I do...I create nonsense. However, what I mean is that the song has odd timing, but it works because the song eventually gets pumping, only to change again a short while later. It's a very interesting song structurally and it somehow fits into the Bl'ast universe very well. This one is 3:59 which is epic by hardcore standards. Next up is "The Pulse", a straight forward hardcore rager clocking in at 1:06. As much as I dug the first tune, this is what I was waiting for. Short, sweet and strong. I can't wait to hear the rest of the stuff they are putting out. This features the core members of the group Cliff, Mike, Joey, and Nick and they haven't lost a step. Oh, and by the way, they are joined by a couple of fill-in newjacks due to touring obligations that Joey and Nick had. One guy named Chuck Dukowski played in something called Black Rag or Bag.......no, Flag...that's the one Black Flag, and the second guy is some dude named Dave Growl? maybe Grohl, either way, keep your eye on that kid, he may be going places. In all seriousness, Dave remixed and remastered the great "It's In My Blood" LP back in 2013 and if you haven't you should check that.....and this.and whatever else you can get your hands on.
TORSO “SONO PRONTA A MORIRE”
(Agipunk/Sorry State Records, Released September, 2015)
Recording is a massive pain in the ass. Anybody that tells you they are stoked to go to the studio and record probably hasn’t done it before, or enjoys pain because it sucks. In the digital Protools/Logic/DAW software age we are in now it has become increasingly easy for bands to make professional sounding albums for minimal amounts of money by doing it themselves and taking the time to record each instrument by itself. While this has its benefits and ultimately results in a more finely tuned product, there is something to be said about doing a live recording, where the whole band plays at the same time, and rips it straight to analog tape. It sounds warm, fat and has a natural energy and aggressive feel to it that can sometimes be lost in a digitally tracked recording.
Well, California based Torso went the old school route, played live and ripped to tape their first full length “Sono Pronto a Morire”. The performance is stunningly excellent and tight. The songs are aggressive, fast and full of youthful energy. The song writing and overall production and feel of the entire album reminds me of the old school Swedish D-Beat and American hardcore records I grew up listening to, where the line between punk and hardcore is very blurred. The vocals are high pitched and distorted while the guitar sounds like somebody walked in, plugged into an amp and turned every knob to 11. This is a stellar album full of quick riffs played in all downstrokes, choppy breakdowns and throat shredding vocals. Hopefully Torso makes it to NYC sometime soon, because I really want to mosh somebody to the breakdown in “Eating Scraps”. Overall, an extremely solid effort by the band. Don’t sleep on this album kids.
THE FACTION “PEGGED FOR LIVE 1985” LP
(Not Like You Records, Released October, 2015)
I'm gonna slap on some Tracker Trucks, pop on some sweet Rat Bones, screw on a spankin new Powell Jaw Bone, and head over to my favorite skate spot to try to recapture that old feeling....and more than likely.... within moments, if not immediately, face-plant and mortally injure myself. Thank God I can keep my old deck nailed on the wall and instead, listen to the "Pegged For Live 1985" LP to get that old feeling. "Pegged" is reissue of a 1985 live recording from skate rock legends The Faction, taken off the soundboard at CBGB's during their summer tour. It was originally issued as a limited cassette release in 1985 and has been out of print since. My friends and I were supposed to go down to this show but instead we bought dime bags in Washington Square Park, skated and generally fucked off. Another great life choice. I have owned a Nth generation copy of the tape for ages, but it is neat to see this vinyl reissue by Not Like You Records. It has cool artwork by Bobby Brown and my copy is on white vinyl. I believe it was released on three different colors. As for the tunage you ask? Well if you don't know who the Faction are just hit yourself with a tack hammer. This is where skating and hardcore collided. These San Jose legends were all skaters and released some of the best hardcore punk skate-rock which was tailor made for shredding, rocking, and just plain old smashing shit. This is them at the height of their glory and this recording features my all-time favorite skater, Steve Caballero, on guitar. The band also feature Gavin O'Brien on vox, Adam Bomb Segal on 2nd guitar, Ray Stevens on bass and Craig Bosch on drums. The music is tight and fast and the recording is surprisingly good. All of their hits are on here and the set-list showcases the bands many personalities. You get the anthemic shredder, "Skate And Destroy". You get some of their humorous and sarcastic side with "Why Save The Whales" and "Let's Go Get Some Cokes". You get the rockers "Dark Room" and "Deathless". You even get a cover of Gen X's "Your Generation", and it's a banger. All in all you get 15 songs of prime Faction action. This is a great nostalgia release and it really brought back some amazing memories. However, it actually kicks ass for the music as well, so don't blow it off cool guy. I am usually not really into live LP's but this shit rips, so check it out, do some learnin’. Skate safe!
VISION OF DISORDER “RAZED TO THE GROUND” LP
(Candlelight Records, Release Date November 27, 2015)
Disclaimer: I have to admit that V.O.D. is one of those bands I heard about back in the day and knew that I'd probably really like, but for some reason never pulled the trigger on buying their albums. I'd hear them in a friend's car, the local record shop, on a CD player at the skatepark, or wherever else it was that we heard new music in the dark ages before “the internetz”. After going back through their previous releases a few times, I can confidently say that “Razed to the Ground” will likely be a favorite of their oldest fans as well as newcomers to the band.
The first thing that hit me was the cover art for “Razed to the Ground.” A young boy in a gas mask draped in an AK-47 shoots a slingshot made from a crucifix while a drone ominously flies above. Safe to say that before pushing “play” I already know that there will be plenty of social and political content on this record.
Immediately the gate is down and we are off to the races. The opening track “Heart Of Darkness” is a roughshod critique on society at large, with spoken verses that break the wall of just hearing an album, and pull you in with the realization that this was recorded in such a way that you are being spoken to directly. V.O.D. has something to say, and you are going to listen.
Even with my limited knowledge of the band's full catalog, I can tell you that this album stands to be one of their more brutal and heaviest records to date. Throughout the album, there is a palpable disgust for the mess that is humanity, as well as a sense of celebration for those who stand in defiance of the status quo. For as dark as the sound is on this record, it is surprisingly melodic and structured, including a few sparse sing along opportunities and slow breaks that manage to keep the intensity high and alive. The timing and arrangement on this record are excellent, speeding up and slowing down like waves of auditory hammers crashing on your ears. What you hear through this album is the kind of cohesion a band only gets through time. The drumming really stood out to me on this one; clean, sturdy technique while keeping it complex with plenty of fills while managing not to go overboard. Overall, the whole band did a great job creating an album which delivers a solid political message accompanied by the music to back it up. I'd really suggest checking this one out, especially if you are looking for that perfect soundtrack to the end of the world. Best listened to while watching Fox News with the TV muted.
BRAIN SLUG “LIVE IN POWER”
(Advance Promo Cassette, Release Date Novermber 20, 2015)
Man, this is a killer tape! Brain Slug have been carrying the torch for straight forward no nonsense NYHC, regardless of whatever's currently in vogue in the overall hardcore scene, for the better part of 4 years now. This sampler for their upcoming "Live In Power" LP ups the ante in the noisy and distorted department while still maintaining a full on nihilistic approach. It's cool seeing current NY bands progressing and expanding their sound without relying on rote formulas. There are hard, fast parts like the classic early Boston bands balanced by crunchy mid-tempo breakdowns. I would venture to say some of the early 90's bands like Rorschach, Born Against and Citizens Arrest are a point of reference. In fact, they do a righteous version of CXA's "Serve & Protect" on this promo tape. It's also befitting that they are playing this Friday Nov 20th with the mighty Infest and the aforementioned CXA… (where this cassette will be made available for the first time to the public in a limited run). A passing the baton kinda of ritual from 2 late 80's and early 90's titans that kept the hardcore flag waving amidst a sea of mediocrity, not unlike what Brain Slug are doing these days. Bonus points for a spot on Beastie Boys cover from their hardcore days. Check out one of the new tracks (“Checkmate”) by visiting the Bandcamp link below!
SOUND FOR SOUND
“MAKING THE RIGHT EAR JEALOUS” LP & CASSETTE
(Released January, 2015)
Being a punk band is sort of a quaint idea these days. A peer was remarking how there really aren’t any “punk bands” around these days; I think what he was remarking about is how the trends seem to take over and you have screamo/hardcore/street punk/rock n’ roll/ska bands that describe themselves as “Doom”. Are you in Buzzoven, Cavity or Sleep? If not, you aren’t in a doom band; so stahp, puhleese! There really aren’t too many bands that just wear their sloppy, anger proudly anymore. No frills, balls to the wall, un-P.C. three-chord, all attitude, punk bands. In a scene where everyone is jockeying for something, Sound for Sound are just trying to play hard, fast, rules, type punk shit. Dig it, or don’t, I get the feeling they really don’t care; they do this for themselves. Seems like a pretty honest way to be and it’s probably where we all started at some point. You know, before people started seeing friends and acquaintances eek out a living making music. Sound for Sound are the band you would have heard at a very influential time that probably would have ushered you into the seedy underworld of punk rock flop houses, late night drinking sessions and pit etiquette; basically, a punk band with no pretense. Come to Miami, see the sights, get a tan, strap on your docs and head to Churchill’s for a Sound for Sound show. Let’s all collectively stop growing up right now and remember what being an angry punk kid was like. Sound for Sound has crafted a current soundtrack for such a night of debauchery with, “Making the Right Ear Jealous”. Stop paying these shitty bills, spray paint the walls, and break your TV (there isn’t shit on worth watching anyways). Oh, can I crash on your couch?
POISON TONGUES “FOR FREEDOMS SAKE” EP
(Fast Break! Records, Released October 30, 2015)
Combine the brutality of the 90’s hardcore scene with a harsh modern feel and add in ferocious elements of the heavier side of extreme metal and you get the gist of where Detroit bruisers Poison Tongues are coming from.
Formed from the ashes of legendary Motor City hardcore bands Earthmover and The Alliance and with members formerly of Detroit hardcore acts like Cast In Fire, Without Warning and Ante Up, Poison Tongues have nothing to prove when it comes to hardcore credentials but plenty to prove to the world when it comes to deliver their positive message, a message of rising against modern evils such as the corruption of the worlds media while their songs both political and personal feel like surging anthems.
:For Freedoms Sake” kicks off with the hardcore assault of “Bastards”, a track that offers an almost slow motion beatdown and some mighty chugging riffs as well as a few metallized ones as well and is a fine way to kick off the EP and also a fine indication of the Poison Tongues sound. The relentless fury of “Vagabond” follows and is no less of a full on blow to the head as the opening salvo of “Bastards”, the chugging riffs are evident once again and fit in well with the metal/hardcore hybrid going on in the song.
The standout track of “For Freedoms Sake” follows, “Lions” is a straight up monster of a song. “Lions” is both defiant and triumphant with a massive breakdown that would ignite any pit in the world and is every bit as strong and mighty as the animal it takes its name from, when Poison Tongues play this live there is going to be carnage.
The EP ends with the bruising metal of “Keep Your Head Down”, a song that features some powerful dual vocals, a brilliant gang chorus, some killer riffs, a great solo and another glorious breakdown and this is a great way to end things and proves that with “For Freedoms Sake”, Poison Tongues have set the bar high and hopefully will raise it even more when they release an album in the new year, but for now this is more than enough and a great and heavy release.
xTIXONx “OFF Demo 2015”
(Released May, 2015)
Purveyors of primal straight edge hardcore, xTIXONx pummel their way through their demo “Off” with wild eyed glee and with a raw passion. Wasting no time in declaring exactly how they feel regarding people with carnivorous eating habits with the brutal opening track “Eat The Meat (Don't)”, xTIXONx wear their edge beliefs proudly on their sleeves and in their hearts. The track exudes furious anger from the first step, at times reminding me more like a hardcore version of Napalm Death than any traditional straight edge hardcore band in terms of the vocals, the riffs are pure hardcore through and through though and elevate the song completely, there is also an accompanying video for the song that supports their belief and is in complete support of animal liberation. The next two songs on “Off”, “Beyond The Limits” and “Off” up the ante even more, the former a bruising hardcore anthem with a few metal riffs thrown in for good measure while the latter is a mid-paced stomp ready made to cause chaos in the pit, with the gruff vocals ready made to be barked back in a live setting. “Off” ends with a cover of “The Leaving Song Pt 2” by AFI that transforms the original into a grooving hardcore monster, all catchy riffs with vicious vocals over the top as xTIXONx put their inconsiderable stamp on the song. xTIXONx have come up with a demo in “Off” that could easily pass for a fully fledged EP such is the quality of the material on show here, yeah there is still a raw edge to the music here but the production is faultless and I look forward to an official release from the band, hopefully sooner rather than later.
PSO "MY WAY OUT" CD
(Not Like You Records, Released September 2015)
PSO are 4 skateboarding punk rock brothers (actual real brothers and not just the "your my bro... bro" type of brothers) out of the San Diego area who just released their debut full length via the ever busy Not Like You Records/Zine. Before this they put out a couple of 7"s since they got their start in 2012. "Circle Of Trends" leads things off here with a few seconds of some calm and tranquil guitar work which lulls you in a little bit before the thrash attack hits around 20 seconds in. A blazing fast punk track that throws in some choppy drum beats to create some nice mosh. Fucking home run here is what I'm thinking after the first song as these guys have thrown together a nice mix of what has been traditionally a west coast type of skate rock with elements that you'd see more in line with east coast bands in the form of breakdowns.
"My Way Out" sports 10 songs in 17 minutes which to me is just about the perfect length for a punk/hardcore album as this gets you going but doesn't beat you over the head for too long. The sound they got on this production is raw and whether on purpose or not gives the feel like you’re listening to these tracks WITH them at a band practice. Can't make it out to their house/garage/basement in Lemon Grove to catch PSO jam out? No problem. Just pop this on. To me it's the same vibe but still clean enough to know your listening to a recorded album. Plenty of skate references on this to solidify their allegiance to the skateboard lifestyle. They don't take kindly to penny boards or long boards, roller bladers and especially posers and will be hitting the local skate spots whether it's the cool thing to do or not for years to come. (Lyrics from "Wrong Board"). I'm all over this debut full length from PSO because it stands out. It's got that something to it that makes you want to put it on again and again. It's not perfect but then again... a good punk/hardcore record doesn't have to be as most of my favs are far cries from perfect. The closest to perfect thing here is the amazing artwork by Jim Howard depicting the 4 brothers coming up out of a manhole cover. This is only available on CD at the moment but when the vinyl becomes available next year the larger record cover should be an added reason to pick this bad boy up. All we need now in the meantime is the answer to the question what does PSO actually stand for as there are no obvious references anywhere to what it could be. It may be time for an interview with these guys to get this sorted out!
STILL BEATING “THE WRITING’S ON THE WALL” EP
(Released May 2015)
Still Beating is a melodic hardcore band hailing from Helsinki, Finland. Their brand of metallic, melodic hardcore is reminiscent of the 90’s; which is never really a bad thing. The EP comes complete with samples of, “Network” the movie that has the line, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.” C’mon, you know the one. I would imagine going to see these guys on their home turf would be like coming in out of the cold to a warm cup of joe surrounded by friends in a stifling room full of bodies being tossed around with a joie de vivre that is so often missing these days from hardcore. There are videos on YouTube, (I’m sure you’ve seen them) of kids flailing their arms and doing kicks into nothing, no one coming any closer than 5 feet from each other?! What the hell is that? I see these things and then I hear a band like Still Beating and I realize that these kids are going to get eaten alive someday in a pit somewhere. They’re going to be all, “Yeah, I’m hardcore, been going to shows for years, I’m a pit master!” This will inevitably be followed by a series of punches and kicks the likes of which have yet to be written down in the annuals of hardcore history. Jeez, hasn’t even happened yet and I feel bad for that poor bastard. My point is, Still Beating is good and they keep the high energy, angry spirit of hardcore alive in a time where everyone gets a medal and no one has to work for anything. This has always been the antithesis of hardcore, man! All inclusive? Sure! But, you have to prove that you belong here too. Take your knocks, pay your dues and have a good time, or stay way in the back. Either way, cool; enjoy the show.
SHOCKS “THE HEAT” EP
(Released October 2015)
Shocks are a German band who crank out the type of metallized hardcore that fans of Turmoil, Integrity and American Nightmare will go nuts for and their debut EP “The Heat” is a stripped down beast of a release which emphasizes both the hardcore and metal elements of the band. The metal element comes across best in the bands riffs, all short, sharp shocks of metallic fury while there are brutal breakdowns and hardcore vocals galore throughout these four tracks. The EP opens with the chugging bassline of “Landplagues” before the band blast through a hardcore onslaught with vocals reminiscent of Lou From Sick Of It All while a snaking metal riff crawls through the base of the song. A breakdown halfway through slows to a guttural groove for a moment, before the onslaught continues over a pounding drumbeat.
This opening purge is quickly followed by “Open Books”, a fast, old school stomp with some chunky riffs for starters and some crucial breakdown action for the main course. The pummeling instrumental and all out crossover beat down of “Into The Wild” is up next. Metal riffs collude over a hardcore backbeat on this one and reminds me of some classic Sheer Terror as this is one song that would be an absolute killer when it is played live.
“The Heat” ends in fine style with the full on “I Won't Make It Mine”, a fast paced track with plenty of the frenzied riffs that have dominated throughout the EP and this is a fine way to finish the EP off. Shocks have made a great start with this EP and a full length by the band would be greatly received based on the metallic hardcore fury on offer here and hopefully this will be the case sooner rather than later.
NIGHT BIRDS "MUTINY AT MUSCLE BEACH" LP
(Fat Wreck-Chords, Released October, 2015)
I have to admit I jumped in late to the Night Birds party but here I am. After reading and hearing fellow In Effect writer/photographer Carl Gunhouse sing their praises for the better part of a year I ponied up and downloaded their 2013 EP titled "Maimed For The Masses" about 6 months back. When I am "catching up" on a band with multiple releases I like going for a shorter release to get my feet wet and that EP certainly brought up my desire to get their new one here on Fat Wreck-Chords which is their 3rd full length overall and their first full length with Fat. I must have emailed their PR people at least a half dozen times like a pest seeing if this was ready to be sent out to us zine and website types for a review. Back in the day my post office box would have about 5 new releases a day from all sorts of labels pushing all sorts of music. These days I have no PO Box and get about double that amount in the form of links sent via email which are almost always accompanied by some dull info about their band that could or should be used to help the insomniacs of the world on a nightly basis but let's get to the review, shall we?
12 songs here, 25 minutes long kicked off by "(I'm) Wired" and within the first couple of seconds of this song I'm hooked, and I mean really hooked as this immediately brought me back. How far back? I would say to when I initially found out about HARDCORE and PUNK in the mid-80's as Night Birds’ style and sound just has this frenzied energy that amazingly walks this fine line between 2 music styles that have so much in common in their history but in 2015 can sound worlds apart. The quickness Night Birds infuse into their songs is straight up nasty and thrashy and gives that feel of early on hardcore, especially the stuff that used to come out of Southern California back in the 80’s. Not bad for a bunch of East Coasters from the land of T. Soprano, The Boss, Snooki and Naughty By Nature (that would be New Joisey if your scratching your head still). I've read the Dead Kennedy's comparisons and I think those that have pointed that out are on to something although their sound goes way beyond the DK’s. Frontman Brian Gorsegner (much like Mr Jello B) does have his own unique style that stands on its own with a part raspy/part screamer style that fits the music to a T. Stand out tracks are all over this thing with “Life Is Not Amusement For Me”, the title track (which has a pretty warped video to accompany it) and “Golden Age Of TV” being some notables (ya see what happens Larry?). This album is also back loaded with good songs with 3 of the best ones finishing things up. “King Kong” with its catchy chorus of “everyone wants power, everyone wants fame…” kicks some ass while being a great melodic sing-a-long and is followed by a 2 minute surf-punk style instrumental titled “Miskatonic Stomp”. How many instrumentals do you know that are one of the best songs on the damn album? Here is one. “Mutiny…” goes out with another melodic sing –a-long titled “Left In The Middle” which could possibly be this albums strongest track as it just fucking sticks in your head. I have been fed a steady diet of heavy, metallic, chunky sounding hardcore for a long time and although I like a big portion of it there are many times where it all gets lumped together with many bands sounding too much alike. Then along comes “Mutiny Of Muscle Beach” like a breath of fresh air opening eyes and ears and hopefully is just the start of what is to come not only from the Night Birds camp but others who may be influenced by this band and style. More please!
VENGEANCE “FOOLS FOLLOW RULES”
(Six Feet Under Records, Released October, 2015)
Let’s get one thing out of the way here; this is a super group. Dudes from Floorpunch and Underdog (not sure which ones) with Jay Pepito from Reign Supreme on vocals. A lot of times, when you add up a bunch of parts of awesome bands, the sum result is not as impressive as you’d hope. On first listen of this record, I felt this was another case of typical super-group math; pretty cool, but not amazing. But I have to say, the more I listen to this, the more I really dig it. Here’s where I am now; this is a damn good hardcore record.
Musically, it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect from members of Floorpunch with Jay singing. The vocals are a bit more growly than Reign Supreme, which definitely fits the music more than the Reign Supreme metal-core style scream. The songs, straight-up could be Floorpunch songs (and at one point were as some of these tracks are from what was initially supposed to be Floorpunch’s second record). There are intros, really fast fast parts and really stompy stomp parts. It’s great.
Stand out track really depends on whatever song I listened to last… which is an easy sign of a good record. The held out pauses into the breakdowns on songs like “Pushed too Many Times,” “Brotherhood” and “Your Pride” are sweet because you think the songs are over, only to find out you get a bonus mosh. “In My Place” is a sweet 11-second blazer. The chorus for “Manipulate” is awesome and so pissed. “Point of View” has such a cool stompy Sick of It All style tempo…. It’s really tough to pick a favorite song on this.
This record is very good and I really don’t hear many people talking about it like I should. Maybe it’s because I live in the furthest upper-left corner of the country, but I feel like there should be more hype on this than there is. I really dig it and think that barring a handful of incredible records in the next two months, this will probably be on my top ten of 2015 list. So, give it a listen… or better yet, give it a few listens because if you’re like me, you may not realize how awesome it is the first time.
H2O “USE YOUR VOICE” LP
(Bridge 9 Records, Released October, 2015)
7 years have gone by since the release of “Nothing To Prove”. The same amount of time between the release of “Go!” and NTP (as often referenced in jest by the members of H2O), Must be their lucky number. For me and many others, “Nothing To Prove” was the be-all end-all hardcore record of the 2000's. For some it was their introduction to H2O, and for others it was a mind blowing explosion of a comeback. Either way, it's a record that re-solidified H2O as a name to be reckoned with, not only in NYC but the world. So when it was announced a new record was in the works, the people waited with bated breath. Will they top “Nothing To Prove”? Can they? With plenty of naysayers ready with a laundry list of reasons to decry the idea: They're older! They tour too much to write a well-focused record! Their stuff gets repetitive! But as true veterans of this scene would, they pressed on with the idea of putting out music for the fans, and more importantly because they love to do it, which is an element that is always present with these guys. The result is “Use Your Voice”, their 7th full length album, and 2nd to be released on Bridge 9 Records (technically 3rd if you count the cover album). Having a fairly diverse catalogue of song styles, ranging from straight hardcore to radio rock, and the bar being set so high by NTP, how would “Use Your Voice” fare? Well let's dive in and…Go!
The opening track, “Black Sheep”, starts with Michael Rapaport extolling the virtues of PMA. Toby’s random smattering of celebrity friends always seemed so strange to me, but of all people to kick off a record, I would say Remy preaching a positive mindset is the way to go. I gotta say, I am impressed with “Black Sheep” as an opener, it’s one of those elusive minor-key H2O songs, and of course features a hooky chorus to keep you drawn in. Next into “Skate!” What’s this? A classic 1-2 1-2 circle pit drum beat? A rarity for H20. I always mark out for a good anthem to skating despite the fact that I haven’t had a true passion for the sport be it hobbyist, spectator, vested, or otherwise since I was about 14. Track 3: “Thick & Thin”, delivering their best Civ impression, H2O sets up a catchy, singy mid-tempo diddy with a nice little tribute to Fugazi in the bridge. Track 4, the title track: “Use Your Voice”. Solid, exciting, fast, gang-vocal anthem, and a thinly veiled nod to Toby’s veganism, but a broader message of taking a stand against the ills of the world. Lyrically Toby is as open as he has ever been. Bold lyrics about his family, an adorable love letter to his wife, defending guilty pleasures like pop music, and taking a defiant stand against social media invading every aspect of the modern world. The first third of this record is my favorite part of it, and quite honestly it seems to run out of steam after about the 4th track.
So the burning question at hand; Does UYV top NTP? Is this a good record? Absolutely. Is it a proper addition to the H2O roster with plenty of great cuts? Definitely. Does it top its predecessor? Frankly, for me, No. What H2O has presented here is a solid continuation of their sound, with a slight evolution in personality, but not enough to put them on another level the same way “Nothing To Prove” did. These guys carved out their niche and solidified their fan base a long time ago; and their following, while clamoring for new music, weren't expecting some groundbreaking/life changing/mind altering material. They just wanted a good record, and that's exactly what they got; a solid, well written, melodic hook-filled record. And no one would expect anything less from these guys. 7 thumbs up.
NO TOLERANCE “YOU WALK ALONE”
(Painkiller Records, Released October 2015)
And you'll never walk alone....you'll never, ever walk alone.....alone..... Just singing a bit for all the scouse cunts out there. Sorry, the LP title took me to Anfield but, back on track. Edgemen take note....actually,...Coremen take note. Up for review this week is the latest release from Massachusetts’ own mythical musical creature, No Tolerance. I have always been a big fan of the straight edge, never been smart enough to put that into practice, but that's neither here nor there. Don't let that word scare you off though. I know some dismissive types out there close themselves off when they see it. Formed in 2007 as a studio only project by Dance Floor Justin and several other Boston area band members, No Tolerance recorded a demo which was released on Edge Day in 2008 and subsequently pressed onto vinyl for a 7" on 540 Records. The band became a four piece and followed up the demo with a 7" on the most excellent, Youngblood label in 2010. The band has had a few weekend jaunts and a few fests sprinkled in here and there, with a month tour of Europe thrown in for good measure back in 2012. “You Walk Alone” is the first full length and first recording as a full band with the core four including Justin ("DFJ") on vocals, Chris ("CC") on guitar, Ryan on drums, and Doug Free on bass. The LP was recorded at Ryan's Side Two studio and Chris' Paincave studio in 2014/2015 in Boston. This is made with love of the core by guys who have done so for many years......damn...I can tell you stories (as I rock to and fro in my rocking chair) of a young CC back when he was just a mere pup in the DC/MD/VA scene, before he set out for greener pastures in the form of Boston. Well, there are no "stories" per se, other than that he is a solid, smart dude.... but the kid is a thoroughbred hardcore punk and has been for a long time. Truth. The other band members have too. To paraphrase one of Doug's other bands, this is hardcore for hardcore.
So what is on offer here from the No Tolerance camp? We get a healthy twelve track dose of clean, precise straight edge hardcore punk rock, clocking in at around 19 minutes. You're gonna get anthems a plenty. You're gonna get the speed and the breakdowns. You're going to want to finger point. You may X up if you are so inclined. You might buy a hoodie or some high-tops. You may have a pile-on with your house plants and cat. You are probably going to wreck some stuff at your house moshing around, so put the good shit on a high shelf. I was expecting all this from these guys but what I was not expecting is the throwback feelings this release has given me. I am used to the newer straight edge sound, and no I don't mean that weird metal shit, I mean bands like Mindset. Clean professional sounding stuff. No Tolerance definitely sound like pros musically but DFJ's vocals are a bit more "dirty" on this release than on what I have heard previously and I like it. It makes the sound a bit more reminiscent of the
late 80's. Overall you do get a “Break Down The Walls” vibe to the music, it is clean and it is hard. The vocals throw it more in the Hard Stance direction at times with a fleeting hint of Uppercut. I also think a fair comparison is something akin to Confront (Shout out to Big Tom who is a local DC/VA/MD guy nowadays and a monster of the Crossfit). CC's guitar work is impeccable and he hits all the right spots in stride with blistering speed. Doug seemlessly blends his bass into the musical flow. Ryan attacks the drums like an adderall fueled teen, with machine gun bursts on the snare that gave me chest pains. Seriously, crank it up to eleven and listen. At times the snare sounds like a jab to the face. This is all good by the way, in case you were wondering. These are short, fast, and loud bursts of anger aka the straight edge fury. The musicianship is in no way sloppy. It is purposeful and almost mechanical but not in a way where it would be devoid of passion as there is plenty of that in the songs.
My favorite tracks here are "Watch You Break" which adds a nice echo effect to the vocals and happens to be the track with the best face punch snare attack, along with "Losing Control" and "Pay The Cost" where you can hear the machine gun snare followed by a sweet breakdown. There are breakdowns a plenty and I can see the kids losing their minds song after song in a live setting. If you are a fan of fast hardcore punk then you should be all over this release. Don't sleep on this and don't miss them if they make a rare appearance near you. I don’t want to have to say I told you so. I listened to this on the beach in Jamaica all week and it hasn't gotten old. This is being released on Painkiller Records in the USA and Quality Control HQ in UK/Europe. Now if you'll excuse me I have to see a therapist about my obsession with being punched in the face, but first I have to go clean up some plants and a really flat cat. Go!!!!!!!!!!!!!
BORN FREE “SORROW”
(Resist Records, Released October 2015)
I've heard that Australia has a great scene due partially to the fact that it is so isolated from the rest of the world, meaning that in order for a band to last – they've got to be good. Born Free will be around for a while. They are a 5 piece Melbourne based outfit with their feet firmly planted in the roots of hardcore. Born Free's latest release from Resist Records titled “Sorrow” is a study in melodic hardcore and certainly pays homage to the NYHC sound which has clearly influenced this band.
This album is definitely worth a listen. Although the sound they put out is a familiar one, their style sets them apart from other bands in the genre. Punchy guitar and bass riffs overlay the drums well, creating a cohesive sound which also allows each player room to stretch and find their own groove, showcasing each of their talents individually while keeping the music tight. The vocal mixing is done just right as well, where some bands have a tendency to drop the vocals too low to create a darker sound, or too high to make sure they're heard, Born Free found the balance. I don't know for sure, but I feel that this record was put together by the whole band, not just one or 2 guys calling the shots, which gives it a refreshing sound. It’s great to hear an up and coming band so locked into their own foundation, and who have a solid grasp on exactly what they do. Born Free transition from slow moving wells of dark guitar and drum driven mosh parts to circle pit worthy fast breaks with ease, giving this record an edge that will appeal to old heads and young guns alike.
Two steps and moshable breakdowns abound, this record will have you moving from the drop. If you are a fan of bands such as Madball, Backtrack, or Sick of it All, this one will be right up your alley. This is a record you could throw a dart at and hit a solid track, but if you want one off the top, I'd lean toward “Nothing” or the title track “Sorrow.” Put your hoods up and start swinging!
URBAN WASTE "WASTE CREW" EP
(Wasteland Productions, Released October 2015)
Yes boys and girls... this IS the same Urban Waste from back in the day...Queens, NYC. They released an 8 song 7" in 1982 before packing it in but for those who may not have been following all that closely the band has been back (although on again and off again) for the better part of 7 years now. Urban Waste (and in particular their OG guitarist Johnny Waste) have my upmost respect here as almost 33 years after that 1982 release are back with the first all new UW tunes in a long while and fuck does this thing shred. Is it possible that Johnny was frozen in a big slab of ice all that time and unfrozen a few years ago to pick things back up? After you pop this thing on you will think it is actually a possibility as they have captured a sound and energy from days gone by. Fuck man, they even brought a recording that steps back in time with a production sound here that is more in line with "The Lower East Side Crew" than many of the clean and polished recordings that are the norm today. I ain't complaining... just saying! The new lineup that has been assembled pull this recording together with solid vocals, bass lines and drum parts and after seeing them live a few weeks back mirrored that same energy on stage. It doesn't stop there as they have become sort of weekend warriors playing many shows in and around the NY tri-state area and beyond (California later this month). 8 songs here (just like that old '82 EP) that thrash and bash for about 15 minutes with frantic bursts of energy and some nice guitar leads... I'm all in on the throwback style and the delivery. AF's Roger Miret and Vinnie Stigma pop up here with Roger joining Josh on "Your Hypocrisy" and Vinnie contributing all guitar work on "Problems". What makes this EP stand out more than anything though is its spontaneous feel. It's real, it's raw and undoubtedly hardcore that bridges 1982 to 2015 seamlessly while staying genuine to yesterday and today.
EXAMINE “DEMO 2015”
(Released October 2015)
Examine are a new NYHC band featuring members of Vexed and On The Offense that formed in May of this year and have just released this which is their first demo. This demo kicks off with first track “Foundation” which starts with the sound of some distorted feedback before some whirling riffs and a grooving rhythm erupt and the sound of vocalist Sean starts the ruckus, “Foundation” features a solid groove and is a great introduction to the Examine sound.
The ferocious likes of “Black Blood” (featuring a classic hardcore sound and some brilliant bass work) and the brilliantly titled “Cowards Die In Packs” (which features more bass greatness, this time more of a warped, distorted and off kilter vibe and some extremely vitriolic lyrics delivered with venom by the vocalist) keep the energy levels to the maximum and are both definitely highlights of the demo. “Masked Up” is a straight ahead no holds barred hardcore thrash with some crunching riffs that morphs into a grooving breakdown at the end of the track complete with shout alongside of the songs title and the demo ends with “Kept Sick”, a song that revolves around a slamming wall of noise and some creepy crawling and powerful riffs.
As this is a demo, there is obviously a raw feel that suits the bands sound extremely well but it will be good to see Examines raw talent in full effect when they release a full album. There are shades of classic NYHC bands such as Killing Time and Gorilla Biscuits here and an energetic rawness that you just can't fake. Examine are definitely one to look out for in the future and their demo is a great start.
TORMENT “FEAR OF MISSING OUT” EP
(Released September 2015)
We like it speedy and explosive over at In Effect and Torment’s EP “Fear of Missing Out” is just that. This debut EP straight out of Denmark is reminiscent of a lot of modern metal, but that’s only the garnish. Beneath that Lamb of God-esque riffage is a whole well of caged hardcore rage.
It opens with an eerie music-box tinkling backed by a deadpan baritone elongated note that sets you up with a creeping sense of dread, right before the upbeat panic-stricken guitar lines of “Scared Of Silence” kick in. This, interspersed with the bassline playing on its own between blasts of the full force of the band, remind you of the dawning fact that this shit is punk despite the metal roars. It’s a hard line to toe. I mean, you’ve got the Dead Swans vibes you find in moments in tracks like “He Walks Among Us”, when you get those softly played, almost-happy chords reminiscent of that of the melancholic strumming at the end of “Ivy Archway” (by Swans), then two tracks later you get slapped with a Dimmu Borgir sounding chorus - I mean, c’mon, that chorus in “Celebrate” sounds like something off of In Sorte Diaboli, it can’t be just me. Anyway, it’s a lengthy one, clocking in at just under four minutes. The formerly mentioned track is longer, actually, but the tracks keep your attention, which, let’s be honest, is a pretty impressive feat for hardcore with that kinda length. When it goes over three and a half minutes, most of the time, I just zone out. Then again, that’s just because short and sweet is the nectar of the genre for me.
Want more speed? No, no that kind of speed, I’m not an e-dealer here. I am talking about the pace my brothers. Look no further than “Tricked By My Own Mind”. The opening riff is one to clear the floor for beatings. The song is also a shining example of how this band can throw together a hell of a breakdown. Beastly breakdowns are the pinnacle of all things awesome and Torment show us that they can be chaotic, oh yes, but they can also control that chaos and in a collected manner, sprinkle it with more of that eeriness you heard in the intro with a lead section. When all is said and done, it’s a great EP that will please the fans of the more metal-y hardcore that other underground bands like Torn have also demonstrated. Now, to find some more speed. I’m jonesing like a bastard.
BRING THE FIGHT s/t
(Eulogy Records. Released September 2015)
One of the things that gets me amped up about doing this In Effect thing is when a band basically comes from outta nowhere with a quality product that I never saw coming. Bring The Fight out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (it just sounds fucking cold typing that out) did just that first by dropping a video for a key track on this ("Lockstep") a few weeks before this self-titled release came out. Having first caught my attention with the video I was not disappointed when the remaining 12 tracks came out a short time later displaying a well played and well polished product. Although together for about 5 years now this is only their first full length with a previously released EP to their credit as well. Style wise this is almost equal parts hardcore and straight up punk rock with tons of melodic choruses that hit hard backed with some nice bass work throughout. The vocals fit their music perfectly with a hard but not growled or screamed or Cookie Monster style of singing that can oh so easily ruin a great record. Think Sick Of It All, think The Casualties, and Wisdom In Chains all rolled into one with SOIA being the main ingredient. Songs like "Troubled Tides", "Hourglass City", and "Lost Integrity" are clear standouts along with the aforementioned "Lockstep" track which they have the video for. Bring The Fight are not going to be mistaken for being the next Bad Brains or Minor Threat or even Black Flag for that matter as they are not exactly reinventing the genre. Their influences are obvious and ingrained in their sound but where they really succeed here is by adding enough of their own flavor, power, style and signature to make these songs their own. Highly recommended listening for fans of the bands listed above as this has been on a steady rotation around these parts going on a few weeks now.
BLACK ARMY JACKET “222” LP
(Re-released August 2015)
I've loved fast HC ever since seeing whirlwind Italian thrashers Raw Power at my first show in the mid-80's. Little did I know that said genre was about to approach it's logical conclusion, in terms of speed, with the advent of Grindcore and ridiculously fast tempos that became an incomprehensible blur to me. It was with great relief that the movement known as Power Violence started up in the early 90's. Here were tempos I could dig: ultra-fast but not to the point of becoming unlistenable and the songs tended to shift gears at the drop of a dime, going for slow tasty Sabbathy parts that counterbalanced the rapid tempos. West Coast bands like Infest/No Comment were associated with this sound but it took a while for the NYC area to catch up but we eventually did with the mighty Black Army Jacket, who formed in 1995.
This timely reissue does a stellar job in highlighting what is their magnum opus: The "222" LP from 1998, which is an uncompromising slab of premeditated sonic brutality that mixes elements of death metal/HC/punk/thrash/noise into something that simultaneously defines and transcends the Power Violence label.
Living in this age when everything in extreme music has been said and done, with no frontiers left to cross. It's important to revisit vital documents that pushed this subculture at the seams back then and more importantly, still hold up to this day. That's the definition of music with staying power and if I was forced to encapsulate “222”'s sound in one sentence, I would say it's like: If Septic Death were locked in Man Is The Bastard's rehearsal space covering Terrorizer's demo and Cheetah Chrome Motherfucker tunes while John Zorn's Painkiller practiced next door.
This well thought out reissue features a sharp remaster from the original tapes, done by Chris Pierce of the late great Doc Hopper, striking new cover art plus poster/patch, 2 bonus tracks and different color vinyls to choose from as well as a handy Bandcamp download. Members of Black Army Jacket are still active in one way or another, playing in current bands (Municipal Waste), doing record labels (Brainscan Records) or running music entertainment sites (No Echo) but it's safe to say that this LP recorded 17 years ago, remains a memorable high point in their collective "resumes", musical or otherwise. All hail the BAJ brigade!
MODERN PAIN “PEACE DELUSIONS”
(Bridge Nine Records, Released September 2015)
Hailing from Dallas,Texas, Modern Pain have bolstered their hardcore assault with a layer of harsh and abrasive noise rock. The band’s sound is now shrouded with feedback soundscapes akin to the like of Unsane, Scratch Acid and the Jesus Lizard. While the album is still predominantly hardcore (you only need to hear the SSD/Negative FX like blast of “Holy Foundations Crumble”, the chugging breakdowns in “When The Hymn Fades” and the Poion Idea-esque thrash of the title track to see proof of that) there are now waves of noise added to the bands frenzied sound.
The aforementioned “When The Hymn Fades” is a perfect example of this cross-pollination of sound, as the breakdown ends a haze of warped rhythms appear from out of nowhere complete with some harrowed screams to give the song an eerie conclusion as is “World Inverted” which is almost as industrial sounding at points as it is hardcore but has an intense energy running through it that kind of reminded me of a harsher version of Big Black. A dense sound now encases the songs especially on the likes of “My Reality Is Slipping Away” and the punkier “4302” and is most apparent on “Leave Me Here” which is a six minute noisy misanthropic dirge of epic proportions.
The same discordant noise and feedback that opens “Peace Delusions” in the track “Vivisepulture Pt. 1” closes the album in Pt.2 ending things with the same harshness that prevails throughout the whole thing. With “Peace Delusions”, Modern Pain have come up with an album that is as definitely hardcore, there is no denying that but it is also noise rock and the way the two sounds are melded together is impressive and for that they should be given credit as there is the anger and passion of a hardcore record here that is combined with the abrasive edge of a noise rock record.
BUYING TIME, OUT LIVE DEATH, URBAN WASTE, THE TURBO AC'S, TWO MAN ADVANTAGE
@ Sinclair’s Pub, West Babylon, NY September 25, 2015. Photos/Video by M.I.M.P. Photography
The majority of Long Island punk and hardcore shows these days go through either one of the two venues in Amityville or at this small pub in West Babylon just a few miles away. On this night the locals had to choose between this lineup or the mighty Madball over at Amityville Music Hall.
I got in during Buying Time who were the opener. They have a good straight up punk sound and have a couple of releases under their belts. Although I liked their sound enough to go look up their previous releases they left me with a flat feeling due to the non-mobility of their 3 frontline members who were pretty stationary throughout their set. It was kind of a buzzkill as they have good songs but more like going to see them at a rehearsal rather than a live show. They got a polite applause after each song which they definitely deserved but a little bit more in the way of energy level would have aided their set by leaps and bounds.Check out their "The 1969 EP" on Bandcamp which came out this past June.
Out Live Death were the next local band up. They grew out of the recently disbanded Live Fast Die Fast and to their credit got their shit together rather fast as it seems Iike LFDF closed up shop only a few short months ago. Out Live Death amped up the small crowd real quick playing a short and energetic set that consisted of tracks off their new 3 song demo/EP which ended with "We Ain't Dead Yet" which has a catchy and easy to remember chorus that could become sort of an anthem for these guys down the line if they keep things rolling. A nice cover of SSD's "Glue" was thrown in which some in the crowd did in fact know and came up to sing along.
Urban Waste was up next and were the band I was most looking forward to seeing. Their history dates way back to the early 80's where they were one of the heavy hitters in the early NYHC scene. Over the years band members have come and gone, the band has stopped and restarted numerous times with guitarist Johnny Waste being the lone OG left. Once they got going I immediately took notice that everyone in this band was totally going off including their drummer with just pure energy coming out towards the crowd. Their set consisted of a lot of new songs off of a 9 song EP which they will be releasing themselves called "Waste Crew". Johnny showed some skills on the guitar with some nice hardcore-ish leads/solos and at one point was playing a lead with the guitar behind his head. "Public Opinion" is their old school track which they are probably best known for and is the track they finished up with. I'd like to warn people to not look at Urban Waste 2015 as a "reunion" band simply making the rounds. Their new EP that's on the way absolutely shreds and 150% stays true to their initial style and sound. Don't sleep boys and girls!
This show was the start of a short week long tour with Two Man Advantage and The Turbo AC's. Turbo's are the headliner for the tour but flip flopped with the Two Man on this night being that this was TMA's home ice. (Let the hockey references commence) The Turbo AC's also date back some having gotten started in the mid 90's but have not been as active more recently. This was also the first time I saw or heard them and liked what they had to offer with their brand of straight up punk rock. They put on a good set which would have benefited from being a few songs shorter considering the crowd strayed and dwindled as their set progressed. Don’t get me wrong, I did like their set but cutting it a few songs earlier would have been the right call considering this was a pretty late show.
When the Turbo's set was done I figured Two Man Advantage was getting the short end of the stick here as it was already 1230am and it had looked like many people had left and called it a night. Once they got up though to play and the "2MA" intro started the crowd came out of the woodwork and pretty much went bat shit crazy the rest of the way. That song is one of the best intros to get a crowd started which (if you've seen this band before) always leads to the grand entrance of their singer Drunk Bastard who will always come in right as the intro ends and the first full song begins. Fittingly the intro led into "Bastards Of The Ice" and soon after "Hot Rod GTO" which saw the Drunk Bastard singing from atop of the Sinclair’s bar. What was even better was watching the bartender just keep going about her business serving people on the opposite end as if there wasn't a big masked, hairy man in hockey gear singing just inches from her. Drunk Bastard's tossing of a full beer on to the Sinclair’s dance floor (from the bar) lubed up the dance floor making it a slippery ride for the rest of the way which included "Rookie Season", "Keepers Of The Cup", "Lockout", "Zamboni Driving Maniac" (noticing that hockey theme yet?)... and ended with the crowd favorite "Captain Morgan". I've said it a million times to people who don't know this band yet or don't "get" this band... See them LIVE first and get infected with the fun and good times that they deliver time and time again.
CLICK THE TWO MAN ADVANTAGE PHOTO ABOVE FOR LIVE FOOTAGE FROM THIS SHOW
PUNTO DE ENCAJE “PARA SIEMPRE”
(Released August 2015)
“Para Siempre” is the new album by Ecuador’s hardcore troupe Punto De Encaje and the follow up to 2013’s “Hazlo Tu Mismo” which I also reviewed. The first thing that strikes me about the album is the heavy throwback to 90’s era NYC hardcore and street punk. Starting off with “Al Margen” and littered through the entirety of the album are anthemic group vocals and hard hitting breaks, without ever going very far into the tough guy hardcore breakdown style which is refreshing. I do however have two criticisms for the album over all, both of them having to do with the final two songs. Track 6, entitled “Norte”, carries a very heavy similarity to the song “Still Here” from H2O’s 2008 “Nothing To Prove” album, in enough ways that I can’t just chalk it up to coincidence. Also, the final track “Dominio” is stylistically uncharacteristic of the rest of the album in both tone and length, clocking in at just about 4.5 minutes. Over all “Para Siempre” is a pretty solid effort from the band. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and pays a strong homage to the predecessors of their genre.
BOYSETSFIRE S/T LP
(Bridge Nine Records, Release Date September 25, 2015)
“Sit down and play some fucking music.” These words intro the latest release from Boy Sets Fire, and are a perfect way to start this album because they did just that – played some fucking music. The first track titled “Savage Blood” kicks the record off with the trademark intensity this band has come to be known for. This self-titled record is a solid mix of the emotional melodies and heavy breaks which have always set them apart as one of hardcore's most diverse and well rounded bands. With pit worthy breakdowns buttoned up next to some of the best singing the genre has seen, BSF deliver a record true to their history while moving forward and allowing themselves to open new doors musically, sounding all but optimistic throughout the album.
“BoySetsFire” shows that this group of Delawareans has not stopped growing as a band, even following their 15th anniversary of the widely acclaimed album “After the Eulogy.” No resting on the laurels here. It became clear right away that the band decided to delve deeper into the technical aspects that have put them in their own class in hardcore music; most specifically showcasing the vocal talent of Nathan Gray. Gray's ability to belt out notes with strength and consistency while also reaching down and screaming give the perfect blend of brutality and sincerity to the deeply personal and albeit political subject matter in the songs. Two songs to check out that display this range are “Coward” and “Fall From Grace.” Beyond vocals, the band plays as tightly as ever, filling the album with a delicious coagulation of violent fury and melodious strains. The overall sound of the record is distinctly BSF, where vocals, strings and drums mix evenly into 13 tracks of controlled rage and honest, self-evaluative declarations of humanity. After listening to the album front to back several times now, my must hear song from this album is a split decision between “Cutting Room Floor” and “Bled Dry”, which closes the album with as much intensity as it opened with. This album, backed by their 20+ year history as a band, stands as a reminder that just because a band has been together for a long time, in no way does that mean they will run out of things to say or fold on their passion in saying it. If you are a current fan of BoySetsFire then this album is a must. If not, this is a good time to get familiar. Due out this week, I suggest you give this one a listen.
RELENTLESS “PRICE OF PAIN” LP (Resist Records, Released September 18, 2015)
Australian bruisers Relentless return with their new album “Price Of Pain”, a slab of hardcore brutality with a certain metallic edge that is sure to have fans of the band eagerly awaiting its arrival. Having honed their skills through countless live shows all over the world, the band are now back to show and prove they are contenders with a leaner and rawer sound than their last album… 2013’s “Turn The Curse”.
Relentless waste no time in busting eardrums and heads and when the intro of feedback subsides and the riff to opening track “Damaged” kicks in, you are left under no impression that Relentless are back and are taking no prisoners and when the made for the pit riffs of second track “The Betrayal” kick in, it seals the deal immediately and you just kick back and feel the fury. Highlights on “Price Of Pain” are plentiful and include “Born Guilty” (which features Brendan Yates from Turnstile) and is a furious blast of rage, the grooving power of “Endless Story” and “Lost”, both of which have an insane and brooding heaviness in their momentum that is reminiscent of “Master Killer” era Merauder and “Blue Rage” in which the evergreen hardcore breakdown features in full effect with its refrain of "Injustice turns to hate".
The metallic fury mentioned earlier is an asset to Relentless and is most evident on the song “Disappear” with features some eerie guitar interludes in amongst the hardcore riffage before it turns into a more traditional hardcore stomp and “Starving For Beauty” which features some defiantly frenetic soloing. The albums production courtesy of Terror’s Nick Jett maintains a raw edge that enhances the Relentless sound extremely well and it is that rawness that gives “Price Of Pain” its furious energy. What Relentless have come up with here is a prime slice of modern day hardcore spliced with some classic NYHC style and metallic riffs. “Price Of Pain” is a fine addition to an already impressive catalogue of material from these Aussie hardcore kingpins.
TURNSTILE, BANE, POWER TRIP, BACKTRACK @ REVOLUTION, AMITYVILLE, NY AUGUST 31, 2015
WORDS & PHOTOS BY: JC CAREY
When you take a two of the best live acts in hardcore and add some truly great supporting acts you have the makings of a great tour. The Life And Death Tour concluded at Long Island’s Revolution on August 31st.
Life And Death could easily be talking about the difference in the timelines of the two headlining bands. After 20 years on the road as one of the most consistently great live acts in hardcore Bane is slowly winding toward an end in spring of 2016. While 5 short years after their first demo Turnstile continues to blow up due to great riffs and a band that understands that putting on a show is part of being a great hardcore band.
Long Island’s own Backtrack killed it taking full advantage of their home court advantage. The crowd responded as though they were the headliner. It was nice throughout the show to see the crowd really getting into all the bands with stage dives starting during Backtrack and ending on the final notes of Turnstile a couple hours later.
Power Trip from Texas brought their brand of crossover thrash/hardcore to the stage and while the crowd did slow down from the Backtrack set there was still plenty of love from the audience. I had some gear malfunctions so my usual flash work disappeared during the set.
BANE @ REVOLUTION 8/31/2015
Bane. What can I say? If you’ve followed my blog or read past reviews of Bane shows that I’ve written you know I love the band. I’ve been shooting them since 2001 and listening before that. Aaron B, Aaron D, Zach, Bobby, and James play every show like it could be the last. Having seen the band play with some toned down responses at Revolution in the past I was not sure what the reaction would be. The crowd surprised me in the best way possible stage diving and singing along with each song and keeping the pit rolling. My only complaint would be that the set was too short. When the band played it’s iconic hardcore anthem “Can We Start Again?” it seemed as though the crowd hoped they could.
TURNSTILE @ REVOLUTION 8/31/2015
Turnstile hit the stage at full speed putting their motor into the red immediately. I’d seen them play two other times most recently a couple of years ago with Gorilla Biscuits and while their antics on stage led by bass player Franz and singer Brendan have not slowed at all the reaction from the crowd has only grown. Playing a style of groove hardcore that is easy to dance to the band is certainly proving to be one of the biggest draws amongst younger bands.
My past experiences with Revolution haven’t had as enthusiastic crowds in general and it was awesome to see. Great job by promoter East Coast Collective to help get the place packed to support.
OUT LIVE DEATH “WE AIN’T DEAD YET” DEMO/EP
(Released August, 2015)
Out Live Death is a new band out of Long Island that features 3 members of the now defunct Live Fast Die Fast who we here at In Effect held in pretty high regard. This is their first release which showcases 3 new songs that clock in at a little under 10 minutes. First up is "Remains The Same" and within 30 seconds of hitting play I had the feel that this was in essence LFDF part 2... but on steroids as the only thing that really changed is they got a lot better. The vocals, song structures, and style all mirror that of their last band and I ain't complaining a bit about that. The beefy gang style chorus of "THE DAYS OF OUR PAST, WON'T PASS US BY... THIS IS OUR TIME, A CHANCE TO SPEAK OUR MIND..." on this opener hits hard and leads into a nice riff set to a choppy NYHC-esque beat which immediately hit home as a keeper track. "Down The Line" follows and is a straight out fast thrash type track that slows down for some crucial mosh a little bit of the way in and proves to be another keeper. Closing things out is the title track and further solidifies the fact that Out Live Death are primed to be one of the newer bands to keep an eye on. They are well versed on the NYHC style and write songs that are both easy to get into as well as tracks that you can see going over well in live settings with good sing-a-long parts and nice dance parts to make a crowd move. A nice “re-start”. If you slept on Live Fast… time to wake up to some Out Live Death.
LOSING END “DEMO 2015” (Released July, 2015)
Why hello, Singapore. What, you’ve got a host of brutal hardcore bands sprouting from your neck of the woods? Shit, I thought it all came out of NY. What a dick I’ve just realized I am. That’s right, kids, Singapore rules. One of those brutal bands that’s deserving of your attention is Losing End. Not exactly the undivided kind, but still. One five-track demo in and they’re tampering with crisp clear production and song structures to make even the most belligerent of us bang our heads against brick walls, and rage. So much rage.
It opens with a Bad Seed ‘Through Your Hands’ esque alternate picking strategy with its first track “Cursed”, and proceeds to plow its way into King Nine’s back garden with “Born To Die” and “Ill Intent”. The whole demo seems influenced by bands in that ballpark, and in all honesty, it’s nothing you haven’t heard before. With that in mind, this is hardcore we’re talking about. The genre that rarely smashes the spinning jenny, and when it does only does so in subtle ways, like with the touches of melody in Turnstile’s debut album or Expire’s freshly poetic lyrics. Let’s break that down here. There’s no melody or poetry in this demo. Just a bunch of dudes smashing it out together and doing so efficiently. Every stop is well placed, every breakdown brutal, and every drum roll counts. And the vocals top all of this brutality off with a furious edge. I only wish some of the lines were placed a little better, like in “No Bragging Rights”. Here, the title lyrics come in at a particularly InEffective (see what I did there? Eh? Eh? It's confirmed, I’m a dick. An unoriginal one) time – at the same time as the drums, bass, and guitars kick in after the stop beforehand. The smashing of the other instruments really takes the sting away from that buzz line.
There are a few moments just like this, where the impact could be harder. But hey, it’s a demo, and a pretty heavy one at that. What you’ve essentially got here is a traditional, old school, let’s-get-together and-smash-some-cymbals-and-shit, vibe, and that’s never gonna get old. Not in my books anyway, or the books of anyone who appreciates that classic lyrical content of, “You sold your integrity. You’re a cunt. We don’t like you.” Props to you, guys. Keep the tape rolling.