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SICK OF IT ALL, AGNOSTIC FRONT, GILLIGAN’S REVENGE @ BLACKTHORN 51, QUEENS, NY DEC. 13, 2019
PHOTOS BY: DANIEL DERELLA. VIDEO CLIPS BY: KEN "KWE" WAGNER
It was a dark and stormy night right off of Queens Boulevard (aka the “Boulevard of Death”) that saw Gilligan’s Revenge, Agnostic Front and Sick Of It All play to a packed house at Blackthorn 51. This was the third out of four shows billed as the “NYC Tour 2019” with AF and SOIA co-headlining with various openers as this mini-tour hit four of NYC’s five boroughs.
GILLIGAN’S REVENGE were the openers on this particular night and sported a lineup that included three of their four main players from their early 1980’s initial go around as a band… a band that would later morph into Token Entry. This lineup includes Anthony Comunale on vocals, Johnny Steigerwald on bass, Ernie Parada on drums and Jason Lehroff on guitar. Anthony is probably best known for being the frontman for Killing Time while Token Entry fans will recognize Johnny and Ernie from their Token Entry days. Jason plays guitar with Token Entry whenever they play reunion gigs and also spent a big chunk of time playing in the last Warzone lineup… so saying these guys have “been around” is 1000% fitting.
GILLIGAN'S REVENGE @ BLACKTHORN 51, DECEMBER 13, 2019. PHOTO BY: DANIEL DERELLA
With no official recordings ever made Gilligan’s Revenge’s music is sort of a mystery to most… myself included. I used to see their name spray painted on the wall at CBGB’s and knew they were the band that would later become Token Entry but outside of that I would be lying if I told you I knew much else. On this night I caught some of their song titles like “Detention” and “Victim Of Circumstance” and they even had a new one called “Where’s Wood” which is about their old singer John Wood who apparently just disappeared one day and was never heard from again. Token Entry songs “Psycho”, “Forbidden Zone”, and “Antidote” were initially Gilligan’s Revenge tracks and were all part of this nights set which ran close to 30 minutes. Anthony made mention that their first ever show was “back in ’83 or ‘84” where they also opened for Agnostic Front and also went on to say that these songs are so old that “they are all about disco and hippies”. Another thing he said was that these songs are being played by 53 year old guys who originally wrote them when they were 13. Crazy when you think about that. Gilligan’s Revenge’s music has that early 80’s NYHC vibe to them and it is easy to hear how they eventually became Token Entry. Their set overall was a lot of fun to watch with a couple of hickups along the way but nothing that was too obvious. Back in August they opened for Leeway NYC at Niagra in NYC and before that who knows when the last time they played was! In between one of their songs Ernie said that they were planning on going into the studio to record all of their old tracks for an album that they hope to have out by the Black ‘N Blue Bowl (held each May) so keep an eye out for that possibility. Click HERE to watch a clip of “Where’s Wood” shot by Point Blank’s KWE.
AGNOSTIC FRONT @ BLACKTHORN 51, DECEMBER 13, 2019. PHOTO BY: DANIEL DERELLA
AGNOSTIC FRONT were up next and went on just around 9:45pm coming out with “Victim In Pain” before going almost all old-school on us with tracks like “Your Mistake”, “Hiding Inside” and “The Eliminator” before jumping into some of their 21st century material with “For My Family”. Along the way we got even more old tunes like “Blind Justice”, “Power”, “Crucified” and “Gotta Go” (which is now over 20 years old if you can believe it). Between songs the crowd got to sing happy birthday to AF guitarist Vinnie Stigma who turned 64 years young a few weeks earlier. I believe it was Roger who jokingly said that Vinnie is the only guy who gets a whole month’s worth of birthday celebrating. This night’s set was pretty unique in that we got to witness (and be a part of) a video shoot for the track “Urban Decay” which is off AF’s new album “Get Loud”. The band performed the song while a guy taking video walked around them getting various angles of the band playing. After this song was played Roger told the crowd that the soundman would then be playing that same song back over the PA and he (Roger) would lip-sync his own vocal parts while the video guy does additional shoots from various angles. This happened a total of 3 times and actually was the way AF ended their set after about only 40 minutes up on stage. I was a little surprised that we didn’t get more “Get Loud” tracks as bands usually push their new material right after a new release comes out. The fact that AF was opening up for The Misfits the following night at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly may have been a factor into why this was such a short set. Hopefully they mix in more “Get Loud” stuff on the next go around. Click HERE to watch a clip of “Crucified” shot by Point Blank’s KWE.
SICK OF IT ALL @ BLACKTHORN 51, DECEMBER 13, 2019. PHOTO BY: DANIEL DERELLA
SICK OF IT ALL went on around 10:45pm coming out with “Injustice System”. This band’s catalog is obviously deep and they are excellent at mixing up their set lists. “Clobberin’ Time” hit early on as did “Take The Night Off” with a new one in “Inner Vision” hitting on the earlier side of their set as well. Before introducing “My Life” frontman Lou Koller told the crowd that this was their first ever song and was written when they were teenagers “so you know it’s fucking genius!” before going on to say that this song is their very own “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Mr. Koller has been screaming his head off on the microphone for years and in between songs often screams some more. Shout out to this guy’s vocal chords for the endurance! With a mostly older crowd and a lot of gray beards in attendance this show at times felt like you needed to have ID of 30 and above to get in. The wheelchair rental area was sold out but some of us lucky ones were able to secure oxygen tank rentals since we booked early. All joking aside though the crowd response during the earlier part of SOIA’s set was lacking in the energy department and prompted Lou on a few occasions to tell the crowd to basically wake the hell up… which they did for probably the last third of their set which saw tracks like “Rat Pack”, “Take A Look Around”, “Good Looking Out”, “Scratch The Surface” and “Step Down” break the crowd off into frenzied bursts. SOIA have been doing what they do for well over 30 years now and are razor fucking sharp at their craft. They are up there with the best of the best to ever do this hardcore punk shit and tonight was no different than many of the countless times I have seen this band play over the years. From here at the Blackthorn which probably holds a couple of hundred to NYC’s Webster Hall which holds a couple of thousand, to a couple of years back at the Warped Tour at Jones Beach I can always count on this band to give maximum effort leaving their blood, sweat and of course no tears out on the stage . Click HERE to watch a clip of “Injustice System” shot by Point Blank’s KWE.
BE WELL “SELF TITLED” EP
(Equal Vision Records, Released December, 2019)
Be Well is a brand new band featuring members who have been in Fairweather (DC/VA), Darkest Hour (DC) and Bane (MA). Their “Self-Titled” 2 song EP is their very first release which is out now via a host of streaming sites with a physical release set to be dropped on February 12th on Equal Vision. With just 5 minutes of music this is simply Be Well’s way of musically saying “we are here to make a great first impression”. Your song titles for “Self Titled” are “Strength For Breath” and “Frozen”… the opener shoots right out of the gate with a wall of emotion as this musically deep track hits you right in the gut with speed, clear vocals and a ton of melody. The type of song that is “hard” but at the same time also has “feelings”. Strike Anywhere comes to mind as does Dave Smalley’s latest band in Don’t Sleep. It was only on the second listen that the hook to this track was already stuck in my head. “Frozen” slows down the pace a bit and is more of a head-nodder type of track that has a soulful feel and is not as balls out as the opener… but is still a great track. The lyric of “please help me forget” (that is repeated throughout the track) is infectious and seems to be a line that could mean different things to different people. I really like the fact that they choose to make their debut with two songs that do not mirror each other which bodes well for whatever the next release may be… assuming it will be at least an EP or maybe something longer in run time. Be Well delivers big here on their debut… they deliver anticipation for what their musical future can and will be. As many of us have seen over the years bands with the “former members of” tag attached to them do not always live up to the hype but Be Well make their opening statement with 5 minutes of hardcore goodness to give hope for what lies ahead.
2 FOLD “2F19” (Released November 2019)
2 Fold are a five piece hardcore punk band from Singapore who have recently released “2F19”, a two song promo with track titles: “City Of Accomplices” and “Intricate”. Both are catchy, well put together tracks, with each instrument clearly defined but still coming together well balanced to make a heavy but melodic release. The vocals are crystal clear which myself and others appreciate hearing the message without having to find the lyric sheet. 2Fold’s sound to me has some elements of such band's as Youth Of Today and Side By Side but mostly the music is made up from their own originality… again proving that good hardcore music is most definitely a worldwide thing. I am thankful I got the chance to do this review because I really like what I heard. Wanting to learn more about 2Fold, I checked out the band's Facebook page and I found out that they have been playing their brand of "Lion City Hardcore" since their inception in 2011. For those like myself who may be new to this band and are looking to hear more than just the two kick ass songs on this promo, they have two other releases: “Demo 2012” and the “Miserably Failed EP (2013) and I recommend them as well. The other thing that I noticed is in the band photos they are not out looking hard, not serious, just having a good time and leaving the seriousness to their music. Take 5 minutes of your time, give “2F19” a listen and give 2Fold the support they deserve.
AGNOSTIC FRONT, SLAPSHOT, CIRCLE BACK @ NEW BROOKLAND TAVERN, COLUMBIA, SC DEC. 9, 2019
REVIEW BY: J-SPEC
My first hardcore show was a very long time ago during the crossover period of the 1980’s. Suicidal Tendencies were touring with some thrash metal bands. It still rates as one of my favorites because it opened an entire new world for me. Walking through the gauntlet of older kids and being called a poser and then turning around and telling them to fuck off. The incredible pounding of music by Mike, Louiche, and Rocky… it was unbelievable. It was an experience I hoped to share with my 14 year old daughter. Only she wouldn’t have to do it alone and would have me there to guide and/or protect her if need be.
We live in South Carolina and we don’t have a scene that pulls many big name hardcore bands so when Agnostic Front and Slap Shot were coming through, I made all the necessary arrangements to assure I’d be there and with my daughter. I was not surprised she wanted to go but I was surprised that she was willing to take my word that it would be “sick”. Agnostic Front, Slapshot and Circle Back played the New Brookland Tavern, a small Columbia club. Nara, my daughter, was excited as we went into the club seeing all the hipsters and really fucking old hardcore folks. There were not many younger fans there despite it being an all-ages show.
CIRCLE BACK were a tight group that opened up. Nara found them to be “good” and the crowd entertaining as four dudes attempted to create a pit.
We were waiting for SLAPSHOT to start up when I saw Jack Kelly standing to the side and I called out to him. I introduced him to Nara and told him it was her first show. We took a couple of pictures with him and he told us that he had had his kid at a show recently as well. The angriest man in hardcore and the rest of Slap Shot put on a show that “flipped my wig”. This was the first time that I saw them and I was thinking this is such an iconic band for Nara to start off with.
AGNOSTIC FRONT started to show up for their set and you know who was first on the scene… Vinnie Stigma. I was the first person to greet him when he came in through the back and wished him a happy birthday. He, of course, was gracious and upbeat as hipsters converged on one of the Godfathers of HC. When he was setting up on stage, he came over to me and I was able to introduce him to Nara and let him know it was her first show. “Welcome to the hardcore family!” in that classic Stigma voice. Throughout the show Stigma would wave at Nara and laugh and she was ecstatic. The show itself was unbelievable. It was like watching back in ‘91. Roger and crew are still hard as hell and they love the crowd and fans. Nara has many takeaways from the show to include a ton of pictures for Snapchat, being designated as the unofficial photographer of other people’s phones, and that you meet interesting people in club bathrooms. Despite the “fun”, ”loud” and “cool” descriptive words, Nara found the pit to be a curious sight and enjoyed being treated with respect by the bands. I don’t think there are any other bands playing today that I would want her to see as her first show than these two bands, Slapshot and Agnostic Front. A great night that was made even better by being able to take it all in with my daughter.
LAST ORDERS HC/POSTAL “2 PIECE” SPLIT CD (Rucktion Records, Released November, 2019)
Last Orders/Postal “2 Piece” is a split release put out by Rucktion Records out of the U.K. who have an impressive line-up of bands on their label. This split features old school versus new school hardcore punk with Last Orders and Postal.
First up is Last Orders, a band comprised of seasoned U.K musicians from bands such as Cold Hard Truth, Dropset and Ironed Out among others. The band deliver five tracks of solid working class hardcore/punk that takes you back to the early days.
“Loony Spoons” opens this split with a short and fast song dealing with the working class and lets you know these guys are seasoned vets. The music is solid, intense and is fronted by furious vocals which continue throughout the rest of their songs. “Make It Right” follows up with a sing-a-long song which sounds very similar to the Cro-Mags song “Don’t Tread On Me”, especially during the chorus. “2 Piece” starts out with a slow groove, building up and slowing down throughout the song while still maintaining their hardcore sound. “Denzel’s Anthem” opens up with an intro right out of the books of the Bad Brains and breaks into a circle pit anthem. They finish things up with a cover of Warzone’s “War Between Races” and do justice to it as well.
Postal are a crossover hardcore band hailing from Columbus, Ohio and have been billed as new school hardcore punk. Not much else is known about them. Out of the two, this is my favorite. These guys are fast, angry and play at a ferocious speed, the way I enjoy my hardcore music. I can’t help but notice they have a similar sound to One Less Scumbag but maybe that’s just me. “Donuts For The Homies” kicks off and is a straight ahead, pissed off fight song that establishes what this band is all about. “Nothing” follows up with the same intensity and breakneck playing complete with rage fueled lyrics. “Sleep” keeps the ball rolling and I can’t help but wonder how intense and crazy this band’s live shows are. “Obvious Asshole” is a forty seven second explosion of infuriated mania and a great song in my opinion. The band finishes up with “Call In Sick” a song dealing with something all of us like to do and is a catchy song I could see getting stuck in my head for the day which isn’t a bad thing. Overall, both bands deliver a genuine slab of great hardcore music that deserves to be in your record collection. Click the cover artwork above for ordering info.
FUCKING VIOLENCE “INGRATIDAO” (1054 Records, Released November, 2019)
Fucking Violence comes to us from São Paulo, Brazil, and sweet God do they sound like it. Brazil is a tough country to live in. It’s easily one of the most corrupt in the world and a dangerous place to be a dissenting voice. Even mild criticism of police or business leaders can get a person arrested or murdered. Fucking Violence is unabashedly a product of this environment, and the daily miseries that are visited upon the working people of that country permeate their music. As a result, Fucking Violence’s debut album “Ingratidão”, is as brutal and unapologetic of a metallic hardcore record as you can expect to find coming out of the Americas this year.
Rallying around ex-Worst vocalist Thiago “Monstrinho” Seirra, Fucking Violence is a muscular expression of angst sure to offer some measure of solace to anyone who feels the hurt of daily life claustrophobically closing in around them. While Worst traded in the more beat-down riff and percussion styles generally growing in popularity outside of the United States, Fucking Violence draws from a broader cross-section of the global heavy music scene. Sure, you still get lumbering, sasquatchie Bulldoze-esque grooves on tracks like “Hard Times” and opener and title track “Ingratidão,” but Seirra’s interests in death metal and thrash make their presence known here as well. “Numb The Pain” is a bricks and bats turf war against one’s inner demons with a hairy Biohazard vibe, badass shredding guitars, and a solidarity exhibiting cameo by Cutthroat’s Neil Roemer. The sounds of fellow Brazilian musicians factors significantly into the makeup of the album as well. The presence of trailblazing necromancers Sepultura hangs heavy over the skronky, churning chord progressions and man-mulching beat of “Eu Recomeço Do Zero,” and the blast-beat propelled “Decepção E Desgosto” features supremely unsettling slam vocals, courtesy of Caio Macbeserra of brutal Sao Paulo death metallers Project46. There is even some straight-ahead thrash-infused metalcore on “Prosperar,” while “Obsessão” feels like a dose of uncut Hatebreed mainlined directly into your synapsis. If you want bruising hardcore, Fucking Violence will give it to you, shot after shot, track after track.
This is a savage and satisfyingly heavy debut from a band that is sure to rise in the ranks of the global hardcore community. In interviews to promote the album, Seirra has talked up big tour plans in support of the album, taking the group all across South and Central American and the United States. Wherever the band drops in, I hope the venue has the forethought to re-up their supplemental insurance because Fucking Violence live up to their name, and they are going to absolutely wreck the place along with anyone who shows up to see them.
MAXIMUM PENALTY, COMBUST, BIG CHEESE, DOMINANT FORCE, REACTION @ SAINT VITUS, BROOKLYN, NY DECEMBER 10, 2019. WORDS BY: BECKY MCAULEY, PHOTOS BY: CARL GUNHOUSE
Months ago, an international pal had mentioned that Big Cheese from the UK might be doing a small string of American dates in conjunction with their appearance at America's Hardcore Fest in Boston. Sure enough, a Brooklyn date was announced for a few days after the fest, headlined by none other than Maximum Penalty! I had first discovered Big Cheese when reviewing their 7”, “Aggravated Mopery”, for this very website in 2017. So I was psyched not only that they were coming to New York, but with a solid lineup also featuring locals Combust and Reaction, along with Dominant Force from Florida, who were also in the Northeast for the fest.
Despite the Tuesday night, there was a decent and dedicated crowd in attendance, and I was impressed with how quickly the show proceeded due to all bands playing relatively short sets – well that and a general dearth of stage banter all evening. Perhaps I’m a product of a different era where I expect the singer to either bait the crowd and/or clown his or her fellow members repeatedly during their set.
Doors were at 6:30, a bit earlier than the average St. Vitus show, and I missed REACTION as I didn’t get out of work til 7. Reaction is a local Brooklyn straight edge band, so if you also didn’t make it in time for their set, I imagine you will have another opportunity to catch them soon.
I got there right before DOMINANT FORCE and enjoyed their set despite not being super familiar with their material or vibe. If you like the Cro-Mags or Ekulu you would probably get down with Dominant Force, and I also spotted a wiggly Beyond part at one point. Sometime during Dominant Force, my Westchester contingent arrived, increasing the age in the room by approximately 87 years.
BIG CHEESE PHOTO BY: CARL GUNHOUSE
BIG CHEESE was up next, the moment many had been waiting for! They opened with “Path of Perfection/Aggravated Mopery” which transitions from M13’s intro into a Big Cheese original, and played most if not all of the 7”, along with some demo material and a few tracks from their upcoming LP, “Punishment Park”. The more familiar tunes got a decent response and I hope they continue to return to the States since their LP is being released by Triple B. As promised in my In Effect review of the 7”, I indeed busted out my Altercation tank top for their set.
COMBUST PHOTO BY: CARL GUNHOUSE
COMBUST had also attracted the majority of this Tuesday night crowd and their set did not disappoint. The played the hits from “The Void”, which I also reviewed for In Effect earlier this year, and sounded great live. As a person who never gets anywhere on time, I am psyched that they are now playing later on shows so I have more of a chance to catch them. Combust seemed to be the biggest draw as the crowd definitely thinned out after their set.
MAXIMUM PENALTY PHOTOS BY: CARL GUNHOUSE
The release of “Life & Times” by MAXIMUM PENALTY on Reaper Records in 2009 seemed to reignite interest among a new generation. The phenomenon was not necessarily on display tonight, as overall there was one of the poorer reactions to MP that I have seen in the post-Pyramid era. But anyone who departed missed an absolute banger of a set. MP opened with the first three songs from “Life & Times” in their recorded order: the title track, followed by "Paper Bullets", followed by "Fight My Way Back."
Earlier in the night, I had just happened to mention to my friend Tiff Franko, (who had not seen them in a while), that Maximum Penalty didn't really play stuff from "East Side Story" anymore (besides “Comin’ Home”.) Sure enough, tonight they busted out fuckin' "American Dream”! They did the usual “Where the Wild Things Are” tracks. They put the mosh part back in "Comin' Home" which had conspicuously disappeared in 2016, but reappeared last year I think? They played "Living In Darkness," with the slowed down live-only mosh part. The demo era classics were bolstered by more of the usual cuts from “Life & Times,” such as “Threat Assessment” and “What Goes Around”.
After what was ostensibly the end of the set, there was assorted clamoring for an encore. Apparently we almost got a super rare “Could You Love Me?” sighting, which would have required the services of Rich McLoughlin, in the house that evening, but ultimately only as a spectator and not a special guest. “Could You Love Me?” is one of those songs I have never seen MP play, and which I think has been referred to as a song they will never play, in the vein of Killing Time's “Whole Lotta Nuthin” or me witnessing Sheer Terror play “Only 13” for the first time ever in 2016. Instead, we got what was not a consolation prize but rather a rare gem of its own in “All Your Boyz”. I can’t remember if I’ve ever seen “Living in Darkness” and “All Your Boyz” happen at the same show, and while I would have been down for an endless run of bonus tracks, it ended the set on a good note.
I’ve seen Maximum Penalty 20+ times, in three different states and three different boroughs, and this was one of the best sets I’ve ever witnessed, despite the omission of “Find a Better Way”. Overall, from the touring bands from the locals, this was the type of show and lineup that could put you in a good mood for days afterward.
MURPHY’S LAW, NO REDEEMING SOCIAL VALUE, URBAN WASTE, THE ICE COLD KILLERS
@ AMH, AMITYVILLE, NY NOVEMBER 30, 2019. PHOTOS BY: RICH ZOELLER
I walked into a packed house at the AMH just around 9pm when locals THE ICE COLD KILLERS took the stage. What’s news here is that this show was packed out while a sold out show with Terror, No Warning, King Nine, Hangman and Rule Them All opened up the very last Backtrack show less than a mile away at a club called Revolution. Trying to figure out turnouts at Long Island hardcore shows can be like trying to predict the weather so to see two shows running simultaneously and both packed is a good thing, right?
The Ice Cold Killers bring a street punk/Oi! vibe to the table and while they are not playing the type of music that necessarily will induce violent pits or maniacal stage diving the music they play is quite infectious with catchy tune after catchy tune. Ones that stood out the most were “Finish What You Started” (that saw Tension*/1776/Crime Pays singer Mike Rubino grab the mic from his brother Joe who is the singer/bassist for Ice Cold and sing along), “The American Scheme” (which is one of their faster tracks), and “Live And Let Down” (which I believe they closed out with). When you break it down The Ice Cold Killers are primarily a rock band done by dudes who came up in the hardcore scene who take a more mature musical approach to what they are doing and it comes off sounding fresh. Their 14 song “Laughin’ With Sinners… Cryin’ With Saints” full length is just a little over a year old and they are pretty deep into finishing up the recording process for the follow up. For someone who likes a little diversity in a bill I applaud whoever tabbed these guys to open things up.
URBAN WASTE PHOTO BY RICH ZOELLER
Next up were URBAN WASTE who I just saw the previous Saturday night in Brooklyn. I will admit seeing them play a parallel set to the previous week’s set did take a little juice out of my overall excitement but still… this band plays like they got shot out of a fucking cannon and they just leave everything they got on the stage every single time I see them. Their cover of “I Shot Reagan” by Suicidal Tendencies is absolutely intense and one that really stands out from other bands’ cover song selections. It is a known song by a very well-known band but at the same time it’s not THE song that you immediately associate with ST. I wonder if Urban Waste put a lot of thought into choosing this particular song or was it more of a thing where one of them just brought it up at a practice and everyone just agreed. “Public Opinion” is UW’s most popular song and set the crowd into a frenzy and when frontman Josh Waste gives the microphone up to the crowd he doesn’t just catch his breath on the side… he jumps right into the fray and goes off alongside the rest of the crowd. Real hardcore music relies heavily on passion and passion is undoubtedly one of this bands best attributes. Click HERE to watch UW’s drummer Stooley Kutchakokov (punk rock names don’t get much better than this) in high speed motion doing his thing set to their track “Sick Of It”.
NO REDEEMING SOCIAL VALUE PHOTO BY: RICH ZOELLER
NO REDEEMING SOCIAL VALUE kept the energy level flying as they hit next opening with “More Tattoos”… a song that they put out in 1994. People went off for this song back then and 25 years later people STILL go off for this song. NRSV cut their teeth as a band in the early to mid-90’s before a lot of bands on the hardcore scene went into full on Slayer mode. Their sound and songs have stood the test of time and in more recent shows they have introduced new tracks off of their next album which is due out in 2020. Tracks like “Wasted For Life”, “Brew Crew”, and “I’m Gonna Puke” stay true while offering no apologies for what NRSV is at their very core… promoting drunken fun hardcore music. When you have people in the pit dancing in a full body beer costume and another in a full body vagina costume (to coincide with their song “Pussy, Pussy, Pussy”) it may be a good indicator that you are at a No Redeeming show. “Chicken”, “Still Drinking”, “Olde E”, “Clueless”, “Skinheads Rule” and the closer “Microwave” all showed up to the party and were eaten up by the AMH crowd.
MUPRHY'S LAW PHOTO BY: RICH ZOELLER
And on to our headliners… MURPHY’S FUCKING LAW who just keep doing Murphy’s Law types of things like continuously putting on amazing sets like the one they played on this night. After their intro they busted into “Quest For Herb”, “Crucial BBQ” and “Beer”. Where I am from weed, food and beer will put a smile on most people’s faces. On this night Jimmy repeatedly told us that they didn’t have a set list and that “set lists were for pussies” as people in the crowd just yelled out song titles in between songs and then ML would just bust into whatever song was yelled out. Aaron (or Meatball as Jimmy kept referring to him) looks to be a new face playing bass with the band these days as well. Raven on the saxophone got some rare microphone time telling the crowd that he was 65 years old before busting into some freestyle sax that sounded great. Jimmy had some memorable between song banter saying things like “this song is “Green Bud” and it goes out to pot because pot is good”… and… “this song is “Wall Of Death” which is about walls and death”, he did an excellent Vinnie Stigma impersonation and asked if we could get Sheer Terror’s singer Paul Bearer a giant moped so he could ride out to the show. At one point between songs Jimmy started asking for Luke Rota from Wisdom In Chains to join them on stage to play drums on the next song and after a few minutes when it became apparent that he wasn’t in the building they got Vinnie “Value” Verga (ex-Warzone) to jump up to jam on “Panty Raid” which he did a nice job on. Band members from “that other show down the block” were seen popping in to check out ML’s set as well. “Don’t Bother Me”, “Sarasota”, “Care Bear”, “Cavity Creeps”, “Sit Home And Rot”, “A Day In The Life”, “Ska Song” and “Skinhead Girl” were all titles that I remember them playing on this night. Across the board ML simply killed it with Jimmy G acting as the ringmaster to a giant punk rock party, something he has been doing for many years and hopefully something that he will be doing for many more to come.
CRO-MAGS “FROM THE GRAVE” EP
(Victory Records, Released December, 2019)
Well the dust has settled on the decades old war of the Cro-Magnons which saw the members of this much exalted band try their damnedest to ruin the legacy and tarnish our memories of perhaps the greatest NYHC band to ever come out of the Big Apple. Try though they might have, not even epic levels of douche-baggery on all sides could put a nail in the coffin of such an iconic album the likes of “The Age Of Quarrel”. This should be abundantly clear as many of us have spent many years, not to mention dollars, clamoring to see whatever incarnation of the band we could to see those songs we love so much. Shit.....just last week I went to some VFW to see a band comprised of Mackie's barber, Parris' auntie, a set of JJ's prayer beads and a one-time Cro-Mag roadie, play the hits. They fucking killed it. Anywho, the courts have intervened and now we can concretely say that the name Cro-Mags is the property of one Mr. Harley Flanagan. Love, the man, hate the man, I don't give two shits, but you cannot deny, the man is an icon. A veritable NYC punk rock legend. If you doubt that… just look at the pictures. Harley has grabbed the reigns and recruited an amazing assortment of players to join him. Rocky George, Gary Abularach, and Gary Sullivan, all with excellent resumes and prior "Mag" experience. They round out this new version of the Cro-Mags quite nicely. They have already released one EP this year and this follow up (and second on Victory Records) continues what is in my opinion the evolution of the band in a positive direction.
On to the tunes.....”From The Grave” consists of three tracks clocking in at around ten and a half minutes. The first track runs 2:19 and is the titular track "From The Grave" featuring none other than the legendary axe man, Phil Campbell, who lends his genius on slide and lead guitar. Now, do I even need one of my patented snarky comments telling you jag-offs that you should know who that is or have we finally found someone even you turd burglars recognize? He was in Motorhead you asshats. This one kicks off with a touch of feedback and it is fired out of the gates, chugging down the road at a furious pace. Instantly recognizable in signature Harley style, this tune rages, and then the slide guitar hits and these guys are onto something really interesting. Harley sounds like a 500 pound gorilla. At first I found this a little jarring as I have always enjoyed his vocal stylings. At first listen I thought this was too "tough guy" sounding. I have to say now that I've listened several times and that feeling fades with each subsequent listen. The musicianship on display here is fantastic and Phil takes that shit to another level past another level. Like, one more louder, up to eleven. It's a fast song and ends abruptly leaving me wishing it would continue which is a rarity for the genre and especially for me. "PTSD" is the second song and runs a slightly quicker 2:16. This is the band sans the help of Mr. Campbell but you wouldn't know it as the band is extremely tight and talented (see next song). This is another song fired out of a gun and starts at a blistering pace and doesn't really let up much at all. This one encompasses Harley's championing of mental health issues which he admits is more than likely a function of him coming to grips with his own traumatic past. This song is a burner and it is clear that these new Mags mean business and have surely not slowed down in any way. These songs would fit seamlessly right onto the end of “Best Wishes”, even with the unique slide work on the first tune by PC. What wouldn't fit onto the end of “Best Wishes” is the third and final track "Between Wars" running a epic and lengthy 5:54. This is an instrumental. This is by far my favorite track on this EP. I hope in the future these guys can write pieces like this with some sick lyrics for Harley to croon over. If you want to hear a hardcore band "in the pocket" then check this tune out. It's very emotional with each member finding their groove and building on and playing off of each other. Do I hear a fucking cello?? I'm not sure what’s going on, but I know I like it. Maybe these guys will start a new genre called hard jam or something, but more than anything I hope it's a sign of musical directions to come.
So there you have it maggots, the latest offering by the official Cro-Mags. It's pretty fucking good and especially so being only three songs, you don't suffer from album burnout. This band is gifted. They all have pedigrees and you will see that on display here. The recording is flawless and once i got used to Harley’s slightly angrier vocals, everything comes together perfectly. So buy everyone in your life a nice Cro-Mag stocking stuffer and you’re sure to bring yuletide joy to the masses Go see Cro-Mags when they tour near you or go see Cro-Mags LMNOP, whichever floats your boat, I don't have a dog in this fight. All I want for X-mas is for Parris and Harley to make music together again, but I'm more likely to get a hand job from Hank Rollins, so i won't hold out much hope. Now if you'll excuse me I just heard that Doug Holland's toaster is doing an AOQ spoken word down the street. Get off my fucking lawn! Click HERE to check out the title track.
EIGHT COUNT “DEMO 2019” (Released November, 2019)
Eight Count are a 5 piece band coming at us all the way from South East Melbourne, Australia and they have recently launched their new 4 song demo, simply titled “Demo 2019”. Taking influences from the heavier school of hardcore this band reminds me of Terror as well as Hatebreed. The opening song "Moving Forward" kicks into life with a mid-paced attack, the speakers ooze with an underlining anger combined with powerful guitars and drums. Whilst "Don't Throw Me Off" opens in a similar vein to the first song with certain guitar parts reminding me of Slayer, the overall production is very good and clearly shows the band means business. "Step The Fuck Away From Me" has vocalist Jacob O’Connor venting his anger with lyrics such as “Save your words that's nothing to say, stay the fuck away from me”. This is the longest track on offer clocking in at 2 minutes and 30 seconds and that time speeds past in a blink of an eye. The final song is "Violent Oppression" and ends the demo in a powerhouse of frustration and anger. This demo is strong enough to peel paint off of your walls and kill your neighbor’s lawn when played at full volume! Australia are breeding a monster here. You've all been warned! Click the cover art above rto give it a listen!
RULE THEM ALL “DREAMS ABOUT…”
(Flatspot Records, Released December, 2019)
Long Island’s Rule Them All return with their latest EP “Dreams About…” the follow up to last year’s “An Alignment Of Polarity” and it’s a vibrant collection of energetic and life affirming hardcore. This time around the band wastes absolutely no time in blasting into action with the EP’s title track and it is obvious from the first explosion of intensity that this is going to be something special. “Look Inward”, “Teacher” and “Doomed To Consume” are all powerful and vibrant slabs of hardcore that are executed with skill, finesse and a positivity that is infectious and as soon as the brilliantly brooding closing track “The Alienation” finishes, you want to listen to the whole thing again.
The tracks here are packed full of vehemence and this explodes with creativity to create a vibrant and life affirming show of hardcore and there is also a definite sense of urgency that fuels the music of “Dreams About…” This urgency fuels the band’s music turning it into a set of vital hardcore anthems that will live long in the hearts of those who hear it. As with fellow Long Islander’s Backtrack and Kill Your Idols, Rule Them All pack their songs so full of energy and play from the heart throughout on “Dreams About…” and the EP is a ball of fury and also of hope in its sound, its themes and how it is executed. There is a big straight ahead NYHC vibe here (check out the Cro Mags-esque groove on “Teacher” for starters and there are feelings of Gorilla Biscuits, Youth Of Today and even Sheer Terror scattered throughout) but also a DC hardcore influence also rears its head throughout and this mix works really well as does the band’s use of melody alongside the massive breakdowns and gang vocals which complements the heavy grooves perfectly. Rule Them All have certainly hit upon a winning formula with “Dreams About…” as this is a slice of perfectly executed hardcore and there is no doubt that they will continue to rise with material this strong.
SUPREME COMMANDER “TOOTH AND NAIL”
(Released September, 2019)
I’m not sure if with age comes wisdom, but for the benefit of this review let’s go with that premise. Washington DC’s Supreme Commander’s latest release “Tooth And Nail” is a professional damn recording. From what I can gather while stalking their Instagram page, SC are no youngsters (no offense fellas). This is where the wisdom of age comes in. SC writes solid, professional, well-constructed and thought out hardcore music. Let me take a moment to clarify my “professional” comment. What I enjoy about growing older in this scene is watching bands, who are close in age to me, using that age and experience to their advantage. Yes, there is something about younger bands who don’t give a shit, just jump on in and tear things up. However, there is something to be said about bands who have some wear on their treads, who just know what they want and how to achieve it. SC pulls that off on this recording.
“Tooth And Nail” has that strong East Coast vibe (as best as I can figure, being a dunce from Chicago). The musicianship is exceptional on this recording. Time changes are fluid (“Legos”) and the riffs venture out from just simple power chords and chugging choruses. While on the topic of the song “Legos”, the chorus of “head, shoulders, knees and toes” I’m sure is a crowd pleaser and an easy sing along.
“What’s in The Box?” is another catchy song with quality playing from the band. This isn’t intended to leave out any recognition for the singer Boo Dixon, because he fits in perfectly with everything. SC includes great melody without losing sight of the aggression that makes up quality hardcore punk rock. Tempos may change, but the intensity remains throughout the record.
SC writes that this recording was five years in the making, and it shows on the quality of musicianship and song writing on “Tooth And Nail.” The listener can hear the time that was invested in these songs, and it pays off with the recording. I usually like to include a few bands as a point of reference or influences, but for some reason the only name that comes to mind for this record is Ernie Parada. I’m not sure exactly why? Maybe I hear Grey Area or Token Entry in Supreme Commander? Who knows? If that strange connection of mine makes a connection for you, well, then we are connecting.
“Tooth And Nail” is a great recording, by grown ass men, who know how to write a damn good song. Oh, and Supreme Commander is an awesome band name. It would look great on a t-shirt.
(Upstate Records, Release Date, December 13, 2019)
With less than a month away before we ring in the New Year I have begun to think of some of the great releases that came out in 2019. However one band has something to say before 2019 is a wrap and I make my list. Detroit's Ante Up are excited to be dropping their newest release on December 13th titled T.I.M.E. (Time Is My Enemy). Since 2005, the band which consists of Critter-vocals, John-bass, Matt-guitar, Rich-guitar and Justin-drums have combined a metal and hardcore mix that has become well known way past the Michigan border. Their dedication and style has respectfully earned them shows with such greats like the Cro-Mags, Merauder and Sworn Enemy and when you give “T.I.M.E.” a listen you will see why they have been able to be so successful for so long. With a play time of just over 17 minutes, the 7 tracks are nothing short of auditory brutality! My favorite is the title track, which vocalist Critter states the inspiration for this release comes from how quickly time comes and goes and he feels "time is and will always be my enemy". This is a message that many can relate to especially with the holiday season upon us. Besides being emotionally charged lyrically, the music as expected stays true to Ante Up's style that has made them a heavy hitter for so many years in the underground scene. I was pleased to see “T.I.M.E.” being promoted on social media by friends and groups so well in advance of the release date, it's definitely worth the hype… but then again Detroit always delivers.
URBAN WASTE, BASTARD CLAN, CRAZY EDDIE, FRAGMENTED, GILIPOLLAS @ THE KINGSLAND, BROOKLYN, NY NOVEMBER 23, 2019. ALL PHOTOS BY: MICHELLE MENNONA
This one was for the locals and featured 5 NYC underground acts kicking off with a band I had never heard of called GILIPOLLAS. This 4 piece band with an all-female rhythm section played all cover songs by a punk band from Spain called La Polla Records, a band who got their start in 1979! Gilipollas members can also be found in other local bands like Skum City, Bastard Clan and Unwritten. Some of these songs had some nice hooks while others I viewed as just sort of average. A nice concept for a band that is not everyone’s “main gig” too.
FRAGMENTED are a 3 piece crossover/punk/thrash/metal group that are hard to tie down and put a label on. All 3 members split lead vocal duties which is something you don’t see very often. Fragmented put a lot of energy into their set despite a small turnout which I will always applaud. Check out their BANDCAMP page to hear what they are all about.
CRAZY EDDIE were up next delivering most of the songs off of their “Eddie Drops Out Of College” full length from 2018. If you are still not familiar with this band their style has strong NYHC roots with some punk rock feels mixed in for good measure. Just a fun band to check out live while they keep getting stronger and stronger with each show. They have new music cooking up with a new EP tentatively titled “Eddie Goes To Night School” in the works this winter. Stay tuned!
To me the name BASTARD CLAN sounds like it could be some bad ass motorcycle gang but in reality they are a bad ass punk hybrid of sorts made up of scene vets. Their sound is extremely hard to pin down and put a label on, something I think the members of this band absolutely love. Their songs have a lot going on with hooks and grooves without being very “moshy” either. This show was the release show for their recently released “The Arrogant Dream” full length. Click HERE to give it a listen.
Much respect and admiration to Mr. Johnny Waste for keeping the URBAN WASTE name alive and well 35 plus years after this bands’ start. Their setlist is a mix of old and new highlighting the fact that UW 2019 is not all about walking down a punk rock memory lane. The lineup alongside Mr. Waste is absolutely savage. Josh on the mic just goes off while performing, NonLee on bass brings a lot of energy but it is their drummer Stooley (Kutchakokov) that I could not stop watching as he murdered his drum kit for about 40 or so minutes. Fucking NUTS! Everything is played at 500 miles per hour and sounds tight. Don’t sleep on current day Urban Waste! They do an amazing cover of “I Shot Reagan” by Suicidal too and somehow it seems just as fast or faster than the original. Click HERE to check out their “Waste Crew” EP from '15.
NYHC BLACKBOOK FANZINE
(Urban Styles Publishing, Released October, 2019)
This NYHC Blackbook zine is brought to us from the fine folks at Urban Styles Publishing, the same people who brought us the “Urban Styles, Graffiti In New York Hardcore” book in 2017. Graffiti (especially here in New York) is almost always associated with hip-hop music (deservingly so) but in the Urban Styles book author Freddy Alva showed how the hardcore punk scene has had a foot planted firmly in this parallel underground sub-culture for quite some time. The NYHC Blackbook is an extension of that book delivering 48 full color, jump off the page pieces of art by 42 writers who were asked to draw pieces in honor of a NYHC or punk band that they identify with or have been inspired by. Band pieces that were drawn include, Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, Sick Of It All, Leeway, Sheer Terror, Crumbsuckers, Judge, H20, Madball, Raw Deal, Token Entry, and obviously many more. The list of the writers assembled is impressive and their work is in many cases album cover worthy, t-shirt worthy, and just eye catching. Names like SMOG, KAVES, SMITH, NOW, JERE, REVS, NEO, MQ and more are (or were) household names within the NYC graffiti world and shows that the curators of this zine didn’t just grab some neighborhood toys to haphazardly throw a graffiti zine together.
This is by no means a standard fanzine with interviews, reviews, scene news or anything like that, just straight up artwork with a short intro to get you up to speed with what the Blackbook set out to accomplish. A limited run of only 200 copies were made and at the time of writing this the number left are apparently in the single digits so if you are interested act fast or pray for a re-issue (or an issue #2). Available for $16.00 (which does not include shipping) but 1000% worth the $$$ as this is a quality product with a glossy cover printed on thick ass paper stock and glossy color pages throughout. Urban Styles knocked this out of the park. Hopefully there are more like this to come in the future. Click HERE for order info/availability and click HERE to find the Urban Styles social media page which includes many posts with photos of the pieces included in the zine.
SMASH YOUR ENEMIES “BECOME DEATH”
(Upstate Records, Released October, 2019)
“Respect. Hold my own. To the grave!” Words of wisdom, coming straight out of Detroit, Michigan. I’m talking about the BRUTAL new EP from Smash Your Enemies entitled “Become Death”. As a huge fan of Cold As Life, this new EP satisfies my thirst for brutal Detroit hardcore. The first track, “Murder City Kings”, is twice as brutal and heavy as you’d expect. Brandon’s vocals are perfect for the band’s signature sound made up of pure aggression and this was an excellent track to kick off this EP. “Driven By Hate”, the second song off this release, is no less brutal as the opener. This track is super heavy and “in your face!” Starting out with a killer riff, like something you would hear off Madball’s “Set It Off”, this song kicks your ass. Between Jerry and John’s guitar playing, this song brings you all the power you can handle.
Another great hardcore song, “Ear To The Streets”, continues the onslaught of heavy, brutal riffs. Complete with a sick build up part and gang vocals, this track is good to go! The next one, “Become Death”, the title track to this recording is another straight up “chuggfest!” Complete with that old school “Cold As Life” sound. This song is pure energy and pure thrash and has a great stomp part at the end.
“Sick World” starts out with a rattling bass riff (courtesy of Matt) that stole my heart upon first listen. Still more brutality coming out of this record. “Sick of the scum, sick of the world” are some of the lyrics about an unforgiving life that’s “Never gonna’ fucking change”! I totally agree! Double bass and a fast pace are what you can expect from the next one, “Bloodshed”. Excellent drumming on this track was brought to you by Miles and will have you air drumming and foot stomping throughout this song. This song even includes a sick-ass breakdown! And just like vocalist Brandon reminds you, “You brought this on yourself!”
All in all, if you love the brutal, heavy ass hardcore like I do you need to get your hands on this new release that has been out since Goosey Night, courtesy of Upstate Records. A must have, in my book. Pick it up, now!
SCHIZOID “YOU’RE TO BLAME”
(Straight & Alert Records, Released November, 2019)
Here is an interesting concept developed by one man, Alexis Gautier from France, who plays all instruments on this demo tape titled "You’re To Blame". In fact he has done everything, from mastering and mixing the demo, drawing his own artwork and there are even some t-shirts for sale too…hell, he is a one man army!. "You’re To Blame" is a 5 track blast of raw, hardcore punk, opening with "Deadbeat" which opens with a blistering power violence explosion, no apologies, straight for the throat, taking no prisoners! Alexis has also kindly added the lyrics for us all to scream and shout along to. The production is raw but not un-listenable but considering this is one man playing all of the instruments it is tighter than a nun's chuff! Next up is "Who’s To Blame" which is very much in the same vein as the opening song with more anger, more speed, more blink and it's over before it's begun. "Not Sorry" is the shortest of the 5 songs, clocking in at 1 minute and 18 seconds long. The demo states that Alexis is heavily influenced by bands such as No Tolerance, Protester, Boston Stranger as well as UKHC. (For instance, for me Schizoid remind a bit of Geriatric Unit-ex-Heresy). "Schizoid" is a furious rant, with an excellent twist taking things at a slower pace. The guitars and bass sound angry and the drumming is precise at lightning speed. "White Line" closes the tape pretty much with the same feel as the other 4 songs. Apparently there are gigs lined up with other musicians and I think if they come across like this live then they no doubt will be able to stir up a frenzy in the pit. If you like your punk, loud, fast and angry then I would recommend checking out this demo. Click above cover for ordering info.
disappear “MOMENTUM” (Released August, 2019)
Indiana is plagued by many of the ailments that have metastasized across the central United States since the 1970’s. Home to former titans of industry, the northwestern border with Illinois is now a corridor of economic desperation, intensified by racist city planning and policing, as well as the cannibalistic creep of gentrification spilling over from the Chicago suburbs. The destitution is fenced in by a maze of decaying, rust eaten factories with monolithic smokestacks that belch fire as if they were connected directly to the bowels of hell. If there is a more fitting backdrop for the gnashing metallic hardcore of disappear to emerge from, it likely isn’t found on this continent.
Forming in Fort Wayne in 2018, disappear (not to be confused with the significantly less interesting Disappears from Chicago) are a four man demolition team, who crack the earth in their wake to release hot jets of disharmonious indignation into the air. Their sound puts them in good company with Old Wound, Sanction, and others reviving the sharp and brash work-hardened hardcore of the late ‘90’s. Drawing strength from the still smoldering embers of Integrity’s “Those Who Fear Tomorrow” and Turmoil’s “The Process Of”, disappear only seem to gain more speed with each mile stacked on the odometer, culminating in their phenomenal self-released debut LP, “Momentum”. The album is like a message in a bottle, shot through a vacuum tube, only to shatter on the receiving end into a cloud of microscopic daggers. It’s an album that speaks to pain and turmoil by living it through sound. Opener “The Slip” begins with a clip of a radio-evangelist addressing his beleaguered flock, before running headlong into brick-cracking riffs, fueled by rock-crushing percussion and sidewinder grooves, with lyrics that depict the swarm of insensate doubts whose venom course though the human mind daily, a throng of demons so think no God-fearing exorcist could disperse them. The band’s societal critic is easily one of their most substantial aspects, rising to the surface on tracks like “Obedience Training” which addresses the passivity engendered by the media’s selective cropping out of dissenting views ala Manufactured Consent, and racists police practices and oppressive mechanisms of social control on the bilge tossing down-slopping tumble of “City Scapes and Heartbreaks”. disappear depict a world that none of us would choose to live in, but which we are told we have no choice but to accept. This dichotomy is an illusion which the band ultimately positions as false, and which they hope to, with enough momentum, collide with head-on and shatter.
“Momentum” is a savage and satisfying debut from a rising star of Midwestern hardcore with a message that we are more than the sum of our environment, our traumas, and our failings. It’s a beautifully sculpted piece of sonic ironwork - sturdy and reliable, but with an elegance and flexibility reminiscent of the human hands that crafted it and the imagination from which it emerged. On this album, disappear is extending their hand to the people who feel crushed by life and circumstance in the hopes that everyone who is suppressed by the prevailing disorder of the world can link arms and lift each other up, to fortify their bonds, and bring hope to the life of a stranger in need. It’s the message we need in 2019, and will need even more in 2020.
“EVERY WINTER IS COLD, A NEW ENGLAND HARDCORE COMPILATION”
(Atomic Action Records, Released October, 2019)
I have never been a big fan of compilation albums. For the most part, you’re lucky if there are a few good bands on the compilation worth checking out and the rest, well you probably would never listen to again. This compilation proves me wrong. Atomic Action Records has put out, in my opinion, one of the best compilation albums I have ever listened to. Eighteen bands out of New England prove to us hardcore is still alive and well. I am not going to critique every band on this compilation otherwise you would be reading a short story instead of a review. What I will do is share my personal favorites and hopefully you will buy the record and check out all the bands for yourself.
Pummel kick off this compilation with “Shell Shock”, a great warm-up song that sets the tone for what’s to come. I found myself playing this one over and over. Restraining Order follow up with “Stuck In The Loop”, my personal favorite for its breakneck pace and pissed off lyrics. Other strong standouts are Kind, with “Undefeated”, Brother, for their track entitled “Tidal” and Peace Test, with “Fixed”. This compilation offers a few bands that bring back the early day sounds of hardcore punk. Bands such as Vantage Point, Wound Man and Boiling Point are worth checking out if you like the old school sound. There are at least three bands on here that are musically good but don’t fit into the hardcore category.
As I said at the beginning, I normally do not buy compilations but I would make an exception when it comes to this record. Atomic Action Records has delivered a solid record and I look forward to future releases. Add this one to your collection. Available to stream or download via the link below or to buy on 12” vinyl by clicking the cover artwork at the top of this review.
STRAY FROM THE PATH "INTERNAL ATOMICS"
(UNFD, Released November, 2019)
Long Island NY’s Stray From The Path have been around since the early 2000’s, have put out a bunch of albums and have toured all over God’s green earth and to be quite honest, I have never heard these guys’ music before receiving this promo copy from their PR team. We would now like to welcome you to “Reviews of bands I have no clue about but probably should”. I am not one for debates, lists, who is the best of all time in this genre or that genre but let us start off here by at least agreeing that SFTP fall under the hardcore umbrella although they seem to do so in this parallel hardcore universe where they often tour and surround themselves with other bands that I know little to nothing about. Do I sound like the least qualified person to be writing this review yet? Just wait.
“Ring Leader’ starts off this 10 song/32 minute effort with the repeated line of “Thinking like everyone else, is not really thinking” as first the drums and then the bass and guitar build up into this wall of energy that explodes about 35 seconds in. Immediate thoughts on the SFTP style is that these guys probably came up listening to many of the staples of hardcore and punk but they without a doubt throw way more into their songs structures as various aspects of heavy music can be heard throughout.
Up next is “Kickback” which features Brendan Murphy from Counterparts out of Canada. The fuzzy bass line that starts off the song is catchy and fierce but is also similar in sound to the beginning part of Korn’s “Blind”. To confirm this I played this for my co-worker without saying anything about my suspicions and he just looks at me and says “sounds like “Blind”. (Thanks Hoehman). When the song gets rolling you get a good feel for SFTP’s choppy style and Andrew Dijorio’s hip-hop influenced vocal style which is a major player on this record. Almost everything has some kind of bounce to it. I have invested a lot of listening time (around 20 listens) into “Internal Atomics”. Knowing that I am a total noob with their music I wanted to put the time in, and really give them a fair shake here. “The First Will Be The Last’ is up third and is one of the stronger tracks on the album that shows the bands talents. The production on this album is simply amazing and the playing is extremely tight. “Actions Not Words” (which they made an eye catching video for) is the closing track on the album and one of the songs that I could see myself checking in with long after “Internal Atomics” has run its course in my listening cycle. As stated earlier, I gave this album a bunch of listens, and the more I listened to it the less I liked it. Some songs have some really good hooks but overall there were not enough solid all the way through songs that I could truly embrace and want to go back to over and over. This band without doubt has talent and they incorporate influences and sounds from beyond the typical hardcore realm but at the same time they have created this sonic tug of war where (for me) there isn’t enough hardcore and too much of a “Hot Topic” thing going on.
If you have read to this point it is kind of obvious that this record was not for me BUT… I do understand the appeal. The genre of hardcore punk can get watered down with bands often sounding like copies of the bands at the top of the food chain and some out there simply want more choices. A band like Stray delivers a more ready for the masses type of sound and feel while doing enough “hardcore things” to still be considered a hardcore band even though that claim is somewhat debatable with this writer.
RESTRAINING ORDER "THIS WORLD IS TOO MUCH"
(Triple B Records, Released October, 2019)
Formed in 2017 to fulfill a New Year’s resolution to start a 1982 style hardcore band Restraining Order are at it again, offering up their longest effort to date with the 12 song/16 minute "This World Is Too Much". A simple but eye catching cover featuring Patrick Cozens (vocals) shown mid-jump with a microphone in hand is the lone visual on this albums cover. Not having the Restraining Order logo slapped across the top in say a bright red font is a bit of a head scratcher but also adds an element of mystery in a "who the hell are these guys" type of way when people see this record out in the wild.
Stylistically Restraining Order come at us with that raw hardcore feel ala Kill Your Idols, Negative Approach, Outburst... you get the idea... but with this new one they have become even better at doing what they have previously shown they are already good at. If you fired up the Delorean and dropped these guys off at the doorsteps of either A7 or CBGB's back in the sticks and stones days of hardcore they more than likely would have been met with open arms.
"Never" opens things here and blasts off with 41 seconds of hardcore angst and fury and it's off to the races from there. First impressions after a few more tunes go on by is the production which is simply fucking killer. What a great sound they got on this thing with the guitars sounding just dead on capturing that '82 type of sound. Second is Mr. Cozens' vocals which fit the music like a glove. Tracks like "What Will You Do", the title track, "Something For The Youth" and the closer "Addicted To This Life" are my favorites here although this is more of an album that you play straight through rather than just plucking out favorites to play.
What Restraining Order is doing in not overly innovative and projects like theirs can often fall victim to being a copy of a copy of a copy but not the case with this band. Restraining Order seem to put a lot of heart and soul into these tracks and I think that is the difference maker with this being an album with multiple tracks stuck in my head all day at work. The more I listen to "This World Is Too Much" the more drawn in I become. Beyond this record Restraining Order is a very easy band for me to get behind as they fly that DIY flag with pride playing out constantly and putting out new music on a pretty consistent basis, this being their fourth overall release since their demo came out in March of 2017. With great music and an obvious desire to get their band name out to every nook and cranny in the hardcore universe there is no telling how far Restraining Order can go.
KNOCKED LOOSE “A DIFFERENT SHADE OF BLUE”
(Pure Noise Records, Released August, 2019)
Knocked Loose is a band with an unusual history. It feels as if one morning we all woke up and a bunch of angry beatdown kids from Kentucky just took over the world! They were scooped up by the label Pure Noise Records, a label originally known more for pop punk, and promptly became one of their biggest successes upon dropping their debut full length “Laugh Tracks” in 2016. It signaled a shift in focus on that label towards promoting hardcore music. Knocked Loose hit the road and toured seemingly non-stop since “Laugh Tracks”, even getting on some huge festivals. The impact they had in their short time as a band is undeniable and they brought hardcore music to new audiences.
They’re certainly a divisive band, with some criticizing their music as corny and generic as it largely consists of 90’s Midwest metalcore riffs recontextualized in beatdown hardcore. Some dislike vocalist Bryan Garris’s high pitched screams and angsty lyrics labeling them as cheesy and over the top. Some complain of the audience at Knocked Loose shows. People outside of the hardcore scene view the audience as needlessly violent and full of “dudebros.” People inside the hardcore scene dislike the subsect of Knocked Loose’s fanbase that doesn’t come from the hardcore scene, doesn’t understand the culture and often fails to respect that culture. This all seems like a lot of set up for such a large and well known band, but it all provides context for the new album. Lots of bands get popular for a hot minute in hardcore but they eventually fade from memory due to a lack of staying power. Oftentimes, the band fails to evolve sonically and closes off to new audiences who aren’t “part of the club” so to speak, or they evolve too much into a different style of music, forget where they came from and don’t maintain that connection with their hardcore roots. These are some very common mistakes that hardcore bands make, and even some of the biggest hardcore bands of all time made them. With all the naysayers and the ever looming threat of becoming a forgotten hypecore band, Knocked Loose had to find a way to prove they have staying power.
One common complaint about “Laugh Tracks” was that it was pretty generic beatdown hardcore. On this new album, … “A Different Shade Of Blue”, Knocked Loose makes more of an effort to expand their sound a little bit. Those who enjoyed their previous output don’t have to worry about a massive stylistic change though. They still play heavy, metallic, moshable hardcore music. The changes are more subtle here. For example, they make more use of lead guitarist Isaac Hale’s low register guttural backing vocals and have him do some death growls to really accentuate the death metal influence in their sound, such as on the track “...And Still I Wander South” and “Misguided Son.” There’s more old school 80’s style fast parts on tracks such as “Belleville”, “Mistakes Like Fractures”, “A Serpent’s Touch”, “Road 23”, “Misguided Son”, and “Denied By Fate”. There’s also lots of shrieking guitar riffs that could be right out of a Martyr A.D. song, or hell even a Despised Icon song (if I wanted to stretch beyond hardcore), the nastiest of which is probably the breakdown on “In The Walls”, a song that will make you wanna punch holes in the walls! Many of the songs also feature the slightly nu-metal tinged Midwest metalcore riffing of Disembodied such as “Mistakes Like Fractures”, “In The Walls” and of course “Trapped In The Grasp of a Memory” (which almost sounds like a Slipknot or Korn song from the 90’s at points). The band also makes use of a few subdued sections to help build the tension on tracks such as “Mistakes Likes Fractures”, “... And Still I Wander South”, and “Belleville”. There’s even a few straight up slam riffs that pop up on this album, see “By The Grave,” and “In The Walls.” And most interestingly, there’s a few slow, sludgy parts on “Guided By The Moon” and “Misguided Son” that could come from a Crowbar song theoretically. As far as the composition is concerned, it’s a goldmine of hardcore and heavy metal riffs and parts and I could write a whole novel about their influences based on the songs alone, without even talking to the band or looking up a single interview and I can guarantee that they will all be correct when I do those things to confirm. The banger opening track “Belleville” sounds like it could’ve been an All Out War song with its thrashy metallic mosh riffs, the chugging breakdown on “Denied By Fate” almost sounds like they took a note right from the Candiria playbook (probably my favorite breakdown on this record), the opening fast part of “Road 23” sounds almost exactly like a Youth Of Today song and there’s also a few heavy moments on the tracks “By The Grave” and “Forget Your Name” that, and this may be blasphemy for some, I swear almost sound like a verse from an Irate song.
Now of course, any band can throw together a collection of riffs and angry kids will mosh to it. But Knocked Loose shines in the songwriting category here. Their songs have a cohesive sound and hooks for days. You can almost hear the band members saying “The kids are gonna pop off hard for this one!” as they’re writing the songs. Lots of catchy lyrics, tough as nails breakdowns and catchy riffs. Every song is cohesively written in a way that’s simultaneously cathartic for hardcore kids but accessible to other audiences in a way that probably hasn’t been seen since Hatebreed’s “Perseverance”. My favorite little hook on the album is probably the opening to “Forget Your Name” which is a chugga-chug mosh riff that has almost a bluesy swing to it with the end of each phrase being marked by 90’s death metal style tremolo picked riffs. It’s a standout moment on the album for sure! And the album also flows beautifully from track to track! It actually feels like a cohesive album and not just a collection of songs that they suddenly had the budget to record! Of course this is also partially because of the production of Will Putney (Fit For An Autopsy, END) who turns in some of his finest work yet on this album. Where I felt “Laugh Tracks” was a tad clean, I feel like something about this album just feels more organically heavy. It’s hard to explain what exactly but hit me back in a few years after I’ve had an epiphany about this and I’ll be happy to tell you. But vibes like that only come from a master of heaviness such as Putney. He really brought out how the band should sound when you listen to them: uncompromisingly heavy, extremely dynamic and unbearably tense! Listening to a good Knocked Loose song is like listening to the sonic equivalent of a nervous breakdown!
Naturally, every great hardcore band needs a great frontman, and Bryan Garris proves his worth here. He comes through with his best written lyrics yet which convey some true feelings of alienation and depression in a way that your friend’s crappy beatdown band unfortunately can’t. Bryan yells on one track that “I have a bone to pick with death,” and when I hear that, I sure as hell believe it. The band also brings on two vocal guests: Emma Boster from Dying Wish and Keith Buckley from Every Time I Die. I like the fact that they did this. They promoted an underground band that they liked and felt deserved more recognition (Bryan returned the favor and appeared on a Dying Wish song recently) and also took the opportunity to work with one of their biggest influences (You would too, admit it! I know I would!). Emma and Keith both knocked it outta the park! Their guest appearances are two of the best and most memorable moments on the album! The sheer passion these two put into their cameos is unrivaled on any hardcore release of the year!
My final verdict on this Knocked Loose album is that it’s one of the most brutal hardcore records I’ve listened to this year, right up there with Sanction, Sworn Enemy and that MH Chaos/Invoke split! Many of the older among us have heard many of the albums tricks before, but I feel that Knocked Loose put forth more effort into standing out and crafting a more distinct sound of screeching guitar leads, heart-poundingly energetic drumming and a dark moody aesthetic. It’s almost like listening to an Irate album in that it sounds like a bunch of crazy mosh anthems on the surface, but it rewards anyone who knows their shit about hardcore and metal music who’s willing to pick the songs apart more. There’s lots of people who are gonna hate on it, and that just comes with the territory when you’re the biggest hardcore band on the planet. I think Knocked Loose on “A Different Shades of Blue” is introducing hardcore music to a new audience and is at the forefront of what could be another golden age of hardcore. They manage to balance being accessible enough and being in tune with modern hardcore sensibilities with not compromising on the aggression and anger that you’d seek from this type of music. They’re hard to even classify anymore: They have too much chops to be beatdown, aren’t melodic enough to be metalcore, they’re too metal for hardcore and too hardcore for metal. But they don’t care! They’re a bunch of hardcore kids from Kentucky playing music that they wanna play on their terms!
SOUTH CLASS VETERANS “HELL TO PAY”
(Demons Run Amok, Released October, 2019)
There are so many great things that go along with doing music reviews. One of my favorite aspects though is finding out about bands that I may not have had a chance to hear about otherwise. Along the way I have reviewed some bands with that “it factor” which makes writing a review so much easier. For me, one of the bands who possess that “it factor” are South Class veterans who have a fresh new release in “Hell To Pay” which is out now on Demons Run Amok.
I had never heard of this New Jersey band until recently, then again they have only been together for 2 years but members Bosco, Dan, Scott, Greg and Jonathan have played in other bands prior to SCV that have covered the Tri-State area. “Hell ToPay” in my opinion has more of an Oi sound then hardcore or punk, however those two genres are well represented within the 10 tracks. Lasting just a little over 25 minutes the songs definitely capture some of the band's influences from such greats as Agnostic Front and Cock Sparrer. The release is one that you can listen to from start to finish and honestly there isn't a track I would skip. However I do have several that stick out above the rest: “Lies” (check out the video HERE); “The New Neighbors”; “Shortcomings” (the drumming is insane) and “Cape May Street”. South Class Veterans do a great job capturing that pub- going, pogo -provoking, punch your friend in the face, street punk which causes me to think back to great times of fun and camaraderie while hanging out and going to shows. Good music should do this and I definitely appreciate reliving those memories.
COLDSIDE “CALL FOR JUSTICE”
(Demons Run Amok, Released November, 2019)
When I opened the email from my editor and found out I would be reviewing the new Coldside 7” EP, you could say I was a little more than excited. I first heard of Coldside when I picked up their 2015 release “Outcasts, Thugs and Outsiders” which is a sick record and led me to pick up “Fuck Your System” as well. Coldside’s “Call For Justice” continues the band’s onslaught on the hardcore scene. This 7” EP is out now on Demons Run Amok Records out of Germany.
“Call For Justice” consists of three tracks of pure genuine hardcore that will appease to anyone who considers themselves a true hardcore connoisseur. The band stays true to their roots with this offering and gets you salivating for a future full length release. “Call For Justice”, the title track, kicks off this three song assault with a solid offering of true hardcore the way it was meant to be. With its Agnostic Front influenced sound and rally cry lyrics, “Call For Justice” sets the tone for this outing. “Backstab” kicks things into high gear with this straight up mosh generating track. The message is delivered with ferocious conviction and has the elements of being an anthem for the band. The EP finishes with “Guns Up”, a blast of blood pumping hardcore fury, capable of inciting pandemonium in the pit and my favorite track of the three songs.
Coldside only get better with each new release. The band shows no signs of slowing down and I find it hard to believe their roots aren’t in New York because they sound like some of the staples of the NYHC scene. This needs to be in every hardcore fan’s music collection.
BKS “DIY TNT” (No Time Records, Released August, 2019)
In my 46 years of existence, spending much of it nestled in the worlds of punk, hardcore, metal, hip hop, noise, indie, et al., I’ve tried to live by the mantra of never judging a book my its cover. Hell, I’m an English teacher for crying out loud, it’s what I'm not supposed to do. When the opportunity was presented to review the newest Baptist Killing Spree (B.K.S.) record, I must admit that I deviated from my rule. Full disclosure, I’ve listened to, and played in bands, with below average, or fucking awful band names. The band name is your calling card, your first chance at a first impression, an opportunity to set yourself apart from the crowd. It is with some bit of shame that I judged BKS based on their name alone. I am a big enough idiot to admit when I was wrong, at least when it comes to the music on “DIY TNT”, because this record rips.
Speed and precision are the foundations of BKS. The songs are tight, damn tight. The first impression machine in my head picks up on influences like Capitalist Casualties, Los Crudos, What Happens Next, and Ripcord (this concludes the influences list from the first impression machine located in my head). BKS are very skilled at their craft. They play with a clarity and intensity of great musicians. The songs are well written, they are fast, but they aren’t all fast (but most are), and when they are played fast, the changes are made on a dime.
“Boi” opens the onslaught with great guitar work and expert drumming. And the hits keep coming. The cover of “Hard Times” by the Cro-Mags (or is it Cro-Mags JM?) is the longest song, clocking in at 1:26. Which brings me to another point, short songs rule. Get in, get out. “6 kicks 1 kick” is a burner of a song, with plenty of dynamic and changes to appease most any fastcore/thrashcore fan.
“DIY TNT” has a great throwback feel to me, back to when Slap-A-Ham and 625 were kings, spitting out quality, fast, material. Now while I might think they could do better in the band name department, don’t let me being a doofus dissuade you from this record. Fast core, thrash core, hard core fans alike will be pleased with BKS.
GUT PUNCH “I WON’T LAY DOWN”
(Released October, 2019)
Coming from sunny San Diego are Gut Punch… hardcore veterans featuring members of No Innocent Victim, Born Blind, Take 'Em Out and Uprising A.D. And just like their band name their music certainly delivers a solid punch along with the help of a barn door (thick and wide) production on this four track release. This effort is also the follow up to Gut Punch’s 5 track self-titled release from back in January. Although neither release are close to being full lengths it is a rarity to see hardcore bands putting out multiple releases within a 9 month span like we have here. "Gatekeeper" opens with a mid-paced blinder, setting the pace with mood and aggression. The band sites influences such as Agnostic Front and Sick Of It All along with other traditional hardcore sounds and this release certainly demonstrates that these guys know their stuff. Title track "I Won't Lay Down" is full of shout-a-long's and hits like a thunderous slab of hate brewing like an imminent storm coming in. Kurt on drums creates a solid, well timed anvil, pounding at the listener’s ears. The longest song on this 4 track EP is "50 Shots", opening with some excellent guitar work from Nate Jarrell before descending into a full hardcore rage, up tempo monster, with vocalist Judd complementing the onslaught with some solid work. This song is very well structured and offers some nice twists and turns keeping the listener fully engaged. The last song is "Scene Diversity" which is an incredibly moody effort with no rush to hammer home their message. I would highly recommend this release and also check out the bands earlier release from this year as well.
AGNOSTIC FRONT “GET LOUD”
(Nuclear Blast Records, Release Date, November 8, 2019)
HOT DAMN HUMANOIDS! Christmas done come early this year! I opened my mailbox to find the latest from NYHC icons and stalwarts, the motherfucking GODFATHERS of hardcore themselves, Agnostic Front. Shit man, as far as I am concerned, at this point, Roger and Vinnie are national fucking treasures. Can I get an Amen? They are dropping a 14 track monster on you bitches and if you think age has slowed them down at all, you'd be dead wrong kid. Did I mention this is 14 tracks in 30 minutes and 8 seconds?
Hold onto your hats and buckle up kids… The first thing I notice is the Sean Taggart cover art. If you don't know who Sean is, well, shit dudes and dudettes, go fucking learn something. I immediately immerse myself in the cover and sit their staring at it for a good twenty minutes. It is an update of the “Cause For Alarm” cover from 1986. It is brought into the now, and it's brilliant. I'm sold on the album by the cover art alone.
Enough yammering!, let's get to the tuneage! First up is the track that was released as a teaser to get folks hyped on the new release. You've probably heard it, if not, it's time to come out from the rock beneath which you dwell. It's a metallic, galloping, and thrashing hardcore tune called "Spray Painted Walls" running 2:45. The tune is a fine welcome as it embraces and condenses all of Agnostic Front's sounds into one kick ass song. No matter which era of AF is your bag, this one touches them all. Next up is the thrasher "Anti-Social". Not it's not the shit toy Anthrax tune, but at a lightning quick 1:06, AF do something better than Anthrax has ever done. This is one for the old schoolers. It is pretty self-explanatory and goes by in a blink of an eye, leaving you wanting more. It runs right into the feedback which kicks off the titular track "Get Loud" running 2:22. That feedback leads into a menacing bass line that launches a punishing mid-tempo song which is all about taking control of your life and doing something with it. The proverbial take your thumb out of your ass, anthem. It makes the perfect companion piece to the politically motivated and "One Voice' inspired "Conquer and Divide" clocking in at a brutal 2:18. A musical thunderclap unleashes a galloping hardcore thrash beauty "Live free or die, fight to exist......", and I am fist pumping and head banging, with a little light stomping. Then the breakdown hits and holy shit, two of my kids are now at the hospital ER because I moshed the shit out of breakfast.
"I Remember" at 3:11 is the epic of this release. This is the one that will tug at your hardened hardcore heart strings. Alliteration not with-standing, it is a look back on the lives of the Godfathers complete with nods to several songs and some straight up whoah-oh-ohs. It comes off as a kind of letter from Roger to Vinnie and a beauty of a song that will hit home with the older guys in the crowd. "Dead Silence" running 2:23 is another galloping thrasher which deals with calling out bullshit. This one culminates in a pissed off breakdown "Let's be real!" will be heard in the pit while mayhem ensues. I am certain. Next up is the instrumental delight known as the "AF Stomp" running 1:29. Clear the dance floor as this one is right up there with the "Intro Busts" of the world. My only beef here is, why isn't this the first track?? I mean, it just seems like that is where it belongs, but I digress. This is why I write reviews for free and don't manage bands and their careers.
We are now at the mid-point of the record so I feel this is a good place to say that it is apparent that the band has put a shit ton of work into this album. Yes, a bona fide measurable metric shit ton. It is impeccable. The sound, the mix, Roger's voice, Vinnie and Craig's guitars, Mike's booming bass, and Pokey's bombastic drums, all on point. I appreciate the hard work you fellas put in so in thought I indulge myself in the middle of my review to tell you so. Back to the tunes!
"Urban Decay" running 1:57 showcases a slight punkier, street rock vibe. It’s a killer rock tune with shouted, gang style vocals of "urban, urban decay!" and "violence, violence". It is a statement on street life. Keeping in theme, the self-explanatory "Snitches Get Stitches" @ 1:47 is a hard hitter. Roger queries "First you talk shit, then you wonder why, there's violence on our minds?" and the song busts into a sweet and unique breakdown which I played over and over and which caused me to form a one man stomping, kicking, circle pit during lunch which sent a third child of mine to the ER.
Think this one may be my favorite. A buzz saw guitar introduces the 1:51 personal beef sounding "Isolated". This one concerns self-imposed isolation thru idiotic action. This is one you stay still and listen to, good news for my fourth and final child. A slide on down the fret board leads us into another fast galloping anthem entitled "In My Blood" running 2:32. An epic ode to all those things about being hardcore complete with some sweet stand out guitar work. Hardcore, it's in their blood, it's in my blood, it's in your blood if you are reading this. The punky gem "Attention" runs a brisk 1:49. This one is for all of you attention whores out there. This one contains yet another sick breakdown which culminates in a royal "FUCK YOU!" courtesy of Mr. Miret. Bad news for that fourth and final child of mine at dinner time. "Pull the Trigger" running 2:00 even is another of the songs which lean more towards the punk and straight hard rock sounds. This is a song of desperation. I've been waiting all album to finally hear Roger yell "STIGMA!!!" and he does it right here and sends Mr. Stigma into a kick ass little solo that made me wish there were a few more sprinkled here and there solely for my own selfish reasons. The final cut on this soon to be classic is "Devastated" clocked at 2:38. Perfect ending for the album as the album will leave you devastated. The song has a slightly different sound for AF which is perhaps a look to what is yet to come from these guys and another reason this a great way to end the LP.
As a young metal head, AF were a gateway band for me. A band that appealed to a lot of us, made apparent by their inclusion on that Bullets comp from back in the day alongside the likes of Megadeth, Dark Angel, and Impaler. However, from the moment I heard "Victim In Pain" I was hooked. They have gone thru many lineups and subsequent unavoidable sound changes over the years. Some loved, some liked, some bitched about, some moaned about, but AF has remained, and over the years have compiled an excellent discography. "Get Loud" only bolsters that and embraces all of those sounds with equal vigor on this new release. The band has never sounded tighter and Roger is as good as he was on day one. This is another great release by an OG NYHC band like their contemporaries and compatriots Sick Of It All, they are still getting shit done and done right. They are on the road so check them out as they never disappoint live. Stick around and thank them after their set as they are some of the nicest guys you'll meet. I am going to declare that November 8th be heretofore known as International Agnostic Front Day, as that is the day on which this LP drops, so you little fucks better buy it and support the Godfathers. This is some shit you don't want to miss. Merry fucking Christmas, assholes. GET OFF MY LAWN!
ILL BLOOD s/t EP
(Farewell Records, Released October, 2019)
Vienna, Austria’s Ill Blood combine a whole host of hardcore influences that include that classic NYHC sound, prime youth crew, some of the Lockin’ Out roster and more groove based hardcore with their own sense of energy to create a vibrant blast of hardcore. The bands self-titled debut EP blends all of those influences into six songs of focused fury with a big emphasis on positivity and ultimately, having fun while unleashing their anger.
A flurry of guitars that could have come straight out of “How Could I Laugh Tomorrow...” era Suicidal kicks off the opening track “Scraps” before the track explodes into life complete with commanding vocals courtesy of frontman Damien and doesn’t let up until the final notes of the song have faded out. The energy doesn’t stop there though and as the band fire their way through each song, it is clear that they have their own vibe and this short but sweet release is the perfect introduction to the music of Ill Blood.
The bands self-titled song comes on like a theme song for Ill Blood and is tailor made for causing chaos in the pit while the bass led groove of “Stick Tight” and the chant-a-long “No Sympathy” show a band going full pelt with their own sound while still finding time to salute their influences and the results are breathtaking.
Those killer Suicidal-esque riffs and intense solos are littered throughout this release and add an extra layer of intensity and goes hand in hand with the grooves and catchy riffs. This EP ends as quickly as it began with the berserk “Paved Bliss”, a song that ends with a cool breakdown followed by a wave of feedback that singles the end of this satisfying listen.
Ill Blood have made an impact with this EP and are undoubtedly making strides with their music and will continue to go from strength to strength as they go on with a full length debut album to come not too far in the future. Until that time, this EP more than stands up for a listening experience again and again.
DOWN FOR LIFE MAGAZINE ISSUE #8
(Released September, 2019)
Down For Life continues in its quest to bring you the best in hardcore, punk and crossover features, interviews and reviews and is now onto issue 8 and with it, it is definitely succeeding in doing just that. The past issues of this magazine have brought you cover stories on hardcore stalwarts from Sick Of It All to Bad Brains to Agnostic Front and this latest issue has an extensive feature on one of hardcores most revered bands Black Flag. With interview features with everyone both past and present who has played a major part in the Black Flag story, the latest DFL is a must for any Flag fan. There are also great features on SS Decontrol and Youth Of Today with great reflections on both bands’ career courtesy of Al Barille and Jaime Sciarappa And Porcell for the latter.
As with the previous editions of the magazine, there is a strong helping of NYHC in this issue with a eature on Cro Mags that includes Harley Flanagan talking about a new era for his incarnation of the band (there is also a review of the latest Cro-Mags EP (“Don’t Give In”), a great review of the brilliant new Agnostic Front album “Get Loud” and of course, the In Effect roundup (can’t wait to read the Sick Of It All book and always good to see Car Bomb Parade get love!)
As always there is a healthy report on newer bands to check out and this goes hand in hand with those of the legendary bands that were just mentioned as it all matters in helping to spread the message of hardcore worldwide. Add to that, features on Strife, Knocked Loose, Victims, Life Of Agony, Death Before Dishonor and more as well as an extensive reviews section (both albums and live events including reviews of albums by All Out War, Rykers and The Take and Ieperfest, Rebellion and Pitfest on the live front) and you have a magazine jam packed full of the music we love.
For any fan of hardcore, Down For Life is a must read with every issue and this particular one is packed full of great features of bands both past and present. In the words of this issues cover stars, “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme!”
DOIN’ GREAT “ON THE OUTSIDE”
(Released October, 2019)
Before hitting play on the debut release from PA's Doin' Great, I really had no clue what to expect. What I got was a solid dose of some catchy-but-not-corny punk rock. Ryan Ziegler, of Barricade, Animalhaus, Objection (and more), is on vocals for this new project. His style on this album pulls from both gritty hardcore and gruff Oi influences, mashing them together while creating an unapologetically refreshing sound that layers righteously honest song writing on top of punchy punk rock riffs. Detailing the transition into, through and out of some darker times in his life, Ziegler opens up on this record while successfully blending his words with the predominantly upbeat musicality his bandmates provide. After a few listens I learned that one reason Doin' Great sound so tight on their first record is that they've all played together before in the band Animalhaus! With that in mind, it's clear by the tone of the music itself that the band had a lot of fun recording this; the fact there are guitar “dive bombs” and “pig squeals” laced throughout a punk rock record is proof of a good time in the studio! The strings and drums get along really well throughout and the mix is solid.
The first song, "Far Too Long" hits with catchy guitars right away, and holds a tempo that's both fun and deliberate; a perfect lead for the rest of the album! Since in some way this record was a reunion of old friends, it isn't surprising to have group vocals which really resonate and compliment the vibe on some of the songs. The third track on the album titled "Come Home" is a shining example of just that. On that note, its rad to hear musicians in hardcore mix it up and release music that floats around the spectrum of what constitutes "hardcore" while avoiding getting pigeonholed into one type of sound or sub-genre.
Having 6 tracks packed with sing along choruses, killer gang vocals, catchy riffs, and words that actually mean something, Doin' Great are off to a strong start! This album is available to stream now, and they've got some shows coming up so be sure to check out Doin' Great!
NERVOUS WRECK s/t (Released October, 2019)
The proliferation of new hardcore bands from the Garden State continues with the emergence of a brand new name... Nervous Wreck. My initial reaction to the 4 songs on display here is that they definitely have something cooking on this... their debut effort. The fact that this band is only 6 or so months into their existence allows me to look beyond some of the rough edges and wrinkles and upon further listens I can hear the potential. The feels on this are undeniably late 80's NYHC... lots of bounce and opportunities to get your mosh on... but also with a slight crossover feel (as was par for the course in the late 80's NYHC universe). Chris Bacchus (making his lead vocal debut) also plays guitar with another NJ outfit who go by the name Player Hater who are more metallic stylistically but who also feature good use of the bounce in their song structures.
Members of both of these bands probably listen to a lot of old school hip-hop is my guess and it works well, the biggest difference between the two being that Nervous Wreck's approach is more punk rock. My main critique here lies with the vocal approach though as they seem too harsh/hard/rough (you pick a term) and if dialed back by even the smallest of margins I would have gotten into this more than I did. With this being Chris' first attempt at fronting a band I would rather cut some slack and hope that the style evolves more to my liking on whatever the next go around may be… but if it doesn’t… who the F am I to tell this guy how to sing his own songs, right?
"Division", "Nervous Wreck", "Conformist", and "Quotidian" are your titles... none of which will ever be accused of being of the PMA variety as Nervous Wreck go for more of the just can't hate enough approach. "Not a single thing for me to gain... so how much longer can I bare the pain" is just a sneak peek into their dark lyrical realm. A solid debut, but still raw. You can see the potential though and hopefully their next release starts that upward climb into the scenes spotlight. Click HERE to find the Nervous Wreck demo on Bandcamp.
BASTARD CLAN “THE ARROGANT DREAM”
(Released September, 2019)
Featuring members of The Krays and All Out War (amongst other NY notables), Bastard Clan are a new force to be reckoned with, coming from New York City. Founded 5 years ago, this 5 piece have put together their debut effort which is a 9 track album which has elements of punk and dare I say, hints of Iron Maiden! The opening song "Shed" takes no prisoners and blasts forth with a guitar intro which reminds me of Slayer’s "The Final Command" before the band launch into their style… which I can describe as an up tempo Rancid-ish sound before twisting into a hint of Maiden before launching back into the heart of the song again. This is catchy stuff and well produced. "Humanity" is slightly heavier with the guitars but flows melodically, Johnny Krays’ vocals are perfect… he actually sings rather than screams and once again the hook lines in this song stamp their authority making this song a real crowd favorite. "Point The Blame" is the shortest song on the album, at a fraction over 2 and a half minutes and is an absolute belter…great song structure combined with great musicianship, don't take my word on this, check it out! "Forward And Home" thunders into life… if this song doesn't get the pit into a frenzy then I don't know what will. It has the power and elegance of a sledgehammer with the ability to knock you off your feet.
"Ascension" opens with an interesting guitar part, very Maiden-esq, but don't be fooled by this as the band rip into what they do best and that is offer a solid slab of street punk. It is worth noting that Taras and Carlos are both very talented guitar players, not only in their playing ability but also with the diversity they inject into each song. Top stuff! "Bursting" is another nod for the guitarists to show off their talent but I don't want to forget the bass player in this too, John Strapp's bass tone on this album is fantastic and with that you can hear John beating his bass to a pulp in true punk fashion. I personally feel that "Bursting" will be on the bands live set list for a long time to come. "Folly Of Fame And War" thunderous drums lift this song, Brian Shonen really is solid in his style and is a real powerhouse… fucking hell, this band have got it! "Just Ignore" starts off with every bass players delight with some furious technical sounds… think “Maxwell Murder” by Rancid… that kind of vibe… I would love to see this one played live! Closing off this classic album is "Action" and that is just what it is… furious action, ending as soon as they have begun, making the listener think, I need to listen this all again. Fantastic stuff! This band have got an amazing future in front of them. I cannot recommend this album enough for those who want intelligent street punk with added twists.
SKATECRIME “UP YOUR CURB” EP
(Released June, 2019)
As a big fan of the resurgence of “old school” within punk and hardcore, Florida has been keeping up with the scene. Another band to add to the list is Skatecrime. This new band, formed a little over a year ago, has been all over the scene and released their debut CD, “Up Your Curb” back in June. Recorded and mixed at Thunderhouse Studios in Port St. Lucie, this CD rips! Kicking off the album, “Skatedge”, is a great song to set the tone of the record. Fast California style early 90’s punk is typically what you get with this record. Singer/guitarist, Nick Diiorio’s vocals are reminiscent of Guttermouth and even, Pennywise. Add a cool bass line and a good breakdown and the song is killer. The next track, “Sasquatch Kick Machine”, is another “fast riffs all day” kind of song. It starts off with a funny new report regarding a naked Sasquatch before going full force until the ending.
They hold their own with this next song, a cover of Agent Orange’s “Everything Turns Grey” before launching into “Shin Condition”. I really liked this song, as it had a Bouncing Souls vibe that was helped along by Billy Mauer, whose bass lines sounded great. Fast and steady drumming courtesy of Brian Rodriguez, who has been playing in the local punk scene on the Treasure Coast for many years. On top of keeping up with the drum kit, he also sings most of the band’s backup vocals on the record and live as well. Next up is the album’s title track, “Up Your Curb”. Sticking true to the old school fast punk formula, this song’s chorus is very catchy and has great whoahs as well. Before finishing off this EP they did justice to another cover song. This time, “Young ‘Til I Die” by 7 Seconds. Finally, they close out this release with the last track called, “Bombing The Hill”. Another catchy tune which could turn out to be the new “Breakin’ The Law” of punk rock. All in all, you should check out this record if you are a fan of skate punk. Maybe it’ll get you to dust off the old board and “Go Skate!”
BLVD OF DEATH “HELL IS FULL OF GOOD INTENTIONS” (Edgewood Records, Released September, 2019)
Blvd of Death from Italy is back at it with "Hell Is Full Of Good Intentions", the follow-up to "Swinging Sledgehammers", their four song debut last year, and their first for Edgewood Records. This six song EP features five full tunes following a Nick Woj intro, and while some of the same influences are present as last time (I still hear Breakdown and Backlash), the vibe often channels Queens greats like Cold Front and Everybody Gets Hurt, appropriate for the provenance of their name. The advent of a stable lineup/fourth member seems to have helped these dudes compose an elevated batch of material, as there was no bassist credited on "Swinging Sledgehammers" and they were effectively a 3-piece.
The intro as a standalone first track is followed by the pragmatic "It Is What It Is", but for me, song 3 "Choices" is where things got going and I was like damn these guys are really bringing it. “Choices” is the song I'd probably put on a mix tape, compelled by the power of that main riff during the verse. Of course it feels more like a 2 song than a 3 song, but everything is thrown off by the intro, in the opposite manner of the “Born To Expire” CD version from Profile. Speaking of “Born To Expire,” while Leeway did not immediately come to mind, I soon realized the propulsive riffing and compelling melody in “Choices” is analogous to the structure of “Mark Of The Squealer.” Later in the same tune, there’s also a transition that resembles the opening of “Kingpin,” before reverting to the delicious main riff.
While eighties Astoria is represented on the front half of this release, we head further into the nineties in the second portion. The first few songs are great, but are they solely emblematic of Blvd of Death's sound? The second set of tunes is somewhat darker and more intricate, almost like what Trapped Under Ice did on side B of “Stay Cold” and where the more Cold Front/EGH-inflected songs happen. How do bands decide to arrange songs on a record, even a short one like this? That is a whole topic to be explored another day.
It's hard to believe that half these tracks are under two minutes each, as there is so much happening in each song. There is a pure Queens moment in “Boys Do Cry”, which I would say gave me chills, but it may have already been cold on my Metro North train creeping past Uppercut’s old stomping grounds at Fordham. It is followed by the equally moshworthy “Poison” which took me back to Cold Front’s set at the 2007 Superbowl of Hardcore. “H.I.F.O.G.I.” the initialed title track is the last one and perhaps the most interesting. At first bouncier and more self-contained than some of the structures present here, there is a moment it could plausibly conclude, but fortuitously instead diverges into an unexpected transition, no Leeway pun intended. Essential October listening for fans of Breakdown, Everybody Gets Hurt, Cold Front, Backlash, Trapped Under Ice and Ekulu.
NONE ABOVE ALL/ENZIGURI
“MEANWHILE… IN NY” SPLIT EP
(Fuzz Therapy Records, Released October, 2019)
“Meanwhile…In NY” is a split EP between two New York hardcore bands looking to make their mark on the NYHC music scene. None Above All contribute four tracks while Enziguri provide the other three songs on this release (the debut) from Fuzz Therapy Records out of New York City. I’m going to start with None Above All’s contribution to this EP and finish with my take on Enziguri’s music. Let the reviews begin…
None Above All formed in the late summer of 2015 with former members of Step 2 Far, Zombie Fight and Silence Equals Death. The band has previously released two EP’s and is working on a full length record set for release in 2020. The four tracks the band offer on this outing are the strongest songs on the EP. The band captures the NYHC sound with their straight ahead, fast and angry music. Vocalist Hil is one hard and pissed off sounding dude and is the right choice to front this speed induced charge of furious hardcore.
“Make It” kicks off the EP with a hard slap to the face. From the opening scream of “A Chance”, you immediately know these guys are the real deal. This angry slab of fury holds a positive and relatable message in its lyrics that I could sink my teeth into and had me eager to hear their other three songs. “Pound of Flesh” is a standard, hard edged hardcore song dealing with an open wound, set to high-speed guitars, frantic drumming and enraged vocals. Mid-way through the track, the band slows it down but only for a few seconds before inciting a mosh pit building second half of the song.
“End in Sight” would be a song I would put on if I were going into battle (or into an insane mosh pit). It’s fast, violent and makes you want to punch the person standing next to you. This was my favorite track out of the four. “No One” is the last track and is a longer song that starts fast and finishes with a slow and eerie sounding conclusion. I couldn’t help but notice a number of early sounding 2000 hardcore bands on this track. Aside from that, the song finishes the band’s contribution to this split EP on a strong note.
Enziguri is a four piece out of the Bronx. They released a self-titled EP back in 2015. The band states their aim is to create their own brand of NYHC. I agree and disagree with this statement after listening to the three tracks they provide on this EP and let me elaborate on my point.
I could go on a rant and tell you my views on what constitutes as hardcore or not but I’ll spare you that speech (your welcome). Enziguri has some of the elements of hardcore but there is a formidable pop sound to their music which does not sit well with me. Hardcore is all about dealing with life’s shit storms we are all faced with on a regular basis, set to a furious and angry musical background soundtrack. I don’t hear this in their music or lyrics. “Pigeon On A Wire” and “The Wolves You Feed”, the first two songs from the band, start out with the traditional NYHC sound, then suddenly the songs kick into a poppy sounding style, combining two genres that (to me) just don’t go well together. Even the lyrics of both songs struck me as girlfriend centered problems and that topic does not belong in hardcore music. “Gag Order” is the third track of theirs and this song is definitely a hardcore song from start to finish. This is the direction the band should be steering towards. If they did, the band would earn their spot as a new contender in the NYHC music scene.
AGNOSTIC FRONT @KNOCKDOWN CENTER, QUEENS, NY OCTOBER 6, 2019.
PHOTOS BY: RICH ZOELLER
This certainly was one of those outside of the box types of shows which took place at the Knockdown Center in Maspeth, Queens with Agnostic Front providing direct support for Florida's Obituary. Before AF there were 8 openers scheduled that included Fuming Mouth, Krimewatch, Coke Bust, Fiddlehead, and Haram. When you have a band dubbed "The Godfathers Of Hardcore" playing right before Obituary who some consider "Pioneers Of Death Metal", mix in 8 openers of varied sounds and styles and then add in the skate scene element you have the makings for a potentially weird and wild night.
Thrasher and Vans were sponsors of this show which probably was at least part of the reason that there was a half-pipe placed smack dab in the middle of the sprawling 50,000 square foot warehouse that is the Knockdown Center. While the bands played dozens of skaters were doing their thing while many more watched. The backdrop of skaters, metalheads, punks, skins, and regular folk all mixed together definitely gave this show a unique feel. Admission was free and only required signing up for a ticket online.
Agnostic Front came on a little after 9pm and ambushed the crowd with a "Victim In Pain" assault that started with the title track from their 1984 classic followed by "Fascist Attitudes", "With Time" and "Blind Justice". Singer Roger Miret told the huge (but not sold out) crowd... "New York City, let's see if you remember this one" right before the start of the mid-paced "With Time". "For My Family" was one of the only newer era AF tracks played before they took it back to 1986 and '87 by playing "The Eliminator", "Toxic Shock", "Public Assistance" and "Strength". Before "Strength" Roger welcomed ex-guitarist Steve Martin out on to the stage who then joined the band in playing "Strength"... (a track off of “Liberty And Justice For”) the lone album that Steve performed on.
As Agnostic Front's set moved along we got more AF staples in "Power" (which was sung by guitarist Vinnie Stigma), the old Iron Cross cover of "Crucified", the now classic "Gotta Go", and "Blitzkrieg Bop" by the Ramones which has become a regular closing tune for the AF crew. The sound at the Knockdown Center was not very good with the vocals being way too low and hard to hear. In some instances I had a hard time following along to songs I have known for 30 years. The only time the sound level of the mic was not a problem seemed to be in between songs when Roger was introducing each song. The stage presence of the band though made up for some of this as these guys really gave it their all while performing which is always the case when you see AF play. The crowd went absolutely insane throughout their set with a huge pit that went off the whole time. Roger's calls and hand motions for "circle pit! circle pit!" were 100% acted upon at the start of each song where he asked.
One thing I will remember about this show for a very long time was how diverse the makeup of this crowd was. About mid-way through AF's set I looked around at the people near me and had a visual moment that pretty much summed up what I am trying to convey here. As I scanned the audience around me I saw a prototypical punk rocker with a studded out denim vest, a Jewish dude rocking out with a yamaka/kippah and the tzitzit/tassles (sorry if I didn't get the spelling of these right Jewish friends) and then some guy probably in his 50's with shoulder length white hair and a t-shirt. All there were rocking out to AF and songs that are in some cases 3 decades old. This was 1000% awesome in my book and represents how unifying this music can be. -CW
SKUM CITY “RISE OF THE SKUM”
(Released September, 2019)
Evoking an urban wild that shook its last death rattle somewhere in the middle of Nineteen Hundred and Ninety - SKUM CITY with their full length “Rise of the Skum” attack loud and fast with street punk material that conjures the violent bohemia that was once the geographical center for all NYC outsiders…Downtown Manhattan. Amid the Krishna devotees playing the Mridanga Drum…SK-8 Crews turning NYC architectures into death defying stages…the LGBTQ embracing Goth community who lived by night in the dingy Pyramid Club…3rd wave NYHC “kids” living and dying in the scenes 80’s swan song and 90’s post sound. The street genre of hardcore would fragment into sub-styles warping itself to the various NYC tribes in sound and philosophy. Whether avant-garde, straight edge, thrashing, Krishna inspired or anarcho, hardcore punk would adapt itself to all levels of street life and be used to communicate varying ideologies from the religious to the political to the personal.
Skum City like a nomadic urban squatter tribe scrounge through the underground music collective picking odds and ends pieces - breaks, beats, riffs, vocal attitudes - and Frankenstein them. From the hardcore punk rock out of East and West Coast sources as well as English bred sounds and demeanor.
“Diazepam” powers through with a NYHC metal crossover riff thrashing from the gutters of the L.E.S summoning no supernatural heavy metal demon for its next track but a punk rock anti-Christ paradoxically named Jesus Christ but known to the underworld of cult rock as G.G. Allin. “Stay Home and Fuck'” is a domestic sex song from the fuck files of G.G. during his “Scumfucs” era…the song pulls no punches as it delivers what it promises with the title sung on repeat as its chorus. “24x4” is a chaotic hardcore punk wild horse that shows the musical creativity of the group and adds a punk prowess at noisy levels with a thrash country riff and guitar bend that insinuates the breakdown of this catchy speed number that is a standout stampeding with energy. “Don’t Worry About Nothing” riots with the energy of an Oi! anthem with a punk riff that skanks with a reggae down stroke as both singers hammer the chorus “Don’t … Don’t … Don’t…Worry About Nothing!” with a vocal inflection that mimes a charging fist in the air fluidly transitioning at the 1:22 mark to a revised version of “Maggots”. A surf punk assault that made its first appearance on Skum City’s 2012 release “Don’t Forget My Balls”. This new take gives the song its justice with a great energy as drummer Gigi Smalls delivers catchy minimalist power house beats, she splices her own vibe to the “Maggots” ending with a first generational NYHC break beat creating a catchy mosh groove while guitarist Mike Moosehead pays homage to the DC hardcore guitar wizardry of Dr. Know with an early “Black Dots” feel - an electric bolt single note guitar attack that leaves you wanting more. Executed similarly on the 8th track “People You May Know” with a late 70’s metal string hopping riff that runs circles in your head until there’s a pentagram. With a healthy dose of vocals from both Christopher “Thee Wailing Siren” and bassist Xtene Skum City create an unpredictability to the songs in attitude and persona. Xtene’s vocal style and tone comes from the family tree of punk street core of Los Angeles and New York with nods to Exene Cervenka of the cowboy punk outfit X and the avant-garde urban bohemia of Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth. While in contrast, lyrists and vocalist Christopher “Thee Wailing Siren” gives us the gruff and snarl vocal approach that is a hardcore punk rock staple. For as heavy and loud the songs are it would have been more befitting to hear them through a lo-fi guttural recording to match an attitude and sound that takes us on a trip through an audio wasteland. “Rise Of The Skum” collides elements, influences and spirit like a city street in full psychotic mode - car honking, jack hammering, radio blasting, tire screeching, cursing, siren wailing - with monolith compositions of noise breaking through your window without warning or apology.
MINDFIELD S/T EP (Released September, 2019)
Eventually, I will finally get to see this band from Jacksonville, Florida that I have been hearing so much about. But until then, at least I got my hands on this brutal new EP of the same title called, “Mindfield”. The first track off this 3-song teaser, “Terminal Atonement”, is in your face from the first riff. The rest of the band release their fury shortly after. Vocalist, Nick Troupe, provides heavy growls before an abrupt ending leave you wanting more. A great way to set the tone.
“Sacrifice of The Skin” starts off with a slow, creepy guitar riff and a distorted spoken word part. This song is just loaded with insane riffs and chuggs, courtesy of Matt Tubman. The impressive guitar and vocals, again, were a perfect mix for this song as well.
Saving the best for last, “Violent Nature”, has all the chuggs we talked about earlier, a sick breakdown and a bass solo by Colby Bacon, whose brother, Trevor Bacon, also plays drums and completes this band’s rhythm section! This EP was a quick fix to an ongoing problem that I have. And that problem is not having seen this band yet. Hopefully, that problem will be solved soon, as well. They have been making a reputation for themselves in Northern Florida and this EP is a reminder of what heaviness awaits with this band.
“CANCER SUCKS. HARDCORE DOESN’T” V/A COMPILATION (Released August, 2019)
This is not only a factual statement but also the title of a new online/streaming compilation put out by Positive Militia and consists of a mix of hardcore, punk and metalcore bands. Before getting into the actual release and music let me fill you in on who Positive MIlitia are. They are a UK company from Leeds started in 2012 by Peter Beswick that has become a "clothing brand, record label, a lifestyle choice and whatever it needs to be at any given time". A definite shout out needs to be given to Peter for putting out this comp and it is noteworthy that 50% of the sales of “Cancer Sucks, Hardcore Doesn’t” goes directly to cancer research. The 12 bands that have taken part in this project come from many different locations across the globe such as Belgium, Australia, Upstate NY and Italy just to name a few. Besides the diverse geography, the bands also bring different styles of “hardcore” that fills up the almost 36 minutes of play time. The reason on my emphasis on the term hardcore remains solely up to the listener's perception of what they think hardcore should sound like. To clarify, in my opinion several of the bands and their tracks have a more definitive death metal sound while a few others are more crossover. This is not a shot at any of the bands who provided their talents to the compilation. I found many of the tracks I liked for different reasons but the three bands and their contributions that really caught my attention were: Time & Pressure – “Annihilation”, Violent By Design- “7 Trumpets”, Capital Enemy – “Bred Into Conflict” (unfortunately 2019 saw the end of this band). The bottom line is if you are a fan of heavy, underground music and believe that cancer does indeed suck, then purchasing “Cancer Sucks, Hardcore Doesn’t” is a win win situation.
SANCTION “BROKEN IN REFRACTION”
(Pure Noise Records, Released July, 2019)
Sanction is one of the most infamous Suffolk County bands of the decade! With a reputation for violent mosh pits, a scary sound and savage live shows, combined with a relentless touring schedule, Sanction seems set to be the next Long Island band that conquers the world! All they were missing was a debut full length album that solidifies their reputation and proves their staying power. The members of Sanction have been in many different types of bands on Long Island (and a few from off of Long Island) in the past decade with a palette that ranges everywhere from hardcore to metalcore to deathcore to post-hardcore to D-beat. Guitarist Lumpy even landed a stint in NYHC legends Merauder if you can believe it! I think that Sanction’s debut full length album, “Broken In Refraction”, (also their debut release on Pure Noise Records), is the sum of all these experiences.
If I could sum up this album in four words it would be dark, heavy, cold and scary. This album takes the angular, jagged grooves and earth shattering riffs that Sanction is known for and ups the scary factor on them. The album starts with “...An Empty Thought,” an ambient track with a breakdown that fades in towards the end. The song sets the stage for the album as it fades into the banger opening song, “The Final Fraction.” But the third track and second single, “Paralysis,” truly exemplifies the level of horror Sanction intends with the best moment on the album when the music dropping out, leaving a heart monitor to beep away for a few seconds before kicking in to the verses with lyrics delivering exactly what the title promises and some insanely heavy riffs backing it. “Answers From A Syringe,” “Infants In Plastic,” “Mirror Syndrome” and “Conscious In A Coma” all rank among my favorite tracks on the album with their anxiety inducing mosh riffs and horrifying lyrics. This entire album feels like it takes place in a hospital where you’re being chased by a psychopath wielding a surgical machete. And then of course there’s the heart pounding “Radial Lacerations” (possibly named after what you get from punching everyone and everything in the Sanction mosh pit), which is about as close to traditionally catchy as it gets on this record. Fittingly, the band released it as the first single, possibly because they too recognized it was the perfect single for this album.
Every track delivers intense riffs, punchy drumming and frontman David Blom’s throat shredding vocals! I suppose if I could level one criticism at the songwriting, it’s that Sanction is kind of a one trick pony. They do one thing: turn Midwest metalcore breakdowns and New Jersey mathcore riffs from the late 90’s/early 00’s into scary mosh music for hardcore kids. A lack of variety often turns people off from bands, but luckily, this pony does their one trick so damn well that it never gets old. “Broken In Refraction” clocks in at a brisk 23 minute run time and will never waste a second of it or leave you bored. In fact, they end it with a nice surprise, one of their most popular tracks (and possibly my favorite from them) “Sixhundredthirtyone” is hidden after the “Creation” interlude. The only genuine gripe I have with this album is really the production. For the most part, the production gives Sanction the dark, cold sound they aim for, but it feels like a slight downgrade from their previous effort, “The Infringement Of God’s Plan”, which seemed to have higher quality while still sounding cold and dark and scary. Particularly the snare drum sound. The snare sounds much thinner on this record and it really didn’t have to be. The snare drum sounds like a tin can hooked up to a reverb pedal and would sound more fitting on a deathcore demo from 2004. Then again, that might’ve been the point considering where some of the members got their start. Of course, lots of hardcore kids don’t care if the production sucks as long as the music rocks so maybe it won’t bother you, it’s just something I noticed. Some people might be turned off that they upped the old school deathcore influence on this record by adding a couple of riffs and breakdowns out of the “Despised Icon” playbook and one or two blast beats, but it doesn’t bother me at all. If anything, it makes the record sound darker, heavier and scarier! I’m not super elitist about genres, I love heavy shit! And besides, Sanction is a band by hardcore kids, for hardcore kids at the end of the day and to me, having that heart is more important. A band with the hardcore mentality that doesn’t sound like a hardcore band is more hardcore than a band that recycles old Madball and Bulldoze riffs and parrots old cliches about being betrayed but doesn’t understand what hardcore’s all about or where it came from or why bands like Madball and Bulldoze even formed.
Overall, Sanction continues their winning streak and pulls through with one of the scariest albums of the year! Ranking up there with Sworn Enemy and All Out War in terms of provoking mosh pit savagery! If you wanna hear music that sets a nice mood of utter terror, this is the must listen album of 2019 for you! This album is easily my personal favorite full length to come out of Long Island this year! Hard recommendation for fans of gnarly breakdowns, skronky Deadguy riffs, dark lyrics and dangerous mosh pits!
64 "SEVEN INCH EP"
(Building 93 Records, Released September 2019)
Long Island's 64 have members from some really recognizable hardcore bands. With Kill Your Idols, In Your Face, Madball and Mind Over Matter headlining the "bands we've been in before" tag it is hard not to take notice. After hearing these tracks inside out for a few months now it still kind of bugs me out that 64's sound is unique and has little to no connection to the sounds of the previously mentioned bands. The bottom line here is this is a clean slate type of deal and if you get caught up with the resumes you are going to be in for a bit of a surprise.
"I Wanna Float" opens up this 3 song 8 plus minute effort and immediately jumps into a melodic groove which is something 64 seems to have no problem duplicating throughout this short debut. The lyrics of "I wanna float through this life all the way" match the easy going vibe of the song with smooth and very clear vocals from Marc Adams who used to be the frontman of In Your Face who were a NYC/Long Island band that flew under most people's radar's back in the late 80's.
"Dead Ass Serious" starts off with more of a Tuesday night at the coffee house type of vibe with over a minute plus of acoustic guitar work overlapped by Mr Adams singing "when you hit a certain age your supposed to act a certain way, when you act a certain way you start to feel the rage, and you start seeing yourself like a fox inside a cage" before the crunch of the guitars take over at the 1:12 mark. The acoustic intro to this track dragged for me the first bunch of listens through this but since then it has grown to probably be my favorite track. Once I started paying closer attention to the lyrics of this song things started to click for me as this old "hardcore kid" is still very much in tune with his 21 year old self. I think the quasi "Young until I die" message here will speak to certain age groups as it did to me. The blend of melodic punk coupled with the crunch that 64 can bring hits hard on this one in an almost perfect chocolate meets peanut butter type of way. The short acoustic outro used at the end of this song brings everything full circle as well. Great track.
"This Is Fucking Magic" is the most thrashy and upbeat of the 3 songs with a breakdown thrown in just past the 2 minute mark showing that 64 can also be unpredictable as far as how they are going to come at us. The base of what they are doing lies in the melodic punk side of things kind of in a Ramones type of way but "Magic" brings more grit than the previous two tracks and adds a nice wrinkle to the overall feel. This track delivers more mature life perspectives from Adam's who seems to have his head and heart in the right places.
Before hitting the play button on any of these songs I was hoping that 64 would be some kind of blend of their previous bands but in hindsight I am just glad that 64 is who they are as this band brings a brand new, just taken out of the box feel. Cover artwork by Ernie Parada of Token Entry fame adds a bit of mystery as to its meaning too. A nice little EP here folks.
HANGMAN “ONE BY ONE”
(Flatspot Records, Release Date September 20, 2019)
Hangman is a five piece hardcore band from Long Island, New York and offers us their first full length album out on September 20th on Flatspot Records. The band formed five years ago and have been touring non-stop, playing with the likes of Death Threat, No Warning and Backtrack. The band combines hardcore with crunchy metal riffs to give us a record that will fit nicely in any hardcore fan’s collection. There are no weak or bad songs on this record. From start to end you are fully charged up by the music and the band’s intensity. The record is infused with so many great guitar riffs and wrathful vocals that you will have a hard time staying in your seat when listening to this record. Picking a few favorite tracks off of this was a difficult endeavor because I like every song. The band has created their own unique sound, taking notes from the old guard of NYHC bands and forming a fresh slab of hardcore madness.
The album’s opener, “One Mistake” sets the tone for what Hangman is all about. The slow moshable intro winds you up and gets the blood pumping before vocalist Dan Mulligan growls out the first words. You can feel yourself wanting to grab a group of friends and start a circle pit. Dan’s vocals are reminiscent of early Jamey Jasta and enhance the sound the band is going for. “One by One”, the title track, is a fast hardcore anthem with guest vocals by Aaron Butkus of Death Threat. This song is a testament to the band’s commitment to carve out their place in the hardcore scene and let us know they plan to become a fixture in the scene. “Intro” is a short moshing instrumental similar to S.O.D.’s, “March of the S.O.D.” and I found myself playing this track over and over. It is now the first track on my workout playlist to get me pumped up. Hangman is a band who deserves to be taken seriously. One listen to this record and you too will be convinced as I am that they offer a true sounding hardcore record that anyone would be proud to add to their collection. I only wish they would release it in CD format. Buy this record when it comes out on September 20th and spread the word that Hangman are the future of hardcore music and a force to be reckoned with.
CHAINS OF MISERY “DEMO 2019” (Released August 2019)
We've all heard of the expression "misery loves company" and it's often used to describe someone or a situation that is negative. Although this may be true it is not necessarily a bad thing. We've become fans of many hardcore bands and united as a family based on lyrics that we can all relate to. Unfortunately many of us can relate to band's singing about inner pain, life's struggles and anger. Continuing this trend is New York's Chains Of Misery who have just put out their debut demo which they simply called “Demo 2019”. Consisting of 4 tracks titled: “Façade”, “Demons Of The Past”; “Nothing Is Good Enough” and “Indifference” it's safe to assume that you will not be hearing about "sunshine, rainbows and lollipops” but you will hear 13 minutes of what draws so many to hardcore. The music is angry, aggressive and heavy with lyrics that are emotionally charged. Chains Of Misery's formula is a beat down style which reminds me of such bands as Neglect, Bulldoze and Setback. The band consists of Rance- vocals, Justin-guitar, Dan-guitar, Doug-drums and Ed-bass. A side note here is that the: bass on this recording was played by Jast Collum who also happens to have recorded the demo at his Freedom Soundworks Studio. I love the feeling I get from each track so I cannot chose a favorite however I do have one criticism and that is I feel like I've been teased because of how short this is. I can equate it to having a great meal and then after a few bites the plate is taken from me. I hope this demo is just the beginning because this band impresses me and as a new fan I want to see them grow. I admit that most of my favorite hardcore bands are older ones but there are great ones who have come out over the recent years. I, along with so many are constantly trying to convince those that believe hardcore is either dead or passed its "prime" that it is still alive. And for those who are just getting into hardcore it's great to inform them which newer bands to listen to. Well Chains of Misery are now proudly on my list of top bands to preach about. Give “Demo 2019” a listen to and be thankful that bands like this are around making sure the torch stays lit for our scene.
HAVE HEART JULY 2019 REUNION SHOWS (JULY 5th & 6th) WORCESTER, MA
WORDS BY: RILEY HOGAN, PHOTOS BY: DANIELLE DOMBROWSKI, DAN GONYEA & TODD POLLOCK
When people think of the 4th of July, they think of America! They think of barbecues, patriotism, beer, fireworks, sticking it to the British, and other grand old American traditions. I went with some friends on a road trip to Massachusetts, where the revolution began! What a perfect place to go on the grand ol’ US of A’s birthday! Sight-seeing, beer drinking, fireworks; so much history to see... Yeah, I didn’t do any of that. I went on a 4 hour road trip with my friends to see a straight edge hardcore band at a venue too big for a hardcore show (although we did drop by Boston Harbor for a little while to see if we could have a little tea party).
I woke up early on July 4th and packed up to go up to Worcester, MA. The trip went smoothly, only about 3 1/2 hours. Me and my friends (Both named Ben) schlepped up there blasting our favorite hardcore, punk rock and death metal jams. The excitement was building! As we got some burgers (I love my veggie burgers) and settled into the hotel room for the night (our hotel was a 10 minute walk from The Palladium where the show was held), we couldn’t wait to wake up to go to the show tomorrow! We were especially anxious because we’re all insomniac New Yorkers and everything in Worcester closes at 8pm so we had nothing else occupying us.
I’m new to show reviews, so I’m not 100% sure how to write this, to be honest. I’ve read a few to prepare for this and I feel like most go in chronological order of the sets. Forgive me if this method is more all over the place, but I’m not gonna do that. I’m gonna jump around a bit and hit the points I wanna hit instead just because there’s so much to talk about and if I just tell it like a story, we’re gonna have a whole novel.
The Palladium is a decent venue. It looks nice. I’m usually not into larger venues and larger shows myself. I only really go if I’m really stoked on the music itself and I have the money to spend. I do like my local shows at small venues like Amityville Music Hall or Shakers Pub (back home on Long Island) better. But The Palladium was nice, security didn’t give people a hard time, I’d say The Paramount is Long Island’s equivalent of a venue like this, but I liked The Palladium more because it doesn’t have barriers. I think if had to complain about one thing, it would be the sound. As an audio engineering student, I pay a lot of attention to the venue’s sound. The sound mix was kind of messy. The drums weren’t loud enough, the snare sound was really bad, the guitars drowned out everything else. I remarked to one of my friends at the show that it made every band sound like a 90’s hardcore demo. There was a lot of reverb, just from the size of the venue and the way it was built, and it felt like the mixing engineer didn’t quite account for it. The sound was significantly better on the second day. Since it was outside, my complaints about the overabundance of reverb were fixed as the place wasn’t surrounded by walls for the sound to bounce off of (the buildings were far enough apart that they didn’t cause issues). The mix was way more balanced this time, it was really on point and everything sounded great.
JULY 5, 2019 @ THE PALADIUM (INDOORS). PHOTO BY: TODD POLLOCK
I do have something to say about the line-up before we talk about how good the bands played. The first night saw ANXIOUS, ONE STEP CLOSER, BROTHER and ABUSE OF POWER opening while the Saturday matinee had AMMUNATION, VEIN, SHIPWRECK A.D. and DOWN TO NOTHING. I thought that it was odd that the first day was a Triple B Records fest. Brother was the only band not signed to that label that day. It’s not a dig at the label at all, the reason it was odd was that Have Heart only put out one EP on Triple B and it wasn’t even originally issued through them, it was a reissue of the “What Counts” EP, which originally came out on Think Fast! Records. Bridge Nine put out most of Have Heart’s discography. Not that I think it’s one specific label that should get to dictate the line-up or anything. My issue is that Have Heart made a big deal out of what the show meant to them, so I wanted to know what the bands meant to them too. Brother and most of the day 2 bands were from Massachusetts, representing the next generation of MAHC (Ammunation, Brother, Vein) or an older generation (Shipwreck A.D.). Down To Nothing played because DTN is one of the most badass straight edge bands ever! Their name on any lineup justifies itself. Most of the day 1 bands, I just shrugged and was like “because Patrick Flynn likes indie rock?”
Let’s get to the bands! It’s hard to pick the best band that played cause there were so many good bands! But, my favorite opening act from day 1 is obvious: BROTHER! They were the only band on day 1 I’d never heard of. I didn’t look into the music prior because for me, a good live show is what sells good hardcore bands. There’s plenty of times I listened to the demo and thought the band wasn’t very good but my opinion did a 180 when I saw them live. Brother was from Have Heart’s hometown of New Bedford so there must’ve been some real pressure to make this one for the books. It was a passing of the torch of sorts. Brother killed it on stage! They brought that intense energy that you get from a good powerviolence band! They got the pit going side to side non-stop during their set. Their presence on stage commanded immediate respect, and it was well deserved! They also covered “Something Must Be Done” by Antidote, and anyone who knows me can tell you how much I love “Thou Shalt Not Kill”. They nailed that cover! Probably the best part was that the band talked about political causes during their set. They were the only band that did. The other bands were all talking about “It’s so cool to be playing here with Have Heart!” and there’s nothing wrong with that I guess, but Brother’s dialogue was very much in the spirit of what Have Heart was doing and I had more appreciation for that. I’m sure there are some people out there who don’t wanna hear it cause they wanna get drunk and party and mosh and all that but hardcore has political roots and it was nice to have a band acknowledge that for once. Brother just blew my mind on multiple levels and I felt compelled to download their music when I got back to the hotel room.
ABUSE OF POWER from Atlanta, GA was probably my next favorite from that night. They played a nice mix of their older material and songs from their new album. They played all the songs I wanted to hear from them and I had a good time with their set. They kept a good energy going throughout.
ANXIOUS from Connecticut also was solid. I feel like no one knew what to do during their set cause they were more melodic and had more of an emo aesthetic than the other bands, (y’know, the type of emo that’s okay for hardcore kids to listen to?). But those kids put their best foot forward and tried to impress the crowd. I felt bad for them that they got stuck being the opening band over a hardcore band that would’ve hyped up the crowd for them. But they had fans, it’s not like the crowd was dead.
My least favorite band that night was easily ONE STEP CLOSER from Wilkes-Barre, PA. Going into their set, I didn’t like their music. I thought they were another generic post-hardcore revivalist band that brought nothing new to the table. Wilkes-Barre has produced a lot of my favorite hardcore bands (Dead End Path anyone?), so maybe their live show would explain to me why they were so popular. I’ll give them some credit, they tried their best to bring some on-stage energy and a lot of people were into it. But I wasn’t. Their playing sounded kind of sloppy to me, even getting past the terrible sound. Normally I expect a bit of sloppiness from a punk band, but this was more than I’m usually willing to cut slack for. Their set just bored me a lot. The thing that got my attention was that they covered “Burning Fight” by Inside Out. Inside Out is one of my favorite hardcore bands of all time so usually a band can get my attention by covering them. And they did an okay job. Call this the first negative review I’ve put on this site but that set is gonna be a no from me chief.
HAVE HEART PERFORMING ON JULY 5TH. PHOTO BY: DAN GONYEA
HAVE HEART went on after Abuse Of Power and they were crazy! The venue was packed so tight that I almost got crushed and suffocated from the stampede of people running towards the stage the moment the snare from “The Machinist” started and the raining hardcore kids diving off the stage. I had to step out of the pit and breathe. Even some of my tough guy beatdown buddies from New York had to leave the pit a few songs in because they were being starved of oxygen. Have Heart themselves put on a fun show. They opened with someone explaining what the purpose of the show was: To raise money for a women’s shelter in New Bedford (owned by Patrick Flynn’s mother). A very good cause if you ask me. Domestic violence and sexual violence are issues that are still very swept under the rug in our country and seeing Have Heart do something about it was very validating. Especially since sexual violence has been a big problem in the hardcore scene the past few years. It was really cool that they made a big statement against it. They also talked a lot about the recent migrant crisis a lot. They had a sign on stage that said that “Separating Migrant Children From Their Parents Is A Human Rights Violation.” As a child of an immigrant family, I was especially validated by this. There’s a lot of hardcore bands who write songs spewing the same ignorant cliches about “stop stealing my job” and what not so hearing one of my favorite bands tell people like that off was awesome. And a lot of you might be wondering why I’m talking about this. Well, this sign on the stage represented everything I love about Have Heart. They were out to piss off all the dude bros in hardcore that completely miss the point of why people literally dedicate their lives to this music and this scene while also not caving into the same cliches of a band turning into a post-hardcore band that hates moshing and doesn’t like hardcore anymore and all that jazz. Have Heart embodies what straight edge hardcore should be! Making an actual positive change in the world regardless of what people thought about them! They played most of the hits in their set. I heard all of my favorite songs by them except for one: “What Counts”. That’s my favorite Have Heart song and I was shocked they didn’t play it! I figured “well, maybe tomorrow.” Either way, Have Heart made it rain hardcore kids and reminded everyone why they were such legends 10 years later.
I’m gonna be upfront, I liked the second day better. I was really stoked that I caught Have Heart sound checking with “Watch Me Sink” while I was out record shopping (I got Dropdead by Siege and In/Casino/Out by At The Drive In and had a nice conversation with the owner of Joe’s Albums and Brad from Roseblood). I was excited! I didn’t anticipate, however, that the line to get in for ticket holders would be four blocks long! That was the craziest thing I’d ever seen! According to guitarist Kei Yasui, 8,560 people went to the second day. I believe it! That was the biggest hardcore show I’ve ever seen! It was bigger than This Is Hardcore Fest, one of the largest hardcore festivals in the country, when I went last year! Bear in mind that Have Heart’s farewell show in 2009 brought in 2,000 people according to Bridge Nine Records and that’s huge for a hardcore band! 8,500 plus in a parking lot is impressive! I don’t think even Hatebreed pulls numbers like that!
I was definitely more stoked on the lineup for day 2 as well. My buddy Keith’s band AMMUNATION opened up the show! Unfortunately, I was stuck on line while they played, but they played so loud that I could hear their set from the line. When I told him that, it seemed to fill him with pride. They knew that they needed to bring that energy today more than any other day and they pulled through. Anxious and One Step Closer did surprise sets after. They were okay. It didn’t do much for me but it wasn’t the worst idea in the world. I was just glad that it bought time for me to get in and not miss Vein.
Then the next three bands hit: VEIN, SHIPWRECK A.D. and DOWN TO NOTHING! Those three bands got the pit going hard! Vein played a great set that didn’t let up in energy throughout! My one gripe would have to be that I wish that they played a few cuts off of “Terror’s Realm” instead of “Doomtech.” Personally I find the longer songs from the B Side of Errorzone a little bit boring, but that’s just my personal preference. It’s very spacey and Deftones-esque nu metal inspired and I’m not into that kinda thing. The crowd was really into it and I think that’s what really mattered for them. They played most of my favorite cuts from “Errorzone” and their split with .Gif From God so I walked away pretty satisfied. Shipwreck A.D. brought that heavy Boston hardcore sound with riffs for days. I hadn’t seen them before and they killed it! But Down To Nothing was a force to be reckoned with! DTN had the craziest pit of any of the bands! They outdid the infamous Vein’s pit! DTN is a commanding presence on stage and just the way they walk out fills you with an intense wave of excitement!
These four bands, AmmuNation, Vein, Shipwreck A.D. and Down To Nothing made more sense as a lineup for Have Heart. It was them tipping their hats to both past and present generations of Massachusetts hardcore and, in Down To Nothing’s case, straight edge, reuniting with bands that were old scene buddies and bringing on the new breed hardcore simultaneously. I think it worked even better, I think, outside where, even though there were more people, there was much more room to breathe. It felt more open and free like a show like this should be.
HAVE HEART PERFORMING ON JULY 6TH. PHOTO BY: DANIELLE DOMBROWSKI
HAVE HEART went on last of course. They played the same set but in a different order, with only one addition: They covered “Salad Days” by Minor Threat! Minor Threat is a hardcore band that I think the entire scene can agree is truly timeless and classic. Minor Threat covers are a great way to get the crowd going. I was extra stoked because “Salad Days” is one of my favorite Minor Threat songs! Have Heart did a pretty good job with it I thought! Have Heart sounded better outside, partially because of the sound being better and partially because the open air with the abundance of buildings for the sound to bounce off of had far less reverb compared to an enclosed space like the indoor venue on the previous night. Have Heart played great and reinforced everything I loved about them. There was more room to breathe and, more importantly, room to mosh and, as such, I didn’t get crowd crushed again! The energy was just right! Even the security guards loosened up and started tossing free water bottles at the audience. But I think my favorite part is when Patrick explained the meaning of their song “The Lion and The Lamb.” The song is him venting his frustrations with hardcore, that lots of people talk a big game about opposing the system, they do a lotta shit-talkin’ online, but many are hesitant to take the steps and do something meaningful. He grabbed the sign that said “Separating Migrant Children From Their Parents Is A Human Rights Violation” and yelled “You wanna change the world?! Then figure out how to fix THIS! PLEASE! GOD! Cause I don’t know how! All I know is that this makes me SICK!” His words there really struck a chord with me. I already agreed with him on the issue at hand, that’s not really what got me. What got me was his confusion and inability to fix this sickening problem on his own. I’ve been in so many situations where something was happening that I knew in my heart was wrong but I had no idea how to even begin to fix the problem. It was a feeling all too familiar and a feeling that I shared with him that day. It’s okay to not have all the answers. It’s not okay to not try to find them. I think that’s the most important lesson to be learned here.
Overall, Have Heart was an emotional rollercoaster of a weekend. The shows were a life affirming experience for me in many ways. It gave me a lot to think about, and that’s why I love this band so much! The shows themselves were an experience I wouldn’t trade. Unfortunately, there were a few bands that failed to impress me, and the sound on the first night was terrible, not to mention the uncomfortable crowdedness and being a little out of my element (though that usually comes with being in a different city, I guess that’s the point). Outside of a few minor issues, I had a great time overall and the trip was well worth it! Me and my friends had a lot to reflect on throughout the next 5 hours while we drove back through the NY metropolitan area and got stuck in Bronx traffic.
Y.D. SICK TIMES, NECROTIC SOCIETY, THE MINUTES
SPLIT 12” (Released July, 2019)
Four bands, old school punk hardcore split, all things fast: Let's go! (Per my discretion, I am intentionally reviewing these bands out of order).
I am a man of a certain age to remember making third, fourth and fifth generation copies of cassettes. In the late 70's, we would rest one Radio Shack tape player on top of another, pointing the speaker near the microphone. Press play on one machine, record on the other, then close the bedroom door so that there would be minimal outside noise. Inevitably, the recording would be, not so great. The source material is there, the quality isn't.
Y.D. kicks off this four-way split with a raucous barrage of fast paced punk hardcore. Most songs clock in just over one minute, with the longest piece a whopping 2:28. The guitars and drums work well together, pretty much locked in at one speed throughout their contribution. "Not My Fault/Your Fault" is a stand out song where the singer taps into his own version of Darby Crash. Y.D has some similarities to the Germs, where the songs are sloppy, but tight in the same way. Speed is the main theme for their songs, most often reminding me of bands like Ill Repute, Urban Waste and in some spots Negative Approach.
NECROTIC SOCIETY is of the same cloth. Fast paced, and primitive (in a good way). The guitar and vocals are similar to Ripcord, but the tempo might be as consistently fast. Necrotic Society still has flashes of West Coast Nardcore bands, like the aforementioned Ill Repute, and Dr. Know. There is a tinge of RKL thrown in with their music, and some guitar work, just not as melodic.
But why the opening paragraph of cassette culture nostalgia? Both Y.D. and Necrotic Society's songs have a low production quality to their songs, which instantly reminded me of collecting local demo tapes that were all recorded on boom boxes because of necessity. I would like to think that technology has advanced enough where recordings can be made relatively well on a small amount of money. Hell, some bands record straight to their phones with surprising results. The downfall of Y.D. and Necrotic Society is the quality of the recording is less than stellar. Early hardcore records had a charm because of their low quality. Perhaps this is the vibe that both bands wanted. The quality of the songs are there. Both bands are probably great live. I just wish that the quality was a bit better.
SICK TIMES bring a more traditional NY styled brand to this split Their opening song "Get Me Out" has a great early 80's, Cause For Alarm ring. "Pull The Plug" has a great sing along quality that keeps up with their Cause for Alarm and Urban Waste vibe. While not an imitation of Warzone, their final song "Two Words/One Finger" reminds me of "Fuck Your Attitude" from Warzone. Sick Times show some quality effort here, and their influences show well on these three songs.
Some bands jump off the page (or vinyl) right away. The sum of the parts hit the listeners upon the first drop of the needle. THE MINUTES have that vibe. The opening track of "Pendejo" and the second song of "Take The Money" are great openers, with an intensity of Los Crudos and Limp Wrist. Those influences stand out because of the vocals having the same effect of Martin Sorrondeguy. Throughout the five songs from The Minutes, I was completely impressed by the musicianship and craftsmanship of the songs.
Overall this split has some great bands, and an outstanding feel of early 80's releases. From the pit inspired, black and white cover to the speed and aggressiveness of the bands, this is a great throw back, inspired release. I would rather have each band provide an equal number of songs, just to balance out the listening, but the enjoyment level of the split is still there.
NOXIOUS PROFIT “A1-A HOLES” EP (Released July, 2019)
Just a few months ago, I was at a festival show down in Vero Beach, FL. I caught this cool new hardcore band with a female vocalist that ripped up the stage and blew the early crowd away. I had never heard of them before, as I’m quite familiar with the bands in this area. Fast forward a few months later, and this band has quickly become a big frigging deal around the Central Florida hardcore scene. Now, aside from already having a tour of the Northeast booked and set to go they have just released a new three song EP called “A1A-Holes”, which is what brings me to my laptop this evening.
Noxious Profit from Melbourne, FL is who I’m talking about, and they are unleashing their sound, full force. A quick guitar solo riff from Carlos Santana (of Noxious Profit, not the “Black Magic Woman” guy), opens the record before the music quickly joins in, on the first track, “Instruments Of War”. Vocalist, Nicole Bowers shows off her gritty vocals with each chorus. “Instruments of war… dead bodies, dead bodies, dead bodies!” rings through your ears, while the fast, raw, yet slightly melodic music crushes behind it. The second track, “Support The Scene”, is another solid one as well. Starting off slow and erupting into a tremendous circle-pit instigator, this song will impress. It was very impressive to hear Nicole hold a scream throughout the entire choruses of the song. Solid drumming by Bob Pennone was also notable throughout this track as well as the rest of this short EP.
They close things out with the title track, “A1A-Holes”. It was very cool to finally see a local hardcore band address the current water crisis in Florida. In a nutshell, “Big Sugar” has a system that diverts all the excess water that floods the sugar fields into the rivers that lead into the ocean causing red tide (look it up!) and other hazards to our waterways and oceans. It has been a consistent, growing problem for years and is finally at an alarming level. So, aside from Colin Harper on second guitar and Brendan Harley on bass holding down the rhythm section, these guys are getting political on a mofo, as well! This was a great effort and you should check them out next time they come around your way. Mad props to this band!
ONLY ATTITUDE COUNTS “ALMOST THE END” CD
(WTF! Records, Released August, 2019)
My initial impression of Only Attitude Counts was shaped by the undeniable energy of the "Pick Your Side" intro, 6 songs into their new full length effort, "Almost the End." Somehow I had started this new 16 song effort midway through, kind of like the first time I unwittingly dropped the needle on side B first on my purple LP copy of Stigmata – “Do Unto Others”. While Only Attitude Counts have been referred to as the "European Madball", due to their overall style and longevity, their sound may also appeal to fans of the purple LP in question.
As I’ve never seen Only Attitude Counts in the flesh, I am speculating based on this new full length that if encountered live, I’d be compelled to move closer to the stage by their energy and live show. While this new effort doesn’t break ground stylistically, it’s an enjoyable mix of side to side grooves and solid songwriting, with some of the best tracks clustered toward the end. High points include “The Sickness Of Our Times” and “Weather The Storm”, which has a bit of a No Redeeming Social Value style breakdown. And “Worship The Truth” is one of the best constructed songs on the album, and functionally the closer, as final track “Resilience” clocks in under a minute (and was written on the spot in the studio per the OAC interview with Old Skull Zine.)
Only Attitude Counts have been doing their thing since 1993 and have left a truly global footprint, releasing a split with Indonesian band West Side Hoodz a few years back and recruiting Indonesian artist Tommy Domeh for the cover art on “Almost The End”. While this new effort primarily channels old school sounds, the themes and reach are fresh for 2019. For fans of Agnostic Front, Where Fear and Weapons Meet, Faction Zero, and “Do Unto Others” era Stigmata. Check out the video for "No Justice No Peace" off this new album by clicking HERE.
MINUS YOUTH “NO GENERATION”
(Release Date October 11, 2019)
Minus Youth is a five piece hardcore outfit who hail from Stuttgart, Germany. The band formed in 2016 out of the ashes of four other bands and has already shared the stage with the likes of Blacklisted, Cro-Mags and Deez Nuts. This is the band’s first full length release and is set for release this October. This nine track outing is available on album as well as in download form. The band plans to do a small tour at the end of October to promote their record. Now, on with the review.
I love this record! From the opening track until the last song, I can’t say anything bad about it. There is not a weak track on this record. The band is predominantly hardcore but incorporates some funky grooves, some psychedelic sounds and even a slow number to give us a diversified slab of what this group has to offer. Minus Youth state “not being a part of the generation that others falsely assign you to” and I couldn’t agree more. This is old school hardcore and metal with the band’s own twist on the music. The first thing I picked up on when listening to it was this record has a strong 90’s hardcore feel to it. I could hear the influences of Madball, Sworn Enemy, Integrity and Sick of It All in the music and vocals. If I didn’t know any better, I’d of thought this band hailed from New York.
“No Generation”, the title track, kicks this record off at full speed and sets the pace for the remainder of the album. The Lou Koller vocal style gives you the impression you are listening to a new NYHC band. This strong opener hooks you in and takes you for an intense ride. “Blue Light” follows the title track and is another testament to the band’s strong New York hardcore sound. It starts fast and then breaks into a sludgy metal groove which displays their diversity. Standouts on this endeavor are “Homeaway”, which is my personal favorite and “Free Again”. “Homeaway” combines hardcore with metal and has forceful vocals which are all over the map. The eerie ending closes this song off perfectly. “Free Again” is a raging piece of angst with great metal guitar riffs which will have you angry at the world for the rest of the day.
Minus Youth have hit the mark when it comes to edgy hardcore/metal music. The band isn’t afraid to break the rules by giving a fresh spin on things by incorporating non-traditional styles into their music and creating their own unique sound. I see this band having a long shelf life. Buy this one!
INHERENCE “THE ENTRAILS OF HUMAN DESIRE” EP (1054 Records, Released July, 2019)
While hardcore in Brazil has never been a massive proposition, there have still been a number of bands who have been very influential such as Ratos De Porao and Garotos Podres and even though they are a metal band, Sepultura always had a big hardcore influence (they even covered Cro-Mags songs and took Strife out on tour) so hardcore and Brazil have always had a strong and tight relationship. With their mixture of riff laden hardcore and a more death metal style mixed in, Sao Paulo’s Inherence certainly follow in that strong musical lineage.
My take on the Brazil heavy music scene (all the way from over here in the UK) is that things have been bubbling under for a while now with things getting stronger and stronger with bands like Questions making their mark as well as Marca De Honra and the brilliantly named Fucking Violence. Inherence are more than likely going to be the next ones to make their impact felt. The band follows up their debut album “Dogma” with their latest EP, “The Entrails Of Human Desire” and sees the band making leaps and bounds when it comes to their songs and sound. The four tracks on this EP sound slicker than those on their debut but they thankfully do not lose any of the heaviness as Inherence sounds more pissed off than ever.
“God Of Nothing” starts the brutality off with a killer groove and morphs into an unholy mix of Terror and Morbid Angel as the track progresses. It is swiftly followed by “Phantom Eye Syndrome” which is a non-stop whirlwind of riffs and formidable vocals. The pummeling “Vile But Devine” combines hardcore energy with a more technical death metal style complete with blastbeats and discordant bass to create a vicious noise before “Chapter Of Human Carnage” finishes “The Entrails Of Human Desire” on a high with a straight ahead hardcore stomp complete with some awesome deathly growls. With this EP, Inherence have produced a statement of intent and their next full length will undoubtedly see their hardcore and death metal hybrid crushing heads just as “The Entrails Of Human Desire” has done.