Featured Release Roundup: August 26, 2021

Doom: Complete Peel Sessions 12” (Sonarize) I have to admit that I’m a poser when it comes to Doom. I’ve seen many bands cover “Police Bastard,” but I never explored Doom’s records. Perhaps it’s because their discography is big and intimidating and I didn’t know where to dive in. However, when this latest batch of Doom reissues from Sonarize Records hit the shelves, Usman mentioned that Complete Peel Sessions is his favorite Doom material, so this record seems like a logical starting point. And indeed, it is a full-blown crusher. Even if Doom inspired a lot of mediocre, one-dimensional crust bands (and I’m sure that’s debatable), the music captured on this record (which compiles two Peel Sessions, the first from 1988 and the second from 1989) is not only powerful but varied and dynamic. There’s everything from crushing, mid-paced palm-muted parts to full-on blasting alongside plenty of the fist-in-the-air crust you associate with Doom if you know anything about the band. The record also opens with a blazing cover of Black Sabbath’s “Symptom of the Universe.” As with most Peel Sessions LPs, the production sounds great, and the embossed, foil-stamped jacket is a nice plus too.

Hugayz: Hugz and Kissez cassette (Tough Gum Records) Poland’s Hugayz has some egg punk trappings on this five song cassette, including a jittery drum machine and a general sense of weirdness. However, the big hooks and genuine sense of charm elevate this above the also-rans. I hear a lot of Suburban Lawns and later-era Devo in these songs, which could soundtrack a raging party attended by all the weirdest kids in school. All the tracks are interesting, but my favorite is “Walk U Home,” whose earworm synth line sounds like something a great early hip-hop record would have sampled from a Rick James record. Connoisseurs of the quirky and catchy, give Hugayz a listen.

Research Reactor Corp: Live at Future Tech Labs 12” (Sweet Time Records) Live LP from this Sydney group, recorded for a livestream event but well worth releasing on vinyl in my humble opinion. Research Reactor Corp’s previous record came to us via Germany’s Erste Theke Tonträger, and if you know that label you might be unsurprised to learn RRC’s music sounds like dyed in the wool egg punk. You’ll hear lots of analog hiss, Mark Winter-style mutant Chuck Berry guitar licks, and warbly synthesizers. The vocals, however, are of the rabid, throat-shredding variety, pulling the music in a more aggressive and confrontational direction while the guitar riffs and synthesizer lines dish out their (tainted?) ear candy. While a lot of music in this vein is recorded in bedrooms and has a staid, introverted quality, on Live at Future Tech Labs, Research Reactor Corp sounds like a bunch of slathering, uncaged beasts. Don’t let the word “live” scare you off… this is grade A, free range, grass fed egg punk.

Inferno Personale: demo cassette (Symphony of Destruction) Inferno Personale (Personal Hell) is a new band based in Germany, but with members from all over the world. In the brief liner notes in this cassette, they say they’re doing the “same old shit,” but then explain how important it is to do this same old shit, to examine and express one’s self in the face of a society that seeks to dehumanize all of us through endless cycles of work and consumption. Despite the band’s self-effacement, they articulate those sentiments even more powerfully in their music. Inferno Personale isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel—they’re a fast, raw, and angry hardcore band—but they take what they do seriously, value it highly, and execute it with a sincerity and passion that makes the music feel electric. Inferno Personale reminds me of Muro in that they seem to take influence from every preceding generation of raw hardcore punk, but the defining force in their music isn’t their stylistic trappings but the power and sincerity of the performance. If you like the hardcore we like at Sorry State, check this out… it rules.

Systema: Ultima Guerra 12” (Symphony of Destruction) Systema is a new band from Bogotá, Colombia featuring members of heaps of other Colombian bands, among them the almighty Muro. Fans of Muro should check out Systema as they have a similarly passionate and urgent sound, though their style is a little different. In particular, I hear a lot of Finnish hardcore in Systema’s music. Like my favorite Finnish bands, Systema sounds like they’re steeped in Discharge’s heaviness and power, but they bring just a little more musicality to the table, resulting in a hybrid that is just as intense but a little catchier. I hear this on Ultima Guerra’s few mid-paced parts, like the driving intro to “Violencia,” which sounds like something Kaaos might have done. Like just about everything I hear from this Colombian punk scene, it oozes passion and energy. The physical version also features beautiful packaging, including a two-color, screen printed jacket and a large poster insert.

Taqbir: Victory Belongs to Those Who Fight for a Right Cause 7” (La Vida Es Un Mus) The buzz on Taqbir was strong when we first got this EP in earlier this summer and our initial stock sold out within a day or two. Now they’re back in and we have plenty on hand so all of you can see what the fuss is about. It’s easy to see why Taqbir has caught so many ears. The group is from Morocco (they might be the first punk band I’ve heard from that country) and they sing about topics that seem very familiar on one hand—strict parents, body image, anger, frustration—but also unique if you’ve mostly listened to punk bands coming at this topic through the lens of western liberalism. While the lyrics themselves are in Moroccan Arabic, the translations are worth checking out because they’re so raw, direct, and full of passion, much like the accompanying artwork. The music is also great. You might expect a band from a place without a long tradition of punk bands to have a sound that is basic or undeveloped, but Taqbir already has a strong and unique voice. The vocals are fiery, but my ear latches onto the unique melodic guitar leads that surface through the din of chorus and distortion. Taqbir’s debut is worthy of the hype, a politically and musically vital slice of contemporary punk.

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