Featured Release Roundup: January 16, 2020
Deadyn: Backstreet Heroes 12” (Splattered!) Vinyl reissue of this Italian band’s 1989 cassette. If you’ve been following Splattered! Records, you know they specialize in Motorcharged punk and NWOBHM, and it’s easy to see why they wanted to resuscitate this obscurity. Deadyn worshipped at Motorhead’s altar, and tracks like “Burn Him Down” are very much akin to what Motorhead worshippers like Inepsy have done in the intervening years. While Deadyn is capable at Motorhead’s style, I like the tracks that are a little slower, which have a grimy, trudging through sand quality that sounds like an early Celtic Frost rehearsal tape. And speaking of tapes, Splattered! presumably remastered this reissue from a somewhat degenerated cassette as there is audible tape hiss throughout. It’s not like Deadyn is doing anything fancy, though, and what they might lose in clarity they more than make up in spooky cvlt vibes.
Zyfilis: E.P. One 7” (Adult Crash) Debut vinyl from this Danish hardcore group. These tracks appeared on a split tape with Colombia’s Muro, but I don’t think many of those made it to the US. I love a six-track 33rpm hardcore 7”, and Zyfilis do it right with this EP. They alternate between bruising pogo-hardcore a la Gag and catchy d-beat punk that reminds me of Vaaska or Larma’s catchier moments. My favorite track is “Samhälssystemets Kyrkogård,” which has a catchy, fist-pumping rhythm that reminds me of Toxic Reasons’ great Kill by Remote Control album. If you’re into a catchy, fast punk like Toxic Reasons or Electric Deads, it’s worth giving these Danes a listen.
Raamattu: S/T 7” (Best Seller) Debut vinyl from this ripping fast band out of Finland. The label’s description mentions Heresy as a point of comparison and I can see that, but there are a few keys differences: 1. this 7” has a more powerful recording than Heresy ever got; 2. Raamattu doesn’t have Heresy’s occasional straight edge-type breakdowns; and 3. Raamattu is so much meaner than Heresy. Their tempos, however, roam in that space between Mob 47’s ripping fast d-beat and the hyper-drive of Siege or early Napalm Death, but infused with the tightness, anger, and attitude of top-shelf Finnish hardcore. With ten lightning-speed rippers, this one also tips the value-for-money scales. Limited to 300 copies and a Finnish import, so snooze and lose.
Rata Negra: La Hija del Sepulturero E.P. 7” (La Vida Es Un Mus) Brand new two-song single from Spain’s Rata Negra. If you like their particular brand of moody melodic punk, it’s hard to imagine these two tracks would disappoint you. That being said, they sound like a leap forward from the band’s earlier stuff. Rata Negra seems to be growing more sophisticated, retaining their trademark style, but with more delicate arrangements and extra little touches like backing vocals and subtle synth overdubs. These two tracks remind me of something Echo and the Bunnymen or the Chameleons might have done early in their respective careers, and that’s high praise.
Jarada: Ma'agal Sina'a 12” (Doom Town) 45rpm one-sided 12” from this Israeli hardcore band. Jarada has a noisy yet progressive style that reminds me of the more stripped-down and 80s-influenced 90s hardcore bands like Born Against and Deathreat. Like Deathreat, they have hoarse, shouted vocals and are fast, but touches like the dissonant lead guitar on “Fed Up with the Future” and “They Wore You Down, They Burned You Out” (I’m using the English translations of the song titles) and the instrumental breaks that connect the tracks make me think of progressive hardcore bands from Born Against to Una Bestia Incontrolable. Also, in case you’re not sure about supporting a hardcore band from Israel, their lyrics are critical of their country’s policies while offering a perspective on what it looks like from the inside rather than simple, crowd-pleasing sloganeering. If you’re a fan of the aforementioned bands (or newer ones like Shit Coffins who play a similar style), I recommend checking this out.
Various: Hardcore Unlawful Assembly 12” (Fan Club) Unofficial repress of this excellent Japanese hardcore compilation from 1984. The list of artists should be enough to convince you this is worth your while, but I’ll confirm this comp’s excellence. Also, except for G.I.S.M., every band gets a heavy, professional recording, which is a big plus. On the a-side, Laughin’ Nose and Cobra both offer UK-influenced punk, and Mobs deliver two tracks that combine the best elements of their first and second EPs, which makes sense as this compilation came out between those two records. Lip Cream delivers a huge helping of classic Japanese hardcore with bonkers riffing and G.I.S.M. and Zouo close things out on a weirder tip. While I wish G.I.S.M.’s recording here wasn’t so murky, “Nervous Corps” is a classic with its moshable riff repeating underneath a chaotic sound collage of war sounds. Zouo’s tracks are also rad, particularly the creepy-sounding “Frustration.” Fortunately, this version doesn’t have terrible cover art, and the vinyl sounds phenomenal.
The Only Ones: Live in Chicago 1979 12” (Alona’s Dream) Over the past few years, I’ve gotten more interested in both live albums and the Only Ones, so I was eager to give this one a spin. Like many people, I used to hate live albums, but I’ve come around to them in a big way. At this point I’ve played in bands long enough to know the day you record the record is only one of hundreds of times you play a song, and lightning can strike (or not strike!) at any moment. Often, a live version of a song isn’t just a lesser version of a studio track, but a different beast, and often more interesting than the studio version. As for my interest in the Only Ones, I’ve loved “Another Girl, Another Planet” for decades, but a year or two ago I came across a copy of their brilliant second album, Even Serpents Shine, and got obsessed. Even Serpents Shine is a lush, delicate record, but this LP showcases a different side of the group, one that’s much heavier and more “rock” rather than pop. The Only Ones’ drummer, Mike Kellie, served time in 70s rockers Spooky Tooth, and it’s amazing how much the Only Ones sound like a 70s rock band here. They strip their arrangements down and sound like four people playing in a room, which is a stark contrast to the much more polished studio recordings. That being said, they all sound great, with Peter Perrett giving a particularly strong vocal performance. This set was professionally recorded for a radio broadcast, and according to the liner notes they recorded many other bands the same way, and hopefully we’ll see more releases. In the meantime, this LP is a great way to kick off the series.