Featured Release Roundup: July 30, 2020
Krimtank: Ditt Fel 7” (Pike Records) Latest EP from this long-running Swedish band. I’ve seen their EPs kicking around over the years (in fact, I’m sure we’ve had used copies come through Sorry State), but I don’t think I’ve ever listened to Krimtänk before. The sound is a guitarist and bassist banging out simple riffs with little to no sense of melody while another guys yells and the drummer plays as fast as they can. In other words, it’s punk! There are 13 tracks crammed onto this 45rpm EP, so everything is short and to the point. The shortness of the songs and how blisteringly fast everything is makes me think of the Swedish band Pusrad that had a string of great records a few years ago, but this is wilder-sounding, like the fastest and blurriest moments of Mob 47. Raging!
Litige: En Eaux Troubles 12” (Destructure Records) Second LP from this melodic punk band out of France. Litige’s big, crunchy guitar sound and charismatic, melodic vocals remind me of the 90s, when punk bands were first getting put into studios that got them huge sounds, but the compositions remained lean and to the point. The Muffs come to mind, but many of the songs on En Eaux Troubles also remind me of darker Screeching Weasel tracks like “What We Hate” or “Every Night.” While the big, confident vocal melodies are the star of the show, there are also great, Greg Sage-esque lead guitar hooks that any Masshysteri fan will flip for. Recommended for fans of heavy melodic punk that’s not cute or commercial.
Impotentie: Leopold II Is Niet Dood Genoeg 12” (Roach Leg) You might remember Impotentie from their earlier tape (which Drunken Sailor re-released as a 7”, which we still have in stock), and this 45rpm 12” picks up right where that recording left off. From the moment I heard them, I thought Impotentie had an oddball element to their sound, and that remains the case here. Roach Leg’s description mentions Reich Orgasm and French oi!, and like a lot of French oi! bands, Impotentie has a turgid sound, like they’re purposefully playing the songs at a very slow tempo. That choice gives these tracks a unique vibe, but the songs themselves are excellent. I mentioned Warsaw (the band, not the city) in my description of Impotentie’s tape, and that reference comes to mind again here, particularly on tracks like “Medemens,” which is simultaneously gloomy, melodic, and raw. That mix of characteristics will also appeal to people who love dark and melodic UK anarcho like Hagar the Womb, the Mob, and Crisis. While Impotentie reminds me of these things, it doesn’t sound exactly like any of them, so if you value originality in your punk and you think you might be into the general vibe, give this a try. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the LP’s title translates to “Leopold II Is Not Dead Enough,” an indictment of the Belgian king who presided over a brutal colonial regime in the Congo.
Mobs: Demo + Live 1986 12” (Fan Club) A few months ago we carried a Mobs fan club LP that featured their first two 7”s, Diabolism and Projection of Astral Body. In case you missed that release, Mobs were an 80s hardcore band from Japan who mixed gritty hardcore in the vein of Kuro or L.S.D. with some goth-ish elements. This LP raids the rest of the officially released Kill ‘em All CD, taking the demo tracks and live set that appeared on that disc and putting them on vinyl. (By the way, the cheapest copy of the Kill ‘em All CD on Discogs will set you back over $200.) The demo tracks sound great, at least as good as or better than their debut EP, Diabolism, and three of the tracks are exclusive to that demo. As for the live set, the recording is raw but clear and heavy, and features several more unreleased tracks. While I think Projection of Astral Body is Mobs’ finest moment, the tracks collected here are much better than leftovers or castoffs.
All Hits: Men and Their Work 12” (Iron Lung) Well, this rules. Iron Lung once again surprises me with a release by a band I knew nothing about, yet is better than at least 90% of the bands I know about. All Hits is from Portland, and they sound like Crisis and Bikini Kill had an unlikely baby. Their sound is bass-driven (like a lot of anarcho punk) and the lyrics aren’t afraid of sloganeering (also like a lot of anarcho punk), but All Hits makes frequent detours into more melodic directions. Take a track like “Sugar Supply,” which goes from a driving, Gang-of-Four-on-speed verse into a bright, melodic chorus that wouldn’t have been out of place on Lookout! Records. All Hits also pepper Men and Their Work with punkers like “Don’t Wanna” and “World Is a Fuck,” either of which could have been a standout Raw Records single if a bunch of dudes had written it in the UK in 1978. A less talented band would sound scattered making transitions like these, but All Hits nails it, confidently claiming this quirky mix as their signature. I love that this came out on Iron Lung, but Men and Their Work is so lively and so infectious that I could see All Hits getting huge, not because they sound is palatable or watered down, but just because they’re that good.
Subdued: Over the Hills and Far Away 12” (Roach Leg) Like their Roach Leg label-mates Rigorous Institution, Subdued is a band I’ve been following for a while. Their previous releases were powerful, but Over the Hills and Far Away is a big leap forward, elaborating on the Amebix influence that characterized Subdued’s earlier releases and hitting upon a sound totally their own. The first track, “Sanctuary Is Nowhere,” comes out of the gate ripping at full hardcore velocity until the second track, “The Joke,” brings in the punked-up Killing Joke vibes we all loved on the early Amebix singles. The energy level reaches an ebb for the long bass intro to “Problem of Evil,” but Subdued gradually works themselves up to a tizzy until the a-side climaxes with another ripper, “No More,” which peaks with one of the most ripping guitar solos I’ve heard in some time. The b-side pulls from the same bag of tricks, but the songs are longer and more intricate, bringing a Celtic Frost-esque sense of grandiosity to the album’s second half. While Subdued has some familiar points of reference, Over the Hills and Far Away is ambitious in a way few modern punks records are. Subdued pushes past the familiar and the cliche and gets at something that feels more substantial, both musically and lyrically. It’s a big swing, but Over the Hills and Far Away fully connects. Mark my words; you’ll be seeing this record on a lot of Best of 2020 lists, mine included.