Featured Release Roundup: November 26, 2020
Solvent: Demo 2020 (self-released) Demo cassette from this furious band out of Seattle. I guess you would call this d-beat, but it’s not of the polished stadium crust variety. Rather than most modern d-beat bands, Solvent reminds me of Deathreat… they just sound like a fast, pissed, and noisy hardcore band steeped in the international classics. In certain parts I hear Bastard vibes off in the distance, but this is go for the throat stuff in the Shitlickers / Cimex mold, but not as stylized as most modern bands who go for that style. A ripper for sure.
Septic Yanks: S/T cassette (Stucco Label) Short demo from this band presumably out of Olympia Washington. At least that’s where the label, Stucco, is based. Stucco earned our attention by introducing us to Electric Chair and Suck Lords, and Septic Yanks appeals to a similar sensibility. However, whereas those two bands are all about speed, Septic Yanks are more primitive and more approachable. The playing is loose, but the grittiness balances out the Circle Jerks-y catchiness of the riffing. Nasty production wrapping around a nihilistic attitude and straightforward but effective songwriting makes me think of the best bands on an old Mystic Compilation, so if you researched every band on Party or Go Home or Copulation, you’re going to like Septic Yanks.
タイフーン (Taifun): Demo 2020 cassette (Desolate) Taifun comes from Germany and released this demo in 2020, but if you played it for me blind, I don’t think I could pick it out of a lineup of Japanese bands released on Blood Sucker or HG Fact in the late 90s or 00s. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given Taifun has at least one member of Burial (who did a pretty great Burning Spirits take of their own back in the aughts), they have this sound on lock. While the galloping beats and glass-gargling vocals that we all love in Japanese hardcore are very much in effect here, the sound is more rocked out and slicker than, say, Bastard or Death Side, instead reminding me of Paintbox, Forward’s first few records, or Rocky and the Sweden’s early stuff. I feel like this sound is out of fashion nowadays as people want stuff that’s more raging, but if you liked the Detractors tape that Desolate released a while back, this is a total no-brainer. And for those of us who still ride for this 90s iteration of the Japanese hardcore sound, this is as comforting as a sherpa blanket. Also of note, while the tape’s A side is all hardcore, side B is a 10-minute noise piece, and as 10-minute noise pieces go I thought it was pretty interesting.
Hekátē: Μέρες Οργής (Days of Wrath) 12” (La Vida Es Un Mus) Μέρες Οργής is the debut 12” from this band from Greece. While the keyboards and dark vibes will put them in the post-punk category for many people, to me they have more in common with the Damned or TSOL. In other words, Hekátē writes high-energy punk songs with a strong sense of melody and a dramatic flair, and as you might expect given that this is on La Vida Es Un Mus, they’re great at it. Hekátē bookends Μέρες Οργής with two atmospheric tracks without vocals, placing the more conventional songs in the middle. “Soapbox” has an anarcho brood, but its shouted vocals and early Fall-esque keyboards keep it well away from being on the nose. “Ψυχαναγκασμός,” the fastest and punkiest song on the record, is my hot track. While the core is a solid three-chord rock song that could have gone in many directions, the bright, new-wave synth line makes it a total earworm. Μέρες Οργής is compact but full of variety, a record you play repeatedly because you can’t get enough.
Pitbul: Demo 2020 cassette (self-released) Another ripping demo out of the Seattle area. While Solvent has a gritty, d-beat influenced style, Pitbul plays tight, start-and-stop hardcore with a heavy Negative Approach influence. It’s not totally retro 80s though. I hear a little of straight edge hardcore in the riffing style, which makes me think of bands like Dead Stop, Punch in the Face, Violent Minds, etc., who sounded like the logical product of the 20 years of hardcore that preceded them. If you’re into bands that fall into that space, I can’t recommend this one enough. 7 tracks, about 5 minutes, and zero bullshit.
Death Sentence: Death and Pure Destruction 7” (Bomb-All Records) The German label Bomb-All Records brings this underrated UK82 ripper back into print. There isn’t much in the way of frills for Death Sentence… their riffs are of the simple 3 chord variety, their drummer only knows how to do dunka dunka 1-2 beats, and the singer sounds like he’s auditioning for the Exploited. The two tracks on the a-side are rippers, lightning-fast UK82 punk in the vein of Ultra Violent or the better Exploited songs. The b-side slows things down for “Victims of War” and the record finishes with “Death Sentence,” whose endearingly sloppy playing and screaming guitar solo leave a strong impression. While it isn’t on the level of Ultra Violent or the Partisans, Death and Pure Destruction is a ripper that any fan of this style will love.
Mower: Grand Punk 7” (Audacious Madness Records) We last heard from Pittsburgh’s Mower when they released an LP on Splattered! Records, which was the perfect home for their Motorhead-inspired punk-and-roll. The first thing that stood out about Grand Punk was the artwork, a conceit so perfect I wonder why I haven’t seen it before. It looks awesome, though! And the Grand Funk reference is perfect for a band that plays dirty rock and roll. Unlike Overdose’s straightforward Motorhead worship, Mower has more of a party punk vibe a la Annihilation Time or Midnight, with classic rock riffs sped up and played with a loose, last-call swagger. And even though this a 7”, the four fully developed tracks will leave your ears pleasantly full.
Sudden Impact: Freaked Out 7” (Supreme Echo) Supreme Echo Records gives us another killer Canadian punk reissue, this time from Toronto’s Sudden Impact. I knew the band from their 1986 LP, No Rest from the Wicked, which is a record that never grabbed me. I skimmed through it after hearing Freaked Out and my opinion is still the same. No Rest from the Wicked is cool… it’s fast and I like the wild guitar solos, but the crossover feel is further from my wheelhouse and the songs never grabbed me. Freaked Out, though, is a different story. While it’s a little metallic, I wouldn’t call it crossover at all. It’s just ripping, early 80s USHC with great riffs, fast drumming, and snotty vocals. This recording reminds me of Direct Control, and by extension bands like DRI and Attitude Adjustment that had a similar tight, metallic punk sound. The recording is perfectly vintage—clear but miles away from overproduced—and with 10 tracks it feels longer than a lot of 12” EPs I’ve heard. As usual, Supreme Echo does it up on the packaging, including a 7”x7” booklet containing loads of pictures, flyers, ephemera, and a new interview with the band. Highly recommended for fans of vintage 80s North American hardcore.