Featured Release Roundup: September 17, 2020
Heavy Discipline: S/T 12” (Painkiller) Painkiller pressed this Pittsburgh band’s demo to vinyl a while back, and now they’ve given us their debut LP. Painkiller has been a go-to label for modern bands modeled on the early 80s Boston hardcore tradition, and Heavy Discipline is a perfect fit. This is one of those records that is so perfectly executed that you could trick a poseur into thinking it’s a long lost release from the X-Claim! Records catalog… it’s like 50% Kill for Christ, 50% Get it Away, and 100% killer. And while the production is right on the nose, the songwriting doesn’t feel like a mere pastiche of Heavy Discipline’s influences. Recommended for fans of X-Claim! Records, the first Boston Strangler LP, Sam Adams, and baked beans.
Ray Gun: S/T 7” (It’s Trash) Three-song EP from this band out of Nashville, Tennessee that combines elements of garage-punk and noise rock. The noise rock comes out in the blown-out sound and the emphasis on gritty and feedback-y textures, but while many noise rock bands focus on riffs and textures, Ray Gun’s songs feel more song-y. “Seance,” for instance, simmers at a Lost Sounds-ish, paranoid-sounding pace until it explodes into a triumphant chorus. “I Am the Rat” is shuffly-er and jangly-er with strong Gun Club vibes and a long, bluesy guitar solo. These three tracks are so dense that it feels like the band is cramming everything they’ve got into them, and that all-or-nothing approach makes this a very exciting EP.
Power Face: Door Slammed Shut 7” (Adult Crash) Stockholm, Sweden’s Power Face have a few records out already (including an LP on Really Fast Records!!!), but this is the first time I’ve heard them. While it’s not so on the nose they sound like a “worship” band, parts of Door Slammed Shut are a dead ringer for peak-era RKL. Like RKL, Power Face sounds kind of metal but they aren’t afraid of major keys, their guitarist and drummer are serious rippers (I love the accents on the ride bell! That’s classic a classic Bomber move…), and their vocalist sounds raspy and snotty but can still lead an anthemic sing-along. This reminds me of the catchy and ripping punk that No Way Records made a name for themselves releasing in the mid-2000s, and if you’re still spinning your Government Warning records, I think you’ll get plenty of mileage out of Door Slammed Shut.
The War Goes On: Assisted Armageddon 12” (Adult Crash)Assisted Armageddon is the second LP from this Danish band featuring former members of Hjerte Stop and No Hope for the Kids. If you’ve heard those two bands, Assisted Armageddon sounds like the two of them mashed together, with the big melodies and soaring vocals of No Hope for the Kids combined with the shorter songs and leaner approach of Hjerte Stop. If you haven’t heard those bands, The War Goes On reminds me of the most melodic early 80s Southern California punk… bands like Channel 3, M.I.A., and Social Distortion. Those bands contributed DNA to pop-punk, but The War Goes On doesn’t sound like a pop-punk band to me… they’re too gritty, angry, and political, and their melodies are dark and sophisticated. That being said, when Usman heard this he said it sounds like it could be on Hellcat Records, so maybe I’m just old. However, if you’re like me and have fond memories of the early 2000s when Kick N Punch Records was ruling everything and thousands of punks were newly able to locate Denmark on a map, and/or if you played that No Hope for the Kids LP to death, this LP is full of anthems perfect for autumn 2020.
Uniform: Shame 12” (Sacred Bones) Shame is the latest full-length from New York industrial / noise band Uniform. I haven’t followed Uniform’s discography closely… I remember liking their first album, Perfect World, but I lost track of them after that. Then last fall they played a crushing set in the middle of the afternoon at the Hopscotch music fest here in Raleigh. That set knocked me out, and I made a mental note that I should pay more attention the next time Uniform released a record. And now here we are with Shame. I’m glad Uniform got back on my radar because this record crushes. While it’s heavy and aggressive, the sensibility feels familiar to me as someone who grew up in and is still immersed in hardcore… it doesn’t feel macho, cheesy, or fall into any of the other traps that turn me off when I stray too far outside my hardcore comfort zone. That being said, Shame is remarkably diverse. “Life in Remission” has blasting parts that sound like an industrial take on Darkthrone’s classic albums, while “The Shadow of God’s Hand” centers around a doomy, Sabbathian riff, and “I Am the Cancer” is an epic space rock jam rammed through Uniform’s neo-Wax Trax filter. Elements might sound familiar, but they’re put together in interesting and often surprising ways. This isn’t typical of the stuff we hype at Sorry State, but there’s more than enough crossover to please the more adventurous among you.