Featured Release Roundup: September 8, 2022

Final Conflict: 1985 demo cassette (No Idols Records) Final Conflict’s 1985 demo cassette is back in print on its original format (albeit with expanded packaging) on No Idols Records. Longtime fans of Final Conflict (of which I am one) will already be familiar with this material, as it’s been reissued many times already, both as bonus tracks appended to FC’s seminal first album Ashes to Ashes, and as a stand-alone release by 540 Records in 2013. While that might seem like overkill for a demo, particularly since most of the songs were rerecorded for Ashes to Ashes, this tape is a seminal document. Without the crunchier, cleaner, and more metallic production of Ashes to Ashes, classic tracks like “Apocalypse Now,” “One Answer,” and “What Kind of Future” burn with a different energy, placing more emphasis on Ron Martinez’s catchy vocals and giving the entire affair more of a peace punk feel. Even as someone who loves Ashes to Ashes, I feel strongly that both the demo and the album are essential. Besides strong sound (there are some crummy rips of this tape out there), it’s cool to see the tape in its iconic original packaging. No Idols has also placed the tape and j-card in a hand-stamped manilla envelope that also contains reproductions of flyers and the original lyric sheet. If you’ve already bought these songs one time (or even more) that might not be enough to sell you, but there’s no denying this is a cool package that feels like a love letter to this seminal recording.

Infandus: Beneath the Rising Moon cassette (self-released) Beneath the Rising Moon is the second tape from this New York City death metal band, following their excellent Lithium-6 tape from last year. Featuring members from After and Extended Hell, Infandus’s straightforward death metal will appeal to punks although there isn’t much of a recognizable punk influence in their music. I imagine Bolt Thrower must be a big influence on Infandus, as they have a similar songwriting style that’s not too stripped down but far from technical, building dynamic and complex songs around a deep bag of tricks from infernal riffing to crushing heaviness to hint-of-melody guitar leads and back. The drummer knows exactly when to drop in those crushing double bass rolls, which always make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. As usual, Sasha Stroud’s heavy and clear production job captures the band’s power, steering well clear of the over-processed sounds I hear on too many metal records. Consequently, Beneath the Rising Moon sounds like a killer death metal band ripping it up right in front of you… what more could you want?

Sub Space: I Walk the Devil 12” (Vanilla Box Records) I Walk the Devil caught my eye with its sick artwork: a spooky illustration of the devil and a skeleton doing some kinky shit against a shocking turquoise background that reminds me of an 80s hardcore punk record like the Zero Boys’ Vicious Circle. Stylistically, the six hardcore punk tracks here line up with what I expected based on the illustration: a barrage of pounding pogo beats, sneering vocals that ping-pong between Spanish and English, and riffs that sound dark and creepy but still catchy. This would be more than enough to stand alongside modern pogo-mosh bands like Bib or Gag, but the guitarist throws in interesting wrinkles by sneaking in hard rock riffing a la Fu Manchu on tracks like “I Walk the Devil” and “Wait and See.” It’s not full-on party rock or anything, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sub Space’s guitarist sporting a battered Annihilation Time tee on stage. While these six tracks are brief, it’s more than enough time for Sub Space to get the pit going.

Paranoid: Tatari 7” (Paranoid Northern Discs) Tatari originally appeared as a companion piece to Paranoid’s 2021 digital-only album Cursed, pressed as a gift for people who bought the digital version of the album through Bandcamp. That version sold out quickly, and I’m glad Paranoid has seen fit to make a small repress that’s more widely available. While neither of Tatari’s two tracks appear on Cursed, stylistically these songs are of a piece with that album. Less frenetic than Paranoid’s noisy earlier work, these tracks ride heavy, locked-in d-beat grooves a la later-period Anti-Cimex, with hoarse yet snotty vocals that make me think of Venom (but without the goofy / cartoonish element). Paranoid are pros, so it’s unsurprising that the songs are dynamic, “Senka” cresting with a melodic lead guitar riff that evokes the wind whipping through an isolated fjord. Paranoid has always released some of their best songs on EPs, none of which stick around too long, so grab a copy of Tatari while you still can.

Terminal Addiction: EPs 2020-2021 12” (Not for the Weak Records) Not for the Weak brings us this LP collecting two cassette EPs from Terminal Addiction, who come from the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod, about 400km east of Moscow. While I think it’s interesting that Terminal Addiction is from Russia, they’re not interesting just because of where they’re from… they are a perfect fit for Not for the Weak’s growing roster, sitting comfortably next to explosive hardcore bands like Reckoning Force and Axe Rash. Like those bands, Terminal Addiction comes from the Herätys school of hardcore, playing catchy, Totalitär-influenced riffs with the speed, precision, and power of early Poison Idea. The production is forceful (particularly on their 2021 EP, which appears as the first tour tracks on this release), with the perfect combination of crack to the high end (the snare propels you through these songs) and heaviness in the lower frequencies. And it turns out that Russian, like Finnish, is a great language for angry hardcore, its elongated vowels the perfect vehicle for a rabid snarl. This one ticks all the boxes, and if you have an ear for this vein of USHC-influenced mangel, it’s not one to miss.

Slicks: Total Filth Collection 12” (General Speech Records) General Speech Records brings us this collection from 90s Japanese punk band Slicks, the a-side culled from their 1992 debut Filth Mind Clever and the b-side from their follow-up, 1994’s Lad CM, neither of which ever appeared on vinyl. Slicks are from Hakata, on the island of Kyushu in Japan, and you might be familiar with that region’s rich tradition of punk with bands like the Swankys, Gai, and Confuse. Originally released on the Swankys’ label Kings World Records, Slicks have a similar Sex Pistols-influenced aesthetic to the Swankys, but their music reminds me more of high-energy 90s Japanese garage bands like Teengenerate and the Registrators, both of whom were Slicks’ contemporaries. When these records came out, I’m sure people thought of them as being steeped in 70s punk, but to 2022 ears it sounds very 90s, particularly the crisp and full-sounding production. It’s far from slick, but it’s professional in a way we don’t hear often in our modern era of home recordings and cheap DIY studios. While the fact that nothing on Total Filth Collection qualifies as hardcore might disappoint the Confuse(d) Gai(s) out there (note: that joke is copyright 2010 Nick Goode), lovers of 90s budget rock will eat this up… the songs are catchy, dynamic, and full of all the grit and energy you would want.

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