Featured Releases - April 7 2022
Soft Torture: Soft Torture cassette (World Gone Mad Records) This new Philadelphia hardcore band features some impressive players, including Chuck Meehan of YDI’s classic A Place in the Sun EP on bass and Aaron from Haldol and Blank Spell on drums (apologies to the other members, whose resumes I don’t know as well). I knew going in that the playing here would be excellent, but I was stoked to hear that Soft Torture’s stock in trade is the rhythmically knotty hardcore that I love. The crazy rhythms are the star of the show here, reminding me of virtuosic yet fringe groups such as the early versions of the Tar Babies, Die Kreuzen, and Meat Puppets, all of whom took a vast knowledge of and capability with music and crammed it into 90-second chunks delivered at a dead sprint. As with those bands, Soft Torture is exhilarating, making the listener feel like a pinball slammed around the board quicker than your eye can follow. Jess Nicho’s paranoid vocals are an added treat, particularly if you enjoy more recent purveyors of this high-speed spazz attack like Warm Bodies and Das Drip. Oh yeah, and “2021” is a cover / update of YDI’s “1983.” Totally scorching.
So Cal’s Parishioners: self-titled cassette (No Solution) This new California band (I assume their from No Solution’s neck of the woods in Orange County) dials in the sound of classic SoCal and OC punk on this self-titled cassette. The rough production, breezy rhythms, and (most importantly) the thick surfer-dude drawl on the vocals all evoke the OC punk classics, not so much the Adolescents, but bands like Social Distortion, Channel 3, and the Crowd, whose styles were rooted more firmly in song-oriented 70s punk. If you like the White Stains EP that was our Record of the Week last week, this draws on similar influences, but removes any hardcore influence from the equation and zeroes in on a fully retro sound. Five catchy tracks, the standout being “P.N.B.,” whose lyrics seem to be about a journeyman NBA player with punk connections. It’s a unique topic for a song, but perhaps that’s what makes it stand out. I’m stoked this is arriving during springtime on the east coast, which means I can blast it with the windows down and pretend I’m cruising down one of the California highways they list in the first song.
Clear History: Bad Advice Good People 12” (Upset the Rhythm) The UK’s Upset the Rhythm brings us the debut record by this new post-punk-style band from Berlin. Right off the bat, Clear History reminds me of Sorry State bands like Fitness Womxn and Cochonne and other favorites like Portland’s Lithics. Like those bands, Clear History’s sound is rooted in the bass-oriented post-punk of Delta 5, Gang of Four, and Kleenex, the playing anchored in a great rhythm section that favors upbeat, danceable drums and heavy yet bubbly, dub-informed bass lines. The guitarist tends toward plucked single notes that form into earworm melodies, while multiple vocalists engage in spirited and dynamic trade-offs. Everything has its place in the sound until things bubble over, as they do on the standout track “Presents,” whose contrast between the cool rhythm section and the nervous breakdown vocal performance reminds me of my favorite moments from the Stranglers’ early years. Catchy tunes, spirited delivery… what’s not to like?
Klonns: Crow 7” (Iron Lung Records) Crow is the latest EP from Japanese hardcore band Klonns, who have racked up an impressive discography full of EPs without a US release until now (though back in 2019, Sorry State imported some copies of a tape collecting their releases up to that point). I notice that Klonns often describe themselves as “blackened crust,” while Iron Lung’s description compares them to classic Japanese hardcore bands like Bastard and Lip Cream. While Klonns have the power and the grandiosity of those classic Japanese bands, their chaotic and noisy sound takes just as much from grittier crust and noise-punk bands from Confuse to D-Clone and Zyanose and beyond. The fuzziness of the production and the sinister vibes have an underground cult metal feel as well. These elements smashed together ends up sounding like Public Acid, another hardcore band who finds a delicate balance between their chaotic and bruising sides. All four tracks are rippers, but I’m taken with “Ghoul,” which finds a Warthog-style groove heavy enough to take down a cinderblock wall. Crow makes a nice pairing with the crushing Erupt 7” that also landed this week.
Gasmiasma: At War with Punk cassette (Vibes Through Guts Recordings) This New Orleans band released a full length way back in 2014 on Sweden’s Skrammel Records that I enjoyed. I assumed the band was long defunct, but eight years later we have a new release and it fucking RIPS! On At War with Punk, Gasmiasma plays an ultra-fast d-beat style that reminds me of LA’s Tortür… we’re talking Mob 47-style tempos… even faster sometimes, as on the blistering title track that opens the tape, which accelerates nearly to grindcore speeds. Gasmiasma is so fast that when they get to “Machine Gun Jargon of the Stunted Factoid,” a ripper by pretty much any other band’s standards, it almost feels like a break. Gasmiasma’s sound is a little more metallic than your typical mangel, with a growly / screamy vocal dynamic that reminds me of Extreme Noise Terror. All this adds up to a tape with a fresh and distinctive sound and a level of intensity that is off the charts.
Bombardement: La Futur Est La 12” (Symphony of Destruction) Bombardement’s previous record, their self-titled 7”, was one of my favorite records of 2020, and now they’re back with a new full-length. All of their records so far follow the same black, white, and yellow color scheme, and Bombardement’s sound has, like their layouts, remained consistent. At their core, Bombardement is a Discharge-inspired d-beat band with a lot of flashy guitar leads, but there are finer distinctions to be made here. One reason I like Bombardement is that they lean into aspects of the classic Discharge sound that few other d-beat bands focus on. One of my favorite things to do is smoke a ton of weed, put on my original Japanese pressing of Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing at an ear-splitting volume, and let its hurricane of multi-tracked guitars envelop me. In the right mood and with the right substances, HNSNSN is essentially a psychedelic record. As with HNSNSN-era Discharge, Bombardement’s riffs are kind of long and they play them more times than most bands; many of their songs have a structure where they play the verse riff four times without vocals, then four times with them before moving onto the next part. With all this room to settle into the groove, the musicians lean into bits, stretch beats out, inject improvisations, and do the kinds of things you’d expect of a band like Can, albeit perhaps on a more limited scale. Occasionally, like on the standout track “Dyssomnie,” Bombardement erupts into a full-on lead guitar orgy, and these moments are glorious. Song structures that might sound leaden and repetitive when played by another band come alive in Bombardement’s hands. This ain’t jazz, though! It’s hardcore punk, and Bombardement will keep your fist pumping for all 20 glorious minutes of La Futur Es La.