Featured Releases - December 30 2021
Game: Legerdemain 12” (Quality Control HQ Records) Game’s previous LP, No One Wins, came out on Beach Impediment Records in 2019, and while I liked that record, after I saw Game live, it was clear they had an even better record in them. Legerdemain gets a lot closer to capturing Game’s live power. I was going to write that Game had changed up their sound since No One Wins, but I went back to that record and the elements are there, but they’re communicated so much more clearly on Legerdemain. No One Wins’ bulldozer sound created a wall of brute force, but Legerdemain’s subtler mix highlights the riffing, which is very metal in style, but also fluid and melodic, with memorable lines and melodies that remind me of Tank’s Filth Hounds of Hades. The riffing anchors the songs, but the other instruments have more room to breathe too, with the drums showing off a propulsive yet heavy, Cro-Mags-esque gallop. The vocals might be a sticking point for some as they have a cartoonish quality, but I like them. Most hardcore vocals are one-dimensional and either fade into the background or, at best, provide a rhythmic counterpoint, but Ola’s vocal lines are memorable, and I was singing along with bits like “revelations of DOOOOOM” by the second listen. With six songs in less than 15 minutes, Legerdemain is all excitement, without a moment that drags or overstays its welcome. The physical packaging is also stunning. The jacket is not only beautifully designed, it’s printed with an old school letterpress, which has a totally different (and far superior) feel to the digital offset printing you see most often these days. There’s also a large, poster-sized lyric insert that follows the package’s red, black, and white design scheme. Exciting, fresh-sounding hardcore punk wrapped in flawless packaging makes Legerdemain a no-brainer. Pick up the US-exclusive white vinyl from us while you can.
Anti-Cimex: The 7” EPs Collection box set (Sonarize Records) Anti-Cimex has reissued their music a couple of times in the new millennium, which is something we should all be thankful for. Their records are cornerstones of international hardcore, and they should always be in print and available so they can inspire new legions of bands. Those of us who have lived through a few of these reissue campaigns might notice subtle differences in the philosophy behind and execution of these new reissues, but the important thing is the music… if you love raw hardcore punk, these are records you should know like the back of your hand. New label Sonarize Records released a collection of Anti-Cimex demo recordings on 12” a while back, now they’re back with this box set containing reproductions of Cimex’s four 7” EPs. This is a little different than the similar box that Brazil’s Nada Nada Discos released in 2013. That box contained the three proper 7” EPs, Anarkist Attack, Raped Ass, and Victims of a Bomb Raid as well as a flexi compiling Cimex’s contributions to compilations, while Sonarize removes the flexi and adds in the Fucked in Finland 7”, a three-song live record recorded in Finland in 1992. Sonarize has put a lot of work into doing proper reproductions that get you as close to the original EPs as possible, reproducing small details like how Anarkist Attack’s front and back sleeves came as two separate pieces of paper, while Raped Ass came as a glued pocket sleeve and Victims was a foldover sleeve. The sound is also clear and loud, which is a relief because I was a little disappointed with the sound on the Wretched 7” box set that Agipunk (which is affiliated with Sonarize) released a few years back. The box itself is beautifully designed, and it comes with a thick booklet full of photos, flyers, and a ton of fanzine interviews, many conducted while the band still existed and some retrospective interviews done as recently as a few years ago. And best of all, the price on the box is very reasonable. If you don’t own these releases on any physical format, this is a great opportunity to get them in your collection, and Sonarize’s detailed repro editions will deepen your engagement with and appreciation for these records if you only know them from digital streaming. And even for people like me who already have a couple of different physical versions of Raped Ass and Victims (which, I think everyone would acknowledge, are the band’s two most important records), getting Fucked in Finland and (especially) Anarkist Attack in nice repro editions like this is worth the cost on its own. I’ve particularly enjoyed revisiting Anarkist Attack. While the band’s lineup and sound hadn’t yet solidified, it’s still a raging EP and I think it would be a well regarded and important record if it was the only thing Anti-Cimex had ever released. Long story short, they did this collection right, and if you’re in the market for something like this, you will not be disappointed. Here’s hoping Sonarize continues their well-done reissue campaign with Cimex’s 12” discography.
Home Front: Think of the Lie 12” (La Vida Es Un Mus) Now with close to 250 releases under their belt, our friends at La Vida Es Un Mus continue to deliver consistently fantastic releases in the world of punk. But for every Disclose reissue or new, crushing hardcore band out of Spain, we receive an occasional dose of melody. Think Of The Lie, the debut release from Canadian group Home Front, craftily synthesizes some of the most notable and familiar sounds of 80s UK indie pop and post-punk. The first track, “Flaw In The Design,” brings New Order to mind with its era-accurate sounds and production, coupled with the group’s intelligent songwriting and arrangements. Lush, sweeping synthesizers and chorus-laden guitars top warm and pounding 808 drum machines. The singer has a voice not unlike Robert Smith, simultaneously wavering and passionate. La Vida likens the group to Second Empire Justice-era Blitz, which is a dead ringer comparison to describe punkers who have taken the plunge into this sonic territory. In more recent years, many punk groups have reached into the deep reservoir of new wave history to find a blueprint for their band, but the end product can seem dull or contrived. And while Home Front wears their influences on their dayglo ascots, the songs are so tastefully executed and rich with conviction that you can’t fault them. Home Front unashamedly shies away from edge, and instead commits to crafting a full-on pop record that feels both nostalgic and fresh.
S.H.I.T.: Hidden in Eternity 7” (Iron Lung Records) Over 3 years have gone by since these Canadian sexual humans in turmoil released their debut LP What Do You Stand For? Finally, S.H.I.T. has returned with 2 brand new tracks of intense noise on the mighty Iron Lung label. Vocalist Ryan Tong’s beautiful artwork on this new single presents an amorphous structure that radiates pink and blue, which could be read as either organic or cosmic. This is also a great way to describe S.H.I.T.’s music. The band always delivers a pulverizing brand of hardcore with a barbaric, pummeling rage, but creates an atmosphere that feels strange and otherworldly. Jonah Falco’s mix on these two blazing tracks is thick and weighty, making the band sound more powerful than ever. The A-side track “Hidden In Eternity” hits the listener immediately with repeated, pounding blows, but an eerie, inescapable notion of claustrophobia lurks just beneath the surface. The third installment of “Eraser” is a refined blast of raw energy that closes with the goosebump-inducing battle cry: “Fear is the killer, the killer! Fear is the killer in my mind!” It’s a shame that after such a long wait, we’re only provided 2 songs to consume, but this single is one of the band’s finest moments and will leave you feeling satiated for a while.
Body Cam: S/T 7” flexi (Violent Pest Records) Violent Pest Records brings us the debut from this new hardcore band from Nashville, Tennessee. Body Cam is definitely a hardcore band, but their thin and scratchy sound and distinct lack of toughness push them more toward the (for lack of a better term) egg punk camp, which makes sense as Spodee Boy and Erik Nervous both appear in the credits on this one (as recording engineer and mixer, respectively). The five songs jammed onto this flexi are short and ripping fast, and what sticks in my memory most are the Circle Jerks-esque tight rhythmic changes, which I hear most clearly on the track “Active Shooter.” While there isn’t much room for frills, you can’t deny the energy on this five-song, five-minute dead sprint.
Gotou: S/T 12” (Inu Wan Wan Records) The new label Inu Wan Wan Records hit me up about carrying this, their debut release, and I was instantly sold. Gotou is a three-piece band from Sapporo, Japan, and their sound is different from what Sorry State typically carries. I’d place them on the artiest edge of post-punk. Malaria! is the closest comparison I can think of in terms of the overall feel (the label’s description makes the same connection), but Gotou’s sound isn’t too different from the least pop moments on LPs by Wire, Joy Division, or the Cure, but you don’t get the contrasting moments of pop those bands offer. Gotou base their songs around repetitive grooves, the drummer banging out angular, non-rock patterns, the bassist looping simple and hypnotic lines, and the guitarist tending to make rhythmic and percussive sounds rather than melodies. The vocalist has a deep moan that’s a bit like Nico’s baritone, but (if you can imagine it) even colder and with less affect. The music is tense and nervy, with only the last track, “Go To U,” offering something slightly more melodic. Gotou’s music isn’t rock or pop, but if you have a lot of records from this more experimental edge of the post-punk scene—I’m thinking of bands like Throbbing Gristle, Einsturzende Neubauten, early Swans, etc.—you’ll hear that same spirit in this slice of confrontational art music.