Featured Releases: March 23, 2023

Acrophet: The Answer Within cassette (Escape Tapes) Escape Tapes brings us a straight reissue of the 1987 demo tape by this thrash / crossover band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Stylistically, this is right on the nose of what I think of as crossover thrash… the riffing sounds like it’s influenced by Slayer’s first couple of records, while the rhythm section takes on the dramatic rhythmic shifts of hardcore punk, with a Reed Mullin-esque drummer who has a knack for squeezing catchy but unexpected fills into every nook and cranny. The vocalist is a pure hardcore shouter that sounds like he’s from New York rather than Wisconsin, reminding me of bands like the Abused, Antidote, and early Agnostic Front. The Answer Within also has my favorite kind of production, a competent but bare-bones studio recording where every instrument is audible and there are no studio enhancements or gimmickry. Even the tape’s intro piece, a John Carpenter-inspired haunting synth piece called “C.I.D.,” rules. As hard as this goes, I’m surprised some enterprising metalhead hasn’t picked this up for some kind of deluxe reissue, but I prefer this straight recreation of the original artifact.

People’s Temple: I’m with the People’s Temple 7” (Roach Leg Records) Roach Leg released People’s Temple’s demo tape a couple of years ago, now they’re back with their debut, which crams eight songs onto a 7”, a move I can’t help but love. As with their demo tape, People’s Temple is unique among Roach Leg bands in that they sound like an 80s California punk band (they’re actually from New York)… they’re hard and fast, but with catchy choruses, making me think of bands like Sick Pleasure and Circle One. That’s true for “Think for Me,” which starts the EP and is the record’s highlight with its anthemic chorus on which the vocalist locks in with the band’s dramatic punches. I also love “Jangling Tune,” whose last section makes me think about the beach at sunset. The last tune is called “American Hardcore Sucks,” which is a head-scratcher given their sound, but whatever… I’m still firmly with the People’s Temple.

MV-11: Doubt the Authority 7” (Kick Rock Records) I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve heard a new band from Japan doing the classic Japanese hardcore style, so this debut 7” from MV-11 is a welcome addition to our bins. I don’t have any info on MV-11 other than that they’re from Myazaki, Japan, but when I play Doubt the Authority, it makes me think D.S.B., one of my favorite Japanese hardcore bands from the early 2000s. Like D.S.B., MV-11 doesn’t have the blazing lead guitars many people associate with the Burning Spirits style, but they use dramatic-sounding chord progressions that invoke that triumphant feel you get from bands like Death Side. Rhythmically, though, this is less about that heavy backbeat and has more of a forward-leaning, ahead-of-the-beat drumming style that reminds me of Lip Cream. Ten or fifteen years ago there were a million bands attempting this style, but aside from maybe Rashomon, there aren’t too many current bands carrying the torch for this sound. As a result, Doubt the Authority will be a treat for anyone whose Japanese hardcore collection extends beyond the most obvious titles.

Sekaannus: Aivokuolleet 7” (Mäkitie-8 Records) Aivokuolleet is the first release on Usman from Scarecrow and Sorry State’s new label Mäkitie-8. Aivokuolleet is a co-production with the Finnish Hardcore label, whose last several releases we’ve carried at Sorry State… Sorry State even co-released the H.I.C. Systeemi cassette we put out with Sami at Finnish Hardcore. So, if you’ve paid any attention to that stuff, you can guess that Aivokuolleet is another dig into the archives of 80s Finnish hardcore punk. Sekaannus released several records in the 80s, but most of them were recorded after the band’s sound changed somewhat… their later releases have a largely mid-tempo, anarcho-influenced sound that reminds me of early Amebix, but Aivokuolleet comes from Sekaannus’s earlier era, when they were a tear-ass hardcore band in the vein of other great 80s Finnish bands like Kaaos and Riistetyt. Like those bands, Sekaannus during this era fused the driving and anthemic UK82 punk sound with the full-bore, bulldoze-everything-in-its-path approach of Discharge. Aivokuolleet alternates between blistering fast tracks and a couple of Kaaos-esque stompers, and while the rough sound will weed out some poseurs, the deep 80s Finnish hardcore heads will flip for it.

Skinman: demo cassette (Convulse Records) Skinman is another project from the punk hotbed of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and while the first run of this demo came out on 11PM Records, Convulse Records did up another batch for the band to sell on tour, which is where our copies come from. One reason I love Hattiesburg punk is that the bands seem indifferent toward the stylistic guidelines that dictate how so many other bands sound… everything goes into the pot, and what comes out is unique. This Skinman tape is a perfect case in point… the howling, double-tracked vocals might remind you of Vice Squad or Sacrilege, but the music mixes the pogo sound of 2010-era New York with heavier, grooving mosh parts and plenty of other elements that come from across hardcore punk’s spectrum. When I write a description, I try to give you some indication of what the band or the record sounds like, but I have to throw my hands up with Skinman… I can note elements of the songs all day, but it comes together in a way that sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard. If you’re uptight about how bands “should” sound, it might be for you, but adventurous listeners will love it because it’s so unique sounding, yet still firmly in the realm of hardcore punk.

Pest Control: Don’t Test the Pest 12” (Quality Control HQ) Quality Control HQ Records brings us the debut vinyl from this UK crossover thrash band. A lot of bands have been combining 80s-style thrash with Cro-Mags-inspired, mosh-oriented hardcore in the years since Power Trip got big, but I’ve remained indifferent to the trend. Thrash metal and moshy hardcore are styles I can get into when they’re done well, but I have little time for the also-rans, so merely smashing those two sounds together won’t win me over from the jump. Pest Control, however, is just a superb band. I put on Don’t Test the Pest while I was working with no real expectations, and soon I found myself bopping along to the tunes. They don’t reinvent the wheel as far as their style goes, but they have a charismatic singer with a cool voice and a real way with a riff. Pest Control’s songs are like highlight reels, stringing all the good bits together and avoiding things like too-long guitar solos or gratuitous mosh breaks that might work well live, but wear on your ear on record. If you’re curious about Pest Control, I recommend checking out the title track, a 45-second stunner that finds room for freaky rhythmic twists and turns, a blistering solo, a catchy chanting chorus, and a tasteful sprinkling of blastbeats. If that wins you over, the other 10 tracks on Don’t Test the Pest will, too.

Leave a comment