Featured Releases - March 24 2022
Warchild: A Question for Today… Not Tomorrow 12” (Black Water Records) A Question for Today… Not Tomorrow is the fifth record overall and second full-length from Umeå, Sweden’s Warchild. Given the band’s name and imagery, you might guess they play d-beat hardcore, and you wouldn’t be wrong. When I dropped the needle on A Question for Today…, the first comparison that came to mind was Totalitär. Like Totalitär, Warchild’s take on d-beat isn’t particularly heavy or noisy. The sound is powerful and clear, but the production doesn’t call attention to itself, instead asking you to focus on the riffs and songs. And they are killer! Again, like Totalitär, Warchild isn’t just banging out the gnarliest sounding chords they can find; their riffs feel well constructed, a sense of melody lurking just enough in the background to give the songs shape and character without distracting from their grittiness and power. The songs have a subtle cycle of building and releasing tension, several of them erupting in climactic guitar solos that, like the riffs, have the texture of Disclose-esque gestalt, but with that trademark sense of melody just outside the frame. A Question for Today... is an infectious record that’s almost too well done for its own good. If you’re into this particular Swedish hardcore sound, this isn’t one to miss.
Urban Sprawl: Demo 2018 7” (Convulse Records) You may know Oakland’s Urban Sprawl from their 7” last year on Revelation Records, but Denver’s Convulse Records digs into the archives to bring us their 2018 demo tape on vinyl. It’s no surprise Urban Sprawl is running with the big dogs now, because this demo is killer. How Urban Sprawl combines Negative Approach-influenced gruffness with the fist-pumping swing of War All the Time-era Poison Idea made me think of Wasted Time, and then when I pull up Urban Sprawl’s Bandcamp page the singer is wearing a Wasted Time shirt in their profile photo… so I guess that’s not a coincidence! Urban Sprawl features members of veteran bands like Torso and Wound Man, and the playing is as powerful as you might expect, though the recording here is raw and nasty. The songs are total crowd pleasers, swinging between those fist-pumping fast parts and huge breakdowns. If that sounds like your cup of tea, check this out… it’s as perfectly executed as you get.
Ex-Dom: Demo 2021 cassette (Open Palm Tapes) Ex-Dom is a multi-national band based in Bremen, Germany, with vocals alternate between German and Spanish. Those are two languages I don’t know, so I found the track listing confusing before I realized what was going on. No matter how many of the lyrics you understand, though, it’s hard to deny this is an explosive demo tape. Ex-Dom’s rhythms have an energetic pogo bounce, but the production is noisy and nasty, with the tightly wound intensity of fast, Discharge-influenced hardcore. The stylistic mix is a bit like Blazing Eye, but faster and noisier. Rather than the particular mix of styles, though, what stands out about this tape is the crazy high energy level. An excellent demo.
Gaoled: Bestial Hardcore Demo cassette (Iron Lung Records) Iron Lung Records brings us the demo tape by this hardcore band from Perth, Australia. The medieval illustration on the tape’s artwork and the term “bestial” in the title both make me think of black metal, and indeed Gaoled sounds a bit like they could be on Youth Attack Records, a label known for releases that blur the lines between underground hardcore and black metal. I don’t hear black metal influences in Gaoled’s music per se, but the emphasis on primitive execution and the grim and hopeless atmosphere are consonant with that sound. If I had to choose a band that Gaoled reminds me of musically it would be Infest. While they don’t lean on blast beats as hard as Infest (there are a few, but not a lot), Gaoled’s music has a similar power and heaviness, and it’s also dripping with eerie vibes. While a lot of hardcore can sound like it’s most at home in suburban basements and garages, Gaoled’s music seems to come from somewhere else… somewhere deeper and more frightening. Five rippers and one nightmare dirge make up this demo, which is distinctive, powerful, and well worth your time.
The Sex: The Sex Tape 2020 cassette (self-released) Scorching demo tape from this Montreal hardcore band. The sound is tightly wound hardcore with bright and punchy production that leaps out of the speakers. The Sex is great with dynamics, crafting songs packed with exciting moments where things back off for just a second in tempo or volume only to explode in your face with even more power just a few seconds later. When I listen to this tape, I think of being half-drunk at a house show where an unfamiliar band is tearing it up, each song’s whiplash change-ups connecting like well timed sucker punches. Four songs in 6 minutes, all hardcore, and just straight up ripping. Top shelf shit.
Crispy Newspaper: Судургу Тыллар (Sudurgu Tellar) 12” (World Gone Mad Records) Philadelphia’s World Gone Mad Records just brought out two full-lengths by Crispy Newspaper, a contemporary punk band from Yakutsk in Eastern Siberia. There is a small punk scene in the Sakha Republic, and when World Gone Mad learned about it they offered to release vinyl by their favorite band from the scene. While I enjoyed both full-lengths, I’ve listened more closely to Судургу Тыллар and it’s excellent. One great thing about listening to punk from far-flung reaches of the globe is that those bands often have a different relationship to the styles and trends that shape the music from parts of the world we’re more connected to. Indeed, Crispy Newspaper doesn’t sound in step with the latest punk trends. Their music is eclectic; I’d call it post-hardcore because it’s grounded in hardcore’s loud, fast, and underground aesthetic, but Crispy Newspaper isn’t afraid of melody. The scrappiness of the music and the melding of hardcore and pop aesthetics makes me think of the early Lookout! Records scene, but without the cutesiness that some of those bands had. There are also moments that remind me of post-Leatherface bands like Dillinger Four, Japan’s the Urchin, or maybe even Pinhead Gunpowder… bands who combine heaviness, dense and sophisticated musicality, and strong, memorable songwriting. While Crispy Newspaper’s style is eclectic, their playing and songwriting are strong. Those with a particular interest in punk from small, relatively isolated scenes will be stoked to hear something from a scene like that who legit rules, and even if you don’t care about where the band is from, you may find Crispy Newspaper’s music both refreshing and interesting.