Featured Releases: May 18, 2023
Languid: Resist Mental Slaughter 12” (Desolate Records) Desolate Records brings us a deluxe reissue of Resist Mental Slaughter, the self-released 2017 debut from d-beaters Languid, who hail from Edmonton in Canada’s vast middle. Truth be told, I hadn’t heard this record before Desolate announced their reissue. We carried both of Languid’s subsequent 12”s, A Paranoid Wretch in Society’s Games and Submission Is the Only Freedom, but we never stocked the debut, which only came out in a limited self-released pressing. When I asked Usman about this reissue, he informed me that Resist Mental Slaughter had developed something of a reputation among the d-beat cognoscenti, and that he thought it was by far the band’s best record. Maybe he’ll tell you more in his staff pick? As for me, I could hear immediately why a d-beat institution like Desolate Records would want to get this back into print. Languid isn’t the heaviest, fastest, or noisiest d-beat band out there, but what makes them stand out from the pack is the sheer quality of their riffs. The overall sound is in the Dischange / Meanwhile vein of hard-charging d-beat without a lot of distinct peaks and valleys, but when they hit you with a riff like the ripping opener “Morbid Vision” or the stomping album-closer “Brain Dead Fools,” their power is undeniable. Alongside the original album, Desolate’s reissue includes a bonus 7” with Languid’s 2015 demo, which has a rawer sound but is of similarly high quality, and includes an even more ripping version of the standout track “Useless Life.” This whole package is a huge treat for all the käng warriors out there.
Warm Girls: demo cassette (self-released) I got wind of this new Richmond, Virginia project a few months before I got to hear any music, and I was already intrigued because Warm Girls features 1/2 of Gumming, whom I just loved. Warm Girls isn’t anything like Gumming from a stylistic standpoint, but good musicians tend to make good music whatever style they choose, and that’s the case here. The reference that keeps coming to mind when I listen to Warm Girls is Pylon. Like Pylon (or at least like my favorite moments in Pylon’s music), Warm Girls sounds like an American punk/indie band bulked up with a fat, dub-y bass sound that evokes the way UK post-punk groups like PiL and Gang of Four refracted funk and reggae influences from the Americas. Despite the bass sound, though, Warm Goes doesn’t sound very post-punk… their songs are angular, but upbeat and energetic, with driving drums and big guitars that sound like they're informed by, but not indebted to, hardcore. Though as you might expect from a band with the word “Girls” in their name, Warm Girls’ music side-steps the macho elements of hardcore while tapping into the genre’s drive and intensity. It’s a brilliant demo, and if you’re interested in that space where underground punk overlaps with feminist ideologies—if groups like Girlsperm and Fitness Womxn get a lot of time on your turntable—I think you’ll agree.
S.H.I.T.: Demo 2023 cassette (Homie Shit Mag) Toronto’s S.H.I.T. dropped this limited 4-song tape at last years SHITmas event, and now they’re back with a great-sounding, pro-duplicated version for the masses. If you dug the recent Hidden in Eternity 7”, the two new original tracks here pick up where those left off, giving us a more straightforward, streamlined version of S.H.I.T. For me, their I 7” from 2016 represented an apogee of S.H.I.T.’s older style, taking the bruising pogo beats, meaty riffs, and delayed vocals about as far as they could go. Since then, it sounds to me like S.H.I.T. has pulled back from those signature elements of their sound, proving they’re not just a band with a distinctive sound, but a great, classic hardcore band. The great riffing is still there, but the drumming is faster and less swingy (“Imminent Destruction” has some cool stuff happening on the toms too), and most noticeably, Ryan’s vocals have a cleaner sound and are no longer drenched in delay. Besides the two new original tracks, we also get covers of Crucifix’s “Annihilation” and Blitz’s “Never Surrender,” and aside from a creepy robotic voice reading the intro to the Crucifix song, these interpretations are also straightforward. It’s hardcore punk with no bells and whistles, just a bunch of seasoned players making great, timeless hardcore punk.
Shitty Life : Limits to Growth 7” (11PM Records) This Italian hardcore punk band has been kicking around since 2016, even releasing a collaborative EP with Drew Owen from Sick Thoughts, though Limits to Growth is their first release on an American label. That’s strange, because Shitty Life sounds almost like an American band with their English-language lyrics and US hardcore-influenced style, albeit with a snarling Italian madman on vocal duties. Their no-distortion guitar sound might make you think of bands like Milk or Amdi Petersens Armé, but for me the most on-the-money comparison is No Way Records’ Social Circkle… Shitty Life sounds almost exactly like them in places, with blistering hardcore punk songs whose clean sound shows off just how agile and interesting the playing is. The label’s description also mentions Shitty Limits, and while it’s funny that the words “Shitty” and “Limits” are both on the record’s cover, I mostly hear that comparison on the short instrumental track “In the Corner,” which has more of an angular, Pink Flag kind of feel. As much as I like the ripping punk songs, the moodier instrumental might be my favorite track here. With seven tracks to choose from here, there’s plenty to sink your teeth into, and it all rips.
Subliminal Excess: Witness 7” (11PM Records) 11PM Records released a demo from Chicago’s Subliminal Excess back in 2020, and now they’re back with a four-song EP. Like a few bands on 11PM Records, Subliminal Excess rides the line between early 80s-inspired hardcore and more modern sounds, mixing groovy, Sick of It All-esque parts that make you want to jump up and down (no pogo, jump up and down) with more straightforward bashing, wrapping it up in a raw and fuzzy recording. There’s a little metal in the mix too, including some whammy bar gymnastics that might make you think of a less crazy version of Concealed Blade. As someone who doesn’t enjoy the more polished end of NYHC-influenced music, it’s the best of both worlds for me, the groovy mid-paced parts sticking to your ribs but with the gritty sound and performance keeping it punk.
Enemic Interior: II 7” (Mendeku Diskak) If you have any interest in the world of underground oi! and post-oi! music, you should keep an eye on the Basque label Mendeku Diskak, which has been releasing some of the world’s most interesting music in that vein, much of which comes from the label’s home country of Spain. Case in point is the Catalan band Enemic Interior, whose second EP we have here. Like Home Front, Enemic Interior is great at tapping into the vein of simple, gratifying pop that runs through so much classic oi!. Of course many of their tracks have the broad choruses that make you want to sing along, but Enemic Interior’s secret weapon is their hooky guitars, which are draped in chorus and carry some of the melancholic drive of peak-era Leatherface. While tracks like “Les Ombres” and “La Llum” fall on the more melodic end of the spectrum, others like “Maquinària Veloç” gesture toward the more aggressive, “Never Surrender” end of the oi! continuum. And like everything on Mendeku Diskak, it also features beautifully designed, upmarket-feeling packaging. A standout record on a label brimming with excellent releases.