Featured Releases: May 27 2021
Fugitive Bubble: No Outside cassette (Impotent Fetus) We carried a tape from Fugitive Bubble a while back and now they’re back with another, also on the Impotent Fetus label, which is an imprint of the Stucco Label that focuses on left-of-center punk rather than straightforward hardcore. While Fugitive Bubble isn’t as weird as the Pilgrim Screw tape we wrote about a few weeks ago, it’s a long way from straightforward hardcore. I hear similarities to the quirkier end of early west coast punk… bands like the Deadbeats and Suburban Lawns. Fugitive Bubble’s rhythms are fast and angular, the vocalists yelp out Devo-inspired melodies, and while it feels defiantly left of center, it’s also catchy as hell. I don’t think it would be inaccurate to label No Outside egg punk, but Fugitive Bubble sounds less like they’re obsessed with the Coneheads and more like they have a healthy appreciation for the weird punk classics. Fugitive Bubble seems like they’re full of ideas and they’ve developed a unique and interesting voice with No Outside, so I hope we hear more from them… maybe even on vinyl next time?
Asocial Terror Fabrication: Discography cassette (Doomed to Extinction Records) Just like the title says, this cassette collects the entire discography from this Japanese crust / grind band who started in 2005 and, as far as I know, is still going today. I’m not sure I’d heard of Asocial Terror Fabrication before, but that’s not surprising given that I don’t follow the grind or modern metallic crust scenes closely. This tape is pretty cool, though. Assuming the releases appear here in chronological order, Asocial Terror Fabrication started as a straightforward Doom / E.N.T.-style metallic crust band. Their take on the style is straightforward, but they have that Japanese way of taking the most distinctive elements and dialing them all to maximum intensity. After a few tracks, though, Asocial Terror Fabrication incorporates grind elements into their sound (without abandoning the crust), and this extra variety takes things up a notch. Grind can be a dirty word in some circles, but the grind elements ATF employs are lifted almost verbatim from From Enslavement to Obliteration. Both the blast beat parts and the sludgier breakdowns are very different rhythmically than the driving crust parts, and the way ATF bounces between those grooves keeps this exciting through a pretty hefty runtime.
Sarin Reaper: demo cassette (Dirtbag Distro Tapes) Four tracks of raw, noisy, and nasty metallic punk from Kansas City. There are a lot of things I like about this tape. First, it’s just disgusting. It has a particular ugliness that sounds to me like a cross-breeding of G.I.S.M. and an old Finnish death metal demo. The recording is super raw and the mix is a little odd (with a heavy emphasis on bass and vocals), but this works with Sarin Reaper’s style, which incorporates elements of hardcore, death metal, and raw thrash / porto-black metal a la early Sodom or Bathory. While aspects of these four songs are metallic, Sarin Reaper feels like a punk band through and through… they don’t have the commercialized sound of a lot of metal bands, nor does it seem like they’re being self-consciously “kvlt.” They just sound like a bunch of freaks ripping it and not giving a fuck.
Hounds of War: Rabid March 7” flexi (Chaotic Uprising Productions) You might remember Hounds of War’s tape from last year (also on Chaotic Uprising), and now they’re back with a 3-song flexi. As before, Hounds of War invites comparisons with Vice Squad thanks to the double-tracked vocals, the tempos they play at, and the riffing style. Rather than sounding like a rip-off or an homage, though, Hounds of War takes the best parts of Vice Squad’s sound (i.e. the aforementioned elements) and makes substantial improvements. They tighten up the songwriting (all three songs come in under two minutes), the riffs are more interesting, and the metallic yet melodic guitar leads add some spice whenever they pop up. The production choices—both in terms of the sound of the record and the artwork and packaging—are of a piece with the rest of the Chaotic Uprisings catalog, so if you’ve been paying attention to the label’s other releases (which you should!), you know whether you’re feeling their precisely executed aesthetic. These three tracks feel like they’re over as soon as they start, but that’s OK because this has already stood up to repeated plays on my turntable.
Heavenly Blue: demo cassette (Sewercide Records) Sewercide Records brings us more underground music from Canada’s Maritimes region. Given its regional focus (and a sparsely populated region, at that), Sewercide’s catalog is marked by stylistic diversity and a list of members that overlaps heavily between projects, and that pattern holds with Heavenly Blue. Heavenly Blue features members of Booji Boys (who also released a record on Sewercide) and they’re inspired by the big riffs, catchy choruses, and party vibes of 60s garage rock. It’s not as retro sounding as something like the Ar-Kaics, though; they sound more like the 60s-inspired / retro end of the 90s garage revival, and if they’d been a band 30 years ago, they’d be a shoe-in for a record on Sympathy for the Record Industry or Crypt. The recording is raw and nasty, the singer growls as much as he sings, and the songs are catchy and fun. Budget rockers, garage turkeys, and total punkers can all find something to like in Heavenly Blue.
Donor zine Issue 1 + The Shits 7” flexi (Donor) When I write about records for Sorry State I focus on the music, sometimes mentioning whether the artwork feels stylistically consonant or dissonant with the sound. I also try to mention when a release’s physical packaging is noteworthy since we love and care about physical media here. Much of the time, a release’s packaging can feel like an afterthought, at best providing appropriate window dressing for sounds that have received far more creative energy. This package, though, throws that dynamic on its head. If you look at this as an elaborately packaged one song flexi, it seems pretty silly. The Shits’ Brainbombs-esque track here is cool, but the zine that houses and accompanies the flexi feels much more labored over. It’s a 16-page, A4-sized zine that’s printed full bleed and looks stunning. While the zine incorporates live shots of the band, flyers for their gigs, and lyrics and artwork for the accompanying track, it devotes more space to collages and poetry (lyrics?) whose connection to the Shits (whose name, not coincidentally, isn’t even on the cover) is unclear. The zine is beautiful, and the song is cool, but what sticks with me here is the inventiveness of the entire concept.
Variolación: Frenetica 7 Tracks cassette (self-released) The description the band gave me along with this record says it all: “Very rudimentary hardcore, not reinventing the wheel, but making it roll at an alarming pace.” Variolación takes inspiration from Discharge’s riffing and drumming styles, but brings their own sense of passion to the style, with the primitive execution in the playing and recording bringing to mind the South American hardcore records that description also references. It sounds like something you’d hear on an old BCT tape, and as with those recordings, you’ll need to listen past the production if you want to let this get its hooks in you. If you like your hardcore raw and primitive, though, this is for you. Oh, and as far as I know the band hasn’t posted this recording to the internet, so you’ll have to jump in at the deep end if you’re curious.
Various: Molde Punx Go Marching Out: 1980-1983 12” (Diger Distro) Molde Punx was a tape compilation that came out in Norway in 1983, and here that rare document gets reshaped as a beautifully packaged double LP. Molde Punx captures the prehistory of the Norwegian hardcore scene, and while only two of the bands that appear here made records (Bannlyst and Anfall), according to the hype sticker, members of these bands eventually played in more widely known (though, in America, not by much) Norwegian hardcore bands like Kafka Prosess, Svart Framtid, and So Much Hate. Most of the bands on Molde Punx, though, count the compilation as their only formal release. All the groups here are punk, but there’s a wide range of styles, from nervy art punk to blistering hardcore and just about everything in between (or at least everything that existed at the time). As someone who appreciates the full stylistic spectrum of 70s and 80s punk and loves the minutiae of small regional scenes like the one documented here, I am fascinated by the whole thing and don’t feel compelled to skip a single track. Along with the wealth of music, the full-color, LP-sized booklet compiles photos, flyers, and other visual ephemera from the period, and it’s a joy to pore over even though I can’t read Norwegian at all. The execution is on the level of well-regarded reissue labels like Numero Group and Radio Raheem, and with a ton of killer bands you can’t hear anywhere else, this is an essential grip for me.