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Featured Releases - November 4 2021

DYE: Rules cassette (Dirtbag Distro) Rules is the second cassette from this band from Kansas City, Missouri, and with fourteen tracks of blistering US-style hardcore, it feels more like a cassette full-length than a demo. DYE’s sound is raw and drenched in snot… too fast, dangerous, and nihilistic to be called anything but hardcore, yet avoiding the tough-guy attitudes and reliance on musical cliche that marks so much hardcore. While the sound is raw, the playing is super locked in, with sudden and precise rhythmic shifts that remind me of powerful players like Damaged-era Black Flag or early Poison Idea. Pick Your King and Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes are the closest reference points for Rules, particularly the way it offers you a choice between appreciating the sophistication and precision of the music or diving into the dark and unhinged world articulated by the lyrics and vocals. Classic USHC heads should make sure not to skip this one.

R.O.B.O.: Contaminas 7” (Discos Mecago En Dios) We’ve been following Madrid, Spain’s R.O.B.O. for years here at Sorry State. They’re about to release their third album, but in the meantime, they dropped this four-track EP to whet our appetite. According to the label, 2 of these songs will be re-recorded for the full-length, while the other two will remain exclusive to this release. If you haven’t heard R.O.B.O., they play snappy, upbeat punk rock that borders on hardcore. While the songs are catchy, they’re constructed on a hardcore template, with two of these tracks clocking in under a minute and the other two barely any longer, all of them buzzing along at an energetic clip that never gets so fast the melody gets lost. And the melodies are great, reminding me of the Marked Men or Radioactivity, but shorter, faster, and leaner. With only four minutes of music, this EP packs a lot in a small space and has me suitably curious about the coming album.

Various: Flip: Sorry OST 12” (Euro Import) Part of me wonders how niche the demographic is for a skate video soundtrack. That said, having been heavily into skateboarding myself, Flip: Sorry stands out as one of the most memorable and iconic videos from the 00s era. It’s hard to forget Johnny Rotten’s role as master of ceremonies, takin’ the piss as he introduces each skater’s segment. In my mind, the idea to detach the music from the iconic visual of the Flip team destroying handrails is an interesting concept. The back cover of this LP doesn’t mention any musical artists. Instead, the track listing shows only the name of each skater and the title of the song featured during their clip. While there are some famous artists whose notoriety is not linked to Flip Skateboards, there are a few songs that seem deservedly contextualized as part of this skate video. I’m sure there are die-hard Placebo fans out there, but I have a hard time associating “Every You, Every Me” with anything but Mark Appleyard skating. A couple of my favorite skaters like Geoff Rowley and Ali Boulala both tear it up to Gray Matter songs. For a change of pace, Rune Glifberg skates vert to a cold, electronic and more era-appropriate number from Prodigy. Looking back, if the Flip company could get permission for their usage of all these songs, then they locked down an impressive roster of heavy hitters, which I would prefer to most Hollywood movie soundtracks. I’d almost forgotten the video features legendary classics from The Stooges and The Velvet Underground. One of the most memorable scenes from the video is the animated recreation of Arto Saari’s epic bail on a handrail, which apparently almost killed him. That chilling moment is followed by back-to-back bangers from Bowie. Sure, you’ll have to imagine the sound of spinning skateboard wheels while spinning this yellow splatter vinyl, but at least you get a diverse collection of hits on this LP. Plus, you get a bonus sheet of stickers to plaster all over your skate deck! …or more realistically, your turntable.

Various: Between the Coasts cassette (No Label) Between the Coasts is the first release on the new Milwaukee label No Label, and it’s a compilation of contemporary midwest hardcore and punk (well, mostly midwest… LA’s Rolex appear for no apparent reason, other than that they rip). The vibe reminds me of 80s cassette-only compilations like Charred Remains or Barefoot and Pregnant, which were heavy on content and packaged with the aesthetic sensibility of a DIY hardcore demo tape. There are a handful of names I know—Slogan Boy, Big Laugh, and Deodorant among them—and a bunch that are new to me. None of the tracks are duds in my book, but the standouts include Eggnort’s knotty hardcore, Slogan Boy’s vicious, Poison Idea-influenced USHC, and Deodorant’s Minutemen vibes. With twelve tracks for only four bucks, you can’t go wrong with this one, so get hip to what’s happening in flyover country.

Kohti Tuhoa: Väkivalta 7” (La Vida Es Un Mus) Helsinki band Kohti Tuhoa has cemented themselves as mainstays of Finnish hardcore. Since their emergence onto the scene 7 or 8 years ago, the band’s discography boasts 3 full-length LPs and a couple of 7”s. Their self-titled first release on Svart Records presented listeners with 6 blazing tracks of noisy, chaotic raw punk. Even from the beginning, it was clear the band was hellbent on dismantling any notion of formula. Over the course of their 3 LPs, you can hear Kohti Tuhoa expand their sound and bring a fresh sonic identity with each release. I remember hearing the Elä Totuudesta EP from last year and thinking it was their strongest release. Their songwriting seemed to move in a more tuneful direction, but Elä Totuudesta only hinted at the experimentation on their brand new EP Väkivaltaa. The opening track “Suden Hetki” is a minute-long instrumental that functions like a brooding, ambient mood piece to set the tone. Then we launch into “Häpeä,” which is unique to any song Kohti Tuhoa has ever released. Drawing more inspiration from anarcho and post-punk, the propulsive, driving drum beat and cold, melodic sensibility recalls early Killing Joke. In direct contrast, the B-side serves up 3 tracks of explosive and chaotic hardcore—but not chaotic like the noisy, crusty sound of their previous releases. The band seems to have broken down creative barriers, throwing ideas against the wall and, as a result, they’ve put together a batch of inventive and well-orchestrated crushers that feel unusual and exciting. Kohti Tuhoa has found a killer stride with Väkivaltaa, and I’m itching to hear an LP’s worth of material heading in this new direction.

Malevolence: Apparitions 12” (Supreme Echo Records) Between this and the Eve of Darkness book I wrote about last week, I’ve been immersed in Canadian metal for the past couple of weeks and, I must say, I’m not mad about it. While Eve of Darkness focused on Toronto-area metal from the 80s, Malevolence was from the west coast (Victoria, BC) and was mostly active during the 90s. The material collected on Apparitions originally came out as two cassette-only releases in 1992. While these releases are referred to as “demos,” they’re very well recorded and polished, standing toe to toe with the highest-profile thrash releases of the late 80s. The material on Malevolence was recorded during one session, with the two cassettes devoted to the band’s newest material (Apparitions) and re-recordings of songs from the previous lineup (Race to Infinity).I’d describe all the tracks here as heavy thrash with a technical bent. They remind me of Forbidden in that Malevolence’s technical proficiency set them apart from the thrashing masses, yet they keep the focus on speed and heaviness and never descend into prog (an accusation you could level at some technical thrash bands). Malevolence could have lit up the world if these recordings came out in 1986 or maybe even 1988, but when I listen to Apparitions with my 1992 ears, it’s easy to see why Malevolence didn’t gain more traction. By 1992 (a year after Nevermind came out), thrash was in its death throes as a genre, and beyond that, the public’s taste in rock music was trending toward the more visceral, even primitive… the more commercial end of metal got consumed by grunge, while the extreme end of metal moved toward death and black metal. Removing my 1992 ears, though, in 2021, Apparitions is just a ripping, accomplished album that anyone into that late 80s thrash sound will enjoy. Further, like their recent Neos reissue, Supreme Echo rounds out the cool artwork with an LP-sized, full-color booklet where drummer Loran Werrun tells the story behind these sessions, the picture rounded out with heaps of photos and flyers.

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