I'm back at you with another roundup of what's been on my turntable lately. This is a small list (it seems like fewer records come out at this time of year for whatever reason), but man are there some scorchers on it! In particular I've been really stoked on the return to the fold of no-bullshit USHC by bands like Dagger, Nosferatu, and Testa Dura... it's been a while since that style was in fashion, and all three of the bands really do a great job with the style.
Aside from that, I don't really have much to report. We're still here trying to weather the summer at Sorry State, packing up orders and listening to all of the hot new releases as we always do. As the summer winds down and everyone returns to work and school I hope we can give you some cool new stuff to listen to!
Dagger: Writhing in the Light of the Moon 7” (Lengua Armada) Debut EP from this young band out of Northwest Indiana. I’m not sure if my radar for new hardcore releases is slipping or if this band has just deliberately avoided the internet, but this EP is the first I heard of them and I’m downright blown away. Combining the brute force of SOA or early Agnostic Front with the complex playing and song structures from Koro, Dagger is pretty much exactly what I want to hear from a hardcore band. The production is also perfectly analog and old school, raw and in your face but also clear and powerful. It seems as though lately there is a new wave of young bands returning to records like the EPs from Negative Approach, Koro, Mecht Mensch, Youth Brigade (DC), and the like and attempting to do something similar. I’m thinking specifically of bands like Nosferatu and Testa Dura, but Dagger absolutely belong on that list as well, not only because they play a similar style but also because they rip just as hard. Highly recommended.
Note: I can't find a stream of this one anywhere online... you'll just have to trust me that it rips!
Stake: demo cassette (Vinyl Conflict) Debut 3-song demo (though at 11 minutes it’s pretty lengthy for a demo) from this Richmond, Virginia band. Chaz from the band Nervous Ticks is on vocals, and it’s good to hear him again because I always thought Nervous Ticks were terribly underrated, even though they never managed to convey how great their live show was on a recording. Additionally, their whole vibe of combining 50s rockabilly and raw black metal (no, I’m not joking) was just too weird for this world and had the effect of alienating people from both scenes, which in turn scored them major points with a much, much smaller audience of people like me who tend to get bored once anything starts to feel too familiar. Anyway, enough eulogizing the Ticks… this is a new thing, and it RULES! If you happened to check out the band Race Car that we were pushing hard a few months ago, Stake has a very similar setup with a manic-sounding, distorted drum machine powering some nervous, antsy, and densely layered punk rock. There are touches of Chaz’s rockabilly-informed guitar style in the riffing, but what really makes Stake stand out is the subtle sense of pop songcraft running through the whole thing, but reaching particular heights on the opening track, “Pray for Death.” It’s really hard to put my finger on what it is, but something about that song reminds me of the Chameleons or Bauhaus at their best, simultaneously dark, sombre, and strangely weightless and maybe even uplifting. All 3 tracks are really different from one another—“Planned Obsolescence” is like a robot version of manic, rockabilly-inspired Fall tracks like “Container Drivers,” while the epic closer “Always Down” stretches out and rides its heavy, almost Stooges-esque groove right into the abyss. I hear the band now has a full live lineup and is playing shows… I can’t wait to see them, but I also hope they manage not to lose the magic captured on these tracks, because it’s really special. Highly recommended.
Odio: Ancora 12” (Agipunk) Debut from this new-ish California band featuring Giacomo from Torso on drums. If you couldn’t tell from the Sugi artwork, Odio evince a strong predilection for Japanese hardcore, but they aren’t afraid to step outside of the established boxes for that genre. The singer has a very convincing Sakevi-esique growl, the production is huge a la Death Side or Bastard, and the guitarist occasionally does some pretty epic leads (though the style is a little more metallic and less melodic than Chelsea himself). However, a lot of Odio’s fast songs use a manic pogo beat rather than the d-beat / Motorhead rhythms a lot of Japanese bands relied on, and as a result a lot of Odio’s faster songs sound like Blazing Eye, but with bigger production and much more complex riffing. However, Ancora’s real surprises are on side two, where Odio gives us (among a handful more fast songs) a pair of darker numbers that sound like they’re more influenced by Amebix and Killing Joke than any Japanese hardcore that I can think of. These songs are totally killer, but even beyond how enjoyable they are in and of their own right, they give the LP a sense of balance and confirm that Odio is more than just a tribute band. I think a lot of people slept on Odio’s 7” because it was super limited and kind of expensive, but hopefully the same thing doesn’t happen with this LP because it is a legit scorcher.
False Figure: Cardinal Cross 7” (self-released) Debut EP from this San Francisco post-punk band. False Figure play in that big-guitar post-punk style that I associate with the Chameleons (particularly their less poppy and more brooding moments) as well as more recent bands like the Estranged and Lost Tribe. While I’m generally a fan of the poppier stuff in this vein, I think that False Figure hit a sweet spot, with rich production, propulsive rhythms, and atmosphere in spades. Honestly, this reminds me just as much of the Wipers circa Youth of America as it does the Chameleons or Bauhaus, and that’s a high compliment indeed. Only two songs, but it doesn’t feel too short. I’m not sure how many of you goth-rockers out there mess with 7”s, but this is a good one for sure.
Geros: Razor Dog 7” (Secret Mission) Second single from this Japanese band that plays in that familiar, distorted-yet-catchy style of bands like Teengerate and the Registrators. It seems like the market will never really get saturated with bands like this because so few bands can do it well, and you pretty much have to be Japanese for it to sound right. Anyway, Geros stick closely enough to the style that if you like the aforementioned groups (or similar ones like Louder) you’ll almost certainly like them, but they also have their own distinctive voice. The a-side here is the straightforward rocker with big riffs and big choruses, while the b-side is a little more melodic and 60s-inspired with its surf-y / spy movie guitar riff and nimble lead playing. I hope this band sticks around long enough to make a 12”, because I have no doubt it’ll be a real scorcher.
Lebenden Toten: At the Window 7” (self-released) Brand new limited, 1-song flexi from this long-running band, and while it’s been a while since I’ve checked in with LT I feel like it has a slightly different vibe than their previous releases. I remember LT being pretty much straight up total Confuse / Gai-style noise punk… sure, they’ve always been on the artsier end of that spectrum, but At the Window seems much more measured and deliberate than I remember them being. What’s particularly interesting is that not much has changed about their sound. The guitar still sounds like a dentist drill, the bass still carries the melody, and the vocals still punctuate everything with short, percussive bursts of sound, but rather than the music sounding wild and unhinged it now sounds measured, atmospheric, and downright creepy. It’s not really goth, but something else entirely, a melding of genres I don’t think that I’ve heard before. Maybe some of the best Deathcharge stuff is broadly in this vein, but the application of noise-punk production and dynamics to this style strikes me as really original and exciting. This has me very, very intrigued as to what the band’s upcoming full-length is going to be like, but regardless I have a feeling “At the Window” is going to be a track I return to often.
Rixe: Collection 12” (La Vida Es Un Mus) This pretty much does what it says on the tin, i.e. collects Rixe’s previous 3 7” onto one slab of 12” vinyl. There’s a new cover and a pretty sweet poster, but really the only question here is, “do Rixe’s 3 EPs work together as a full-length album?” Well, yes they do! I guess everything has been remastered to keep the levels in line with one another and whatnot, and it all sounds great to me. If you already have the 3 7”s I can’t see a ton of reason to pick this up, but if you’re not really a 7” person then it’s time to get on board with one of the very few modern oi! bands out there worth listening to.
Morbid Angel: Blessed Are the Sick 12" (Earache)
Terrorizer: World Downfall 12" (Earache)
False Figure: Cardinal Cross b/w Exhale 7" (self-released)
Dagger: Writhing in the Light of the Moon 7" (Lengua Armada)
Fatal: Soul Burning Still 12" (Hammerheart)
Warning: Watching from a Distance 12" (Svart)
Paradise Lost: Gothic 12" (Peaceville)
Rixe: Collection 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
The Fall: New Facts Emerge 10" (Cherry Red)
Haim: Something to Tell You 12" (Columbia)
Crow: The Crow 12" (Crowmaniax)
Serquet: demo cassette (Vinyl Conflict)
Stake: demo cassette (Vinyl Conflict)
Geros: Razor Dog 7" (Secret Mission)
Thou: Peasant 12" (Robotic Empire)
Odio: Ancora 12" (Agipunk)
World Burns to Death: Here a Dream Dies Every Day 12" (Analogue Violence)
Battery: For the Rejected by the Rejected 12" (Revelation)
Dicks: Hate the Police 7" (1234 Go!)
Zero Boys: Livin' in the 80s 7" (1234 Go!)
Sheer Mag: Compilation 12" (Wilsuns)
Sheer Mag: Need to Feel Your Love 12" (Wilsuns)
Career Suicide: Machine Response 12" (Deranged)
Agnostic Front: Victim in Pain 12" (Bridge 9)
Extreme Noise Terror: Phonophobia 12" (Agipunk)
X: Los Angeles 12" (Porterhouse)
Zounds: The Curse of Zounds 12" (Overground)
Cock Sparrer: Shock Troops 12" (Pirates Press)
Drive Like Jehu: S/T 12" (Headhunter)
Drive Like Jehu: Yank Crime 12" (Headhunter)
Kombat: In Death We Are All the Same 7" (Hysteria)
Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill 12" (Capitol)
Miles Davis: Bitches Brew 12" (Capitol)
Funkadelic: Maggot Brain 12" (Westbound)
Misfits: Collection 12" (Caroline)
Misfits: Collection II 12" (Caroline)
Misfits: Legacy of Brutality 12" (Caroline)
Misfits: Static Age 12" (Caroline)
Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon 12" (Pink Floyd)
Slayer: Reign in Blood 12" (American)
Slayer: Seasons in the Abyss 12" (American)
Slayer: South of Heaven 12" (American)
A Tribe Called Quest: Low End Theory 12" (Jive)
Velvet Underground: VU & Nico 12" (Vinyl Lovers)
Weezer: Pinkerton 12" (Geffen)
Zombies: Odyssey & Oracle 12" (Varese Vintage)
Black Sabbath: Sabotage 12" (Rhino)
Black Sabbath: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath 12" (Rhino)
Black Sabbath: S/T 12" (Rhino)
Black Sabbath: Paranoid 12" (Rhino)
Black Sabbath: Master of Reality 12" (Rhino)
The Stooges: Fun House 12" (Rhino)
Metallica: Kill 'em All 12" (Blackened)
Iron Maiden: The Number of the Beast 12" (Sanctuary)
Iron Maiden: S/T 12" (Sanctuary)
Iron Maiden: Killers 12" (Sanctuary)
Sunny Day Real Estate: Diary 12" (Sub Pop)
Gang of Four: Entertainment! 12" (Rhino)
Beach House: Depression Cherry 12" (Sub Pop)
David Bowie: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust 12" (Parlophone)
Motorhead; Iron Fist 12" (Sanctuary)
The Cure: Disintegration 12" (Rhino)
Metallica: Master of Puppets 12" (Blackened)
Institute: Subordination 12" (Sacred Bones)
Metallica: Ride the Lightning 12" (Blackened)