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Featured Releases: September 22, 2022

Oog Bogo: The Beat Sessions cassette (Shout Recordings) The famed Beat Sessions series returns from a too-long absence with this set from LA punk band Oog Bogo. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Beat Sessions, they’re sort of like a punk rock version of the Peel Sessions. Engineer / producer / mastermind Mike Kriebel brings his favorite bands into his studio for a quick-and-dirty one-day recording session, and like the original Peel Sessions, the Beat Sessions are a magical combination of off-the-cuff performances and high fidelity acoustics, since Mike’s recordings are often much stronger than what these bands get on their own. Past Beat Sessions participants include underground heavyweights like Impalers, S.H.I.T., Uranium Club, and Institute. Oog Bogo might be less familiar than those bands to Sorry State’s readers. I hadn’t heard of them before this release, as they seem to exist in a world of lo-fi west coast garage-punk that is just outside of my radar screen’s range. It’s my loss, though, because I’ve enjoyed checking out their earlier recordings. While Oog Bogo’s earlier records vary in fidelity (their early EPs are lo-fi, their full-length less so), they’re all marked by a meticulous attention to texture, with most tracks weaving a range of different guitar and synth sounds into a rich sonic tapestry. The Beat Sessions, however, captures a different side of Oog Bogo, recording the group’s live lineup after tightening up these new arrangements on tour. Most songs revolve around two beefy-sounding guitars (one of which occasionally gets swapped out for a synth) and the rhythm section does what you need to do to catch the attention of the would-be fans who are drinking at the bar and smoking outside… i.e. they play hard and fast. Oog Bogo sounds like a punk band here, in the mold of high-energy groups like the Carbonas, the Dickies, Jay Reatard, the Marked Men… groups that wield pop songcraft like a sledgehammer. Mike Kriebel’s clear and powerful recording here only adds to the weightiness. I’m sure Oog Bogo’s existing fans will love these punked-up takes, and those of us who hadn’t heard their music yet get a punk-friendly entry point that’ll get us reaching for the rest of their discography.

Totalitär: Vi Ar Eliten 12” (Prank Records) My favorite Totalitär record tends to be the one I’m listening to at the moment, but the band’s final album, 2007’s Vi Ar Eliten, holds a special place in my heart. It’s the first — really, the only—Totalitär record I got to digest as it came out. While Totalitär was well known in 2007, Vi Ar Eliten still felt like a bit of a secret. Most bands who I thought of as Totalitär’s at the time (bands like Wolfbrigade, Victims, and Skitsystem) were playing more polished and/or metallic music, but beneath the head-scratching cover art was perhaps Totalitär’s best music. First of all, the production on Vi Ar Eliten is incredible… the drums are pummeling, the tones on everything else are biting yet full and present, and the mix is just perfect, raw and ripping yet crystal clear. It’s what a hardcore record should sound like to me. Wrapped in that production are a heap of tracks that find Totalitär doing their usual thing with the usual great results: a mix of full-throttle rippers, super catchy mid-paced songs, in-between songs like “En Av Dom Som Dom Skämtar Om” that are the best of both worlds, and a couple of unexpected moments like the rocked-out intro to “Overtid, Overflöd Mot För Tidig Död.” One thing that seems unique to me about Vi Ar Eliten, though, is how much lead guitar we hear. At least half the tracks find the guitarist Lanchy taking center stage, sometimes during the traditional solo section (oh man, the Buzzcocks-inspired two-note solo on “Nej Vi Ska Inte Ha Nåt…” FUCK!), and sometimes at unexpected moments, like the weird little lead break in the title track that starts the record, a moment that always make the hair on my neck stand up. There’s just so much to love with Vi Ar Eliten, and even after listening to it for 15 years it’s nowhere near getting stale. I’m pleased Prank has brought it back into print, and as usual they’ve done an incredible job, with meticulous detail to the record’s visual and sonic presentation and some subtle upgrades that still feel true to the original. This is one of those records that I just don’t want to imagine life without.

Lumpen: Corrupción 12” (Discos Enfermos) Lumpaen released their first 7” a couple of years ago (and we still have copies in stock!), and now Spain’s Discos Enfermos is back with a 12” from these Colombian punks based in Barcelona. As with the Primer Regimen EP we wrote about last week, Corrupción is marked by that unique intensity that seems to be a hallmark of contemporary Colombian punk… the vocals are just shredded, the singer forcing each breath out of their lungs like it’s a projectile meant to kill their mortal enemy. The label’s description tags Lumpen as UK82 in style (and the band’s photo on Discogs shows them wearing t-shirts of bands like Abrasive Wheels and One Way System), but I hear a lot more than that on Corrupción. The title track has a denser, more sophisticated hardcore punk sound that reminds me of Nog Watt in the way it balances ferocity with subtle hooks, while “Cicatrices” leans into the mid-paced, fist-pumping pogo that today’s punks love. In a move that also recalls Primer Regimen, “Anti-Patria” simmers in tension with a stalking anarcho feel, which erupts into “Represión,” the fastest and gnarliest song on the record. Lumpen finishes up with an Ultra Violent cover adapted to their own language, and I’m ready for another spin of this short but gripping 12”.

Freak Genes: Hologram 12” (Feel It Records) Five albums in and when I drop the needle on a new Freak Genes record I still don’t know what to expect, beyond a bunch of synthesizers and ambitious, wide-ranging songwriting. Hologram feels even more eclectic than their previous records, touching base on styles Freak Genes has dabbled in before (like the Jay Reatard-esque “Strange Charm” and “Spiderweb,” or the creepy, Screamers-ish “DNA”), but continuing to push at the edges of their sound. “New Crime” is an upbeat dance track with super catchy synth arpeggios, “Swimmers” is a moody and spacey meditation a la 154-era Wire, and tracks like “Hologram” and “Among the Drain” take surprising left turns, both of them wandering off into art rock land in their latter sections. While a more consistent approach might make it easier for listeners to latch on to Freak Genes, those of you who like following the picaresque musical adventures of folks like Jake Roberts of Alien Nose Job, John Dwyer of the Oh Sees, and Ty Segall will enjoy keeping tabs on Freak Genes’ continuing musical adventures.

Blessure: Ekaitza / Sabaté 7” (Discos Enfermos) This two-song single is the debut stand-alone release (they had a previous split 7” and appeared on some compilations) from this punk / oi! band from Basque Country, and it is a scorcher. It’s a bold move putting out a two-song punk single, but what Blessure loses in quantity they deliver in quality. The a-side, “Ekaitza,” is a great fucking song. Sung in the Basque language, its gritty sound and rudimentary instrumentation sound like something from the Chaos En France compilation, but the song’s structure is pure pop, with a simple but effective guitar hook leading the way to an anthemic chorus. The vocalist is spectacular too, not just carrying a tune but doing it with a unique timbre that makes Blessure sound unlike anyone else. The b-side, “Sabaté,” is a straightforward basher in the Blitz mold with terrace chant backing vocals that make it sound more prototypically oi! Like a great punk single should, this one keeps me flipping the record while I dream about how Blessure might expand on these ideas for an EP or (fingers crossed) a full-length.

The Prize: Wrong Side of Town 7” (Anti Fade Records) This debut 4-song EP from Melbourne, Australia’s The Prize is worth ringing the “power-pop banger” alarm bell for. While Sorry State is known for our focus on hardcore, I’d like to think we know a killer power-pop band, song, or record when we come across one. Hopefully our track record speaks for itself, as we’ve released records by the Number Ones and the Love Triangle on our label and sung the praises of groups like Romero and Midnite Snaxxx in the newsletter. Anyway, the Prize is a group I can get behind. The key thing you need in a power-pop band is hooks (that’s the pop part), and the Prize has ‘em in spades. All four tracks on Wrong Side of Town (three originals and an Incredible Kidda Band cover) are totally hum-able, the title track in particular an earworm that you won’t be able to dislodge even if you want to. The Prize also has the power part down, with energetic performances (particularly on the Ramones-y “Don’t Know You”) and big lead guitar hooks that are just as infectious as the vocal melodies. With all five band members sharing vocal duties, the Prize’s dynamic arrangements keep your ears alert, but everything hangs on those fantastic hooks. A killer EP.

Featured Releases: September 15, 2022

Gefyr: S/T 12” (Flyktsoda Records) Usman and Jeff both chose this Gefyr record as their staff pick last week, and given their expertise, there isn’t much I can add to the conversation. As Jeff and Usman, Gefyr hails from the same Swedish town as Totalitär and has snatched more than a couple of tricks from that band’s well-thumbed playbook. There are a lot of bands out there who walk in Totalitär’s footsteps, but (again, as Usman said), Gefyr’s capability with a range of different d-beat grooves really sets them off from the pack. They can go to ripping fast Shitlickers-inspired shit to a groovier, driving d-beat to an almost rocked-out part, which keeps my ears perked up for the duration of this LP. Throughout the turbulence, the riffing stays dense and inventive and the vocals venomous. If you consider yourself a Swedish hardcore head, you’ll want to check out this record.

Arma X: Violento Ritual 12” (Quality Control HQ) Violento Ritual is the debut vinyl release from this Spanish straight edge hardcore band. I’ll admit, the word “beatdown” in the label’s description was a red flag for me… I don’t think beating people down is cool, and I’m not generally interested in music that serves as the soundtrack for beating anyone down. However, if I put that out of my mind and just listen to Violent Ritual, I have to admit I like it. While my personal tastes have always leaned away from the heavier end of hardcore, I admit a fondness for Victory Records-era Integrity… I played those records a lot in the 90s, particularly Humanity Is the Devil, and it’s clear that Arma X takes a lot of influence from them, accentuating and amplifying many of the things I find distinctive and likable about those records. While Arma X’s mid-paced, Cro-Mags-influenced riffs are solid, I think the band’s real strengths are the vocals (which sound gruff and punk… they wouldn’t be out of place in a raw punk band) and the lead guitars. Arma X’s lead guitarist avoids the music school scales you hear on so many metal-influenced records in favor of unhinged whammy bar antics that dart across the songs’ rhythmic and melodic foundations with an avant-garde flair. It’s a great counterbalance to the rest of the band’s locked-in grooves, and the tension this dynamic generates is enough to interest even a wimp like me.

Gehenna: Negative Hardcore 12” (Iron Lung Records) Negative Hardcore is the latest album from long-running (they started in 1993!) metallic hardcore band Gehenna. Gehenna has long been associated with the “Holy Terror” scene, i.e. bands who look to Integrity for their influences, both musical (smashing together Slayer and the Cro-Mags) and philosophical (a kind of apocalyptic misanthropy). While lots of bands who claim the Holy Terror tag are influenced by Integrity, Gehenna are more Integrity’s contemporaries, and while there are moments on Negative Hardcore that will remind you of Integrity (the title track could be from Humanity Is the Devil), it seems like Gehenna is doing their own thing rather than just copying someone else’s. And Gehenna’s thing is dark, menacing in a way that similar records (like, for instance, the Arma X record I wrote about above) aren’t. Gehenna is also somewhat unique among this Holy Terror cadre in that they incorporate black metal influences into their sound, which comes across as natural, the blastbeats and tremolo picking only adding to that air of darkness and negativity that Gehenna cultivates. Like everything Iron Lung Records puts out, it’s smart, adventurous, and well worth a listen if those are the things you value in extreme music.

Primer Regimen: 1983 7” (Discos Enfermos) Colombia’s Primer Regimen brings us a new 5-song EP, and while their earlier releases were excellent, 1983 both dials in and expands their sound, arriving at something that’s just as intense but more unique. If you come to 1983 looking for that trademark passion and intensity you hear in so much contemporary Colombian punk, you’ll be pleased to know that this record is drenched in it… it’s raw, primal, and authentic in a way that so many bands have trouble capturing on tape. However, Primer Regimen augments that intensity with a refined stylistic approach here. Primer Regimen has two basic modes on 1983: a churning, tom-heavy anarcho mode that reminds me of Killing Joke or early Amebix (i.e. when Amebix was at their most Killing Joke-ish) and a sprightlier UK82 mode. These two approaches work together to build and release tension throughout the record. It’s particularly effective on the last two tracks, where the slow burn of “Plegaria” erupts into the energetic “Parásitos,” which itself climaxes with an unexpectedly melodic guitar riff in the chorus. A really excellent record.

Hysteric Polemix: Songs for the Solstice cassette (Roach Leg Records) After a demo tape last year (also on Roach Leg Records), New York’s Hysteric Polemix is back with four new tracks. I’d peg Hysteric Polemix’s sound on the more melodic end of anarcho punk a la Zounds, Honey Bane, and the more melodic second album by Dirt. The music is straightforward and catchy with bright-sounding melodies led by a bubbly bass, while the vocals do that rapid-fire, million words per verse thing I love in anarcho punk. Portland’s Rubble is another good reference point for Hysteric Polemix’s sound, particularly the way they lean into the pop elements on a track like “Fortaleza De São Miguel,” which has an almost 77 punk feel. The lyrics are also a cut above, avoiding less obvious anarcho punk topics in favor of subtler philosophical introspection.

War Effort: self-titled cassette (self-released) Demo cassette from this Chicago band featuring a bunch of familiar names from that city’s fertile DIY hardcore scene. According to the band, War Effort started as an experiment in writing and recording a hardcore EP in one day. I’m not sure if this cassette is that session, a refined version of it, or something else, but regardless it’s excellent. As you might expect, it has a loose and off-the-cuff feel, the riffing straightforward but not boring and the playing intricate and locked in for something that was conceived so quickly. Plenty of great music comes from refining ideas, but sometimes you get the best results by just finding the right headspace and letting rip, which is what sounds like happened here. Fans of Discharge’s Swedish heirs will love everything about this, as will those of you who have worn out your Bloodkrow Butcher recordings. Ripping shit.

Featured Release Roundup: September 8, 2022

Final Conflict: 1985 demo cassette (No Idols Records) Final Conflict’s 1985 demo cassette is back in print on its original format (albeit with expanded packaging) on No Idols Records. Longtime fans of Final Conflict (of which I am one) will already be familiar with this material, as it’s been reissued many times already, both as bonus tracks appended to FC’s seminal first album Ashes to Ashes, and as a stand-alone release by 540 Records in 2013. While that might seem like overkill for a demo, particularly since most of the songs were rerecorded for Ashes to Ashes, this tape is a seminal document. Without the crunchier, cleaner, and more metallic production of Ashes to Ashes, classic tracks like “Apocalypse Now,” “One Answer,” and “What Kind of Future” burn with a different energy, placing more emphasis on Ron Martinez’s catchy vocals and giving the entire affair more of a peace punk feel. Even as someone who loves Ashes to Ashes, I feel strongly that both the demo and the album are essential. Besides strong sound (there are some crummy rips of this tape out there), it’s cool to see the tape in its iconic original packaging. No Idols has also placed the tape and j-card in a hand-stamped manilla envelope that also contains reproductions of flyers and the original lyric sheet. If you’ve already bought these songs one time (or even more) that might not be enough to sell you, but there’s no denying this is a cool package that feels like a love letter to this seminal recording.

Infandus: Beneath the Rising Moon cassette (self-released) Beneath the Rising Moon is the second tape from this New York City death metal band, following their excellent Lithium-6 tape from last year. Featuring members from After and Extended Hell, Infandus’s straightforward death metal will appeal to punks although there isn’t much of a recognizable punk influence in their music. I imagine Bolt Thrower must be a big influence on Infandus, as they have a similar songwriting style that’s not too stripped down but far from technical, building dynamic and complex songs around a deep bag of tricks from infernal riffing to crushing heaviness to hint-of-melody guitar leads and back. The drummer knows exactly when to drop in those crushing double bass rolls, which always make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. As usual, Sasha Stroud’s heavy and clear production job captures the band’s power, steering well clear of the over-processed sounds I hear on too many metal records. Consequently, Beneath the Rising Moon sounds like a killer death metal band ripping it up right in front of you… what more could you want?

Sub Space: I Walk the Devil 12” (Vanilla Box Records) I Walk the Devil caught my eye with its sick artwork: a spooky illustration of the devil and a skeleton doing some kinky shit against a shocking turquoise background that reminds me of an 80s hardcore punk record like the Zero Boys’ Vicious Circle. Stylistically, the six hardcore punk tracks here line up with what I expected based on the illustration: a barrage of pounding pogo beats, sneering vocals that ping-pong between Spanish and English, and riffs that sound dark and creepy but still catchy. This would be more than enough to stand alongside modern pogo-mosh bands like Bib or Gag, but the guitarist throws in interesting wrinkles by sneaking in hard rock riffing a la Fu Manchu on tracks like “I Walk the Devil” and “Wait and See.” It’s not full-on party rock or anything, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sub Space’s guitarist sporting a battered Annihilation Time tee on stage. While these six tracks are brief, it’s more than enough time for Sub Space to get the pit going.

Paranoid: Tatari 7” (Paranoid Northern Discs) Tatari originally appeared as a companion piece to Paranoid’s 2021 digital-only album Cursed, pressed as a gift for people who bought the digital version of the album through Bandcamp. That version sold out quickly, and I’m glad Paranoid has seen fit to make a small repress that’s more widely available. While neither of Tatari’s two tracks appear on Cursed, stylistically these songs are of a piece with that album. Less frenetic than Paranoid’s noisy earlier work, these tracks ride heavy, locked-in d-beat grooves a la later-period Anti-Cimex, with hoarse yet snotty vocals that make me think of Venom (but without the goofy / cartoonish element). Paranoid are pros, so it’s unsurprising that the songs are dynamic, “Senka” cresting with a melodic lead guitar riff that evokes the wind whipping through an isolated fjord. Paranoid has always released some of their best songs on EPs, none of which stick around too long, so grab a copy of Tatari while you still can.

Terminal Addiction: EPs 2020-2021 12” (Not for the Weak Records) Not for the Weak brings us this LP collecting two cassette EPs from Terminal Addiction, who come from the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod, about 400km east of Moscow. While I think it’s interesting that Terminal Addiction is from Russia, they’re not interesting just because of where they’re from… they are a perfect fit for Not for the Weak’s growing roster, sitting comfortably next to explosive hardcore bands like Reckoning Force and Axe Rash. Like those bands, Terminal Addiction comes from the Herätys school of hardcore, playing catchy, Totalitär-influenced riffs with the speed, precision, and power of early Poison Idea. The production is forceful (particularly on their 2021 EP, which appears as the first tour tracks on this release), with the perfect combination of crack to the high end (the snare propels you through these songs) and heaviness in the lower frequencies. And it turns out that Russian, like Finnish, is a great language for angry hardcore, its elongated vowels the perfect vehicle for a rabid snarl. This one ticks all the boxes, and if you have an ear for this vein of USHC-influenced mangel, it’s not one to miss.

Slicks: Total Filth Collection 12” (General Speech Records) General Speech Records brings us this collection from 90s Japanese punk band Slicks, the a-side culled from their 1992 debut Filth Mind Clever and the b-side from their follow-up, 1994’s Lad CM, neither of which ever appeared on vinyl. Slicks are from Hakata, on the island of Kyushu in Japan, and you might be familiar with that region’s rich tradition of punk with bands like the Swankys, Gai, and Confuse. Originally released on the Swankys’ label Kings World Records, Slicks have a similar Sex Pistols-influenced aesthetic to the Swankys, but their music reminds me more of high-energy 90s Japanese garage bands like Teengenerate and the Registrators, both of whom were Slicks’ contemporaries. When these records came out, I’m sure people thought of them as being steeped in 70s punk, but to 2022 ears it sounds very 90s, particularly the crisp and full-sounding production. It’s far from slick, but it’s professional in a way we don’t hear often in our modern era of home recordings and cheap DIY studios. While the fact that nothing on Total Filth Collection qualifies as hardcore might disappoint the Confuse(d) Gai(s) out there (note: that joke is copyright 2010 Nick Goode), lovers of 90s budget rock will eat this up… the songs are catchy, dynamic, and full of all the grit and energy you would want.

Featured Releases: September 1, 2022

Rashōmon: Nin-Gen 12” (Iron Lung Records) It’s been four years since Rashōmon graced us with their last record, and I’m glad to have them back. Rashōmon has always taken obvious cues from classic Japanese hardcore, but they’ve developed their own take on the sound, combining the brute force pummeling of bands like Warhead and Nightmare with Death Side’s musicality. I’m always skeptical when people say something sounds like Death Side, because usually what they mean is there is epic, Iron Maiden-esque lead guitar all over it, but not so with Rashōmon. While they have occasional leads, they’re quirkier and more interesting than your typical heavy metal flash. See, for instance, the creepy, chromatic-sounding guitar lead near the beginning of the second track. More than Death Side, though, Rashōmon reminds me of the lesser-appreciated band Warhead, particularly in their sneering vocal style and the dense technicality of their songwriting and arrangements. As with Warhead, Rashōmon can sound overwhelming at first, but closer listens reveal each song is rich with interesting musical detail. And since this brisk EP only clocks in at around 10 minutes, there’s plenty of time in your day to give it the multiple spins it deserves.

Self-Inflict: S/T 7” (Not for the Weak Records) Virginia’s Not for the Weak Records brings us another blast of powerful hardcore from their healthy in-house stable of bands based in the Norfolk / Virginia Beach area. Four of these songs from Self-Inflict came out on a tape back in 2020, but when NFTW decided the vinyl treatment was in order, the band went back into the studio and recorded two additional tracks. I wish more bands and labels were so thoughtful when reissuing previously released material! If you’re hip to Not for the Weak, Self-Inflict will be just as essential as other bands on the label like Reckoning Force and Lethal Means, though Self-Inflict has their own identity. Clearly taking inspiration from Out Cold’s no-nonsense style, these songs also remind me of more early 80s-influenced bands from the post-youth crew east coast hardcore scene, particularly Striking Distance. It would be a strong meat and potatoes meal, but the virtuoso drumming gives Self-Inflict a distinctive flavor, squeezing an impressive array of catchy fills and change-ups into the tiny crevices between the relentless jackhammering of the kick and snare. Check out the first few seconds of “Get In Line” (one of the two new tracks and the best one on the EP) for a taste of what I’m talking about. Fans of no-frills hardcore punk, don’t let this one slip past you.

Phantasia: Ghost Stories 12” (Beach Impediment Records) Beach Impediment brings us the debut from this New York City band. I had no idea what to expect from Phantasia going in, and they caught my ear right away with their big melodies and unique atmosphere. Ghost Stories sounds to me like something out of the UK in the early 80s, its unstable mix of gloom and vivid color recalling early records by the Smiths, Modern English, and the most pop moments of the Cure. As with those bands, Phantasia is soaked in post-industrial soot and grime, but you can feel the 60s explosion of color deep below the surface, giving an optimistic armature to songs like “All the Flowers” and the instantly memorable closing track, “Leftoveryou.” I love when dourness is spiked with color and energy, and tracks like “Fate of the Martyr” hit that note perfectly, the upbeat, Motown-inflected rhythms propelling the murk similarly to early Smiths songs like “This Charming Man” and “Handsome Devil.” While you’ll see people throw around genre tags like “post-punk” and “death rock” in relation to Phantasia, I think there’s something a lot more interesting and unique going on with Ghost Stories.

Black Dog: demo cassette (Roach Leg Records) Roach Leg Records brings us the demo cassette from this band out of Halifax, Canada that features players from other notable bands from that region like Zygome and Fragment. Like a lot of bands Roach Leg has put out, Black Dog worships at Disclose’s no-fi altar, building their songs on the same template of bastardized Discharge riffs, drumbeats, and… well, everything. As with most bands of this ilk, the standard format puts the focus on what’s original, and for me that’s Black Dog’s bizarre guitar sound. It’s low and evil, not recalling any other guitarist’s sound so much as the noise Windows 95 would make when it would lock up from running too many programs. It’s a fitting tone for a band seeking to evoke horror, dread, and helplessness in their music. Black Dog’s demo isn’t for the d-beat dabblers, but as with everything on Roach Leg, there’s something compelling here for those with an ear for it.

Tetanus: II cassette (Judgement Tapes) You may remember Charlotte, North Carolina’s Tetanus from their demo tape on Sorry State. When I heard there were teenage kids in my state covering the Mentally Ill, I knew I had to get in on the action, but with II, Tetanus is strikes out on their own, releasing it on guitarist Todd’s Judgement Tapes label. While their demo was bathed in sheets of noise, II is more refined, with a clearer recording that better captures the band’s unique rhythms and strong use of noisy textures, without losing the unhinged energy that comes across in their live show and on that first tape. Everything is there on the first track, “Falling,” an artsy flail that brings to mind early Tar Babies or Meat Puppets. “Borderline” is the only letup, a classic hardcore dirge (with a fast part in the middle) that cakes its nightmare riff in feedback and fuzz. Highly recommended for anyone who likes their hardcore fast, loose, and wild.

 Crna Žuč: S/T cassette (Doom Town Records) Crna Žuč is a solo project from Dragana, vocalist of the Belgrade hardcore band Apsurd. I am a huge fan of Apsurd’s 12” on Doom Town Records, which captured some of the unique mixture of gloom and grit that defined Yugoslavian punk in the 80s. While Crna Žuč is less hardcore-oriented than Apsurd, those elements that make Apsurd stand out are still present, even amplified in many respects. I’d describe Crna Žuč’s sound as gloomy punk or death rock, but what I’m pulled in by isn’t the style but the execution. Dragana writes these serpentine guitar riffs that teeter on the edge of dissonance, full of unexpected notes that sound weird at first, but make perfect sense within the context of the songs. The drums and bass play it cool, building hypnotic rhythms while the vocals pull everything together into dynamic songs that crest and fall. Fans of Tožibabe are encouraged to check out Crna Žuč, particularly if your tastes also lean toward the ethereal and hypnotic end of the underground music spectrum. A unique and addictive release.

Featured Releases: August 25, 2022

Bad Breeding: Human Capital 12” (Iron Lung Records) I’ve been a massive fan of Bad Breeding since their first record in 2016, and through each of the four vinyl releases preceding Human Capital, my enthusiasm for the group has only grown. The trend continues with Human Capital, which to my ears is Bad Breeding’s best album. From the start, the most identifiable aspect of Bad Breeding’s sound has been their rhythm section, and they continue to melt my brain across these twelve new tracks. Bad Breeding has always seemed to come at hardcore sideways, their dense and clattering rhythms reminding me more of industrial music than punk rock. There’s the absence of swing, but also this way of finding rhythms inside of rhythms, creating a trance-like state that often gets jarringly disrupted by one of their trademark whiplash rhythmic shifts. Bad Breeding’s guitarist has also always been inventive, finding space in their dense onslaught for earworm licks, but there’s a sense of melody on Human Capital that feels new. Listen to the way he scatters light-as-air, Slint-esque chiming notes in “Community,” or the memorable guitar line in “Rebuilding.” As usual, the lyrics and political stance are also well thought out, with an essay on alienation under capitalism by band collaborator Jake Ferrell occupying the reverse side of the poster insert. Whether you come to Bad Breeding for the innovative take on hardcore punk, the intriguing political analysis, the spot-on aesthetics, or all of the above, you’ll agree that Human Capital is a highlight in the growing discography of one of punk’s most perennially exciting bands.

Mock Execution: Killed by Mock Execution 12” (La Vida Es Un Mus) Back in 2019, Chicago’s Mock Execution whetted our appetites with their Reality Attack 7”, and three years later they deliver the full meal. One thing I love about Mock Execution is that while a lot of contemporary bands base their style and sound on one micro-scene or even just one band, Mock Execution draws from a wide range of international punk influences. Faster songs like “Apocalypse Now” and “Stagnant Fools” sound like crasher crust, raw and primal gestalt in the vein of Gloom, Framtid, and early Anti-Cimex. However, Mock Execution is also excellent with a mid-paced song, whether it’s a Kaaos-style fist-pumper like “Insanity” or the more chugging, Totalitär-esque “Calm in the Chaos.” Things can also get pretty metal, as on the epic intro for “Enough Is Enough,” but whatever the tempo and style, everything is wrapped in the raw and urgent production and playing style I associate with the 80s scenes in South America and Italy. While my description probably makes Mock Execution sound scattered, it all adds up to a distinctive voice that sounds like no one else. Inventive songwriting, great musicianship, primal performances, sick artwork… I’m sold.

The Flex: Chewing Gum for the Ears 12” (Lockin’ Out Records) I often write in these descriptions that the label’s official blurb says all that needs saying about a release, and usually that’s because there isn’t much to say. That’s not the case with Chewing Gum for the Ears. It’s a complex record that I have complex feelings about, and the label’s description hits many of the points that went through my head as I’ve listened to this record over the past several weeks. The Flex has a lot of different ingredients in their stew, and some of them are ingredients I typically steer clear of, particularly late 80s / early 90s New York Hardcore. I don’t care for many modern bands who borrow from that era, but with the Flex there are so many other influences I really like—80s US hardcore, UK82 punk, d-beat—that I still love it. Chewing Gum for the Ears is a savage hardcore record, ripping and raw and raging in all the right ways. And even when they tear into one of those crowd-pleasing breakdowns (like in “Lost Cause,” for instance), they do it with a panache I can get behind. At the end of the day, The Flex is just a great band, and the proof is in this record.

Personal Damage: Violent Ritual cassette (Test Subject Records) The third EP from this LA hardcore punk band is yet another ripper. While it’s tempting to compare Personal Damage to the titans of catchy, 80s-style hardcore punk that came from their part of the world, the two bands that Personal Damage reminds me of most are from Boston: Gang Green and the Freeze. While Personal Damage’s demo was more on the Gang Green end, Violent Ritual leans more toward the Freeze’s sound on This Is Boston Not LA and Guilty Face. Like the Freeze, Personal Damage writes memorable tunes, and also like the Freeze they play almost all of them at blinding tempos. The call and response chorus in “Banned From Society” is designed to have you singing along immediately, and it succeeds. The searing, Agent Orange-inspired guitar lead is icing on the cake. The trick with this style is to keep it from sounding like pop-punk, and Personal Damage’s off-the-charts snot factor and their commitment to playing as fast and as hard as possible keep them on the right side of that line. Sadly, this isn’t streaming online anywhere, so you’ll have to take my word about how hard it rips. I wouldn’t steer you wrong, would I?

Romansy: Doves of Peace and War cassette (Cool Death Records) Doves of Peace and War is the debut cassette from this cryptic band from Melbourne, Australia. While I’d call Romansy hardcore, they’re on the artsier, more out-there end of that spectrum, filtering the 80s hardcore aesthetic through black metal rehearsal tapes, low-bitrate G.I.S.M. live sets downloaded from sketchy Russian blogs, and wanting to like noise music but just being bored by most of it. While hardcore is a big part of the mix, Romansy comes off more like an introverted home recording project, layers of various types of distortion and damage deployed artfully in a way that’s not beholden to replicating or simulating something that’s happening live in a room. As you might expect, the packaging is top-notch too; the tape feels unique and beautiful to hold in your hand (the unique packaging is another thing that makes me think of noise music). If you only like your hardcore dumb, you should probably take a pass on this one, but the smartypants among us will eat it right up.

Class: S/T cassette (Feel It Records) Concrete info on Class is scarce at the moment, but from what I understand, the band is based in Tucson, Arizona, and features the vocalist from Rik & the Pigs. With that last Rik & the Pigs record fresh in my memory, I was looking forward to this, but it turned out to be very different from what I expected. Compared to the Pigs’ snot and swagger, Class sounds buttoned up, or at least they’re not laying bare their status as total degenerates. Their music is way poppier, and they’re fucking good at writing and playing pop music. Every song is great, and each one seems like its own little world. “Steady Hands” has the golden hour shimmer of Eddy Current Suppression Ring, and “Into the Night” channels the Flamin’ Groovies’ “Shake Some Action,” while “Wrong Side of Town” could be an outtake from the Dictators’ Blood Brothers. Class makes sense on the same label as the Cowboys, who also seem into classic songwriting, wrapping their carefully constructed pop nuggets in a distinctive cocktail of lo-fi aesthetics and 60s-garage-style workmanlike professionalism. Which is a long way of saying this tape contains five infectious power-pop tunes that maintain Feel It’s status as the label with the golden ears.

Featured Releases: August 18, 2022

Damaging Instinct #1 zine First issue of this new zine from Japan devoted to d-beat, mangel, crasher crust, and associated modes of noisy hardcore punk. Damaging Instinct is written entirely in Japanese (with small amounts of English scattered throughout), so don’t expect to read this like a normal punk zine. However, even though I can’t make sense of the text (at least without a lot of effort), I’m still very stoked to get my hands on this issue. Damaging Instinct has a documentary feel, capturing the personalities and fashions associated with this scene. Besides the usual cool live shots, there are also a series of photos of subjects taken with their back toward the camera showing off their punk vests (like the one of Jacky Crust War on the front cover), which might be boring or repetitive to some, but will be fascinating to those of us who own dozens, if not hundreds, of records that others dismiss as all sounding the same. There are features on Physique, D-Takt & Råpunk Records, EEL, Mueco, tons of photos from Manic Relapse 2019, along with general punk ephemera, cool-looking collages, and plenty more. Damaging Instinct is fucking HUGE, a full-size zine that weighs in at 3-4 times the length of an average issue of Razorblades & Aspirin, for instance. It’s quite expensive and most people will balk at the price, but for those of us into this sound and style, Damaging Instinct will be a treasured item we’ll keep on our shelves forever and flip through often.

Lassie: Temporary Cemetary 7” (Turbo Discos) Two-song single from this band out of Leipzig, Germany. You might be tempted to throw Lassie in the egg punk basket, and while that wouldn’t be inappropriate, I think this single rises above also-ran status. While there are a million bands out there with tinny guitar sounds, budget synths, and jittery rhythms, Lassie has the hooks so many groups lack. That’s particularly true on “Temporary Cemetary,” whose title references both Paul McCartney’s cult proto-synth-punk track “Temporary Secretary” and the Ramones’ “Pet Semetary,” exactly the kind of nerdery I can get behind. The song’s chorus hook is epic, the kind of thing the a-side of a punk single was made for. Round it out with a solid b-side and beautiful packaging (multi-color risograph sleeve and insert with a witty and fun concept) and you have a single worth adding to your collection.

Glaas: Qualm 12” (Static Shock Records) When I wrote about Glaas’s debut cassette earlier this year, I remember thinking that as much as I liked those three songs, Glaas’s music seemed better suited to a longer release where they could go deeper and further. Qualm confirms my suspicion. The maximalism I noted on the cassette is present in full force on Qualm, which on first listen can sound like an inchoate maelstrom, with drums, bass, guitars, synths, and vocals all pulling in different directions, a supernova of sound that is remarkable in its density, but unstable at the core and ready to explode. I’ve been playing Qualm a lot over the past few weeks, and I still hear new things on every pass… the record is so crammed with music that even an attentive listener will need dozens of plays to feel like they’ve made progress extracting its riches. Perhaps because that density can be exhausting, I’m particularly drawn to the moments on the record where Glaas lets their foot off the gas and allows the music to breathe, most memorably on the (unexpectedly) reggae-tinged “An Ode to Ravachol.” For fans of the members’ previous projects like Clock of Time and Nervous Eaters, Qualm is a must-hear, but Glaas will appeal to anyone who has an ear for challenging post-punk in the tradition of bands like Wire and the Pop Group.

Gripe: Como Acabar Contigo Mismo 12” (Neon Taste Records) Hailing from Santiago, Chile, Gripe seems like the band that once they’re discovered, they will quickly find themselves on many year-end “best of” lists of hardcore aficionados far and wide. While the band was active as far back as 2018, this new LP released on the excellent Neon Taste label contains Gripe’s new 9-song recording on the A-side, as well as their 2020 demo cassette on the B-side. Stacked against the label’s local Canadian groups like Chain Whip and Imploders, and more recently bands like White Stains, Gripe’s style of hardcore feels right at home on Neon Taste. Lean and mean blasts of chaotic, jangly, but not-too-distorted guitar reminds me of groups like Amdi Petersens Arme or Total Fury, but paired with that classic, anthemic delivery of 80s Southern California punk. But of course, led by a vicious and commanding vocalist who sings all in Spanish. Tracks like “Forzado” or “Sobrecarga” are quick whirlwinds of fury that sound like a powder keg about to burst. But then a song like “Posición Fatal” is a menacing, slow burn that functions almost like Gripe’s answer to “Welcome To Reality” or “Democracy” by the Adolescents. Each recording on either side of this LP has its charm, but with either side that you might prefer, it’s amazing how these intense, explosively energetic performances are captured on tape. As the sound oozes out of the speakers on your home stereo, it’s like a visceral experience. The amount of blood and sweat the band expels is palpable, almost as if while listening you can feel yourself stuffed like a sardine into a tiny, packed-to-the-gills hardcore show. Much like the label describes, Gripe seems like the perfect party-fueled backdrop for many late-night delinquent activities. Gripe is the band that you want to set up and play at the edge of pool during a skate sesh after you and your friends sneak into someone’s back yard. A perfect soundtrack for fun-fueled mayhem and destruction. Don’t sleep. Check out this LP.

Abuso de Poder: Vago Muerto 7” (Roach Leg Records) Debut 7” by this band from the punk hotbed of Santa Ana, California. Abuso de Poder’s sound toes the line between hardcore punk and oi!, reminding me of early 80s bands like the 4 Skins, Iron Cross, or Blitzkrieg. The gruff vocals and alternately stomping and charging rhythms keep things sounding very tough, but there’s a subtle tunefulness at the heart of Abuso de Poder’s sound. They may not be as catchy as Rixe, for instance, but these six songs are laced with the kinds of touches that keep you flipping the record over and over… 86 Mentality is another good point of reference, both in terms of Abuso de Poder’s sound and that flip-ability factor. I also love that this is a 33rpm 7” with 6 killer tracks… it reminds of old Dischord EPs, which are pretty much my favorite records in the world. Excellent stuff.

Sepsis: The Divide 7” (Hardcore Victim Records) Debut 4-songer from this band out Narm, Australia. The label’s description says it all here… metallic d-beat crust with influences from (early) Sacrilege, Hellbastard, and mid-period Cimex. While metal-infused d-beat like this can get too slick for my tastes, Sepsis keeps it raw and immediate with nasty production and plenty of straightforward, Discharge-style riffing to compliment the moments where they get a little more rock (like on the title track) or metal (“No Pride”). I can’t put my finger on it, but something about this EP comes off as honest, unpretentious, and sturdy, like a good hardcore punk band just doing their thing. If you’re allergic to flash and just want that hardcore punk shit, give Sepsis a try.

Featured Releases: June 9, 2022

The Hazmats: Empty Rooms 7” (Static Shock Records) Static Shock Records brings us the debut single by the Hazmats, a new UK band featuring a bunch of people who play in hardcore and punk bands doing something more melodic. The Hazmats nail the late 80s / early 90s UK indie vibe here, with a sound that’s pure pop at its core but drenched in the boisterous fuzz that was so popular at that time. These two songs sound like something I would have stayed up late to catch on 120 Minutes circa 1990. While there are many people who live and die for this style, I’m not one of them. There are some bands in this vein / from this era that I like a lot (Lush, My Bloody Valentine, the Jesus and Mary Chain, etc.), but it’s not like hardcore punk where I’m going to be interested just because of the aesthetic… a band like this needs good songs to catch my ear. And thankfully, the Hazmats have them! The simple guitar hook in “Empty Rooms” is an instant classic, but rather than resting on their laurels and padding out the rest of the song with filler, the Hazmats frame that brilliant hook with some classic pop tension and release. “Today,” on the other hand, emphasizes the vocals with its big chorus hook of “today will wear me out.” Like a lot of great singles, it feels like peeking through a keyhole into a much larger room. What I can make out is very intriguing, so let’s hope the Hazmats open the door for us.

Uranium Club: Two Things at Once (Again) 7” (Strange Lords LLC) Is there another band anything like Uranium Club? During a time when so many bands reiterate the same idea (and often that idea isn’t even their own), Uranium Club seems like the embodiment of idiosyncrasy and originality. Whether you love or hate their records, you must admit the band is on their own trip, and that continues with this latest single. Two Things at Once (Again) is billed as “retooled” or “reimagined” version of Uranium Club’s contribution to the Sub Pop singles club in 2019, but not being part of said club, I’m not able to go into detail about the differences between the two records. The a-side track has vocals and sounds of a piece with Uranium Club’s previous material, while the b-side is an instrumental that goes off in a spacey direction that sounds like Uranium Club meets Miles Davis’s 70s fusion records. It’s not unprecedented for Uranium Club, but not what I think of as their signature style. I love it, possibly even more than the a-side. The packaging, though, is where you can dive down the rabbit hole. As you can see from the product photo, the layout is heavy on text. It’s written in the second person, parts of it like instructions, but the logic dissolves more or less immediately. If you surrender your rational impulse and follow the text where it leads, it brings you into a similar headspace as Uranium Club’s music (particularly the more spread-out music on their full-lengths), but in a totally different way. Many people—punks especially—won’t enjoy being confounded in this way, but I find Uranium Club’s labyrinthine, Pynchon-esque aesthetic irresistible.

Heart Attack: God Is Dead 7” (Velvet Elk Records) Reissue of this 3-song ripper from 1981, one of the first New York Hardcore records and a legendary grip for punk vinyl collectors. With only 300 copies of the original pressing, it’s been hard to find and expensive since it came out. I guess the band didn’t think it was that strong and didn’t want to keep it in print, and while it may not be on the same level as the Bad Brains and Minor Threat records that were coming out around the same time (what is?), it’s still a scorcher in my book. The title track (which is actually the b-side) is a stop-start masterpiece that sets up the framework Agnostic Front would expand on for United Blood, and it would be a NYHC classic even if it didn’t have the historical distinction of being the first example of it. On the other side, “You” is in a similar vein, but my favorite has always been “Shotgun,” a more tuneful track that also appeared on the New York Thrash compilation, where it fit in next to punkier bands like Kraut and the Mad. Velvet Elk’s reissue expands the minimalist layout of the original pressing, adding a cool photo of the band in front of CBGB on the back cover and an essay about the EP from Lyle Hysen, whose label Damaged Goods Records originally released God Is Dead. Whether you’re coming at God Is Dead as a historical artifact or just a ripping hardcore punk record, you’ll leave satisfied.

Seems Twice: Non-Plussed 12” (Pass Without Trace Records) Pass Without Trace Records brings us a reissue of this rare Australian 7” from 1980 on a 45RPM, one-sided 12”. I’d never heard of Seems Twice before this reissue dropped, and I see the EP’s original pressing is up there with some of the other Australian punk classics in terms of price tag and rarity… one of those will set you back several hundred dollars if you can find an opportunity to buy one. After listening to it, I can see why. Seems Twice has a minimalist art-punk sound, their songs very short and primarily fast, but not hardcore. Seems Twice must have taken a lot of influence from the short songs on Wire’s Pink Flag, but since this came out in 1980, it was too early to be influenced by bands like the early Minutemen and the Urinals who were doing something very similar in the US. I find this style magical because if you played short and fast songs at any point after 1981 or so, you would almost certainly be triangulating your sound off of hardcore, either conforming to it or reacting against it. But Seems Twice, like the other bands I mentioned above, sound like a musical version of minimalist visual artists like Frank Stella. Just as those artists dispensed with so many of painting’s extraneous elements to focus on color and pattern, Seems Twice abandon conventional songwriting structures, distilling their music down to these elemental bursts of rhythm and melody. If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, I highly recommend Non-Plussed… there are only so many examples of this style, and this is a prime one.

Sindrome De Abstinencia / Nino Viejo:  Ruido Vivo en Da Skatepark cassette (Open Palm Tapes) Chicago’s Open Palm Tapes brings us this split cassette featuring live recordings from two current Chilean hardcore punk bands. Like many people, I avoided live recordings for years, mostly because I thought I was supposed to. Anyone who listens to raw hardcore should know that fidelity shouldn’t be your chief concern with a recording, and live recordings often capture something that’s much harder to find in the studio… so who cares if you can’t distinctly hear each hit of the kick drum? Sindrome De Abstinencia’s tracks here are a case in point… they are exploding with energy. Their style of fast hardcore (they cover Los Crudos, Infest, and Spazz during their set if that gives you any indication) might be something I’d gloss over based on a genre description, but there’s no denying the wild intensity of what they capture on this recording. Nino Viejo’s style is less chaotic, more in the fist-pumping vein of Poison Idea, and while their recording doesn’t have the same magic as Sindrome De Abstinencia, it’s still an interesting listen. I know record collectors get all worked up over raw South American hardcore from the 80s, but these two bands prove there’s still great stuff happening in that part of the world.

People’s Temple: demo cassette (Roach Leg Records) People’s Temple’s demo cassette on Roach Leg Records made the rounds last November, but the initial pressing sold out even more quickly than your typical Roach Leg release (which is saying something!) and we missed out on that batch. Fortunately, Roach Leg pressed up more copies, and we got in on the action. While People’s Temple has the raw hardcore sound that you associate with Roach Leg Records if you’ve been following the label, it doesn’t fall into the d-beat or noise-punk categories that many of Roach Leg’s other releases do. To me, they sound like a band that could have come from early 80s California with their sprightly tempos, hint of melody, and nihilistic sensibility. People’s Temple makes me think of bands like Circle One, Sick Pleasure, or Wasted Youth… like those bands, there’s a hint of tuneful UK punk in People’s Temple’s sound, but it’s so raw and thuggish that it’s its own thing. Tracks like “Dead Soldiers” and “LSD & Anarchy” (which sounds to me like the hit song of the tape) have big choruses that might remind you of UK82 punk bands, but then a track like “Human Livestock” has a garage-y feel that reminds me of Formaldehyde Junkies. People’s Temple is as dirty, raw, and nasty as anything on Roach Leg, but the subtle tunesmithery makes this tape stand out from the pack.

Corrupted Morals: Think About It 12” (Lavasocks Records) Lavasocks Records, who gave us a 12” expansion of Corrupted Morals’ Chet 7” a while back, give us another CM treat, this time a vinyl reissue of the band’s 1986 demo. Wow, what a scorcher! I heard rips of these tracks online years ago, but nothing approaching the fidelity on this 12”, which is clear, crisp, and powerful. This earlier material is more straightforwardly hardcore than the Chet era of the band that I’m more familiar with, but I like it even better. The songs are even faster, but they still have that crossover edge to the riffing and those great snotty vocals that are bathed in California surfer dude accident that hooked me on Chet. Think About It is a relentless barrage of 12 tracks coming one right after the other with no letup, and is bound to tickle the fancy of anyone who loves Attitude Adjustment, Life Sentence, and other super-fast mid-80s US hardcore in this vein. Since all of Think About It fits on one side of a 12”, Lavasocks pads out the b-side with a live set recorded a few months after the demo. The fidelity on this set isn’t as strong, but it’s listenable and it includes all five tracks that later appeared on Chet as well as a bunch of demo-era material. This is an essential pickup for anyone who loves Corrupted Morals and/or anyone whose interest in US hardcore extends deeper and further into the 80s.

Featured Releases: May 26, 2022

Weak Pulse: EKG cassette (Open Palm Tapes) Open Palm Tapes brings us a cassette from this 80s USHC-sounding band from Chicago. Weak Pulse sounds like a band that would have thrived in the No Way Records era, their straight beats, shouted vocals, and straightforward yet memorable riffs recalling under the radar US hardcore classics like the Clitboys’ We Don’t Play the Game EP or the N.O.T.A. album. The production is perfect, neither too raw nor too slick, capturing the band’s power and not calling attention to itself, emphasizing Weak Pulse’s ample hooks. If you’ve ever showed up at a gig and realized you inadvertently dressed exactly like the Circle Jerks’ mascot, this one is for you. Highly recommended for all USHC heads.

Grimly Forming: Live on KXLU 88.9FM cassette (Lament Records) Grimly Forming has been kicking around the Los Angeles area for at least six years now, releasing a string of cassettes and one 7” we enjoyed when it came out a few years ago. Now they’re back with this 11-song live on the radio set. If the tape wasn’t titled  Live on KXLU 88.9FM, you’d have no idea this was a live recording, because the fidelity is as strong as a studio release and the songs are edited together tightly like on a studio recording. Grimly Forming’s sound reminds me of the heavier and creepier end of the 80s Japanese hardcore scene. While I’m sure they’ve heard G.I.S.M., I hear more Kuro, the Clay, and Sodom (as well as stuff like United Mutation that isn’t from Japan but has a similar tone). It doesn’t sound like Grimly Forming is trying to be fucked up or weird, but plenty of fucked up weirdness finds its way in without any special effort. Fans of more contemporary bands like Blazing Eye and S.H.I.T. who are heavy and energetic yet steeped in atmosphere will also love this.

Realm of Terror: Loss of Hope cassette (Gutteral Warfare Records) Loss of Hope is the latest cassette from this Michigan band that channels the greyed out anxiety of the crossover hardcore / metal scene that flourished in late 80s Britain. Extreme Noise Terror is the obvious reference point, which I reach for because the vocals do that alternating low / high thing I associate with E.N.T. Before the E.N.T. thing dawned on me, though, I thought to myself that Realm of Terror sounds like Disclose with death metal parts. Their sound is tinny and blown out, essentially crasher crust, but when they drop into a mid-paced part, the riffs are more complex and heavier. Perhaps this is what the band means when they say there are more stenchcore elements on Loss of Hope than on their previous release, Accelerated Extinction (which we also have in stock), but I’m hearing raw death metal more than stenchcore… I’m no expert, though, so maybe I’m wrong. You’ll also hear Realm of Terror flirt with grind, which is keeping with the aesthetic. It seems like many people have been discovering this universe of 80s UK punk/metal crossover lately, and I love how Realm of Terror fuses those influences with crasher crust and d-beat to arrive at something that feels fresh and exciting.

SØRDÏD: demo cassette (Roach Leg Records) Roach Leg Records brings us another slice of raw and manic noise from their home base of New York City. On their debut tape, SØRDÏD does a great job of giving us what we want from a nasty noise-punk record while subtly expanding on the formula. The higher frequencies are totally fried and distorted (as they should be), but the bass and drums have a rich sound, keeping your feet moving and your fist pumping through tracks like the crushing “Idle Hope” and the stumbling, Disorder-influenced “Blankhead.” While SØRDÏD might sound like by the book noise-punk at first listen, there are more interesting bits peeking in around the edges, like the brief glimpse of burning spirits-style melody that pops up toward the end of “Last String” and the catchy, thrash metal-sounding bass riff that starts off “Idle Hope.” With a sound that will please both the trad and progressive wings of the noise-punk world, SØRDÏD’s demo is another excellent release from Roach Leg.

Delivery: Personal Effects 7” (Feel It Records) Feel It Records brings us the second 7” from this new-ish band from the contemporary punk hotbed of Melbourne, Australia. According to the info I read online, Personal Effects differs from Delivery’s previous releases. Those were home recorded and leaned into that medium’s potential for idiosyncrasy and eclecticism, while these two tracks have a more polished recording that reflects the band’s well-developed live sound. Since Personal Effects is the first Delivery record I’ve heard, I can’t comment too much about that, but I love what I hear here. Delivery sounds fully developed, with a powerful, punk-informed rhythm section and memorably askew horn arrangements. There are pop songs at the core, though, and both sides of Personal Effects deliver. “Personal Effects” is ambling and mid-paced, the wheezing horn line complementing the broad vocal hook in the chorus. “The Topic” is even better to my ears, the horns even more left of center in a Cravats kind of way, a catchy song barging its way through those weird horns and the stumbling rhythm. Delivery’s way of combining left of center sounds with big hooks reminds me of UV Race, another Aussie fave. Here’s hoping Delivery keeps ‘em coming.

Fuera De Sektor: El Mundo Sigue cassette (La Vida Es Un Mus) La Vida Es Un Mus once again dips into the fertile Barcelona punk scene, bringing us the debut release from Fuera De Sektor. Falling on the more melodic end of LVEUM’s spectrum, Fuera De Sektor’s sound is steeped in the powerful and hooky 70s / 80s punk tradition. Tracks like “El Mundo Sigue” and “Viejas Trampas” have a melancholy edge that fans of Rata Negra or Chain Cult will have no problem enjoying, but I like the other two tracks even more. “Necesito Combustible” has a bouncy rhythm and bright guitar hooks that remind me of the Undertones at their very best, while “En La Oscuridad” sounds like a deep cut on an 80s goth / new wave mix tape, the guitar hook pulling it toward rock and roll while the vocals add dark atmosphere. With four tracks that are fairly different from one another, Fuera De Sektor’s sound feels wide open, but despite the stylistic variation, the songwriting is top notch.

Living World: World 7” (Iron Lung Records) Iron Lung brings us the debut vinyl from this Pittsburgh hardcore band, following up a couple of cassettes, including one on the hot Unlawful Assembly label. Pittsburgh has enough punks and punk bands that there seem to be multiple sub-scenes in the city, and I’m not sure which one Living World is most associated with. They have both the retro 80s vibes of the White Stains / Loose Nukes crowd and the youthful energy of the Speed Plans / Illiterates group, and they sound like they’d be at home on a bill with any of those bands. My first reaction to Living World was that they sound like a looser, nastier version of early Direct Control. As with Direct Control, the framework is classic US hardcore, but there’s a slight crossover edge to the riffing a la DRI, and Living World’s vocalist even sounds a bit like Brandon from Direct Control. After six brisk hardcore tracks, Living World breaks things up with the spoken intro for Ubuntu, a song they wrote for George Floyd (though it’s right back to ripping hardcore for the latter part of the track). There’s a chaotic energy about World that I like, and when you combine that with the solid songwriting, you end up with a killer hardcore punk EP.

Featured Releases: May 5, 2022

Violent Apathy: 11/29/81 7” (Radio Raheem Records) Radio Raheem delivers another slice of early 80s hardcore arcana with all of their usual panache. You might know Violent Apathy from the numerous Detroit-area flyers they appeared on, their contribution to the Process of Elimination compilation, or their 1984 7” EP, their sole stand-alone release. 11/29/81 captures a moment where Violent Apathy has moved beyond the very primitive sound of their Process of Elimination track, but they’re still a long way from the more self-assured and melodic 1984 EP. The members of Violent Apathy first bonded because they were all fans of the Fix, and you can hear that band’s influence all over these tracks as well as an awareness of the DC scene (“Vice Grip” sounds heavily inspired by S.O.A., for instance). However, you can also hear Violent Apathy’s penchant for melody creeping in around the edges… these more melodic tracks remind me of Artificial Peace, who also displayed a whiff of melody even before they mutated into Marginal Man. As usual, Radio Raheem’s packaging contains a wealth of archival material plus liner notes by Tony Rettman, all brought together in elegant, high-quality design and packaging. This ticks all the early 80s USHC nerd boxes.

Disclone: Harsh Raw Affront cassette (Doomed to Extinction Records) Harsh Raw Affront collects four previously released EPs by this Austrian band. If you think you know what you’re getting into with a band called Disclone, Harsh Raw Affront is precisely what you expect it to be. Disclone sounds pretty much exactly like Disclose (in particular, the earlier era of the band). You might ask, why should I pay attention to a new band that sounds exactly like Disclose? I don’t have a good answer for you, other than to say people said the same thing about Disclose when they were around. Everything on Harsh Raw Affront fucking goes… it’s fucked up and nasty, the riffs are good, the performances are powerful… what more do you want? Originality? Overrated, if you ask me.

Riot .303: S/T 12” (Supreme Echo Records) Supreme Echo Records reissues the recorded works by this punk band from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Despite being, from what I can tell, a small and isolated city on the Canadian prairie, the city was an unlikely hardcore hotbed. Any rabid consumer of punk books and documentaries will recognize the name of the Calgarian, a hotel dive bar in the city that hosted a ton of great hardcore and punk shows in the 80s. Riot .303 played there often (as the flyers in the booklet attest), but they weren’t exactly a hardcore band. Riot .303 was one of those North American bands who took a lot of influence from 70s UK punk. The Canadian Subhumans come up again and again in the liner notes, and with good reason… Riot .303 is a dead ringer for them at points, but even if you aren’t that familiar with the Canadian Subhumans, Riot .303 will be up your alley if you like bands like Toxic Reasons, the Suicide Commandos, or D.O.A. This LP contains the band’s highly collectible 4-track 1982 EP, Crowd Control (probably their best stuff), their four tracks from the Thrasher Skate Rock cassette, and a bunch of rehearsal recordings. According to the liner notes, a contributing factor to Riot .303’s breakup was some members’ disinterest in conforming to hardcore’s ever-faster tempos, but the irony is that it’s the most hardcore moments that stick with me here. Riot .303 was great at writing sing-along choruses, and tracks like “Drugs” and “Organized Religion” that have a memorable chorus hook and a fiery delivery are top-notch. The energy level is highest on the rehearsal tracks, but the fidelity isn’t the best. I get the impression that if the stars had aligned differently, Riot .303 could have produced something as powerful as Subhumans classics like “Fuck You” or “Death to the Sickoids,” but even if they don’t reach that (rather high) bar, I’m still very glad to hear these tracks, particularly when Supreme Echo’s excellent packaging gives the kind of context that deepens one’s appreciation.

Instruct: Death Instructions cassette (Ciabatta Brain Tapes) Usman covered this tape from Seattle’s Instruct in his staff pick a while back, but this is a ripper that I think is worth re-emphasizing. Without sounding like a worship band, Instruct nails the early Cimex sound with a d-beat groove that is simultaneously fast and punishing. While it’s pretty straightforward Cimex style d-beat, there are some wrinkles like the haunting lead guitars in “Isolation” and the crushing breakdown that ends “I.N.D.,” the last song on the tape. The recording sounds raw without being self-consciously so, with the early 80s vibe I love to hear. These four tracks are over so quickly that you hardly know what hit you at first, but Instruct both stands up to and benefits from repeat listens. Highly recommended if you follow labels like Desolate and Roach Leg.

No Future: Death 7” flexi (Iron Lung Records) Death is the 3rd EP by this hardcore punk band from Western Australia, following EPs on two excellent Australian labels, Hardcore Victim and Televised Suicide. On the surface, No Future sounds like a noise-punk band in the Gai / Disorder / Lebenden Toten mold, with bass at the front of the mix and guitar so distorted you can barely tell what’s going on. My favorite moment on the record is when, toward the end of the first track, “Pig Fiend,” you’re thinking to yourself, “man, that’s a pretty fucked up guitar sound,” and then they smash a pedal and it gets even even more fucked up than that. While No Future’s guitar sound and mix are in that noise-punk mold, the riffs are darker and more complex, closer to the contemporary mangel-influenced sound where everyone wants to sound like Herätys. There’s also some of that manic pogo thing going on, but everything sounds seamless and is executed with a high level of power and precision. The way No Future blends a lot of subtle influences into a sound that’s contemporary and not too on the nose also reminds me of Slant and Torso. Another worthwhile listen from Iron Lung Records.

Power Flower: Electric Drug Fuckup 7” (Under the Gun Records) This band from Budapest, Hungary delivers a perfect dose of sweet and sour flavored punk. Power Flower’s general aesthetic resembles bands like the Spits and the Mummies in that they’re a keyboard-driven garage-punk style band that isn’t afraid of a raw and fucked up-sounding recording. It’s not all style no substance, though, because Power Flower writes hooky, well-constructed songs that flow and build and move. The first time I listened to Electric Drug Fuckup I struggled to wrap my head around the completely shredded recording. On the second listen I thought to myself, “that keyboard player is pretty good… they really have a way with a melody.” Then on the third listen I realize it’s not just the keyboard player… if you strain to hear what’s going on through the wall of fuzz, you notice these are well-arranged and memorable songs. It might only be those with a predisposition for the style who give Electric Drug Fuckup the attention to get to that point, but those who put in the effort are rewarded with a joyous cacophony.

Featured Releases - April 7 2022

Soft Torture: Soft Torture cassette (World Gone Mad Records) This new Philadelphia hardcore band features some impressive players, including Chuck Meehan of YDI’s classic A Place in the Sun EP on bass and Aaron from Haldol and Blank Spell on drums (apologies to the other members, whose resumes I don’t know as well). I knew going in that the playing here would be excellent, but I was stoked to hear that Soft Torture’s stock in trade is the rhythmically knotty hardcore that I love. The crazy rhythms are the star of the show here, reminding me of virtuosic yet fringe groups such as the early versions of the Tar Babies, Die Kreuzen, and Meat Puppets, all of whom took a vast knowledge of and capability with music and crammed it into 90-second chunks delivered at a dead sprint. As with those bands, Soft Torture is exhilarating, making the listener feel like a pinball slammed around the board quicker than your eye can follow. Jess Nicho’s paranoid vocals are an added treat, particularly if you enjoy more recent purveyors of this high-speed spazz attack like Warm Bodies and Das Drip. Oh yeah, and “2021” is a cover / update of YDI’s “1983.” Totally scorching.

So Cal’s Parishioners: self-titled cassette (No Solution) This new California band (I assume their from No Solution’s neck of the woods in Orange County) dials in the sound of classic SoCal and OC punk on this self-titled cassette. The rough production, breezy rhythms, and (most importantly) the thick surfer-dude drawl on the vocals all evoke the OC punk classics, not so much the Adolescents, but bands like Social Distortion, Channel 3, and the Crowd, whose styles were rooted more firmly in song-oriented 70s punk. If you like the White Stains EP that was our Record of the Week last week, this draws on similar influences, but removes any hardcore influence from the equation and zeroes in on a fully retro sound. Five catchy tracks, the standout being “P.N.B.,” whose lyrics seem to be about a journeyman NBA player with punk connections. It’s a unique topic for a song, but perhaps that’s what makes it stand out. I’m stoked this is arriving during springtime on the east coast, which means I can blast it with the windows down and pretend I’m cruising down one of the California highways they list in the first song.

Clear History: Bad Advice Good People 12” (Upset the Rhythm) The UK’s Upset the Rhythm brings us the debut record by this new post-punk-style band from Berlin. Right off the bat, Clear History reminds me of Sorry State bands like Fitness Womxn and Cochonne and other favorites like Portland’s Lithics. Like those bands, Clear History’s sound is rooted in the bass-oriented post-punk of Delta 5, Gang of Four, and Kleenex, the playing anchored in a great rhythm section that favors upbeat, danceable drums and heavy yet bubbly, dub-informed bass lines. The guitarist tends toward plucked single notes that form into earworm melodies, while multiple vocalists engage in spirited and dynamic trade-offs. Everything has its place in the sound until things bubble over, as they do on the standout track “Presents,” whose contrast between the cool rhythm section and the nervous breakdown vocal performance reminds me of my favorite moments from the Stranglers’ early years. Catchy tunes, spirited delivery… what’s not to like?

Klonns: Crow 7” (Iron Lung Records) Crow is the latest EP from Japanese hardcore band Klonns, who have racked up an impressive discography full of EPs without a US release until now (though back in 2019, Sorry State imported some copies of a tape collecting their releases up to that point). I notice that Klonns often describe themselves as “blackened crust,” while Iron Lung’s description compares them to classic Japanese hardcore bands like Bastard and Lip Cream. While Klonns have the power and the grandiosity of those classic Japanese bands, their chaotic and noisy sound takes just as much from grittier crust and noise-punk bands from Confuse to D-Clone and Zyanose and beyond. The fuzziness of the production and the sinister vibes have an underground cult metal feel as well. These elements smashed together ends up sounding like Public Acid, another hardcore band who finds a delicate balance between their chaotic and bruising sides. All four tracks are rippers, but I’m taken with “Ghoul,” which finds a Warthog-style groove heavy enough to take down a cinderblock wall. Crow makes a nice pairing with the crushing Erupt 7” that also landed this week.

Gasmiasma: At War with Punk cassette (Vibes Through Guts Recordings) This New Orleans band released a full length way back in 2014 on Sweden’s Skrammel Records that I enjoyed. I assumed the band was long defunct, but eight years later we have a new release and it fucking RIPS! On At War with Punk, Gasmiasma plays an ultra-fast d-beat style that reminds me of LA’s Tortür… we’re talking Mob 47-style tempos… even faster sometimes, as on the blistering title track that opens the tape, which accelerates nearly to grindcore speeds. Gasmiasma is so fast that when they get to “Machine Gun Jargon of the Stunted Factoid,” a ripper by pretty much any other band’s standards, it almost feels like a break. Gasmiasma’s sound is a little more metallic than your typical mangel, with a growly / screamy vocal dynamic that reminds me of Extreme Noise Terror. All this adds up to a tape with a fresh and distinctive sound and a level of intensity that is off the charts.

Bombardement: La Futur Est La 12” (Symphony of Destruction) Bombardement’s previous record, their self-titled 7”, was one of my favorite records of 2020, and now they’re back with a new full-length. All of their records so far follow the same black, white, and yellow color scheme, and Bombardement’s sound has, like their layouts, remained consistent. At their core, Bombardement is a Discharge-inspired d-beat band with a lot of flashy guitar leads, but there are finer distinctions to be made here. One reason I like Bombardement is that they lean into aspects of the classic Discharge sound that few other d-beat bands focus on. One of my favorite things to do is smoke a ton of weed, put on my original Japanese pressing of Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing at an ear-splitting volume, and let its hurricane of multi-tracked guitars envelop me. In the right mood and with the right substances, HNSNSN is essentially a psychedelic record. As with HNSNSN-era Discharge, Bombardement’s riffs are kind of long and they play them more times than most bands; many of their songs have a structure where they play the verse riff four times without vocals, then four times with them before moving onto the next part. With all this room to settle into the groove, the musicians lean into bits, stretch beats out, inject improvisations, and do the kinds of things you’d expect of a band like Can, albeit perhaps on a more limited scale. Occasionally, like on the standout track “Dyssomnie,” Bombardement erupts into a full-on lead guitar orgy, and these moments are glorious. Song structures that might sound leaden and repetitive when played by another band come alive in Bombardement’s hands. This ain’t jazz, though! It’s hardcore punk, and Bombardement will keep your fist pumping for all 20 glorious minutes of La Futur Es La.

Featured Releases - March 31 2022

Televised: Human Condition 7” (Convulse Records) Convulse Records brings us the debut (I believe) by this band from their neck of woods in Colorado. Televised’s songs feature elements of different styles, the most prominent being an oi!-inflected take on fast US hardcore, but I also hear some fast power violence-type parts and some riffs have a street punk-ish sense of melody. The singer has a John Brannon-esque bark, but can carry a tune as well, sort of like Choke in his post-Negative FX bands. And the production is very rough and analog-sounding, the drum sound reminding me of the Neos. I’m more partial to the bits that are full on United Blood style, but other people might gravitate toward the more complex and melodic elements.

Brain Tourniquet: Brain Tourniquet 7” (Iron Lung Records) Washington, DC’s Brain Tourniquet returns with their second 7” for Iron Lung Records, offering another dose of blistering hardcore with an aesthetic grounded in early power violence classics by bands like Crossed Out and No Comment. While you’ll hear plenty of familiar power violence tropes on this EP, they don’t comprise the entirety of Brain Tourniquet’s playbook. For instance, I love the winding, COC-esque intro to “Machine Gun,” and the psychedelic twists and turns in “Darkness.” The playing on this EP is also breathtaking, with the rhythm section generating moments that make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. The fast parts aren’t just inchoate blasting; you can often hear the bass and drums lock together on these intricate little rhythmic runs they perform with jaw-dropping speed and tightness. And that Brain Tourniquet can pull that off while sounding like a band playing together in a room and not like a Protools Frankenstein creation is even more impressive.

CPU Rave: Mood Fucker cassette (self-released) The artwork on this one threw me a little. If CPU Rave’s tape had been dressed up in stark black with distorted and scrawled text like a classic Confuse layout, I’d have been a little more prepared for the music contained therein. That being said, while CPU Rave’s pogo rhythms, noisy guitar textures, and echo-drenched vocals (a lot like Lebenden Toten) are pretty on the nose, the actual songs are a little more unique. To me, there have always been two distinct songwriting approaches in noise punk: one based on dissonant chords and one based on bright and poppy chords. CPU gets around this distinction with more complex riffing that’s dark and aggressive, but with an ominous sense of melody. Remarkably, CPU Rave pulls these songs in that unique direction without losing that sense of off the rails craziness that is such an essential part of any good noise punk record. Excellent stuff.

Peace Decay: Death Is Only... 12” (Beach Impediment Records) Beach Impediment brings us the debut release from this Texas hardcore band featuring veterans from bands like Criaturas, Severed Head of State, Guerra Final, and many more I’m sure. If you’ve listened to much Japanese hardcore, you’ll see where Peace Decay is coming from right off the bat. Their galloping rhythms, gruff vocals, and melodic lead guitar place them in the tradition of bands who take inspiration from Death Side. Peace Decay’s ace in the hole is their shredding lead guitarist, whose style I’d describe as neoclassical thanks to the way it combines melodic complexity with rhythmic density, all of it executed with crispness and precision. You have to be on board with the shredding to appreciate Peace Decay, as anyone who finds the guitar leads too melodic will have a hard time ignoring them. However, if you’re into the more melodic end of the Burning Spirits continuum, you’ll agree Peace Decay can stand toe to toe with the bands who inspired them.

Deodorant: Aluminum Free cassette (Open Palm Tapes) We last heard from Chicago’s Deodorant when they released their excellent 12” on Not Normal back in 2018, and they remain a gripping and unique band. While Deodorant’s technical intricacy, the lack of self-seriousness in their presentation, and their flirtation with straight-up hardcore remind me of Warm Bodies, I think they’re digging a little deeper for inspiration. The first track, “Bunta Groovin’ / Boast Mk. II” sounds like the Big Boys’ punk-funk with rap vocals, while “Top” reminds me of the Minutemen’s tenderest moments, and “Vs. Son of Baconator” channels the prog-ism of the later SST Records catalog, albeit at several times the tempo. Then they end with a straight up hardcore ripper, “Guitar Hero World Tour,” that sounds like YDI or something. It’s eclectic, but Deodorant is adept enough to nail all of it. A must for those of you who value both originality and intensity in your punk.

Inyeccion: Porqueria 12” (Discos Enfermos) Well, this kicks ass. Inyeccion’s debut full-length, Porqueria, reminds me of one of my favorite records in recent memory, Morbo’s ¿A Quién Le Echamos La Culpa?, another record from a South American band whose music is as raw as it is infectious. As the label’s blurb notes, Inyeccion’s style combines elements of Japanese noise punk, UK82 street punk, and raw and crude vintage Latin American punk. While Inyeccion has hit upon an identifiable style, what keeps me coming back to Porqueria is how exciting it sounds. The band plays like they fucking mean it. The energy level is through the roof and the songs sound like classics… when Inyeccion launches into one of their chanted choruses, you have to sing along, and when they dive into one of their frantic noisy parts, you gotta thrash. The intensity and the vividness of expression also carry over into the packaging design. Porqueria is covered in killer, punk as fuck cartoon illustrations, and besides the full color cover you also get a two-color poster and an illustrated lyric booklet following the same aesthetic. I love everything about this record… essential 2022 punk.

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.