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Well, I don't know why the Japanese policy on reissues has suddenly changed, but I'm stoked that it means that I get to carry classic records like the Death Side LPs and Warhead's Cry of Truth in the store. As for Cry of Truth, it's absolutely one of the very best Japanese hardcore records ever. Moreover, I feel like this record has traditionally been a mark of connoisseurship... in other words, if you're into Bastard and Death Side and Judgement but you don't acknowledge the greatness of this record then I question the depth of your knowledge and/or your taste. I mean, the riff to "Fight with No Fear," right? It's as great as anything in the aforementioned bands' respective canons if you ask me. I know these tracks got reissued on a singles collection LP a while back, but it's great to see them here in their original running order with the original artwork reproduced almost exactly. A class act all around and a fitting tribute to one of the best records out there. If you don't have this in your collection in some form then you pose hard.

Toxic State has been relatively quiet as of late, but this latest release from Nandas is bound to scratch the itch for those of us who have been following the label closely for the past several years. Nandas definitely have a lot in common with other Toxic State bands: first and foremost great artwork, but also raw production and quirky arrangements that put the bass right up front and make it carry much of the weight of the songs. However, they also do a lot to distinguish themselves from the pack, most notably in the vocal department. While the vocals aren't melodic per se, they have this haunting, breathy quality that is really unique and powerful. It sounds like a ghost is whispering something threatening into your ear or something. It's very, very different from the standard punk modes of yelling, shouting, screaming, or even singing really, and along with that trademark Toxic State scratchy-sounding production makes this sound like the soundtrack to some weird psychedelic punk haunted house movie. While this is probably too quirky to rise to the popularity level of Hank Wood or Crazy Spirit, this is a more than worthy addition to the Toxic State catalog and well worth checking out if you follow that particular corner of the NYC punk scene.

After two separate cassette pressings (including one by Sorry State), the best recording to emerge so far from the fertile Greensboro, North Carolina punk scene is finally committed to vinyl, and I can't think of a better label than Not Normal to have done it (envious though I may be of them!). If you've been listening to this on cassette or digital for a while now (as I have), it sounds a little bit thicker and less clean on vinyl, but still has the same impact. If you haven't heard this... well, what are you waiting for? The more I listen to it the less I feel capable of describing this. The riffs are really rock and roll, but overall the music isn't really very rock and roll at all. You can tell these guys are into the whole "slime punk" / Northwest Indiana thing as this works with a similar mixture of traditional punk/hardcore and psychedelic elements, but it really doesn't bite anyone's style. In fact, I'd be surprised if I didn't see people biting this band's style before too long. As great as the music is, though, the vocals and lyrics are just as important. I don't know what it is about these words, but I just love them... bordering on nonsense but still gesturing toward profundity, I keeping reading them over and over like I'm staring at a Rubik's cube or a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle for which I've lost one of the pieces. A simply perfect record, and now that I've been able to spend a little time with the vinyl I think it has a firm place in the pantheon of greatest records ever to come out of the state of North Carolina. Highest possible recommendation.

Debut 7" from this Mexican band. I didn't know much about them, but it looks like Yecal from Inservibles is in the band, which make sense because Mujercitos carry forward my absolute favorite thing about Inservibles, and that's their near-total blindness to intricate subgenre divisions that stifle so many modern punk and hardcore bands. Mujercitos, in other words, don't sound like they're trying to be anything in particular, neither trying to ape a specific band or a specific style. They're just trying to find the most accurate, most meaningful expression of what they're trying to get across. That idea of letting the content and the song guide the writing and arrangement process rather than boxing your band in and saying "WE ONLY USE THIS DRUMBEAT" is a rare thing these days, and as such Mujercitos sound incredibly fresh. In fact, where Inservibles had a bit of a 90s vibe about them that probably made them sound a little "uncool" or old-fashioned to some people, Mujercitos' presentation is on point, with the same sort of vibe as standout recent Mexican punk releases by bands like Tercer Mundo and Muerte. While this 7" is a bit on the expensive side thanks to high production costs and a short run, the adventurous hardcore listener will find that it's more than worth their time.