Cool New Demos June 2016
June has been a particularly strong month for demos here at Sorry State, so we thought we'd feature a few of them along with handy embeddable BandCamp links. Listen, enjoy, and if you want to see more features like this send us some feedback!
Seven-song demo from this new Philly band, and as is the case with the new tape from their city-mates in The Brood, the presentation and the length of the material makes this feel more like a proper release than a demo. Like another new Philly band, S-21, Enamel have a powerful-sounding woman on the mic (in fact, the timbre of the two singers' voices is strikingly similar), but their approach is less tough-sounding, more complex and more composed. The riffs are quite complex and the songs are strikingly well-arranged, with lots of little ear candy for the music nerds out there. Something about the way the riffs hang around the skeleton provided by the drums reminds me a bit of the Partisans, but the complexity of the riffing also (and don't let this scare you away!) reminds me a little bit of Bad Religion's No Control album, but really just the riffing... the vocals, production, attitude, aesthetic and everything else couldn't be more different than that kind of big-time punk. I guess what I'm trying to say is that Enamel play some pretty darn blistering hardcore, but they play it with a lot more ambition and musicality than one typically hears on a hardcore demo. It sounds like this band is exploding with ideas and I can't wait to hear more of them. Top-notch packaging too, including pro-printed and duplicated tapes, rad artwork, and it's even shrink-wrapped for your protection!
Latest cassette from this Philly band, and with eight tracks and a really strong recording it feels more like a full-length than some sort of stop-gap release. The Brood have developed a very interesting sound over the past few years. As was the case on their 7", the burly vocals and heavy bottom end remind me of Wasted Time, but there are also nods to Swedish-style d-beat a la Totalitär as well as the slightly more technical but still USHC-rooted sound of Sickoids (there's even a part that seems directly lifted from a Sickoids song, though maybe it's just coincidence... and admittedly I think that Sickoids lifted said part from the Necros!), as well as some tastefully melodic lead guitar here and there that really makes these songs stick to your ribs that much harder. Without clearly latching onto any particular trend, there's a real "meat and potatoes" quality about October Dreams that I really like... it reminds me of records like Christ on Parade's Sounds of Nature or Final Conflict's Ashes to Ashes in the way that it just pounds out the heavy, catchy hardcore without any pretense or bullshit. If that sounds like it's up your alley then I highly encourage you to check this out.
Man, what is it with Philly lately? How many good cassettes can come from this city in a single month? While it seems like Enamel and S-21, at least, come from the same scene, I could be wrong but Trash Knife seem like a little bit of an outlier. They're one of those bands that's probably a bit too catchy and major-key-oriented to be quickly described (or even dismissed) as hardcore, but they're also way too mean and aggressive to be mistaken for pop-punk. Thanks to the snarling lady on the mic, I'd put this in the same camp as bands like Neighborhood Brats, Bad Daddies, and No Love. In other words, it's punk that's informed by the intensity and straightforward pop-oriented songwriting of 90s riot grrrl stuff, but also by the manic tempos and musical complexity of the last decade or so of DIY hardcore. Rad packaging too, including pro-printed, pro-duplicated tapes and awesome-looking (3-color!) screen printed j-cards. All that and limited to only 100 hand-numbered copies, so don't sleep!
Four-song demo from this new Philly band and whoa is it burly! I'm not sure if Hoax is a reference point that people throw around all that much anymore, but that distinctive bass tone, the infectious but frustratingly rare bursts of lead guitar, moshable but not tough-guy sounding rhythms, and most of all the way the singer belts out a perfect bark at the break in "Prisoner" definitely makes that comparison appropriate in my book. The big difference, of course, is that S-21 have a woman on the mic, not that that should really make a difference, but it definitely makes them stand out from the pack a bit in a sub-sub-genre where you might expect the singer to be a big burly dude. Wrap it all up in a beefy and powerful recording and you have an essential piece of the puzzle for anyone following the new wave of killer hardcore coming out of Philly.
Demo cassette from this new band out of Portland, and while the label describes it as NYHC, I'm here to assure you that it's the good kind of NYHC, not the annoying, boring, macho mosh-part type. In fact, the super intense vocals on this demo actually remind me a bit of Torso, and the more I think about it the more I think that if you could somehow completely erase the Totalitär influence from Torso then you might end up with something very much like Heavy Hands. In other words, it's super punk but also not afraid of a big, mid-paced mosh riff here and there. Don't let the cover (which looks like it could have come from a Triple-B release) fool you, as this is definitely of wider interest to the punk community.
Demo cassette from this new band out of Toronto, and it's a ripper. For some reason this has a real Y2K feel to me... the way that the band alternates between super-fast, Heresy-style thrashing and catchier mid-paced parts definitely makes me think of bands like Life's Halt and Tear It Up. Basically, I always thought of that era of hardcore as the scene kind of working the last little bit of youth crew influence out of its system before the full-on retro hardcore of the No Way Years, and I can definitely hear that residual youth crew influence in Pure Pressure. I don't think that anyone would mistake them for a Rev band or anything, but I'm guessing that these people probably have Youth of Today records in their collection (I mean, the buildup to the mosh break in "Searching" is a dead giveaway if you ask me), but they probably don't listen to them as much as their Antidote and Urban Waste records. So, if you like your USHC completely undiluted then this might not tickle you right where you like it, but if you can get down with the aforementioned bands this is a pretty ripping little demo.
Demo cassette from this new bi-coastal project band featuring members of Permanent Ruin, Busted Outlook, and Death First. I'm definitely hearing the Busted Outlook comparison, as this has that well-played, semi-polished, USHC-meets-NYHC-but-we-might-also-wear-an-Anti-Cimex-shirt thing that I associate with bands like Busted Outlook, Protester, and Public Suicide. I dare say fans of the less d-beaty bands from the recent Boston scene (i.e. No Tolerance) will probably get down hard with this. Super pro recording, ultra tight playing, really strong graphic design... there's absolutely no reason not to like this, and if they stick around and keep up their profile I could see this band turning a lot of heads. Lucky you, you get to get in on the ground floor!
Another new hardcore demo out of Portland, and this one is a little more straightforward USHC style than the more NYHC-influenced Heavy Hands and Chow Line. The barked, Negative Approach-esque vocals give it kind of a heavier feel, but when you just listen to the music it's quite catchy. It honestly sounds like something that might have been released on No Way Records during that label's peak period, as Sweats kind of mix the bulldozer quality of Cardiac Arrest with the rawer, more retro sound of bands like Life Trap and Warkrime. It's pretty raw, but if you like your USHC mean and unpolished check this out.