Friday, August 31, 2012

Record Reviews: Summer 2012

So I had a busy summer, hence no early/late summer posts, and just a general summer post. I went on tour with Sectarian Violence for 2 weeks, went to This is Hardcore, moved into a new apartment, and released 2 tapes on my label (more info on the second one real soon). I also went to the beach zero times, due to new tattoos. There's some real bangers in this chunk, as well as some real stinkers. I'm not one to pull any punches, but I feel like I was less tolerant of crap this time around. Deal with it, or don't release bad records. 


Impalers- s/t [demo] (No Way Records / Beach Impediment)
Impalers is a side project of some Mammoth Grinder dudes. I'm not really a fan of MG, but this is some raging d-beat. Some might say Motorcharge (Motorhead / Discharge), and they'd be right. This was originally their demo I believe, but there's no mention of that I found on the record. This is cool, but not blowing me away.

the Ropes- s/t (Youth Attack Records)
If you read my blog, you know how I feel about Youth Attack and their associated artists. However, I put that aside, because unless you've been under a rock for the past year, the Repos reunited under the name The Ropes. And in case you're deaf, the Repos were one of the best bands playing in the mid-2000's (this is not an opinion, it is a fact). So I had downloaded a few Ropes demos online and was less than blown away, sounded like the Repos on the wrong RPM. This 7"was originally self released I guess, and YA decided to re-release it with their usual extravagant cover art. Musically, they're almost at Repos speed, though not quite there. The layout is just plain stupid. No band name on the front, lyric booklet that's hard to read, the cover folds weird, and looks stupid. Am I the only one who thinks paying $8+ for a 7" is stupid? Fuck this label. Ropes, keep trying...

Pukeoid- s/t (Not Normal Records)
Pukeoid is a band from the Indiana/Chicago area I think. Musically I would say they fit with bands like Raw Nerve and Culo (having members of both bands share art duties on the cover) from that area. Musically, I'd say it's also akin to No Class or the Ropes (not the  Repos). So I mean if you follow the mid-west USA scene, all of those comparisons are compliments. This is cool, and the record is pink. Is it too predictable to have pictures of people puking on the cover, or if it wasn't there, would you be disappointed? I can't decide.

Backslider- Maladapted (To Live A Lie Records)
Backslider are back with another 7" before they headed off to Europe for a few weeks earlier this summer. BS has really evolved as a band, which honestly I kinda wrote off for only having 2 people. The song writing on here has gotten more technical and diverse. There's some parts that have late 90's style metalcore leads, and some slower Black Sabbath style riffage, all while packaged in the short fast and loud format. This is real good, if you're into pv/grind, you need to get this for sure!

Hounds of Hate- No Redemption (Katorga Works)
Hounds of Hate are a new straight edge band from outside of Pittsburgh, PA. Musically, they seem to be a bit slow paced from what you'd usually associate with a straight edge band. Soundimg more like the slower Cro-Mags songs, and with a definite late 80's NYHC slant.  At first, I wasn't too into it, then seeing them live on tour, I was sold. There's some real hard mosh parts here, without cheating some metal riffs and double bass pedal. I'm way into this. Apparently they're working on an LP now, which I hope will also rule.

On Parade- s/t (Desensitized Records)
This sXe band from CA flew under the radar, and I can't figure out why. Generally if a band is named after a Straight Ahead song, I will give them a shot. Glad I did in this case, because this rules. This sounds a lot like Nightstick Justice, real raw blown out recording, but fast no frills HC. I guess in the world of straight edge, you need to be on a cool label and get hype, but this blows anything that's currently on any hype label out of the water (I won't name names, but you know). Cover art isn't really selling it, but try to find this.

Male Nurses- Wanna Play Doctor b/w GI Jock (Cowabunga Records)
This is the first release on Cowabunga Records' "Sick Club," which is a singles club like the old Sub Pop Records club. These 2 songs were supposed to be on a 7" on No Way that never got released, and the rest of the record got scrapped. I was a bit skeptical, since it had been like 2 years since their last record, but the song writing is on point on here. Some real complex structures (while still being a punk band). Reminds me a lot of D.I., and it seems like the surfy guitar tone is mostly gone or buried. Wish there were more songs...

Slugz- Empty Space (Cowabunga Records)
Slugz is a band from Richmond, VA. I know they have a few 7"s, but this is the first I've gotten by them. You get 3 tracks of songs that show an influence ranging from garage punk to early 80's CA punk. Reminds me of that band, the Blinds from Germany (anyone remember them?). This is pretty cool, and I think there's a member or Dry Spell in this, which would make sense.

Brain Killer- s/t #3 (Framework Records / Vinyl Rites Records)
Brain Killer's 3rd and possibly last 7" is a killer. Not straying too far from their usual raw punk influenced by Japanese HC sound. The recording is dirty as hell, but still listenable. It sounds like there's just a track of just feedback. I ran into the singer on tour and asked, and he said there were like 3 tracks of just feedback. Well, there you have it kids, that's why your band sucks and Brain Killer rules... more feedback tracks. I really hope this isn't their last record, because this is great.

Love Potion- Intimacy (RSR Records)
First of all I want to throw out a policy that if your band names a song "Ejaculate With Hate," I will buy your record. Love Potion's 2nd and final 7" only has 3 songs, but all are killer.  Riff heavy Japanese influenced HC, reminds me a lot of World Burns to Death/ Severed Head of States when both bands were at their respective peaks. Great record.

Power Trip- s/t (Lockin Out Records)
While I generally run hot and cold on the Lockin Out hype, this band really stands out. As opposed to the usual LOC sound, these guys have a more crossover metal vibe (there's even a Prong cover). This style is often tried, and 9 times out of 10 fails. This however is worth your time if, like me, you grew up on that style of metal. I hear their next record is on Southern lord, which makes a lot of sense. Definitely check this out.

Beware- Won't Get The Best Of Me (Back To Back Records)
Beware had a promising 4 song demo (3 of those songs were re-recorded on this), so I was stoked to see what they did on the 7". Musically they remind me a lot of the tail end of the youth crew bands, like Mouthpiece and Chain of Strength. The vocals are very COS sounding in particular. The recording is a definite step up from their demo, but I noticed something really odd... All of the songs have the same theme, of someone breaking edge/ dropping out of the scene/ losing that person as a friend. I mean that's some common territory in HC, but seems real weird that every song is about that. Despite that, this is probably the best of the Back To back bands, and the best HC band from Philly in a long time. Expect big things...

Tremors- Island Songs  (Six Feet Under Records)
When I was in Europe in 2010 w/ Coke Bust, we played with these guys in the UK, and they were great. Real raw fast hardcore punk, with some modern touches. Their demo was real cool. The new record seems to definitely go a more modern HC route, reminding me of the early stuff of Bracewar or Ceremony. The cover art is also really bad, and boring. Bummer.

Divine Right- Pray For Me (Residue Records)
Picked this up with the Sickoids LP, not really knowing what to expect. The description said Negative Approach, but I guess maybe there's another band called Negative Approach. This sounds more in line with slow heavy bands like Slices. Not my thing, probably would appeal to the Youth Attack crowd though.

Desolation- Rest In Panic (Prank Records)
I got this from Prank while ordering the Forward LPs. What I was expecting was some raging Japanese influenced HC/ punk. What I got was a boring 3rd rate version of Tragedy. Pass.

Outlast- s/t (Harvcore Records)
Outlast, the only straight edge band in NJ, return for their 3rd release, and by far their best. They play fast/ hard youth crew influenced HC, that will disappoint fans of Floorpunch. The recording quality is a little more raw than their past efforts (which I thought were a bit too clean). Everything about this record though is a huge step up from their previous record, and I think the addition of a second guitar really fills out the sound well. I know everyone's real hyped to check out that new Mindset LP, but this will tide you over in the mean time. STRAIGHT EDGE!

Mikey Erg!- Fucifer (Bloated Kat Records)
Mikey Erg had been doing his solo stuff since the Ergs split. I was a fan of the Ergs, so it was cool to see Mikey play those songs solo live. He also did new songs. I picked up this red flexi square at the show, and was surprised at what I got. Mikey plays all the instruments, but it's all fast hardcore/ punk songs. Think more like the Ergs' "Thrash Compacter" 7"s stuff. This stuff is real good, definitely not what I was expecting, and probably more my style than the rest of his solo stuff. Very cool.

Weekend Nachos/ Lack of Interest (Deep Six Records)
When Weekend Nachos play fast, they're killer. When they play slow, I'm not as interested. Luckily they decided to throw 5 fast songs on here, and they're all great. Lack of Interest has been around for forever, and recently started releasing new material. Granted it's not as solid as their classic "Trapped Inside" LP, but it's still real good. It seems liek they have 2 singers now, and both switch off on songs, which is kinda weird. The cover art looks weird too, like a magnet your mom would have in her office. WN take the cake on here, but great overall.

the Afternoon Gentlemen/ Cyborg (RSR Records)
Cyborg's demo was real cool, but this was my first exposure to The Afternoon Gentlemen. TAG are more on the grid side of power violence, and have the kinda screeched vocals, metal tone guitar and super fast drums. Not really my cup of tea. Cyborg boast half of Weekend Nachos, but is more along the lines of WN's earlier material. It's power violence with goofy lyrics. While really good, doesn't really stack up to WN. The cover art on this record is really sick, and has a obi strip for the band names, but the cover itself is this amazing wrap around painting.

Extortion/ Completed Exposition (RSR Records)
Man, I love Extortion, but what happened? I mean the band had like 9000 records, but this is definitely their worst material. What is with the dancy intro? The drums and guitars just sound off, like someone wanted to play faster, but couldn't. Completed Exposition I know nothing about, but they have 2 bass players and no guitar (which actually isn't that terrible). You can skip this record though.


Birth Deformities- Suburbanized MLP (Cowabunga Records)
So this is a 10", but it's basically like an LP,  sue me. After what I thought was the best demo of 2011, Birth Deformities step it up on their first vinyl output. There's about half new, half demo songs here. The recording quality is a lot more raw, and faster. The guitar unfortunately doesn't have that same tone as the demo (which I loved). This thing is great, I really love this band (probably more than Culo even). The cover art is obviously ridiculous, as you can see above.

Sickoids- s/t (Residue Records)
Sickoids is a newish band based out of Philly, with members of Witch Hunt and Government Warning/ Direct Control. Musically leaning more towards Witch Hunt, but with a heavy Crucifix influence. They're musically more interesting and complex than your average "crust" or "raw punk" band, though definitely fit within the context of those bands. This is one of the best LPs this year, and anyone who saw them live on their US tour will agree. Unfortunately they just played their last show for a long time (if ever), since all of the members are leaving Philly for various parts of the country.

Failure Face- Discography 1993-1996 (Give Praise Records)
Failure Face may be my favorite 90's hardcore band. If they were based out of California, they would probably have been grouped in with the power violence legends.  They existed at the same time as Infest, and definitely channeled the same influences. The music is fast and heavy. The intro to "Life" starts the LP, and is harder than any NYHC band's intro. The lyrics are hateful, negative and self loathing. The perfect soundtrack for having a bad day. This reissue compiles all of their recorded output, previously released as "Complete Failure" with a live set. There's an extensive booklet with a history of the band, photos and lyrics.  This LP is perfect, and a great way to keep this band on people's radar. Also, they just did a few reunion shows to celebrate this, and the videos I saw were killer. "Fuck You, I Came To See Failure Face!"

School Jerks- s/t (Grave Mistake Records)
If you're not familiar with School Jerks already, I feel bad for you. They've got 3 other vinyl releases and a few tapes. I was really looking forward tot his LP, since the 7"s always left me wanting more, and was not let down at all. SJ really cracked the early Black Flag sound, and pull it off better than a lot of pathetic imitators. There's also a hit of Necros in there too. The vocals have the snotty, raspy slurred quality to them, and luckily they've omitted the lyrics again, so I have no idea what the songs are about. Awesome cover art, awesome colored vinyl choice. All around awesome LP. If you think that shitty band OFF! is good, buy this and see what real hardcore/ punk not played by old assholes sounds like.

Trauma- s/t (Feral Ward Records)
Trauma is a side project band of 2 of the Tragedy guys. Granted I could care less about Tragedy in 2012, but generally speaking, they tend to crank out some cool side projects. I had heard it was short and fast songs, so it piqued my interests. This falls somewhere between Deathreat and Warcry, and reminds me a lot of that band Repercussions from a few years back.  I remember hearing either demos or these tracks a long time ago on a Myspace page, and basically forgot about them until this LP that just came out, so I'm not sure when this was recorded. It's real good though, I'm into it, some raging d-beat for our ear holes.

Kuro- 1983-1985
Kuro was a band from Japan in the 80's. Musically along the lines of GISM, mixing metal with punk, but in a manic way that only the Japanese can pull off. This is a bootleg, but a very well made bootleg The insert has a full history of the band, and a list of the other bootlegs. You'll never find an original version of their records, and a legit reissue probably won't ever happen. If you like Japanese HC at all, you need to check this out because it's really well done and rules.

No Class- Keine Klasse II (Deranged Records)
Keine Klasse I was awesome, so obviously I picked up #II. Unfortunately the same thing I thought about the first, in that the music rules, but the cover art is terrible. This time looking likes some Dio era Sabbath record. Gatefold cover, with full colored church windows, also the lyrics are in a display font and hard to read. All that aside, the music does indeed rule. They re-recorded the 2 songs from the demo that weren't re-recorded for the first LP here as well. "Burning Bridges" particularly sounds great here. This actually sounds closer to sounding like the Repos than the Repos can even pull off. Easily a top 5 of 2012 contender.

Hard Skin- We're The Fucking George: Singles 1978-1981
 Not familiar with Hard Skin yet? Get your head out of your arse, you cunt! Here's a great introduction to the band, with some real anthems on it that were later re-recorded on their LPs. "We Are the Wankers" and "Make My Tea" are pretty much live staples. To call Hard Skin a joke band doesn't give them enough credit. They also happen to be one of the best oi bands in a long time, in a scene bogged down with shitty bar rock. They were easily one of my favorite sets at This is Hardcore, especially because the crowd was not into them, and they made fun of them. Just buy all of their records, really.

Agnostic Front- Live at CBGB's (Bridge 9 Records)
Bridge 9 has been getting some killer reissues under their belt, while at the same time releasing some terrible new records by these old bands. This probably goes down as the HC best live record. Between the songs and live banter, it's perfect. You get a good mix of the first 3 (4?) records here, though heavily featuring the Victim In Pain LP (best HC LP? I think so!) in the set list. Bridge 9 had the foresight to make the perfect vinyl color for this, red/white and blue split vinyl. PERFECT! The B9 version also has embossed letters, which makes the whole package real cool. If you don't have it already, here's your chance!

The Guns- s/t (Smog Veil Records)
The Guns were an early 80's Cleveland punk band. This double LP collects all of their recorded output; which spans unreleased songs, comps, demo, live and practice tracks. I probably would have been ok with the first LP, as the 2nd is mostly practice/live and not as interesting, but useful for completeists I guess. This band would be a major influence on a lot of the Cleveland hc/ punk scene, particularly the Non-Commercial Records scene. Apparently these guys were like 15 when they started, and it has that raw 80's youthful rage. It's definitely a cool collection worthy of a reissue, with a killer Vince Rancid cover illustration.

Forward- Just Go Forward to Death (Prank Records)
Forward- What's The Meaning of Love? : Singles Collection (Prank Records)
As the title would suggest, this is a collection of Forward's EPs on one convenient LP.Those 7"s are close to impossible to find, as they were all released by Japanese labels, some over 10 years ago by now. Forward is a band that i hold sort of dear to my heart. They were the first Japanese HC band I ever was able to catch live, and really blew me away. While they weren't my introduction to Japanese HC, they definitely strengthened my love and respect for the scene. The cool thing about this collection is that it spans the band's discography, not just all early material. You get a nice mix here, and some early versions of songs that would later appear on LPs.
If I was forced to pick a favorite Forward LP, this may be it (or at least in the top 3). Fast raging straight forward Burning Spirits style HC from members of Death Side. While the flirt with some weird elements like harmonica and female backup vocals, they stay truer to the BS style than their peers in Paintbox. Also "What's The Meaning of Love?" on this version is superior to the previously mentioned collection. I think this is the first time this was issued on vinyl, since I think the original was just a CD release.

The Rival Mob- "Mob Justice" promotional mix tape (tape)
The Mob continues to rule all on this new tape of songs that will be on their upcoming LP on Revelation Records (I think we were all shocked to hear that). Unfortunately the tape I have is different from the rip that was online, so it doesn't have the intro and "Boot Party," 2 crucial jams for sure. The other songs are killer, you even get a cover (Blitz) and goofy track (Phil Anselmo gibberish) much like the HC4HC mixtape. These were supposed to be #'d out of 500, but mine was not.

Negative Degree  (tape)
From the unlikely location of Denver, CO; Negative Degree unleashes a killer demo here. This would have fit in perfectly in the mid-2000's at a No Way Fest, when a lot more bands were playing the stripped down early 80's style. The guitar tone is clean, but dirty, similar to the Shipwrecked LP. Musically, I see a real early Articles of Faith/ pre-Revolution Summer DC scene influence. This demo is great, and just got re-pressed as a 7" in Europe in case you can't find the tape version.

Violent Outburst (Tension Head Records) (pro-tape)
Violent Outburst is a new band from VA with members of Wasted Time/ Socialcide and Mad World. More or less what you'd expect from a band with those members, to be raw, fast and raging. I get a real early Discharge vibe, but this is no d-beat clone, think more like Manipulation. This rules, I must have listened to this like 5 times in a row. I like the recent crop of band with "violent" in their name, it fits the negativity of modern times. 10 people got shot a block away from where I work last week.

War X Games (tape)
W X G is a new band from Baltimore with members of Deep Sleep and Mindset. The music is thick, fast and heavy; sort of like Haymaker. The vocals (same as Deep Sleep) however, are more punk sounding. I could see these guys and Sick Fix fitting on the same show really well, since they have a similar heavy approach to straight edge. My only gripe is that the solos/leads really sound overdubbed (which they obviously were). Otherwise, it's a really good demo, and I'm sure you'll be hearing more from them.

ACxDC- The Second Coming (tape)
This band has been generating some buzz in the power violence scene, so I wanted to check them out, but all I could find was this tape of their 2nd 7". I believe the band broke up, and got back together, with this being their return record. Musically it's pretty standard fastcore, but lyrically it's unfortunately also standard fastcore dopey lyrics. I don't get why this genre of music puts no effort into their lyrics and instead makes jokes and quotes movies. You play angry music, you probably have something to be angry about. This sucks.

Barge- Lose  (tape)
Barge is a new band from Richmond, VA. They remind me a lot of the 2nd Mind Eraser LP, in that they play some thick and heavy hardcore. This is real cool, recommended for people who are into slower riff heavy hardcore. I'm into it.

Lung Matter- First Demo (tape)
I caught Lung Matter on tour while in Raleigh, and they absolutely destroyed. They had a slightly different lineup on this tape (now having 2 members of Stripmines), but it's still good. My copy was copied poorly, which is kind a bummer. They just recorded a 7", which if their live set is any indication, will be killer. This tape doesn't do that justice.

Rumpshaker #6
To call this a zine doesn't do this justice, it's more like a DIY magazine. The layout is very clean, and has a very well made perfect bound spine. Rumpshaker is a zine I remember from my early punk days in the late 90's/ early 2000's, and it's good to see it back. The main reason you should buy this is for the Mike Judge interviews. Rarely do you see any interviews with him, let alone ones that will go this in depth. It's real nice to see him not bitter, just basically a calmed down old man who has no interest in rehashing the past (unlike 99% of the NYHC scene of the late 80's). There's also some great articles and interviews. Even if you're not into the bands, the interviews are very personal and are interesting. The article against dudes in sandals I 100% support as well. Great zine, definitely pick up a copy, because #7 may be another 10 years away.

Chunks #6
Chunks is my current favorite. I love their no-nonsense approach and I have a similar taste to them in terms of bands. This may be their best issue: Shipwrecked, No Tolerance and Boston Strangler interviews.  All real good, always asking the tough questions. Calling out DFJ for that Violent Minds LP sounding like shit. Asking Ben from BS about hanging out in dance clubs. You don't this hard hitting journalism anywhere else damnit. Short and sweet interviews, all in like 6 pages. Can't recommend it any higher.