Sunday, December 30, 2007

Saké !!!

Often credited as the first hardcore band to include a violinist (I'm not sure that's true), Saké contributed a small but interesting body of work to the stellar Northern California punk cannon. As far as I know, their "Piñata" 10" (1996?) and unnamed 7" (1997, both released by Hopscotch Records) were their only releases. Based in Eureka, California, Saké seemed to draw as much influence from the great Bay Area hardcore bands of the early '90's, as from the progressive metal pioneers (Neurosis, Logical Nonsense) of the time. The hardcore influence rears its head on a few tracks where the band kicks up its pace, and certainly in the vocals, which consist of both male and female yellers and screamers (at least when the violinist isn't playing her parts). Lyrically, the band stays within the righteous framework of their time and place, spouting off against gender injustice, backstabbers, and the spiritual and environmental price of progress. The general pace, however, betrays the more sludgy, metal influence, as do the meandering, unpredictable song structures which, by punk standards, enter into almost epic territory. In better moments, the songwriting is powerful, with some driving riffs, and even a little groove here and there, but at other times it drags on (but very seldom). In the case of Saké, I would say that the violin indeed adds to their sound (i.e. it isn't thrown in just to be different). Said violin is used both as a great device for moody intros, as well as a melodic component to the actual songwriting (in both fast and slow sections). On one track ("The Desert"), the melody transforms from an almost middle eastern sound, to a more American or Irish folk one. Very interesting stuff indeed.
Play it Loud!:

Friday, December 28, 2007

Under Pressure Splits

Winnipeg's Under Pressure have been making a lot of noise out there lately (both literally and figuratively). Their last two 12"s have received superlative reviews, and for good reason. UP dish out the genuine shit: authentic sounding, noisy hardcore punk with Japanese and American punk of the 80's beating through its heart. The band has changed their sound a bit since their Sound Pollution 12" ("Still No Future") by dropping the blast beats and layering the guitars more. The split 7"s featured here (as well as the Sound Pollution 7" not featured here) represent the transitional period. The guitars are straight forward, but very well played, and the drumming is energetic and tight throughout. Vocally, the singer retains the raspy punk style of the early records, (which is fine with me!) and issues forth bleak lyrics that deal with the darker side of everyday life (addiction, alienation etc.) in a manner that is both snotty and poignant. First up is UP's split with Dutch fastcore noise dealers Blood I Bleed (FlowerViolence Records, 2004). Each band contributes some originals, and one cover. Under Pressure's finest moment on this EP is their cover of "Gospelfuckers" (by Jezus and the Gospelfuckers). The other tracks are good, but not the band's best. Blood I Bleed are messy and fast, and feature a vocalist who could be a 12 year old Japanese girl or a barking baby seal, but is neither. Needless to say, they're great. Next we have UP's split with DFA (Podruido Records, 2004). This record is superior all around (slightly better sound quality, and better tracks). Under Pressure tear it up with 3 great originals, and DFA take the listener back to the American 80's with their 3 tracks of distilled speed and energy, topped off with goofy lyrics seemingly written by a 14 year old. This is an excellent EP, so be sure to play it loud!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Mine - Tetanus LP

Chocolate, clocks, cheese, neutrality, Fear of God, and Mine. This list represents my knowledge of Switzerland, superficial as it may be. This post deals with last in the list, a brutallic hardcore band of, you guessed it, the mid 1990's. Mine shared many things in common with other European contemporaries: the ferocity and metallic guitar sound of Luzifers Mob and Wounded Knee, along with the emotive qualities of Ego Trip and Dawnbreed. Although Mine released a 7" and at least one compilation track (all of which I have somewhere), their LP is by far their greatest achievement, and one of the high-water marks of the hardcore coming out of The Continent at the time. Much of the album consists of fast-as-hell drumming and catchy metallic riffs, but throughout there is a more than fair amount of slightly chunky/moshy parts, slow heavy intros, and even a little d-beat. The only thing missing is melody, but I don't think anyone will really miss it on this record. It would seem that these guys listened to a lot of Citizens Arrest before writing their songs, and even if that's false, the comparison is still valid. The overall sound is thick and intimidating, and anyone into any kind of good hardcore should give this disk a shot.

"Tetanus" was originally released collaboratively between Common Cause Records (Germany) and The Great American Steak Religion (Canada), which was Yannick's (of Union of Uranus, etc.) label at the time. As an overlooked release, it may still be possible to find it in used bins for mere pocket change. Here are my rips-- sorry if the quality sucks.

Mine "Tetanus" and split with Dawnbreed

Mine - First 7"

Monday, December 24, 2007

La Casa Fantom

Outside of Norway, La Casa Fantom get very little love. I get the impression that they either are not out to build a fan-base, or they simply don't expect to find one. The latter notion is ridiculous after one listens to this duo's product, which is a brilliant concoction of hyper-chaotic hardcore mixed with interludes of ambient rock and punk. Nay-sayers who do not respect the bass as a driving force in rock music forms may find one of their feet forcefully inserted in their mouths. Bard Spiller's bass chord alchemy is mesmerizing, and the melodies that sneak through the cracks of the unholy distortion are enough to seal the trap of any bass skeptic. There is an emotive quality here too, complements of Spiller's crafty use of dissonance at the absolute perfect moment, and his equally uncanny ability to turn it off before the effect becomes too commonplace. And let's hear it for all the drummers out there! More specifically, let's hear it for Lars Spiller, who creates, tames, and agitates again the chaos this band is known for, with all the precision of a schizophrenic octopus. The sound these two create is engrossing, and after all is done, it is hard to believe they manage to provide vocals too, considering the work their minds and bodies must be engaged in during performances (there's a video on their site to prove that they can do it all!). The vocals consist of hoarse screams, which match the music, but in the end it's the musicianship that stays with you.
La Casa Fantom has released quite a few records, and will be releasing another one in coming months. You may be able to obtain their records directly from them, so visit their site. Below are some rips of two records I managed to get my mitts on. Check 'em out! But keep an open mind, etc., etc...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Post Regiment

Doing a post on Post Regiment here may be like preaching to the choir, but I can't help but fear the possibility that someone out there has yet to be anointed...

Post Regiment was perhaps the greatest punk/hardcore band to ever come out of Poland (yes, I said it... and yes my exposure to Polish bands is a admittedly limited), and one of the best ever world wide (I'm not retracting that either!). When I listen to either of the LPs depicted above, I often wonder if I need to listen to any other punk records ever again. Granted, that thought disappears when the music stops playing, but at the time it is truly genuine. PR fills me with such fist-pumping euphoria, I often lose my faculties. Their ability to do this lies in the almost-perfection of their all-encompassing sound, replete and often oozing with sincerity, energy, speed, controlled melody/catchiness, diverse song writing, quirky, slightly distorted guitars, pounding bass, righteous lyrics, and the most awesome sounding vocalist any hardcore band could want! Further descriptions will only cheapen PR's greatness, so I will stop here.

For a fairly complete and succinct history of the band, go here. PR has another LP where they collaborated with members of Tragiedia and covered that band's songs. This album ("Tragiedia wg Post Regiment"), as well as their recently released demos LP ("Death Before Metal") is widely available and highly recommended. Members are thankfully still gracing us with their talents in such bands as PESD (the guitarist) and EL Banda (the bassist), and their influence is everywhere (most notably: check out the recent album by Antidotum). Finding Post Regiment's first two albums anywhere outside of Poland, on any format other than cassette is a real B-word. If any band members or labels have issues with me posting these tracks, let me know and I'll take care of it.

Kneel down, and humble yourself! (or don't...):
"Czarzly" (PR's best album! I added an LP only version of "Aniol")
"Post Regiment" (PR's first and almost best album! Contains some non-LP tracks)
Please try to support this band and its representing labels because they deserve it:

Monday, December 3, 2007

Systral - "Fever..." 10"

I hope you'll humor my obsession with 1990's bands; that decade held most of my musically formative years, and I haven't exhausted the archives yet! Today's reason to gush is a 13 track 10" of hybridized grind from Germany's Systral. Recorded in 1995, "Fever" (Per Koro Records) skillfully fused many of grindcore's basic elements (blast beats, low end guitars, growled/screamed vocals) with the tropes prevalent in the burgeoning "modern" US hardcore "scene" of the time (frenetic bursts of energy and dissonant guitar meanderings most associated with bands like Merel, Heroin, and Union of Uranus). Systral managed to distill the essence of pure bleakness between their fairly sparse blast beat runs by slowing things way down, tuning their guitars way low, and cranking the distortion and volume way up. The resulting guitar sound, coupled with the creepingly slow tempos, cast a foreboding ambience central to this record's uniqueness and power.

Systral's catalog consists of this 10", a 7", a split 7" with Acheborn, some compilation tracks, and the "Black Smoker" LP, which was perhaps a precursor to the "Death n' Roll" subgenre that's all the rage with the kids today, but which was marred by the snide use of a canned audience track throughout the album. It's a good record, but it still does not come close to the EP posted below. Members' involvement in bands like Acme and Morser have brought attention to Systral, but only peripherally it seems. The lack of international availability of their early releases has only helped to enshroud their name further in obscurity (at least outside of Germany). But, alas, pioneering bands will never be truly forgotten, and the cult of Systral is thriving out there in the shadowy crawlspaces and damp basements of hardcore history.

Systral's "Fever" 10"

Buy the CD (contains extra tracks):
Per Koro Records

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


The idea of a guitar-less band with three bass players and an occasional violinist may reek of pretentiousness to many. But when it comes to the experimentation going on during the glorious 1990's, it isn't fair to jump so hastily to such conclusions. The line-up described above corresponds to Montreal's short-lived, yet mighty Seized. Finding information about these guys is a real futility frolic, but what is clear is that this band generated a mere nine brooding sludge dirges during the mid '90's that lull you at first, but then infect you virus-like while your guard is down. On their early tracks, which kick off the Seized Discography CD (Hater of God Records), the bass distortion is so thick, it's difficult to distinguish each musician's part. On these offerings, the band keeps its sound in the traditional sludge range, entrancing the listener with plodding, steady rhythms and ominous riffs. As the band reached its second phase, their sound adopted more progressive song structures and continued the use of their grindcore style vocals while adding a spoken dimension to them at times. The distortion on the basses is toned down a bit, revealing the interplay between them much more on these tracks. The musicians seem to have also found a new sense of liberation from the simple, 70's style rock/metal riffs, and dabble in a more expansive variety of stylistic arrangements. I wouldn't make too big a deal about the violin mentioned above; simple violin melodies are interspersed on the split LP (with Ire) tracks, but it is not central to the band's sound. I think I enjoy these later tracks better(#'s 5-9), and if you're new to Seized, I would recommend listening to the entire Discography before making up your mind about them. Is there any point to making comparisons? Pointing out the few likenesses to Man Is The Bastard is tempting, but inadequate, and all other such attempts will be similarly flaccid. So the only thing to do, is listen:

Seized "Discography CD"

Buy yourself a copy:

Monday, November 19, 2007

Abc Weapons

Here's a ripping band to watch out for. Abc Weapons, from Melbourne, Australia, tear out a stomping aural affront that borrows generously from old Japanese hardcore, scandi-crust, and the Tragedy-inspired hardcore flooding the contemporary DIY circuit. The dark guitar melodies, compliments of current members of Schifosi, are what raise this band up from the crowd. What can I say? I can't get enough of the gloom and doom of the bands coming out these days, and Abc Weapons combines that depressing quality with an unusual amount of warmth and unstoppable energy. Upon checking the availability of their two releases (the self-titled 7" & "Process of Decay" 12"), I have come up short. No distros in the states are carrying them, and Endless Blockade's website was down. The 12" is stocked at Alerta Anti-Fascista if you live in Europe and are interested. The good news is that the band is putting out its first full length soon on Putrid Filth Conspiracy, and you can sample two of the tracks on their myspace page. Until the first two records are more widely available, I'll go ahead and post them below.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Life... But How to Live It?

Absolute criminal neglect! I don't believe there are any Life But How to Live It records/CDs in print. Even Ebullition has let the glorious 12" to your left out of circulation. Oslo's Life... But How to Live It was one of the most creative and talented bands ever to be associated with the words punk or hardcore. Certainly, many will object to the latter term completely, even with the looseness with which that term was tossed around in the '90's. But LBHTLI exemplified the politics and ethics of hardcore, even if they did employ a whole lot of rock elements. The main factors that made this band such a standout force in music were the amazing guitar work and soulful vocals of Roger Andreassen and Katja Osvold respectively. As the band progressed toward the middle period of their short 5 year existence, Andreassen became more daring with his squealing brand of rocked out, fretboard artistry. The two eps that followed their "Day by Day" LP are testimony to his over-the-top, hyper-active guitar genius, which is why I placed them at the top of the download list below. Then there's Katja... The robust melodies she belted out are a rich mixture of the angst of punk, the catchiness of pop, and the soul and sincerity of folk. Lyrically, the band blended their political message with a very earthy, personal touch, which only endeared them more to their '90's audience. To those who have never listened to this band, I would suggest entering their musical world with an open mind (especially if you are an exclusively crustified grindcore type!). And to everyone: below are tracks from the "Green" EP, the "Burn" EP (also appear on the Ebullition 12"), the self-titled LP, and the "Day by Day" LP. Thank you to a few anonymous people on Soulseek who have unknowingly contributed to this collection!


First two LPs
"Ugly" and Eps

Some members are currently in a punk band called Drunk.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Konfrontation - Another Reason Why Sweden Rules (musically)!

In my fervent search for more furious Swedish hardcore along the lines of Skitsystem, Kontrovers, Martyrdod, etc., I happily came across Konfrontation. Their name and cover art are rather unassuming, but within the grooves of their LP, "Nedbrytningsprocessen" (2005?), festers some of the best hardcore of this style I've heard so far. Like their genre-mates above, Konfrontation uses plenty of speed and distorted guitars, but on several tracks (see samples below) the song writing is rather unpredictable, leading the listener into slower moments of melody, and downright slow moments of undistorted guitar picking. Perhaps being in that region of the world, the progressive metal scene (Burst, Cult of Luna) has inadvertently leeched into Konfrontation's way of doing things. Either way, this blazing record is firmly planted in the DIY hardcore vein, and if you enjoy the dark, Swedish style, this album is essential!

"Inatvant Hat"

Buy if for Cheap (Americans):
Crimes Against Humanity

Dist & Confused

Sunday, November 4, 2007


The word of the day, girls and boys, is HEAVY! SoCal's Mange serve up the heavy with a steam shovel! Consisting of members of anarcho-grind legends Phobia, and now featuring members of crust-metal gods Dystopia and progressive metallers Anubis Rising, Mange have managed a very sparse output of some of the heaviest sludge metal ever produced. It all started in 1997 with their "Junkie" demo, followed the next year by the immensely heavy "Disillusioned" CD (Half Life Records). Release-wise, the band showed little sign of life until they put out their 2005 self-titled demo, which has a decidedly doomy, "Noothgrush-esque" lean to it (not a bad thing at all!). Their one readily available release is of course, "Disillusioned." This disc showcases one of the heaviest guitar sounds I've ever heard (the heaviest?) with tempos that are all over the place, but stay in the "fairly slow" range most of the time. The riffs are often catchy, but not too noodly, leaving enough space for the heaviness to sink through to your very soul. If you enjoy Phobia's traditional grind vocals, you'll find a similar delivery here, which of course, works well with the overall intimidating heaviness of the final product. Listen to this after a bad day, and all will be forgotten.
Sample the Heaviosity:
Support the Band/Label (as always):

Monday, October 29, 2007

Out Cold

Out Cold is a band anyone can respect. For about 17+ years now, these Massachusetts old schoolers have ripped assholes anew on album after album. Rather than rehashing early eighties American hardcore, Out Cold blend the more menacing specimens of that era (ie. Negative Approach) with a dose of the futility, desperation, and irony that marks our current one (... and perhaps a bit of Death Side style hardcore spread on top? Maybe it's just my ears....). Don't sample Out Cold songs expecting to hear the latest ultra-brutal-mathy-progressive-crusty-blackened-tech-thrash. In fact, it seems these punks pride themselves on an ethic of complete "bullshitlessness": they have spent their years of live and studio time shunning trends and simply playing the music they love.
Despite a fair amount of touring, and consistently great reviews, Out Cold have only managed to blip a few times on the recognition radar. Arguably, their recent albums are their best material, so now is a great time to track them down while they are not impossible to find. Below are some samples from their last two full lengths. Give 'em a try if you're not already hooked.
from "Goodbye Cruel World" (Mad at the World Records/Acme Records)
from "Will Attack if Provoked" (Deranged Records/Acme Records)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Zero Hour Repost!!!

Back in July I posted Zero Hour's tracks from their amazing 7". These tracks were downloaded more than any others that I've posted, so I've made them available again. And, because it appears that their split LP is once again sold out (this time permanently?), I've posted those tracks too. Just go to the original post to experience all the misery and beauty!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Summon the Crows - "Scavengers Feast"

The crusty-ass stenchcore revival has reached Norway! Summon the Crows is Oslo's answer to American bands like Stormcrow and Hellshock, and European bands like Filth of Mankind and Instinct of Survival. On "Scavengers Feast," (Nakkeskudd Plater/Cradle to the Grave Records) you get 13 tracks of bestial crustcore played EXCEPTIONALLY well. These chaps don't rely too heavily on the chuggin' Bolt Thrower worship, but instead mix in subtle melody and a bit of dissonance to keep the listener alert and on edge. What you get is what you should always get from a crust record: something rather modern, but which nods respectfully to Deviated Instinct and Amebix. And, if you dig below the death-obsessed surface of STC's lyrics, you will easily find a distinctly anarchist lean to their ideas, especially with respect to making personal decisions in life. This album is solid as hell, and absolutely rises above much of the overwhelmingly abundant and often mediocre output of the DIY world. See what you think:


"Life is Shit"

Buy It:
Profane Existence

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Zygote - "89-91"

Some reviewers have commented that Zygote didn't "do it for them." I believe these people were probably hoping for the second coming of The Amebix. Zygote was indeed 3/4 of Amebix and, although very different, their sound was a fairly predictable evolutionary step for these visionary musicians (Of course, they could have gone an even more metal route than Amebix, but I'm glad they didn't). A former member of The Smartpils joined Stig, Spider, and Smutpig in the late '80s to form this short lived project that left behind only one proper release: the "A Wind of Knives" LP/Cd (Epistrophy Records). Skuld Releases, during one of its most productive periods, decided to release the "89-91" LP to honor the band a few years after their break-up. This long-player featured Zygote's demo and five live tracks. Obviously, the sound quality is going to be inferior, but it doesn't seem to hinder the enjoyability of these tracks. What makes the demo side exciting is the fact that a couple of the songs were not released on "A Wind of Knives," and are by no means throwaways. For those who have never experienced Zygote, expect dark, psychedelic/psychotic guitar melodies, hypnotic guitar rhythms, and hoarse, semi-melodic vocals. Comparisons have been made to early Killing Joke, which is fair to a certain extent. Otherwise, I'm at a loss for any accurate comparisons (maybe The Smartpils...). The lyrics deal with all manners of mental derangement and existential loneliness, and are alternately bizarre, beautiful, haunting, and, at times, disturbing (see "Scarred"). So, Zygote does "do it for me." There is a certain "coldness" to their sound, and they aren't the ultra-crust gods some expected, but their small legacy is still excellent and one of a kind.

Skuld only pressed about 2000 of these, but you can still find a copy here and there. For now, enjoy the electronic version:

Reposted Here

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thin The Herd

Chicago seems like a sleeping beast when it comes to good crusty hardcore... and it has awakened under the name Thin The Herd! Wrench in the Gears Records put out Thin The Herd's debut LP "Mournful and Overcast" about a year ago, and I don't believe it has received the attention it deserves. These guys bring the noise the way I like it: crushing and frantic drumming, heavy and dark rhythm guitar, and lead guitars that stagger the line between chaos and melody. Imagine the unrestrained ferocity of Hail of Rage's throaty vocals and steamroller crust rhythms, coupled with Kakistocracy's dissonance and urgency. This is one powerful record brought to you by potentially one of the best US crustcore bands around.

Thin The Herd is indeed still around, but it seems the members are focusing on their other (metal) band, Black September, quite a bit more at present. Perhaps with some encouragement, they'll at least leave us another great album before ceasing operations.

"Barely Breathing"

Crimes Against Humanity
Young, Angry, and Poor

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hatred Surge 7"

When a band names itself after a Napalm Death demo, you know you're in for a treat, and a little tinnitus. Hatred Surge is Alex Hughes, formerly of Insect Warfare. The nine tracks of pure aural hatred found on their/his vinyl debut EP (2005) are met with much pleasure by this reviewer. The songs are, of course, ridiculously fast (for the most part), and range from 30 seconds to two minutes in length. Precision is certainly not lacking, however there is enough of a chaotic feel to the recording to capture the genuine sense of rage which is mandatory for a powerviolence/grindcore record. Behind each rager is the expected laconic, misanthropic rant calling for the violent dispatching of our "elected" leaders, technocrats, Christians, and all other embarrassments to our species. All the best aspects Infest, Despise You, Iron Lung, and Crossed Out blend into the unholy miasma that is Hatred Surge. Long after the heyday of powerviolence, we may now be witnessing the arrival of one of the best bands in the genre, ever!

I can understand why labels are doing smaller pressings nowadays, but some records should NEVER go out of print! 625 Thrashcore Records has seen this EP fit for obsolescence. Until this changes, all the MP3s are available below. Hatred Surge has also released a split EP with Insect Warfare (OOP), and a split LP with The Endless Blockade. There are some exciting projects in the works, (including a split with Iron Lung) so keep your eyes peeled.

Download Zip Here

Friday, September 14, 2007

Coldbringer - "Lust and Ambition"

Just when I was afraid I would run out of Leatherface albums to wear out, I find Coldbringer. These Portland rockers don't sound like Leatherface, but they conjure the same bitter-sweet melancholia, via a similar punk-rock-meets-smokey-pub-workin'-class-rock aesthetic. At first I thought their 12" (Dead Ideas Records), "Lust and Ambition," was "very promising." But after many listens, I have upgraded my opinion to "damn good!" With a thick guitar sound, pounding punk rock tempos, and gruff Lemmy/Stubbs-esqe melodic vocals, it's hard not to be swept away by these tracks. Coldbringer seems to have some projects lined up for the near future, despite some line-up issues... so let's hope they stick around for a while.


"Metaphysical Ways"
"Death Generation"

Buy the Wax:
Brickwall Records
Hardcore Holocaust

Monday, September 10, 2007

Daymare 7"

Here's an ep that should have kicked off an excellent "career." Unfortunately, it appears that Daymare's 7" was a swan song & debut all in one. Released in 2003 alongside many other HHIG/Tragedy/Skitsystem-inspired European bands, Daymare certainly had my attention. They had the emotive darkness of fellow Frenchmen Fingerprint, with the heavy Swedish influence of the aforementioned bands. The (early) His Hero is Gone comparison enters the picture during the slow, ponderous, chunky moments where the band creates a very dreary contrast to their otherwise high speed approach. It is certainly at these times when the shrill, desperation of the vocals can be most appreciated. The singer is a woman, which shouldn't matter, but let's face it, sometimes it's nicer to hear a female's vocals, or at least a combination of both genders. The lyrics are fairly political, but are presented through the lens of the individual. Themes cover "workaholism," female self-image, and the bleak prospect of bringing children into the world in its current state of moral absence (but not morality in the Christian Fundamentalist kind of way, mind you). The ep was released jointly on Ratbone Records and Stonehenge Records, and according to the former, it is out of print. Until I hear otherwise, download at will... especially if you like Schifosi, Ekkaia, Garmonbozia, Ballast, or any bands mentioned previously.

Download Zip Here

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pink Turds in Space vs. Sedition

Along with the Crudos/Spitboy LP, I think the Sedition/Pink Turds in Space LP is my favorite split LP of the 90's. The record was originally released on Real to Real Records in 1990, and then reissued in 1994 on the great Flat Earth Records. Both bands have since released discography Cd's, but even those are becoming increasingly scarce.
Sedition was an assemblage of impassioned Scotsmen who played meaningful peace punk/hardcore with a bit of metal, fronted by a screaming bearded dude in a kilt. My introduction to the band was in the form of their one LP, "Earthbeat," which was a slightly modernized thrash/hardcore barrage, propelling lyrics which encouraged humans to resist over-production, over-consumption and state control by returning to their tribal roots, either physically or at least psychologically/spiritually/mentally. The tracks they contributed to the split LP, being recorded at an earlier time, were cruder and more straight forward, but every bit as powerful and engrossing. I hate to choose favorites, but I believe Sedition takes the title on this record (and just in general). Tracks from this split LP, the "Earthbeat" LP, and the split 7" with Disaffect are included on Sedition's discography CD, which is out there if you search for it. Band members went on to play in Scatha, The Dagda, Ruin...
Flip this platter over and you've got Ireland's Pink Turds in Space. In addition to donning one of the best names in punk history, they also boast some of the most obnoxious lyrics and vocals. Their music has more of a thrash metal influence, but the shitty production dulls the metal edge some. The vocals and attitude, however, firmly embed this band in the musical space we call punk. They're raw, they're pissed, they're funny... you will/already do love them. Rejected Records in Dublin put out the "The Complete Pink Turds in Space" CD, compiling these split LP tracks, the "Greatest Shits" 12", the split 7" with Charred Remains (MITB), demo material, and live tracks. Hunt it down if you can. Members formed Bleeding Rectum and other bands (leave a comment if you know names!).
Sample Tracks (if you've never heard these bands):
Download the entire Split LP (zip)
Click Here!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Chispas - Relax! Nothing Is Under Control

Germany is my go-to country now for excellent melodic hardcore. With bands like Lost World, El Mariachi, Kobayashi, Inner Conflict, etc., it's no wonder. Chispas continue the melodic tradition on their only full length "Relax! Nothing Is Under Control." With all of the great political bands out there incorporating melody and a discordant, modern edge into their punk, Chispas breaks no new ground. But like a lot of German bands, they raise the quality bar. The music is mid-paced to moderately fast, with guitar melodies that tend toward a slightly darker range of tones, but without being too oppressive or depressing. The male/female vocal trade-offs are harsh, but very listenable. In fact, the female singer sounds uncannily like Tati from Lost World/Endrophobia/His Iro Is Gone, which is in no way a bad thing! Actually I wouldn't have any problem with more vocalists copping her grating brand of snotty punkness. The cover art is easy to ignore, so I thought I would present this record for those who may have overlooked it. Definitely a winner if you like Lost World, Ballast, Paragraf 119, To What End?, Bread and Water...




Profane Existence
Scenester Credentials

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Unhinged - Win Our Freedom In Fire

The early '90's seemed to signal a new epoch in hardcore: musicians were staying in the "scene" longer and becoming more intelligent and musically proficient, and as a result their subsequent bands were all around better too. After the dissolution of Belgium's mighty Hiatus, at least one member went on to play in the also mighty Unhinged. This band was one of a handful that kept me interested in hardcore long enough to witness the flourishing "scene" that followed and continues today. Like contemporaries Zero Hour and Initial State, Unhinged took a darker and more passionate approach to the already crushing "crust" sound, and mixed in anguished female vocals to complete their absolutely devastating assault (Direct decedents may include Ballast, Jeniger, Kakistocracy...) The song writing is relatively complex for its time/genre, as was perhaps foreseeable from the final Hiatus 12" (which certainly improved upon the somewhat repetitive sound of Hiatus' earlier work). My favorite tracks by Unhinged come from their first two records: the "Resisting the Murder of Self" 7" and the "Win Our Freedom in Fire" LP. These two slabs are driving and raw, but still controlled and smart in every way. Their final LP "Crime and Punishment" was slower and a bit slicker, and I would certainly recommend it if you like the tracks herein. Nabat Records handled all of Unhinged's releases, and I am not sure about their availability. They seem hard to find, so I am posting rips from a CD that compiles these two records and some other early tracks (thanks to a generous "soulseeker" out there).

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Slang - Sapporo City Hardcore!

Two traditions meet in Slang. These South Coast Japanese Hardcore die-hards fuse traditional Japan-core with late '80's US east coast straight edge. If you have any doubts as to the sincerity or quality of their music, just look at the heritage of their homeland. I don't think I've ever heard a Japanese hardcore record I didn't like! These gents certainly do pull it off... and it appears that they are still together! They started off in the late '90's with a more traditional sound, and their new demo seems to be a harkening back to that. In between, "Skilled Rhythm Kills" (recorded in 2000) saw the band branching out with the more US influenced material. Combining the hard edge of NYHC with the energy and special something that makes Japanese bands so great, resulted in one heck of an album. The CD version (on Schizophrenic Records) is still available and contains some live tracks as a bonus. The LP version (see crappy photo I took of my copy above) was released on a mysterious Finnish label called Conquest Wake Records. Vinyl nuts (like me) will have to consult the ebay. Check out the tracks:

"Keep the Faith"

Hardcore Holocaust

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Maybe I wasn't paying too close attention, but Dimlaia's debut self-titled CD seemed to creep quietly out of its hole upon release. I can't imagine why it went so relatively unnoticed, because it's quite a beautiful record. The songs were recorded in 2001 (& 2003) and released in CD form on Life is Abuse Records in 2003, and then as a nice gatefold LP last year on Stonehenge records. Yes, Carl Auge, who played bass on a couple of His Hero is Gone records, plays bass here and does vocals. But Dimlaia sound nothing like this predecessor band. In spacier, quieter moments, the band creates its signature haunting atmosphere with rolling bass, twisted, duelling guitars, and, occasionally, cello. At different moments of emotional explosion, you're sure to get a heavy pummeling of distorted chords and even a little "chugga chugga," but there is no predictable pattern from one track to the next. Dimlaia takes a very different route than other slower, progressive bands of the hour, and opt for less indulgent song lengths. Instead of lulling the listener through hypnotic repetition or ambient stretches, they leave their mark relatively quickly, and, like an image poem, let the mood/image of the music fester in the listener's mind long after the song's end. The use of vocals is rather sparse. The low growl, tense yell, and and melodic singing of the three vocalists are used sparingly, as complements to the instruments' more commanding roles. As dark and desperate as these songs are, I can't help but detect hints of hope on most tracks, some kind of light or transcendence forged from their own musical adventure.
As a bonus, the insert/gatefold is emblazoned with Carl Auge's swampy, Tennessee dusklight-bathed artwork, which I find intriguing. And, if you like Dimlaia's music, also check out their split 10" with Japanese nutjobs, Swarrrm, on Superfi records, and Carl Auge's other band called Drain the Sky , which is musically similar.
Support the always excellent:

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Black Panda - Hit the Gas Barry!

Spanish society must be either in state of great prosperity or great strife, the two conditions which generally produce the best music. With all of the excitement over Sweden and Japan (as well as the good ol' USA) I didn't realize how many of my recent favorite bands are Spanish (Moho, Leadershit, Cop on Fire, Madame Germen, Ekkaia, Derrota, Ictus...). Granted, many of these bands are related membership-wise, but who cares? as long as they bring the rock!
Members of Madame Germen and Nashgul (among others) have collaborated to loosen yet another beast de espana: Black fuckin' Panda! Okay, so the name is a little anti-badass/climactic, but the music is what we're concerned with here. Black Panda "market" themselves as "D-Beat Rock 'n Roll," which may serve to deter some potential fans. D-beat, for all its simplicity, used to be a powerful form of punk. But let's face it, that same simplicity, coupled with a flooded market of bands, created a rather boring sub-genre (with some exceptions). Then we have a new sub-sub-genre of bands incorporating dirty rock'n roll with d-beat, which has produced more than a few, um... awkward/forced sounding hybrids. Without further digression, I can confidently say that Black Panda has spawned a rock/hardcore mongrel that is organic sounding, raging, and downright fun! "Tanque de 98 Octanos" (Trabuc Records) is BP's Debut LP, showcasing 10 tracks of cleanly recorded, weed and booze-primed rock-core that may lead listeners into spontaneous demolition derbies in nearby parking lots, or impulsive driveby bare-assings of local authorities. To balance out the cleanliness of the recording, the rhythm guitar's distortion is "dirtified" enough to enhance the rock feel, while the lead guitar, when not spewing solos, adds a layer of higher-end picking and chords to the riffs, which create a more complex and emotion-laced dimension. And (yes!) there is a bass presence! You can really hear the bass come through, and the interplay with the guitars is pretty central to the compelling nature of the songs. Like many of the Spanish bands mentioned above, BP's vocalist(s) employs similar hoarse screams, which, while not original, seem to work with the music perfectly. So, is this "D-Beat Rock 'n Roll?" It is sometimes. But the song writing and tempo shifts are way too diverse for the d-beat label, and such a term might insinuate 'boring' for some fans. This album is anything but boring, and if you're anything like me, this LP will not leave your turntable for months after purchase.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Okara - Months Like Years

A little change of pace here: die hard crusties may want to look away... After they broke up, Ottawa's Okara released their only full length, "Months Like Years" (Spectra Sonic Sound Records). They had already put out a 7" and a split 7" with Mothman, which were very poorly produced. "Months Like Years" has some recording issues as well, but it is far better sounding than those previous outings. And, thankfully, it is their best material as well. On this monster, you'll find 8+ tracks of somewhat mathy indie rock that might find a comfortable home in DC, as well as in San Diego (in the early '90's). The guitar is raucous, jangly, and off-kilter, but the man behind it is in total control. Competing with this is the rhythm section, which brews a dizzying concoction of hyper-jazz rock that at times would feel danceable, if it were not for its unpredictability. The competition is a draw, and the product is a very kinetic, forceful, and edgy rock record. Fans of Shotmaker, Three Penny Opera, and 30 Second Motion Picture may recognize the vocalist. However, his vocals are basically the only similarity Okara can boast of with these bands. It is a shame this 3 piece couldn't hold it together for a second LP... I can only imagine how good such a record could have been. I was hoping to post their entire record, but there are still couple of copies left out there, so I wouldn't feel right doing that.



"New Light at Danbury's"

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Skrupel - Das Powerviolence!

Whoever coined the ridiculous term "powerviolence" should be located and given a severe melvin (a procedure known in other regional dialects as a "snuggy" or simply a wedgie). Nevertheless, this musical term has stayed with us, and we're familiar with what it designates. Which brings us to Germany's Skrupel, who play powerviolence/fastcore the right fuckin' way! The obvious lineage of influence/comparisons would be Siege, Infest, Heresy, Luzifer's Mob, etc. Like a proper powerviolent band, they have their share of split 7"s out there, but their "Gyroscan T5-11" LP/CD is 17 tracks of metallic, fast, hardcore that never gets boring. Skrupel's Checklist for Keeping the Listener's Interest -Rule #1: Do not rely on speed; but if your going to play fast, have a drummer that mixes it up! Rule #2: Write distinguishable, catchy riffs. Rule #3: Try not to use monotone/overly mechanical grindcore vocals. So, if you're bored with most grindcore and fastcore, you may be pleased with Skrupel. Like many German bands, they play with great precision and calculation, but have fun/don't take themselves too seriously. The LP is in danger of going out of print, so hurry if you're interested. Also check out their split EPs with Phobia, Rupture, Brutal Death, and Godstomper.
Buy Skrupel Releases:

Monday, July 16, 2007

Zero Hour 7"

I'm sure this EP has been covered by many blogs, but I don't care! This may be my favorite 7" of all time, and I have been looking forward to sharing it. Zero Hour was a very short lived, enigmatic, and powerful hardcore band from the bay area. Their sound was eerily dark, emotive, and unique, but they must, by default, be grouped as a "crust" band because of the aesthetic of their cover art and the overall tenor of their music. I have no problem with the crust label really, but any label may serve to undermine the force that was Zero Hour. In 1994, when this record was released, there wasn't quite anything like it, and I'm not sure there has been since. I found this in my mailbox at about 2am one morning in 1995, and gave it its first listen. Later in the morning I had to play it again to make sure it was as amazing as I remembered from my "other" state of mind. It was, and I think I have played this thing every month at least since that day.

Descriptions will inevitably fall short. The aforementioned dark, chilling effect of Zero Hour's music can mainly be attributed to the guitar sound. The distortion and tuning remind me of Econochrist's (no crazy bass lines, though), as do the tempo shifts which range from "punk rock" to all out hardcore. Many have noticed some metal influence involved, but I think those claims are exaggerated due their being few preexisting punk bands quite this dark and heavy, other than those with an obvious metal edge (ie. Amebix, Deviated Instinct, etc.). The driving, often heavy, oddly tuned chords are intermittently overlaid with twisted, eerie picking parts that are not melodic, but add to the distinctness of each song, as well as that of the band's overall sound. And, you can't ignore those vocals! They are credited to a woman named "Whisper," and, man, do her vocals render her name ultra-ironic! Her voice wails each word on the verge of breaking into a scream, and, when she can't hold back any longer, she lets that banshee's cry loose! There's so much urgency in each wail and scream, that you can't help but feel the sincerity of her every word. Zero Hour's words deal with the way our diseased culture effects the individual, including war, mind control, and conformity, as well as the difficulty in reviving the essence of what it is/was to be human in the face of all this social pestilence. At times, Whisper will just talk/shout her rhetoric, which is downright preachy, but for some reason it's more than tolerable when she does it.

Spiral Records kept this 7" in print for some time, but it inevitably fell victim to obscurity. Zero Hour went on in 1995 to release a split LP with Apeface on Stinky Feet Records, which sold out quickly and remained out of print for many years. Their songs on that record were notoriously "not as good" as those on the 7". But it's still Zero Hour, and the songs are still great. Vinehell Records recently obtained the remaining record sleeves from the original label, and re-pressed the vinyl for this limited number of sleeves. They may still have some in stock.

The only band member whose activities I am familiar with is the drummer, Markley. He is the same Markley who played drums for Econochrist and Strychnine (quite a career!). The others perhaps dissolved into "musical obscurity" like their band. Zero Hour may have only released 9 songs, but they certainly showed us all what "crust punk" could be. For years now, and perhaps for years to come, they have been and will be the measure by which I evaluate all contributions to this genre.

mp3s (The back cover of the EP encourages free copying of these songs and , since I believe it's out of print, here you go:

Kolokol - (Hopefully) The Future of Hardcore

For a band that started in the mid '90's, Norway's Kolokol have given their fans very little output... until now. Moo Cow records has finally released (3 or so months ago) Kolokol's first LP "Flammer og Farger" (CD is available in Norway from Sjakk Matt Plater). For the uninitiated, Kolokol play a fast, thrashy style of melodic hardcore punk that deserves a category of its own. The star here is the guitarist, who alternates frantically between moments of dischord and catchy melody. At times the squeely chaos of his playing reminds me of fellow countrymen/women Life... But How to Live It (but not quite as involved and complex). The vocals are shouted with plenty of angst, though I wish they would have recorded them a little louder. But Kolokol has the ingredient for which there is no formula: Energy! They simply exude the shit. If you play their records too loudly, make sure there are no sharp or heavy objects close by!

I am posting songs from Kolokol's "Tilbake Til Start" 7" as well, because it would be a shame for people to miss out on this excellent disk. Here the band cranks through 6 songs which were written in the '90's. These tracks are decidedly unrelenting and fast, and afterward, you feel as though you listened to an entire album ... it's that satisfying. On the LP, the band has more space and is more "mature," so they play around more with tempo changes and song structures. Whichever incarnation of Kolokol I listen to, I must conclude that they are one of the best hardcore bands in Europe. Give 'em your support!

"Ingen Mennesker" from "Flammer og Farger"
"Ny Tid Truer" from "Tilbake Til Start"
"Solgt" from "Tilbake Til Start"

Hardcore Holocaust
Feral Ward

Friday, July 13, 2007

Jeremin - Arizona's Forgotten

How many posts out there begin with "I don't really know much about..." Well, I don't know much about Jeremin. They put this 7" out in the mid nineties some time (King of the Monsters #06), and promptly erased all signs of existence. I got the ep from a distro on a whim, and thought it was the promise of future greatness. Perhaps it could have been. The sound is a good mix of 90's "emo" (those who were listening at the time know what I mean) and some of the more metallic yet emotive bands of the time. The result is chaotic and vicious, yet thoughtful and compelling. The guitarists employ angular, discordant riffs, but they and the drummer let up every once in a while to let the bass be heard. And check out the soft part at the end of the first track with the attempt at singing. I did not expect that when I first listened to this thing. While they did flirt a little with odd time signatures, they weren't exactly "mathy" or anything, they were just a solid, tight-playing hardcore band.

If you manage to track down a copy of this ep, you will enjoy the layout, guaranteed! It may be the best packaged 7" I have ever seen. The cover has a little plastic window with a slug-type organism screened on it, and when you close the sleeve properly the window lies on top of a little patch of foil on the back cover flap. Insanity! The sleeve has a 14 or so page booklet stapled in side. The layout on these pages is simple, yet somewhat elegant. Lyrics are provided, and are, for lack of a better term, personal (sometimes bordering on political). This little nugget is worth tracking down, and if you know anything about this band, comment away!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Schifosi - Half Lit World

I picked up Schifosi's "Ill Winds from Outopia" LP a couple of years ago based on a one-line description. It probably used words like "dark" and "crusty," and most likely compared them to Tragedy. They have since become one of my all time favorite hardcore bands. The description was mostly accurate. The guitars are a dark, layered, and melodic frenzy, supported by what can only be considered d-beat drumming. They may start with slow, haunting intros on some tracks, but once the punishment starts you can expect fast-paced hardcore the rest of the way. Most fans will cite the vocals as the biggest distinguishing factor. The vocalist (yes, it is a woman) belts out a unique, gutteral roar that edges toward grindcore. Some gruff male vocals enter the mix, but the lead vocals are the shit! All their records are outstanding, but one really stayed with me...

The "Half Lit World" 7" is perhaps my favorite collection of Schifosi songs. All four are ragers, and two of them ("Drowning in the Aftermath" and "Law is Freedom") are the best songs the band has produced (only an opinion!). This ep brought their sound to a new level of darkness, with good song writing, and a heightened poetic sense introduced into their lyrics. Really great stuff!

Schifosi are from Melbourne, Australia, and I believe are still active. Members also play in Pisschrist and Abc Weapons (post coming soon on these guys). Although Schifosi toured parts of the US a couple of years ago and have plenty of fans here, I still don't think enough people know about them. In the future, don't be surprised if you encounter similar dark, female fronted hardcore bands on this site.


Schifosi/Slackjaw EP (kick start my heart)
"Ill Winds from Outopia" LP (CD includes "Half Lit World" songs) (endless blockades)
"Half Lit World" EP (aborted society)
"Absentium Existence" 12" EP (alerta anti-fascista)

"Drowing in the Aftermath"

Myspace Tribute Page

Get Schifosi Records:

Profane Existence

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Maxwell's Demon and the Blogotropolis

What right have I to saturate the web with yet more musical opinions and information? Yes, I am a blog virgin. But after 15 years listening to hardcore punk and its many off-shoots, I have a few treasures to share. I have now made it my mission (hobby, really) to present music I love from both the past and the present. Many of the older records to be showcased will be ones that I feel have gone underappreciated here in the states, and the more contemporary offerings will be ones I fear might suffer the same neglect (ie. many will be "foreign"). Will this blog make it to the big city, shouldering its way through the bustling blog line for a crumb or two of recognition each day? Or will it fizzle out in the small town of one-entry blogs? I aim for the former. Join me in my plight! (And if you want me to remove your band's mp3's, just say so).