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).