Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Suburban Voice blog #34

Not too long ago, I was walking around the track at the YMCA and had Agnostic Front’s “Victim In Pain” playing on my iRiver (NOT iPod because their self-contained software can suck it). First off, after some 23 years, it holds up pretty damn well. I’d deign to call it a classic, in fact. I mean, when that breakdown for “No Justice” comes on, I almost break into circle pit mode on the track.

But there seems a bit of a contradiction in the lyrics, on back to back songs. Nothing major, just one of those things that crossed my mind, around lap 21 of the 25 I was walking. Something I’ve actually thought about for quite awhile when listening to this album. On “Hiding Inside,” Roger sings about keeping feelings bottled up inside, keeping the real person hidden behind a façade. A “character in a hardcore handbook,” as he calls it. And the last line states “we don’t need anymore great American heroes but real people being themselves and not weirdos.” Now, isn’t hardcore and punk meant to be a place for the misfits, the freaks, the “weirdos”? That’s what Dave from MDC said in the “American Hardcore” movie. Of course, I seem to recall a flyer of a NY skinhead grabbing a punk kid wearing an MDC shirt by the nose. By the way, discussing the song itself for a moment, that is one great “Yeeeeeowwww” to kickstart the song. It almost sounds like a tribute to one of those older Warner Bros cartoons.

In any case, after “Hiding Inside,” the next song is “Fascist Attitudes,” which gives a wag of the finger (thanks, Stephen Colbert) for people who are intolerant of others’ style choices. The lyrics go “why should you go around bashing one another? If they look or think different, why let it bother. Everyone’s got their own style, their own thoughts. Don’t let it bother you, don’t let it caught” and also mentions how “we’re all minority and everyone of us counts.” Another plea for unity but if someone wants to be a “weirdo,” shouldn’t that be respected?

Ah yes… a classic case of nitpicking. One of those little things I think about more than I probably should. Idle thoughts to keep my mind off of my thighs getting stiff after all those laps. So if any of those NYHC folks (especially the ones with big muscles) take this the wrong way, please don’t beat me up. In the end, I suppose it doesn’t matter. Well, maybe it does—cliques, divisions, etc remain a fact of life. Scene unity is always a nice ideal, as expressed on “United and Strong,” another track on “Victim In Pain.” Unfortunately, idealism and reality often isn’t the same thing. And what’s a “scene” anyway? Truth be told, I get tired of labels. I have a friend who talks about someone being a crusty or a hardcore person or a peace punk. I can’t keep up with all the sub-groups anymore. Nor do I really want to. I’m getting too old to worry about this stuff. I do love being a weirdo, though.

What a great album, though! No other subsequent AF release has come close to it….


APPALACHIAN TERROR UNIT-Armageddon Won’t Be Brought By The Gods (Profane Existence, 7” EP)
Straight outta West Virginia—crusty hardcore punk. A spoken intro with somber accompaniment and then the pillage begins. Harsh female/male dual vocals and heavy, piledriving riffage and metallic squalls. The subject matter isn’t exactly cheery, as you’d expect, summed up on the title track with the line “humanity has been lost.” Following a standard musical/lyrical path but it’s convincing. (PO Box 8722, Minneapolis, MN 55408,

BAYONETTES-We’re Doomed (Deranged, 7” EP)
Brash, tuneful punk without being sappy-sounding. Vocals that go from sweet to piercing and back again. Despite the upbeat-sounding music, there’s some darkness in the title track and “Take This Pill,” while the other two songs deal with affairs of the heart, also from a less-than-cheery outlook. There’s a tough ’77 era spirit, something that’s quite in vogue of late, but bands such as the Bayonettes make it sound fresh all over again. (1166 Chaster Rd., Gibsons, BC, VON 1V4, CANADA,

BELCHING PENGUIN-Demos 1985/1988 (Burrito, 7” EP)
First off, one complaint. This record has way too much surface noise. Perhaps it’s from the colored vinyl but, in any case, it detracts a bit. Belching Penguin were a Florida hardcore punk band—they released one album in 1986, “Draft Beer… Not Me.” Side one features songs from their ’85 demo, done as a three-piece and the flip consists of uncirculated demo songs from ’88. Raw, energetic hardcore punk inspired by DRI and a tiny whiff of crossover. They also had a sense of humor and I imagine that the name of the band probably tips their hand. I imagine that’s also made obvious by “Dead People Can’t Drive” and “Senators’ Wives.” There’s even a childhood trauma revisited on “Box Lunch.” What was interesting is the fact that the guys stuck to the thrashin’ approach in ’88, after it had fallen out of favor. Comes with a xeroxed photo/flyer booklet and fold out poster—and that has a recent interview with their bass-player Jeff Jewhurst. A nice bit of archaeological musical digging here. (PO Box 3204, Brandon, FL 33509-3204,


BREATHING FIRE (Painkiller, 7” EP)
This southeastern Mass. band just reconvened after a few years off and this is a pressing of their 2004 demo. Spasmatic thrash and heavier, oozing breakdowns that create a menacing ambiance. “Exile,” for instance, slows to a snail’s pace and just hangs there in the air. There’s definitely a doomy metal influence in there (particularly for “Gates Of Ivory’) to go along with the piledriving hardcore. You gotta be in the mood for this type of bludgeon effect. Like a killing spree mood. (8 Burney St., #1, Boston, MA 02120,

BRUTAL KNIGHTS-Feast Of Shame (Deranged, CD)
The Toronto garage/punk miscreants are back for another go-round. The hand-written lyric sheet is tough to read (I REALLY need to invest in a magnifying glass) but the sarcasm-with-a-message-sorta comes through for “Government Asshole,” “The Perfect Buffet” and “We Have A Website.” Jay Reatard did the mixing and the result is a rougher and trebly sound this time around but the Knights haven’t altered the formula that much. It remains loud, rambunctious and a lot of fun if not quite as good as the first album. (1166 Chaster Rd., Gibsons, BC, VON 1V4, CANADA,

CAREER SUCIDE-Attempted Suicide (Deranged, CD)
Career Suicide seldom disappoint and this album is no exception. What do you need to know? Snotty, ranting vocals and a high-powered hardcore punk sound that also rocks. Not in that contrived gas station jacket wearing, clichéd devil horn way. Not RAWK, in other words. It’s mixed into the flail and the songs hang onto their catchiness, as well. Having drummer Brandon Ferrell (Direct Control, Government Warning, Municipal Waste) behind the kit makes a big difference, as well—dude can flat out PLAY and he keeps the songs moving like a motherfucker, even when they slow it down a tad for the title track. Bottom line—this is one of the best bands going today. After so many releases, one would think they’d be getting stale but Career Suicide sound positively inspired and inspiring here. (1166 Chaster Rd., Gibsons, BC, VON 1V4, CANADA,

DOA-Bloodied But Unbowed (Sudden Death, CD)
This compilation originally came out in 1983, when DOA’s “Something Better Change” and “Hardcore 81” albums were out of print. (it also came out in the early 90s on Restless Records, with their “War on 45” EP tacked on). So the songs presented here were gleaned from both albums, plus there was a new version of the Subhumans’ “Fuck You.” Unfortunately, the songs were remixed and had way too much echo. A few of them were edited, as well. Another case of remixing detracting from the material. Too bad because these songs completely stand the test of time—rousing gems such as “The Enemy,” “New Agee” and “Smash The State,” the scurrilous “13” and “001 Loser’s Club,” or the tuneful “2 + 2” and “Whatcha Gonna Do.” Yep, I’m kind of a purist when it comes to retaining the integrity of the original recordings. Fortunately, the two aforementioned albums (“SBC” and “HC81”) are once again available with their original mixes and running order intact. That’s the place to discover the greatness of DOA. (Cascades PO, Box 43001, Burnaby, BC, CANADA V5G 3H0,

GOONS/LEGBONE-Split (Rat Town, 7” EP)
I neglected this split for awhile (seems to happen a lot lately). The Goons, from DC, have been around a long time and hammer out two sprightly hardcore punk songs. Serge’s dramatic, over-the-top vocals remain an acquired taste but the songs hit hard. Ohioans Legbone also have a speedy hardcore punk style and are pretty successful at it. In that middle area, where I don’t want to say it’s either great or garbage. That’s the truth about this split. (PO Box 50803, Jacksonville, FL 32240,

RETAINERS-Teenage Regrets (Fashionable Idiots, 7” EP)
Love the packaging here—a cut manila folder with a hand screened cover. As for the EP, it’s OK. Raw, distorted garage and surfy elements and nearly-inaudible vocals under the din. Side one, with “Teenage Regrets” and “Zombie Caliente,” are the best tracks. PO Box 580131, Minneapolis, MN 55458,

SCAPEGOAT (Painkiller, 7” EP)
Lumbering heaviness alternating with blast-thrash mania. A few Boston area bands are following this Crossed Out/Infest-inspired template and Scapegoat are one of them. Lyrical fragments screamed from the gut and a thick, cacophonous sound delivered intensely. This isn’t catchy stuff—it’s intense and the recording is full-sounding. Provocative fold-out poster sleeve, as well. (8 Burney St., #1, Boston, MA 02135,

WOUND UP-s/t (Painkiller, 7”)
Three songs of angry punk rock bile, done at a medium pace and quite rockin’. The first song is “How To Make Friends and Influence People” and, if anything, Wound Up don’t sound as though they want to be anyone’s friend, in light of the two other songs, “Fuck Fashion” and “You’re All Wrong.” It’s a lame description, but Donald Jeffers’ vocals are murderous sounding and, yes, they do sound wound up. Incidentally, one of the guitar players used to play with late 80s youth crew stalwarts Unit Pride but this is something a lot different. And better. (8 Burney St., #1, Boston, MA 02120,

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Suburban Voice blog #33

You know what’s irritating? When records are pressed in super-limited quantities and, unless you know the secret handshake (to quote the always quotable Aaron Ulcer, late of Straight To Hell, Paindriver and Ulcer) or find out about it the day it’s relased, it’s likely you’ll miss out. A perfect example is the Sex Vid 7” that came out a few months ago. Came and went before I even knew about it and now all I have are MP3s to listen to. Better than nothing, I suppose. If it’s going to be re-pressed, I apologize. At least I have the second 7” on the way. Hopefully…

Seriously, though, if there’s demand for a record, why let it go out of print and end up on eBay a few weeks after it’s been released? I know some people defend this by saying it forces people to search things out, not have it come to them in a passive manner. I call bullshit—it just creates collector elitism. I don’t really care if it’s a first or second pressing—just try to make the damn thing available. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Enough said about that. I’m not going to any shows this weekend but last Saturday, there was a pretty kickass show at the Cambridge Elks with I Object, The Tangled Lines, Out Cold, Minefield, Helping Hand and Sick and Tired. By the end of the night, my head was pounding due to the volume of the bands and the loud DJ’ed music between sets. I was responsible for some of the platter-spinning but, in all seriousness, it doesn’t have to be at an ear-piercing volume. A constant aural bombardment wears thin after 3-4 hours and it’s impossible to carry on a conversation. That’s something I loathe about rock clubs because they think every moment has to be filled with volume. If these shows are meant to be a social gathering as well as a musical one, there should be a lull in the noise for a bit.


This was a fun time, though. The sets were kept short—in fact, things were ahead of schedule so there was an “intermission” between Minefield and Out Cold. Speaking of the latter, this was one of the best sets I’ve seen from them in awhile. Nary a break between songs—one right into another, a ravaging hardcore punk assault done with clockwork precision. It was one of those sets where they NAILED it. The Tangled Lines played high-energy hardcore, as well, and brought out a spirited response. Luise, their vocalist, put on a Red Sox hat during the set--a sure way to win over the always-parochial Boston audience. OK, maybe not but at least it wasn't a Yankees hat. I've said it before but I Object have really turned into a powerhouse live band in the past few years and Barb loves to get up in people’s faces. There’s a sincerity, here—nothing seems contrived either with the message or presentation. As for the other three bands, I wasn’t too blown away by Helping Hand’s more melodic hardcore but it was serviceable. Sick and Tired ripped out the aggro in much the same way as at the Greyskull basement space not long ago and Minefield’s crusty hardcore is rough around the edges but on the right track.



CIDER-They Are The Enemy (Painkiller, LP)
Most of these songs originally came out on a 7” on Painkiller but the band weren’t happy with the sound quality so here it is again on a 12”, along with three decent demo recordings from ’96 and a live song recorded in 2004. A much hotter mix this time. The Clevo nastiness—as mentioned in the review of “Battle of The Worst Bands” compilation, Cider and their compatriots had a chip on their shoulder, to use a cliché. A wanton, fuzzed-out sound with guitar and bass merged into a molten sheet of sound. A combination of breakneck hardcore and taking an oi-ish turn for the live “Thanks For Nothing.”. A phony British accent (“we’re British from Cleveland”) that turn redneck (?!) by the end of the 7” tracks. Quality antisocial punk rock. (8 Burney St., #11, Boston, MA 02120,

COKE BUST-Demo 7” (Headcount, 7” EP)
From DC, with a couple of guys who used to be in Bail Out. Flying the edge flag, going so far to claim that “when I die, there will be an X on my casket.” Giving new meaning to “true ‘til death,” I imagine. Aggressive, fast, in-your-face hardcore punk with the occasional burst of double speed (there’s the usual reservations about that) and some tough breakdowns. Even a metal lead for “No Middle Ground.” There’s definitely an early Revelation Records vibe here and the anger comes through. (

GET RAD-Say Fuck No To Rules, Man (Hyperrealist, LP)
This one came out awhile ago but it just got sent to me. The brightly colored cover immediately catches your eye—Get Rad in large letters and a big multi-colored rainbow—which is coming from a broken skull and a bicycle cuts through a road made out of brains. Get Rad offer a similar juxtaposition—in a way, I guess. There’s a positive attitude in many of the songs, along with gang style vocals but also a good amount of anger, both vocally and with some of the sentiments, here. There’s the youthful (aka youth crew) element but without conjuring up the late 80s finger-pointin’ ambiance. It’s hardcore PUNK and they’ve got a sense of humor. In fact, the more I think about it, the tongue seems to be planted firmly into the cheek. In any case, it’s an infectiously upbeat sound and the blink-n-you-miss “Peein’ Red” (to the tune of a certain Minor Threat song you should have no trouble figuring out) is a clever touch. (PO Box 9313, Savannah, GA 31412,

MONSTERS-The Worst Of Garage Punk. Vol. 1 (Voodoo Rhythm, dbl. CD)
I didn’t realize this Swiss band had been around since ’86 but that’s the case and here’s a double disc of loose ends—a lot of it live, along with radio performances, demos, out of print vinyl. These guys have always been about keeping it rough—from Beat-Man’s raspy yowl to the garbage-can aural aesthetics on a lot of these songs. In case you weren’t paying attention, the main focus is garage, along with some bluesier and surfier touches. They get crazed and unhinged on some of these songs—a fucked-up sounding “Voodoo Love,” with vocals that sound as though they’re coming through a transistor radio and some backward loop effects for the guitar. In the beginning, there was more of a Childish air at times, such as “Baby I Love You.” A mixed bag, to be sure, and that’s usually been the case with most of the releases I’ve heard from this band. In other words, it’s probably not the best starting point for newcomers to the band, yet there are nuggets scattered over the two discs. (Jurastrasso 15, 3013 Bern, SWITZERLAND,

Remember Tsunami Bomb? If not, you should be grateful—they were one of those terrible pop/punk bands that are staples of the Warped Tour. In any case, some of the guys in that band have formed Nothington and, instead of playing pop/punk, they’ve opted for the Social D/heartfelt/heartland kind of approach, with traces of emo/pop/punk still in there. The design matches that songwriterly approach—scribbled words on torn pieces of notebook paper, empty cans, a full ashtray, etc. In any case, I don’t like this band much more than Tsunami Bomb. The gruff, husky vocals aren’t bad at all, but that’s about the only positive I can come up with. (PO Box 67609, LA, CA 90067,

RABIES-Test Your Might (Sorry State, LP)
Snotty west coast skate ‘n destroy punk and picking up where the 7” left off. The production is bright without getting too flashy—it enhances Rabies’ burning properties. Also, there’s no way I would have known that “Plateau” was a Meat Puppets cover if I hadn’t read the credits and Rabies’ version is a high speed dismembering of the Puppets’ laid back acoustic-flavored composition, at least until the end. The other cover is by Magnolia Thunderpussy, an 80s SST Records band and, while I remember the band’s name, I don’t remember the song. It’s another changeup, an oddball ending to this searing album. To steal from Agression (another skate punk band) a bit, these guys have found an effective way to release intense energy. (

TERMINALS-Forget About Never (Dead Beat, CD)
Lo-fi, blown out, organ drenched garage/psych(otic) primitivism. That’s a mouthful, I guess. It begins with a gospel church organ signature but the spirit is aimed at the other place, if you know what I mean. You’d think, with my appreciation for this sort of garage rock noise-mongering, it’d be right up my alley. Sad to say, but it’s just not happening for me. Their cover of the Castaways’ “Liar Liar” is more than just a carbon-copy rendition but, overall, it comes up short. Something is lost, not translating from the sonic whirlwind. The effect is akin to sticking your head into a metal garbage can and having someone smash the side with the cover. In this case, that’s not too pleasant. (PO Box 361392, Cleveland, OH 44136,

VARIOUS-Public Safety (Maximum Rock ‘n Roll, CD)
Not a lot of compilations seem to have much thought put into them these days—there’s the occasional exception. The “Mein Comp” 7” collection a few years ago was killer and the “No Bullshit” 7” comps are off to a fine start, as well. Still, it’s not the heyday when you’d have such classic collections as “This Is Boston Not LA,” “Flex Your Head,” “Someone Got Their Head Kicked In” and the first two MRR comps, “Not So Quiet On The Western Front” and, especially, “Welcome To 1984.” The latter is one of the greatest international anthologies of all time—Raw Power’s “Fuck Authority” completely blew my head off its shoulders. Those comps were an important entry to sample what was going on in the hardcore universe and I imagine that’s the intent here. This is MRR’s first comp since the not-so-great “They Don’t Get Paid” collection in the early 90s and the crew have done a good job here. A worldwide collection of bands that will be familiar to avid hardcore fans but some of the bands aren’t quite as well known. There’s a heavier emphasis on US bands, with half the bands coming from within this country’s borders so maybe it’s not quite as international as it could be. Also, a few of the songs do sound like leftovers. I’ve heard better Observers and Gorilla Angreb songs, for instance. Still, there’s diversity, from the straight-up hardcore of Look Back and Laugh, Direct Control, Limp Wrist, Career Suicide, Strung Up and Regress (an underrated Chicago band with 80s hardcore veterans). Israelis Smartut Kahol Lavan also deserve to be heard by a larger audience. The more tuneful, punkier side of the spectrum is visited by No Hope For The Kids, Smalltown, Pedestrians and Signal Lost (whose song is a little rougher sounding than in the past and that’s a plus). Regulations connect with their patented snotty punk. Youth crew stalwarts The First Step offer a short, energetic song. Aaritila and Sunday Morning Einsteins bring the Scandinavian aggro. Is it perfection? No, but there’s still plenty to recommend here. (PO Box 460760, SF, CA 94146,

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Suburban Voice blog #32

I’m not an expert on record production or recording quality but I know what I like at this point. I especially think about these things when digging out records/CDs from the late 80s. Why was it necessary for those albums to feature such cavernous, echo-laden (for want of a better term) production, especially on the drums? It’s funny—there’s the infamous Judge “Chung King” sessions album that was released in an ultra-limited quantity of 100 copies as Chung King Can Suck It.” It later got issued as part of the Judge discography CD. It’s not that great a recording, in all honesty—the drums sound like shit--but there’s still something appealing to the roughness of the mix. Of course, the production for “Bringin’ It Down” was cavernous and bombastic. It does make “The Storm” sound pretty fuckin’ powerful, though.

For loud music—whether it was hardcore, metal or something in between, that type of mixing was favored during that time period. In the past few months, I noticed those sonic properties with albums by Wrecking Crew, Wargasm and Wrathchild America (and that’s just some W’s!). It also occurred when older material was remixed for reissue—in particular, I’m thinking about the pointless remixes of the first two Articles of Faith EPs for their “Core” reissue in the late 80s (the same mixes were later used for the Alternative Tentacles reissues, as well) and the absolutely horrendous remixes for Discharge’s “Never Again” anthology. There were remixes for the songs on “Hear Hothing See Nothing Say Nothing,” the “Never Again,” “Decontrol” and “State Violence State Control” 7”s. A disgrace. A disgusting defilation and ruination of classic records. Lest people think I’m being hyperbolic, it’s the goddamned truth. When I asked Discharge member Tezz about the remixes, he said, in a disgusted tone, that it was their (now former) vocalist Cal’s idea. Cal should have been brought up on charges of artistic butchery for what he did to those songs. Unfortunately, the remixes for the 7”s also showed up on the double CD anthology, “Decontrol.” However, I do believe that the original mix is available for “Hear Nothing” and it remains one of the best punk albums of all time. Crushing from start to finish and the “State Violence/Doomsday” 7” is also perfection. Hopefully the original mixes of those EPs will be restored because that’s the way they were MEANT to be heard.

These days, there’s also overproduction for hardcore records. It’s not a style of music that needs to be that slickly recorded. It doesn’t have to sound completely lo-fi either although that can also be highly effective. I love the production (or lack of it) on the EPs by Formaldehyde Junkies and Chronic Seizure, for instance. A lot of the records recorded at Will Killingsworth’s Dead Air studios in Western Mass. have a warm, gripping sound without being overproduced. At least there less of that goddamned echo, these days.


Five song cassette demo (also available on CD-R) from this Minneapolis hardcore band. Another band who fit the loud/fast thrash mode and screaming out the standard themes of alienation. They sometimes double up on the speed and it may not be a good idea for the guitarist to try a solo, as on “Why Do I Bother.” Not bad and it’s got good production, as well. (Cavan Reilly, 14 Oak Grove St., #306, Minneapolis, MN 55403,

FUK/CHAOS UK-split (HG Fact, split CD single)
Two songs apiece from UK band Fuk and expatriates Chaos UK and sharing ¾ of the lineups. An intertangled history, too confusing to detail but Mower and Gabba are both longtime Chaos UK people. Moving on to the music (that’s the point, right?) Fuk have a fast, ferocious sound—I know how to turn a phrase, eh? The Chaos UK’s songs are a medley, essentially, starting with a sample saying “you are free to do as we tell you,” a moment of Japanese music and then careeening into a sound closer to speed metal on “All or Nothing,” although “Hearts Of Noize” has some of the early 80s spirit. Blazing fodder from both bands. (

VARIOUS-The Path To True Independence (Forest, CD)

A two-way split and a four way split. First, Italian band Jilted tear through their three songs with flail and scream and adequate ferocity. Beyond Description hammer away with a veteran band’s skill—aggressive, rampaging hardcore. They show up again on the four way split, along with Asbestos, Totsugeki Sensya and Destruction. The best band here is Totsugeki Sensya—a raw distorted attack that eschews the metal. Beyond Description introduce more of a metallic side on these songs. They have better releases and there’s the bass-pedal distraction but the songs aren’t bad. The tracks on the split with Jilted are better, though. Asbestos follow with an excessive, overwrought song, both in length and vocally. Once again, they have better material elsewhere. Finally, Destruction’s fast ‘n heavy opus is pretty good and it’s a shame they’re limited to one song here. (c/o Hideyuki Okahara, Ceramica 2 #301, 2-1-37 Minami, Kokubunji, Tokyo, JAPAN,

LES HATEPINKS-Tête Malade/Sick In The Head (TKO, CD-EP)
Tres malade, tres bon. Vous écouterez ceci ou vous êtes stupide. I think you can probably figure out what I just typed. If not, all you need to know is this is a fuckin’ cool EP. Les Hatepinks put ’77 punk snot and post-punk into a scintillating mélange, uh, mix. Jabbing songs with a hit ‘n run quality and an edgy quirkiness. “Sweep The Shit” adds a little roche de garage to wind things up. Les Hatepinks had two previous albums and 2005’s “Plastic Bag Ambitions” (also on TKO) is worthy of your time, as well. (8941 Atlanta Ave., #505, Huntington Beach, CA 92646,

MEHKAGO N.T.-s/t (S.O.Y., CD)
Blazing lower-tuned Swedish-style hardcore-meets-metal (at least to my ears), recorded in a no doubt hot/humid summer environment in Florida. So it’s natural they’d sound mighty agitated. The growly/distorted vocals make me thing of Gordo from Ratos De Porao. Five fast-paced, punishing songs with brutalizing breakdowns. (

MISS 45-s/t (No Talent, CD)
OOO-WE-OOO-OOO… You hear that a lot on this five songer by Miss 45. Trash punk/rock ‘n roll outta Sweden. The guitar licks are occasionally Thundersy but they aren’t that campy looking. The drummer has a beard, for fuck’s sake. In any case, “High Heeled Bitches” may be a tad puerile in the lyric department but it’s catchy. So is the creatively-titled, rockin’ “(Everything’s More Fun) When You’re High.” “Don’t Wanna Be Like That” takes a quieter turn and, at nearly 5 minutes, isn’t nearly as scintillating. Good, if nothing to make you lose your marbles. (

Pure negativity, anger, outrage—and the music matches the attitude. Four songs of full-tilt thrash without a break. The guitar lines have plenty of sizzle-wizzle without being excessive. I mean, there are only so many ways to describe straight-ahead hardcore punk but I’ll say that this demo begs for a vinyl release. (

OUT WITH A BANG-I’m Against It EP (Fashionable Idiots, 7” EP)
Whoaah. I may tend to overuse the term scorching but it fits here. Out With A Bang, from Italy and featuring the snotty vocals of former Grabbies’ mouth Alessandro, play with a devil-may-care ferocity. A middle finger proudly raised as they bash through these short, adrenalin charged blasts, with no breaks between the songs, except when you pause to flip the record over. Garage, hardcore and punk on a collision course, even getting a tad weirder for “Hurt Yourself.” A little better produced than the Grabbies but still rough. A US pressing of their limited-run 12” and with one extra song. Punk fucking rock. (PO Box 580131, Minneapolis, MN 55458,


RAW RADAR WAR-s/t (self-released, CD)
If there’s an intersection of ultra-heavy, thick metallized riffage and hardcore thrash, Raw Radar War have found it. If anything, these guys make me think of the Melvins in terms of the crush factor. The vocalist is Jonah Jenkins, formerly of Only Living Witness, Miltown and Milligram and he unleashes the anger in a ripthroat style hadn’t used before. There’s a brevity to the compositions until the band get to punishing epic “Truckloads Of Ammunition.” A sound to open the terrain and swallow you whole. RRW are a loud, chaotic dynamo live and this disc gives you a pretty good indication of that. (


SPLITTING HEADACHE-Night Terrors (Collapse, LP)
To recap, Splitting Headache include people from Tear It Up, Forward To Death, Dead Nation and Full Speed Ahead. I think that covers it. All that matters is what’s on the turntable anyway, right? And this album has been on there quite a bit since I acquired it. As you’d probably imagine, it’s a loud, aggressive hardcore punk sound. Not blindingly fast, either, although they do stick to a quick pace and there are some hot guitar licks. It’s a common, perhaps simplistic thing to point out but when there’s a punk and rock ‘n roll drive to this style, it works well. The lyrics convey alienation, uncertainty, fear and outrage, looking both inward and outward—for instance, the shattered lives of veterans that is the subject of “Another Headstone.” Lest it get completely heavy, their cover of the Big Boys’ “Narrow View” is an inspired choice and conclusion to this solid effort. (

TOTAL ABUSE-s/t (Drug Money, tape)
A 7” is due from this Texas band pretty soon but, in the meantime, here’s an 8 song cassette. The letter says it includes ex-members of the Snobs, who put out a couple of pretty cool 7”s in the early ‘00s (hard to believe I’m using that term now). Raw, basic hopped-up hardcore punk with aggro and adrenalin. Some early Boston HC, DRI and Poison Idea influences—nowhere near that level yet, of course, and, as usual, the double speed doesn’t always work to their advantage. But they definitely get it right on some songs here. (3703 Werner Ave., Austin, TX 78722,

TOTAL CHAOS-17 Years Of Chaos (SOS, CD)
This anthology disc actually covers 13 years of releases, going back to ‘94’s “Pledge Of Defiance” up until the recent “Freedom Kills” plus a few new and unreleased songs. 100% pure punk, in case you didn’t know—mainly in the UK82-inspired vein, although not strictly following that form. There’s the occasional ’77-styled song, as well, such as “Baby I Hate You.” In fact, most of the songs in that vein come from 1996’s “Anthems From The Alleyway,” where they come across with a Rancid vibe and represented a jump from the spottier “Pledge Of Defiance.” The lyrics get right to the point—painting the sentiments in broad strokes so you can’t possibly misunderstand them. The liner notes are way too tiny for me to read but, glancing at them, it tells the band’s story. The band’s spirited punk style is on the guilty pleasure side and 28 songs at once a bit much but a spiky dose from time to time isn’t such a bad thing. (PO Box 3017, Corona, CA 92878,