Sunday, August 22, 2010

Suburban Voice blog #89

Hey! Only about a week and a half this time. See what happens when I put my mind to it? I've still got some kick-ass records sitting by the turntable that will get the deserved attention shortly so watch out for another installment in the not-too-distant future...


In recent years, my bookshelves have been crushed under the weight of the seemingly endless glut of tomes concerning various aspects of the history of punk and hardcore. In terms of the latter, Steve Blush’s American Hardcore seemed to get the ball rolling—both the printed version and the film that followed. I’ve expounded on AHC in the past, finding it to be a flawed work with its good and bad points and also recognizing the fact that no one book or film is going to provide a comprehensive view of hardcore (or any musical genre, for that matter). I did think it was lame that Blush referred to hardcore (or Hardcore, since he felt the need to capitalize the term) as a “lost subculture.” The book had a consummate “in my day” attitude, dismissing anything that had come in recent years as redundant or not worthy of attention. Not to generalize too much but it seemed as though the people who loved the book and film the most were the “old timers." There seemed to be a split verdict among the younger folk.

Over the years, there have been different projects aimed at covering certain geographical areas and a pair of books connected to the Detroit scene have come out practically simultaneously—one is Why Be Something That You’re Not: Detroit Hardcore 1979-1985 by Tony Rettman and the other is Touch and Go, The Complete Hardcore Punk Zine ’79-83. The former takes the oral history format, bringing together such scene “movers and shakers” as Tesco Vee (who wrote the intro in his inimitable style), members of the Necros, The Fix, Negative Approach and other bands, Touch and Go co-founder Dave Stimson, even the teacher who helped create the cable TV show that book is named after (which came from an NA song, of course) and featured these bands playing live in the studio.

The book’s broken down into short chapters interspersing Rettman’s observations with recollections from the various parties. First-hand accounts of such “legendary” events as the shows at the Freezer Theater, early Touch and Go record releases, the Process of Elimination tour and their invasion of the “Saturday Night Live” set for the infamous Fear appearance. It documents the rise and eventual fall of that era—regressive elements being introduced (nazi bullshit) and band members moving on to new musical and life adventures. There are plenty of vintage photos, flyers, set-lists, et al, with the last third of the book given over to a gallery of such ephemera.

It’s also humorous to see that certain rivalries persist a quarter century after the fact—I’m thinking of the mutual admiration society that Steve Miller from The Fix and Barry Henssler from The Necros still seem to have for each other. When I interviewed Barry in ’92, he expressed a less-than-complimentary viewpoint about the virtues of The Fix’s music and Steve wrote a rather caustic letter in reply, which I printed in the following issue. It seems as though time hasn’t softened those feelings.

As for the T&G anthology, it's over 500 pages that will keep you occupied for weeks and a warning--if you read it on the hopper, it'll make your legs go numb if you sit there too long. It includes all 22 issues of the ‘zine, reproduced exactly as they first appeared, along with brief introductory pieces by Tesco, Stimson, Miller, Ian MacKaye and a few others. Tesco and Dave weren’t afraid to call things as they saw them, barbs pointed and expelled very sharply at their targets. These targets included a good chunk of the original crop of Detroit punk and new wave bands, radio stations and DJs peddling safe swill and whatever else bored, bemused or enraged them. As Tesco mentioned in Rettman’s book, that necessitated the creation of his pseudonym. Tesco said, “I came up with the pen name so I could trash the people I hated while extolling the virtues of others without being tracked down and killed. We always tried to write reviews that entertained first and informed second.”

Their musical taste was unpredictable—in the pre-hardcore days, there was an affection for plenty of British post-punk/experimental music such as Pop Group, Cabaret Voltaire, Gang of Four, PIL et al, along with late 70s/early 80s west coast bands (Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Germs, Avengers) and such UK fodder as 999 (Tesco’s first zine, reproduced here, was 999 Times, devoted to that band), Blitz, Revillos, etc. But it was the burgeoning Detroit hardcore punk scene that provided the most inspiration, documenting in real time what the Rettman book covered, so they complement each other very well.

The T&G honchos’ bible was Slash and it certainly inspired their own irreverent attitude and, at first, a more “artistic” layout approach. To quote Don Imus (does anyone quote him anymore?), this is laugh-out-loud funny stuff. These guys eventually took scatology to new heights—or, more accurately, depths. In fact, the gross-out humor only increased over the ‘zine’s life span. There are some screamingly-funny forays into juvenilia. When I interviewed Tesco for issue #20 of SV, he talked about driving around in a $40,000 RV talking about poop. Well, here, they put it on the printed page--euphemistically speaking, of course. While we're on the subject of private functions and body parts, I’ve never seen so many creative descriptions for male genitalia—“pork sword”and "beef bayonet" are just two favorites.

As T&G progressed through subsequent issues, they tightened up the layout and increased the content, introducing an increasing number of interviews with many of the “choice” (one of Tesco’s favorite terms) bands of the time. The layout never reached a slick level--it still had a cut and paste look--but they made better use of the space. And you can see how they inspired other punk zines, Forced Exposure in particular. Both zines championed their respective scenes but also made connections outside the city, generating a solid network particularly connecting Boston, DC and Detroit, although not so much New York. The exception from that area was the Misfits, who were from New Jersey, anyway. To use yet another cliché, you’re watching history unfold as it happened. (Why Be Something: Revelation Records Publishing, Bazillion Points, or; Amazon has ‘em, as well)


One of Boston's longest-running punk zines makes a return and in a different format than before. Craig is back for his first full issue since 2002 (hell, even longer than the last printed SV!) although he did a few single page issues in the interim. In the intro, Craig said it took him about 3 years to finish it. Tucked inside a screened manila envelope, you'll find 17 double-sided 8.5 x 11 pages--they were originally packaged loosely, like the one I got, but Craig decided to staple the rest when people found it unwieldy. Craig has always been a tireless supporter of the underground, international DIY punk scene and the coverage of bands from around the globe, both in the reviews and interviews, proves that out. He writes passionately about this music, knowledgeably describing the sonic contents and often the way he interacts with it. The interviews are with Agitator (Serbia), Malazar (Turkey) and Hellowar (Indonesia). In those interviews, he tries to go beyond the music to find out more about their respective countries and lives. There's also an interview with another Boston mainstay, Pat "Opie" Foley, who currently spews his venom for the band Nothing But Enemies and is quite candid in revealing his life story and opinions about punk rock. Good job. Now where's my stapler? (



ACEPHALIX-Aporia (Prank, CD)
Molten emanations of metallic savagery that attack without mercy. Sorry--I guess I was channeling the Puszone there for a moment but that's the kind of reaction Acephalix bring out on their first album, following last year's 7". Although there are crusty trappings, Acephalix are, for all intents and purposes, a metal band harnessing crossover elements, the occasional Voivod-ish guitar line and nasty, gut-heaving vocals. I'm not talking bandana thrash but the kind of brutal metal that hardcore people can appreciate. Heavy-duty riffage, quite a bit of it delivered at sprightly tempos, although they often opt for the crush effect, such as with "Gift of Death" and the closing epic "Only The Dying," concluding with the final expelling of vocal venom. You feel relieved for the guy. It does drag a bit in spots but the crushing nature of this band's pillage is quite effective. (PO Box 410892, SF, CA 94141-0892,

ANTI YOU-Two-Bit Schemes And Cold War Dreams (Six Weeks, LP/CD)

No bullshit, no muss, no fuss hardcore courtesy of the Anti You paisans. The low-distortion guitar sound keeps things clean and very lively. There are definitely moments where you suspect they've got crib notes on American hardcore--"Contaminated" sounding like the Circle Jerks' "Coup D'Etat" or the bass intro to "Cop Out" making you think they're about to cover the FUs' "What You Pay For." Danged catchy, too--if "Operation SS" or "H-Bomb" don't get your toe tapping, check your pulse. As for "Punks Quit"--a song about growing out of punk, abandoning all those ideals you once vehemently spouted--the thought crosses my mind occasionally. After all, this music has been around 30 years, it's been done the same way a million times and is it possible to get excited about every no bullshit, no muss, no fuss hardcore band? Not always but Anti You's rambunctiousness still manages to win me over. Good job, boys, and I'll stop the navel-gazing for now. The CD version also includes the "Johnny Baghdad" and "Pig City Life" EPs and serviceable covers of Discharge's "Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing" and the Descendents' "I'm Not A Loser," both played with their scrappy style. (

CEREMONY-Rohnert Park LP (Bridge Nine, LP)/Sick (Bridge Nine, 7")

Anyone used to Ceremony's spasmatic hardcore is in for giant shock with "Rohnert Park," because it's almost a 180 degree change in direction. Ceremony remain an edgy band but in a much different manner this time. The intro, "Into The Wayside Part 1" makes you think they're about to break into the Minutemen's "This Ain't No Picnic," then the drum pattern leads into a numbing mid-tempo rocker, "Sick." That's a litany of complaints from vocalist Ross Farrar, emitted in a convincing rasp as he goes off on everyone from Republicans to Obama to Baptists to Black Flag to himself. Completely equal-opportunity. "MCDF" follows with a jabbing garage style. There are also forays into moody rock that's almost Pavement-esque ("The Doldrums") or the bitter, My Bloody Valentine-ish acoustic guitar sound for Parts II and III of "Into The Wayside." "Don't Touch Me," "All The Time" and "Night To Life" are searing mid-paced rockers ala Black Flag/Bl'ast/early Fucked Up, while "The Pathos" provides a brief throwback to thrashy hardcore. Same for the uncredited bonus track tucked onto the end of the album. I'm sure some of Ceremony's older fans might end up scratching their heads but it takes cojones to radically alter things and talent to completely pull it off. That's the case here. The single has a brief non-LP track, "Life As A War" that seems to bridge the old and new, with a speed attack going into an abrasive pound. (

CITIZENS PATROL-s/t (Way Back When/Even Worse, LP)

Hardcore for the rejects, for those lacking social skills, who suffer from cabin fever, who live with panic attacks and need medical care and dental work but can't afford it. Talk about a song I can relate to--it's the latter one, entitled "Plastic Teeth." I guess the Netherlands' dual health care system doesn't work for everyone because it's not single-payer. Anyway, Citizens Patrol had some previous releases on No Way and they continue to play their hardcore punk in competent, straight-forward fashion. Raspy, ranty vocals over clockwork, thrashy arrangements. Not one positive song, either. Somehow, I don't think it would be fitting. The world does pretty much suck these days. ( or

PAHAA VERTA-s/t (Bad Hair Life, LP)
Finnish rippers with an old school tinge encompassing US hardcore from both the east and west coasts, perhaps similar to their countrymen Hero Dishonest. The drumming and the rest of the instruments are a bit out of sync at times. The aggressive nature gets 'em by, though, and they're unafraid to throw in catchy bits here and there, such as for "Krapula" or "Kirje Rintamalta." A solid release. (


THE PIST-Live And Still Pist (Rabid Dog, LP)

I'm not really a fan of live albums and it's probably a safe bet that I'll continue to listen to the two volumes of "Input Equals Output" (which anthologizes EPs, comp appearances and the like) and "Ideas Are Bulletproof" more than this one. Those were released by Havoc Records awhile back, incidentally. That stated, this disc documents a September 2007 set at Emo's in Austin and was released at this year's Chaos In Tejas fest. The recording quality is so-so--the vocals and drums are mixed way higher than the guitar and bass. The songs still resonate--catchy, timeless street punk/UK '82/hardcore and all the "classics" are here--"We're The Pist," "Black & Blue Collar," "Street Punk," "Destroy Society"--basically, every song you'd want to hear. I think if they'd wanted to make this better, including a DVD of the set might not have been a bad idea although that might have made the price prohibitive. Limited to 400 copies, in a heavy stock, screened cover and a keepsake for the kids. I'm not sure about availability so drop 'em a line to find out (

SECRET PROSTITUTES-Mati Di Moskow (P.Trash/Bad Hair Life, 7" EP)
At first, I couldn't figure out if the record was supposed to spin at 33 or 45 because at the latter speed, the vocals sound sped up but after going to their MySpace page, that's the way it's supposed to be--and their vocalist/drummer Adit sings in Indonesian! This is deliriously jittery and thumping punk from the ever-incestuous Houston scene. There are several bands from Astros-land that share members--The Energy, No Talk, Crime Wave and some that I'm no dobut missing. These guys love to cross-pollinate different punk sounds, but it mainly sounds like KBD fodder on speed or at least some pretty strong coffee and they take a pretty successful stab at the Nubs' "Job." Looking forward to hearing their album. (

SICK/TIRED-Highlife (To Live A Lie, LP)

Mainly tuneless blast-core, although the instrumentation is pretty solid. They favor howling vocals that sound like the guy is in the middle of being electrocuted. That's not necessarily a bad thing--and what I mean is the vocals are cool, not that he sounds like he's being electrocuted. He reminds me of Charles from Rorschach, in a way. I do like their cover of Phobia's "Day By Day" and the metallic guitar sound is appealing, particularly for the slower, heavier "Banishment" that closes things out. Maybe that's the way to go for them, because their thrashier songs are far from memorable. (

UNDER AL KRITIK-s/t (Bad Hair Life, LP)

So let's see--there are bands trying to replicate the early 80s US sound, there are bands that take more than a few pages from west coast/Dangerhouse type punk and others who go for the crossover/thrash inspiration. Under Al Kritik, from Denmark, are somewhere in the middle. Their influences come mainly from the mid-80s--not so much crossover but it was a time where bands would flirt with metallic squeals and melodic, moodier inclinations in their sound. Darker shadings--there are ominous guitar lines and screams on both "Sort Psykose" and "Forrykt," exploring the regions of craziness and psychosis (I translated the titles--I admit it). A familiar ring but not sounding like it's been beaten to death and with an engaging quality. (

UNDERDOG-Matchless (Bridge Nine, 2xLP)

This collects two demo sessions on the first LP and the "Vanishing Point" album on disc #2. Hate to say it, but "Vanishing Point" has not aged well, at all. First, it has that cavernous late 80s production which detracts from the overall effect and their attempt at an "I Against I" Bad Brains sound isn't all that successful. What we have is rock with a mid-tempo groove and some reggae flourishes and it lacks the full-on forcefulness of their NYHC contemporaries at that time. The musicianship isn't a problem, especially Chuck Treece, who has always been a talented guitarist but the songs don't really go anywhere. As for the demo tracks, the first side is the 1985 session that yielded their debut 7" (re-released by B9 awhile back). Granted, there were some of the same elements but it had a directness, a punchiness that "Vanishing Point" lacked. As I said in the review of the 7", "Say It To My Face" is the kind of song that makes one want to break things. The b-side are early demos for the album, with vocalist Richie Birkenhead playing guitar instead of Chuck and the rougher quality works in their favor although the songs still don't really connect.

When the LP package was being compiled, there was too much material for a small insert so they put together a 64 page booklet that includes photos (including pix from recent reunion shows), flyers, interviews and other ephemera in scrapbook fashion. Worth checking out if you're interested in the story of the band as it happened in real time. Bass player Russ Iglay apparently saved every last letter (including a letter from an A&R guy at a label who wanted them to have more "metal-flavored material") and it's a fun scrapbook for fans. (

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Suburban Voice blog archive!

In case you couldn't tell by the title, I've set up an archive for the first 15 Suburban Voice blogs, which originally appeared on MySpace and were published from August 2005 to July 2006. Since that site seems to be rather moribund these days, I've decided to post those installments here. There were some other articles posted on that blog and I might re-post some of those here, as well. The archive can be found at

Consider the reviews a snapshot of my opinions at that point in time. There's always the chance I underrated or--more likely--overrated something back then but they'll stand as written... You'll also notice I wrote about other topics in these blogs, some of them non-musical, while I've pretty much stuck to music content for quite some time. Perhaps that will change again.

If you're still on MySpace, the blog can be found at There's also a Facebook page for SV that includes a gallery of all the covers for the zine as well as other photos and content.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Suburban Voice blog #88


Another long delay. Strictly music reviews this time. In the next blog, there will be a few zine and book reviews, including the Touch & Go anthology and the oral history of Detroit Hardcore, Why Be Something That You're Not. Soon, I promise...


Time to attack the growing pile of cassettes--actually, not really a pile since I keep them on a shelf but I digress. I don't get to recordings in this format as often as I should, which is strange because I still have a tape deck in the car. But, with the lovely deck I inherited from my beloved old man, it's time to blast the tunes. As I listen to them, it does reveal that the format does have limitations. A good chunk of them would benefit from better reproduction/sound quality. It may be nitpicky and I don't want everything pristine but the power of the performances can be lost, sometimes. That said, thanks to Robert Collins for hooking me up with most of these tapes. I've provided some contact info below but I'm sure he'd point you in the right direction, as well:

are a three piece from Seattle plying a dark, aggressive, crusty hardcore sound. They actually formed in '03, but had some downtime. Not dissimilar from other bands from the Northwest region (Portland, in particular). Howling vocals from a pair of them, dramatic riffage and in a mainly speedy vein and adding up to an intense soundscape (

SUICIDE BOMB were a short-lived Bay Area unit that existed for a few months in 2009 and included guitarist Will Kinser and Mr. Collins on bass (both of whom have played in tons of bands you might have heard of--Born/Dead and Artimus Pyle are a couple of note). Hardcore punk at a mid-to-fast pace ("Looking Back" is a thrasher, though) and while I wouldn't exactly call it catchy, it doesn't go for tuneless brutality, either. The sound on the tape is a little tinny but the songs are memorable. (

CONQUEST FOR DEATH return with their first new material in a few years--this stuff was actually recorded in '08 and '09. Since the members are spread out across the globe (the Bay Area is the home base, though), they don't get together all that often. The border-stretching message is addressed on the title track, "Many Nations, One Underground" and in this era of xenophobia and nationalism, without sounding too naive (OK, maybe I do), you've got to love it. There's a departure on the first couple of songs, with a mid-tempo hardcore sound but then the throttle-hammer returns. As with their previous output, all of this is executed with incredible precision, navigating the various shifts, twists and turns. (

Robert also shows up, this time on vocals, for VACCUUM's demo and it's relentless, raging fodder with the distortion turned way up. My favorite of the bunch, here. NO STATIK have the description "raw sound, recorded by us" on their demo, and it lives up to that billing. Very raw, agitated hardcore that would definitely benefit from a better recording. The last of the tapes he sent comes from OPT OUT, another Bay Area band, bashing out 9 tracks of rough-hewn, no bullshit hardcore, all of it first take and successfully capturing the "of the moment" spirit.

ZERO PROGRESS's tape doesn't offer much fidelity-wise and their thrashy hardcore is fairly typical. They've made the songs available as a download, too, and it sounds a little better there although these 9 songs don't offer anything that really stands out. Not bad, not great--in the middle. If you're curious... (

TIME FOR THE RECORDS (and a CD or two):


ARCTIC FLOWERS-s/t (self-released, 7" EP)

A more-than-impressive debut for Portland band Arctic Flowers, whose guitarist is Stan Wright, late of Signal Lost. There are similarities and I'm not just making the obvious one that both bands have/had female vocalists and bass-players. There's a strong post-punk emphasis but they maintain the punk roots. That's most obvious for the fast-paced "Neon Tombs." While Stan's guitar tone attracts the most immediate attention, a burn and buzz amalgam of Gang Of Four and Ruts inspiration, the other instruments make their presence felt and Alex's vocals have nuance as well as power. Three distinct songs. "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" (the best, in my opinion) has a stinging surge while the lengthy "Technicolor Haze" builds on Lee's New Order bass-line and engaging melody. I've got a feeling this band has a killer album in them. (

DAYLIGHT ROBBERY-Through The Confusion (Residue, LP)
This was an LP that slowly grew on me as the melodic charms revealed themselves over repeated listenings. The ragged male/female harmonizing of Christine and David Wolf definitely conjure up John and Exene, although the music doesn't have much in common with X. Also, the timbre isn't quite the same except when their voices join together. Tuneful, post-punkish rock with sneaky hooks, favoring a clean guitar sound and supple support from the bass and drums. There are subtle flourishes here and there--a slight copping from "Youth Of America" (without the blowtorch ambiance) for "Rerun" or the reggae jab on "Ignominious Defeat," for instance. The songs have a presence without any sort of bombast. A somewhat somber quality but too lively to sink into mopedom. I wrote this band off a little bit in the past and this makes me want to go back and listen to their previous 7"s. (

DEFECT DEFECT-s/t (Residue, 12")

It makes perfect sense for Defect Defect to be on Residue records since they have sonic elements akin to Residue honcho Jordan's band, Pedestrians. Brash, tuneful punk with beefy guitars and strong hooks and, when at a medium pace, the Pedestrians comparison is apt. The lead-off song, "Stolen Land," is likely to become a Columbus Day staple on my radio show, with its theme of imperialist, murderous conquest, stating that "this ain't no new world/it's a graveyard." The guitar line for "Post-Apocalypse" brings to mind the underrated 80s-era Chicago band Bloodsport. But Defect Defect are from Portland and in recent years, such bands as the Observers, Autistic Youth and now Arctic Flowers have gone for a sturdy but catchy approach. And some of the folks here have played in some of those bands (I cheated to find that out) so it makes even more sense. A hard-driving, impassioned surge and one hopes they'll never become the "Ex-Punks" they deride, as corny as that might sound. I'm jaded as hell lately and this un-jades me a little. (

DRY HUMP-Culture Fuck Experience (Shogun, 7" EP)
These guys had personnel change recently, with PJ Kuda, drummer for Male Nurses and Bloodkrow Butcher, replacing Erik on vocals. This 7" was recorded before Erik's departure. The first pair of songs, “Culture Fuck Experience” and “Let Down” ply the speed with some impressive, feedback-laden noisemongering providing a bridge between them. Erik’s distorted vocals just add to the rawness. The Disorder-ly buzz introduces the dirge-like track on the flip, “Sex Cult.” This used to be their opening song and, here, it’s accompanied by a call into one of those national talk shows by one of the band member's relatives where he talks about paranormal experiences. Thing is you can't always hear what's going on as most of it is submerged under the racket but that's the gist of it. The same track also appeared on their 2008 demo but that’s the only repeat. I don’t want to know what kind of subliminal effect this piece might have on me but the intensity will draw ‘ya in. (Recordings, 3 Rue du Lavoir, 51140 Bouvancourt or


EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING-Rush To Relax (Goner, LP)/Wet Cement (Mexican Summer, 7")

It's taken me a little while to completely warm to this album. A tough task considering the pure brilliance of "Primary Colours." I can't see them ever topping that album. So for "Rush To Relax," the songs remain engaging, an assimilation of X, Wire, The Fall, hell, even the TV Personalities come to mind on "Tuning Out." "I've Got A Feeling" sneaks in the descending riff from "(I'm) Stranded." The title track nicks from the Stooges' "1969," with its tribal rhythm, minus the fuzz. But ECSR have developed their own distinctive sound, centered around Brendan's flat-yet-expressive vocals and Eddy's intricate guitar patterns, given steady rhythmic support. For a real change of pace, there's the 7 minutes of "Second Guessing," with Eddy (who's real name is actually Mikey) replacing the guitar with an electric piano to glorious effect, completely numbing the senses. For the shorter attention span, there's the driving "Isn't It Nice." (

ECSR recently toured the US and I had to schlep to NYC to see them play at a beyond steamy Cake Shop. It was worth the miserable traffic approaching the city and every drop of sweat that was endured. and And they had a new three song 7" with two of 'em (title track, "Hey Mum") recorded last year and one back in 2007 ("Through The Trees"). The latter creates the most impact, since it harkens back to the material on their first album. "Wet Cement" is a tad lethargic but things pick up nicely for the post-punk danceability of "Hey Mum." Worth having and apparently limited to 1000 copies. (

THE ENERGY-The Energy's First Album (Team Science, LP)

You look at the front cover and see the abstract collage drawing and it could lead you to believe that it's going to be some kind of psychedelic revival. But the dagger through the bird on the back cover quickly dispels that notion. They don't sound like Discharge, either, by the way. Ever hear the expression murder ballad? Well, let's call the songs here attempted-murder non-ballads. No ballads, just jittery, edgy rock accompanied by near deadpan vocals that still manage to be expressive. Maybe it's the matter-of-fact delivery for such songs as "I'm Gonna Cut You To Pieces," "Stabbing In The Dark" or "Drugged Skull On The Jagged Rocks" that make things even more chilling. No musical chill, though--it's a jabbing, chaotic sound.
"Destroy Imagination" introduces the affair with five plus minutes of stop/start/surging delirium--just when you think the song is over, it comes back for another round. Maybe it is somewhat psychedelic, if you're thinking bad trip--perhaps the squall for "Girls Don't Like Me" might indicate that kind of experience. Some garage inspirations, as well, such as "Perfectly Possessed," with a single note piano plink joining the fray. "I Won't Let You Waste Me" is dense and raucous with searing guitar lines bubbling up through the rhythmic slash. A sonic dagger puncturing the skull. (

ERGS-Thrash Compactor (Grave Mistake/Firestarter, 7" EP)

The Ergs were generally known for playing hyper-melodic punk ala the Descendents but these five songs that are slapped on a one sided 7" show their hardcore punk side. Four of them recorded in '03, one in '07 and harnessing their high level of musical skill to loud and fast material and it's over before you know it. So play it again. Gratuitous slams at both Johnny from Goo Goo Dolls ("Johnny Rzeznick Needs His Ass Kicked" and Dubya ("I Shot The Devil's Son"). Accompanied by witty liner notes. (PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241,

FLAG OF DEMOCRACY-Home Lobotomy Kit (Motherbox, CD)

More than a quarter-century as a band and still raging, with few lineup changes--the current drummer, Bob Walker, came on board in 1986. This new album actually isn't all that new, since it was recorded in 2005 but, even at that point, who'da thunk FOD still had this much frenetic energy left?
Perhaps it's the fact that FOD don't release albums all that often (the one before this came out in 2000) that maintains their sonic quality. They've always found a way to mix up speedy, crazed, tumultuous hardcore with incredibly stinging melody lines that fight their way through the fray. Songs like "Glimmerglass" and "Number 1" provide an incredible powerload, to quote the title of a song from their first 7", fusing the rage with poppiness. The vocals take the primal scream route but it's a damned harmonious one, particularly when Jim and Dave's emanations end up tangled together. They haven't lost a step. (

KIELTOLAKI-Massahypnoosi (Feral Ward, LP)
Finally, 12 inches of Kieltolaki's blazing hardcore. They're Finns but draw as much from Swedish fodder as their own country's tradition (Kaaos, in particular, but without the reverb). Splitting hairs, I suppose, a case of over-analyzing. Buzzing guitars with a dollop of feedback and plenty of rhythmic rampage. Speaking in the figurative sense, this kills everything in front of it. Maybe I should put the speakers outside--it'll get rid of the weeds a lot easier than any gardening tools. Probably scare the neighbors too, but that's their problem. It'll keep those annoying little kids away from me for a bit. (

KVOTERINGEN-Samhallets Forradare (Feral Ward, LP)

Second album from this Swedish band that includes Jallo from Totalitar, Meanwhile, Krigshot et al so you pretty much know what to expect here and it's as promised. Cranking out the Swedish hardcore rage, playing what they know, which is d-beat inspired mayhem with enough rawness to give it an edge and the adequate amount of vocal venom. They've got a newer split with Nitad and their tracks on there sound even rougher but I like these recordings better. Quality noise. (

LETS GROW/JAIBO!-Split (Thrashbastard/multi-label, LP)
Lets Grow recently called it quits so I imagine this might be it for the long-standing Belgrade band. With this recording, Lets Grow have pretty much abandoned the hyper-fast thrash, save one song, and complete the evolution towards a powerful, mid-to-fast sound ala early Annihilation Time, right off the bat for "Tired," "Gone" and other songs, although there's more of a melodic hardcore fervor for a song like "Judge and Jury" and "Darker Place." Sorry to see 'em go. Jaibo!, also from Belgrade, marry rock 'n roll, metal and boogie elements to their hardcore sound. Fairly tasty, musically, although the vocals get a little overbearing at times. I'll stick to the Lets Grow side. (

MALE NURSES-s/t (Deranged, 7" EP)
FINALLY, some vinyl from these guys. About fucking time. The Nurses started out as more or less a straight-up ’82 era hardcore band. That influence permeates a good chunk of this EP with the rampaging “Red, White, Blue” being the standout. They’ve also added a snottier west coast punk-meets-Dead Boys element as well, particularly for “Pull The Trigger.” Vocalist Nick Norrman conveys the appropriate attitude and there are some impressive guitar squalls throughout. (

NIGHT BIRDS-s/t (Grave Mistake/Dirtnap, 7" EP)

They might be from NJ, but the Night Birds are looking westward and go for some punk rock surfing. Well, only the instrumental "Harbor Rats" is pure surf but other three songs have that tinge to varying extents. More than a little East Bay Ray in those six string exercises, especially for the walloping punk of "Prognosis: Negative." The brief "Unanswerable" eschews the surf for straight hardcore. A strong vinyl debut after a not-so-shabby demo.
(PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241,

RED INVASION-Ugly To Know So (Rebel Sound, CD)

These trashy rockers aren't afraid to brazenly flaunt their musical inspirations, those being the Dolls and other 70s strut-rockers. Damn if it doesn't work--up to a point. If they were rougher and even trashier, I'd probably be a tad more impressed. Still, Joey Boy's Bators-conjuring yowl matches the band's rock 'n roll brashness and, speaking of Stiv, there's a Lords Of The New Church flavor to "Disappear." Also, to be fair, it's not a carbon-copy tribute. Opening song "Gimme A Lot" is a fast-paced, surging blast that gets things off to a strong start. Good enough to keep around. (146-A North St., Pittsfield, MA 01201,

RENEGADES OF PUNK-s/t (Thrashbastard, 7" EP)
A reissue of a 7" that came out a few years ago. This Brazilian band blast out fast, slam-bang punk with a stripped down, non-distorted guitar sound. Within the confines of this sound, Daniela's voice has a gritty but sonorous quality, emphasis on the former. An energetic combination of garage, '77 and early '80s hardcore influences. (


Two songs apiece from the Axe and Italian band the Nasties, each covering a song by the other band. Unnatural Axe's side is their first new recording in well over a decade. The original, "I Am The Way," is an average mid-tempo rocker while their version of the Nasties "Back To LA" is fairly tepid pop. As for the Nasties, I think they upstage the Bostonians with the punk pop of "Maybe" and a punchy cover of the Axe's "The Creeper." Overall, kind of underwhelming. (PO Box 689. Hingham, MA 02043,

VIPER-Committing The Seven Deadly Sins (540, 7" EP)
Emanations of pure evil with a hardcore punk take on Venom and Hellhammer, cavernous production and all. This is the entertaining brainchild of a couple of guys, who augment the lineup to a five piece for live performances. Definitely not polished and the lyrics about the deadly sins (on six tracks--"Pride and Desire are combined) are appropriately nasty. “Gluttony” threatens a buttering of the flesh and inserting a certain male organ in a certain place, followed by a blood spitting facial. I think I might look into a diet. (Band contact: 113 Cowls Road, Amherst, MA 01002)


YOUNG OFFENDERS-Leader Of The Followers (Deranged, 12")

The band's first 12" release--well, they were on a split 12" with Giant Haystacks if you want to be technical about it.
An abundance of jittery energy and big hooks, underpinned by adept playing and strong harmonies. It sounds as though the Offenders have ingested some of the "Black Coffee" they sing about on the song with that name. Still, their approach is much more pop-oriented than the mutant dance inclinations you'd usually associate with this musical territory. Continuing to crank out the quality music and I hope they can somehow find their way to the east coast, 'cause they were great at Chaos in Tejas. (