söndag 29 juli 2012


Blacklisters - BLCKLSTRS
2012, Brew

Since I'm a huge fan of Unsane, Helmet, The Jeus Lizard and Dazzling Killmen, it wasn't much of a stretch to figure that I was going to be into what these Leedsians are doing musically. What I didn't expect though, was that I was going to be completely friggin' floored by it. But, damn this album is sweet! It's one of those grating, jaggedly constructed pieces, where we get enough 'rock' structure, fucked up time signatures and repetitive staccato riffs, laden with noises and feedback to sate the Helmet-lover in us, but also tons of dissonant, wandering guitar 'melodies' ontop of massive basslines along with lots of unhinged, drunken, mic-half-way-rammed-down-his-throat David Yow-esque vocals. In fact the vocals are a huge part of why I like this band so much; they're as varied and as brazenly in your face as the rest of the music. I fucking love the screams on the chorus of opener Clubfoot By Kasabian, which is, possibly, the most vicious, energetic rock song I've heard this year, with a distinctly grungy quality that reminds me of Handsome for some weird reason. Being labelled a noise rock band you'd think these guys would steer clear of any sort of melodic elements but in fact they do incorporate loads of melody into their music, but they do so more along the lines of bands like, say, Nomeansno or some of the post-punk, industrial rock bands that came in the wake of Ministry's intitial success in the late eighties (think Lead Into Gold, Pigface, Chris Connelly's solo work etc), where the melodies are darker, colder or, simply, more 'gothy', if you wish. One thing that makes Blacklisters such a blisteringly entertaining band is the complete unpredictability of their songs. With little or no nudging -nor warning- they suddenly veer off into Whisky Tango Foxtrot-territory, where they construct these weirdly balanced structures, add oddball vocal parts and angular melodic patterns that shouldn't work together - like your grandma's over-sized dentures that shouldn't fit in your mouth but somehow do anyway.  But it's not all goofiness and hey-look-at-me-my-dick-is-hanging-out-my-pants kind of music, where the silliness and eccentricities of the music become an obstacles to enjoying it. There's still enough of a solid 'proper' musical backbone to this records to make it a solid rock album . But it's also plainly obvious these guys don't really care about rules about what 'works' and what doesn't. Which is when the magic often happens in music. Free your mind and your ass will follow and all that. But, enough with the words! Go here to listen/buy/download.

lördag 21 juli 2012

Get your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape

Primate - Draw Back A Stump
2012, Relapse

I think I'm spotting the beginnings of a trend with these grizzled old hardcore/metal/grindcore dudes reclaiming their long lost punk roots in their middle-age, with the likes of Aaron Turner - of Isis-fame - churning out psychedelic d-beat craziness in Split Cranium, Vic Bondi of Articles Of Faith doling out vicious old school hardcore in Dead Ending and Brutal Truth's Kevin Sharp spitting toxic Poison Ideas via Venomous Concept. And now he's at it again with Bill Kelliher from Mastodon on guitar and Mike Brennan, Shayne Huff and Dave Whitworth, all from The Despised (and other acts as well) on guitar, drums and bass respectively. This time it's straight up hardcore with a bit of singalong punk and some crusty melodic d-beat hurled into the mix for good measure. There are times when we get some bordeline grind -notably in the awesomely titled grumpfest Get The Fuck Off My Lawn and closer Reform?- but this is basically a hardcore/punk affair, with tons of attitude, great riffs and lots of high paced, skull-shattering fun. Sharp's voice is one of the best in the business in my opinion; it has great variety, lots of range, a simian burliness as well as a wicked snarl that makes it a perfect fit for this type of 80's-US-hc-meets-metallic-japcore.
     This extended ep (or whatever you want to call it) is a reworking of the self-released ep from last year with some added tracks and a general polishing soundwise. Everything is nice and audible and has a dirty backdrop of distortion that adds some ruggedness to the songs and all the elements are given their proper space to breathe. Though I prefer the original and less dense version of the tite track from the original ep, I'm completely and utterly floored by crustcrusher Global Division, the midpaced crossover avalanche of Hellbound with its infectious solo-licks and headbanging singalong chorus and the awesome Black Flag cover of Drinking & Driving. And from thereon it's all equally stellar material until the very end, with enough variety in both pace and intensity to keep everything fresh and dynamic. The little solo flurries and sparse but effective melodic elements adds another layer of complexity to these songs, but they also make them even more memorable. Fuck what you call punk rock. We need more shit like this and less Offspring, Gaslight Anthem and Green Day. Monkeys rule!

fredag 20 juli 2012

That's youth, that's all

Cerebral Ballzy - Cerebral Ballzy
2012, Williams Street Records

Cerebral Ballzy is one of those bands that were born way too late. They seriously sound like they have just stepped out of the mid eighties DC hardcore scene, transported somehow across the temporal gulf by some otherworldly machinery, complete with scruffy Vans, ripped denim, self-made band-tees and bandanas tied around the legs. Everything they do reek of american hardcore in the vein of Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Void, Negative Approach, SOA etc. They even manage to capture that rough but warm, vaguely metallic, distorted sound of the era, where there bass is just a tad too high in the mix (which I love) and the vocals sometimes peak into the red (yes, there's love there as well), where there's just enough clarity to hear all the elements of the music yet nowhere near enough to be considered -by any standards- pristine or overproduced. Think Out Of Step-era Minor Threat mixed with Bad Brains on the ROIR cassette and you roughly get the idea. Like the many of legendary bands that came before them in the eighties, these guys aren't out to change the world, they're not here to save the whales, free speech or free abortions; they're not here to set right the myriad of injustices in the world - their goal in life is not to bring forth the revolution that will finally bring this whole corrupted peice of shit we call a society down. In fact they have no other aim than to write cool songs about shit they know and feel and have fun while doing it. Hence titles like Junkie For Her, Insufficient Fare, Sk8 All Day and Puke Song. Of course there's some sort of social commentary in these songs as well if you choose to see it that way, but I for one, don't need to take everything so seriously all the time and neither do Cerebral Ballzy. They're punks and they know it and don't give a shit if you like it or not.
     I'm way too excited about this album, I think. Maybe it's because this is like a long lost piece of my youth rediscovered; this is the way I wanted hardcore to sound when it veered off into Posthardcore-lala-Land in the early nineties and sloughed off most of its youthful rage and fury and moved into shitty hiphop-punkrock (Mucky Pup, I fucking hate that band!), crushingly boring and formulaic, paint-by-numbers, Epitaph/Fat Wreck-Chords emo/pop punk, bland, alternative, shoegaze rock and postwhateverthefuck. This is the sound of kids not giving a shit what you think or what you want them to be. Awesome!

måndag 16 juli 2012

In the meantime: Go Whores!

Whores. - Ruiner.
2011, Brutal Panda Records

Sometimes being stuck in the past isn't all that bad. This Atlanta trio sounds like they slept through the latter part of the final decade of the last century and the better part of the first one of this century and just woke up bobbing their heads to the Helmet and Jesus Lizard tunes still ringing in their ears. Because that's exactly what they sound like. A brew made up of equal parts Unsane, Lizard and Helmet. In my book that's awesomeness beyond all awesomeness. We get the syncopated, start-stop-start-stop staccato riffs, the gruff raspy singing, the winding guitar melodies ontop of earth-shatteringly heavy basslines, bristling with noise and feedback. And we get great songs, recorded with just the right amount of noise and dirtiness to scare away any Nickelback-loving mainstream fuckheads and yet enough clarity and immensity to give the music that proper roaring, revving muscle-car engine kind of feel. This is a short album, merely five songs, of which only two move past the four minute mark. This means everything is tighter than hell and free from any excess fat. We get quick, riff-laden metal, with lots of stomping sometimes, angular time signatures and an attitude steeped not so much in the ambiguous machismo of heavy metal but in the snarling, vaguely self-destructive, finger-flippin', I-don't-care-if-you-beat-me-up punk attitude of underprivileged, urban youth. I'm not sure if these guys are still active but if they are, I hope they'll get something new recorded soon and get it released properly, because this shit beats ninetynine percent of anything else that's out there. Go Whores!

söndag 15 juli 2012

Punkrockacademyfightsong: Dead Ending EP

Dead Ending - Dead Ending EP
2012, Alternative Tentacles

"Oh great, here comes another goddamn punkrock supergroup!" may have crossed your mind when you heard that Vic Bondi of Articles Of Faith had teamed up with people from Alkaline Trio, Noise By Numbers and Rise Against to record tunes under the moniker Dead Ending. What crossed my mind was, "As long as they sound like early Articles Of Faith I couldn't give a shit if it's a 'supergroup' or a band of bearded lesbian acrobats with herpes". And to my surprise that's basically right on the money (not the lesbian herpes bit). This ep, released by hardcore stalwarts Alternative Tentacles, has that rough and raw, yet warm recording of mid-eighties hardcore, the speed and ferocity of AOF but also a bit of the melody of its' later incarnation. We get no re-invented wheels here, no new complicated theorems to fuse hardcore/punk with shoegaze, ragga, free-form jazz or dubstep or anything else; no convoluted attempts to bring anything new and 'exciting' into the genre. What we get is your basic bread and butter hardcore staples: righteous anger and lots of it (listening to the fury in Vic's voice on Wasted makes me wanna toss furniture around the room, punch the walls  and bitchslap some of the idiots I encounter on a daily basis), quick-paced frenetic songs that are pure 80's-throwback, built on fast, simplistic riffs, roiling, razorsharp basslines and fierce, agitated rythms. Nothing fancy, no stadium punkrock, no bs. Just old school, bouncy, semi-melodic hardcore. Five songs in roughly eleven minutes and we're done. Simply brilliant. It seems the guys are busy recording new material, so hopefully we won't have to wait too long to hear some new jamns from them.

onsdag 11 juli 2012

Skin Graft At Seventy-Five Miles Per Hour

Retox - Ugly Animals
2011, Three One G

Released in 2011, this puppy slipped right past me while I was busy looking at  funny pictures on the internet of cats with hats and rabits with pancakes on their heads or something equally retarded and listening to something completely different and -more than likely- not even remotely as fucking amazing as Retox's full length debut Ugly Animals. When I realised that the band featured people from among others grindcore weirdos The Locust it became obvious to me that this was going to be a wild ride indeed. One that would leave welts and burn blisters all over.
     Ugly Animals is made up of eleven songs of intensely jarring music; like a sonic equivalent of something straight out of a crazy person's paranoia-fuelled, horrifying fantasy world. The album is like an epinephrine shot mainlined straight into an artery of a coding heart patient, only with sound (i.e it wakes you the fuck up). These guys have noisy, highly structured hardcore chaos down to a goddamn science. I hear lots of influences at work here, but none of them ever get the better of these guys' writing skills; what they grew up listening to is integrated into the songs, but always tempered with a personal touch and a rock solid sense of direction and emotion.
     Right off the bat it's obvious these guys don't give a shit about pleasing any sort of mainstream aesthetic. They're not at all interested in conforming to any sort of artistic norm, nor do they care one jot about trying to restrain even for a moment the most unhinged side to their music. It's like when author William Gibson says he often tries to put off any casual reader of any of his books during the first few pages, making them incredibly dense and self-referential, almost unreadable, to weed out the assholes who do not deserve to read his books. After those few handful of pages of literary murkiness and convoluted phrasings it's usually smooth sailing. Only here, with these guys, it never really gets any easier as time goes by. That doesn't mean, though, that there aren't top notch punk rock hits aplenty in this shrapnel tornado of an album. After the bruising opening with The World Is Ending And It's About Time, we get the completely fucking amazing Thirty Cents Shy Of A Quarter, which brings to mind bands like Unsane, Black Flag and Every Time I Die with it's aural pummeling and even some Dead Kennedys in the jangly oddball surf melodies towards the end. In fact, I hear alot of DK's in Retox's music but I also hear tons of Nomeansno, Pig Destroyer and more Black Flag. But it's all tossed into an extremely effective mix where the same riff or theme are rarely, if ever, repeated for more than a few bars, which gives an explosively schizophrenic character to the songs. It's something I often find in the work of Scott Hull (Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Pig Destroyer) and something that often just turns everything into a blur of sounds that quickly loses any coherence and meaning. But Retox manages to steer clear of that particular musical IED and even though everything is chaotic and unhinged and an impossible hardcore gumbo soup of screamo, grindcore, noise rock, punk rock, black metal and whatever else takes their fancy, Retox manages to almost always keep their feet right on the razor sharp edge of the meat cleaver they're balancing on. Fucking impressive if you ask me.

tisdag 10 juli 2012

Still not loud enough! Still not fast enough!

Antigama - Stop The Chaos ep
2012, Selfmade God

Polish grinders Antigama are at it again and this time they've mixed their patented technical ultra-grind with a huge dose of thunderously heavy but less shredding caveman grind, a la Brutal Truth. In fact vocalist Lukasz Myszkowski (Seriously, do you need that many consonants in a name? Juszt aszkin'.) has, at times, even taken to emulating Kevin Sharp's weirdly timed and bluesy singing style and he does it fucking brilliantly. Stop the Chaos is like a amalgam of old school Antigama and the aforementioned Brutal Truth as well as a big pinch something more metallic in structure and riffing, that reminds me of Burnt By The Sun. It's a short ep with only a handful of songs but they manage to get the point across beautifully in around fifteen minutes or so. Opener E Conspectu is hands down the best song this band has ever wrtten. It manages to incorporate both an unusually crusty heaviness and over-the-top grinding speed as well as some complexity in structure without being overly technical or descending into any sort of mathcore wankery. From there on it's all fucking grindcore armageddon. But in a really, really good way.
     In some ways I find this style of music is best presented in this kind of, shorter, format, where otherwise the sheer number of songs of a full length (whatever the hell that means today) often overwhelms you and rapidly destroys any chance of appreciation of the album in it's entirety. I often find that even the awesomest of grindcore acts rarely write albums where the songs don't run into each other and start to blur after the first dozen or so. It's an inherent part of the style, I guess: it is supposed to brutalize you, it's supposed to blur into a whirlwind of sonic fecal matter, it's supposed to destroy your sense of good taste and remove any lingering shreds of artsy pretentions or musical decency in the listener. Grindcore's supposed to be like the rock equivalent of a really horribly bad date with someone, like, say GG Allin (if you're a woman; Lindsey Lohan, if you're a guy), where everything turns, really fast, into a nasty, bloody, shit-slinging, fist-punching drug-fest, that you probably will recover from, given enough time, but one you hopefully won't remeber too much of. So, yeah, there's that... Where was I? Oh yeah. Here, though, everything is fresh and crisp and memorable and packs a fucking nuclear punch that hopefully sets the course for Antigama in the future. Good sztuff guysz.