Record Reviews For July 18th, 2019
Kriegshög - Paint It Black/White Out
La Vida Es Un Mus
Japanese hardcore punks at it again. ‘Paint It Black’ brings out brooding, nihilistic riff repetitions that leave plenty of room for some scorched earth vocals to take center. The sound is huge and wildly different from the earlier work which was more firmly planted in the crasher-crust arena. I love the harsh noise blasts that occur near the end of the track. The flip is a total blitz of maniacal drumming, spastic guitars and much closer to what I had been expecting from a new Kriegshög offering albeit with better production and way less static saturation. If this offering is what we’re being warmed up to with a new LP, I’m definitely listening. Can’t help but be charmed by the black-white-theme from song to artwork on this one too, the package looks incredible. Put it on repeat and feel your brains turn to ooze.
Vicious Cycles - Motorcycho
Pirates Press Records
Vicious Cycles second LP is a romp through feel-good, melodic punk. ‘Motorcycho’ has a couple of very real things going for it if you’re a fan of the more polished side of punk. The biggest change is the swapping of two core members that had been around since the bands inception. Pulling Ben Frith from Storc and Nick Thomas from Tranzmitors to fill in vacancies on drums and guitar. The change is noticeable immediately and altered the songwriting and cohesiveness of the band in ways that would have been impossible with the original lineup. Ben is a tight, solid drummer while Nick’s guitar leads and songwriting tie the band into its new phase. Gone is the ramshackle chaos. What ‘Motorcycho’ adds to the repertoire is a fascination with Spector-era Ramones and high production garage rock. The bell intro complimenting the guitar lead in ‘Life Insurance’ is straight out of ‘End of The Century’ with all the same shimmer and shine. Pop punk might be a dirty word but only because it’s been degraded by years of copycat bands but I think with this VC’s might have made one of the better pop punk records that I’ve heard the last few years. The roughness of their past isn’t completely gone as they did reach into the KBD vault to drag Da Slyme’s ‘Truck Stop Nun’ from obscurity. Granted it is essentially a cover of a cover. Calgary’s Von Zippers did it first and with a lot more grime. But using that as a measure might be the best way to determine what’s up with VC’sin general. ‘Motorcycho’ is basically exactly what would happen if any number of budget-rock bands decided to crawl out of the muck and focus on some real production values and try to get a little FM radio play. Whether that’s a good thing is entirely up to you. Personally I am a man of filth but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for this next to my Von Zippers records. Oh one more thing, have a listen to the bridge in ‘Hot Dogs In The City’ and then ‘Bigger Houses, Broken Homes’ by Tranzmitors. Just for fun.
(No Bandcamp Available)
The Drowns - The Sound
Pirates Press Records
Big gang vocals drive some Dropkick Murphys worship. The typical Pirates Press fancy packaging is nice but unfortunately the Music is entirely forgettable. Fervent, melodic punk played with heart but the sentiment is entirely lost on me.
Bad Breeding - Exiled
Iron Lung Records
I’m not sure how I missed out on this absolutely killer band. Leave it to Iron Lung to force me to turn my head around. Tastemaker is an obvious choice of moniker for theat label.
A seemingly effortless combination of Crass’ noise, Conflict’s aggression and some early industrial is laced into this LP which is just too right. Couple that with some more modern sounding noise-punk ala Barcelona and you’re getting close. Overall it seems like this is a natural thing for a band to pull off but if you haven’t heard how well this LP has been executed you need to tune in. I’m not saying this is just a band that managed to combine these influences and make something neat to listen to, this is a goddam modern classic. Explosive, anxious and extremely well written. This is Bad Breeding’s 3rd LP and first for Iron Lung. They’ve been around since at least 2014 and hail from Stevenage, UK. If you’ve been waiting for some proper anarcho brought up to date but with one foot still in the classics you owe it to yourself. Absolutely a contender for my personal Top 10 this year. Total monster. Threatening, pissed off and actually gives me the same feeling I had when I heard Conflict for the first time. Sometimes it bites REALLY close to the aforementioned but at least you won’t hear any lyrics expressing Pro-Life sentiments and it kicks ass and there is a healthy amount of experimentation going on here. My personal favorite moment is in ‘Theatre of Work’ which begins with total chaos, gathers itself into pure rage only to fall apart again. This is total collapse. Total stunner.
Witchtrial - S/T
Beach Impediment Records
D-Beat, metalpunk picking up right where their 2017 Demo left off. Witchtrial is back and nasty and gloriously sick with dark riffs, decaying leather and sitting at the right hand of Lucifer. Exactly where they should be. I spun the demo one billion times and it rocked my socks off. The chaos and riffs make up moments that rival any throwback 80’s thrash worship you care to name. This, their first proper LP amps up the riffs and hammers home some of the best thrash this year. Witchtrial is made up of members from hallowed hardcore bands Ajax, Red Death and Firewalker. The tools of their trade in those groups have managed to direct aggression and power into a velocity only reserved for breakneck thrash. We get to Razor caliber on this motherfucker. Right down to the Violent Restitution-esq screams but it’s still kept in line with the vertigo inducing guitars of Celtic Frost. Atmospheric, B-movie synth intros and campy satanism abound. Take a bite, kill your parents. This shit rules. FFO: Midnight, Deathhammer.
Frustrerad - Shadow of Life
New d-beat from Belgium sent me a really nice looking cassette tape. Unfortunately the sound on the cassette is awful. To the point that I tracked the recordings down online to ensure that the quality wasn’t actually as low as what I had rec’d on the cassette. Lyrically it is fare you’d expect: war, protest, failure of humanity. There is a personal touch that I find welcoming even if it’s cold and damning. It’s convincing, tight enough hardcore but musically it doesn’t really grip me as the songs end up dragging a little bit. Case in point: the Varukers cover is nearly 40 seconds shorter than every song on the cassette save for one. If they trim the fat, up the tape quality on the transfer and increase the aggression a bit there will be something here. Best moment is ‘Pain’ buried near the end with a nice riff that you can tell the band actually likes to play.
Aloha Hopper - Alpha Hopper
Radical Empathy/Swimming Faith Records
I was not knowing what to expect from this Cleveland group. The artwork gives no indication to what lies in the grooves. Kathleen Hannah-esq shouting overtop of a bass-driven noise-rock that borders hardcore at times but keeps things weird and artsy enough that it manages to avoid bein classified too specifically. I really like some of the guitar work going on here. The pedal play is great and adds a lot of texture to the vocalists manic ranting but the vocals end up absorbing too much attention with a pretty one dimensional approach. The bratty, cynicism in the vocals is pretty good but it ends up being a little too tiresome way earlier than it should. It’s a scathing approach full of aggravation but melodies borrow from the previous songs on the record. When most tracks run over 3 minutes it can get a bit long winded. Lyrically I’m looking for something to hang onto but it’s all shrouded in ambiguity. There are dynamics all over and the songwriting is interesting but I get the feeling that a live outing from Aloha Hopper might be the best way to see what they’re about. Some bits remind me of a more aggressive Priests or a more abstract It’s The Evil era White Lung. Aloha Hopper aren’t as seething as what you’d get from the AmRep catalog but they’re not as cutesy as the typical indie-rock band playing with noise-rock. It’s too snotty for that. I spent a bit of time with this one even though it’s not entirely my jam and with quite a few re-listens I’ve decided that ‘Whatever Winter’ is your mixtape track. If you miss White Lung and their wild guitar work and think that their new material is as dreadful as I do this might be an important record for you.
Asid - Pathetic Flesh
La Vida Es Un Mus
Like a caged animal set free. Twisting through the broken metal and broken shackles only to reemerge as the twisted manner of your own deeds but this time it’s in control. Your worst nightmare. This untethered UK act has you by the throat and is shaking your for all the vengeance they can rattle from your ears. There’s nothing tuneful or nice about this. This is pure aggression on blast like only those with that burning frustration can express. It’s a full-on sonic assault. Look at that cover and feel that evolution from hate to rage incarnate and then press it into a black disk. That’s exactly what happened here. I feel kinda sickly and I’m blaming this absolutely.