Posts Tagged ‘Hardcore Punk’

Venomous Concept, the hardcore punk band formed by Kevin Sharp of Brutal Truth and Shane Embury of Napalm Death, return in 2023 with their 5th album The Good Ship Lollipop. Bonding over their love of punk heroes such as Black Flag, GBH and Poison Idea, the duo have been the core members of the band since 2004.

Now all these years later Venomous Concept are about to release their most unique album to date on 24th February. "When the pandemic hit we decided we needed to make an album that didn’t fit – we all loved so much other kind of punk and rock, so why not explore that which is in essence closer to our hearts?. To do the same album over and over again would be boring” Shane comments.

The Good Ship Lollipop sees Sharp and Embury joined by fellow Napalm Death member John Cooke alongside Carl Stokes, former drummer with UK death metal legends Cancer. ‘Having John Cooke of Napalm Death on guitar brought a new variety to the record, and Shane’s lifelong friend Carl Stokes formerly of the bands Cancer, Current 93 & The Groundhogs came in on drums to lay down some more solid rock grooves and old school power”  Kevin adds.

First single ‘Voices’ is described by vocalist Kevin as a track that, "deals with the darker side of manipulation in narcissism… the devaluing of gaslighting… the wiring and unwiring of deceptive abuse… re-discovering self-identity for the better and stronger… my humour is dark… I will place the most shit of human qualities next to a melody… it’s a coping mechanism…"

Listen to ‘Voices’ here:

Lyrically this album reflects the various fractured pieces of the band that existed before and during the pandemic. "As with most people they were emotionally unprepared for what was about to happen over the coming weeks, months and subsequent years. “We tried to forge on the only way we knew how" Shane acknowledges. “We all have our darkness to deal with and that look in the face that says “Shit my life is in pieces’‘ Kevin called that The Good Ship Lollipop. What a great album title we thought!"

The album was engineered by Piers Mortimer (Deep Purple, Jakko Jakszyk) and produced by long term friend and colleague Simon Efemey (Paradise Lost, Cancer). Shane concludes, “It was an amazing fun and creative experience, recording while there were COVID restrictions. We seem to now only dimly recall the whole process but this record lives it and breathes it. Kevin then breezed through U.K. customs in the summer of 2020 to record his vocals at headline music studios in Cambridge. There friendships were rekindled amidst worldwide hysteria."

Sharp and Embury formed the band in 2004 and were joined by Danny Herrera and Buzz Osborne (The Melvins), who went on to be replaced by Danny Lilker. They have released 4 albums: Retroactive Abortion (2004), Poisoned Apple (2008), Kick Me Silly VCIII (2016) and most recently Politics Versus the Erection (2020) on Season of Mist.

The Good Ship Lollipop is released in association with Extrinsic Records on 24th February 2023.

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Antelope Valley, CA – Hardcore Punk Rock band SHIIVA has announced the release of their new single ‘Cyclone’, out today on all platforms. The song is off the band’s upcoming EP Cyclone out on August 12th via Wiretap Records on Digital / and Cyclone 12” Compilation LP later this year via Wiretap / Another City Records.

Watch/Listen to ‘Cyclone’ here:

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1st April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Details of this eponymous EP release from Leeds-based The Reflecting Skin are sparse. It’s only since the advent of social media and the ubiquity of the Internet that we’ve come to expect to know everything about an act and its releases – the who played what, the lyrics, the inspiration for and meaning of songs, who their musical influences are, favourite films, etc., etc. And why do we need to know? What actual benefit does it serve, and to whom?

What matters is that this is seriously harsh and heavy. A grinding chord booms, overloading the speakers by way of a welcome with ‘Ceramic Rash’. It’s slow, doomy, dirty and dark, and devoid of percussion, crawls like larva. The vocals are half-buries and swathed in so much reverb as to sound like they’ve coming from the bottom of a well – a well the shaft of which goes down, not to the water table, but the very pits of hell.

It stops abruptly, and it straight into the crashing thud of ‘Limb Off’, which finds The Reflecting Skin go full band and full-throttle gnarly hardcore nastiness. The production is authentically primitive – it’s so dirty, so rough and raw, with the feel of a Walkman recording, and playback with fluff-encrusted tape heads, but this isn’t an impedance, because it simply sounds right. If it slots right in along the mid 80s hardcore vintage, it’s equally very much contemporary Leeds underground / DIY. It’s not slick by any stretch, even the track editing sees each one cut and the next begin, but this is very much integral to the appeal and the form of genre – and it’s totally nonstop no-fi brutal racketing, punching in your face.

I’ve no idea what the title is about, but ‘IMA-IW-BF’ is so distorted it hurts: a raw, raging rehearsal tape from a damp basement or clungy garage, it’s a descending chord sequence that grinds and growls, like a half-pace Melvins trudge but with raw-throated roars for vocals… while ‘Split Wires’ clocks in at a half a minute and just quite simply the sound off punishment at a hundred miles an hour. They really do save the gnarliest noisiest shit for last, though: the six-and-a-half-minute ‘Nocturnal Cough’ is built around the nastiest, most gut0churning bass imaginable. It makes your stomach lurch to the point you want to puke, and it’s propelled by thumping drums that threaten to burst your eardrums.

It would be a stretch to describe The Reflecting Skin as a fun or enjoyable listen, because, quite simply, it hurts. But as ultra-heavy and uncompromisingly brutal releases go, it’s an absolute beast.

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Southern Lord – 23rd April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Covering multiple works in a single review feels like a major short-changing exercise, and I feel I should apologise to the artists involved in advance. It kind of depersonalises and maybe even cheapens the coverage, and I remember how I felt when the book version of my PhD thesis finally received a review, only to find that it was in an article alongside three other books. It may have been a paragraph of praise, but nevertheless, it was a solitary paragraph in a long article. Nine years of work, 90,000 words and 300 printed pages given a one-paragraph thumbs up… meh. But still, better than a thumbs-down or no paragraph.

A decade on, it’s still not settled with me, and I always try to do better. But sometimes, bundling makes sense and feels justified and this is one of those times.

Having spent many a virtual column inch in recent years bemoaning how Record Store day has made a deep descent from being an event that served to raise awareness of independent record shops to another cash-in for major labels cranking out shitty reissues on limited colour vinyl to wring yet more funds from completists while at the same time driving some of the most shameful scalping activity anywhere on line, it’s a relief to find something positive about RSD 2022.

That something comes of course from an independent label in the form of Southern Lord, who, as a sidenote, had commendably stuck to producing outstanding vinyl releases regardless of trends, fashions, popularity, or Record Store Day, and, admirably have continued to release whatever the hell they please, with a catalogue that’s an equal balance of cult hardcore punk re-releases and cutting-edge works of crushing weight that perpetually push the parameters of metal, with recent releases from Neon Christ and Big | Brave highlighting the polarities of the label’s interests.

This pair of RSD releases exemplify this span to perfection, and while admittedly one is a reissue, the other very much is not – and as such, they represent the label’s standard release scheduling. As the press releases outline, ‘The Catatonics were one of NYC and Syracuse’s pioneering hardcore punk bands…While the band’s seminal Hunted Down EP has remained one of the most highly sought-after releases of the genre, the heightening collector’s price made this 7” inaccessible to most people. Southern Lord has now elected to re-release this EP as a 12”, with bonus tracks.” And, meanwhile, Forest Nocturne is ‘the first full length solo venture of Greg Anderson, under the moniker of The Lord. Inspired by the great horror film composers of the 70s and 80s, Anderson turns his back on the riff worship of Goatsnake or SUNN O))) and instead creates a truly unsettling atmosphere heavy with tension, offset by 90s Scandinavian death metal’.

The Catatonics release certainly gives value for money: the original 1984 7” released on Anorexic Nympho Records featured five tracks: this reissue features a whopping eighteen. Following the bonus intro cut if ‘Descending in E’, the original EP accounts for tracks two to six, while the rest is an almost exhaustive gathering of compilation tracks, early demos and live recordings, all remastered from original tapes. Only two of the eighteen songs run beyond three minutes, with most clocking in under two, and this is rough and ready, ball-busting full-throttle, relentless fury, nonstop-pounding hardcore at its rawest and most furious, and the live cuts are particularly raw and brutal, making this a unique and comprehensive document of another underground band’s short but high-impact career.

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The Lord’s debut is a very different proposition: it’s clearly contemporary for a start, although it’s steeped in vintage metal stylings, and driven by an understated and simple but gut-churning bass that digs tunnels beneath your ordinary lives. Forest Nocturne is an album that twists and turns, and more significantly, gnaws like rodents, and like woodworm, at the smooth, flat planes of sonic normal. I say ‘normal’, as if that’s a thing – but The Lord conjure vast aural expanses, broad vistas that invite the listener to bask in the rich density, before tearing it to pieces.

A slow, swelling church organ droned doomily on ‘Church of Hermann’, a piece which is truly awe-inspiring. This is an instrumental album that definitely marks a departure for Anderson and feels more like early Earth than Sunn O))). Then again, it’s doesn’t really sound or feel like either.

Thick swells of strings that build into brooding, megalithic waves, define the power of this instrumental work. ‘Forest Wake’ starts with the wail of a siren, and brings bulldozing bass and power chords wrapped in gut-punching clouds of distortion. Those clouds dissipate for a time, and the atmosphere looms large and heavy as things unfurl, but take a moment to breathe and there’s nothing to see here other than smoke and that absence… It grinds, and it absolutely fucking kills, going full Sunn O))) drone doom on ‘Old Growth’. Forest Nocturne is hard and harrowing, immense, epic, beautiful, and yet at the same time devastating. The last track, ‘Triumph of the Oak’ is a new shade of heavy, an angering mess of thrashing chords that crashes down so, so hard.

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Finally, thanks to Southern Lord, there are releases that are actually worth getting up and queuing for at the weekend.

Southern Lord & DVL Recordings

12 June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Reviewing Record Store day releases feels a shade cruel in some respects. Since they pretty much all sell out within a couple of hours, with participating record stores looking like a cornfield stripped by locusts by 11am after hungry collectors and traders have queued round the block since dawn to buy up anything and everything they can get their hands on (more often as not nowadays to resell at massively inflated prices. But who do you blame for this? The system is screwed), reviewing any RDS release feels like a posturing gesture of ‘look what you could have won’. But some releases warrant a wider exposure, ad perhaps, ultimately, a wider release, and this is one of them.

Neon Christ formed in 1983 and having taken a break in 1986, they’ve been more or less dormant ever since, with their career’s recorded output consisting of just one eponymous ten-track EP released in Jube ’84 and an appearance on a compilation album: On Labor Day 1984, the band recorded four tracks in the home studio of Nick Jameson, of Foghat fame, and from this, ‘Ashes to Ashe’" was included on the International Peace/War compilation released by MDC’s R Radical Records.

Guitarist William DuVall wrote an album’s worth of songs in 1985, but only ‘Savior (Drawn In)’ was ever recorded in what would be the band’s final studio session on 26 December 1985 (the master tapes were lost).

And so 1984 contains everything committed to tape by Neon Christ which still survives (which was all recorded in 1984, bar the one 1985 track which doesn’t feature here – which is fair enough, as it sits outside the band’s one explosive year).

Side one features the original Neon Christ 7” EP, and side two contains the four songs of the Labor Day session.

These recordings are over thirty-five years old, but they’re still dynamite. The early-mid eighties really were the apogee of the hardcore punk scene, and it’s perhaps integral to that history that bands burned brightly and briefly. Scenes are rarely best represented by recorded output or longevity, but the immediate buzz. Anything left for posterity is a bonus, and 1984 is that bonus that documents the brief and explosive existence of Neon Christ.

That first EP is fiery, frenetic, and raw as hell. Of the ten tracks, only one breaks tr two-minute mark. It’s rough and ready, the production isn’t so much primitive as non-existent, ad everything really is played at a hundred miles an hour as they blast through back-to-back blasts of fury ass mere minute long each. They do go a bit mellow and indie at the start of their titular track, but in no time it’s hell for leather thrashing, and overall, the pace of this album is blistering.

The Labor Day EP is slower, denser, less primitive. The songs feel more realised, and I would say ‘more produced’ – but it’s all relative, since the production prior was truly zero. The vocals and playing are both still rough and ready and nothing on offer here could ever be described a slick or polished. This is proper hardcore and is more than merely a historical document.

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Epidemic Records – 25th December 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

The timing couldn’t really be much better for an Italian hardcore act going by the name of Locked In, and it’s not much of a challenge to deduce the inspiration for their return to making music after a seven-year break.

According to their bio, ‘Locked In were quite active between 2007 and 2013 and played Italy and Europe extensively before coming to a full stop. Locked In were quite active between 2007 and 2013 and played Italy and Europe extensively before coming to a full stop.’

Or perhaps it was more of a semi-colon, since this digital five-tracker is scheduled to be followed by another EP some time next year. The prospect of ‘next year’ reminds me that while 2020 has oftentimes felt apocalyptic, like the end of days, the end of time, like a full stop on life, it is, and will be, ultimately, no more than a pause or semi-colon in the grand scheme of things. Meanwhile, there’s plenty to be enraged about, and while the lyrics may be entirely indecipherable, there’s nothing like some fast and furious hardcore punk to purge any pent-up fury and to channel any conflicting, confusing or otherwise unplaced emotions.

With the five tracks on offer here each sitting around the three-minute mark, the whole set is dispatched in around fifteen minutes, and it’s pretty primitive and raw: the guitars are played hard and fast, and while the playing of all the instruments is tight enough, the lack of production and definition on said guitars means they’re blurry enough to mask any blurriness; likewise the drumming give precedence to pace over precision, and that’s all exactly as it should be.

‘Coz I Can’ is essentially a statement of intent by way of an opener: in the face of growing state controls, surveillance, and restrictions that extend far beyond virus control on the part of many governments, we need some ‘fuck you’ punk attitude right now, and it seems Locked In are one a band willing to bring it, and do it in the time-honoured fashion of shouting it loud and cranking everything up to eleven. And yes, the faster the better. The adage that you should live every moment like it could be your last is one that very much applies to hardcore in general, and these guys run with it here, cramming in seven missed years of anger into an explosive package. The title says it all, really: they may be dead tomorrow, but they’re not dead yet and are going to make the absolute fucking most of it.

Lead single ‘Dying City’ is likely self-explanatory on the basis of the title, and likely encapsulates the experience of living in Italy at the peak of the pandemic. Here, our perception of Italy has been coloured by a combination of alarming statistics and footage of people singing from their balconies, presenting a narrative of a nation gripped by a sweeping pandemic but ultimately coming together as a community, an ultimately heartwarming and uplifting representation of unity and human warmth. Over here, in England, if only we could be like Italy, as our government praise our grit and community spirit and our NHS heroes… and so we evoke the spirit of wartime community and support as the nation takes to the street to clap ad band pots and pans to say thank you to our national treasures… and we know it’s all bollocks. This isn’t the war, this isn’t the black death, and this is a nation divided, between people who don’t give a shit and would climb over one another and batter one another with crutches to grab the last packet of pasta in the supermarket. This is the reality, and Locked in deliver the soundtrack.

There’s a moment about twenty seconds from the end of ‘No Faith’ where the bass booms and threatens to engulf everything else in the mix: it’s an incredible moment, a proper sonic punch in the guts of the kind that only comes through chance and a lack of time and polish. No pretence, no pissing about: this is the real deal, and one hell of a Christmas present.

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Christopher Nosnibor

I keep seeing articles, usually shared on social media, about the plight of the small venue, how they’re struggling and their numbers diminishing at an alarming rate. Often, the emphasis is on how little venues are the lifeblood of the music industry, and without them, the industry would die, seeing as pretty much any artist starting out cuts their teeth in such places. I would also note another vital role played by small venues: they’re not all about the industry, or nurturing the talents of the next big thing, but cater to those who crave alternatives. Niche audiences collectively make up as great a proportion of the music-consuming, gig-going public as the more mainstream section.

I’ve just watched a beefy guy with a ruddy face and sweat pouring off him, screaming his lungs out while wearing only boxers and a pair of DMs. You’re never going to get that at an O2 Academy. But there’s undeniably a place, and an audience, for it. Yes, Manscreams make for an exhilarating and exhausting start to an evening – with free entry – that boasts a typically loud and varied lineup as curated by Soundsphere’s Dom Smith.

Their name describes their brand of grunged-up hardcore punk pretty much perfectly. And if the overtly masculine trio’s abrasive racket is superficially an excuse to air some testosterone, with Jon Donnelly’s performance making occasional nods to Henry Rollins, closer inspection reveals that for all the aggression, this is the tortured ventings of impotent rage. Exchanging words with a couple of the band afterwards, as Jon, dressed once more, retrieved his glasses and phone from his rucksack only confirms this: they’re pretty meek, ordinary guys for whom the music is their outlet, and their way of dealing with the fucked up shit that is life.

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Manscreams

Apparition showcase a fucked-up, massively overchorused guitar sound that’s straight out of 1984. We’re tripping onto obscure territory here, with the band landing somewhere between early Danse Society and Murder the Disturbed, and the songs are complex in structure, with accelerations, decelerations and tempo changes here, there and everywhere. They’re a barrage of treble, with two guitars, drums, synth and no bass, and assail the crowd with an analogue primitivism and angular aggression propelled by some thunderous drumming that’s centred around heavy use of toms and rapidfire snare work. There’s rough edges and even rough centres, and the singer is yet to fully master mic stand control, but this all adds to the charm and the sense of period authenticity, and I’m certainly not the only one in the room who’s totally sold on their style.

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Apparition

In many ways, there’s not a lot to say about PUSH: the full-throttle screamo punk duo (are they brothers? Twins) are on the attack from the first bar, thrashing out a fast-paced and frantic set. With elements to That Fucking Tank and No Age pushed to the fore and cranked up to eleven, if Pulled Apart by Horses had been a duo, they’d have probably emerged sounding like this. It’s all over in a loud, shouty blur.

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PUSH

Newmeds have totally nailed what they do. I had fairy low expectations given their presentation, mostly shiny new tats and black hoodies, but straight out of the traps, they’re a raging guitar-driven hurricane. Their stab at audience participation and encouragement to clap notwithstanding, their calls to move forward are met positively, enabling their front man to engage in some crowd surfing – which, given the height of the stage and the ceiling, and the size of the crowd, was no mean feat. But they emanate real energy and play with relentless power, and watching them rev up a small crowd like it was an arena show, it isn’t hard to see the potential. Maybe there’s something for the industry after all.

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Newmeds

The same is true of On The Ropes. I’ve known Jonny Gill for years, and seen him perform solo acoustic countless times, but never before with his band, On the Ropes. ‘I just run around a lot,’ Jonny told me before the show, and it’s a fair summary of his stage performance, most of which happens in front of the low stage.

I’ve been pretty venomous in my critiques of punk-pop acts over the years, and I won’t deny that OTR could easily be just another vaguely emotastic guitars and whines band. I also won’t deny that with the right PR, they’d be all over Kerrang! Radio in an instant. Whether or not it’s my bag shouldn’t detract from the fact they’re a cracking live act with some corking tunes. But more than that, being a cracking live act, I find myself completely drawn to them in the moment. Gill is a blur, and isn’t still for a second. It’s the energy, the sincerity, the emotional honesty, and the massive bass drive, and the way these elements come together to create a positive rush.

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On the Ropes

There’s much hugging and handshaking afterwards, and as much as I’m not a hugger or a handshaker or a fan of the kind of music played by Kerrang! the vibe is the key. we’re all here because we’re misfits together, and we’re all passionate about music, regardless of genre, regardless of, well, anything. This is the way it’s meant to be. Five bands for no money and beer at £3.60 a pint. It doesn’t get better.

Baptists have announced they are heading to Europe for the first time ever – supporting SUMAC, their third album Beacon Of Faith is out now via Southern Lord. Also joining the tour on select dates are Endon and Nordra. Find full dates below:

BAPTISTS EUROPEAN DATES:

08/03/2019    DK    Aalborg    1000fryd    w/ Nordra
09/03/2019    DK    Copenhagen    Alice    w/ Nordra
10/03/2019    SE    Gothenburg    Skjul Fyra Sex  w/ Nordra
11/03/2019    NO    Oslo    Blä  w/ Nordra
12/03/2019    SE    Stockholm  Kafe 44 w/ Nordra
14/03/2019    NL    Dortmund  Junkyard w/ Endon
15/03/2019    BE    Brussels    Magasin 4 w/ Endon
16/03/2019    UK    Bristol   The Exchange w/ Endon
17/03/2019    UK    Glasgow  Stereo  w/ Endon
18/03/2019    UK    Manchester    Deaf Institute w/ Endon
19/03/2019    UK    London    The Underworld  w/ Endon
20/03/2019    FR    Paris    Petit Bain w/ Endon
21/03/2019    DE    Karlsruhe    Jubez  w/ Endon
22/03/2019    DE    Leipzig    Institut Fur Zukunft w/ Endon
23/03/2019   DE    Berlin    Zukunft Am Ostkreuz  w/ Nordra

Listen to Beacon of Faith in full here:

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Baptists - Beacon

York-based hardcore punk band and Aural Aggro favourites today announces its death with a new free-to-download eight-track album, The Blackened Carnival Of Societal Ineptitude (which has already clinched the AA album title of the year award), on December 20, 2017.

   Of the record’s development, drummer, Dom Smith comments,  “This is a dedication to all of the bands we’ve played with, and all the people who have supported us through our existence.”

He adds: “Life is bleak, loads of terrifying, dark shit happens with brief moments of pure and absolute wonder, and then you die. Thank you, and goodnight.”

The band encourages hateful goodbye messages via Facebook: www.facebook.com/seepaway

Here’s a track from the forthcoming album, a cover of ODB’s iconic ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ya’… Get it while it’s hot.

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