The Crisis Kings

(c) 2011

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Crisis Kings are a new band in the old familiar genres of thrash/grind/hardcore metal. Newly formed in 2011, the East U.K. quartet wasted no time in busting out a 7 track EP. The seven tracks do an adequate job of showcasing the band’s skills and for a debut effort recorded in a pig shed, it really deserves praise just for sheer effort.

The music is great. It is aggressive and brutal with overtones of Sick of it All, but tempered with more plodding riffs and screamo / growl vocals in the vein of Superjoint Ritual and perhaps Crowbar. There is also a certain dissonance that I enjoy. This style is especially prevalent on track 4 – S.O.W. the overall effect really reminds me of Leatherface.

However, (and here’s where we bring in the down note kids) As with so many things musical, the major detractor for me is screaming vocals. I just don’t like ‘em. So take that in stride if you’re reading this review. Again, the music lives up to its brutal roots, but takes it over the top with too much throat sandpaper. Seriously man, you’re gonna snap a vocal cord or something.

But, here, check ‘em out for yourself: http://www.facebook.com/thecrisiskings

–Jerry Actually

Only Fumes & Corpses Who really cares, what really lasts

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(c) 2010 Lockjaw Records
Rating: ★★★☆☆

In a genre that has been around for quite a long time, with both great and sub-par examples, Only Fumes & Corpses exceed the marginal with piss and vinegar. Driving rhythms dressed in aggressive attitude, with a spirit of quality musicianship that shows they truly feel the passion for their music. I don’t think this album will make it to the top of the heap of the best hardcore albums, but it is far superior to the mass releases, and shows to me that I should keep a keen eye on this band and their development. I do not find a bad track on this album. It courses along with heaviness, emotion, heart, and a diverse arrangement of influence . If you like hardcore, pick this album up. You won’t be disappointed. Cheers to Only Fumes & Corpses!

–Ry-Not

Heads Held High – Dogs and Cats, Living Together

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© 2010 Failsafe Records
Rating: ★★★½☆

Because I’m so disorganized as of late, I’m not only running behind on reviews, but losing bios and other materials. At least I didn’t lose the CD, right? At whatever rate, I present to you Heads Held High, a melodic hardcore band hailing from Cincinnati, OH. Turns out they are actually from Cleveland. My apologies. (at least the interwebs indicate as such) Dogs and Cats, Living Together is their new release, out now on Failsafe Records (not that I could find them on the Failsafe site)

Dogs and Cats, Living Together is 10 tracks of melodic yet rhythmic hardcore punk with a mid-fast tempo and angsty growling, yet articulate vocals. It isn’t quite hardcore in the sense of SOIA or Blood for Blood. As opposed to the initial punch in the face, it is more the linger pain as the bruises heal. At the time of recording, the band’s lineup consisted of Elliot, Jack, David, Kevin and Rob. The album related feats of these mono-named entities shall remain unknown.

The tracks tend towards guitar riff oriented with overlayed talk/sing vocals in a manner that reminds me of a more aggressive Bouncing Souls meets Hogan’s Heros, with the exception of track 9, Van on Fire, Head Hurt which has more of a jangly sing-a-long road track sound. Track length is quick with all 10 clocking in at just under 23 minutes. There are pithy movie sound clips on many tracks including personal favorite, track 5, Groundhog Day. (I’ll just bet you guess what movie gets referenced.) The lyrics are philosophical and searching. While I rarely comment on lyrics, I appreciate the thought and emotion that goes into work that seeks deeper meaning. That said, open your ears when you listen to Dogs and Cats, Living Together

Overall, a decent release. I generally prefer things more anthemic. (see track 9) I’d like a few more tunes in that flavor, but maybe I’m not singing along, ’cause I just haven’t read the words enough. I would absolutely see these guys live.

–Jerry Actually

Tracks:
1. Refurbished Kids
2. I’m Probably Wasting My Breath, But?
3. Ex Machina
4. Waiting for the Barbarians
5. Groundhog Day
6. Dear Kilgore Trout
7. Live Average, Die Average
8. Stay Mad, Stay Outrage, Stay Puft!
9. Van on Fire, Head Hurt
10. This Too Shall Pass

Mall’d To Death – Can’t Make A Living

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Rating: ★★★★½

© 2010 GC Records

What’s all this then? Mall’d To Death? Can’t Make A Living? Yes, that is exactly what it is. “Right”, you say, “What should I make of that?”. I’ll tell you what. Mall’d To Death is a Twin Cities power trio that brings to the table what I can only think of as Popcore. (That’d be what you get if you took the pop portion of pop-punk and the hardcore portion of, well, hardcore)

“Can’t Make A Living” is the band’s new release, out now on GC Records and I’ll be damned if it isn’t the best thing I’ve heard in the last few months. I might go so far as to say it’s my favorite of 2010. (I might. I might not. You’ll probably never know)

The lowdown though is that it has everything that I like: The songs are brief. They often clock in at less than a minute. The lyrics are clever, missives against consumerism and the defense industry as well as tributes to J. Church and driving like a maniac. How can that be bad? On top of the academic breakdown of song construction aspects, the progressions are hardcore tough but laced with nice ska-esque breaks and fancy melodic guitar lines.

All in all Mall’d To Death have a lot to offer. I find that they bring a refreshing element to the current spate of punk rock. (probably because they are 33.3% hardcore). Here’s a finalbreakdown: Quick paced, intelligent, articulate and not a carbon copy of the shopping mall society that we’ve all seem to become a bit more homogenized by. Bias aside (It is my current favorite release du jour), go buy this.

–Jerry Actually

 

Track Listing

1 Armani Needle Exchange
2 Blood for Gas Money
3 Mall’d to Death
4 Bomb the Defense Industry!
5 Live in a Dumpster Dive
6 Skateboards for Afghanistan
7 Hedge Fun
8 The Hymns of J Church
9 Mohawk Nation
10 Young Man on a Downloading Spree

The Assasinators – Weaving Spiders Come Not Here

(c) 2009 The Assasinators

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The Assisantors started out in Shelton, Wa in 2004. They recorded their first album later that year, having already played with UK Subs, Agent Orange and Poison Idea to name a few. After taking a year off playing shows in ’07 and a line-up change, they officially released their debut album, Rumour Of War in 2008. They then recorded ‘Weaving Spiders Come Not Here’, with help from Mike Herrera of Christian pop-punkers MxPx. The (ever changing) line-up currently consists of Paul- Vocals, Parris- Guitar, Zebrana (of now defunct Bastard Child)- Bass, and Drew- Drums.

As soon as you press play, the impression is given that this is on the borderline of punk and metal. It’s very heavy and fast, and the guitar riffs would fit in on a metal record. Paul’s vocals would even be suited to a metal band, but there’s a snarly and in-your-face attitude to their sound, and that’s what makes them punk rock.

‘Econarchy’ is, even though it’s heavy, a middle finger in the air number, and is one of those songs that has such a ‘fuck you’ attitude, it makes you feel like you’re not punk if you don’t sing along. ‘Got A Deal WIth The FBI’ has the same effect.

There’s a bit of a political and socio-political theme to many of the songs on this album. They manage to demonstrate their opinions, on topics most of us can relate to, but aren’t pushing their beliefs onto the listener. A good example of this is ‘Welfare Checks And Balances’.

There are two covers on Weaving Spiders…, the first is GG Allin’s ‘Drink, Fight And Fuck’ a great choice, and they manage to make it work for them well. The 2nd is ‘Out Of Control’, by the legendary Rancid- a daring choice for an underground band, but they do it justice, as the heavier Rancid sound fits the Assasinators’ sound. Not quite as good as the original, but covers rarely are.

‘Badge And Gun’ and ‘Doin’ Fine’ are the punkiest tunes on the album, with their attitude and sound, and will go down brilliantly live.

The title track is the slowest, showing there’s more to them than heavy punk/metal.  This one is the closest to traditional new-school punk, and is definitely the highlight of the record.

The Assasinators have lots of potential. Expect to hear a lot more from this band in the near future, especially if they can write more songs like the title track to this impressive sophomore release.

-Frankii

Promises – Hopeless Sons

(c) 2010 Pee Records

Queensland, Australia’s Promises have only been playing together as a band since January 2010, but have still managed to get into the studio, and get signed to a label. This, their first EP, was written and recorded in two months. A week after they’d finished recording, they were signed by independent label, Pee Records.

Right from the beginning it’s clear this isn’t going to be true, old-school hardcore. Realistically, it’s metal- whether the band or the fans like it or not, that’s the truth. Yeah they’ve got the image right, but their sound is nothing like the original heroes of hardcore.

As soon as the vocals kick in on opener ‘No Story Left Untold’, the thing that strikes you is Zaca’s, unusual style. Though it’s not unusual in a good way. He seems to struggle in between the traditional hardcore scream/growl and normal, albeit angry, singing. It becomes unbearable at times, with the voice changing so frequently, with each word comes the ups and downs of growls and singing.

Then there’s ‘Flint Soles’. Only certain bands can pull off really short songs (Agnostic Front’s ‘Victim in Pain’ or Good Riddance and their ‘Overcoming Learned Behaviour’ for example) and even they aren’t as short as this one. It’s not even like it carries on into the next song, or is an outtro to the one before it- it’s just 19 pointless thrashy seconds.

Instrumentally, they’re adequate. Just the typical (so called) hardcore, nothing out of the ordinary.

The drastically varying track lengths add to the disappointment of this CD too. It’s so hard to tell whether this is meant to be heavy, fast hardcore, or verbose metalcore, it’s like even the band don’t know.

Unfortunately, this type of music is becoming increasingly popular the world over, with scene (destroying) kids thinking they know decent music, when they really don’t. If you’re a fan of real hardcore (Agnostic Front, Sick Of It All or even Black Flag, etc.) stay clear of this band.

-Frankii

Strength Approach – All The Plans We Made Are Going To Fail

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(c) 2009 Pee Records
Rating: ★★★☆☆

strength_approach_300Up until recently, and by that I mean when this disc hit my door, I hadn’t ever heard of Strenght Approach. This is, of course, too bad for me. It is also too bad for fans (who also haven’t heard them) of anthemic hardcore punk in the vein of H2O and Sick Of It All (albeit more of the former than the later) Despite my shallow knowledge pool of all things international hardcore, Italy’s own Strength Approach has a new disc out on Pee Records. (at least for Aussie distribution) “All The Plans We Made Are Going To Fail” packs 15 original musical numbers, 1 obnoxious noise track and 2 covers (Black Flag and the aforementioned Sick Of It All) 18 tracks in just under 35 minutes. I like the sound of that. By that I mean that I like the sound of this disk. Now that I’m thinking about it, the vox remind my ever-so-slightly of John Connely of Nuclear Assault. You? … Here’s the important bits though: Good disk, action packed. There is some interesting guitar work and the music is tight and a piece of listening advice, this disc sounds good loud. Tell your neighbors that I said it was ok to crank the stereo.

-Jerry Actually

Skarhead – Drugs, Music & Sex

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(c) 2009 I Scream Records
Rating: ★★★½☆

skarhead_300A. There isn’t enough good Hardcore anymore. B. East Coast Hardcore is the straight up goods. C. Skarhead freakin’ kills it. Skarhead returns with Drugs, Music & Sex, out now on I Sream Records. What’s in it for you? 13 tracks of crushing Hardcore and some insight on the well founded urban confluence of Hardcore Punk and Hardcore Rap. Perhaps I should explain that. In most situations you get Hardcore bands bridging the genre from Hardcore to Rap by being more “rap-like”. In the case of Skarhead the idea happens in reverse. Traditional hip-hop/rap devices (like scratching) are transmuted into hardcore. The effect works. Genre comparisons aside, Drugs, Music & Sex is a pretty damn decent disc. 13 tracks that shred your guts out, vocals that sound like Overkill on track 4, “Bomb the System”, a whole mess of tracks that are acronyms for titles and a shit ton of self-aggrandizing name drops. Like I mentioned before, it works.

–Jerry Actually

Provoke – This is Real

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(c) 2009 Pee Records
Rating: ★★★½☆

provoke_realSo I’m listening to “This is Real” from the Brisbane, Australia band Provoke and something occurs to me. Is globalization affecting music? I think that it is. This is some serious East Coast Hardcore. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing by any means, but I find it intriguing that so many miles and so much water can separate scenes only to have music that sounds like it came from the same mean streets that brought Agnostic Front or Sick of it All or Slapshot. Maybe, instead, it is something more universal. Maybe the bullshit blue collar upbringing, the angst filled days and hope-crushing nights affect us all in a similar manner? What if this is the natural expunging of a pain that we all feel? Before I go off on a crazy sociological tangent, I’ll try to rein it back in a bit. Provoke is a four piece (currently) band from Queensland Australia and have been bringing the heavy noise since 2005. “This is Real” gives up 10 tracks, nine of which clock in well under my three minute cutoff. The final track is obviously a ballad at 4:03 and based on that I won’t even discuss it ‘round these parts. As a final note, it is refreshing to hear some honest-to-goodness hardcore that doesn’t sound like you’ve heard all their shit before. Yes it rings true to what you’re looking for, but as far as this Yank’s ears go this is some sweet new angst. Go get this. If you need some help finding it, shoot me an email and I’ll see if I can’t help you get a copy for yourself.

–Jerry Actually

La Vieja Guardia

(c) 2008 I Scream Records
Rating: ★★★★☆

la_vieja_guardiaHere’s another victim of my office clutter and the third in the hardcore bracket. La Vieja Guardia (The Old Guard) is a five track EP of Miami hardcore en Espanol from a band of the same name. From this small sampling, La Vieja Guardia is an able hardcore band with quite the pedigree. Produced by Randy Bradbury of Pennywise and featuring former members of bands such as Guajiro, Ignite, Slapshot and The Vandals, La Vieja Guardia represents a new emergence of the Miami hardcore scene and sound. I look forward to rocking more of this in the future. Good stuff. Get it!

–Jerry Actually

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