Monday, May 30, 2016


"No Light, No Tunnel" is the second full length from Syracuse's BLEAK in a year.  Since their debut LP, "We Deserve Our Failures" the band has been wildly prolific on the road and in the studio.  They have released several small run cassettes through various labels, a split 7" with Sovereign, as well as a split 7" of covers with labelmates Dialysis.  They have traversed the US several times and completed several other East Coast and Midwest jaunts, one after another to any crowd that will have them.
In that time they have also reunited with original vocalist Mike Watson, who brings a more raspy and chaotic style to the already harsh sound the band is known for.
The first track from the new record, "Teeth" offers shades of Coalesce, Turmoil, and All Else Failed as each part is a violent, random stabbing into the heart of comfort and stability.
Hex Records will be releasing the album on LP, CD, and digital on 7/8/16
Link to new song:
Link to order record:

Thursday, May 12, 2016


In what must be some sort of cosmic fate the majority of records I have been most anticipating this year all dropped within the span of a month.  And I've basically reviewed them all this time around.  And, for the most part, they're all quite incredible in their own way.  I mean, between Child Bite, Psychic Teens, Greys, and Wrong I think I may be pretty set for the rest of the year.  These are all bands doing some cool stuff, adding to the ever-changing idea of what punk music can be (well, in the case of Wrong it's a throwback to properly paying homage in the best possible fucking way to a really good band).  Punk music isn't always breakdowns, or sing-a-longs, or just three chords played as fast as possible.  All those things are good, but I'm always interested in what's next (and giving a healthy nod to what came before), ya know?
CHILD BITE, “Negative Noise”
From one of the more interesting bands going these days (and going very hard I might add), Detroit’s Child Bite have thrown another twist into their ever-evolving sound on this new LP.  Like many others, I did not catch on to this band until their “Strange Waste” EP from a couple years back.  But they have slowly been cultivating a swarm of mutant followers for around 10 years now and their work is finally paying off.  While the songwriting on “Negative noise” isn’t too terribly far removed from “Strange Waste”s  wild mish-mash of influences it’s the overall sound on this record that really got me.  The band continues their sonic path of head-fuckery, culling from Jesus Lizard’s bombastic bass, Black Flag’s sense of dissonant guitar skronk, and a vocalist who sounds like Neil Fallon of Clutch doing his best Jello Biafra imitation.  Still, the previous record had a production value that sat firmly in modern heavy music styles.  It was pretty heavy while still doing what it is this band does so uniquely their own.  “Negative Noise”, to me, has this more analog approach.  There’s no emphasis on making the guitars sound crushing, the shit is heavy enough just by the odd choice of riffs and chords assembled here.  The bass is ever-present, like some massive pillow of sound smothering you with low-end. On occasion, a few of the songs throw in a few too many parts, which make them just a bit tough to follow.  The band excels at writing gnarled, knotty punk riffs in short bursts like on “Euphoria Saturation Point”, but also does well in the significantly longer (yet heavily repetitive) raga “Beyond the Dirt”, which I think may also be my favorite song here.  In all, it’s an excellent step ahead for an already exceptional band doing some really cool things.  (Housecore)

GREYS, “Outer Heaven”
It took awhile to latch on to this new record from Greys.  Their last LP, “If Anything” was a non-stop furious blast of post-hardcore/noise rock/ punk rock fun.  While it was clear that the songs on that record tackled some weighty subjects it was easy to get lost in the burly catchiness of it all.  “Outer Heaven”, on many of its songs, is emphatically shouting, “I’VE GOT SOMETHING TO SAY, EH!”  (the “eh” added because they’re Canadian, of course) as the music takes a less boisterous approach and shifts towards some Sonic Youth-inspired melodies (“Erosion”), spacey interludes (“Complaint Rock”), and some experimental roar (“Strange World”).  The vocals share equal space with the music, but come to center as the lyrics tackle racial profiling, depression, and self-image amongst other things.  It’s not to say this record is one big experiment, as there are some chaotic rockers on here like “In For a Penny” and “Blown Out”.  Overall, it doesn’t have that same heft and catchiness of their last record, which I loved so much.  But it’s a good record.  It takes some time to warm up to so I’m glad I gave it a few more listens to fully appreciate it.  (Carpark/ Buzz Records)

HELLS, “Paradise” EP
Just to get it out of the way, this band has a song called “1-800-SHITFIT”, which might be one of the better song titles I’ve heard in quite some time.  That being said, Philadelphia’s Hells makes some noise that may cause those faint of heart to consider dialing that number.  They definitely lift a couple parts from Converge and Cursed and that’s alright because they’re good parts that need more use, and it’s also a pretty good indicator of where this band is at with their sound in general.  The aforementioned “SHITFIT” takes a riff straight from “Hell Comes Home” by Cursed, while “Tribute” borrows a bit of Converge’s “Black Cloud” chorus.  And while riff lifting might not fare well with some discerning listeners I just have to say that Cursed sure as heck isn’t using that part anymore so someone ought to put it to good use.  The last couple songs here move at a slower pace and offer some added variety that just adds to this bands awesomeness.  If it matters to anyone, this band features dudes from Psychic Teens, Orchid, and Transistor Transistor.  (Seeing Red Records)


Metz have been busy beavers lately.  After releasing the exceptionally ass-kicking “II” last year they dropped a two-song seven inch of new stuff, followed by this pair of Record Store Day releases (pretty much the only stuff worth getting this year out of that ever-expanding cash grab trash heap).  First off, they pair up with the legendary Mission Of Burma on what has to be the fanciest packaging for an incredibly short record.  How they got M.O.B. to cover one of their songs is beyond me, but it shows Clint Conley at his raspiest and snarliest (yeah, I made that word up), and it’s hard to believe it’s him on the mic.  They pretty much cover the song directly, save for a Burma trademark of letting the song crash and burn in a flurry of chaos at the songs end.  Metz go for a deep cut off the oft-overlooked (but quite brilliant) “Obliterati” album for their side and it’s actually a quite fitting choice.  It’s now easy to tell that Metz has a lot of Mission Of Burma in their sound, in a sped up, hyperactive, and chaotic sort of way.
And then we get to their collaboration with the one and only John Reis (of RFTC, Jehu, Hot Snakes…  why am I explaining this?  If you keep up with my review stuff at all you should be scholar on this guy by now) where one song definitely feels like Reis had a heavy hand in the writing process, as it basically sounds like a Night Marchers song but faster.  The other side is way more Metz-oriented, as it shows off their highly repetitive quick riff attack and a dose of Reis’ contributing vocals and semi-Jehu style guitar chirp in the beginning.  Again, a collaboration the Metz guys probably dreamed about, but never thought would actually materialize in real life.  These guys must be stoked beyond belief at the company they’re keeping these days.  I would be too.  (Sub Pop/ Swami)

NOTHING, “Tired Of Tomorrow”
I can’t really hang with this.  I kind of liked what Nothing was doing on “Guilty Of Everything” because they seemed like a band that was still sort of feeling out just what it was they were doing, and the result was a collection of songs that had some variety to them, and far from uniform in presentation.  “Tired Of Tomorrow” sounds like one big long breezy pop song for 40 minutes.  It lacks variety.  Each song sounds the same as the last.  It’s not a bad song, mind you, but I’m not entirely sold on it.  It’s also fair to mention that people probably have pretty high expectations for this album, seeing as this group has quite the spotlight on them, and I’m trying not to let that affect my judgment.  They have lightened up considerably on this record, ditching a good deal of distortion and going for clean guitar parts, and the occasional piano bit.   It’s somewhat fitting for a band that seems to have their heads permanently in the clouds, so maybe the chillness is where they ought to be at?  For me, though, I’m not really feeling it.  (Relapse)

PSYCHIC TEENS, “Nerve” + 7”
On what has to be one of the more elaborate release schemes for a small time band Psychic Teens have returned on their newest LP, which comes in this really beautiful gatefold package and is also accompanied by not one, but two, seven inches.  The seven inches each contain a song from the LP as well as a B-side not on the LP.  So yeah, now that that is out of the way, please feel free to buy this because it’s one of the better records to be released this year.  Psychic Teens have put a lot of time and thought towards crafting this record, which furthers their particularly unique sound of taking plenty of post-punk and goth-y cues through brooding bass lines, deep spoken vocals, and sparse, angular guitar.  Yet on top of that are the massive swaths of guitar fuzz and distortion, and more upbeat punk fury amidst all their gloominess.  “Winter Grey” brings some riffy fury to the mix, while songs like “Fear” and “Hang” keep it minimal and focus on the vocals.  In fact, the overall vibe of this record is considerably more sparse and polished than their last LP “Come”, which had no qualms about throwing in plenty of feedback and the loudest guitar effects possible whenever they damn well felt like it.  It’s only on LP closer “End” where those massive guitar squalls really come into play throughout most of the song.  It’s a big, epic tearjerker of a song and without a doubt one of my favorite songs of the year.  So I’m not going to lie- my preference is when the band is letting loose and getting all feedback-y and noisy.  And yet I’m loving the heck out of this record too.  The 7” songs are pretty great as well.  So just go and get this.  (SRA Records)

WRONG, s/t
Look, I tried to tell you all this was going to be pretty much the best record in, like, forever.  It’s as if clairvoyant riff powers came to me and foresaw Wrong just physically annihilating faces and necks everywhere with this record.  You had your chance to be ready for it and now you’re going to have to probably get your vertebrae fused, or at least a serious neck brace from the non-stop headbanging this will lead to (note to self: approach Relapse about selling Wrong brand neck braces as a promotional item to go with this record).  So yeah, the heir apparent to the Helmet sound, done as it was intended to, is on full display.  I’m pretty sure most of this stuff was probably recorded right around the same time as their EP/demo from last year, but somehow that record sounds a little more grimey.  This is slightly more polished and really pulls from various eras of the Helmet canon.  The faster-paced, semi-melodic tracks like “Entourage” have a bit of a “Born Annoying” feel to them, while “Stasis” and “Mucilage” lean towards an “Aftertaste” influence.  Heck, the last track “High Chair” is where you wish Helmet moved on towards after “Aftertaste” (in a slightly shoegaze sort of way) instead of “Size Matters” or whatever unfortunate turn they took when Page Hamilton decided to hire a scab band.  But I tell ya, if the opening bulldozer of “More Like” doesn’t sell you in 1:17 minutes than there’s really no hope for you.  If it helps, they sound a bit like Stompbox too….  (Relapse)

Bonus Round:

ANGELHAIR, “Pregnant With the Senior Class”
Man, I remember going through the Very catalog when I was a teenager and basically whatever description made a band sound utterly batshit crazy I was game to check out.  I’d just stuff money into an envelope and hope for the best.  And from taking those chances I came across some truly wonderful records, one of which being Angelhair.  As a little band from Denver, Colorado (no, not San Diego as everyone thought) they were what I considered to be the epitome of the Gravity Records/ San Diego sound popularized by groups like Crimson Curse, Locust, Heroin, Spanakorzo, and Swing Kids.  Their lone LP, “Insect Mortality” started out with some odd outer space sounds before off-kilter guitar noise clanged around as if the band were already falling apart before they even began.  And then the chaos starts- a pile of guitars getting abused and stabbed, a clunky bass hitting strings at random while the drummer just tries to hit as many things as they can as fast as they can.  And the utterly menacing screams of frontman Sonny Kay going on about this and that, senseless lyrics that somehow get a weird, abstract, yet grand, point (“You can make blood out of paper, oil byproduct, euthanasia”).  I have, at times, personally used his writing style as a framework for stuff I’ve written in various bands because it’s so weird and badass.  As the record progresses they get it together a little more, as Kay adds skittish howls to his screaming, the guitars always producing tense and nervous melodies to the chaos.  It’s only when they get to their cover of Bauhaus “Stigmata Martyr” that they start to slow down and let the bass lay the groundwork.  “The Wax Museum” continues the slowness, but in a completely sludgy dirge sort of way.  “Space Ape” also goes slow and weird before exploding into an ugly mess of chunky rage.  Their seven inches are included in this collection as well, and show the band in a little less crash and burn/destroy everything mode, but almost as chaotic.  In fact, my all time favorite Angelhair song comes from their excellent split with the even more incredible Kerosene 454, “Kisses”- a bouncy and fucked up burner complete with an extended bout of lone feedback in the middle of the song before bursting forth once again with unbridled chaos.  I never got to see this band.  But them, along with other contemporaries of the era, made some real fucked up and chaotic music that opened my eyes (and ears) to something Nation Of Ulysses really got off the ground in DC and a horde of bands out West carried on to the next spastic level.  Members of this band went on to form the VSS, Year Future, Pleasure Forever, and Rabbits.  (Gravity)

Sunday, May 8, 2016


I don't know if anyone who reads this page was in the dark about certain things, but it should be noted (if you don't already know) Hex Records is involved in a bunch of activities aside from writing dumb reviews and releasing records.  One of these aspects has been steadily booking shows in the Syracuse area for close to 20 years now.  I've rarely mingled the label activities with show booking and I'm not really sure why I didn't just put it all under one umbrella of awesomeness, but throughout the Spring and Summer Hex Records has a number of events booked.  So if you're in the Syracuse area please consider checking out one (or more) of these shows:

Friday, May 13th
Westcott Community Center
6PM (doors)

MULTICULT (Baltimore noise rock kings/queens)

(theirs go to 11)

PSYCHIC TEENS (some "Nerve" they got jumping on this show!)

GUN CANDY (wild new Buffalo punk rippers!)

SOUND DISCARD (new Syracuse area group, ex- Cosmic Sea, HTDC)


Sunday, May 15th, 2016
DIALYSIS/ BLEAK split 7" release show! 
Westcott Community Center
6PM. $8

DIE CHOKING (Philly grind returns to Syracuse for another beating)

(Syracuse screwjobs with their new split 7" in hand to shove down yr gullet)

DRUSE (Rochester's love of Majority Rule continues into the 20-teens)

(they have no 'D's in their name but trust me, they're A-OK)


Saturday, May 28th, 2016
Westcott Community Center
7PM.  $10

BLEAK SABBATH (all sorts of stuff)


THE AFRO NIPS (anything goes)

COLLAPSE (Rise Against)


Sunday, June 5th, 2016
The Vault (451 S. Warren St.)

$8. 6PM.

CAVERNS (them local boys make good on the melodic & heavy side of things)

LONGEST WAR (ex/current every band between Rochester and Hamilton, ON. Their kids probably have bands too)

COMING DOWN (Swiz'ing up your hardcore latte')

(crazy fast/awesome Buffalo awesome fastcore, brought to you by awesomeness and fastness)

(wall of hugs.)


Thursday, June 23rd
The Vault (451 S. Warren St.)
7PM. $7

FAKING (harsh Philly noise rockers leveling their battleaxe of rock)

DIFFICULT (in their triumphant & mghty THIRD show. can they ever be stopped?)

SUNFLO'ER (Potsdam has a band and they do all sorts of heavy and wild shit, man)

+ One more TBA

...  And that's just the stuff that's announced right now!