Sunday, August 7, 2016


I don't really care all that much about any opinions you might have regarding my opinions because my mind is going to be completely distracted this week while I'm finally, after 20 years of wondering how the hell they played those songs, going to see Drive Like Jehu not once, but twice.  If you're there feel free to fight me in person over my use of the word 'shoehorn', or my opinion that the new Star Trek has more plot holes than Florida has meth heads.  I'll be out of the office either way.  Discuss.

The members of Taxa vary up their whole thing with this side project focusing on much harsher elements to get their point across.  Black Pills is no less involved or immediate as the post-hardcore thoughtfulness of Taxa.  Black Pills create heavy, dissonant music that is grating and hostile, but at the same time, one can tell that they didn’t just start hammering away and shat out four songs by the end of the day.  The vocals have a harsh, static-y delivery to them while music is chaotic in a later-era Level Plane Records sort of way (or perhaps having a Deadguy-ish appeal) but it still held in check by solid songwriting.  They could shoehorn themselves in to the crust scene if they had more D-beats, but the songs are unique and varied enough to fall under a general heading of hostile, yet creative hardcore.  A good start from these West Coast Canadians.  (self-released)

Do you like Verse?  Do you like Trial?  Do you like Have Heart?  Do you think a mish-mash of all those bands together would be like the best thing ever?  Then this band is for you.  I always appreciated that all those bands had thoughtful things to express, but the way in which they (primarily Verse and Have Heart) did it didn’t really do much for me.  The music generally moved too slow, was melodic without really having much to latch on to, but the lyric sheets tended to provide some inspiration.  So the parts of those bands I see a lot of in Michigan’s Great Reversals doesn’t really do it for me.  But when they invoke the heavier, chuggier elements of Trial I’m a bit more interested.  Aside from the mid-90s stuff that I came up on I guess I tend to prefer my hardcore fast.  Still, I won’t deny that this band actually has substance, clearly exists for a purpose beyond just getting a pit started, and has a strong in belief in what they do.  And again, if you are a fan of slower, melodic hardcore you will probably really enjoy this.  (BitterMelody/ State Of Mind/ Hydrogen Man)

GUN CANDY, “Of the Third Kind” demo
I had the good fortune to have played with this band on a couple of occasions in their brief existence and I hope to play with them much more because they are a fierce and chaotic live group.  While new to the Buffalo scene they are composed of individuals who have been doing all sorts of things in a myriad of bands over the years, so they are no strangers to this hardcore stuff.  Either way, they took the dive and have cast an 8-song demo tape into the world for you all to audibly consume.  It’s not the greatest recording, but the songs are pretty damn rowdy.  Are they looking for a Black Flag “Damaged”-era vibe?  Maybe.  Some of the guitar work certainly alludes to that even though the majority of songs move a lot faster than even the briefest of Black Flag rippers.  The vocal variations move from straight-up shrieking to spoken/yelled, to some deeper hardcore shouts.  I love the weird art/mascot that looks like it was cribbed from an ad for mailorder horror props in the back of a 60’s comic book.  Not a bad start, but definitely a worthy group to catch if they happen to play in your town and/or prefecture/province/kingdom/reservation/conquered land mass.  (Peterwalkee Records)

I randomly came across this Texas-based band through some weird internet rabbit hole searching and I thought their name was really cool.  I’m glad the music that I got out of it was just as cool (if not even cooler) as the clever name.   Pinko rock out some crazy-ass 90’s San Diego spazz-out scene style chaos on their debut release, citing (whether they are conscious of it or not) groups like Angelhair, Clikitat Ikatowi, Song Of Zarathustra, and Nation Of Ulysses, all the while delivering vocals that could be swapped out with Guy from Fugazi if he was having a panic attack.  In other words, this shit is for me.  From what I could glean from their online presence this may just be a project band as each of these members seems to be involved in several other projects.  I listened to a few of the others, this is easily my favorite.  Drop your other shit and do this thing full time.  Make it happen you commies.  (self-released)

RINGWORM, “Snake Church”
I feel like there was a good stretch of inactivity for this long-running Cleveland outfit spanning from the mid-90’s to the early 2000s, or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention to them during that time.  I was always under the impression that they were older dudes who couldn’t commit to the road and had grown up adult schedules and shit.  I mention this simply because now, in 2016, they are much older dudes with probably even more responsibilities, yet I feel like Ringworm has been more prolific than ever within the last 5 years.  They have steadily released new albums, EPs, and splits, done a fair amount of touring, and have continued to stay consistent despite a handful of membership changes over the years.  This, like the last several Ringworm records, is a motherfucker of metal, hardcore, and crossover thrashing.  It is always hateful and Human Furnace’s screams are nothing short of shredding (yes, I’m applying this term to vocals instead of guitars).  He’s one of a kind.  This one, however, seems like the most straightforward metal album I have heard from Ringworm.  It doesn’t sound as dirty, and nixes obligatory breakdowns every now and again in favor of just crushing with speed, power, spite, and some truly heavy metal guitar solos.  It’s a solid effort that fans will enjoy no doubt, but lacks just a little of that grime that makes Ringworm truly ferocious.  (Relapse)

Right away this band gets all sorts of points for having one of the better names out there.  I mean, when you do a play on a Deadguy song title I’m already going to be interested.  Add to that some simple, yet revealing cover art and you got the makings of (probably) something cool.  At the very least you get some dudes whose heads are in the right place.  So musically, this actually bears a pretty strong resemblance to Snapcase (“Progression Through Unlearning”-era) and some mid-era Refused (“Songs To Fan the Flames…”), which is kind of weird.  But hey, a point of reference is just that.  And both those bands in that era sounded fairly similar anyway.  So yeah, mid-90’s bleached hair and baggy pants enthusiasts take note.  It might be difficult to properly mosh in Jncos, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying this band who love pinch harmonics as much as they love evolving beyond playing just e-chords and actually rocking the fuck out a bit.  (self-released)

SECT s/t
As far as most supergroups go they tend to not always measure up.  The members of Sect are probably the last people who would describe themselves as a ‘supergroup’, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to name the personnel involved when trying to promote this group.  Yet they have a good sense of humor about it all as they credit themselves as being ‘vegan straight edge’ and ‘old’.  Given the players involved it is sort of a mish-mash with varied results.  Some of this sounds like straight up powerviolence, while there are the occasional chunky grooves crammed in here and there (which I can only guess the Earth Crisis contingent of this group wrote), which feels slightly out of place compared to the grindy and hostile vibe of the rest of the music.  Over it all Chris Colohan’s recognizable grizzled shouting is front and center, though it does not always come off as confident as it has in his other bands.  Maybe because some of the music is a bit different than other bands he’s fronted?  Maybe because of this being a project band with members spread over two coasts, several states, and two countries, thus limiting the ability to really get everyone in the room together regularly to get comfortable with the music?  I don’t want to slag it because this is a pretty cool project that churned out some pretty vicious music that is rooted in ideals I can get behind.  But I think with a little more time together the band could feel a little more cohesive.  (self-released)

THROAT CULTURE, “Everyone Loves You” 7”
It’s not a hard stretch to say that a band from Albany takes some influence from dumpy NYHC.  It’s quite another to say they pair it with weirder grungy noise rock and pull it all off effortlessly.  Throat Culture have somehow taken those two flavors and made them taste great together.  Their demo hinted at these ideas but had more of a post-hardcore feel overall.  This new 7” really extends the members musical interests and makes them fit into their own thing and the result is really great.  If you really reach back into some more obscure territory No Escape kind of had a similar thing going, but maybe leaning just a bit more metal.  I guess my only hang up with the four songs on this record is that they don’t always end solid.  A couple of them seem to just sort of drift off at the end, as if they ran with an idea but didn’t know quite how to wrap it up.  But maybe I’m complaining just because I want more of this stuff.  Gimme more.  (Head 2 Wall Records)

Bonus Round:
PREMA, “Drivel”
Throughout the early 90’s when Krishnacore became a thing and bands like Shelter and 108 were creating crazy music, one-upping just about every band out there with some of the most intense and heartfelt live shows ever. Equal Vision Records seemed to be the place to go for these bands to find a home as well.  One such group of young upstarts called Prema were what was to be (maybe) the next wave of Krishnacore bands.  They released an EP of post-hardcore leaning jams that gave an indication of good things to come.  And then came time for their full length.  Well, they completely did a 180 (instead of a 108, zing!), more or less dropped the Krishna style, and threw everyone for a loop.  Just as an aside, this was around 1996 so the hardcore scene didn’t really know what to make of it.  They were opening their record with the slow and weird “Sounds, Shapes, and Shades” before the next track, “Smoke”, came on sounding like a spaghetti Western soundtrack before exploding into some San Diego-style chaos.  “Morphine Addict” probably wasn’t a good way to impress the straightedge crowd, even though it’s catchy dissonant lead plugged away like it had escaped John Reiss’ brain and traveled to Philadelphia to plant itself in Doug Freeman’s guitar.  Most of the songs on this record hovered near, or over, the 6-minute mark.  Even the last song- “Hair Dye”- is over three minutes of jazzy meandering before exploding into the crux of the song and the chaos that spews forth from there on out.  The whole thing was very Drive Like Jehu worship, which was fine by me because I was just getting into them around when this record was released.  Even their label, Equal Vision, didn’t seem to know what to make of the band.  I distinctly recall an advertising campaign in every zine out there describing them as “Rocket From the Crypt stylee (sic)”, whatever the fuck that was supposed to mean, and throwing credit towards the incorrect John Reiss band.  I don’t think the band stuck around for long after this was released, and aside from drummer Ryan Mclaughlin playing on most of best Ink and Dagger material I’m pretty sure most of the members of this band didn’t do much musically afterwards.  It’s kind of a shame though because this is one really cool record from some very creative musicians.  Unfortunately, it came out at a time when hardcore was pretty rigid and this band, who certainly did not fit into those rigid confines, was thrown into the middle of it.  Too weird to exist, as the saying goes.  But I think it makes for a pretty good lasting album.  (Equal Vision)