ENFORCED • At the Walls LP (2019)

ENFORCED • At The Walls LP (2019)

War Records     

Enforced_1

I wasn’t really going to buy into the hype of this Richmond, VA band. My buddy Telf has been going on to me about how awesome they are for the last year, and how the guitarist Zack is one of the best writers of extreme music in Richmond. Well, after listening to this LP only once I was sold.  I immediately flipped the record over and listed to side one again….I’ve spun it many many times since then.  

Enforced_2

This is a total top notch recording for this no nonsense metal/hardcore band.  People always seem to compare them a lot to Powertrip…I don’t hear it.  What I do hear is a lot of Slayer.  Yup… Slayer, Slayer, and more Slayer. Seriously, some of these riffs could be sold to Slayer to finally make a decent new record (donate those riffs Zack).  The dive bomb solos and wanks are perfectly positioned in these songs, and are not overdone.  What I do hear beside Slayer would be Sepultura, LeeWay, Ringworm, Integrity, Excel, Madball, and a little bit of the Cro-mags.  But honestly, I think this stuff just stands on its own… totally tough sounding music to pound one another as your pals are running around the pit being wacky.  I love this record and am very excited to hear what else these guys are capable of.  (NW)

Enforced: https://enforced.bandcamp.com/album/at-the-walls

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Justin Dratson: JD   Nate Wilson: NW   Matt Average: MA

Enforced_3

HELL BENT • Apocalyptic Lamentations LP (2019)

HELL BENT • Apocalyptic Lamentations LP (2019)

Armageddon Label

Atomic Action

hellbent_1

This is some raw as fuck hardcore punk disguised as metal.  It rarely slows down and has elements of crust, D beat, traditional metal, thrash, black metal (at times)… I think it’s safe to just call this poor man’s metal or some type of crossover.  It’s like a lot of the stuff that I heard in the 80s and didn’t really get right away due to rawness and production. Well, I get it now.  This will resinate well with fans of extreme metal music for sure.  My favorite song on this was the slower one called “Ichthyosis” (track three).  It reminded me of Destructor.  Dudes cover a Znowhite tune as well.  

hellbent_2

I hope these Rhode Island freaks keep at it putting out more records and playing some shows in NJ near me.  The band features members of Dropdead, and Ulcer.   I’m pretty glad I got this one on wax.  Great cover art as well.  (NW)

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Justin Dratson: JD   Nate Wilson: NW   Matt Average: MA

THE PSYCHOS • One Voice LP

THE PSYCHOS • One Voice LP

Radio Raheem

psychos_1

This band was legendary to most of us who missed them in the early days.  I recall my buddy Telf had a cassette of the demo with zero info… no song titles, nothing… just the cassette tape. He’d play it for us all (a small group of hardcore buddies in upstate NY), but he would never allow any of us to copy it. He held it closely like it was the only copy.  That just sort of added to the legacy and mystery of this early New York Hardcore band.  All I really knew about them was that both Billy Milano and Roger from AF played in the band at different times.  That along with holding onto and trying on the classic T-shirt my buddy Jim MacNaughton’s wife owns were what I knew.  

Cooch and company over at Radio Raheem did a great job cleaning this shit up… I can only imagine what they had to work with as far as tapes, graphics etc. go. 

psychos_4

psychos_3

In my opinion, this is an absolute must for anyone who deep dives into New York Hardcore.  Musically, this is very sloppy but also super catchy with a ton of heart and sometimes out of tune classic NYC hardcore.  It has everything a fiend might be scouring for… Good mosh parts, Don Fury recordings, a couple tracks with Tommy Rat on vox,, and some very cool images many of us have never seen of the band before now.   The booklet that comes with this vinyl is pretty incredibly put together. It looks cherry.  

psychos_2

The one take I took out of this record was that It seems that the only two constants in this band over the years were the drummer and guitar player.  Singers and bassists seemed to be a rotating cast of characters.  

Don’t sleep on this.  (NW)

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Justin Dratson: JD   Nate Wilson: NW   Matt Average: MA

THE FIGGS • Ginger LP

THE FIGGS • Ginger LP

Two interviews and one LP review! It’s a fan pack of Figg-ary-ness!

I need to let you in on a couple things before we get into the meat of this review:

1. I grab all of what The Figgs release on vinyl, all of it and without question or listening to any tracks first.

2. The interviews are from memory and are more like me saying stuff to members of the band and their reaction.

3. I’m pretty certain that every encounter I’ve had with this band I’ve embarrassed myself.

Interview 1:

In 2012, a pal and I traveled from Michigan to Albany, NY to see the first of two shows that commemorate the The Figgs’ 25 years of being a band, I think. The show at Valentines is over, has been for over an hour. My pal and I are tipsy. Pete Hayes was the last man out and had a car the size of a potato and fully loaded with all of his drums, including the passenger seat.

Me: Pete that was great, really, really great. We came all the way from Michigan for it.

Hayes: Oh, cool. Thanks for making the trip.

Me: No prob. Can you give us a ride to our hotel? It’s a two-mile walk.

Hayes: I would but I truly have no room.

Me: I bet I could squeeze inside your bass drum

(Silent stares)

Hayes: I’mmm gonna to get going.

Me: Cool cool cool cool. See you guys tomorrow. 

The Review:

The Ginger LP is the Figgs first long player. This was originally a cassette only release from 1992. However, thanks to Matto and Peterwalkee Records, it is finally seeing vinyl. I think it is a bold move to start off any LP with an instrumental, especially from a band that, at the time, no one had really heard of. But dang duder, in 1992 these The Figgs guys were onto something. When track 2 kicks in, “Kristy’s Boots” I’m transported back to how I felt the first time I heard The Jam. I have to wonder though, is Kristy a real person and was she really that hard to get along with? And the lyric “and you blow your mind” repeated several times, I wonder if it’s a drug reference or about a woman who’s had too much of the everyday and junk and opted out.  The following “Sleaze” is another nonstop sing along banger. The 4th, “Floored” is where it goes from great Power pop- rock record to “Jesus, what the fuck! I didn’t see that coming.” They toss in an (mostly) acoustic number that is packed full of sorrow and sweetness. And to kill side A ,“Milk Dud” comes in swinging. And it’s just shy of a hardcore tune with a mosh-break-down and everything.

Side B punches in with “Happy” (also released as a 7″ single in ‘92) followed by “Wasted Pretty”, which later appeared on the 1994 LP Low-Fi at Society High. Songs 4 and 5 on this are terrific but, for me, it is the third song on Side B, “Can’t be Cloned” that grabs me and throws me around the room. “Can’t Be Cloned” has all the right rock tricks: lyrical self-pity,  a back up vocal in the verse sang in a different melody, a little choppy break between verses, a self-aware and self loathing/retired to fate memorable sing along chorus,  and a bridge that doesn’t go too far off the pace or feeling of the song. To me, this entire pile is worth it for this song.

In the end, these are great songs with the right amount of imperfection to make this perfect. It’s ambitious and humble. The songs still resonate with early 20s angst and confusions while having a tone of wisdom, sarcasm, and tunefulness that still captivates me. To take a quote out of context form my pal Charles (Gern Blandsten Records, Follow Jean Through the Sea), “There is no bad Figgs record. They range from “That’s the best thing I ever heard” to “Jesus Christ, that’s good.”  This record is solidly in between those statements.”

Interview 2:

November 1997, I only have $20. Paul Bearer from Sheer Terror is working the door at Brownies, NYC.

Me: Hey man, I have a question for you.

Paul Bearer from Sheer Terror: Yeah?

Me: All I have is this $20 for tonight and I wanted to get a couple beers but beers are too expensive for me here. Do you have any ideas on where I could go around here before the Figgs start?

Paul Bearer from Sheer Terror: (hands me back my change, now down to $15) Ya see that yuppie bar with all the lawyers across the street?

Me: (I look and know exactly where he’s talking about) Yes. Can I afford drinks there?

Paul Bearer from Sheer Terror: Ha. No. But if you tell the bartender I sent you and give him some cash, you’ll be ok.

Me: Cool. Thanks.

Paul Bearer from Sheer Terror: (as I’m walking back out the door) I hope you don’t have any allergies.

I walk into the bar and it is totally young NYC beautiful business types in suits and skirts. I clearly don’t fit in. I sit in a dark corner of the bar.

The bartender: Paul Bearer (from Sheer Terror) send you over?

Me: Yes. Here’s all the money that I have.

Bartender: Cool. Sit tight. Do you have any allergies?

Me: No. Well, pollen.

The Bartender begins to grab half drunk drinks and nearly full drunk drinks and pours them into a glass. He walks over to a freshly made martini, pulls it off the bar and asks the young buck in the suit if he’d like another one. The young buck ordered another one. My drinks were the leftover waste of a room full of fancy NYC up-and-comers. Some of the drinks had rosemary sprigs, or orange twists, or muddled mint. One had a couple of those things and an olive with a bite out of it. To me it was like a magical fish bowl, both the drinks and the room of people. It was frigid outside but I was warming up nicely. And just as the thought of how beautiful and wonderful New York is, I remembered The Figgs were about to start.

Paul Bearer from Sheer Terror: There he is. I was about to send someone to go look for ya. They’re about ta start.

The Figgs played super long that night, just killed it with all the hits. After everything was over I was compelled to go talk to them.  Mike and Pete D were the closest to me.

Me: You guys are really great.

Pete D, Mike: Thanks.

Me: Ever thought about covering “In the City” by The Jam front to back?

Pete D: Ummm, no.

Mike: Ahhh yeah, no.

And then I think I went to Burritoville and got a Fogged Out in Oregon to chomp on the L back to Brooklyn.

I belong to top-secret-cyber-basement-room on a popular media platform for the The Figgs fans. Several years ago I found an old tape someone gave me of old the The Figgs songs and I posed the question to the group – (do you think) If I pitched in for them to do a 7″ of  four short fast-ish power pop songs that they would do it? … I was hit back with talk of it being unfair to ask a band to compromise their art and that I should stop living in the past. I get it, however they did write the lyric “an antisocial lesbian said you were dumb.”  Listening to Ginger and reliving these interviews, I can’t imagine that me asking them could turn out any worse than my previous encounters and could either be a redemption or follow my pattern, win-win.  (JD)

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Justin Dratson: JD   Nate Wilson: NW   Matt Average: MA

DEAD OF NIGHT self-titled 7″

DEAD OF NIGHT – self-titled 7″ single

Red Menace Records

Dead Of Night

Getting a random record in the mail is like answering a phone call from an unknown number; that call could be a long lost friend wanting to catch up or a person trying to get you to do a survey about your insurance. In the end, it’s all a bit doomed but one of them is easier to stomach and the other you fuck with or hang up on (you decide).  However, that wasn’t the case on either side with this Dead of Night 45. I really needed this stamp right now. It hit on all the sorrow and anxiety I was already feeling. It amplified it and then calmed me in knowing that these fellas are sad, too. Musically it sorta reminds me of that one Amebix LP that’s really sorrowful for the past lyrically and drags you from ditch to ditch in with a concussive sonic attack.

Here’s the thing though, it is so heavy and hopeless that I want to find these fellas and pet their hair and tell them that everything is going to be OK. You know what I mean? Like maybe just a hug, some eye contact, and a sincere “I like you, you’re worth it”. But if I do that, they could lose the thing that makes this so great. Also, let’s be honest, if you listen to this it is pretty obvious that these guys are adults. To be clear, I’m referring to the misery that comes through losing a parent or child, a car crash, losing a job, having friends OD, no longer living in a punk house and having to pay bills, break ups, back togethers, realizing your vote means nothing, ideas and dreams crushed under the yoke of everyday life, prolly growing up going to church for a while and having an internal conflict over being in a country that is on the Lord’s side but also responsible for so much suffering, having a kid and not knowing how to protect her/him from what you know is coming… or whatever, all cool. So on and on, I guess. I’m just saying that I felt a connection. Those Amebix folks were young and they made a record around what they thought the world was, wherein Dead of Night is living through that world and their commentary isn’t hyperbole or fiction, it’s truth.

Look, Dead of Night, I’m headed to Maryland Death Fest this week with my pals Will T, Keith H, Kyle H, Mario T, and David M.  If any of you from Dead of Night are there too, I’ll give you a big hug, tell you it’s all going to be OK and then I’ll pull you close and whisper in your ear something like “in these 30 seconds we took to meet, 1000 puppies were gutted and twice as many children lost their fingers in machines making shoes for you” just to fuel the fire for your next record.

My only critique, and it might be the style that I’m not familiar with, but for anyone that gets this melancholy heavy banger, it’s cut a little quite and bass heavy so I turned up the treble a bit and cranked the volume.

Side A The Culling
Side B The Scourge
(JD)

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Justin Dratson: JD   Nate Wilson: NW   Matt Average: MA

ISOTOPE SOAP Monitored by Zu Tze 12″

ISOTOPE SOAP – Monitored By Zu Tze (17 track 12″, played at 45 nonetheless)

Compilation of two EPs and a 12″ EP

Available through Emotional Response Records

isotopesoap

I should start by saying that I pick up everything that Emotional Response Records puts out. Jen and Stew, in my opinion, have created a label that doesn’t follow a particular sound but rather a level of creativity and freshness. I blindly order everything they put out.  Sometimes it’s hardcore (Lögnhalsmottagningen), or twee (Ginnels), or an incredible comp (Typical Girls Vol 1-4) or even an odd recently discovered tape of some 70s punk bloke doing Beat poetry over a kazoo and a person making animal noises (not joking, I think I have a record like that they put out). The short of it is that they don’t get stuck in a genre so I know what comes inside the package is something that I won’t expect.  And, to be clear, I’m not grizzled, grumpy, jaded, etc., I buy new records by new bands almost weekly. However, it does take something unique to pique my ears and this Isotope Soap 12 inch does that perfectly. This record is frightening. It could as easily be aliens on meth or a Scandinavian teenage cult. It pulls on ropes of early Devo and then goes sideways into swirling keyboard mayhem. Everything about this is challenging in all the right ways. I’m continually fascinated with people that can create such oddball amazing things without sounding contrived but rather compelled to create this chaos.

When I put the needle down on side one, I jumped as the frantic pace of disjointed keyboards, and straight ahead fast drums hit me square in the face. Before I could flip the sleeve over to read the name of the song, “Pussy Riding Cowboy Buddhas”, it was over in 39 seconds.

Seventeen songs clocking in at under 22 minutes and ranging in length from 33 seconds to under 3 minutes.  

Six songs in, I was just getting used to their structure and direction, I thought I’d figured these guys out and then I’m hit with “Magnetic Abortion of a Black Hole”. I’m terrified once more. The vocals are working some creepy pitch shift machine and by the time the song was over I thought I was in a dark torture movie and was about to be kidnapped.

“The WOW! Signal”, track 9, would have to be the most familiar song but only because I’ve been listening to a lot of Tones on Tail lately and this could be an instrumental B-side on one of their 12 inches. But that is it.  Just a 2:48 long song sorta sounds like a dark post punk instrumental band from of the 80s and no other comparison. Oh, also the Feederz.  Something about this is Feederz-ish, maybe not so much in sound but for the call to chaos.

The people that are in this band have done a decent job of hiding their identity. I have searched and found that there is a connection with the mid 80s band Raped Teenagers, Pusrad and I’m sure a bunch of others. Here’s the thing, I don’t think they kept their names off it because they are embarrassed. I think they kept their names off of it because they don’t want to be named as a co-conspirator when world starts to crumble.

 Hit the link at the top to check it out or just grab one while you still can.

1.      Pussy Riding Cowboy Buddhas

2.      Frontal Disorder Post Mental Border

3.      Hate

4.      Fancy Inbred Humans

5.      Circle Jerk

6.      Magnetic Abortion Of A Black Hole

7.      Dad Attack

8.      High One Wildlife

9.      The Wow! Signal

10.  I Saved You From Jesus

11.  Reversed Big Bang

12.  The Roof

13.  Human Invasion

14.  Trump Des Willens

15.  Pinata Chaos

16.  Radiated Head

17.  Emdrive Thruster

 (JD)

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Justin Dratson: JD   Nate Wilson: NW   Matt Average: MA

CITY HUNTER Deep Blood 12″

CITY HUNTER – Deep Blood 12″ 45

Youth Attack Records (YA 103)

City Hunter

I’ve been following everything Mark (McCoy) has been doing with Youth Attack Records since the beginning….yup day one, I was there.  For me to see the evolution of his label has been a pretty incredible thing to watch over the years. Its been awesome and makes me proud of an old friend.  I still can’t help but to wonder why, and how he still does it to the degree that he does.  He puts everything he has into the packaging, layout and the sound that many of the YA bands seem to carry. Then right after the record comes out, usually the bands break up.  

At any rate, on to the record review.  When I got this City Hunter 12” I was in awe just by looking at the complete package.  It looks like every single slasher film that I’d stay up late for in the 80’s to watch on USA’s Up All Night.  City Hunter are from from Colorado and feature members of Cadaver DogCivilized, and Creep Stare.  This seems to be a very incestuous scene that have put that region on the HC map.  

When I first put this on my turntable I had sort of the same feeling I had when I first heard Carcass.  I’m not sure why, maybe because its extreme in a way I haven’t been exposed to in a while?  I’m by no means saying these cats are as good as Carcass.  I do however find the band to have some what of a Carcass feel that is mixed in with Void, and then a black metal element in the guitar melodies.  The melodies have me able to hum along with the songs even though the music is so chaotic and rawly tuneless.  The beginning of the song Schizo really had me feeling the Void thing.  Fourteen killer songs that have had me listening to this on multiple occasions.  

Advice…listen kids if you want to get signed to YA you must worship Void.  Its a fucking no brainer!  

Get this City Hunter if you still can, everything about this record is beautifully ugly.  

The song titles…

01. Watching Blood Darken 

02. Living Nightmare 

03. Bind Torture Kill 

04. Beyond Recognition 

05. Crimson Streets 

06. Dark Descent 

07. Open Season 

08. Silhouette of Death 

09. Dying Out 

10. Stab and Repeat 

11. Slow Death 

12. Hollow 

13. Schizo 

14. One By One

(NW)