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Record Reviews

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DIRTY SLITS:
Fringe Class: CDEP
A few songs worth of thrashy, yell-y, borderline sloppy fast punk, kind of like really early I Farm. I’d be able to get into it if it weren’t for all the toilet language that I’m too embarrassed to repeat, or don’t understand. –joe (Willoughby)


DEZERTER:
Jeszcze Zywy Czlowiek: LP
I would venture to guess that the average contemporary punker under the age of, oh, thirty or so would have one pisser of a time fathoming just how fuckin’ hard it was to be openly active in the punk thing during the 1980s. Sure, some places it’s still a bit rough to walk around with “fuck” written on yer shirt, and no, this is not some “when I was a youngster” diatribe, so you can unbunch your undies now. Merely sayin’ sometimes it was fuckin’ hard and varying levels of dangerous back then to be a punk, even in freewheeling, “liberal” places like Los Angeles, New York and so on. Lotta fighting, violence, police harassment, assholes on the hunt for mohawked freaks, catcalls, and, on occasion, some serious beat downs were the order of the day, often for no more than having the temerity to have your hair cut a certain way, the shirt you were wearing, or even the color and cut of your Levis. Now, imagine if you will, not only dealing with all the usual bullshit, but to do so under the constant scrutiny and threat of reprisal from a totalitarian regime. Dezerter was a punk/hardcore band raising hell in fuggin’ 1980s Soviet-controlled Poland, an existence that no doubt required a level of dedication and huevos of steel that most punks dealing with shit in 1980s United States or England likely couldn’t have fathomed. Throughout that period, they were hassled for their name (they originally went under the name SS-20 after the Soviet missiles aimed at points West until the government decided no, that name wasn’t a good one for a band to have), hassled with authorities over “controversial” lyrics and had to keep modifying their name on gig flyers to keep one step ahead of the powers that be. Somehow, though, they still managed to become quite popular in Poland, released a few records (one of which, 1987’s Underground out of Poland, managed to be released in the United States by Maximumrocknroll and is considered one of Poland’s most crucial musical releases), and play to large festivals. The recording presented on this double LP, parts of which were originally released on a cassette of the same name and on Underground out of Poland, is of a live performance at the 1984 installment of the Jarocin Festival in front of some 20,000 people. True to form, their set courted controversy and, according to the liner notes, included some drama over the band’s concern for the safety of the crowd, something the event’s organizers apparently weren’t interested in concerning themselves with. The sound quality is mostly straight off the board, with occasional bits from a crowd recording to fill in the gaps, the performance is strong, and the historical significance of this recording is off the charts; a crucial document of a time when being a “punk” was a wee bit more of an act of civil defiance than it is now, where too many bands are more interested in units shifted, popularity polls, and figuring out which major label to ink a deal with than they are about being aware of what’s going on in their world and what can be done about it. For the record, Dezerter remains an active band, with releases spotting the past three decades, and I’m willing to bet you’ve better odds of getting hit by a meteor than they have of ever becoming Disney Radio’s latest punk-fop darlings and yes, that’s exactly how it should be. –jimmy (Pasazer)


DEVOUT:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Three blasts of short, speedy hardcore and a fourth track that sounds like some sorta thrash mini-opera, all with strangled, gurgly vocals. –jimmy (Hold Tight!)


DESOLATE VOID:
Northern Aggression: 7”
Andy Howard, Desolate Void’s singer, was the first guy I ever saw wearing an Eyehategod shirt. I swear he came out of the womb with that sucker on. I couldn’t even get away with wearing White Zombie and Tool shirts to school without teachers freaking out on me. I doubt they ever said shit to Andy about his Eyehategod shirt. Maybe they were scared of him. If they heard this record, they would be. This is the sound of people who have had metal in their veins since birth, who have let it fester and rot inside until it pours out of their mouths and instruments like black bile, melting everything in its path. You are in its path. –mp (Crimes Against Humanity, cahrecords.com)


DEATH CRISIS / DIATRIBE:
Split: EP
Glad to see there’s a new record from San Diego’s finest, Death Crisis. This one does not disappoint. May be their best yet. Three songs of straight-forward hardcore punk going fast to just a little less fast. Alberto’s vocals sound in fine form with their delivery of lyrics that are rooted in frustration and rejection. This isn’t some hipster pose; this is the real deal kind of stuff. The music’s tough and burly without being macho shit. It’s music fueled by anger and disgust by a group of guys who won’t get soft as they get older. Right on! The song “Comfort Shelter Lies” is one of the best songs about relationships I’ve ever heard. On the other side of this record are two tracks from the long-running Diatribe. I must confess, despite seeing their name in fanzines for a hundred years, I’ve never listened to them until now. Musically, they don’t stand out much, but the lyrics covering patriotism and those who should know better turning right wing are pretty good. But it’s the Death Crisis songs that I keep going back to. –Matt Average (To Old To Die, facebook.com/deathcrisis)


DEAD LAZLO’S PLACE:
Growing Old Disgracefully: CD
Four-man punk band from Hollywood that brings it hard on this record. They all have nicknames too, which is cool. In the tradition of The Clash and Living Color, they also have their own theme song on this one—”Lazlo for Life.” I won’t even knock them for nicking a Chris Mars song title, “Horseshoes and Hand Grenades.” Strangely, there is another song here called “Ghettoblaster,” yet their model is not pictured in the liner notes. Nice work and I’m up for the next round, dudes! –koepenick (Self-released)


DAN RUSSELL:
Self-titled: LP
Weird, wild stuff, as Paul Schaeffer might say. This is a posthumous collection of Mr. Russell’s output from 1983-1999. He was apparently quite an underground legend in Flint, MI, though I’m only vaguely aware of him. I’ve heard his name connected with Ben Hamper’s, as I suppose anyone from Flint worth their salt would be. I’m sure this wasn’t what he was goin’ for at all, but I definitely hear some Minutemen/Nomeansno weirdness in here. There’s even a little Nugent in the guitars, but you can’t avoid that being from Michigan. (We don’t even consider it a bad thing up here—that’s how far gone we are...) This is demented, vaguely scuzzed-out rock and roll trash from what sounds like a real wildman, most of it recorded in his bedroom with various bands. It’s totally worth checking out, and is a nice reminder that we haven’t even tapped the surface of all the weirdoes out there making music. –Ryan Horky (Aggravation Overdose)


CYMEON X:
Pokonac Samego Siebie: LP
I tend to be put off by straight-edge hardcore. Mainly because I’m a bitter middle-aged man who has moved beyond the realm of all that straight-edge focuses on. Don’t give a fuck if someone drinks, don’t give a fuck about how dedicated to the core they are, because I know they will be long gone in five years time, tops. Basically, my problems and concerns are a lot more complex than they were when I was in high school. But then there are a small number of bands under the sXe umbrella who are pretty good. Poison Planet from Chicago immediately come to mind, and then there’s Cymeon X from Poland. For the most part, they stick to the usual formula of what it means to be edge, their love of hardcore, and dealing with the betrayal of being human. Their Inside Out cover is not all that raging. But they do sing about animal rights (a bit oversimplified, but it’s a step in the right direction)—which is something that has fallen out of discussion in today’s hardcore scene—and the songs about inner turmoil are more interesting than usual. Style-wise, they, again, are pretty much tied to the formula, with a definite NYHC influence in the rhythm section. Again, nothing new or earth shattering, but they play with conviction. Their originals are dynamic and packed with energy, which are the reasons I keep coming back to this time and again. –Matt Average (Pasazer, pasazer.pl)


CYCLOPS:
“Eye Can’t Take It” b/w “Goblins Part 1”: 7”
Three songs from a slammin’ three-chord punk duo. “Eye Can’t Take It” and “Eye Like It Cuz It’s Cool” are break-neck movers that don’t slow down to check for spelling. “Goblins Part 1” is an extended bit of chaotic noise. Good snotty vocals from both members. Nice bit of wax. Keeper. –Billups Allen (Bachelor)


CROSS STITCHED EYES:
Decomposition: CD
Either this album is really good, or I just live a pathetic existence since listening to this is one of my high points of the day. I listen to this just about every day lately. I like to think it’s because this album is really good. Great, in fact. It’s heavy and dark like Amebix, but then you have some of the death rock elements like Killing Joke in there as well. The songs have an equally strong melody and the ability to pummel. “Existence” is by far the standout track among a sterling set of songs. It’s the guitar that comes in between verses that sends it over. The dark mood coupled with the lyrics is perfect. They never really tip over into thrash. They keep it to a mainly mid-tempo pace, building and keeping the tension, releasing through crashing guitar riffs and thundering percussion. The vocals are gravelly, but intelligible, and the words are delivered with conviction. This will more than likely get lumped in with the anarcho/crust punk thing, but the truth is, while they have those traits, Cross Stitched Eyes are headed into more expansive realms. Seriously, one of the best albums of the year. –Matt Average (Alternative Tentacles, alternativetentacles.com)


CRIMSON SCARLET:
Sanctuary: 7”
Deathrock is exploding in popularity, and Crimson Scarlet is one of the best bands pulling off the sound. Dark, ethereal riffs with lots of guitar wankery, chunky bass, and dynamic female vocals which are sung and not screamed made this record a winner for me. The title track is a solid intro to the band, but I found the B-side track, “Two Kinds of Red,” to have stronger hooks and be a more catchy song overall. This two-song single definitely leaves the listener wanting more, so, hopefully, it won’t be too long before Crimson Scarlet satisfies that desire. –Paul J. Comeau (Cool Summer, crimsonscarletsb@gmail.com)


CREEPOID:
Horse Heaven: LP
Slow jams have their place. Creepoid provides a soundtrack to the comedown. As someone who drinks an irresponsible amount of caffeine on a daily basis, I’m often looking for something mellow and depressing to wallow in while my next cup brews. Sparse acoustic tracks with half mumbled melodies and bass-heavy interludes help to bring you down. There are some guitar-heavy “jam” parts that set the mood for the next spacey acoustic track. Some albums are like onesie pajamas; you can just crawl in them and nod off. I mean that in the best way. –Guest Contributor (No Idea, noidearecords.com)


CREATURES:
Vesuvias: LP
Louder than hell metal from this outfit. They sound influenced more by bands like Converge, Integrity, and Sepultura than Maiden or Priest. The songs are relatively quick, rife with breakdowns, pummeling percussion, a few tech guitar bits here and there, and the vocals sound like they were recorded incredibly loud. The music is a dense wall of sound that is near impenetrable. My one real complaint with this record is the vocals tend to override everything and also cover a lot of the really powerful parts of the songs, instead of standing back for a moment and letting the music do its thing. I can imagine their live sets are pretty powerful. These guys definitely have the chops and they show it well. I must commend them for not getting all noodley or overly tech in their playing. The power is in the straight-forward delivery, and they know it and show it. Yup... –Matt Average (Twelve Gauge, tgrex.com)


CRASH BANG BOOM:
Self-titled: 7”EP
Addiction’s a bitch. Getting old sucks. Alcohol and Adderall is a combo that’ll get you into some fuzzy situations, naked, on your back, staring at the sun next to someone you don’t recognize. It’s both sad and beautiful. Hey, at least you’re not a robot. This 7” is a rally against the numbing effect of physical labor jobs, the limitations of weekends and binging to make up for lost time. Tall boys—life plan? Redemption and maintenance? Or just unromantic liver damage? Check back in another decade. Sing this plaintively, through burlap, with electric snake guitars and creaking floor boards. Think DIY Tampa—Tim Version, Watson, Dukes, Vag. Jr. Sort of like the dark side of the moon to Too Many Daves, if that makes any sort of sense. Existential dude crisis. –todd (ADD, addrecs.com)


COUNTDOWN TO OBLIVION:
Discography: LP
Step back a little over ten years ago and marvel at how fast time moves and consider all the changes. Formed in 1998, this Canadian gang of thrashers (members of the Swarm One Blood, etc.) put out a demo, and two EPs (one a split with They Live) in the early part of this century. Their style was a mix of hardcore punk with some metallic elements (especially in the guitar riffs and some solos). A mix of Born Against, powerviolence and Y2K thrash, which was when these guys formed. The songs are fast, well executed, and the lyrics are sarcastic, but with a point, often critiquing the punk scene, as well as the insecurities and absurdity of society at large. The structure and riffs in “4 Alarm Fire...” is insane; a lot of near tech metal riffs, and there’s a crunching main riff that makes the song awesome. Comes on red vinyl and packaged in a gatefold cover with liner notes, as well as a separate lyric sheet. –Matt Average (A389, a398records.com)


COUNTDOWN TO OBLIVION:
Discography: LP
I’ll begin this by saying that Left For Dead was one of the most important bands in my young life, and that Chris Colohan’s vocal style, lyrics, and overall approach in those early years left an indelible mark on me. For those who don’t know, CTO was one of Colohan’s many late ‘90s/early ‘00s bands, and while not sounding terribly unlike Left For Dead or The Swarm, CTO ramped up the Euro metal influence and brought a more chaotic vibe to the table. This record combines the band’s Brain Surgery for Beginners EP, the split with They Live, and demo tracks. Remastered, repackaged, and finally seeing the slick release it deserves, thanks to the always classy gentleman that is Dom at A389. Essential shit. –Dave Williams (A389, a389records.com)


CHUMPS:
Self-titled: LP
Chumps play fuzzed-out rock with pop sensibilities. Riffs are catchy while maintaining a weird edginess to them. I detect a bit of grunge influence hiding in here, which, combined with the fuzziness, makes me think of the early ‘90s. Vocals are sung-shouted, but never screamed, with lyrics which read like crazed beat poetry mixed with punk nihilism. The weirdness of this band is just right to get those with more discerning taste interested, but their songs are just polished enough to have a bit of commercial appeal. It’s not my favorite release from Forge Records, but it’s still worth checking out. –Paul J. Comeau (Forge, chumpsmofo@gmail.com)


CHILDREN OF GOD:
Victimized: Flexi 7”
One track of heavy powerviolence-y grind riffs and blast beats that rips from start to finish. I had not heard of Children Of God before, but they’re definitely a band I’ll have on my radar in the future. My only complaint is that while the flexi-format was kind of a cool gimmick, I really wanted more than only one track. –Paul J. Comeau (A389, unholychildren@gmail.com)


CHIEF FUZZER:
Transcendental Road Blues: 7”
Three songs of heavy rock from this Texas band with a little stoner rock, a little blues, and some boogie rock in the mix. I like to call this kind of music “two beer buzz rock.” Pretty good when you’re out drinking and seeing bands, but not necessarily the most compelling sound on record. –frame (Saustex, saustexmedia.com)


CHEAP ART:
Cheap Art E.P.: Cassette
I love the resurgence of cassette releases, especially from new bands. Cheap Art is a powerviolence outfit from Atlanta that put out this incredible ten-song tape after a mere four months of existence. Listening to great newbies on cassette isn’t a novel concept to anyone who got into punk in the ‘80s or ‘90s, but the NYHC demos I picked up at shows as a kid almost always paled in comparison to tapes like this. Also available as a digital download, someday this will get pressed onto vinyl for the hoards of fans Cheap Art is soon to gain. This is ultra-inspired, leap-out-of-your-seat hardcore at its best. This reviewer named Art is dead serious about how fucking great Cheap Art is. –Art Ettinger (Cheap Art, cheapart.bandcamp.com)


CAUSE FOR ALARM:
Self-titled: 7”
Also referred to as the Anthology 7”, this is Cause For Alarm’s first release, repressed for Record Store Day on vinyl by Victory Records for the first time in years. Hardcore punk with fast and super catchy riffs, as well as great vocals by Keith Burkhardt (the only permanent member of the band through their tumultuous two-decade existence), this 7” has everything a fan of hardcore punk will love. If you’ve never heard this, get to your local record store and hope they still have a copy, or find it on CD. It’s required listening. –Paul J. Comeau (Victory)


CATHETER / MASSGRAVE:
Split: 10”
I’m confused about what this record actually is. It came with no info, but I’ve been told it was a repress. I’ve heard both of these bands, but was not aware of the existence of this split until it showed up on my front porch, so I don’t know if these are old recordings or new ones. I don’t remember Catheter sounding so much like a death metal band. The feel of the music is grind and there’s still a lot that reminds me of Neanderthal, but there are a lot of atonal, very death-inspired riffs that take over some of the songs. I’m not complaining, as everything is tight as hell and the production sounds huge. Massgrave have a lot more punk overtones and sound more like straight forward, old school grind. Their side of the split is also well produced; everything is leveled out well. Both bands hold their own and this is a fantastic grind record, I just wish there was any sort of information or liner notes to accompany this thing. –Ian Wise (To Live A Lie, tolivealie.com)


CARCINOGENZ:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Raw as fuck recording (sounds like it was recorded in a room covered in pie tins) of an equally raw hardcore band. They’ve been kind enough to include a little booklet so’s one can get the full measure of lyrics soaked in that special kind of vitriol that makes PC punkers go apeshit in MRR’s letters section. –jimmy (Going Underground)


CANADIAN RIFLE:
Untitled: Cassette
Three-song tour tape. “Withdraw” is the Rifle you know and love, melodic punk so scratchy, gruff and mud puddle moody it’ll blow your speakers. Then there’s a punked-up cover of Springsteen’s “I’m Goin’ Down” and an instrumental jam that sounds like the riff a band would play to get the audience’s attention before starting their set. Note: If Canadian Rifle comes to your town, call out some Springsteen songs. They did a whole set last Halloween. –Guest Contributor (Downward Spiral Series, comedyjoketime@gmail.com)


BURNING BRIDGES:
Self-titled: 7”
This band sounds like they should exclusively play basements. That’s a compliment. While the drums and bass keep you moving, the guitar plays some very melodic leads. The throaty lyrics are pretty serious, covering subjects such as genocide and animal liberation. A brief explanation of each song is included also, in case you can’t figure out what the lyrics mean. This band is very DIY and they make sure to let you know it. Just in case you forgot about that whole thing. They even have a song about one of their cats, Simba. Included in the lyric sheet are extensive lists of rape crisis hotlines and crisis and suicide prevention hotlines from around the world. Very informative. –Nighthawk (Solidarity Recordings, solidarityrecordings.com)


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