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Agorapocalypse: CD
Wait. What happened to the drum machine? Don’t get me wrong. This album sounds great. Only, it sounds like Cattle Decapitation meets Spazz. The drums sound… real? Do I hear drum stick clicks? If you dig grind or super fast metal, this will pick you up and take you to the moon. But, I think I’m going to go back and listen to their earlier efforts when they sounded more like Agoraphobic Nosebleed and less like all the other Relapse bands. –mrz (Relapse)

This is a double CD, disc one being a re-issue of the previously vinyl-only PCP Torpedo EP, and disk two is a bunch of remixes of what I guess are the songs on disc one. If you’re familiar with Agorophobic Nosebleed, you can expect more of the same: really fast computerized grindcore. One of these dudes is in Pig Destroyer, and his input is really the only part of this album that resembles anything that was even once hardcore or punk about this. The remixes sound like a Donkey Kong game being run over by a train at their best, and Aphex Twin or Atari Teenage Riot at their worst. The way the whole thing comes together kinda sounds like what watching Tetsuo: The Iron Man looks like. It gave me acid flashbacks and made everything smell and taste like gasoline for an hour or so. This album is cool, if you’re in the mood for a bunch of fucked up noises. –ben (Hydra Head)

Host of the Winged: CD
I was very fortunate to catch this band from Sweden on their West Coast tour back in August. An amazing show. The music translated well in a live setting. I first listened to this CD before I saw them. I was captivated by the power they brought forth. It’s a dark, brooding mix of dark metal and Swedish crust. The first song clocks in at over thirteen minutes and instantly comes across as the color black. You are dragged along in the dark and can only imagine what might be just ahead; just the feeling of pain until the music charges forth and displays the power. Like war at night. Quiet until the artillery starts falling. Another image I have is the stories I have heard of long lasting night, where the sun never comes up and it’s a constant battle against depression. This is what I pictured in my mind when I saw them live and recorded. I really like the impeccable production on this release. The bass guitar punches through the mix with impact. The drums are hit with strong force and keep the rhythms and tempos intact. The guitars are bit clean for this type of music but they cut through with precision, adding to the layers of sound. The vocals are so low and almost guttural; it could be easily thought not to be sung by a woman. The nuance of keyboards adds subtle touches to the emotion. Over an hour’s worth of music to mess with your senses. Listening to this, I hope they come back again on these shores. –don (Profane Existence)

Split: CS
Ah Fuck: guitar and bass accompaniment to a dystopian future where technology has outsmarted itself. Agonized vocals echo in and sit down next to you to share in your frustration and to remind you that life is meaningless but beautiful. Rush Awesome: droplets of colorful sound bouncing off your brain before leading you into a labyrinth of perpetual ambient bliss. Expert use of tape looping reveals true artistic craftsmanship. Fucking brilliant through and through.  –Juan Espinosa (Gilgongo, gilgongorecords.com)

Weakness: CD
Three audio tracks with a total time of 40:12. I call them audio tracks because these forty minutes and twelve seconds largely consist of noise—screaming, blistering, howling, raw noise, punctuated by periodic vocalizations which are largely unintelligible. We are not, for example, talking about noise as Lou Reed constructed it on Metal Machine Music—we’re talking about chaotic shit that is as likely to make your ears bleed as it is to sound like something resembling a song –scott (Level Plane)

Weakness: CD
Three guys raise one seriously cronked racket, one barely classifiable as music. Three tracks run forty minutes and coat a thin skeleton of rhythm with gallons and gallons of guitar noise, bass noise and a few crunchy samples. Maybe some vocals, but you’re not gonna get the words; you’re just gonna get the earborne sickness which is its own cure. –Cuss Baxter (Level Plane)

What Happened to the Kids?: 7”
It seems like I’m reviewing at least one Longshot record in every issue. Trust me, I don’t mind in the least. There are some great bands on the label and Aries And Graces seem to fit in just fine with the likes of Alternate Action and Harrington Saints: straight-forward street punk that’s played well. I was a little shocked to find a standard black vinyl record in the sleeve. I guess I’ve been getting used to the wacky colored vinyl that Longshot has been throwing around on their last few releases. I should also mention that as much as I dig the tunes, I’ve gotta say “Better Dead Than Red”? Really? It would seem apparent to me that America has bigger problems than communism. –ty (Longshot)

What Happened to the Kids?: 7”
This band from WashingtonState takes its name from a phrase that means putting on airs. Thanks to some remarkable bass lines, it’s a bit more soulful than some of the other oi acts on Longshot and the vocals sound a little Leatherface-ish. “Doesn’t want to learn from an older face, because he’s learned everything to know from MySpace” is one of the more unintentionally funny lines I’ve come across in awhile. There’s something hilarious about punk rockers complaining about kids using technology. Do Aires and Graces have a MySpace site? You bet your braces they do. –Jim Ruland (Longshot Music)

Demo: CD-R
I never got to see Giant Haystacks, but I saw Airfix Kits’ first show at the Knockout in San Francisco and it’s obvious that these two guys have this music so ingrained in their lives that there’s no end in sight. Allan and Alan have the ability to constrict themselves around a song, taking their time and methodically squeezing the vibrant, flavorful juices out of it until you’re soaking head to toe in something you’re not sure you really understand other than the fact that it’s fucking good. Early Wire meets Minutemen but played by three guys who know how to make something their own. I can’t wait for more from this band. –Daryl Gussin (Self-released, www.myspace.com/airfixkits)

“Playing Both Sides” b/w “Leaving” and Flex Time: 7” EP
Ten years ago, I sneered at the idea of “singer songwriters,” casting them off into the Yacht Rock camp of Loggins and Messina or post-Wings McCartney. But, as in this often cicada-short lifespan of many punk bands, it’s a worthy enterprise tracing particular folks through their various bands, discovering which of their fingerprints were on the steering wheel of a particular musical conveyance. Airfix Kits emerge from the Giant Haystacks cocoon, vocally led by Allan, a British ex-patriot. The Airfix Kits shed many of the Haystacks’ Minutemen-isms. Charming noodling is replaced by tighter, bouncier songs. And the reason I’m intentionally covering two 7”s in the same review is that they have a nice “snapshots of a time” feel to them. The 7”s work great by themselves, but played one after another, it’s like several short stories—think of author Alan Sillitoe, if that helps—telling a larger one: of a man emotionally betrayed, a man trapped by his lack of ambition, a man who’s surrounded by friends making bad decisions. It’s reminiscent, in the best ways, of early Who, early Jam, and Gang Of Four: specific, but universal narratives played like actual lives are at stake… with a beat you can snap your fingers to. –todd (Dirtnap, Deranged)

Terror Amor: LP
The “chopped and screwed” vocals are largely unnecessary. Maybe a good gimmick for one song, but otherwise distracting and detracting from the songs. Outside of this, fans of Davila 666 will surely like this record. It’s got a similarly rowdy, Stooges-riffery, gang singalong vibe as Davila 666 albums, and even features fellow members on most of the songs. “2333” is my favorite. Sing it in English or Spanish and it’s just as catchy. Put it on your list of summer jams. –Sal Lucci (Nacional)

Self-titled: 7”
Thunderous d-beat hardcore from New York with nods to Scandi-core gods such as Krigshot, and Motörhead’s deafening wall of sound. I wonder if any Swedes are pissed that the Yanks have hijacked their style and run away with it (see also: Skemäta). No matter: should Ajax find themselves in your town, you’d do best to park yourself front and center for the face shredding of a lifetime. –Juan Espinosa (Beach Impediment, no address listed)

Self-titled: CD
Right off the bat, I will disclose that the members of AK-47 are friends of mine. That said, I feel that I can still review this properly since I was a fan of the band long before I met the personnel. AK-47 are a hardcore institution here in Victoria B.C., having released their first cassette back in 1997. Here we are, thirteen years later, and the band has just released what I can honestly say is their best. “But wait, Ty. You don’t even like hardcore!” Bullshit! I hate that jock metal that seems to pass for hardcore these days. AK-47 is a prime example of what a hardcore band should sound like in 2010. Hard, fast, and brutal, the disc is relentless in its attack on the laundry list of ills in our society. Governments, corporations, religion, and racists all get a taste of the fury. The songs are quick blasts that are over before you know what hit you, yet the message is clear. There is no “cookie monster” growling and “chugga-chugga” riffage here, just pure anger exploding in your ears. Imagine a spider monkey trapped in a small cage constantly poked and prodded by some clown with a stick. Well this disc is the soundtrack to the day that monkey gets out of that cage and exacts its revenge. It’s the sound of the desperation of the situation mixed with anger and vengeance. To answer a question posed by a song on the disc: Yes. Yes I have wanted to curbstomp my fucking boss from time to time. –ty (Reason)

Garden City: CD
Hardcore. Passionate, pissed off, pummeling hardcore. A few ripping metallic solos and a few catchy breakdowns keep it interesting. Good thing there’s a lyric sheet, these guys have something worthwhile to say, with songs about Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin and other victims less known but with equally fucked up stories. With apologies to my Floridian friends, the best song title and concept here is “Annihilate Florida.” Go see these Victoria, B.C. Canadians and pick this up.  –Chad Williams (Self-released)

Split: 7”
As they say on The Antiques Roadshow, it’s the provenance—the documented story—that increases the value of a piece. On the surface, AK-77 is serviceable tongue-in-cheek oi (along the lines of Oil!). Death Statistic provides roughly recorded songs played at home. Their band name / logo takes a bit of time to visually decipher, so I’m saying they’re going for something along the lines of Bathory or Entombed, but don’t hold me to that, since my time in those dark corners are limited. What this 7” is really about is an audio tribute to a Ukrainian punk—who had formed both bands—and died before his twenty-first birthday. And in that context, it’s oddly sweet that making fun of bald xenophobes and sidling up to dudes who prove their commitment by burning churches is this guy’s swan song. –todd (Do Ya Hear We)

The Fucking Enemy: CD
There are cops in riot gear on the cover and a war image on the back—any idea what this is gonna sound like? Actually, this is not the Dis-worship that image might conjure up. It’s pretty damn good fast hardcore for the most part. Tows the line between Vitamin X/Tear It Up hyper thrash and Strike Anywhere/Trial By Fire style melody. This is just the kind of hardcore that I like. I imagine these kids would tear some serious ass in a live setting. –frame (Reason)

Self-titled: CD
I have a weird hate of bands reusing band names. A quick search shows that this band name was used by a Texas band that has a single that is heralded by KBD record collectors and the name also was used by a prominent punk band from Croatia. Using the excuse that those bands do not exist anymore is lazy if that is what they are going to use. Going in their favor, they do offer a jam-packed affair with twenty-four blistering hardcore punk songs done in about twenty-two minutes. It’s a well-recorded batch of songs that adds to the power of their to-the-point songs. The band shows that they have some musical chops in between their blasts, too. Vocals remind me of Deek from Oi Polloi and the lyrics of all things that anger them makes me think of the Nihilistics. This is definitely worthy of being uploaded to the iPod. –don (AK47, akfortyseven.net)

Samurai Punk Rock Girls: CD
Attention: Dichotomy alert! Super silly, fun, fast music played by a group of Japanese girls with super serious lyrics about the bombing of Hiroshima and World War II. My body wants to dance, but my brain wants to think! Oh, the horror! This is Kix (serious!) with a bunch of Froot Loops thrown on top! –Maddy (Asian Man/Einstein)

Forging Steel and Laying Stone: CD
What we have here is thunderous, crusty metal that would seem more likely at home on Relapse Records then Alternative Tentacles. For fans of Unsane, High On Fire or Darkest Hour. –greg (Alternative Tentacles)

Harshing Your Mellow: CD
(This is a reissue of their 2001 release and while the bands I’m about to compare them to probably weren’t even around when it was released, I also have no idea whether they were influenced by this band. All I can do is use them for comparisons.) With that said, Akimbo has a pretty insane release here. They take the off-the-charts, super-charged guitar rock’n’roll aspects of the Bronx and mix it with the experimental “modern” hardcore of bands like Lickgoldensky. This album is consistently menacing, chaotic, and heavy as fuck. If you were already a fan of the band and its music, this re-mastered reissue comes with all new artwork and a cover of the Screamers’ “Vertigo,” which is really good and doesn’t compromise the band’s sound to the uniqueness of the Screamers. –Daryl Gussin (Alternative Tentacles)

Navigating the Bronze: CD
This is fucking MAN music. Well, by that I mean music that’s heavy and hard, like a man should be, not necessarily music to fuck a man to. Although, if you think about it, what could be much more MANly then a load of buff man flesh all getting it on with each other, preferably all while wielding implements of destruction like battle axes and double barrel shot guns... and doing it all in the back of a kickass conversion van with a giant black widow fighting a wizard on top of a volcano airbrushed on the side. That scenario is the music of this CD if it were to be given a visual counterpart. Navigating the Bronze has some of the heaviest drumming ever heard outside of a Melvins record, while the guitar and bass compete to see who can be the most punishing of all. And who can argue with a lyric like, “You’re going to kill some cats, surf on a shark, and then devour your young. It’s solid gold!” Pick this up if you’re into heavy stoner rock like Fu Manchu, or bands like the Melvins at their rockingest. There’s even an entire three-minute drum solo which takes up an entire track. As an added bonus, “Wizard Van Wizard,” “Dungeon Bastard,” and “Huge Muscles” are all tied for the toughest-sounding song names of the year. –Adrian (Alternative Tentacles)

Clues in the Chaospile: LP
Tweaked-out grindcore from these guys. They land somewhere between Scrawl and No Less. Think of a heavier version of John Zorn. If they didn’t have the gargled vocals and distorted guitars, they could be free jazz. The drummer is pretty damn good! The songs are thrashy as hell, then they have these complex time changes and jazz-influenced breaks that display these guys have the chops. I like that they’re not sticking to a tried and true formula. They throw in clarinets, vibraphones, and more to add to their sound—and it’s not some random shit. You get the sense they actually put a lot of thought into the music. Could be interesting to see how far out this band will push their sound. –Matt Average (Timekiller, timekillerrecords.com / Tofu Carnage, tofucarnage.com)

Dis Manibum Sacrum: EP
Akupunktio play traditional Finnish hardcore with some current influences thrown in. The songs are driving, though never full-on speedy or thrashy. The rhythm section definitely hammers away, but there are a lot of tempo changes in the songs to keep it from being one long blur. “Koira” is the standout track of the four. The guitar dominates and sets the mood with ringing notes over a din of distortion and a somewhat pummeling mid tempo. –Matt Average (Havoc)

Riot City: 7”
I heard a buzz about this band from Tokyo on a message board. Live they are supposed to be amazing. From what I hear, I can believe that it would be a great band to see in a live setting. This band is, undeniably, a guitar-heavy band with a ton of blues licks: three guys banging out the dirty punk’n’roll with a heavy Motörhead vibe. They also add elements of Japcore—reminding me a bit like countrymen Testu Arrey—giving it a punk edge. The singer reminded me of a cross between the latter mentioned band and the transplanted band from Japan, Peelander Z; a gruff voice but definitely having a good time belting out the lyrics. Even though the band sounds loose, they play with controlled precision to perfect the intended sound without falling apart. Worthy of a few shots of whiskey and a packed club of energized fans getting rocked out. Now I need some cash to get to Japan so I can see it for myself. –don (Schizophrenic)

Through Thick n’ Thin: CD
I’m a petty person; I’m well aware of this. I’ve always hated the clicking of the psychobilly genre. You know what I’m talking about. The effect of the microphone on the stand-up bass being so close to the strings that you hear a constant clicking throughout the songs. It’s all I can ever focus on. If I could get past that (and the stupid haircuts), I might actually like some psychobilly. Despite my hang-ups of the genre, Al & The Black Cats manage to write some great songs. Just don’t ever expect me to listen to this again. They get some major points for their singer sounding like Chuck from the Mad Caddies. –Bryan Static (Joe Pogo, joepogorecords.com)

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