MANIAC SS – MANIAC SS (2017)
An excellent Are You Morbid? primitive garage metal demo from Hereford’s Maniac SS, keeping it raw as possible and sporting crude Type O/Carcass like samples from unnervingly sassy creeps and lunatics. People thought Hellhammer were goofy when they were around and Maniac SS are a bit of that too – the vocals are eye watering at first but after an initial bitter taste they settle into something like Infest strained squawk. It’s convincingly early 80s but for a few adjustments, impaled on the spike between power trio metal filth and early Discharge, and definitely one for those who enjoy their metal loose and reminiscent of beer.
ARMS RACE – THE BEAST E.P. (2018)
Arms Race have got a lot of momentum going in to The Beast, the best evolved project of those involved, and it opens with a riff that is umbilical to the image of people readying to fling themselves around, a mental link that they have made concrete through years of Quality Control and time spent in Stab, Violent Reaction, The Flex (more recently Game, Farce, Subdued all going in promising directions). They’ve got a massively enjoyable formula, pouring more menace and heft in to something typically British like Disorder, feeding it booming Rival Mob drums and that double layered whooligan guitar tone, making a cheerless angry stomp that still harks to the energy and atmosphere of bands like Ripcord, Ultra Violent, Voorhees and warrants fair use of their term NWOBHC.
FEX URBIS – BLOOD & GUTS (2018)
From the same people who did No, Facel Vega, Permission and the first Fex Urbis tape, is the pretty excellent Blood & Guts. With those bands (plus others not mentioned), they variably inherit aspects of 80s UK hardcore and anarcho/gothic punk and pervert the template so it resembles often brutally negative or bewildering punk – Fex Urbis is a bit different, but the tracks have the same wanderlust and stall-free momentum that cauterizes any chance of a boring moment. The rasping pestering vocals drop in and out and over fussy sequences of Wipers Youth Of America melodies that are both memorable and straight up sick, especially across the middle tracks ‘Tombland’, ‘Zero Sum Game,’ and ‘Into The Black’ and it’s all played on guitars wildly distorting through an analogue heat haze. Weirder and better than most.
TROPICAL NIGHTMARE – III (2016/2018)
Delicious kinda kraut flavoured painful punk from Tropical Nightmare, a trio who began in São Paolo and continue to make noise in London, hitting their stride on this third release. The metronomic gurgle of the bass forms the strong centre of gravity that gives the guitar room to screech bonus noise material across the songs, taking a Killing Joke industrial rhythm and splicing it with enough dirty weird ideas to make it pass for punk. A whole lot more memorable than their previous two (although both worth checking out for bangers like ‘Descompassado‘ and ‘Prego‘), III is less hardcore, but played with more force and concentration. Baffling that they haven’t picked up more traction here, considering the popularity of the arguably comparable Una Bestia Incontrolable amongst Tropical Nightmare’s very local neighbours Static Shock and La Vida Es Un Mus.
CASUAL SECT – THE STATIC SEEKERS (2017)
Sick blend of lots of styles played at hardcore punk speed when they want to, coming from North London plus a little bit of Margate. Jerrys Kids style drumming and huge warm baths of guitars make ‘A Komodo Dragon Ate Sharon Stone’s Husband’ one hell of a weird rush, and in other places on The Static Seekers they tirespin in sludge or noise morph into a horror montage (‘Hard Om’, what a sick title). The fast punk goods are wedged between bleeding hunks of garage and invasions of fuzz, and the barked army style vocals rope in a post-punk feeling to the mix. Lyrics and themes are very far out, ‘From Here To Insanity’ sounds like a four minutes snippet from Crass performing forever to themselves in space.
AKNE – DEMO (2017)
The second fling with Leeds noisespiked punk in a short space of time on the site, this edition a whole lot cheerier and coming out via London’s thumbs up DIY label Nervous Energy. After the initial slimy wobble stomp of ‘M/T’, Akne fix up short and smart a la Coneheads with four sub two minute songs, drenched in entirely indecipherable singing, fiddly and urgent scribbling guitar and fx pinging across the board. Recorded with the same person to The Shits, it sounds endearingly lofi and full of enough life to warrant a Lumpy scout turning up, plus it’s easy to get that feeling that anything from Melvins awkward crush to Anxiety meltdowns could come round any corner.
LOVERS CLUB – EMPTY BALLROOM BLUES (2018)
Genuine American werewolves in London, Lovers Club have been plying their Cramps meets Lamps country tinged punk experience around the grottiest dive bars in Hackney for the past year or so, and they’ve just put to record three of their best songs on Empty Ballroom Blues. It’s unusual in contrast to the glorious mess of the other releases on this site, but there’s a surplus of fatalist exhalations and melancholy that mean it doesn’t require much translating for fans of things heavier. Shimmering reverb evaporating off the huge semi-hollow looking guitar clings thick to the mix like audible smoke, and the brothers Hatcher aren’t too bad at writing rock ‘n’ roll riffs either, although Lovers Club demonstrate what they’re best at live, amped up twice as loud as necessary and looking very much the part.
THE SHITS – DRINK YOUR BLOOD (2018)
Lethargic slowcoach punk rock from Leeds stuck in apathetic one-riff ruts – a persistent nasty headache and a sadistic scabby pleasure. They’ve got a little bit of a Kilslug / Drunkdriver dogged plod thing going on, in that Drink Your Blood pulls from both punk and noise rock’s total lack of fucks, kicking about brittle unending riffs for far longer than your patience lasts. The mithering low vocals are mean and unsettling, there’s smashed up negative shredding in the background, the drums are punchy – ‘I Know’ feels like a sludgy psych band stripped of all the requisite heft, leaving a miserable naked punk band called The Shits. It’s fucking foul and fucking great.
SCRAP BRAIN – UNHAPPY HARDCORE (2018)
This new year (sorry 2017, missed you out entirely) gets to wake up with Scrap Brain proffering a sour 7″ that does them waaay more justice than their first demo could. The production boost has worked out near perfect for the band, a bunch of strident London prickly punx with a great reputation who needed a sick record and got one. Vocalist Camille comes across bold against the juddering movements of the music, erudite and human and out of breath, while the impatient censor bleeps of clotted feedback and blindsiding switches between fast punk and moments that oddly allude to Gallhammer‘s sparsity earn them an arty, noise rock thumbs up. ‘Vindictive’ is a hateful banger, one of a few tracks on the record that are far too easy to enjoy for a band giving their best shot at making Unhappy Hardcore.
MIDNIGHT PARASITE – DEMO (2016)
Raw punkmetal from Norwich (see: Jackals, Sonic Order, Deviated Instinct) – this first demo from Midnight Parasite is mean as hell and gripping throughout, delivering five tracks of spluttering dbeat/notorious metal gallops that get swallowed up in a caustic fizzing guitar tone, a scummy mix of Hellhammer and Hoax. Fast forwarding the gritty Axegrinder – Grind The Enemy sound through three decades of refinements, it’s a surge of strained guitar wails and excess distort that strikes the right balance between messy and crushing, maybe done best on the shortest track ‘Immersed In Death’. Although they have a quite different approach, Midnight Parasite are severely needed in the absence of bands like Crowd Control, and as ever, it’s superb artwork from Wes.