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.
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.
RAT CAGE – DEMO (2016)
Spirited outing of mid-00’s punky hardcore from Sheffield’s Rat Cage – you know the type, semi dbeat driven songs, crisp distortion and whiffs of salivating garage punk for bonus catchiness. Super easy to get along with if you’re a fan of Government Warning or Career Suicide (minus their hyper fast tendencies), as this debut demo nails the ‘three broad, bright riffs is all you need to make a song’ approach. The raw vocals are delivered atonally and angrily, turning to the bizarrely overlooked issue of nuclear armament in ‘Anti-Trident’, and the hectic drumming is fast and sweaty throughout – all in all, another top notch Lughole escapee.
BASIC DICKS – DEMO (2016)
Blown out lofi puke punk from Oxford with a righteous boom-cha approach and played way too loud on purpose. It’s verse, chorus, verse with no mucking about by characters from Undersmile (outcast funeral sludge) and Girl Power (sick duo fuzz d-beat, anticipating the new release Welcome To the Gun Show being available soon), with a feral catchiness, alluring monotony and duel screamed vocals oppressing you often in an anarcho fashion. The kick gets so submerged that all that can be heard is smacked snare and a swarm of abused cymbals at points, but the clog of noise and mutant guitar style is easy to get along with – ‘Clean Shirts’ feels blurry, bruised and like everyone is playing out of sync, and final track ‘Clameron’ tricks you in to thinking it’s about to drop in to Jerry’s Kids ‘Is This My World?’. The whole demo is over in less than ten minutes, by which time Basic Dicks will be wedged firmly down your ear for good.
PERFECT BLUE – A WEEK OF FIRES (2016)
perfect blue’s first recording is a considered, savvy rush of knotted chord changes, discordant harmonies and agonising emotions, all coming in at under eight minutes. It’s top quality lofi screamo, attained without resorting to any of the wincing, self indulgent idiosyncrasies of the style – instead, a week of fires has a real identity and consistency throughout. ‘palisades’ and ‘solitude/absence’ have dramatic, forceful riffs that jolt up and down, whetting their soft guitar tone in to a sharp weapon, and when the inevitable but loose jangles slither in to the mix during ‘altered state’, they’re despairingly dark and bookended with fitful blasts. ‘shattered skin’ brings the demo to a close with a wrenching melody that needs no punch behind it to be so memorable, but it’s worth skipping track four if you’re allergic to samples.
BLOOD EAGLE – DEMO’ 16 (2016)
Wicked heavy metal from five Leeds lads who just couldn’t help themselves and forged a demo that sounds like three lost B-sides from the glory days of European thrash. The lack of bullet belts and crap moustaches is disappointing, but that’s the only downside on an otherwise immaculate shot on target – ‘Stoneheart’ has so many classic diabolical metal moments that will forcibly bang the head of any self-respecting longhair past or present; ‘Syrinx’ could be on a lost compilation with Saxon, Tank and Angel Witch if it weren’t for the updated production and grim satan vocals. The best of it is saved for the eponymous final track, which has much more of a spikes and motorbikes feel to it, pulling alongside Iron Age and Stone Dagger stateside, Amulet and Aggressive Perfector more locally. Show it to your uncle who loves Motörhead and watch their eyes light up.
SARCASM – TOTAL INSTITUTION (2016)
Excellent post-punk played with such an eye-rolling, nonchalant attitude that it comes across like they’ve been coerced into writing songs against their will. The drums are so washy and distant, like they’ve been lifted from a cassette wedged in to a car stereo for twenty years; the uniform downpicked guitar lines are like a machinist approximation of East Bay Ray; the vocals are sarky, androgynous and on the brink of giving up – and it all makes for a brilliant, aesthetically honed demo. The faux-Cyrillic logo and bleak, functional artwork work so well with the lethargic approach, although when they open up in to ‘Figure In A Landscape’ and depart from the rusty pogo, that’s probably when they sound most unique and intriguing. The rest of the time, it’s like a Peckham discount shop version of obscure French post-punk/disco, which is the highest praise and heartiest recommendation.
SAVAGE REALM – NOCTURNAL SAVAGERY (2016)
Lich (RIP) already did the whole ‘effortlessly heaviest band in the UK’ thing for a few years, and now four members have decided to give it another shot as Savage Realm, who are resuming business by swapping out some of the crust/sludge leanings for hazy, otherworldly, hideously detuned death metal. The woozy tremolo melodies in ‘The Sea Of Claws’ and ‘So As Below’ sound like they’re being melted, and although they play loose in parts, it’s a case of giving you enough rope to slip around your neck before snapping tight with grinding, mechanical indifference. The guitars plummet down in to a gloopy murk so thick they don’t need copious amounts of distortion, so far down that you might miss the devastating beatdowns that they sneak in in between grim blasts and cavernous atmospherics. Every one of the four tracks is saturated with grisly character and conviction, and it’s hard to fathom who would dislike this, such is the quality.
HEX – DEMO (2016)
Really new, really gritty hardcore punk from Leeds (where else?) with throat ruining vocals and a straight forward negative approach, alternating between crunchy midpace stomps and brief lurches in to faster gears – kinda youth crew sounding, crucially without the heaps of dumb posturing and limited scope. If you lapped up Teef and Mangled Youth when they were around, you’ll dig the trend-free and undeniable radness of Hex, who have got it spot on with their sarcastic spiteful lyrics, rattly bass and concise song length. Reckon they would be killer live!
RANCOUR – DEMO (2016)
Rancour’s new demo is a mean opening statement for a debut. Coming out of Cardiff but heading to Cleveland (Outrage CC looms large), the three short tracks are executed in a tough and an ambitious way, not shying away from accelerating in to thrash speed nearly immediately. They’ve evidently clocked that hard hardcore doesn’t just entail farting out a few token chugs at obvious points, and their variety keeps it one step ahead throughout – those heaviest breakdowns that kick in during ‘Pathology’, with bricks strapped to each dense crushing note for added impact, are even better for it. In spite of the welcome pull of Integrity and co., Rancour pull off insolent, angry hardcore well without giving up too much of where they’re from while they’re at it, and they fit well in a UKHC atmosphere that’s receptive and reverent of bands like Dirty Money, Splitknuckle and Shrapnel. Vocalist Reid sings mostly about his dealings with the police in Lokeren, Belgium, a subject that angers him greatly judged by his contribution, but the whole demo undeniably has clout and clarity of vision that will hopefully manifest in more than this one release.