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.
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.
BEG – S/T 7″ (2016)
Superhuman chaos grind from a member of Art of Burning Water (‘PhD-beat‘ 10/10) and a member of The Afternoon Gentlemen – so restless and heavily encrypted it could be both bands playing at once. Beg churn out the most challenging spread of riff/blasts you’re likely to encounter this year, segmenting their tracks into hundreds of brutal hurdles that hurt the brain as much as the ears, and underneath the bursts of flak, a constant nauseous whirl of soft noise exarcebates the pervading sense of unease. Krupskaya and Narcosis both hit this level of rare intensity in years passed, but neither did it in this warped manner, bringing in serrated bits of repurposed AmRep sludge and maniac powerviolence and often executed as surgically as extreme metal. A truly brilliant seven minutes of mastergrind 7″.
REVENUE – CS (2016)
A glorious 5 goals scored by London’s new suave punks, Revenue, featuring members of Jackals, that little known band Fat White Family, No Coast and a few other acts (Boneyards? Easy Hips? Static Palm?) that probably ring zero bells to resolutely punk ears. This first demo is an excellent guide to making achingly modern updates on classic guitar music without coming across like empty-headed fashion mopes (the kind that huddled around Power Lunches until its closure) – the runaway bass pogo jaunts, covert rock’n’roll melodies and matter-of-fact vocals demand attention regardless of whether you’re coming to the band as a fan of Observers/Red Dons, The Adverts or The Walkmen. The unfussy production works so well applied to the lively nature of Revenue’s tracks, and consider it mandatory to pick up this tape from Whipping Boy Records if you’ve ever obsessed over bands like The Estranged or La URSS.
SEMI – GO VIRAL (2016)
London’s Semi only crop up once in a while, dishing out doses of repellent noize hardcore punk to confused audiences then skulking away again, but now they’ve got something posted permanently online in the La Vida Es Un Mus 7″ Go Viral. The four tracks are pickled in a piercing bitcrushed treble that renders everything positively inaudible, covering up their crashing pogo with torrential distortion and scrambled FX, and with dial-up breakdowns and complaining vocals, Semi tread the fine line between punk sophisticate and lowlife scum punk extremely well. An essential update for fans of The Wankys, as well as followers of semi-related capital city bands like No, Snob, Good Throb. Beware of this audio malware.