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.
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.
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.
DODGE METEOR – DODGE METEOR (2016)
Mike Vest and Mike Vest fans definitely have a mutually beneficial addiction thing going on: there’s no way to stop him firing up his hotrod space-shred rig and dealing out new sounds (just look at the sheer volume of it all), and whatever product hits the streets gets lapped up fast. This latest one on Riot Season cassette imprint Swap Meat is another prime example of the versatility within his signature style – wah blizzards and psychedelic, doomed riffing – here found stalking around the superb hypnotic drumming of Matteo Dainese II Cane. Mean, muscly fuzz riffs groove hard under the flightpath of the nonstop blazing solos, so unrelenting they blur in to a mesmerising texture, like the doppelgänger antithesis to mopey shoegaze. All six tracks clock in around the relatively concise five minute mark, and the sudden shuddering to a halt comes as a surprise if you haven’t shaken the longform swells of Blown Out and Bong from your preconceptions. Maybe in years to come Vest will be thought of as the UK’s answer to Wino, a lead guitarist with a wicked one-off style, and if so, this Dodge Meteor tape will rank as one of many discography highlights.
ANXIETY – MLP (2016)
Anxiety’s first record is a welcome shot of druggy weirdness, crammed with twitching arty dance opportunities, thick coats of huffable reverb, and maniac punk freakouts. The bass shoulders most of the rhythm grunt work, which gives the shrill guitar permission to dislodge piles of feedback scree and tinker with creepy effects instead, going gleefully and sadistically overboard at every opportunity. The best tracks are when they surge faster in to a mashup of proto and post hardcore, best exemplified by ‘Sewer In My Head’, which sounds like a surf band trying to write a D-Clone song (or the other way round), or ‘Human Hell’, a loathing back-and-forth speedy number that finishes with space-age whooshes. ‘The Worst’ is perversely bouncy and good fun in spite of its sabotaging subject matter, although the same can’t be said about the final migraine, ‘VMD’. The whole MLP is outsider and then some, with self-deprecating and contradictory lyrics spat and howled out a mile a minute, and it’s no surprise to see La Vida Es Un Mus getting behind it when they sound in parts like Hank Wood’s nuts penpal from Glasgow, or the French Frustration without a sense of composure.
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.