Tag Archives: Hardcore Punk

L.O.T.I.O.N. – Digital Control And Man’s Obsolescence

(La Vida Es Un Mus, 2015)

I came across this band via a recommendation of a friend, which was an extremely welcome gesture, since I had been looking for an “Electronic Punk” band with the genuine aggression of a Crust band, and something fresh to offer. In the case of this album, both the classic sleazy and guttural attitude of Punk Rock (and of course Crust Punk) as well as the low-fi hostility of Noise, Industrial and Power Electronics meet in an surprisingly imaginative way.

I have little knowledge of the New York scenes where this band has spawned, but apparently the group consists of members of bands such as Nomad, Dawn Of Humans, Zatsuon and Survival.

The soundscapes of the album are crafted mainly by putting layers of clanky and exploding Industrial beats and percussions (with a vintage groovy nature, so no “Electronic Grind” going on here) and other effects, waving synthetic basses (such as those of classic Hardcore Techno) and other old-school sounds, and phasing flanging distorted guitars (playing Punk riffs, naturally) on top of each other, with enough space and diversity in their individual sounds to give the whole bizarre mix a unique low-fi kinda three-dimensional feeling, which (especially when finished with the very Punk-oriented screaming vocals) seems to be very much alive and breathing.

The true genius of the album lies in the imaginativeness of the people responsible for this stuff, when it comes to creating eleven cool songs with this specific formula. The music sounds indeed unique and original, which is always a positive thing, and maintains it’s fascination all the way through the album. Altho the end result might be a bit low-fi (as mentioned before) to many, it most likely does not matter to the artists (and most fans of the stuff) themselves, since this work of art comes clearly from the feelings brought forth by the classic styles of Anarcho Punk as well as the more extreme forms of Electronic music, which are pretty low-fi by nature.

I heartily recommend this album to anyone into the rebellious feelings and audial aesthetics of Punk, and the harsh aggression summoned forth by means of Noise, Industrial and Power Electronics. You know what I’m talking about, if you are truly interested. A very inspiring and awesome album indeed.

La Vida Es Un Mus (Bandcamp)

La Vida Es Un Mus (Store)

God Harvest – Insulated

(Self-Released, 2015)

God Harvest (from Saint Petersburg, Florida) have been active since 2010, and have released a Demo and a Split EP before this their first LP. The band has recently played with the likes of Primitive Man and Noisem, not bad at all for a band of their age.

Clocking around 19 minutes, this album is filled with intense and eventful Extreme Punk anthems of frustration and aggression, spiced with the alcohol- and drug-fuelled madness that is life in Florida.

With influences from D-Beat Crust (such as classic Anti-Cimex or Wolfpack / Wolfbrigade) and Death Metal (as in the styles of the early nineties), injected with the energetic and openminded attitude of Powerviolence, God Harvest manages to craft their version of Grindcore (which brings Disrupt to my mind quite often) using the classic formulas of the mentioned styles, and not only manages to do it convincingly but also in an extremely entertaining way.

The riffs are basically as typical and authentic as they get, but are presented in such an imaginative way, the album stays highly and intensely interesting from beginning to the end. The eventful arrangement (and performance) of the songs tells of the experience of the members, meaning these dudes totally know what they are doing.

The band plays extremely well together, with each instrument handled with great skills. The overall sound of the album is pleasantly warm and buzzing (in sort of a Death Metallic way), due to the combination of growling and low Doomy bass-sounds and the more Metallic shredding guitars. The drum-sounds are nicely tight but pounding, fitting the mix in the most classic Grinding way. The awesome low shouting and sometimes growling, and the higher screaming vocals are filtered through a distortion reminding of an old telephone or a walkie-talkie, a nice and original touch. Greg Wilkinson, who has mixed and mastered the album at Earhammer Studios, has done a very good job once more.

The length of the album is pretty much perfect for extremely intense stuff like this, but because of the high quality of the songs, I am left wanting for a few minutes more. This is naturally a minor minus, as this album is one of the most kick-ass works of art I’ve come across in years, definitely putting a big rebellious smile on an old (and younger) Crust and Grindcore-freak’s face. A highly recommended purchase mos def, and check them out live as well if you have the change!

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Interview with Vincent Presley (Zebras)

Upon the first minute of hearing it, the energetic but strangely epic and serious style of Crossover Thrash the Zebras perform made a very strong impression on me, with its high quality but organic and Punky atmosphere. As there has been a revival of all kinds of styles of the eighties and nineties among the kids of today, there is something more artistic and mature (than just going retro for the sake of it) in the attitude of this band. I wanted to ask a few questions from the guitarist and vocalist of the band, Vincent.

Hello Wisconsin! How has your week fared so far? Busy working, busy with musical projects, or both?

Yeah, busy plugging the new album and booking shows through the end of the year.

How is the Milwaukee music scene in general? Are the bands and artists generally helping each other out, or is the area divided into smaller scenes depending on musical styles?

There are some great Milwaukee bands but I can’t figure out the scene. All I know is people seem to only go to shows in their own neighborhood. It’s some kind of neighborhood coolness war that I don’t get. I moved to Madison in the early 2000’s and it seems to have gotten better than Milwaukee. More people at shows and more different kinds of people seeing different kinds of bands. Both cities have some great venues that have been really good to us.

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The members of Zebras have been / are active in bands such as Those Poor Bastards (playing Gothic Doomy Country Music) and Call Me Lightning (playing energetic Indie Rock) among many others, which makes me guess you all have a wide musical spectrum and many projects all the time? Am I right?

Yeah, Shane and I have been in a lot of different bands over the past 20 years and Lacey has been in a few over the last 10 years. Lots of different stuff including industrial, punk, noisy experimental, etc.

The style of Crossover Thrash (with influences from Hardcore Punk and Sludge) you play gives an impression this band has a certain element of nostalgia in it? Were you Thrash / Hardcore kids growing up? How about other more extreme styles, is there for example Death Metal in your past?

I’ve always listened to all kinds of music and have always been more into specific groups than specific genres. My dad had the early Sabbath and Priest albums I would sit and play when I was really little. A little later I would tape Slayer and Suicidal Tendencies off of the TV with a boombox. I think DRI: 4 Of A Kind was my first cassette purchase. And is still one of my all time favorite albums. In middle school it was Deicide. During high school I moved to a new town and met people that introduced me to Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Bad Brains, etc and we started our first punk band together and had a 7” out when we were still in school. I don’t think I’m nostalgic but I have thousands of LPs and not a whole lot of them are new bands. I’m just playing what I know.

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Crossover Thrash of the eighties had a very humorous and playful feeling to it. Is this what appeals to you particularly in this style, or does it have more to do with purely musical aspects, such as the merging of styles?

Yeah, a lot of bands definitely take themselves too seriously but I’m also not a fan of really whacky stuff. It’s a fine line for sure. I do love how dorky D.R.I., Exodus, and Anthrax could be while making some of the best and most intense music. These days a lot of people think being metal or punk means you have to be a meathead that never smiles. You need some balance. As for the merging of styles, all of my bands have always been described as a mix of different genres. I just play what I like without thinking about what it is.

Despite the energy in your music, there is often quite an artistic and severe atmosphere to it. Is this intentional? Do you see the Zebras as a more tongue-in-cheek kind of band, or as a more serious artistic channel?

I’m very serious.

You have played with many notable but stylishly different acts such as Black Flag and High On Fire. How did this all happen, and how has the audience reacted to your stuff, which works most likely amazingly well live?

Yeah, it’s been great playing with some of our favorite bands. So far we’ve been getting a pretty solid response from the audience at every show and a lot of respect from the other bands. Shane and I have been around long enough so there’s a good amount of venues and promoters that know us. Now we’re getting more known bands asking us directly so that’s cool and very encouraging.

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Now that your second album is about to hit the streets, has there been much interest in this release in advance? How about the first album, how well was it received in general, and did this give any pressure when creating the second album?

Yeah, we sent out tons of demos of these songs last year and it seems to be slowly spreading. The response has been great so far. The last album had a lot of really good reviews but was a lot weirder and each side was recorded two years apart with different band members. We’ll only play one or two songs off of that album now. The rest has all been shelved. This album is way more solid and focused.

It reads on your Bandcamp-page you are going to have a release show with none other than D.R.I. Is this fucking awesome or what? How did this come to be?

Yeah, personally it’s the show I’m most excited about since the Jello Biafra show last year. D.R.I. is one of my all time favorite bands. Having venues and promoters that know you and like your band is really helpful. I think the D.R.I. tour dates were posted and I just said something like “one of my favorite bands” and the promoter said “call me”. If only everything was that easy. “I want to tour with D.R.I.”… I was hoping something was going to happen if I said that.

Thanks for the interview! What does the rest of the year 2015 hold for the Zebras?

Shows shows shows. We have some really cool stuff booked in the mid west. Now we got to get some killer stuff going on everywhere else. People keep asking us to play shows. Now we need them to start asking us on tours.

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Zebras – The City Of Sun

(Self-Released, 2015)

You know one of those days/weeks/years when you constantly turn to the golden oldies, since all the latest trends sound totally boring and crap, and you just wish something fresh would come along and completely knock you off your feet? Well, an hour ago, I got the shits knocked out of me completely, by a band from Wisconsin called the Zebras.

The members are also active in bands such as Call Me Lightning and Those Poor Bastards, and their debut album has been recorded in 2011. This is their second album, and between the albums they have apparently played along such notable acts such as Black Flag, High On Fire and Goatwhore. Pretty cool.

The album begins with very energetic Crossover / Thrash, and I am highly impressed by the strength and determination of the band, from the handling of the instruments to the very nicely performed vocals. Most of all I am however blown away by the dualistic feelings of the overall musical experience, which gives me feelings of the old-school (reminding me of course of bands like D.R.I.) as well as amazing more artistic and modern stuff (me being a huge fan of bands such as Today Is The Day). The energies of this album are full of teenage DIY-fire and more mature well-performed and professionally produced atmospheres.

The songs move between very Thrashy beats to more Hardcorish mid-tempo parts, technical jamming, and even Doomy and Sludgy grooves, while often going to uplifting and even epic feelings. The riffs and the drum-patterns are crafted in a way they easily reveal the great playing- and arrangement-skills of the band-members, without being too flashy or pompous. Meaning this material has to work pretty well in live circumstances. The guitar sounds are quite sharp while the basses are low and heavy, and the pounding drum-sounds work perfectly in between these two opposites balancing the powerful experience. The vocals are one of the most awesome aspects of this album, being screaming and clear at the same time, delivering thought-provoking lyrics song after song. Very fucking professional indeed, fitting this style of music as well as possible.

If you love the Crossover-feelings of the eighties, some later artistic Noise Rock, and some Rocking groovy Sludge at the same time, you gotta check this album out! And they have a release show coming up with none other than D.R.I..!

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Cloud Rat – Qliphoth

(Halo Of Flies / Dead Tank Records, 2015)

I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels the extremely strong and positive emotional charges of Grind and Crust bands with female vocalists to be something to admire and behold wholeheartedly. With knowledge of awesome female-fronted acts such as the classic Nausea or the more modern Fuck The Facts, Michigan’s Cloud Rat are new to me. However, I am under their spell from the first half minutes of the first song of this their latest indeed awesome album.

The music on this album is Crusty Grind, no doubt, spiced with strong Hardcore influences, and cool samples and effects here and there. But while many Grind-bands rely on technical performance, speed, or extremely good or bad production, Cloud Rat dances somewhere in between. The production is crushing and soft (airy) at the same time. Clear and bassy, organic and humanlike, yet shows the skills of the musicians nicely. The guitar- and bass-riffs are played well, full of feeling, while the drums pound away with the intensity of breaking a few cymbals, still being groovy as hell. The vocal-patterns fit the riffs great, and the voice fits the sounds of the instruments just as perfectly.

The paces switch between slow and moody, dreamlike calm parts with clear vocals, and (mostly) fast and Grinding Crusty intense thrashing. I can imagine these songs being recorded live at the studio, but the experience of the musicians (the band has been around for at about six years, altho the musicians have been no doubtly active before this) shines through nicely from amidst the cathartic chaos.

And cathartic the theme of the Qliphoth indeed is. Music like this fits perfectly for inner scenes of facing your Spheres of the opposite side of the Tree of Life. One must face, accept and often conquer ones deepest demons in order to prevail and grow, all being themes fitting a band feeling strongly about issues such as Veganism, Feminism, Gay-Lifestyle or Anti-Fascism.

A must album for all fans of artistic yet aggressive Crusty Grindcore with strong ethics. The way it was meant to be, anyway.

Cloud Rat

Halo Of Flies

Dead Tank Records

Profanator – Mvtter Vicivm

(Chaos Records, 2015)

This the third full-length of Mexican Thrashers Profanator since their formation in 1999. The main man behind the band, Antimo Bounano, has had a very profilic career in the Mexican and global extreme Metal underground for about 20 years (at least), which shows in the determination and knowledge of his performances in various bands, which include names like Hacavitz and Castleumbra.

The style of Thrash Profanator perform is quite traditional, in the eighties German sense, with a very fresh modern feel to it, bringing a bit to mind even bigger bands like Toxic Holocaust when considering the amount of traditionality of style updated to this century. Also the Punk-influences are very notable here just as in the case of the above mentioned band, but that’s where the similarities end, as Profanator is a far more technical, intense and aggressive beast.

The overall sounds of the album are clear and somehow electronic-sounding even, as well as gritty and guttural. The cover art of the album fits the soundscapes splendidly, with it’s combination of black-and-white simplicity, pathologically sharp clear execution, and raspy deadly aggressive atmosphere.

The instruments are handled with the demanded skills and expertise, considering the fact that this is not your typical rehearsal-place-recorded retro-Black Thrash. This stuff is way ahead of your first Sodom-cover, making this a very fresh pleasurable listening-experience musically, yet not reducing the extreme underground feelings in the music. Also the huge amount of the already-mentioned Punk-aesthetics in the riffing lifts this Thrashing storm into even greater heights. The songs contain such an amount of awesome riffs, they are guaranteed to not leave you unsatisfied.

The drums thrash away like a swarm of bees, full of awesome double-bass-parts and fill-work. The string have indeed a very Hardcore Punky feel to them in addition to being Thrashy as fuck. The vocals especially are performed so Thrash-authentically, it makes 95% of the modern Thrash bands pale in comparison to the honesty and skill of the man behind the mic, as is the case with the execution of the other instruments as well.

The hateful and most likely quite social lyrical content, with song-titles like “Narcocracy”, bring to mind the daily violent struggle that is quite often more than normal in the various cities of Mexico, fitting the music style more than well.

If Hardcore Punk-influenced traditional and technical Thrash played at high speeds is your poison, look no further. One of the best Thrash-releases I’ve heard in a long time!

Profanator (Facebook)

Chaos Records (Facebook)