The Shortlist: Demos, EPs, Splits and Reissues (Issue 35)

The Shortlist: Demos, EPs, Splits and Reissues (Issue 35)

EPs:

Cold As Life: “Suffer” b/w “For the Few” 7”: Demons Run Amok Entertainment

What do you say about this legendary group? They’ve been reflecting the attributes of Detroit since 1988, for all its detriments and its resilience. “Cold As Life is Detroit, and Detroit is Cold As Life,” Jimmy Gestapo of Murphy’s Law once said. Cold As Life embody Detroit and its struggles with violence, incarceration, and most of all, survival and fortitude. Continuing after the death of original vocalist Rawn Beauty, they moved on to make some killer records. Sole original member, drummer Roy Bates, now carries famed New York Hardcore artist Craig Holloway on bass and added guitarist Matt Martin and new vocalist Jesse Adkins. Two killer new songs help build anticipation for an LP in late 2017. The band ride that equal blend of Detroit/NYHC groove and brutality. Negative vibes and tough-as-hell riffs and breakdowns: Detroit hardcore purity that is still punk at heart. Vinyl is available on yellow—100 units, exclusive to RevHQ—while Core Tex Records carries 222 units on blue and 512 on black. Or catch one of the 102 units on white or 98 on mint, only through Fast Break! Records, as well as 20 test presses. Released Aug. 18. –Hutch

Fireburn: Don’t Stop the Youth: Closed Casket Activities

As if it wasn’t enough that Todd Youth—formerly of Agnostic Front, Murphy’s Law, Warzone, Danzig, and many more—returned to a short, fast, loud ethos and catapulted John Joseph of Cro-Mags back into writing original material for their new band, Bloodclot—who are crushing it on a national tour with Negative Approach—Youth also has a band called Fireburn. Not only is the striking art by tattooer Tim Lehi triggering some Bad Brains worship, the music is a direct ode to those originators of hardcore punk, once banned in D.C. Tight, fast, tough, angry—Fireburn do it all here. There is even a reggae jam, the fourth and closing track—after a 45-second ripper—“Jah Jah Children,” mixed by the legendary Jamaican dub master, The Scientist. Oh, and Youth got Israel Joseph I, formerly of Bad Brains to collaborate. As if this wasn’t enough, the equation expands to include Todd Jones of NAILS—and formerly of Terror and Carry On—and Nick Townsend of Knife Fight. The vocals, lyrics, and music are distilled Bad Brains of the ROIR era, but even fiercer and rougher. Only wish there was more material. Closed Casket Activities delivers 1,500 12” vinyl EPs: 250 on metallic gold (a CCA Exclusive); 250 on blue with black smoke (band exclusive); 500 on red with black smoke; and 500 on green with black smoke. Released Aug. 4. –Hutch

Vatican: Ache of Eternity: Sorrow Carrier Records

After their 2015 EP, Drowning the Apathy Inside, and a four-way split, Vatican return with a regenerated sound, recorded by Kris Hilbert at Legitimate Business (Advent, Torch Runner, Red Death, Joy) and mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege (Integrity, Nails, Xibalba). This young band’s energy and eagerness in the expert hands of these two legends results in a cold and menacing sound. Molasses-thick riffs and savage breakdowns thrust this straight edge Georgia quintet forward. Influenced by savage metalcore such as Zao, Martyr A.D., It Dies Today, The Banner, and Poison The Well, Vatican unleash fire and brimstone.

Aug. 25 sees the release of this EP, and the band toured the Eastern U.S. with Italy’s Strength Approach and Massachusetts’ brutal Absolute Suffering from June 26 to Aug. 6. Vatican also hit the Southeast with Breaking Wheel and Momentum Aug. 8 through 16. Busy month spreading the gospel of Vatican. –Hutch

The Wonder Years: Burst & Decay (An Acoustic Ep): Hopeless Records / Loneliest Place On Earth

Philadelphia-based band The Wonder Years have set up a new venture, Loneliest Place On Earth, and one of their first products is a new acoustic EP called Burst & Decay. Co-released by Hopeless Records, the EP includes seven tracks from the band’s previous catalog, presented in a new light: acoustically. It’s set to come out on Sept. 22 as a very limited pressing of 12” purple vinyl, available at Loneliest Place On Earth’s new webstore and the Hopeless Records merch store. –John B. Moore

ZEX: No Sanctuary 7”: Violated Records

ZEX: Child Soldier 7”: No Front Teeth Records

ZEX burst out of Ottawa, Canada, with fiery punk. Creating more textured than generic punk incarnations and touting strong female vocals, ZEX embrace emotional time changes within catchy punk songs. They released their second full-length, Uphill Battle, June 9 on Magic Bullet Records. The first video from that record, “Steel Gates,” channels their love of goth; it is a pulsating four-minute slow-burn. While the other nine tracks rock like Chron Gen, X-Ray Spex, Abrasive Wheels, 45 Grave, or New York’s Relix, this ditty is more Christian Death, late Damned, The Sisters Of Mercy, and Modern English. ZEX embrace glam, punk, NWOBHM, goth, and other styles to make charged music, recorded at Apartment 2 Recording by Topon Das and mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege—damn, that name comes up frequently!

Two tracks off Uphill Battle got the single treatment, each paired with a track that is not available on the LP. Violated Records issues “No Sanctuary” b/w “More Time,” 250 on Easter yellow with black splatter and 250 on transparent blood red with “lots and lots of white splatter.” “Child Soldier” b/w “Too Late” is on the U.K. label, No Front Teeth, but also offered through Drunken Sailor Records. It has two limited-edition forms: one with a white label, one with a black label with translucent film. After a one-off show in Albany, New York on Aug. 25, ZEX begin their West Coast tour on Oct. 18 at Til-Two Club in San Diego and continue until Oct. 29 at Doll Hut in Anaheim. –Hutch

SPLITS:

BLK OPS / Cave Bastard: Split 12”: Accident Prone Records

BLK OPS open this split with crushing, caustic sonic waves. The belligerence of the riff is monumental. The brakes are pumped on track two, as they wade through a tempered electronic noise foundation paired with a disturbing sample of a ranting man espousing the forming of his misanthropy. BLK OPS are the new vehicle for Champ Morgan, formerly of Kill The Client, on vocals, noise, and Theremin, with Mark Key on guitar and backing vocals and Neil Barrett on drums, samples, and live visuals. With this list of credits, one immediately sees that this is compilation of talents and divisive fury spit into grindcore noise spasms, but tracks like “Suicide-Laced Sugar Cubes” and the opener, “Hallucinogenic Bomb Vest,” can’t help but pump groove into malicious songs of cult devotion and serial-killer-level enmity.

Gritty grind blast beats and soured screams usher in the bombastic punches of Cave Bastard. Birthed in 2014, Cattle Decapitation alum Troy Oftedal and Nick Padron, formerly of Bridge Jumper, recruited guitarist Chase Ferguson—also formerly of Bridge Jumper—vocalist Steve Pearce of Gutrot and Ritual Torture, and drummer Steven Reed of Age Of Collapse. These four deathgrind tantrums race to the point and boast tight, raw fury. Recorded in San Diego at Audio Design, the tracks were then engineered and mixed by Billy Anderson. The sound is harsh and dedicated, landing between Swedish death metal and American powerviolence.

Cop the record in LP form on Aug. 25 to snag one of the 300 copies: 200 on black vinyl and 100 on blue/orange vinyl. –Hutch

Hands Of Orlac / The Wandering Midget: Split: Cruz Del Sur Music

Two doom bands merge to writhe in depressing riffage. Hands Of Orlac cultivate members from Italy and Malmö, Sweden, and spur off a tangential sound from their typical low-tuned doom here for an homage to Italian horror films. The eerie, plaguing sound of the band’s four tracks on this offering are eerie and disturbing. A flute rides guitars’ haunting chords on the first track, evoking the spectral atmosphere supported by the female vocalist. All the members simply use initials for their names, and the mysterious vibe rides a classic metal feel, this time infusing some prog rock but maintaining the Alunah, Blood Ceremony, and Witch Mountain vibe. Their four tracks are comprised of the 14-minute opener, “Curse of the Human Skull,” a six-minute song, “From Beyond the Stars,” and two interludes: “Per Aspera” and “Ad Astra.” All push and ride the catchy low chords that signify Hands Of Orlac’s signature.

The Wandering Midget offer only one track, “Where We March the Vultures Follow,” sitting at 18 minutes. These Finns have lain dormant for five years, finally resurfacing with this titan track. They exacerbate the Goblin feel with a quirky, spooky synth intro. In a grand feel of Reverend Bizarre, Candlemass, and Lord Vicar, The Wandering Midget balance sinister riffs with menacing bellows equal to any of the legends. This epic track will render audiences weak and unworthy. A black 12” LP is available on Sept. 8. –Hutch

No Funeral / Livid: Split: Live Fast Die Recordings

Hailing from the Twin Cities, No Funeral and Livid combine forces to trudge their listeners through despair. No Funeral rep their side with strewn dejection over two tracks, “Infection” and “Disease Brought By Depression,” running nine and 11 minutes respectively. Battling for despondent supremacy, Livid offer a single 18-minute track of desolate yearning: “False Hope.” No Funeral are built from former members of Sourvein and Ashen. The visceral loathing traverses through sludge into death metal and crust punk. This ugly bastardization pummels listeners relentlessly. Livid have a release on Prosthetic Records, Beneath This Shroud, The Earth Erodes, that dropped July 14. Heavy and wretched, this three-track—yet 40-minute!—quagmire of vile acrimony filtered through drop D will attract fans of Grief, Primitive Man, Serpentine Path, and Buzzov•en. The split was released Aug. 15, both digitally and limited to 500 hand-numbered copies on 180-gram mixed-colored vinyl. –Hutch

Sloppy Seconds / Dangerbird: Split 7”: Failure Records And Tapes

Sloppy Seconds: the name alone communicates that you’ll be offended. With the subtlety of a trench coat flasher, Sloppy Seconds busted into punk rock in 1989 with Destroyed. With a sonic sense of the Ramones, they harnessed lyrics about food, sex, and bad movies. Here, Sloppy Seconds release their first new song in nine years. It is the tale of legendary New York City rocker Johnny Thunders’ demise. “Johnny Be Dead” relies on Sloppy Seconds’ strengths of catchy riffs and cynical lyrics. Their ode to the New York Dolls’ guitarist isn’t sardonic, it’s rather sincere, lamenting, “I know you’ll never break my heart again / You’ll never get that chance.” Thunders died in 1991 under grisly circumstances. Sloppy Seconds keep it catchy and simple as they praise him: “Nine lives, six strings, three chords, one-track mind.”

Dangerbird come from St. Louis, Missouri, with a rootsy rock ‘n’ roll approach to their brand of punchy punk. Solid musicianship and toe-tapping music elevate their two tracks on side B, which are short and energetic, but with a stripped-down early rock ‘n’ roll sound. In the lyrics for “Bad News,” the band just put a series of question marks. “Berta” is a tale of unrealized love with a strong backbeat, snarl, and admirable chords.

Failure Records And Tapes supply multiple swirled colors for this 500-unit limited vinyl.

RIYL: Ramones, ANTiSEEN, ZEKE, Supersuckers, The McGunks. –Hutch

Sutekh Hexen / Hissing: Split LP: The Flenser

Fans come to The Flenser for a grade-A dose of heavy and weird—the off-kilter kind, not the 30-year-old who picks and eats his boogers kind—and oh God, do they deliver with this hellacious, ominous two-song split. Oakland band Sutekh Hexen’s contribution, “Pareidolian,” is a real mind-melter. They play a kind of black metal that’s all noise and harrowing momentum. There’s clarity in the haze and a gut-wrenching Lovecraftian feel to the bits of melody that weave their way in and out of the song. It’s like a layer cake of insanity, and it’s awesome. Seattle’s Hissing carry a sound that meets somewhere in the middle between black, death, sludge, and psychedelic noise. “Deserted Veins” is a harrowing and haunting listen, and it contrasts with Sutekh Hexen’s brand of atmosphere very well. The first half of the split is moody and horrifying in an existential way, while Hissing spew venom and malice a bit more viciously, but no less effectively. A brilliant split, indeed. Out Oct. 6. –Nicholas Senior

REISSUES:

Corrupted / Noothgrush: Question the Purpose of Human Existence: 20 Buck Spin

A score of years ago, in 1997, hell belched and excreted a sludgy split on Reservoir Records. Noothgrush—ruminating on humanity’s relevance—secreted two eviscerating, debilitating tracks, “Hatred for the Species” and the 14-minute “Draize.” Scraping influence from Eyehategod, Grief, and Acid Bath, Noothgrush had limited releases—only splits and a two-track EP—but when you cram this amount of misanthropy and self-loathing into 14 minutes, you leave a footprint. The misery-drenched riffs plodding over cantankerous drums deliver all the sludge doom one could want.

Japan’s Corrupted held up their side with a staggering 15-minute downtuned concoction of spite and terror. “Inactive”’s guttural vocals and slug-inspired tempo retches and oozes a bleak miasma. Oakland artist Hal Rotter conjured some dark new art from scratch to reflect the misery here, while Brad Boatright—there’s that name again—remastered the audio to accentuate ever-suicidal and homicidal urges echoing in Saint Vitus-worshipping tones. Available on Aug. 25 on silver in clear with black smoke and black vinyl. –Hutch

Foreign Legion: What Goes Around Comes Around: Violated Records

Foreign Legion began in 1984 in Wales and pushed through until 1991 with contemporaries like The Vibrators, The Partisans, 999, and UK Subs. They regrouped in 2000 with four former members. After a punchy split with Major Accident, 2002 saw the release of this LP, What Goes Around Comes Around, on DSS Records, produced by Mick Jones of The Clash. Foreign Legion’s 2000-era sound held elements of their original Oi! stomp while weaving in melodic riffs. Maturity was blended into Foreign Legion’s rebellious urges. The driving bass of “Valleys Mentality” and “My Town” incites a rowdy rush. Reggae-influenced sounds creep in on “Smiling Assassin” and “Obvious.” There are also more emotive, slower tunes like the opener, “Wake Up,” and “Don’t Ask Me Why.” The fist-pumping and gang chants come with forceful tracks that dive into both local and greater U.K. politics, like “Powergames” and “Where’s Johnny Gone.” Pick up this long out-of-print classic now on CD via Violated Records. –Hutch

Pkew Pkew Pkew: +One: SideOneDummy Records

Named after the childhood onomatopoeia for laser shots, these Toronto punks are a bit deeper than one would expect, and they sure do take their songcraft seriously. The band have teamed up with SideOneDummy to reissue their 2016 self-titled debut under the new name +One, which features a brand new song, “Cold Dead Hands.” Pkew Pkew Pkew are all hooks and singing about pizza, skating, and beer, but there’s a real depressing honesty here; the album has a sense of age to it. Drinking and pizza are always awesome, but eventually, they exist to fill a void. If that feels relatable, punk over 25, Pkew Pkew Pkew are there for you, with expertly crafted skate jams. In fact, “Stop Calling Us Chief” might be the most smile-inducing punk ditty in recent memory. –Nicholas Senior

RING 13: Nothing New Nothing Learned: Beer City Records

Beer City tear the locks off the vault with this ‘80s hardcore punk reissue. RING 13’s 1984 full-length, Nothing New Nothing Learned, punches and skanks through your crappy speakers with vigor. Rough and raw, crusty and cranked, RING 13 came from Dekalb, Illinois, in 1983. They churned out hardcore records, some sounding like Suicidal Tendencies meet Jerry’s Kids, while their original work was more like The Meatmen, Descendents, Government Issue, Adolescents, and T.S.O.L. But RING 13 stamped a unique imprint on their sound. Coming from the Midwest, they had a smaller scene but placed themselves among the harshest.

Here is a reissued LP of the original Nothing New Nothing Learned. Mike Beer of Beer City Records explains the release as “for the first-time ever on vinyl, fully restored and remastered. Of course, there is brand new liner notes from the band, as well as lyrics and photos.” Beer continues to revel in RING 13, adding, “When this first was released, this was typical Midwest hardcore. Now, this still stands as a perfect example of that. Good, solid songs that are fun and perfectly encompass the adventure and good times of being in a band. Not to mention, the band is still going, so some brand new material is on here as well.”

In 2007, RING 13 played a hometown fest and felt revitalized. The result of this reignited flame was 2013’s Rub the Lamp—except it was never released. Until now! Here it is added to this LP, released July 14. –Hutch

Sepultura: Chaos A.D. and Roots: Rhino Entertainment

It can makes a person feel really old to watch their loved ones get older, so prepare yourself: 2016 marked the 20th anniversary for one of the best groove metal albums of all time, Sepultura’s Roots. Once the band had mastered the art of furious thrash—1991’s Arise is a personal favorite—they chose to embrace their roots a bit with 1993’s Chaos A.D., which added in traditional Brazilian percussion and a greater emphasis on groove. This was only emphasized further with 1996’s Roots. To commemorate the occasion, Rhino Recordings are reissuing both records as a newly remastered double-disc and double-LP sets—including 17 additional bonus tracks a piece—on Nov. 3. A cover of Black Sabbath’s “Symptom of the Universe” is a notable highlight, but rediscovering the roots of these metal greats is a treat. Sepultura landed on a gold mine with their Brazilian fusion metal, and revisiting these records reminds you of their influence on the genre. –Nicholas Senior

RERECORDINGS:

Dead Boys: Still Snotty: Young Loud and Snotty at 40: Plowboy Records

One of the best bands to come out of Cleveland are back to celebrate their landmark 1977 debut, Young Loud & Snotty. With Jake Hout from the tribute band, Undead Boys, taking over on vocals, band cofounders Cheetah Chrome and Johnny Blitz—along with a couple of newcomers—decided to revisit the songs and rerecord the classic record. “The original album was actually a demo,” Chrome says. “None of us had been in a studio before, and we figured we would go back in and do it right, but the label said no. It has stood up, but 40 years later, we can do a ‘What if?’ What would it have sounded like if we could have gone back in? So, that’s what this is about. It’s not better. It’s just different.” The album is available on CD on Sept. 8. John B. Moore

Lee “Scratch” Perry + Subatomic Sound System: Super Ape Returns to Conquer: MVD Entertainment Group

It’s been more than 40 years, but dub master Lee “Scratch” Perry has decided to revisit his seminal 1976 concept album, Super Ape. Alongside Subatomic Sound System, he jumps right back into his Jamaican sound, bringing in Ethiopian horns and percussion, with plenty of beats and bass. “Times changed. It’s not about Black Ark [studio] anymore,” Perry says. “Evil get squeezed. Too much vanity. Now, I come to conquer ragga and destroy raggamuffin, conquer raggamuffin with a new beat and a new sound of dub.” The album comes out on digital, CD, and vinyl formats on Sept. 22. John B. Moore

RARITIES / COVERS:

The Flatliners: The Great Awake and The Great Awake Demos: Fat Wreck Chords

Happy 10th birthday to The Flatliners’ Fat Wreck Chords debut, The Great Awake! To celebrate, the label is pressing a very limited run of 500 copies on colored vinyl as part of the aptly titled Fat Classics on Color series, available on Sept. 4. In addition, Fat is also putting out The Flatliners’ The Great Awake Demos through their Fat Wreck Chords Orginal Demo Series. The 7” features three demo songs and will be available on Sept. 14. John B. Moore

Four Year Strong: Some of You Will Like This, Some of You Won’t: Pure Noise Records

On Sept. 8, Massachusetts’ Four Year Strong will put out an album’s worth of rarities, unreleased originals, unplugged classics, and reimagined standards, including a stripped-down version of the fan favorite, “Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die.” The band plan to celebrate the 12-track album with a tour that will keep them on the road for much of the fall. The album is available on vinyl, CD, and via digital download. John B. Moore

Greg Ashley + The Western Playboys: Self-Titled: Third Man Records

Greg Ashley won’t be pinned down. The multi-talented singer, guitarist, songwriter, producer, and head of Oakland’s Creamery Analog Recording Studios has cut a wide swath since surfacing in Houston with his teenage garage band, The Strate Coats, back in 1997. Since then, he’s played everything from hardcore punk to experimental instrumental music with a classical slant. “I never wanna do the same thing twice,” he says. “It’s boring for me, and that means it would definitely be boring for anyone else too.”

His latest detour is a country music EP, Grey Ashley + The Western Playboys, a six-song collection—released via Third Man Records on July 7—covering tunes made popular by folks like Merle Haggard, Ernest Tubb, and Stonewall Jackson. “These are tunes me and The John Brothers [Piano Company] would play at this Oakland restaurant, The Boot and Shoe Service,” he recalls. “We did that gig every Sunday for two years. When someone in the band would be out of town or we got tired of playing jazz, we started learning old country tunes that were fun to play when you’re drunk. I decided to record it at my studio for the hell of it.”

Ashley reinvents Tubb’s “Waltz Across Texas,” crooning the lyrics in harmony with Rosemary Steffy to a fractured backbeat. “I Wouldn’t Take Her to a Dogfight” is a Charlie Walker hit from 1967, a politically incorrect putdown of an unattractive woman, played by the band with drunken abandon. “Look Both Ways”—a tune from obscure punk band The Makers—sounds great as a twang heavy waltz, with some subtle, distorted Grady Martin fills. “I’ve loved The Makers since I was a teenager,” Ashley says. “I rewrote the words. If you listen to the original, it’s pretty different. I was gonna use that on one of my solo records, but it fit here.” –j. poet

No Use For A Name: Rarities Vol. 1: The Covers: Fat Wreck Chords

Over the past three decades, No Use For A Name put out a slew of covers, many tucked away on 7”s or comps. Thankfully, Fat Wreck Chords finally put many of these tracks all in one place. Among some of the stellar covers on Rarities Vol.1 are the ‘80s novelty hit, “Turning Japanese,” by The Vapors; a great interpretation of Cheap Trick’s “Dream Police”; and a cover of KISS’ piano ballad, “Beth,” that is so earnest it’s hard to tell if they are being ironic or honestly feeling the emotions in the song. Rarities Vol.1 came out Aug. 11 on CD, vinyl, and as a digital download. John B. Moore

DELUXE:

The Sisters Of Mercy: Some Girls Wander By Mistake Box Set: Rhino Entertainment

Released Sept. 1, Some Girls Wander By Mistake is a four-LP box set highlighting long-running post-punk band The Sisters Of Mercy’s exquisite formative years. The collection features tracks originally released in 1980 and also showcases their debut EP, Alice; its follow-up, The Reptile House; and the single, “Temple of Love,” all of which were released in 1983—quite a productive year. Two singles, a 1992 reworking of “Temple of Love,” and the Under the Gun 12” are also included, among other worthy offerings. In conjunction with the release, the band are heading out on a European tour from Sept. 1 to 27. –Janelle Jones

Vultures United: I Still Feel Cold: Black Numbers / Outsider Art / Red Flag

It’s been seven years since the release of their full-length debut, Savages, but Vultures United have finally issued a follow-up with the ambitions two-part concept album, I Still Feel Cold. Comprised of 30 tracks, the first half fall under the subtitle “Memory Loss,” leaning more toward a traditional punk and hardcore sound, while the second half, “Adulthood,” draws on a variety of influences from Fugazi to Pixies. The album will be released Sept. 22 on double CD, double-LP, and digitally via Black Numbers and Outsider Art. The cassette version will be released by Red Flag Records. John B. Moore

CASSETTES:

Lucifer’s Chalice: The Pact: Shadow Kingdom Records

Sounding like power metal dipped in NWOBHM, The Pact could be classified as pure doom in the vein of Witchfinder General, splattered with Mercyful Fate and Angel Witch. Lucifer’s Chalice are comprised of solid musicians from Horrified (U.K.), Winds Of Genocide, and Uncoffined. Four tracks wane in length; 11, 10, nine, and seven minutes, respectively. Samples of the Salem Witch Trials—from a film, not the real ones—open the second and title track, “The Pact.” A churning riff, swirling and mesmerizing, carries the tune as pounding drums motivate the charge. With track titles like “Priestess of Death” and “Full Moon Nights,” listeners can infer the feel of the tunes: Lucifer’s Chalice deliver on the ‘80s feel, both in name and sonic delivery. Strong guitar work and proselytizing vocals will aid your Friday night sacrifice, whether virgin or goat. Out Sept. 29. –Hutch

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