hell bent: Demo EP Cassette: Self-Released
Rhode Island’s hell bent spew six tracks that combine searing elements of thrash, D-beat, crossover, and hardcore—if you need a label beyond “whoa.” The band boast the menacing vocals of longtime screamer Aaron “Badger” of Straight To Hell, Ulcer, and Paindriver. Other members have spent time in Dropdead and Neon Bitches. This demo was released in 2017 on a very limited cassette run and digitally. Kicking off the New Year proper, they repressed it as a more expanded cassette run on Jan. 12.
hell bent execute furious, dark metal. Six tracks here exhibit speed-driven riffs with catchy time changes and powerful bass. The brash guitars and pounding drums push and push behind the experienced lungs of Badger. “Yeast” is a blistering opener. These are hardcore thrash songs with taut riffs and dynamic parts in the songwriting—blazing tracks anchored by breakdowns for the pit. “Bastard Curse of Abraham” starts with a slower, trudging pace that gains momentum, then ebbs to mid-tempo, building the anticipation. After 90 seconds, the final minute spazzes forward again with tight thrash riffs. The rest of the demo has infectious, energizing tracks that move into dark, down-tuned thrash. See these dudes live if you get the chance. Killer, honest metal hardcore with a voracious hunger—and the bite to match.
Silver print on black cassettes; the deluxe edition comes with an embroidered patch and sticker.
The Flytraps: Three-Song EP: Outro Records
The Flytraps have historically been an all-female quartet with a surfy, reverb-soaked sound. Now consisting of three ladies and a dude, the band sound darker and faster, more straight-up garage punk. Whatever the formula and combination, this 7”—released back in September 2017—captures their snarling swagger with three punchy tracks. The L.A. quartet give us “All Talk,” “He’s Been Around”—a fast-paced, jangly, lo-fi classic—and “Doin’ It Right.” The Flytraps play dense garage punk rock with attitude that flaunts slithering vocals, meandering bass, tight guitar licks, and rugged drums. Units pressed include 100 on red vinyl, the rest on black.
Pissed Regardless: Feed the Birds: Creator-Destructor Records
San Diego-based thrash purveyors, Pissed Regardless, are releasing their dark, negative take on hardcore-based crossover on Feb. 16. Feed the Birds is thick and powerful. The condemning ferocity of the vocals matches the brutal music. Incensed vocals and frenzied drum patterns switch on dimes to bring pulsating respites and breakdowns, bordering on grind at times. Heavy riffs accompany slick chops and relentless double bass drums bellowing disdain for a rotten world. Pissed Regardless call to influences from ‘90s Earache and ‘80s New York hardcore to current bands like SSS, Ramming Speed, and This Is Hell. Again, heavy.
Gnaw Bone: Scorched Earth: Auris Apothecary
Indiana’s malevolent trio, Gnaw Bone, create treachery and devastation with a new four-track EP, released Jan. 15. Their names and duties are recorded simply as: B, rhythm and voice; R, thunder and voice; and S, noise and voice. The mystery adds to the chaotic atmosphere of their blackened doom sludge. Enmity and sadism are instruments as much as any guitar. Four to six minutes each, tracks like “The End”—which begins the EP—revel in noise and sonic abstraction. Thick and pounding, the EP conjures spiteful snarling and disdainful cynicism. Limited-edition pressings are on ultra-heavy 180-gram crystal clear transparent vinyl, with a double-sided insert and a heavyweight jacket. The deluxe edition includes crushed bones pressed into the wax and a box of actual bone shards.
Windhand / Satan’s Satyrs: Split 12”: Relapse Records
Richmond, Virginia, presents two of their macabre darlings. Windhand resurface after their glorious 2015 LP, Grief’s Infernal Flower. Vocalist and bassist Clayton Burgess’ brainchild, Satan’s Satyrs, have not released anything since 2015 either, leaving off with the full-length, Don’t Deliver Us.
This 12” balances Satan’s Satyrs’ raw riffs and gusto with Windhand’s musicality and challenging of paradigms. The five tracks demand a 12” format. Windhand—always prolonging their heavy psych-doom—open with the six-minute “Old Evil.” Then, the extensive 14-minute “Three Sisters” is unleashed—ain’t nothing new for them. Dorthia Cottrell’s vocals are pushed further forward than usual, resting above the swirling, dense tones, drenched in emotionally draining hooks, hammered slowly. The heavy, droning riffs are coupled with a haunting organ, riding slow on waves of plodding drums.
If you’re lulled by Windhand, Satan’s Satyrs’ side is a jolting slap. While still sinister and ominous, Satan’s Satyrs uses rambunctious rhythms and raucous ‘70s riffs. This is big volume contained in under four minutes. The closer, “Ain’t That Lovin’ You, Baby,” is a stripped-down rocker, echoing the opener, “Alucard AD 2018,” with its glam-inspired strut. The middle jam, “Succubus,” is darker, depending on atmosphere and a gritty tension.
The vinyl is available Feb. 16, with 2,500 on black; 400 on metallic gold; 300 on baby pink with mustard; 300 on bone white and purple splatter; and 100 on black and metallic gold merge with white and gold splatter.
Endorphins Lost / OSK: Split 7”: Rotten To The Core Records/ Delusions Of Terror Records/ Agromosh Records/ You All Die Records/ New Age Pyrate Punx Records
Seattle’s Endorphins Lost captivated fans with the punishing grindcore on their caustic debut in November 2016. Choose Your Way—released on Six Weeks Records—portrayed Endorphins Lost’s version of old-school crusty powerviolence. Done with bombastic, crisp production, this fevered punk is served again on four new tracks for this split 7” EP. Spanning from 12 to 90 seconds, Endorphins Lost’s tracks kill in the vein of Napalm Death, Spazz, Despise You, and Phobia. “Mercy for One” is a beast, and its transition from fits of rage into a slowed down, thick groove breakdown is explosive. This is grind—or powerviolence, whatever—to perfection. The sound and unrelenting power are some of the best in recent years.
Canadian grind-hardcore band, OSK, add three crushing tracks. The vocals are more abrasive. OSK fly through minute-and-a-half-long spurts with some contagious fervor. “Let’s Play a House Show” adds a slight groove to its crunch. All three songs are handled with a pummeling low-end, emphasized by big punches from the bass drum. Tough as nails stuff here. Available Feb. 1.
Come To Grief / Fistula: Split EP: PATAC Records
Ooof. New England band Come To Grief’s “Take Me in My Sleep” is six minutes of bludgeoning, low-tuned, sluggish despair. Vocalist and guitarist Jonathan Hébert’s raspy growls relay the song title’s desperation—not a frantic, sweaty desperation, but one profusely embedded in hopelessness and defeat. “Take Me in My Sleep” is a brutally miserable onslaught of loathsome attrition, chiseling at faith in restitution.
Ohio’s Fistula follow Come To Grief’s pace with “Contusion,” dragging in at six minutes as well. “There is no hope, there is no reason why / We should go on, we should not die” frontman Dan Harrington sings. Fistula distinguish their imprint by sectioning their duration: at two minutes, the riff changes slightly in tone and tempo but not pace. The growls still spew vitriol at “Fakes and liars, hypocrites.” Then, at three minutes and 25 seconds, a distinct, crisp groove enters the picture, with a -(16)-, or even Helmet or Fudge Tunnel’ Creep Diets, type stomp. Heavy as hell, twisted and misanthropic, it’s a badass song of fetid fury.
Released Dec. 16 on 150 silver metallic cassettes; 100 on clear vinyl; 150 on transparent red and black smoke vinyl, a PATAC Records exclusive; and 250 on black vinyl.
-(16)- / Fistula: Split EP: PATAC Records
Dec. 16, 2017
Los Angeles’ -(16)- grab a classic Killing Joke track—”Complications” from their 1980 self-titled debut LP—and extract the spirits but churn the track with their own imprint. The band utilize their sludge stamp but highlight the melodic guitar line for contrast against the driving, fuzzy bass, and “Complications” becomes darker and more sinister than its parent song.
Fistula hone in on DEVO’s punk pith for their cover of “Mongoloid” and nail it. “Mongoloid” fits Fistula’s oeuvre all too well, and they conjure the inner spite while eschewing any pop or electronic elements. Heavy reverb bass and down-tuned riffs, strengthened by Harrington’s screams shape the ugliest beauty. “Mongoloid” becomes a tarnished, twisted track of rocking punk.
Also released on Dec. 16 with 100 units on clear Vinyl; 150 on aqua vinyl, a PATAC exclusive; and 250 on black vinyl.
According to PATAC Records: “Fistula will unveil four more splits with Hemdale, Bloodsick, Fister, and one final band to be announced at a later date. Additionally, the band will issue a vinyl version of 2016’s Longing For Infection with a bonus etched 7” from the recording session.”
Iron Reagan / Gatecreeper: Split LP: Relapse Records
Stomping into 2018, on March 2, Relapse Records gives the world two raging bands on one slab of wax. Iron Reagan’s scalding crossover and Gatecreeper’s punishing death metal have impressed fans globally. Relapse cemented their split’s classic status by having the two bands attend the same studio, the lauded GodCity, with Kurt Ballou producing. Relapse posted a track from each band on YouTube: Iron Reagan’s two-minute “Paper Shredder,” one of their five tracks from side A, and Gatecreeper’s “War Has Begun,” one of their three, which pummels eardrums for four minutes. Unique shirts with both bands’ logo and the artwork are available in black or white. The split will be released on CD and vinyl: 100 on bone white and blood red merge with black splatter; 300 on bone white with blood red and black splatter; and, of course, black vinyl.
Holy Terror: Total Terror Box Set and Reissues: Dissonance Productions / Back On Black
Holy Terror were a Los Angeles band who savagely represented thrash. Their first two albums are legendary. Terror and Submission from 1987 and Mind Wars from 1988 are heralded in the canon of U.S. thrash, though mostly by passionate fans who dare to dig beyond the common names. But that hunt just became easier. Dissonance Productions presents Total Terror, which will be available to North American headbangers on Feb. 9. Holy Terror’s entire catalog is here on five discs: Terror and Submission; Mind Wars; 2007’s El Revengo; their new live album, Live Terror (Live in Dendermonde, Belgium); and a rare DVD featuring multiple live shows and videos. For those who crave vinyl, reissues of all four records are available via Back On Black.
The Ocean: Precambrian 3xLP 10th Anniversary Edition: Pelagic Records
The Ocean’s Precambrian was released in November 2007. An impressive post-metal trek à la Neurosis, Converge, Gojira, and ISIS, it’s a challenging album packed with tense riffs, looming heaviness, and angular guitars played concise and sharp. The schizophrenic dynamics of this milestone mock any attempt at classification beyond “metal.” Strapped with vocal conviction over chunky bass lines, Precambrian relies on intellect as much as grit. Seven albums deep, tours with peers like Mastodon, Between The Buried And Me, Opeth, and Kylesa show The Ocean’s growth and impact. They refer to themselves as a “collective,” leaning on a constant rotation of contributors and artists.
Precambrian cherishes metal tech wizardry as much as raw emotion and hardcore delivery. Precambrian itself embodies variety with guest appearances by Caleb Scofield of Cave In, Old Man Gloom, and Zozobra; Nate Newton of Converge; Tomas Hallbom of Breach fame; Eric Kalsbeek, formerly of Textures; and musicians from the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra. This 10th anniversary edition of Precambrian—set for release on March 16—relishes in a rerecording of the 10-minute “Rhyacian” played by the current lineup of guitarist Robin Staps, vocalist Loïc Rossetti, drummer Paul Seidel, and bassist Mattias Hägerstrand.
To celebrate, The Ocean will play the entirety of Precambrian during a headlining set at Doom Over Leipzig Festival on April 21.
Each of the three packages is limited to 250:
1. LP1: Ultraclear with black and orange smoke; LP2: Beer with dark red smoke; LP3: Transparent orange with black and dark red smoke.
2. LP1: Silver and clear, A-side / B-side with black splatter; LP2: Brass and beer, A-side / B-side with black and red splatter; LP3: Gold and clear orange, A-side / B-side with black and red splatter.
3. LP1: Beer in ultraclear; LP2: Transparent orange in ultraclear; LP3: Transparent red in ultraclear.
Unearth: The Oncoming Storm: Metal Blade Records
Metal Blade Records reissued Unearth’s The Oncoming Storm on Jan. 26. This was the album that propelled Unearth to the forefront of the resurgence of American metal. As the band’s—and the scene’s—writing was growing beyond the formulaic—but still beloved!—metalcore, this went beyond beatdown riffs to start a pit in a local venue. Metal was shedding its dirty word status and embracing the dynamic song structures, melodies, solos, and musicianship of the records the hardcore kids had back home. Massachusetts sure spat a few out of note. Unearth have always kept it humble and honest. On The Oncoming Storm, fans can revisit the classic sound that saw them transition into the revered beast of later days. Vinyl is available on 180-gram black; 300 on orange-brown marbled; 200 on “flame” splattered; 300 on pumpkin orange marbled; 300 on root beer marbled; and 700 on gold and black split.
Alestorm: Captain Morgan’s Revenge 10th Anniversary Edition: Napalm Records
In 2008, Alestorm secured a large fan base with their mixture of storytelling and catchy metal. Sharp guitars, clean production, and rowdy lyrics ensured waves of attention. On Jan. 26, their 2008 debut, Captain Morgan’s Revenge, was resurrected by Napalm Records, who tout “a fresh remix and remastering by original producer Lasse Lammert at his LSD-Studio, plus rejuvenated artwork.” The Live at Summer Breeze bonus disc is included as well. Alestorm combine meaty riffs and raging rhythms with folktale aesthetics and symphonic metal grandiosity. Their tales are alluring when paired with punctuated production and mesmerizing guitar leads. Revisit the beginnings of Alestorm!
Nebula: Let It Burn, To the Center, and Dos EPs: Heavy Psych Sounds
Nebula were spawned in Los Angeles in 1997 when guitarist Eddie Glass and drummer Ruben Romano left Fu Manchu. Arguably, their final sound would not be much of a departure, but audiences can hear the rise of the musicianship beyond just riffs. Romano and Glass reveled in a freedom and exuberance that, whether roiling or simmering, allowed each to mark their artistic territory.
Capturing the essence of psych and stoner rock, this power trio—after recruiting bassist Mark Abshire—encapsulated the volume and songwriting of Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, and Hendrix, but also cited The MC5, The Stooges—check the cool strut of “I Need Somebody” on To the Center—and bands like TAD, Skin Yard, and Mudhoney. Their unfettered expressionism reveled in variety, such as laying back for seven minutes on “Fly On” or using reserved Hammond organ on “Smokin’ Woman”—two tracks found on 2002’s Dos EPs, but originally from on 1999’s Sun Creatures EP. Nebula lead you through expanding your third eye on “Fields of Psilocybin” from To the Center and deliver trudging heavy riffs on “Dragon Eye” and “Devil’s Liquid,” both scorchers from Let It Burn.
The three releases being reissued by Heavy Psych Sounds utilize the silky leads, fuzzy bass, and raucous drums of stoner rock, plus instruments like the sitar, piano, and organ. Nebula expand the impact of their songs with the usual psychedelic filtered effects: soaking in flange, delay, panning, reverb, and wah-wah to lead an audience’s mental and aural attention. Each reissue presents the full album, plus two unreleased tracks. This is a gorgeous way to celebrate 20 years of Nebula.
Let It Burn dropped Jan. 26: 400 on yellow transparent with multicolor splatter; black vinyl; Digipak CD; and digital.
To the Center is out Feb. 16: 400 on red transparent with multicolor splatter; black vinyl; Digipak CD; and digital.
Finally, Dos EPs will be available March 2: 400 on transparent with multicolor splatter; black vinyl; Digipak CD; and digital.
Various: America’s Hardcore Volume 4: Triple B Records
Continuing their beloved America’s Hardcore series, Triple B—who had a spectacular 2017—delivered Volume 4 on Jan. 26. This installment boasts upstarts Brother from New Bedford, Massachusetts, playing Negative Approach-style hardcore with a new bassist, George Radford of She Rides, F.I., and Dropdead. Also featured are Krimewatch, old-school, abrasive, punky hardcore with a mix of members from New York City and Japan, plus Japanese lyrics.
Line Of Sight are D.C. straight edge revival with mosh-friendly two-step rhythms and ferocious guitars, while GLORY play infectious Boston Youth Crew Hardcore, and Pure Disgust offer up some punishing D.C. thrash. Also featured is the metallic frenzy of Primal Rite, whose new LP, Dirge of Escapism, dropped via Revelation Records on Jan. 26; a new track from FREE after their stellar 2017 7” of eclectic influences, Ex Tenebris; and big wigs like NYHC supergroup, World Be Free, and Baltimore titans, Trapped Under Ice.
The bands all pitched in to help design the 20-page, 12-inch by 12-inch insert booklet that will be included with each record, and all copies come with a free digital download. Vinyl is available on aqua blue, 700; purple with white swirl, 500; and red, white, and blue tri-stripe, 300.
SHORT BUT CRUCIAL:
A Closer Look at Quality Control HQ
In 2011, Ola Herbich began releasing hardcore that represented the U.K. scene with her label, Quality Control HQ. Herbich embodies the DIY ethos in purpose and approach, often joining with both Stateside and European labels to ensure quality hardcore gets showcased. The label continually bangs out 7”s, cassettes, LPs, and even flexis—whether they are EPs, full-lengths, or demos. QCHQ’s agenda is to push the culture and inject new blood into the U.K.—and global—scene.
The label erupted in 2012 when they dropped Violent Reaction’s self-titled EP. Early on, Violent Reaction—who eventually moved to Revelation Records—shook the punk, Oi!, and hardcore scenes. Continuing with phenomenal releases by bands such as Stab, No Tolerance and The Rival Mob from Massachusetts, Crown Court, Arms Race, Shrapnel, True Vision from the U.K., Pure Disgust from D.C., Barge from Virginia, Foreseen, and Night Force from Germany ensured a strong roster and buzz about the label.
Herbich places each release on Bandcamp, giving listeners a cheap and digital outlet to listen before ordering hard copies. In the webstore, one can order all the killer hardcore QCHQ distribute. QCHQ truly stand at the forefront of NWOBHC along with Static Shock. 2017 was an explosion for QCHQ, with 13 releases that were quickly devoured by a voracious fan base.
Ending 2017 strong, QCHQ put out two scorchers in December:
Unjust: Transparent 7”
From a Manchester band who play heavy and hard-stomping U.K. hardcore, this 7” release features a five-panel layout and comes on blue or black vinyl.
Rapture: I Glorify 7”
Available on red or black vinyl, this is tough Youth Crew love from Leeds, fast paced and gritty.
Other definite highlights of 2017 included:
Standpoint: Demo 2017 Cassette
Five tracks of straight edge hardcore from the U.K. that gives a big nod to Uniform Choice’s sound using powerful chords, energy, and P.M.A.
Big Cheese: Aggravated Mopery 7”
Out on yellow or black vinyl, this is some amazing late ‘80s NYHC adoration from Northern U.K., following Outburst, Straight Ahead, Killing Time, and Breakdown—and mastered by Don Fury! Features members of Higher Power, Blind Authority, and Rapture, as well as former members of Violent Reaction and Shrapnel.
Imposter: Imposter Cassette
This five-song cassette, limited to 200, features short songs of brutal fury. Violent, dark hardcore from Brighton, U.K., “with a sound drenched in early ‘80s Boston hardcore for some stomping good times on the dance floor,” according to QCHQ. “Think hooks for days and beats that know how to get you moving. This being NWOBHC however, there is also a touch of Voorhees, Oi!, and UK82-punk in the mix, tied together with proper, snotty vocals and lyrics exploring the psychology of power and violence.”
Vile Spirit: Vile Spirit Cassette
A four-song cassette, also limited to 200, offering dark, misery-drenched, chaotic hardcore like Necros and Void. “Brighton has exploded with hardcore punk energy and talent in the past two years,” QCHQ relate. “Part of this new squad is Vile Spirit, an apt name for a band whose vocalist, Ben, is known for temporary possession with wild and unpredictable performances and a truly terrifying voice. A hardcore punk scene is only as good as its drummers in our humble opinion, and Joe’s precise and powerful thumping forms the solid backbone for Tallulah’s innovative guitar work best seen in the song ‘L.O.S.’”
Game: Who Will Play? 7” Flexi Disc
QCHQ say: “Sour, metallic riffs touching on NWOBHM and Japanese ADK/Dogma back-catalog lineage, rumbling bass lines, thundering drums, and gruff vocals sung in English and Polish produce a pastiche of influences from early hardcore punk’s flirtatious relationship with what would become an even more extreme music alongside it.” Limited to 300.
Stages In Faith: Forgiving Man 7”
Two songs grace this limited-to-400 black vinyl 7”. From London and Essex, with members also playing in Blind Authority, Payday, and Splitknuckle, Stages In Faith play post-hardcore that is hypnotic and somber yet catchy. Heavily influenced by early ‘90s Revelation or late ‘80s Dischord.
Two of QCHQ’s 2017 releases were promos for full-length LPs in 2018:
Payday: Second To None Demo Cassette
Cleveland-style hardcore like Confront and early Integrity, but from London straight edge dudes. Relentless, plain and simple. Angry, violent, unapologetic. This is their second demo, limited to 200 cassettes, and teases their upcoming LP of the same name.
Tetro Pugnale: Promo 2017 Cassette
Only 50 of these were made to preview the band’s upcoming 7” release. Italian punks playing fast Oi!-influenced punk like 86 Mentality or Criminal Damage. Bass-rattling aggro with a heavy stomp.