Saturday, August 16, 2014

Y is for...Youth Attack Records


The blackest toothed of HC enterprise: shameless shit schillers of style > substance howling right to the bitcoin bank. What dreams may come? Does your label produce candy? Garbage bag tees? Full-length LPs?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cleveland Roxx #1

An Intro 
“Cleveland hardcore is an infestation of termites that swarms your brain, rotting the foundation and creating a lust in the listener that can only be satiated by more low-budget 7”s, more weird pressing variations, more ridiculous stories, just fucking more! The more pieces of the puzzle you put together, the more so much of the senselessness of that scene starts to make sense.” – Life’s a Rape fanzine “90’s Cleveland” column. Issue #2

Cleveland hardcore, namely 90's Cleveland hardcore, sticks out like a blighting, malignant mole on hardcore history's shaven head.  A seething, mutant punk-metal amalgamation, gummed together in a sordid soft-serve swirl of things most evil, perverse, petty and macabre. It's a sound nourished by the nasty brawling feeling that only a city of perpetual losers un-connected to anything "cool" and "coastal" can cultivate (minus Jim Brown of course), insulated and unsullied by the the Beaver Cleaver-isms and jingoist idealism that made so much other 'core from that era saccharine and unlistenable.  

Of course, none of this shit would even be worthy of discussion (let alone blog-worthy) were it not punctuated with a revolving cast of legitimate freaks (re)emerging in various iterations to beat the shit out of each other and join each other's bands. Weirdos who X'd up at one point and then went straight to inhalants. They owned Severed Survival, Left Hand Path and Love Gun. They wrote cryptic faux-satanic songs about air Jordans, used pro wrestling imagery unironically, publicized their beefs with the rest of the country's hardcore (both real and imagined) and gleefully pissed into hardcore's PC punch bowl for a few years when it could really still be done.

Here’s my (biased and subjective) take on a gaggle of Cleveland HC records you should absolutely embrace, many of which you may have not heard (and one you DEFINITELY have), for when your next faith crisis hits and you finally acknowledge that Insted were boring and lame. 

Part 1
The Mormons – On the Trail West EP 
A delightsome name for a snotty, yet equally delightsome band. The Mormons weren't anything too different from the usual crop of Cleveland wildcore bands, but the name + EP title seal it for me. Also luv to the Ghetto Blaster sound quality, and a band who has their own theme song (er, hymn?) to lead off a record (see "March of the S.O.D...if it led off the record. Never mind). Kinda just a little bit melodic (if you can pick it out) and not too far sonically from H-100s legit-level psycho goofsanity, just a little more PONK. Note it especially in "Your Shit" wriggling beneath the tumult. Yes, according to EP layout, they did actually employ a white shirts + ties gimmick. Easy to find on discogs (as in, you won't need to spend 10% of your annual "increase" to get a copy...) but it's rare enough that any dorky/autistic-grade fans of that era would still kind of want to have one in their collection. Oh, and get a chortle off a track named "Bring 'Em Young," a title which probably laid the groundwork for an entire porno series. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Indulgent Writing about Hardcore #1 (Ancient Heads)

Ancient Heads - For My Brothers
Though an unapologetic yank thru n’ thru, I did a brief tour of childhood duty in the rainy climes of the United Kingdom (‘92-97) while my Dad worked for the Dow Chemical company. It’s a great place, birthed Black Sabbath and the Stones, but for summer fun? Not really my glass of Shloer.

That’s why the concept of summer jams always sikes me. See, back in those days, when the sun seemed to retreat behind grey whitewash for 14 waking hours of the day, when ‘Blue Peter’ and ‘The Big Breakfast’ tried (and failed) to wet my whistle and most brit cuisine turned my yankee stomach into a quivering hunk o’ gelatinous goop (no offense, but seriously...what the fuck is up with Bisto gravy?), it was my Dad’s collection of tapes and records that buoyed the sunshine up in my soul, a meaty connection ‘tween dumbing power chords and sunny midwestern shores. Ramones “Too Tough to Die,” Blue Oyster Cult “Some Enchanted Evening,” Alice Cooper “Billion Dollar Babies,” may incite the disaffected journos to talk of “punk” and “prog” and “shock” and other meaningless buzz-words, but for me? That shit sounds like the breezy swing of summer fun.

So, when Ancient Heads, a band who really doesn’t sound like any of the aforementioned, releases a tape of three summer jams, I’m immediately transported back to that wide eyed time when shit seemed so important, and some song seemed to punctuate every facet of my life. Per Matt Laforge, this triple serving of AH delights is the band’s most ‘Floorpunch-esque offering to date’ and I can’t help but agree.

Short, punchy and nary a second spent hemming and/or hawing around the point, For My Brothers makes for essential [summer] core without resorting to goofy Tumblr tomfoolery like cartoon drawings of wigger cats in sunglasses or moshing burritos or whatever wannabe LOC bands from Florida are schlepping.  “For my Brothers” is a perfect opener, gang chant in effect, while “Fight Back”’s clarion declaration that “WHAT DOESN’T KILL ME ONLY MAKES ME STRONGER” mean that this here’s a cassette you can/should listen to while driving your broken down Camry with windows rolled down, stopping only occasionally to pelt the odd simpleton with a water balloon and maybe skank around your car at a red light.

Summer, if you’ve learned nothing from  Spicoli, Ringwold and the other cretins of Reagan-American cinema, is a time of pregnant possibility. A time of forging love and friendships, of taking trips and of whittling away long pointless hours in pursuit of cheap grub and/or a place to chill...and though some of us have had to trade swimming pools and cut-offs for desk jobs and stock options, it’s these little rippers, solid bursts of unrequited, unabashed truth n’ mosh, which draw me back into this “thing.” The core is relevant to all seasons, but I’d like to think it’s somehow more alive in the sweltering days from Mid June-Late Sept. If for nothing else, this lil’ one-two-three is an honest reminder of everything I love about the core: short, fast, loud and CATCHY. Maybe summer for you means listening to Sublime and having to visit your girlfriend’s parents or some shit, and that’s fine...but throw this one on a few times, let the tunes grab you by your lapels and fuck you up with some serious truth.

***This issue of indulgent writing about hardcore was originally printed in Mosher's Delight fanzine and written by Dylan Chadwick***

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

15 (Biased and Subjective) Thoughts on Righteous Jams

Pic from Start Today #5
Only band with 2 full lengths on Lockin Out. Does that matter? I don't know. Given today's crop of Tumblr Loc-Jock bands, I miss RJ's more and more. Those riffs.

1. The events at Posi Numbers 2005 was messageboard fodder for a minute.

2.  I saw them in Richmond once, and my clearest memory was that at one point, Joey C said something like "We're definitely a straight edge band, but we think some of you should smoke some weed and chill the fuck out." It may or may not have been in reference to a fight that broke out during an Iron Boots set. (Pic of said show below.)
Those who were: that's my knockoff X-Swatch
3. There's really nothing redeeming about the Boston Beatdown DVD, except for the fact that you can see Joey C with a lot of gel in his hair, a little bit of live RJ's footage and Colin of Arabia saying "Death metal is fake. The core is real."  

4. The best RJ's song is "Iron Mind." It just is. All iterations of the song are great, but the Sweet Vision one is definitely the hardest. Per a reliable source, the sample at the beginning is from a Dorian Yates workout VHS in which he's doing leg presses and grunting really hard.

5. Despite the stigma of Lockin Out merch and ebay and all that, RJ's really only ever had one aesthetically appealing design, and that was the Def Jam rip (IMHO). Most of their other merch was pretty wack. Look at the cover of Business as Usual for the general idea. That being said, I do own the shirt below because I'm a sucker for clever wordplay. Yeesh though.

Euro Barge

6. Business as Usual is weird. I definitely don't hate it, but I don't think I'd call it "good." There's a lot of great riffs on there, and I enjoy "Thought Vacation." The vocals just sound "off" and the songs just...whatever. Cool riffs though. 

7. The weirdest place I ever know of them playing was at the Elizabethtown Kentucky board of tourism. This is indeed the same Elizabethtown that had a dopey Cameron Crowe film made about it. If you don't know anything about E-town you won't understand the absurdity of it all was definitely a mindblower for a band that "cool" to be playing in a city that wasn't. It's my hometown. 

Come back y'all

8. I saw them in '06 at one of those Gorilla Biscuits reunions (Cue: "Start Today is Age of Quarrel for girls. LOL I know!). I remember very little from their set, but after the show I found an online review of some herb complaining that he didn't like them because they were wearing Nikes and Abercrombie. (Edit: Found the review here). 

9. I've seen them covering DYS "Wolfpack" online, but in the multiple times I saw them, I never witnessed it live. :(

10. In Town of Hardcore Joey talked about the name Rage of Discipline and how it was inspired by Rollins Band and a house that one of them lived in where everyone slept in one bedroom and filled the other bedroom with weights. P cool. 

11. You may not know/care, but if you watched the FSU episode of History Channel's "Gangland" then you heard the song "Scream n' Shout" on cable TV. That means a Lockin Out band/song was on cable. WHAT NEXT?

12. I bought the Boston Straight Edge EP (basically just a vinyl pressing of their demo tape) from Very distribution using a money order, and it seems very archaic to me now. It was the last thing I bought before leaving home for college in 2005. 

13. "Punch your roommate in the face, and get ready to get righteous" is really the best intro to a WERS set.

14. My real introduction to them was from the Mental WERS set in which Greg dedicates a song to them with the couplet "if you haven't heard this band, I feel sorry for you."

15. There's very few HC LP's that are good all the way through, but Rage of Discipline is one I enjoy through and through. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Inky Fanzine Nugget #6: Crazy Jay Skin + Lady in Altercation shirt

Eons before we got entire dorko Tumblr pages dedicated to internet scene girls wearing Soul Search beanies, we were treated to this fanzine picture of "Crazy Jay Skin" Vento (Warzone, Altercation) hanging out  with an unknown female clad in panties and an Altercation shirt. Photo nabbed from Indecent Exposure fanzine. Life imitates art man. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

15 (biased and subjective) thoughts on Cold World

Pic from Town of Hardcore fanzine

In conjunction with the new LP being released on DWI, I thought I'd let my dozens of readers read up on some of my thoughts with them.  It's a cold world, so we keep 2 heaters

1. In 2005, Cold World played their "last show" at Posi Numbers fest. As a lifelong pro-wrestling fan, I should've seen through this (never never means never...get it?) but at the time it felt like a really huge deal.

2. Before The Rival Mob and Free Spirit got shit for their merch selling outlandish prices on Ebay, Cold World was that band. The Cold World BAPE shirt was a major topic of discussion and controversy on B9 and Livewire and other doofusy messageboards I was frequenting. 

3. I know of no other hardcore band who has had more shirt designs than Cold World. It's not an indictment or a criticism per se, I'm just saying. I'm sure there ARE others (Hardside has an embarrassing amount of shirts) but I don't know of them. 

3. Ice Grillz was, and still is, a perfect 7". I'd rank it as one of the best of the 00's era, and one I still dig out regularly. There's no filler, all the songs are catchy and memorable and the samples are tasteful (like a Spazz record. The samples always ruled). I'd never heard anything like it before. "Copernicus" is a GD banger.

4. I downloaded an MP3 of "Can it Be So Simple" from the Lockin Out website, right before Ice Grillz came out (the fall before high school graduation if I remember correctly) and listened to it over and over until my copy came in the mail (hadn't discovered Soulseek yet). 

5. Cold World was a unique band. Not just because of the hip-hop/hardcore thing, but just in the left-of-center approach they took to aesthetic and songwriting. Dan Mills' voice sounded different than any other vocalist I'd heard at the time, and they weren't afraid to experiment with "melodic" vocal patterns. 

6. As far as I'm concerned, Cold World put Wilkes-Barre on the map (for people outside of PA at least). I know there were hardcore bands from WB before them (Magnus is the one I'm most familiar with). It seems weird now, but there was a time when they were the only band (War Hungry soon after) that me, or any of my friends, knew about from there.

7. I saw them in 2006 at what would be one of the best shows of my life, in Richmond Virginia (Righteous Jams, Iron Boots, Justice, War Hungry and Fired Up...crazy when Fired Up is the weakest band on your bill). Here's a pic from the show, and me acting like a goofburger (my foot is the bottom right). I air-guitared at one point, and afterward, Alex Russin jokingly thanked me for "helping out." 

8. I found this funny story from a/The Cold World blog a few years back. It's about wanting to do a record on Revelation and doing a song for the comp. My favorite part is the line "Wilkes-Barre's burly wigger sons." 

9. I specifically remember a b9 thread that linked to a story about "snitching" culture (inspired by Dipset and all that), that referenced Cold World (because of their song on the Rev comp "Stop Snitchin") and called them a "hard core rock group." I wish I could find the link. 

9. The i-i-i-i-it's a demo that leaked is kind of like the Eddie Sutton Merauder demo in that tons of people claim to prefer it with Woj's vocals over Dan's. I dig it a lot and wish that all my mp3's were tagged correctly. 

10. They introduced a lot of people to Life of Agony, whether they meant to or not.

11.  Their song on Fucked Up Mix tape Vol. 2 is great. There really was a time when there was no bad Cold World song.

12. The Only Living Witness vocals on How the Gods Chill are pretty hard to get past and I'm not really into it as much as I thought I would be. That being said, it took me almost a solid year of Dedicated to Babies before it finally "clicked" (the production bugged me) but now I like it. 

13. I heard rumors that they covered Obituary live but could never get any confirmation as to the specific song/riff. Probably just a rumor. I believe I asked Woj about it in an interview, but I can't remember the response...which leads me to believe it didn't actually happen. 

14. I think it's dorky when hardcore bands do tons of "guest spots" on their albums, but I think it's actually kinda cool when Cold World does it. Also, for those who are bugged by it on their "new stuff" they've always done it. Greg Willmott did guest vox on Ice Grillz

15. In the mid 00's, trying to find any information on them was difficult. Some metal band from Scandinavia had the same name and their stuff would always come up in Google and Ebay searches. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014


Crom - "Discipline of Steel" (The Cocaine Wars 1974-1989, Pessimizer 2001) 
Actually an awesome track. Actually an awesome band. (I just barely saw this trailer on Vimeo). Not to be confused with the dorko viking metal band with the same name, Crom was an L.A. based "powerviolence" band that had a rep for being kinda sloppy and nihilistic and for having shows that were insane. Thing is, they were miles better than most of the other powerviolence bands for having great riffs and for not being afraid to use "groove" as a piece to the puzzle (check "Steel Reserve" for proof). "Discipline of Steel" is a banger, 0:44 seconds long with a great riff that leads directly into "Wheel of Pain" (which itself begins with a sample of galloping horse hooves and Black Sabbath's "Changes.") The whole album needs to be experienced on its own though. Awesome. 

XFILESX - "I Hate What I Don't Understand" (Excruciation, Trash Art 2004) 
Like most albums of this ilk, they need to be experienced in one gigantic dollop and not as isolated cuts, but Excruciation has enough unique riffs and catchy bits on it to justify it's own smattering of "singles" ("STD," "Testify", "Jesus Fish out of Water," "Ay Guy"...all of them really) and serves as the band's final opus. "I Hate What I Don't Understand" is basically about being bummed about not understanding weird things. Self-Explanatory. The closing lyrics are "Not funny or amusing/just fucking stupid and confusing." Great.

Failure Face - "Punchline." (Failure Face, Burrito 1993)
Failure Face - "Punchline." (Failure Face, Burrito 1993)
Failure Face was an awesome hardcore band from Florida that I never really heard until Let Down covered them. Strangely, I WAS familiar with Murder Suicide Pact which was Bob Suren (who also ran/runs Sound Idea Distribution)'s band after Failure Face broke up. Bullet point facts: They're named after a Peanuts comic strip (confirmed here) and basically just sound like straight forward 80's hardcore with awesome guitar parts. "Punchline" is the shortest song, and there's not a bad cut here (Though I am partial to "Human Cancer" myself, and "Collapse" is an incredible closer). A choral refrain of "I don't get it, I don't get it." Just a great cut. Also, they were on Ebullition before it was know...shitty. 

Prisoner Abuse - "Brain Rot." (Prisoner Abuse, Painkiller 2012)
Boston hardcore that sounds like Boston hardcore. An LP that slogged me through some serious shit during the long and pointless winter of 2012. "Brain Rot" leads off the record with those thunderously patented pain cave drums and a nice little gee-tar/cymbal freak session. Though this band will probably always get tagged as "ex-dude from Think I Care and co plays the hits a'la Boston '82" (and there's nothing wrong with it, why salt the steak when that shit's fine on its own?) I like the feeling of psychosis, the "stretched-too-far-now-I've-snapped" feeling (which...ok, yeah, TIC had that in spades too). I get it, I get it. I'm not really making a case for it....just listen to the track and tell me that intro isn't phenomenal. You probably will though. Go back to Florida and take your zitty chest and Cruel Hand tank tops with you.

Demolition Hammer - "Envenomed" (Epidemic of Violence, Century Media 1992)
As history tells it, thrash metal was on it's last legs come 1991. Cobain and co were locked in to saturate the market with flannel-draped sadrock, Metallica's giant sea-change rolled forth in their biggest GD album ever and Pantera were poised to become the nu-champs of metal (and the last gee-tar GOD the mainstream world would ever know). It's in that regard that I've always regarded the "late wave" of thrash as one of the most interesting. It's when lots of bands were going off the deep end, exploring their craft (some with better results than others) and it's right before Floridian death metal exploded.

I always thought NYC's Demolition Hammer was an obscure band. I suppose they still are, but with the internet and such, it seems like they're becoming a regular reference point for every walk of IMN (internet metal nerd). They deserve it. Epidemic of Violence is pretty universally praised by everyone in the know, a really vicious slab of brutally-inflected thrash metal that's really just a hair shy of being full-on death metal. All killer and no filler. "Envenomed" is a straight forward "fast song" with a great mosh bit around 1:14 (gang shouts and all), and really has a similar rhythm to Slayer's "Captor of Sin", and also most of the songs on Reign in Blood. It's a great segue into the next song, an Obiturary-like groovestorm "Carnivorous Obsession." Metal to fracture your skull to. (Get it?)