/ Punk Rock

Ear-drilling Fun #2

Crust-2-Do you like horrible, crusty punk? I like horrible, crusty punk. I like d-beat and filthy hardcore too. And mountains of other Discharge-inspired noise pollution. I like mangel this, and kängpunk that, and I'm forever stumbling on fresh or fetid punk I want to share around. So here goes: welcome to Ear-drilling Fun #2.

Contenders: React
React is the debut EP from Hamilton, New Zealand punk band Contenders. React has a heftier sound than Contenders' 2016 demo, and the first thing I thought of after pressing play wasn't punk but was... grunge. (Hear me out!) I'm not talking about angst-for-cash chart-hugging grunge. I'm talking about grungy/scuzzy rock played in dank dives on crooked guitars. There's a gritty late-80s punk echo here as well. And a track like "Teenage Crybaby" calls to mind a band like X more than any contemporary punksters. React rockets along, and Cilla's vocals (produced @ United Blasphemy) have a perfectly sandpapered edge. Great stuff.

Scumraid: Control
South Korean band Scumraid received a heap of praise for their 2015 warp-speed 7" Rip Up. The Seoul-based trio deal in noise punk insanity, and their latest release, Control, features new tracks and remixed and remastered songs taken from Scumraid's West Coast Tour tape, their Out of Order EP, and Rip Up. Don't let the words 'remixed' or 'remastered' fool you into thinking things have gotten a lot more polished though. Sonically, Control is certainly beefed up. But it still features chainsawing riffs, mountains of distortion, and gravel-gargling vocals. It's Nasty. Noisy. And Crude. Chaos, through and through.

Hedge Fund Trader: Half Night and Last Light
New Zealand punk band Hedge Fund Trader originally formed in Hamilton. But, as the band recently pointed out, "three members of our band are set to reside in disparate locations this year." That hasn't stopped Hedge Fund Trader from releasing brand new music, and they uploaded two EPs, Half Night and Last Light, onto their Bandcamp page a few weeks back. Both EPs feature blast-furnace screamo and off-kilter hardcore, and none of the breakneck songs on Half Night or Last Light make it past the two-minute mark. Hedge Fund Trader have promised a full-length release for later in the year. In the meantime, Half Night and Last Light make for tasty entrees.

Sect Mark: Worship
Worship is the debut MLP from Italian raw punks Sect Mark. Worship is being released by US label Iron Lung Records, and the list of formidable punk releases that Iron Lung Records has unleashed upon the world is a mile fucking long. Sect Mark's neck-wrecking debut is no different. Worship is an ugly blast of nihilistic noise, and Sect Mark deliver ultra-abrasive (i.e. wall-of-noise) hardcore throughout. Worship doesn't feature one iota of sophistication. But that's no bad thing. It's all that primitive audio violence that makes Worship so great in the first place.

Visions of War: Swine Parade
I want to highlight older punk releases as much as new ones with this Ear-drilling Fun column, so say hello to Swine Parade. The 2015 compilation from Belgian crustcore band Visions of War collects the band's Shit Parade and King of Swines albums into one ugly-as-fuck audio package. And that's a package custom-made for fans of crashing punk that tips its hat to the jagged riffs and barking vocals of Doom and kin. Visions of War deliver straight-up concussive crust, with a chunk of brute-force metal thrown in, and Swine Parade remains 100% obnoxious throughout. (FYI: Visions of War released an absolutely killer split 7" with UK crust legends Hellkrusher in 2017. Track it down.)

Absolut/Svaveldioxid: S/T split
The split LP between Canadian mind-smashers Absolut and Swedish kängpunk crew Svaveldioxid was hailed as "THE raw punk split of 2017". Honestly, that's hard to dispute. The split pairs two of the most savage punk bands around, with Absolut bringing uber-distorted d-beat and wild-eyed soloing to the table, while Svaveldioxid deliver relentlessly crushing crust. You get five songs from each band on the split. And both deliver A-grade head-splitting noise. Even better, Svaveldioxid's brand new EP, Krigets Brutalitet, arrived in my mailbox a few days ago, and man, it's a ferocious triumph too.

Tortür: Kawakami Forever
D-beat band Tortür hail from Los Angeles, but they're heavily inspired by Japanese noise punk icons Disclose. Tortür's Disclose worship comes full circle on their Kawakami Forever EP, which sees the band covering seven howling Disclose songs in an aptly off-the-chain fashion. It's not any kind of a stretch for Tortür to deliver hellishly raw punk. The band's recent Demo LP collected 17 tracks of raw and Dis-gusting Tortür noise (and you should grab a copy, it's fucking great). Kawakami Forever sees Tortür paying due tribute to their idols, but it also sees the band just indulging in sheer anti-music mayhem all over again. That's a win-win for any 'noise not music' fan.

Arms Race: The Beast
Arms Race's new EP, The Beast, sees the London-based NWOBHC band delivering another brutal salvo. Much like Arms Race's New Wave of British Hardcore LP from 2016, The Beast features steel-edged tracks that call to mind strapping US hardcore fused with the toughest UK punk. However, The Beast also sees Arms Race stretching out on EP's final track, "Distort Britannia", which showcases a doomier approach from the band. The Beast features four violent songs in total, and every one of them is a guaranteed kick in the teeth. Arms Race doing what Arms Race do best. Business as usual, mate.

Obduktio: Holotna
Erased Head: S/T
Here's a couple of shots of bitter Suomi punk. Finnish bands Obduktio and Erased Head both caught my attention recently. In Obduktio's case, it was because I saw bongos, flute, and mandolin listed as being used on their Holotna album. They're not your standard ingredients in a heavyweight crust album. But there's nothing homespun or folksy about Holotna. It's a hard and mean album, where growling death metal even makes an appearance. If anything, that more unusual instrumentation adds a darkly twisted psychedelic undercurrent.

Erased Head's music is more akin to a solvent-sniffing high gone very wrong. Or a brain-bashing soundtrack to accompany a K hole nightmare. Erased Head deliver raw and rapid-fire punk, and their first EP hurls UK82/Discharge-fuelled noise at all kinds of Scandi d-beaten influences. The result is unpolished and always instinctual music. Erased Head are well worth checking out if OG punks like Kaaos, the Shitlickers, Avskum and Anti Cimex appeal.

Discordance: S/T
Last Rites: S/T
I've really enjoyed releases from Greek punk groups like Lethe, Sarabante, Procrastinate, Hellstorm, and Conspiracy Of Denial. But I really don't know much else about the Greek punk scene. I mean, I do know that fans from around the world fucking love Greek punk. And with that in mind, I was excited to check out the latest releases from Greek punks Discordance and Last Rites.

Discordance and Last Rites deliver heavyweight hardcore on their recent self-titled albums. And they both slather their songs with a thick layer of crust. (That's two ticks right there.) Discordance are raw and thrashy, and they have an old-school bite. Last Rites' sound is high-powered and brawny, and it features a contemporary hardcore punch. The two bands' albums charge ahead at a blistering speed. But there's enough difference between Discordance and Last Rites for them to offer distinct barrages of intensity. (FYI: seeing as I mentioned them, I'll also include some Bandcamp embeds for other Greek punk bands below.)