To be honest, the line between my favourite punk albums and my favourite punk demos from 2018 is virtually nonexistent. I generally favour rougher-sounding releases over polished ones anyway, and I love the raw intensity of a gut-driven demo, so making a separate end-of-year list for demos is really just an excuse to keep shouting about all the punk I enjoyed this year. There are plenty of grimy gems below, and a similarly rowdy end-of-year list featuring New Zealand noise-makers will be published very soon. As always, thanks for stopping by. Enjoy the filth and fury.
Genogeist: 5 Track Demo (Black Konflik Records)
PDX punk band Genogeist features members from thundering groups like Dodladge, Vastation, and Terminal Conquest. Genogeist dealt in 10-tonne "apocalyptic cyber-crust" on their 2018 demo – paying tribute to Japanese metallic crust along the way. Add in the band’s heavy-duty stenchcore (with its old-school bite) and it’s easy to hear why Genogeist’s demo was such a formidable success. Zygome: Demo 2018 (Runstate Tapes)
Zygome’s demo was one of the most promising debuts this year. In fact, forget promising; Zygome fucking delivered –– 666%. The band’s rank and rage-driven stenchcore harked back to the classics –– à la Deviated Instinct and Axegrinder –– and it’s no surprise that Zygome’s heavyweight sound was hailed far and wide in 2018.
Riesgo: Demo MMXVIII (Self-released)
Riesgo features members who've played in bands like the rightly revered Los Crudos, and Sin Orden. Riesgo's Demo MMXVIII was a full-throttle onslaught of pissed-off Latinx d-beat. Venom-dripping vocals, bulldozing bass, and masses of caustic riffs fuelled a rawer-than-raw riot. HIGHLY recommended.
Neverending Mind War: Demo II (Self-released)
Neverending Mind War’s whirlwind second demo didn’t even make it to the five-minute mark. But that was more than enough time to appreciate the insane genius of their wall-of-noise attack. Neverending Mind War dig rotting trenches of ugly noise –– filled with raw-as-fuck riffs and blown-out vocals. Madness and mayhem reigned. Obviously, an essential listen.
Destruct: Human Failure Demo (Self-released)
The 2018 demo from US band Destruct was mastered by noted Japanese sound engineer Shigenori Kobayashi at Tokyo’s Noise Room studios – and it sounds #fuckingsick. Destruct delivered consummate crust and bleeding-raw d-beat on their demo, with Kawakami-esque barks and Discharge-fuelled hostilities propelling chest-crushing noise throughout. An absolute #killer demo. Highly recommended for noise punk fans.
Project GBG: Demo 2018 (Black Konflik)
Project GBG’s demo featured Swedish-inspired hardcore made by crusty Canadians with links to bands like Absolut, Mueco and Ultrarat. Fans of Anti Cimex and Shitlickers will love the solid foundation of raw audio filth right here, and Project GBG’s heavyweight d-beat reeks of old-school muck and murder. Even better, Project GBG’s demo is about as crude and confronting as taking a steaming shit on a snowman. Merry Christmas, kids! Agravio: Demo 2018 (Self-released)
The fast, loose, and extremely ragged demo from Mexico City punks Agravio sounded like it could implode at any second – and when was the last time you listened to music that actually sounded dangerous? Agravio's lo-fi thrills and spills were crude and chaotic, and their music surged with rage while dripping with distortion. Pitch-perfect primitivism.
Chain Cult: Demo 2018 MLP (La Vida Es un Mus)
UK label La Vida Es un Mus has a knack for releasing memorable debuts, and Greek band Chain Cult’s passionate 2018 demo was rightly hailed on release. The band's dark-hearted post-punk was ice-cold and driven by jagged guitar and grim (Joy Division-worthy) bass. Bleak and brooding brilliance.
D7Y: Demo (PBP)
The 2018 demo from misanthropic Icelandic d-beat crew D7Y was overflowing with bristling nihilism and battering sounds. The band’s hope-smashing demo featured mountains of 'fuck-you' feedback and distortion, and D7Y’s apocalyptic insanity was underpinned by incandescent anger. The end times never sounded so good.
Starvation: 5 Track Demo (Self-released)
The debut demo from Canadian band Starvation featured five songs that leaned (real hard) on the rawest end of the d-beat spectrum. Starvation’s debut was so filthy and noxious it sounded like it’d give you hepatitis, and the band nailed the guts, the stench and the viciousness of feral hardcore all in one.
Last Agony: Demo 2018 (Self-released)
Canadian group Last Agony features members from the phenomenal noise punk band Absolut. Unsurprisingly, Last Agony also made an unholy fucking racket on their 2018 demo. The band’s split-second songs rocketed past, leaving feedbacking blasts of disorder and disarray in their wake. Five frantic tracks in six frenzied minutes. Utter raw punk chaos. What’s not to love?
CT-85: S/T (Not Normal Tapes)
The 9-track demo from Chicago punks CT-85 is i.n.s.a.n.e. Chiefly because CT-85's MO involves combining twisted punk with even more abrasive feedback, while Kris French's off-kilter vocals cut through the caustic mix. Rhythmically jagged, percussively battering, and yet made for pogoing the night away. An acquired taste, well worth sampling.
Innocent: Power is Violence Demo (Self-released)
Power is Violence is the second demo from Boston band Innocent. There’s a strong echo of Sacrilege here, but Innocent mostly draw inspiration from the first riotous wave of US hardcore. You get smashing d-beat, reverb-drenched howls, and stiff-necked punk galore. Perfect for those days when only the toughest tunes will get you through.
Blockade: Demo + 2 Trax Flexi (Runstate Tapes)
Label Runstate Tapes released a compilation collecting Blockade’s 2017 demo plus songs off their two-track flexi this year. Blockade make hellishly raw lo-fi punk; the kind of filthy noise that sounds and feels like pissing razor blades. Obviously, such an obnoxious racket = a strong recommendation round ‘ere.
Pozoga: Demo (Distro-y Records)
The debut demo from Dublin band Pozoga (Polish for ‘conflagration’) was an aptly fierce inferno. The band’s demo included six vitriolic songs, including a cover of RIP’s “No Hay Futuro”, and every track featured berserker vocals, wildly distorted guitars, and non-stop d-beat mayhem. High-intensity/zero-bullshit hardcore.
Lái: Demo (Lost in Fog)
Australian band Lái features members from Pisschrist, Extinct Exist, Nuclear Death Terror, and Masses – so it’s no surprise that Lái’s demo was an A+ riot. The band mixed high-speed d-beat with Scandi-inspired hardcore, all the while exploring religion, feminism, and queer rights in South East Asia. Politically fierce. Musically ferocious. Blistering tunes for troubled times.
Asesinato: Demo (Self-released)
Asesinato share a couple of members with fellow DCHC crew Kombat, as well as a similar velocity and ferocity. But what made Asesinato’s demo stand out this year was the way the band injected warped eccentricity and sharp and skittery lo-fi noise into their otherwise rough-edged hardcore. Nasty and weird. Perfect.
Side Action: Demo (Self-released)
Side Action are an anarcho-punk band and their 2018 demo is achingly acidic, markedly abrasive, and unquestionably one of this year's best raw punk releases. Vocalist Malaya's voice burns through thick clouds of distortion as Side Action smash and crash through chaotic songs that barely hold together. Somehow, Side Action still manage to concentrate their fury with formidable intensity. I don't how they do it. But it's a glorious fucking mess.
Asid: Asid Tracks II Demo (La Vida Es un Mus)
Asid released their demo via label La Vida Es un Mus in 2018, and while the band features members from post-punk group Chain of Flowers, Asid didn’t indulge in brooding dramatics. Instead, Asid dealt in hurtling hardcore, and their stripped-down riffs, guttural grunts, and concussive percussion went straight for the throat, rather than the heart.
Blood Loss: Demo (Self-released)
The first time I listened to Blood Loss’ murky demo on Bandcamp I wasn’t entirely sure they hadn’t uploaded a faulty recording. And that same feeling lingers after listening to the band’s woozy and warped demo dozens of times. Luckily, I happen to think no-fi noise punk = loads of fucked-up fun. If you do too, then dig in!
Pleasure: Demo 2018 (Self-released)
The debut demo from Singaporean punks Pleasure is focused on the “harsh reality of oppression and power”. The band explore the legacy of colonialism, exploitation, and various social ills, all the while mixing lo-fi proto-punk with skittery post-punk and the earliest jangling strains of anarcho-punk. Serrated hooks aplenty right here. Great stuff.
Lexicon: 5 Track Demo (Iron Lung)
Seattle noise punks Lexicon’s demo is a fairly recent release. But I’m confident I’ll be hitting repeat on the furious head-fuckery within for a long time yet. Lexicon’s sanity-shredding sound is a red-lining nightmare, and the band’s vocalist, Madam KJ, howls like a maniac throughout. Gloriously OTT, and 100% demolishing from its first second to its last.
Therapy: Demo 2018 (Self-released)
San Diego band Therapy’s demo opens with a roaring wall of d-beat, and what follows are six explosive songs driven by passionate and powerful vocals. The band’s demo also features fairly thickset production, and everything hits hard and fast – both sonically and psychologically – making for a perfect introduction to Therapy’s cathartic anthems.
Deltoids: Demo (Self-released)
German punk band Deltoids write short/spiky/offbeat songs, and although their 2018 demo only featured four tracks, there’s abundant evidence they hit on a creative sweet spot first time round. I’d certainly love to hear more from the band – which is key to any demo’s success. Maybe you’ll want to hear more too?
Silk: Demo (Self-released)
The 2018 demo from Leeds band Silk featured hard-bitten hardcore that sounded entirely contemporary with its tough and trampling production, and yet it clearly voiced the influence of UK82. Yet another excellent example of the NWOBHC combining the best of ye olde and the new.