Well, here's all your Anti-Christmas dreams come true. New Zealand punk label Razored Raw has dropped two new split releases on cassette – just in time to ruin the holidays. Wellington, NZ powerviolence trio Stress Ghetto share space with Indonesian trio Get it Today on one tape, and with Japanese crew Leech on the other. Both cassettes are lo-fi and obnoxious. But that's no surprise.
Funabashi-based Leech had their gruesome and grinding demo reissued by Razored Raw earlier this year (see below), and the band's new split features similarly primitive and pummelling noise. Leech contribute five feedbacking songs to their split with Stress Ghetto, and while the band ease off the gas here and there, for brief bursts of crushing hardcore, Leech mostly deal in foot-to-floor – and always pulverising – powerviolence. Noise for noise's sake; always a good sign.
Stress Ghetto's contributions to their split with Leech are as shocking and raw as shitting blood on your birthday, which is pretty much par for the course for the vitriolic-sounding band. Stress Ghetto's five songs are split-second chaotic maelstroms, with soundbites and dissonant bursts of ‘music’ colliding at turbo speed. Stress Ghetto's cynical humour is always present, but plenty of pissed-off ire fuels the harsh racket here.
Stress Ghetto's split with Jakarta-based trio Get it Today is also filled with abrasive noise made by abrasive people – and it’s perfect for the twisted masochist that lurks inside us all. There's no drastic change of tempo or technique here; Stress Ghetto simply cram five ugly tracks into four uglier minutes. Rungas gutter noise reigns. And you can expect a battering quagmire of riffs, percussion, and churning bass – as per normal – and barking vocals too.
Get it Today don't ease the pressure in any way. The band hurl a mess of crude and mangling noise at you – with grindcore, hardcore, thrashcore, and powerviolence smashing into each other at top speed. Get it Today’s sound is lo-fi but hi-energy, and they manage to out-pace Stress Ghetto delivering their five songs in three whiplashing minutes. FYI: Get it Today also released an equally noisy EP earlier this year. I'll include a link to it below.
I've always thought split releases are the perfect way to discover new noise. Sometimes the bands featuring complement each other, as they do here, and sometimes they differ wildly. All the bands above share a similarly raw and ragged approach to music making, but you're not always going to enjoy each band as much as the others. Leech's grim sound definitely appeals to me more than Get it Today's fastcore does. But that's not a criticism or a complaint. Just a preference.
Another great thing about split releases is that they’re a perfect opportunity to discover underground music from lesser-known locations – like Indonesia’s active punk scene or the deepest darkest bowels of Japanese hardcore. Likewise, Stress Ghetto are a known entity in NZ’s subterranean music scene, but fans of Leech or Get it Today might discover the band via their latest splits and choose to seek out more NZ noise. I love that cross-pollinating aspect of DIY punk.
I guess this is probably sounding far too upbeat and positive for a bunch of horrible noise, right? I’d recommend grabbing both of Razored Raw’s latest split cassettes so you can crank ’em loud on Xmas day. They’re guaranteed to upset Nana's pacemaker, and Ma and Pa won't be too happy either. You might as well get those Christmas-ruining arguments started nice and early, right?
PS: I published a couple of end-of-year lists featuring my favourite punk albums and punk demos from 2018 recently – and a list featuring the best NZ noise from this year is incoming. A couple of overseas bands that Razored Raw re-released in NZ featured on my favourite punk releases list: Ambush, with brain-smashing noise punk, and fellow US band Scalple, with bleeding-raw and markedly feral hardcore.
Happy holidays, everyone. Fuck you very much for stopping by.