Review: Pain Of Truth - No Blame Just Facts

This was my favorite album of 2020 so it’s only right I give it a proper review. No lie, it’s already 2021 and I am still bumping this fucking album on repeat. I did not expect that record to blow me away like this but Pain Of Truth came hard and knocked down the buildings with this ep. Check this out - every track has someone doing guest vocals. And we’re talking who is who in current heavy hardcore. So, lending their voices are dudes you might know from King Nine, Rude Awakening, Billy Club Sandwich and even Year Of The Knife. This is epic of Friendship, Loyalty, Commitment proportions. It's cool that every guest adds their unique flavor but somehow they never take the center stage or steal the show from the band.

Sharp, down-to-earth lyrics are the star, the major key. Michael (Hangman, Victory Garden) is pouring his heart out on everything wrong with society today, be it fakes, backstabbers, or whatever. I can relate to lyrics like the dude was my brother.

No Blame Just Facts has all the crucial elements of a must-listen: heavy, aggression-laden hardcore carrying the take-no-shit attitude alongside a heavy dose of groove and some healthy variation in every track. Old timers will definitely sense a strong Fury Of V, Bulldoze or Madball vibe. For the younger cats I’d say give it a try if you need more of that Cold World or Three Knee Deep vibe. All in all, this is the stuff everybody loves when it’s done right. And if you don’t, what’s wrong with you?

Ratel (Europe) / Daze (US), 2020

Discography: Mentally Vexed

Mentally Vexed has been steadily dropping quality hardcore tapes for the last couple of months. For a label that started as a way to pass time during the lockdown, putting out 10 quality releases in a year demands respect. The operation is ran by four hardcore dudes dodging authorities and violating all the pandemic rules to give you the best in current hardcore. This only shows what few motivated individuals can accomplish if they put their minds to it. Who dates wins!

A full blown interview is coming soon, in the meantime here's a list of label's releases to date with commentary from one the label bosses - Alec.

MVR001 - Suppress - Yahzi.
The band that me and Jack MVR play in, it never got a physical release when it came out in 2018 so we decided to put this out in the run up to a new release. The new release still isn't out nearly a year later haha. This one didn't have and tape labels and we also don't really know how many are out there - I think it's about 30. We got more organised after this..

MVR002 - Sector - The Virus Of Hate Infects The Ignorant Mind.
I was just listening to Sector and realised they hadn't had any kind of physicals in the UK, despite the scene being mega into them. I messaged them and Anchit (guitar) replied saying he'd love to do it - they were super easy to work with and are a great band. Aesthetically, this is the release I'm most proud of so far.

MVR003 - Minded Fury - Relapse of Mankind.
I was on a bit of a H8000 kick, and again just decided to message the band asking if they wanted a UK release. If we ever move into putting shows on, I'd love to have these guys over here.

MVR004 - Phaze Two - For The Core.
Phaze Two are from Birmingham UK, same as us, and we are friends with the band. This was one of my favourite local releases so it was a real pleasure when this came together. I really loved this EP, it's almost exclusively fast riffs and mosh riffs.

MVR005 - Embrace Death - Through Lifeless Eyes.
My other band Mantlet played a show in October-ish 2019 with Embrace Death, and we kept in touch since then, they're fun guys and play a nasty Irate cover. This was a co-release with our friends in Nuclear Family records, who did the standard artwork. Jack MVR put together this NAS rip as an alternative artwork for our version and even though I'm biased, I still think it's the best rip I've seen to date.

MVR006 - Infraction - The Black Room.
This was Infraction's second EP, and I was amazed at how they managed to get it sounding so tough as a home recording, especially as they all recorded their parts seperately from each other. This EP is thematically very dark and metallic, and John's vocals really stand out to me - so much, that I asked him to do a guest vocal feature on the new Mantlet EP (which will be out real soon!).

MVR007 - Out For Justice - NorthEazt Takeover.
The band pretty much gave us free reign to do what we wanted aesthetically, so Ash MVR (an incredible tattoo artist and illustrator) wrote out the track-list and credits in a handstyle similar to the band's logo, and it looked fucking incredible. When I sent the band their personal copies, guitarist Lumpy (also of Daze) was so stoked that he basically said "hit me up if you wanna do any of my stuff in the UK". We're taking him up on that, more info soon...

MVR008 - RAUM - Demo.
The only "punk" record on the list, this was a lockdown project by our friend Jake from Cruelty - his brother Liam played drums and he did the rest. I really like the aesthetic Jake had for this band, and it's actually influenced the latest issue of the zine a lot. I listen to this record most days, even though it's only on shitty bandcamp which is a pain in the arse.

MVR009 - Upraised - WVHC.
We heard Upraised writing these songs when we turned up for Suppress practice at the same rehearsal space, and knew we had to put them out. We're mates with the band, but realistically I'd have put it out anyway. I did a vocal feature for one of the songs but they decided they liked their vocalist's take on it better so didn't use my tracks - miserable bastards. The artwork for this one was fully designed by Ash MVR, and I think it's his finest work. For a new band, this release has done INCREDIBLY well and I hope to see Upraised on shows as soon as they start again.

MVR010 will be the Suppress promo tape
for the upcoming EP. The songs are touch as fuck and we have something special and DIY planned for the release, keep your eye out for this.

New Blood: Ghetto Gospel

Photo credit: Lina V.

Ghetto Gospel are the new preachers of fast, attitude laden hardcore outta crisis-stricken Greece. The posse wasted no time and after just few weeks of jamming together in full conspiracy under the new Covid regime, they dropped a bomb in a form of The Price You Pay - nine tracks to check out if early Agnostic Front or SSD is your thing. Read the interview to learn more about the band and Greek hardcore in general.

To my knowledge, the story of Ghetto Gospel is short and straight forward - The Price You Pay is an outcome of just a few rehearsals. Is that correct?
Hey, thanks for the interview and for being interested in GG. Yeah, we started the band in mid December 2020, composed all songs and recorded them in a week or so.Then we sent the songs to Made In Hell studio that took some time to mix them properly. By mid January we had everything ready. It worked out really fast, faster than I expected, to be honest. Actually, we have never rehearsed in a real studio since we are not allowed to due to quarantine restrictions. We did everything at our drummer’s house (except of the drums that were recorded in a studio).

You all play in different bands, is Ghetto Gospel a side project or something more serious?
True, we are all active in various bands, some of us for almost 2 decades now. Our drummer is the youngest one, but he has been (and still is) involved in a dozen bands already! I dare to say that GG is a serious project and hopefully (when all this craziness ends) we’ll be able to reach out to more people with live shows, etc. That said, we don’t wanna set limits, deadlines or boundaries, we are doing this for fun first and foremost and we’ll see where it takes us.

The demo is 80’-styled in-your-face bursts of hardcore with most of the tracks clocking way below one minute mark. Was it the idea from the beginning?
Yeah, the main idea was to play raw and heavy, in your face, old school hardcore / thrash / punk / whatever, so the short songs do well for us. On the other hand, we never said let’s write a song that is 50 seconds or so, it came out kinda naturally. For me, long songs, when it comes to hardcore, are super boring, but that’s a different story.

Found footage: One Second Thought, Queens, 1999

The sound quality is better than you'd expect and the tracking is sick: Bring It On; Live And Learn; Show No Respect; Everyone Bleeds; Step Back; L.S.S. (Neglect cover). Upload by user Peter Busse.

New music: Dogz Of War - Judgment 2021

Hardcore comebacks hardly ever get me excited, but this one looks like a real gem. Dogz Of War, Detroit, 2021. This is the title track to the upcoming release due out on In Thy Blood Records.

FFO: Cold As Life, Earthmover, The Alliance, H8 Inc.

Review: Cold As Life - Demos 95-97

This is the time of making things no one asked for. The vinyl hype means a lot of stuff will be released on wax because there will always be an idiot like me who will buy it. Take this one for example. I can’t find any logic in putting tape demos on vinyl. There were so many other options to make these tracks available to the masses. Brand new tape version? Corny but acceptable. CD? More like it. Vinyl? Only if you do it right. I be most polite about it, but this one fell short of my expectations. Nobody bought it for sound quality values, but outside of music this record itself feels damn cheap. No effort was made about the packaging, my copy didn’t even have any insert, lyrics or any other extra shit. I'm not even mad. I'm mostly confused.

Cold As Life has been a band that I fucks with heavily since when I first discovered them and from then till now all of their stuff never tires me. A living proof that when people with a small budget and not much of a clue but who are driven and angry get together, magic can happen. 95 and 97 demos are the missing link between ‘1988 - 1993’ compilation and Born To Land Hard album. A transition period when Jeff Gunnells took over vocal duties after the original vocalist Rawn Beauty was shot in cold blood in his sleep in 1993 by his roommate Richard Werstine. Luckily they replaced one rage-filled lunatic with another.

Both demos mark the stylistic shift from destructopunk of the Rawn era to heavier metal-tingled hardcore. Born To Land Hard summed up 10 years of writing music and many of the tracks can be traced back to Rawn era. Going through all the band’s demos you can follow the evolution of songs like Terror Zone or Ten 'Till Midnight from the late 80’s over an entire decade to 1999 when the band's massive debut dropped (one of the greatest hardcore albums of all time).

All in all, despite the shady quality of this release, no doubt I would cop this album again, because contrary to mainstream economic theory, consumers don’t make rational decisions.

Backside Records, 2020

Bonus: Cold As Life with Rawn singing recorded at Todd's in Detroit, early 90':

Video: Borstal - Vicious Circles

Taken from BORSTAL'S debut EP 'AT HER MAJESTY'S PLEASURE' to be released on April 1st 2021 via 4 FAMILY RECORDS

Borstal is a collabo between Pierre Knuckledust/Bun Dem Out and drummer of Brujeria, Cradle Of Filth and some other metal bands I don't really care about. The rest of the squad is taken from Dripback and King of Pigs. The upcoming album will feature King Of The Jungle by Last Resort cover. Oi!

2020 can go to hell (Best of)

2020 was wack. It started being wack one day in January, followed by another wack day, and then by 365 more. If your name not Bezos, you can relate. As far as hardcore, the scene has seen better days but I had no problem coming up with a few rippers. The list below proves that even in a dry year, you can still find some legit gems.

Here’s my top of 2020 (spoiler: no Higher Power):

The best: Pain Of Truth - No Blame... Just Facts

It was a blessing to get this ep at the tail end of 2020 to wrap up this fucked up year feeling strong and undefeated. At least that’s how I feel listening to this heavy ass record.

Second best: Mindforce - Swingin Swords, Choppin Lords.

Mindforce never disappoints.

Best split record: Out For Justice / Sector - This Thing Of Ours

No lie, ever since I came across Out For Justice bandcamp I knew this split was gonna be in your face gutter hardcore.

Most vicious: Criminal Instinct - Skull Fucked

It’s just two tracks on digital release but both are sure to get your ass stomped.

Best groove: Three Knee Deep - Three Knee Deep

A record that should not be missed, this album delivers some of the best grooved out rap core of 2020.

Best NYHC: Big Cheese - Punishment Park

Brightside-era Killing Time meets 90' Madball by way of Backtrack (review)

Best rap album: Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist - Alfredo

It was alright, won only because the competition was not that great.

Best Reissue: One Second Thought - Queens Style 1995 - 1999

FWH did a great job combining everything from these Queens heavyweights into a nicely put together digipack.

Second best reissue: Sunrise - Generation Of Sleepwalkers

I never had any strong feeling about Sunrise back in the day, but this album deserved vinyl treatment.

Interview: No Saving Grace

Photo credit: Jetro Staven.

No Saving Grace caught my attention with the recent two-track digital release: Private Hell and Shadow. Both tunes absolutely knock. If you're into heavy ass beatdown hardcore but without all the drama and posturing look no more. It's just two songs but the band does not miss a step musically or lyrically. Honest, down to earth lyrics backed by a bone-crushing groove plucked straight from 90' beatdown heyday. Check out the interview below, check the new tunes and check their back catalog, the band has been steadily putting out records since 2014.

Could you please introduce No Saving Grace and give us some history of the band? I be honest, although you’ve been around for a couple years already, it’s just now that I got to learn about the band.
NSG have been around since 2013 but released our first demo in 2014 due to a lot of line up changes. Since then we have put out EPs, demos, played a bunch of shows in the UK/Germany/Finland etc and recently put out a promo tape on Moral Panic Records. I guess one the main reasons we have been flying under the radar so much is because we come from a smaller town in northern Europe without any big label promoting us and haven’t been touring nearly as much as we should. We’re still grinding as a band though and plan to put out an album as our next move.

There’s no money, no glory, no fame, so why start a hardcore band?
I think for most people it’s the love of the music and the energy you get from playing hardcore shows can be really addictive. For me it’s both of those reasons but also I got a lot of shit I wanna vent about and having a band where I can write lyrics about that stuff and having people relate to it is really important to me. Plus the love you get from the hardcore scene is huge.

Review: Big Cheese - Punishment Park

Man I heard this record a few months ago already but it’s just now that I own a copy. Had to sell my TV to get this one but I have no regrets, bumping that shit on my second hand stereo is the greatest feeling ever. This album is my last year’s top ten no doubt and probably one of the finest hardcore in Europe in recent times. The intensity and the way it flows make me feel like Punishment Park could be a zenith for the UKHC scene that’s been taking over for the last few years. It’s a well thought out NYHC mayhem, think Brightside-era Killing Time meets 90' Madball by way of Backtrack. That style never gets tired.

This much I know: if you dig the band's previous stuff, you’ll love this one cause it’s even better. But if you’ve got no clue what Big Cheese is about and having read to this point you’re still wondering if I recommend it, the answer is yes.

Dope lyrics: Too rapacious to impart and never with a heavy heart / Keep the knowledge to yourself and the secrets to your wealth / The glimmering of your riches, whilst we’re all dying in ditches / You climb the tower to the sun but you’re the only one.