Review: Cornered - Failure

Hardcore is not about bands trying to reinvent themselves every other year. I rather see them focus on sharpening the same formula and just being good at it. Picture Cornered. I could guess what Failure would sound like even before pressing play, but it didn't take anything away from the excitement of finally hearing this stuff. This is nothing that will be new to anyone who has been following the band so far, but the ep is nastily effective. You know what to expect and you get what you paid for.

Clocking in less than 9 minutes in total, there’s no half-ass track on this record. It boils with aggression and infectious energy that is rarely displayed by hardcore bands over a decade in the game. Self-reflecting and almost melancholic Realms of Misery gotta be my favorite track, the creative guitar work gives this one some space while vocalist Niels attacks the lyrics with both anger and frustration. The feeling of failure is something that all of us can experience even more often in the current political and economic situation. The record’s title gives away much of its subject matter and hearing other people going through the same shit as you can be somehow therapeutic.Give it a try.

Speaking of Niels, this man has a real flair for writing smart yet disturbing lyrics, and generally for scaring an audience with his psychopathic and predatory delivery. No doubt he knows his way around some shady corners of the human mind. He sounds like the same voices that whisper to him all these disturbing visions also tell him to beat up random fools for no reason. Do not cross this man!

Like I said, on Failure the band sounds on point and the energy they bring to each track is undeniable. I recommend everyone check it out.

Blindsided Records, 2021

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

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':

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.

Review: Regulate - In the Promise of Another Tomorrow

It came out in 2018 but finally got my dirty hands on this gem. Seeing all the hype about this release it's obvious the band has made a name for itself and I am not surprised at all. I remember listening to Years Of Rage thinking that stuff was dope, but In the Promise is a certified level up. The sound is so crunchy and the vocals deliver mad crazy flow. Dude sounds nothing like whoever. At first, it took me some time to get used to his vocal tone, but he shows character and attitude in his delivery that eventually got me hooked. The band is insanely talented as they work with that in-your-face hardcore formula but add layers of various flavors without overcomplicating shit. It's a gift! Almost all the songs are short and sweet yet there's a depth to it you wouldn't expect at first listen. I lose my shit listening to tracks like 11 33 or Wrong Side Of History. Powerful and angry stuff. And I was totally not ready for Character Arc, a complete change of pace and vibe into more melodic territory with clean singing and shit. Skip all the other bullshit and check this record out. It stays with you!

Edgewood Records, 2018

Review: Heavy Runner - Life Music

If Poland’s contribution to hardcore in 2019 could be summed up in one album, this would be the one. Heavy Runner is the rarest of beast: tough as nails but fun. Life Music sounds like a tribute to glory days of beatdown and certainly captures zeitgeist of 90' Baltimore hardcore by the way of Stout and Next Step Up. Some extra Rucktion/Ninebar flavor here and there to boost up the craziness, while the vocals vibe like this guy received spiritual guidance from DMX himself. Get at me dog!

The chemistry between the band members is amazing and everybody is doing their part while vocals spit out some truthful lyrics that appeal to both sides of the brain. The backing gruffy vocals add some counter balance to swagged out lead singer. To some this music might appear too simple or even basic, yet beneath the surface, a lot of work was done to make these tracks pop. There is an art to being simple so fuck people who think that way.

Probably the best part of this album is that they don't take it too seriously. It's all positive and full of healthy mental content even when they deal with some shitty subject matter. And don't get me wrong, they walk a thin line but there's never anything goofy or gimmick about it. No doubt this no-fucks-given attitude and survivor mentality is the main source of electricity in this album.

Heavy Runner delivers some of the best hardcore of recent memory and Life Music is already included in my top 10 of 2019. Good stuff to annoy your girlfriend, offend your parents and upset the neighbors. Keep your shit the hardest!

Ratel / Ugly&Proud 2019

Review: Day By Day - Nowhere To Run

Between me and you, after first listen I thought this record does not make any sense and I want my money back. I bought that lp because of the hype and I felt like a fool. The cover art sill looked cool thought so decided just to keep it, and since I spent my hard earned money on that crap, thought I'd give it a second chance. And a third. And couple more.... and I finally began to realize I was wrong. Nowhere To Run is fire! Day By Day hacks back to glory days of metallic hardcore made by the likes of Stigmata, Dmize or Declination-era Cold As Life. Not crazy heavy, but heavier than Madball. I could be wrong but the vocals remind me a lot of some European metalcore bands like Kickback or Out For The Count. By that I mean high pitched screams that always take me a while to get used to.

On the lyrical front, Nowhere To Run is about the pain and the struggle in a world full of shitty people doing shitty things. But not that 'let me remind you to feel bad' vibe, it's more about dealing with adversity and standing your ground. And there's a mandatory salute to the local scene with SFLHC. Pain and glory - if that's not what hardcore is about than what is? Pretty sure this dude has not done any poetry class because it's all written in a straight forward, almost naive manner, but if that's your problem that means you're on the wrong blog.

All in all, Nowhere to Run come of as fresh and innovative, and there's a sense of menace and urgency once you catch the vibe of it. It took me a while, but I don't regret giving it a second chance.

Eighty Sixed Records' 2018

Review: Mindforce ‎– Excalibur

Stoked I finally got the chance to cop this record. The first pressing of Excalibur sold out before I even had a chance to snatch it. It seems they didn't anticipate it to get that much attention. For sure No Echo review did help, but the truth is this music is so great the band totally deserves all the love they're getting. Second press on clear vinyl, but I am not a record nerd so I don't even care. In it for the music first and foremost. To my point, after the demo and Dead Heat split I knew Mindforce had a real chance to melt the entire hardcore scene with the debut full length album. And that is what they did.

After the short intro the meat of the record kicks off, which ends up being 20+ minutes of reckless onslaught of crossover mayhem. The song writing is excellent and the overall vibe is straight out of 80' golden era crossover. The record is well thought out and never loses its consistency. The riffing on tracks like Senseless Act or Fangs Of Time is insane and the drums and bass kill it. The vocals are of that type of made to creep into the subconscious and alter the mind. Both in substance and delivery. This dude has been blessed with one of the sickest vocals in the game right now and is putting that gift to the right use. Man, read the lyrics, some slick and clever stuff! The production is fat to death but still, this is a record for kids who like their hardcore dirty and grimy.

Like every other cool kid in 2019 I love bands blending thrash and hardcore. No doubt next to Power Trip this is the best you can get. And while Texans are leaning more and more into metal side, with Mindforce the main focus is on hardcore and that works for me. It's a great feeling when one of your most anticipated albums turns out to be just as good as your hopes for it.

Triple-B Records, 2018

Review: Probation – Fucked By Life

This record has a super negative vibe, questionable songwriting and absolutely no finesse when it comes to the track titles and lyrics. You can't take too seriously a record with that title and lyrics like 'life sucks, kill yourself'. I can sense this dude is going over the edge but the way he puts it to words lacks any depth or weight. If I was to put my life experiences into a song it would sound something like that, but that’s the reason I don’t write lyrics.

Musically, some of the songs are ass but there are moments when they shine, but getting to that good stuff will have you digging through a lot of unnecessary crap. The more straight forward parts are ok, basically the faster the more it is to my taste. But all the sludgy and weird elements, man, they need to go! It only overcomplicates stuff when there's no need for that. Overall, to me it's a record with too many dysfunctional parts that were supposed to be amusing but just aren't. To end on a positive note, the cover artwork looks sick so this album stays on the shelf anyway!

WTF Records, 2018

Review: Scarboro - Wolves on the Radio

Scarboro is a NY based punk rock band with a sound that is both aggressive and melodic. Wolves... is pretty good, mid-tempo music that didn't hook me at the start but after a couple of listens, I was sold. My fav must be Another Day. That track isn't an obvious choice as it lacks catchy gang vocals and is on the almost melancholic vibe, but somehow I can sense there's more depth to it than I initially gave it credit for. It just resonates with my soft side, almost making this cold heart of mine melt. It's OK for a man to cry, as long as it's manly tears though! The lyrics are on the personal note and mostly about trying to get by without losing your sanity. I can relate to a lot of it and reading the lyrics I can sense this dude needed to get this shit off his chest. The recording has a raw edge to it but it works just fine for this type of music. If you like it catchy, mid-tempo punk with down to earth attitude you’d better get on this!

WTF Records, 2018