Welcome to In Crust We Trust: Vol 7. If you’ve just arrived at the party, here’s the deal: every month, In Crust We Trust sets out to highlight some of the ugliest punk, hardcore, and metalpunk around. Criteria-wise, things are kept deliberately loose, with plenty of room to cheat. But if a band is raw enough, harsh enough, and they sound like every member has tinnitus and an oozing staph infection, then they’re up for consideration.
A special shout out this month to concerned commenter… well, let’s call him Hank… who was worried the increased number of punk articles at Last Rites signaled the start of a top-secret campaign to transform this website into a dedicated punk portal.
Truth is, Hank, Last Rites has always been good pals with heavyweight punk, but there’s really nothing to worry about. The only Sekrete round here, my friend, is the rowdy d-beat band below. I’ll happily admit that I want to convert you to their filthy charms, as well as convince you that all the radioactive sewage leaking from abrasive releases like Sekrete’s Endless Fucking Nightmare EP is A-grade noise pollution.
Of course, the good news, Hank, is that I’ve been banging on about horrible-sounding music for 20-some years, and I’m not sure I’ve ever convinced anyone of anything.
So, trust me, Hank. You’re safe, for now… (cue foreboding music).
In other In Crust We Trust-related news, Last Rites has published a couple of other punk features this month that you might like to peruse. Loud Words: A Punk Primer features a number of punk and hardcore websites that I like to haunt. Plus, Crossover the Edge: Where Hardcore, Punk, and Metal Collide reviews Alexandros Anesiadis’ encyclopedic tome. I’m pretty sure Anesiadis’ epic-length book will prove enticing and more than satisfying for plenty of readers around this neck of the woods.
And speaking of readers, thanks very much for stopping by. I appreciate it, big time. This month’s column features a swathe of LPs and EPs, including thundering releases from Cliterati, Disapprove, Agenda, Dödläge, Ojo Por Ojo, and many more.
As always, I hope you enjoy the noise.
See you next month, comrades.
Cliterati – Ugly Truths / Beautiful Lies
Oregon hardcore band Cliterati spent 12 months crafting their high-powered full-length debut, Ugly Truths / Beautiful Lies. I don’t mean the band spent a year locked inside the studio, sweating over every note. I mean Cliterati spent a year road-testing their songs, fine-tuning their lyrics, and thinking about how to frame their fierce denouncements of divisive politics, prejudice, and the manifold effects of hyper-capitalism that blight so many lives.
The result is an album where anger burns bright and exhilarating tracks with brutally honest lyrics assail the powers that be. It’s all too easy to surrender or simply retreat into cynicism in the face of this world’s long list of woes. But Cliterati’s unbridled passion is here to remind us that all it takes is a single match to start a fire. Ugly Truths / Beautiful Lies roars, screams, crashes and careens, all the time radiating electrifying and—most important of all—galvanizing energy.
Cliterati’s 2018 split with Violation Wound was a strong release, but Ugly Truths / Beautiful Lies sounds even tougher, tighter, and all-too-ready to face down foes. Hardcore, d-beat, and grinding crust collide, and Greg Wilkinson’s production, along with Joel Grind’s mastering, sharpens every barbed riff and concussive kick throughout. (It’s also worth pointing out that Ugly Truths / Beautiful Lies’ cover art—by legendary Japanese artist Akihiko “Sugi” Sugimoto—is downright killer too.)
Tracks like “Trans is Beautiful,” “Unfuck the System,” “Silence = Death,” and “Latinx Taken” are forthright and furious, but vocalist Ami Lawless’ missives don’t simply set out to condemn. They’re also often empathetic and inclusionary, a call for us to work together to overcome bigotry and oppression.
Cliterati’s music nods to the fiercest years of bands like Discharge or Doom, and the band also scatter hooks and snags into their songs, which means Ugly Truths / Beautiful Lies features plenty of catchy as well as full-bore hardcore. It’s fair to say a lot was riding on Cliterati’s first full-length release, but the band have exceeded expectations. Musically, Ugly Truths / Beautiful Lies is an unyielding shock wave, full of breakneck tracks. Lyrically, Cliterati deliver searing songs while opening their hearts (and their arms) to victims, strugglers, and tenacious survivors and battlers alike.
Whoever said punk is dead needs to check their fucking pulse. Cliterati prove that punk is alive, enraged, and fighting as hard as ever in 2019.
Agenda – Apocalyptic Wasteland Blues
The sophomore album from Norwegian four-piece Agenda opens with 30 seconds of somber guitar, at which point the band throw a grenade into the mix, and Apocalyptic Wasteland Blues explodes in a rush of chainsawing instrumentation and throat-shredding vocals. What follows is 10 tracks of hard-hitting and anthemic d-beat and crust, and while Agenda’s new album features all the raucous energy of their 2014 debut, Menneskehetens Massegrav, changes are afoot on Apocalyptic Wasteland Blues.
For a start, Apocalyptic Wasteland Blues sounds significantly bigger and burlier in production terms. (And along with that extra muscle, things have been given the reliable Brad Boatright workover at Audiosiege too.) Apocalyptic Wasteland Blues also features more melodic songwriting. Hurtling tracks like “Save Your Praise,” “Cognitive Dissonance” and “Walls” are guttural, grim, and always gritty, but they also twist and turn with more… dare I say it?… sophistication than before.
Don’t panic: Agenda haven’t ditched their all-guns-blazing aggression. There’s just smarter, albeit still hard-hitting arrangements right here. Apocalyptic Wasteland Blues is still full of fist-pumping metallic crust, and while the album isn’t as raw as Agenda’s previous work, the band’s thunderbolt hardcore still conjures plenty of dark dystopian visions. Agenda’s end-times serenades remain as cut-throat and as cathartic as they’ve ever been, and Apocalyptic Wasteland Blues is fittingly bleak and bruising throughout.
Disapprove – Not My World
Heavyweight Finnish d-beat / crust crew Disapprove caught my attention with their fittingly bombarding 2018 EP, Agony of War. (Note: you should consider tracking down Agony of War – it’s devastating fun). The four-piece band’s latest release, Not My World, features similarly blunt and brutal tracks that owe a debt to Discharge, Disclose, and the feral savagery that defines the best Finnish hardcore. Expect barreling riffs, driving bass, and guttural vocals, all choked by a thick haze of distortion. Even better, plenty of axe-wielding / Nordic-strength death metal powers Not My World’s momentum.
Dödläge – Hostile Regression
Hostile Regression is the second album from PDX punks Dödläge, and much like their full-length debut, Ritual Slaughter, it’s an absolute BEAST. The band’s ten-ton, bulldozing tracks sound nihilistic as hell—although, Dödläge’s lyrics are often fired up and defiant. The unrestrained approach here is inspired by plenty of kångpunks and grinding crustcore bands, and Dödläge’s up-front intensity calls to mind hefty groups like Cancer Spreading, Warcollapse, or, as Dödläge’s label Phobia Records suggest, 3-Way Cum.
Hostile Aggression tracks like “Prejudice,” “Disease” and “Burning Flesh” hit like a runaway truck packed with gelignite, as do similarly hammering / titanium-tipped songs like “Poverty is Violence,” “Capitalist Epidemic,” and “Genocide.” Hostile Aggression features firestorm-levels of rage, and there’s no question the album is one of 2019’s best (and most mammoth-sounding) crust punk releases.
Adrestia – The Wrath of Euphrates
The latest album from Swedish crusties Adrestia, The Wrath of Euphrates, pays due tribute to heroes of the resistance. The album’s pummeling tracks honor freedom fighters and those battling racism, misogyny, climate change, and other perilous issues plaguing this epoch. It’s Adrestia doing what Adrestia do best, delivering pissed-off and unapologetically fierce political punk.
With guest spots from Nastya Palamar (Exist M), Tomas Jonsson (Anti Cimex / Wolfpack), and Brad Boatright (Ashes Rise), The Wrath of Euphrates features a relentless blend of d-beat, crust, and vintage Scandi death metal. (Although, there are flashes of more diverse instrumentation here, too.) Jagged riffs and percussion rain down hard on in-your-face tracks like “Punks for Rojava,” “Rise Up,” and “Fight Back,” and Adrestia sound up-in-arms and ready to riot throughout the bulk of The Wrath of Euphrates.
Illvilja – Livet
The debut album from Swedish six-piece Illvilja was recorded at the band’s rehearsal space in autumn / winter 2018. Winter’s encroaching darkness and forbidding cold are certainly felt in the iciest depths of Livet. However, Illvilja’s blackened crust also fuels raging bonfires in the heart of tracks like “Slåtter,” “Offerbålet,” and “Släpad I Aska.” Illvilja’s rawest music evokes very grim tidings, but their strident-sounding hardcore, d-beat and crust is often as blistering as it is frost-bitten. It’s that counterbalance that makes this debut so promising. FFO Acursed, Wolfbrigade, and Martyrdöd.
Hive – Most Vicious Animal
Some punk bands like to imagine that we can fix the world’s problems. But Hive’s nihilistic communiqués argue that humanity is doomed, and that we goddamn deserve it, too. The band’s second misanthropic full-length, Most Vicious Animal, is an aptly rabid release that certainly lives up to its name—this is unforgivingly brutal, both musically and thematically. But, of course, the more contempt for humanity that Hive express, the more cathartic music they leave in their wake. Meaning there are plenty of positives to mine from Hive’s intensely negative-sounding noise.
Hive’s hostile music runs the gamut from crude crust to towering metallic hardcore, with plenty of sonic references to Scandi scumbags and US influences. Recorded over 2 days and mixed raw and bloody to capture the band’s gut-felt strengths, Most Vicious Animal feels as palpably vitriolic as Hive’s message. Sometimes, we need to embrace the pain in order to purge all the pus. Hive get that, and more.
Apedreado – Demo 2019
Fuckin’ Lovers – City Hippies
Urin – Incydent
Frenzy – S/T
Noise punk is intentionally obnoxious, favoring whiplashing mayhem over structure or order. That’s exactly what awaits you on Apedreado’s Demo 2019 and Fuckin’ Lovers’ 7-track City Hippies release. Both bands take a leaf out of Confuse’s book of incendiary shitnoise and add a heap of back-alley nastiness into the mix as well. In nominal terms, all the blown-out pandemonium emanating from Demo 2019 and City Hippies is ‘music,’ but both releases are also hellishly raw, and their nerve-shredding innards are awash with static dunked in boiling vats of impenetrable distortion. Highly recommended, obviously.
Berlin raw punks Urin hurl Shitlickers’ obnoxiousness at Disclose’s wall-of-noise madness on their Incydent EP. The band’s lo-fi hardcore reeks of authenticity, which has been given a little extra help from Tokyo’s famed Noise Room studios. See within for an ultra-harsh maelstrom that’s as calm and comforting as bloody nails on a chalkboard.
Frenzy’s full-length debut has been a long time coming, and the good news for eager fans is that the band’s self-titled release is as ferocious and as fun as you could hope for. The likes of Disorder and Chaos UK play inspirational roles here, and Frenzy throw in limitless off-the-chain energy and plenty of short, sharp, sky-rocketing solos as they tear through 12 (ear-piercing) songs in 16 (nose-bleeding) minutes.
Ojo Por Ojo – Revienta la Madrugada
Malcría – El Reino de lo Falso
Soga – S/T
I live a gazillion miles from Mexico’s sunny shores, but I do my best to keep an ear out for raw Mexican hardcore because it frequently illustrates such viscerally evocative scenes. Case in point: the three Mexico City-based trios below.
Ojo Por Ojo’s 2018 self-titled debut tackled the crime, corruption, and violence the band witnessed on a daily basis. (FYI: Ojo Por Ojo’s debut is also one of my favorite Latino punk albums ever.) The band’s recent Revienta la Madrugada EP dives right back into the filth and fear, with more brute-force realism—and necropunk imaginings—backed by primitive albeit pulverizing hardcore.
Malcría’s urgent El Reino de lo Falso MLP also scours the grim and grisly underbelly of their hometown. Cranium-cracking riffs and scalding feedback mix with destroyed vocals on ripping tracks. Dark. Distorted. Deranged. And infectious AF. Well worth checking out.
Soga’s self-titled demo was originally released in 2018, but label Iron Lung has recently released a sonically upgraded / remastered version on MLP. Soga’s aural palette is serrated and scrappy, and their debut is chock-a-block with abrasive hardcore that whizzes by with plenty of velocity and vitality.
Exit Fear – Deathnote EP
Auckland, New Zealand three-piece Exit Fear have pointed to bands like Cursed and His Hero Is Gone as creative influences, and you can hear that in their similarly determined songwriting. The band features members who’ve played in some other great NZ punk groups—including the almighty Shitripper—and Exit Fear’s second EP, Deathnote, features three action-packed bursts of crusty hardcore and grinding crustcore. Singer Dorian Noval’s volcanic vocals play a key role on “Little Mermaid,” “Deathnote” and “Seymour Butts,” which isn’t to diminish the feverishly unhinged instrumentation that Brogan May (drums) and Aidan McDonald (guitars) provide. Exit Fear keep things lean and mean—for maximum impact—just like they did on debut EP 1. Manic singing + pounding percussion + scything guitar: a simple but goddamn effective and energizing recipe.
Nightmare – Thirsty and Wander
No one makes stampeding punk quite like Japanese punk bands: see long-running Osaka hardcore act Nightmare. The band’s Give Notice of Nightmare album was an instant classic of second-wave Japanese hardcore, and a couple of decades down the line, Nightmare are still going strong. Their recent Thirsty and Wander LP exhibits plenty of punishing and propulsive power, with throat-scouring vocals, rampaging riffs, and concussive bass and percussion all contributing to the adrenalized onslaught. Nightmare ratchet up their cacophonous “hardcore trash attack” to 11, and then keep on pushing past the red line into ever-increasing realms of intensity. Ka(f’in)boom.
Röntgen – Inhale Death
Hospitalet – S/T
Röntgen and Hospitalet’s respective releases are out via New Mexico label Blown Out Media, who recently released Project GBG’s excellent / deafening 7″ demo (see In Crust We Trust: Vol 6.) Phoenix-based Röntgen offer up a reverb-heavy stew of squalid, primordial noise on their Inhale Death 7″. Echo-maxed vocals wind around mangling guitars, and the ultra-crude ‘n’ coarse EP is pitch-perfect for lovers of horrible noise.
Speaking of which, Swedish trio Hospitalet know all about writing tunes that sound toxic enough to give you tetanus. The band features members from crust group Coma, who released a hammering self-titled album over a decade ago. However, Hospitalet deal in more sour / strident noise punk on their harsher-than-harsh self-titled EP.
Kaleidoscope – After the Futures
New York’s Kaleidoscope are the perfect band to point to if anyone says that hardcore all sounds the same. After the Futures is ripe with gnarled and gnarly riffs, but it’s also replete with strange swerves and darkly poetic deviations. Kaleidoscope have always been creatively adventurous—combining off-kilter hardcore with even more offbeat anarcho-punk—and After the Futures feels like the apex of that fusion. This LP features plenty of fast and frantic music, but it’s also artful, catchy as hell, and downright hypnotic in parts. Tune in for the frenzied attack; stick around for outré punk at its finest.
Osmantikos – Survival
Malaysian band Osmantikos describe their sound as “hypertension crustcore,” which is a perfect fit for me and my record high blood pressure readings. Osmantikos’ Survival album is a truly international effort, with a host of punk labels releasing the LP: see Czech Republic label Phobia Records, Swedish label Not Enough Records, US label SPHC, Japanese label Too Circle Records, and more. It’s easy to see why everyone got involved, too. Osmantikos’ crustcore is sturdily built, but still welcomingly unvarnished, with pounding tracks powered by whirlwind aggression and plenty of animated music. Osmantikos have released half a dozen recordings, including a split with Canadian raw punk legends Absolut, and Survival is easily the band’s best and burliest release yet.
Kürøishi – Sound the Alarm
Coelacanth – “You Deny” and “Mistakes”
Purgä – S/T
Pesadez – Realidad de la Perversión Humana: Una Mirada al Reino de la Muerte
I like to finish every volume of In Crust We Trust with a quick nod to upcoming releases, or releases that I didn’t quite catch in time but didn’t want to leave behind. Sound the Alarm falls into the former category. The upcoming album from Finnish band Kürøishi looks likely to be another powerhouse release. The band’s 2017 album, Poverty.Ignorance.Greed.Slavery, was very well-received, and Sound the Alarm’s pre-release tracks point to more strapping, metal-edged crust with as much d-beat action as melodic momentum.
Also on the horizon is the (as yet untitled LP) debut from subterranean punk / metal band Coelacanth. The group slam trampling death metal into sledgehammering stenchcore, and the two hulking tracks streaming on Coelacanth’s Bandcamp page—”You Deny” and “Mistakes”—sound like Bolt Thrower locked in deadly combat with Skaven. I’m VERY MUCH looking forward to hearing more from Coelacanth.
The debut demo from New York Latino punxs Purgä is abrasive enough to strip skin from bone. You get eight caustic tracks in 7 scorching minutes, with vocals and instrumentation drowning in a reverb-choked vortex. The first EP from Costa Rican raw punk trio Pesadez is also a dissonant nightmare. Realidad de la Perversión Humana: Una Mirada al Reino de la Muerte sees Pesadez dial up the disorder, disarray, and distortion to eyeball-melting degrees. Pesadez and Purgä’s music is definitely a challenge, but that’s also the point. To hell with songs; embrace the chaos, right?