Kia ora, comrades. Welcome to In Crust We Trust: Vol 19. Apologies for skipping last month’s edition—I was busy enjoying my annual mental health meltdown, which required fistfuls of Seroquel and a nice long lie-down to wrestle under control. You’ll be pleased to know my recent bout of instability hasn’t compromised my discerning ear. The truth is, happy, sad, or mad as a cut snake, I’ve always had fucking terrible taste in music. Lol.
I think talking openly about mental illness, even when you’re ostensibly writing about noisy music, is crucial for reducing its stigma. But it’s also an entirely pertinent topic when you’re writing about punk rock. One of punk’s finest attributes is that it’s always spoken honestly about a raft of traumatic issues. Punk has long recognized that healing a wound sometimes means you have to drag it into the light.
Obviously, my psychological hiccups pale in comparison to the countless life-shattering events the current pandemic has wrought. If you’re struggling with health, emotional, or financial difficulties, there’s plenty of horrible noise below to help blast your worries away. Sure, none of it will cure your ills, as such. But we all know deafening music is an invaluable therapeutic.
Below you’ll find a round-up of half a dozen recent demos that caught my ear. Plus, there are a few more albums to add to your list of 2020’s rowdiest punk/metal releases (see the head-splitting debut from this month’s cover stars, Nightmare Fuel, for a start). Keep an eye out for new releases from Bootlicker, Genöme, and Lái over the next few weeks. Hopefully, I’ll feature them in the next edition of ICWT.
As always, thanks for tuning in and showing a steadfast devotion to ear-fucking music. It means a lot to me that you’re reading these words. Stay safe. Be well. Enjoy the noise!
Nightmare Fuel – A Vaccination for the Social Plague
A Vaccination for the Social Plague is the thundering full-length debut from apocalyptic prophets Nightmare Fuel. The PNW-based band’s first album picks the filthy scab off myriad hostilities and captures the teeth-grinding anxieties of this wretched point in human history exceptionally well. That said, while Nightmare Fuel’s scathing lyrics and monstrous music paint grim scenes, the band’s heavyweight crust also casts out demons and offers liberation through a mountain of negative noise.
Nightmare Fuel mix crust-coated death metal into a rancid stew of stenchcore, raw punk, d-beat, and noxious hardcore. Everything here reeks of decay, and tracks like “Domestic Isolation Ward,” “Doomsday Welcoming Committee,” and “Heedless Ghost” will fit the bill for fans of neck-wrecking crusties like Doom, Misery, Visions of War, or Italian behemoth Cancer Spreading.
Lengthier tracks like “You Are the Reason,” “Cut the Rope,” and “Abominable Blanket of Hope” feature bruising neocrust roiling in their darkened depths, which something fans of Nux Vomica or Tragedy will clearly enjoy. Admittedly, I’m referencing a lot of other bands beside Nightmare Fuel. But that’s only to reinforce the point that, much like Stormcrow and Sanctum’s rightly revered split LP, Nightmare Fuel’s genre-melding methodology would appeal to a broad swathe of punk and metal fans.
A Vaccination for the Social Plague features plenty of concussive heaviness, with Nightmare Fuel’s belligerent tracks backed by a full-strength production and a barreling momentum. Nightmare Fuel provide much-needed catharsis in troubled times. Sure, A Vaccination for the Social Plague is bitter and abrasive. But its hard-driving songs will bolster your resolve as the pale blue dot we inhabit spirals ever closer to self-destruction. HIGHLY recommended.
The Passing – S/T
Los Angeles four-piece The Passing released a fantastic (and über-corrosive) demo back in 2019. The band’s debut featured feedback-smashed d-beat awash with hissing static, and while the Passing’s recent self-titled EP is equally aggressive, the band’s new tracks are significantly burlier. Essentially, songs like “Condemned,” “Please Him,” and “Worthless Existence,” are less influenced by lo-fi raw punk, with their heavier riffs, bass, and percussion calling to mind harder-hitting Scandinavian bands like Wolfbrigade, Anti Cimex, or Skitsystem. Thankfully, beefing up The Passing’s tracks hasn’t dulled the band’s visceral edge. Vocalist Ian still barks like a beast as he explores the neverending array of issues blighting this reality. And while more metallic muscle amplifies The Passing’s sound, their new EP is still down-and-dirty, mixing piss-and-vinegar hardcore with paint-stripping d-beat.
PS: It’s great to see label Caligari Records releasing The Passing’s cranium-cracking new EP. The band certainly deserve to be exposed to a much larger pool of potential devotees.
Blockade – 5 Track EP
The members of Melbourne raw punk band Blockade hail from Canada, Aotearoa New Zealand, and good ol’ ‘Stralia, mate. The band’s new 5 Track EP is out via Western Australian label Televised Suicide, who’ve released some great stampeding crust recordings like Warcycle’s Legalised Onslaught 7″ and Territory’s colossal self-titled LP. Blockade specialize in astringent punk that sounds and feels like pissing razor blades. If the rawest pursuits of bands like Confuse or the Shitlickers appeal, you’ll be down with Blockade’s maelstrom mix of noise, crust, d-beat, and throat-shredding vocals. Everything here is as pleasant as having a rotten tooth extracted with a jackhammer. Complete chaos rules the roost, with Blockade delivering five violent tracks in less than 10 vile minutes. What’s not to love, amigos?
Krigshoder – Krig I Hodet
Krigshoder includes a few musicians plucked from bands on Los Angeles label Suck Blood’s roster (see Hate Preachers, Cruelty Bomb, etc) as well as a far-flung Norwegian collaborator. Suck Blood generally release sweltering recordings, and Krigshoder’s full-throttle EP, Krig I Hodet, definitely falls into that category. However, there’s also an icier Nordic vein running through tracks like “Kalde Kropper,” “Ett liv i Karantene,” and “Kaos & Depresjon.”
Krigshoder slice and dice several noxious punk subgenres, topping things off with a handful of studs and spikes. In the main though, their creative eye remains firmly fixed on frantic 80s hardcore. Pent-up anger and nervous energy explode on tracks filled with stabbing riffs and shout-along vocals. Think Anti Cimex, Kaaos, Mob 47, and 80s Norwegian punks Siste Dagers Helvete (who Krigshoder cover on Krig I Hodet via a red-hot retelling of Siste Dagers Helvete’s “Døde Helter”). Stripped of any fat, and armed to the teeth, Krigshoder’s galloping hardcore is also packed with wickedly sharp hooks.
Brainwave – The Decline
Soul Void – Public Degradation
Aotearoa New Zealand label Elimination Records has been fueled by a tenacious DIY drive since day one. The label’s latest releases include an EP from Pōneke (Wellington) five-piece Brainwave and a new live EP from Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) punk-adjacent death metallers Soul Void. Brainwave deal in metallic hardcore, and their recent EP, The Decline, features heavily-muscled tracks that’d make any Judiciary or Mindforce fan pound their chest with glee. Mastered by Arthur Rizk (Power Trip, Xibalba, etc), The Decline features thickset riffs and growling vocals with Brainwave’s focused line of attack delivering vitriolic tracks. Spin-kicking hardcore + stacks of heavyweight thrash = an excellent start for Brainwave.
Elimination Records released Soul Void’s powerful debut, Temple of Sin, late last year. The band’s hardcore-friendly death metal features a raft of aesthetic elements that’ll appeal to fans from both camps. (Like a shared love of horror and sci-fi, and deep respect for bands like Dismember, Entombed, and Obituary.) Recorded in late July, Soul Void’s new EP, Public Degradation, sounds downright huge for a raw live recording. The EP’s buzzsaw riffs, anvil-heavy percussion, and gravel-gargling vocals have plenty of spine-crushing impact, and viscera-strewn numbers like “Summoned to Kill,” “Dismemberment Chamber,” and “Mauled to Death” are guaranteed to scratch your bloodthirsty death metal itch. 100% sledgehammering. And heavier than a charging T-Rex. Awesome stuff.
Oily Boys – Cro Memory Grin
Spoiler alert: Cro Memory Grin is phenomenal. The long-awaited full-length from Australian punks Oily Boys features 13 full-bore numbers constructed from roughhouse riffs and masses of pilled-up, tanked-up, and fists-flying attitude. Prowling tracks like “Headstone,” “Blue Batman,” and “My Sex Life” underscore that Oily Boys make pitch-perfect, knuckle-dragging hardcore. However, noise rock and all sorts of psychedelic stonk turn up on more anarchic (albeit still primordial) tracks like “GTrance,” “Lizard Scheme,” “Stick Him,” and “Heat Harmony.”
Wildly aberrant elements explode on Cro Memory Grin’s most intoxicating tracks. Every note, every utterance, and every percussive thwack is delivered with maximum live-wire intensity, and the sanity-shredding results plug right into your fight-or-flight brainpan. Oily Boys ooze as much offbeat creativity as they do pure brain-battering savagery, and Cro Memory Grin feels purpose-built for that lunatic lurking inside all of us. File alongside exhilarating and similarly eccentric Aussie punks Geld and Enzyme.
Rash – Hivemind
Released by DIY Denver label Convulse Records, Hivemind is the full-length debut from Chicago band Rash. Like all good quarrelsome hardcore LPs, Hivemind is volatile and ear-piercing. But there are also traces of experimentation embedded in some of Rash’s high-velocity tracks. In-your-face songs like “Beautiful World,” “FTT,” and “Breeding” are replete with tough-as-steel hardcore. But many of Hivemind‘s most exciting moments occur when Rash head off-piste.
Tracks like “Interlude,” “Down in a Hole,” and “Healing” are packed to the gunnels with aggression, but it’s their unexpected gyrations and undercurrents of densely packed noise that mark them as more unique. I don’t want to oversell Rash’s left-field explorations here, because, in the main, Hivemind is a pulverizing LP. That said, if Rash chose to explore a few more unorthodox pathways next time round, I wouldn’t complain a bit.
Besthöven / Disjawn – Split 7″
Dronez – Starving for War
There are a couple of releases from Philadelphia label Ryvvolte Records that I hold in very high regard: see Future Terror’s red-lining LP, Plague, and Alement’s awesome stenchcore EP, The Hunter. Recently, a couple of releases I hadn’t heard before popped up on Ryvvolte Records’ Bandcamp page, including a 7″ split featuring Besthöven and Disjawn, and a previously unreleased EP from defunct Philadelphia trio Dronez. (Fun fact: Ryvvolte Records was initially established in order to release Dronez’s music.)
Dronez’s Starving for War EP was recorded back in the summer of 2018 (… *long sigh* … ah, do you remember those pre-Armageddon days?). The EP was originally planned as 7″ release, but Dronez called a day before Starving for War hit the pressing plant. The band don’t muck about with subtleties or niceties, and Starving for War‘s pile-driving crust/d-beat downright convulses with intensity. Raw riffs and crashing percussion power breakneck tracks like “Petro Dollars” and the aptly red-hot “Burn / Fuck 45.” Dronez may be gone but their music still reminds us to never surrender to domination or discrimination. Play (((LOUD))) or go home, kidz.
Prolific one-man Brazilian band Besthöven has a discography as long as my list of regrets – i.e., fucking long. The band’s 7″ split with Philadelphia crusties Disjawn was released earlier this year and it features three Disclose-worshipping tracks from Besthöven, and three similar blasts of primitivism from Disjawn. Besthöven and Disjawn share a similarly pissed-off approach, a clear appreciation for dis-nightmare destruction, and a diehard commitment to serving up songs that are rawer than guzzling sewage. Crust and d-beat fans will lap this migraine-inducing shitnoise right up. Delicious.
B.P.S – Mentally Chained
Mentally Chained is the second demo from Canadian band B.P.S (aka Brain Pollution Syndrome). B.P.S caught my attention because the group shares members with Fragment – along with other ear-shattering groups – and Fragment’s blown-out raw punk and d-beat is wholly addictive. B.P.S’s demo is also compelling, but the band steer clear of raw punk, focusing on obnoxious hardcore with a strong nihilistic accent. Mentally Chained‘s cover art is provided by artist and musician Nicky Rat and, as usual, his much-loved xeroxed-zine graphics are aesthetically on-point, perfectly encapsulating the demo’s rough-hewn contents.
Ruined Age – Demo 2020
The 2020 demo from Los Angeles, California trio Ruined Age features gut-driven raw punk, d-beat, and ugly-ass hardcore. I’ve seen Ruined Age’s demo (which is out via label Tears on Black Leather) posted on numerous punk portals and on YouTube multiple times. Clearly, a lot of people are talking about Ruined Age’s debut, and there are good reasons for that. As their demo’s cover photo illustrates, Ruined Age’s tracks rain down like an artillery barrage. Destructive scenes are duly conjured, and the band’s dark riffs and gruff vocals leave plenty of wreckage in their wake. A damn promising initial bombardment.
Solvent – Demo 2020
Seattle raw punk band Solvent’s demo is about as calm and comforting as taking a long hot bath in a vat of boiling acid. The quartet’s extremely corrosive tracks whizz by blending eviscerating guitars with incandescent vocals. If you’re a fan of utterly unvarnished punk – and why wouldn’t you be, my friends? – there’s a lot to love right here. Solvent deliver a demo that ticks all the boxes when it comes to combining red-raw passion with even rawer instrumentation. Great stuff.
Degollada – 2020 Demo
Speaking of bleeding-raw pronouncements, the 2020 Demo from Argentinian band Degollada is a triumph of rough-and-ready punk. Word is, the band recorded their demo in the basement of a Buenos Aires bookshop with dilapidated gear and no kick pedal … and that sounds 100% accurate. Degollada’s violent paroxysms are as primitive as primitive gets, which only adds to their demo’s many fine attributes. As the band’s UK label La Vida Es Un Mus rightly points out, Degollada’s demo also features a guitar tone that most raw punk bands would kill to replicate. Check out Degollada’s Argentinian label, Corona Rx, if you’re hungry for more riotous outsider punk.
Repeat Offender – Demo 7″
Repeat Offender’s guttural demo features more Nicky Rat cover art that expertly captures what you’ll find within. Repeat Offender take the Negative Approach, Black Flag, and Negative FX route, with the band’s blunt/brutal hardcore buzzing with distortion and a little of Oi!’s bounding momentum. If you’re a fan of Violent Reaction, Arms Race, or Bootlicker, you’ll recognize (and likely revel) in the graveled tone, cut-throat vocals, and rough-edged melodies here. Get some, kid.
Taifun – Demo 2020
I originally saw War//Plague guitarist Andy Lefton post about Taifun’s demo on Facebook, and given War//Plague are a truly formidable band, I figured if Taifun’s demo impressed Lefton, I better check it out. Taifun are a German band, but they take a deep dive into Japanese hardcore’s depths. Side A of Taifun’s demo features four thrashing tracks that include a dash of G.I.S.M here and a dose of S.O.B., Effigy, or Axewield there. Side A is all scrappy and snarling fun. But side B of Taifun’s demo features a single 10-minute noisescape that’ll rattle your fillings and your nerves.