REVIEWS

The music....

ACTIVE SLAUGHTER  - Set the World Alight? LP - Grow Your Own
I have come to expect quality from Grow Your Own records and with this release they have really excelled themselves. Full colour, wrap around sleeve, great artwork, booklet (all printed and constructed by hand) and wonderful orange splattered vinyl meant I loved this release before I’d even heard the music; thankfully Active Slaughter deliver a stunning album of hard hitting, powerful, yet melodic punk rock. The driving music is the perfect vehicle for the lyrics, and with the human race seemingly set on a path of cruelty and self destruction they have plenty of ammunition for their fury, so capitalism, animal cruelty and the media’s normalising of the far right are just three subjects they get their teeth into; I particularly like ‘My Foot In Your Mouth’ about the senseless slaughter of farm animals for no other reason than the foot and mouth epidemic would harm profits, even though the animals could have been treated. There is so much to love about this release, and I have it on repeat here at the moment.
Grow Your Own (Tony)

F EMASCULATA - Take Me Home - Various
X-Files-core, is that a thing? It might well be now as F Emasculata come storming out of Cornwall with 25 tracks (this has their previous two EPs as well) of X-Files worship and blazing hardcore. The fast bits will knock your socks off with a straight ahead attack reminding me of F-Minus; then there’s the slower, heavier stuff that pummels you in the face while sounding like a mean fusion of Nirvana and someone like L7. I used to watch the X-Files, I would even say I enjoyed the show for several series, but I can’t claim to be an expert, so I had to look up their name (The F. Emasculata is a parasitoid, a bug that carries a parasite. In this case, a deadly parasite that attacks the immune system), and I have to admit that I don’t get all the song title references; but that doesn't matter, you can enjoy this even if you have never seen the X-Files, you’ll be able to get into the raging music and enjoy the rasping vocal attack. I love the music, and I even like the idea of a band dedicating themselves to a TV show, and now I kind of want to go back and watch those old X-Files episodes. If you haven’t heard F Emasculata yet, then do yourselves a favour because they are pretty great.
F Emasculata (Tony)

THE FLEAS - A Flea In Your Ear 10” - Grow Your Own
I have always liked the 10” EP format, and with this being on colour vinyl it’s on to a winner before I’ve even listened to it. Luckily, The Fleas deliver 11 brash, outspoken punk rock gems, so I can enjoy the music as well as the format. I like that the guitar is not too distorted and that their stripped back, straight ahead approach gives these songs a real exuberance that always makes for the best punk songs; there’s also a snarling attitude about the band providing a bit of a “fuck you” edge too. Several times I’m left thinking of Action Pact, and once or twice even Hagar The Womb, but both those bands have always been amongst my favourites, so that’s all good with me. Lyrically they pull no punches, and why should they? This is a great release.
Grow Your Own (Tony)

HORSEFLIES - Lucidity - Brutalist 
I guess it’s no secret that although I like many of the myriad styles that huddle under the punk rock umbrella, it is the short, fast, raw blasts of energy that I truly favour. But, throughout my 40 plus years of listening to records there have been bands along the way who produce something a little more complex yet get inside my head and are always there when I wan’t to listen to something that isn’t over in 30 seconds; Horseflies are one of those bands. They weave sounds and styles, their music is sharp and at times intricate, but they always pack punch. I hear bits of Fugazi, some later Siouxsie & The Banshees, a bit of Gang Of Four and it’s all filtered through a DIY hardcore punk rock filter of their very own; it captivates me and fills my heart with joy as well as producing moments where I want to punch the air and scream into the emptiness. There are five songs on this EP, and though they may twist and turn, they are also driven and powerful, and Joe’s vocals are just perfect. ‘Denial’, the closing track, is a perfect example in that it starts off with a nice swirling synth and picked guitar and then, just before the minute mark, it explodes with thumping drums and driving bass and I have to put my tea down and play air drums until the song ends; this song is giving me goosebumps it’s so good. The talent these four have blows my mind, they should be everyone’s favourite band. They also need to stop playing on nights when I can’t get along to see them; the twice I have caught them have proved that they are also a formidable live band, and I need to see them more. ‘Lucidity’ is out on a limited run cassette, but head over to their bandcamp page and get this downloaded. I cannot stop playing this.
Horesflies (Tony)

THE MENSTRUAL CRAMPS - Free Bleedin’ LP - Grow Your Own
Wow! That was my reaction when I first played this, it’s a stunning album. The Menstrual Cramps don’t take any prisoners; they are political, outspoken, uncompromising, in your face and totally brilliant. Musically there are plenty of tunes, plenty of energy, and a stack load of attitude. This is how punk rock should be, no sitting on the fence, no pandering to the mainstream, just unapologetic, well directed anger and fustration. When you’re calling out bigots, Tories, misogynists, multinational companies etc, it’s nice to be able to do it with a sing-along song, and that’s what you’ll find here, plenty of them, and in these desperate times we need songs like these, we need bands like The Menstrual Cramps. Call it riot grrrl, call it anarcho punk, call it what you like, I’m calling it one of the best punk albums to come from the UK.
Grow Your Own (Tony)

PANDEMIX - In Condemnation LP - Boss Tuneage
In 2017 Boss Tuneage brought us the wonderful ‘Scale Models Of Atrocities’, but with ‘In Condemnation’ Pandemix prove they were no flash in the pan, in fact they have delivered a record that is a step up in quality. The songs are driven along by crashing drums and a great guitar sound, and are intense and captivating and irresistible. Lyrically they approach the worlds problems from a personal is political perspective and Shannon’s vocals are really distinctive and powerful. Musical influences are harder to pin down, but I can hear that 40 years of punk rock have left their mark, with elements of late ‘70s punk, early ‘80s anarcho and also the hardcore sound that fed from both those eras. There isn’t really anyone else who sound like this, and so Pandemix sound fresh, exciting and like the best band you’ve ever heard. It’s only February, but I can see this album being included in many an end of year top ten list; and in many years time it may be remembered as one of the great punk rock albums.
Boss Tuneage (Tony)

PIZZA TRAMP / THE DOMESTICS – Discipline 5" – Kibou, Mangel Wax, TNS, Punke Bjartes, Sick World
Your favourite friendly neighbourhood cheeky chappies and ner-do-wells have teamed up for this little gem of a 5” and it is a belter! 3 songs each side in under a minute make this a must for me and my terminal attention span deficit, and I was not disappointed. Each band has definitely bought their A game and crowbarred as much velocity and lairyness as is possible in such as brief space. Both sides hit the ground running like a runaway train full of hyperactive toddlers in full sugar-rush temper tantrum and the whole thing has a sense of urgency which reminds me very much of The Ergs Thrash Compactor 7”. There are tunes a-plenty and riffs to knock your socks off, but just very quickly. What makes it work so well is that these are fully formed songs, not just You Suffer but Why style knees to the groin. There are even Hardcore type breakdowns - as if there were all the time in the world before the needle skitters across the centre label (Pizza Tramp’s 'I’d do normal things and have normal hobbies like normal people but it’s all just so fucking boring', and The Domestics 'Shopping'). Pizza Tramp (as ever) win the award for the most ridiculous song titles, all of which you are still in the middle of reading when the song ends! –  'Went on a double funded Kickstarter holiday to the United States of America and all I  bought back was this shitty fucking album' for example – and Jimbob’s vocals are as wasted and warped as ever. The Domestics (also as ever) leave you in no doubt that they need a serious word with you and you are going to listen! With a more distorted and acerbic D-beat sound and a fist full of fuck offs! 'Fucking die' is a particular favourite. If you have 2 minutes to spare this little Frisbee is a stonker. I’m bored now. Things to do!!
TNS (Alan)

PIZZA TRAMP - Grand Relapse - TNS
Pizza Tramp seem to be an unstoppable force at the moment, and I am happy to go along for the ride. Live they are fast, funny as fuck and always leave you with a stupid grin on your face. Thankfully, on record they are just as shit-hot, seemingly masters of capturing that live energy in the studio, and ‘Grand Relapse’ doesn’t disappoint with 15 tracks of their blistering, irreverent punk rock mayhem. They may be a twisted vision of what the Toy Dolls would have been like if they’d grown up listening to thrash and getting wasted, but there is more to them than that, and they do have some more serious things to say, although they say it more bluntly than most, for instance ‘Stop Being A Racist Cunt’ which, as well as being a great song, is just plain common sense. This album does sound exactly as you’d expect a new Pizza Tramp record to sound, but it’s all the better for it; they do this so well I just want more, and more, and more. They must be one of the most entertaining bands around, and they are as comfortable playing big shitty venues at Rebellion as they are playing tiny pubs in a shitty town like Southampton. So grab this album, go and see them live and enjoy one of the best bands around.
TNS (Tony)

TORSO - Build & Break 7” - Revelation
It’s been years since I bought anything on Revelation, but then I guess they haven’t released anything as great as Torso for years. I have loved this band since their demo appeared on-line; I then bought the ‘Community Psychosis’ 7” and one-sided 12”, the ‘Sono Pronta a Morire’ album and now this, which could be the best thing they’ve don eso far. Having Keith playing guitar there is the odd bit that has similarity to Punch, but Torso deliver a more straight ahead hardcore attack, raging fast d-beat and powerful breakdowns. Ethan’s vocals are anguished rants, about coping with the world and the people in it, are spat out with an angry venom. Apparently this was tracked live to tape, and I guess thats why it sounds so urgent and vibrant; the band manage to be as tight a fuck without jeopardising any of the energy or power. Definitely one of my favourite bands around at the moment. I hope they come back to the UK as I missed them last time.
Torso (Tony)

VAASKA - Inocentes Condenados 7” - Beach Impediment
After three years Vaaska fight back with a new 7”EP. These Spanish speaking Texans have lost none of their impact, and deliver six songs that really capture the intensity and power of those early Discharge singles. I may not be able to easily understand what they are shouting about, but you can feel their anger and frustration pouring out of this record. I’ve liked all of Vaaska’s releases, but this could well be their best yet. The stark black and white sleeve images evokes memories of a time when the world was in the grip of cruel governments and escalating military build up, and rampant right-wing governments in the US and UK created misery for their own populations. The more things change the more they stay the same; thankfully that brings out the best in punk and Vaaska don’t disappoint. Fast, furious and fucking great.
Beach Impediment (Tony)

X-CRETAS - 2nd Demo 10” - Grow Your Own
This is a re-release of the X-Cretas second demo, originally released in 1982. The band were from Kent, were only around for about three years and didn’t do much more than a couple of demos, but on the evidence of this they were a match for many of the bands that inexplicably became household names. Although they were short lived, members of the band did also play in Active Slaughter, Bug Central, Anthrax and AntiSect. Grow Your Own have put this out as part of their 10” series, the vinyl is a lovely shade of blue and there are the usual touches of quality we’ve come to expect from GYO. This is a real snapshot of a short period of time in UK punk history, and is very listenable with a couple of songs giving a real nod to bands like Anthrax.
Grow Your Own (Tony)

VARIOUS - Hardkore Dokument UK 7” - Kibou, TNS etc
Six bands, six tracks one great EP. All the songs are appearing on vinyl for the first time and there are some real corkers here; in the case of Grand Collapse, this is my favourite song of theirs I’ve herd yet. Other bands are The Domestics, Pizza Tramp, Guilt Police, Rash Decision and Wolfbeast Destroyer. This is a great little snapshot of what’s going on in the UK at the moment, and what these bands offer on their own releases: they all have their own approach, there is an intensity that ties them all together. A cool multi label release too. I love the co-operation that exists between these bands and these labels. Thumbs up all round.
Kibou (Tony)

VARIOUS - No One’s Little Girls (International Woman’s Day Compilation 2019) LP - Grow Your Own
Are Grow Your Own Records the most punk label around? With a faultless catalogue, and brilliant (and DIY) packaging there aren’t many better. This compilation just enhances their credentials; it’s a compilation to celebrate the explosion of talented women in bands for International Women’s Day 2019, with all profits going to grassroots women’s charities. As with the best compilations, this features bands I already love, and bands I now want to hear more from with quite an eclectic mix of sounds, from straight up punk, to melodic poppy tunes, acoustic songs, and more. It all works, and flows so that despite the different sounds, it feels connected and songs like ‘Victory’ by The Black Death and ‘Empathy’ by Calico don’t seem out of place between the melodic punk tunes of Wearcats and the raw greatness of Baratkus. Combat Shock and Hagar The Womb both deliver great songs, and The Menstrual Cramps’ ‘No Means No’ should be part of the school curriculum. This certainly is a fitting celebration of the current crop of talent, and what’s also great is I can think of several other bands would also not have been out of place on here; this a perfect companion to Static Shock’s ‘Raise Your Voice Joyce” compilation from last year. By now you will expect the packaging to be great, and GYO do not disappoint, once again showing how much care and attention goes onto their releases. This is such great record.
Grow Your Own (Tony)

...The Message


1 comment:

  1. You're a punk or you're not. If you are a punk, you keep in touch by buying this zine EVERY time it is issued. Otherwise enjoy Blink 182!

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