When Firewalker plug their debut release as “hardcore”, the four piece band from Boston means it in every sense. With numbers ranging from metallic crossover arrangements to an extreme crust-punk assault, the fierce sounds they make aren’t always about hooks; the band’s sound should be viewed as a blistering attack, driven by buzzsaw guitar lines and husky vocal growls. Looking at the bigger picture though, there’s enough variety within their material to suggest they’re about more than hashing out old grindcore and crust influences and considering that a job well done.
Back in 1986 when the seeds of grindcore were sown, it seemed to take extreme music to a whole new level. Often with a raw sound and fairly low budget, the fusion of extreme thrash metal and blistering punk sounds in the hands of bands like Napalm Death and Extreme Noise Terror created something almost beyond music – a form of short and sharp brutality that was utterly visceral. For something that seemed so niche, grindcore flourished with scenes popping up all over the globe. With bands like NAILS keeping it alive in the twenty first century, almost thirty years on from Napalm Death’s genre-defining ‘Scum’, it couldn’t just be written off as a novelty.
Greek grinders EDxKEMPER are absolutely devastating on their 2016 release ‘Cut Her Head and Love Her’, as they mix the brief bursts of noise from those genre pioneers with more of a crust punk aspect and some extreme metal heaviness for good measure. What’s perhaps most impressive here – without anything resembling actual songs – are the production values. Whereas you might expect something of this nature to hang on to some fairly primitive origins – much in the way an early Crass record could be seen as a snapshot of an afternoon – the production/mix on this disc is stunning.
Released in May 2015, Anxiety Junkies’ debut album ‘Self Sabotage’ was a low budget but well accomplished foray into hardcore punk, presenting a bunch of short and sharp tunes that really drove home the band’s DIY leanings. Barely a month after release, drummer Alex moonlighted with Forced Entry, giving an insight into how – although miles from DC, New York and other places readily associated with hardcore – Georgia, too, had its own burgeoning scene. Exactly one year on from ‘Self Sabotage‘, the Junkies made a full return with ‘Gentrified Homicide’, an angry politically charged release that takes in a few more influences than before.
Angry Snowmans are potentially the funniest thing to emerge on the punk scene since Butt Trumpet released their debut LP in the mid 90s. This Victoria, BC based band have been dropping festive EP releases with tunes satirising Poison Idea, Adolescents and The Germs and reworking familiar punk tunes for yuletide amusement since 2008. There has been much to enjoy, but their twisting of Buzzcocks ‘Orgasm Addict’ into an ode to the Toblerone was particularly inspired. You’d think they’d have run out of steam after six years – let’s face it, most of Me First & The Gimme Gimmes stuff after album three is either pretty shoddy or just plain tired – but the Angry Snowmans’ 2015 release ‘What Makes An Elf Build Toys?’ could be their one of their best yet. While Brian Setzer is the undisputed crowd-pleaser when it comes to snow, sleigh bells, guitars and all-round xmas jollity, your holidays aren’t complete without this.
The state of Georgia, USA: while home to REM, Indigo Girls, Baroness, The Allman Brothers, Sevendust and countless other bands, it’s not always the first place that comes to mind when you think of hardcore punk. However, by the mid ’10s, Atlanta had forged itself a fairly sizable underground scene. In Savannah, one of a few circles of hardcore bands can be found as part of a very close-knit community. Anxiety Junkies released their first full length to high praise from DIY punk blogs and the like, as well as playing regular live shows. As part of the Savannah crowd, Forced Entry could also be discovered making noise on a minuscule budget. Bringing together ex-members of Sauna Heat and Gym Shorts, their debut cassette – appropriately titled ‘CS’ – captures approximately fifteen minutes of pure fury.