THE WIRMS – Dig These Four Songs With The Wirms EP

Self confessed “manic punk” duo The Wirms hail from the Ozark region of the US. To the outsider, that might not seem like the very epicentre of punk, but back in the 90s, the Ozarks spawned it’s own underground scene. [The DIY nature of punk always allows for scenes to spring up anywhere. Aberdeen, WA is in the middle of nowhere…and just look what happened there!]

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BRUTAL YOUTH – Sanguine

Hailing from Toronto (via St. Johns, Newfoundland), Brutal Youth have shared stages with Sick of It All, Descendents and old-school UK shouters Cock Sparrer. This third release – mixed by the legendary Mass Giorgini – captures their aggressive and insanely focused sound on a studio disc without losing too much of the intensity you’d expect from a great live set. With a sound that fuses hardcore roots with a touch of skate punk, then combines that with a distinctly Canadian edge – as per Propagandhi and Ste. Catherines – ‘Sanguine’ is one hell of a punk record.

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NATTERERS – Toxic Care EP

Hardcore punk has existed in many forms over the years, from the straight edge to the crusty to having deep roots in subgenres like grindcore. Despite variations, it’s often at its best when played absolutely straight. For lovers of traditional hardcore, this debut EP from Natterers immediately sets the band out as one to watch. Although only their first proper release, this EP shows a huge professionalism, not only in the way the songs are crafted, but also the way they’ve recorded. This EP retains a DIY ethic without sounding like it has been recorded in a shed.

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FIREWALKER – Firewalker

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.

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EDxKEMPER – Cut Her Head And Love Her

edxkemperBack 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.

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