Bringing together a few familiar faces from the punk/hardcore scene, Seized Up are a supergroup of sorts. Drummer Andy Granelli was previously a member of Nerve Agents, but reached a far bigger audience when he played on The Distillers’ best selling ‘Coral Fang’ album in 2003; bassist Chuck Platt will be known to a lot of punk fans through his associations with Good Riddance, and vocalist Clifford Densmore is the vocalist with hardcore band Bl’ast. Together, they sound greater than the sum of their parts. On their 2020 debut ‘Brace Yourself’, the combination of pure hardcore blasts (‘Human Locusts’, ‘Older And Wiser’) complimented the more drawn out anger of tracks like ‘Shadow Panther’ to showcase the kind of band that, not only sounded truly comfortable in their new configuration, but more than able to bring a classic hardcore sound up to date if necessary.
Taking cues from the classic hardcore sounds of Ignite and the metallic edge of Cancer Bats, Choices Made deliver a world of fantastic riffs on their third EP ‘Reason For Conflict’. It’s half dozen tracks showcase some superb musicians throughout, and the short and sharp EP format actually helps the band’s pointed messages of unity seem even more forceful.
Following a couple of DIY recordings, UK hardcore/noise punk duo Get The Fuck Outta Dodge turned their hand to the covers album. ‘These Songs Aren’t Ours’ brought an equal mix of punky chaos and fun when James (bass/shouting) and Ren (drums/more shouting) hammered their way through the expected (tunes by Black Flag, Misfits and Rollins Band), to the inspired (a fuzz heavy version of The Cure’s ‘Screw’) to the joyous and bizarre (hardcore reworkings of tunes by the oft forgotten Whale and 80s pop stars Fuzzbox). It showed why a covers album need not be lazy or uninspired. After what felt like about thirty six hours, the never resting duo returned with a new EP, proving their minimalist hardcore had a lot more to give, before ending the year with another full-length. At the point you’d expect their drums/bass/shouting approach to be wearing thin, ‘Buzzkill’ actually presented GTFOD at their most visceral on one of the best releases of 2020.
Four months later, the duo released a second onslaught of cover tunes, ‘These Songs Still Aren’t Ours’, which very much follows the same pattern as their first covers release. Nothing is off limits; everything is subjected to a barrage of distortion, and as before, their choice of material is both classic and off-piste. With twenty two tracks filling a strictly limited cassette, it really gives fans a lot to enjoy.
Following a couple of hugely unsubtle singles (the hardcore rant ‘Fuck Cyclists’ and the Rose Tattoo meets Hard-Ons rocker‘It’s Too Late’), Aussie punks The Owen Guns unleashed a furiously angry six track EP in the summer of 2020. It was everything the previous singles suggested it would be: brash, crass and – most importantly – loaded with massive hard rock/hardcore punk crossover riffs. The band’s furious verbal attack on the then US president (‘The Ballad of Cheeto Hitler’) even outdid most of their lyrical assaults. In a little over ten minutes, the relentless haranguing that drove the bulk of ‘Violating Community Standards’ set The Owen Guns in place as a band you just wouldn’t – and probably shouldn’t – argue with.
A new band for 2021, Herzschlager capture a brilliant hardcore sound where the speed and bowel rattling elements of crustpunk collide with the crunch of classic hardcore, and the aggressive side of bands like Cancer Bats battles against a few early Machine Head-ish breakdowns. It isn’t exactly the kind of thing you’d expect from two members of Allfather – one of the UK’s best extreme metal acts – but, then again, what are side projects for, if not an excuse to branch out and experiment?