Death Pill’s self titled debut album instantly became one of the best records of 2023. On that release, the Ukranian hardcore punks not only proved they could share riffs that were every bit the equal of the pioneering American scene back in 1979/80, but also showed off a great ability to temper their punk with occasional swathes of metal. Packed with a world of absolutely brutal riffs, it set the band out as one of the greatest arrivals on the punk scene since Natterers issued their uncompromising demo flexi in 2016. Since Shooting Daggers made almost as much of a striking impression on their ‘Manic Pixie Dream’ EP in 2021, the bands are a very natural pairing for a split 7”, and this release from the New Heavy Sounds label does not disappoint.
Back in February 2023, Ukranian punk band Death Pill released their debut album. It was – and remains – absolutely terrific. It’s short playing time and sharp sound meant there was little room for filler and no time for boredom to set in. In short, it was an instant classic, and in terms of modern hardcore, up there with the best work by Natterers.
Combining elements of hardcore punk, classic thrash metal, a little crust/d-beat intensity and the attitude of the Riot Grrrl movement of the 90s, Death Pill are genuine musical force. Throughout this debut full length, the Ukrainian three piece appear musically diverse, and although the way they jump between hardcore punk and thrash-based metal might sometimes seem as if they’re splitting loyalties between two audiences, in reality, their sound is a perfect crossover.
Blacklab’s debut album ‘Under The Strawberry Moons’ was – and remains – a brilliantly intense listen. By taking classic stoner and doom riffs and layering them with distortion, the noise making duo hit upon a sound that fused elements of Acid King and Boris with the ugly sonic textures of Melvins. By then layering that with extra distortion and adding a semi-detached, distinctly Japanese vocal, the album became bigger than the sum of its parts; a sludgy yet strangely alluring listen that really raised the bar for massive, dark – and sometimes ugly – riffs.
Their follow up, 2020’s ‘Abyss’, flaunted a slightly different guitar tone in places, but didn’t skim on the intensity. In toning down the bass in more than a few places, it actually made Blacklab seem even more uncompromising as they continued to wheel out their massive slabs of distortion. Also by cranking the speed in a couple of places (as with ‘Forked Road’, one of the record’s stand out tracks), it showed the band as being capable of tackling some seriously intense garage punk, which provided a superb counterpart to their doom laden core.
Describing themselves as a queercore/feminist hardcore band and taking huge cues from the 90s riot grrrl movement and classic hardcore, Shooting Daggers pull no punches. Initially, their work seems to present something of a sidestep for the New Heavy Sounds label, whose main stock has previously tended to veer towards the doomy, but it really doesn’t take long to realise why they’ve signed this act. On this two track release, their riffs are massively intense; their personal views are as direct and important as the riffs themselves and the messages cannot be – and should not be – ignored. This is a burst of pure, necessary anger; a release that ups the ante for the style, and for the UK hardcore scene as a whole.