During the early 2000s, Belgium and Netherlands were kind like a Mecca for Euro hardcore. Bands like NO TURNING BACK or TRUE COLORS, just to name a few, were at their peak and, althought I guess that spirit still exists in all-time NTB audience considering their latest LP “Never Give Up” (released a few months ago on Take Control Records and Kick Out The Jams) and Gert Jacobs (TC) latest band NOT AFRAID, it seems in 2015, England has turned into the epicentre of European conscious punk music especially if, like your (French) servant, you’re into the whole current “concept” of UK Hardcore.
(NB: I’m not a geography teacher so forgive me if these bands do not actually cover the entire United Kingdom map like former punk bands in 1980s Finland for example).
First, I really can’t tell how much I love BLIND AUTHORITY’s first LP on Carry The Weight, a record which had just got back from press last week and I just can’t wait my man Nikolay from Ugly & Proud Records to receive it and send it to me in the next few weeks with other CTW releases I will deal with later. It’s called “Succumb To Violence”.
The entire record is just AWE-SOME.
As to me, a real hardcore record (and of course, a hardcore band) must be expeditious as hell. And this record definitly is. Not that everything must be done in ten minutes (we aren’t dealing with a live performance) but you need to be guided from A to Z where the band wants to lead you to. Let’s start with what seems to be the perfect beginning: the band’s name. “BLIND AUTHORITY”. BLIND – fucking – AUTHORITY. How can you be more hardcore than that? I’m really asking you. It’s an appeal to sedition. Can’t wait to read the lyrics of every song which follows this incredible moshing intro, which goes hand in hand with these really explicit pit battles in some Sheffield or Leeds venues you’ve already seen on YouTube, for example when BLIND AUTHORITY were opening for THE RIVAL MOB and MIND ERASER at the Broomhall Centre. “Succumb To Violence” definitly reminds me of an updated INFEST for teenage moshers with clean cuts and wearing sneakers.
Like everyone who’s reading this I guess, I was waiting for OBSTRUCT “Loss Of Blood” first LP with a lot of impatience first of all cause it’s been more than two years since their latest release (“No Life” EP on Northern Wisdom Records).
I have to certainly admit I give my preference to BLIND AUTHORITY’s record but what attracts me concerning OBSTRUCT is that their line-up consists of members of other blasting hardcore acts and supa cool bands such as SHRAPNEL, FADE (1st single “One With Serenity” on Neutral Words Recordings is for sure one of my favorite 2015 non-hardcore releases: guess it sounds like a really cool 90s indie/crossover), INSIST, SURVIVAL, UNJUST (three bands I know for sure everyone in the DxR crew loves them because each of us have mentionned them in a previous column, for example if I can speak for myself I can’t tell how much I appreciate SURVIVAL’s “Forged In Iron” 1st EP on Powered Records and New Instinct Records), ARMS RACE, THE FLEX, VIOLENT REACTION. As to me it’s really cool to realise that in less than fifteen minutes, a band featuring members of well known groups can release a first LP you won’t tell about something like “Well, it’s actually old hat”, you know what I mean… I think that concerning hardcore punk it’s a real challenge to reach this. And, actually, british bands are good at it!
Speaking of “evolution”, I guess I can right now deal with two English bands which really have retained my attention because of their huge sucess these last years, in particular with great American well known record labels such as Revelation or Lockin’ Out, you’ve already understand I was dealing with VIOLENT REACTION and THE FLEX, two bands which have released new materials in 2015.
When I first heard VIOLENT REACTION’s “Marchin On” I was kind like disappointed, I have to admit it. The files had been leaked on the Internet just before the record came out and I remember I’ve already seen Angela Owens’s signature-picture of that upcoming record on Revelation and I was like: “This pic’s so rad the record must definitly be awesome…”. So I downloaded the album after a rough day at the rehabilitation center I pretty much spent all my days from July 2014 to June 2015, listened to it during my shower and when I realized it lasted just the time I needed to clean myself I was like “Wuuuut? It’s already over??”. Disgusted, I didn’t listen to this record until this very moment I’m writing these lines and realising that, in fact, this record is the best tribute to NEGATIVE APPROACH I ever listened to (mixed with that incredible pit mayhem sound only British moshers are able to make – speaking of VIOLENT REACTION, a surprising cocktail of FLOORPUNCH and the 4-SKINS). I must have been in a deep hate mood when I think of the first time I listened to “Marchin On”…
THE FLEX come back this year with several releases on Milk Run Records, Bleeding Edges and Lockin’ Out Records. You must remember that their first full-length record on Video Disease Records and Milk Run Records was my favorite 2014 LP, thereby I think I can be the right guy from the DxR crew to judge the quality of “Don’t Bother With The Outside World” EP and “Flexual Healing Vol 5: Do You Think I’m Flexi?” 7″ (I haven’t heard “Flexual Healing Vol 4: Live At Flex House” cassette).
I really felt in love with “Wild Stabs In The Dark” LP’s raw sound. It sounds really brutal, kind like a pure mix of Boston/NYHC and UK82 (like DiE which is definitly one of my favorite current UKHC bands of course). Here is another challenge imposed to a band’s newest releases: do they have to keep that “sound identity” at the risk of being redundant and boring more or less a year after their excellent previous LP? Do they have to create something new which can be really risky? Anyway, you don’t need to ask yourself loads of question because what THE FLEX is simply amazing.
The first time I listened to “Don’t Bother With The Outside World” I realised that the mastering was a perfect combination of the raw side of THE FLEX (as heard in “Wild Stabs In The Dark” LP) and this Lockin Out bands touch, let’s say more hardcore than punk to be clear! “Carbon Copy” totally reflects that idea in my humble opinion, from the riffs to the lyrics: “Playing dress up, it’s all a game. No originality, it’s all the same […] It’s not about how high you can spike your hair. It was clear all along that you never cared […] What is real? Nothing you do?” Plus, that song has a strong SSD touch, which make it really cool. “Back For More” is clearly my favorite tune, and “Condemned” is definitly the pit battle this record deserved to end the show.
I really love the two songs featuring on THE FLEX latest flexi “Do You Think I’m Flexi?”, plus this really cool cover picture which shows to what extent how the lads do not take themselves too seriously. Anyway, THE FLEX is still one of my favorite English bands.
THE FLEX’s guitar player, Liam, also sings in PERSPEX FLESH (and plays the guitar in DiE – I’ve already dropped an interview with singer Luke a few months ago) which is another really cool band from Leeds. This year they have released a new 12″ EP on Static Shock Records called “Ordered Image”.
This is a really chaotic, noisy, dark and raw hardcore punk, something which definitly must be awesome on stage because I guess each musician must leave his guts here. It’s almost hypnotic (for example “Black Magic” tune is extremely intense), I think no matters if you’re into a hard mosher attitude or like a nerd shouting every lyric, finally everyone finds some benefit there. I trully think there won’t be a more “interesting” punk record than this one this year, and I really mean it. Sometimes, I believe post-punk/goth records can definitly temper the aggressiveness of hardcore punk releases while approaching similar subjects (I personally think it was the case in 2014, you gotta check my own 2014 top records), but so far this year I’ve not yet listened to a record combining gloomy aspects and a fuck off attitude as good as this one.
I think if you’re into that “dissonant” type of hardcore punk which definitly reminds some Midwest hardcore bands from the 80s you should listen to London based band NO latest LP on La Vida Es Un Mus, titled “Treating People Like They Don’t Exist”. I personally think this record is a bit messy even though I guess that was the main idea behind its recording (in that case, I take my hat off!) but I’m definitly more into PERSPEX FLESH!
If you’re into London scene, you also must check this band FRAU which has just self released a new EP titled “Mira” (they released a demo tape on Tuff Enuff in 2013, repressed it as a LP version in 2014 on Dead Beat Records, and a first EP titled “Punk Is My Boyfriend” on Static Shock Records). I guess I can define FRAU’s music as noisy anarcho-punk, which is definitly not my cup of tea, but I think it can be really cool to listen to different stuffs from time to time!
Above in this column, I was dealing with FADE.
I’d like to start up again about these musicians from the hardcore scene who also play in more melodic bands, from indie pop to emo or shoegaze. FADE’s a good example of that trend because their line-up consists in members of SHRAPNEL, ABOLITION (RIP, their 2011 s/t LP on Holy Roar Records was a blast of metalic hardcore), VIOLENT REACTION and OBSTRUCT who definitly have proved they can let their frustration and anger speak for themselves! But FADE’s like the “brighter side of the moon” of these bands you know. This duality concerning musicians who need to play in different bands kind of reminds me what both DINOSAUR JR. and SEBADOH were doing from 1982 to 1984 with the hardcore band DEEP WOUND before falling into the 90s indie sound. I personally think the English alternative music scene overflow with bands inspired by this leitmotiv of playing different kinds of music which will catalyse the need of sincere expression.
I do really think Ipswich lads from BASEMENT – althought to the best of my knowledge, none of their members ever played in a strickly hardcore band [correct me if I’m wrong, and don’t be mad at me if you believe “melodic hardcore punk” is a “stricky” hardcore kind of music] have something to do with the current trend I’m dealing with right now, so you must check their latest EP on Boston based Run For Covers Records label (ADVENTURES, EMPIRE! EMPIRE!, CITIZEN, TIGERS JAW, BALANCE AND COMPOSURE, DAYLIGHT, TITLE FIGHT just to name a few) before they decided to go on a hiatus. Not to say they are the main inspiration for 2010s English bands which clearly want to express emotive feelings but I guess they’re maybe one of the most popular!
During May 2015 and especially during Leeds Outbreak Fest, HEADROOM decided to split-up and focus on the other bands the are playing in (SURVIVAL, INSIST, UNJUST (Paolo was also a former member of BROKEN TEETH) and… NAI HARVEST). I really appreciated this band and what makes me smile when I just stare at some pictures is that some of my (hater) French folks or other dumbest crusty punx can easily poke at them saying they have the typical “hardcore tough guy” look. And seriously, who fucking cares? HEADROOM had definitly shown if you just can feel loads of different emotions (not just a will to provide the same boring anti-war and anti-nuke songs wearing shitty clothes – sometimes more expensive than a pair of kicks, I’d like to add), then just do it and screw the other people!
I guess one of my favorite 2015 demo tapes is “Forgetting Something” by London based COURTYARD. I recently received this three songs tape and I really, really appreciate it. Songs definitly are progressive and atmospheric. The dudes have sincerely worked on this tape and I’m glad they could released it on tape. I really like this plaintive singing, these guitars sounding like blankets of mist. Definitly cool. (BTW: RIP BIRD CALLS)
Guess the right way to end this column would be to deal with UK metalic hardcore which is completely astonishing these days. While I’m writing these lines, “Despite The Cold, Within Us An Invincible Summer”, the first song from Glasgow, Scotland, IN TONGUES first LP on Carry The Weight, titled “Rituals Of Failure And Ruin” resounds in my speakers.
This record just came out and I’m really glad to start the “metalcore part” of this column with this new (excellent) release. First, because I guess I’d be boring as hell to keep singing XREPENTANCEX’s praises. And also because this record is actually freaking awesome. It’s like an amazing CATHARSIS “Samsara” and “Passion” mix filled with melodic (but not cheezy) extreme metal (death/black metal I suppose), and epic heavy metal breakdowns (like the one on “And Yet My Words Will Fail Me”, I’m still shaking thinking of how I want to raise my sword). This LP will definitly land in my records shelves…
A record I’m definitly waiting for this year is Margate UNHOLY MAJESTY first full-length LP on Carry The Weight. Their demo was released on A389 Recordings in 2011, they started to announce an upcoming in 2013 and dropped this teaser about a year ago.
Can’t wait to hear some 2015 descent Holy Terror sound in the vein of INTEGRITY and ROT IN HELL my friends! This song totally fits with the rumbling thunder evening I’m currently spending!
As I mentionned it above, I’ve already dealt many times with bands like XREPENTANCEX, RENOUNCED or even GUIDANCE in DxR pages. They are definitly great bands which clearly wanted to bring back to the front scene inspiring 90s/00s bands like ARKANGEL, DAY OF SUFFERING, POISON THE WELL or 7 ANGELS 7 PLAGUES, Funny fact: at the very time Carry The Weight release the new CULTURE 7″, another new band featuring XREPENTANCEX, GUIDANCE and even COURTYARD members put out an excellent demo 7″ reminding another great American vegan straight edge band: STRONGARM.
Well, to be honest, before DIGRESS demo was even listenable on the Internet, I remember some of the musicians posting around social networks that what they were rehearsing for really reminded them STRONGARM “The Advent Of A Miracle” LP. I guess, this statement shoved in my memory and that’s probably the reason why I associate by now DIGRESS demo with STRONGARM. But, now that 2015 first semester passed, I just can tell you that demo has been the one I listened to the most this year!
Speaking of a vintage saviour, I guess I owe this column a little tribute to Leeds CRO-MAGS/LEEWAY worshipping band HIGHER POWER. This year has been rather productive for the band because they both released a demo tape and a first 7″ on Neutral Words Recordings plus a video clip, and their live performance at Outbreak Fest was rad and groovy!