Author Archives: Nathan Bean

Harder They Fall #3

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Much as I hate to use DroidxRage as a platform to whore my own wares, here comes another one! During my Summer break from University I have tried to stay creative and  put together a third issue of my zine Harder They Fall. HTF has been on hiatus since 2005. The first issue had interviews with Rise & Fall, My Luck and Down To Nothing whilst the second issue was a much slimmer volume and featured Abandon Ship. Ten years later I decided to resurrect HTF’s corpse and breathe some new life and a fresh perspective into the project. UKHC is more exciting and vibrant in 2015 than I can remember at any other time during my  involvement. There’s a wealth of brilliant bands and smart, creative people doing shows and zines and I wanted be involved and to get my hands dirty again after a few fallow years.

Harder They fall #3 is 40 pages of hardcore & Star Wars obsession and is available to order now and will start shipping August 1st. It features in depth interviews with Patrick Hassan of Digress/Repentance/CTW Records, Jeremy Smith of Modern Problems/Halfmast, Jase Fox of Rebel Legion UK, tattoo artist Adam Chandler, John Olley of Repentance and Ben Saker of Breaking Point. There’s also features on two of my favourite bands Integrity and Blood Runs Black and Celebration 2015. If any of that sounds remotely interesting  you can grab a copy from me HERE

Wholesale rate is available for five copies or more. Get in touch!

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The Modern Problems of Jeremy Smith….

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Modern Problems are a relatively new Straight Edge Hardcore band out of Buffalo, New York with an obvious boner for No For An Answer/ Uniform Choice and boy do they NAIL that sound. 100 mph hard as fuck  hardcore punk  that still  manages to sound fresh and aggressive despite the bands obvious affection for a specific style & sound. Frontman Jeremy Smith’s melodic vocals lend the whole thing a sense of urgent optimism whilst still sounding hard as fuck, definitely a case of the iron fist concealed within a velvet glove. I recently started putting together a fanzine called Harder They Fall ( an extended version of this interview is also featured there) and I decided to hit Jeremy up to talk about Modern Problems, Buffalo Hardcore, Straight Edge, Star Wars and everything in between. Here’s what the man had to say…

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Guidance – Path Of Grace

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London based Straight Edge band Guidance put out a great 7” last year through Anger Battery Records entitled Age Of Vice. Drawing very obvious inspiration from the New Age Records bands of the early 90’s, it was equal parts Strife circa My Fire Burns On and A Light In The Dark era Outspoken. Age Of Vice really impressed me at the time with it’s solid songwriting and accomplished musicianship but most importantly because it had some fucking soul and I was excited to see how the band developed. Fast forward 18 months and Guidance have sadly packed it in despite recording what I consider to be the BEST 90’s influenced straight edge record of the past decade, Path Of Grace. Currently this record is unreleased, but is available to listen to for free HERE
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Day of Rights – The few and the proud

 

 

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A few years ago the cultural bermuda triangle that exists between Sussex and Kent was spewing out high quality and varied hardcore bands like nobodies business. Shows were plentiful and with the support of the prolific semi-local record label Carry The Weight, it certainly appeared that the South had indeed risen.

In 2015  things are looking barren. Scene lynchpins Breaking Point have just announced their imminent demise, Final Rage packed it in a few months ago, Ego Trip, Inherit and Unholy Majesty are all missing in action. Lulls like this are inevitable as key players grow older and the weight of adult responsibility initiates a shift in priorities, and it reaffirms the point that it is important for EVERYONE to play an active role in keeping things moving along and not fall into the habit of relying upon the same handful of proactive people to *ahem* carry the weight.

Day Of Rights are a new Straight Edge band that is, needless to say, made up of the aformentioned same handful of proactive people. Essentially a 2.0 version of SRH standard bearers Coldsnap, Day Of Rights plow a distinctly similar sonicfurrow to their previous incarnation whilst adding a hefty twist of metallic hardcore to their brew. The bands key influences are evident in opener Enslaved which borrows heavily from Merauder’s metal influenced take on NYHC, whilst Clock Choke’s furious barrage hits like a brick in the teeth and reminds me of the fearsome Cold As Life.
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Higher Power demo review

 

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Higher Power are YET ANOTHER example of how Leeds does hardcore right in 2015. Whilst the city is perhaps best known for it’s Boston/’82 style bands like The Flex, Violent Reaction, Obstruct etc the creative milieu bubbling away in the student ghettos is clearly a fertile environment for all types of underground activity. With members drawn from the recently departed Abolition and Bleak Reality, HP’s sauce is a logical extension of those culmulative influences. Just take a casual listen to their demo (avilable from Neutral Words Records) HERE and it ain’t hard to recognise where they are coming from.

Vocalist Jimmy Wizard (yes that is his REAL name) could quite easily tip up on the next season of Stars In Their Eyes, why? Because his vocal impersonation of Ezac is absolutely spot on. For real, when I started listening to the demo I had to stop it and double check I hadn’t put a Crown Of Thornz tape in the deck. For those who are not familar with that reference point let me enlighten. Higher Power clearly take inspiration from that branch of New York Hardcore that was not afraid to temper aggression with melody and create some almost spirtual sounds. Jimmy’s vocals are crystal clear, raw but still tuneful. Nailing a style that stretches the vocalist behind screaming and shouting is not easy, if it aint dead on it sounds bloody awful. This is not the clumsy attempts at sung vocals we are so often subjected to by mediocre bands trying to switch their shit up, nope my man is putting some SOUL into these train yard blues.

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Musically Higher Power do not play around either. There’s a solid rhythmic backbone at work here, keeping the grooves tight and your head bobbing. This demo is infested with crunchy memorable riffs and inspired song structures that twist and evolve as the songs progress. Sure it’s melodic in places but that don’t mean its soft. Cold Front were not soft. Maximum Penalty were not soft. Crown Of Thornz were not soft and Higher Power sure as Hell ain’t soft. Goddamnit, that sick thugged out groove in third song Twisted Vision is pure Mike Dijan perfection. And that solo midway through opener Peace is so fucking LIFTED it takes the actual piss.

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And in spite of all the obvious NYHC references peppered throughout this demo there’s some other interesting stuff happening here….the massive breakdown in No Son for example reminds me a lot of the Four Walls Falling song Fall Of Rome and that is no bad thing. I have been rinsing these songs all day and I am still tripping off how perfectly conceptualized and executed this demo tape is.If you like what you hear and are interested to learn more, get linked up to what HP are doing HERE Personally, I cannot wait to see where this band goes next because yo three songs just ain’t enough.

(Title pic courtesy of Natalie Wood, thank you!)

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Digress – The 7th Day demo

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We’re only two months into 2015 but it’s shaping up to another beezer year for UKHC with big records from Repentance, True Vision and the Day Of Rights demos already and now Digress throwing the 7th Day into the mix. For those not on the skinhead tip, 90’s hardcore appears to be the dish of choice amongst the London straight edge. And whilst I often view these expeditions into 90‘s authenticity with one eyebrow raised, I can’t fault their enthusiasm and attention to detail one bit. Whilst brother bands Guidance, Repentance and Renounced may have drawn clear influence from the New Age, Good Life and Eulogy back catalogues respectively…Digress have chosen to rummage through the bag of tricks belonging to Floridia’s Strongarm .

I don’t front so I should preface this by stating that I tried listening to Strongarm’s Advent album when it came out. As was common at the time, pen friends would often tape new releases for one another because we were all simply to broke to keep up with everything. Foster (who would later inspire fear with Slavearc) had dubbed a copy of Strongarm for me with Cultures Born Of You on the other side. I didn’t think much to Culture, (and beyond Memento Mori I still don’t), and once I discovered that Strongarm were full on God heads I binned the tape off (despite quite liking it). Convictions maaaan. Anyhow beyond a passing musical similarity, Digress has very little to do with my reactionary and scornful teenage protestations….

Opening track Ascetic Ideal leads in with one of those melancholy acoustic intro’s that was popular amongst bands like Morning Again before cascading into a barrage of riffs and throaty desperate vocals. Musically there’s a lot more experimentation evident here than with the members other projects. Some complex riffs and textures coupled with smart understanding of dynamics create a heaviness that is less reliant on palm muting chug and more on tension and dischord. Reminiscent of early Shai Hulud perhaps? Vocalist Pat Hassan even drops in some of those super sincere spoken word passages. Hard to do them without involuntarily adopting an American accent!
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Rock Of Sisyphus has a bit more mosh to it with shades of One King Down creeping in here and there with some really nice use of melody in the final third. Last song Avernment weighs in with that hefty mid pace crunch that would have had the Jannesport backpack brigade swinging at the knees and grabbing their curved brims to show how much they were FEELING it, the beat picks up and switches dynamics mid song for a furious thirty seconds but then it’s back to head nodding territory before closing out with a haunting solo. Lyrically Digress are far more introspective beast than their peers, looking inward at the inherent structural damage in the blueprint of humanity rather than lashing outwards. The lyrics are smart and I am reminded of the philosophical approach taken by the ancient vegan straight edge band Sevin on their Heavens Deception 7’.  Within a genre that has a tedious propensity for macho bravado, Digress’s whole schtick exudes intelligence, frustration and a resigned melancholy that comes as a real breath of fresh air. Have a listen to the demo HERE

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New Breed Of UK Straight Edge……

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INSIST

Hosted by Violent Reaction main man Tom Pimlott at the Temple Of Boom in Leeds, the New Breed Of UK Straight Edge promised to be one for the books. As is too often the case these days, the internet buzz did not equate to bums on seats and despite much being made of the NWOBHC hash tag it still amounted to a small room packed with 35 of the usual suspects. Regardless, I wasn’t moaning as it provided a welcome night away from my studies to check out some new hardcore in a space that was refreshingly free of exhausting punishers and bullshit attitudes. Ideal.

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REGIMENT

First to take the stage was Regiment, featuring The Flex vocalist Sam Laycock on the mic and assorted Tom’s drawn from Violent Reaction, Shrapnel et al behind the music. Belligerent and to the point Negative FX inspired punk rock was the order of the day here. Primitive as fuck beats and raw boned riffs complimented by Laycock’s lumbering sasquatch stage presence created a bareknuckle vibe that will no doubt inspire ludicrous and sprawling pit’s once the demo is out. I’ll be honest, a lot of the ’82 inspired stuff kind of sounds similar to me so I’m not qualified to give specific pointers,but yo, it’s straight edge so Regiment is cool with me. If you dig on the X-Claim or early Taang records style, give them a whirl.

Manchester’s Unjust were next up. I have reviewed their demo for DroidxRage a few weeks ago (listen to it HERE )and off the back of that I was really looking forward to seeing how they cut it live. I was not to be disappointed, what followed was a boisterous set of Brotherhood meets Confront hayseed hardcore. Despite blowing his voice out the night before, monolithic frontman Mike Porter cut a formidable figure, prowling the lip of the stage handing out the mic to the pit rats at the front. The band themselves were tight as hell and I noticed that the Manchester bands definitely had a more polished crunch than their more rough and ready Leeds counterparts. It was a short and sweet set and with everyone packed into such a small room Unjust succeeded in starting the shenanigans on the dancefloor. Top notch.

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UNJUST

Members of Obstruct reshuffled to present the debut performance of True Vision. Straight out of LS4 and fronted by Tom Hardwick, a fellow more often seen behind the kit than prowling around in front of it.  TxV delivered a brief set of songs clearly inspired by the first Warzone 7” and the Side By Side 7”, and much to my delight they even covered You’re Only Young Once…. Bravo! Once again the sound was rough and ragged and I liked it plenty. However the real discovery here was Hardwick’s mic game and stage presence. Dry northern wit coupled with the right amount of cockiness to be endearing, the lads a natural frontman with a unique and distinctive voice. They just put their demo up online for nowt HERE Definitely a band to keep an eye on!

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TRUE VISION

Insist arrived from the other end of the M62 and hit the stage with a vengeance. Clearly drawing inspiration from the React! records back catalogue along with The First Step, Mindset, Floorpunch etc they hit the line hard with a fuck ton of explosive energy and the material to back it up. Considering this probably only their fifth or sixth show I was absolutely blown away by how confident and together their set was. Roger is a perfect frontman for a band of this style, very humble and unassuming off the stage but energetic and inspired whilst bounding across it. The crowd responded favourably and a raging cover of Youth Of Todays’s Honesty crowned an awesome set. I see big things in this bands future and I think it’s dope that the UK finally has a legit/non cheesedick youth crew band to compete with the american masters of the form. Give their demo a squizz HERE

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INSIST – few lads having a sing

Shrapnel were not billed to play but since all the lads were kicking about anyway they jumped on and banged out a few of the hits. If you don’t know that band it’s time to wake up and live mate. Straight Edge fellows on that Breakdown ’87 demo trip. Unfortunately I had to split one song into their set, so can’t give much of a review, but what I saw was ill. That band is fucking sweet.

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SHRAPNEL

Shout out to Pimlott for sorting a good night. Shout out to Natalie Wood for documenting what’s really going on.  All these photos are pinched off her website, go peep it HERE for more excellent photos of shows you wish you went to. Shout out to Leeds Hardcore for doing it up proper style.  Shout out to myself for writing this review quick as fuck. Listen to Higher Power. Bye. XXX

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Impact Zone – Wild Colonial Boys 7″

 

 

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The last time I paid any attention to Australian Hardcore was sometime in the late 90‘s. I was at a H20 show in London when I ran into a chap from Down Under called Dan who was travelling around Europe with his girlfriend. He must have caught me on a good day because normally I can’t be arsed talking to anyone but we got to chatting and he clued me in to the scene in his homelands. I was already familiar with Ultimatum because my old friend Chris used to distro their MCD through his zine Clear Perception. Anyway this kid Dan switched me onto some raging bands including Pitfall, Arms Reach, Forward Defence and Mindsnare and I remember being stoked to discover that straight edge bros were raging on the other side of the world.

Anyway fast forward 17 years and a few of my mates have moved to Australia and woke me up to some of the awesome bands currently doing the rounds. Shout out to my man Peach from Controlled for the heads up on Sick People and Impact Zone because that is the gnarly shit I do like. Wild Colonial Boys is the debut 7″ on Lionheart Records from Impact Zone, the latest in a brace of contemporary bands plundering Boston ‘82 and mining the rich seam of hardcore gold they have discovered there. Not unlike UK peers The Flex and Violent Reaction, Impact Zone take a raw ,bareknuckle approach to their explosive brand of street level Oi! influenced hardcore. There’s no frills, no weak affectations or rock star pretensions just HARDCORE delivered with all the grace and subtlety of a steel capped boot straight to the chops.
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For the feeble minded amongst you who constantly need to be spoonfed comparisons I would liken these guys to Washington DC herberts 86 Mentality with a bit of early Slapshot thrown in the mix. The riffs are hard and memorable and it’s got that cocky rhythm that puts a snarl on my face and  a bowl in my step when I’m listening to it on my headphones. The intro to Sick To Death reminds me a LOT of Negative FX. Lyrically it’s simple and catchy with lots of street anthems, songs about being an outsider, sticking with yer mates and all that shit that the boneheads can’t get enough of. It’s rough and it’s rowdy and though some of his phrasing is a bit clumsy, I like that vocalist Anthony Pepper delivers his pavement poetry with a sneer and does not tone his  Aussie accent down one bit, sounding not unlike one of those grinning outlaw bastards from Mad Max. But don’t just take my word for it, go HERE and have a listen for yourself, then follow the breadcrumbs via Controlled, Sick People etc and start educating yourself on the current heroes and past glories of antipodean hardcore.

Honestly though this 7″ could sound like a wasp moshing in a biscuit tin and I’d probably still give it a positive review  just because Pepper and his mates like ALL the stupid shit that I post on Instagram. As you can see, my support is easily purchased.

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Unjust – Manchester Straight Edge

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Hot on the heels of Survival, Insist and Below comes yet another straight edge band from the other end of the M62. Fronted by man mountain Mike Porter, a fellow more used to wrecking shop in front of the stage than holding court on top of it and comprised of assorted scallywags and rapscallions drawn from the iron ranks of the Manchester Straight Edge. I have a lot of time for these guys. I have said it before and I’ll say it again Manchester hardcore does not pose, it don’t pretend  to be something it’s not. They just get on with the business of hardcore, and clearly business is good.

Unjust hit the line hard, their intro got that same bounce that Breakdown had in ’87 but that’s certainly not indicative of their sound as a whole. Musically this is bang on point late 80‘s straight edge hardcore but taking inspiration from the likes of Seattle’s Brotherhood or Clevo hayseeds Confront rather than the more obvious clean cut youth crew influences. Laying down the law on opening track Clear Sight, Porters belicose vocals have a furious thick necked quality like Mean Steve did on Payday or Wasted Life. Second track See Straight reminds me of Side By Side, with frantic fast verses crashing into the kind of wicked hard chorus/breakdowns that guarantee wild behaviour. Lyrically it’s nowt fresh. Straight forward, simplistic and catchy enough to ensure  finger pointing, pile on’s and mic grabs galore.

Unjust smack you in the teeth with with a rugged demo thats all over and done with in less than 5 minutes. It’s scrappy hardcore as it should be played and for those looking for homegrown straight edge with a distinctly No Tolerance flavour, Unjust could be just the band for you. But don’t take my word for it, the band have made the demo available on their bandcamp page HERE And I believe that Jimmy over at New Instinct records will be making physical copies of the demo available to purchase imminently so go HERE to stay updated and to investigate his other releases.

Unjust will be playing in Leeds at the new breed of straight edge showcase at the Temple Of Boom on February 21st alongside Insist and Regiment.

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