HURT ‘EM

HURT ‘EM: Indonesian Hardcore Metal With Punk Spirit

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I get the name – if you’re not ready, Indonesia’s HURT ‘EM will hurt you with its blast of fast and furious hardcore metal. I love it. The Depok trio’s debut, Condolence, came out in January on Lawless Records and is 16 tracks long, with the avenge song time of one-and-a-half minutes. (Personal favorite is “Avarice.”) Listening to Condolence is like listening to Minor Threat’s Out of Step for the first time; though this is metal, it is as fit and shares the same energy as hardcore punk.

Condolence is also out now on Bandcamp via Red Truth Records.

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Class Suicide

Class Suicide: Mid-00’s Kenyan hardcore punk

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Though not unheard of, established African punk and metal scenes are not well known outside the continent. If you’re going to start anywhere, start with Nairobi’s Class Suicide, a mid-00’s hardcore punk band often credited to be one of the first hardcore bands in Eastern Africa. Debut album Storm The Gates doesn’t sound pretty, but it does everything a punk record should do and is compelling in how it engages and surprises.

Read more about the history of Nairobi’s fascinating punk and metal scene via OkayAfrica.

From Bandcamp:

“Class Suicide was a band that brought the heavy metal and punk rock sounds of Nairobi together for 2 brief chaotic years. A politically driven bunch of crusty fellows from far away en Afrique (Nairobi, Kenya) Croe (guitars & vox) and Gearz (Bass), both formerly of the punk rock band Impish, joined forces with Adam (vox) and Kwame (percussion) who had been playing in heavy metal cover bands in late 2003. Croe had a tape in his car containing songs from: W.B.T.D., Tragedy and Catharsis. The band found common ground in the sounds and style of crust and within 2 weeks already written a handful of songs and performed live. The sound is of deep guttural vocals and violent tones and rhythm. This is balanced by melodies and rhythm both confident and delicate. The band has forged these qualities together with their live energy on their debut release ‘Storm The Gates’ originally released in December 2005 on CD in Kenya.”

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Molly

Molly: for fans of Jawbreaker, Beach Slang, and Dinosaur Jr.

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The music video teasing Stay Above, the new album by Molly, is simple and irritatingly hilarious. It shows a phone reproducing their new song “All About” inside of an empty Tuborg glass, the track sounding muffled and distant, interrupted halfway by an abrupt phone call. Towards the end, though, the sound gets rid of the natural distortion and acquires its true powerful nature. At the same time, we see the band standing in front of some burning brushwood, creepily staring into the void.

A video like this already says a lot about Molly, a furious rock band from Copenhagen. It shows that they don’t take themselves too seriously, that they can have fun with their own music, but more than anything it shows how good their songwriting is, even when the music can be barely heard. The Danish trio is clearly influenced by Dinosaur Jr., Husker Du and Jawbreaker, but rework these influences in a personal way, assisted by some effective Social Distortion sounding vocals.

Reworking, though, does not mean modernizing, and Stay Above is obstinately anchored to the 90s sound. It is Molly’s third record, but it seems like it’s the one that can allow them to be noticed by many more people than before, also thanks to the hype of bands like Beach Slang, which turned punk-informed 90s rock into something more recognizable and accessible even to younger kids today. This way, Stay Above has all the potential to become one of the most loved albums of the year.

Molly: Facebook 

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Midnight Peacocks

Midnight Peacocks: Israeli stoner metal that embraces its Arabic roots

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I don’t often hear violins in stoner metal, so Midnight Peacocks quickly grabbed my attention from “Tzar Bomba” and kept it throughout their entire new LP, ‘Katastroffa,’ which is out now.

From Bandcamp bio:

“The Midnight Peacocks are:
Eitan Radoshinski: Vocals & bass
Guy Shemi: Guitar & Backing Vocals
Yoav Zohar: Drums
Yoni Silver: Violin, Alto Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Keyboards & Piano
Hezi Shohet: Poetry”

Midnight Peacocks: Facebook

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Anti-Corpos

Anti-Corpos: feminist lesbian hardcore via São Paulo

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The original goal of a genre like hardcore punk has always been to change things, fight injustices, and give a voice to those who are oppressed. However, it feels like with time, the hardcore scene has become a niche built for white males, with many live shows turning into a gym for violent people, a phenomenon that has inevitably pushed others away from the scene and from its great potential. It’s in this context that the importance of Anti-Corpos, who define themselves a feminist lesbian hardcore band, becomes evident. They epitomize the original spirit of hardcore.

Anti-Corpos are from São Paulo, Brazil, and they might be the angriest band you’ll ever hear. No triggered double-kicks, pompous guitar riffs, or carefully faked screams. Only real and necessary anger. Their urgency is evident in the strident vocals of singer Rebeca Domiciano: she needs to scream and to get things off her chest. It feels like her voice, while refusing to precisely follow her band mates fast-paced tempos, can actually make a difference.

Their latest full-length, released in 2015, is a great example of political hardcore. It’s titled ‘Forma Prática de Luta’ (‘Practical Way Of Fighting’) and contains eight short and intense tracks that talk about police brutality, patriarchal abuse, and finding ways to resist to any kind of oppression. The lyrics are in Portuguese, but they barely need to be translated, seeing how energetic and heartfelt everything sounds. In their live shows, this anger is even amplified while male chauvinist violence is not tolerated. It’s what hardcore should simply be like, now more than ever.

Anti-Corpos: Facebook Bandcamp WordPress

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You Can’t Listen To Hardcore Punk Rock. You Have To Watch Hardcore Punk Rock.

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You can’t listen to hardcore punk rock. Ok you can, but you’d be missing out. You need to watch hardcore punk, in the flesh, in a poorly lit LA club and be right in the middle of the sweaty mosh pit close enough to spit on the lead singer and for him or her to spit right back. You need Keith Morris to scream “I Just Want Some Skank” in one ear and Greg Hetson’s screaming electric guitar in the other and you need to pogo dance like there’s no tomorrow. It needs to be the 80s and you need to be pissed off. Reagan, your parents, new wave, they all suck. This is the only thing that’s happening, man.

But it’s not the 80s anymore, so you’re shit out of luck.

However, all is not lost: Penelope Spheeris directed a trilogy of films capturing the changing LA music scene throughout the 80s and 90s, just for you.

The first film is called “The Decline Of Western Civilization” (1981) and it covers the LA hardcore punk rock scene in 1979-80. The second film is “The Decline Of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years” (1988) and it covers LA hair metal and includes one of the most cringeworthy interviews ever. “The Decline Of Western Civilization III” (1998) covers LA’s homeless gutter punks.

The first “Decline” is the best one of the three that I’ve seen. I know because it’s the only one I’ve seen (I’m working on it). I also know because the first “Decline” nearly moved me to tears. This film is at times exhilarating and often moving. It’s a film that reminds you of the transcending power of music, both for the audience and for the artists themselves, but it’s also a reminder of its limitations. If nothing else, it’s a worthy tribute to an influential once in a lifetime music scene.

If you’ve read Michael Azerrad’s “Our Band Could Be Your Life” (and if you haven’t then why not?) this movie is about the very beginnings of Azerrad’s indie underground. This is pre-Henry Rollins Black Flag when Ron Reyes was screaming and kicking through “Depression” and “Revenge”. X had just released their seminal Los Angeles album, proving to all the kids that you could actually play your instruments and get just as rowdy and vicious as hardcore could get. Or you could wait around for Circle Jerks to throw their guitars into their amps and create wonderful loud noises. Darby Crash was still alive, though at this point he could only grunt or aimlessly yell his way through “Manimal” (Crash killed himself right before this film’s release by an intentional heroin overdose, which turned the 22-year-old into a sort of martyr of the hardcore scene).

The bands featured in the film are Black Flag, Germs, Circle Jerks, Catholic Discipline, Alice Bag Band, X, and Fear. Of those bands, Spheeris interviews Black Flag, Germs, Catholic Discipline, and X. Everyone plays 2-4 songs at various LA hardcore clubs. No band sounds the same, yet they all share the same stage and play to the same crowd.

Much of “Decline”‘s success as a movie comes from the the way that it’s shot. During the shows there are a few cameras placed literally in the middle of the crowd and some at the side of the stage. During interviews you never see Spheeris – you only see the bands. Both the live performances an the interviews are so intimate that you feel like you’re intruding on a scene that you’re not allowed in.

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Penelope Spheeris has had quite the career: her “Decline” films are underground classics, yet you probably know her as the director of Wayne’s World. A most excellent movie indeed, but it’s strange that while she poked fun at the rock n roll world via Wayne and Garth, she actually documented the real thing for over a decade. This is not to discredit her other films (she also directed “The Beverly Hillbillies”, “The Little Rascals”, and “Black Sheep”), but “Decline” is her most essential. It was also the most controversial; according to Slate, the film only made it to two theater screenings before the LA Police Chief banned the film form being shown in the city.

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If “Decline” means anything new in 2015, it’s now a document of a pre-Internet music scene. With no social media to promote your album, you had to actually go to the shows and partake instead of swaying while texting on your phone. Nostalgia is a killer, but there’s something to be said about a music scene in which you actually had to be there.

But “Decline” doesn’t have to be anything more than what it already is, which is a well-edited documentation of two years of some of the most influential and polarizing music of rock & roll.

This summer the “Decline” films were rereleased in Blu-ray and DVD boxed sets. Do yourself a favor and watch these films.

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