Transistor Transistor—Ruined Lives (2008)

Transistor Transistor—Ruined Lives (2008)

Transistor Transistor—Ruined Lives (2008)

Details

Recorded and mixed by Kurt Ballow at Godcity Studios, Witchcity from 2 to 12 January 2008. Mastered by Alan Douches at Westwestside in New Windsor, NY on 22 January 2008. Released by Level-Plane Records on 15 April 2008.

Bandcamp

Band

  • Nat Coghlan—Vocals and guitar
  • Garrison Nein—Vocals and bass
  • Brad Wallace—Guitar
  • James Moller—Drums

Tracks

  1. Morning sickness
  2. The price of gasoline
  3. Brass bones
  4. Diet of worms
  5. Pillar of salt
  6. The ghost hand
  7. Harvest
  8. Letter of resignation
  9. Celluloid rats
  10. Irreversible
  11. Teratogen

Review

This appears to be the one and only release from New Hampshire hardcore/grunge band Transistor Transistor.

New Hampshire, New Hampshire, so good they named it twice.

Having been mostly reviewing symphonic and avant-garde  black metal bands for the last few weeks this requires a little change of gear. But having established quite firmly a few months back that it no longer takes me by surprise every time I listen to a hardcore album and discover that I like it, it shouldn’t take a detective to hear that this album gets the thumbs up from me, too.

As well as the usual hardcore elements, there is more than a dollop of Bob Mould-inspired alternative/post-punk rock infused in this particular recipe of high energy, shouty-vocaled hard rock.

A few highlights: The cheeky riff in “Brass bones” (track 3).

  • The opening riff from “Diet of worms” (track 4) with its slightly acidic phrasing and the full-on chorus. I could probably listen to that all day, to be honest.
  • “Pillar of salt” (track 5) is a pounding, plodding behemoth – like the hardcore equivalent of Metallica’s “Sad but true”.
  • The complete change of pace in the dirgeful “The ghost hand” (track 6).
  • “Harvest” (track 7). All of it. It is epic, uncomfortable, melancholic, angry, relentless and strangely beautiful.
  • “Tertogen” (track 11) is a wonderful closer that draws this collection to a fine conclusion.

Conclusion

There are not many albums that make me smile involuntarily while listening to them on first listen, but this was definitely one. This is inventive, creative, exploratory and downright exciting. It’s not perfect but I fully expect it to grow on me and with me.

Review score: 96%

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Stampin’ Ground—A New Darkness Upon Us (2003)

Stampin' Ground—A New Darkness upon Us (2003)

Stampin’ Ground—A New Darkness upon Us (2003)

Details

Produced, engineering, mixed and mastered by Andy Sneap. Recorded in the summer of 2003 at Backstage Productions, Derbyshire.

Encyclopaedia Metallum | Facebook

Band

  • Adam Frakes-Sime—Vocals
  • Scott Atkins—Guitar
  • Antony “Mobs” Mowbray—Guitar
  • Ian Glasper—Bass
  • Neil Hutton—Drums

Tracks

  1. A new darkness upon us (intro) (instrumental)
  2. Don’t need a reason to hate
  3. Behind the light
  4. Killer of society
  5. Dead from the neck up
  6. The cage
  7. Bear the scars
  8. Betrayal has a face
  9. Pain is weakness (leaving the body)
  10. Unmarked grave
  11. Ashes to scatter
  12. Mantra of a dying world (outro)

Review

I’m running hugely behind on reviews this autumn and for some reason I really thought  I had already written this review. Probably because I’ve listened to this album more than probably any other album I’ve reviewed during this project. It sat in my car CD player for weeks. Last.fm tells me that I’ve played 90 Stampin’ Ground tracks in the last 90 days; they are my fourth most-played band in the last six months.

This was one of those albums that hit a chord with me on my first play through. Stampin’ Ground from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire here in the UK play fusion of hardcore and thrash. Imagine Exodus, Slayer, Hatebreed and Biohazard forming a supergroup and you more or less have their sound down to a tee.

A New Darkness Upon Us (2003) is the band’s fourth, and to date, last full-length album. According to Encyclopaedia Metallum the band formed in 1995 then took a hiatus from 2006 until 2014 when they reformed. I’d definitely love to hear both their back catalogue and whatever they might release next.

Conclusion

Keeping with my tradition of writing really short reviews for the albums that I love most, I find myself writing the conclusion already.

This is an album I could listen to on repeat for days – and have done. While the album isn’t entirely perfect, I can’t but give it a full 10/10: the flaws just don’t seem important enough to quibble over. I can see me listening to this album for a long time yet.

It is discoveries like this one that makes me love this project and probably is why I am running behind on reviews (it’s currently early October): I just don’t want it to end.

Review score: 100%

Soldiers—End of Days (2007)

Soldiers—End of Days (2007)

Soldiers—End of Days (2007)

Details

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Joe Cincotta and Dan Kennyat Full Force Studio. Produced by Joe Cincotta, Danny Kenny and T$S.

Band

  • Rick Limenez—Vocals
  • Brian AudleyGuitar
  • Chris Mazella—Guitar
  • Andrew Jones—Bass
  • Dan Bourke—Drums
  • John Moore—Guest vocals on “Even worse”.
  • Jeff Tiu—Guest vocals on “Damage is done”
  • Brendan Garrone—Guest vocals on “Since day one”

Tracks

  1. Even worse
  2. Sever ties
  3. The reclamation
  4. Decide and conquer
  5. Choosing revenge
  6. Relentless
  7. Bound by defiance (T$S)
  8. Damage is done
  9. Nothing more, nothing less
  10. Own up!
  11. Since day one
  12. Smoke and mirrors
  13. Living hell (bonus track)

Review

Every time I come across a hardcore album I’m always surprised at how much I like it. My average score for hardcore albums on this project is 73%. I perhaps should just accept that I’m a bit of an unconscious hardcore punk fan.

I like hardcore punk.
I like hardcore punk.
I like hardcore punk.
I like hardcore punk.

That should help. Until I listen to the next hardcore album, of course. I should turn this into a film: 50 First Hardcore Punk Albums starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.

Anyway, with that little bit of amnesia over, the album.

Soldiers are a hardcore band from Long Island in New York, formed in 2006 from the ashes of This Is Hell, Subterfuge, Last Conviction, and The Backup Plan. Following a debut EP in May 2006, this follow-up from December 2007 remains their only full-length album.

And do you know what? It’s good. If anything, it is let down a little by the mix. It often feels like it was recorded with the microphones in the wrong room or facing the wrong way, and the lead vocals are a little hidden in the mix. But otherwise the album is full of energy and contains all the key constituent parts required for a solid hardcore album: punchy bass sound, thrashy guitars with a good mid-range sound, shouty vocals with enthusiastic crowd-fueled choruses.

The songs are also typically and appreciatively short. “Nothing more, nothing less” (track 9) is only 53 seconds long and definitely proves the less is more rule. None of 13 tracks outstay their welcome. They come in, do their job, and they are done!

The only anomaly is the final track, “Living hell” (track 13) which is a rap track. Like, straight-out rap. Not crossover. Rap. I’ll just leave that there. Rap.

Conclusion

Unsurprisingly, given my newly acquired awareness of my love of hardcore punk. I liked this album. With a clearer and more balanced mix it might be better, but as it is, it rocks!

Review score: 90%

Second Chance (NL)—Tides May Turn (2003)

Second Chance (NL)—Tides May Turn (2003)

Second Chance (NL)—Tides May Turn (2003)

Details

Produced by Dirk Miers, co-produced by Perry Seleski. Mixed and mastered by Dirk Miers. Recorded at De Studio, Asse (Brussel). All music by Second Chance, except track 13 by Sick of It All.

Band

  • Ronald Driessen—Vocals
  • Perry Seleski—Guitars
  • Jimmy Stress—Bass guitar
  • Jordy Middelbosch—Drums

Tracks

  1. Why should I care
  2. Make amends
  3. Tides may turn
  4. Straight edge is a waste
  5. We don’t care
  6. Progress or poverty?
  7. Full speed ahead
  8. Beg, steal and borrow
  9. Teenage tragedy
  10. All over again
  11. G.S.
  12. Stand up
  13. The deal (Sick of It All cover)
  14. Outro (Break up and be loud)

Review

The album cover made me suspect that I might be in for an evening of pirate metal. But no, it’s hardcore.

I think I probably say this every time I review a hardcore album: every time I review a hardcore album, I forget how much I like hardcore. I should really have got the message by now. This is hardcore album number 13 in my collection.

I’ve only listened to this album two or three times, but I’d say that Second Chance can hold their own against the likes of Poison Idea, Sick of It All, or Biohazard. The songs are short (the title track clocks in at 3′ 06″, but most don’t even see the two minutes’ mark), they are melodic and punky, and the production is good with enough bass to give the album depth.

I think my favourite moment in the album is towards the end of “Straight edge is a waste” (track 4) which switches to a very lo-fi vibe, making it sound like the track is being played from a small transistor radio.

The penultimate track is a cover of Sick of It All’s “The Deal” (track 13) which offers a nice contrast between the style of the two bands. All things considered, I think I actually prefer my fellow Europeans.

The closing track “Outro (break out and be loud)” is played on acoustic with everyone singing along. It’s the most pirate-sounding track on the album, and indeed probably in my whole collection. Yah-harr! Ye hardcore lubbers!

Conclusion

Each time I’ve listened to this album I’ve had the same uncomfortable thought: this album is a bit like own-brand crisps. It does the job. It doesn’t offer anything particularly new or exciting. While it may be rather generic hardcore, I like it. It does the job, and it does it well. It doesn’t get in the way of itself.

This band doesn’t need a second chance from me (see what I did there?). I’ve liked them first time round.

Review score: 70%

Schizma—Hardcore Enemies (2006)

Schizma—Hardcore Enemies (2006)

Schizma—Hardcore Enemies (2006)

Details

Produced, recorded and mixed by Perlazza at Studio Taklamakan, Opalnica, Poland in February 2006. Mastered by Szymon Czech. Released on Madmob Records.

Band

  • Pestka—Vocals
  • Schizmaciek—Guitars and vocals
  • Wania—Guitars
  • Krzyżak—Bass guitar
  • Młody—Drums

Tracks

  1. Hardcore enemies
  2. Fed up
  3. Parasite
  4. Don’t look back
  5. No regrets
  6. Let it burn
  7. Angry god
  8. Pushed around
  9. Nothing’s left
  10. Dead end
  11. Two words down
  12. Great leap
  13. Kings without a land

Review

Another cracking album that has yet again derailed my finely tuned schedule for catching up with reviews. It’s albums like this one that make me thankful for this project and the opportunity to discover artists that I otherwise would likely never encounter, at least not easily.

Schizma, formed in 1990 in Bydgoszcz, Poland, are one of the more enduring and most popular hardcore bands to emerge from Poland, and they certainly do justice to the genre.

The songs are heavy and melodic, they twist and turn, and Pestka’s vocals (a hardcore holler) fit the music perfectly.

It’s albums like this that make me want to go back and listen to everything else that I have that is labelled ‘hardcore’, which thanks to this project is more than I had remembered.

 

Conclusion

I’m going to be lazy and jump straight to the conclusion. I suspect that I do write less about the albums that I really like, selfishly keeping my thoughts to myself when I really should be shouting every detail from the rooftops. If indeed blogs have roofs.

Brilliant album. I loved listening to this again and again. And again. And again.

These guys have just knocked Biohazard off my top spot as favourite hardcore band.

Review score: 100%

Poison Idea—The Best of Poison Idea (2000)

Poison Idea—The Best of Poison Idea (2000)

Poison Idea—The Best of Poison Idea (2000)

Details

These songs were originally released on separate CDs except “Leaning to scream” which was 7″ vinyl only until now. Released on Taang! Records, 2000.

Band

Pick Your King EP (1983) — tracks 16–28

  • Jerry A (aka Jerry Lang)—Vocals
  • Tom “Pig Champion” Roberts—Guitar
  • Glen Estes—Bass
  • Dean Johnson—Drums

Kings of Punk (1986) — tracks 4–15
Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes EP (1984) — tracks 29–40

  • Jerry A (aka Jerry Lang)—Vocals
  • Tom “Pig Champion” Roberts—Guitar
  • Chris Tense—Bass
  • Dean Johnson—Drums

Learning Scream 7″ (1998) — tracks 1–3

  • Jerry A (aka Jerry Lang)—Vocals
  • Ian Miller—Guitar
  • Chris Tense—Bass
  • Dean Johnson—Drums

Tracks

  1. Learning to scream
  2. Another place
  3. Xerox frustrate
  4. Lifestyles
  5. Short fuse
  6. God not god
  7. Ugly American
  8. Subtract
  9. Cop an attitude
  10. Death wish kids
  11. Made to be broken
  12. Tormented imp
  13. One by one
  14. Out of the picture
  15. Untitled
  16. Think twice
  17. It’s an action
  18. Thing called progress
  19. In my headache
  20. Underage
  21. Self abuse
  22. Cult band
  23. Last one
  24. Pure hate
  25. Castration
  26. Reggae (I hate)
  27. Give it up
  28. Think fast
  29. A.A.
  30. Legalize freedom
  31. Cold comfort
  32. Typical
  33. Thorn in my side
  34. Laughing boy
  35. Rubber husband
  36. I gotta right (written by Iggy Pop)
  37. Rich get richer
  38. Don’t like it here
  39. Die on your knees
  40. Time to go

Review

Thanks mainly to Suicidal Tendencies’ early albums and The Misfits I have quite a soft spot for American hardcore punk. This compilation album from Portland, Oregon punks Poison Idea certainly doesn’t disappoint.

The album comprises their first three releases: Pick Your King 7″ EP (1983), Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes 12″ EP (1984), Kings of Punk (1986), plus the much later Learning to Scream 7″ EP (1998).

There is a marked difference in production quality between the earliest release (tracks 16–28) and the later releases surrounding it. But it doesn’t detract much from the enjoyment of the songs, although in general I do prefer the song-writing on the later tracks.

Poison Idea were seemingly influenced by southern Californian bands like Black Flag, Discharge, and The Germs. I wouldn’t be surprised if Poison Idea themselves then went on to influence the bands in neighbouring Washington state who launched the grunge sound a decade later, like Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

There is a raw, energetic honesty to these songs; they are heavy but melodic and played with fervour. “Tormented imp” (track 12) for example (which is probably my favourite song on the compilation) has a wonderful stomp, and lyrics spat out with passion.

Conclusion

While I complained in my last review that many of the songs sounded much the same, for some reason it really doesn’t matter quite so much on this album. Perhaps it wasn’t the homogeneity that was the issue, perhaps it was the soul, the humanity, the passion. And by ‘eck, this album has plenty of that.

This album surprised me. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I have. And ‘enjoy’ is definitely the word: I didn’t just like it, I enjoyed it. It’s definitely the best hardcore album I’ve listened to during this project.

Review score: 95%

 

Unabomber—Potemkin (Less is more) (2004)

Unabomber—Potemkin (Less is more) (2004)

Unabomber—Potemkin (Less is more) (2004)

Details

Produced and arranged by Unabomber. Recorded in Estudio Ultramarinos, Costa Brava by Santi Garcia. Mixed by Unabomber and Santi Garcia. Released on Voliac Rock Productions, 2004.

Band

  • Mossen Robert Beltran—Vocals
  • Abraham Martinez—Guitars
  • Gaspar Alloza—Bass
  • Iban Galindo—Drums

Tracks

  1. Dreaming
  2. Poetry isn’t just stuff that rimes
  3. The ballad of the angry brigade
  4. Comrades
  5. Evidence (I see violence)
  6. Panzerkreuzer potemkin
  7. Less is more (The night I saw Brutal Truth)
  8. Sclan
  9. Anthem of the outsiders
  10. Your karma sucks
  11. The Swedish prisoner
  12. No blood, no know (bonus)

Review

There seems to be a lack of real clarity about this band and album. According to one website I read, Unabomber hail from Andorra, while another claims they are from the Catalonia region of Spain (which to be fair borders Andorra). One site claims that they are a grindcore band, another: hardcore.

There is something really enjoyable about this album, which strikes me as definitely more hardcore than grindcore. This is more Henry Rollins than Napalm Death.

It’s definitely not the greatest album in the world (imagine if it was, though! Awesome! I got it for free.) It’s not the greatest example of musical art. But dang! there’s an energy to it. These guys were clearly having fun.

I’ve listened to it at least two or three times over the last 24 hours and while it is a little too shout-y in places for my liking there are some fun musical ideas, and pleasant riffs.

Conclusion

Ultimately this is pretty disposable rock, but it’s fun while it lasts.

It’s like, this isn’t the friend you take to your gran’s 90th birthday party, this is the mate you take to Donnington Park for Download, who sees you through a heavy night and makes sure you get home safely but not before he’s drawn on your face in permanent marker.

Review score: 60%