Great punk can be measured in a few ways, the first being in black and blue marks– the violent lengths that we’ll all go to celebrate a band in the live setting. Yet any posturing asshole with a mirror can practice looking tough enough to carry a single set, and that coupled with a tight rhythm section can buy your way into “badass,” at least temporarily. The more everlasting method is catchy songwriting hidden beneath all those tensed up jaws and gnashing teeth– a song pounded into your brain so emphatically that by the time it’s finished and it requires another go around.
Spy’s new EP is Habitual Offender, out today. It’s filled with those melodic sledgehammers and delivered with some of the same fury that made us cower from bands like Infest, the Repos or Cold Sweat. Musically, it’s more akin to HOAX, Gag, Protocol or some of the “mysterious guy hardcore” found across the Youth Attack roster. In short, this is well-written hardcore punk performed with veins bulging, wrecking ball-level hatred.
In addition to said EP, Spy has unveiled their two-fer video to go along with the album release. The short VHS-inspired clip that makes it’s debut here today contains the tracks “Obtained Under Duress” and “Exceptional American,” as well as a play by play with a serial killer and a nice ACAB message to tie it all together with one single nihilistic bow. Salute.
Check out the double whammy video below for the first time below, and snag your copy of Habitual Offender, Spy’s new one out now via To Live a Lie.
This year’s installment of Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest in Philly was the perfect way to return to life as it’s meant to be: among your fellow social beings, together, in person, aided but not mediated by technology. It also helped that the bands ruled and the drinks were flowing. Midnight was a raucous joy as always, and it was fun to see Municipal Waste keep that spirit going as well. Additionally, I’d never seen Immolation before and only had a passing familiarity with their material. Was about time to fix that problem! And, of course, the ultimate highlight was seeing Converge do their Jane Doe set and taking the opportunity to crowd-surf to “The Broken Vow.”
And while I can’t provide the same feeling to all of you via this article, I CAN give you a list of five new releases to check out.
Blood Red Throne – Imperial Congregation
Solid, punchy, well-produced modern death metal. The is the 10th outing from these Norwegian death metal veterans, and they use every chug, riff, kick-drum blast, and growl in their arsenal to make a supremely catchy record.
Man, lots of blackened thrash coming out this year! Add the physical remaster and re-release of this EP from the Greek ragers in Chaoshorde. This release includes the original 2018 EP plus a couple other songs from a 2019 split.
Enslaved is at their best when they blend their various talents together — straightforward black metal, epic viking metal, progressive metal. On this new EP, so generously following up last year’s Utgard, the band shows how well they’ve mastered their own art.
Speaking of Full of Hell, there was an unofficial after-show-show in Philly on night one of the Fest which featured another fantasticly brutal band: Jarhead Fertilizer. I bring them up because the band shares a couple members with Full of Hell, and because they absolutely slay. Anyway, so does the latest from Full of Hell, which should come as no surprise.
Decades ago, long-haired kid with glasses decided to marry his love for photography with his love for local punk rock, bringing his camera to a show with Discharge, Government Issue and Scream. From then on, the young Jim Saah would bring his camera to dozens of shows– documenting the early DC Hardcore scene as well as other crucial punk in the ’80s. In the years that followed, Saah would become responsible for capturing some of the most iconic images of the era.
Saah has compiled some of his images to create In My Eyes: Photographs 1982-1997, a photography art book that documents his time in the scene, including an array of key bands from the hardcore and indie scenes. Available for preorder now, the book is filled with instantly recognizable images from the era including the images below, which Saah took the time out to discuss.
One of the cool things about the book is not only the diversity of bands but also how it’s organized– by band as opposed to by show and/or chronologically. If you had to name some of your favorite sets in this book, what do you think that would be? Yeah, I did that on purpose because I wanted it to evenly show all the bands that influenced me. Punk rock turned me on to so much stuff– not just more music, but movies and books. That’s what I wanted the book to represent because I wanted the book to kind of represent my trajectory. So in addition to being blown away by Minor Threat, Scream and Void, I would say Talking Heads Stop Making Sense tour was pretty important, the Minutemen, and Iggy on the Blah Blah Blah tour were all pretty important. Also Pavement created a vibe that I really loved.
If I’m pinning you down and and you can only pick one iconic photo, which one is it going to be? Interesting question. It would probably be a picture of Minor Threat of Ian MacKaye, I think it’s the picture that opens up the Minor Threat section. Its Ian laying on a bed of people– he’s singing and you see the mic cord but the mic is gone and people are going nuts. That exemplifies to me what punk rock was about.
The shows I went to before going to see punk rock were all in an arena. If you grew up here, then you’d go to shows at big places where everyone’s sitting in their seats and they’re watching the show. But when I went to those shows, I almost felt like I wasn’t a show, it was almost more of a movie to me. Anyway, I liked Springsteen as a young person because my siblings got me into him and stuff, and seeing him on The River tour was one of the first shows I ever saw. But then I discovered punk rock. It wasn’t like being at a show. And the fact that you could participate and be part of it and jump on the stage and sing along with the singer, that just made it a completely different experience. Anyway, that Minor Threat shot exemplifies that because everyone is just enjoying themselves and they’re all just the mass pile of humanity, celebrating a community.
How many times did you get a chance to see Minor Threat? I’d imagine that you probably wasn’t that many times. Yeah. They didn’t play all that much but we saw them every time that we could. I even went to see them at University of Maryland when they opened for Public Image Limited. We were appalled to be were paying $12 to go see Minor Threat– we were snotty hardcore punks and probably thought Johnny Lydon was an old fart by then. I would say I saw them six times or so?
The Black Flag set starts off with a pretty iconic photo of Rollins that I’ve seen a bunch of places. Yeah. if anyone has seen my work, that’s the picture that most people have seen first. That was at the 9:30 Club in early 1983. It was the first time I saw them. Henry left in ’80 or ’81 or something to join them and move to LA. I interviewed Henry that night– he grew up here and knew a lot of people but left by the time I started punk rock. That show was really intense– I guess all their shows were intense but this one was most of the really angsty songs off Damaged. And, um, it just, that one kicked my too. It was just really intense.
There’s another Black Flag shot a couple pages in that I had never really noticed before that is one of my favorites. When you shoot a few rolls of film and develop them, you make a contact sheet and circle a couple of the images that pop out to you, then you print them and then you sort of put them away. But when I scanned everything and got to see it big on the computer, I discovered a lot of pictures that were really great that I didn’t know I had, which is why there’s a lot of unpublished pictures in this book.
Anyway the Black Flag shot has never been published. It’s a shot where there is sort of a triangle. There’s like these two guys on stage, just deciding which way to go. Henry’s in there with his head back and Ginn is in there. And I think, Chuck’s bass is in it, too. There’s just so much going on in that shot.
Looks like there’s a set list in it, too. And there’s another one with Henry with the mic in his mouth, from the same show where I really debated whether to crop the setlist out. It’s pretty intense, but I always love seeing set lists in the frame, so I ended up going for it that way.
Something that I’ve noticed as a photographer, is when I go through my own shots I always feel like I’m finding something new. For instance and I would imagine this probably has happened to you a bunch, if you have crowd shots and maybe somebody stage driving or something, maybe you’ll look at the diver’s face or the crowd members and realize that now you know these people. Has that happened to you with any of your shots that you want to point out?
Yeah. Well, there’s a shot– it’s the last shot in the book. It’s a hardcore matinee and it’s basically a bunch of people dancing. That might’ve been the first show where I took pictures. It was GI, Discharge and Scream. I didn’t know any of those people yet, but if you look in the audience, you’ve got Brendan Canty, Alex MacKaye, Ian MacKaye, John Staab who was obviously playing that night. I discussed it in the intro, but that’s the show where I kind of felt uncomfortable because I had long hair and no one else did… until I saw one guy with long hair, who got on stage to sing– John Staab. it’s all about non-conforming.
Judging by Shiv Mehra’s day job as guitarist for shoegaze / dream-pop band Deafheaven, it isn’t exactly a logic leap to understand his interest in helming a project like Heaven’s Club, which delves deeper into the psychedelia and melody on the bleeding edges of Deafheaven’s work. In fact, there is a direct line of correlation between 2021’s Infinite Granite and Heaven’s Club’s latest EP.
“I write dozens upon dozens of riffs to even get to a point where I feel like I have enough to pull from for a 20-track album by Deafheaven,” says Shiv Mehra pensively. “A good number of them never make the cut or are tracks that I love but are definitely too pop for Deafheaven. We were working on Infinite Granite and the Heaven’s Club stuff kind of simultaneously, so pretty much every riff of mine that Deafheaven didn’t use or reappropriate in some way, ended up as part All That Was.”
“Today” was one of those riffs, using an expansive and soaring orchestra to fly underneath the entirety of the track while a melancholic indie pop song forms the basis of the rest. It’s clear that influences ranging from Love to Guided by Voices to the Beatles form the basis of “Today,” who’s tripped out video makes its debut for the first time below.
Check out “Today,” the video of which makes its premiere below. The track is culled from the All That Was EP, out now on Profound Lore and featuring exclusive remixes by Ben Chisholm (Chelsea Wolfe) and Andrew Clinco (Drab Majesty, VR Sex).
While COVID-19 and its ripple effects have arguably stifled the creative juices for legions of musicians, that is truly not so for legendary drummer and NYHC institution Sam Siegler. In fact in 2020, he’s been on a bit of a roll with new releases. Last week saw the announcement of Forgive/Forget, a long lost project with Brian McTernan (producer, Battery) and Josh English (Six Going on Seven) that was recorded in ’98 and was shelved until now. In July, Constant Elevation (yes, a reference to horrorcore gods Gravediggaz) welcomed their second EP in Freedom Beach now with permanent members Mike Ireland (Pass Away, ex–I Am the Avalanche), Jonis Jzubkovs (Caspian, ex–Sainthood Reps) and Jim Carroll (Suicide File, The Hope Conspiracy). And with no signs of stopping, Sam Siegler is now back with World Be Free, welcoming the new 12-inch EP One Time for Unity on November 13 via Revelation Records (preorder it).
World Be Free first came together in 2014, uniting some serious titans in the hardcore world between Siegler and Scott Vogel (Terror, Buried Alive), Andrew Kline (Strife), Arthur Smilios (Gorilla Biscuits, CIV, Warzone) and Joe Garlipp (Envy). After a limited cassette release, the band released their debut LP The Anti-Circle in 2016, a fun excursion that saw the band expanding into more melodic punk influences while keeping their collective hardcore cred intact. A handful of appearances followed but life got in the way– Vogel required neck surgery, Garlipp’s day job as the Who’s tour manager got heavy and the rest of the band hunkered down with other projects. It seemed, however briefly, that World Be Free might be on the back burner.
After replacing Smilios with bassist Alex Barreto (Chain of Strength, Excel), mostly due to him being the lone East Coast-dwelling member, World Be Free settled in to work on new material. The crew passed ideas back and back and forth but nothing seemed to stick– until Vogel heard the EP opener “Acceptance,” which makes its debut here today. “Up to the point this song was written, I would say the band was in limbo,” recalls Vogel on the state of World Be Free at the time. “My surgery really messed up the momentum or growth of the band on the first release, and when I was back on my feet, we never really got that ball rolling again.”
“Acceptance” kicks off with a decidedly post-hardcore feel straight out of the Quicksand playbook before settling into a galloping hardcore track with a jaw-clenching breakdown that will feel more familiar to no nonsense fans of the genre. And while the “Acceptance” is decidedly hardcore in feel and approach, it does teeter into territory occupied by bands like Dag Nasty and Lifetime by prioritizing melodic tendencies over out and out destruction. Even Vogel sounds far removed from the bark found on Death of Your Perfect World and One With The Underdogs, but that’s not to say that the track is anything less than a steamroller. Check it out for the first time here.
“Acceptance” is culled from the self-produced One Time for Unity 12-inch EP, five new songs tracked with Davey Warsop and Nick Jett. Order yours at Revelation Records ahead of it’s release.