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Track Premiere: Point Break — “I Am”

Damn, Upstate Records is on a tear.

The Albany-based label has very quickly established itself as perhaps the premiere home of modern, from-the-heart, metal-tinged hardcore — and this stellar vital, vicious grinder courtesy subgenre up n’ comer killers Pointbreak is destined to only further cement that reality.

“‘I Am’ talks about the inner struggles one has in their own head,” vocalist Martin Miramontes Jr tells Decibel. “Thinking that a self destructive way is the only way to go because life has always been unfair. On our EP Forsaken, I talk about a home that I built off of memories, traumas and anger. This song takes places outside of that home but, seeing myself from the outside in. Being scared to leave it all behind because ‘home is where the heart is’ and even though it’s not an easy life, it’s the only life I know.”

Check out an exclusive stream of the track below and pre-save the track out tomorrow here.

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Track Premiere: Turian — “Snakehead”

Turian is making a bet you’ll be down with some unrelenting crust- and grind-infused melodic death metal…

…and that’s a great fuckin’ wager because No Longer Human is a top shelf goddamn rager!

The full-length from this Seattle quartet is out August 5 via Wiseblood Records, but if that wait. sounds interminable to you there’s good news — we’ve got an exclusive stream of standout track “Snakehead” right now!

“‘Snakehead’ is the story of male violence upon society through the lens of the tragic character Medusa,” Veronica “Vern” Metztli says. “A woman cursed by the gods to turn men to stone with her ‘evil gaze,’ a trait that furthers her isolation from society and ultimately perpetrates hatred toward her. Man created her burden and then scorned her for it; her vile female gaze that causes them distress and ultimately leads to her death by their hand. A terrific modern metaphor.

“Musically, we wanted something that felt unrelenting but also had a tight rhythmic base. It had to feel raw and aggressive but also rigid and cold to match the vibe of the lyrics.”

No Longer Human by TURIAN

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Track Premiere: War Babies — “March of the Mindless”

“We’re at time in history where people seem content living in someone else’s version of reality, so long as it suits their needs,” Darren Nanos tells Decibel. “No point in them fact checking a thing, they keep their heads down, and keep their ears plugged to any conflicting viewpoints and carry on with their lives.”

Well, you could plug your ears with ignorance cement and it isn’t going to keep out massive, driving, expansive hardcore blastoff “March of the Mindless,” the sonic response Nanos (Survivalist, Brain Slug) delivers — alongside Mike De Lorenzo (Kill Your Idols, Sheer Terror) — to this increasingly common attitude via War Babies.

“I feel like an eighth grade teacher constantly asking people to explain their answer,” he continues. “More often than not they can’t speak past their preferred headline. A lot of this record is a reflection on that kind of mentality, how people get swept up in a crowd and end up in a dark place.”

Born of sharing music between friends to stay connected and featuring Trevor Vaughan of The Rival Mob and Wound Man, you can check out an exclusive stream of “March of the Madness” below. A previous track, “Life After the Boom,” streamed earlier this month on No Echo. The album from which it is drawn, Shameless Imbalance, is out July 6. Preorder from Hellmind Records or on the War Babies Bandcamp page.

Shameless Imbalance by War Babies

Artwork by Argentinian artist Juan Machado.

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Track Premiere: Bloodlet – “Stealing Fire”

The ensuing wrath would extinguish the world…

That line from “Stealing Fire” is some serious truth in advertising — not just for the track itself, which is almost unimaginably vital and deft for a reactivated crew of legendary trailblazers that first began slaying dark metallic hardcore with trademark serrated grooves three decades ago, but also for the entire catalog of now-certifiably timeless Bloodlet jams, from Eclectic and Entheogen through Three Humid Nights in the Cypress Trees.

“‘Stealing Fire’ is the story of Prometheus’ eternal punishment for gifting fire to man,” Bloodlet vocalist Scott Angeltacos tells Decibel. “For his crime he was chained to a rock and had his liver eaten by a bird every night only to be reborn and suffer the same fate again. He was offered his freedom many times if he would turn his back on man, but refused and embraced his suffering.

“I am drawn to this story as it perfectly fits into the feelings Bloodlet has always tried to convey in our lyrics as well as our music; Righteous suffering and catharsis through pain.”

Check out the exclusive premiere of “Stealing Fire” below as well as the summer tour dates — and be grateful that when it comes to Bloodlet what appeared dead was only in extended slumber.

Stealing Fire by Bloodlet

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Visual Violence: Legendary Underground Music Promoter Rich Hall Brings the Heavy to Fine Arts Gallery Show

It’s difficult to overstate the impact Rich Hall has had on heavy underground music.

For more than a quarter century the Queens-raised promotor brought innovative, dissonant hardcore bands to the masses booking at CBGBs, Santos Party House, and beyond via his 1000knives promotion company as well as doing A&R, merch and radio work for independent companies such as Ferret, Revelation Records, Trustkill, MIA Records, Victory Records, Century Media/Abacus, BandMerch and Bravado.

Fewer are aware, however, that Hall also attended The School of Art and Design & The School of Visual Arts in New York City.

That’s about to change.

Hall’s stunning, kinetic, iconoclastic paintings have moved to the fore — first on Etsy and in the pages of the amazing books Anxious Machines and Bountiful Exuberance — and now at an upcoming Talk Gallery show which promises to hit as hard as In Flames blowing the doors off CBGBs in the mid-90s. (Thank you, Rich fuckin’ Hall!)

To celebrate next month’s opening, Hall — who currently resides in Tacoma, Washington with his wife, Carrie, and son, Cillian — provided Decibel a sneak preview of two show pieces with a few thoughts about each…

“CHAOSFACE”

“I got really back into comics,” Hall says. “My go-to artist to feed vibes off is Jack ‘The King’ Kirby often when I look at his work. I just get so jazzed up by all the great little nooks and crannys of abstract art tucked away in one graphic piece. I want to replicate that feeling with this piece. Wanted to make one ominous form with some great little mini pieces in hidden in it.

“DEMENTED ANDROID ARACHNID”

“I have an ATAT in my studio,” Hall says. “I love ATAT’s, proud Star Wars/toy nerd here! Usually, it’s standing up and being shown so proudly. One day it was just in this position where it just looks so…demented. I had to use it in a painting. Luckily I hadn’t started it and just drew its form onto canvas. It took life real quick. Felt crazy and weird as it took shape. It spiraled into what I wanted.”

Oh, and check out this rad Dadguy shirt ahead of Father’s Day…

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Revisiting the Supreme: The “War On Illusion” Zine Reissue

The purpose of this ‘zine is not to get anyone to shave their head and put on orange sheets. I’m not out to convert people to “my religion.” This ‘zine is just a humble attempt to convey some truth that I have learned in my studies and practice of Krishna Consciousness…

There are very few movements in the history of popular music that have been as legitimately rebellious and lacking an obvious commodifi-ability as straight-edge hardcore and Krishnacore. In this way, the youth crew of the late 80s and temple-based “Eastern”-oriented bands of the nineties are paradoxically kindred spirits to the contemporaneous black and death metal scenes that rode parallel, if oppositional, tracks: If you wanted to contrive and pander your way to a successful “career” in music thirty years ago, no A&R guy would’ve said, “Hey, the sure thing right now is to embrace either low-fi tremolo-picked Satanism or sell all your worldly possessions and become a Hare Krishna on an ashram?”

There is, in other words, a purity to outré art that triumphs…to the success of the un-contrivable.

In this way, the recent collected reissue of early 90s zine War on Illusion by legendary Youth of Today/Judge/Shelter guitarist Porcell  is a fascinating document not only of a bustling, molting, evolving hardcore scene, but also a blueprint for how self inventory/reflection can open the door to other modes of thinking, existence, and ethics — a proposition that has only become more urgent (and arguably necessary) in the intervening thirty years.

In addition to some pretty heady philosophical discourses — article titles here include “Stretched on the Rack of this World,” “Anarchy, Mohawks, and the Existence of Freedom,” “Not this Body,” “City Gardens, Chain Wallets, and the Existence of God” — and Ray Cappo’s YoT tour diaries, Porcell proves himself a deft and incisive interviewer in these pages, frequently questioning his own premises and empathetically nudging subjects into deeper conversations.

He walks, for example, a circa Do We Speak a Dead Language? Rey from Downset through a growing ambivalence about feuds with Zack from Rage Against the Machine and the message of the band’s signature song, “Anger.” (“That song was written at a dark time in my life and sometimes I worry that I’m influencing kids in a dark way. I hope it doesn’t fuel their lower nature. I would never want to say anything or do anything that’s going to hurt anyone or degrade anyone. That part of my life is over. But, man, people like that song. I don’t know what to do.”) Or when he asks Igor Cavalera to define suffering. (“Loneliness is the worst kind.”) Or Vic DiCara talking about getting pulled over while on tour with 108 in full robe regalia by some good old boy cops in Texas who snicker at his “dress” until he tells them he’s a priest — and gives a short sermon to boot. (“I explained to [the sheriff] the four regulative principles, that we don’t take any intoxication, we don’t eat meat, we don’t gamble, and we don’t have illicit sex. And he goes, ‘You d mean to say you don’t have illicit connections with women? You’re a better man than I am, son!’ Then he turns to the other cops and says, ‘They’re all priests! Let ’em go!’”) Or Daryl from Snapcase doing a track by track on Lookinglasself. (“I mean, confrontation is good. There’s nothing wrong with confrontation. But the thing that bothers me is the methods that people choose to confront each other with.”)

“I’ve always been one of those guys that’s on a mission,” Porcell says in an opening retrospective interview. “I like to live my life for a greater purpose, you know what I mean? Whenever I found something in my life that had great value to me, I felt compelled to share it with other people. I’m a naturally enthusiastic person, I think. If it has helped me. then it might be able to help somebody else, so why not shout it from the rooftops?”

And so he did — and it continues to echo today.

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Give Them Vert: Coalesce Frontman Works to Honor Fallen Pro Skater

Last year, professional skater Corey Lawrence died after a tragic accident at the far-too-young age of 51.

Now, legendary metallic hardcore vocalist Sean Ingram — heard on the landmark 1999 Coalesce Decibel Hall of Famer 0:12 Revolution in Just Listening, for starters — is working overtime with others (including Escapist Skateboarding) to honor his friend and mentor with the Corey Lawrence Memorial Vert Ramp at the Centennial Skatepark in Lawrence, Kansas — a “steel frame G-Ramp professionally installed with Gator Skin riding surface” and a “walkway made of custom memorial bricks.” The project is extremely close to its $50,000 goal. Donate directly or pick up a T-shirt or skate deck here to help out.

Further, check out the heartfelt and beautiful tribute video featuring Ingram (and shot by his son) as well as an short excerpt from Ingram’s powerful contribution to the Thrasher mag Corey Lawrence Forever special.

Getting involved in music lead to joining a band, and the first tour I went on is when Corey’s importance was first felt. We were opening for this Hare Krishna band and they were about five years older than me, like Corey was. I just took for granted that they were going to show us the ropes, take us under their wings, whatever. Wrong. They were selfish, tried to poach members, and stole aspects of our sound we were doing that were unique at the time. We spent weeks with these folks and at the end of the tour they had a little public celebration and excluded us. I remember watching my band members just watching from the sidelines and smiling and being stoked to be there and it was deeply confusing. It took a while to figure it out, but it’s because they never had a Corey in their life. They never had someone show them the ropes and include them just because they were loved. That aspect of Corey is so unique in this world it’s nearly criminal.

Photo by Benjamin Clark Shanahan Hlavacek

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Track Premiere: Old City – “DK3”

“Punk has always had a political conscience,” Justin Norton wrote earlier this year when miraculously inducting Frankenchrist into the Decibel Hall of Fame. “But no one articulated the stakes like Dead Kennedys.”

If you want to see the reverberations of that conscience, look no further than “DK3,” the latest track from Philly punk/hip hop crossover outfit Old City which samples “California Uber Alles” by Dead Kennedys, “London Calling” by The Clash, and Nas’ “If I Ruled The World” beat. (We previously interviewed Old City about their process here.)

A few thoughts from Old City, who are exclusively premiering the track here today, are below…

“When it’s crunchtime I break fast and skate past the police,” boasts Old City’s Tr38cho (aka Tre Marsh) in their Philly adapted version of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. The bongo-laced instrumental sets a backdrop that is sped through by its narrator as he aimlessly runs through a not-so-fictional dystopia with no sense of time or direction. Like Ellison’s 1952 novel, DK3 paints a scene that casually displays the social and political issues of its time but consumedly tearing it apart on a skateboard.

[“DK3”] is set to be released on May 13th, the 37th anniversary of the MOVE bombing by the Philadelphia Police Department where 11 people were killed, including five children. 65 homes were destroyed in an ensuing blaze that was intentionally let burn a neighborhood down. One adult and one child survived, and to this day no one from the city government has been criminally charged.

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Full Album Stream: Mutilatred – “Determined to Rot”

Mutilatred have been one of the most-consistent brutal death metal bands in the game for the better part of the last decade. Following the release of their debut album, Dissecting Your Future, the Toledo, Ohio outfit kept up a steady stream of releases, including an EP and splits with From the Helmouth and Livid. Nearly seven years after the release of Dissecting, Mutilatred back with their sophomore full-length, Determined to Rot.

There’s very little fat on the twelve songs included on Determined to Rot. With only two songs (barely) over three minutes, Mutilatred bear down with maximum intensity straight from the jump with snarky opener “Everyone’s Doing Shitty.” In addition to hatred for people, Mutilatred cover the usual variety of topics: violence, death, gore can be found in spades alongside bludgeoning riffs and a variety of mosh parts. Drummer Clay Lowe in particular gives a lively performance on Determined to Rot, which boosts the album’s intensity and helps Mutilatred’s live energy translate to tape.

Determined to Rot contains no real surprises, but cements Mutilatred as one of the underground’s premier brutal death metal bands, no gimmicks or samples needed. Give the album a listen now and grab a copy via Redefining Darkness before it’s officially out this Friday, May 13.

Determined to Rot by Mutilatred

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Days of Resolution: Harley Flanagan on the Cro-Mags’ Evolution, Legacy, Vitality, & Upcoming Tour

“My cheeks hurt from smiling so much. And, at the same time, I want to bite someone’s fucking face off.”

It’s a few days after the thirty-third birthday of the 1989 game-changing, subgenre-summoning Cro-Mags metallic hardcore masterpiece Best Wishes and the band’s fifty-five year-old founding member and certified living legend Harley Flanagan is explaining to Decibel the level of excitement — in that trademark colorful vernacular all his own — he feels at the prospect of once again hitting the road, post-pandemic. (Dates can be found here.)

Which, as you can see, is considerable.

In the conversation that followed Decibel got the lowdown from Flanagan on circa 2022 Cro-Mags, the upcoming tour, and how getting beat down on the jiujitsu mat can prepare one for hardcore touring. (For further reading, check out Flanagan’s 2021 appearance in Cosmo Lee’s “Health Awaits” column or Flanagan’s own essential memoir, Hard-Core: A Life of My Own, which is currently on sale, just FYI.)

Last week, you had a heartfelt Instagram post acknowledging the Best Wishes anniversary one day and the next had a post about this upcoming tour in which you said you “want to smash the opposition…crush my enemies and…bury the past, not live in it.” So, I just wanted to unpack that a little…

[Laughs.] Well, when I say bury the past, I don’t mean I’m not going to play those songs. I meant what I said — I’m not living in the past. I don’t exclusively play songs from an era gone by. I include songs from my entire catalog. Because, the thing is, this is very much a living, current band. I am still writing and recording songs. There’s a new album almost done right now that I’m very happy with and believe stands up with anything we’ve done. So, when I say bury the past…the past is gone. Gone. You know, we can talk about it. I’m happy to do that. We can play a song from the past. And we will. Many of them. But I’m not interested in doing a “senior citizens of hardcore” tour where we play only old songs and take some selfies so people can verify we’re still alive. ’cause I’m living my best life right now. I’m writing some of the best music I’ve ever written right now. I’m in great shape. And some of these other people out there should start taking a little bit better care of themselves because I’m getting ready to go on the road and show them what 55 is supposed to look like.

Speaking of age, you’ve been doing this for an incredibly long time. And, while touring can be hard, obviously, it must also be extremely gratifying to have the art you made more than a quarter century ago and the art you continue to make resonate with people all over the globe.

It’s mind-boggling, bro. It never lost on me that the music that saved me when I had nothing continues to be there for me. If I would not have had music, I would not have been able to feed myself. I made my first dollar — well, it wasn’t even a dollar; it was a crown — playing on the streets at Denmark with kids that I went to school with. So I’ve been a musician, my whole life. I’ve done a lot of other things — I taught jujitsu for fifteen years, for example — but music has always been my staple. In some ways I think it’s some sort of a mental disorder. [Laughs.] I can’t stop. It’s like my brain is always on 24-7 and full off riffs. But, yeah, I’m so grateful to be able to do what I do and have it matter to so many people.

Does that jujitsu training come into play on the road — the whole concept of using leverage to turn challenges into advantages? Is that something that you lean on in these days?

Absolutely, man. Absolutely. I actually got my ass kicked last week by a good friend of mine. And he was me calling me out about how much I sucked that day…which is great. It’s exactly what I needed to hear. Because, first of all, he was right. And second I needed to be reminded to pace myself and be present. My head was not where it should have been that day and I paid the price. But I left feeling great. I got a necessary reminder of what’s real and important in this life. You know, I love the beatings that I take. They enrich my soul.

What can you tell me about the tour?

I can tell you that we are gonna be playing songs from every record, with the exception of Near Death Experience. And we are going to be playing a lot. We’ve got a lot of dates in Europe. We’ve got a lot of dates in the UK. We’re about to do a short run in the states with The Exploited. We’re talking about Japan at the end of the year So there’s a lot of stuff coming. This is a year where I really plan on getting back to work. I literally workout five, six days a week because I know I gotta be ready for that work.

That devotion and power really came through just on the quarantine livestream you did during the pandemic.

We actually put that together in 48 hours. We were supposed to play with Body Count at Webster Hall. The Governor announced the ban on public gatherings while we were practicing for it. So I was frustrated. And I’m looking around the practice room and I see my friend’s open laptop. I said, “You know what? Let’s just set up as if we’re doing a show and broadcast it on all of our social media live.” We wound up getting over two-hundred thousand views while it was happening.

And then like two weeks later everyone was doing it!

Well, to be fair, it didn’t take a genius to come up with the idea. I’m not gonna break my neck trying to suck my own dick here. Were we one of the first? Yeah. But really I just wanted to play and I knew the rest of the world was as frustrated as I was in that moment. If we were innovative in any way, it was not charging people money for it like a lot of these bands did! It was a really weird circumstance to put on a live show in front of a camera crew and treat it like you were playing in people’s living rooms. But you know what? I love to play. I love jamming with my friends. And I really just wanted to try to turn a negative situation into something positive and help other people feel good in such a rough and time, you know?

Hey, you know what? This was an amazing honor. Any last thoughts?

I guess the only thing I would add is, speaking of honor, that aside from whatever ups and downs I may have had with any of the guys that I played with throughout the years, it was an honor to play with each and every one of them. Yeah, nothing lasts forever, but the moments that were good, were really good. And I’m glad they happened. Everything works out the way it’s supposed to and people can point fingers this way, that way or the other…I’m actually very much at peace with where I am in my life.

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