Tag Archives: hardcore

“Negative Growth”, the New Album from Ex-Cult, Is a Must-Listen – You Must! Listen!

Ex-Cult, Negative Growth (In the Red, 9/23/2016)

We love Ex-Cult, so word of new music from them is always welcome.  In this case, that news comes in the form of a fantastic new album, “Negative Growth”.  Working again with producer Ty Segall (he worked on their self-titled debut, and Ex-Cult singer Chris Shaw fronts one of Segall’s many (many) side projects, Gøggs), the album powers and moves just like you want an Ex-Cult record to, but also showcases some newer tricks.

Previously shared tracks, “Attention Ritual” and “Let You In”, set the tone pre-release.  Both are furious reminders of the band’s punk/hardcore side, each swooping like a Crimson Ghost for the throat.  Shaw continues to possess some of the best punk pipes out there, his hoarse (read, not “hoarsely”) cries imbuing these new tracks with the same shadings of rage, confusion and angst as on earlier releases.

Where things get even more interesting is where the band stray a bit, rhythmically and vocally, from the punk foundation.  Lead track, “Mr. Investigator” begins with an almost Devo-like spazzy new wave beat – and if the title sounds, to you, like something from The Fall (and it does to us), listen to Shaw channeling Mark E. Smith in his intonation, particularly during the chorus.  “Dogs Roll In” (which also featured on the “Stick the Knife In” single) and “Panic In Pig Park” both feature a bit of cow-punk guitar twang, and the noise breakdown during the middle and end of the latter adds to the frantic tension.  “Hollywood Heatseeker” positively swings, while closer, “New Face On”, is a riotous conflagration of punk, no wave, death rock and just good ol’ noise in the tradition of bands like The Birthday Party, and includes a positively Stoogesian saxophone squawk, courtesy of Ty Segall Band member Mikal Cronin.  With Segall at the decks, the heavy superfuzz cream is turned to 11 – the only exception seemingly the snare, which snaps and spits insistently from underneath, like the shiny flecks in a piece of coal.

As with other Ex-Cult output, it’s as much about the energy as anything else – you can almost feel the band collapse on the studio floor at the end of each track.  It’s infectious, and it continues to make Ex-Cult one of the best bands out there today doing what they do.  Thrilling.

Negative Growth is out now, on In the Red.  Ex-Cult is on tour in the west/west coast of the US of A.  Check the dates here.

Highlights include:  “Let You In”, “Hollywood Heatseeker”, “New Face On”, “Panic In Pig Park”.

Debut Mini-LP from Glasgow’s Anxiety Is Satisfyingly Unsettling

Cover Art for Anxiety's Self-Titled MLP

Cover Art for Anxiety’s Self-Titled MLP

Anxiety, S/T (La Vida Es Un Mus, 6/29/2016)

Amidst the soul-crushing mix of braying (sorry, “commenting”) jackasses and unwanted personal hygiene pop-ups, it’s nice when the internet coughs up something new and interesting.

Such was the feeling a few weeks back when stumbling across Anxiety, a new “let’s just call it punk even though it’s more complicated than that” four piece out of Glasgow.  As far as I can tell – after some admittedly flimsy research – the band formed last summer, the members hailing from other Glaswegian bands.  Youtube also provides evidence for a particularly robust live set.

The record itself is a richly dark slab of 80s-leaning hardcore, which also packs elements of early, rawer post-punk (particularly on opener, “Dark and Wet”), crust and industrial into a tightly rolled and ready to explode package.  The rollicking, acid hoedown ring-a-ding guitar of “Human Hell” and “Sewer In My Mind” recalls Dead Kennedys; elsewhere, the band tap the experimental aspects of bands like Flipper and the visceral thrust of crust titans like Crass and Rudimentary Peni.  The vocals slap like the hoarsest, most out of fucks to give version of Rollins circa Damaged, at times using effects that recall early Butthole Surfers and even Ministry.  Musically, the songs teeter just on the edge of spiraling out of control – the brilliant “Sewer” being a prime example – held together by some very good guitar playing and a tight rhythm section.

Deeply moving in its stark unsettling vibe, tales of outsiders giving up and general disillusionment – pieces not fitting (a feeling mirrored by the cover art, above).  With titles including “Dark and Wet”, “Addicted to Punishment” and “Sewer In My Mind”, it’s fair to say this isn’t an “up” album, but as a wise man once said “anger is an energy” and there can be light (or, at least, catharsis) mined from bleak sources.

Anxiety’s debut is out now, on La Vida Es Un Mus.  You can also follow the band on Tumblr and Bandcamp.

Highlights include: “Delayed”, “Sewer In My Mind”, “Dark and Wet”, “Human Hell”.

Album Review: Empty Markets, Stainless Steel

Empty Markets, Stainless Steel (12XU Austin, 4/8/2016)

Churning, relentless, fantastic new hardcore/punk from Austin, TX three piece, Empty Markets.

Stainless Steel marks the group’s debut, lead singer/guitarist Drew Schmitz having previously been involved in bands like Cruddy and Hex Dispensers.  While there’s definitely a whiff of the old school – “Pink and Barren World” sounds like an interpolation of “Teenagers from Mars”, and the sonic energy recalls past masters like Black Flag, The Offenders and Die Kreuzen – Empty Markets, like other newer bands like Ex-Cult and fellow Texans, Institute, incorporate noise, post-punk and post-hardcore (think Drive Like Jehu) ambience into the punk template, elevating it past d-beat rehash or mid-tempo, street punk boredom.

Front to back, this is one of the best new punk records I’ve heard in years (coming from a somewhat jaded, ‘old school’ – like, early 80s – h/c guy).  The arrangements, as well as the playing, are both muscular and extremely tight throughout.  Schmitz’s guitar playing is inspired.  The rhythm section of drummer Jordan Rivell and now former bassist Wendy Wright create crisp, sharp rhythmic blasts.  Wright (replaced, since the album’s recording, by Stephen Svacina) has a driving, out front bass style that recalls folks like Mikey Offender, and her vocal interplay with Schmitz is a consistent highlight.  Loud.  Sweaty.  Cathartic.  Recommended.

Stainless Steel is out now, on 12XU, and can be purchased via Empty Market’s bandcamp page or the label’s site. Find out more about the band on their fbook page.

Highlights include: “New Religion”, “Pink and Barren World”, “Rash Decision”, “Bulging Affidavits”.

Album Review: SROS Lords, Rule


SROS Lords, Rule (Earyummy Records, 05/12/2015)

Debut long player from SROS Lords, a “reborn” (as of 2013, Alleluia!) garage/wave/punk trio from Motown.  We here at thegrindinghalt.com HQ received our copy directly from drummer, Jamie Cherry.  Thanks, man!

The band (named, according to this 2014 interview, in honor of the studio in Detroit, from whence they record) play loud, fast, twitchy music drawing as much to older punk, new wave and hardcore bands like Electric Eeels, The Ramones, The Misfits, Die Kreuzen and Devo, as well garage vets like The Gories, as it is to the more recent work of Jay Reatard (RIP), and thegrindinghalt.com faves Nots and Ausmuteants.

Churning, buzzsaw guitars trade shots with whipcrack drumbeats, accompanied by droney synth and the fuzzed out vocals of singer Morgan, the album whizzing by at break neck speed (“epic” tune “Erica”, the longest, boasts a 2:24 run time).  The energy on display across the album’s 13 tracks is both palpable and infectious; like going to an amusement park with a kid with ADD who wants to go on all the rides, simultaneously.

The group’s description of itself as “slimernetik” punk makes no sense and perfect sense – it feels like a kind of “back to the future” evocation of a time when punk kids and early punk/new wavers saw themselves as “alien” and made music designed for people who felt the same way, eff everyone else.  There’s a whiff of late nights in basements, gaming and gorging on B-movie horror, scifi and reruns – (“Dragonflex” sounds like a bizarro reworking of the theme from “Gilligan’s Island”).

“Music to make soylent green to” could work, too.  Equally, a great soundtrack to an afternoon doing lines of Cheetos dust and spazzing out on peach Faygo.  It’s your life, man; we don’t judge.

Rule is out, like, NOW on Earyummy and is available on iTunes. Check out SROS Lords on Facebook, tumblr and enjoy the seizure-inducing graphics on their website.

Highlights include: “Erica”, “Sniper”, “Dragonflex”, “Baby Centipede”.