It’s a new year and it’s time to look back on what 2014 gave and also wish you all a great 2015.
The lists below is my year in records and as far as that goes it’s been a pretty great year. I haven’t included my own releases but I’m obviously extremely proud to have been a part of the excellent Infekzioa 7″, and the Distortion Faith tape turned out way better than I could ever have hoped for. The zine… yeah, it’s been a bit slow, but we’re not dead yet so be on the lookout in 2015.
Other than that two of my personal highlights this year has of course been the Sex Dwarf tours of Finland and North America – I can’t thank the guys enough for letting me tag along on those trips, watching so many great bands and finally meeting many of the people I’ve known for many years but never met in person. And getting to know all my new friends as well of course. Thank you!
As always, not everyone likes to rank records – but somehow I think it’s more fun for myself to rank them. It forces me to really give them undivided attention. And I like making lists. And listening to (mostly) hardcore punk. There were more great records of course and I guess I could go on forever, as you’ll notice further down, but whatever. Enough rambling and let’s get on with it…
Best of 2014: 12″/LP
1. SEX DWARF Non Stop Erotic Noise Cabaret LP
D-takt & Råpunk/Konton Crasher
They did it again, and who’s surprised? 15 tracks (16 if you count “March of the Sex Dwarf” from the flexi that came with the limited version) of wonderful, earpiercing noise. The guitars are buzzing, hissing and shrieking. The bass is rumbling, rolling and almost equally buzzing. The drums are whipped, smashed and hammered into oblivion. The reverb-y vocals bouncing around like a mentalpatient in a padded cell, screaming and roaring. If you where to frantically shake a big jar of bees and then drop a mic into it and shake it even more, then you’d get a sound similar to what Sex Dwarf present on this LP.
2. LONG KNIFE Meditations on Self Destruction LP
For a long time I opened my argument for the Sex Dwarf LP with “the undisputed number one”, then this one came out and really gave them a run for their money. In other words – this LP is fucking awesome! Not a dull moment on here, every track hits the nail right on the head – no matter if they go for a full blown hardcore attack or a slower, almost blues-y, tune. I know the Poison Idea reference is getting old by now, but I need to bring it out once more as I think this is the perfect follow up to “Feel the Darkness”. For me this one is a true future classic and if kids aren’t seeking out this in 15 years time something’s wrong.
3. HEAVY NUKES 2nd EP 12″
Rawmantic Disasters/Static Age
There’s so much early 80’s Swedish hardcore råpunk over the 12″ it should almost be disqualified as this is a list over best records in 2014. But, then again, that’s exactly why this lands as high as it does. Like a perfect råpunk record it needs no in depth analysis, it’s just intense, roaring hardcore – primitive perfection. Add this to your playlist of Skitslickers and early Cimex.
4. NAPALM A.D. s/t LP
This is pretty much Totalitär, but with Mattis (Makabert Fynd, Dissekerad etc.) on drums if I’m not mistaken. My motivation for having this on the list is… this is pretty much Totalitär, but with… yeah, you know. If you know anything about hardcore punk you know that Totalitär was one of the absolute best bands to emerge from Sweden, and so when the same people start a new band that sounds similar… of course it’s one of the best records that year! My only complaint is that the intro and outro feel like fillers and I would have liked a couple more real songs.
5. INFEKZIOA/DISPOSE split 12″
I released a 7″ with Infekzioa myself, so I don’t think I have to say too much about their side, do I? I talked about primitive perfection when I wrote about the Heavy Nukes 12″ and this is the exact same thing, just with a different sound as they’re rather inspired by old 80’s hardcore from southern Europe than Sweden. Like I’ve said every time I’ve described the 7″ I released: Some of the most honest and crude sounding raw punk noise I’ve heard in a long time. This is intense punk in its purest and most unpolished form.
Dispose continue with their Disclose worship, and as usual they deliver. The difference between this one and their previous outputs is that this has a darker and somewhat muddier sound, and I prefer the crisp and more piercing sound of previous releases better. Still, this is good and filthy rawpunk.
The Infekzioa tracks alone would land them a third place, but as a whole this split lands on fifth.
6. SYSTEM FUCKER s/t LP
Hell, the name alone warrants them a spot on any top-10 lists, that they deliver raging, noisy, crashing Japanese raw hardcore punk doesn’t exactly hurt their case either. This whole record is like a car crash in any Hollywood action movie, you know the ones that just won’t stop – it keeps going, speeding up, exploding, wrecking havoc…
Buy: Blindead mailorder
7. MASTODON Once More ‘Round the Sun 2xLP
The one that breaks the pattern. I discovered Mastodon very late, it was just before “The Hunter” came out that I listened to “Crack the Skye”. I didn’t know then if I liked it or not, but I wanted more for some reason. Picked up a “Leviathan” and “Blood Mountain” also and slowly started to get into it. Not completely hooked, but hooked enough to stay with the band. Glad I did, cause this one is just great and their best one if you ask me. I guess that just as punk was a revolt to all these bands doing loooong “exploring” and “experimental” songs – listening to Mastodon is my own small revolt to 2 minute screaming punk tracks. Or it’s just a good record.
8. GAS RAG Beats Off 12″
Fast, intense and pissed off American hardcore with loads of ripping and catchy riffs. That alone might not say much if you haven’t heard it, but it’s enough to put it on this list. It’s sad to see that this band is no more, but at least there’s one last EP lined up for January.
9. ZYANOSE Putrid Sick Society LP
Brain Solvent Propaganda
Full blown insanity as always – it’s just chaos, noise, distortion and destruction. What I said last year about their “Why There Grieve?” LP still goes: The distortion, the feedback, the manic drumming, the roaring/yelling/shrieking vocals – it’s all just a wonderful sonic beating on the senses.
10. PROCESS Our Future? What Future? 12″
No messing around, no unnessecary fillers, no metallic leads… straight forward raw hardcore punk in the dis-tradition, stripped down to the essentials of the style.
Best of 2014: 7″
1. SEX DWARF/WARTHREAT split 7″
Crucificados Pelo Sistema
I guess it’s time to face the facts, as long as Sex Dwarf are around they’re gonna top the lists. Not that I’m complaining, rather stating the obvious.
What about Warthreat then, are they just hitching a ride to the number one spot? Hell no! Devastating, loud and rumbling raw punk with the right amount of chaos. While I personally think Sex Dwarf is the better of the two, this is one of those splits where I’ve definitely given both sides the same amount of spins.
While you’re at it, you need to pick up the “And the Children” 7″ (Konton Crasher) by Warthreat as well, a 7″ that would’ve made it on this list by itself if they hadn’t done the split – now I can ’cause myself less headache and just let it slide in here.
2. INFERNÖH/NOMAD split 7″
Brain Solvent Propaganda/Rawmantic Disasters
With the exception of one or two, to pick out the 10 that would make this list turned out to be a lot harder than I first anticipated, impossible in fact as I’m listing more than 10. To place them in some sort of order that felt right… fuck! I’ve moved these up and down a lot and I guess it’s safe to say that the top five have all at one point been the number one.
Infernöh have never disappointed me and I doubt they ever will, their full force råpunk attack is flawlessly executed and everything they’ve put out so far have been top-3 material.
It took me some time to get into Nomad to be honest, but this split is what did it. I think it’s the vocals that fooled me at first, making this sound less raw than what it actually is. Now I appreciate the fact that they don’t have the typical raw punk screaming but instead a more, for lack of a better word, honest delivery. Whatever, it’s punk chaos and I like it.
3. HÄVITTÄJÄT s/t 7″
Amazing, classic 1982 sounding, Finnish hardcore punk – from Australia. Bouncy, catchy and raw in a way that makes me both clench my fist and get all excited at the same time. An impossible record not to sing along and/or bounce around to. I want more stuff, now!
4. LONG KNIFE Possession 7″
LONG KNIFE/FORWARD split 7″
“Possession” ends up further down than I thought it would to be honest, but look at the stuff above it and you’ll get one piece of the puzzle. And then listen to the LP and you’ll understand why this dropped a few places. Still a great fucking 7″, but with that LP at hand I have to be honest and say that the spins this has been given have dropped quite a bit.
I got the split just the other day so I haven’t had a chance to listen enough to write too much, but enough to know it has qualities that allows me to let it share this fourth place. Long Knife delivers what I want them to deliver and Forward have delivered since 1988. Exactly how this holds up to their extensive catalog is too early to tell.
5. LASTLY Crazy Fucked Up Deadly Local 7″
Fully blown-out hardcore punk noise chaos! This is just a beautiful presentation of total destruction. What can I… no, what NEED I say more? Nothing!
Buy: Blindead mailorder
6. RAW DISTRACTIONS Raw Fight E.P. 7″
While all three tracks on here makes this one what it is, it’s the closing “Raw Dis” that really nails it. Extremely catchy and speedy, but not without rawness. Those sharp guitarleads, throughout the whole 7″, are impossible not to get caught by. Blast it and pogo!
Buy: Blindead mailorder
7. EEL Endless Fucker 7″
I’ve listened a lot to this 7″ since it came out, but after seeing the band a number of times about a month back I now fully understand the power of the destruction unit that is Eel. Insane, intense, catchy, raw and fucking punk!
I also have to mention the split 7″ with Pissbath (Mind Cure) here ’cause you’ll need to pick that one up as well. It’s noisier and more lo-fi but equally good (or better, depending on who you ask). Pissbath has a slight Lebenden Toten thing going on and that’s never bad.
8. ASPECTS OF WAR The Presence of Death 7″
Brain Solvent Propaganda
CONTRAST ATTITUDE/ASPECTS OF WAR split 7″
I’m gonna cheat here as well, as I did with the Long Knife records above, and put these two together, for the simple reason that for every time I’ve listened to one of them, I’ve had to listen to the other as well. This is of course mainly due to the fact that I’ve had an urge for Aspects of War, but to get the added bonus of two ripping Contrast Attitude songs can not in any way be a bad thing. They haven’t managed to top their “Stand Up and Fight Now!” 7″ from last year, but that’s too much to ask really.
The words “buzzing” and “chainsaw” gets thrown around a lot when it comes to describe the guitars of noisy hardcore punk bands, but the opening guitars on “This is Hell” (on “The Prescence of Death”) is truly that, and in a sort of lo-fi way. Then the drums start pounding in a steady mid-tempo beat and I fall in love, I’ve always been a sucker for those type of stompers. I’d say the Aspects of War tracks on the split puts the emphasis on insanity, while their own 7″ goes more for the raw pounding sound.
9. S.H.I. Lucifer Rising 7″
From the first listen I knew I would keep on listening to this – over and over again. I loved their first one and I love this one. Metallic, creepy and industrial sounding punk with a nice GISM/Zouo feel to it, at least on the A side. Flip it over and they crank up the industrial influences in the title track with a driving, rhythmic and quite electronic sounding track. It’s almost happy sounding, but evil all the same.
10. AMBUSH 4 track flexi
Brain Solvent Propaganda
The more I listen to this one, the more I realize that I should have listened to it a lot more. I think this band conscist of a few people from Aspects of War as well as Andy from Brain Solvent Propaganda, maybe someone else, I’m not too sure. As far as quality goes it doesn’t really matter, but the Aspects of War connection is worth mentioning as there are a few similarities in here, only somewhat more chaotic and noisy.
11. URBANOIA Psykisk Terror 7″
D-takt & Råpunk/Solar Funeral
I discovered Norwegian hardcore pretty early on in my youth and it has stuck with me since then. I can’t say we’re graced by too many bands from our neighbour to the west, so when a band like Urbanoia find their way to my turntable I’m very grateful. They’re building on the classic sound of Svart Framtid, Kafka Process, Bannlyst etc. but are adding a touch of old US hardcore as well – making it a tad more straight forward.
12. DISSEKERAD Attack 7″
D-Takt & Råpunk/Skrammel/Phobia
I don’t know, I guess this deserves a place much higher up on the list, but instead of what? I want to move this up, but can’t move anything down. Shit. Anyway, it’s just a list of great music and positions doesn’t matter too much. Real quality Swedish hardcore and the comparisons to Totalitär are of course not far away when you have Poffen on vocals, but it’s not just that – the riffs are also leaning that way. So, do I have to say much more? No, don’t think so.