With 2012 fast approaching the 6-month-down mark, it’s time to check the scores-on-the-doors in the Finest Vinyl Stakes. The horses are on the track:
Pagan Youth – Ærefrygt EP (Dead Section)
This is Elias from Iceage’s other band. I’ve been waiting with fetid breath for this one for the past 12 months or so. I love the moniker. I dig the malevolent intent. It’s been well worth the wait: eight tracks of weirdcore, coagulating angular post-punk guitar figures with growled black metal vocals and rudimentary rhythms in a vaguely post-everything apocalyptic shuffle. Devoid of shape or melody, any structure present here hangs on the guitar lines, like a pair of tied-together trainers marking out gang turf. The a-side features four tracks recorded in 2011, the flip four tracks from the band’s original demo recordings from 2010. Gloriously out of step with everything else coming out of Copenhagen right now, but perfectly in time with Dead Section’s roster of kvltish noire. Ltd to a pressing of 200 copies: be quick, or be damned.
Tercer Mundo – S/T EP (Cintas Pepe)
Tercer Mundo are out of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, hinterland of the Mexican drug wars, where working in a rehabilitation centre can get you doused in tar and burnt alive. Their debut six-track EP has been duly shaped by the lineage of Mex HC bands like Herejia. The band include members of Ratas del Vaticano and Margaritos, and their signature sound is as insane as it is intense. The velocity and power of these vignettes are further empowered by the simmering anger of their Spanish language delivery. This is currently my favourite 7″ release of the year. The screen-printed sleeve is reminiscent of Toxic State’s packaging, with a fold over flap and a zine-like booklet. Ltd to 300 copies, this is essential hardcore, circa 2012. Fuck the past, the future is now.
Vaaska – Condemnado EP (Heart First)
Wasn’t that overly impressed with the first couple of 12” releases from this Spanish language outfit out of Austin, Texas, but this six-track 7” 45 is a cut above said previous output. A total banger, addictive as crack, this is a keeper, make no mistake. I’ve been knocking this one out on a back-to-back basis ever since it dropped, and I see no reason to stop any time soon. The production and mastering, courtesy of Hanz Zimmerman and Jack Control respectively, is altogether more satisfying: bigger, badder, better. The songs are stronger, the rage is utterly convincing. The flying V guitar solos bed into the tracks instead of standing out like a sore fret wanking thumb. The artwork is superb, too, with a printed inner bag, and an attendant lyric sheet (for those of you who can read Spanish), making this a veritable 12” in a 7” format. There are some who would argue that hardcore punk is best severed by the 7” medium, and Heart First are a label that adhere to that maxim rigidly. Available in ltd edition white wax for poseurs, or standard black for those who don’t give a shit. Either way, trust me, you need this rekkid.
Ruidosa Inmundicia – Huellas de Odio EP (Heart First)
Based in Vienna, and featuring a Chilean vocalist, Ruidosa Inmundicia are pound-for-pound the finest female-fronted hardcore band on the planet right now. This eight-track bundle of rage is so fast that even the slower bits are faster than your average hardcore band in a blender. This EP has been out for a few months now, but I only picked my copy up a few weeks ago, so I’m including this as a new release. There is more going on in this octet of songs than many bands realise in a lifetime, and across the past eight years of their existence, Ruidosa Inmundicia have honed their craft over the course of a demo, a split 12” with Solid Decline, and a 10-track EP. I can’t recommend this band highly enough.
Crosta – Nus a la Gola (via: La Vida Es Un Mus)
Barcelona’s Crosta have evolved exponentially since their inception in 2006, expanding and refining their hardcore anarchist roots to deliver one of the most stunning long players in eons. In terms of genre restrictions, the 7” versus 12” conundrum raised above finds a convincing counter-argument in Nus a la Gola. The band’s hardcore tendencies are interspersed with elements of the Banshees’ ‘The Scream’ and Crisis’ ‘Hymns Of Faith’ to shape an atmospheric whole that defies classification whilst inspiring devotion. All three band-members contribute vocals, with the female bass player’s vox providing the perfect counterbalance to those of the drummer and guitarist. Much of the exquisite melody that sets this album apart is delivered by the bass-lines, some of the most evocative and memorable I have heard in decades. The band’s website is low on information, but high on free downloads, providing interested parties with the opportunity to download their entire catalogue free of charge. The LP itself comes housed in deliciously dark packaging, with a well constructed sleeve and a stiff-card inner, with lyrics in English as well as the band’s native Spanish tongue. My Album of 2012 thus far, the gauntlet has been thrown down with aplomb. It’s going to take some kind of wonderful to knock this beauty of its perch now. Bring it on.