Monday, June 29, 2015

KRVSHER - Church Burner 12” Review

This genital chewing LP was recently picked up at a Krvsher gig. “Six dudes from Texas playing evil shit” is the band’s self described moniker. I have to say that is a pretty accurate tag. Every piece of music always brings forth some sort of image when listening. For Krvsher, when listening I imagine opening a door and finding people being slowly raped and tortured with sharp objects.
In some ways the music is similar to Eyehategod’s first record, but not totally. The album consists of 4 tracks ranging from 4 to 10 minutes. The best description is that of a painful, mood inducing, droning beat down. Not to rip off Phil Spector, but Krvsher truly is a “Wall of Sound.” This record is equipped with all the brutality filled characteristics: sludgy down-tuned guitars, thudding slow drums, shredding noise samples and drunken, throat ripping yells.
“Hill People” is probably the most upbeat cut of the record…and it is still moves at a pedestrian pace. From start to finish, Church Burner creates a doomsday atmosphere and never lets up. I really like this record a lot, but it does not replicate the sheer force and power of seeing the band in a live environment. Live is the only way to experience the Krvsher onslaught. Earplugs are needed!!
The band is consisted of veteran musicians that have partaken in a variety of projects in the past. With Krvster, all members continue their legacy. The album is available on vinyl (200 grain extra thick black vinyl) and limited edition cassette. Go check it out.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

NO SOLUTION 1992-1993 Review

I am glad this was put to CD. It would handsomely fit on a piece of vinyl. This collection was released a few years back but listening to it the other day urged my realization that it needed a plug. This totally brings me back to that time period of the early 90s. Back then, most of the HC gigs always included a combination of bands No Solution, Tread and End Result. That was a magical time of venues such as The Axiom and The Vatican. Shows were much more violent back then, but that is a whole other story.
These NS tracks definitely sound dated, and for that reason they sound even more special. The vocals have quite a bit of reverb, which was somewhat common back then. The music most definitely fits into the description of hardcore punk. There are no metal influences, just pure hardcore with punk rock influences. 
Also during these times, not many bands had a quality recording. It was a big deal for a group to actually have a studio produced demo. Recording technology was not readily available to the average person.
This DIY release features new and exclusive artwork. Also there is a nice array of throwback photos included. Definitely a must have as a piece of Houston history. I am not sure of its availability these days. However on a positive note, I have been told that some modern NS recordings are in the works. So that is definitely something to look forward to.


Friday, June 19, 2015

KHOBRETTI - Interview taken from Violence Now Zine

*Republished with permission. Interview was originally printed in Violence Now.
Interview with drummer Donnie and bassist Mark.

A friend of mine referred your band to me and I was impressed. I became an immediate fan of your old school hardcore influence. Do you draw from the classic model for inspiration?
DONNIE: Yeah, I would say so.  We definitely are inspired by the classics from Joy Division to The CroMags. I like to think we incorporate our influences into our music as well.  
MARK: I think we all draw inspiration from different aspects of our lives, but we were all influenced those old punk and hardcore classics.  For me personally, skateboarding was a big influence in my music growing up, and I have been getting back to my roots.

Let’s start at the beginning since a lot of our readers might not know you guys. How did the band come together?
DONNIE: I woke up one day and said to myself that I wanted to start an old school NY style hardcore band but wasn't sure how to get the ball rolling on that one since I live in Houston. Kind of unheard "round these parts". I said, what the hell and posted on my FB page to my local friends to see if anyone was interested and then J.R. messaged me and that was the start of Khobretti.
MARK: It's funny how things come together. J.R. and I had been talking about trying to get something going after a layoff from a previous project.  One day he told me he had an old friend (Donnie) that had posted a message about wanting to start a band and that pretty much got things going.

Your demo has an absolute vintage sound. It sounds like it could be a 7” released in the 80s. Please elaborate more about the recording.
DONNIE: Right On.  Yeah, well I don't think that is what we were going for only because we wanted something as a reference to our new songs.  We recorded live in JR's studio and a lot of what you heard was really only one take of each song too. It came out really well and we were happy to have it as a demo and have it sound like those recordings we grew up listening to. 
MARK: It is interesting how well that demo came out.  As Donnie mentioned, the recording was really more for us to get something down for our own reference.  But everything really has clicked since the beginning, and I think those recordings reflect that. 

I see that you have an upcoming 7” release. Is it being done through a label? Can you give more details of what to expect?
DONNIE: Yeah we have a split coming out with Hogs of War very soon and are stoked to have them on it.  We are releasing it ourselves and trying to be as self sufficient as we can.  The recording process has been easy for us because we rehearse in a recording studio and that makes things really easy and laid back for us.  
MARK: Since we are able to take our time recording, we don't have to settle for anything less than what we really want to put out there.  All the recordings came out really awesome, and I think people will really like what they hear.

What future plans do you have? Are there any other releases planned?
DONNIE: We have recorded a whole album worth of songs and will be releasing more of those on splits with other bands and an EP.  Not sure about a full length.  Full albums from HC bands tend to get redundant after 4 or 5 songs in IMO, but whatever the band decides overall is what will happen. So, who knows? 
MARK: We are always talking about future recordings and what we want to do. There will probably be a few surprises along the way. 

There in Texas how is the music scene? Are there lots of opportunities for gigs?
DONNIE: Yeah, the HC scene as of lately has had an awesome resurgence.  There are so many bands that we can play with and actually be billed as a HC show.  I have noticed a lot of young kids (I say that because I am 41yrs. old) keeping the torch lit with HC and bringing out punk and hc kids to the shows.  It's great to feel young again playing along side all of these great Houston HC bands. It's definitely a work out too.  
MARK: Things have definitely seemed to be picking up.  It seems that more and more opportunities are popping up to play with different bands.

What kind of stuff did you grow up listening to?
DONNIE: I personally grew up listening to all types of music.  I have to say that The Smiths and Joy Division are probably the two bands I listened to most growing up to this point.  I still listen to them once a day.  I got into punk and HC in jr. high with Bad Brains and Suicidal Tendencies and from there a flood gate of music poured in. JR and I used to frequent punk shows when we were in our teens and saw some great shows but nothing more memorable than GG Allin at the Axiom.  That was punk at its finest/worst.  I think we both strive for that in our live show when we perform.  HaHa, J/K.
MARK: Skate punk and hardcore punk was really my core music base growing up, but all sorts of fast heavy music made its way into the play list at the old half-pipe during skate sessions.  If you could skate to it, it got played.

What was the first album you ever bought and the first concert you ever saw?
DONNIE: I want to say it was Quiet Riot's Metal Health.  The first concert I saw was New Order in 88 and that was an amazing show.  
MARK: That's a good question.  I'm not sure about the first album I bought.  I do remember getting cassette tapes of the Clash and the Police for Christmas one year from my parents.  The first punk album I ever heard was the Dead Milkmen Big Lizard in My Backyard.  A friend in Junior High brought it to school one day and told be to go home and listen to it.  After hearing that I knew punk rock was for me.  My first show was D.R.I.  That had to have been around 1988.

Anything you would like to add?
DONNIE: Yes thanks for the interview. Be on the lookout for our upcoming 7” with Hogs of War. That should be out in the fall. Also we have a planned split CD with Black Coffee in the works. I’ll finish with a plug for some of the great bands around our area: Mind Kill, Shut Out, Sketch//Driven, Blunt, God Fearing Fuck, Supremacy, Forced Fem, Action Frank…honestly there are so many that I can’t remember them all. Go give us a "like" at

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

SKETCH//DRIVEN - Corruption EP Review

                        Once again, here is another release I have been trying to find time to review. This 3-song scorcher is pretty intense. Upon hearing the recording and seeing them live, my first impression was that of early 2000s hardcore. I found it extremely reminiscent to the stuff Victory Records was releasing during that time. However, the more I listen, the more I find other dimensions to their music. Sketch//Driven have a “Victory” influence, but that sound does not dominate their songs.
            Over all, the release ranges from slower to mid tempos. There are no fast songs, but I don’t think they need any. From beginning to end, all songs stand on their own with pure aggression. The barked raspy vocals are smoothly intertwined with the music.
The opener “Twisted” has a serious Bloodlet somber tone. The track is only 48 seconds long, but the slow brooding approach definitely works. “Corrupted Faith” beats down the door as track two. Some serious metal riffs swim throughout this song. “Puppet” finishes things off. It is the most upbeat song of the release. Parts of it have an SOD flavor.
Corruption sits nicely with the band’s already released work. It was unleashed January of 2015, so it makes me wonder when a new output will hit the streets. In the meantime, go check it out for yourself.

Friday, June 5, 2015

DIE YOUNG - Veteran Hardcore with Revitalized Inspiration

Interview with vocalist Daniel
Your band is a lasting name not only in Houston but the world. Back in 2009 when the band went on a hiatus it seemed like you had some great momentum going. What was the cause of the lay off? 
It was the classic case of doing something you love so much that you start to dread it. We had gotten to a point where we actually toured so much that we primarily got by on money from the band, as little money as it was. We had no booking agent in America, and did everything ourselves, and at the time we were committed to only doing things that way, but we seemed to have reached a plateau as far as our audience goes and what our options to keep touring were if we weren’t going to adopt a more “business-oriented” approach to everything. Everything just started to feel stagnant. We had changed members so many times I couldn't count, and then our bassist and guitarist at the time eventually decided they need to go home and go back to school. I decided the time had come to throw in the towel at that point and start talking exit strategy. I remember on our final European tour, just a month before the band broke up, Die Young was literally me, two guys filling in from California on guitar and drums, and for half of the tour we had two separate friends from Austria alternating as fill-ins on bass. When you have that many people coming in and out of the mix, I feel it will usually compromise the quality of the performance—even when the guys are perfectly capable musicians. There is a magic that comes from the same musicians playing together for a long time that you can’t get from musicians getting together for just a couple practices to get things down “good enough” to go on tour. I remember in Berlin on that tour the crowd was chanting for us to play one more song at the end of the set, but I was so furious about the band’s poor performance, I couldn’t carry on—despite people being totally okay with our performance--and I walked off stage. I felt like what we were doing was a joke. Some people told me they thought I was a dickhead for doing that, like I was being a rockstar or something, but I was really just trying to maintain the band’s integrity. I realized I had probably compromised it too much over the years with my ambition to tour in such circumstances. Looking back, I blame myself for the situation we ended up in. All the member changes had gotten out of hand. But at the same time, we achieved a lot in those years, and perhaps we wouldn't have "a lasting name" as you say had the band not done whatever it took to play those hundreds of shows that we did, so I don’t necessarily regret the sacrifices that were made to make all that happen. 

Now the band is active again, what new goals are on the horizon? 
When we got back together it was all about having fun and writing new music, and it still is. As much as I would like to take our new songs to new crowds all over the world sometimes, my life isn't set up to be on the road all the time anymore. None of us have that sort of desperate, nihilistic, young aimlessness that can be fulfilled by touring at this point. Just about all of us have serious jobs, relationships, families (dogs, cats or kids), and other adult-level commitments that keep us tethered to the domestic life, which I have grown accustomed to and enjoy. Even when we go out on the road for 3 or 4 days now, it drains me, and I feel like I have had my fill of it for a couple months’ worth of time. So band goals now consist more of being more selective about when and where we play, and we get to spend way more time writing new material, which I think helps make it the best it can be. In years prior, we’d be writing on the road and spend very little time practicing the material before we went into the studio. We’d still be feeling the songs out in the studio, and honestly, when I listen to most of our old records, I cringe and think of how much I would do it better now, had I only had that objectivity and ability to be critical of our own work back then. I know I am my own worst critic in regards to that, but now we get to be more objective about what we’re making, and I enjoy that a lot. We’re working on a new full-length to record late this year and release in 2016. We’re about 10 songs in so far. There will be some shows sprinkled in here or there between now and then too. Some east coast stuff, west coast, and close to home, too. We still want to try to get out when we can. It’s just much, much harder now.

I also see that you recently filmed a video with Dennis Polk. Judging from his previous work, I would expect that he will be creating something great. How was the shooting process? Are there any comical stories worth mentioning? 
I just saw the finished video last night, and I am really happy with it. Dennis is a great creative mind, and it was a lot of fun to work with him. I didn't want to do a “live” or typical music video of a band playing, so I came up with this idea for our song “Return to the Earth” to find a good, swampy or wooded spot, roll around in the mud and yell the song lyrics. I told Dennis some of my inspirations for the vision I had of the video, and he got really amped up and excited to work on the project. He found the perfect backdrop to record in, down in Angleton, Texas. We have a mutual friend whose family has a house on a large plot of land complete with mossy trees and lots of secluded space. So Dennis and I went out there on a rainy day by ourselves. I rolled around in the mud, yelled and posed for a while, and then our friend’s dad blasted me with their hose so I could clean up enough to get back in my car. Dennis and I went out to Brazos Bend State Park afterwards to try and film wildlife for more material. We filmed several alligators while we were there. That park is great. It’s crazy how close you can get to alligators in some spots because they are so used to people walking on the trails there. All in all, making the video was a fun adventure, and I am really grateful that Dennis was so supportive and enthusiastic about the project. His hard work on it helped to make it something I am really excited to share with everyone.  

You have a lengthy discography with releases on many labels. Looking back, which are your favorites? What fond memories do you have? 
I always felt we progressed on each record, so each time we did a new record it became my favorite. That’s how I feel about our latest record, Chosen Path, and I already know the new one we are working on now is going to top Chosen Path, too. I think we achieved some cool new twists on Loss, too, when we had our friend Steph contribute a more feminine element to the record with her backing vocal harmonies, and also on the instrumental track we did with her playing cello over a 12-string guitar. It was only a 4 song EP, but when we finished it I felt we were going out on a triumphant note as a band, being that Loss was supposed to be the last record we would ever do. I think having those elements on the record helped captured the dynamic power of the emotions that went in to those making songs more potently than we had ever done before. It was all as sad as it was angry, and I think conveying sadness has always been an important part of Die Young, but we had never really been that dynamic in our delivery of it before.

Die Young has had quite a touring career both in the states and abroad. Do you have any upcoming road dates planned? 
We are going to do a short east coast run with one of our all-time favorite bands, Catharsis, in August. And we’re got some random southern/Dirty South stuff lining up for the Fall. We'll hit the west coast as soon as we can, too, but it may not be til early next year unfortunately.

The Houston hardcore scene seemed to peak in the early 2000’s then lost some steam at the end of the decade. Here the last few years there has been a resurgence of new bands. What are your thoughts? 
Then and now are definitely different times with different attitudes, sounds, trends, and ethos. I remember when there were only a handful of Houston hardcore bands, and Fallcore would be lucky to have 10 bands on it total, and perhaps the only criteria to get on Fallcore was to be a hardcore band from Texas. There was enough room for nearly every band back then. But now there are literally dozens in each Texas city, and it is hard to keep up with everyone, as it seems like everyone in a band has at least one or two other sidebands going on too. Even the frequency of shows now is so much greater than it used to be, and that is also hard to keep up with. I am really glad, though, that there is a resurgence going on. I have taken up the project of the Houston Hardcore Mixtape, which is a free download “mixtape” on Bandcamp which showcases the variety of bands playing in the Houston scene right now, and when you listen to it, you can’t deny that right now Houston has a great mix of bands, young and older, playing styles all across the spectrum of hardcore. Part of my motivation for doing the mixtape is just to be able to get myself acquainted with as many current bands as possible, because it's actually hard for me to keep up with everything and everyone being that I'm just not available to play or go to as many shows as I used to years ago. I think I want to do a throwback volume of the mixtape too, maybe 1998-2004 or something like that. That was a really special time to be involved in Houston hardcore—for me personally, and for so many people I grew up with in this scene.

Do you have anything you would like to add?
Thanks for the interview, thanks for reading, and check out our new video for Return to the Earth.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

SPECTRAL MANIFEST – Forbidden Arts single

Forbidden Arts cover art     First off, I must say it is refreshing that this band finally has quality recordings out. For the longest time they only had live and rehearsal material available. Those recordings were cool in a raw, old-school way but did not give the band a proper representation. If you’ve seen this power trio live, you know the sheer wall of heaviness they churn out.
     Last year they finally released their superb self titled debut. It was a great mixture of early retrograde death metal that made me feel as if I was back in 1991 listening to it on a cassette. Filled with plenty of moody Pestilence and early Vital Remains (Let Us Pray) riffing, the CD really tickled my fancy. In a much more aggressive manner, it really reminded me of one of my personal favorites, Baphomet’s The Dead Shall Inherit.
     Now that I have jumped off topic, let me get back to the single. The track opens with a doomy, Cianide-like riff that leads into a mid tempo medley that surrounds some sickening, deep death metal growls. There are some blast beats intertwined, but for the most part the cadence stays the same. The playing is extremely tight complemented with a thick production that this music demands.
     Also, I really like the art included. It seems to be Photoshop composite work, but for me, it works perfectly. As with the music, the cover has a very vintage feel. Although totally different, it reminds me of the artwork for the Napalm Death Suffer the Children 12” single.

The band is offering it FREE at the link below. So there is nothing to lose, go download it. I do not think you will be unsatisfied.

Monday, June 1, 2015

MINDKILL - Brutal Hardcore in a Destructive Rage
Interview with vocalist Sam and Bassist Nic
In a short period of time your band has definitely been making a statement on the Houston scene. Of course you had to start somewhere. So can you give the readers some insight of how the band was formed?
Sam: My brother Zach and I have always wanted to get a hardcore band together. We’ve gone through numerous members, names, and sounds to get to where we are today with Mind Kill. When our original bassist left the band, the obvious choice was Nic because we had been jamming with him for years. He’s a quick learner and also one of our best friends. He had played guitar in previous bands with us, but he decided to pick up the bass to help us out and has since really come into his own. We knew Matt through friends of Nic’s and when I told him we were trying to put a hardcore band together, he was very interested having just left Moral Distrust, so we set up some jam sessions and everything just fell into place.

Your debut release, the Society Skam demo, is an extremely powerful output. I’ve listened to it many times. It has a heavy modern production sound but still pays homage to the old. I see it was recorded at Origin Sound. How was the recording process? Also, as a band, what are your final thoughts about the demo?
Nic: I think the recording process at Origin Sound was the most satisfying experience we have had as a band. Ten hours for six songs mixed and mastered. Craig knew exactly what he was doing. The demo is great in my opinion. For our first release this demo killed it, and Mike Schoolcraft really nailed the cover art.

Your songs feature some really memorable, face smashing riffs. What is the Mindkill writing process?
Sam: Each member contributes to the writing process in their own way, but Zach and I, being brothers and living together, write most of the riffs and lyrics. However, like I said, each member contributes and plays a vital role in the writing process. It’s good to have a band where each member is able to write songs. It really helps us out creatively.

Initially, what got you into underground music?
We all got into underground music at different stages of our lives. We all like different types of music, whether it is metal, punk, hip-hop, or hardcore, but at the end of the day hardcore is our one true love.

Mindkill has been on a relentless show schedule. I was definitely impressed the first time seeing you live. How has the overall reception been?
Sam: The overall reception has been great. It’s really cool that other bands that have been around longer than us genuinely like what we’re putting out and we’re grateful for that. We’ve been given some cool opportunities to be on compilations, festivals, and even a radio station and we owe it all to the hardcore scene and the people in it.
It seems that your timing of coming into your own as a band is perfect. In Houston, the hardcore music scene is definitely the move. Right now Mindkill has the perfect sound to ignite some energy. Your thoughts?
Nic: First off, I want to say thanks to all who have came out to support us, picked up our CD, and downloaded our demo. All I know is that this is just the start for Mind Kill. We are not leaving the scene anytime soon, so get ready for more Houston! We just have to keep up all the hard work and time we put in Society Scam, keep playing shows and keep fueling the Houston hardcore scene.
What are your long term goals? Do you have any touring plans?
Sam: One of our main long-term goals is to tour all over the world and do our part to spread hardcore across the map. We love this music and want to give back by building the scene in any way we can. As for touring, we plan to hit the road by the end of the year.

Are there any plans for a new recording?
Sam: We are currently writing some new material and have plans for a sophomore release before the end of the year. We might do a solo release, or we might do a split with a fellow Houston band. Either way, our next release will destroy Society Scam.

Ok we are at the end. Please give any final thoughts.

First of all, thanks for giving us the opportunity to do this interview, we appreciate it. Shout out to our friends, our families, everyone in the TXHC scene, Khobretti, Blunt, Sketch//Driven, Supremacy, Daniel from Die Young, Will To Live, Failed Project, Gunpoint, Craig from Origin Sound, Mike Schoolcraft for the artwork, all Houston Hardcore bands, and everyone who supports Mind Kill and the Houston hardcore scene in any way. Keep the faith!