Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Japanese Hardcore: 2015

I recently was fortunate enough to go to Japan with First Blood. I've been wanting to make my way over there for at least ten years now and have been in contact/trading CDs with several people over there for almost as long.

I was initially drawn to the scene by some of the long-standing hardcore bands from the area: Statecraft, Loyal To The Grave, Endzweck, TJ Maxx, Birthplace, etc. It was whenever I started trading CDs with Hiro from Retribution Network that I started finding a lot of my new favorite bands (most of which are featured on The Resurrection compilation CD which they put out). Extinguish The Fire, Crystal Lake, Shiver, Canopus, God's Heritage, The Ten Commandments, Unboy, Blood Calls We Die, End Of Statement and Vanguard among others.

What I loved about all of these bands was that while they were playing mostly familiar styles (typically a very dark, Arkangel-styled metalcore) they were also putting their own spin on things and managing to keep an otherwise-defunct style alive ... albeit on the other side of the world.

I didn't have much information going into this tour other than knowing that I was finally going to be attending the infamous Bloodaxe Fest for the first time. As soon as I stepped out of the van at the first venue, however, I walked in to see a show posted full of some of my favorite bands from the country (Loyal To The Grave, Crystal Lake) along with a band opening up their set with the infamous All Out War intro.

This post isn't going to contain any download links unless I get permission from the bands as all of this material is still in press. I know some of it is hard to get your hands on over here in the US but these guys put a lot of hard work into getting an album released and I'm going to suggest you put a fraction of that effort into picking up some of these discs.

This is a band that formed from the ashes of Canopus and features Jun Matsumara on guitar; a guy I did an interview with for a paper zine called Paradise Regained probably 5 years ago. He is consistently doing new bands and new projects and genuinely loved hardcore. Was great to finally meet him and see his band.

Palm is a band who is not going to be done any type of justice by a recording ... and probably not even by a live video. These guys were doing their entire own thing while being flanked by one of the sickest, smoothest drummers I've seen in a while. I couldn't stop watching this set for the life of me.

This is a band you've probably heard of recently with them coming to the US for This Is Hardcore Fest this past year. I'm not sure when they started but I do know they are one of the longest-standing, most respected bands in Japan. They are actually one of the prime examples of the type of bands I was referencing earlier of doing things with their entirely own unique signature attached. These guys stole the show with their mid-day slot on Bloodaxe Fest. Some of the wilder pitting I've maybe ever seen as evidenced below.


These guys are one of the longest-standing Japanese Hardcore bands and recently released one of their best albums in 2014 entitled City Of Dreams. It's great to see bands of this caliber still releasing their best material and not playing the same songs that they wrote 20 years ago. Numb, along with Creepout, has also come to the US courtesy of Crowd Deterrent for their annual Summer Of Hate Fest. I had never actually heard these guys until they took the stage that year and I was instantly hooked. Don't sleep on this band!

Edge Of Spirit was probably the closest to an American sounding band that we played with. They were an extremely tight and heavy metalcore band who, to me, sounded a lot like early Shadows Fall, Killswitch Engage and Unearth. They've apparently been around for quite some time but finding information on this band isn't the easiest. We unfortunately only got to play one show with them the but self-titled full length they gave me is a solid listen the entire way through.

Creepout is a band we unfortunately did not get to play any shows with but I've been very familiar with them over the years as you may be as well. They did a split with Integrity in, I believe, 2009 and have come to the US on multiple occasions with the help of their friends in Crowd Deterrent (who they have also done a split with). Their vocalist, Kunihyde, is one of the nicer people I've ever had the chance to meet. 

These guys were pretty seriously brutal. I wouldn't quite put it in the deathcore realm but the vocals and tuning are in that vein. Overall though these guys are an onslaught of beatdown after beatdown and were some of the more supportive and appreciative  guys we had the pleasure of playing with,


They made a knock-off logo from the WWE Smackdown design. Enough said. Sick.

Deliverance is one of the few bands from the country that have taken the route of the extremely low-tuning Acacia Strain style of metalcore. They keep it slightly more upbeat than a lot of the American bands going this route and it reminds me a lot of a local favorite of mine, Those Who Fear.

Blindside was the band I had mentioned earlier who was playing the intro to Resist by All Out War when I walked into the first show. Their style is somewhere between Integrity and Expire if that makes any sense. While I'm not personally a fan of Expire and would probably cringe at the aforementioned comparison ... just trust me when I say this band was sick ... OR just check out their BandCamp link above. Pictured above is Takeshi who was the driver for the other band on tour with us, Hundredth. This guy would drive all night and mosh all day without hesitation.

OK ... this was some serious shit. These guys were the only slam death metal band we got to play with while we were over there. I had just gotten word earlier in the morning that a good friend of mine had passed away and seeing Hostile Eyes was exactly what I needed to release some frustration. If these guys came to the states I have a feeling a lot of people would be getting hurt. I filmed this video and really wish I would've done more but I decided to stomp a mudhole in the ground.

Not much needs to be said here as Loyal To The Grave is probably the most well-known hardcore band from Japan. They've been around for a while, have come to the US multiple times and are responsible for bringing over almost every hardcore band to Japan. Several members run various labels and are all extremely well-respected amongst both their own scene and over here in the US as well. This is a pretty decent video they put out quite some time ago.

There were actually wayyyyy more bands than this who were great but these are the ones who hooked me up with their discs and are coming to mind right now. I'm already planning on going back soon with a bookbag full of protein bars on my way in and a bookbag full of CDs on my way out.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

BURIAL GROUND: Discography

So I am far from an expert on this band but this is something I've been trying to track down for years now on my own. I'm excited enough to finally put this together for myself that I decided to share with all of you.

Burial Ground was a heavy hardcore band from Central PA that was around in the mid to late 90s from what I can put together. Besides having one of the sickest band names, they were also responsible for writing some serious prototypes of what would become the norm for heavy hardcore in the decade after their demise.

While I typically consider myself an expert on most things PAHC releated, I actually never caught wind of this band until I got my hands on the One Hell Of A Compilation by Blasphemour Records roughly 10 years ago. Side note: check out this comp if you can.

Their song, Rebirth, struck me amongst all of the other awesome bands on the comp (Abnegation, Goatwhore, Skinless, Milhouse, Psywarfare, Deadeyesynder, Deformity, etc) because it somehow managed to walk that fine line between the darkness found within metal yet the energy and personality of hardcore. This is finely exampled at 4:54 of the following video.

While I managed to track down Mp3s of the unreleased EP that was never released due to their vocalist's untimely passing on a message board post from the guy who ran Blasphemour Records ... I could never get my hands on the Let Us Pray full length despite being promised at least 5 times from 5 different people that they would get it to me.

It wasn't until this year's This Is Hardcore Fest when I was running my distro and having my usual old guy conversations with the other 20 people in the world who still are interested in obsure hardcore CDs from the past few decades that I FINALLY got my hands on said disc.

I was chatting with a random guy from Buffalo, NY that I somehow have yet to meet and we somehow got on the conversation of the few discs we had both been looking for. I think he pulled out a Dragbody CD and was stoked on it ... which brought us onto Burial Ground conversation (who Dragbody did a split 7" with). As nonchaltantly as anyone has ever said anything to me, the guy says "yeah man, I have like three copies of that ... I'll make sure to get you one."

Like I said earlier, promises of having this album being given to me had been made before so I didn't allow myself to get my hopes up. 15 minutes this awesome, awesome guy comes back with a physical copy in his hands and says "I actually had a copy in my car so you can just have it".

What!?! How is someone that cool?!?

I suppose this has nothing to do with Burial Ground but it's such a cool story and representative of that era of hardcore and the mindset behind it that I had to share.

So here it is ... some of the sickest hardcore/metalcore from PA ... and possibly of all time.

DOWNLOAD: Burial Ground Discography (missing the songs from the Dragbody split if anyone has the Mp3 ... feel free to share).

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Blog Update

As usual ... I haven't posted in a while. Sorry for the delay.

So I set up my distro table at This Is Hardcore Fest again this past year. It's become the only time I really bother dusting off the old CDs and hauling them out for other old heads to converse about. It's to the point now where I haven't really put anything new in quite some time and the boxes of CDs serves moreso as a time capsule than a distro, per se ... but I really enjoy setting up annually and ending up in great conversations with both old friends and new.

Every year, without fail, I see the same old faces yet also manage to meet some new ones that I've somehow yet to cross paths with over the past 15 years. It's cool.

This year more than ever I had people asking what was up with the blog. It could be due to the fact that I had yet to make an entry in 2015. Could also be attributed to "early 2000s metalcore" finally coming up in the trend cycle within hardcore. Maybe it's just because people actually enjoy reading this for whatever reason.

Whatever it may be ... I'm going to try to spend some more time on it again. It sometimes gets frustrating whenever you are essentially the only blog of its kind left ... or when you spend probably close to 100 hours on a post and it only gets a few hundred downloads. Either way ... keep calling me out for being lazy and I'll keep this thing alive.

Something I spent a lot of time on this year while the blog wasn't getting updated was my YouTube channel. You can check it out HERE. I have over 1000 full sets, close to a half million views and 1000 subscribers ... and best of all: no fucking commercials!

I'm currently working on going through and making a Hall Of Fame series/playlist that has some of the wildest shit caught on film over the years.

For now though I'm going to upload the Die My Will lyrics sheet that I apparently promised you all close to 5 years ago and was reminded/requested by a kid at TIHC.

Enjoy/Talk Soon.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


It's been a long time since my last post. The weather is getting cold, my bike is getting put away for the winter, work is slowing down and I'm slowly entering my annual hibernation.

To celebrate and to get things kicked off, here is a post I have been working on for the past year or so.

Not only have I re-uploaded the entire "Vegan Metalcore Bible" that I had before Mediafire deleted my original account ... but I am releasing a cover of Abnegation's "Behind White Walls" that I collaborated on with friends Dan Briggs and Cassie Staub. For those of you who may not already grasp how undeniably sick Abnegation was (and still is) ... hopefully this modernized perspective on the track can shed some light.

HERE is a link to the Path To Misery BandCamp where you can listen to/download the track. You can Name Your Own Price ... but here's the kicker. ALL proceeds from the track will be donated to Animal Friends Of Western Pennsylvania's Humane Investigations Department ... which you can read more about HERE. If you like the concept of an organization being on the frontlines to fight against the animal cruelty cases that police typically don't care to investigate into ... throw a few bucks.

While you are donating, I want you to also take this post into consideration. As it currently stands there are 10 god damn gigs of extremely rare Vegan Metalcore demos, 7"s, EPs and full lengths pieced together for absolutely no reward coming back to me. Donate not only for the Abnegation cover ... but for all of the efforts put into this post.

Despite the fact that a lot of the bands featuring in this post have moved on from the animal rights and/or vegan lifestyles ... we can continue to be inspired by the music/lyrics put to tape through donating to the cause of those ACTIVELY defending animals and their inherent right to, at the very least, be treated with dignity.

Here is a list of the bands featured in this post. If you have any additions, please e-mail and I will include for everyone else to enjoy.

Blood Of Judas
Burst Of Silence
Children Of Gaia
Cries Of The Tormented
Dawn Of Orion
Day Of Atonement
Declaracion De Guerra
Dim Mak
Eighteen Visions
Eleventh Hour
Extinguish The Fire
Eye Of Judgement
Flame Of God
From The Dying Sky
Green Rage
Horns Of Resistance
Ignorance Never Settles
In The Clear
Justice Department
Morning Again
New Blood
No Joke
Nouvelle Gaia
Nueva Etica
On Fall
Path To Misery
Prayer For Cleansing
Pure Blood
Purified In Blood
Sacred Pledge
The Setup
Seven Generations
Seventh Judgment
Shaping The End
Sown The Seed
Tears Of Gaia
Vegan Reich
Wheel Of Progress
Wings Of Scarlet
Wrath Of Nature


Justice For The Enslaved
Ceremony Of Fire
Stones To Make A Fire
Animal Truth

There are a few bands who have been left out either because their albums are still in press or are on labels who feel as though there is still some type of money to be made off of the releases.

You can check the Vegan Metalcore Bible HERE ... and don't forget to show your appreciation via a donation at the BandCamp page with the Abnegation cover.


Monday, August 11, 2014

BORN FROM PAIN: The New Future

Over two years ago now, I was out on the road with First Blood and was lucky enough to have Born From Pain joining us for, I believe, their third or fourth US tour. Riding in a van for three weeks with people you've never met in your life always has a potential of being anywhere from awkward to unbearable. Alas, this was far from the case as Rob, Dom, Peter and Lukas were great tourmates in one of the more packed vans I've ever been in. They had come to the US to tour in support of a new LP entitled The New Future ... but here's the catch: they were releasing Mp3s online for free.

Now, let's keep in mind here ... Born From Pain is not some fly-by-night rookie band here. They have been releasing some of the heaviest hardcore over the past 15 years on a reputable European hardcore label known as Gangstyle alongside Metal Blade Records for their later albums giving them worldwide distribution. The decision to embark on an international tour to support the release of a free album is not something that I had ever heard of before ... especially from a band in their position.

Alongside a quick. decimating musical onslaught is a layout which paints a very bleak picture of the potential future of the planet. While nearly being a concept album, the continual lyrical theme throughout the album is the pending New World Order, growing government corruption, reasoning for civil unrest and the continual global governmental battle against liberty.

Now, anyone that knows me knows that one of my biggest pet peeves is when international bands write lyrics concerning American issues that they typically know nothing about. While I understand that US policy has a tendency have global implications which, in turn, effects people on the other end of the Earth, the last thing I need to hear is an Australian opinion on the Second Amendment or a Canadian's input on racism if that makes sense. Regardless, this album is one of the few cases where I truly value the lyrical insight into the state of my country. The comparisons between the current state of those united and Germany in 1933 is both invaluable and an example of the lyrical content on this release.

Musically the album provides 9 tracks in about 25 minutes. With 5 or 6 tracks being quite reminiscent of the Born From Pain we've surely all grown to know over the past decade and a half, there are also several tracks that explore into a very dark, industrial-tinged realm of the band. I remember being given my first taste of the album during one of our overnight drives on said tour after a listening session and subsequent discovery of mutual appreciation of Alphaville. Rob plugged in his Mp3 player without letting me see who the artist was and asked me what I thought. While I enjoyed it regardless, I knew it was some kind of trick question because of how both unique and obviously German it was. I assumed it was some type of side project that I somehow never caught wind of but it was, surprisingly, the new Born From Pain album that has not really left my rotation since then (in 2012).

I'm not too sure where the band's download link for this album is any more so it inspired me to make my own post for the album. I'm VERY curious to hear the follow-up release for this album to see if the band ventures further into the industrial/new wave realm that they were.

Don't be scared by my emphasis on this angle of the album ... there are still AT LEAST three songs on this disc which hold their own in the live set list right alongside Final Nail, Reclaiming The Crown, Death In The City and all the other classic Born From Pain tracks.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014


In case some of you don't know ... I've been digitizing all of my show footage from the past two decades and uploading them to YouTube (now in HD). This is a gem I've been working on for quite some time. There are two bands towards the end of the upload I'd like some help figuring out who they are, however.

Speaking of help ... if anyone has any footage from this era (or any, really) and would like to see them put online for the world to see ... feel free to get in touch. It's very time consuming but it's also a labor of love. Donations of the show tapes are appreciated but I am also content with borrowing the tapes and returning either the masters or DVD copies for you. I return all material in better condition than it arrives and have extremely quick turn-around time. I can provide references as well.

Anyhow, here's the footage ... enjoy!

PS - If you click on the LINK to the actual YouTube page, there are time stamps in the description that will take you to each band directly!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

AGE OF RUIN: Discography

I initially found out about this band in 2001 when I received their demo for review for both my own zine and also for ... which I somehow ended up doing reviews for as a 15 year old kid. There were always a lot of bands who promised to send demos to both ... and I would be lucky to receive one. Having a band follow through on sending to both was a rarity that potentially never happened at any other point.

The cliche is that you've listened to an album so much that it wore out ... well, in this case, it was genuinely true. CD-R technology wasn't up to the standards that it is today but luckily I had two copies. This demo stood out amongst the hundreds that I received as one of my favorites. It was the dawn of melodic metalcore and something about this demo struck me as sounding like a "hardcore version" of In Flames' Clayman album which I had been jamming steadily since I had seen them open for Earth Crisis the year prior.

I was even more surprised to find out that the band was from Fairfax, VA; both a suburb of Washington DC and also a city not exactly known for its metalcore scene. Potentially more intriguing was the recording which I would later found out was done by Ken Olden of Damnation AD fame. While this wasn't the typical style of aggressive music he was known for, it worked well for the raw sound that the band initially pioneered amidst the other bands of the genre who were going the route of triggered drums, sound replaced guitars and pitch-corrected vocals.

I suppose I should back up slightly as the band released a demo in 1998 entitled The Opium Dead when they initially started which I only recently received a copy of thanks to a contribution which I'll go into later. While two songs would be re-recorded (something the band seemed to love doing), two tracks are only available on this cassette. In the year 2000 the band released the full length entitled Black Sands Of The Hourglass on a label I've never seen another release from called Dark Moon Empire. This would later be re-mastered and re-released in 2003 with both a new, exclusive track and a really horrible Bon Jovi cover. While this album still destroys most of the other metalcore coming from both the era and area, there was not much progression from their debut demo recorded two years prior. The maturity found between said debut full length and the following recording session in 2001, however, is quite noticeable.

Actually, what I'm continually referring to as the "demo" I received in 2001 is technically the Autumn Lanterns EP. The only difference between the CD-R that I received for review and the officially released EP is the addition of a fifth track entitled No Kiss Cuts As Deep. Released by the then-infamous label Tribunal Records, this EP served as the band's introduction to the larger audience that the label held at the time. It wasn't long after that the band started gaining recognition regionally. It around this time that I finally got to see the band live at The Bunion Bowl in Baltimore, MD. Equally as memorable as the set was the vocalist smashing beer bottles over his own head. I believe there was actually footage in the trailer for the Bunion Bowl DVD which never saw the light of day.

It was probably around this time that the band was firing on all four cylinders and started working on their sophomore EP, The Longest Winter's Woes. In a turn of events the band chose to release this session on a relatively marginal local label which was churning out most of the Baltimore Hardcore acts of the time called DFF Records. Once again produced by Ken Olden the album was every bit as vital as the preceding EP yet failed to make a comparable impact; probably due in part to the lack of distribution or promotion from the upstart label.

It's somewhere around this time period (2004/2004) that the story gets interesting. At some point after the release of The Longest Winter Woes EP the band's original vocalist went separate ways with the rest of the band and a replacement was found in former Samadhi vocalist Ben Swan. Readers of the blog may remember a post I had made on Samadhi nearly two years ago which can be found HERE. It was also at this time that the band signed a deal with yet another then-prestigious label by the name of Eulogy Records. The stage had been set for the band to finally break out of their seemingly-regional confines of the time. Despite the departure of the last-remaining original member and nearly sole song writer (guitarist Daniel Flemming) immediately following the recording of the full length, the band decided to carry on with their plans for several national tours (including Warped Tour) and eventually a European jaunt.

It was the beginning of 2006 whenever the original members (none of which were involved with the current line-up) decided to re-form to not only reclaim their material ... but also their name! For several years there were two incarnations of the band simultaneously playing shows ... and some of the same tracks! With the recently reformed group touting to be the "original" and Eulogy Records claiming to be in possession of the "real", I feel like I remember one of them eventually breaking down and performing simply as "The Ruin" ... but I can't remember which one.

The quarrel would be a relatively short-lived one, however, as the Eulogy Records version would go on to play their final show in 2007. They would not go quietly into the night as the band actually recorded both an unreleased three song demo in 2006 an entire full length before disbanding in 2007. Unfortunately for us, however, vocals were only laid down for one and a half songs (out of the nine tracked) on the full length. The only song that DID get finished was recorded a few hours before their final show. The session has been sitting dormant ever since.

This is not the finality of the story for Age Of Ruin as a whole. The original incarnation who came back into form in 2006 would go on to record a full length in 2009 entitled One Thousand Needles. While this was only released digitally through iTunes, it was technically considered to be a Hand Of Hope Records release. The album is a solid offering. The irony of the entire story is that the song-writing is nearly seemless between the two groups. To the untrained ear even the interchangeable vocalists are quite similar. With alternating releases coming out concurrently the story almost needn't be told.

Thankfully for my always-curious mind, however, I recently received not only a reply to a message I sent to a nearly-dormant YouTube account entitled "AgeOfRuin" but also a care package containing the original 1998 demo, some shirts and a whole slew of rare Mp3s courtesy of Joe, the bassist from 2004 on. While I am NOT including the unreleased full length, I AM including some rarities that will be found throughout the download links.

Once again, thanks to the kindness of Joseph taking the time to write me several lengthy e-mails to help put the pieces of the puzzle together along with the demo cassette I've been searching out for over a decade ... it inspires me to continue making posts here for everyone to enjoy. It's nice to get something in return every once in a while for the time I spend babbling here.

DOWNLOAD - Opium Of The Dead (1998 Demo + Skeletal Marionettes, unreleased compilation track)
DOWNLOAD - Black Sands Of The Hourglass (2004 remastered re-release)
DOWNLOAD - Autumn Lanterns EP (2001)
DOWNLOAD - The Longest Winter's Woes (2003)
DOWNLOAD - The Tides Of Tragedy (2004)
DOWNLOAD - Unreleased Demo (2006)
DOWNLOAD - One Thousand Needles (2009)
DOWNLOAD - Burn This City & Cancerous (from the unreleased full length ... which rules, by the way)