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.