Reviews

Various Artists, So This Is Progress Flexi / Zine 001 (...So This Is Progress, 2020)

 ...So This Is Progress, the label cum podcast helmed by Body Farm’s Erek Kudla, recently released a 5-way split flexi in conjunction with a gorgeously rendered photo zine.

Ostensibly a love letter to the state of their hard-won and lovingly built Midwestern scene, the wax compiles tracks from four fellow Ohioan acts and a Pittsburgh punk outlier. Despite the oftentimes long drives between cities, the inhospitable weather, and the cultural chasms in between; their mutual admiration party is well earned.

Initially slated for a 4/20 release, the subsequent cancellation of life itself allowed for a bit of shuffling. The zine itself is a visual document painstakingly assembled from disposable (yes, you read that right) cameras copped from drugstores over the last few years. All in all, 33 bands get the photo treatment and, at the center, sits a transparent wax flexi emblazoned with an outline of the Buckeye State.

As a side note, it’s forever worth shouting out the affordable and “punk first” folks at Pirates Press.

First at bat is Forest Fucker with “Primary Succession.” Clocking in at sub 60 seconds with time to spare, the band decries both eco-terrorism and the performative sloganeering of hippie bumper sticker culture typically associated with it.

At its core, this is stripped down and raw hardcore that had me quickly clawing my way into their discography. Being as the track is the table-setter, their take on Earth First protectionism is a rip-roaring entry into an endlessly replayable mini collection. They vacillate wildly between raucous feedback, blastbeats, and throat shredding vocals intentionally buried like mud deep within the mix.

Not a shocker, this note-perfect mastering comes courtesy of Will Killingsworth. Worth a trip to their Bandcamp alone is the thoughtful and pissed band missive that ends “While you were hugging tress, they were fucking forests.” Nature may have returned in these bizarro times, but the Earth isn’t healing, y’all. Forest Fucker are the soundtrack to quelling the half-hearted celebration. 

Peace Talks are the lone band that hail instead from the Keystone State. The Pittsburgh hardcore band here offers “Borders," a previously unreleased torrent of destructive mid-paced hardcore that calls to mind early '80s first wave as well as something altogether noisier and far more destruction minded.

They incorporate an almost discordant wash of squealing guitar noise into their attack, feeling both as noisy and destructive as actual peace talks. Thankfully, their firebrand take on hardcore is far less futile. Pennsylvania never ceases to amaze with their wildly varied stranglehold on every corner of hardcore‘s myriad sounds and Peace Talks are no exception. 

On name alone, I kinda had to assume that Nukkehammer would fucking rule. As luck and the wizards of D-beat fate would have it, the assumption is immediately validated on “Zone of Alienation.” Their apocalyptic offering is the sort of world-endingly heavy crust you’d expect from Japan or Sweden and the standard blown-out sound more than earns the kängpunk tag they sport.

It’s a pummeling and treble-heavy track that wisely keeps it short, sidestepping the epic vibe. This horde calls Columbus home and, when the world either opens back up or swallows itself whole, I’d happily roadtrip it to catch this cantankerous crüe. To top it all off, that extra raw edge was provided by Audiosiege so it clearly takes one to know one. Crucial and dirty raw punk for the black and white album cover set. 

The fourth waxen sacrifice comes from Wounded Paw. The Dayton based band dish out “Gods and Borders” which, fittingly, are a couple of my least favorite things. Judging by the corrosive venom that spews savagely from the speakers, the band concures. Opening with a rubbery bass line that nods to noise rock, they employ a sternum thumping drum sound and a chaotic vocal approach.

After a divebomb announces the mayhem, they commence with ripping straight edge (I think?!) hardcore that dazzles even at mid-pace. Though the wild bunch plays this one relatively straight and down the line to great effect, they typically peddle a compelling blend of hardcore sans qualifier, recklessly fucking with tempo and style. For those more inclined to need speed, check the Gem City punks’ 2018 full length for their signature chaotic speed trial vibes. The whole thing is a ripper that crashes all around you a la their hometown legends The Wright Brothers. 

Body Farm (Photo: The Dumb Fuck)

In No Echo’s hallowed pages, I relatively recently extolled the virtues of my new favorite band of Ohioans. “Rough Night” sees Body Farm again playing the hot hand, as they bring the same chaotic and bilious edge that made January’s  7” so special.

Serving as a proper bookend, they come armed replete with their usual frenzied and echoey vocals, dizzying tempo shifts, and blastbeats. Again, the party is over without reaching the minute finish line, yet Body Farm sneaks in three distinct movements of violent and cathartic hardcore. Whether at a straight ahead 4/4 stomp or a stampede of powerviolence flecked blasts, the band from the other Baltimore rules them all… again. 

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Tagged: body farm, forest fucker, nukkehammer, peace talks, wounded paw

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