Tomb Warden/Bruised Ego/Street Feet/Hit-Run Drivers, Four-Way Split (Fake Crab Records, 2019)

While I may not indulge in the Free State’s weirdo tradition of crushing crustaceans with wooden hammers, I’ll gladly gobble every morsel dropped by Fake Crab Records, a Maryland-based label currently crafting a formidable winning streak.

Having more recently released the absolutely devastating Transilluminati by locals BustDown and the essential S/T offering by Cellar Dweller, they’re also responsible for killer output from Eyelet and Neck First, among others. From a label whose as of yet limited and carefully cultivated discography clearly favors quality over visibility, Fake Crab just broke ground on 2019 in fearsome fashion with their 14th burnt offering. May 24 saw the release of a 4-Way Split 7”, the oft-forgotten but classic format, featuring the likes of Tomb Warden (VA) Hit-Run Drivers (ME) Bruised Ego (MD) and Street Feet (NY). These noise-inclined bands all rep similar musical neighborhoods… just don’t walk down the alleys alone. 

Featuring gruesomely gorgeous cover art by the inimitable Suketoku Artwork out of Japan, Fake Crab’s latest is a banger. Local punks can snag it at Celebrated Summer in Charm City. Everyone else can pick it up here.

Tomb Warden draw first blood from side A. Three songs of ripping death metal influenced grindcore in less time than it takes to blacken microwaved popcorn. “Intrusion” is a good intro point, as they wind from crushing USDM-tinged riffs vocal gurgle right into furious blasts of grind. Immediately replayable, the unadulterated blasts of dominance from these Old Dominion State maniacs are exhilarating.

Don’t be fooled by the pluralized presentation, as Hit-Run Drivers is actually the moniker of the one-man “mincegore” unit out of Maine which, as we know, is where true outcast culture goes to thrive. Splitting the difference between impossibly low vocals and a layer of desperately higher registers, they’re recklessly piled atop a devastating attack that’d make the O.G. Mincecore freaks in Agathocles proud. Again, this dude keeps it brief, buzzing through a double dose in sub-120 seconds. Ripping grindcore that will sonically slit your throat with pleasure. 

Baltimore’s own Bruised Ego keeps it squarely in the punk camp, their fastcore meets crossover sound feels refreshingly new. Despite callbacks to the late nineties challengers to the throne in Charles Bronson or local legends Crispus Attucks, their power violence via hXc approach in songs like “Hoverboard Hunch” feels shockingly fresh. Dirty, rotten tendencies be damned, this is the irresponsible soundtrack to bombing hills on your Santa Cruz or circle-pitting in your soul-sucking cubicle. No one ever said this town was actually “charming," lest you’re easily wooed by the sound of spastic catharsis. Get rad. Get Fucked. Get Bruised. 

The Upstate NY grind titans in Street Feet peddle a more traditional and fiery brand of straight up grindcore. Hailing from Binghamton, their rancid luggage is surely loaded with the well-worn wax of Napalm, Benümb, and a litany of other hXc adjacent grind-niks. While the majority of the riffing is top shelf textbook, there are flashes of deliberate detours through weirder terrain, albeit in light speed fashion. Beware, y’all, this is hot enough to melt even the most burdensome NY blizzards. 

Tagged: bruised ego, hit run drivers, street feet, tomb warden