War Babies, Quarantine Core (2020)
War Babies is a project resulting from extra in-home time due to the pandemic, and consists of Mike De Lorenzo (Celebrity Murders, C.R., Deathcycle, Kill Your Idols, Serpico) handling guitar and bass with Darren Nanos (Born Sinner, Brain Slug, Survivalist) taking on drums and vocals. I don't really listen to much in this vein of hardcore these days—moderately fast and to the point with the slightest of powerviolence undercurrents—but I can't deny that this is very good for what it is. The gruffness of the vocals feels more unique than average and helps differentiate the outcome from comparable groups, while the vast experience of the musicians involved carries with it a tight and well-balanced delivery. 11 songs in about 10 minutes, and there you have it.
Physical copies include a download code and a double-sided insert that presents all of the lyrics, which are not exclusive to pandemic themes. A few tracks certainly touch on such topics, but the overall attitude is bitterly pissed and generally geared toward attacking the greed and disgust of the ongoing political situation(s) in the U.S.
Grade school level PHD
Word of Mouth University
Can't trace a single solid fact
To any of the bullshit you back
Only 100 cassettes were pressed and they're already sold out from the label, but a few copies are on the way to RevHQ, so keep your eyes peeled!
Dissolve, Until the Drugs Wear Off (2020)
Released on 12" earlier this year by Maitsuba, here we have a pro CD-R pressing of Until the Drugs Wear Off by Poughkeepsie bruisers Dissolve, with the Sasquatch 7" (2016) tacked on as bonus tracks. I've covered this beast before, so I'll repeat myself here, but if bulldozingly heavy, slightly mathy rhythms that veer toward the caustic and abrasive without getting irritating are your bag, this is the band for you. As the cover art might imply, this outing is generally a bit wilder and more diverse—flirting with some lightly industrial flare in the form of subtle layers of experimental noise textures and a few samples, churning tremolo picking, sludge-jazz twists, etc.
Only 100 of these suckers were pressed (because listeners are stupid and hate CDs now), and they crammed a lot of information into the four-panel booklet, too—not just all of the lyrics, but complete recording credits for both releases. I'm sure that most people don't give a shit, but it always drives me nuts when bonus tracks are just thrown on as audio and otherwise ignored. I also have to point out that this release is well-priced at just $8—not like some bands/labels who press up these limited CD-Rs and try to sell them for $12 (or more) plus shipping like assholes. While you're at it, grab a dirt cheap copy of the superb Caveman of the Future CD for just $6 as well!
Herjaza, Herjaza (2020)
Herjaza operates out of Staten Island, NY and features former members of Cable Car Theory, Celebrity Murders, Most Precious Blood, and Murdock. It seems they issued a debut EP back in 2015, and with 12 songs in about 22 minutes, I would tend to consider this outing an EP as well. The label describes the material as "chaotic and complex hardcore influenced by Botch, Coalesce, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Cave In," which is a solid guide as to the general direction. I'd further the compliments by tossing in bands like Turmoil, however, because Herjaza certainly boasts more heft, precision, and a complete lack of obnoxiousness. They're definitely acerbic and push the boundaries of cohesion, but fully succeed in piecing things together in a way that has plenty of graspable force. Really nice production, too. The approach has a bite to it, but—believe it or not—the bass is actually distinct, and some of the churning grooves occasionally lend a "djent"-esque vibe to certain riffs. (That comment's really just to note a semblance of modernity to the sound, though, the band is not heading in that "djent" type of direction at all.)
I'm quite surprised to have not really seen Herjaza get much attention at all. Even younger kids seem to be geeking out over stuff like Turmoil these days, and anyone—whether from back in the day or latecomers—down with that niche of metalcore should be very much into this. Physicals are another pro CD-R limited to just 100 copies (and $8 = cool behavior), this time in a glossy gatefold digipak with killer cover art as well as complete lyrics, etc.