Tag Archives: Belgrado

Six Gloomy Gems From the Dark Punk Revival

Arctic Flowers

Arctic Flowers.

In 2013, during an interview with Danny Gallegos, singer of gloomy Chicago punk group Cemetery, I asked him how he’d categorize his band. I wondered if he thought the term “dark punk” was appropriate. It was a term that was coming into currency at the time, as a way to describe a new community of former hardcore bands who were playing music closer in style to deathrock and post-punk. “I hate the term ‘dark punk,'” Gallegos responded, “because to me that’s redundant. Punk should already be dark. There’s always been a message behind punk that is very bleak and dark in nature.”

But the “dark punk” designation stuck, and not just for Cemetery. It’s jockeyed with other genre tags—goth-punk, deathrock revival, the tongue-in-cheek “G-beat“—to identify a style of darkwave-, post-punk- and anarcho-influenced punk that’s grown out of the hardcore scene since the late aughts, and which gained intensity around 2010-2012. It still continues today. The revival’s early years saw important releases by acts like Lost Tribe, Belgrado, Spectres, Arctic Flowers, Bellicose Minds, and Bluecross.

During the latter part of the last decade, many groups operating in the underground DIY hardcore punk scene found themselves moving away from political D-beat and thrash, and started to explore slower tempos, different effects pedals (the Almighty Flanger, for instance), and moodier or more introspective themes. “You can only play a D-beat so many times,” Brian Gustavson of Spectres said in an interview with Austin deathrock site No Doves Fly Here in 2012. “For me, it was rediscovering ’80s U.K. peace punk that made it seem all right to be into post-punk, new wave, and ‘harder punk’ simultaneously.”

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The Best Albums of 2016: #100 – 81

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If there’s one thing we learned since we launched Bandcamp Daily this past June, it’s that the world of Bandcamp is enormous—encompassing everything from emo in China to cumbia punk in Tucson, Arizona to just about everything in between. So narrowing our Best Albums of the Year down to 100 choices was a daunting task. This week, we’ll be sharing our picks, 20 at a time, until we arrive at the top spot on Friday.

More “Best of 2016”:
The Best Albums of 2016 #80 – 61
The Best Albums of 2016: #60 – 41
The Best Albums of 2016: #40 – 21
The Best Albums of 2016: #20-1

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Terminal Consumption: The Best Punk on Bandcamp, August 2016

terminal consumption
In Terminal Consumption, Sam Lefebvre looks to the margins of punk and hardcore for signs of life. This month, the scope is international. Recently released essentials include the latest from the delightfully treasonous English group Good Throb, the synth-laden incantations of Brazilian outfit Rakta, the platinum-finished post-punk of Belgrado, and a couple domestic missives as well.

Good Throb—Good Throb EP [La Vida Es Un Mus]

Serious and puerile to varying degrees, the London, England punk outfit Good Throb have paired barbed delivery with a kinetic, ensemble feel across the entirety of their rewarding discography. The quartet emerged on its first eponymous EP, in 2012, with vocalist KY Ellie’s incisively-phrased, incendiary invective fully-formed. Their surging, fitful sound gained even more invention and vigor on 2014’s Fuck Off LP. By that point, Good Throb was the rare modern punk band with a real capacity to startle. Good Throb, the band’s latest eponymous EP, contains four songs that wouldn’t be out of place on Fuck Off—and they still land like revelations.

Opener “SCUM,” is full of volleying snare and needling leads, underpinned by wavering feedback. Its title is a reference to strident feminist and murderous playwright Valerie Solanas’ manifesto SCUM, which was said to be an acronym for “Society For Cutting Up Men.” It’s not a bad touchstone for the band, given the way the 1967 tract makes words like “shitpile” compatible with good critical analysis, and also argues that one of the symptoms of patriarchy is insufferable boredom (along with, of course, death and disease). The title of “The Queen Sucks Nazi Cock” might land like a pretty familiar bit of gleeful treason, but the way Ellie seems to savor shouting the lyrics gives it new life.

Rakta—III LP [Iron Lung]

“Conjuração Do Espelho,” the centerpiece of Sao Paulo, Brazil post-punk group Rakta’s new full-length, III, begins with a three-minute instrumental vamp composed of pulsing drums and a repetitive, sizzling synth effect. After a sudden holler, the track pivots into two minutes of spare thump and ominous organ, colored with clanging bells and errant clamor. The song’s got a fairly static, unchanging groove, which is typical of the simple song structures and doggedly persistent rhythms that characterize Rakta’s catalog overall. But “Conjuração Do Espelho,” like III as a whole, reveals a significantly greater affinity for enveloping tone and texture than earlier songs, which sometimes seemed rudderless or unresolved.

Much of that is owed to the production. Throughout III, the use of effects is generous, but intentional and deliberate, aimed at surprising and unnerving the listener rather than comforting them. Many punk fans, including this one, tend to celebrate records that feel “live,” but III sounds as if it was carefully cultivated in the studio, flush with subtle overdubs and gentle post-production touches. It succeeds for that reason: Blips and clangs dart between speakers; deadpan vocal lines start dry, then sharply pitch up, contorting into unnatural shapes. In that context, the rough translation of “Conjuração Do Espelho”—“conjuring mirror”—feels especially apt.

Watery Love—“Ned’s Dreamcatcher” b/w “Meg’s Dreamcatcher” 7” [Richie/TestosterTunes]

Released as part of Richie Records’ summer singles series (which also includes an excellent EP by Homostupids), on “Ned’s Dreamcatcher,” the Philly fatalists in Watery Love fixate once again on the inevitably of death. Vocalist Richie Charles stared down mortality on the closer to Watery Love’s 2014 full-length Decorative Feeling, “Face the Door,” singing: “Unlike you dickheads/ I welcome death.” It’s not a comforting, original, or intellectually provocative sentiment, but nevertheless, it’s both vivid and haunting. On “Ned’s Dreamcatcher,” Charles achieves a similar effect, this time with: “It’ll happen to you/ it’ll happen to you.” The lyrical refrain is roughly echoed by a squiggly, error-filled guitar lead, and underpinned by a thicket of feedback, as Charles goes on to describe a series of unfortunate and potentially fatal scenarios. His grim conclusion? “You’re next.”

Belgrado—Obraz LP [La Vida Es Un Mus]

On Obraz, Belgrado plays post-punk with a platinum finish. The guitar and bass sound so sleek, they’re almost antiseptic. The drums, played on what sounds like a hybrid electronic/acoustic kit, make soullessness feel like an asset. And vocalist Patrycja Proniewska (who was born in Warsaw and sings in Polish) sings her downcast melodies from a cool distance. Though the Barcelona group at times puts poise before vitality, highlights such as the murmuring, atmospheric “Krajobraz” and the unorthodox, dubby “Raz Dwa” have an austere allure that’s akin to the cold, grey geometry of Obraz’s’s ace album art.

Bib—POP EP [Erste Theke Tontraeger/Deranged]

Bib’s demo not only evoked a sort of prolonged infantile outburst (read: a compliment), it actually included the sound of wailing babies, their babble a petulant backdrop to the Omaha, Nebraska outfit’s pugilistic playing. On Pop, however, the onetime torchbearer for fetal regression hardcore has learned to walk, or at least to lurch and lunge. This one opens with the clink of a chain. Cue adolescence. The sopping vocals and performative throat clearing of the demo remain, but Pop is surlier and trickier, more prone to jarring shifts in tempo and, especially on closer “P.M.F.,” cleanly articulated guitar leads to cut through the squall. Adulthood should be a riot.

Sam Lefebvre