It's become something of a cliche to say that a band has stripped away all the excess and reduced songs to just the necessary pieces. At first listen, Richmond's Cretins seem to be reductive, but when you listen, you realize that they've stripped away nothing but the pauses. Cuts like "Piss On Your Pieces" and "Last Path" demonstrate this pretty effectively, as they open each side with a blast of hardcore, blowing out of your speakers with an intensity that frightens. Whereas any other band would let their guitars feed back a little, generating a little anticipation before launching into the next verse or iteration of the chorus, Cretins chooses instead to cut everything short, and just power ahead. The collective effect is to result in an EP which takes Motorhead's speed and uses it to funnel the no-frills gutteral hate of old-school hardcore directly into your head. Let's be honest: this could have been "Tunnel Vision" as a postcard flexi, and I would've played it 'til it disintegrated. The way the breakdown loops and returns a couple of times in its fading seconds makes this the most mosh-worthy song of the last few years. It's a pretty amazing throwback jam Cretins have created here, right down to the absolutely terrible artwork which graces the cover. Punk rock pointillism is certainly unique, but it's like looking at some underground east coast band's single from the late '80s. I almost expected the cover art to be photocopied. It's even got the lyrics on the inside of the sleeve. You need this, so snag it from the Grave Mistake store.
Grave Mistake Records label head Alex DiMattesa recently teamed up with Bobby Egger, owner of Richmond's Vinyl Conflict record store to relaunch the label of the same name. While formerly a subsidiary to No Way Records, it'll now be a sub to Grave Mistake, but will keep the original incarnation's "focus on Richmond Punk and Hardcore bands." First on deck for the relaunched label is Barge's No Gain 7-inch. It was pitched to me as "fast hardcore, like Infest / No Comment." Yes, yes it is. Holy fuck, it's fast. Eight songs in eight minutes. The first side blazes through so quickly and punishingly, you need that time it takes to flip the record over to brace yourself for what you know is about to come in the second half. Of course, what happens at the start of the second side isn't blazing hardcore, but a sickening stomper entitled "Where's the Violence," which makes up for the lack of proper punctuation by way of pummeling you with thudding riffage. The violence is in the song, which sounds like the soundtrack to stomping a mudhole in someone and walking that sumbitch dry (with apologies to Stone Cold Steve Austin). The squalling guitars on tracks like "Live For Pain" and "Plague Me" hint ever-so-slightly at crossover, and that's not a bad thing. Since when have you been able to air guitar to a hardcore record? You get the idea, listening to Barge, that they know what moves a crowd. There are something like three breakdowns on "Your Lies," and it's barely 46 seconds long. Snag it from Grave Mistake on either limited red vinyl or standard black.