Monday, November 30, 2015

New Band Spotlight: Oaf

Oaf was brought to Justified Arrogance's attention after we grossly overlooked them on our Best of 2015 list. From the minute we heard "Cheat II", we knew we messed up.

The Pacific Northwest might be the most underrated mean scene in the country. While it is true that the area did briefly produce a number of melodic hardcore bands in the 2000s like Champion and Go It Alone as well as being home to the thinking man's hardcore band Trial, the Pacific Northwest has otherwise had a pretty proud history of spawning some of the meanest and most aggressive bands in hardcore punk. Bands like Brotherhood (who wrote one of the hardest straight edge songs ever) laid down a foundation for what PNW hardcore should be: a punch to the mouth, no bullshit, and to the point. Since then bands like Iron Lung, Cold Sweat, Walls, and countless others have followed this template, helping to fortify the region into a subculture stronghold.

Oaf is the newest product of the PNW. Hailing from Vancouver, BC and beginning in 2014, the band has grown exponentially from an idea to a sound in the last year. On their 2014 demo, the band played to what they wanted to sound like. They tried to capture all of the elements that their PNW predecessors had perfected before them. The demo itself is good and, by itself, is quite good. In September 2015, the band released their debut EP Consume. The time between releases gave the band time to put it all together. The production, the vocals, and most importantly, the control on the record shows the band finally understood where they came from. The vocals are dripping with vitriol, there is a ton of feedback promoting discomfort, the bass is overpowering at times, the guitar is piercing, and even the drums sound abrasive. Oaf plays a sound that makes it seem like they want you to hate them.

The PNW still hates the world. Check them out.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Interview: Riley Gale (Power Trip)

I met Riley Gale eleven years ago at a No Warning show when he spinkicked me in the ribs. We have been friends ever since.

In 2008, Riley Gale started Power Trip with a group of Dallas musicians. I was lucky enough to book their first show. The first intro they ever played was a cover of Leeway's "The Future (Ain't What It Used To Be)". They ended up playing it three times. The first time was because there was an equipment malfunction (which they laughed about). The second time they nailed it. The third time was because one of the group's best friends was late and missed it so they played it one more time. Those three performances of that intro told the story about Power Trip: nuanced, talented, had personality, and loyal to their friends. That's really why Power Trip have gotten as far as they have. Because when you listen to their music you can hear the music tell you "we scoured through all of the subculture, learned what was good, and are doing it better". It's honest and special. Gale's lyrics are the combination of his own life experiences along with his educational background in rhetoric. The result is a band that people will be talking about well into next generation.

The band recently finished recording their second album in Denton, Texas. I was able to get a little bit of Gale's time to ask about the last couple of years and the new album.

Tell me about the Ryan Adams saga. The whole story is pretty bizarre and worth telling.
Gale: I guess that started around August 2013, right after the album came out. He tweeted at our account about how much he liked the record and then Ryan came out to a show in LA and bought a couple shirts, maybe a record. He was pretty quiet, weird, didn’t really hang out just watched the set and left. He contacted us about recording with him and even though I was apprehensive, Blake wanted to pursue. Ryan was kind of a dick when we began asking about details, and he got really defensive when I brought up the fact we have a producer (Arthur). That left a sour taste in my mouth. I mean, I’ve heard of this guy before I knew he liked my band, and didn’t really dig his music. I didn’t like it when I checked it out again either. That was over a year ago. I’ve seen pictures of him wearing our shirt at shows and just didn’t really pay any mind. Then about a month ago, or whenever he dropped that Taylor Swift cover album, I tried listening to it and HATED it. Then like a day after I gave that a whirl a friend from high school sent me a dopey picture of Ryan playing live and was asking about him, because he didn’t know that he was a fan. That set me off. So I made a not so nice instragram post clowning him – I said he was a turd so big no toilet could flush. Turns out, we had a mutual friend, so that got back to Ryan in a couple hours. He sent me a private message and it actually made me feel kind of bad – He was definitely bummed, I could tell it hurt his feelings and he was actually a pretty damned big fan of the band. But I was also conflicted - why should I care what a multi-millionaire sad boy thinks? On the other hand, unless they’re some ignorant racist/homophobic piece of shit, which Ryan is not, then I should never just make fun of a fan. In my mind, punk taught me to accept anyone that was accepting of me. So I came to the conclusion that even if I wasn’t big on this dude’s vibe or his music, I shouldn’t clown a real supporter of our music. We talked on the phone and texted and squashed the whole thing. There were definitely some interesting exchanges, but at this point I’ll respect the dude’s right to privacy.

You guys might be one of the first bands to pick up a hardcore grand slam. You've played Chaos In Tejas, Not Dead Yet, This Is Hardcore, Black N Blue, Beserktown, and Fun Fun Fun Fest since Manifest Decimation has come out. How do you explain Power Trip being able to successfully play all of these festivals to so many different crowds?
Gale: Don’t say “No” if there’s a demand and if the offer even mildly piques and interest. We like to put ourselves out there and play line ups that interest us. We’ve never gone begging to be on a fest, we’re always approached about being added to these badass fests, and that’s an awesome feeling.

You guys are in the studio right now recording your second full-length album. With all the time that has passed since Manifest Decimation came out, what are you (and the rest of the band) being conscious of with this new album?
Gale: For Blake and Chris, who mostly handle the music, I think the idea was to take the riffs to the gym and do some serious cardio and heavy lifting. Songs are faster and shorter, and the heavier parts are heavier. It’s a good progression. For me, the thing at the front of my mind is how to make it catchier without losing substance or at least my own satisfaction with my output. There’s an opportunity to reach a wider audience on this one - a lot of great parts on the record where a quick catchy line could really take a song from good to great. The only obstacle for myself is that I still want to be satisfied with what I am actually saying – I refuse to shoehorn in a bunch of random words just because the syllables will sound good over the music. So, I’m mostly concentrating on finding that balance between substance and accessibility.

Manifest's lyrics were largely concerned with questioning the norms and constraints society imposes on everyone. From the lyrics of “Crossbreaker” (religion) to “Power Trip” (man's law), you resound a pretty powerful theme throughout the entire album. I'd even go so far as to say that lyrically Manifest is a concept album. Was this by design? Are there any specific topics or ideas you're aiming to drive home in your lyrics on the upcoming album?
Gale: I wouldn’t call it a concept album but it definitely had some broad themes that carried over into every song. If it had an overall theme I’d say it’s – why do you think and behave the way you do? Why do we let those in power think and behave the way THEY do? It’s about self-awareness and I think self-awareness can be very empowering. It’s very much an US vs. THEM standpoint, but it’s also about just being fucking educated, being able to back up your beliefs before you set your sights on an enemy. If I can help make a listener’s stances become more solid, or even crumble a previous notion, whatever helps them see their enemies a little bit clearer, than I’ve succeeded in my goal as a vocalist.

Changing gears for a second, how has the ride been the last couple years with the band? I'm talking about playing shows to thousands of people, having people whose music you idolized when you were younger tell you how much love Power Trip, etc. Is it still a trip or something that you've been able to get used to?
Gale: It’s been awesome and I’m absurdly lucky. Often times it’s just surreal, like getting a call from Ryan Adams because you talked shit about him. I’m important to somebody like that? Why? From my POV I don’t DO anything except jump around and yell, but some people find inspiration in that and I gotta roll with it. We HAVE to stay humble though, because ultimately punk/metal/hardcore/subculture is a tumultuous culture and it can turn on you at any moment. I always tell my friends, if my ego gets too big for my britches, then kick my fucking ass. My friends have permission to kick my fucking ass and knock me down a peg. Attempting to stay ever thankful and humbled is crucial to me.

Beyond what you've already been able to do, what are you looking toward for Power Trip's future?
Gale: I have no expectations. It could all blow up tomorrow. The goal is to keep trying and pushing ourselves until it stops being motivating or fun. If we could somehow just pull a Bolt Thrower and write a perfect album and just say, “That’s it’s, we did it. This is the epitome of Power Trip. This is the perfect ‘Power Trip’ album” I’d be happy and content with putting the band down…but we’re not anywhere close to that yet.

When can we expect the album and does it have a name yet?
Gale: Hopefully before summer really kicks off next year. With no delays, it takes about 3 months to get a record pressed from the moment of having everything ready. Music, artwork, lay out… all that. The title comes last. I have ideas, but I have to be able to look at everything in the big picture before I can commit to a title.

So now that the tour with Lamb of God has been announced, how are you feeling about it? What are you expecting (other than getting to see a wall of death every night)?
Gale: I’m thrilled. I was joking around about how fucked up it would be if I tried to call for the “Wall of death” as the openers every night… probably not the best idea. Anyway, this is our first real big opportunity to do something I would consider “mainstream”. Besides a band like, I don’t know, Hatebreed… I couldn’t ask for a better “big” metal band to take us out than Lamb of God. Obviously touring with the legends in motherfucking Anthrax is the highlight but Lamb of God is clearly going to be drawing out huge crowds. I’ve always said, put us in a room of people who like metal, and we’ll win them over. I feel like this is that moment – there will be plenty of people who will be aware of all 4 bands on the tour, but there will be plenty of clueless people I hope we can convert into PT fans. Full disclosure: I’ve never really listened to Lamb of God… but I know they’re huge, and I’m grateful as hell they’ve invited us. It was supposed to be Kylesa but they couldn’t do it so we’re extremely lucky. I’ve had a lot of friends tell me that the LoG dudes are still very much involved with the subculture which is always a plus for me. Also, having our friends in Deafheaven on the tour will help us have some established camaraderie. I’m not the type of dude to go pressing myself on Scott Ian or something. So having Deafheaven around… they’re great guys, having some friends already on the tour is huge relief for me.

Last question: what are you reading these days and how is it?

Gale: I’ve been on a heavy comic book kick. Right now I’m blazing through Jodorowsky’s entire The Incal saga and it’s been a lot of fun. I can’t really hang with the heavy big name super hero stuff, there’s not enough substance for me there, but I’ve found tons of material that is both deep and highly entertaining. I’ve read stuff that’s made me laugh, made me scared, and made me think. I’m just learning what an expressive medium that comics and graphic novels can be – they can tackle any complex subject by using the right words, tones, images, etc… and part of the pleasure of reading them is using your imagination to fill in some of the blanks that comics leave for the reader. It’s also just easier to read in the van, which is why I started reading them in the first place. I kept getting motion sickness from smaller text and I was also just burnt out on reading text heavy critical theory so I wanted something easier and more digestible but still rewarding. Comics are a perfect medium for all of that.

Power Trip will be on tour with Lamb of God, Anthrax, and Deafheaven through most of the winter season. Tour dates are below:

If you'd like to read more about Power Trip and download their discography, check out their entry from 2014:

Saturday, November 21, 2015

In Your Face

1988 was an important year for New York hardcore. A lot of important and classic bands dropped demos during this year. The most obvious and famous demo being Raw Deal's. Beside Raw Deal, there was Dmize, Biohazard, Beyond, and In Your Face to name a few. 1988 was important for NYHC for two reasons. First, it featured arguably some of the darkest and most interesting content to come out of the scene. Second, it was the scene's death throe crop of bands. In only a few years, many of the people in the scene would move on to crossover metal or post-hardcore bands. 1988 was the beginning of the end for NYHC's golden generation.

In Your Face hailed from Long Island. They were around from 1988 - 1993. They played a style of hardcore that featured a lot of crossover riffs and pacing in their music. This isn't surprising given that they were likely influenced by fellow Long Island residents the Crumbsuckers. Their first demo features an odd mix of style to it. There are elements of crossover, melodic punk, and straight NYHC. For this reason the In Your Face demo is worthy of attention. The lyrics are abrasive and often very immature (see below) but the riffs more than make up for it, adding a certain level of gravitas that the band would otherwise be lacking. The band's later catalogue could warrant comparison to Token Entry and Gorilla Biscuits.

That 1988 demo is something special however. You can tell they put everything into it. They didn't have a clear idea of how they wanted to sound or what they wanted to talk about, they just knew they had to put something out. That's the most beautiful part of it. There was a clear goal in what they were making; the goal was simply to make something. 99.99% of the time when something is made for its own sake, it usually doesn't come out well. The reason is because the band insulates itself and end up lacking consideration for outside influences. In the case of In Your Face; the band knew they were going to have crossover riffs like the Crumbsuckers, they knew they were going to have melodic parts / songs, and they knew they were going to speak their minds. The downside for In Your Face is that we ended up with lyrics like "because of you I might get AIDS".

What has followed In Your Face through the years is their infamous song "Faggot Stomp". Yes, on the band's demo there is a song that calls for gay people to be beaten. The band has since apologized for the writing of this song. A lot can be said about this song and it really is inexcusable. I will simply make two points. First, the music to this song is incredible. If any other band wrote the music to this song, bands would constantly be covering it to this day. What makes an intro special is if it can compel a crowd to start moving. It sets a pace. On this song, when the guitar kicks in followed by the rhythm section coming in, all hell breaks loose. The second point is about the lyrical content. There is no justifying a song called "Faggot Stomp". However it can be argued that in 80's NYHC it was a more acceptable opinion to hate gays (this was covered in our post on CAFAAM). To briefly summarize, in the 1980s gays were closely linked to AIDS. A great deal of the infections were in NYC and SF. Until 1985, AIDS was actually referred to as GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency). The gay community had been cast out as pariahs for a disease that society didn't fully understand. None of this justifies hating gay people. Perpetuating hatred by virtue of prejudices stemming from something people don't know about is wrong. It wasn't until heterosexuals began to get infected at a larger rate that the medical community renamed the disease AIDS (all of this is discussed at length in Randy Shilts' And The Band Played On). The point is the mindset of 1980s NYHC bought into the hysteria that gay people were bad. In Your Face are not an outlier in this scene.

Taken from CAFAAM #2 (available here on JA)

Attached is their entire discography

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Japanese Legends Invade The West (G.I.S.M. & Death Side)

What an insane day it has been for fans of Japanese hardcore punk. 

By now you've heard the news. G.I.S.M. are playing in Holland on April 15th at the Roadburn Festival. This is their first show in thirteen years. More importantly, it is their first show outside of Japan ever. In the place of the late Randy Uchida is Souichi Hisatake (Forward, Gudon, Insane Youth AD). There are only a few people on earth who could ever hope to play in Randy's stead, Souichi is one of them. G.I.S.M. are fortunate to have enlisted his services. While many people are hoping to see Sakevi do some of his antics (something this blog derides), it will be interesting to see how the set will go. There are a million questions going into it. Will they play all of Detestation? How will M.A.N. songs sound should they play them? Will they play cuts off SoniCRIME TheRapy? I hope that the people in the room in Holland are there for the right reasons and not because they hope to see a freak show.

Not long after 9 PM EST this evening, news broke that Death Side will be playing the United States for the first time ever. The show will take place April 16th in New York City. For you ambitious types, yes, this does mean that you can see G.I.S.M. in Europe and try to hop on a flight back to New York for Death Side. The band reunited last August in Tokyo at a show held in honor of their late guitarist Chelsea. Since then, the band has played other shows and look poised to finally make their Western Hemisphere debut. There is no other information on this show yet, but when the lineup and venue are released, we will post it.

The last question to wonder in the wake of all must be "Gauze can't be too far off now, right?"

Monday, November 16, 2015

Artist Profile: Matthew Adis

Art is an important aspect of the subculture. A lot of us who arrive here have done so because the world doesn't make sense for us. We come to the subculture where we find ourselves or learn more about who we already were. For a lot of us that means starting a band and playing music. For others it means starting a zine. For one group, it is art. Artists in the subculture pour themselves into their work in an environment that allows for them to explore the morbid, disturbing, and agitating. Few environments are as conducive to these creative elements as the subculture. Artists' work end up on flyers, shirts, record covers, and everywhere else in between. Too often, many of these artists will end up becoming overlooked. Justified Arrogance will be doing artist profiles to celebrate some of the subculture's best artists and their work.

Matthew Adis is an artist that was born and raised in Philadelphia. He began making art at the young age of 4 and has continued ever since. More recently, Adis has become a staple of the Philadelphia hardcore scene. He fronted the cult classic band Salvation while also being involved with Shirtless Thugs. More recently, Adis' sonic efforts have included Anxiety Hammer and Latisha's Skull Drawing. Adis' vocals almost have a Lovecraftian element to them. The sort of vocalization you'd expect to hear from Danforth after he's gone insane in At the Mountains of Madness. There's a sense of horror, hysterics, and, oddly enough, eloquence. Adis' vocals reflects a certain worldview that is also seen in his artwork. He cites tabloid headlines, Rod Serling programs, early 90s sitcoms, obituaries, and Philadelphia/SEPTA as his influences. Indeed it appears Adis often sees the peculiar, dreaded, and horrific in the most basic of objects like a human face. Already highly accomplished, Adis does not seem to slowing down any time soon and has even moved his artistic endeavors into jewelry as seen below.

-Noted Zines/Books (newest to oldest)-
'The Threshold of Atrocity'
'The Criminal Lipstick'
'The Earwig'
'The Life Unsaid'
'Cloud Removal'
'God On Drugs'

Zines, prints, shirts, and other items can be purchased below. Adis can be contacted through his store if you would like to inquire about commissions.

Merch: Reality Asylum Pins

Another feature of the new Justified Arrogance direction. We do not shill, so much as we share. We don't promote something we personally wouldn't buy. It is important to celebrate innovation and excellence at all levels of the subculture. This includes the production of merchandise. If you are working to create something that no one has seen before or just doing it better than most, Justified Arrogance will take the time to praise your products.

Reality Asylum Pins are a company that have been around for a little less than a year. In that time, they have worked to create pins representing some of the finest bands. From Japan they have selected G.I.S.M. (an incredible production, I just received mine today) and Gauze. Out of the UK they have chosen Discharge and Crass (one of the nicest productions of the band's iconic logo I've ever seen). They also work with great contemporary bands like G.L.O.S.S. and Kromosom.

Enamel pins have recently emerged as one of the hottest / trendy accessories. Reality Asylum shares the same sentiment Justified Arrogance does: why just do something when you can do something no one else is and do it better?

Keep up the good work, guys.

Image of Crucifix

Image of Kromosom

Thursday, November 12, 2015

New Band Spotlight: Smear

Middle America has become a hotbed for a barrage of up and coming bands in the last few years. Some of the strongholds in this new wave of Middle American hardcore punk are the stalwart city of Austin, Northwest Indiana, St. Louis, Chicago, and Dallas.

Dallas' scene in particular has seen a great deal of growth. From just Power Trip, Wiccans, and Tolar, the scene has come to also include great bands like Sin Motivo, The Sentenced, and Slimy Member. One band you may not have heard is Smear. The band has been around for about a year but had not really found their legs until the last few months. The band is made up of Austin Carroll and Austin Waymire and newcomer drummer Keaton Khonsari. It was the addition of Khonsari that pushed the band over the top. What's beautiful about a band like Smear is that they're clearly in that phase where they're figuring out their identity but are mature enough to understand that they need to be their own band. On Smear's latest release Smeared the band juxtaposes two music styles to make sure audiences don't corral and dismissed. Musically, the band's sound can be likened to a lot of the current Midwestern weirdo bands. The music does have a lot more bite to it and this is thanks in no small part to Khonsari's strong drumwork. The vocals are reminiscent of the first wave of Boston hardcore. There's a lot of grounded anger in it.

Smear are only just getting started. Too often young kids want to make a band for the sake of making a band. They're not concerned with being original or having ambition to tour and release music. Smear are the antithesis of that. They refuse to be written off and will work hard to make sure that they won't be. They will be touring the east coast in January. Do not miss them.

Below is a link for their bandcamp where you can download Smeared free of charge

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


This post in no way, shape, or form condones or apologizes for those who commit sexual assault. Sexual assault is a very serious crime and should be treated as such. Any commentary in this piece that could be construed as "positive" is exclusively in reference to the band as a singular entity and not personal praise for drummer Jeremy Villalobos.

People have a funny way of expunging things from history. When Chris Benoit was found to have murdered his wife, child, and ultimately himself, the WWE made it a point to erase him from history. Never mind the fact that before this happened, Chris Benoit was considered to be the most skilled North American born wrestler of all time. Now in many wrestling circles, the name Benoit is a dirty word. Forget his accolades, forget his abilities. In our worst moments, everything we were and everything we had ever accomplished become meaningless. It is a scary thought. That one decision can make society erase you from existence.

Drunkdriver is a band. They existed. They were from New York. They played for a few years and were beloved across multiple scenes. They broke up in the face of a scandal surrounding the drummer and accusations of sexual assault. These are the facts. We can denounce them and pretend they didn't exist, but does it change the band? People can point to the drummer's scandal, where others can just as easily point out that the vocalist Michael Berdan (now of Uniform) quickly decried the band's accused drummer. Furthermore, he made the statement upon his departure that he could not live with himself if he had continued on with the band. As people, we choose to only see one side of the coin.

What makes the case of Drunkdriver so tragic (beyond the obvious trauma suffered by the victims) is that they had it all. This was a band that was a rising star across the punk, indie, hardcore, and noise scenes. They were on the same career trajectory as No Age and were destined for bigger things. They released two LPs, Born Pregnant (on the eminent Parts Unknown Records) and a self-titled LP that was released posthumously as the scandal broke out in the build up to the band's record release show. Both of these LPs are perfect. Berdan's vocals have a hint of desperation to them that are unique (even in punk music where desperate sounding vocals are common). His vocals howl out as if he's looking for something (but doesn't know what) to missing something (and is unable to get it). Imagine that feeling you get when you feel like you've lost yourself. Now imagine if there was no way possible to reconcile that feeling. That you were lost but you kept trying to fix it because you're oblivious to the fact that you can't find yourself. Guitarist Kristy Greene creates a soundscape that envelops listeners. The minute you turn on a Drunkdriver song, you are in their world where the sky seems a little darker and the air a little harder to breathe. What you hear on those records is special. We don't know what would have happened with Drunkdriver. That's the band's legacy. They weren't a run of the mill band. They weren't figuring things out. They were quickly on the come up having made a reputation as masters of their sound. You can't help but come away from a Drunkdriver listening session without asking yourself "why?"

Here's a fact of life: punctuation matters. We can make a tragic misstep and stamp a period to it thus ending this part of it (or entirely). We can put a question mark on it, meaning what we were or where we're going is clouded in uncertainty. We can add an exclamation point to emphatically restate who we already were. Ultimately we write our own stories and we can determine how they're punctuated. The biggest tragedies in our lives are always our own doing. I'm not talking about 'if an iceberg hits your cruise liner' kind of tragedy. I'm talking about the kinds of things that get us written out of history and make people uncomfortable at the mention of our name. Life is something that becomes increasingly out of our control as we get older, but despite that we will always have the choice on whether or not we want to be a villain.

We shouldn't forgive Villalobos for what he did because it is unforgivable. What he did is one of the worst things a person can do to someone (and in his case it was to multiple women). At the same time, we shouldn't forget Drunkdriver. What happened at the end aside, the band's other members put their lives into it and it isn't fair that a highly accomplished section of their careers is now a taboo. When people look at Drunkdriver now, it is a discussion on the punctuation to their existence. Some people look at what happened and say it was a period. They're partially right. There are a great deal of people who used what happened as a reason to never talk about Drunkdriver ever again. Other people would look at what happened as a question mark. No one knows how far Drunkdriver would have gone. We will never know. They ended due to an extreme personal calamity. It wasn't because they lost it or they weren't going anywhere. They were the best they had ever been with the world in front of them. That's Drunkdriver's legacy. Question marks, incredible recordings, and an ending that people can never reconcile.

Mind Eraser

Previously did a blurb on them, giving them the full essay treatment

The human mind is an ugly thing. For every beautiful triumph it has produced, there are ten more atrocities to its credit. Inhumanity is all around us. Thomas Hobbes staked his reputation on the proposition that man's natural state was evil. Niccolo Machiavelli created an entire school of thought on how to manipulate man's evils to work for you. In truth, the driving force of humanity comes from our innate desire to destroy others. A great deal of our technological advances came from research done during wartime. We landed on the moon in a campaign to beat the Russians, not because man had long dreamed to walk on the moon. We were summoning the spirit of Napoleon, not Jules Verne. We are horrible creatures. Selfish, ambitious, and avaricious. There is a reason why so much of our contemporary existence is mired in things that serve to dull our minds. Drugs, prescribed medication, television, ESPN, all of it. Marx would tell you all of this adds up to part of the superstructure and it is a negative feature of society. If Hobbes saw today's superstructure, he would be relieved that there is something keeping all of this potential evil busy. The worst thing in this world is an idle mind. It doesn't wander so much as it does sink.

Boston's Mind Eraser focuses on man's shortcomings. Their themes coupled with their aesthetic could be argued as "evil" but in a much different vein than a great deal of their contemporaries. Unlike black metal acts who write about occult themes or d-beat bands who write about abstract wars, Mind Eraser asserts that the greatest evil of all is the organ inside your skull. What makes it all the more distressing is that this evil is real for everybody. Not all of us will ever be close to a war nor do all of us believe in ghastly spectres, but all of us have done something wrong to someone in our lives. We will likely do something wrong to someone again. That's the nature of the beast; the beast being us. The human brain fails us more in our lifetime than any other organ. If you believe everything you've read to this point, you'd agree that it is because our brains were built to fail.

On the band's debut album Cave, songs like "Internal Dialogue" and "Don't Find Me" highlight the horrors of the human psyche. The album offers commentary against people and the narrator himself (vocalist DFJ). The second album Glacial Reign, features more of the same themes from the first album. The artwork is a homage to Rudimentary Peni's Death Church which is most appropriate considering Nick Blinko, the band's vocalist, famously served time in a mental institution. The band furthered their work into a two song LP entitled Conscious Unconscious which explored the topic of psyche. The band also released an EP titled The Prodigal Son Brings Death touching on other topics with songs like "Insertion" and "Withdrawal Symptoms".

Musically, the band's lineup of Chris Corry, Brendan Radigan, and Craig Arms produce a sound that does well to sonically capture what goes on in the brain. Everything from the fast parts (mania) to the grating breakdowns (depression). The members' talents allows for a lot of interesting mid-tempo parts. This can be likened to something of an even keel state. Mind Eraser musically goes beyond simple powerviolence. It can be compared to a sonic representation of bipolar.

Mind Eraser's discography are documents to teach a psychology class. They don't mince words about what people are. There are no illusions about silver linings. A man can love a woman, but he can also kill his brother. A nation can join hands and sing merry tunes, but it will likely happen on the bodies of millions. There is no love. There is no happiness. Everything is transitory. Your mind is a weapon that will never be happy. It will consume and take until there's nothing left to take from. We are all backstabbers, junkies, liars, users, and abusers. All Mind Eraser's music does is eliminate any denial or illusion we may have had about that fact.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Ten Best Hardcore Punk Guitarists Of All Time

Honorable Mentions:
- Kawakami (Disclose)
- Parris Mayhew (Cro-Mags)
- Matt Henderson (Madball)
- Gavin Van Vlack (Absolution, Burn)
- Greg Ginn (Black Flag)
- Porcell (Youth of Today, Judge, Project X)
- Tim Kerr (Big Boys)
- John Hagerty (Naked Raygun)
- Greg Sage (Wipers)
- Frankie Stubbs (Leatherface)
- Chris Rest (RKL)
- Frank "3Gun" Novinec (Ringworm, Integrity)
- Woody Weatherman (Corrosion of Conformity)
- Souichi (Forward, Gudon, Insane Youth AD)
- Todd Burdette (Tragedy, Severed Head of State, His Hero Is Gone, Warcry)
- Mike Dijan (Breakdown, Crown of Thornz, Show of Force)
- AJ Novello (Leeway)
- Rich McLoughlin (Breakdown, Raw Deal, Killing Time)

10. Zigyaku (Bastard, Judgement)

9. Randy Uchida (GISM, Randy Uchida Group)

8. Wade Allison (Iron Age)

7. Rob Echeverria (Straight Ahead, Rest In Pieces)

6. Vinnie Stigma (Agnostic Front)

5. Pig Champion (Poison Idea)

4. Anthony "Bones" Roberts (Discharge, Broken Bones)

3. Gary "Dr. Know" Miller (Bad Brains)

2. Aaron "A2" Melnick (Integrity, In Cold Blood, Inmates, One Life Crew, Cider)

1. Chelsea (Paintbox, Death Side, Poison Arts)


One of the more polarizing topics in the last couple of years is female vocalists in punk. You either love em or you hate em. I personally love them. I think there's a certain abrasive / snotty quality that the female voice's higher pitch offers a complement to the often frenetic paced punk tunes they're singing over. If I had a criticism for female vocals, it is that effects are used a lot that the aforementioned vocal quality I just talked about is lost in the mix. The other side of that coin is that reverb drenched vocals are great so it is another point to the argument that female vocals are cool. In the last few years, there has been a surge of great female-fronted bands in hardcore punk. However if you want to which band is queen of the female-fronted genre, look no further than Birmingham, England's Sacrilege.

A common conversation with detractors of female fronted hardcore punk bands might go something like this:
"I don't like female vocals"
"What about Sacrilege?"
"Well that's different, you can't hate Sacrilege."

When you discuss the best female-fronted subculture bands (punk, hardcore, metal), Sacrilege is always the first band brought up. The rest of the discussion is to determine who is second best.

The band came out of the early 80s UK crust scene. This is the same scene that gave the world Deviated Instinct, Hellbastard, Axegrinder, Napalm Death, and Bolt Thrower. Sacrilege is fronted by the Lynda "Tam" Simpson. Earlier I said a lot of female vocalists utilize heavy reverb, Tam was one of the first to do it. When we think of the best uses of reverb in hardcore punk vocals, Sacrilege's name is almost always at the top, gender notwithstanding.

The band's output includes two demos and three albums. Their first album Behind The Realms of Madness is an essential album both in the crust and thrash scenes. Its pacing is so methodical. The riffs are something that thrash bands in the USA were a few years away from arriving at themselves. The d-beat driven drums never fail to keep pace and, at times, dictate it. Lastly, Tam's vocals are almost paradoxical. When you hear them, it's clear they're a female's, but never once do you make the mistake of presupposing that she is some kind of dainty flower. She have been conscious of this fact when recording: that she needed to sounded menacing but also convincing. Too often when a woman wants to sound "mean" on record, it usually comes off as very forced and laughable. Tam's vocals bear a sense of anxiety, urgency, and anger to them that speaks to a lot of feelings women grapple with daily. It's almost as if Nora from Ibsen's A Doll's House was given time in a recording booth to air out her grievances with daily life. The record itself is perfect. Most thrash records usually have one overbearing element like the guitars or vocals. Behind The Realms of Madness is a perfect blend of biting guitar work, sublime vocals, and strong drum work. It is essential listening. "Shadow From Mordor" is also one of the hardest songs ever written.

Included is Sacrilege's complete discography (yes, even those metal records most people don't like).

Mission Statement and New Features

It's November 6th 2015.

I don't remember when I said I was moving to Justified Arrogance from the basic confines of the blogspot to a full site. It might have been January. As they say, life happens. I moved to a different part of the country. I got a new job. I saw friendships end. I made new ones. Things kept progressing and all the while I still thought about the proposed evolution of Justified Arrogance.

I pursued other writing opportunities in that time. I had hoped that I could parlay Justified Arrogance into bigger opportunities that could help me improve my life station. It didn't work and I ended up compromising myself in the process. It wasn't a great feeling. Sometime recently I gave up on this goal of trying to make a name under someone else's. Much like everything else in the subculture, the best way to make a name for yourself is by yourself. I forgot that this year.

So I'm back again. I gave up on the idea of a full site for now mostly because I was using it as an excuse to not pick this back up. In addition to essays, Justified Arrogance will be broadening its scope of coverage. The general idea of this is to cover more than just the past and to talk about more current topics. These topics will include:

New Band Spotlights - There are great new bands coming out all the time. Consider the fact that this year's Best Demo list had to be upped to 10 because there were too many great debuting bands this year. Justified Arrogance will work to highlight the best new bands year round.

Album Reviews - Covering more than the classics and essentials. Justified Arrogance stays current with the best music of the day as much as it does those of yesterday. One of the most common criticisms within the subculture is that "nothing good ever comes out anymore". This statement couldn't be more false and our album reviews will showcase the best music coming out.

Show Reviews - Bands cut their teeth with recordings but always make their bones with their live performances. Highlighting worthwhile shows and tours carry many latent effects. Most importantly, it relays the elements of a band that can't be captured on record.

Interviews - The art of interviewing is to uncover knowledge about the subject. The questions are the instrument of discovery. The line between asking stock questions and gossiping is so thin that it is easy to miss it. A good interview is something that transcends time and place. It is more than something about a new album or how a recent tour fared. Justified Arrogance will work to bring these kinds of interviews to you.

Book Reviews - The genre of subculture literature continues to grow exponentially every year. With more and more titles being released, it is important to highlight and celebrate the best ones. Justified Arrogance is committed to the knowledge of the subculture's history and written culture as much as it is to its sonic excellence.

Artist Profiles - One of the best things about the subculture is its neverending supply of talented artists. Being in the subculture typically means you have a fractured view of the world, life, and society. It is always refreshing and captivating to see the artwork by so many great artists. While the art will end up on record covers, merch, zines, and other ephemera, the artist is largely unheralded. Justified Arrogance is a place that celebrates great artists and their work.

I want this to be a place where people can come to learn more about the subculture they belong in. I also want it to be a place where people can just learn more in general. If you can come away from Justified Arrogance having learned one thing you didn't already know before, then we will have done our work right. This blog / idea started out over a year ago because I was losing my mind and needed an outlet. In the beginning, I was really just talking to myself about my favorite bands. I didn't think anyone was reading.

Justified Arrogance is the idea where you know you are great at what you do. Being in the subculture is a privilege. It is a badge you have to earn. In recent years, the subculture has become increasingly accessible for people who don't care about its history, culture, and ideas. It has become a place where kids are often stagnant upon entry with little desire for growth. They are happy to collect their attendance awards, believing that alone is enough. If you are not here seeking personal growth through a community whose very existence is predicated on the acrimony borne from its opposing views on society, culture and lifestyle, then why are you here? It isn't enough to be different anymore in 2015. Too often our society tells us that we are already different and we are already special. Being different is the new normal. Going forward, you have to be better. That's what Justified Arrogance is about.

- James Khubiar

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Aspects Of War

When I was nine years old, I visited Turkey. On the last night of my trip, the anxiety from waiting to leave for the airport kept me awake all night. As I sat on the balcony of my family's sixth floor flat, I suddenly heard a commotion about six blocks away. It started out as screaming in what I knew was Turkish and then in another language (what I'd later learn was Kurdish). That's when the shooting started. I can't tell you how long this went on for exactly. By my count it went on until the first explosion. From where I was sitting I don't know who started shooting explosives, but I knew they were mortars from the cupping sound made by the shots (the same noise you hear when fireworks are shot on the 4th of July). By morning, the fighting was over. On our walk to the bus to take us to the airport, my mom, brother, and I walked passed the block where the fighting was. Multiple storefronts were charred and blown out from the explosions. There were stains on the concrete where bodies had clearly been laying. The last sight I saw was a dog pile of human corpses that the Turkish soldiers were throwing bodies on.

All the things you've heard about from "Dis-" bands over the years were right there in front of me. Call it Visions of War or A Brutal Sight of War or any other reference point, there's something to be said for seeing it. This warzone is what d-beat bands have been trying to make you hear. To put it simply: their goal is to make music that properly articulate war. Those who have seen war don't score it to Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.

The feelings of watching that firefight at a young age left me wondering if it was going to continue to escalate. I was nervous but also excited to see something like that happening so close to me. I can't say I was afraid. I knew I was safe from my position. At the same time, to see the flashes and even feel the heat rise in the air was something I've failed to put into words for twenty years.

I tell you this story because the first time I saw Boston's Aspects of War, it immediately called me back to that night in Istanbul. From the moment they started playing in the Acheron with the strings section rolling noise out of the band's wall of amps like a minigun along with the drummer attacking his kit (immediately reminding me of Framtid's Shin) I got that same feeling of anxiety I did in Turkey. I felt the heat rising in the air. This doesn't sound like anything at a punk show but the amp wall coupled with the layout of the Acheron caused all dead air to just be pushed back to the venue. The only thing in the front of the room was noise and carbon dioxide. Between the instrumentalists creating a wall of noise to assail the audience, the vocalist did not want to be left out swinging on the audience members. So you had a live show where the noise was both choking you out and physically pressing you along with a vocalist who was liable to catch you with a right hand.

There's something ironic about a punk band sounding 'oppressive' but the sound of Aspects is so enveloping that it has the power to pin you down until the set is over (much like someone under fire or being shelled). Capturing the sounds of war was something Disfear, Discharge, and much of d-beat's first generation did. D-beat's second generation wanted to create war through their music. Bands like Disclose, Zyanose, D-Clone, and in the USA with Perdition, Zatuson, Nerveskade (which featured AOW guitarist Jakke Sullivan), and now Aspects of War. Noise Not Music has evolved from a mantra into a battlecry. Aspects of War is the closest thing the USA will ever have to the likes of a Disclose (a fact that band may be conscious of as they frequently pay homage to Kawakami in their sets). This is also a fact the Japanese may be conscious of as the band recently did a three week Japanese tour on the Toyota Punk Carnival with System Fucker and a slew of other bands while being the only gaijin band (a huge honor).

Aspects of War's New York's Alright set left me with a few takeaways: 1.) drummer Chris Peeples hits his kit harder than almost any other North American 2.) the band's imposing backline (emblazoned with Discharge's iconography) assembled into a wall formation is a piece of sonic artillery and you will see nothing else like it in North American punk right now 3.) I've been partially deaf in my left ear since. Since then it's become clear that they're part of a new crop of bands that are helping to evolve the sound. The Nightmare Continues became Dis Nightmare Still Continues became Dis Nightmare Forever Continues. Aspects of War is just as much about looking to the future as it is looking to the past.

Included is the band's split with Contrast Attitude, Hell Never Ceases EP, Total Disfuckers Demo, In Order To Satisfy... EP, The Presence of Death EP, and a New York's Alright 2015 set.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Best of 2015

James Khubiar
Justified Arrogance Boss

Top Hardcore and Punk LPs:
1. Total Abuse - Excluded
2. No Tolerance - You Walk Alone
3. L.O.T.I.O.N. - Digital Control And Man's Obsolescence
4. Anasazi - Nasty Witch Rock
5. Vaaska - Todos Contra Todos
6. Dawn Of Humans - Slurping At The Cosmos Spine
7. La Misma - Kanizadi
8. Sudor - Enamorado De La Muerte Juvenil
9. Violent Reaction - Marching On
10. Absolut - Hells Highest Power

(At the time of this writing I have not heard the Butcher, Video, Magic Circle albums but they are worth noting as they likely would have made this list)

Top Non-Hardcore Punk LPs:
1. Kacey Musgraves - Pageant Material
2. Royal Headache - High
3. Destruction Unit - Negative Feedback Resistor
4. Pleasure Leftists - The Woods of Heaven
5. Young Guv - Ripe 4 Luv
6. Best Coast - California Nights
7. Title Fight - Hyperview
8. Wildhoney - Sleep Through It
9. John Carpenter - Lost Themes
10. Swervedriver - I Wasn't Born To Lose You

Top EPs / Singles:
1. Rixe - Coups Et Blessures
2. Blazing Eye - Ways To Die
3. Sadist - The Shadow of the Swastika
4. Ajax - Ajax
5. Barcelona - Extremo Nihilismo En Barcelona
6. Ivy - A Cat's Cause, No Dog's Problem
7. Anxiety Hammer - What Stands Between Us
8. Pure Disgust - Chained
9. Exit Order - Exit Order
10. Aggression Pact - Aggression Pact

(At the time of this writing, I have not heard the newest Aspects of War and Strutter and is worth noting as it would have likely made this list)

Top Demos (Usually this list is limited to 3-5 but 2015 was an incredible year for debuting bands):
1. Strutter
2. Concealed Blade
3. Latisha's Skull Drawing (LSD)
4. Mommy
5. Girls Living Outside Society's Shit (GLOSS)
6. Firewalker
7. Lock
8. Body Pressure
9. Blockhead
10. Smear

(I haven't heard the Indignation demo at the time of this writing, rest assured it would be on this list)

Top Rap Releases (in no order since 4 are from Future and 3 are from Young Thug):
- Young Thug - Slime Season
- Young Thug - Slime Season 2
- Young Thug - Barter 6
- Lil Durk - Remember My Name
- Lil Ugly Mane - Third Side of Tape
- Peewee Longway - Blue M&M Vol. II: King Size
- Future - Dirty Sprite 2
- Future - Beast Mode
- Future - 56 Nights
- Future x Drake - What A Time To Be Alive

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Power Trip - Intro / Manifest Decimation

At the This Is Hardcore Festival this past summer, Power Trip performed at the Kung Fu Necktie for an after show. The intro they opened with is a segment of a new song from their upcoming album. They followed it by breaking into the opening song off their transcendent opus Manifest Decimation. In the bridge, there is a shout out for us here at Justified Arrogance. Worth posting by sheer virtue of the fact that it is this outfit's first shout out on stage. Thanks, Power Trip. You were one of the first Justified Arrogance essays and we can't wait for the new album.

Total Abuse

Austin, Texas for about ten years has been one of the strongest fortresses for hardcore punk in the United States. It is a city that prides itself on being "weird". The fact that the city has become increasingly consumer driven in the past decade should be distressing to the city's subculture scene. In theory, if the locale is becoming safer and more normalized, the scene should suffer, right? Instead, the opposite is occurring: kids are becoming more aggressive, inspired to new heights, and the quality of the scene continues to be raised. The same has been happening in places like Portland and Brooklyn. Turns out the more normos your city gets, the better your punk scene becomes. Austin's has been blessed with a lot over the years. Things like Chaos In Tejas, a parade of incredible bands, venues, and personalities have helped to make Austin one of the premier scenes in the world.

One of the Austin scene's most remarkable products are Total Abuse. The band was formed in 2006 and featured members of older local band The Snobs. The thing that makes The Snobs such a noteworthy band in the annals of history were the members' ages. Everybody in the band's ages ranged from 12-14. They were literally kids when they were taking the stage at places like Posi Numbers Festival. Total Abuse was a completely different monster from The Snobs however. The band, named after a Peter Sotos book compilation, features a line up of Rusty Kelley (vocals), Ryan Foster (guitar), Duncan Knappen (guitar), Dustin Pilkington (bass), and Matt Lyons (drums).

There are a variety of factors that one can point to and say "Total Abuse is special". First, the band's personnel boasts experience and nuanced sensibility that few within the hardcore punk scene possess. Kelley's major interest is power electronics / harsh noise, a genre where the absolute worst of life is harnessed into sound. While Kelley is far from the first person to traverse into both subcultures, he is the first to grasp an understanding from harsh noise and translate it into hardcore punk. On record, Kelley's vocals are dripping with the nihilistic vantage point of life that friends, sex, drugs, and violence fail to remedy. Most hardcore punk vocals can be gauged on a scale of primary emotions like love and hate. Kelley's are gauged somewhere between 'kill you or kill myself, either way I don't care'. What's more, the band is able to recreate these attitudes on a sonic level. Anywhere from the blown out bass kicking in like a sledgehammer for segues to the guitars that alternate from grating to despondent. Total Abuse on an emotional level understand the music they're producing. This sounds corny, but consider it this way: if you're trying to articulate a message, an idea, or a feeling and you're trying to sound like Negative Approach to do it, you're not really expressing yourself, you're using their mouth to say your words. Not many bands playing understand this idea and the few that do are the ones who transcend the milieu of bands in the subculture. Negative Approach got it, so did Cold Sweat, and Total Abuse does now. What's insane is that all three of those bands are criminally underrated (yes, even Negative Approach when you consider how high people hold them among first wave USHC bands).

Part of why Total Abuse are so underrated is because a lot of kids in hardcore punk really can't handle what they're doing. I know I've criticized today's kids in the past so this point shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Total Abuse cultivate a sound that makes people uncomfortable (when you're named after Sotos, if you're not making people uncomfortable, you're doing something wrong). A lot of kids aren't really ready for the mental / emotional depths that Total Abuse drags listeners to. Most of the time the people who really appreciate it, have been there themselves or are fascinated by it. Hardcore punk kids will sit there and say that the scene is a place that is naturally uncomfortable, but the fact is that much of what is produced is often in the same vein or archetype. There's no danger in a record influenced by Breakdown. It's the same thing you've heard going all the way back to Breakdown. Hearing an album like Prison Sweat is something that serves to condition you to what they want you to hear. A lot of people can't handle that kind of idea. Records are meant to be played, not grappled with. Music is supposed to be fun, not a spiritual gauntlet. Total Abuse attacks basic convention on how we should approach music. They're not for everyone. It isn't because they're too esoteric, it's because most people are too weak.

I took Total Abuse for granted when I was younger for a lot of the reasons I just described. It does take a certain kind of person to really get them. They're one of the best bands of our generation and you don't even know it. Check them out. Listen to their records now. Listen again after you've gone through a personal tragedy or hardship. Listen to them again when you're at a low point. Total Abuse isn't about overcoming challenges and they're not about understanding yourself better. If you think you're a bad person, you're right. If you think life sucks, it does. If you wonder if things will ever get better, they're not. That's Total Abuse.

Included are their Mutt, Prison Sweat albums as well as their Sex Pig, Self-Titled, and Looking For Love EPs.


Monday, November 2, 2015


The two most important bands in hardcore punk history are the Bad Brains and Discharge. If you disagree with this fact, you're wrong.

The Bad Brains took the American punk movement and made it into hardcore. More often than not, you can't actually quantify the difference between hardcore and punk into sonic terms. Especially when it comes to the first wave of USHC. The Bad Brains presented the formula of harder, faster, and meaner. There was something to be seen from what they were doing in DC. In the course of their time, they inspired the scene around them to step up. Because of that, we got the early DC scene that included Youth Brigade, Void, and Minor Threat. Eventually the Bad Brains were "banned in DC" by 1979 where they picked up and left for New York City. Now boasting the Bad Brains, New York City's hardcore punk scene exploded almost overnight. The band showed kids how it was done and the entire scene rose to the challenge of keeping up with the Bad Brains. Almost overnight bands like the Cro-Mags, Beastie Boys took cues from the Bad Brains while kids wanted to play harder, faster, and meaner. While Bad Brains was causing the scene to undergo a renaissance, back in DC the hardcore punk scene was already entering its twilight years. By the mid 1980s, much of the DC scene's first wave of hardcore would be broken up. The best way to explain the Bad Brains's importance to USHC history is to look at them like a foundation. Where they went, they laid down the groundwork that others built themselves on top of. In DC they were the city's foundation (HR famously claims that it was him to tell Ian MacKaye to put himself out there more with Minor Threat). Once they left, the scene stayed up for but a few years before collapsing into post hardcore (something that would eventually happen to NYHC in the late 80s). They arrived in New York where they laid down the basis for the greatest hardcore scene of all time. Without the Bad Brains, NYHC never really happens.

The point of explaining the Bad Brains' importance is to better understand Discharge's importance. While the Bad Brains were the 'foundation', Discharge were the disease. Their influence is not something that people have built on top of. Rather it is something punks have spent thirty years trying to reinterpret, distort (sometimes literally), and co-opt Discharge's iconography, aesthetic, and sound.

Whereas Bad Brains' influence is limited mostly to the DC and NYC areas, Discharge's infection spread across the world like a plague with varied results. It's interesting when you look at the global punk landscape and see what Discharge wrought from it. Without them, we don't have Swedish or Japanese punk as we know it. The US crust punk scene would also be markedly different. There are punk legends that have made entire careers in pursuit of Discharge's mantle such Disclose and Anti-Cimex. The band took the most basic concepts about war, death, and society and hammered home a sense of futility and nihilism to all of it. While the anarcho bands were preaching about a call to action, Discharge was making it very clear that all the rallies and votes in the world won't change the fact that you will never get a say in society's workings and if the war has to come to kill you, so be it. Anger borne from society and politics shouldn't illicit apathy, but it does. That's part of Discharge's magic. A sort of kamikaze spirit that has come to terms with the fact that we will all die and that our control of this death is minimal. It speaks more to the solider fashion (and typically reckless lifestyle) that many punks take on.

The band's golden era runs from 1977 - 1983. The lineup included Anthony "Bones" Roberts on guitar (who would leave in 1982 to start Broken Bones), Royston "Rainy" Wainwright on bass, Terrence "Tezz" Roberts on drums (the man who is often credited for innovating d-beat in punk), and Kelvin "Cal" Morris on vocals. These were the four major members (the band has famously had a revolving door of personnel for the last three decades). In that period they produced two albums, five EPs, and three singles. The full length albums Why? and Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing are classics, only worth comparing to each other. Those six years of Discharge are without measure or peer. Some punks will spend their entire lives trying to understand and recapture what the band was able to produce in that time. There's a reason why the Never Again dove, the Decontrol face, and the rest of Discharge's iconography ends up everywhere to this day. They are a disease. One that continues to inspire kids and scenes around the world. No one will ever be Discharge again, but in the course of trying, amazing bands will happen.

Included are both full lengths and all of their EPs / singles under The Clay Punk Singles Collection compilation. Download these. Learn them. Hear them. There is only one Discharge.