Mixtape #7 – Baltic Hardcore
So I’ve come across and have befriended quite some people in hardcore(ish) bands in the Baltic States so it seemed only logical, to quote Spock, for me to make a play list of that. By no means I’m presenting you the best bands nor exclusively stuff that I like, I just got what I knew and felt worth sharing. I’m hoping to get some responses and maybe make a second one at another point in time. Finding acts for this list from what I had seen or had gotten to listen to uncovered many new interesting acts that well deserve some of your attention too. So enjoy, have fun and leave some comments.
Enhet (LV) – Hold Your Breath
Let’s start in the middle of the Baltic States. Enhet can be considered one of the most important hardcore bands from Latvia. Hailing from Cēsis, the Sildniks brothers (Lauris, Marts and Jānis), Aigars Māls and Mārtiņš Brants have been at it for 12 years. They’ve only released two albums, being busy with their own club and festival (Fonoclub and Fonofest). This year Keep It Clear is released and the band is ready for more action and more stages. They’ve shared the stage with Agnostic Front, Madball, The Black Dahlia Murder, Cradle of Filth, Caliban, Blindside, Deadlock, Gorilla Biscuits, No Turning Back, The Exploited and many others.
Burn Still (Est) – Forget Your Dignity
Finest metalcore from the capital of Estonia with some guys that know how to play a hellish live show. Brutal and unrelenting, this song is from their debut album featuring hiphop artist Metsakuutsu. The members of Burn Still are part of the group of bands that form the Estonian scene, which easily blends together hardcore, metalcore and hiphop or whatever else you wish to throw in the mix. I just love their powerful sound and the intense live experience of their show and this song just has it all to me. Though you may like it less of course. Then again, their last album is a bit different..
The Analfists (LT) – Pain And Relief
So yeah, this is not a bandname that you can actually Google. I’ve not seen or heard many bands from Lithuania, which has a tight knit scene in Vilnius and something with street punk in Kaunas, but that seems to be it. Sorry for the quality of the sound, but I find that the raw recordings often sound best with bands like this. The Analfists are not a really serious band as far as I’ve gathered, with a bit of a random take on lyrics and themes. They know what they’re doing, members also play in Bora and the vocalist used to sing in band One Voice from Riga, Latvia.
Johnny & The Burnouts (LV) – Faster Than Hell
Vocalist Johnny told me once that basically he listened to the Ramones for a long time, started a Ramones cover band and later this became Johnny & The Burnouts (I did an interview with him). So I think that and other thrashy bands can be heard in the sound of their band. Hailing from Kandava, about 100 kilometers from Riga, they’re the latest thing in the Latvian scene and a fresh breeze for most. There is nothing difficult or overly complicated about this band and that’s what I dig about them. If you do too, check their live material on youtube. It’s pretty cool and gives the feeling of the intensity a live show offers.
The Sold Outs (LT) – Sympathy
As mentioned before, the Lithuanian scene is not much and most great names have already split up or died. The same can be said for The Sold Outs, who have also decided to stop but seem to fail at it. They have that cool sound of bands like Jerry’s Kids and The Germs with unstoppable speed and a little bit of rock’n’roll in there. If you’re keen to hear more, their work is freely available on their facebook. Easily one of the most fun bands from Lithuania, originating from Panevezys.
Project Dekadenz (Est) – Cancer Of Society
A bit louder and a bit more brutal comes from Estonia, the band Project Dekadenz, who play furious crustcore. They come from Tartu and have close ties with Johnny & The Burnouts. The ties between Lithuania and Latvia were always good for the punk scene, but Estonia was a bit apart. So its a good thing that this is happening. The sound reminds you of Wolfbrigade and Disfear and they’ve been at it since 2010.
Kastete (LV) – Ideju Imperia
Collide, Saving Daylight Remains, Seborrhea, Trauma Moralis, Hidden Well, Mutilate Myself, Apatija, Gatling, Huskvarn, Frailty, Wagars and the new hardcore/death metal band Kapakmens, all bands where the guys from Kastete are active in. They play a mean bit of hardcore in an uncompromising style that can hardly be described as anything than Latvian hardcore, usually in the native language. I’ve had the pleasure to see them in the now closed Rock’n’Riga club and later did a piece on them after which drummer Edgars helped get in touch with different bands (and also with this list). One of my personal favorites as well.
NMR (Est) – Liars
I guess the scene in Estonia can be called small, and NMR can be called Tallinn Hardcore and pretty much be its main representation. They’ve been around for a longer time and are still active, which is nice. In fact an album is planned for release this year, so we can call that good news. I got to know this band through ones like Burn Still and Two Wrongs and I quite liked it.
Bora (LT) – Vilnius Dega! (Clash Cover)
Another one from the once glorious Lithuanian scene, and probably one of the most powerful and fun sounding bands. Bora unfortunately is no longer together, but was active from 1998 to 2009. Members were originally in different bands like Invazija, Bramborak, Spellbond and Splitface. Animal rights, veganism and vegetarianism are themes the band touched upon, which is even rarer in the Baltic scene. I picked this song, because I just love how they turned the song into one about Vilnius and because I love the original.
Brosided (LT) – Okeanas
I guess there had to be one slick sounding band among them, which Brosided definitely is. They sound like somewhere in between Death By Stereo and More Than Life, bands I happen to like. I also wrote a bit about their album a while ago. Surprisingly, this band is still active. This is exceptional, though they don’t seem to be doing much lately.
IQ Zero (Est) – Militarist
One of those bands that I didn’t hear before making this little is IQ Zero, who were recommended to me by my friend Johnny Mad from JTB. It’s very hard, very gritty and quite political. The name is derived from a Hate Squad album and their sound to me feels like blend of Oi! and hardcore, sounding a bit like Slapshot and Sheer Terror on a bad day when a lot of stuff seems to piss them off. They are a political band, but what politics is unfortunately unknown to me.
Kriegopfer (LV) – Terror + Politika
From Saldus, Latvia, comes another band with a long run in the scene and they are still a little bit active I hear. Kriegopfer started out in 1999 and survived various creative crises, managing to release three albums in their lifespan. Members have moved on and started other bands, living up to the saying that if you see two musicians in Latvia, there are three bands. Their sound is much like primitive hardcore meeting with thrash, the other moment they sound more groovy.
Of Roofs, Genes And Stolen Meanings (Est) – Slow Blade
I guess you love or hate the sound of this band. Of Roofs, Genes And Stolen Meanings, short form O.R.G.A.S.M., makes their own brand of hardcore (if you are willing to call it that). Incorporating melodic elements of “melodeath” metal, atmospheres from postrock and postmetal and the intensity of hardcore, they are a rare sound from Tartu, Estonia. The easy thing to say is comparing them somewhere with Converge, which I don’t feel bad about doing anyways. There’s also the review.
Spit It Out (LV) – Wannabees
These guys are a new sound on the scene in Cesis, Latvia. I did see them once or twice live, but they didn’t blow my mind. They came out with t-shirts saying ‘Cēsis Hardcore’ on the back a while ago, which got them a lot of attention. Apart from that, it seems to have given some pride to the local scene, which can be a motivation for it to grow. Let’s hope so, since Latvia could do with some new hardcore bands. Their sound is rather polished and has some clear metalcore influences, creating vocals I don’t really enjoy particularly. There’s some Madball in there I suppose.
Wagars (LV) – Velnezers
Again, we find members from various bands in Wagars, like I’ve written in a review for Some Will Never Know earlier. Their sound is dark, gritty and blackened, but full of ferocity like crust music. They are not political in any way as a band and enjoy bringing in some folk culture with their music. Presenting something that can be considered very Latvian. You can see this in the artwork but also the music and lyrics. Poetry has been worked into the album as well, which is definitely worth checking out. If you hate black metal, ignore what I just said.