Putting Flatspot under the Spotlight: Rapid Reviews of Flatspot Records’ Recent Releases
Back in November, FSR-41 caught Hans’ attention and made its way ’round the Bowl. So what’s Flatspot Records been up to in the new year? Let’s hit the pit and find out.
With 51 releases under their belt since 2004, Baltimore’s Flatspot Records has played an outsize role in shaping the modern face of hardcore. They released Trapped Under Ice’s seminal (and still perfect) ’07 demo and have introduced the world to Big Tymers like Backtrack, Mizery, Higher Power, and Candy. This short list fails to encompass how much influence Flatspot has wielded in modern hardcore, but it provides a snapshot for their aptitude for recognizing, producing, and promoting talented bands. In 2019 and 2020, Flatspot has brought another crop of new bands to the fore. Below are some bite-size reviews of their most recent demos and EPs.
World Demise – Demo 2020 (FSR-51)
Release: March 6, 2020
Fave Song: “Take a Hike”
In 2011, two of my best friends and I went on a 15-day road trip across the U.S. Heading west to San Francisco from Athens, we camped under the stars at Lake Dardanelle, AR; got serious indigestion in Amarillo, TX; spent a weird night in the weird town of Albuquerque, NM; took in Barringer’s Meteor Crater; stood precariously on the precipice of a rainbow-sherbet Grand Canyon at sunset; met the singer of the Mongoloids (aka Greg Mongo) and his mom (aka Greg Momgo) in a Vegas mall; spent some time in a Paso Robles hospital after suffering my first ever panic attack; and then got so excited about dancing next to Davey Havok at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco that someone had to pretend to know who we were in order to call off his goons who were ready to mash on us for what they thought was menacing behaviour. Hell, that list barely scratches the surface of the trip! Ask me about it sometime.
Anyhoo, World Demise features Greg Mongo and other dudes from the Mongoloids and Suburban Scum. This 6-minute demo is a quick-hitter of no-frills hardcore that’ll be the perfect soundtrack to the living room mosh Skype session you’re holding with your friends later this week. If you like Cold as Life, Crown of Thornz, World Demise’s members’ old bands, or songs about the hardcore scene, you’ll wanna add this to your BC cart with the quickness.
After throwin’ this heater into your cart, why not head over to Meals on Wheels and make a donation to help their COVID-19 relief efforts?
Constrict – No Eden (FSR-50)
Release: March 20, 2020
Top Tune: “Scourge”
I get the sense that this is either very much your thing or very much not your thing. You might set to trembling, salivating, and feeling a bit hot under the collar when I list the bands that come to mind when traversing the 14 minutes of Constrict’s phat-riffed metallic hardcore. On the other hand, you might look at me and skeptically wonder to yourself if my FFO list is but a collation of bands referenced in other album reviews. I can neither confirm nor deny these allegations. Obituary! Merauder! Pride Kills! All Out War! A more metal Will to Live (TX)! Something for those who want Xibalba to be more of a hardcore band! Can you even handle such a list of references?
The back nine (why a golf metaphor?) of the pummeling No Eden is as strong as my spotless FFO list, and I think the band flexes its creativity and sonic range in unexpected and increasingly enjoyable ways throughout “Scourge,” “Bliss of Power,” and “Mantra.” And while there’s no way any of us is feeling the bliss of power during the scourge that is COVID-19 and the United States’ absolutely pathetic, impotent, and frequently partisan failure to respond to a virus that is exposing how our country’s socio-politico-economic infrastructure has been hollowed through a decades-long bi-partisan attack on the Commons, our mantra should be one of safety and giving.
So, after deciding to buy or pass on No Eden, make a donation to the Restaurant Worker Disaster Relief Fund.
Typecaste – Between Life (FSR-49)
Release: February 7, 2020
Dopest Ditty: “Hypnagogic Hallucination”
Everything about the album cover, from the band name, album title, and font, to the serene blend mélange of blues interspersed with wisps of clouds, and the flat expanse of a horizon-less beach told me to expect a late-era Snapcase. I guess I should’ve paid more attention to the burly hunks of man meat in the bottom-right corner because Typecaste is fuckin’ heavy. “Traverse” and “Hypnagogic Hallucination,” in particular, have a sort of Knocked Loose or Code Orange level of disregard for the safety and wellbeing of their listeners. There are some seriously irresponsible breakdowns on this EP.
But Typecaste brings something more to the table. As Adam Yoe tells us in his much more thorough review of Between Life over on No Echo, Typecaste cites everyone from Crowbar to Nothingface as influences. Yes, this Nothingface:
Admittedly, I don’t hear a lick of Crowbar on Between Life, but I do detect quite quickly and clearly the pulsive alt-metal of Nothingface. While I find Nothingface’s influence most noticeable in the album’s adept and frenetic drumming, I’m also hearing traces of alt/nu-metal in the open, dissonant-yet-melodic chords that are a calling card for pioneers like the Deftones. Typecaste is still very much a hardcore band, but they bring metalcore and alt-metal into what some may feel an uncomfortable proximity. I find myself liking this EP more and more with each listen. Spoiler alert: Even the cleans (gasp!) on “Under the Wreath” are growing on me.
Incidentally, my purchase of the album came without the aforementioned “Traverse.” Perhaps this will be true, too, of your purchase. You can use that extra 2:24 you’ll have on your hands to donate to the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Maybe if they’re nice, Flatspot will reward your generosity in this pandemic by sending along the missing track. Somebody @ them on social media! (Just kidding—delete your social media account.)
Choice to Make – Vicious Existence (FSR-48)
Release: Valentine’s Day 2020
Choice Cut: “Who Decides?”
Hot damn do I dig this record. Vocalist Nate Preschutti’s shouted delivery reminds me of hardcore godfathers like Raybeez and Richie Birkenhead, while the band’s guitar tone is reminiscent of any Leeway or Cro-Mags records. The whole affair has this intoxicating, infectious early 90’s crossover energy that’s rooted in metal riffs that never feel metallic. Hailing from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, Choice to Make also borrows from the New England/Lockin Out sound, as I’m also getting heavy Crunch Time and Rampage vibes from the band.
I don’t know what else to say about this record other than it’s precisely the type of hardcore that still excites me. Fast-forward to 1:18 of “June” and let’s mosh our way to oblivion.
But before we do that, you’ve got another choice to make about how to respond to our vicious existence. If you’ve got the spare moolah and want to put it to good use after buying Vicious Existence, why not choose to send a couple smackers to the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund? Like helping someone up who’s hit the deck in the pit, such a donation is for the betterment of our community.
End It – One Way Track (FSR-47)
Release: January 17, 2020
Number One Track: “Lifer”
Just like Vicious Existence, One Way Track is exactly the type of hardcore record to get me fuckin’ stoked and start pretending to be someone I’m not. Hell yes I smash cop car windows with my skateboard. Hell yes I own a balaclava and roll deep with grimy characters. Hell yes I still do drugs. Hell no I don’t crumble under the weight of a two-beer hangover. Hell no I don’t go to bed at 11 most nights of the week. Hell no I don’t love 19th-century novels.
If you want the excitement of Trapped Under Ice’s Baltimore bounce, the raging two-steps of No Warning or Cruel Hand, and the uncompromised and unabashed joy of hip-hop flavoured East Coast hardcore, then you’re on a one-way track to buying this record. There’s no end to how many spins you’ll give End It after smashin’ that Buy Now button.
There’s also no end to your generosity. Head over to No Kid Hungry and make a donation, you punk motherfuckers. Let’s get the fuck off this one-way track to helplessness in the face of neoliberalism’s global conquest.
Rule Them All – Dreams About… (FSR-47)
Release: December 6, 2019
One Song to Rule Them All: “Dreams About…”
The genesis of this entire post. Ever since I bought this record and everything else
Rule The Mall Rule Them All has to offer, I feel like I’ve rediscovered my love for hardcore. Following in the footsteps of other Long Island HC acts such as Silent Majority, Rule Them All possesses all the pathos of melodic, mid-paced Revolution Summer hardcore. Introspective, critical, and searching, Rule Them All understands so acutely how much a band itself can sound like change.
If you thought Justice and Mental couldn’t get better and were then subsequently floored when both bands slowed down their respective sounds and started borrowing from Dag Nasty, Supertouch and Quickness-era Bad Brains (minus the latter’s obnoxious, stupid, and execrable homophobia), then Dreams About… is your wildest hardcore dreams come true.
Once you’ve worked your way through Dreams About…, make sure to check out 2018’s An Alignment of Polarity, particularly the track “Lukewarm.” “Only then (only then only then) will you fiiiind something tangible, something that is real. Only then (only then only then) will you fiiiind pure abundance and a life free of negligence.”
Then, once you’ve found all those things, share with us your COVID-19 stories. If you have the time, money, and ability, who’s getting your time and/or money? What’s a local charity or effort you’d like to broadcast? Something like the Atlanta Community Food Bank or Food Not Bombs Atlanta. Maybe a favourite local bookstore, restaurant, pub, yoga studio, or other establishment that needs help. Or perhaps you or someone close to you needs help during this disaster. Here’s the space to share. If you’ve got other ways for folks to get involved, share those, too!