I published the Nishiwaki (Discrete Records) Interview on the site, and promised this recommendations article. I can honestly say that all the Discrete releases are worth owning, but these are my favorite, and what really got me obsessed with the label. I’ve listed these in order of release instead of attempting to rank them in any fashion. Check the discography at the bottom to see what else is out there, and start hunting, and see if you can find some new favorite bands.
Blood feast / Poison Cola split 7’’ (1994)
The stuff of legend. I really could put all 3 blood feast EP’s on this list, as they are incredible, but I’m only going to put one. Blood Feast was from Mie city. This band is getting a bit more attention it seems outside of japan, but are still relatively underrated. Awesome, political, and self proclaimed “crazy jap core’’. Blood Feast kicks it off with what should be a classic, the most straight to the point anti war song “War Is Stupid’’ and follow that up with another rager “Ruin Oneself’’. Now flip over to the Poison Cola side. Fuck!! How has music this good languished in obscurity so long!! The solos are unreal, the vocals are great, definitely for fans of the strained style of vocals as Nori from Crück. I mean that last track on here is titled “Last Rising Real Word’’ it just does not get better than this.
V.A. - 追求無き道に光り無し Vol. 2 7’’ (1995)
My favorite of the Discrete Compilation EP's. The line up is absolutely perfect. Earthquake, Human Despair, Grasp, and Baldhead Row. I assume a majority of people have never heard any of these bands, but they are all excellent. Earthquake and Human Despair I will talk about more later, so I won’t touch of them much, but Grasp, and Baldhead Row… Grasp are outstanding, their panel has some cool sugi-esque artwork and logo, more traditional hardcore, they had one other track on the Night of the Living dead 7’’ on Poison Cola’s label. It’s always painful to mention that 7’’ as it always brings to mind, what were the first 21 Bater Records releases!! Baldhead Row are great, and had an obscure split tape with Inhibited Life, who would actually be somewhat appealing to fans of Kyushu style noisecore.
Earthquake - Suck My Ass!! 7’’ (1995)
This is a sleeper record mostly due to the fact that it’s got a standard band photo, with youth crew hardcore style lettering above. To think that this sounded like youth crew hardcore and passing on this record would be the biggest mistake! Absolutely blazing and traditional Japanese hardcore. I mean who doesn’t want to sing along to gang vocal choruses of “Suck my ass!!’’ I think this band did eventually gravitate toward more American style hardcore on later releases which could explain the American HC aesthetic influence on this EP, but on this record, it’s still got the style and charm of classic 90’s japanese hardcore bands. They have another track on Utsunomiya City Hardcore 7’’ on MCR Co. which you hopefully already own for the awesome tracks by the Ex-Manbiki Chocolate band Cassandra.
V.A. - Transcendency 3x 7’’ (1996)
This has to be one of the absolute best 90’s Japanese hardcore compilations in existence. The line up is great. It starts of with an absolute rager by Zone which wouldn’t appear on an actual album for 7 more years with the release of the Squeezed State CD. C. Exclude delivers an absolute killer blast that is a unique track unless it’s on their demo I don’t have yet. (editors note: I now have both demos, and it's indeed a unique track) I have no idea how C. Exclude EP and CD became classified as dollar bin fodder, but they are both 100% essential and some of the absolute best hardcore you can buy for such a small amount, at least in 2014 prior to this article being printed. Following is Kamui, who give us a great mid paced rager that makes me wonder who on earth is this band, and where do I get their demo!??? Finishing up with tracks by Spike Shoes, Extinct Government, Daston, Gaizi, an especially raging Raise Cain track, Doomsday, who are a great and underrated Gunma prefecture band, and a couple others, most of which are completely unique to this compilation make this a solid purchase for your collection.
Vryker - 夢幻泡影 7’’ (1996)
More criminally underrated Shizuoka city hardcore. The opening to this EP has the hardest intro. You are moshing and wanting to smash stuff right from the get go, and it calms down a bit, only to apex again at the start of the song. I cannot even imagine how great this would be live. I try by imagining that moment most of us have seen where a room just explodes, only in a Shizuoka live house were 75% of the occupants have giant mohawks. I was born in the wrong place at the wrong time… The songs on this are all mid paced with a dark heavy guitar tone that gives emanations of just real hardened anger, never playing in a bright or happy sounding key. Vryker also released a song on the not too great compilation by 6 Weeks “Japan In Decline’’ but is worth getting for that track alone if you see a cheap copy (it should be anyways). Also check out the V.A. - 追求無き道に光り無し Vol. 3 ep on Discrete for an absolutely unreal track from Steel which is a pre-Vryker band. For the noisecore fans who may be reading this, it might also surprise you that Vryker has a member of the mighty Cunt Decide and Senseless Apocalypse!
Disturb - For The Live 7’’ (1996)
Simply awesome EP I don’t think i’ve heard anyone even in japan ever talk about which is surprising because they did a split EP with destroy the American crust band. Honestly I have no idea how those 2 bands got paired up. Disturb is traditional japanese hardcore, complete with great solos, and none of the grinding tuneless heavy crust influences of Destroy. These records are great, and should be able to picked up on the cheap! For maniacs, check out the Unknown Hardcore Drunkers Vol. 4 VHS on MCR Co. for some awesome live video footage.
Gaizi - 我魂不滅 7’’ (1997)
Tottori city hardcore. The song style reminds me a bit of Crück for some reason. Super powerful “Burning Spirits’’ style hardcore for lack of a better word with absolute ripping harmonized solos. The title track off this EP is ridiculously great with so many good stops, breakdowns, and just generally awesome structure which keeps a constant intensity. Anti-war themes, and awesome album artwork round out this ep. Gaizi also has a split 7’’, were on 2 compilations and the Summer Of Violence video compilation from their tour with Pinocchio, which is a whole other beast in itself that’s totally worth tracking down.
False Charge / Naked Charge split 7’’ (1997)
Great pairing of 2 more unknown bands. I don’t know what else they did besides this split. There’s more than likely demos, and one of the naked charge songs is a “short variation’’ meaning I guess a normal or long version is out there somewhere. By the way that song is called “I Don’t Give A Fuck It’’ which is one of the better song titles I've heard (Editor Note: This song does appear on the Naked Charge Demo, which has been acquired since the writing of this article.) Of the 2 bands I like False Charge more. Their song writing style totally reminds me of Accomplice and has the hardness to fit with those sorts of bands as well. It’s agonizing that these are the only 2 songs I’ve ever heard of theirs. Naked Charge is excellent hardcore in a similar style to False Charge, but they don’t grip me as hard. They are still great and I’d buy more records of theirs if they existed. The only other piece of trivia I have relating to these bands, is that there was a False Charge / Naked Charge tour, as documented by Jin from Human Despair wearing the tour t-shirt in a photo printed in their full length CD.
Human Despair - Cry Out, Fist Pp 7’’ (1998)
More incredible Mie city hardcore. This band was still going around 2001-2002. The guitar player Jin now does Confront, who I had the pleasure of helping to release a sold out EP and LP for (LP still available at Not Very Nice), and also did a short stint recently in 牙 (Kiba) on second guitar. Cry Out Fist Up is really the complete package for a record; perfect art, perfect message, perfect music. This 7’’ and their following self released CD are more melodic traditional 90’s hardcore. The earlier EP which is also on Discrete, released in 1996 is more raw hardcore, which would appeal to 80’s Japanese punk fans especially, but I tend to gravitate toward this later EP. Absolutely perfect.
Raid / Sugar split 7’’ (1998)
Incredible Shizuoka city hardcore. Somehow what seems
like a nearly impossible to obtain record. More than likely due to people not
knowing of its existence, to look for it, or appreciating it for what it is. In
fact, extra copies I’ve dug up of this record in the US have gone straight back
to Japan. Rumors say that raid carried
mohawk standing supplies, hair spray and blow dryer, on their Sweden belts. Not surprising considering the rich cultural
history of mohawks in the Shizuoka scene, and the fact Raid has a song called
mohawk on this record. This is just
great no frills hardcore from both bands, and if you are already familiar with
the Shizuoka style then this is definitely for you. Raid also had some great
compilation tracks on the Straight Up records compilation CD “There Is Hardcore Making An Entry In 2000’’, and tracks on the Shizuoka Hardcore CD released on Dirty Informal Section, the same label responsible for the classic early Shizuoka releases like So What, Deadless Muss, Rustler and Innocents. Sugar has
a full CD on discrete records, as well as tracks along side Raid on the Shizuoka Hardcore CD. (Editors Note: Check out the confirmation of said Mohawk rumor on Terminal Escape blog, and hear Raid as well: Raid - Why Mohawk Down?)
牙 (Kiba) - 魑魅魍魎 CD (1999)
Kiba are from Nagoya, and play really tough as nails fast hardcore that’s a step above. Kiba at this point has 5 CD's out, a split 7’’ with Outsider from Toyohashi on Discrete and several compilation appearances. Honestly Kiba really should have much more of a following than they do. I blame it on the kanji name and album titles on all their CD’s. They have been playing relatively the same style for over 15 years now. It’s really a breath of fresh air whenever they released a new CD as it’s a dying style, and they do it so well. The last 3 CD’s should most definitely be available from japanese punk shops. So even if you can’t start with this first CD, there’s plenty of excellent places to start at.
U.C.A / Balance - Two Existence With One Heart CD (2000)
One of my absolute favorite japanese CD only releases.
I’m going to be brutally honesty with this one. U.C.A. is good, but the real
reason you need this CD is just for Balance. If it was just the Balance tracks on a 7" record, it would be a total future bonzer.
Balance were a band from Hakodate city, and share the same melodic style
with tons of amazing leads and solos that city is famous for with bands like Mustang, Crude, and Etae. At this point Crude is a household name, Mustang and Etae should be household names but probably aren’t. Balance is like the
forgotten band that even blows a lot of the material by the other Hakodate
bands straight out of the water, but is never talked about. I know at least they are revered in japan
judging by how difficult it is to find their EP on bloodsucker records, but
really this CD is better. Balance play 5 songs, one of which is sort of like an
intro, that all run together seamlessly for the absolute maximum amount of
intensity. I can’t even imagine how
much this band had to practice to be
able to record this thing what seems to be nearly straight through in the studio
without stops and still sound so tight.
It’s beyond catchy, and on the second listen you will already be
shouting choruses like “Suicide and Killer!!!’’ And “In This Dead City!!!!!’’
Highly recommended. Releases like these are where the real hardcore fans and
collectors get separated from the casual ones who “don’t buy CD’s’’ honestly though I hope no one like that would
be reading this in the first place.
Post year 2000, Discrete has done only CD releases. Among those, some really killer releases I recommend are DSB, Carrie, Degenerate, dragonXscrew, and Mental Disease, but there’s plenty more to check out in the discography!