The Extermination Vol​.​4 Compilation (Flatspot Records, 2023)

Flatspot Records had the sort of 2022 that hardcore dreams are made of.

Dropping inarguably a grip of the best releases of the year, it’s the sort of golden run that cements a legacy. This nascent year looks to be no different. We’re somehow already 10-plus years on from the inaugural Extermination comp.

Even a cursory glance at the previous volumes further proves the keen eye of the Baltimore hardcore tastemakers has been trained for a decade. From Charm City conquerors Turnstile and Trapped Under Ice to Power Trip and Terror, the collections have long served as a guide to who’s who in modern hardcore. 

Label owners Che Figueroa and Ricky Singh on the compilation’s equally vital history and present:

“This compilation was started to provide a snapshot of the current state of hardcore. Every song is exclusive to the series, and we love to see bands take pride in giving us some of their best songs for this compilation. With Volume 4, we present the next wave of hardcore from our perspective. For this volume, every single band gave 110% raw power and pure energy. This is a true representation of hardcore in its purest form.” 

By this point, you should’ve already smashed that preorder button but, in the event you haven’t, here’s review of each damn track on The Extermination: Vol. IV because I love y’all. 

Few bands had a bigger breakout in 2022 than Australia’s SPEED. Their contribution and lead single “One Blood We Bleed” picks up where their year end list toppling EP left off. Still replete with their now trademark pummel and swagger, SPEED can do no wrong. Boasting the best gang vocals in the game, this is the soundtrack to spin kicking down the street with 50 of your closest buds. 

Next up is The Chisel with “Punisher.” At just north of a minute, it’s a ramshackle ripper with a classic early '80s riff, made to throw TV’s to. The chaotic vocal trade off is as manic as ever, pairing the booted up skin vibe to unhinged early 80’s hardcore. 

Though we’ve already been gifted big things from Buggin, “Attitude” is their new bar. I’ve waxed excitedly about this crew on these very pages and this has me chomping at the bit to hear what’s next. It sports a dope drum break highlighted by thick but airy production. 

Buggin (Photo: Gray Muncy)

Los Angeles' Section H8 are perhaps the only band that could justifiably name a song “Unhinged.” It pops off after a Crow sample and quickly devolves into a steamrolling assault. There are a few choice “Bleghs” dropped in to punctuate vocal lines, damaging heavy hardcore, nods to NYHC, and a little of damn near everything else. Flatspot doesn’t drop retreads or castoffs and this is yet again my favorite track from this band. This track gets my blue ribbon. 

The Colombian stars Raw Brigade have already left an indelible mark and their track “Keep on Running” won’t change that. The sole cover on the comp, Raw Brigade’s take on a Crux song rips in a burly fashion that calls to mind The Trouble. 

Having found their own distinct sound on recent EP, Primitive Desires, Baltimore’s rising stars Jivebomb grace us with a corker. If  “American Rule” doesn’t make you wanna run through a wall, check your pulse. This is a rush of heavy, raw hardcore punk.

Up next is End It with “Familia Finito.” Baltimore City’s beloved Hate Crew had a monster year by any metric. It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out why the band had their best year yet. The band keeps stepping up and smashing it. Get it how you live. 

SPY is one of my favorite bands of this sickeningly rich era of hardcore, fulll stop. “Mob” finds Spy employing their beefed up, blown the fuck out brand of punishment that’s in and out and out just as quickly as 2022 was. SPY takeover starts now. 

Flatspot brings the heavy here, my friends. Law of Power’s donation “Nothing to Show” is bruising and bellicose hXc with an absolutely ripping solo. The back end of the track dishes out double bass punishment, an absolutely devastating breakdown, and backing vocals laced with a menacing venom. 

Penultimate track honors go to Mutually Assured Destruction and their song “The Axeman's Letter.” The liberated spirits in MAD are on as fine a form as ever. Off the back of their most accomplished and essential debut LP, Ascension, this is another ripper of Satanic majesty. Just peep that riff at 1:25 and tell me you don’t want to storm the fucking gates. The vocals, as usual, carry this from the running red river into territory befitting of Asphyx and Bolt Thrower.

The final minute or so boasts not one but two righteously triumphant solos. Low key some of the most talented musicians going today. 

Choice to Make (Photo: Spencer Chamberlain)

Closing the door is Choice to Make. Their contribution is “Tryin'” only proves that there is no tryin, just succeedin’ for this crew. Their all out punk blitz is married to a groove-laden hardcore bounce. The vocal cadence gives me early Agnostic Front vibes which, we can all agree, is the tallest of compliments. This band wears well their influences as much as they do their own unique identity. The choice has been made already.

Get this compilation immediately. 

Get It

Tagged: buggin, choice to make, end it, jivebomb, law of power, raw brigade, section h8, speed, spy, the chisel