Fresh off the release of their new self-titled debut EP, out now on Protagonist Music, we have teamed up with bassist Matt Martinez of COMMON WOUNDS (ex-members of Landmine Marathon and Run with the Hunted) to give you his special selection of Arizona bands that have influenced and inspired him in his music journey.
Landmine Marathon, a death metal band from Phoenix, Arizona, gained recognition in the late 2000s by being featured on the cover of Revolver Magazine and performing alongside Metallica. On the other hand, Run with the Hunted, a straight edge band, was signed to Timm McIntosh’s label.
However, in their latest album, Common Wounds, the band has taken a different direction, exploring a heavy and emotionally charged post-hardcore sound inspired by groups like Rites of Spring, Fugazi, Unwound, Quicksand, and Helmet. Decibel Magazine has described their new sound as “Pointed and burly, pulsing with the honesty of emotional hardcore and the swagger of noise rock.”
Common Wounds bassist Matt Martinez commented: “We formed the band as both of our previous bands had wound down after exhausting and fulfilling lifespans. We found ourselves coming into sounds that were rooted in post-hardcore and early emotional hardcore.”
The self-titled debut EP was was recorded and mixed by Zachary Rippy (Power Trip, Wristmeetrazor) and comes out on Protagonist Music (Gatecreeper, Self Defense Family).
The debut EP’s lead single “Phantom Limb” is a powerful and refreshing burst of energy, reminiscent of a sudden downpour in a desert. With an emotional intensity and urgency, the song charges ahead, driven by a pounding rhythm section and a heavy riff, accompanied by feedback and harmonics that cut through the mix like beams of light.
Lanspeary’s vocals are raw and authentic, reflecting a genuine search for meaning in life. The lyrics serve as a form of emotional release, allowing for the exploration of life’s complexities.
“When thinking about music and Arizona, I tend to become consumed in the rich landscape of metal music that has affected my life. For this piece, I have decided to reflect on the music that affected me, that does not fall into that category. This music is inherently adjacent to Common Wounds, in regards to how it impacted and affected my musical journey. Most of these artists never got the broad exposure that I feel they deserved.” – comments Matt.
The Customers were a band that existed from the late ‘80s into the early ‘90s. I was exposed to them at the first punk show that I attended in 1991. My bass-playing teenage self was immediately blown away, and taken by their punchy basslines and slightly angular, yet familiar take on “punk” music. Unfortunately, their digital musical footprint is practically non-existent.
Bass player/vocalist Pete Hinz continues to perform in an excellent band called JJCnV
Hillbilly Devilspeak was one of the first, and heaviest, local exposures to the world of noise rock. Their music is punctual, pissed off, heavy and slightly sludgy. Many themes of the band, visually and lyrical, were edgy, shocking and confrontational… this activated a sense of danger and discomfort that was most enjoyable. Much of their recorded output was captured by the mighty Alex Newport (Fudge Tunnel).
This recording is a bit more personal, it was recorded with my assistance in a community college audio recording course that I took in 1995. Until researching this piece, I was unaware of its digital existence. Hillbilly Devilspeak continues to sporadically exist, and bassist/vocalist Tom Reardon has gone on to play in The Freeze, North Side Kings and The Father Figures.
Absinthe rose from the ashes of metallic hardcore/metalcore trailblazers Groundwork. Existing from approximately 1995 until 1997, Absinth brought forth a level of unmatched intense and abrasive hardcore, rooted in a foundation of fuzzed out bass groove.
They released a 10’ and a 7’ on King of the Monsters records. I constantly hope for a digital remaster of their output. Full disclosure: Vocalist Brendan DeSmet is the owner of Protagonist Music, who released the Common Wounds EP.
Sea of Cortez
Sea Of Cortez existed in the mid to late 90s, releasing an LP, 7” and two EPs. Sea of Cortez played jangly, emotionally charged hardcore that brings to mind Unwound and Lowercase. They toured the United States in 1999 and disbanded shortly after. Their LP still feels relevant and should be checked out!
Death of Marat
Death of Marat played very dark, post punk inspired hardcore that brings to mind the sass of Gravity Records bands (Clikatat Ikatowi, The VSS) as well as the DNA of Pornography era The Cure and The Church, without sounding like any of these artists.
Releasing two albums and two EPs within their lifespan, the band seamlessly blended hypnotic basslines, tribal percussion rhythms and synth noise emulating guitar textures to create a gloomy musical statement.
The Juniper Strain
The Juniper Strain had a brief existence that was confined to the bounds of Arizona.
They featured a member of Midwest emotional hardcore giants Constatine Sankathi and played a passionate style of chaotic hardcore/“emoviolence”. Their music was abrupt, honest and raw, with intense drumming, brutally heavy bass and lyrical vulnerability.
The band released a demo in 2001. This demo found a vinyl re-release in 2011, courtesy of the amazing Gilgongo Records.
Bullyrag (aka Fucking Thunder)
Bullyrag was an amazing band that existed in the late 90s through the early 2000s. They played very jangly and intense emotionally driven hardcore/ post hardcore. Their sound was reminiscent of bands like Sleepytime Trio and Shotmaker.
The band released a demo, two EPs and a full length album. I was lucky to end up playing in this band live (never recorded), toward the end of their existence. My playing developed immensely, in learning the original bass player’s eloquently slurry and groovy basslines.
The guitarist/ vocalist Eric has played in many amazing bands, including our guitarist Corey’s former band Seas Will Rise.