Bay Area hardcore punk unit ISOTOPE, featuring former members of Stormcrow, Sanctum, Acts Of Sedition, Femacoffin, and more, have unveiled a limited edition, self-titled compilation cassette via Carbonized Records.
The punishing, nineteen track offering features the band’s 2019 eponymous full-length LP, 2017’s Wake Up Screaming EP, 2015’s Midnight Soldier seven-inch, and 2014’s debut demo Final Wind Of Mercy, all mastered for cassette by Kenko Communichaos Media in Gnesta, Sweden. Limited to 100 copies, the black cassette shell comes accompanied by a four-panel, double-sided j-card, and download card.
ISOTOPE slowly alchemized from various elements in the West Coast punk and crust scenes that had been bumping shoulders in the pit for the past decade. Longtime Oakland drummer, Clza, had been itching to start another hardcore punk project since the final gasp of Acts Of Sedition in 2012. Fortuitously, Clza ran into Sikki Nikki on the streets of San Francisco not long after. They had crossed paths previously in the stenchcore heyday of 2008, as members of Stormcrow and Sanctum, respectively. Since the notorious Sanctum, Sikki had gone on to pulverize the Northwest with the band, Detonize, before moving to the Bay Area from Seattle, joining Xeroxide and later Femacoffin.
Zone Tripper had also moved to Oakland around this time, after years of running the Pink Mailbox Punk house in Santa Barbara. He had played concierge to every significant national and international punk tour on the West Coast over the past ten years, as well as cranking out riffs in his own crust outfit, Desperate Hours. After the dissolution of Zone Tripper’s San Francisco band, Midnight Brain, he and Crimson Scarlet comrade Bazzy discussed the idea of forming a Burning Spirits Japanese hardcore-style ensemble. Sikki was working at the same job as Bazzy at this time and was convinced to join the fledgling group as guitar player, instead of forming his own d-beat solo recording project.
The first three ISOTOPE songs were written as a trio with Zone Tripper on drums, Sikki Nikki on guitar, and Bazzy on bass. Clza was soon brought in to fill the drum chair and Zone Tripper switched to lead vocals. The lineup was completed with the addition of Scootch on second guitar, known for his work in Side Effects and as the driving force behind Oakland’s Manic Relapse Festival. The now complete band went about emulating its influences from the Far East with grim persistence, but in the process went on to create something new that was a synthesis of many other styles.
ISOTOPE played its first show September 2nd, 2014, as openers for Japanese hardcore legends Forward. The original ISOTOPE cast recorded a demo tape and the “Midnight Soldier” single soon thereafter. Scootch parted ways with the band sometime during the first year and band did some time as a four piece, including their first short West Coast tour. Not long after, K.P. — another Bay Area transplant originally of such Boston punk bands as Red Thread and Pink Nightmare — joined ISOTOPE on second guitar. This lineup kicked things up a notch by 2015, touring the East Coast and Canada in August around the annual Pittsburgh Skull Fest. More epic gigs and legendary partying ensued on a wild West Coast tour in January 2016, all on the strength of the “Midnight Soldier” single.
By 2017, ISOTOPE released a four-song EP, Wake Up Screaming, via France’s Symphony Of Destruction, in time for a triumphant performance as direct support for Japan’s Framtid at the 2017 Varning Festival in Montreal, and a subsequent East Coast tour with Glorious? from Sweden. The band’s first attempt to record an album was hampered by a series of unfortunate events (including the original recording studio flooding with raw sewage) butthey finally completed their debut in the fall of 2018. The record was release via Carbonized last spring. Said BrooklynVegan of the release, “Across these eight, whiplash-inducing songs, you can hear the Japanese hardcore and Swedish crust influences (plus a heaping dose of d-beat and some fiery metallic guitar solos), and ISOTOPE are masters at this kind of stuff. If you like hardcore of any variety, it’s nearly impossible to deny this LP.” No Echo concurred, “From the steamroller of the initial track, ‘Departed’ through the closing blast of ‘Phoenix Ashes,’ ISOTOPE soars through track after track of electrifying and powerful hardcore punk. Rarely slowing down to catch their breath, they paint a relentless and desperate cry in a world of madness.”
“…some seriously killer punk rock with all the crusty crustlets and hardcore focus that you need in your life.” — Last Rites
“ISOTOPE stands out above the crowded and well-fed Oakland hardcore environment not for doing a bit of everything in terms of hardcore/crust punk style but for writing memorable songs while pulling from the various ‘scenes’ past and present the world over.” – Grizzly Butts
“…a raging machine of punk and metal terrorizing the landscape. Highly recommended for longtime fans and newcomers alike.” – Flying Fiddlesticks
“…rip-roaring, crusty hardcore… no frills, no filler, just hard and fast punches to the gut with straightforward riffing, and classic guitar solos even. This is pit music — music for movement and release — but also plays nicely through headphones as get-‘er-done work tunes or through your car stereo while you blast down the highway…” — Invisible Oranges
“There was a time when it felt like bands such as this ruled the world—a melding of At The Gates style metal with the noise-not-music approach of Discharge and the complex savagery of Japanese bands like Bastard. When it works, it really works — ISOTOPE are definitely a case where it really works.” – No Echo
Chuck “Zone Tripper” Franco – vocals
Nick “Sikki Nikki” Cantu – guitar
Kristen “K.P.” Payne -guitar (Tracks 1 – 12)
Paul “Bazzy” Capito – bass
Clint “Clza” Baechle – drums
Scootch – guitar (Tracks 13-19)