Youth Attack is one of those labels that rarely surprises me, but I wouldn’t want it any other way; the thrash-punk/modern hardcore sound that dominates many of their releases never gets old—or even close to old, for that matter. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve spun Vile Gash’s Nightmare in a Damaged Brain LP from earlier this year, and Cadaver Dog’s Dying Breed is one I’ve been coming back to a lot lately. Creep Stare adds to the 2018 roster with their mini-album Pain Game, presenting ten short tracks full of misanthropic punk fire. Creep Stare’s style is fresh and exciting, but it also harkens back to old-school hardcore in a variety of ways and fills a different niche than the faster and brasher aforementioned releases. Josh Everett’s vocals occupy a perfect middle ground between NY gruffness and harsh, shrill bite, ranting over the galloping drums (played by James Trejo, who is also the sole member of Cadaver Dog) and crunching guitars. There’s something that just clicks about this tried-and-true combination, especially on tracks like “Said and Done” where well-placed crashes synchronize with the vocals, unifying all the elements into a steamroller of sound. Accentuated with a decidedly modern edge, Pain Game will be filling many spare 7-minute stretches for me in the future.