Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Stations of the Crust: an overview of 90's metallic crust (part 2)

This is the second part of my 90's metallic crust retrospective and I refer you the first one if you need details about its making, perspective and intent. 

25 bands with 25 songs of crunchy, groovy, heavy metal-oriented old school crust recorded between 1990 and 1999, with one exception since Absurd Attitude's song is from 2000 (but since they were definitely a 90's band and their song is absolutely brilliant, I chose to include it). As I wrote previously, the format of a decade may not be the most relevant template when looking at crust (I suppose working with scenes and areas would be more effective). Therefore, although there are similarities between songs, they also sound very different with varying international influences ranging from doom metal, black metal or even metalcore. 

I suppose that more than just a few bands included here were not "crust bands" (Ironside were a SxE hardcore band after all and Sonic Violence were part of the industrial metal scene). However, according to my infallible crust detector, they did pen top notch crust songs, willingly or not, so here they are. 

Finally, the two compilations are of course subjective in the sense that they represent what I love, and expect from genuine, proper metallic crust music. I tried to focus on mood, vibe and tension rather than a crust checklist. I hope it was worth it. 

There we go then:


01. Χειμερία Νάρκη / Hibernation « Χαμένο Παιχνίδι » from the S/t Ep, 1997 (Athens, Greece)

02. Dystopia « Anger brought by disease » from the split Lp with Skaven, 1996 (Oakland, U$A)

03. Sonic Violence « Symptom » from the Jagd Lp, 1990 (Southend, England)

04. Dread Messiah « Gutted » from the Whispers compilation 2xLp, 1994 (London, England) 

05. 13 « Plague » from the Falling Apart / Wither split Ep with Grief, 1993 (New York, U$A)

06. Effigy « Destructive of the Earth » from the No Hesitation to Resist compilation 10'', 1998 (Kagawa, Japan)

07. Ironside « Smothered conviction » from the Neutered Innocence tape, 1992 (Bradford, England)

08. Jesusexercise « The voice of profit, the sound of poverty » from The Voice of Profit, the Sound of Poverty Ep, 1990 (Vaxjo, Sweden)

09. Earth Citizens « System slaves » from the No God No Leaders No State No Religion Ep, 1991 (Zürich, Switzerland)

10. Blood Sucking Freaks « Smash the swastika » from the Those Left Behind demo tape, 1994 (Up North, England)

11. Ξεχασμένη Προφητεία / Forgotten Prophecy « Never ending road » from the split Lp with Mushroom Attack, 1990 (Athens, Greece)

12. Genital Deformities « Genocide » from the Who did this to my Sister? split cd with Subcaos, 1994 (Kingswinford, England)

13. Hostility « Massmedia » from the I Niech Jeden Strzał demo tape, 1995 (Ełk, Poland)

14. Acrasy « Godsucker » from Deviated Instinct's Re-Opening Old Wounds cd, 1993/1990 (London, England)

15. Counterblast « Depression » from the Balance of Pain Lp, 1996 (Jönköping, Sweden)

16. Holocaust « The ultimate end » from the S.I. One compilation Ep, 1991 (Lawndale, U$A)

17. Sarcasm « Think about it » from The Lowest Form of Wit Ep, 1992 (Leicester, England)

18. Oi Polloi « Thin green line » from the In Defence of our Earth Lp, 1990 (Edinburgh, Scotland)

19. A//Solution « Tumor » from the Things to Come cd, 1995/1992 (Orange County, U$A)

20. Corpus Vile « Mourn the shadows » from the Soggy split Lp with Maggot Slayer Overdrive, 1993 (Bristol, England)

21. Patareni « Zastave » from the 6343 / Same cd, 2002/1994 (Zagreb, Croatia)

22. Carnage « Desperate future » from the Mie City Hardcore compilation Ep, 1994 (Mie City, Japan)

23. Absurd Attitude « Popularity hell » from the North Ep, 2000 (Tampere, Finland)

24. Ψύχωση / Psychosis « Αιρετική Κραυγή » from the S/t Lp, 2016/1996 (Athens, Greece)

25. Skaven « Severed » from the S/t Ep, 1996 (Oakland, U$A)

Monday, 22 October 2018

The Filth and the Crusty: an overview of 90's metallic crust (part 1)

After the resounding success of Terminal Sound Nuisance's cavemen crust compilation that focused on brutal and fast gruff crust music produced in the 90's, it was high time I got off my arse and dealt with the other, darker side of crust, the genre's guilty pleasure: metal. 

Sometimes, lines are thin, boundaries are fluid to the point of irrelevance and attempts at grasping the essence of metallic crust can prove to be futile, if not sisyphean. Like for its fast and furious brother, mood, vibe and tension are defining factors, and the mere addition of strict musical elements is not enough to characterize crust. It is not all subjective however, and of course, there are compulsory aspects for a song to be called a metallic crust one. Heavy, groovy apocalyptic riffs, an epic sense of atmosphere, gruff vocals, a thundering bass sound, without mentioning the crucial punk energy and aggression. 

It could be argued that metallic crust has become very redundant and predictable since the 00's (with some exceptions, fortunately). This tendency is paradoxical since, contrary to cavemen crust, which offers limited possibilities for innovations and creativity, the infusion of metal should be door-opening rather than formulaic. But more often than not, when I hear about a contemporary metal crust band, it often sounds like Bolt Thrower with a d-beat, which, I suppose, has a lot to do with the so-called stenchcore revival of the 00's. So while all the songs compiled here have meaningful similarities (especially in terms of vibe I think), I tried to highlight the variety in the contributions to the genre that 90's bands made. There are influences from doom metal, death metal, industrial metal, heavy metal, but it still organically refers to the original wave, and hence fall under the crust umbrella (maybe unwillingly!).

The choice to work from a chronological perspective is probably problematic. If all the songs included here were recorded between 1990 and 2000, some bands were not necessarily "90's bands" like Nausea or Prophecy of Doom. Similarly, some bands make much more sense on an area-based compilation rather than a time-based one. I am aware of these discrepancies but I wanted to do a global overview based on musical similarities and shared attributes. Of course, a Japanese or Californian crust comp would offer a deeper, more significant perspective (like I did for the Greek scene for instance). Maybe on another occasion.

Most of the 25 songs were ripped from my collection and, as usual, for the lazies, I uploaded the thing onto youtube. The second part will be posted shortly.

Enjoy this unhealthy slice of CRUST. 

01. Filth of Mankind "Zwiastun" from their Czas Końca Wieku Ep, 1999 (Gdansk, Poland)

02. Prophecy of Doom "Onward ever backward" from the second BBC Peel Session, 1991 (Tewkesbury, England)

03. Ανθρωπινος Ληθαργος "Μονος Μπροστα Στο Θανατο" from their s/t demo tape, 1992 (Athens, Greece)

04. Hiatus "Equality, conception of life" from their In my Mind demo tape, 1990 (Liège, Belgium)

05. Warcollapse "It's time to..." from their Crust as Fuck Existence mini Lp, 1995 (Värnamo, Sweden)

06. Stagnation "Songs of praise" from their Answer to Time cd, 1998 (Dublin, Ireland)

07. Cirrhosis "?" from a practice session, early/mid 90's (Minneapolis, U$A)

08. Depressor "Mammoth" from their Grace demo tape, 1997 (San Francisco, U$A)

09. AGE "Inside darkness" from their Inside Darkness Ep, 1997 (Niigata, Japan)

10. Ανάσα Στάχτη "Καταδίκη" from their their s/t Lp, 1994 (Athens, Greece)

11. Coitus "Arbeit macht frei" from the Submission/Domination tape, 1992 (London, England)

12. Nausea "Cybergod" from their Cybergod Ep, 1991 (New York, U$A)

13. Carcinogen "Civilized" from their Kure demo tape, 1992 (Orange County, U$A)

14. Defiance "Intro + Future is darkness" from the Meaningful Consolidation 2xEp compilation, 1994 (Osaka, Japan)

15. Policebastard "Major label control" from their Traumatized Lp, 1995 (Birmingham, England)

16. Scatha "I am one" from their Respect, Protect, Reconnect Lp, 1996 (Glasgow, Scotland)

17. SDS "Apocalypse now" from their In to the Void unreleased Lp, 1992 (Gifu, Japan)

18. Misery "Children of war" from their Who's the Fool... Lp, 1994 (Minneapolis, U$A)

19. Σαρκασμός "Απόγονος Ανθρώπινου Μυαλού" from their Ο Ζωγράφος Της Παρακμής demo tape, 1995 (Greece)

20. Lardarse "Slave" from their Armchair Apathy Ep, 1997 (Nottingham, England)

21. Mindrot "Blink of an eye" from their s/t demo tape, 1990 (Huntington Beach, U$A)

22. Extinction of Mankind "Puppets of power" from their Scars of Mankind still Weep Ep, 1998 (Manchester, England)

23. Confrontation "Contortion" from their Dead Against the War Ep, 1991 (Huntington Beach, U$A)

24. Insurgence "Hawk and the dove" from the Squat or Rot 2 compilation Ep, 1990 (New York, U$A)

25. Χαοτικό Τέλος "Τίποτα Αληθινό" from their Μπροστά Στην Παράνοια Lp, 1993 (Athens, Greece)

Monday, 8 October 2018

Summer comps not summer camps (part 5): "Spleurk!" compilation Lp, 1988

There you go, here is the fifth installment of my unseasonal series about lovely compilations to listen to in the summertime. Some argue that I should have picked at least one record that includes jumpy, shorts-wearing Californians - usually wannabes - singing in nasal tones, but I just did not find it in my heart - and in my record collection - to do it. I suppose you can consider yourselves lucky for that discrepancy since I have never been into melodic hardcore from that side of the pond and writing about it would have been very challenging indeed (not to mention ripe with gratuitous negativity). So let's stick with the comfort zone of UK punk, although, it has to be pointed out, some bands on this one certainly looked up to American melody makers.

OMG! A barcode! :'o

I guess a compilation Lp called Spleurk conjures up images of nasty, distasteful, gore-oriented grindcore bands or numbingly deafening one-man noisecore bands, but you would be wrong. If the onomatopoeia is indeed used to convey the sense of something slimy and gross splashing on a surface (like a fat smoker's phlegm or a slice of your granny's sunday cake), the lineup of Spleurk has more than a few tunes in its bags and sounds decidedly more melodic than other late 80's UK compilations like Hiatus or Digging in Water (but about as much as Airstrip One if you need a point of comparison). But then, I suppose it makes sense since Spleurk was released on Meantime Records - the label founded by Ian Armstrong, who played in the tuneful Dan and then Sofahead - an entity that illustrated two coexisting sonic faces of the UK punk scene of the mid/late 80's. If Meantime did put out some illustrious gruff crust works by the likes of Sore Throat, Hellbastard or Mortal Terror, it also promoted the more melodic, US-influenced part of the scene with records from HDQ, Exit Condition or Leatherface, which certainly showed that there was more variety to the punk scene then than what is officially thought. As a result, the Lp sounds very diverse and, if it would be far-fetched to claim that it is packed with unforgettable punk anthems (the epic claim is often found on the cover of corny streetpunk/oi compilations and it is pretty much never true, I mean, who really needs live versions of Anti Nowhere League or Anti Pasti?), there are still some genuinely brilliant songs that will surely make your punk day. Besides, the Lp includes a thick booklet with artworks and lyrics from - almost - all the bands and that, faithful readers, is what a top notch comp is all about.

The first band of the Lp is Exit Condition, who hailed from one of punk's most sacred places: Stoke-On-Trent. Now, I am sure that the band is revered in some dark, badly ventilated corners of the punk scene but I am not that familiar with their discography (especially their 90's period). What I do know however is that their late 1988 Ep, Bite Down Hard, was not only a prime example of energetic and fast melodic hardcore but also ticked three incredible boxes for the time: it was released on Pusmort, produced by Bones and had a cover drawn by Squeal. If that does not qualify the Ep as a classic, I don't know what would. The song "Twisted tracks" is taken from EC's first demo tape, Impact Time, recorded in early 88', which was rawer and snottier than the Ep (works for me) but already contained the formula the band were great at, fast hardcore with great tunes, reminiscent of Hüsker Dü, Minor Threat and The Stupids. This is a perfect opener from a solid band that, I'm guessing, must be held in very high esteem by some segment of the punk population.

Next are Gold, Frankincense + Disk- Drive but first, that we will refer to as GFDD from now on for the sake of decency. I don't really know them that well but they had a song on an early Peaceville sampler and their first '87 Lp was also released on the label. I think they were from the Leeds area since Mavis and Harry from Chumbawamba (and Passion Killers for the former!) collaborated with the band on the aforementioned album. Musically I suppose you could say GFDD (who were really a dynamic duo) played progressive punk. Or something. Their songs had a lot of variations and variety and included drum machines, samples, weird sound effects. Interesting, creative stuff for sure but it's not really my cuppa. "Necessary extremes" sounds like a trancey, darkened, demented bend of GBH, NoMeansNo and industrial punk (?).

Cowboy Killers then follow with the song "Your dreaming" (a spelling mistake since it should have been "You're dreaming" as is indicated on the CK's first Lp, Koyaanisqatsi, for which the band re-recorded the song). This number is a sarcastic critique of anarchopunk's idealism and naivety (more often than not, their lyrics were often humorous and tongue-in-cheek) and Terminus even wrote the very serious song "We're dreaming?" in response to it. Anyway, CK were a fast, energetic and tuneful US-styled hardcore punk band (not unlike Bad Brains maybe) from Wales with great singalong chorus and a Biafra-esque singer who was famous for his stage antics. This early song was recorded in 1988 but the band kept going until 1999 which is quite an achievement. 

Sore Throat are next with a...let's call it a noise contribution. Technically, the band has four ""songs"" on Spleurk but three of them are just two second long bursts of savagery while the fourth one is a crunchy Frost-like cavemen stomp with a filthy metal riff and over-the-top gruff crustier than crust vocals. Yes, I love it. Misaaaarrrrrrggghhhhhhey! I'm sure you already know about Sore Throat so need to dwell upon them. Let's just say that your dad won't probably like them too much.

After this much-needed break of neanderthalic music, let's get back to some cracking tunes with the mighty Cold Vietnam from Redditch. Actually, I have already talked about them in the past for the 8 Years Too Late article about melodic UK anarchopunk circa 88/92. This is what I had to say about them. And yes I am literally quoting myself:

"This was an obscure band from the same area as Joyce McKinney Experience that only released one demo and appeared on a handful of compilations between 1988 and 1989: Cold Vietnam. Based in Redditch, the guitarist and singer, Andy Forward, had also played on Visions of Change's final LP, My Mind's Eye in 1989. Cold Vietnam formed in 1986 after the demise of several other local bands. They were apparently not too active for the first year but, in 1988, they managed to record a demo, Blast Into Action with Hunt the Man, that should have taken them to much greater things. Despite a cover reminiscent of the cheapest crossover music, the demo tape is an incredible effort. Carried by the singer's powerful and tuneful voice, "Blast Into Action" is a unique collection of political punk hits (with a strong emphasis on animal rights) and displays a wide variety of genres, from moody anthemic post punk, to passionate melodic US hardcore, to mid-tempo anarcho punk, to melodic UK punk rock and even a punky reggae number. Perfectly produced, this demo is one of the most underrated recordings of this era. Two songs were lifted from it and landed on the brilliant "Spleurk" compilation LP in 1988. Released on Meantime Records, it saw Cold Vietnam rub shoulders with bands like Sofa Head, HDQ and Cowboy Killers. It was not however Cold Vietnam's first vinyl appearance. Indeed, earlier in 1988, their song "Rock Stars" was included on a compilation LP entitled "Vinyl Virgins" that was aimed at providing a first vinyl appearance to promising rock bands! It was released on Mighty Sheffield Records and Cold Vietnam even contributed another song on the label's second compilation LP, Lemonade and Cyanide."  

CV have two songs on Spleurk, one on each side, "9-25" and "Hunt the man", both taken from their exquisite Blast into Action demo tape. "9-25" is an intense yet melodic hardcore number with catchy chorus reminiscent of this distinctly British, very tuneful take on hardcore that was rampant in the late 80's. "Hunt the man" is a hard-hitting, rocking mid-paced anarchopunk hit about animal rights. If Omega Tribe had been into heavy rock, it would have produced something close to this gem. A cracking, versatile band that had tremendous potential. 

The Fine Arts of hardcore

Trench Fever from Brixton, London, are up next and I must admit I have never really paid much attention to the band (though I really dig the name). Trapped in a Scene tells us that TF was made up of former Bad Dress Sense and Destructors (yes, Destructors!) members so you can already guess that they - also - played fast and tuneful UK hardcore influenced by Bad Brains and the likes, not unlike what Cowboy Killers or Depraved were also doing. Not bad but maybe a bit thin. I like the backing chorus and the cheesy drawing of the punk lad though.

People who are fortunate enough to know me will all tell you the same thing: I am a huge sucker for Dan. Of course, the name is terrible and the band's aesthetics rather peculiar but Dan bridged the gap between classic UK anarchopunk and melodic hardcore with maestria, one cracking tune after another. I don't like Sofa Head quite as much, probably because the vintage anarcho influence was more in the background, but I see them as the logical, diachronic continuation of Dan. Hailing from Darlington, SH had Meantime boss Ian on the bass and Wal on the guitar (both previously in Dan), Claire on vocals and Laing (from Hex, HDQ and Leatherface) on the drums. However, the SH songs included on Spleurk were not recorded with Laing but with former Dan's drummer Jim, so you've basically got Dan with new compositions and a new vocalist. The two tracks, "Ugly" and "World", are raw but potent melodic hardcore punk anthems with top notch guitar leads and bass lines, reminiscent of other Northern bands previously mentioned but with anarcho-tinged female vocals, not unlike Indian Dream or... Dan. Really classy stuff though you can tell that the band was still in its embryonic stages. I particularly like the moodiness of "World" (the full correct title is "A world fir for nothing") which would be re-recorded for the first album. Ace! 

Next are Chopper, who also have two songs on the Lp, "Mr Shitface" and "Workout!". Now I know nothing about Chopper but from what I can hear, they were a humorous, fast, snotty hardcore band. The playing is a bit sloppy and the songwriting fairly generic but the energy is there and the lyrics to "Workout!" are pretty funny indeed. Works well enough on this compilation for me. 

The aptly-named Why? follow with the very good song "It could be better". The band was from Brighton and had a demo tape with the ineptly-named Immolato Tomatoes (Why?'s drummer would join Sleep afterwards). Why? were, judging from their aesthetics and lyrics, an anarchopunk band but they were certainly influenced by the tunefulness and speed of US hardcore like many other bands at the time included on Spleurk. I guess they retain a punkier side which reminds me quite a bit of an '87 Revulsion jamming with an '87 Hex in HDQ's shed. I really like it! The riffs are very melodic and the singing almost too happy-sounding at times but there is an undeniable drive and sense of tunes here that I find most pleasing. I wish I knew more songs from them. How catchy can punk get?

And now let's have some half-demented, weirdo, surrealistic punk-rock in the guise of Shrug, a long-running theatrical band from Middlesbrough. They are somehow difficult to describe and I suppose that's the whole point of Shrug anyway. I can hear bits of All the Madmen type anarchopunk like The Astronauts or Blyth Power, some dirty psychedelic rock (especially with the garage beats and the organ) and an absurdist sense of humour like a more adult Wat Tyler. It is actually really good once you get into it and the song "Donna and the Daleks" (about Doctor Who obviously) will make you move your hips in a disorderly situationist fashion. If Beckett or Barthelme had been into punk, they would have listened to Shrug I'm sure. An entertaining and interesting bunch.

Next are Doom. Yes, Doom. Need I say more? Actually, yes, I kinda do. This version of "Agree to differ" was recorded in May, 1988, a few months after the War Crimes sessions and was part of an unreleased demo - their third one - entitled Domesday that you can listen to in its entirety on the retrospective Doomed from the Start (I recommend the cd version, for once, because it has a fourth demo as well). Ironically, "Agree to differ" was one of the only slow songs from Doom's repertoire, not to mention the longest. It was Doom at its rawest and most juvenile and I just love the dark tones and the threatening simplicity of this number. Unselfconscious crust. Lovely.

Following up, City Indians, from Derby, contributed one of Spleurk's most memorable moments with their song "Hanging by a thread". In spite of their well-meaning but rather awkward and cheesy name (but then, Flux of Pink Indians had opened that gate earlier), CI were a solid anarchopunk band around in the mid-80's whose drummer Andy would join the mighty Concrete Sox in 1986. Their first demo Spoilsport was enjoyable but pretty generic however, 1987 Root of Freedom was a much more accomplished, versatile anarcho work that was both hard-hitting and moody, somewhere between Conflict and Ad'Nauseam for their fast and angry side and The Mob or Omega Tribe for the mellower, more introspective, darker vibe permeating the songwriting. Very classy stuff and "Hanging by a thread", having been recorded just a few months after Root of Freedom, displays the same attributes. The song starts as a heavy, angry mid-paced number, not unlike Icons of Filth or Stone the Crowz, before going into a soft, poppy, almost hippyish moment with delicate harmonics and tuneful vocals (Omega Tribe really springs to mind), then the punky mid-tempo resumes before ending with rocking dissonant guitar solos. Quite a ride. The riffs are great, the vocals are pissed, low-pitched and adequately expressive and the conception of the song itself shows that CI certainly had original ideas about songwriting. Unfortunately I cannot say that their 1988 Ep lived up to what they displayed earlier. Still, someone should reissue the recordings from 1986 and 1987. For my birthday for example. Just saying.   

Anarcho Fine Arts 101

By comparison, Upset Tummy sound quite basic but no less enjoyable if you are into parodical anarchopunk spoken words. The song is called "State oppression" and it pretty much ticks all the boxes which makes me think that it is some kind of joke band (assuming it is an actual band). The address is from Gipsy Hill, London, where some well-known farcical jokers lived (and still do to my knowledge) so my best guess is that Sean Wat Tyler had some fun in the studio with a mate and send these 30 seconds of self-righteous anarcho outrage to Meantime. But I could be wrong.

Nox Mortis were of course much more serious - not to mention gloomier - and, like Cold Vietnam, I have already touched upon the band in that quixotic article about late 80's anarchopunk (here). If anything, our current decade can be defined as a very nostalgic one, to the point of goofiness at times. Not only are 80's punk-rock bands being reissued at a crazy pace, but even new bands tend to do little more than worship and refer to 80's punk-rock bands, often branded with the essentialist seal of "authenticity". And to be honest, it's not just punk-rock, it's pretty much a global postmodern urban thing. But anyway, I am dying to see the day when there will be a NM reissue. In fact, along with Awake Mankind, The Assassins and Polemic, NM is THE 80's anarchopunk band I would love to see reissued (and my opinion is gold so if you want to be seen as one of the cool kids, you should at least pretend to agree with the statement).

NM were from Southampton and formed in 1986 from the ashes of another local anarcho band called Suicide Pact (I unfortunately know only one song from SP but, based on that one number, they played moody female-fronted anarchopunk, just how I like it). Musically, the band was absolutely brilliant, tuneful and dark, passionate and desperate, angry and sad, reminiscent of Omega Tribe Kulturkampf, Naked or The Mob (or even Demob actually), with great emotional, bittersweet vocals, moody guitar leads and the catchiest of tunes. However, NM were not your typical punks: they were into poetry. To be more specific, into WW1 poets. Some of their songs ("Arms and the boys", "Flanders Field" and of course "In memoriam") were adaptations of poems from WW1 poets Ewart Alan Mackintosh, Wilfred Owen and John McCrae and the very name Nox Mortis referred to Paul Bewsher. Pretty grim and moving at the same time, I admit, but then it was a clever and original way to express your opposition to war and it certainly conveys an appropriate sense of hopelessness and loss. War-poem-turned-anarchopunk "In memoriam" is maybe the band's best songs, intense and profound, with that typical anarcho sensibility. It was recorded in 1987 during the same session as the Shall we Dance? split Lp. Top drawer, definitely.

Next are HDQ, a fairly well-known and respected band from Sunderland that included three members of Hex (and of course, Leatherface). I am not sure when "Bridges & walls" was recorded (1987? 1988?) but I guess it was with the same lineup as the You Suck! Lp that was also released on Meantime. So basically it was the melodic hardcore HDQ, a prime example of the British version of US melodic hardcore bands like 7 Second or Hüsker Dü. I like that song and I can definitely hear the similarities between this HDQ and late Hex. It's a winner, full of energy, passion and tunes (of course). 

The last band of Spleurk is Inside Out, the only non-British one on the Lp since they were an all-female trio from Detroit. I am not really familiar with them but I guess they fit well in this context. I suppose you could describe them as a proto-riot grrrl band, with that typical grungy rock sound and garage tones. I've never been much of a sucker for that specific early 90's American sound, precisely because it sounds too American for my ears, but this Inside Out's song does it for me. Quite poppy and punky at the same time, like cross between Androids of MU, Joyce McKinney Experience and US bands like The Gits. Fun and liberating.

To wrap it up, I have got some good news for you: you'll be able to find Spleurk for pretty cheap. I am not sure why, since it is a solid compilation from a significant label with some very strong songs and an ace-looking booklet, but there you go. If I were a cynical bastard I would venture that the reason is that the hipster fringe of the punk scene does not care for that sound (yet?) and prices haven't been inflated (yet?). A second volume of Spleurk was released in 1990 but I don't think it is quite as good, or maybe it's just not punky enough for me. Yet?     


Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Summer comps not summer camps (part 4): "Punk Lives! - Let's Slam" compilation Lp, 1986

While I fully agree with the bold statement that "Punk lives!" instead of slamming, let's just talk about it for a minute. Actually, I am not completely sure about the proper meaning of the phrase "Let's slam". Does it refer to slam-dancing, which can be defined as "taking part in a form of dancing to rock music in which people deliberately collide with one another", aka good ole pogo? I suppose, although, to be fair, the deliberate collusions are usually not really consensual. In other terms, you often end up with a hairy, sweaty drunk colliding with the pint you just bought, spilling half of it on the floor (or worse, on that one good pairs of trousers you happened to have washed just the day before, you know what I mean) in the process and trying to hug you to apologize afterwards... You know the feeling. 

Punk lives! - Let's slam was a compilation Lp released in 1986 on Slam Records (I see a recurring theme here), a sublabel of Rot Records which was run by members of Riot Squad. I rarely see Rot Records mentioned in topical punk conversations which seems a bit unfair as the label not only released classic records from English Dogs (the Forward into battle Lp and the To the end of the Earth 12'', which rate as some of the best metal-punk records of all time), Varukers (the Massacred millions 12'') or the oft overlooked Picture Frame Seduction (the Hand the rider Lp) but also put out some excellent compilations with great lineups in the mid-80's that are sadly seldom discussed. Granted, they did not exactly look stunning (they did not include inserts which is such a missed opportunity in retrospect...) and often included materials that had already been released elsewhere, but still, Rot Records should, at least, be acknowledged for its promotion of international hardcore punk in the insular UK. World War Three included tracks from Crude SS, Raw Power, Rovsvett or Zyklome A and What are you going to do about that hole in your head? had Olho Seco, Puke or Inferno. As for the compilations that focused solely on UK punk, they often displayed strong lineups (No Choice, External Menace, The Enemy, Oi Polloi, English Dogs...) combined with wacky titles like A kick up the arse or Have a rotten Christmas. Quality stuff for the most part, I'd say, without mentioning that Rot Records kept going for a few years after the so-called UK82 wave died out. 

Punk lives!, despite its rather ugly look and the absence of any information about the bands, is a fine example of what the label was the best at: solid, diverse and modern punk compilation Lp. Of course, in 1986, I was just a fat three year old who was already spending too much time watching animes on the telly, so you can imagine I did not buy the record at the time. The main reason why I got this compilation a few years ago was because it included one of my favourite anarcho songs ever: Anihilated's "40 dumb animals". Which takes me to the actual content of the record.

The Lp contains twelve songs and eight bands (four bands have two of their songs included, one on each side). I think it is more practical to process one band after another so let's start with... Anihilated, form the Ipswich area. "Inferno" and the aforementioned "40 dumb animals" are on this Lp and if you have never heard these songs, you are in for a treat. Both songs first appeared on the band's second demo tape recorded in 1985 and originally entitled Shadows of fear, though it would subsequently be renamed Speedwell demo (after the name of the studio) and is nowadays largely known as such. While Speedwell marked the band's shift toward metal, their first effort, 1983's How much more, was firmly rooted in the glorious noizy anarchopunk tradition of Dirge or Disorder (the song "Book of death" was lifted from that recording). The Speedwell sessions are my favourite materials from Anihilated (with just the one "n" because it looks punkier, a spelling I totally validate). Of course, you can hear that the band was getting heavily into the then blooming thrash metal scene but the music kept that raw, urgent, angry punk sound. Charged haired punx playing fast metal. Along with early Onslaught and Concrete Sox, this Anihilated demo is my favourite thrashy metal punk recording. "Inferno" opens the Lp and starts with a super epic intro (which reminds me of over-the-top triumphant Japanese hardcore actually) before bursting into galloping, English Dogs-influenced raw metal punk. This is catchy as hell and makes me want to wear a bandana with permed hair and headbang. But for me, "40 dumb animals", Punk lives!'s last song, is the unsurpassable gem. It is a much punkier number than "Inferno" though there is some metallized riffing. The song starts deceptively like a fast thrashy one before slowing down and getting into a heavy and crunchy mid-paced beat, enhanced with a snotty delivery and half-shouted, half-spoken parts, we are in the midst of anarcho brilliance. I particularly enjoy the changes of pace in that one and how passionate the words sound and how the youthful vocal flow fits absolutely perfectly with the music. I never fail to sing into an imaginary mic when playing "40 dumb animals", especially when the singer vociferates "money-making muuurdaaaaarghhhh". It's like '83 Antisect and Icons of Filth with a thrashy metallic Legion of Parasites touch playing at an ALF benefit (the song is about the fur trade). This song is untouchable. Cracking stuff. Of course, Anihilated would go on to become even more thrash-metal afterwards (the Path to destruction 12'' is still punk enough for my liking, not so much what followed) and they have been playing again since 2010.

The second band on Punk lives! - Let's slam is Stone the Crowz, with "Suffer children" and "Friendship", well technically anyway since the songs were mistitled, the correct names being "Suffer little children" and "Friendship through profit" (both of them appearing originally on the Suffer little children 1985 demo tape). I suppose that Stone the Crowz are mostly remembered nowadays - assuming they are at all - as a pre-Axegrinder band. And indeed, they are since Trev (on vocals) and Matt (on the bass) would form Axegrinder a few years later (they also played together in Tyrants of Hate in-between). Actually, Trev's coarse, furious vocals are pretty recognizable and being a fan of his, I suppose I cannot really help but see Stone the Crowz as a punky Axegrinder, quite untrue I know, but it must come from my reptilian brain. Apparently the phrase "stone the crows" is an  old-fashioned exclamation used to express disgust and surprise and I guess that the "z" substituted the "s" because there was a Scottish blues band called Stone the Crows (though I doubt someone could  have confused both bands...). Anyway, beside Trev and Matt, the band also had Steve Beattie on the drums, at the time running Endangered Musik (the two Stone the Crowz were released on his label) and later on founder of Plastic Head Distribution and drummer for Disgust. Musically, Stone the Crowz were, to the core, an anarchopunk band. Heavy, threatening, energetic mid-tempo punk music with a direct, in your face vocal style and some Flux-like feedbacks as texture. I am especially reminded of Exit-Stance quite a bit (though they were not as tribal sounding), Icons of Filth and also of Anti-System and Antisect in their mid-paced moments. The two songs are really good and convey a genuine sense of outrage and disgust. I strongly recommend the two demos of the band (they were reissued on vinyl on Overgound Records a few years ago) if you are into pounding, heavy, almost primitive anarchopunk. Ace.

Following up are Rattus. Yes, Rattus. With the song "Naytelma" (which should have been spelt "Näytelmä" if I'm not mistaken) taken from the Will evil win 1985 demo. I suppose everyone is fairly familiar with Rattus, probably the most famous Finnish hardcore band with Tervet Kadet. The sound is rather raw with a metal influence creeping in (in the drumming for instance), as if the band had listened to Venom a lot before entering the studio while remaining rooted in their old hardcore sound. The riffs are actually really good (but then, Rattus always had great riffs) and I like the rather primal atmosphere of the song, but overall it may lack a little in pure energy and aggression (the vocals are sometimes monotonous) which are really traditional Finnish hardcore's forte. By no means a bad song though and that first riff is pretty much perfect. 

After Rattus, things mellow considerably with one song from the mighty Political Asylum, "Cat's eyes" (mispelt "Cats eyes"...), who have another one, "Flight of fancy", on side two. I am a big time fan of PA (as can be seen here) so, as cheesy as they might objectively sound at times, no nasty comments about the band will be allowed here. If you have never heard of them, they were an anarchopunk band from Dunfermline, Scotland, that was quite prolific, resilient (they survived the 80's after all), versatile and far more adventurous than most (trigger warning: they had progressive rock moments). If you can get past what Ian Glasper called the "fretboard heroics" of the guitar player (the expression makes me giggle but, still, brace yourselves since there are a lot of solos, too many in fact), PA's "Cat's eyes" is a wonderful melancholy song full of atmospheric melodies and emotions. Although there was such a thing as a "PA sound", the band really excelled in expressing different moods and feelings from one song to another, so that on one recording, you could have a really upbeat number, followed with an angry one, then a lengthy autumnal ballad, a gothy postpunk gem and so on. I suppose we are in the slow and mournful department with that dark, poignant song, that sounds like The Mob and New Model Army OD'ing on guitar solos. "Cat's eyes" was originally released on the great Valium for the Masses demo tape from 1984. On the other side, PA contributed one of their most famous songs (I think?) "Flight of fancy". The sound is much thinner than on the previous recording as it was recorded in the practice room with four microphones strategically placed around the room (I'm quoting here). As I mentioned, PA were good at conveying different moods and this is a perfect example. While "Cat's eyes" made you feel miserable, "Flight of fancy" is much more dynamic, energetic and, well, punkier. The trademark tunes and chorus are still there and Ramsey - while not the most gifted punk singer - still had a very recognizable voice that sometimes reminds me of protest folk singer. "Flight of fancy" has an old-school punk-rock feel to it with, again, some great guitar parts and catchy singalong parts. This version of the song was originally included on the band's third demo Walls have Ears, from 1986, but it would be rerecorded for the Someday mini Lp in 1987. A truly unique band that, whatever the style they embrace, never fail to sound fresh and interesting.

The next band is Rabid, from Leicester, one that I already touched upon four years ago here. If you remember (I assume you do not because of the the internet-induced decrease of our attention span and all that), Rabid were a rather typical but enjoyabe UK82 bands that had two records on Fallout in 1982 and that was pretty much it. I haven't been able to find details about the recording sessions of their two songs that ended up on Punk Lives but they were definitely recorded in the mid-80s since Rabid had turned metal. It was of course not unusual at the time (the other possible path being "turning new wave") but it was a tricky endeavour since, well, playing metal of the crossover thrash variety is more difficult than straight up snotty punk-rock. I suppose English Dogs have a lot to answer for considering these two songs, and I do mean A LOT. From the riffs, the vocal tones, the chorus to the song structures, everything is reminiscent of Forward into Battle, although it sounds nowhere as powerful, energetic and mean. It is not terrible, but pretty average especially when you consider that there were far better metal-punk bands at the time, I suppose from some demo recording and the band stopped after that. For some reason, "Bloody road to glory" (which was also the title of their 1982 Ep) and "Black cat" makes me want to drive a car in the desert wearing wayfarers, although I don't have my driving licence and I look like a knobhead with sunglasses.

Poison Justice also have two tracks included on Punk Lives, and really good ones too. However, I have not been able to find much information about them. Prior to this Lp, PJ appeared on a DIY mixtape called Ere Whats This? volume 2 compiled by U.K. Tapes (I suppose an enthusiastic teenager armed with a tape-to-tape machine) in 1983 in Huddersfield. There were three volumes of Ere Whats This? and, interestingly, the second one also had "songs" from Deformed, Devoid and Genocide Association, that fake hardcore band done by Dig from Earache. But anyway, the four PJ songs that appeared on the tape were rather raw but really tuneful and catchy slices of catchy political punk-rock, not unlike a low-fi version of The Instigators or Naked, the potential of which was hindered by the sound. The band returned as a different animal on the compilation Lp however, with a much clearer sound, improved musicianship and a new postpunk sound. "Rebellious city" and "Life to it's end" (the proofreader must have been on vacation) sound adequately dirgy and melancholy, with epic tribal drumming, eerie goth-like guitar parts, tuneful vocals and catchy chorus that will stick in your head for the rest of the day ("Enjoy your freedom, the future is bleak"). I can definitely picture a crowd of scruffy, gothy punks circa 1985 dancing lasciviously to these songs. The sound is lacking in thickness (not enough bass probably) but if you enjoy the postpunk side of anarchopunk like I do, it pretty much ticks all the right boxes. Somewhere between Slaughter of the Innocent, Decadent Few, Vex and Southern Death Cult. It certainly would have made for a good Ep.

The last band I am going to talk about has just the one song on side two and is called Throbs, with a song entitled "Happy but ignorent" (the record should have been called Punk Lives - Let's Misspel!). I think the band was from Surrey and they released two demo tapes in 1985 on their own Homebrew Music, respectively called Make Homebrew not War and Skatebords from Hell. I don't really know what to say about Throbs, judging from just one song. Pretty standard mid-paced UK anarchopunk, with basic tribal drumming, a fuzzy guitar sound, punk-rock bass lines and snotty tunes. Pretty decent and I suppose that they listened a lot to Flux of Pink Indians, DIRT and Anti-Pasti (which they covered live apparently). One of the members also played in the new-wave band NMBD (No More Bloody Destruction) and Throbs appeared on a couple of LOL tapes as well. What else? Oh yeah, they of course had a song called "We make homebrew not war" which is never a bad thing.

A lovely compilation with enough standout songs to keep everyone interested. I'm still not sure about the slam thing though.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Summer comps not summer camps (part 3): "Words Worth Shouting" compilation Lp, 1985

The commencement of the blog, sometime in the late 18th century, coincided with me purchasing a derelict castle in the old French countryside. After some much needed repairs and the addition of a massive crocodile pond to repel marauders - mostly apolitical skinheads at that time - I eventually felt safe enough to move my record collection into the new premises and started to put my disorganized thoughts to paper, that is when I was not battling away against rival punk tribes (like the Street Punx for instance, who, despite their ferocious look, were too concerned about their haircut being right on to make for great opponents). But anyway, a reclusive life behind thick stone walls has made me completely unaware of the passing of seasons and the very notion of it "being sunny outside" sounds like a conceptual oddity to me.   

Which takes me to this crucial point. Summer might be officially almost over but I am still not done with my delightful compilations so here we go again with vintage compilations Lp that you would have loved to listen to while you were posing hard in Berlin or Barcelona (thankfully, my astrologist told me that there would also be a summer next year).

Today let's have a little conversation about Words Worth Shouting, a compilation released in 1985 on Radical Change, a Norwich-based label run by the Disrupters that, beside records from their own band, also put out materials from Icon AD, Destructors, Self-Abuse and the mighty Revulsion. Of course, I love the content of the compilation (if I did not I would be watching football with the lads right now instead of staring numbly at a computer screen) and I will be raving about it in due time but first I would like to draw your precious attention to how it looks. The record cover was the work of a certain Mid, then the guitar player for a young unknown Norwich band called Deviated Instinct. One might infer that the local connection with the Disrupters (the Lp was a benefit for Norwich hunt sabs) was the reason for the inclusion of Deviated Instinct on the Lp and for Mid drawing the cover. Although you could say that it is not, technically speaking, his most stunning and polished work, it is interesting to see that it already included a lot of what would become trademarks of crust aesthetics: threatening crows, reapers, grinning skulls, nuclear weapons, allegories of ecological apocalypse and so forth. This drawing was also - I think - his first contribution to a proper record (though the first DI demo must have seen the light of day a little before) and I, for one, cannot fail to be impressed by it. Protocrust art? Maybe I am putting too much significance into it but the composition is striking in its "crustness" and the variations around it have been innumerous during the 30 years that followed. And I just love the signature with the early DI heart logo. Good cheesy.

The backcover won't probably ring a bell unless you are familiar with French anarchopunk. It was drawn by Tapage, from Paris, in the very different but typical style of his (usually punx engaging in subversive activities) and if you must know, he still draws many handouts to this day and has been doing so for as long as anyone can remember. At that time he was following Haine Brigade on tour and, since they also appeared on the compilation, he told me that's how he ended up doing some artwork for it. If anything, this will tell you that old punks really never die, especially when they have a soft spot for communards.

But let's get to the text. The brilliantly named Words Worth Shouting includes 13 bands, 11 from England, 1 from France and 1 from West Germany. The opening band is Contempt, from Wolverhampton. I suppose most of you will be familiar with them because Contempt were quite active and prolific in the 90's. My first encounter with the band was through the Shouting the Odds 1997 Lp which I rate as the band's most memorable work (and even as one of the best UK anarchopunk records from the 90's). That Lp had catchy singalong tunes reminiscent of proto oi bands like Sham 69, Menace or the Rejects but with serious anarchopunk lyrics with a working-class twist. It sounded pissed and genuine and I played that Lp a lot when I bought it. Of course, the song "Take an animal's view" was recorded in 1985 with a different lineup made up of people from Vendetta, 7th Plague and Pulex Irritans (the Aristocrap Ep basically), but you actually can find a better recorded version of it on Shouting the Odds so that when I first played the compilation I instantly felt comfy and, well, at home. The sound is a little thin (it was Contempt's first appearance on a record) but the angry singalong tunes are here. The martial beat accompanying the "Smash the hunt up" shouts at the beginning always get me. This is a perfect example of solid, direct, angry old-school punk-rock enhanced with melodic singalongs, like a cross between Demob and Riot/Clone. That song will make you want to smash things with grace.

Next up are Axe Thrasher, an obscure band from Sleaford with a rather unfortunate name. I mean, just google "axe thrasher" and you'll end up watching embarrassing videos of spotty teenagers playing terrible thrash metal for the rest of your life. As for Sleaford itself, I know nothing about it but the newspapers Sleaford Today ran an article entitled "Yobs Leave Open Manhole" a few days ago so it is that kind of place apparently. As for the band, their song "Axe thrasher" (obviously) was their sole vinyl appearance and it sounds like a sloppier, fast and punky version of Onslaught or GBH. Not bad and certainly pogoable.

After these two minutes of thrashy punk-rock come Prem Nick (from the Disrupters) doing some spooky spoken words about the royal family. Typical anarcho stuff, very British and the ideal introduction to the Disrupters themselves and their song "Dead in the head". You know how much I love the band (right?) and the year 1985 saw the band at its peak when they released the great Alive in the Electric Chair (my ears tell me that "Dead in the head" was also recorded during one of these sessions). Dark, aggressive, intense mid-paced punk-rock with upfront threatening vocals and some catchy guitar leads that will make the song stick in your head for the rest of the day. Their sound was somewhere between The System, The Underdogs, Blitz and Kronstadt Uprising, both familiar and yet memorable. This is one of their best songs, to be sure. 

Euthanasie from Freiburg (not far from the French border) are up next with the song "Mord ohne Ende" (meaning "Murder without an end"). A very interesting band indeed and possibly, along with Enola Gay and Anti-Heroes, the closest example of a German take on UK anarchopunk in the 80's. I don't dislike deutschpunk but I am not crazy about it and if I do genuinely enjoy some bands that would fall under that umbrella (like Chaos Z, Vorkriegsphase, The Targets, Bluttat...), a lot of it leave me rather unimpressed (but then, I am hardly the expert so ignorance could also be a reason). However, Euthanasie were musically much closer to gothy postpunk than pogo-inducing noise, which in the country of X-Mal Deutschland makes sense. The sound is not too good but the song is actually great. Sincere anarcho postpunk with a melancholy enhanced by the use of the German language, a hopeless mood, somber guitar tunes and the obligatory spoken words in introduction. If Vex, Blood Robots and The Deformed had had a baby in Germany, it would have sounded like Euthanasie and would have been preparing for the revolution in its crib. The band released two tapes during its existence, Unsere Welt, eine andere Welt and The War to End all Wars which also included "Mord ohne Ende". Some recordings of the band were reissued on Lp in 2010 by Looney Tunes but I cannot say the record got a lot of attention (which is surprising since everyone and their mother claim to be into "postpunk"). Oh well...

Next up are Rotten Corpses, a band I know absolutely nothing about. The internet is quiet on the matter and there is no information about them on the inserts (unless I am missing a sheet?). With a name like that, you would expect teenagers playing some kind of metal punk hybrid or some sloppy anarchopunk but you would be wrong. The song "The promise" is quite tuneful, not exactly memorable, but it gets the feet tapping. Not far, in terms of sound, from the most melodic anarcho bands - although it is hard to be categorical from just the one song - but most of all, "The promise" sounds too much like a cheaper version of "Shuffling souls" from The Mob for its own good... But after all, why not. Referential reworking is intellectually comforting and there are worse bands to nick a riff from, right?

Freeborn follow up and it is one of the highlights of Words Worth Shouting according to your humble host. Try to get past the rather thin sound, you must be used to that by now, and enjoy "Silver lining", a genuine anarchopunk nugget that concentrates the youthful hopefulness, the idealistic politics, the motivation and the cracking tunes that define the UK anarcho wave. Freeborn were from the Norwich area, Wisbech to be accurate, and were active from 1983 to 1987. This Freeborn is not to be confused with the other anarcho band called Free-Born, that recorded the Imprisonment is the Punishment in 1983 (they could be the same band but I doubt it since the Free-Born recording is faster, snottier and more aggressive, not unlike Conflict, and the vocals are very different, but then, bands moved fast at the time). Wisbech's Freeborn apparently had a demo - though I have never heard it - and were also included on the Bloodsuckers Ep and on the fourth volume of Overground's anarcho series, Anti-Capitalism. The band was decidedly melodic with a strong '77 influence and they remind me of acts like The Pagans or Naked on that level. "Silver lining" is a rather lengthy, mid-paced number with an upfront snake-like bass line, an eerie guitar sound that displays a rather melancholy vibe and dual male/female vocals. I am reminded of Morbid Humour, Karma Sutra, Icon AD and Dominant Patri and this is an excellent thing. As I mentioned, the song is long, six minutes (!), but since it focuses on moodiness with a mournful epic vibe, I think it works better that way. A fragile but brilliant one.

Opening side two is a poem from the infamous Britanarchist Nick Toczek. Beside the cleverly impertinent political words about state violence, democracy and apathy and Northern Ireland (the poem's called "Being terrorists"), I really love the accentuation and the prosodics and how he uses them to emphasize his outrage. I would be lying if I said I could listen to a whole Lp of poems or spoken words but as an introduction to a punk record, it has an undeniable impact as it sets the tone. As for Nick himself, well, I recommend listening to "Things to do on a saturday night" at least once a week. Reports have shown that it will make your hair grow back and return your lost lovers.

The tracklist then indicates that "Country's downfall" by Death Zone is supposed to follow but it was apparently an uncorrected mistake since what you really have is "Third generation" by Protest. I do like the snotty UK82 vibe of Death Zone a lot (and the singer had the perfect voice for the genre) but Protest's song is equally good. Hailing from the sunshiny Manchester area, Protest played hard-edged UK punk reminiscent of Riot Squad, Ultraviolent and One Way System if you know what I mean. Direct rough vocals, heavy punk sound and angry singalong chorus about some "lost generation" (but then reading punk lyrics, you'd think that every generation is a lost one, which feels true when you are young and romantic when you no longer are). But anyway, "Third generation" is a strong number of anarcho UK82. Protest also appeared - as Red Alert! - on the first Bullshit Detector and on the first volume of A Country Fit for Heroes and they even had an Ep on Excentric Noise (label of Cult Maniax among other things). 

You can hold your breath for the next one since it was the first vinyl appearance of my cherished Deviated Instinct with the song "Possession" which was recorded on September, 22nd, 1985 (it was raining that day), 364 days after they played their first gig (Freeborn was also on the bill incidentally). The song is from their pre-Peaceville era so don't expect a barrage of groovy crusty metal punk. In fact, you can tell that they were still in their learning phase characterized by the Tip of the Iceberg demo, basically a rather typical UK anarchopunk sound with teenage snot, some good tunes and a bit of metal. However, the metal influence is stronger on "Possession" and although the riffing is rudimentary - as is the overall recording - you can definitely see it as a pivotal composition, though it coexisted with the punkier songs from Tip of the Iceberg. While it retains some elements of traditional anarcho music like the dual vocal structure and the vocal tones themselves (without mentioning the anarcho heart logo and the crass font), at a time when Antisect were turning into a crushing apocalyptic metal punk band, the metal influence creeping in is no coincidence (besides, the hairy letters of the song's title don't fool anyone). If DI had split up after Words Worth Shouting, it is unlikely that this version of "Possession" (as much as I am personally fond of it) would have been a benchmark in punk history. However, taken in the broader perspective of crust development, I find it fascinating. It is probably a bit too long for its own good but the anti-religious lyrics are actually well-written and you can already spot the themes of mental decay and physical alienation that would re-appear in a more articulate version later on in the band's existence. A transitional song pointing to the next step. Luv it.

Haine Brigade are next with the song "Vivre pas survivre" (meaning "To live, not to survive"). I rarely write about French punk bands on Terminal Sound Nuisance, mostly because I don't really like or even listen to French punk-rock, and never have. I am not sure why but I have always felt that the French language does not fit easily with punk music and that, more often than not, the combination of both has very awkward results. That so-called French oi has become so popular outside of France (especially among nerdy, otherwise knowledgable punx) is an endless source of wonderment to me. I guess it sounds kinda exotic? To me, it sounds like shit. But I'm not here to talk about this nonsense. Haine Brigade, from Lyon, was a good anarchopunk band with that typical upbeat French punk-rock feel and dual male/female vocals (half sung, half spoken, neither tuneful nor tuneless, but inbetween). The song is from their first 1985 demo tape and is about alienation and trying to survive in a ruthless world. Pretty raw with a strong 80's. And if you need points of comparison, imagine Icon AD jamming with UK Subs in a garage.

Next are Pax Vobiscum (it means "Peace be with you" in Latin but since it has "scum" in it, it can work as a punk name as well) from Nottingham. I don't much about them, unfortunately. They released a demo tape in 1985 (recorded in two sessions with, I think, two different singers) that was reissued by Bluurg as a split tape with Eyes On You. "Misguided sins" is a great song though and the production is good too. Mid-paced dynamic anarchopunk with gruff aggressive vocals, some bizarre synth parts and an overall deranged atmosphere somewhere between Ad-Nauseam, Disrupters and The Damned. There are some other solid tracks on the demo and I would love to know more about the band (do you?). On a side note, the drawing of Jesus on the cross is probably one of the worst I've seen. Punk, innit?

Finally, Words Worth Shouting closes with a song from the cruelly overlooked Revulsion from Norwich. I am a massive Revulsion fan and I truly enjoy everything they did, from their über snotty punk beginnings to the elegant and emotional punk-rock of the early 90's. The compilation Lp being from 1985, the song "There is no need" still fits in the band's "snotty punk" era (the songwriting would become more refined and original on their 1987 records) embodied in their Ever Get the Feeling of Utter... Revulsion 12'' recorded about six months, in February, 1985, and also released on Radical Change (there was a former Disrupters member in Revulsion). You could say that "There is no need" is the logical follow-up to the 12''. The music is fast, catchy and energetic, reminiscent of the speedier UK82 bands like Varukers, Instant Agony or Social Disease, with a dash of Conflict and Legion of Parasites, and although the recipe is fairly simple, some moments (like the brilliant change of guitar riff in the middle of the song) clearly point toward early European hardcore-punk. Revulsion never were an all-out thrash band, the sound is pretty clear overall - they certainly knew how to play - but the anger and the clever hooks turned their songs into intense, memorable singalong anthems. The vocals are pissed but not forceful and despite the shouted snotty delivery, there is always a tunefulness in them, as if always trying to grab the listener's ear. Spiky anarchopunk at its very best. "There is no need" is about animal abuse and exploitation, which makes sense for a hunt sab benefit Lp. I wish punk sounded this good more often.