By 1994, the d-beat wave was reaching its apex. The Swedes must have looked unbeatable then, not only could they rely on their glorious past of 80's Discharge-loving hardcore, but they were also very heavily armed in the present with units like Disfear, Dischange, Dispense, Driller Killer, Diskonto, Uncurbed and Warcollapse (mind you, Wolfpack and Skitsystem were not even around yet), each of them standing for a particular aspect of the D in all its lustrous glory (the "just like" school, the scandicore revival one, the crusty one, the metallic one, the rocking one and so on, it was a bit like the Spice Girls but with discharge-y music). I am pretty sure you could have reached as many as fifty shades of D at that time and I guess we can still feel the aftermath of that wave of Discharge porn that swept through punk-rock's barren wastelands at the time. It amazes me how in such a short period of time, so many bands started to go for rather similar and circumscribed forms of hardcore punk music. But then, that's how trends work I suppose: they contaminate even the most innocent punks. Tales of creative, challenging individuals (usually into Rorschach or Refused) turning into Discharge freaks after being unscrupulously and malevolently subjected to repeated listens of A Brutal Sight of War and Seeing Feeling Bleeding were whispered around campfires in order to warn children about the dangers of the D, and, if some were clearly gross exaggerations (a man was once rumoured to have changed its name from Michael to Dismichael, a hoax that was revealed by the local town hall), it is undeniable that many a fair-haired Christian child was lost to the insane beats of "Decontrol" during the decade of the 1990's.
But I am not here to talk about Sweden today but about a Japanese d-beat band you may not have heard of called Deadlock. Deadlock is an eloquent name for a punk band, one that conveys an uncertainty about the future, a feeling of hopelessness, conjuring up images of oppression and doom. From an early Gdansk punk-rock band, to a Greek hip-hop crew, an Australian power-metal act or a melodic death-metal fiasco from Germany, there have been many bands in the course of history who thought that Deadlock was a top moniker that was bound to make them look both profound and sullen. I have no idea whether the Japanese Deadlock we are dealing with, who originated from Kimitsu in the Chiba prefecture (on the other side of the Tokyo Bay), aspired to a profound and sullen look but there is no denying that the name is fully appropriate to the essence of d-beat and its aesthetics with its Cold War undertones. Information about Deadlock is scarce indeed and I readily confess that the band was completely unknown to me until quite recently. Deadlock were pointed out to me by a friendly old-timer who not only experienced the 90's d-wave (with much joy I'm sure) but also played in a band named after a Discharge song, so the source was, without the shadow of a doubt, very reliable. As difficult as it is to stomach, I suppose that I was not that familiar with the DIY Records catalogue after all. In my defense, Deadlock's Fear will Continue looks unoriginal, its cover being a particularly grisly war picture with what appeared to be corpses of children burnt to a crisp, and the (over)use of the Discharge font with the band's name written vertically on the bottom left corner. It is so generic that it can almost be said to be exceptional in its derivativeness. But after all, Sonatas in D Major is about the d-beat genre so that derivativeness, intertextuality and overt referentiality are part and parcel of it. The only way to combine proper d-beat orthodoxy and creativity - or even, dare I say it, originality - lies in the acuteness in the choice of references. In other words, d-beat originality implies that the object and/or the extent of your worship is tastefully unusual or somehow unique. And in Deadlock's case, creativity can be located in their open, comprehensive, inspirational Disaster influence.
Recent years have seen the growth of a massive interest in Disaster. While they were originally a humble d-beat band from the North of England active in the early 90's, one that was strictly known by official d-beat maniacs and people who were actually there at the time, one that was sometimes mocked for their assertive unoriginality, they are now something of a cult band and considered as the ultimate "just like" d-beat band, which is a fair assessment of Disaster's prowess. As we have already
explored in The Chronicles of Dis, Disaster wore their desire to sound "just like Discharge" on their studded jacket and while their contemporary soulmates, like Hellkrusher or Excrement of War, used the Discharge influence to do something a bit different, Disaster aimed at sounding "just like" Why, a romantic, if redundant, quest that meaningfully echoes with our current obsession with the recreation of a glorified past and could explain the renewed interest in the band (that and La Vida es un Mus' reissue obviously). And in came Deadlock in 1994, three years after the release of War Cry, with the bonhomous objective to sound just like Disaster. This incredible, hardly conceivable endeavour meant that Deadlock were trying to sound just like Disaster who were themselves trying to sound just like Discharge. Does it mean that Deadlock sound just like Discharge? Not really. The band sounded like Disaster first and foremost so I suppose it may have been the idea of sounding "just like Discharge" that motivated Deadlock more than the actual fact of sounding "just like Discharge". This a major controversial issue in d-beat philosophy and one that has been biliously discussed on numerous occasions. I can assure you that words have been exchanged.
Fear will Continue is therefore an open tribute to Disaster and a testimony to the validity of the "just like" school of d-beat. The aggressive, distorted, hypnotic sound of the guitar is close, the songwriting has the same relentless simplicity (especially the riffs), the structures and arrangements (the pauses, the drum rolls, the solos, the singalong chorus...) are remarkably similar and the singer really tries his best to replicate the Disaster singer's mannerisms (in the flow, the prosody, the intonation, the unmelodiousness and even in the occasional bad timing) though it is impossible to sound as ferocious, but one can always try, that's the essence of d-beat. The Ep cannot be said to be a monster of heaviness (like Disfear for instance) but it has an anguished repetitiveness reinforced by the circularity of the riffs and the very rhythmic tuneless shouts of the singer. If you are into Disaster or British Discharge-loving hardcore, Deadlock's Fear will Continue will occasion much joy and euphoria for a couple of days. The Ep is very thorough in its Discharge-via-Disaster-love but can also prove to be easier to listen to for people who are not crazy about the genre since the vocals are not too rough or harsh (in case you're wondering about the record's social potential and standing) and the production is well balanced, it sounds aggressive and mean but does not bury you tersely under a wall of noise, rather its mostly medium-paced beat wears you down until you feel the unbearable sense of impending doom andreach a trance-like state. It is definitely my kind of D although the lyrics are prime examples of broken English poetry. When the Ep came out, the d-beat modus operandi had already set foot in Japan and the always prolific Disclose had several Ep's under their belt (they recorded Tragedy one month after Fear will Continue). Of course, Disclose now have a legendary status but at the time, it must have been rather fascinating to see two bands, both of whom were equally obsessed with Discharge and Discharge-referentiality, develop very differently in terms of sound and textures while still paying tribute to the same endless well of inspiration. Just imagine what a split between those two would have been.
Fear will Continue was released on DIY Records (the label of Ryuji from Battle of Disarm) in 1994 and it was the label's fourth Ep (after the Disclose/Selfish split Ep and before the Meaningful Consolidation 2xEp). They would appear on another Ep for DIY Records the following year, this time as a split with Noise Reduction from Belgium, and on the mammoth 3xLp compilation Chaos of Destruction from 1997 compiled by Kawakami that also includes ace bands like Anti Authorize, LIFE, Reality Crisis and of course Disclose. I am clueless as to the musical activities of Deadlock's members after the demise of the band and will welcome relevant information on the subject.