Today, it is not one but two demos you are getting on TSN. In fact, the two demos of great anarcho-punk band Haywire. I got to see Haywire play 5 years ago in London and to be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect. The few doubts I might have had were soon to be blown away by their amazing performance. They were energetic, powerful, the set was made up of older and newer (well, less old) songs, and above all they really looked like they believed in what they were singing and their enthusiasm was obvious.
But enough arse-licking and to the point. In fact, Haywire formed in 1984 when they litteraly just kids and they took their time to record their first demo, entitled "Blood money", in 1988. Like many punk bands of the era, there is a definite metal influence going on, but have no fear, there are no lengthy guitar solos (I don't think they could play well enough) or high-pitched screams here (and I doubt there were many tight leather pants either as the band has always been adamant about animal rights). Though metal-tinged, the guitar riffs have this punk simplicity and the drumming is decidedly in a binary mode. Somewhere between early Concrete Sox and AOA probably with some Icons of Filth as well (especially the vocals). It must be said that the recording is quite rough but on the whole it is very much enjoyable. As previously mentioned, Haywire firmly believed in animal rights and no less than four songs of the demo deal with animal abuse. My personal favourite is "System's grave" though, a rebellious song against the class system. On the whole, a great slice of sloppy metallic anarcho punk.
Two years and a half later, in 1990, Haywire recorded their second demo, called "Freedom?". The tape cover with a picture of the riot squad doing their dirty job aptly emphasizes the question mark of the title and indicates that the band has left none of their anger. This second demo is definitely better than the previous one. For one, there is a different singer with a more aggressive voice that fits the music better (except on the song "Blood money" which has the same singer as the first demo's). Musically, the band seemed to have given up on becoming a metal band at this point, though there are still a couple of very effective chunky riffs here and there. This is fast, snotty and raw English hardcore-punk reminiscent of Insurrection or Dirge (for the pace) but also AOA, Exit-Stance and Anti-System as Haywire have that distinctive anarcho edge. The songs are quite varied as well (there's even an attempt at grindcore on "13 word"!) which makes for a very pleasant listening experience as rough and ready as the recording may sound. The band had also improved as far as writing lyrics was concerned. If animal rights songs hadn't left the picture ("Endangered species" is an anti-hunt song and "Whose coat?" is an anti-fur/anti-leather number), the band tackled more issues on this one: "Freedom" is about the fall of the Berlin Wall and how England is becoming a police state; "State of emergency" is about state racism and discrimination; "End products of imperialism" deals with the effects of colonization and Western imperialist economic policies; "Radiation nation" is about nuclear waste and how whole areas got contaminated because of them; finally, "Paranoid visions" is about fear of a nuclear war (surely their tribute to Discharge). An excellent demo that hints at what the band would do later on, the "Mad cow disease" Ep and the split Ep with Obliterated, both very good records.