I have been meaning to post this geezer for a while now but Lp's demand more work and my scanner is too small for the Lp size. Tough shit. Anyway, here it is finally for all to enjoy and believe me, there is much to be enjoyed on this amazing record.
For those who aren't in the know, Peaceville used to be a punk label and was probably the main label responsible for the UK hc/crust/grind explosion of the mid-late 80's (along with Earache I guess). "Hiatus" was Peaceville's sixth release and it had a stellar line-up with crust pioneers Deviated Instinct, Axegrinder and Doom among others. Yes, it is that good.
There are 10 bands and 18 songs on the record which opens on two Electro Hippies tracks. Now I love the Hippies and their seamless mix of hardcore and grindcore and their Lp is probably in my top 10 of the period. The two songs here were recorded in 88 but are not quite as powerful as the album though, not as inspired shall we say, and while one can easily spot the filthy and heavy guitar sound that made the album so great, the overall sound could have been better and the vocals on "Sometimes I'm so glad" are a bit cheesy to my ears. However, it is still classic grinding metal punk and the Hippies had set the bar really high with "The only good punk" anyway. Lyrics here deal with animal testing and the dilemna that might arise if someone needed an animal-tested drug in order to survive ("Could you look me in the eyes?") and with pretentious punks who have an ego-problem and treat people like shit if they are not vegan/SxE/whatever ("Sometimes I'm so glad"). As usual, thought-provoking, smart words from Electro Hippies.
Next are two songs from a weird band with a weird name and actually they sound even weirder: Gold, Frankincense + Disk-Drive (yes, that's the name). They were from England and recorded in the same place as anyone else at the time (Lions Studio in Leeds) so it's a fair bet to say that they were involved in the punk scene. Musically, expect strange new-wavy industrial pop-punk. Or something. Not my cup of tea but to be fair it's still listenable. No lyrics unfortunately.
After that moment of strangeness come the bursts of madness with 3 songs from the mighty Sore Throat. I have always loved Sore Throat and their sense of humour and I even got through their noisiest records once or twice. The first song is a Shitlickers cover, "War system" and it's done in a raw, distorted fashion that would make Abraham Cross and the dozens of Japanese bands aiming for that sound blush in defeat. Next is "Money for knobheads" (and not "nobheads" but I have kept the typo on the mp3 name just because I'm a geek) and it is a crusty metallic number, with simple and yet dirty and heavy riffs and the same snottier than thou outlook. Finally, "1 in 12 song" is a long blast of noise. The artwork includes the famous "Positive drinking attitude" drawing with a crusty punk enjoying what must be special brew.
The last two bands on the first side are Insurrection and Atavistic. Insurrection were from Guernsey and played (or play since they have reformed) Disorder/Chaos UK influenced fast punk-rock but with a heavier sound and hoarser vocals (they actually had two singers). Their song starts with a simlistic yet effective metal riff and bursts into fast Bristolian worship. Not too far from Ad'Nauseam. This is good. The song is about a serial killer who hears voices and ends up in the electric chair. White cider and penmanship don't always go well together. Insurrection also had an Lp on Peaceville which is highly recommendable if you are into the aforementioned bands.
The closing song of the first side is "Pepetual motion" by Atavistic, one of the most intelligent and original band of their era if you ask me. The aforementioned piece ilustrates the shift from their Ep's to their misunderstood Lp, meaning that you do get a bit of harmonica and even a touch of synth. Musically, Atavistic were a noisy hardcore band, very fast and distorted, fuzzy even, but always keeping certain heaviness and song-writing flair. I could say that they were somewhere between Siege, Disorder, Active Minds and Electro Hippies perhaps, but really Atavistic was one of those unique bands so hard to pin-point and so intersting because of this. Lyrically, they also stood out with analytical thoughts rather than slogans and that's what the song on the comp is dealing with, the importance of ideas in motion, of challenging the comfortable norms of songs about war and vivisection. Great stuff.
The B side starts with three early Doom tracks, "Free yourself", "War on our doorstep" and "Diseased". These were recorded between the "Domesday" demo (the third one) and the split Lp with No Security so it's the classic Doom line-up in full force, back when they were still trying to sound like Discard or like Discharge before they had had their tea in the morning. The tracks are catchy, powerful and angry, just what you expect from them I suppose. Simple riffs and gruff vocals shouting about freedom as a state of mind, war in Ulster and the power of money.
Next is a rare Axegrinder track (now that should get everyone's attention). Actually it is a rare version of an otherwise classic track, "Lifechain". It is probably just a different production since the vocals are similar to the Lp version but Axegrinder have never sounded more like Amebix than on this song. The guitar level is slightly lower and they have added a good deal of synth throughout the song for perfect monolythic effect. Since this might be my favourite Axegrinder song, it is really interesting to hear it in an almost flawless Amebix impersonation, though to be fair, the lyrics were little more than a rewriting of "Arise!" to begin with (and there's nothing wrong with that in my book!). It is little surprising that the band is refered to as "Amebigrinders" in the thanks list! Recognise your chains!
The two next tracks are cross-over hardcore songs by Decadence Within, not really my thing I must say. While I really enjoy early DW with their classic anarchopunk, the later period has always left me cold. It's probably good for what it is I guess.
Next are Extra Hot Sauce, the only non-British band of the sampler. Fast, almost grinding, cross-over hardcore again, heavier and crazier-sounding than DW. Nothing really special but I find that the track fits just fine on the compilation which closes on two amazing songs by the mighty Deviated Instinct.
Now, DI have known several distinct musical periods throughout their lifetime and there is little in common between the mid-paced anarchopunk of "Tip of the iceberg" and the industrial crust of "Nailed". Even though I love everything they have done (the new Lp is fantastic by the way), I still have a preference for their third 1987 demo from which many songs were taken for compilations ("A Vile Peace", "Consolidation" Ep, "1984 the third"...) and the two songs on "Hiatus", though they are subsequent to this recording session (contrary to what I initially thought, thanks to Mid for pointing it out to me :) ), are very much in the same vein. The guitar sound just makes me crazy, it is thick, filthy and groovy at the same time, the vocals are aggressive and snotty, the songs have a real structure, a proper story to tell so to speak. The first one is a rerecording of "Scarecrow", a song included on the first Ep but the recording didn't exactly do justice to any of the songs on the Ep (some say it sounds like shit, I'd go for "it has a certain rough charm"!). There you have at last a properly recorded (and played...) version of this amazing track, so much more powerful than the first one. The song uses the scarecrow metaphor to tackle people with a superiority complex, "holier than thou" as they say. The second song is more Celtic Frost influenced with its bouncy guitar and drum. It is called "Among friends" and is unsuprisingly about friendship or rather false friendship with all the backstabbing and gossips that go on in the punk scene (or any social gathering really). The icing on the cake is the inclusion of a great piece of artwork from DI that you have probably already seen, an indigenous face with closed eyes among urban debris with a gun pointed at her head. Joyful stuff, isn't it?
As a conclusion, a short word about the look of the compilation. All the bands brought a piece of artwork of their own along with their songs and that's always a good idea when you have people in the bands who actually care about the visual aesthetics accompanying the noise they produce. I am definitely not as enthusiastic about the cover. In fact, I am not even sure what it is supposed to convey... The backcover has a long thank-list that you won't be able to read because my scanner is crap and pictures of the bands having a laugh and boozing. If you are not convinced yet about the greatness of this record, there's nothing I can do for you.