Since I am currently reading the excellent "Armed with anger" about the UK punk scene of the 1990's, I think the next few posts (this one included) will be records from that time and place as well. As you may have already guessed, I have been into a long and passionate relationship with British punk-rock and if the 80's are well-documented and glorified, it seems that the 90's are often looked down upon, as if they were a mediocre decade. Hopefully, this wonderful compilation will prove 90's punk-sceptics wrong.
This compilation is the last one of the 1in12 Club comps and includes volumes 14 and 15. If you have never listened to these compilations, and I don't blame you since they are pretty hard to come by, the idea behind them was to offer one or several tracks to bands that played the 1in12 during a certain period, in our case we're dealing with the late 90's as most recordings were done in 1998. The 1in12 Club is a self-managed anarchist social center located in Bradford that has been going since 1988 (the 1in12 collective has been in existance since 1981 though). It has its own venue, a vegan café, an anarchist library, a pub (with not only Motörhead and Black Sabbath on the jukebox, but also Cress and Disaffect!) and it serves as a meeting and organizing space for political activists (I think it had its own quizz team and football at some point as well...). This is a brilliant place and probably my favourite "punk space". However, if the 1in12 does have hardcore-punk gigs, they are really open to more experimental bands and music too, which explains the variety of their compilations. Don't be too afraid though, there are a couple of, gasp, songs that don't really fit the punk mold on the record, but mostly we are in the fast and brutal noisy bollocks that we all enjoy.
This compilation cd was released by 1in12 Club records and Active Distribution from London and it was a benefit for the people of Kosova. There is an explanatory text inside the booklet explaining the reasons of the support with a brief history of the political situation of ethnic Albanians and why they need help. The text makes this ever-important clarification too: it is not a matter of charity, it is a matter of solidarity in face of political oppression (let's leave charity to fancy cocktail parties and corny pop-singers, shall we?).
Anyway, there are 22 bands on this compilation and they are a telling example of how diverse the British punk scene that gravitated around the 1in12 (bands from up North mostly) was. The first song is a strange, dark ambient song from Dawson, a hardcore band from Glasgow who played manic hardcore full of twists. Next is a great hardcore cover of Motorhead by the mighty Health Hazard (it should be pointed out that there are more than a couple of bands related to Flat Earth records on this record!), followed by a hearty and humorous anti-work slice of old-school punk-rock by Leeds anarchopunks Dog on a Rope and an experimental punk song by Witchknot, an anarcho-feminist band that reminds me of the more arty bands of the 80's anarchopunk wave (Flowers in the Dustbin, Animals and Men, Androids of Mu) mixed with some The Ex weirdness. Challenging and interesting stuff for sure.
Next are two non-British bands: Conclude from Japan offer a song of distorted and noisy crasher-punk against petshops and Glue from Poland did some Born Against-inspired hardcore with some twists. The insane Headache take over with two songs of mad and abrasive hardcore somewhere between Rudimentary Peni, Pleasant Valley Children, Civil Disobedience, Dropdead and "Yes Sir I will" (notice the beautiful artwork of the band as well). After all these deranged bursts of madness, Jimmy Saville's Wheelchair bring some fresh air with a genuinely catchy, snotty song reminiscent of folky punk like Blyth Power, some pub-rock and sailor's songs. I defy anybody to hear it without humming it.
Back to angry noise after this interlude though, as Revolt play Agathocles/early Napalm Death raw and rough grindcore. They are followed by Stalingrad, a pissed-off and intense metallic hardcore band with dark lyrics and a rocking, burning number by yet another pissed off hardcore band, Manfat. Kito then slow things down a bit with a Eyehategod/late A//Solution groovy and tense song before two songs of the great Cress and their distinctive anarchopunk music with drum machine, synth and an atmospheric, pagan aura. Things then go crust-punk: two tracks from Blood Sucking Freaks, not dissimilar to Doom (for whom BSF's frontman sang), Screaming Holocaust and Hiatus and no less than four grinding harcore songs from the energetic Sawn Off.
Crust heroes Extinction of Mankind then provide a pumelling apocalyptic old-school crust song, "Veins of hatred", probably taken from the same recording session as the split with other-side-of-the-pond crust heroes Misery. Dark and angry, the way the genre was meant to be played. Hard to Swallow then blast their way through with an eponymous "powerviolence meets Disrupt" number and Voorhees offer some confrontational American-styled hardcore. Finally, Happy Anger from France have one emocore song, Month of Birthdays' song is more akin to slightly discordant punk-rock with female vocals, John Holmes' is a mean-sounding, heavy, mid-tempo number not unlike a fist fight between Black Sabbath and His Hero Is Gone, and to conclude the compilation, a long, dirgy song, like a lighter but more deranged Neurosis from Polaris.
As you can see, each band provided some artwork especially for the compilation and there are some great-looking pieces (EOM, Headache, Manfat, Dog On a Rope). It is a shame the 1in12 no longer does these compilations anymore as it shows that musical differences hardly matter when it comes to support a worthy cause and that, as varied as those bands were, they shared a common perspective on how to do things.