Tuesday, 2 October 2012
Life Cycle & Shrapnel - live in Leeds 1988
After Naked's brilliant live tape - and despite the rather unexpected consequence my posting it has had - I guess it is time for yet another cracking and unjustly forgotten band to be included on Terminal Sound Nuisance: Shrapnel.
Actually the tape contains two live sets, one from Life Cycle and one from Shrapnel as both Welsh bands played in Leeds in 1988. I posted Life Cycle's Lp a few months ago so TSN's loyal fans wouldn't need an introduction but for the unlucky ones who aren't familiar with Life Cycle, they were a metal-punk band with male and female vocals and they had quite a unique sound. Neither from the Broken Bones/English Dogs/Concrete Sox school nor from the Amebix/Axegrinder/Hellbastard one, Life Cycle played heavy and groovy, mid-tempo metallic punk somewhere between Celtic Frost, late Deviated Instinct or some 90's bands like Ironside and even some early sludge stuff like 13 or Eyehategod. What set them apart from the rest was their distinctive sense of groove while keeping an anarcho feel (especially in the vocals not so dissimilar to Sacrilege or Civilised Society?'s) and content. I wish they had been included in "Trapped in a scene" and I understand they were supposed to be in it. Oh well. Anyway, Life Cycle are a bit crustier sounding live than in the studio so you have dirtier versions of the songs and more aggression. The sound quality is not amazing but remains decent (and it will have to do since I haven't seen any other Life Cycle live recordings). Unfortunately the setlist on the tape doesn't correspond to the songs that are actually played, so I did my best to put the right names on the right songs (there are songs from both "Myth and ritual" and "The weight of tradition" as well as a few others that never made it to a studio) but there might a few mistakes as, contrary to popular belief, I am not perfect.
On the other side you have a live set of Shrapnel in their later period. I know I am saying this an awful lot but Shrapnel really knew how to write good, catchy songs. While their early material is rather straight-up punk-rock with a magnificent sense of urgency and some tunes, by the late 80's the band had recorded two split Ep's with Symbol of Freedom and Toxik Ephex and had added some other influences in their punk-rock (Ivor from Capital Gain/Life Cycle and Steve from Symbol of Freedom joining Shrapnel in 1986 certainly contributed to the change of direction). If it undeniably stays in punk territory, there are some reggae-dub, pop-rock and even some really funky bass-lines thrown in the mix and believe or not it works perfectly. Shrapnel are a bit hard to describe as the band had a lot of personality but if I had to try I would say that they would have felt alright sharing the bill with Systematic Annex, Instigators in the 80's and with PAIN and the Blaggers in the 90's. Or something. My point is they wrote genuinely tuneful songs that you could remember and sing to, going from exhilirating to rather moody but always sounding sincere and committed. The set includes the song "Autumn" twice, which is fine by me since it is definitely one of Shrapnel's most solid, as well as the other song on the Toxik Ephex split, namely "Trival pursuit" both of which saw Shrapnel at the apex of their musical creativity and capacities. You also have one song from the Symbol of Freedom split, "Fact or fiction" but none of the other songs that the band played that night have been recorded in a studio to my knowledge. The sound is fine and on both bands' sets you can very clearly hear people chatting between songs which is always funny.
The beautiful artwork of the tape was taken from the split Ep with Symbol of Freedom so you have the lyrics to "Fact or fiction", a song questioning the reliability of the press and its manipulative nature. Good shit all around.