Thursday, 25 October 2012
Mortal Terror / Aural Corpse split Lp 1990
For some reason, when people talk about early UK crust/grind, Looney Tunes Records seldom pops up in the conversation. Indeed, bands that did records on Looney Tunes in the early days don't really enjoy the same status than Peaceville or Earache bands for instance. The reason for this could be that Looney Tunes remained a DIY anarchopunk label while Peaceville and Earache took on a more commercial route. So today, in order to restore some sort of balance and justice to the realms, I will be writing about a great Looney Tunes record.
Mortal Terror were from Newcastle and belonged to the same scene as Hellbastard, Generic, Senile Decay or Debauchery. Before pairing with Aural Corpse, they had already done a split Lp with the brilliant anarcho hardcore band Generic in 1988. On that first record, Mortal Terror didn't sound like a crust band because saying this would be an understatement: the Mortal Terror side just WAS crust, it embodied the genre perfectly. It was like the perfect blend of early Deviated Instinct, Extreme Noise Terror and Napalm Death. However, on their second record, Mortal Terror decided to change and try something a bit different (a decision that coincided with some line-up change as well), namely some old-school anarchopunk. They must have been the only band of the period to actually grow less metallic and punkier throughout the years, and just for that, they deserve the much coveted "Golden Gluebag Award".
There are eight songs on the Mortal Terror side, going from fast hardcore punk ("Get real!") to mid-tempo punk-rock ("Conditioned to accept") and even some reggae punk ("Time bomb"). I would say that the songs are mostly reminiscent of Antisect (I could recognize some borrowed riffs from "In darkness"), AOA, Anti-System (especially the vocals), early Bad Influence, early Anihilated, Exit-Stance, Oi Polloi or City Indians. The first song opens with a guitar intro that instantly brings you to anarchopunk territory and then merges into a fast, pummelling antisectish number to great effect. The songs are actually rather diverse in terms of pace, riffs and intent thus creating a cohesive with 80's anarchopunk as a common principle throughout the songs. Unfortunately, the sound is quite rough and shoddy and the guitar is too low in the mix and the bass a bit too loud (well, at least that way you can really hear the great bass-lines). That is a real shame, because given the quality of the song-writing, a better production with a heavier guitar sound would have produced an absolutely brilliant record (thinking about it, AOA's Lp "Satisfactory arrangements" suffers from the very same flaws).
Lyrically, Mortal Terror were an angry bunch of lads. "Collision course", "Get real" and "McRapist" deal with the ecological destruction of our planet at the hands of the powers that be and the industry; "Conditioned to accept" is about social conditioning and how we are made to conform to our social roles through school and education; "Mind police" is about conformity and dehumanization; "Time bomb" deals more specifically with the pollution created by the nuclear industry; "Slaughter of the innocent" and "Life is cheap" are songs against animal abuse and exploitation. The band introduced themselves as "a bunch of pisshead hippy tramps", a paraphrase for "crusties", so you know they still had a dodgy hygiene and drank special brew. A special mention should be made about the artwork, especially the drawing on the center of the record that depicts a skull with flowers and Antisect-like plants growing and blooming from it and the peace symbol as the sun. Maybe cheesy but great nonetheless.
On the other side, Aural Corpse sound like their cover looks like: a zombie-like face screaming with his tongue protruding. While the sound quality somehow hinders the potency of Mortal Terror's songs, the rough and ready production works just fine for Aural Corpse. I don't have much information about Aural Corpse. They were from Middlesbrough and gravitated around the same scene as Mortal Terror's and this is their only known recording as far as I know. Despite this relative shortage of data, one thing remains certain: Aural Corpse were the real deal.
There are 18 songs on their side and they are about as subtle as a rusty pneumatic hammer. The band played raw and fast crusty punk like a pack of rabid hyenas singing along to a "Holocaust in your head". Extreme Noise Terror, Doom, Hiatus, Genital Deformities, Extreme Noise Error, early Napalm Dath, and indeed early Mortal Terror all come to mind when trying to describe Aural Corpse's chaotic racket. I fuckin luv it though. Most of the songs are fast but there are also a couple of heavier, more metal-oriented tracks that are not unlike Sore Throat or Genital Deformities's mid-paced moments. The singer has a rough guttural voice which indicates that he might have been a caveman or a feral child caught in a Northern forrest somewhere in the North York Moors National Park.
The production is rather thin but it emphasizes how unabashed, snotty and, ultimately, punk as fuck, Aural Corpse's songs are. If one is to believe the band's "logo", they claimed to play "North East Earth Core" and though their music may sound a bit over-the-top and even ridiculous to some people, Aural Corpse were also an angry bunch. "Delusion of masculine supremacy" is a making the connection between the rape culture and the male sexual frustration embodied in the porn industry; "Nicaraguan nightmare" is about America's bloody foreign policy in Latino America; "Live with dignity" is about the elderly who, after working shitty jobs all their life, end up dying alone, poor and miserable; "Lives bought and sold" deals with social control and how our lives have become products to be bought, sold and discarded. You also have a couple of (obligatory?) songs against war, the army, patriotism, religions, the pigs and pollution. On a more original note, they have an anti-masonic song called "Die masonic police scum", a Carcass-like gory song "Instant dysentry" and a Sore Throat-tribute, "Benetton wool shop song", about people buying expensive shirts because of the brand: "£30 for a fucking shirt / you stupid fucking cunt". If that's not good poetry, then I don't know what is.
Aural Corpse also seem to have spent some time on their artwork, as you can find a full cut-and-apste page of newspapers' title, my favourites being "Dangers lurking on supermarket shelves", "Alert after attacks on butchers' vans" and "Insults make poll tax official hang himself" (there are several other references to the Poll Tax and the resistance to it in the record). Their thank list is also a page long and includes other unusually funny articles' titles of the period.
Great split. Great bands.