Saturday, 6 October 2012

Namland "The shame" Ep 1992

A few years ago, a friend of mine came up with term "crust des bois". It means "wood crust" and it helped make a distinction between those crust bands playing stinky cavemen crust-punk with grizzli bear and giant boar singing with no melody and those modern crust bands who wanted to be Tragedy and Ekkaia so bad that they were embarassing to watch (ont the other hand these bands were called "crust de salon", "lounge crust"). If you need an example, Visions of War and Massgrave = wood crust while Fall of Efrafa and Down to Agony = lounge crust. Well this Namland Ep is crust from the deepest, shittiest, most primal woods.

Now enough with metaphors and private jokes, Namland (it is also the name of a movie about the Vietnam war) came from Illinois and they were a side-project band including people from Impulse Manslaughter, Resist and Eyegouger, the latter being a German band. Though Namland were not a proper band, rest assured that this recording deserves a spot in the canon of inept-yet-glorious crust-punk. It says on the sleeve that it was recorded on two tracks at the band's first practice (I bet that it can't have lasted much more than two hours either). Basically, it's all over the place and you can hear that the drummer doesn't quite know when to stop at times but it really doesn't matter for Namland exemplifies what awesome, no frills, direct crustcore music should be all about. It was recorded in 1990 (but the record came out in 1992) so you have a perfect illustration of a band influenced solely by the first wave of crust music, a time when the very term "crust" was not wide-spread. "Holocaust in your head" era Extreme Noise Terror and early Disrupt (the band was still in its infancy then as they had only done their 1988 demo) are obvious influences especially with the ridiculously over-the-top vocals. As classic crust requires, you have two singers, one in charge of the gruffy bear-like growls and the other doing the higher-pitched gnarly yelling. To be fair, I have seldom heard crustier vocals than on this record. They are not the most extreme vocals ever (though the Sore Throat-like bear vocals come really close) but they sound so pissed off, direct and spontaneous that you can tell that not only did Namland have great fun playing together but they also really knew what sound they wanted to emulate (and after all it was still quite new at the time I guess). Other early bands like Doom, Sore Throat, Mortal Terror and Hiatus definitely come to mind as well.

The sound is adequate for the genre as the guitar is very raw but in an unintentional fashion, but then recording on a two track often does that. The drumming is pummelling and very dynamic and there are two bass guitars for extra grooviness. In fact, you could say this Ep is a little wonder given the circumstances and maybe the fact that it was their first practice gives the record its urgency and spontaneity. The first song is a stellar example of what I expect from bands toying with this genre: a short, heavy and rough mid-paced introduction interrupted by a distorted simple guitar riff then followed by a barrage of drums which herald the coming animal fight. The first two songs on the B side are short bursts of early grinding madness and there are a couple of other mid-tempo parts too so it is not all about frantic "d-beat" either (I hate the term but you get the meaning), not unlike Hiatus' second demo and very first Ep really. Unfortunately there are no lyrics but I am not even sure they wrote them down anyway. This Ep was released by Urban Alert records, a Parisian-based label that also put out records from Hiatus (small world), Private Jesus Detector and Seein Red.

Namland's drummer, who also played in Resist, did another rather similar side-project (along with a fellow Resist member a couple of years after Namland) called Amnesty. It has been posted on 7 Inch Crust and although slightly less savage, it also qualifies as perfectly executed old-school Hiatus/Doom/ENT-type crust punk.      

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