Monday, 17 December 2012

Debris "Attrition" Ep 1999

Newly-formed bands and the labels promoting them often rely on the "ex-members of" presentation in order to attract attention. While it is always nice to see that punk inspiration doesn't end when a band splits and that people keep playing music, it is also a bit ridiculous when bands get all the attention because they happen to have elite level "ex-members of" among their ranks. Sometimes, having a couple of "ex-members of" is enough to ensure you a tour, one or two albums that will be bought by the cream of the crop and fancy shirts. It would be pointless and childish to point my vengeful finger at anyone, but let's just say that a mediocre d-beat band remains mediocre even when hardcore heroes play in it or release it.

Fortunately for you and I, Debris is not one of these bands. Despite the fact they had ex-members of Disaffect, Scatha, Ebola and Quarantine, you can find all their records for half the price of just one Disclose Ep. Ain't life great?

Debris was a Scottish band active in the late 90's and early 2000's which emerged from the same scene that cradled the Disaffect/Sedition/Scatha pagan trinity. [Let's have a really geeky moment. I can't decide which one of the three I like the most. I have actually given some thought about it but can't come to a conclusion. Do you care? I guess not.] After Debris' demise, Neil, the singer, and the band's two guitar players, Andy and Brian, formed Ruin along with Stick from Doom.

This Ep was released in 1999 on Maximum Voice Production, a German label specialized in heavy hardcore music indeed since they also put out records for Dystopia, Sharpeville, Disaffect and Jobbykrust. After that Ep, Debris did one Lp on Panoptic Vision (Neil's own record label that also released the Disaffect discography, the last Tolshock Ep and the Scatha/Dagda split Ep. The man has great tastes) and recorded some other tracks that appeared on compilations after the band split up.

Musically, it is not irrelevant to see Debris as a meaningful continuation of what the Disaffect/Sedition/Scatha crew started. It is not a cheap copy at all, but you can definitely hear that the guitar player was also in Scatha (and that's definitely a compliment). It has this similarly dark, intricate and intense vibe, but it is also punkier (well, less metallic and crusty shall we say). The pace is mostly mid-tempo and I can't help thinking that if Scatha had covered Icons of Filth, or even One Way System, songs, it wouldn't have sounded too far from Debris. The vocals are absolutely outstanding, Neil's voice is deep and sounds adequately angry and desperate, a bit like Ste's from Extinction of Mankind or the bloke who sang in the short-lived Bomb Heaven. The addition of a second vocalist on some parts brings us some great Quarantine moments as well and overall, the four songs don't sound alike and have enough hooks and tunes, while remaining heavy and raw, to be really memorable.

Lyrically, Debris is far above the average. I don't mean to be too harsh on the numerous authors of haikus about nuclear wars, but whoever wrote these lyrics clearly spent more time thinking about the system of alienation we are all entangled in than choosing a name in "dis" that hasn't been already taken. "See the reality" is a song about how we create our own slavery with the creation of profit from our own labour. This profit is created according to envy and greed and not according to need. The song emphasizes the self-control, self-policing that is encouraged to keep us chained to consumerism and the production of goods and makes a parallel between the panopticon and our current political and economic system. "Enlightened age" tackled the difficult subject of child abuse and instead of calling for lynching mobs, focuses on the contradictory feelings that the survivors will be faced with. "My friend" is about friendship and betrayal, pain and suffering. Finally, "Debris" is an original animal-rights song (is that an oxymoron?) that puts an emphasis on the disembodiment of animals and humans alike, a litteral absence of flesh that signifies the growing riches of cannibalistic doctors.

In addition to the lyrics, a long text which could be seen as the lyrics' explanation is included. It deals with the panopticon, the perfect surveillance system, the perfect prison and the constant gaze, the constant supervision and control that such a concept entails. The text is fairly long but it is extremely interesting and sound as it ties several apparently disconnected subjects together such as the social reproduction of class injustices, child abuse, animal exploitation and the internalization of social codes and how we are even conned into strengthening the grip that the powers that be already have upon us. Really top notch anarchopunk we are dealing with here, like a more mature re-writing of old Icons of Filth songs. The Lp is just as good, a bit more polished in terms of sound, but just as smart and angry in terms of content.                

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