Sunday, 26 May 2013

Acid Rain Dance "Melting resistance" 12'' 1993

I have written quite a bit about trends on Terminal Sound Nuisance and how they reflect our representations of punk from a diachronic perspective (diachronic: a useful and fancy word that can make you look smart; to be stored just next to "dichotomy"). But trends are not all about the music and if you read the lyrics of your favourite bands, you will notice that some topics come back over and over again at certain times. Before it became a silly and meaningless gimmick, the possibility of a nuclear war was a genuine source of fear in the 80's and it makes sense that many bands talked about that (though it was also, at least partially, a topical trend). Recently, resistance to the war in Iraq and to Bush was the topic of the day. Judging from lyrics, in the early 90's, 1992 being the key date here, Indigenous resistance in North America, the sad anniversary of Colombus' "discovery" of the Americas and the specific oppression affecting Native Americans were often tackled by bands from the more politicised side of the punk spectrum. And not only by US bands either. Several events probably contributed to this dynamic: the aforementioned 1992 anniversary; the campaign to free Leonard Peltier, a political prisoner framed by the FBI; the Oka crisis in Canada that saw a wide-spread Mohawk revolt and of course the Indigenous uprising in Chiapas led by the EZLN.

Although always well-meaning, the political support given to Native tribes was at times awkward, idealistic, if not patronizing. Often, Native Americans were depicted as helpless, innocent victims, timeless beings living in perfect harmony with "Mother Nature", a vision that probably had more to do with specific White fears and anxieties and the old notion of the "Noble Savage" (also known as "the brave Indian"). Many early Biritsh anarcho bands saw in Indigenous societies (or in their idealized version of them) a source of inspiration in terms of harmonious, peaceful living and solidarity. Bands like Flux of Pink Indians, Indian Dream and City Indians (all top bands to be sure) even showed their admiration in their very names. On the other side of the Atlantic, Antischism/Initial State included tribal imagery in their own aesthetics (to undeniablygreat effect) and later, Black Kronstadt/Iskra would write songs about the Oka crisis and sociopolitical issues that First Nations people face. In Britain, the 90's saw many bands showing solidarity and/or using Indigenous themes and images: One By One (with their excellent, AIM-themed "Common ground"), Disaffect, Cress and, obviously, Sedition/Scatha, who were the most articulate of the lot as they merged their own Celtic cultural roots with anarchist politics and world-wide support to struggling Indigenous people. The celebrations of the 500th anniversary were not exactly welcomed in South America either as they were seen as a provocation. 1492, to many conscious people there, symbolizes the beginning of ruthless exploitation and genocide that still go on today for many Indigenous communities. The oppression of Native people there certainly hit closer to home and it is no surprise that bands as different as Abuso Sonoro, Los Crudos or Anarchus - without mentioning a brilliant tape compilation from Medellin - had songs about this. Finally, European bands showed solidarity and concern towards Native Americans and anger at the 500 year old ongoing genocide they have had to endure. Bands like Bad Influence (as was shown in a previous post), Forgotten Prophecy (that Hopi prophecy certainly struck a chord), Amen, Mushroom Attack, Heyoka, Autonomia Indigena (as the name suggests!), Stress, Acoustic Grinder, to name but a few. Bands like Acid Rain Dance from Bremen.

A couple of years ago, I read an article about Germans who chose to live "just like Indians". They lived in tipis, did traditional Lakota rituals and I seem to remember that they were learning a tribal language too. Depending on your sense of humour and your patience, you will find this either ridiculously appalling or ridiculously funny. Fortunately for us, the geezers of Acid Rain Dance did not try to live like they saw in "Dance with the wolves", although the band's artwork is all about American Indian themes and representations (both for that particular record and the equally good 1991 Ep). The five songs of the 12" were recorded in 1992 and the record was released on the ever reliable Skuld Releases. It was Skuld's eigth record (between Bad Influence's first Lp and the Zygote compilation Lp) and the label was still in its early days. Information about ARD is scarce and my limited knowledge of the Bremen scene certainly doesn't help. Judging from their ugly mugs (and their music but we'll come back to that), ARD must have been as much part of the punk scene as they were of the metal one. Punks playing thrash-metal or metalheads having go at hardcore? It doesn't really matter in the end as the band managed to create a sound of their own and developped its own identity.

The early 90's saw the crust genre going international and it is not irrelevant to see ARD in that light. One can notice that their thank lists (in both their records) include Contropotere and Naftia, two unique bands that are hard to pigeonhole and go beyond easy categorization. If MVD were the German answer to Extreme Noise Terror and Doom and if Slimy Venereal Diseases had a sore throat, then Acid Rain Dance could very well be approached from a Concrete Sox-meet-Kreator angle. The thrash-metal influence is fairly obvious but it also has a strong early crust vibe and brings to mind English bands like Deviated Instinct (the first Lp), Senile Decay and especially Energetic Krusher (who were more a metal band anyway) as well as American crossover bands. Some guitar riffs clearly look in the early death-metal direction and the vocals are gruffy and hoarse as they should be. The songs are very well structured and the quiet, eerie parts (either as intros or breaks in the songs) make for a great listen (however, I don't think the funky bass lines in "No 11" was really necessary...). There is a discordant feel in the song-writing which is not something I usually like but it works perfectly here, adding to the rage and the intensity through many tempo breaks and layered climactic storytelling.

All the lyrics are in German but English translations are provided. Unfortunately, some ideas seem to have got lost in the process. The songs deal with rage, alienation, social conditioning and violence from a personal, physical perspective. I wish I spoke German... The last song, "Starrheit", is about peer pressure and how the traditional nuclear family structure contains the potential for totalitarian obedience. The cover is pretty dated (though it was 1993, it still has this cheesy 80's metal feel) but one should not judge a record by its cover (well, not always). Acid Rain Dance was an original metal-punk band with something to say (not something I say often about current metal-punk bands) and "Melting resistance" is a great record. Finally, just a quick word about punk bands singing about Indigenous resistance. Let's not forget that the people who know best about this subject are the ones directly affected by it: Native people themselves. There are some good and interesting Native American/Indigenous punk bands around, Resistant Culture and Black Fire being the most famous. But get some Subsistencia (Aztec anarchopunk?), Psicosis Social (Bolivian band with some songs in Quechua) and S-cuk Gogs, a rez band from the Tohono O'odham nation in Arizona (they are rough and ready enough to be included in Shit-Fi, punk innit?). There are probably hundreds more so any suggestions would be warmly welcome in the Terminal Sound Nuisance's headquarters.  


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