Friday, 3 May 2013
After The Massacre "A future discarded to the bonepits" cd 2007
When evolving in the realms of the Dis, you don't get much more cliched a name than "After the Massacre" (apart from "After the Bombs" probably), it being the title of a great Iconoclast song notwithstanding. In fact, there were even two contemporary bands using that moniker, one from California and one from sunny Liverpool. If you are a regular reader of Terminal Sound Nuisance, you already know which one I am going to talk about.
For some odd reason, compared to other large English towns, Liverpool doesn't seem to have produced a significant number of punk bands throughout the years. You have Public Disgrace, Das Reiner, Carcass, MDM, a couple of straight-edge hardcore bands... I am probably forgetting bands and am not really familiar with the postpunk scene so I could be wrong, but still there is that feeling that, despite its formidable musical history, Liverpool is not much of a punk city. But that was before ATM. It is always very enjoyable when you go to a gig out of the country and you unexpectedly get to discover new, exciting bands. This story began in february 2005. I was aimlessly wasting my time on the web, possibly checking out bands on myspace, when I saw a flyer that left me in a state of shock. Doom were playing again. At the 1in12 Club in Bradford. And the rest of the line-up for that all-dayer was absolutely smashing: Extinction of Mankind, Gurkha, The Dagda, Ruin and Bait. On this now legendary flyer were also programmed two bands unknown to me: Burning the Prospect and After the Massacre. This particular gig may very well be my favourite ever, all the bands were great (Ruin were a bit sloppy to tell you the truth but it may have been one of their first gigs) and so was the atmosphere and I had a very good time. The night obviously climaxed with Doom playing (Wayne was still singing for them then and he was a brilliant frontman) but it had started most promisingly with After the Massacre, who were not even supposed to play that night as they seem to have been a replacement for local Violent Minority (which I had already seen anyway).
At that time, ATM was still in its early days and you could see and hear that they were high-spirited and wild and just really happy to be playing there. Their sound was not quite as refined and focused as it would be on their album but only a deaf man wouldn't have noticed that they were a noisy crusty bunch indeed and that the dual female vocals definitely set them apart. Not that many bands have tried the dual female vocals. On the tuneful side of things, the Lost Cherrees, Dan, Harum-Scarum or Joyce McKinney did very well, but few extreme bands had two female singers (Society Gang Rape springs to mind). Not only did ATM have two pissed off singers but the vocal styles complemented each other very nicely and by nice I mean that you have mean-sounding raucous shrieks on one side and low, guttural growls on the other (poetically named "screams from the gutter" and "doomed grunts" in the booklet). It brings to mind great crusty female voices of the last decades, Excrement of War, Homomilitia, Hellbound, or closer to us, Beginning of the End or Man the Conveyor. If you are a sucker for such vocal skills, like I am, then ATM is your dream come true.
Musically, ATM played fast and punishing crustcore that, while not being as straight-forward as one might wrongly presume, remains remarkably powerful. The changes and breaks are always tasteful and never impair the intensity. Mostly fast, the songs also offer some heavy and crushing mid-tempo parts which makes ATM more interesting than your average orthodox dis-band (though one could say that there is a certain art to the most accurate and monolithic brand of the d-beat genre). The sound on this album mixed by Bri Doom is perfect for what the band wanted to achieve. It is pummelling and distorted but not distortion-driven. There are two layers of guitars and while the first one is fairly typical of Disruptish crust, the other one is reminiscent of the so-called crasher crust school of Framtid, Gloom, Defector and the likes with a sharp, piercing and very distorted sound (the omnipresence of manic drum rolls also points in this direction although the sound of the drum is not exactly similar). Homomilitia and other Polish crust bands like Toxic Bonkers or Enough!, Disrupt, Decrepit and Excrement of War with a more modern Crust War records feel would be a relevant comparison.
The lyrics are dark, pessimistic comments about modern civilisation. Alienation, pointless overproduction and consumption, wars for world domination, dehumanization, control and more control are all carved in our bodies and minds, making us sick, insane or both. The booklet is appropriately gloomy and you can see that some thought has been put into its making, with a gasmask-wearing ghost figure in an industrial wasteland (also known as the Mersey) being the interpretive thread. The cd album was released on SOA Records from Italy, a long-running, quality label that has put out quite a few records in its 20 years of existence, from reissues of old 80's bands to records from contemporary ones (Cracked Cop Skulls, Disrupt, Toxic Bonkers, Comrades, Saw Throat, Cryptic Slaughter, Cani, Peggio Punx...).