Thursday, 16 May 2013

Tolshock "The heritage of violence" Ep 1999

Edit: because of a copyright complaint, only the review of this record will be posted. You will have to find the music files elsewhere... Sorry.

Sweden is to punk-rock what France is to cheese. Almost too many bands, mostly quality stuff, but a lot of them a bit similar-sounding. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. After all, Swedish bands have developped throughout the years their own brand of hard-hitting, Discharge-loving hardcore punk and it makes sense that there is such a thing as a classic Swedish punk sound. If the 80's are vastly revered, and for good reasons, the 90's don't seem to get that much attention currently. And that's a real shame, as the Swedes kept brewing 80's influenced hardcore but infused it with other influences, in today's case, crust-punk.

The term "Swedish crust" is vastly applied to a lot of bands these days, from Warvictims to Skitsystem or even Massmörd, which raises two important questions: "do people actually listen to their records?" and "why does the word 'crust' have to be used indiscriminately to characterize bands that have few similarities with this actual genre?". There is absolutely nothing wrong in playing or not playing crust music, but if one wants to use the term, one should maybe think twice about it and care a bit more about the music. But anyway... I have been sick for days and I am a bit grumpy today. Let's get back to the topic of the day.

There were great Swedish bands in the 90's. You had Warcollapse (possibly the best blend of Swedish hardcore and crust punk that I have been given to listen), Counterblast ("Balance of pain" has to be one of the best Lp's of the 90's: take Axegrinder, add some early Neurosis influence, and play the songs as if you were a black-metal band), 3-Way Cum (ENT meets Mob 47) Uncurbed, Driller Killer, Wolfpack, Disfear, Diskonto or, I don't know, Dischange. But none of these bands were really proper crust bands, as the fast and furious side of Swedish hardcore often took the better of the filthy metal side. Apart from maybe Jesusexercise, some Warcollapse ("Crust as fuck existence" springs to mind), some Dom Där Songs and the aforementioned Counterblast Lp (which may fall in the mysterious and unpredictable "involuntary crust masterpiece" category), what is refered to as Swedish crust should be more aptly qualified as "crusty Swedish hardcore" or something equally ridiculous. Now, isn't that a world-changing perspective on music? And after all, Doom started out as little more than a Swedish hardcore tribute band (you know, Discard, Crudity, Shitlickers, Anti-Cimex...) but with gruffier vocals and sloppier playing. Seeing Doom as crust (especially the early years) would actually tend to confirm the crust tag in its application to what is essentially a Swedish hardcore-inspired band (though they were definitely part of the early crust scene in terms of aesthetics and lyrics).

So yeah... Tolshock. This is their last and best Ep, recorded in 1999. Before that, they did another Ep and a split Ep with Scumbrigade as well as a 4-way split tape with the mighty Hibernation, Chaos Front and Anti Order. Three labels worked together to get that geezer out: Panoptic Vision from Scotland (that released some Disaffect, Debris and Quarantine), long-standing Farewell Records from Hannover and fellow Germans, Borkenkafer Records. The Swedish scene is, was and will probably always remain very incestuous so you could find in Tolshock punk virtuoso who previously or additionally deafened people in Warcollapse, Counterblast, Jesusexercise (small world) or Farcical.

What I like in this record is that, although it is pretty much pure Swedish hardcore, it has this anarcho look and content. The title of the Ep is also its main theme, "the heritage of violence". It is the first song and the sentences of its first verse have been used to illustrate the artwork in the shape of Crass-fonted framed slogans. And it looks great and there is actually a connection between the images used and the words. This song deals with domestic violence and how one inherits it from his/her parents, how it spreads through generations. The beaten kid becomes the wife-beater. The only other song in English is "The blood runs blue" and isn't as serious. It refers to the death of Lady Di and what a cause for celebration it should be. Bring us back the guillotine! I will leave the other songs' explanations to the Swedish-speaking punks reading this! Musically Tolshock played top-notch, fast, aggressive Swedish hardcore with dual vocals, not unlike Diskonto or a less savage 3-Way Cum, with enough distorsion to make it raw but not so much as to make it noisy, if ya know what I mean. Because people have outrageous tastes in music nowadays, you should be able to find this record in a 1 euro/£1/$1 bin on a distro table where all the other Ep's will go for a fiver (seriously though, I got to score an Amen Ep last week-end on a distro table and the fellow who was running the distro told me he was relieved to see it go because he thought it was a great record and had been sleeping for years in the distro; fortunately for him, good old me was around!).

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