Sunday, 8 September 2013

Blowhard "Harsh" Ep 1994

When one reflects upon good Canadian crusty punk music, Montreal often comes to mind. And the past twenty years have shown that seeing Montreal as Canada's crust capital makes sense. This scene has produced numerous crust bands (like the much underrated Global Holocaust, System Shit, Human Greed, Hellbound, Disagree or in more recent times the Sacrilege cover-band After The Bombs) that would make a caveman feel like singing along. Similarly, Massgrave - live, probably the best ENT/Disrupt-style crustcore band around - managed to put Vancouver on the map of all lovers of bear-like vocals. But Toronto? Even though I know little about the punk scene there, it is not a city I usually associate with patches, a dodgy hygiene or sloppy "Police bastards" covers. If it had not been for Blowhard, you would think from the outside that it was a crust-free area in the 90's, quite odd indeed when you consider the dozens of active crusty bands in North America then.

Having released only one Ep in 1994, blowhard is unlikely to go down in history as a crucial band, even in the punk scale of things. Interestingly, the band that rose from Blowhard's ashes in the late 90's was much more successful: Legion 666, the band that played heavy, Hellhammer-influenced crusty hardcore punk before it was fashionable and infected by the Metal Punx Cheese Squad. If you listen to Blowhard while keeping in mind the power of Legion 666, you will be able to see the connection. Of course, Bloward is much less metal and more direct than Legion. Undeniably part of the 90's crust wave in terms of sound and production, they are nevertheless not your average, enjoyable Doom clone. In fact, I would venture that they were equally influenced by Hiatus and Crude SS, with a dash of early Onslaught (and I can't help spotting similarities with Global Holocaust as well, but it may be just me). Sounds good, doesn't it? The guitar sound is very thick, fuzzy yet groovy, not unlike early Doom's, the bass does the work it is expected, the drumming is powerful and relatively accurate and the vocals don't sound forceful or over-the-top but still deliver the aggression and anger needed. It is actually a pretty good record and the lyrics are pretty smart too, definitely above the cliched apocalytpic, pseudo misanthropic haikus that sometimes pass for lyrics: songs about police brutality, pro-choice, green capitalism being still capitalism, male insecurities, the need to see ecology as a global issue rather than solely a national one and feeling angry and frustrated because we are part of, and even contribute to, a social system that we hate.

I am not really into the record's cover to be honest. First, it is misleading as pictures of difigured faces pretty much indicate the goregrind territory, a place where people with decent music tastes like myself don't like to tread. Second, and more importantly, the choice of a gory imagery doesn't really make sense because it is not backed by a commentary from the band. It is gore for gore's sake which is somewhat different to using extreme images or pictures in order to make a political point. The artwork inside is much more to my liking and actually reflects well what the band was all about. The lesson here: don't judge a book or a Blowhard record by its cover.


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