Sunday, 29 December 2013
Scum of Society "Violenza legale" Ep 1997
This will be the last post of the year 2013. The last 12 months saw countless brilliant records being posted on Terminal Sound Nuisance and, thankfully, there will be even more samples of my flawless tastes on the blog in 2014. You have been warned. So, in order to bring some sort of closure to this year, what could be more appropriate than a rather unoriginal and yet totally relevant 90's crust record with a lot of heart and guts? Because that's what TSN is all about and I gladly leave pointless quests for originality to others with a more artistic mindset than mine.
I have already talked about how I love 90's eurocrust (90's crust in general really, even the Japanese bands of that genre no longer seem to attract that much attention, which unfortunately doesn't mean I can afford to buy their records... yet!) and how I think it is being gravely under-appreciated right now. Bands like Hiatus, Homomilitia, Sarcasm, Proyecto Terror, Subcaos, Embittered, Enola Gay and so on. It is not all grim of course, and there are a number of bands still flying the flag but it certainly doesn't garner as much interest as, say, 10 years ago. But anyway, while crust punk spread like wild fire all over the world during that decade, one European country with a very strong punk tradition strangely seemed to ignore its greatness: Italy. Of course, there was the amazingly unique and genre-challenging Contropotere who incorporated elements of crust music, but, as much as they escaped easy classifications, I always saw them as being essentially an 80's band in spirit although they did record some brilliant stuff in the 90's. Besides, Contropotere sounded like no other band (were they even a band or more a collective?), so it might not be relevant to use them as a point of comparison. Italy had fast and furious hardcore bands, grindcore bands, all sorts really but crust (apart from Jilted who fitted the tag). How odd is that? The 00's fortunately saw a lot more enthusiasm towards loud dreadlocked noisy bollocks with bands like Campus Sterminii, Giuda, Berserk, Cancer Spreading or NIS.
Scum of Society musy have formed around 1995 or 1996, judging from their discography. I don't know what the band took in 1997 but in that year only, they managed to put out two Ep's and one split Lp. In 2002 (or 2003?) they released a split Ep with Full of Hatred and that was basically the end of the band. Musically, Scum of Society were nothing special I suppose: just straight out, bass-driven, raw crust punk along the lines of Hiatus and Doom with shouted rather than gruffy vocals so that you can understand what they are on about (assuming you speak Italian). The recording is a bit rough and ready, if not sloppy, but there is an undeniable urgency to the sound and there is actually some degree of variety in the song structures with metal or hardcore breaks and even a couple of blast beats for good measure. In terms of music, it is everything you can expect from mid/late 90's DIY European crust record.
As was often the case, crust bands were more directly political in those days or at least they showed it more. The record comes with a 17-pages booklets, no less, with lyrics and artwork and even some political writing and a list of active squats in Italy! From what I can gather, Scum of Society must have been involved to some extent in the squatters' movement at the time. There are staunch "DIY and proud" ethics at play in this Ep and radical politics are being worn unashamedly (they even borrowed the "proud to be punk"logo from Riot/Clone!). Lyrically, any anarcho-oriented punk will find him/herself in safe territories: an anti-nazi song, an anti-coppers song, an anti-rockstars song, an anti-alienation song, two anti-war songs and a song about how the poor are the scum of society in the eyes of the authorities. The perfect soundtrack for the party you will throw for New Year's Eve, isn't it?
The texts included by the band are probably better clues of the actual politics of Scum of Society. The first one is about the importance of staying DIY and what it means to them. In 1997, they were already pointing at the absurd prevalence of form over content:
"we think that the music, the attitude, the fashion, in the magic world of hardcore-punk has became more important than the spirit. So we confirm one more time that for us to be punx means self-production (DIY), political action, communication, in short the creation of physical and mental situations of freedom, alternative and antagonism to the power that oppress us all. We produce and distribute DIY stuff as a part of a project of self determination of our lives".
A good statement indeed. The second text is about submission and resistance to the different tricks of the State as it tries to mold us into good law-abiding citizens and the band is right in sending a healthy and hearty "fuck off" to all the armies, be they the official ones serving our current masters or the non-official ones serving our masters of tomorrow. The third text is about the oppressive power of the family unit and how it works as the first level of alineation in order to produce "normal" children. Finally there is the aforementioned stuff about squatting which, in addition to providing an exhaustive list of active squats, also briefly tells the political motivations of squatters, why they do it (to live and/or to organize things) and how they choose to live their lives according to their own rules. Some smart words about the dangers of being a legalized squat which would create a "good squatters/bad squatters" dichotomy (the good ole Victorian values of the "deserving" versus the "undeserving" poor).
It is definitely better you read it all for yourself anyway. And don't forget to listen to the record while you are at it. I found it in a 2 euros bin and so can you!