Saturday, 25 January 2014

Hellkrusher "Dying for who" Ep 1992

I am often under the impression that Hellkrusher is the kind of band that everyone thinks they know, but that no one actually knows well. Bumping into the name for years may have created such a feeling of familiarity with the band, like an old acquaintance that you have never really got to know well but that you are always happy to have a drink with. Well, for those of you who fall in that category, I recommend you actually start hanging out more with this acquaintance. He could become your best mate.

Some Hellkrusher facts first. They originally formed in 1989 (yes, that early) and are from the Newcastle area. Scotty, formerly a bastard from hell, brought the "Hell" with him while Ali, not being that energetic after all, nicked the "Krusher". Honestly Energetic Bastard would have sounded like shit and I am really glad they went for Hellkrusher. The very early HK line-up also had a bloke from Senile Decay playing drums and a metalhead as a guitarist, which accounts for the rather metal-oriented first Lp of HK, "Wasteland". Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely love that album, it is definitely one of my favourite metal-punk Lp ever, up there with English Dogs, Concrete Sox and Broken Bones (I would argue that "Wasteland", being slightly more aggressive and crusty, appeals to me more). However, when you think of Hellkrusher, you don't expect guitar solos or Slayer shirts. You want vintage Discharge-influenced punk-rock with heart and bollocks. The band split up in 1991 and reformed a couple of months later with a line-up change that saw Curry from Debauchery being hired behind the kit and Scotty moving to the guitar (he was originally the bass player). They then recorded a demo in 1992 which marked the proper beginning of the HK sound. This demo not only got released as an Lp, "Buildings for the rich" (who doesn't like a Class War reference?) but two tracks from that recording session were also included on the B side of the Ep we are dealing with today: "Dying for who".

The two studio tracks, "Dying for who" and "Scared of change", have everything you want from a band like Hellkrusher: straight-up UK hardcore-punk influenced by the likes of Discharge, Varukers, Onslaught or Anti-System. It is heavy, raw, fast, political and even a little ahead of its time since the Dis-clones wave hadn't started yet (on some level, you could argue that Disaster and Hellkrusher probably, if unwillingly, started that trend). The three live tracks on the A side of the Ep, recorded in 1992 at Planet X in Liverpool, are brilliant too, the sound is really good, intense and aggressive. Listening to that record, I cannot help but feel that early HK was really the beginning of the 90's UK hardcore-punk sound and that they played a major role in shaping that sound. I would even say that the Varukers' recordings from the 90's were heavily influenced by HK in terms of sound and song-writing (give a listen to "Murder" with HK's early Ep's in mind and you will know what I mean).

Hellkrusher shouldn't be seen as a mere "Dis-band", although they unfairly often are. In fact, only one of the five songs on the Ep deal with war atrocities, "Dying for who". "Hellkrusher" is about bullshit rock star behaviours and keeping down-to-earth, honest DIY values, "Scared of change" is about the Tory re-election, "Smash the trash" is about the music business and its money while "Destined to die" is about vivisection. Not really your average warsongs, right?

This Ep was released in 1992 on the mighty Tribal War Records, the record label of Neil (from the first Nausea line-up, Jesus Chrust and Final Warning) that was responsible for some fantastic records throughout the years that had a strong and lasting influence on me (Sarcasm, Coitus, Contravene, Antiproduct, Axiom, Atrocious Madness, Behind Enemy Lines and so on). "Dying for who" may actually have been its second release, I am not too sure (the first one was the second Confrontation Ep: the man had great tastes!). Great label, great band. And for the unlucky ones not in the know, Hellkrusher are still playing, still recording (their 2012 split Ep with Bullet Ridden is great) and Antisociety has just released an Lp with all their recordings from 1993 to 1994, their classic period really, with the "Fields of blood" Ep and the split Ep with Disclose.

Now what are you waiting for?      

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