Tuesday, 4 February 2014
Warcollapse "Crap, scrap and unforgivable slaughter" Ep 2003
After Hellkrusher and, a couple of months ago, Misery, here is the third inclusion in the "bands we shouldn't take for granted series": Warcollapse. I am sure you can see a pattern here: bands that are 20 year old (or more!), still great and honest, still playing their own brand of genuine punk-rock, bands you can always rely on, that have survived all the petty trends. In a word: still bollocks but still here. And that's what matters in the end, right? The other pattern in the series is that I bloody love these bands in that, not only are they top notch, but they have had a big influence on me. Pretty obvious I guess.
Warcollapse hardly needs an introduction if you are even vaguely into crust music. I suppose they can be considered as the best Swedish crustcore band ever. In fact, I personally think they are. While a lot of bands falling into the "Swedish crust" umbrella basically play classic Swedish hardcore with a heavier and harsher sound, very few bands from that scene actually got the classic UK crust sound as well as Warcollapse. Of course, Doom and ENT were heavily influenced by classic Swedish hardcore (after all, Doom wanted to sound like Discard in the beginning!) so it only makes sense that a band intending to emulate that sound will be influenced by Anti-Cimex, Protes Bengt, Asocial, Crude SS and so on. However, the early Warcollapse's sound, to my ears, is more driven by bands that are themselves influenced by the Swedish wave (Doom, Hiatus, Extreme Noise Terror, Disrupt, you know the drill) than by the 80's Swedes. Not unlike English bands that were influenced by Confuse who were themselves influenced by English bands. I really enjoy this interplay of musical influences among punk bands and I think their traveling patterns are fascinating.
But back to Warcollapse. Like I said not many bands got that original crusty feel just right, which I suppose is quite ironic since Sweden has produced dozens of bands in that genre. You had Jesusexercise (a member of whom joined Warcollapse) who recorded an unsung classic of "rudimentary-penized" old-school crust music. You also had 3-Way Cum (the Warcollapse's drummer actually joined them) with a couple of records showing a crushingly brilliant ENT/Disrupt-style crustcore, with a devastatingly animalistic two-vocals attack that puts them at the very top of the 90's eurocrust shelf (a highly coveted spot indeed). For instance, Tolshock, as excellent as they were, lied already more on the Scandicore side of things. I am not saying that I dislike the Swedish brand of crust, far from it, I am a listener of Skitsystem, Uncurbed, Scumbrigade or ENS, and I think they are good bands. However, when you actually think about it, few bands there really had that grizzli crust sound, as they were either drowning in the d-beat wave, too death-metal oriented or heavier rendering of "Stockholm hardcore 1983-1986".
The first incarnation of Warcollapse was actually called Earcollapse and saw the light of day in late 1991. Apparently, they were a Sore Throat-type band at the time and I would be very curious to hear any of it. A change of name and direction occured in 1992, a year that also saw them record their first demos. By 1993, they recorded songs for their first vinyl outputs, the split Ep with Extinction of Mankind and the "Indoctri-Nation" Ep, both released on ElderBerry records. And then, we need to pause. Although, the Ep we are dealing with today was released in 2003, its three songs were recorded exactly 10 years before, basically during the early Warcollapse years. In fact, "In darkness..." was recorded in february 1993, possibly during the same session that gave birth to the tracks from the EOM split. "Beginning of the end" was recorded in november of the same year (the "Indoctrin-nation" recording session?), "The blood runs red" in february 1994.
In case anyone has missed it (shame on you), the three songs included on that Ep are all covers. Amebix, Antisect and Discharge. What else? The three songs have that classic, powerful Warcollapse sound with guttural and aggressive vocals, pumelling drums and this heavy, flowing guitar sound. The sound is raw just as it should be and epitomized the 90's eurocrust production (or lack thereof some would say). Let's start with the Discharge cover. Now, though everyone and their moms cover Discharge, you have good Discharge covers and bad Discharge covers. This is a good one as it relevantly crustified the Discharge formula without going metal. Beside the band picked a song that is rarely covered by the Dis-legions, "The blood runs red". Amebix then. The years 2000's have seen a noticeable increase of Amebix covers, with no less than two tribute Lp's. But in the early 90's, I am under the impression that it was not so common (actually, Misery did one, "Nobody's driving", as well as EOM with "Sunshine ward" and Charger/Depressor did "Largactyl") and Warcollapse didn't even pick an obvious Amebix song either, nothing from "Arise!" or "Monolyth" as they chose "Beginning of the end" from the 1983 "Winter" 12''. A fantastic song, no doubt about it, but also a rather difficult song to cover in a grizzli crust fashion, as it is dirgy, creepy, dark, moody and threatening and you have to keep those vital elements to the song without falling into the cheesy metal trap. And Warcollapse just nailed it, they kept the atmosphere of the song intact but made it heavier, turned it into a 90's crust anthem. In fact, I would argue that this Amebix cover heralds the "Crust as fuck existence" mini Lp that saw Warcollapse venture in Amebix/Axegrinder territory with great results. Finally, the Antisect cover. One of the great mysteries of our time is the scarcity of Antisect covers. Seriously. In spite of their undeniable influence on crust and anarchopunk, Antisect are seldom covered. Obviously, SDS and Extinction of Mankind (the closest Antisect incarnations of the 90's) did cover them. But apart from them, I can only think of Armagedom, Raw Noise, Doom (a sloppy cover but still, that counts) and... Total Chaos (sigh). There may be more but they don't pop up right now. Anyway, Warcollapse chose the magnificent "In darkness" and it works well, the song becomes more direct and aggressive but I still feel it loses some of its power, its relentlessness. Beside they didn't cover the entire song, which is a shame since I always saw Antisect's songs as being organic entities that cannot be severed, especially on the Lp. But I am being picky, it is still one of the very best Antisect cover around and I am more than happy that it exists.
This Ep was the tribute to the English greats from Warcollapse. A second volume was released a few yars ago with covers from classic Swedish hardcore bands, once again mowed through the Warcollapse crusty grinder. Of course, this Ep is my favourite of the two and it is to be noted that Extinction of Mankind also did a tribute Ep called "Ale to England" with them covering... Amebix, Antisect and Discharge!!! How great is that! It would be interesting to do a comparative study of Warcollapse and EOM's tributes to the same bands in order to analyze what aspects of the music each band has decided to stress. Or maybe it wouldn't. I'll still do it one day.