Thursday, 6 March 2014

"Slave to convention: A tribute to Doom" compilation cd 2007

Bands like Doom are to punk-rock what beer is to drinking.

Some people merely enjoy having a cold beer on warm days, others drink vast quantity of beer but are not bothered with the quality, and then you have the beer experts who can actually describe the tastes of many different ales and lagers, finally you have people who don't like beer but at least respect it as a worthy beveradge. The same could be said about Doom: the first category hardly listen to Doom but can enjoy a couple of songs at a gig or when really drunk at a mate's; the second category listen to a lot of Doom-type bands but can't really be arsed about the actual quality or even the identity of the bands; the third category include people who know all the records, the recording dates, the line-up changes, they are able to look at Doom and their works critically and are undeniably elite Doom-lovers with a PhD in crust-punk; people in the last category don't give a damn about Doom but at least recognize that it is a quality band, respectable and honourable, just not to their liking. If you don't fall in any of these categories, there are two possibilities: you either have never heard about Doom and I am about to change your life or you clearly are reading the wrong blog and I encourage you to get a life. Seriously, get ouf of my blog.

I generally have mixed feelings about tribute records for several reasons. Bands are often content with merely covering the song without bringing anything new to the table thus making the record a bit tedious to listen to and basically a poorer version of the original songs. In addition, I have seen tribute records with absolutely no information about the bands included or even with hardly any mention about the band that is being paid tribute to (I am thinking about the "Discharged" cd here). But do not despair as there are also really good tribute records, like the two recent (well, relatively) Amebix tributes (the Japanese one and the Balkan one) or the Conflict tribute "Barricades and broken dreams" which exemplify how it should be done. Granted, all the songs were not that great but they aptly reflected the passion that the covered band inspired to the participants and you had some comments from actual members of Amebix and Conflict which made the record more relevant and interesting. Fortunately for you, "Slave to convention" falls in the "good punk tribute" category.

Don't expect too much originality in terms of music on this record. Although there have undeniably been several different periods in the life of Doom with variations in song-writing, sound, musicianship or production, the power of Doom relies on a formula. I would argue that the repetitiveness of Doom - especially early Doom - is one of its strong points. It is a force hammering you again and again with unabated sincerity. Doom took the relentless power of Discharge, Discard (certainly the strongest influence of the band in its infancy), Totalitär or Asocial, added the crusty gruffness (probably more a matter of context than of intent) and the anarchopunk anger and aesthetics. As I mentioned, the Doom sound evolved throughout the years but still, and as the latest brilliant Lp shows, they nevertheless always sticked to the Doom formula, so that for all the different records, and if I may use a witty tautology, Doom will alway be Doom. And thanks fuck for that. Really.

There are 29 bands included on the compilation and I suppose that it would be a boring read if I were to describe each of the songs individually. The bands that took part in this project all belong to the crust/d-beat/scandicore subgenres so don't expect ska versions of "Police bastard". Unsurprisingly, mosy of the covered songs are from Doom's Peaceville days, although some bands also picked songs from "The greatest invention" (my favourite Doom records because of its tension), or from the splits with Hiatus, Selfish and Extinction of Mankind, so it's not 29 covers of "Police bastard" or "Exploitation" either. The strong point of this compilation lies in its international spectrum as you will find bands from the U$A, the UK, Germany, Peru, Japan, Sweden, Poland, Spain, Chile, Canada, Cyprus (yes, Cyprus!), Mexico, Brazil and Italy. In addition to being an ode to world-wide punk-rock, "Slave to convention" includes bands rather "famous" bands like Phobia, Besthöven or Cluster Bomb Unit, but also obscure ones whose contribution to the compilation is actually their sole appearance on a proper record like Aposynthesis, Hollow Scorn or The Indecents. Apart from the Desobediencia Civil song that was recorded in 1998, all the bands recorded their cover especially for this compilation sometime between 2006 and 2007. Not only this but all the bands provided some artwork specifically for "Slave to convention" as well with band and recording information. Funnily enough, three bands did a spoof of the Doom logo, well let's call it an aesthetical tribute, with their own moniker: Ruin, Filth of Mankind and Warvictims. Now that's a labour of love, isn't it?

My personnal highlights include the old-school crust rendering of the mighty Alehammer and the criminally underrated Filth of Mankind, the dual-vocals crustcore attack of the great Accion Mutante, the vintage d-beat punk of Cluster Bomb Unit (with Julia on vocals), Besthöven and Ruin (who have never sounded more like Cracked Cop Skulls than on this recording) and the angry crusty anarcho sound of Autonomia and Desobediencia Civil, a band I specially deal with sometime in the future. Despite unequal production between the songs (some of them must have been taken from rehearsal or live recordings which accounts for some sloppiness), it is on the whole a very pleasant listen and a great way to get familiar with previously unknown bands. In my case, I was really quite impressed with Aposynthesis from Cyprus and wish they had done something else (they get extra Doom points for their Doom/Aposynthesis studded jacket done especially for their piece of artwork).

The booklet is good too and provides an exhaustive Doom biography as well as some words from Stick. It also shows a lot of original Doom artwork, some old flyers as well as some pictures but I hope you have a good eyesight because it's all printed extra small. "Slave to convention" was released on Helvetet Records, a Peruvian label responsible for records from Los Rezios (I am pretty sure the bloke doing the label also plays in Los Rezios), a Warcollapse discography and re-issues of old 80's hardcore bands from Peru like the fantastic Autopsia or Kaos. Basically a label worthy of your interest.

Are you ready for almost one hour of Doom worship? You'd better be.

Slave to doomvention            

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