Friday, 12 September 2014

Diatribe "Aftermath" Ep, 1991

Bloody hell... Has it really been more than three weeks since the last post?

In my defense, I have had to let go two of my staff in the past month. Whereas they had, until then, been quite faultless in their devotion to Terminal Sound Nuisance, I caught them in the naked act of listening to shoegaze. This really broke my heart but then, I should have seen it coming since one of them was starting to grow a beard while the other one, I discovered later, had set up a facebook page about thick-framed glasses. And that, my dedicated follower is utterly contrary to the TSN ethos. These are dark times indeed.

But whatever, my spirit has not been broken and I shall overcome, though it did take a whole week of uninterrupted Discharge listens for me to get back on tracks. Speaking of the devil, the record I'm going to rant about today is probably the most potent instance of US Discharge worshipping from the early 80's. I am aware that Diatribe have been talked about on other sites and blogs (I strongly recommend you read the the Shit Fi review of the demo by the way) but it is a brilliant record I have been meaning to bother you with for a long time now.

Diatribe's story is not unusual for an 80's punk band. They formed in 1984, released a demo in 1985, had the one odd track from that recording included on some compilation Lp, toured in their home country and split up in 1986. Not too spectacular, innit? That is, until you hear the demo. Because Diatribe's 1985 demo is nothing short of sheer brilliance.

Don't be misled by the title of the post, the 1991 Ep is actually a reissue of the 1985 demo (with one added track but I'll come to that in due time). An old friend of mine who was there "back in the day" (and had thus a spare copy) actually gave this record to me maybe 6 or 7 years ago. I had never really heard Diatribe before, although I did seem to remember that a band of the same name had a song on some Mortarhate sampler. But that was about it and I was completely unprepared when I put the record on my turntable. Not even a ridiculous amount of "OMG" could begin to describe what I felt then when I heard the chorus to the song "Aftermath" for the first time. Almost instantly, as if it had been my favourite song forever, I was tunelessly shouting "When the war is over" while tapping my feet to their awesome D-beat. That's epiphany for ya.

Diatribe were from San Diego and were part of the so-called peacepunk wave. As discussed in The Iconoclast post, the term "peacepunk" basically referred to those Californian bands (I would personally leave the New York anarcho bands out of the "peacepunk" tag) who were greatly influenced by the UK anarchopunk scene and re-adapted the sound, the attitude and the politics to their own context. It is therefore no coincidence if there are sonic similarities between Diatribe and bands like The Iconoclast and Body Count with whom they shared stage. The Crucifix influence is also pretty obvious, especially in the vocals at times and the overall intensity. However, where Crucifix guitar sound was thick and crunchy, Diatribes relies a bit more on distortion and fuzz. This demo also brings to mind Swedish bands like Anti-Cimex or Crude SS, and, of course, Discharge, early Antisect and even Death Sentence, albeit in a "thou shall beat the D" mood. What is most striking with this recording is how far ahead of their time Diatribe were. Listening to these songs in 2014, you can tell in a heartbeat that they are an 80's band who overplayed Crucifix at home, and yet there have been so many "D-beat raw punk" bands for the past 10 years who have been playing pretty much like Diatribe did (and most of them probably without even being aware of their existence): a pure, clear D-beat with the occasional breakdowns and some Chaos UK drum rolls, a distorted guitar, a buzzing bass sound, a snotty vocal delivery. I read that Diatribe had been a significant influence on Kawakami from Disclose and if you listen closely to the guitar sound and the songwriting, it makes a lot of sense. That the Diatribe logo is not painted on half the leather jacket of people supposedly into "raw punk" never fails to sadden me, but then I must be oversensitive.

Lyrically, Diatribe's songs don't necessarily stand out from the crowd of Discharge impersonators (anti-war, anti-army, anti-religion) but judging from old interviews, the band was clearly much more political and articulate than their words suggested. This would explain their connection with Conflict and why they appeared on a Mortarhate compilation and how they opened for the Londoners when they toured in the States. This Ep is some sort of bootleg, I believe, that was released on Revoltation record, an English label that basically only reissued classic 80's hardcore recordings without really asking for permission (though I could be wrong). It includes the 6 tracks from the "Aftermath" demo as well as another studio track, with a very "iconoclasty" sound, entitled "The day I was born"). Anyway, the geezer behind Revoltation also released some pretty sweet things in the early 90's like Confuse, Heresy or Mob 47. In 2007, the "Aftermath" demo was officially reissued by Get Revenge records and I am pretty sure you can still find it if you put some effort into it.

In 2006, Diatribe got back together with a different line-up and even released a split Ep with Death Crisis in 2011 that is worth your attention. I know that a full Lp was in progress at some point but I have no idea if it will eventually come out. I strongly recommend that you take a look at their website too where you will find old pictures, flyers and interviews (Diatribe's page).