Sunday, 6 December 2015

MVD / Pink Flamingos split Ep 1994

Throughout recent conversations with fellow nerdy punks, we realized there was something weird with Germany. While the country is the host of a massive, dynamic punk scene with top venues, an incredible amount of touring bands and probably the highest rate of punks per inhabitant anywhere in the world, it has not, considering these elements, delivered that many classic bands (I don't include the ones from the 80's in that comment). Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that I dislike German punk-rock as there are bands that I hold close to my sensitive heart. But still, compared to its potential, Germany has never been a high producer in the field of anarchopunk or crust. Or could it be that they just didn't spread? Bands like Accion Mutante, Enola Gay, Lost World, Autoritär, Acid Rain Dance, Cluster Bomb Unit and Instinct of Survival (possibly the best crust band of the past 10 years) are obviously really good, but the truth is that, while everyone enjoys pilgriming to Berlin, local punk music isn't exactly the most popular outside of home, especially in recent years. There are certainly genres that German punks have excelled at, with cult bands like Yacopsae, Acme, Mörser or (sigh) Gut, but these are not really Terminal Sound Nuisance material. But wait, there is one iconic crust band from Berlin that, for some reason that I don't even want to try to understand (but it could be the dreaded "had they been Swedish theorem"), is constantly left out of the crust canon: MVD.

Apparently, if my German is not too rusty, MVD formed in 1986 in Berlin and were originally called Mundus Vult Decipi , which must have been a bit of a mouthful since they switched to MVD after their first release, a split Lp with deutschpunk heroes Malinheads in 1990. Probably because some of their songs on this Lp had been written a few years prior to its release, the MVD side is not actually that crusty. Rather, I would argue that it sounds like the brand of hardcore-punk that original crusties would have played to death. In 1989/1990, MVD delivered raw and intense, angry political hardcore influenced by bands like Crude SS, AOA, Final Conflict or even early Doom, but faster. There is a German punk feel to the music and one can suppose that local bands like the brilliant Enola Gay or Vorkriegsphase were also on heavy rotation at the MVD HQ.

Their first Ep, the classic "Stagnation of thinking" Ep from 1992, saw them pick a new singer (like Amen, MVD have had quite a few singers shouting behind their microphone) and polish their sound. A bit, not too much, they remained firmly rooted in raw and angry hardcore for the punks, only this time with a noticeable Extreme Noise Terror influence added to their own brand of beefed-up, "Italy + Sweden = <3 " hardcore. By the time of their third release however, the present split with Pink Flamingos from 1994, MVD had definitely fallen to the crust side of the Force. The addition of a second singer with vocals so gruff that I think he may have been locked up in some damp room with "Phonophobia" constantly playing (hence the famous phrase "he who shall be Sore-Throated to life") certainly enhanced the crust element in the music and complemented the first singer's hardcore vocal style perfectly. The dual vocal work on this Ep happens one my of favourites ever in the crustcore field, worthy of the much-coveted "Terminal Sound Nuisance Dual Vocal Attack Award". Musically, the songs are fast as ever, hit even harder and should be considered absolute eurocrust classics, hands down. Lyrically, MVD were (and still are, if you are wondering) a seriously angry bunch. Songs about police brutality, alienating consumerism, servility and racist violence, all written in a very brutal, direct fashion (and a slight "English as a second language" feel as well). And to top it all off, there is a Shitlickers' quote in one of the songs. What else could you possibly need?

The following MVD record was yet another split Ep with Pink Flamingos, recorded live this time, and it is arguably even more intense and manic as the studio one, albeit a bit more shambolic too. It is difficult to release good, live crust records, only top bands like Hiatus can pull it, but MVD's side on this one is definitely one the best examples of a crunchy, powerful, raw set of crust punk songs played live. The following MVD records would confirm the band's potential and position as one of the most reliable eurocrust band ever, that has never failed to deliver quality crustcore: 1997's split Lp with (German) Ebola (with whom they shared one member), 2001's split Ep with Préjudice from Canada and their latest convincing Lp, 2009's "War species". I don't think MVD managed to reach the same level of aggression and "all-out-crusty-bollocks" as on their first Ep with Pink Flamingos, but then, I am a pretty picky bastard.

On the flip side are four songs of Pink Flamingos, another Berlin band. PF belongs to this category of bands that I know because I have split records with them but that I bought for the band on the other side (like MVD or Substandard). So they are a familiar name but not really a band that I am actually familiar with, if you know what I mean. So listening properly to the PF songs made me realize how absolutely ferocious they were. I mentioned earlier on that there were some styles that Germans did really well, and insane, ultra fast hardcore with tons of manic breaks (aka powerviolence) was certainly one of them in the 90's. This is not a genre I often listen to so it may sound fresher to my ears than it actually is, but I feel the four PF songs on this split are probably top-of-the-shelf in their field. The lyrics are really dark and violent, very direct and graphic as well, but I suppose they adequately fit the genre's requirements. I will definitely play the split with Substandard soon.

Both MVD and PF recorded their songs in the same studio, Hole In the Wall in Berlin, so you've got the same kind of sonic urgency throughout the records. Two local bands recording in a local studio: now if this is not a genuine split Ep, I don't know what is. One last thing though... The name... Seriously? Pink Flamingos? This is moniker fitting for a fun-loving and costume-wearing high-school ska-punk band, not a bleak powerviolence one, but there you go...

This split Ep was released on Farewell records from Hannover, a label that has been around since 1991 and has been involved in releasing materials from MITB, Battle of Disarm, Uranus, Wolfpack and even Extreme Noise Terror reissues.


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