90's Greek crust should be seen as genuinely classical. Greek bands should be mentioned spontaneously and with awe when discussing crust. Some albums are just so good that they should have become points of reference. But none of that is actually true. For some reason, Greek crust is beloved by punk nerds but has largely remained obscure, even for those who claim to love crust music. Could it be the language barrier? Unlikely, since we all love Finnish hardcore. It is true that, for a long time, a lot of classic Greek crust was really difficult to listen to, since the records were so hard to find and super expensive (this has not changed actually...). But thanks to the internet, they are now freely available and it should have generated a lot more interest than it actually has. It is a bit of a mystery to me to be honest... I cannot accept, on an intellectual level, that such great bands remain vague record collector items instead of proper crust classics. You happy? You all made me angry now...
Greek crust has this specific feel that makes it instantly recognizable. The Greek wave was probably the most influenced by the original British one, even more so than the Californian one I would argue. Basically, Greek punks just got Amebix, Antisect, Axegrinder. I don't know why, but they embraced this brand of apocalyptic, crunchy mid-tempo metallic punk and built upon it, enhanced it, often through the addition of synth, which is fine by me, but can understandably annoy some people (but then, what would Amebix do?).
Thankfully, Greek crust is slowly being reissued, like the Chaotico Telos Lp, the Panikos demos or the Psychosi unreleased Lp that should be released - hopefully - soon. But there are still so many amazing, unbelievably good stuff left that it truly is a task of epic proportions. Like this Anasa Stahti album for instance.
- Hey you! At the back!
- Who? Me?
- Yeah, you with the Axegrinder backpatch. Come here for a sec please.
- (showing the Anasa Stahti Lp) Do you recognize this album?
- Nope... doesn't ring a bell... Some band from an Eastern country, yeah?
- Not really, no. It is a classic record of 90's Greek crust.
- From Greece? I didn't know they did the crust thing over there.
- I wish I were deaf... Of course they did, and they did it much better than most.
- But do they sing in Greek?
- They do.
- I am not sure I am gonna like it, it sounds weird...
- Do you listen to any Greek punk-rock at all?
- No... I don't think I know any Greek band actually...
- I thought as much. So instead of liking Hellshock videos on Facebook, why don't you give this geezer a shot. It will change your life and you will become addicted to Greek stenchcore and spend ridiculous amounts of money on discogs when you go home blind drunk from a gig.
- Thank you Terminal Sound Nuisance! You have just renewed my faith in crust. I was actually toying with idea of switching to indie-rock... (sobs heavily)
- You're welcome. I am only doing my job. Now go and enjoy the Greek crust life. And don't come back until you can actually spell Ανάσα Στάχτη!
- I will!
Anasa Stahti formed in 1992 in Athens and was originally made up of Thanasis (from the early Chaotico Telos line-up and Χαμένα Ιδανικά, a late 80's raw hardcore-punk band somewhere between Disorder and Lärm), Nikos (from the obscure ισοπέδωση), Kostas (from Σκατόψυχοι) and Themis. The latter two would soon be replaced with John (from Αναβίωση) and Georgios (from Akros Antithetoi, a Broken Bones-type band). The final line-up of Anasa Stahti would see John leaving room for Makis on bass, who also played in the brilliant Αρνητική Στάση (yes, that's the Negative Stance that did an Ep on Profane Existence).
Like most political punk bands at the time in Greece, Anasa Stahti were connected to the Villa Amalias radical anarchist squat in Athens and the label that released their Lp, Do It Yourself Records, was actually run by Villa Amalias and another squat in Thessaloniki, Villa Barbara. The label only did four records though, with the addition of the fantastic Διατάραξη Οικιακής Ειρήνης compilation Lp (that also had bands like Panikos, Psychosi or Mastiga), the Shit Hit The Fan Ep and the second album of Ανατέλλων Τρόμος. The record we are dealing with today is not, however, the original Lp, but the classy cdr reissue that was released in 2005 by Do It Yourself Records and Punk.Gr, a small label that reissues classic Greek punk (probably to fight the ridiculous prices on Ebay and make the music available for an amount of money that is not outrageous) and also helps releasing top modern Greek bands like Pandemia or the rather good Balkan tribute to Amebix.
Don't be scared by the phrase "cdr reissue" as it is probably the best-looking cdr record I have ever seen. The actual cd even looks like a vinyl! There is an Ep format booklet with the original poster and artwork so it really couldn't have been done better, and in fact, a lot of "proper" cd releases don't look half as good as this one. As a bonus, they even included the two songs that Anasa Stahti contributed to 1996's Διατάραξη Οικιακής Ειρήνης on the cdr, so really there is nothing to complain about here. Musically, Anasa Stahti played pure Greek crust with a groovy, tasteful thrash-metal touch in the guitar. It is heavy, intense, dark, apocalyptic metallic punk with gruff vocals, bits of synth here and there (because that is what people do over there) and epic songwriting. It is probably best defined as "Hellbastard-meets-late-Antisect-at-a-Coitus-gig-in-Athens-when-they-opened-for-Naftia". Or something. The vocals are aggressive and angry, the riffs are effective and more intricate than they first appear to be, there is an anthemic, brutal, threatening quality to the music. The whole beat range is covered on the album, from crunchy mid-tempo scorchers, to faster pummeling moments. If it were not for the typical 90's production (there is no real technicality to it in this case), some of the songs would have been genuine hits during the last stenchcore revival of the mid 2000's.
Aesthetically, the album is a small wonder. The cover is stunning, with a drawing of a young crusty punk armed with a stick entering an evil computer screen. Each song is illustrated with its own drawing which makes for an impressive result and gives that much strength to the band's lyrics. Although some of their contents may have been lost in translation, Anasa Stahti wrote superb songs. The topics are usually dark and rather hopeless, but there always remains a sense of insurgency, a glimmer of life, like a faint heartbeat. Evocations of social and religious alienation, despair, self-hatred, self-sacrifice, imprisonment... The band smartly ties our darkest feelings, our inner suffering with the more global oppression and control. This is intelligent, deep and yet unintellectual political punk music (that's a compliment actually).
Icing on the crusty cake, there is an Anasa Stahti interview included with the booklet. It was done in 1993 and was published in a local fanzine called "Audiatur et Altera Pars". It is all in Greek so I don't have a clue about what they are talking about, apart from Villa Amalias and nazis...
This album is by any reliable, decent standards, a crust classic and anyone who gives a shit, even a small amount of it, about the metallic end of crust should be familiar with it. When Anasa Stahti called it a day, three members formed Ανατέλλων Τρόμος in 1998, helped in their glorious quest by an ex-Pyschosi member. Ανατέλλων Τρόμος carried on where Anasa Stahti left but, as good as they genuinely are, I guess they lost a little of the heaviness and primitiveness of crust, key elements indeed, and tried to write more complex, more melodic songs.