FOM formed in 1996 in Gdansk, Poland, back when the eurocrust wave was still rocking the country. In the 90's, Poland was the cradle of an intense brand of crunchy crust punk and a reliable provider of quality, hard-hitting noisy punk music with dreadlocks. While some countries like Italy or France had been left relatively unscathed by the crust wave, it definitely clicked with the Polish punks. Perhaps the 1991 Nausea tour over there opened new horizons music-wise and sowed some exciting, inspirational seeds that would be watered a couple of years later by bands like Hiatus or Misery. I was unable to find solid information about Doom's 1989 European tour and while I know they went to (then) Yugoslavia, it is unclear whether they hit Poland... If any local old-timers would be kind enough to enlighten me, the TSN staff would be delighted!
The mid-90's were an era when the Polish punk scene went virally crust, with dozens of bands like the phenomenal Homomilitia, Toxic Bonkers, Silna Wola, Sanctus Iuda, Pieklo Kobiet, Monoteizm Co-Existence or the remarkably enduring purveyors of solid crustcore, Infekcja. The crust tornado did not leave Gdansk alone in the 90's with bands like Enough!, Money Drug or Stench of Death, and the combination of these three entities would give birth to quite probably the best Polish crust band ever, Filth of Mankind. But let's have a look at the three foundational crustketeers first. As is often the case with prolific punk scenes, Gdansk had a high rate of incestuous relationships when it came to punk, with the same people playing simultaneously in several bands. Money Drug was a rather typical, intense ENT/Hiatus/Disrupt-influenced crust band ("Money drug" is actually the name of a Doom song) with the beloved dual vocal style and had Milosz and Balon, on guitar and drums respectively. Few records are as representative of mid-90's eurocrust as their underrated 1995 split Ep with the solid Wind of Pain from Finland. Milosz and Balon also played in Stench of Death, a much more metal affair that sadly never released anything apart from a decent-sounding live tape from 1997 and was an early case of death-metal-influenced crust that didn't fall in the usual traps inherent to this dreaded subgenre. Finally, you had Enough!, my favourite of the three despite a pretty terrible name. They did two very solid recordings, the 1996 "Darkside" tape session, six tracks of which would also land on the 1998 split 10'' with Nula from Croatia, and the 1997 split Ep with Juggling Jugulars. Enough! had Tomasz on vocals and Michal on bass, both of whom eventually joined FOM, and they played super heavy metal crust, not in the sense that they sounded like the early UK wave, but because they infused the crustcore formula with filthy, groovy metal influences and they did it very well, so well in fact that I regularly recommend this band when I am asked about genuine metallic crust, say at the flower shop or during my yoga lessons. Prosaically, put Homomilitia, Warcollapse and Policebastard in a blender and just open your ears.
Therefore, the four aforementioned fellows already had some crust experience and the last, but not least, member of the early FOM line-up was Pawel from another local band, Protest and Survive (I'm wondering where they took this name from...) and founder of the quietly influential label Scream records that released some of my favourite records of the period (thanks for that!). Apparently, the idea behind FOM was to play heavier, darker music, and, I would argue, to borrow the metaphorical quality and the aesthetics of the early apocalyptic crust sound. The moniker is a reference to the song "Filth of mankind" on Misery's split with SDS, and the Minneapolis band was definitely one of the main inspirations behind FOM since their Lp, "The Final Chapter", is also the name of a Misery song (but then, it is also a line in Axegrinder's "Warmachine" so who knows...).
The four songs that make up the "Czas Końca Wieku" Ep were written between 1996 and 1999, which accounts for their distinct mid-90's feel, and were recorded in late 1999. Although the real masterpiece is undeniably the album, this Ep is nonetheless a crucial Polish crust record that set the stage for what was to come for FOM. Although the songs are still fast overall, you can find these glorious classic crust moments in the introductions and many arrangements. The tonality of the guitar is strongly reminiscent of early Misery, the vocals are harsh and powerful, and while the production is probably a bit thin to really make FOM's intent shine, it still gives the Ep an abrasive quality, a bit like mid-90's Warcollapse and Doom. The last song of the Ep is the most significant of the bunch, with its strong mid-tempo beat, its Amebixy bass lines and its simple yet classic early crust riffing. Although the songs were written well before the so-called "stenchcore revival" of the mid-2000's and despite the obvious discrepancy in terms of production (it always amazes me how different in sound the 90's crust sound is to the 00's one), there are deep similarities between early FOM's and what younger bands, like Sanctum for instance, embarked on a few years later. Aesthetically, this FOM Ep is certainly a departure from the previous bands its members were involved in. The cover is beautifully gloomy and has an almost black-metal feel to it, albeit in a DIY punk fashion. There is even a card that comes with the Ep with the full picture of the cover! Just lovely. Lyrically, FOM has one foot in the overtly political crust camp with a song against hunting and another one against patriarchy, and the other one rooted in the apocalyptic league with songs about omens of end of the world and Man's lust for violence.
I suppose you could argue that the Effigy 12'' and this Ep have quite a lot in common. After all, they were pretty much conceived with a similar set of influences in mind and they predated by a few years the Peaceville crust revival of the 2000's, a short-lived trend that often seemed to ignore much of what the 90's had to offer. Ironically, one of the best crust records the 2000's had to offer was done by a 90's band in the shape of FOM's "The Final Chapter", an amazing work that combined Axegrinder and Misery's brooding anthemic quality, Chaotic End at their synth-driven best and the brutal harshness of 90's Polish crust. A genuine apocalyptic crust masterpiece, the importance of which was hindered by its chaotic release process, first on tape in 2000, then on cd through Japan's HG Fact in 2001 and finally on vinyl through Portland's Black Water in 2006, back when the modern stenchcore hype was at its apex, although I was never under the impression that this monumental Lp got the credit it deserved precisely because trends tend to glorify average records and trivialize the proper value of great ones.
"Czas Końca Wieku" was released on Pawel's Scream Records, a genuinely punk label that still delivers the goods to this day and it can be found for pretty cheap if you care to actually look. As for the Lp, it is often seen floating on the usual reliable distros and you should not sleep on it as there is no doubt that it is a true CRUST classic, in the strongest sense of term, from an honest band.