Thursday, 4 February 2016

War/System / Grind the Enemy "Conform!!!" split cd, 2011

And while we are at it, let's take a look at Grind the Enemy's sole other record, the split cd with War/System from Worcester. This was released in 2011, like the GTE/Discarded tape, on Winston Records and Angry Scenes Records from Brum, a label run by a member of Contempt. I got this cd totally by chance a few years ago while browsing through a crust as fuck distro from Belgium. Thanks fuck I don't judge a book by its cover, because the cd cover is not exactly indicative of its content... I was not even aware that GTE had released anything then to be honest and if it were not for the cheesy drawing of a bobby on the cover, I would have probably passed it. When I realized it was actually a GTE record, I was speechless. Glad of course, because I love the feeling of aimlessly searching through a distro and unexpectedly finding a gem, but also a little surprised since I didn't really imagine that it would look like this. Oh well. Punk-rock.

I already knew War/System from their 2007 cdr demo and I think I saw them play in England at some point. Pat from Terrorain used to sing in W/S (he now sings for the rather good Endless Grinning Skulls along with ex-members of Heresy and Hard To Swallow) but on this recording the vocals are managed by the guitar player, Dave. W/S is a band that I have respect for, because I like what they stand for and I can relate to their lyrics and their staunch DIY punk attitude, but I cannot say I really enjoy the music. W/S played modern metallic hardcore, a genre I am unfortunately not familiar with, with political lyrics. They remind me a little of a more metal-sounding Rectify probably, but the sound is too clean and not groovy enough to my liking.

As we saw in the previous post, London's GTE played old-school filthy metallic crust. The "Conform!!!" cd contains four new songs from them (including an Axegrinder cover... you'll never guess which song they picked) and three interludes, one of which being the smart opening track called "Bukowski". The sound is better and heavier than on the demo tape although the songs were recorded at the same place, the Deathdrop squat, not long after their first session (there is no recording date provided but I am guessing in late 2010). The better production gives GTE a more modern feel: there are different layers of guitar and several samples (probably too many in fact) but the songwriting is sufficiently anchored in vintage crust to keep me interested. I suppose it is a more accomplished work than the demo, but I miss the simplicity and tension of their earlier work a little. It doesn't mean that GTE's songs are overproduced by any means, we are still in the realms of crude stenchcore here, and the song "War of the poor" is clearly the highlight of the cd: a perfect blend of early Axegrinder, Hellbastard and Effigy with dark, groovy, thickly textured riffs. "Your war" on the other hand has more of an early Bolt Thrower feel, which works paradoxically fine here because it remains sloppy and punky enough, and "More beer for the punks" is exactly what you think it is: a drinking metal-punk anthem not unlike mid-90's Genital Deformities. The band's version of Axegrinder's "Grind the enemy" is also remarkable. GTE cleverly readapted the song, adding a second layer of guitar, reworking the bass and guitar riffs and infusing it with new leads. It emphasized the band's resourcefulness and almost turned "Grind the enemy" into a song that could have appeared on "Rise of the serpent men". This is smart crust songwriting.

Apparently GTE toured in Italy before the release of this cd, which makes sense the whole line-up is originally from there, but they must have split shortly after, although I am at a loss to confirm it for sure.      

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