Discard: the band that Doom wanted to be when they first started, as Stick candidly admits in the booklet of the "Slave to convention" Doom-tribute cd. As a matter of fact, I bought the aforementioned cd and "Sound of war" on the same day, in a record store in Tucson, Arizona (I am pretty sure I bought a Shitlickers bootleg that day as well), and the connection makes perfect sense. After all, even Hammy called them Discard on the thank list at the back of the "Hiatus" compilation Lp. Almost 30 years later, listening to the Doom and Discard demos back to back, you would think that they don't really sound alike (which is objectively true) but I suppose that, at the time, it made sense to see Doom as a Discard-worship band. And that is quite poetical if you take into account that Doom has become one of the most important and influential British punk bands ever, while Discard were not even a band to start with and played only one gig in their existence.
"Sound of war" is quite obviously a bootleg and to be honest, it doesn't stand out as a particularly good one either as it is greatly flawed in terms of sound quality (I can sense dodgy mp3's put to cd from a mile away) and, perhaps even worse, as far as recording details go. I cannot be sure but the boot might come from Peru (that's a discogs guess for what it is worth). Before I got it, I only had a tape with Discard songs called "Stockholm hardcore 1983-1986", which is basically a (bootleg) tape version of the 2000 reissue of "Stockholms Mangel". The original version of this compilation, from 1986, did not even have Discard on it as it "only" included Mob 47, Agoni and Crudity, but the reissue included Discard, as well as Protes Bengt and Röjers. Needless to say that I overplayed it. For some reason, the Discard titles were always the ones that stuck with me the most. Even though I learnt later that they were merely a Mob 47-side project like Protes Bengt, I still regularly came back to Discard and even now, I see them as the perfect blend of Swedish hardcore and unrestrained Discharge-fanaticism. And lets face it, they have the best Dis-name.
Discard was started by Åke and Chrille (from Mob 47), Per (from Agoni) and Rickard in late 1984. If you listen closely to the drums and guitar, it is pretty easy to spot the Mob 47 connection as they sound the same in both bands, there is the same incredible feel of fluidity, of flowing power that made Mob 47 so great (actually give a listen to the Discharge covers that Mob 47 did in 1986 and the similarity will literally slap you in the face). I did quite a bit of research for this post and asked a few old-timers about Discard because information about them is very scarce and often contradictory. One thing is certain though: the tracklist on "Sound of war" is wrong. But this is what I have been able to deduce. WARNING: it is a tedious paragraph.
In the 80's, the band only recorded twice and never really rehearsed so I guess Åke brought the riffs and they recorded all the songs on the spot. Discard recorded their "Sound of war" demo in August, 1985 (which was possibly released in 1986). It had 11 songs, 6 of which would later appear on the "Death from above" Ep in 1990, two on the 1986 "Really fast Vol 3" compilation Lp and the whole lot of them on the 2000's "Stockholms Mangel" reissue. These "Sound of war" demo tracks correspond to the tracks 15 to 25 on this "Sound of war" cd. However, the dude who compiled it got it wrong and wrote that the songs 26 to 37 were part of the "Sound of war" demo, which is a mistake. These are the same songs but they are from another, inferior recording session (and the mp3 versions included here are awful). On the Nyx Negativ/Discard split Lp from 2007, it is said that there was another demo entitled "Condemned to oppression", from 1986, that had 5 songs. I don't think this was an actual "demo" in the sense that it was never released, so let's call it a recording session. I am pretty sure that the tracks 26 to 37 on our cd are actually this full recording session. Honestly, it is nowhere as good as the "Sound of war" demo and the sound of the drums is a horrendously horrendous horrendousness. So how come our bootlegger made the mistake? Well apparently, it was not even his own original mistake to begin with. On the Crudity/Discard split Lp (yet another bootleg, this time from Holland), the demo marked as "Sound of war" is actually the exact same as the tracks 26 to 37 of our cd, although it is not, indeed, the actual "Sound of war" demo (but the extended version of the so-called "Condemned to oppression" one). So I suppose you could call it an inherited mistake from bootleggers. Now that this is pretty much sorted, let's get back to the music. And if I am the one mistaken, please let me know (or don't actually, I have spent far too much time trying to sort this mess out as it is).
So what made Discard so great? Well, they were, conceptually, the first genuine D-Beat band, although it would be anachronistic to call them this. And yet, they didn't sound just like Discharge. Discard were faster, simpler, a stripped down, furious Swedish hardcore version of Discharge if you will. However, they were the first band ever to take love for Discharge to a whole new level. They picked a Dis-name with the same font, used very similar visuals for their artwork, and musically Per wrote lyrics that followed Cal's closely, even trying to mimic his intonation at times. To be sure, Discharge were better songwriters, their music was much more bass-driven, more intense, groovier, without mentioning that they were infinitely more serious about the band, but Discard still took the essence of Discharge's music, simplified it and made it even rawer, faster. They sound like Discharge's hyperactive kid in a way. Of course, there had been dozens upon dozens of bands openly influenced by Discharge before Discard, they were by no means the first to rip them off but they certainly pioneered unashamed Discharge-worship and were an early sign of overt referentiality in hardcore. Because, even though bands like MG15, Subversion (who arguably sounded as much like Discharge in 1983 as Discard did two years later) or Varukers were heavily Discharge-influenced, they never intended to look and sound "just like them" and intentionality is of the essence when dealing with the discrepancy between "Discharge-influenced" and "Discharge-worshipping". In that sense, Discard were incredibly ahead of their time as most D-Beat bands from 1993 on precisely picked this "stripped down Discharge" path that focuses on rawness and aggression while using all the visual and lyrical codes of Stoke-on-Trent's wonder kids.
Around 1992, Discard "reformed" and recorded a full Lp, "Four minutes past midnight" that was released in 1994. Only Per remained on vocals from the original line-up and despite my efforts, I have been unable to find out who the rest of the line-up actually were. It was rumoured at some point that this late Discard line-up was actually made up of Per and three British blokes but I have been unable to confirm (it is a fascinating story though). The songs from this Lp are the first 14 songs of the "Sound of war" cd and to be completely honest, I was not even aware that Discard had had a run (even a brief one) in the 90's when I bought it. Of course, one cannot look at Discard's 80's materials in the same light as their 1994 Lp. By the time it had come out, the D-Beat mania had already started and bands like Disclose, Dischange or Disfear (and Disaster before them) were proudly carrying the banner of Discharge-worship, the patterns of which had been drawn by Discard in 1985. It may be a little irrelevant to compare 1992's Discard with what the Trinity of Dis were doing at the same time. Discard was not even a real band, no more in the 90's as they were in the 80's, while Disclose, Dischange and Disfear were real, active, ferocious bands. Discard were nothing more than a studio project and one would be quick to infer that they merely tried to surf on the nascent D-Beat trend but the fact that the Lp was recorded in August, 1992 tends to dismiss this theory. After all, at that time, only Dischange had released anything and Disaster's "War cry" was the sole instance of a full album of unadulterated Discharge-love.
I like "Four minutes past midnight" but I don't feel it is a great album. It doesn't have the amazing textural work of Disclose, the doomsday power of Disfear or the punishing brutality of Dischange. It is not a bad D-Beat album but it may be a little out of place in its context of production. While the Dis trinity relied on the aggressive side of early Discharge and on unstoppability, Discard also took influences from later Discharge materials (as the over-the-top heavy-metal solos and the cheesy vocal intonations ala "Price of silence" can attest) which was just not done, or should I say "okay", at that time. The Lp probably lacks that brute force that makes Discharge and good D-Beat bands so relentless, but if you can get past the overwhelming guitar wank and the rather distasteful mid-paced songs, it is clearly not as bad as you remember it to be. There are still a few great songs on this one, like "Resist and exist", "Nuclear war" and "Why should they die?" and I think that Per was a great vocalist with a gruff, expressive voice that I personally favour when picking my Dis-bands (when he did not try to be Cal circa 1985). There is a distinct Varukers influence on this Lp that works well and two songs titles were nicked from Antisect ("Resist and exist" and "Four minutes pas midnight") so that gives them added Terminal Sound Nuisance points.
For all its flaws (let's not mention the absence of some lyrics amongst the many inaccuracies), the "Sound of war" cd at least offers one nugget. The very last track has two Discard songs from a rehearsal (well, more probably an attempted recording session) that sound brilliant, possibly the band at their 1985 best. So if you feel like you need new versions of "Sound of war" and "Death from above" (and why shouldn't you?), give it a go.
And thank you to the people who helped me for this post and engaged in a Discard storytelling session: Luc, Lolo, Chris and Stuart.