This is the last one of the double Lp compilation with yet another 1in12 record. "Endless Struggle" was released in 1995 and was the last vinyl compilation on the label (the very last 1in12 sampler, "Decade of Dissidence" was released on cd in 1999). Few records offer a better, more relevant snapshot of the British hardcore punk scene of the early 90's than "Endless Struggle", despite its slight Northern bias which has more to do with the location of the 1in12 Club I presume.
From a 2016 perspective, the line-up is fairly impressive and firmly rooted in the early 90's, both in terms of genre and political content. "Endless Struggle" is a highly contextualized record from its inception that reflects a time as much as a place, and that's why it is also a significant one. As it says on the backcover, the compilations are meant to "chronicle the musical history of the club". While "Wild & Crazy Noise Merchants" still offered a wide range of musical styles, "Endless Struggle" however was an all-out punk compilation, granted it was a rather diverse one, but gone were the indie rockers and the folk singers (and strangely enough, I kinda miss them to be honest). Looking at the flyers of the 90's gigs that were put on there, it did not imply that the 1in12 Club had turned completely into a punk venue but I am under the impression that the punk tendency noticeably increased at that time. In any case, "Endless Struggle" is undeniably a punk-rock compilation, musically and visually and one could see the record as perhaps the most relevant embodiment of the importance of punk in the making of the 1in12's identity.
The cover was drawn by Simon, from Bath, who used to do the brilliant "Arnie" fanzine and is now a pretty famous comics artist (I am proud to say that I have an Arnie poster on my door saying: "Subvertman: he's been on the cider and he's fucking angry". Priceless). "Endless Struggle" was a benefit record for the Anarchist Black Cross and the Zapatistas. A text entitled "Support class struggle prisoners" opens the thick booklet and states the principles of the ABC and stresses the importance to support and show solidarity toward those on the inside. Although it was released in 1995, the Poll Tax Riots, which were all about class inequalities and class anger, were still fresh in people's minds and the text is strongly reminiscent of these events. Good one.
All the bands included on "Endless Struggle" (with a few exceptions) played the 1in12 between July, 1990 and July, 1992.
- Terminus: and what could be a better opener than Terminus' "Dark carnival" for a class war-themed compilation? I already wrote about Terminus, from Scunthorpe, in the article about 88/92 anarchopunk but I don't mind repeating myself when writing about such a fine band. Although Terminus formed in 1983, they were never a hasty bunch and their most potent recordings were released in the early 90's. I think "Dark carnival" rates as one of their very best songs. Terminus played powerful and inspired anarchopunk that, although not earth-shatteringly original on the surface, strangely remains difficult to describe and inventive. They played a brand of heavy, dark and moody punk-rock that was passionate and, dare I say it, emotional with Mark's vocals ably conveying a whole range of feelings. They've been compared to virtually every band on the planet, Bad religion, Anti-Nowhere League, Leatherface, The Mob, Amebix, The Dark, The Damned... If you blended them all together, you might get close to Terminus to some extent, but I do feel that the band had a really unique twist. "Dark carnival", recorded in 1994, is a song about class unity and solidarity. Fitting.
- Disaffect: everyone's favourite thrashy anarchopunk band with male/female vocals. And for good reason. Smart, triumphant and catchy riffing on this one with a dirty, crunchy guitar sound and Lynne's vocals still rate among the best in the genre: raucous and yet tuneful and powerful. Definitely looking forward to the 90's anarchopunk revival that, according to my calculations, should start in 2018. Brace yourselves.
- Sedition: I know I am being redundant but how intense can you really get? I have always loved Sedition but I don't play them that often. But whenever I do, the level of ferocity and aggression of their music fills me with awe. They just sound unstoppable and the vocals sound so angry. What did they have for breakfast? The two songs, "Disgrace" and "Abuse", are early Sedition songs of absolutely raging, rabid hardcore punk.
- One By One: another fantastic band with members located in Leeds, Newcastle and Bradford (at the time) that is seldom mentioned in everyday conversations (how odd, right?). One By One were undoubtedly one of the most crucial English anarchopunk band of the early 90's but didn't really sound like anyone else. Although you can definitely spot a whole range of different influences in their music, when assembled, they produce something quite unique that could be best qualified as "anarchopunks having a go at playing intricate hardcore music". OBO played hardcore punk that was both heavy (but never metal) and tuneful (but never poppy) with great vocals from Karin and Micky which were cleverly arranged. The band also wrote smart political songs that were radical but from the heart and never pretentious. "Prisoners of conscience" is a late song, written when the band was at its peak, about resignation and the need to keep fighting and dedicated to "those who've not given up the fight. All those buried alive in prisons for daring to fight back". Winner. After One By One split up, Sned and Alec kept playing with Health Hazard while Micky and Karin formed Ebola.
- Cluster Bomb Unit: this punishing song from CBU makes me think that, perhaps, this band is unfairly forgotten when discussing post-80's käng-inspired hardcore. Despite a longevity of more than 15 years (or perhaps because of it since we often overvalue the transient), CBU's worth as a solid purveyor of intense and abrasive scandicore. "Without a warning" is an absolute scorcher recorded in 1990, which, in the history of referential shitlicking music, is pretty fucking early. Top-shelf.
- Blizkrieg: a well-recorded live version of the classic "Lest we forget". By that time, Blitzkrieg sounded heavier than in their 80's days, as if they had added some Motörhead and Venom to their anthemic punk-rock recipe. And it worked. Beefy and snotty old-school UK punk-rock.
- Sarcasm: the great Sarcasm already made an appearance on Terminal Sound Nuisance a few years ago so you know what to expect from this Leicester lot who were one of the finest crust bands of the 90's: raw and gruff quality crust punk with a love for distorted Japanese punk. "Mist of confusion" is an ideal meeting ground between the early Doom/ENT/Sore Throat's cavemen sound, the Bristol chaos tradition and a distinctively British love for the Kyushu noise of Confuse and Gai. To some extent, you could see Sarcasm as being the English Gloom, not that they sound alike - they do not - but in terms of intent. This song was recorded in 1994 and also appeared on the "Mist of confusion" demo tape.
- Wat Tyler: I think it is WT's first appearance on TSN so it is cause for celebration. I will be honest. A lot of their material is rather forgettable musically (though "Hops and barley" is a genuine hit and "The fat of the band" is actually a pretty good album) but I must admit that their lyrics always made me laugh. For instance, Sean wrote down his favourite places to eat in South London on the band's insert. And to give you an idea, here is what he has to say about a pizza place called One Plus One: "Not the greatest pizza. In fact me and my mate Stuart had a fucking right dodgy pizza a few months ago. Almost inedible, and I'm telling you, that is serious for me. The best thing about one plus one is you buy one pizza, you get another free. Annoying if your by yourself, but I very rarely do it by myself. The drink and extras are pretty slack". As for the song, "James Whale", introduced by a few jokes in bad German, it is basically a cover of Stevie Wonder's "I just called to say I love you" with blast beats but with "James Whale, you're a fuckin' cunt" instead of "I love you". And, if you need to know, James Whale was an English radio host famous for being quite rude. Oh well...
- Sore Throat: well, what should you expect? I am not quite sure who actually plays on this ST recording from 1994 (Sore Throat had been dead and buried for a few years by that time) but my best bet is that it is Cracked Cop Skulls (Rat, Nick and Jim) with Rich Militia on vocals. Not an entirely wild guess since there is a cover of CCS' "Retribute". "Hurry up Garry '94", introduced by a short spoken-word by Danbert Nobacon from Chumbawamba, is a distorted and gruff oi-inspired song against Garry Bushell that surprisingly works and reminds me of 90's-era Disorder and Destroy!'s mid-paced moments.
- Oi Polloi: a classically anthemic Oi Polloi song and certainly one of their most iconic. "Guilty" is a song about fighting back and supporting political prisoners. Musically, the early 90's were a good time for Oi Polloi as well, they still had that heavy crusty sound that blended very well with their 90's hardcore punk sound.
- Voorhees: mean and aggressive hardcore heavily influenced by the US school. Voorhees are pretty famous and they were really good at what they did. Although it is not really my cup of tea, there is no denying the intensity that permeated their music. And of course, there is a Negative Approach cover.
- Ironside: funnily enough, I actually like Ironside. All the straightedge visual and lyrical folklore notwithstanding (truth be told, the band didn't use it that often, the song on this comp being an exception), I think they were really good and the "Fragments of the last judgement" Ep is great. To be completely honest, I am not sure I understand properly what Ironside were trying to do. The vocabulary used in "Armed With Anger" is unknown to me. I have no idea what "Holy Terror" is, I don't any hardcore band from Cleveland, and I have never listened to Sheer Terror, Breakdown, Integrity or Ringworm. However, if it were not for the very guitar-driven production, a song like "Suffocation" (about smoking obviously) is really not that unlike late-Antisect and Deviated Instinct or Prophecy of Doom although I know that was not intentional (at all!). It is groovy, raw, dark, with a filthy metal sound and gruff vocals. Well it sounds an awful lot like old-school crust to me. Winner.
- Nailbomb: a band with Rich Militia that I don't really relate to... I probably don't know enough about US metallic hardcore to get it properly I suppose. I like some moments in the song (the last minute is quite good, between doom-metal and heavy hardcore, though I don't really like that kind of drumming) but I am not sure I could listen to a whole album of Nailbomb. Apparently, this brand of metallic hardcore was all the rage in the North at the time.
- Wordbug: a band from Exeter that I do not really know that much although the name is definitely familiar. Wordbug is a bit like that bloke you have been seeing for 10 years at punk gigs, that you casually say hello to but never really had a proper conversation with because he appears to be far too much into Dag Nasty for his (and your) own good. Wordbug was made up of members from Hate That Smile and Mad at the Sun and played melodic, American-flavoured hardcore with catchy guitar leads. Not my thing but it is well done.
- Decadence Within: while I really like DW's early recordings, I never really enjoyed their hardcore/crossover period, although I admire their resilience, longevity and honesty. "A stitch in time" was recorded in 1993 and is actually pretty good. I don't like some of the arrangements (they would have benefited from simplifying the song I suppose) but the tunes are good and the chrous is pretty catchy.
- Contropotere: I already raved at great length about the mighty Contropotere in my infamous "Prog-crust series" so I will try to be brief. Here is a live version of "Attacco al visus", a song that also appears on their "Cyborg 100%" album (that I am not familiar enough with to say anything relevant about). I love the song of "Endless Struggle", heavy industrial post-crust with the usual anguished, ominous atmosphere that the band could create. It is not that far from a more progressive "Life cycle"-era Nausea or some Saw Throat songs. Good shit.
- Doom: a Motörhead cover with different lyrics recorded in 1993. At that time the line-up comprised two members of Excrement of War (Mall on bass and Tom on vocals) as well as Scoot (later in Extinction of Mankind and Hellkrusher) on second guitar. I don't think the song is that good to be honest, especially when you consider the fury they were able to unleash in the studio at that time, but then, I am not a Motörhead fan (I said it. Shoot me). What interests me the most about "(We hate) the brew crew" is the topic: jitters. A jitter is, according to the band's description and Simon Arnie's drawing: "a traveling youth of untidy appearance, usually found in gangs outside gigs begging, while having enough money to buy drinks all night. Enjoy being the centre of attention by being as offensive as possible. No respect for others (...). usually end a perfect night by fighting or ripping people off". Now, all punk scenes throughout the world have their own brand of "jitters" but judging from the 2000 DS patch on the drawing, I suspect these were somehow connected with the growing rave culture of the time that attracted and colluded with a large section of the punk scene (arguably, the one that was the most into drugs and living rough). Or am I mistaken?
- Concrete Sox: a regular host on Terminal Sound Nuisance. This is the early 90's incarnation of Concrete Sox and, indeed, a good one. Ripping and pummeling metallic hardcore punk with that specific UK vibe I am such a sucker for. No recording info here but I suspect "Speak Japanese or die" (another version of "Speak Siberian or die") was a tribute to the recent Concrete Sox' Japanese tour. The guitar sound is perfect, thrashy but dirty, and the raspy, snotty vocals are always a pleasure. I think this version was recorded live and as such, is a testimony to the band's power at the time (a 1993 studio version can be found on "Crust and Anguished Life").
- Scraps: in the 80's, good French hardcore bands were few and far between. Scraps are from Lille and have been active since at least 1985. The band started out as a noisy hardcore punk outfit, not unlike Lärm or early Heresy, and I suppose that is what they are best remembered for. "Familiar patterns" however was recorded at a time when Scraps had changed a lot and no longer played short, fast and loud hardcore. I suppose it could be described as modern and intense hardcore, heavy and mid-paced with political/personal lyrics, not unlike a disencrusted Unhinged or something Nabate could have released. Pretty good. The song also appeared on the "Dismantle the machine one cog at a time" Lp.
- Virtual Reality: VR was the follow-up of The Next World, a lovable anarchopunk band with a drum-machine and a unique postpunk feel that was reviewed twice on Terminal Sound Nuisance. As much as I like The Next World, I cannot say I am into Virtual Reality. The duo went for a rockier, grungier sound that lacks the necessary heaviness due to the absence of a proper drummer. Good lyrics as usual from this lot though, about the class war and not taking it any longer.
- Hiatus: another regular customer at TSN. Hiatus were a crust powerhouse with terrific riffs, smart breaks and an intensity that few can reproduce. This is a live version of "They really got me" which corresponds to the "From resignation...to revolt"-era of the band. Top notch as usual.
- Protest: well... Protest, the Swiss distorted anarcho-hardcore band, were meant to be included on "Endless Struggle" but, due to a human error, weren't and their song was replaced with one from Momido 7, from Germany. Apparently, Protest sent a tape to the label but someone picked the side B instead of A and ended up including Momido 7 instead of Protest... DIY or Die. So you do have the nice visual provided by Protest (a band with members of Earth Citizens) but the songs are from Momido 7, a sideproject with people from Die Schwarzen Schafe (Armin also ran Campary Records). And actually, Momido 7 are pretty good. Noisy, raw, distorted and chaotic fast punk music with male/female vocals with some synth, cold-wave moments and long ominous spoken parts in German that give the song a disturbed, deranged vibe. Experimental noisepunk with a cold-wave touch? The recording is rough but I do want more of it. Sorry Protest.
- Beer Beast: I know absolutely nothing about the unfortunately-named Beer Beast. I am guessing they were from the Bradford area as their address is the same as the 1in12 Club's. Apparently, they recorded two demos "Homebrew session" in 1990 and "Abuse of technology" in 2000. Chances are there are some familiar faces in this fun-oriented project. Beer Beast played sloppy and fast crusty punk with a strong death-metal feel on "Govern-mental system". "Ilkley Moor" is a joke song, probably a cover I cannot identify, that sounds like your usual spoof punk-rock song. I am sure they must have been fun to watch live and have a pint with: "If anyone wants to complain about our use of the word 'twat' then complain to Beer Beast, not the 1in12. Or Gary. Or your mum".
- Immortal Dead: be prepared for an incredible revelation here and I am not kidding, although I almost wish I were. Brace yourselves as I never thought I would write the following association of words in my entire life and I am almost struggling to do it right now... Immortal Dead were... a Christian anarchopunk band from Bradford. Yes, I know. WTF. And it is not a fake, I checked. If you need some proof of this atrocity, you can read these links omg and please kill me. In an interview, the singer declared: "There's different sorts of anarchy, there's a really loving, peaceful kind of anarchy - we'd like to have Christianity at the forefront of that movement". I honestly couldn't believe what I was reading. According to that bloke, the other anarcho bands welcomed Immortal Dead well enough although I doubt everyone knew about their religious stance and their playing in Christian music festivals. ID are a complete mystery to me, an oddity and I wish I knew more about them.
The worst thing is that it all started so well. When I played "Endless Struggle" again for this review, I immediately thought that Immortal Dead were amazing. That is the good thing with such massive compilations, you always find bands you had previously ignored or overlooked at first and Immortal Dead were definitely compilation's winners. Old-school anarchopunk with tunes and energy, great male/female vocals, this is EXACTLY the sound that I crave for and can't get enough of. Immortal Dead reminded me in the best way possible of Toxic Waste, DIRT, Dominant Patri or Tears of Destruction and the prospect to look for other recordings from them was enthralling. Unfortunately, the disappointment was inversely proportional... I usually never have to worry about a band being devout Christians, because my two main passions - crust and anarchopunk - are free from this kind of problems. To me, Christian punk-rock was like MTV punk-rock. I know it exists but it is so far from what I am into that I have no time to waste on it, or so I thought. Besides, while I can comprehend that one member of an anarcho or crust band is religious, it does look paradoxical but I won't judge, it is a whole different thing to claim to be a Christian anarchopunk band ready to convert the scene to the love of Jesus Christ... This is frustrating, because the music is really good. There are a few scratches on the ID song, probably because the former owner realized the real nature of the band and, in a fit of rage, damaged their track. Please, someone tell me that it is a joke band like Hard Skin. For fuck's sake, a Christian anarchopunk band... I need a drink.
- Phobia: this is a really weird one and the last song of "Endless Struggle" which is not even listed on the backcover. Apparently, this is a live song from 1976 from a band called Phobia (formally "The Underdogs" whatever that means, as it is not the same band that did the Ep on Riot City). This is a rough song of proto-punk/garage that is pretty uninteresting in my opinion and I am clueless as to its inclusion on the compilation. Odd.