Thursday, 8 June 2017

Ashes to ashes, crust to CRUST (final round): Asmodeus "Life?" demo tape, 2016

Anyone who has ever been in a band (even a virtual one that never practiced and remained stuck at the "idea stage" like so many) will tell you the same thing: finding a decent moniker can be a nightmarish task. It is arguably harder in 2017, now that you can check on Discogs if the name was already used at some point by another band and realize that all the cool names have already been picked. How painful and depressing. 

Judging from the number of bands called "Asmodeus", it is unlikely that this Japanese band really cared about the existence of similarly-named acts, which shows an admirable strength conviction and a fearlessness about being sued. Apparently, Asmodeus is a king of demons and he specializes in twisting people's sexual desires. I am clueless about demons to be honest but this information immediately made me ponder about two things. First, that I really should get back to watching Supernatural because it is a fun show with hot main characters (especially Dean), and second, that there must be dozens of black-metal bands with the name Asmodeus. After a quick search on Discogs, I discovered that there had been indeed quite a few of them and one in particular, from Austria, caught my attention since their page indicated that Azazel and Desdemon played in the band during the early noughties. I always find it deeply inspiring when old-school biblical demons like them remain invested in the evil scene and strive to use fresh, modern media in order to spread pain and suffering to a new crowd. Much respect.



As mentioned, our Asmodeus are from Japan, Tokyo to be accurate, and although no incarnation of evil actually plays in the band (sadly), they are certainly one of the most solid crust bands that Japan has produced in the 2010's. I originally wanted to select twelve bands for this series, each one of them from a different country. But then, I really could not decide between Disturd and Asmodeus so I gave up and picked both bands. The presence of this specific Asmodeus recording can be seen as being somewhat erroneous since Life? was originally recorded and released in 2010 and the idea behind the series was to focus on crust works that are no older than five year old. However, it was properly rereleased on tape last year on Black Konflik Records, with one additional song, and I feel that this demo did not really receive enough attention the first time around. Well, certainly not from yours truly anyway. Before the reissue, I vaguely remembered seeing them mentioned on a message board, then hearing the demo (through soulseek probably), rather liking it but not quite enough to arouse my interest. Fast-forward to the summer 2016 and the news that a tape version of Life? was roaming in Malaysia. I promptly played it again and could not believe how good it sounded. Well, "good" reads inappropriate here for it would be more correct to write "how much to my liking" it was. Asmodeus' demo contained everything I love about crust music and, to my dismay, I still have not figured out why I was left unimpressed upon first bumping into it. I mean, they use the bloody Antisect font and the title of the demo is a direct reference to "Hallo there... how's life?", and normally this type of things guarantee unconditional, unequivocal love and support from myself. I felt like a traitor, probably just like a hardcore dude who's just broken his edge for half a pint of cheap lager. So from now on, I shall pursue the path of penance and flagellation to atone for my sins. Please, do not revoke my Crust Elite membership card.



For a mere demo (but demos these days often sound as solid as Lp's), Life? is a brilliant work and releasing it again for a wider audience was the sensible thing to do. Apparently, Asmodeus was not the first band of the four members, as they all played in bands like Varaus SS (no need to tell you what this one was going for, right?), Stench Mass Genocide (called after a Sore Throat song, need I say more?), Babeldöm (great dark and fast crusty hardcore) and Buck-Teeekka (alright, that one is completely obscure but judging from a 10 year old youtube video with a shite sound, they were Confusish). Being an "ex-member of" is by no means synonymous with quality but in this case, you can tell that, even for a young band, they all focused closely on what they intended to create sonically. The band is often described as sounding like "Antisect, Axegrinder, Hellbastard and Deviated Instinct" and, while these particular references are far from irrelevant, they can be a little misleading. I would locate Life?'s creative matrix (I have not heard the 2015 Lp and therefore unable to pronounce on it) deep in a specific region of the SDS soundscape, namely In to the void. I am aware that the SDS comparison sounds a little lazy when dealing with a Japanese crust band but I cannot think of a more meaningful one. Asmodeus' overt referentiality to Antisect cannot fail to remind one of SDS' during their 90/92 era. Beside the font and the demo title, the front cover also includes plants with curves reminiscent of In darkness and the song title "Change tomorrow" is deeply rooted in the antisectish mythology in that context (without mentioning the many riffs of course). But rather than being straight references to Antisect (like Anti Authorize used), I would tend to think that they should be read as references to references to Antisect created by SDS. In other terms, they refer to antisectish referentiality and therefore substantially to SDS more than they do directly to Antisect. Know what I mean?



Life? conveys a great early SDS vibe, especially their mid-paced crunchy songs and the opening of "An abortion" is a wonderful instance of that with its super tight beats and its cold, dark metallic riffs that sound simple and yet just right. However, Asmodeus' guitar sound and riffing also points to later periods of SDS (Ameber and Digital evil) and to AGE in terms of texture and in its aggressively deranged and deformed thrashy sound. The band do not overuse it but whenever they do, it works marvelously. But what makes Asmodeus particularly stand out is not just their mastery of the "SDS sound" but also how they surprise the listener with unexpected breaks and changes of mood. The chorus to "An abortion" is surprisingly moody, the guitar takes on a melancholy tone and the bass line gets subtler and more complex, which strongly reminds me of Skaven's gloomy songwriting here. Did I see it coming? Absolutely not. But this inventiveness is Asmodeus' strong point as they achieve to blend other ingredients in their SDS crust pot. The song "闇" still builds on early SDS but this time with a mean and dirty Coitus-ish grinning chorus (how I wish more contemporary crust bands borrowed from the crusty squat crust of Coitus... but let's not digress) and vintage Deviated Instinct crunchy übercrust riffs. The following number, "虐待の連鎖", is faster and more rocking, not quite unlike Coitus at their beefiest again and even GISM (not a band I often find myself mentioning but there you go), with vocals that for some reason bring to mind Global Holocaust's for their hoarseness. "Change tomorrow" sees Asmodeus diving deep into Antisect/Axegrinder-worship with a riff respectfully borrowed from "New dark ages" and updated with SDS vibrance. It is a HEAVY song with a groovy, almost sensual hypnotic metal quality, and lovely additions of more evil-sounding backup vocals and a doom-metal break toward the end, making it almost reminiscent of Instinct of Survival at times. The last song on the tape, "生の渦" I believe, was not originally included on Life? but appeared on the Dfer cd compilation in 2012. The production is a little different, thrashier probably, but the songwriting has not changed in its conceptualization. The song starts like an Hellbastard riff fest with a heavy thrash vibe and then bursts into fast and somber Effigy-ish metal crust. This makes for quite a ride into Darkness.



Overall the production on Life? is top notch and the balance between the instruments is exactly as it should be when you aim for classic Japanese crust. As I mentioned the guitar sound bridges the gap between SDS' main periods with a proud dexterousness while the sound of the bass is deceptively simple, without effects, not unlike Axegrinder and Effigy's actually, and delivers the compulsory groove to the whole. I am fine with the vocals, they are not overdone and at times the singer tries different things by tackling several crust repertoire. He does not necessarily nail it all the time but I appreciate the effort (I'm really being captious here). This delightful tape was released on Black Konflik, from Malaysia, a (mostly) tape label that has been focusing on (re)releasing top-shelf raw hardcore and crust for more than 15 years and is worthy of your support. I sadly have not got to listen to the Asmodeus Lp that was released on Strong Mind Japan yet (kind souls may leave a link in the comment) but I am crossing my finger well hard right now.



Terminal Sound Nuisance will be done with crust for a while since I need (for my sanity) to focus on things more tuneful in the immediate future. I am not sure what it will be yet. But there will possibly be another crust series with more good contemporary crust some time in the next twelve months.    


                

     


Thursday, 25 May 2017

Ashes to ashes, crust to CRUST (round 12): Cancer Spreading "Ghastly visions" Lp, 2016

Just a few weeks ago, Cock Sparrer released a new album, modestly entitled Forever, and, being a modern man on a budget, I have been listening to it constantly on my portable music device. The new Lp works especially well while walking the streets with your head up high as you're heading up to the pub to meet up with the lads and have a right laugh (although you are just really making some errands and queuing at the local store). I suppose a most adequate description of Cock Sparrer would be "local conversations between middle-aged men, overheard at your local pub and put into music with all the best random tunes you have been casually whistling in the shower". Perhaps that's where the secret of the band's legendary tunefulness lies, contrary to us mere mortals, Cock Sparrer are actually able to remember all the great melodies they come up with while showering, they may even bring a water-proof guitar with them, just in case a solid tune needs to be tested on the spot before it vanishes. 



There is no similarity between Cock Sparrer and Cancer Spreading I can think of other than their initials. However, when I think about the former, the song "Where are they now?" immediately comes to mind and if you were to ask this question about the latter, I would point to Ghastly visions (an album that proves to be much more difficult to whistle to while showering), and then probably quote the song "Still pist" from The Pist to further develop. How fun would that be to have a full conversation using only the names of punk songs! Right? Right?? RIGHT??? 



Okay then, let's cut the crap and get to the penultimate round of this series about contemporary crust with the new album of Cancer Spreading, whom I will refer to from now on as CS (like Cock Sparrer, Civilised Society or Concrete Sox). I already wrote quite extensively about this Modena band exactly three years ago with a review of their 2011 Suffering Ep which also saw me discuss the implications of the term "stenchcore" both diachronically and synchronically and enjoy using these two lovely adverbs in the process. Incidentally, CS did not release anything for a few years and the two-year gap between the 2014 split Ep with Fatum and last year's Ghastly visions felt somewhat unusual for a band that had been so impressively prolific in the past (one album, two split Lp's, one full Ep and five split Ep's in six years). If you look closer at CS' recording session - a perspective that often proves to be more enlightening than release dates - you will notice that they did not record for almost three years, since their July 2012 session during which they immortalized the songs that would end up on the 2013 split Lp with Last Legion Alive and the aforementioned split with Fatum. It is not far-fetched to assume that the band must have decided to take more time to write new songs, think about where to take CS next in terms of musical direction and sound and allow some space for self-reflexivity. This makes all the more sense if you consider the self-defining project that inherently encompasses CS: the persistence to play stenchcore.



Whether you like the band (or the genre for that matter, both of them being so intertwined in 2017) or not, in an epoch when a band's lifespan is increasingly and even intentionally short, sometimes to the cynical point of anecdotage, the fact that CS resolvedly stuck to their guns for more than 11 years now is quite remarkable. They started off as a sloppy punky crust band and grew progressively, improving and polishing their take on the genre with time. In that sense, they are a "real" band and not just a short-lived side-project. CS is a band that you follow, record after record, and enjoy noticing the development of. Their previous records (the 2012 session) were fairly impressive - the song "Insomnia" being a genuine highpoint and I would bet my collection of Antisect shirts that the band will be particularly remembered for that one when we are all old and grumpy in our studded wheelchairs - and I was really wondering what they would do next. An easy way out would have been to do a classic "more of the same" new album, but the risk of having jadedness settle in cannot be taken lightly. They also could have gone for something significantly different in terms of genre and turned into a full on sludge-metal band overnight, but then it would have run contrary to the core stenchcore identity of the band. The crucial point was to be inclined to change without losing essence. There is no obvious solution to this equation and different bands will come up with different answers (as Instinct of Survival's move can attest). In CS' case, it was death-metal.



Now, from the vantage viewpoint of the Terminal Sound Nuisance's ivory towers (I've recently got meself a comfy chaise longue on the rooftop if you must know), I have often admonished crust bands that treaded too heavily in death-metal territory, not because I find the idea preposterous or unworthy, but because, more often than not, they ended sounding like a heterogenous mix of crust and death-metal that did not really fit with one another and felt like a tedious series of disconnected elements. Some bands did it quite well (like Limb From Limb), others still do (like Putrefaction), but on the whole, upon hearing death-metal and crust in the same phrase (I will not gratify the calamitous term "deathcrust" with anything more than a posh scoff), I tend to wield my punk shield as a derisory repellent. But basically, it all depends. The death-metal influence in CS has been more and more pregnant from their 2011 recording session on but I would argue that they wisely picked elements that actually blended well with old-school crust and therefore kept away from the variegated clumsiness that I often associated with such endeavours. If Ghastly visions can be seen as some sort of death-metal hybridization, it is not because it contains more death-metal songwriting bits as such (although it does), but because it certainly relies more meaningfully on old-school death-metal sound, textures and vibes.



Let's compare Ghastly visions with the first album of CS, 2011's Age of desolation, a record that is seldom discussed in the band's discography (truth be told, it was released on cd only). The latter was clearly a classically modern (understand 00's) stenchcore album in terms of production and intent, with death-metal touches of course - and even a Bolt Thrower cover - but not to the point of informing the whole work like in its successor's case. Ghastly visions uses the down-tuned heaviness and aggression of old-school Swedish metal (I'm hardly the expert but think early Dismember, demo-era Entombed or Carnage), along with some of its typical riff and vocal structures, and then crustifies it, making it rawer, less technical and more direct. The record does not fall in the much-dreaded "double-bass drum overdose" and "lengthy tremolo pickings fest" trappings and walks - or rather crawls heavily like an agonizing beast - the thin line between crust and death-metal, blurring it with focus and determination (the only song where I feel it does not work is the too rocking "Sinners shall weep"). The guitars are low-tuned and I like how they work together, one doing the heavy chugs when the other is carefully piercing your ears. As is crucial with the genre, the bass playing is top notch and there is old-school crusty groove at work here (I'm always a sucker for that). As for the vocals, you can tell that the singer has really studied the old-school death-metal repertoire with Genital Deformities peaking above his shoulder as you are invited to an orgy of mean guttural growls, savage roars and postmortem demented screams. Your gran probably won't like it too much.



Upon first listening to the Lp, I must admit that I was a little taken aback by the permeating death atmosphere of it. And then, after repeated listens, the classic crust elements became apparent, like the early Axegrinder moment on "Putrid angel", the early Deviated Instinct beat on "Fragment of filth" or the nod to Antisect on the macabre "Hanged corpse", and of course Ghastly visions contains just enough fast cavemen crust moments (à la Nuclear Death Terror or Accion Mutante) to remind you of where the band essentially stands. The core influences of CS (Bolt Thrower, Genital Deformities, Stormcrow...) are not gone but have been reworked through a different lens, one through which you usually observe Dismember or Coffins. It is a bit like that one time I switched from soy milk to rice milk. The cereals taste different but you know they are the same. And at the end of the day, they are still crunchy and familiar and that's all that matters.








The object in itself is stunning. The cover and backcover - drawn by Stiv VOW and Skinny respectively - are reminiscent of old-school death-metal imagery (the Dismember demo comes to mind) and referential, a little cheesy but tasteful. You also have a large booklet with the lyrics and a cracking Rudi Peni-esque drawing of a bat and a brilliant "hanged corpse" drawing on the inner sleeve that looks like the missing link between Crass and Hellhammer (both of them done by Klaudiusz Witczak). The lyrics are mostly dealing with despair, madness, alienation and negativity (did you really expect songs about cycling or vegan cookies?) and quite well-written for the genre, you can tell there has been a genuine effort to convey meaning and evoke powerful images while remaining gritty and carnal.

There's even a bloody poster! yolo


The record was released last year - and is thus still available - on Neanderthal Stench (one of the most exciting labels in terms of crust right now), Back on Tracks (from Brazil) and Heavy Metal Vomit Party (from Slovakia) and the vinyl's actual colour is "beer with black splatter" if you still need an excuse to get it.




Thursday, 11 May 2017

Ashes to ashes, crust to CRUST (round 11): Disturd "Dark" cd, 2015

Any punk elder (or wannabe elder really, since they are basically the same thing, age being a bourgeois social construct and all that) will tell you - even if you didn't request his opinion (it is often a "he") on the matter - that it is unwise to break some sacred rules when brainstorming for a band name. As History has often proven, picking the wrong moniker may eventually condemn your top band to obscurity and make your shirt highly difficult to sell. When it comes to names with a Dis prefix, one has to be even more careful as the frontier between an acceptable Disname and an embarrassing one is tenuous indeed. 

Here is a short guideline to help you through the Dis-picking process (this is a strictly linguistic enquiry and does not take the band's quality into consideration):

- Great Disnames: they are referential, relevant to the Discharge worldview and actually mean something (Disaster, Disaffect, Distemper...).

- Decent Disnames: still referential and meaningful but tend to stray away from the Discharge signifying web (Disclose, Discard, Dislike...).

- Fantasy Disnames: neologisms relying solely on referentiality with still some kind of sense (Disfear, Dischange, Dissystema...).

- Tasteless Disnames: Dis-based neologisms that sound corny and on the dark side of humour (Disbeer, Disfornicate, Dishit...).  



Unfortunately, and as much as I like the band, Disturd fall into the last category. When I first read about them about ten years ago, I ignorantly scoffed and mentally discarded them as a "comedy Dis-band" unworthy of my royal attention. Even though Disturd were often mentioned in the same breath as Effigy, AGE or SDS, I was not going to waste my princely time and money on a band that had "turd" in its name (the only exception I was then willing to make applied to Pink Turds in Space). It took a short review of the Isolation Ep which compared them to Antisect (it really is that easy if you want to make me buy a record, just say casually that they sound like Antisect) for me to, first, order it and then realize how mistaken I had been. Of course, I could blame my past foolishness on the arrogance of youth or on the troubled relationship I had always had with Japanese punk. But I will try - for once - to acknowledge my errors with dignity and take it on the chin. If I have to be slapped in the face as many times as I mocked the Disturd name, so be it. And well, at least they did not go for Hellturd or Turdgrinder.



I had originally thought of including a Disturd Ep in the "Japanese crust against the world" series but decided against it since the band had just released Dark in late 2015 which qualified them for this crust series instead (quite a fascinating TSN anecdote, innit?). Perhaps because of their bold moniker, Disturd are seldom seriously discussed when the burning topic of Japanese crust inevitably pops up, be it at a dinner party or while you are at the gym with your mates. This discrepancy, which has nothing to do with the music since Disturd certainly deliver the goods, can be partly explained with the band's unusual history. Because of the rather recent span of their prolificity (from 2012 to 2016), they are sometimes thought to be a late 00's/early 10's band. But Disturd must have actually formed in the late 90's as the existence of an early demo (with no actual date) seems to suggest. However the songs of the aforementioned demo being apparently - I haven't heard it - in a UK82/pogopunk vein (which might explain the silly name of the band if you know what I mean), I will not take this mysterious recording in consideration. In 2002, Disturd released a two-song demo, Fight back/Life, one song of which, "Fight back", ended up on a MCR compilation the same year. In 2003, they also appeared on the quietly seminal The Darkest 4 alongside Effigy, Zoe and Acrostix. If by 2003, Effigy were already a confirmed crust band (arguably one of the very best of the period), Acrostix and Zoe were, just like Disturd, in their infancy and had not had a vinyl release yet. But whereas the former quickly went on to have their own record out, the latter waited until 2011 to do so. 



It does not mean that the band was snoozing, since they self-released a tape, entitled Darkness... Faint gleam... in 2007 and Discogs lists a couple of other undated as well tapes, about which I was unable to find sufficient information (Disturd are actually little documented on da internet). In 2011, Black Water released the Isolation Ep, then one year later the Collapse Ep came out on ヤシマレコード, and, in 2014, Hardcore Survives unleashed the new Disturd incarnation with the Inside Ep. At some point between the last two Ep's, Disturd frontman Age relocated from Tsuyama to Kobe, bringing with him the full band's repertoire. My knowledge in Japanese culture being fairly limited, I do not know the specifics of Tsuyama, but from I have read, it looks like a pretty quiet town, so quiet in fact that Disturd were the first punk band to ever emerge from the location, an impressive, if anecdotal, fact when one considers the number of Japanese punk bands in the past four decades. Age reformed the band in Kobe with a new line-up, with Kakuda (formerly in Effigy and Axewield) on the drums and Nassan (Sex Messiah's singer) on the bass. The Dark cd was recorded with this new-look outfit.



Calling Dark a new album (in the sense of novelty) is actually open to discussion. It is undeniably a full length record with a collection of Disturd songs but none of them are technically new. Indeed, all of them had already appeared in different versions on previous recordings. As a consequence, it would not be irrelevant to see Dark as a compilation of re-recorded Disturd songs (some of them written in the early 00's). It does not mean, however, that it is a lazy work or one that you should ignore assuming that you are already familiar with the band's Ep's. If you are not acquainted with Disturd, then Dark is clearly a great starting point, but even if you are, the band has developed a slightly but significantly different sound with the new line-up and it is always an interesting exercise to compare different recordings of the same songs and try to notice the discrepancies in terms of texture, production and vibe (as you can imagine, afternoons with me can be really fun). Despite having a rather limited stock of them, Disturd's songs, from one recording to another, can sound really raw and distorted, or totally triumphant in a Japanese hardcore way, or totally epic like a classic old-school crust anthem... Variety in details if you like.  



A friend of mine called Disturd "the ghost of SDS" and, even after thinking long and hard about it, I cannot really think of a better phrase to characterize them (and of course, I love the high degree of nerdery of the remark, since SDS referred to themselves as "the ghost of Anti-Sect"). If you blended all the different eras of SDS into one tight, cohesive unit, the end result would sound something like Disturd. They have the heaviness, the intensity, the referential but clever songwriting, the Antisect-worship to a tee, the chugging riffs, the shredding ones and they even nod directly and respectfully toward the national crust pioneers with the song "Scum system fear". Significant dissimilarities do exist between both bands as Disturd are globally more metallic in terms of songwriting and the production is unlike any of SDS'. The band fearlessly went for some glorious UK crust moments and I cannot think of many bands able to recreate the dark vibe of "Out from the void"-era Antisect as well as Disturd (who did not think twice about borrowing a couple of riffs and vocal parts in the process). Add to this some heavy, filthy early Hellbastard riffing and mid-paced thrashy moments reminiscent of Sacrilege's flair and you will get a sonic picture of the band's backbone. As I previously pointed out, SDS remain the main compass but I would argue that their overarching influence is as structural as it is literal since it also provides the band with a creative template for the seamless incorporation of classic UK crust elements into the Japanese crust sound. They make it sound easy but it clearly isn't. Contrary to SDS who mostly and contextually worked on the UK sound, Disturd also largely build upon the national brand of metallic crust and I distinctively hear some influences from AGE in the overall triumphant groove and from Effigy, not only in the drumming (the peculiar but brilliant double-bass parts evidently come to mind) but also in the arrangements and the balance between the three instruments. 



Disturd do not really bring anything new to the table but they are remarkable in the way they keep that specific school of Japanese crust alive, without pretension but with an unrivaled conviction, especially when one considers that Age has been playing these songs for almost 15 years. The tempos are diverse, ranging from the fast and pummeling dischargy beat to the mid-paced crunchy metal specimen and the slow, moody epic trek. The sound production is perfect for this kind of sound, it has a definite rawness and urgency but still maintains a degree of crispiness so that it feels organic and not the product of a fancy engineer (truth be told, it also works because they are a tight trio). The distorted bass sound is truly to die for, groovy, brooding and thick, it cements the heaviness into the composition and leaves enough space for the guitar to thrash. The vocals are very upfront, which I like, naturally pissed and harsh, with a some variety in the tones (from caveman growls to angry shouts). 



The artwork is pretty simple, darkly suggestive and looks a lot like the Inside Ep's, so that it ties both records aesthetically (perhaps too much so). Dark was self-released by the band on cd only (for now anyway) and is still available if you care to look for it, but then it might take more efforts than just clicking twice on youtube.            



Monday, 8 May 2017

Ashes to ashes, crust to CRUST (round 10): Ruinebell "Embers' grave" 12'', 2015

When I started to think about a possible roster for this series, I was confronted with a dilemma. Not the kind to keep me awake at night in a pool of sweat and tears, but one that still needed thoughtful consideration and inner investigation (if that helps, just picture me thinking hard while the sun is setting on a postindustrial landscape). The scope of Terminal Sound Nuisance has changed significantly throughout the years and even if I like to think that I managed to maintain some sort of recurring narrative motif for its contents to hold together cohesively, the idea to write about novelty - possibly our epoch's main shibboleth - raised a few issues in terms of the perspective to adopt. Not being particularly prone to rave purposelessly about the latest releases whose cool factor is often too transient to trust ("don't believe the hype" as they say), the relevant trope to be used in this particular case was uncertain. I knew it had to be different because of the novelty element of the works but it wouldn't have made much sense if I only focused on the excitement induced by discovery. There is nothing quite like hearing a cracking unknown recording for the first time but the feeling is not the same if the band is contemporary, especially since we fatally lack perspective about our current present context. How well will 2010's crust hold in 10 years time? And flowing from this interrogation, one also needs to ask: how unperceptive may these words eventually become? And where are my prescription pills?

But to get back on point, the "Ashes to ashes, crust to CRUST" odyssey is, because of its transversality, a fun opportunity to be enthusiastic about new records, focus on the priceless element of surprise and take responsibility for its impermanence. Which brings me to Ruinebell, because it is a band that I did not see coming at all and that I became acquainted with considerably later than I feel is appropriate considering the quality of their music. The fact that no one told me about them before is preposterous and, were we living under the French Ancien Régime, I would have thought of writing a nasty pamphlet and possibly settled things via a couple of bloody - but honourable - duels. But since it is 2017, I am just writing a new post entry, though rest assured that I hit the keys with bitterness in my heart right now.



I do not even remember how or when I first heard of Ruinebell but my first two reactions are still vivid. It was first "OMG this is absolutely excellent! Who? What? When? Where? How? Why?" and second "and a what lovely name they picked!". Obviously, the immediate lexical meaning of "Ruinebell" is "the bell of ruin", which aptly reflects the music's spectral mournfulness and fits with the metal/crust lexical field. But what about the "e" then? It is Ruinebell and not Ruinbell. In a short interview for Terrorizer (that you can read here), multi-instrumentalist Lasse explains that "ruine" is the French word for "ruin" and that they ended up using the former for their moniker because it looked better graphically. However, such a choice also created a rather pleasant double entendre as "ruinebell" is almost similar to "ruine belle", a phrase that translates as "beautiful ruin" and which meaning also coheres with the band's music. So even before I actually listened to the songs, I was already taken in linguistically though, to be fair, I am not sure the band really did that on purpose.

More than an actual band, Ruinebell can probably be best described as a studio project, which implies that we are not likely to ever see them play (which kinda sucks). It is a trio made up of two Finns - Pekka on the drums and Lasse on the guitar, bass and synth - and one Spaniard on vocals, so you can imagine that band practices must be few and far between. This said, the boys have solid experience in playing in bands indeed since Lasse and Pekka play together in Hooded Menace (and before that in Vacant Coffin and respectively in many other acts as well) while Dopi was the drummer/singer of long-running grindcore band Machetazo and has also played in such projects as Dishammer or Mutilated Veterans throughout the years. So not exactly an amateurish lineup and it certainly shows.



The initial idea behind Ruinebell was to write Amebix/Axegrinder-influenced metallic crust music with an industrial touch and heavy Voivod riffs without sounding too referential. Honestly, I could almost stop writing right there since they absolutely nailed the sound they were reaching for and their music speaks for itself, but as we all know, I won't. Their first Ep, Demise in grace, recorded as a duo (with Dopi playing the drums as well as singing) and released in 2011 on Czech DIY metal label Doomentia Records, is a coup de maître that demonstrates how brilliant axegrinding mid-paced doomy crust can sound thanks to concerted songwriting and proper ideas. The Amebixian vibe is strong and potent and yet it never feels old or literal, rather it is used as a binder to make new additions hold together. As they use the basic ingredients of old-school crust, they also update them. Ruinebell sound both old-school and modern and on that level they do remind me conceptually of early Morne. I am not going to dwell too much on the Ep (that, for reasons that may have to do with the unfamiliar label that released it and my own ignorance about the underground metal scene, completely passed me by until recently) but it has everything a crust-loving person can hope for. And yes, that includes apocalyptic moody synth parts and terrific bass-lines.



Embers' grace can be relevantly seen as Demise from grace's sequel, meaning that it is not just a follow-up but also a genuine progression. Assuredly, Ruinebell built on similar grounds for the 12'' and the amegrinder scripture still stands as the music's backbone but it is a more versatile and diverse work with a slightly different mood, not as mournful and more ominously mechanical. I suppose Ruinebell could have picked the easier path and write a full Lp that would have sounded just like a longer Demise in grace - and honestly, I would still have been thrilled - because their musical ability and their sense of clever songwriting would have allowed it, but they went for something a little different, globally more rhythmic and colder, the industrial influence more upfront. And it works. While crust has often been openly infused with black, death or doom-metal in recent years (with varying results, truth be told), I cannot think of many crust bands that have ventured into industrial sonorities since the 90's. The opening song, "Inexistence", epitomizes this shift, with heavy chugging riffs and cold, steely beats cloaked around the classic mid-tempo crust structure. Quite the perfect meeting point between Sonic Violence, Depressor, 13 and Axegrinder. The following track - "The hermit" - is a more orthodox locomotive old-school crust anthem, with a monumental driving synth, some wicked gloomy guitar arpeggios and even a progressive feel on one riff. Clearly an epic number that brings to mind vintage Greek crust, early Morne and mid-90's Counterblast for its inventive recreation of canonical crust elements. On the flipside, "Temple of isolation" is even more indus-influenced with its stark martial beats, super heavy bass sound and dark incantatory guitar riffs, not unlike a combination of early Godflesh, Killing Joke at their heaviest, the mighty Depressor and of course Amebix. Finally, "Flesh bone catacomb" is a galloping Amebix/Axegrinder song with a desperate doom feel concluded with an eerie spoken part that nods heavily toward vintage crust. Quite a ride in twenty minutes.

The production on Embers' grace sounds very clear, almost surgical, in the bleakest sense of the term, so it confers a literal metallic quality to the songs. This kind of production seldom works with the crust genre because it can make the music sound too clean and lose its filthy groovy edge, but in this case I feel it connects adequately with the band's songwriting intent. Because of the mid-paced 80's crust style of Ruinebell, one might think that going for this very cold modern production would have impaired and deprived the songs of their darkly threatening power, but thanks to a clever use of the synth as a texturing agent and a focus on heavy, precise, cold industrial rhythms, Ruinebell manage to offer a new relevant perspective on the genre, keeping it heavy but in a different sepulchral way. The musical abilities of the participants are obvious but always serve the general direction and help create a meaningful oppressive atmosphere that feels tense and sorrowful. I haven't talked about the vocals yet but they clearly demonstrate an awareness and a knowledge of the rules of the genre that are impressive. I can hear some Japanese crust influence in the harsh gruff tone, especially since the singer uses an effect on his voice, but also Steve from Neurosis if he tried to impersonate an entombed humanoid entity (the sorrowful lyrics also point in that direction actually). In any case, it shows that one does not have to squeal like a grossly constipated boar to deliver proper crust vocals and that, in the end, clever vocal placement is the key.



Embers' grace was released in September, 2015 on Doomentia Records (I still have not figured out how to correctly pronounce "doomentia" and probably never will) and I am pretty sure it is still available. The only reservation I can voice about this wonderful 12'' has to do with the artwork that does not really reflect the music (the cover looks more like a doom-metal one) and only partly illustrates the mood. Oh well, great records also have flaws I suppose. 




         

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Ashes to ashes, crust to CRUST (round 9): Putrefaction "Scavenger" Ep, 2015

If you ask your next-door neighbour about his favourite contemporary crust bands, Putrefaction are unlikely to come up in the discussion. And the hypothesis is not rhetorical, go ahead, chat him up and you'll see I am right. It is, along other dismaying things like the recent French elections or international shipping costs, one of the many sad truths of our time and I do not have a reasonable explanation for this discrepancy. 



It would be far-fetched to claim that Putrefaction have gone completely unnoticed, as I remember that their 2012 Lp did garner some well-deserved attention, but this wonderful Ep pretty much flew under the radar. If the amount of active crusty metal-punk bands is any indication, it is then sound to assume that Putrefaction's sound is not happening at the wrong time. Could they be at the wrong place, being from Dublin? Yet another instance of the "had-they-been-from-Portland" syndrome? Still, the ever-increasing globalization of punk music through the internet should precisely keep great crust music from remaining relatively unknown and, ideally, foster both a more horizontal way of apprehending music from multiple backgrounds and an urge to discover exciting bands from all over, as vertiginous as it might be given the spectrum of inquiry. But then, the internet also tends to exacerbate pre-existing glorifications of some parts of the scene at the expense of others. We have a window open to the world and yet use it as the mirror of our obsessions. Could the world wide web be the ultimate reflection of this duality? Or has our attention span been permanently damaged by the overwhelming mass of information continuously renewed before our eyes? Or perhaps the name "Putrefaction" sounds too ingrained in death-metal lexical mythology and might scare "da punx" away? 

You should ask your neighbour again, unless he threatened to call the cops the first time. If so, it might be safer to leave him on his own and just leave a note in his mailbox or something.



Putrefaction are friends so I could be a little partial to them but have no fear, I will be just as subjective as usual, prone to defend the crust underdogs against the trendies (that I always picture wearing Fall of Efrafa shirts and Metal Punk Death Squad hats for some obscure reason that even my shrink cannot make sense of). As I remember it, the idea of Putrefaction was born in 2005 in Dublin when Eric (the handsome guitarist/singer, formerly in Easpa Measa and currently also singing for Rats Blood) mentioned that he was thinking of forming some kind of D-beat band under that moniker. Helped in this task by brothers Donal and Eoin, it first came into being with the 2007 Destroyers demo. The demo was a rather raw but promising 8-song effort that gave the listener an idea of what the band was then trying to achieve. It could be roughly described as an aggressive blend of State of Fear-type crust, Hellshock's epic stenchcore style and Repulsion's primitive extreme metal (the punk as fuck Sepultura cover is pretty ace). There were some genuinely good ideas on this one. Though it was partly impaired by a raw punk production, it still conferred the demo some sort of Hellhammer charm, so even if it was not a groundbreaking recording, at least it had the relative merits to sound unpretentiously spontaneous and angry. It did not, however, prepare the unsuspecting listener for the mammoth metal-punk scorcher as unleashed on Blood cult five years later.



To be fair (time for confidences), when the Blood cult Lp came out in 2012, I had almost forgotten about Putrefaction. I do not know how active they were locally between 2007 and 2012, but the truth is that I thought they had basically stopped playing so I was both pleased and surprised when a full album was released on four reliable labels such as Underground Movement (also responsible for the Coitus discography and the brilliant Bullet Ridden album), Distro-Y Records, Phobia Records and Ratbone Records. Without even getting into the songwriting, the progression from the demo is immense. The album has a massive sound and, as tempting as the claim that the musicianship considerably improved appears, it might be closer to the truth to say that the effort is that much more focused and cohesive that it allows the instruments to really shine. Blood cult is a more diverse work which borrows more heavily from the world of extreme metal than the demo. The direct crustcore element is toned down to give room to a more refined death-metal influence that never feels contrived and mechanical. Although Putrefaction's investigative fields are apparent, the band never sounds derivative or generic. More crucially, despite the diverse stylistic additions, the music does not feel disparate and the different phases sound like adhering parts of a smooth whole and not like a bland series. I would argue that this is what makes the album good: it sounds whole. I may not love to death all the elements when taken separately, but as an entity, they all work. On this album, Putrefaction borrowed from old-school death-metal bands like Repulsion or Autopsy, but also from modern metal crust acts like Limb From Limb or Hellshock, from the dark hardcore punk sound of Tragedy or World Burns To Death and the epic cavemen crustcore of Cop On Fire and Consume. The list of possible influences is endless and it would be pointless (and a probable tedious read) to go on, as what really matters here is that the band tied all of these elements in the songwriting with one thing: mood. Whether they go for a brutal death-metal beat or for a mid-paced heavy hardcore moment, the mood remains the compass. Putrefaction sound like a trance-inducing apocalyptic ride into the industrial wasteland as a symbol of the decay of an ever-rotting society. Sure, the hellish bike (it has to be a motorbike, right?) sometimes takes a turn or goes faster but the destination does not change.



When Putrefaction released their Scavenger Ep two years ago, this time I was ready to ruck and when they played in Paris I bought it in a heartbeat (and let me tell you that they were one of the most convincing crust trios I have ever witnessed live). If Blood Cult was a dantean journey to the threshold of Hell's gates, Scavenger can be described as the mad descent into the Inferno itself as it sounds like the (un)natural progression of the Lp. It is a great Ep with memorable clever riffs that never falls into complacency, enhanced with a thick, heavy and aggressive production that is burning and abrasive and never sounds overdone or artificially angry. Superb job on that level. The bass sound is ominous and distorted and confers a crunchy texture to the songs, the guitar has that vibrating, filthy metallic quality but keeps a distinctively hardcore aggression and the drumming is excellent, just at the right level, pummeling but neither buried nor overshadowing everything else. The vocals are hoarse, guttural and aptly expressive of the sense of desperate rage that the band goes for, and, more importantly, they never sound forced or ridiculously grandiloquent. 



Despite the shorter format, Scavenger is still a pretty varied, highly mood-driven work with some delicious hooks in the arrangements and the articulations. "Welcome death" is a crushingly epic introduction to the record, reminiscent of vintage Stormcrow (especially in the textures), Limb From Limb and of a punkified Bolt Thrower; "Wasted time" is a mid-paced dark hardcore anthem (skipping on my copy for some unfathomable reason) that brings Tragedy and Wolfpack's best moments to mind; "After the storm" is an epic mid-00's "gruff-yet-modern" crustcore number that nods towards Cop On Fire and Nuclear Death Terror (with perhaps something of the Spanish D-Beat/crust school as well); finally, "Ballast existence" goes back effortlessly to Stormcrow heaviness and concludes the last ride in style. Although they certainly build on old-school metal and punk (you won't be hearing silly technical blast beats, pseudo screamo atmospheric parts or similar nonsensical atrocities), Putrefaction sound modern in a good way, dark, powerful and epic. They are not openly referential and, in spite of some unavoidable sonic familiarity, write songs that are singular, catchy and strong enough to stand out from the crowd. The lyrics are another definite strongpoint, pissed, genuinely political and carefully written despite their directness, they depict the homicidal and exploitative nature of modern politics instead of rehashing dull doomsday allegories. I particularly enjoy "Wasted time," with words about "A vicious ruling class crucifying the poor. Ireland 2015" that read bitterly familiar in the current era of austerity politics. 




A truly cracking record released on Distro-Y (and still available) that you could argumentatively recommend to your neighbour now (never underestimate the connective power of crust).       




Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Interlude: Ελληνική κρούστα's apocalyptic crust epics

Alright then, this is not the next post of the "Ashes to ashes, crust to CRUST" series but more of an interlude, a creative break.

I had been toying with the idea of doing a classic Greek crust compilation for a while now and finally got to it. The purpose of this modest compilation is twofold. First, it makes for a bloody amazing crust compilation; second, through its making, I intended to select songs that embodied and epitomized the specific characteristics of the Greek crust sound, so that after you listen to it, you can have a clearer picture of the defining traits of the genre. Because it is a proper crust genre. "Greek crust" does not merely refer to a particular geographical area, it is not just "Crust from Greece", it must actually be understood as a particular subgenre, with its vibe, its patterns, its recurring motives and themes, its aesthetics, its language and its own referential schemes.

Undeniably, Greece was - along with the British initiators and the Californian scene - a crucial, pivotal spot in crust history. Although a lot of the Greek bands remained quite little-known and obscure, the quality and the prolificity of crust there is breath-taking and I do hope that the renewed interest in Greek crust along with old bands reforming and recording again (with great results, let me tell you) will lead to more reissues, articles and, of course, new bands.

There are 22 bands with 22 songs on the compilation, all recorded between 1988 and 2003 as I felt a 15-year span was enough for a panoramic retrospective glance (and besides, an 84 minute comp is fine). I have often heard people complaining that the Greek alphabet is too complicated thus rendering the discovery and memorization of Greek names more difficult so I have included romanized versions of the names as well as English translations (but it makes more sense to try pronounce it correctly, right? After all, punx can pronounce Suomi monikers - badly, I'll give you that). Some of the recordings are a little rough but keep in mind that these were DIY operations. Whenever possible, I used my own rips of the songs and I did try to find the best ones for the other. Anyway, es lo que hay.

The tracklist:

1.Χαοτικό Τέλος (Chaotikó Télos / Chaotic End) « Επιτάφιος Για Νεκρές Συνειδήσεις », taken from  « Πέρα Από Τα Τείχη Της Σιωπής » demo tape, 1991

2.Ρήγμα (Rígma / Rift) « Κρυφή Επιθυμία », taken from « Ο Τελευταίος Αιώνας » Lp, 1994

3.Πνευματική Διάψευση (Pnevmatikí Diápsefsi / Spiritual Contradiction) « Σκέψεις Άγνοιας », taken from « Ανεξίτηλα Σημάδια » demo tape, 1995

4.Απολίτιστοι (Apolítistoi / Uncivilised) « Γενοκτονία », taken from « Η Ώρα Του Κυκλώνα Δυο » compilation tape, 1996

5.Ανθρωπινος Ληθαργος (Anthropinos Lithargos / Human Lethargy) « Οι Ασκοι Του Αιολου », taken from « S/t » demo tape, 1992

6.Βιομηχανική Αυτοκτονία (Viomichanikí Aftoktonía / Industrial Suicide) « Η Ζωή Του Θανάτου », taken from « demo # 3 », 1990

7.Μι-άσμα (Mi-ásma / Miasma) « Το Πιο Βρώμικο Παιχνίδι », taken from « Διατάραξη Οικιακής Ειρήνης » compilation Lp, 1996

8.Ανάσα Στάχτη (Anása Stáchti / Ashen Breath) « Κελιά Ανυπαρξίας « , taken from « S/t » Lp, 1994

9.Ανατέλλων Τρόμος (Anatéllon Trómos / Rising Terror) « Μια Ριπή Στο Μέλλον », taken from « Ο Παιδικός Μας Πόλεμος » cd, 2001

10.Ναυτία (Naftía / Nausea) « Συνθετική Εμπειρία », taken from « The Ναυτία Kinky Horror Show » split Lp w/ Graue Zellen, 1994

11.Μάστιγα (Mástiga / Scourge) « Δηλητηριασμένη Γενιά », taken from « Σύνδρομο Άγνοιας » tape, 1992

12. Ψύχωση (Psýchosi / Psychosis) « Ο Δρόμος Της Σφαγής », taken from « Unreleased cd », 1994

13.Ατομική Σχάση (Atomikí Schási / Nuclear Fission) « Τα Σύμβολα Του Μίσους », taken from « Ακροβάτες Στο Κενό » demo tape, 1995

14.Υποταγη (Ypotagi / Submission) « υποδουλωση του αυριο », taken from « Καθοδικη Πορεια » demo tape, 1998

15.Ξεσπασμα (Xespasma / Outburst) «  Μέλλον », taken from « S/t » demo, 1998

16.Σαρκασμος (Sarkasmos / Sarcasm) « αιώνια τιμωρία”, taken from “S/t” demo, 1990

17. Ξεχασμενη Προφητεια (Xechasmeni Profiteia / Forgotten Prophecy) « Οι Αλυσιδες Σου », taken from « All Hail Discordia » promo tape, 1990

18.Πανικός (Panikós / Panic) «  Όλα Για Το Χρήμα », taken from « Όλα Για Το Χρήμα » Ep, 1995

19.Αρνητική Στάση (Arnitikí Stási / Negative Stance) « Έρημος », taken from « Άγγελοι Του Ψεύδους » Lp, 1993

20.Αρνηση (Arnisi / Refusal) « Στερεοτυπη Απαντηση », taken from « Το Ψωμι Να Βγαινει » tape, 1988

21.Πυρηνικός Χειμώνας (Pyrinikós Cheimónas / Nuclear Winter) « Πύργος Καταιγίδων », taken from « S/t » cd, 1997

22.Χειμερία Νάρκη (Cheimería Nárki / Hibernation) « Εφιάλτες », taken from « Στη Σιωπή Της Αιώνιας Θλίψης » Lp, 2003


Because we're becoming lazier with the progress of technology and because for some, downloading a file and clicking four times are apparently colossal tasks that have no place in 2017, I have uploaded the compilation onto youtube (so just the one click). The download link with the wav version is at the bottom of the post.



I hope you enjoy this slice of heavy, apocalyptic, atmospheric crust music as much as I enjoyed compiling it. TRIGGER WARNING: there will be synth parts.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Ashes to ashes, crust to CRUST (round 8): Femacoffin "S/t" Ep, 2014

Until today, I had never given much thought about the semantics of the word "femacoffin". And then, as I was meditating about the band's music (as I always do, occasionally to the point of levitating), it struck me: "but what the hell is a femacoffin?". I tried to figure it out by myself, and thought of possible etymological roots for the prefix "fema" but I could not find any satisfying one. So I did what anyone with too much time on his hands would: I looked it up on the internet. The results were a little unsettling, I must say, for most of the sites referring to "fema coffins" appeared to be heavily into conspiracy theories and these are not exactly my cuppa (litotes for you). But there you go, the online world is the new heart of darkness. From what I understood, fema coffins are ugly disposable things made of black plastic that, though they probably are very convenient if you need to find thousands of ready-made coffins, make for a pretty grim sight. Conspiracists believe that fema coffins (FEMA being the acronym for Federal Emergency Management Agency so you know this lot doesn't fuck about), which were supposedly stocked in camps, are to be used for the body disposal of thousands of political dissenters after martial law is declared in the U$ of A. Yes, it does sound like an Atrocious Madness song. I don't know whether Femacoffin believe in the fema coffin theory or not but I reckon that it is a fitting name for a crust band as it conveys the idea of claustrophobia, anonymity and massgraves. Cheery stuff.

I first heard of the band through Terminal Escape, when the demo tape was posted on the blog. I genuinely liked it and proceeded to order it promptly. Like a simpleton, I had not realized that Femacoffin was a post-Stormcrow band and thus my nebulous amazement at the quality of the songs was left unexplained, shrouded in mystery. Before checking out the line-up, at first, I even thought that the singer was female and listening closely to the demo today, judging solely from the vocals, it was not implausible (right?). It did take to see them live in 2014 to be struck by the truth, and even then, they had to play Stormcrow covers for me to be enlightened. What can I say? There are days when I am just not the quickest. But at least, I could originally listen to Femacoffin (which I shall call FC from now on because it is still a ten-letter word) with an open mind and a fresh ear, unaffected and uninfluenced by the intel that they were - OMG - ex-Stormcrow. But once I knew, this made me ponder actually. Does knowing that "band X" has ex-members of "older well-respected band Y" completely condition our reception of "band X"? Does this piece of knowledge send us in a limited direction and a circumscribed appreciation of a given band? But then, not knowing means that you are going to miss important points and be unable to properly contextualize the band diachronically? And who wants that??? Existential questioning, to be sure.



Getting back to FC, their 2013 demo particularly impressed me with the unpredictability of the riffs and the drummer's natural ability to change beats. The band never really picked the obvious solution in terms of songwriting and it felt good to have a band with a real identity. I am not saying they re-invented crust but I love how seamlessly they integrated elements from sludge, death-metal and doom-metal into the music. In general, I am quite orthodox with my crust and I am suspicious with bands borrowing too heavily from other metal genres, not because I dislike the idea - on the contrary, I feel it is important to try things and widen the fields - but because, more often than not, the balance has not been thought through and the result becomes very mechanical or strays too far away from crust for my liking. So I was thoroughly pleased with FC's tape, it was heavy, very much so, but with an organic, cave-like quality, the riffs were rocking and dark without being cheesy, the drumming was top-notch, song-oriented and diverse and the vocals were desperate and coarse but definitely punky. Of course, the Stormcrow comparison is unavoidable since Brian and Tony were both in the band and the latter's riffing style is unmistakably similar to "Enslaved in darkness"'s (Tony has got a very distinct sound and strumming technique), an Lp whose opening song still sends chills down my spine when it kicks in and one that I have just incidentally realized is almost 12 years old... The other guitar player, Nick, used to play in Sanctum but I do not hear any strong resemblance between both bands other than the Bolt Thrower tonalities. 



FC's vibe is close to Stormcrow's early years, both bands share the same punishing heaviness and magmatic tension but I would argue that FC does not rely as much on atmospherics for their songs are not as long and dilated as Stormcrow's (especially in their later incarnations). I also hear something of late 90's Misery (the split with EOM to be specific), not in terms of sound or songwriting, but for their ability to incorporate smoothly discrete metal elements, and bands like Bolt Thrower (I would even say that FC's use of Bolt Thrower-type riffs and guitar tone is exactly right), 13 and Dystopia are - each on different levels and to varying degrees - other highly relevant points of reference. However, I think the other main source of influence in FC's musical approach can be located in a classic Oakland crust band from the 90's: Skaven. I can already hear the head-scratching of people staring in disbelief at their screen, certain that I have positively lost me marbles, but if you consider both bands' music in terms of vibe and tension, and not just as the sum of correlating instruments, the parallel is sensible. There is a similar atmosphere of lucid dementia pervading the music that is conveyed through the pained vocals, the versatility of the strings and the almost tangible slimy thickness born from the relationship between all the instruments - including the vocals. There are also significant differences, as Skaven were a much more inventive, narrative-oriented band, but still, it does situate Femacoffin in a specific crust tradition.   



The first and only Ep from FC was released in May, 2014, on local Brainsand Records. On this recording, the band switched to a three-piece with Nick only playing on the third song, although FC were back to a four-piece when they played live with the addition of Erika on second guitar. The first riff of the energetically mid-paced "Dismal twilight" exemplifies meaningfully and eloquently Tony's ability with the guitar. The riff is catchy but not stereotyped, it has an undeniable chugging, galloping metallic groove and works perfectly in a loop. The vocals are threatening and expressive, with some reverb, while the drumming is adequately pounding without sounding obnoxious. The guitar sound is filthy but aimful and the all-out boltthrowerish part concluding the song tells you that they could do that all day but would rather use it wisely and pointfully. In fact, the last part of the song illustrates the flowing quality of FC's songwriting and how, in just 90 seconds, they effortlessly (well, so to speak, I am well aware that it does take some work to achieve it) go from their mid-tempo dirty crust epics to a heavy and monumental doom-metal part, then to a short suffocating sludgy interlude and finally to the death-metal epilogue I mentioned above. The key here does not lie in the multigeneric nature of the finale, but rather in how the different parts seamlessly transition with one another. The second song, "Trinity", is faster and globally closer to death-metal, possibly a little too much for my taste and I am not completely convinced with the team work between the guitar and the drums (it could be just me). This song blends with a cover of Icons of Filth's "Midnight" which is introduced by creepy noises (a little like on Antisect's "THEY" or "The moor" from Amebix or what SDS did on "Ameber", you know, that kind of ominous atmosphere), notably the death rattle of Kayako from Ju-on which is undoubtedly the most horrific, frightening sound I have ever heard (seriously). This unexpected prologue to an Icons of Filth song somewhat announces the song's change of mood initiated by FC and turns it into a lugubrious danse macabre made possible by the obsessiveness of the original riff, played here with an almost black-metal tone. The righteous anger is still present in the vocals but it now feels like it comes from the underworld. This is a great cover, not overdone or forceful, which is well adapted to the band's sound thanks to this clever sonic mood change. 



The Ep looks really good. The cover, a smug-looking Apocalypse angel playing the harp and dropping bombs, and especially the backcover, with its lovely reworking of a classic Icons of Filth artwork, were drawn by crust artist Stiv (from Visions of War), while the words of the lyrics were written by Dino from Dystopia in that characteristic fashion of his (I love how it looks but you do need to focus in order to read it). Unfortunately, the band stopped playing not long after the Ep's release, a real shame since I would have been very curious to hear a full album from them, with all the possibilities that a longer format entails.